The impact of the love of God
Today we said goodbye to both Shifaa and Halbast and their mothers, who brought so much joy to our community. First was the goodbye in Jerusalem; you can see in these pictures why early on Shifaa’s face was likened to a flashlight, lighting up her surroundings:
Then we continued on to the Jaffa base, where the festivities continued with a Kurdish feast of dolma:
We then continued into the traditional farewell party for both Shifaa and Halbast, watching video compilations of their time in Israel, eating cake, and giving gifts to both children and mothers.
The most precious time for me came after our community members had spoken many words of affirmation into the lives of mother and Shifaa. Shifaa’s mother wanted to respond, but instead her face reddened, her eyes moistened, and for long moments she was unable to speak a word. It was such a powerful glimpse of the impact of the love of God on the soul of Shifaa’s mother, and left me feeling encouraged that yes, it’s all worth it.
We left shortly after for the airport, and finally said goodbye with one last hug from visiting volunteer Kathy from Tokyo:
So many beloved families, with whom we have relationships of trust and love, throughout Kurdistan. Let’s pray to be found good stewards of these gifts as we go forward. We’ve already added Shifaa’s family to the must-visit list for our next trip to Kurdistan.
Shifaa was not only adorned like a princess with her gold bracelets and vibrant yellow dress, but Shifaa is a princess. She is a daughter of the King, who is the God of all heaven and earth. And her heavenly father loves her with a perfect love, and delights in her. He knows every thought of hers, and he has seen her through all her life. He has not only seen every tear, but he has been with her in every moment. He is longing for Shifaa to walk with him closely, and for them to enjoy eternity together.
Shifaa was scheduled for an echo, but with sedation. As they waited for the echo, Shifaa’s mother held her in her arms, just as her father and her heavenly father would. Shifaa’s mom and I both held Shifaa’s hand as she awoke from the sedation.
We rejoiced when she returned to her normal, smiley self. The doctor reported that her echo results were very good, and perhaps good enough to allow her to return to Kurdistan. The doctor wanted to confirm with her primary cardiologist prior to officially clearing her to return. We rejoice in her improvement, and hope to celebrate with her soon.
We will dearly miss this princess and her dear mother. We pray that she will grow and learn to walk with God closely.
As a mother comforts her child
Today we went with Shifaa to the Sheba Hospital. For Shifaa, the first Echo-Investigation after her surgery was pending. And for me it was my first trip ever to this hospital. My name is Markus (26). My wife Anna (21) and I arrived from Germany to Shevet Achim ministry last week. My profession is bookkeeping and so I’m not really often in a hospital, especially not in a childrens’ ward.
Shifaa had a nice morning or start to the day and she was happy to be well. While we waited for the investigation, I saw her mood change. When she saw the nurses, the doctor, and the hospital equipment, she began to cry and didn’t stop for a long time.
Co-workers Georgia and Liza were caring for another child named Halbast, so I was alone with Shifaa and her mum at the treatment. Maybe it was ten minutes, but it felt like ten hours. But one thing was heart-warming: seeing how Shifaa’s mum lovingly cared for her, cheering her up and comforting her. She never got tired, even if Shifaa’s mood didn’t change. It made me remember the never-ending and caring love of our heavenly Father. We can read about this in Isaiah 66,13:
As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you, and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.
In this situation, God’s love has become very important to me again. May this mother come to know God the Father through Jesus the son, and know of His perfect love and care for her.
In the end, the echo couldn’t be completed because Shifaa screamed and fidgeted so hard. Now she needs a new appointment for an anesthesial echo. We will see, but someone who fidgeted so much looked very healthy to me 🙂 And when we left the doctor’s room, her lovely smiling returned very quickly.
I met Shifaa and her mother for the first time today. I’m impressed by this strong mother. Shifaa was not that happy today. The beautiful girl doesn’t like her zero fat diet food very much. Also she is missing her Daddy.
She loves having video calls with her family. When her daddy was talking to her she answered, “Daddy come! Daddy come!”
However, she is recovering well. Her chest drain was removed today and she is looking really good.
Her mum is so strong. All the time she was playing with her daughter and watching over her. She was tired and very thankful for a neck massage. Let’s pray for strength and a continuing good recovery for Shifaa!
This morning, as I walked into the ICU of the Sheba Medical Center to check on Shifaa, I was greeted by a nurse with a cheery “Hello! She is not mine anymore, she is in the intermediate ICU.”
Incredibly, the same little girl who had been in a five hour open-heart surgery the day before, was now playing with toys and talking to her father in Kurdistan through video chat!
We praise the Lord for this good news and pray for her continued health during what will be a long road to complete recovery.
Today beautiful Shifaa entered her first surgery. When I reached the intermediate ICU, I met Shifaa’s beautiful mum. She gave me a long hug and showed me a beautiful smile. Her strength, but also her fear, was visible to me.
Little Shifaa smiled at me as I started playing with her with a red balloon. Her beautiful smile and joy transferred over to me. During the wait for the surgery Shifaa’s mum was blessed with wonderful company. Mustafa‘s mum had asked to be with Shifaa’s mum and had brought food. She poured all her love into Shifaa’s mum.
As the nurse came to bring Shifaa into the OR, Shifaa’s mum faced this hard walk strongly. Shifaa adapted this strength and held tightly on to her red balloon constantly looking at her mum. Because her mum stood strong Shifaa felt save and started exploring her surroundings. Shifaa did not fear when she was taken to the OR. Since she had held on so tightly to staying strong for her daughter, the tears filled her eyes as Shifaa’s mum came to the waiting area.
But she wasn’t alone Mustafa‘s mum, Co-workers Colin, Claudia and I surrounded her, and tried to give her comfort. Shifaa’s mum gained her strength back. She wasn’t alone for one second. I loved to see how Mustafa‘s Mum stayed to wait and also Halbast‘s mum came and waited. Even though they didn’t knew each other for long they shared the suffering and lifted each other up. It was a beautiful time that was filled with shared prayer, worries and also laughter.
Shifaa’s surgery was done in the estimated five hours and went very well. Shifaa’s mum was filled with joy and relief as she saw Shifaa. She hurried to her bedside and kissed her head lovingly. Her happiness was so genuine and moved all of us. Shifaa is now recovering from this hard surgery.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
This morning, in our daily meeting, we sang the words:
Lay your burden down upon him
Jesus my rest in peace
You’re my every good thing
I surrender all
All I’m living for
Shifaa and her mother are both exhausted. It was tiring to travel from Kurdistan to Israel. On the first plane ride, there was a moment where Shifaa was crying and too tired to fight against the supplemental oxygen being administered to her as her oxygen saturations dropped low with the altitude change. Shifaa laid in her mothers arms, tired beyond exhaustion. Her mother was also softly crying, and already missing her family.
Just one day after arriving to Israel, Shifaa was admitted for a diagnostic catheterization. Then as she was transferred from catheterization lab to the cardiac unit, her oxygen dropped dangerously low. It has been a holistically exhausting time for Shifaa’s mother, who also just found out that she is pregnant.
Shifaa and her mother were both sleeping even though it was after noon, and I did not want to wake them up. Thankfully Shifaa has stabilized a little more, and has been able to maintain her oxygen saturations with less oxygen. The plan for her is to have a Glenn surgery, and the date is still to be decided.
My hope is for Shifaa and her family to find comfort in the everlasting Lord who does not faint or grow weary, and whose understanding is unsearchable. May they derive strength from him, and to surrender all to him. For God will give them rest.
Shifaa's first Catheterization
Colin‘s and my day started very early because we wanted to be with Shifaa’s mother while Shifaa had her first cath.
As we entered the secondary ICU I could hear Shifaa’s crying voice. She was very upset and her mother tried to calm her down. We all stood around her bed and sang her favorite song. Shifaa’s mum was washing Shifaa as the nurse came to say it’s time for her cath.
“In mum‘s arms, I am safe,“ that could have been one of Shifaa’s thoughts as her mum brought her into the area where the cath would be performed. Colin and I accompanied them. Shifaa became agitated while her mum was signing some papers, but Colin managed to calm Shifaa down; it was so lovely to see! The whole situation was so pleasant, Shifaa’s mum decided she wanted a picture to capture the moment and it turned out beautifully.
Shifaa’s mum is very strong and didn’t really seem scared, rather calm. Our waiting time was more a meeting with her whole family, for we had plenty of phone calls with them. Little Shifaa has two beautiful brothers and a very kind father who was happy to see all of us sitting together.
After three hours the cath was over and they brought Shifaa back into her room. On the way her oxygen dropped dangerously low. The doctors decided to give her oxygen and even thought about intubating her. Due to that, Shifaa’s mum was very anxious. I stood next to her, she grabbed my hand, and together we watched Shifaa carefully just as the doctors did. After a while Shifaa’s doctors and nurses came by, one by one, to look after her, and were happy that her oxygen was improving. Only in the moments when she cries a lot, her oxygen drops again. But praise be to God that He gave such a strong mum to Shifaa, a mum who stands beside Shifaa’s bedside, who comforts and talks affectionately to her little girl. The relationship between a mother and her child is something very special. I‘m so lucky to be a part of these lovely moments.
I am also very happy for this amazing staff at Sheba. They were and are all so loving and caring. God bless them for everything they do for our beautiful children.
Praise be to God who never leaves our side. He is always with us, and wants to help us when we are getting through hard times, just like Shifaa’s mum was with her baby girl today. Please join me in praying for Shifaa. Her oxygen levels can still be very low and she needs rest as does her mum. Sometimes these situations are very difficult to cope with. Please continue to pray for peace, rest and that Shifaa’s mum and also Shifaa herself, may feel God’s overwhelming love and His guidance.
She just landed in Israel, and off she goes into the next adventure. Today we were able to take Shifaa to Sheba Medical Center for her admission. Shifaa climbed into the car very joyfully and took a long nap during our car ride.
As we arrived at the hospital, there was only one thing left to do: waiting. So we took on the long wait for Shifaa to be finally admitted. During that wait, I had time to play with a smiley Shifaa, and had a nice talk with her mum. Shifaa’s mum told me about her family back in Kurdistan, and I was even able to skype with them!
Finally, the doctor came, and told the mum all about the surgery. She took all the information in, and nodded bravely. Even though Shifaa did not enjoy the medical admission procedures, her mum held her and poured out all her love on her little girl. Shifaa fell asleep in her mum’s loving arms, resting before her big day. Tomorrow they will perform a Catheterization. Thanks for your faithful prayers.
Yesterday, Shifaa and her mother arrived at Shevet, and today she had her first appointment at hospital.
When I walked into the Echo-Waiting area, I found Shifaa sitting in the train, smiling and playing on her own. It was so fun to watch how she babbled and then grinned at me. Together we were exploring the whole train and had a lot of fun. After this, the not so fun part came. Shifaa needed an echo and as the mother already told us before, she doesn’t like them at all.
I was outside waiting with another child, but I could hear her screaming the whole time.
Co-worker Julio was inside with them:
“It was very difficult to get the first echo assesssment for Shifaa. I think she is traumatized by previous echos in Kurdistan. I really tried my best to help with prayers, songs, videos, TV inside the echo room, but she kept crying. The head nurse in charge of the cardiology program also came and helped. The music therapist came with instruments and a bottle of bubbles. Shifaa’s mother did a great job teaching her with the bottle of echo-jelly. Then finally, another technician came and did the ECG test.”
I felt so sorry for Shifaa and also for her kind mom. They spent a long time in the Echo room, but afterwards Shifaa’s mood changed, seemingly within seconds. Her mom showed me some pictures and videos from home, and Shifaa helped explain things by screaming “daddy” whenever her father’s face was in one of the pictures. It was really nice to get to know them better.
The results came in. Because of all the crying, the Echo wasn’t so clear. Tomorrow they will need to do another one and will sedate Shifaa for it. Then she will be admitted to the hospital for a Catheterization. They are planning to do one Thursday.
As we waited to go home, both mother and daughter fell asleep which is very understandable. They arrived yesterday in the evening, and left the Shevet house at 7 am the next morning. These changes and meeting so many new people, must be very exhausting, and from tomorrow onward, more difficult situations may arise. Please pray with me for a good night’s rest for both of them so they will have new strength for tomorrow. Also pray for Shifaa’s Cath and for the doctors who are involved in her case. Praise be to God who brought her to Israel, He will keep her in his hand.
After a very long journey, little Shifaa arrived in Israel tonight. We were waiting expectantly in the arrivals lounge when we spotted the small party of mums and children in the distance.
As we introduced ourselves, I was quickly drawn to Shifaa and her mother. For a small girl, Shifaa has such an enormous smile. Absorbing all the bright lights, loud noises and new faces around her, her face was glowing like a little lightbulb as she took it all in.
Her mother, although very tired, was so kind and friendly, and the love between her and Shifaa is obvious. I really can’t wait to get to know these two better during their time with us in Israel. Please pray they quickly feel at home here, and for God’s hand to be in all her upcoming appointments at the hospital.