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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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? …
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Later that day, there was a happy reunion when Mustafa and his mother met Jonathan at the hospital.