Faithful until the end

Dear friends,

At the start of this week three new children, Meer, Zheer, and Farooq, entered Israel. Meer is returning to continue his next stage of treatment; he was here previously at Sheba Medical Center in 2019 and had the first of three staged surgeries to help him live with a single ventricle:

meer arrivesZheer and Farooq are both new; Zheer has Down syndrome as well as a heart condition, and already had his first assessment at Sheba this week as doctors prepare a plan for his care:

zheer first echo13-year-old Farooq was admitted to Schneider Children’s Medical Center, our first heart child there in at least nine years. He came in a very dire condition; he had a Tetralogy of Fallot repair in Sudan in 2010, but is now in heart failure. Since his admission he has lost seven kilos with a new medication to help control the fluid buildup in his body.

farooq in schneiderPlease pray with us for all of these beautiful lives, and thank God for how He has brought them here and for the care they are receiving.

A new Gaza patient, five-year-old Fatima, arrived this week to Sheba. She has an electrical problem in her heart which is extremely dangerous. Her younger brother died suddenly in Gaza two months ago with the same diagnosis. She is an intelligent young girl, who enjoys drawing, especially cats. Her cardiologist is hoping to manage her condition with medication; there is the option of implanting a pacemaker with defibrillator in her heart, but with children it might work less accurately, so please pray for the right plan for Fatima:

fatima drawing11-year-old Sundis from Gaza is in the ICU with fluid in her lungs and a chest drain following her pacemaker surgery. Please be praying for her and her mother in this time. She loved to walk around and play in the hospital, so we hope she will be able to do this again:

sundis icuThree emergency Gaza babies are all doing well this week at Sheba. Jori is now breathing on her own after her life-saving surgery last week:

jori extubatedNadeen also is breathing without mechanical ventilation, which she previously required after her oxygen and blood pressure dropped suddenly:

nadeenimprovingAnd tiny Sameer, after a high-risk surgery, is now breathing with just supplemental oxygen. Praise God for this good news for many of these children that have in the hospital for the past month:

sameer recoveringKarim seems not to be improving, his kidneys are not working and he is dependent upon dialysis. Please be praying for his life, he has survived for seven weeks in critical condition since his surgery:

kareem in sheba 21.5 kg premature Hassanein was transferred back to the neonatal ward of Shifa hospital in Gaza on Monday. His grandmother was at peace with the decision and looked forward for his mother being able to visit him. Please be praying for strength and life for his body to grow bigger, and thank God he could come to Sheba to get the heart surgery (and catheterization) that will allow him to live and grow:

hassanein to gazaMohammed L was scheduled for his big catheterization on Thursday, but due to the flu which has been going around our house, it has been postponed. Although this is a hard decision for him, it is in his best interest, and his mother and he understand; please be praying for a quick recovery and another cath date soon:

mohd l postponedMohammed A is in hospital still, he has gotten a lot better, and we are now in the position of looking for a medical escort for him to return to Kurdistan as he will need oxygen in transit and need to go directly to hospital in Kurdistan. There is a chance of another hospital in Israel reviewing his case, as well, to see if he can have treatment at this time; please be praying that the best will be done in Mohammed’s life. The doctors at Sheba always do what they believe to be best for the child, and so we pray that if another hospital reviews his case, they will also act with that at the center of their decision making:

mohd a dischargedSeven-year-old Abdullah is discharged from a cardiology perspective to return home to Kurdistan. He will need to stay for a blood test next week to see if his INR (blood coagulation measurement) is in the target range:

abdullah and briaAlso Mohammed Mahdi, the urgent TGA baby that came at the end of August is discharged to Kurdistan! He and his aunt are waiting for another family to travel home with, and his aunt is really good friends with Abdullah’s mother, so we hope they will be able to go together:

mohd m to kstanAurfa has what will hopefully be her final echo on Sunday. She had an echo this week which held the very good news that there was no fluid in her lungs, which has proven to be a very stubborn and persistent problem. She is being weaned off one of her medications that helps control the fluid buildup:

aurfa almost homeMidya has fluid around her heart, which is lessening with a new medication, please be praying also for her that this will not be a problem which drags on, but is resolved soon for her to travel home to Kurdistan:

midya heart fluidA beautiful surprise today was that Rawen was called in for surgery tomorrow! When coworker Joanne called from the hospital, pretty much all of us at the house ran into the family’s apartment to tell Rawen’s mother. We didn’t think it would happen as this week was coming to an end, but thank God for this surprise!

rawen to surgeryAnd the final child who came from Kurdistan at the end of August, Ahmed, is still waiting for his surgery, which we pray is next week. His mother has been amazing through all of the waiting. Ahmed has come twice before and received caths to help his condition until he was big enough for the large surgery he will need. Please be praying for his life as they wait:

ahmed and momFinally, two years ago our coworkers Julio and Luzma and their daughter Paula were going for their month off to Italy; I wrote then words that have characterized their time at Shevet Achim: They are always the first to sacrifice. They lead truly the most Messiah-like lives I have seen, in that love guides how they live, love of God and love of others. Anyone who has been in the community knows this because they have led Shevet in this way. Any hour you needed them, they would be available. It didn’t even matter if they were in Colombia, they were always helping our small team, always encouraging us. They brought much fun and life into the community along with true wisdom and unfailing compassion.

julio luzma paulaTheir time at Shevet is now coming to a close after over three years of giving their lives for this ministry, for these Kurdish families, for the hospital, and for all of us who have been blessed enough to work and live with them. They are stepping into the unknown, but as Luzma and Julio so often reminded me, God is faithful until the end.

One of the best things about having their family here was watching their daughter Paula grow up over these past years. You can see the evidence of their love for Jesus in how they raise Paula, and how she has grown into an empathetic and intuitive young girl, who is a light to all of her friends at school, and a light in community life especially. So to my dear Julio and Luzma, God has seen every unseen sacrifice you’ve made, he has seen where you have been and He sees all the road before you; until the end He is faithful.  I want to end with a quote from one of my favorite novels by C.S. Lewis, which accurately depicts the lives of Julio and Luzma: “We know nothing of religion here: we only think of Christ.”

May God bless you,

Alena for Shevet Achim