Lovely Asmaa has returned from her week in Jerusalem at our Shevet Guest House. She really enjoyed herself there and got some beautiful new clothes, but we missed her here in Jaffa! She had a fun time today at her haematology appointment. She is so comfortable there in the familiar setting, and greeted all the staff in Hebrew, saying, “Shalom!”
They gave her a gift of some colours so we spent the waiting-time drawing. The doctor explained that Asmaa’s INR result was good today, he doesn’t need to adjust her medication, and doesn’t have to see her again for two weeks. Thank God for Asmaa’s good health.
Asmaa had her weekly INR test today at Sheba Medical Center! Her level was lower than last week, so her medicine was increased to try to raise it. While we were waiting, Asmaa and I compared our shoes and she loved that they were the same color.
In English, she sang songs from videos that she watches in YouTube, like “the wheels on the bus.” After the INR test she managed to snag two gifts, both I think will be packed to take with her to Jerusalem as she leaves this afternoon for the Shevet Guesthouse located there, with her grandmother and two other families!
Asmaa had a wonderful check of her heart and lungs today, and the doctor has given his unofficial clearance to return to Kurdistan. The doctor wants to see Asmaa one last time prior to her departure to Kurdistan. She will have to have her blood levels checked frequently to make sure her blood levels are responding well to her medications.
In the car Asmaa was sharing how she misses Kurdistan and how she hopes to return soon when there are planes traveling to Kurdistan. It has been a blessing to see Asmaa flourish. She is becoming our sweet little sister, and is becoming more beautiful every day! Here is a photo of Asmaa and her grandmother celebrating the end of Ramadan, with Asmaa dressed in her traditional Kurdish dress:
Today was Asmaa’s weekly INR test which checks how the Coumadin medicine she is receiving is working. Now that we’ve gone twice before, it felt like a well-traveled road. We knew what to expect and where to go.
It’s very good for Asmaa, because she has these tests so often now, that it is not a regular blood test where they use a needle to draw blood. Actually it’s more like how a diabetic would measure their blood sugar, like a small finger prick and then the machine reads it within seconds. Today her INR was just under the lower end of her target range, most likely due to the cardiologist stopping altogether two of her other medications.
But the doctor, who is consistently so kind and welcoming to Asmaa, wanted to wait another week before adjusting the dosage of Coumadin. And, as is becoming a common occurrence, Asmaa again managed to be given some presents before the end of the appointment, which she doesn’t mind at all!
Asmaa had her second INR blood test, and thank God, her level was within the target range! She has been cheerful and talkative since coming home from the hospital. It’s hard to believe she’s had three heart surgeries.
I always love taking her and her grandma to appointments, and today as we walked into the building where the hematology clinic was, I was reminded of God’s faithfulness. Last week when we went there, we thought it would be in the children’s hospital, but it turned out to be in a totally different part of Sheba. This week I knew where to go and we even got a parking space right in front of the building, which is almost unheard of.
It’s funny how a random hospital building can turn into an ebenezer of how the Lord has shown up.
I’m so thankful to Him, for how He has guided us, and especially for Asmaa and her grandma.
Sweet Asmaa came again to the hospital today, this time for a blood test and her first outpatient echo after the surgery. She has changed so much since her first assessment many months before, where she was terribly upset. Today, she took everything in stride, relaxing in the echo and almost smiling with everyone.
It was so nice to see many nurses recognising and remembering her from her very long hospital stay.
Asmaa’s doctor said that her surgery looks very good. He would like to decrease some of her medi-cations.
Thank you for praying for Asmaa, it is good to enjoy the answers to these prayers for her healing!
From the moment she arrived it’s been obvious creativity flows through Asmaa’s veins. From the crayon pot to the toy box, she’s fascinated by the world of colour around her; and you can’t help but be drawn in with her. Since Asmaa’s return to Jaffa, the little artist in her has really started to shine. Now full of energy, she is one of the first out of bed in the morning, ready and eager to play and explore. It’s such a wonderful feeling to be greeted by her broad smile and invited to join her games.
This week Asmaa’s been painting, doing chalk art, and I even found her playing a board game with Khalid’s dad! It’s so wonderful to see how much stronger and energetic she is now – a world away from the girl we knew before. The biggest difference is probably how talkative she is. Before her surgeries she seemed very quiet and reserved, barely speaking to anyone; now it feels like she never stops talking! Quite the life of the party, she knows everyone’s name.
Yesterday I tried to play a “ring-toss” game with Asmaa. Within minutes, she managed to dismantle it entirely and turn it into a car – we had so much fun racing round the room in the cardboard box. Even more than she loves to play, Asmaa loves to explore and come up with new ideas.
I am so thankful to see this huge change in Asmaa and to know our little artist is in the hands of the great Artist.
Today we took Asmaa to have an INR blood test following her discharge last week. However when we got to the hospital there was much confusion as to where we were to go, as the children’s hematology clinic said that the doctor she needed to see was not there that day. In this moment I asked God for peace and also for him to help us get to Asmaa’s appointment, and indeed God guided our whole way; we then went to the blood test area where I asked one of the staff for help in where to go and she could tell us that it was not in this building that we would see the hematologist. The directions we received were rather vague and moreover Sheba is a huge hospital with many buildings, but we walked from the children’s building to where we were told to go. The building wasn’t labeled, but we walked in a small door on the side, and as usual now there was a volunteer waiting to take our tempatures before we could go farther. I explained to her what we were looking for and, I breathed a sigh of relief when she said we were in the correct place. In the past year I’ve been here we’ve never had an appointment in the adult hematology building, so really it’s only because of God putting the correct people in our path and giving us peace that we found where we were meant to go.
The INR test was only a finger prick and could be read in a minute. The nurse doing the test, after it was done, gave Asmaa a toy to play with as a gift! Good news followed when the doctor saw that her level was within the target range they had wanted! He also explained that Coumadin, the medicine for regulating blood thinning, is one she will be on indefinitely including when she goes back to Kurdistan.
After we finished, he too gave Asmaa a present, this time balloons in different shapes!
I’m so thankful that God helped us this day. And it is days like this that remind me how very little is actually within my power and how truly reliant I am on the Lord. With gratitude we give thanks for Asmaa’s INR result being in the range today, and pray this continues to next week’s check up as well.
After nearly two months in the hospital and one previous hospitalization from the ER, Asmaa is finally back at our Jaffa base!
The term that comes to mind on this day is perseverance. A two-month stay in the hospital is a lot for any parent to handle, but Asmaa’s grandmother, an older woman with medical complications of her own, endured these long weeks of echo’s and blood tests and not one – but three surgeries! In addition to all this, Asmaa remained in hospital this past week due to INR levels in her blood which were not good. Coming home was a risk. The doctors worked to restore the INR levels to a good place, and stabilized them.
As for our beautiful Asmaa, what can I say? She has blossomed in these past months despite going through the three surgeries.
She is very communicative, open, and engaged. She loves to color and watch YouTube videos. Her smile has not changed, it will still melt your heart. She now can be seen wearing golden bangle bracelets, bejeweled hair clips, and a whistle around her neck. Once reserved and shy, Asmaa now showcases her inner spark in her exuberant sense of style.
She was welcomed back warmly to the Jaffa base. Our head nurse Colin even gave her a welcoming gift of stickers, which are among her favorite things!
It’s so, so good to have her here. We’d like to thank our Father for giving her grandmother the strength to persevere and for really safeguarding Asmaa from the trauma of undergoing three surgeries in a short period of time at such a young age. All I have to say is Supas bo Xwa! (thanks be to God in Kurdish) and welcome home Asmaa!
One of the cardiologists told me this morning that his wife works as an art therapist here at the hospital, and that she would like to visit with Asmaa. I was so happy to hear about this, and very pleased to go together to see Asmaa. It has been a really long time since I have been able to spend time with Asmaa due to the corona virus restrictions, and she has been inside the hospital all of this time.
Asmaa was overjoyed with what the art therapist brought; felt tip pens and stickers are right up her street, and she squealed and jumped about in excitement. It was so lovely to see her. She played with the colours and pretended that she had drawn oranges and lemons to eat. It was a very special time.
The time was rounded off with some wonderful news from the doctor, that finally Asmaa’s blood test has come back with a good result! They would like to perform another test tomorrow and if this is good, then she will be able to come home!
COVID-19 restrictions have thus far prevented any of us here at Shevet from seeing little Asmaa. However today, as her grandma needed some more medication, I was permitted a brief visit to see them both. It was so lovely to see them again.
As soon as I saw their two beautiful faces, I realised just how much I have missed them! It was a delight to be reunited with them both for a short time. They both seem to be settled into the new department, and were tucking into a spread of various foods. Asmaa had some pretty hair clips in, and was very happy.
Of course they are both eager to come home to us as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Asmaa still needs to wait for a better blood test result. As she has a new mechanical valve in her heart, it can take some time to get the INR levels in her blood just right, and it needs to be adjusted with medication. She also had a test over the past 24 hours to assess the electrical activity of the heart. So although it seems that the end of her stay in hospital could be in sight for Asmaa, still there are a few more things which we hope and pray will soon be cleared up.
At eight o’clock in the morning, our beautiful Asmaa went into her third surgery, this time for a complete valve replacement. Her grandmother was lightly weeping in sadness over giving Asmaa over to the hands of surgeons for the third time.
I made us tea as we settled in for the hours ahead; we looked at pictures and videos of Asmaa, and she took occasional phone calls from family back in Kurdistan, including her son, Asmaa’s dad.
Initially I thought the surgery would go for five hours, but four hours later, the surgeon came out along with a cardiologist, she said ‘Basha!’ which means good in Kurdish. They explained that the valve replacement had gone well, and they will observe her for the next few days to make sure it is working well. Lord willing, the doctor said, she will not need another surgery for a long time. Co-worker Georgia, joined us as we waited; there was a collective joy over the finishing of Asmaa’s – hopefully – last surgery for this time in Israel! Asmaa’s grandma started to call her family in Kurdistan to tell them this wonderful news!
It was another two hours before Asmaa was out of the O.R. and stabilized in her room that her grandmother could go in to see her. Thank you God for no complications during the operation, and may this artificial valve hold and be sustained through the years! We pray for rest for both Asmaa and her grandmother!
Sheba Medical Center provided Asmaa with an echo today. Her grandma was pleased. Her main question for the doctor after the echo was, “Is Asmaa able to come home yet?”
The cardiologist took a long time to thoroughly check her echo, and as he continued to take more images, Asmaa started to cry. She was very upset and we could hear her breathing becoming noisy as she coughed and wheezed.
After some time, he explained that he does not feel Asmaa can be sent home from the hospital in the condition she is in. He said that although her mitral valve is better than it was previously, with much less stenosis, still it is not functioning well. He also said Asmaa is experiencing moderate to severe regurgitation as the blood flow struggles to move properly within her heart. He will need to discuss her case with the rest of the cardiac team, but he suggested that it may be possible that Asmaa would need a third surgery.
It was really sad to hear this news, and I tried to encourage Asmaa’s grandma as I thanked her for her commitment to staying with Asmaa these many weeks. Please pray for beautiful Asmaa and for healing in her heart.
Today at Sheba Medical Center, during an appointment for another child, the cardiologist couldn’t help but share her excitement regarding Asmaa’s echo. She told us that the valve repair was a great success in yesterday’s surgery, and already she can see that the pulmonary pressure of the heart is improved. It’s a much nicer long term outcome than if Asmaa had needed to have a replacement by a mechanical valve, and hopefully will then avoid long term medications.
The corona virus restrictions meant that we were unable to visit Asmaa, but we video-called her faithful grandma when we were in the hospital. Firstly, she showed us Asmaa intubated, and she said she didn’t want to leave her side, as she was worried that Asmaa might try and pull out her breathing tube, as she did after the last surgery.
Later, we spoke to another member of the medical team who told us that Asmaa was going to be extubated later today, and then this afternoon, in a video call with grandma, she filled my phone screen with this lovely image of Asmaa sleeping after being extubated.
Thank God for this quick recovery, and please pray that the valve repair continues to be strong and to function properly.
Beautiful Asmaa had her second surgery today; her doctors wanted to try to repair her mitral valve if at all possible rather than putting in an artificial one. Initially one of the surgeons said this would be very difficult and it might not be possible, but they were in fact able to do the repair tonight! This is significant, since a child with an artificial valve will need lifelong medications, blood tests, and multiple further surgeries.
Please pray that her would heart will adjust well to the surgery, and no more interventions will be needed. This time was very hard for her grandmother, who is so kind and gentle. She loves Asmaa so much and is very devoted to her. They’ve been at the hospital for a while, and we miss their presence back at the Jaffa base!
For the first time in over a week I saw Asmaa yesterday, and her sense of humor and smile melt my heart. I remember her first appointment and how she was very stoic and not talking to anyone who wasn’t her grandma; now seeing this girl light up when she sees us and playing games with her out in the hallway is the best thing to do at the hospital.
May God continue to grow and guide Asmaa. We thank Him for the wonderful news of the surgery, and pray for a fast recovery.
Full of euphoria, we reported yesterday that we are looking forward to Asmaa’s discharge. But today we had a disappointing call from the hospital. The follow-up echo showed that the mitral valve condition has worsened. Dr. Tirosh said it will be necessary to have a second surgery for repair or for replacement of her mitral valve, possibly even next week.
Because of the new strict guidelines of Sheba hospital, it was not possible to see Asmaa today. But we can imagine that she and her grandma are very saddened about this news. They were so happy to come back to their friends in Jaffa.
In addition, it was very surprising for all of us to hear about the mitral valve problem because Asmaa is in a very good mood and apparent condition. Sometimes we don’t understand the way of our Lord, but we want to trust Him as much as we can. With His help, this little princess can overcome her illness. Please pray also for strength to Asmaa’s grandmother; for her stomach problem to be resolved.
Today we heard great News. Asmaa is doing very well and has been moved to the second ICU today. Without oxygen support her oxygen level is very good. Thank God!
Asmaa has been a strong girl these past few days. On the weekend we had a call from Asmaa’s grandma. She had very strong stomach pain was not feeling good. She needed to sleep and in the ICU it’s not so easy to have rest. The nurses there agreed for us to bring Asmaa’s grandma to Jaffa to find some rest. Asmaa is very attached to her grandma however, so I prayed that God would make a miracle, and He did!
When her grandma left the hospital, Asmaa was’t crying like she did every time before! My husband Markus and I were the first ones to keep company with her in the evening. She did very well, was very calm and lovely. She ate well and a couple of hours later, she was sleeping. Her grandmother recovered very fast and was able to come back to Asmaa the very next day.
Asmaa is one step closer to coming back to Jaffa, thank God! Thank you all for your prayers. Please pray also for her grandma, that she has no more stomach pain and that Asmaa can be discharged soon.
Our little champion Asmaa stepped into her new life today. As she was able to take the first steps after the surgery, she smiled exhausted but happy.
Entering Asmaa’s hospital room, I found Asmaa laying in bed starring at the small TV in her room. The look on her face was hard to interpret but it was definitely not a joyful smile. My attempts to make her smile only achieved a tired glance from Asmaa. Asmaa’s grandma greeted me joyfully, but the joy couldn’t hide the worry for Asmaa. Still there was great news coming just a few minutes away.
One of the nurses told me that Asmaa has been doing very well. I smiled at the grandma and she had a beautiful huge smile on her face as well. The nurse looked at Asmaa and suggested taking a walk. I couldn’t smile any wider and I was just incredibly happy that Asmaa would already be able to walk again. The nurse removed Asmaa’s oxygen mask and off we went. Asmaa took these first steps with a small smile and a lot of courage. Every nurse in the ICU applauded and cheered for her which gave Asmaa strength to handle a walk around the ICU. All of us cheered and supported her with everything we had.
The medical staff pours so much love and affection into our children which is beautiful to witness and it is such a privilege to work with them. The nurse walking with Asmaa also learned a few Kurdish words and was able to communicate with her. He didn’t leave her side and made sure she was not overworking herself. Seeing Asmaa taking these steps made me so happy and proud. These steps are great steps in her process of healing and Asmaa took these courageously. After her walk we sat Asmaa back on her bed and she laid down to rest from this amazing achievement.
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not grow faint.Isaiah 40,31
“It was such joy to be greeted by Asmaa’s lovely Grandmother as we stepped out of the lift at the Sheba Hospital today. Due to other duties we were unable to visit this little girl immediately but when we eventually saw her she was peacefully asleep, with her Grandmother beside her.
To enter her room we had to put gloves and gowns on to protect her from infection. I am absolutely sure that Asmaa secretly peeped out of one eye to see who was around but then decided it was better to remain sleeping. After a few minutes she began to wriggle, as if to relieve the discomfort of the operation.Then she began to cry!
Grandmother tried to comfort and distract her with an inflated balloon, but Shevet’s head nurse Colin had more success by sharing a colouring book and providing bright crayons. Understandably, Asmaa did not feel like smiling for the camera today. Please pray that our Heavenly Father will add His healing power to the excellent work the surgeons have done then she will discover new things to enjoy and have a happy smile again.
The last night was a very exciting night for Asmaa, but also a very dramatic night for her grandma. We don’t know at which time it was, but suddenly this tough girl thought, “I can breath by myself! I don’t need all these machines for living!” And so she extubated by herself. The medical staff were very surprised and also a little bit unsure, but in the following hours Asmaa showed them that she didn’t need to be ventilated. But oxygen support is still necessary. After a blood transfusion for a better hemoglobin value, she had a wonderful oxygen level of 99%. She is still a little bit sleepy but awakes more and more after her very satisfying surgery yesterday.
Today, Asmaa’s lovely grandmother was not very well and complained of abdominal pain and dizziness. It was not easy to find out the reasons, but with the united forces of co-workers Miriam and Colin, and the hospital nurses and I, there was some agreement as to what might really be going on with Grandma. Firstly, she wasn’t drinking enough. Secondly, she was very scared about Asmaa’s self-extubation. Thirdly, her phone didn’t work, so she couldn’t call her family.
I’ve no idea how I did it, but after pushing some different buttons on her Kurdish smartphone, it restarted and began to work again. Thank you for helping, God! Now we could Grandma getting better and better with every phone call to Kurdistan. It’s so important for them to be connected all the time. Then we gave her water and explained that everything is fine with Asmaa.
The last tear ran down her face, it was a tear of joy.
Walking into Asmaa’s room at eight o’clock this morning felt a little bit like walking into my grandparents’ house. Almost immediately Asmaa’s grandma offered me tea and breakfast, insisting I take a seat at Asmaa’s bedside. Although she’d barely slept, she looked at me with a sincere kindness and hopefulness, her patient smile never wavering.
After this peaceful start to the day, everything started to get more complicated. The operating team called Asmaa and her grandma through to a little room and began to explain the procedure. Then, realising only the grandmother was present, they explained they needed the permission of a parent before going ahead.
Eventually this was managed with a three-way phone call involving the head surgeon, Asmaa’s father and co-worker Julio, our Kurdish translator.
In the midst of this chaos, I felt a sense of God’s peace, his hand over everything, despite all the confusion. I was so thankful he’d provided a way for us to get the parental permission the doctors needed.
We all shared a brief sense of relief before the doctors returned to call Asmaa into surgery. Julio, Asmaa’s grandma and I all waved encouragingly until Asmaa disappeared behind the operating doors.
Suddenly, the days and weeks of staying strong for Asmaa seemed to hit her grandma all at once. Overcome with emotion, she could no longer keep it in and the tears began to fall. The next five hours of waiting was definitely a roller coaster of emotions for her. Every time a familiar face appeared, the tears returned afresh, but in-between were so many moments of peace, and even laughter.
A few other mothers were at the hospital for various appointments and they faithfully sat with Asmaa’s grandma, encouraging her to eat and taking her mind off her fears. It was so beautiful to see the way they took care of her – the whole time she was never alone.
Finally, we heard the news that the surgery was finished and it had gone well. Asmaa’s grandma couldn’t hide her relief and joy, her beautiful smile radiant and contagious. Almost immediately, she was flooded with phone calls from various family members back in Kurdistan, all eager for news of Asmaa. Walking into the room, the nurse explained they were hoping to extubate her either today or tomorrow – this is great news.
As I reflect on the day, I see God’s hand clearly on each and every moment. There was a real sense of peace, a real sense of community and a tangible sense of God’s love. Please pray for Asmaa as she recovers from her surgery and thank God for His presence with her today.
Asmaa is such a beautiful child. I love love love her dark brown eyes. Spending time with the four year old is such a blessing as she is so much fun and very creative.
When she got spontaneously called in for surgery this morning, we were all very happy for her. But she was obviously not. She had been very joyful in our house but as soon as we took her in the car you could read from her face that she knew what was going on and where we were going.
Most remarkable and admirable was that even though she was often in pain or upset because of the situation, she endured everything patiently and even cooperated.
After many tears during the echo and the x-ray, Asmaa started crying again as soon as we brought her to her room in the ICU.
I am so glad that the nurse Karen did the whole procedure with us. She is just the best. Even the worst part, putting a cannula in, took only about five minutes. And again: under tears Asmaa offered her arm to Karen as if she would know that everything that is happening is just for her best. In the end, Asmaa even gave many high-fives to Karen. I asked Asmaa to smile for me, and this was the result:
I want to have more of Asmaa’s beautiful attitude: enduring painful, uncomfortable situations in life with patience, trusting that God knows what’s best for me.
The x-ray showed that there is a lot of congestion in Asmaa’s lung. Please pray that this won’t cause any problems during tomorrows surgery and that she would wake up with a new heart.
Asmaa’s grandma has this beautiful, patient smile that always takes me by surprise. We had to take Asmaa to the emergency room this afternoon because we were concerned about her abnormal lung sounds and dry cough. In the middle of rushing between an examination and an echo and a chest x-ray, I looked over at Asmaa’s grandma and she smiled back at me, completely unphased by the chaos around us.
Asmaa too, has this beautiful spirit. She is so patient and has a wonderful creativity – all the medical staff seemed to instantly fall in love with her. I had such a great time colouring and singing her favourite song, The wheels on the bus, while we waited. There was a TV in one of the waiting areas and Asmaa was absolutely fascinated by an Israeli cooking programme. We enjoyed pointing out all the different vegetables as they went into the big saucepan.
After many different tests, we were told Asmaa has an upper respiratory tract viral infection. She was able to return back to Jaffa with two new medication prescriptions. Please pray that she recovers quickly from this virus and is able to have her surgery soon.
Asmaa is so lovely, she grabbed my hand to leave the hospital and was so excited to return to the Shevet house in Jaffa. Thankfully she has not had a fever recently, and the doctors have said that she did not and does not have a virus. She has returned to the house in Jaffa, and is waiting for her surgery date. Please continue to pray for Asmaa and her grandmother as they wait.
It warms my heart whenever I see Asmaa smile. It now feels like Asmaa is trusting us and viewing us as her family. She has recently had a fever and the doctors are trying to figure out the cause of it. She still is smiling through it all, and still wants to play and explore.
She grabbed my head and said she wanted to visit the “cat”, like the cats in her coloring book. Her surgery is postponed until her fever and other symptoms resolve.
Please pray for Asmaa and her family during this waiting period.
As our community morning Bible study came to a close, Luzma, who was sitting next to me, whispered, “Are you ready to go to the hospital?” That wasn’t what the original daily schedule said, but as with every volunteer, their schedules and most everything can change. In this case, it was decided in the morning, that little Asmaa, who had been exhibiting an unexplained increased rate of breathing, would go into the ER especially because these symptoms have happened before, a few days after her last trip to the ER. I was blessed to go to the hospital with Georgia and two Danish volunteers, Jonas and Carre, along with Khalid’s father, whom Asmaa’s grandma had asked to please come along for translation. We started at the ER, and then after an examination, the doctor sent us up to see a cardiologist at the clinic, which is where we usually work.
Words can’t describe how much we love Asmaa. For much of the time Jonas, Carre and I were with her coloring, and playing around the hospital. One of my favorite memories of the day was when Asmaa, who was sitting on the table where the echoes are done, saw Jonas in a mirror in front of her. He started doing silly faces and she copied them. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much during these moments. For the echo, Asmaa was consoled by YouTube videos of ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ and the cardiologist spoke then with Georgia about the concerns over having Asmaa in Jaffa with serious symptoms. The doctor agreed to admit her to the hospital and hopefully her surgery will be this Sunday.
The sense of community in this day was beautiful, especially Khalid’s father volunteering to stay the long hours to help Asmaa and her grandma. It was also striking to watch the Danish volunteer immediately care for Asmaa, treating her with kindness and gentleness. They were authentically interested in interacting with her and in making her day more beautiful. More than once, I had the thought that they treated her like a princess. At the end of the day, when Asmaa had her room and bed secured, and they were settled in, we said goodbye and Asmaa burst out into tears as we left. It was heartbreaking. I really pray that Asmaa can experience the love of God through us, and that’s why long days at the hospital are a blessing, though it can be tiring, the word that comes to mind is devotion. We are devoted to one another and to the care of these precious kids.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
Georgia brought the car from the garage which had Asmaa’s overnight bag in it. I ran it up to them and gave Asmaa’s grandma one last kiss and hug and gave Asmaa a kiss on the cheek, and then went down to the car, thanking God for this beautiful girl, and praying that her treatment may come soon, and her healing will be complete.
Dressed in a bright pink tracksuit, Asmaa sat in the back of the car, tightly clutching her matching pink balloon. Ahead of her ultrasound this afternoon, Asmaa wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything all day! Despite this, she was really happy and, over the course of the morning, she gradually started to come more and more out of her shell. Christian and Emma, our visiting volunteers from Denmark, had a great time playing with her. Asmaa particularly loved Christian’s balloon game. A beautiful smile crept across her face as they chased it round the waiting area together.
We had a really, really long wait for Asmaa’s ultrasound. After the balloom game, she became a train driver. She really got into the role – directing us all to the carriages and enthusiastically beeping the horn.
A few hours later we were told the news that Asmaa’s surgery wouldn’t be tomorrow and they were going to send her back to Jaffa after the ultrasound. Her grandmother was obviously really disappointed with this news and kept asking when the surgery would be. It must be so hard to come to the hospital thinking the surgery will be the next day, and then to have it postponed.
As the wait grew longer, we could all feel the tiredness descend on the room. The combination of tiredness and hunger was taking its toll on Asmaa and she was fed up. Then Lisa started singing “The wheels on the bus”, one of Asmaa’s favourite songs. She seemed rather sceptical at first, but as we all joined in, complete with actions, her beautiful smile returned. She kept insisting we sang it again, and by the third time was doing all the actions too!
When it was eventually time for the ultrasound, Asmaa was really brave, and didn’t even cry! After a long day, she was finally allowed to eat again, and we spent the car journey home pointing at all the different things we could see out the window.
Please pray that the grandmother would have patience while they wait for the next surgery date. She is a real gentle and kind woman, and shows Asmaa so much love.
When Shevet head nurse Colin checked the children’s vitals on Friday morning, Asmaa had concerning symptoms such as wheezing and an increased respiratory rate. It was decided to take her to the ER at Sheba Medical Center right away.
Although there was a very long wait in the ER, Asmaa was her normal, inquisitive, beautiful self through the whole thing. Colin brought a colouring book for her, and even with a cannula in, Asmaa insisted on helping push another child’s (little Iman’s) stroller. When video chatting with her family, Asmaa kissed the screen when her baby brother was on it!
The medical staff decided to change the frequency of Asmaa’s medication in order to make her wait for the surgery better, but of course all these are symptoms of the problem with her heart. Please pray for our Asmaa as she waits for her surgery! She was able to go home to the Jaffa house after the ER visit.
Exactly one week ago, I went to the ER together with Asmaa and her grandmother. Yesterday, she had her catheterization and today we heard the good news that Asmaa is being discharged already. Praise be to God who has been with her through all this time. After the cath, the doctors decided to perform a surgery for Asmaa and they are now deciding which date would be the best for it.
I was so happy to finally see Asmaa again and her lovely smile. It was always very difficult for me to make Asmaa smile, but now it is getting so much better. I showed her some pictures from our trip to the beach and gave her a little gift which she loved to play with. Asmaa allowed me to gently hold her and to sing together with her. Every time I started singing head and shoulders, she started smiling and so did grandma. I told her that I was there to bring them back home to Jaffa, so she grinned a lot and couldn’t wait to leave.
On our way back to Jaffa, Grandma was so, so happy. She took a lot of pictures of everything, which is very sweet because she just got a phone and has now learned how to use her camera.
Asmaa was very tired and fell asleep but was wide awake as soon as the car stopped. Finally home – a place to rest and to get new energy before the next big step of surgery. In two weeks, she will have a follow up appointment and maybe by then will already have a date for the surgery. Please pray with me that this will become true so Grandma can rest and Asmaa can enjoy her time before surgery. Also pray for wisdom for the doctors who decided on what (and when) to help Asmaa. We keep on trusting God, that He will guide us – and them – in this time.
When we heard that Asmaa was going to be brought downstairs for the catheterisation, Co-worker Markus and I started on our way up to find her and her grandma. We had only taken about five steps around the corner and found her grandma sitting alone and wiping her eyes. Thank God that we could quickly bring her into the company of other Shevet family Kurdish mothers of children Halbast and Shifaa. These two children both have had surgeries, and so their mums were able to be a comfort for Asmaa’s grandma, with their arms around her reassuring her that the cath would be OK. She agreed that she is trusting in God.
After some hours, and more lovely time all together visiting with other mums in the hospital, Asmaa was brought out of the procedure on a large bed with about six members of the medical team around her. As they wheeled her quickly past, they greeted us with smiles of reassurance. Her grandma and Khonav’s mum rushed after the bed to make sure that everything was OK.
Thankfully, the doctors were able to get the information which they needed during the cath, and found that the pressure of her lungs was not too high. It is good news because it means they can move forward with planning a surgery.
Asmaa was awake shortly after being brought into her room, and fairly disoriented and upset. Thankfully she had her grandma close by to comfort her. Please continue to pray for this lovely girl. She is sensitive and finding the separation from her parents a bit difficult, as well as all of the procedures in the hospital.
Asmaa had an electrocardiogram test today. She was very happy during this exam. When she first arrived to Israel, she was so scared and unhappy. It makes us so happy to see her smile, to eat, and to draw cats.
When Asmaa was first admitted to the hospital, she struggled with excessive fluid build up in her body, and the doctors increased the dosage of her medications. Praise God the last x-ray performed a few days ago showed that there was no fluid around her lungs. We continue to pray that her breathing and that her health would continue to improve.
Her diagnostic catheterization is scheduled for tomorrow. Her grandmother was relieved to hear this, and was excited for this next step.
Khonav’s mum came with me to see Asmaa today. It was good timing, because the doctor was just visiting her.
He explained that although her condition has improved since she was admitted to the hospital, it is still better that she stays here until she has her diagnostic catheterisation, which will hopefully be on Tuesday this week.
Please pray for this sweet girl, who I’m sure is feeling timid in these unfamiliar surroundings and missing her parents.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to get to know Asmaa better. Together we painted on the balcony, and later in the day we flew a kite on the beach. I was so happy to see her smile.
Today I am extremely happy for that time because I had to go to the ER with Asmaa and her grandma. Last night she had a very fast heartbeat and jugular venous distention and couldn’t sleep. Her grandma was very worried so we brought Asmaa to the ER today. The beginning went very smoothly. The doctor decided to take an X-ray and to do a blood test. Brave Asmaa stood through it all and her strong grandma carried her from room to room.
Every time I looked at Asmaa to check how she’s feeling, I a got a nice smile as an answer. After we had done the test, waiting for results was our next task. So Asmaa explored the hospital’s indoor playground a little bit. I figured out how to steal a smile from her. She loved the song “Head and Shoulders”and “The wheels on the bus go round and round.” As I sang it for her she smiled at me and even laughed when I showed her how to do the moves. It was so nice to see her like this. Usually Asmaa is more a quiet girl and very focused on her grandma. But it seems like she is more open now and that fills me with joy. After a while we got com-pany from the rest of the hospital team and Georgia blew Asmaa some bubbles. She was intrigued and wanted to catch the bubbles and tried to blow them on her own. Grandma was very happy to see that and took many pictures.
Asmaa received some phone calls from her mom. As soon as she saw her, Asmaa started crying. That made me realize how stressful and scary everything must be for little Asmaa. I remember that I was sick once and my mom wasn’t there and all I wanted was to be with her. Of course Asmaa’s grandma is a huge support and gives everything for Asmaa but she just isn’t mummy and that is very difficult for Asmaa. I pray that we and especially her grandma will fill the gap and make her feel comfortable in these troubled times.
Around 4pm we talked to the doctor. He said her glucose levels are very low. So they gave her glucose to strengthen her body. They also performed an ECG. It didn’t show anything unusual for her situation. But because of her tiredness, the hard abdomen and her low glucose levels, the doctor decided to admit her to the hospital so they can check on her.
So we waited for a room. Times of waiting can be very exhausting and her grandma was getting very tired, but thankfully we had a nice nurse and she organized some food for her to strengthen her. Asmaa has been inhaling to open her lungs. Thanks to God she went quiet and finally feel asleep. Now she finally has been admitted to the hospital. She is staying there to find out if she has a virus or something else that is causing the fast breathing and high heart rate. The grandma is happy about the help and the room they are staying in.
Please pray for good decisions and wisdom for the doctors on Asmaa’s case. May God give healing and love to our girl and strength for her amazing grandma. They are in His hands, so there is no place that would be better for them.
Asmaa, our beautiful new four year girl from Kurdistan, had her first assessment today at the Sheba Medical Center. She is very attached to her grandmother, so when I offered her the markers we brought to color with as we waited for the doctor, she took them only if I handed them to her grandmother first, who then gave them to her. Her large thoughtful eyes convey a deepness to her character, although she is so young.
During the echo she incessantly wept, and was not consoled by the things that have previously calmed children her age, such as baby shark videos or lollipops. The doctor would like to perform a diagnostic catheterization next week, although today’s visit did reiterate the diagnosis from Kurdistan, which is that she as an ASD secundum.
After the tests were done, she played with matching magnets on the metal table, and it was here that I saw for the first time a hint of a smile as she put them together. She quietly murmured to herself in Kurdish and let me help her with the different pieces. My prayer for her is that she leaves Shevet tasting the goodness of God, both her and her grandmother. “And I ask Him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-18)
Tonight Nate, Ruth and I went to the airport to pick up the four-year-old girl Asmaa and her lovely grandma. The first thing Ruth noticed about the grandma was her patient smile despite her long journey; she seemed very happy to see us.
Asmaa was not extremely happy to see us. The new place, all these new faces, and then there is this strange guy wanting to check her oxygen–I probably also would cry about all of this.
As usual the thing that calms our children down is “Baby Shark” and also this time we managed to sing and dance for her to this beautiful song and she calmed down so Nate could finish his check up.
I went to get the car and when they all came Asmaa was already asleep in her grandma’s arms.
Isn’t it beautiful and such a strong family picture of the grandma is laying down her life to be with her granddaughter in such a difficult time?
When we arrived in Jaffa our sweet Asmaa was still asleep and didn’t wanna leave Nate’s arms as we were in the apartment. It is so lovely to see how fast a situation can change if we give them love, which we have from God. Later one of our coworkers found Asmaa already happily coloring in the living room.
Our prayer is that Asmaa will get well very soon and doesn’t need to wait a long time for her treatment. We also pray for her lovely grandma to find the strength she needs in all of this.
This precious girl has a hole in her heart that can only be repaired by a skillful and dedicated surgeon, surrounded by an equally dedicated staff such as those found in Israel.
When I picked her up in the arrivals hall, she held on to me like a vise and would not let go. Oftentimes, I feel the same way, holding on to my Heavenly Father with every ounce of strength I have. Safe in the knowledge that as long as I am close to Him, the result is not up to me, but God.
I invite you to join me in praying for Asmaa, for her healing and strength over the coming months.