When I heard that Halbast’s visa was approved to travel to Israel, I eagerly reviewed the information given to us about him. Immediately I knew that it was God’s provision for Halbast to come to Israel and for him to travel as soon as possible. Colleague Georgia and I quickly planned for his arrival and also quickly fell in love with Halbast before even meeting him. Halbast is 22 months old, and will turn two years old soon. We praise God for his life thus far, and for God creating him so beautifully.
There were so many unknowns about Halbast, but from the information gathered, Halbast was unwell. With his congenital heart defect, Halbast suffered from spells where his body, especially his little hands and feet would turn dark blue. His oxygen saturation level was unhealthily low and it was predicted that he would need supplemental oxygen during his air travel, especially with the high altitudes causing a decrease in the oxygen levels. There were differing reports about his exact diagnosis, and there were so many unknowns. However, I found peace in trusting that God is omniscient, or all knowing…including about Halbast’s heart. We decided that he would need a medical escort, and the day before he was set to leave, decided that Frank, Jonathan, and I would first travel to Jordan prior to Erbil.
When we were traveling to the Israel-Jordan border, the scenery was beautiful. Lush, vibrant green fields brought me peace as we traveled. Even with all the unknowns, there was no reason to fear because God is with us. I thought of Psalm 23 as we traveled through the valley:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
We crossed the land border into Jordan, and had the blessed opportunity to meet a family that had this year traveled to Israel for congenital heart surgery, living in the northern region of Jordan close to Syria. During this visit, I was reminded that Halbast was created wonderfully and intricately woven in the image of God, and he is precious in God’s eyes.
Later we all set off to Erbil via airplane. God provided throughout this whole journey, and thankfully there were no complications with security or for clearing the oxygen machine. He provided such kind and understanding people to help us through this whole journey. Early in the morning, at 1 am while it was still dark, we all met Halbast’s father and other family members. His father deeply cares for his son, and we hoped to give him reassurance that his wife and beloved child were not traveling alone. Halbast’s family has been intensely waiting for this day, waiting patiently for the last ten months. Here are some photos of Halbast’s beautiful family:
I then parted and set off to meet the two families, as Khonav (a 14 year old girl) and Halbast were both traveling to Israel for heart care. When I arrived at the main departure hall, I was warmly greeted, with too many kisses on the cheek to count, by Halbast’s sweet and loving grandmother. After their approval to fly and after the tickets were obtained, Halbast’s grandmother wished them all a blessed farewell. Tears were in the grandmother’s eyes and I could tell how much she loved him by the way she cradled Halbast in her arms. It was truly a blessing to meet some of Halbast’s loving family.
Again, throughout all the security and air travels, God provided such kind people to advocate for these children and to expedite their departure. The flight attendant from the first flight loved both Khonav and Halbast, and everyone else who encountered them also loved them and wished them blessings. We nearly missed the boarding for both flights to Amman and Tel Aviv, but God orchestrated everything in his perfect way.
During the first long plane ride, Halbast required oxygen to stabilize his oxygen levels. Thankfully, for his second 45-minute plane ride, he slept soundly and his oxygen was stable throughout the whole journey. His mother was so tired and intermittently fell asleep. She carried him throughout the whole journey and comforted him. She endlessly gives and cares for him, even sacrificing her precious sleep every day to ensure that Halbast receives his medication four times a day.
Throughout the journey, she shared about her family. We exchanged stories about her family and the Shevet Achim families. The families at Shevet were so excited to meet Halbast and Khonav, and even greeted them warmly via telephone prior to their departure from Kurdistan. One father at Shevet comes from the same region and has been so kind in warmly greeting them. When we arrived in Israel, it was a relief. God had safely brought Halbast and Khonav to Israel. Both children are in need of prayer and medical care. Georgia and I immediately asked for his first cardiac assessment in Israel to be as soon as possible. Please pray for him as the cardiologists perform this first assessment, and hopefully will clarify many unknowns. We continually give thanks for Halbast’s life, and for God’s divine orchestration. My love for Halbast and his family has only grown, and I am eager to see how God will work in his life.