Aveen's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

This is the Day to See Your Glory

Posted on Wed, 03/30/2016 - 11:46 by Rebekah Yang

Yesterday the good news was shared from both Dr. Tamir and Dr. Alona saying, “Aveen you can go back to Kurdistan.” Right after we reached Jerusalem, our sweet home, somehow I felt our whole Shevet community atmosphere was not the same as usual. It seemed our Shevet family members were facing two totally different emotions - a mixture of joy and sadness - at the same time.

While most of the Sheveteers were busy doing their last minute preparations for our precious Aveen’s farewell "hafla hafla" party, God provided me with a few minutes to hide inside the laundry room in order to do the last housekeeping laundry, as well as to reflect on all the sweet and wonderful moments that God has given to us through Aveen and her father. I could count all the blessings they have brought to us and prayed with my thankful heart.

The celebration time came; all of us from Shevet community went to our opposite neighbour - the Finnish school - for this special farewell gathering. I cannot thank God enough for such a unique and marvelous opportunity we have. We come from different countries, cultures, languages etc… because God’s love draws us together for a very simple purpose - to bless Aveen and her father by what we have in Him.

We sang worship and praise songs in English, Arabic, as well as Kurdish. One of the highlights was our first Shevet- Finnish band. Josh, Ruth and Mateo from Shevet plus Seppo’s powerful guitar and Sammy's lovely violin harmonising was indeed beautiful worship. I was so touched and almost could not hold my tears in.

As per Shevet’s bye-bye party tradition, Aveen and her father enjoyed the gifts presentation and a time where we shared our appreciation towards them. From their responses, I could tell that the best gifts were definitely our Shevet volunteer "graduation" t-shirts. At one point Aveen's father was even joking that he has to stay behind to cook for us every lunchtime now as he has been for the last three months.

After that we had a memories video - a slide show of all her photos in Israel - to reflect on God’s healing hand as He has been working in Aveen’s new life. It was not only Aveen's physical health that has been changed but also her inner spirit. She is like a blooming rose that radiates her pretty personality.

Aveen's father then asked her to give all of our female volunteers each a lovely necklace and the male volunteers sunglasses in return.

Our farewell party ended with us singing to God - how great and awesome He is, "Anta Atheemon” in Arabic and Kurdish - our praise offering to the True Living God we serve.  

The following morning we gathered together to say our final goodbye's. We spent time in prayer for Aveen and her father, the journey ahead of them and their new life.

A lot of hugs, tears and smiles were then shared before they climbed into the van. As they departed we cheered them off saluting them with tissues (another Shevet tradition). 

As I am writing this farewell blog, all the beautiful glances and scenes I have in my mind come from Psalm 133:1, "Behold how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity." AMEN!!     

Bye, Aveen, Go Home

Posted on Mon, 03/28/2016 - 23:01 by Alejandra Becerra

This morning on the way to the hospital we were trusting that today would be the last echocardiogram. Once at the hospital, we went into the echo room for the procedure, and the first words I heard from the nurse were "Bye Aveen, go home." So, good news--her heart is very well and she can go back home to Kurdistan! We shared in the joy of Aveen and her father upon hearing this result! Then we returned home with a new hope and a lifetime ahead.


Before now, we did not know the meaning of the name "Aveen." We just discovered along the way sharing with her that in Kurdish her name means "love!" Thank you Aveen for giving us more memories seeing you enjoy everything and being optimistic thoughout this whole process. It has been a long journey but the end has finally come.

Go head Aveen--let's write the rest of the chapters for this beautiful story of your life!

Dwelling Together

Posted on Mon, 03/21/2016 - 20:46 by Naomi Knight
Aveen was prepped and ready to go for another echo today at Wolfson hospital. After receiving the news last week that there was fluid around her heart we were praying for a clearing of this fluid and that her recovery is once again moving in the right direction. 
When we arrived at the hospital we went straight to the echo department to wait to be called in. There were a lot of children there from Africa who were also waiting for their scans. At first, we sat on the chairs and made bracelets together. However, after an hour or so it was starting to become difficult to keep our minds entertained. A family from America entered the waiting area around this point. They had come to visit the children from Africa and bless them with gifts as their daughter has also undergone several heart surgeries. They met with Aveen and presented her with a gift, too. It was a cuddly bear which has a zip in the middle. If you undo the zip you can see a heart with stitching underneath. In response to such a gift Aveen, her father, Sophie, and I were incredibly grateful!
After they had left we joined the other children and made bracelets together - giving them to the younger children who were not able to make them themselves. Our fellow workers and the new families (Adil, Midya, and Abdalla) then joined us in the waiting room as they would also need scans. Together we played cards and made use of the little Wendy house. 
Aveen was finally called in for her scan and we were given the good news that the fluid around her heart had gone! She can now return to a normal diet and they are reducing her medication. They wish to see her once more to ensure that her heart is working with these new measures in place.
To celebrate we delved into the sweets Sophie had brought. 
Despite the day being filled with many hours of waiting it reminded me of how good it is to endure these things together - whether it be your friends, your community, or strangers who you have just met that day. 
We praise God for the opportunities to engage with those around us in a way that can bring joy and blessings to so many people, especially to the children - like Aveen - who we wish to embrace with love. We also thank the Lord for His hand that is holding her and protecting her through this time. I look forward to this week with Aveen, as it could be her last, and I pray that she will treasure her time here with us. 

Good News Goes Beyond Language

Posted on Thu, 03/17/2016 - 22:14 by Alejandra Becerra

The best way to start the day was praying! On the way to the hospital in Tel Aviv for Aveen's echo we were hoping for an improvement over the last diagnosis, so we prayed with the greatest hope in God that it would be like this.

We spent a good time with Aveen in the hospital play zone, it’s not easy having the recent complication of fluid around her heart, but it is amazing to see Aveen facing all with the best attitude.

After the echocardiogram, the doctor gave us good news about Aveen, there is no longer fluid around her heart and she can reduce her medicine!

It's nice to share with Aveen and her father this great news; you do not have to speak the same language to perceive the joy of everyone seeing how day by day Aveen is getting better.

We certainly had a good time sharing and serving others in the best way.

We will continue praying for the recovery of Aveen and wishing her peace in her heart!

Never Lose Faith

Posted on Mon, 03/14/2016 - 20:37 by Juanita Florez Parra

Last week the doctor said that today was Aveen's final echo appointment. She was very excited and anxious because surely this week she could go home to Kurdistan, and see her friends and her family again. After a long ride to the hospital, we had to wait a while for the echo, so Aveen and Esraa colored a long time in my mandala flowers book and they brought us their beautiful smiles and company. 

Finally the doctor did the echo and everything went well except for the fact that she found fluid around her heart, therefore it is necessary to come back on Thursday for another echo and additionally change her medicine for the next week. Although this is not good news, Aveen is really happy now and her father as well. Today was a fun day. We played a long time with Aveen and Esraa in the playground, took pictures and they filled me with happiness with their beautiful smiles. 

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1


The Joy of the Lord is My Strength

Posted on Mon, 03/07/2016 - 22:21 by Valentina Jaimes Vargas

Today we arrived at the hospital early in the morning for the Aveen's echo, and thank God since that moment everything in the day turned miraculously successful.

While we were waiting for the echo to start, Naomi, Esraa, Aveen and I enjoyed the time together laughing and playing with different stuff. This helped the time pass by quickly, and before we knew it, it was time for the echo.

It was my first time enter in an echo since I came here, and I realized that may seem a simple process, but for Aveen it's not. It really encouraged me the way that she handled this situation completely calm. The moment was so amazing for me that actually we found like a million different things to laugh at. Once, we even we had to put our fingers on ours mouths because the doctor had to finish the echo and we could not stop laughing. And that reminds me that no matter the situation that we are living or the pain that we feel, God fills us with joy in our hearts.

At the end of the echo, the doctor said that she is doing a really great job, her condition is excellent and that she is a very strong girl.

Things went so well that she doesnt need to have any medication changes and hopefully her next echo could be the last one. She also had her stitches taken out. At the end of the day we hung out in the play ground, enjoyed some sun, and shared delicious biscuits and hot tea.

We thank God for the incredible recovery that He has given Aveen because from the outside we can see His protective hand pushing things forward and filling everything with His love. We continue in prayer so that everything goes well and she can return home soon. 


God's Grace Poured Out

Posted on Thu, 03/03/2016 - 19:40 by Brenda Hofer

We started our trip early to the hospital this morning.  By the time I arrived at the van, Aveen and her father were already in their seats ready to leave. We made it to Aveen’s echo appointment in plenty of time, so Aveen, Christelle, Juanita, and I played a fast card game. The medical staff was quick to bring Aveen in for her exam and perform the echo. Aveen’s father stood right by her side the entire time. The female technician checked her heart first for fluid, it showed it was clear, no sign of fluid. My own heart skipped for a second, as the tech said she needed to check for fluid around her lungs also. I prayed in a matter of seconds that it would be clear, too. In God's grace, He chose to answer yes. Dr. Alona was very positive, saying Aveen’s echo looked good. She wants Aveen to have a couple more echos done, and if they are clear as well she can maybe go home in a couple weeks.

As we rode back to Jerusalem, I could not help but reflect on God's grace. Aveen, who is a sweet 16-year-old girl, came to us very sick having a serious and complicated heart condition. Of any of the children’ s cases here at Shevet Achim’s home, I was most anxious about hers. She had an “easy” surgery with no complications, and though she had to go back to the hospital for some fluid drainage, she was not in there an extended amount of time.

God pouring out His grace is evident in Aveen’s life. In the TaNaK, the Hebrew word for grace denotes, among other things, a sense of preservation. God is making it apparent that He is the One preserving her life. Come and join Shevet Achim in prayer as we continue to lift up Aveen, and her father to the LORD.

A Comfortable Silence

Posted on Tue, 03/01/2016 - 21:33 by Lindsay Martin

When we arrived at the hospital today, I was very excited to see Aveen and her father. This is the first time I have been able to visit them since they have been in the hospital. As I tiptoed into the children's ward  looking for Aveen, I was surprised when she wasn't there. But as I turned around to go look in another room, I saw her father walking down the hall. So I put my finger to my lips and whispered, "kwa Aveen?" which means "where is Aveen?" in Kurdish. He responded by telling me to follow him and we both began to walk toward the craft area very quietly so as not to give away where we were. As I opened the door to see Aveen, I was blessed to see she was having fun making beautiful key chains like this one, which she gave to me as a gift.

Soon after, we joined Aveen and her father in their room and spent some time together. Aveen has a specific diet that reduces her fat intake in hopes of reducing the amount of fluid in her lungs. Many times, as she was eating her lunch, she would make funny faces towards the bland hospital food because she misses the food of her homeland. But, she was very diligent and ate almost all of the food she was given.

Only an hour or so later, we received confirmation from the nurses that Aveen was free to join us back at home in Jerusalem!

We had to wait a few more hours before we could head home so we spent some quiet time in the room, relaxing and not really saying much. I cherish these times with the families because it shows that they are comfortable with us. So often, in their culture, they are always doing something to make their guests feel welcome. But as we were discussing at dinner last night among our community, a true sign of family is being comfortable in silence. It wasn't awkward at all, just comfortable.

Of course, we still found things to talk and laugh about, like when someone would sit on the end of the bed and it would start to sink to the ground. Which also caused joy for many of the Gaza families as they were taking photos of the phenomenon. Miriam and I even tried our hand at braiding Aveen's hair but found we are not the best experts on hair.

As we piled in the car to head home, we took a selfie to remember the moment and bask in the warm sunshine.

It was a quiet, peaceful ride home as Aveen fell asleep in the backseat and the sun shone down on her beautiful face.

I am thankful for this beautiful day with this beautiful family. We are praying that God will continue the healing in her heart and keep the fluid in her lungs down. She will have another echo on Thursday and we hope to have more good results then. Praise God for His hand on this precious young woman.

Praise God For Wonderful Visits

Posted on Sun, 02/28/2016 - 21:35 by Rebakah Yang

We entered the children’s ward to visit our sweet Aveen, and we could only see Abu-Ali( Aveen’s father) who welcomed us with his big smile. I wondered where Aveen was, and Abu-Ali showed us Aveen was busy at the computer/game room doing her craft project. As I watched Aveen, she was really into her handiwork with her full concentration, and I was so moved to see this beautiful scene.

Due to Aveen’s need for more time to focus on her craft, we gave her some time in order to finish her special project. We decided to go back to the children’s ward to chat with her father instead. Before lunchtime, Aveen came in with this wonderful masterpiece; all of us had no words to express except ”Wow!”

When we all got together to enjoy her handcraft, one of the nurses came over to announce the good news to Aveen that they are planning to remove her chest tube late this afternoon.

On our way back to Jerusalem I was praising God that He has given us such a blessed day to go to Tel-Aviv to visit our precious Aveen. 


A Father's Love

Posted on Thu, 02/25/2016 - 14:19 by Brenda Hofer
Juanita and I walked into the children's ward and saw Aveen and her father for the first time since she was readmitted to the hospital. They both looked very tired, but their faces lit up with smiles when they saw us.  Juanita and I tried to be encourging to Aveen by comforting her with big hugs. Juanita provided Aveen with lots of goodies in her bag to keep her occupied.  We worked on colorful bands for making bracelets, painting our nails, playing cards, and coloring in an art book.
Suhail was able to ask Aveen's father how she is doing.  Her father said that sometimes the medical staff brings in breathing tubes for her because her oxygen supply is low, but then they take it away. Aveen showed us that her chest tubes were still there, and she indicated that they were a source of discomfort.  Aveen's dad seemed to feel that she looked better though.  I felt bad for her because it was obvious that she was still in a little bit of pain and tired of staying in the hospital.  It was very sweet of her to smile back at us when we tried to make her feel better. Aveen's father is also a continued source of graciousness.  He once again made sure that Suhail, Juanita, and I had a comfortable place to sit at his expense. He looked worn out, yet I feel he continues to provide an emotional strength and support that Aveen needs right now.  It is apparent that he loves his daughter very much. I began to think of how God interacts with us.  This is a wonderful reminder of how our heavenly Father loves and cares for us. John the Apostle tells us "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God!" (1 John 3:1). It is mindblowing to me that a perfectly righteous God would love and lavish it upon His creation who either ignores it or takes it for granted most of the time. May we endeavour to fully rely on our Father's love for us. 
As we left for the day, both Juanita and I prayed for Aveen and her father that the Lord would make His love abundantly clear to them both and that they would be able to rest completely in that love.