Goodbyes have never been easy for me especially because I never know if I will see the person again. Today I said goodbye to Sundus and I realized she started a journey to say goodbye to her son, whom she will never see again on this earth, and whose memory she will have every day of her life.Although she was able to accompany him in his last moments, very surely today arriving at the airport will be the last time that she will be able to see his coffin because arriving from there they will go directly to the cemetery in Kurdistan, where they will leave him to rest. Then, when they return home and during three days approximately after, people will come to visit them and to express their condolences to the family.
Sundus expressed to me that for love’s sake, distances don’t exist. She hopes that all those who love her from the Shevet community can visit her at some time in the future. In my case, I hope the visa processes will allow me to see her again someday and have those talks that we used to have.
For many of us it is a chapter that closes and we will remember Mustafa and his mother for some time to come. But for her, this chapter is still beginning. The days of really understanding her son’s departure and the endless memories upon memories that were built up during the time that God allowed them to live together, those pages in the chapter must still be read. There is still a long way to go for this beautiful mother who has more daughters at home whom she must now show the way of navigation through this.
Let us pray that the truth and the light may illuminate her life and that this loss she has suffered will ultimately bring her closer to God the Father. He understands her pain because He also gave up his only son, and because of this very reason, there is hope that Sundus, one fine morning, when this life is over, will fly away and will see Mustafa again!
The hospital unexpectedly called Friday afternoon to request Sundus to be present with Mustafa in the hospital. They could not disclose more information, but they emphasized the urgency and importance. The nurse communicated that Mustafa’s health was deteriorating and that he was hemodynamically unstable. Sundus at this time was diligently praying on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. When she heard of this news regarding her son, she hurried through the rain to our Jerusalem guesthouse to gather her belongings before traveling to the hospital.
When she arrived at the house, her dress was saturated in water from the cold rain. Our coworker Claudia welcomed her into the home, and Sundus collapsed into her arms. Her face expressed great sorrow and pain. The first phrase she said after we guided her to a chair was الحمد لله / alhamdulillah – praise be to God. This is a common expression, but I believe she spoke these words with her whole heart. After she mustered enough strength to continue, we set off to the hospital. As we traveled, we each spoke words of prayer comprised of an ocean of emotions – desperation, praise, hope, confusion, love, and peace. Let every breath, with our entirety, never cease to worship God.
When we arrived, Sundus received the news that her beloved son had succumbed to overwhelming septic shock – a severe systemic infection that causes multiple organ failure. The nurse announced that it was expected for Mustafa to die within the next few hours. For the last month, Mustafa has been battling multiple challenges, including fighting off two bacterial infections that are resistant to most antibiotic treatments. At last this bacteria traveled into his bloodstream, and his body could not compensate and fight off this bacteria that invaded his whole body. His blood lab values were incompatible with life, and the doctor was surprised that he was still alive.
The healthcare team fought for his life, trying every mechanism available to try to reverse his condition. The doctor was thankful for how long he had been fighting, as it allowed Sundus to spend the last few hours of Mustafa’s life together with him. She grieved, crying over his body. We all cried together. Mustafa even shed a tear from his eye, and we gently wiped it away. It is impossible to hold back tears when one thinks of the gentleness, vitality, kindness, and care he showed for others.
His heart was weak, softly and slowly beating. His blood pressure slowly dropped, and it pained us all to see the numbers on the screen slowly decrease. As his body declined, I could not form any words except “God, you give and take away. My heart will choose to say Lord, blessed be your name.” At the doctor’s declaration of death, just before the start of the Shabbat, there was great sorrow. Lightning and heavy rain permeated the sky, and it felt as if the heavens were crying for Mustafa. People mourned and prayed from all around the world.
After his heart stopped beating, Sundus said the same words she spoke after his surgery: “I know my God still loves me. He gave me Mustafa, he gave him life. And now he has chosen to take him away. My God still loves me.”
I then repeated to her: “God, you give and take away. My heart will choose to say Lord, blessed be your name.” I still am at a loss for words. What do you say when it feels like you have lost your brother, but then how much greater is the pain for his family who has shared these last precious sixteen years of Mustafa’s life?
“Your brother is dead,” Sundus told many of us in Jaffa who have had the blessed opportunity to love him. When I think of how he gently cared for the other children, how he loved his chocolate ice cream, how Sundus would make him tomato and eggs late at night because he would suddenly become hungry and crave his mother’s cooking, the joy on his face after a thrilling late night bike ride through the park, baking Christmas cookies together, or his eagerness at the Christmas market and service…and all the other memories that God allowed for us to share with him…
I cannot hold back tears and can only praise God for allowing us to share life with him. There are so many other unrecorded memories that we all dearly cherish.
When his body was prepared and wrapped in cloth and taken away to the morgue, Sundus painfully said her last goodbye. We all cried together, holding each other in the empty hallway. The God who spoke creation into existence, into life and all of humanity, loves Mustafa and his family. He who is holding it all together, is holding Mustafa’s heart. Though it feels like darkness and that we cannot yet understand this darkness or see earthly good, we know that God is good. After the darkness of evening passes, the sun rises faithfully.
Thank you for all the prayers that you have spoken for Mustafa. Our hearts are with you as well as you grieve.The families and those around Sundus have surrounded her with love. We pray that we would be able to love and support Sundus through this time.
Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.1 Cor 13:4-8
This week during our prayer time we talked about love and how this word belongs to us. If we read this verse placing our name in it, we can see that love is a powerful force in our lives. Today, during our visit to Mustafa, I saw his mother walking in this 1 Cor 13 love. Observing her helped me to understand that a mothers’ love is a demonstration of our heavenly Father’s love for us; how a mother can wait, and wait, and wait for a new answer without changes in the status of her son, is an action generated by her unfailing love. She continues to carry about herself always an expectation for a good answer from the medical staff, because her love compels her to do it. Sometimes she just calls Mustafa by his name, expecting and always hoping for some type of answer. Sometimes it’s just simply that he is cold and is needing some blankets and Sundus, takes care of this too. So, if his mother is so good and loves Mustafa so much, how much more does our Father God, in His perfect control over this situation, also deeply love and take care of Mustafa?
We have expectation for a complete recovery for Mustafa. His actual status is stable, they stopped the dialysis but he became dehydrated and his hemoglobin was low. For that reason he is receiving transfusion to help his kidneys produce enough urin. His leg is getting better. His lungs are with fluid which is normal after a long period of using a machine to breathe for him. He is having all medication necessary to help him recover. All we need to do is to continue waiting and continue believing!
“You are the God that heals me, You are Yahweh Rapha, You healed me through Your Word, You are theLord my doctor.”
As you all know, I love to sing when I am with Mustafa. These lyrics sound a little weird because the song is actually German. Mustafa’s mum was really happy when I translated what I was singing and said, “Yes, I believe that too, God is our doctor!”
They cleaned and closed the wound on his leg today; took a swab again to find out if it’s still infected. The nurse told us the good news that his leg is finally improving. His main problem right now is that his abdo-men is very large and this is causing a lot of pressure on the lungs. Therefore they have given him a medica-tion to help his digestion. Besides this, they reviewed his nutrition.The result of yesterday’s brain CT was that there’s nothing unusual. His brain function is fine. However he still needs a lot of support for his breathing.
I am so glad that Mustafa has Sundus for his mother. I told her I believe that other mums could not handle the situation as well as she does – being so brave and enduring and strong. I guess the “enduring” part is what I admire the most. To not give up. To not stop praying. Even though it seems that there is no change and no improvement. To fully trust in God that He is working in Mustafa’s life. She told me that she sympathizes so much with Mustafa that she sometimes has pain in the same areas: one night she woke up cause her right leg was hurting so much and now that Mustafa’s abdomen is so swollen she also feels pain in her stomach and didn’t want to eat…
Please continue faithful in prayer as his mum does.
Mustafa is still in a critical condition, his lungs are the main issue now, and high pressures are required to get enough oxygen into his blood. The sedation was increased slightly from yesterday to ensure that he is not in any pain. Now we wait and pray as this young man’s lungs struggle to heal.
Praise God, it was a good day for Mustafa! The nurse told us his kidneys are doing well. They even turned the sedation down and he is reacting very well to that. Mustafa was moving a lot, didn’t seem to have pain at all (as the nurse evaluated) and didn’t sleep the whole time but was instead opening his eyes and responding to the questions of his mother with a slight nod.
“Talk to him” we were encouraged by the nurse. “Mustafooosh” I started. And immediately his eyes opened. Wow, I didn’t expect this reaction. What a sign! But just having experienced it is worth it, as it built my trust in our awesome God. He is the healer, as it is said in the song we sang in the morning meeting in Jerusalem today:
You are awesome, awesome, awesome are you God Awesome in your love Awesome in your faithfulness Awesome in your freedom Awesome in your healing Also in your healing
God is with Mustafa and He has the power of healing. So even if the way is still long and he still needs a lot of healing, especially for his lungs, there is hope in our awesome faithful God, Creator of the world and Healer of the brokenness!
Mustafa was not on the dialysis machine, and when we inquired about this change, the nurse said that his kidneys are working enough to no longer be dependent on dialysis! This was surprising and joyful news. His lungs are still fighting, and he is battling high pressures in his lungs. There is still unhealthy bacteria in multiple places, including his leg and his tracheostomy site. Yet, we hold onto hope for him. It will be a slow recovery, but his and our strength comes from God.
As we traveled to visit Mustafa in the adult general ICU of Sheba Medical Center, Psalm 46 resided in our hearts. Be still and know that God is our refuge and strength, and that he is the almighty God that is not limited by the constraints of laws of medicine or logic. When we surrender our hearts and acknowledge that God is in control, we can then say it is well with our souls. God is with us, and he is with Mustafa. Be still, and know that the God who created the wonders of the world, including the beautiful fields that we admired on our way to the hospital, carefully hand crafted Mustafa.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
I was waiting in the echo area with some other children as Sundis walked in. As always, she has a beautiful smile on her face. Exactly one month ago, Mustafa had his surgery. I still remember it like it was yesterday, how joyfully he went to the hospital. Sometimes, as in today, I can see Mustafa’s smile in Sundis’s face and it makes me so happy. We were on our way to visit Mustafa when she told me that one time, she got lost as she was walking through the hospital by night. Even thou it must had been very scary, she had a huge smile on her face telling me about it.
When we entered the adult ICU there were a few students standing around Mustafa’s bed, learning about all the different monitors. And once again, I realized how glad Mustafa must be to have Sundis as his mother. She said they should talk in English so she can also learn. It just shows me how much she cares about Mustafa; that she wants to understand everything better in order to care and pray for him better.
Standing next to his bed, and holding Mustafa’s hand, was a very powerful moment for me. I was singing some songs and remembered that God is still God. He holds everything in His hands – in the Potter’s hands. Even when we don’t see changes and Mustafa’s medical situation seems to be the same, HE is working in him and HE can heal him. And yes, if you think about Mustafa’s situation one month ago, and how he is doing now, which is better, you would see that slowly, slowly he is improving, and God is performing His miracles in him.
Realizing that God is working, I talked to Mustafa about everything that is going on, and together with Sundus, we made some jokes because we know how much he loves to laugh. He is such a strong fighter! My prayer is that Mustafa will be able to laugh again. I want him to make some jokes so Sundus can laugh. I pray that his body will be healed by God’s grace, and that God will reveal himself to Mustafa. He is the only one who can reach Mustafa right now, and I know that He is with him because He NEVER leaves the weak alone. “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless“ Isaiah 40,29. This is what I believe. I pray that they can also receive God’s love and trust in Him
Sundus is learning that God is the perfect father. One week ago, she was always worried that no one was taking care of Mustafa. Today, she was able to accept that Mustafa is sleeping and to entrust Mustafa into the hands of those caring for him at the hospital. She has come to accept that Mustafa belongs to God, and that he is taking care of him in a way that is beyond her ability to care for him. Through it all, she knows that God is the good Father. She admitted that God gives and takes away, and applied that to Mustafa. God gave her the gift of Mustafa, but regardless of his health, she knows that God is in control of his life.
Sundus is a blessing to those around her. She is consistently taking care of others, and always sharing food and asking if others have eaten. She is a woman of influence and a leader, and leads with a servant’s heart through her actions.
We can say that God is in control, and we praise him for a decrease in the swelling of his hands and feet. We are also encouraged by the improvement of his kidney function. Please continue especially to pray for his lung function. Weaning off of mechanical ventilation has not yet been successful.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Each time I’m with Mustafa’s mum, I feel like God reveals to me more of Himself.
Today, she spoke passionately to me about the pain inside of her, every time she sees anything which could be a twinge of pain in his leg, and how much she wishes she could take that and have the pain herself. She spoke about how as a mother carries her baby inside as part of her own body, the child can never be fully separated from the mother’s heart.
And as we know that heart of love, is a picture of God’s great love for us. We read this week in our morning meeting about some of the characteristics relating to this commandment of loving one another. What is love, as defined by God? ….Love is patient, or we can read, long suffering.
And that is what we are experiencing here with Mustafa; the fruit of patience is growing! We waited a long time to hear any updates of his condition from the busy ICU staff. Thank God for His favour of bringing a Spanish speaking nurse who warmly greeted Margarita and asked if she needed any help! And so we were told of little improvements in his kidneys and his leg. Slowly slowly, we continue to wait, standing together and trusting in God.
This is the first time after his surgery that I dared to take a picture of Mustafa. His face and hands are not that swollen anymore. And I don’t know what else has changed but he looks just so peaceful now.
I have to confess that I often find myself not knowing what to pray for anymore. Especially when I have prayed the same things over and over again. However, the update is that doctors planned to lower his sedation today. Tomorrow they will test for bacteria cultures in his right leg. His lungs are still in poor condition. But his heart is stable.
So today I decided just to sing: “I will trust my savior Jesus, when my darkest doubts befall. Trust him when to simply trust Him, seems the hardest thing of all.“
While I was singing to Mustafa, Amanda, who came to visit us from England, had some lovely and important conversations with Mustafa’s mum. I can’t believe how many opportunities we have had through this trying situation to talk with the mum about our Heavenly Father and the gospel. I realized that I have come to the point with Mustafa’s situation where I have no other choice, than to trust in God and His promises.
It’s all in His hands. It has always been. And it will always be.
I could feel the joy in Sundus’ heart from feeling Mustafa gently squeeze her hand for the first time since the heart surgery. Mustafa even slightly smiled at the voice of his lovely sister in Kurdistan, who was eager to see Mustafa open his eyes. Mustafa even nodded in response to Sundus’ questions.
Mustafa is still on a medication that helps sedation, but the plan is to slowly take him off of this medication and to increase other pain medications.
Today, I tried to tell him about the new Kurdish children that have arrived in Israel, and how we miss him at our Shevet home. I shared how there will be incoming families, with people his age, and hope that they will all become friends.
His kidneys have shown improvement, as he is now forming more urine than before. He will still be on continuous dialysis to help filter his blood as his kidneys hopefully recover. There are two types of unhealthy bacteria in his leg at the site where they opened his leg, but he is being treated with antibiotics for this development. There is a wound vacuum machine to help promote healing, and also part of the plan is to slowly close his leg with staples. There are now staples in place and part of the incision site is now closed.
I remember the morning of Mustafa’s surgery, and how God had blessed Mustafa with peace and an overwhelming amount of joy prior to his surgery. After the surgery, when I received the call that Mustafa was still bleeding even hours after the main surgery, I remember praying for Mustafa in the streets of the Old City in Jerusalem, asking God for Mustafa’s joy to flourish and for the joy of the Lord to be his family’s strength. I continue praying that this would be true in Mustafa and Sundus’ life. We pray that the overwhelming joy of the Lord would abound in their lives.
Young Mustafa is still in a battle. He is back on dialysis, and his weak lungs are still struggling for air. His sedation has been modified so that he is now able to take the occasional breath on his own, this will help him slowly wean off the breathing machine. The wound packing in his leg will he changed tomorrow, and the doctors will reassess to determine if the wound can be sutured closed. Pray that his weak body can fight off the leg infection, start to breath again, and that his kidneys will begin to function.
His strong and patient mother also deserves a place in your prayers, she is beginning to tire of seeing her beloved son suffer.
Fragility and strong. Today for first time I saw the mother of Mustafa break. She is a brave woman. She keeps a smile and helps all people around her. Today after seeing how much suffering Mustafa has, she was also suffering. The bacteria that is in Mustafa’s leg is making struggles in his recovering and affecting also his mother. For the first time she showed how much she is needing the strength that is coming from the Lord. Don’t allow this bacteria to affect our faith also, please continue praying for her and the complete recovery of Mustafa.
On a positive note, there has been some slight improvement over the last few days regarding his kidneys. He is currently off the dialysis, but this will be reviewed. Then the ventilator machine was bleeping and turning red a few times. The doctor said this is because Mustafa is trying to breathe by himself! Even his sedation has been discontinued and he is on a strong painkiller now. This also will be reviewed by the docs involved. So praise the Lord for these improvements. Small steps but in the right direction. They are absolutely significant and very encouraging. Thanks all for your continued prayers.
We found Mustafa today has been moved to the general intensive care unit. It is good to know, that amongst everything else, his heart is now doing well enough that the staff consider that he doesn’t need to be in the cardiac ICU, and has been moved into a place where they can continue to focus on the improvement of his breathing and leg.
The visiting hours are different, so we had over an hour of time waiting to be allowed into the ICU to see him. We spoke a lot about prayer, and Mustafa’s mother explained to me how prayer is done in Islam, and read to me some of the prayers which she carries with her. We agreed that above all, God is great, and the things which he does are like no other. He gives us all strength as we are weak without him, and we need him in everything we do.
It is really special to think of the words from God in Isaiah 56, that all the nations will come together to worship God, and here we see a glimpse of His heart when we know that people from across the world are interceding for Mustafa. It is very encouraging, and so please continue to pray big prayers for Mustafa’s breathing, his kidneys and his leg, in the truth that nothing is impossible for God. He can move mountains.
Jonathan and I visited Mustafa today together with his mother, and found him sleeping peacefully. Prior to our arrival, his doctor chose to lift some of his sedation, to begin the process of releasing him entirely from this drug. So the moment that his mother began speaking to him, Mustafa’s eyes opened. (She told us this also happened today when his sisters back home called out to him via the phone).
Mustafa is still unable to focus his eyes on his mother, which the ICU staff explained is normal while sedated. Mustafa is also moving his head, shoulders and leg from time to time.
The doctors are taking one day at a time with Mustafa, describing this as a complicated case but not an impossible one. Jonathan also spoke with Mustafa, explaining how much time had passed since his surgery and why our visits were limited to certain hours, and encouraging him that he is progressing slowly but steadily, and we are all waiting for him to come home to us again.
A final word: one of Mustafa’s doctors said he wishes he had a mother like Sundus. God continue to bless and sustain this patient, calm, dignified and godly mother.
Today we found that Mustafa has a new bacteria in his leg, which was recently surgically cleaned. There was a possibility of stopping his sedation so he could wake up, but they have decided to wait. Every minute, he is on his mother’s mind. Please continue to pray for him, for full healing in Jesus name. We ask for our Mustafa back.
As Mustafa’s mum and I arrived to see him today, the nurse told us that they had made the tracheostomy for him earlier this morning. Thank God for his timing, his mother and I both agreed. It was much better that the procedure had been carried out and was over with by the time Sundus was even aware that it was happening. After a couple of minutes, we were asked to leave as they wanted to check the leg. So we waited outside the unit again, for over an hour.
Together we were able to make some inquiries into the possibility of mum staying the night in the hospital. We also looked at some diagrams of a tracheostomy so mum could understand how it works, and how it might affect his speech and eating. Later on, Mustafa’s mum showed me a message from his sister, saying “look Mum, it’s very normal!” and sent a photo from the Internet of a really beautiful baby with a trache. It is really special to know how her family in Kurdistan continue to send encouragements, on this long journey. I shared with Mustafa’s mum how she is really not alone, and how so many people, family, friends, and even many staff from the paediatric department are asking after him.
We had some good news from the hospital today, that as the tracheostomy went smoothly, they are hopeful that Mustafa’s sedation might be able to be stopped tomorrow, and he can begin to wake up! They also have put some special bandages on his leg, and are hoping they can close the wounds. It’s possible he might need a skin graft. Whilst the heart is looking good, he still will require intubation, and haemodialysis, so please keep on praying that God continues to hold him together and breathe life into each part of his body.
After visiting hours were finished, Mustafa’s mother and I sat outside the hospital in the sun, and we were both grateful to God for the peace which we felt after seeing him today.
“The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly. The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things! The strong right arm of the Lord is raised in triumph. The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things! I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the Lord has done.” Psalms 118, 14-17
My mum has been praying these verses over Mustafa for quite some time. She sent me a voice message in which she is reading from the Psalms to him. When I was standing next to his bed today, I held my phone next to his ear so he could listen to it. Only God knows how much Mustafa senses the things that are hap-pening around him, or how much he will remember. But I believe the things we declare have at least an impact on the spiritual world.
We met Mustafa’s doctor who gave us a few updates: during yesterday’s surgery they were able to remove all the dead tissue from his leg. He explained that they want to perform a tracheostomy because the longer he is intubated, the bigger the risk of a lung infection and they can’t wake him up as long as he is intubated. Of course, Mustafa’s mum asked all kinds of questions: Will he be able to walk? After the tracheostomy, will you wake him up? And will he be able to talk to me then? Will he be in pain? …
The doctor sighed, then looked at her, and said “ I want to be honest with you. Mustafa is not on the safe side yet. Our main focus at the moment, is to keep him alive.”
Unfortunately, the tracheostomy had been postponed again, but will hopefully be performed tomorrow.
I love Mustafa’s mum so much. In all of this, she is so patient and brave and enduring. It was wonderful to spend time with her. In the gap between the visiting times, we went outside to get some fresh air. Because there was no other space, we sat down on some rocks next to palm trees on a little traffic island in front of the building. This was so peaceful. Thank you God for giving your peace in the midst of the storm.
When we entered the adult ICU today we found the sleeping Mustafa with his cute mum that was soooo happy to meet us. The mother Sundus told us that she just had prayed that somebody would come to be with her! We were so touched how God cares for His beloved.
In the beginning Mustafa seemed to be a little restless but it got better after a time. He didn’t have the surgery for debridement of his leg last night, so they planned it for today but again it was difficult since there were emergency cases and no free operation rooms.
Mustafa’s mum is really caring well for her son, always around as long as the visiting hours of the ICU allow and longer if the nurse permits. But she is also very tired and worried. When she talked to him with her loving voice, telling her son that we came to visit him, there was something pleading in her voice, like asking him to stay, to stay strong, that brought tears to my eyes and to hers.
At the bed of Mustafa Claudia prayed 2 Corinthians 4:17 over him: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” And the word momentary caught her eyes. Only about ten minutes later the doctor came to give an update and informed us he thinks that Mustafa is going in a good direction. Still everything is very difficult and he needs a surgery for his leg and a tracheotomy and a dialysis for his kidneys, but as Mustafa is a young man he is confident these threats are only temporary.
Our confidence is in God. We know if somebody can help Mustafa it is him. So we pray for him. Praise God, Claudia, Sundus and I also had a good prayer time today in the ICU. We pray that God is touching their lives and changing it in this deep time, that they may feel his comfort. For me, Mustafa is a brother after all the things we experienced together before the surgery. And I feel comforted to know that God hears my prayers for my brother. Please join the prayers for our brother Mustafa! Pray especially for surgery for his leg soon, and for a good rest for his mum.
Thank you all for your continued prayers for Mustafa. Here is an update on him:
This morning, the nurse reported that today Mustafa would have a tracheostomy procedure. Sundus, Mustafa’s mother, was filled with various emotions, some that I cannot understand. It must be so difficult for her to process how and why it is necessary for someone to intentionally create a hole in her son’s neck. There are various advantages and disadvantages to the tracheostomy, but her heart is for no pain or harm for Mustafa. We asked multiple times to various doctors whether this procedure was necessary, and they all concluded that the tracheostomy is a vital next step
Yet we were holding onto hope that God would heal and strengthen Mustafa’s muscles. We could see his effort to move. There are a lot of different factors that I do not understand, but medically it is beneficial for him to have this tracheostomy — less risks of infection, his chances of being weaned off of mechanical ventilation are higher, he would not need to be sedated anymore, and it is more comfortable for him…and there are many more reasons. There are a lot of factors that I cannot fully comprehend, like the high amount of positive end-expiratory pressure that is used to support his breathing, or perhaps why God allowed for his muscles to weaken after being on this machine for two weeks. It is conflicting, because medically, this tracheostomy procedure is the logical route. And yet, I cannot argue that God can perform any miracle as he chooses.
We were waiting for the surgeon to come and announce that they would perform the tracheostomy procedure, but then the doctor said that the orthopedic-surgical department would like to perform a surgical debridement procedure (to clean his leg) on Mustafa tonight. The doctor does not want to perform the surgical debridement and the tracheostomy on the same day. Therefore, the doctors are planning on the trachestomy procedure tomorrow now.
Please continue to pray for Sundus as she processes all this new information. We continue to praise the God who is sustaining Mustafa’s every breath and life. May he continue to sustain, to strengthen, and to heal our precious Mustafa. Sundus remarked at the amount of people praying for Mustafa in Kurdistan. She knows that God hears all their prayers. There are people from all over the world, praying for Mustafa and his family. His story is impacting the lives of many near and far. Here are just a few of the kind and powerful prayers spoken over his life:
“Praying that our Father who gives breath and life will build Mustafa’s strength for breathing. … May the Lord come alongside each one of his children right now – to sustain, to strengthen, to heal.”
“May our God who is in control of every situation continue to work in this one and bring peace and rest to Sundus and restore our precious Mustafa to wholeness!”
“So so thinking and praying for dear Sundus and Mustafa. The Lord is in control.”
“May peace just flow over Sundus and the Lord’s presence be like a special touch on Mustafa. I pray wisdom from God’s throne for the surgeon.”
Mustafa’s mother, Sundus and I left for the Sheba Medical Center early this morning.
As we waited together for the start of visiting hours at the Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit, we were counting down the minutes until we could be reunited with Mustafa. At 11:25, five minutes before the visiting hours started, we paced the empty hallways of the heart center. I asked Sundus how she was feeling, and if she was afraid. She replied that she was not afraid, but that she was feeling something that was more severe than afraid. She exhaled deeply, and said, “My heart stopped”. She asked me to check her heart. It raced as I felt her pulse. We inhaled and exhaled together, both trying to rest in knowing that because God is with Mustafa, that we have no reason to fear.
Exactly at 1130, we entered the unit. The doctor overseeing the unit explained the events that occurred this morning. The team was unable to successfully extubate Mustafa. After withdrawing the endotracheal tube, Mustafa was unable to supply his own breaths and thus needed to be re-intubated. This is Mustafa’s eleventh day after his surgery. He has been on mechanical ventilation, and this oxygen support has been supplied by an endotracheal tube that travels down his mouth to his lungs. Today the doctor discussed the need for a tracheotomy procedure, as they have been unable to wean him from mechanical ventilation and the endotracheal tube is not designed for a prolonged time of mechanical ventilation. The procedure may potentially occur early next week.
His body suffered greatly from losing so much blood after the surgery, and it has and will be a slow recovery. As his body entered into a state of shock after this bleeding, his various organs were affected. His muscles are not as strong as they were, and it proves difficult for the muscles supporting his lungs to resume their strong function. His heart function has greatly improved and has been presenting as a normal rhythm, and his liver function is slowly improving. His kidneys are still fighting. They are evaluating his kidney function by testing how his kidneys operate by pausing the dialysis every few days. He is still recovering from his pneumonia and is receiving antibiotics, but his test results have shown improvement.
A kind nurse offered Sundus a chair, as she processed all this information. She held Mustafa’s swollen hand, pulled it close to her face, and said the Kurdish term of endearment–literally meaning “I will sacrifice for you”. As tears were forming in her eyes, she encouraged Mustafa to breathe and said she would sacrifice her life for him. I wish I could offer Mustafa my lungs, but this is not the solution to his condition.
The other day, Sundus and I were watching the rain heavily fall from the sky, and we concluded that the sky was crying for Mustafa. We discussed how the rain is beneficial, as if offers relief to dry ground and also cleanses the impurities of the world. She asked if the rain would clean Mustafa’s heart and make him well again. We pray for a clean and pure heart, and one of forgiveness. I pray that God would accept our broken and contrite hearts as a pleasing sacrifice. Our human efforts of salvation are in vain, our efforts to save another ultimately result in failure. Yet Christ is the solution to suffering and offers grace through the sacrifice of his son.
Sundus and I exited the building briefly while the nurse cleaned Mustafa. The rain stopped and the sky cleared today, enough for us to sit outside and feel the warmth of the sun. The sun brought me joy and hope for Mustafa. Sundus loves her son dearly. She held his hand with care and whispered prayers to him, faithfully reading the Qu’ran at his bedside. Please pray for God to strengthen her during Mustafa’s recovery time, and for peace. We praise the God who sacrificed his life for him
This morning, at one point, Mustafa’s Doctors would like to attempt to extubate him. His pneumonia, which was associated with his ventilator, has improved. He remains without a fever and there have been small improvements in his lungs and liver.
Yesterday, they were able to discontinue a medication that had been supporting his blood pressure for the last two weeks. Mustafa’s mother left the hospital yesterday feeling hopeful, with renewed strength for today. She says she is thankful knowing that God is listening to all the prayers for Mustafa.
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalms 40:1 NLT
With co-worker Colin, I again had the privilege of taking Mustsfa’s mum to visit her son at Sheba Medical Center. When we came into the Intensive Care Unit, a real blessing awaited us in that we were able to get an almost immediate report on Mustafa from the Doctor in charge; the top Doctor in the intensive care unit.
Mustafa was moved from the children’s unit to the adult unit where he is now to receive the best possible care. This news really pleased Mustafa’s mum. The Doctor said he is a little better from yesterday. He has no fever today, and the antibiotics he is on will take a few days to clear up the ventilator-induced pneumonia. He will have a chest xray tomorrow to see if his sedation can be reduced. These promising signs are such an encouragement to Mustafa’s mother. We had an especially good chat with the nurse looking after him. She told us that she is a Christian and wanted to know about Shevet Achim. Praise the Lord. She took real time with Mustafa’s mother to answer her many questions and was really interested in her family back home. It was a beautiful time as Mustafa’s mum was showing the nurse pictures of her children, and it was lovely to see her laughing and freely chatting with the nurse.
Later, Mustafa’s mum and I went for a drink and walked around the hospital. There were old photos of how the hospital used to be and she found them very interesting. I was really thankful that her mind, even for just a short time, could focus on something else. When we returned to Mustafa’s unit Colin joined us. We had a chat with different nurses from the morning, who, again, were really kind and caring and interested in where we came from.
So it has been another very big day in Mustafa’s life. May I please again ask for sweet incense going up to our Heavenly Father for precious Mustafa and continual strength for his mother. Every bone in her body is crying out in tiredness but with G-d’s help and all the wonderful prayer support, she is staying strong. Thanking you.
Again, I went to Sheba Medical Center with Mustafa’s mum Sundus and Georgia to see Mustafa this morning. We were told he has developed pneumonia and will have to have some very aggressive ventilation treatment. The Doctor also said Mustafa has a fever. My heart was so very heavy and so sad for his mum. This is another set back for her precious son, for her to cope with.
With all the noise surrounding us, Sundus opened the Koran and spent some time reading and praying over Mustafa very quietly and rubbing his arm and hand. With all this sadness, the Lord brought a ray of light in a Jewish-Kurdish lady called Sukkit, who likes to bring clothes and gives her time for the mums and Dads at Shevet Achim.
She took Sundus and myself to the hospital cafe and insisted Sundus eat something, which she did. The transformation in Sundus by this act of kindness was really special. Now, instead of tears in the ward, there was laughter. Thank God for Sukkit. When she left, I took Sundus out for some air. She was saying how birds and trees have much to thank G-d for. I think it was a relief to get out for a time from the hospital ward environment.
When we went back to the ward, a different nurse was caring for Mustafa. He was exceptionally kind and patient, answering all Sundus’s questions. They even had a few laughs which, to me, was such a blessing for Sundus. Her whole face was beaming. The nurse said the next 24 hours are very important to see if Mustafa’s lungs and kidneys will improve. His heart is ok and his leg is improving.
Frank and Archie and Georgia came into the room for just a few precious moments. I was telling Mustafa how loved he is and that so many people are praying all over the world. The mum again opened the Koran, praying and reading as earlier.
The very kind nurse brought two bags of food for both of us; this really touched us so much.
Sundus shared she is much more peaceful today. Last night she had a dream that Mustafa was in the grave, but he said to her, ” I don’t want to stay here,” and burst up from the grave, giving this precious lady such hope. Thanking you for your prayers for this family who really mean so very much to me. May we pray without ceasing for them! Bless and thank you. 1 Thessalonians 5 verse 17.
The song Lisa had played during our car journey to the hospital kept going round and round in my head. Some days these words feel easy to sing – they feel natural and almost effortless – I don’t even stop to think about them, but on days like today I find myself stumbling over them.
The Mustafa we know at Shevet is the caring, funny, “full-of-life” Mustafa. He’s always up for adventures to the ice cream shop, a Christmas market or a picnic by the beach. It’s humbled me to see the way he takes care of the younger children as if they were his own brothers and sisters. Watching them smile when he walks into a room or picks them up is beautiful.
Standing by his bed in the ICU feels strange. Today, the medical team had extubated him when we got there, but had to reintubate him later – they are going to try again tomorrow. Although he has a long way to go, the good news is that he’s improving. His doctor assured us this morning thats he’s better than yesterday.
Nevertheless it’s hard to see Mustafa like this – he feels like a brother to us at Shevet.
As I sat with Mustafa’s mother, these thoughts flying round my head at 240km/h, the words of the song came to mind again.
“Not for a minute was I forsaken…”
Not for a minute has Mustafa been forsaken – not for a single minute. God has heard and hears the prayers all over the world for this precious young man. He has been there in every moment of Mustafa’s journey and is there even in the middle of the ICU room. The words of this songs are not just nice words to sing when the sun is shining, but they tell us of a truth we can cling to for Mustafa.
“Not for a minute was I forsaken
The Lord in in this place”
Jana and myself took the mother of Mustafa, Sundus, to see her precious son in the adult ICU at Sheba Medical Center. Before we were allowed in to see Mustafa, my hands were cold. Dear Sundus, with such care and kindness, began to warm my hands; a beautiful act of caring for others though her heart was hurting so much.
It was the first time I have seen Mustafa after his operation, to see this fun-loving, young man lying there with tubes everywhere and eyes closed, was very hard to take in. You can imagine that for Sundus, to see her son still the same as when she saw him yesterday, it must have been heartbreaking. The very kind nurse caring for Mustafa said there is no change in his condition. The Doctors will come around tomorrow and may decide if Mustafa is to have another echo. It is very important to make sure Mustafa is not in any pain however, so they are proceeding with care.
Mustafa is sedated but not completely. He can hear the nurse and can hear when we speak to him as well. Sundus was talking to Mustafa and praying, stroking his hand which was out from under the sheet. Suddenly, he very slowly moved his arm and moved his head. At that moment, I felt like an intruder. This most wonderful moment was between mum and son. Mustafa was conveying that he heard his mother and our tears flowed.
The nurses were then about to have some treatment for Mustafa, so we had to go out of the room. The nurse caring for Mustafa was exceptionally gentle and capable. Before the treatment, she asked if Sundus had any questions and then patiently answered them. She told us that the three chest drains were removed this morning. This was good news in the right direction for Mustafa.
As we sat in the waiting room, I truly could feel Sundus’s pain and deep sadness. I sat next to her, trying to bring some comfort. Co-worker Jana, who drove us to the hospital, gave Sundus a bar of chocolate which, after a little persuasion, she ate to our delight. Then the attending nurse called to Sundus that they had finished with the treatment. As only two visitors are allowed at one time, Jana went with Sundus.
As I sat there, I thought about dear Sundus. It really touched me so very much to think that as we walked up to the hospital, as it had been heavily raining and there were many puddles, even though Sundus must have been so anxious to see Mustafa, she waited for me as I struggled slowly through those puddles.
With my heart I ask for prayer for healing for dear Mustafa and much prayer please for Sundus. We need to be carrying her as her legs are weak and her whole being is in such stress. I thank you.
Isaiah 43 verse 2
When you pass through deep waters I will be with you .
Today doctors stopped Mustafa’s sedation to see if he responsive. His mum was at his bed saying, “Mustafa, it’s Mum.” She said this through tears. This is the first time I’ve seen her cry, or have heard the longing in her voice to have Mustafa conscious again.
I’ve heard these words before, with other parents telling children that they are there, and asking them to wake up. But it’s not a plea you get used to hearing. A few hours after coming off the sedation, Mustafa would open his eyes when he heard his name and could move his hands and legs and head. The nurse said this is a very good sign.
Our Israeli paramedic volunteer Moshe went in with Mustafa’s mother to talk with the doctor in the ICU, who said that there is a small amount of improvement in Mustafa’s kidneys, but his leg remains the same. A nurse later told me that while a lot of people have cardiac surgery, not many have the surgery he had–it was unique, long and complicated. But they are optimistic because he is young that he will make a complete recovery, though it will be a long road.
We do believe and possess hope that Mustafa will be fully healed, and at his bedside I held on to that. But there is also immense sadness that he is in this state. Perhaps it is sadness for not having Mustafa as he truly is, with his smile, his jokes, his personality, the totality of his being.
Moshe and I gave Mustafa’s mum time alone with him, and as we were sitting outside the ICU a passage from one of my favorite books came to mind: “The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
We mourn the state of our brother, but with full assurance in the goodness of God in whom the deepest love and the deepest sorrow have met on the cross. We believe there is more to Mustafa’s story.
As the hours pass, the atmosphere has lightened. Because of the nurses changing shifts Mustafa’s mum came out to the waiting area and was able to eat a bit. Soon enough we were laughing and listening to Moshe’s stories of working in the ambulance. We are a family, and we will walk this long road together.
It was my pleasure again to accompany Mustafa’s mother to visit him today. He is now in the Adult Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. It was my first time in this department of the hospital, as we usually are just in the pediatric building.
The nurse attending to Mustafa explained his condition to us. He continues on the haemodialysis, and even though he’s asleep, the nurse confirmed that as he was responsive after the surgery, there isn’t any reason for us to think that there could be any damage to his brain. He also had an echo today, which showed that the surgery had been done successfully. This is really good news! He still needs some time and prayers to give his leg, kidneys and liver a chance to respond to the treatments and recover.
The nurse was so kind and friendly. I felt grateful that Mustafa is in such good hands. As all of the relationships in this building are new, none of the staff there know about Shevet Achim, and so the nurse asked me, “This is his mother, and you… are you his sister?” I quickly slid into an explanation of my “professional” relationship to Mustafa and his mother, and it felt quite incomplete. I firmly added, “Yes, and now, I am also his sister!”
As Mustafa’s mother and I sat together, we discussed how family bonds are created, the kindness of people, who is our enemy, and who is our family. Later on, I thought about how our discussion reminded me of the words of Jesus:
“And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:27-29, 37
Please thank God for building us together as a family in love, and thank Him for the blessing of being able to be a good neighbor to each other, as we stand together in intercession for Mustafa’s health.
We see the love and faithfulness of God every single day, and at every moment. We arrived at the perfect time for Mustafa’s transfer to the adult intensive care unit. He was transferred to the adult building from the pediatric building, because as he is sixteen years old, his body is similar to an adults’. The doctors have entrusted the adult intensive care unit to care for Mustafa.
After the transfer, we waited for a long time as they were transitioning Mustafa to his new room. During this waiting period, we had time to pray for Mustafa and time to encourage Mustafa’s mother. We saw God’s perfect timing in everything today. We arrived at the hospital at the perfect time. We were given instructions about where to find the adult ICU building, but we were still unsure about the location. God then provided the way to also join Mustafa in the ambulance. Even during our devotional time this morning, we read of Ephesians 2:10 which says “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Mustafa is stable now, and we praise God for this.
As I spent time with Mustafa’s mum at the hospital today, I wanted to encourage her and continue in the spirit of declaring good things over them both.
I read to her this prayer that God would give her strength:
My [prayer] for you
Is that you continue
To be who and how you are
To astonish a mean world
With your acts of kindness
To allow humour to lighten the burden
Of your tender heart
In a society dark with cruelty
To let the people hear the grandeur
Of God in the peals of your laughter
11 verses of this poem follow, and we read each one together. My writing was difficult for someone reading in their third language. But I wanted to share with her how God has made both her and Mustafa with this beautiful list of kind and generous attributes; faith-filled and grateful before God.
Mustafa has been put onto hemodialysis, to help improve the function of his kidneys and also his liver, so please keep on interceding for him. We agreed that Mustafa’s spirit is so of life, that we know he will be fighting. Please intercede for him, and declare the good plans that our Father has for him, to give him a hope and a future.
Sundus, Mustafa’s brave and kind mother, dearly loves Mustafa and her family. She possesses a beautiful heart, and whenever challenges arise, she holds fast to knowing that her God loves her. As she held Mustafa’s hand and whispered prayers for him, we could feel her love for her son. I possess full confidence in knowing that Mustafa is loved, deeply by God and those around him. We all held hands together, praising God for Mustafa’s life, asking for peace and strength.
While we were waiting for more information regarding Mustafa’s health, his mother Sundus, my colleague Ruth, and I reflected on our dear memories with Mustafa.
Last week Mustafa celebrated Christmas by attending a Christmas market and advent service. We all had a wonderful time, simply being together enjoying fellowship.
Last night, the doctors and nurses prepared Mustafa for a CT exam, to assess how the blood in his body is perfusing. Sundus shared about the story of his last CT scan at the beginning of December. I volunteered to go with him as they transferred him another department to perform this exam, not as a medical escort, but as his sister. Thankfully, the CT exam revealed hopeful news for Mustafa.
In these last 12 hours, the healthcare team have performed various procedures and have started new medications to support Mustafa. They have developed a plan of care for him, and are devoted to caring for Mustafa. God provided such wonderful nurses who have explained Mustafa’s current state and are encouraging his mother to spend time with Mustafa–even to speak with him so he feels so loved and supported.
Please continue to pray for Mustafa, as he is in a recovery phase now. This will be a long journey, but we are all hopeful for Mustafa. We continue to pray for him and his whole family. We ask that the joy that Mustafa had prior to his surgery would be restored. We pray that the joy of the Lord would be the source of strength for Sundus and Mustafa.
It is the day after Mustafa’s big and very long surgery. As I entered the hospital room, I found his mum sitting in the chair next to his bed, her face showing the amount of concern and worry she was carrying. This picture appeared quite surreal, since both Mustafa and his mum are usually very joyful and filled with life, but it was real. The moment Mustafa’s mum saw me, a weak smile appeared on her face. Her usually lively eyes showed now how tired she was. She couldn’t get a lot of sleep during the night, her worries for Mustafa kept her awake.
One of the doctors approached us and updated us on Mustafa’s condition. Mustafa had stopped bleeding, but his heart still needs a lot of support. His heart rate was indicating an arrhythmia and the doctors were discussing how to proceed. We were blessed with a very kind and patient doctor who explained precisely what was going on. Mustafa’s mum took the update strongly and although her heart must be filled with anxiety, she expressed her thankfulness towards the hospital team.
Mustafa’s mum and I left the ICU to take a small walk on the floor. I was filled with a helplessness since there is nothing that I can physically do. I can’t take away the worry, nor help Mustafa. Even though our human strength and possibilities are limited, God reigns over every circumstance and He knows exactly what His children need in every situation of their life. I started praying a song that I had been listening to on the drive to the hospital:
“Oh, God, would you hold her tonight?
‘Cause I’m not there to stay close
Keep watch, tell her she’s not alone
Hold her tonight”
Hold her by for KING AND COUNTRY
These words expressed perfectly what I was feeling – and God held her. Mustafa’s mum was able to find a little bit of sleep and rest in the waiting room. God silenced the storm in her head and she fell asleep. As she woke up, Helen and Marilyn went to her and kept her company. Halbast’s mum brought food and Mustafa’s mum was finally able to eat a little. Surrounded by these loving people, Mustafa’s mum regained strength. Since God knows exactly what it feels like to see your own son suffer, he knew what Mustafa’s mum needed.
Alike with his mum also Mustafa regained some strength, in the second update from the doctor we were informed about some improvement. They decided to tackle the arrhythmia with Amiodaron and his blood showed that his heart was working stronger than before. The doctor described this as “small steps in the right direction.”
As we left, Mustafa’s strong mum thanked us and the praying community for all that we do.
Leaving the hospital I kept on repeating this prayer for her, that even though the night might be dark and seem lonely, she will feel God’s arms wrapped around her.
This evening as we were going to see the Hanukkah lights in Jerusalem, celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, Colin received word that Mustafa was still in the operating room at the hospital. Despite the celebrated news of the successful surgery (see earlier blog below) that repaired his aortic valve and removed his ascending aortic aneurysm, replacing it with grafts, we heard around 6 this evening that Mustafa was experiencing bleeding. At the time of the call, he had already been in the OR for 10 hours.
The whole Shevet community joined hands in the street in the Old City of Jerusalem, and lifted up his situation to God. Colin and I made our way to the hospital, and found Mustafa’s mum alone looking tired and worried. She told us that Mustafa had come out of the OR and into the room in the intensive care unit, but she wasn’t yet allowed to see him. It was good to be together. She has been such a faithful friend to everyone she has met here, and it was sad to see her so worried, carrying the weight of this worry.
After some time, we were allowed in the room, and watched Mustafa sleeping. We prayed together.
Eventually his mum was ready to sleep too, after the nurse had reassured her a few times that Mustafa was definitely not going to be waking up this evening, as he is on medication to stop him moving around. Sleep got the better of her anxieties, and we were able to leave her at Mustafa’s side ready to rest.
When we met Mustafa’s mum at the hospital, he was in surgery already. She was full of smiles and very cheerful as we awaited in anticipation for Mustafa to come from his surgery. One of the nurses asked her to interpret for them with another Kurdish mother. Even though she was anxiously awaiting news of her son, she willingly agreed to help the nurses, still smiling as she went with them. Then she shared some lovely photos of her family back home with me. The pride was oozing from her, and it was a really special moment.
We had brought another child, Neena, to the hospital to have an assessment. It was really touching that Neena’s mother said she didn’t want to go back home after the test had finished, but to stay and support Mustafa’s mum.
This is true sisterly love.
I felt so sorry as Mustafa’s mum had pain in her back because of sitting so long, but still she had a smile. We found out that she hadn’t slept all night, just making sure her son was sleeping, the night before his operation.
Waiting for the surgery eventually felt agonising, but after a surgeon came out and gave us the good news that the operation was finished, we rejoiced together.Two hours later, another surgeon came and told us that they did not need to use a mechanical valve in the surgery, which was also wonderful news.
How we all celebrated! Throughout this long waiting, Mustafa’s mum was so calm and showed no signs of real stress outwardly, but as every mother will know, inwardly I’m sure things were very different. I truly found it a privilege to be rejoicing with this dear mother that her son is safe.
Please continue to pray for continual healing and strength for Mustafa and his mum .
The call came at almost nine pm tonight: Mustafa must come to the hospital immediately, for his long-awaited surgery in the morning.
The team at the Jerusalem guesthouse gave him a playful, loving, and prayerful sendoff, and Mustafa arrived at the hospital with an amazingly cheerful spirit for someone knowing he is going into open-heart surgery:
After blood was drawn from both his arms, we left Mustafa enjoying a last pizza in the final minutes before the midnight deadline after which he must fast from food and drink:
Please join us in praying for a new heart for this much-loved young man and his mother.
After checking in at the desk this morning, Mustafa went straight to Neena’s room to take her some of her favorite chocolate that he bought for her yesterday.
He had his echo which brought the news that he will definitely need surgery to repair his heart as soon as possible. The Doctors also want to do a couple more assessments before surgery to see if he has Marfan Syndrome, as many people with his heart condition do.
Please keep him in your prayers that God would keep him until the surgery can be done and that it will be soon. After all this news Mustafa was a bit down and we took him to the music therapy room which was perfect! He had so much fun playing many different instruments and was able to laugh and take his mind off the circumstances for a bit.
He even convinced his mother to play with us. It was a beautiful time!
When we finished he waited very patiently for everyone else to be finished so we could go home. We continue to lift this family before the Father in prayer that he will continue to work in their lives and that He will give peace in the midst of the diagnosis today.
We were all excited because the Lord helped expedite Mustafa’s CTA so that it was done today! His previous appointment was to have been more than three weeks later, so the Lord is good. We were ready to leave the Shevet base for the hospital when we found out we needed to take Israa with us to be admitted for surgery, so we hurried to get everyone ready and not be late for Mustafa’s appointment.
When we arrived at the desk, the receptionist handed us a form to fill out in Hebrew. When I asked for an English version she said they didn’t have one, so she would ask us the questions and fill it out for us. There was then a discussion about whether they would let Mustafa have the CTA, since he was supposed to have had a blood test first. If we went to have a blood test now, he would miss his scheduled appointment time. The blood test requirement was printed plainly in Hebrew on the appointment letter however, the nurse informed me, still they usually tell us if something needs to be done ahead of the appointment and since none of our Shevet nurses read Hebrew…Oops!
So I began to pray and sent a message asking everyone else to pray too, knowing that this appointment has been scheduled for over a month and it could take a while to get another one! We were told to wait for the receptionist to talk with the Doctor to see if he would go ahead without the blood test since Mustafa had already had a previous CTA without a blood test in Kurdistan a few months ago. After about half an hour she appeared with a slip with a number on it and said that the Doctor had okayed it and he would be allowed to have it. Hallelujah! Thank you Lord for answering our prayers!
We video chatted with his sisters while we waited, they are excited that his appointment is earlier too, as this means that he and his mother will be able to return home sooner. Mustafa is really hungry since he had to skip breakfast because of the test. I promise him food the moment he’s done and they call our number to get prepped for the test. Mustafa is tough as they insert the long needle into his arm and inject the contrast for the test. When it’s all over he asks me to guard the cd with the results very carefully, as he would rather have ten surgeries than have to do that again soon! As promised, I got him food while we were waiting for them to print the cd and he was very pleased to get McDonald’s for lunch.
Mustafa has such a big heart for all the kids and is always helping the other moms here entertain their children. He told me today it’s because he remembers what it’s like for these kids since he was here once before when he was four years old to have his first heart surgery and he wants to help make it as easy as he can for them.
When they gave me the cd they said “good news for Mustafa”, so now we just have to wait until his next appointment to find out what the good news is when the Doctor tells us the results. When we were finished we went over to the ICU so his mother could translate to Kurdish for Israa’s father. We are so thankful for her here! She speaks many languages and translates all day long for everyone. She mothers everyone around her with a sweet and quiet spirit. She has also been through this before and helps the moms when they are struggling.
We give thanks to God for working out each detail of today and praise him for His hand at work!
Mustafa and his mum were subject to a lot of attention today, which started as soon as they arrived at the doors of the hospital. An Israeli news station wanted to film them and another Kurdish child who was at the hospital today. He had come for his first assessment at the hospital, but as they were waiting, there was time to interview him and his mum.They also filmed the radiographer performing his echo.
The doctor got lots of information from Mustafa’s mother about his condition. She spoke about the multiple surgeries and catheterisations which he has had, and I really felt for this family who have had to take their son abroad to get the best care possible for him. Mustafa’s doctor confirmed that his aorta is extremely large, and that he will need a surgery to make it smaller. In order to prepare for this, he requires a CT scan, which was requested today, and we will wait for the assigned date.
Later that day, there was a happy reunion when Mustafa and his mother met Jonathan at the hospital.
On our way home, we also brought Samir back. Together we discussed the experience with the film crew, and agreed that Samir was the biggest celebrity. The mums got on very well which was lovely and I really enjoyed our time together.
Mustafa is 16 years old and has experienced multiple surgeries and procedures throughout his life, including one in Israel at our neighboring and partnering hospital, Wolfson. At the age of four years old he was too young to fully remember Israel, but his mother remembered the seven months they spent in Israel from November 2007 to May 2008. His mother also remembers the start of the Iraq War in 2003, the year that Mustafa was born. She shared of the hardships and the devastation of the war. Mustafa and his family have persevered through various trials. Yet Mustafa and his mother both radiate kindness.
Born with a congenital heart defect of dextro-transposition of the arteries, of which he received an aterial switch surgery in 2008, Mustafa has now returned to Israel with the diagnosis of an ascending aortic aneurysm, which means that the largest artery in his body carrying oxygen-rich blood, has expanded unhealthily to more than 1.5 times its normal size. If untreated, this can be hazardous. His first cardiac assessment at another Israeli hospital, Sheba Medical Center, is on October 29.
Our prayers are that both Mustafa and his mother, during their time in Israel, will be able to create memories of joy that they would treasure for their life. May these words of kindness from Titus 3:4-7 transcend into their hearts:
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.