What a beautiful heart Haveen’s mother has and what a privilege it is that I have been able to meet her. This thought has been in my mind each time I’ve seen her over the past few days. We could all understand if she was not happy to see other children after the death of her beloved Haveen. At least I would have understanding for that. But her behavior in the last few days has been the complete opposite. To see how much she still radiates a sincere love for all the other mothers and children is just beautiful.
Haveen’s mother kept sitting down with the other children in our community home, playing with them and laughing. Seeing her in these moments was totally precious and beautiful, because she still has this love inside her and can pass it on to the other children and mothers. She is definitely a role model for me in her conduct.
She has a very special relationship with another little child Dalal and her mother in particular, as they came here together and went through everything together. They have grown together like sisters. During the time we spent at our guesthouse in and touring a bit of Jerusalem, we all had a very intense fellowship and learned to love each other like sisters in the Lord. It is wonderful every time to feel how much God blesses this work. He is the foundation of everything, and to be able to experience this anew every day is a blessing.
Before Haveen’s mother flew home on Monday with three of our other mothers and their children, she was able to spend a really nice time with them in Jerusalem, going to the mosque, to the bazaar and escaping the sad reality for a short moment.
Also the weekend in Jaffa was nicely spent as we had a delicious lunch together. At that time we gave Haveen’s mother a picture frame with beautiful pictures of Haveen in remembrance of her. On our last day together, we all went to the beach on the Jaffa coast just outside our community home, and really enjoyed the moment.
Haveen’s dear mother is also aware that we at Shevet, and especially all those at the hospital, have done our best for Haveen and that her life has been in God’s hands. As hard as it is to understand from a human point of view why Haveen, so full of life, had to die. God knows His reasons why. It has been a privilege for all of us to have shared in Haveen’s short life and to have witnessed what a wonderful girl she was, and what a special relationship she had with her mum. We will always have Haveen in our hearts.
Please pray for Haveen’s beautiful mother, for her whole family now to feel the presence of our holy God, to all have the time necessary to process this sad news, the time to grieve, and to be comforted by each other.
A candle against the darkness
Haveen died yesterday morning, three days after her complex and high-risk surgery.
The medical team worked on her all through the night Tuesday to put her back on the ECMO device which supports the work of the heart and lungs. For a few hours they worked to make her just stable enough to move from the ICU to the operating room two floors down. Her mother watched through the glass doors with two other Kurdish parents by her side; she was taken out of the ICU when the doctors needed to start chest compressions to resuscitate Haveen. When they were finally able to take her into surgery, even with the ECMO her heart was not functioning. Haveen died in the early hours of Wednesday morning, a few days past her first birthday. Maybe it will suffice to say that the joy Haveen had while she was alive is proportionate now to the grief of those who loved her in her death.
They brought her body back to her room so her mother could have some time to say goodbye. Her mother looked at her and mourned for her eyes that would not open again and her mouth that would never smile again. That seems irreconcilable with this sweet girl, so full of adventure and joy when she was alive. As we stood in that room the reality before us was death–the absence of life.
Words will never do justice to what happened in the night on Tuesday and into early Wednesday morning. It would just read like a sequence of events, not the collapse of someone’s world. The families in Jaffa (the ones who are not in quarantine) along with Sabrina and Georgia came outside to receive Haveen’s mother when we came home that morning, and they sat down and wept on the steps with her. A collective grief shared by all.
Today we brought Haveen’s mother and the mother of Dalal, who are best friends, to Jerusalem as the families staying here also wanted to spend time with Haveen’s mother. They went to pray on the Temple Mount and out to the bazaar, and we ate dinner together. It was a beautiful time and beautiful to see Haveen’s mother smile again (below center in flowered dress).
One of the mothers wanted to stop in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to light a candle for her friend. The name of the church in Arabic is the Church of the Resurrection. As we crouched in the tomb to light the candles I thought of Haveen.
When she was brought to her room, I couldn’t see past the fact that she was gone and not coming back to this life. In those moments when death is just before you, maybe the resurrection, with all its power, is at the same time a candle which burns persistently and stubbornly against the hovering darkness.
Today at Sheba hospital, a visit with Haveen showed she has improved somewhat since being put on ECMO yesterday, and the medical staff are hopeful to take her off the machine this week.
Please continue to pray for her life and for her mother who finds it very difficult to see her daughter in this state even though we knew her surgery would likely have such an outcome. Her mum is often praying under her breath and sometimes I catch her in the middle saying, ‘kitchou min’ which means ‘my daughter.’ She said it lovingly to Haveen all the time before, and now she includes it in her prayers.
Please join her and us in praying for her beautiful daughter, our dear Haveen.
As Saturday afternoon turned to evening, Haveen’s mother prepared her things to go to Sheba hospital, but she has been preparing herself for this moment for months. Haveen will, God willing, have surgery tomorrow and it will be with significant risk to her life. Her mum knows well the risks of the operation, and has been supported by her friends and fellow parents here at Shevet.
For Haveen, going to the hospital is something that seems to take a lot of joy from because she can wave at all the people and explore this new environment; basically she loves it until she has a any sort of test. But the chance to make new friends is where Haveen always shines, and really she has a personality that draws everyone to want to come and interact with her, she’s so full of joy and life. God, we ask that this is how she will be after the surgery, please return this beautiful girl to her mother and her family.
Surgery postponed, ear infection
Yesterday, Haveen and her lovely mother needed to have a Corona test at Sheba hospital because Haveen was supposed to have been admitted today for surgery tomorrow. However, due to a fever Haveen has had since yesterday, doctors changed plans and rescheduled the surgery. Further tests were done to discern the reason for this fever. It was determined Haveen has an ear infection for which they are now administering a line of antibiotics. I’m thankful that it is such a small problem. Even though it is disappointing the surgery is being delayed, it is best to trust in God’s timing as it is always perfect and he always knows what he is doing. We can trust him with everything.
Also today, a CT scan was required before which Haveen was to have fasted from two in the morning. As a result, Haveen was very hungry and already quite upset early in the morning and during the waiting time for her CT scan. Haveen’s mother comforted her which reminded me of Isaiah 66:13, “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.”
After a while, it was Haveen’s time for the CT scan. During the procedure, Haveen’s mother was crying silently and praying. It is wonderful to see that this mother understands everything is in God’s hands and He is the best comforter.
After the CT scan, Haveen’s oxygen was lower than when she is in her normal condition, so they provided her with extra oxygen. When she woke, she was crying again but of course her mother was there for her as always. Finally she was allowed to eat and drink something again.
Haveen was doing a little bit better today after she was allowed to eat and drink, thank God. Please pray for a fast recovery from this infection so the surgery can be rescheduled and for Haveen’s mother to continue in her patience and trust.
Where faith and truth collide
As the hours passed, Haveen’s mother waited to know the results of Haveen’s catheterization. She waited to know if her daughter is well, despite the heightened risk of the procedure. She waited to know especially if Haveen is or is not operable which the cath should have made clear. She got a phone call from a relative in Kurdistan. I assume they were praying with Haveen’s mother as she repeated one word, “Ameen.” Whenever we pray as Christians, we end with this same word, but it is pronounced with a short vowel sound. ‘Ameen’ means truly and is rooted in the Hebrew word for truth. For example, when Jesus makes a statement starting with “Truly, truly, I say unto you,” the Hebrew translation of ‘truly’ is “Amen, amen.”
As I sat there listening to Haveen’s mother use this word, which at it’s core means truth, I thought it also seems phonetically similar to the Arabic word for faith “Iman.” I’m not a specialist in Semetic languages, yet this connection formed in my mind between the words for faith and truth, as we waited for the result and answer from Haveen’s cath.
It seems a bit paradoxical that this should be, i.e. if faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see, then things we count as true are often classified as such because we rely on our eyes to see and to some extent verify a truth claim. But something about waiting in a hospital to know whether a baby has survived a procedure, and to know if something can be done to save her life, makes faith and truth collide.
The relative’s phonecall ended. Within minutes, one of the cath doctors came out to speak with Haveen’s mother. In no way is it an exaggeration to say that this was the moment Haveen’s family has been waiting for since she was first diagnosed. In Arabic, the doctor explained that they had finished the catheterization, and while they needed to plan further, Haveen is in fact operable. Never in my life will I forget the expression on Haveen’s mother’s face. Disbelieving for joy, and hoping against hope, her daughter has a chance to live.
To be sure, the surgery will be dangerous, just as much as was initially told to Haveen’s mother in the meeting nearly two weeks ago. Yet today, for this moment, there was overflowing joy at the fact that Haveen had lived through the cath, and there is a chance for her have life further.
Thank you so much for praying for Haveen leading up to this point and please, please continue to hold her in prayer now.
Possible catheterization tomorrow
Co-worker Sabrina brought little Haveen to Sheba hosital today in preparation for her catheterization, scheduled for tomorrow. However, due to Sheba being at full capacity, we brought her to our community home in Jaffa instead of her sleeping at the hospital.
An echo was done and Haveen’s mother spoke to one of the catheterization doctors. Again, her mother is aware of the heightened risk of a cath, and it is quite high stakes, but from it doctors will be able to guage whether or not a surgery can be done for Haveen. There is still a chance the cath will be tomorrow, and after much waiting, that is certainly the hope of Haveen’s mum. Please pray for them both
Welcome Haveen, to Israel
The lovely Haveen and her mum arrived in Jordan with five other Kurdish families today. Co-worker Georgia, Sebastian and I were very glad to collect them and bring them to our Shevet home in Jaffa.
They had a long journey today as they shared with us, having to be up by 6:30 in the morning, and arriving to Jaffa at 6 pm. Because of this, they were very tired when they arrived.
Haveen’s mother is a kind and beautiful woman, taking care of her little daughter in a great way. Haveen’s diagnosis is complex congenital heart disease. She will see the doctor in the next week to make a full assessment. Meanwhile, Haveen and her lovely mother will have to quarantine with the other five families for the next two weeks at our community home in Jaffa.
Please pray for a blessed time during that two weeks and for a good settle-in experience for them.