Esraa's Heart Surgery


Bye, bye Cinderella

Posted on Thu, 03/17/2016 - 21:15 by Co-authored

As volunteers, we were able to experience Esraa’s whole Israel journey with her. Beginning with the day she arrived as a timid girl until the day of her farewell in which she gave us her smile.

These last days with her were amazing because we saw her miraculous and quick recovery medically. We also witnessed her willingness to become part of the Shevet family. 

For example, she formed a great friendship with Aveen, helped cook on several occasions, she taught us card games as well as words in her Arabic language. She also showed interest in learning some English and a million other things that ministered to our lives and allowed us to feel the love of God day by day.

Tuesday night we held a wonderful party in her honor where we could celebrate the work she did in us and the blessings that we were able to bestow on her life. We enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by Rebekah and Christelle. The dessert was delicious cookies which were cooked by Brenda and Alejandra. In all these details of the preparation of the food as well as in the decorations, the love we feel towards Esraa was reflected. 

Additionally, we had the opportunity to praise God in worship, words of sharing, applause, and laughter. We then finished with gifts that we presented to Esraa and her uncle. That made her very happy because the presents showed her the essence of Shevet.

The gift included clothes, Cinderella-themed things, and a stuffed animal representing our community dog Shevie. Through heartfelt words and a beautiful video made by Miriam, we could see the culmination of the process and the mark she left in our hearts.

From the Shevet volunteers were words of gratefulness for all the experiences shared with Esraa. Her uncle returned kind thoughts by expressing his thanks for all the support he received. He told us at the beginning Esraa did not want to be here, but after a few days she told him she never wanted to leave. Instead, she would wake up excited to come over to Shevet’s base. He also told us that he will cherish every moment and every person in his heart. The photos will help him to never forget every little detail of his experience and he'll be able to show his family all that he experienced here in Israel.

The morning after Esraa’s farewell party, we sang praises and said a special prayer for Esraa. Between hugs and kisses, we gave her a last farewell, which caused her some tears due to the very strong bond that had been formed between us. 

On the long road to the border, Christelle and Valentina took advantage of the last moments with her; playing cards, making bracelets, laughing, and eating chocolate. Finally, she went with her uncle back home.

Her extended family was waiting anxiously for her on the other side, and the celebrations broke out as soon as she reached home:

We know that God has a happy future for her, full of health and love.

"But thanks be to God. He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus the Messiah." 1 Corinthians 16:57

Authored By: Juanita Florez Parra and Valentina Jaimes Vargas

Catching On

Posted on Mon, 03/14/2016 - 18:02 by Alexa Bigl

We are continuing to learn Esraa's time here in Israel is full of surprises. Today, we went to Wolfson for a standard, follow-up echo and came to find Esraa is doing so well the doctors are confident in her recovery and she has been discharged. She is allowed to go home to her much missed mom and dad in Jordan. She had her last chest tube stitch removed and has been declared ready to go.

Esraa had loads of fun playing in the different areas of the hospital today.

This energetic little girl has won the hearts of many of Shevet's volunteers, so we will miss her greatly.

That said, we are so grateful she will so quickly be returning to her parents. God has been actively placing His hand on Esraa to allow for the unfolding of His perfect timing, and we are finally catching on to what a beautiful blessing that is!

Plans for travel back to Jordan are still in the works and we would greatly appreciate your prayers as the planning processes proceeds. 

On the Mend

Posted on Mon, 03/07/2016 - 21:56 by Naomi Knight
Today we went for Esraa's second echo following her surgery. It was such a blessed day full of sunshine, laughter and good news. 
Esraa's echo was promising. Her heart is working well and she is improving after her surgery. She will still need at least two more echos as, although the surgery was a simple procedure, there is a risk of fluid developing around the heart following a procedure like this. Considering her surgery is just under two weeks ago, it is important for her to remain here in case there is anything that she needs during her recovery. However, we continue to pray that her next two weeks here will simply be full of fun, fun, fun!
To pass the time while we were waiting for the scan to take place and afterwards during lunch and waiting for Aveen's stitches to be removed, we occupied ourselves with taking photos. Esraa adores taking photos and I can definitely see her as a budding photographer! She took so many in different poses; pulling funny faces and with smiles all around. 
I am so thankful to God for her beating heart and her infectious smile!
"God is within her, she will not fall."
Psalm 46:4 

Lookin' Good

Posted on Thu, 03/03/2016 - 19:49 by Christelle Fonjallaz

Today was an echo day for Esraa and Aveen. We left all together, Esraa, Esraa's uncle, Aveen, Aveen's father, and four volunteers. It was a big and great group!

Everything went really well! Esraa had been a little sick during the night but fortunately she was fine during the journey. We then arrived at the hospital early and went directly to the echo clinic area. The waiting was not too long and it was fun to play cards together during this time.

The news about Esraa is good, the doctor said her echo was excellent! However, the doctor just wanted to be sure that her sickness from last night wasn't serious. Therefore, they took her blood pressure and made sure she could eat without throwing up. Finally, everything was fine and we were able to go back to Shevet quite early.

Esraa’s next echo will be on Monday and if everything goes on like this, Esraa could go home in the next few weeks. Praise the Lord for this time of joy together and for the good news!

Friends and Recovery

Posted on Sun, 02/28/2016 - 21:17 by Valentina Jaimes Vargas

After a few days of recovering at Wolfson, we have the happiness to announce that Esraa is back at Shevet’s Jerusalem home.

We are so glad with her improvements in this process. Since she came here she has only made progress in her health and disposition about being here. She has a really beautiful friendship with Aveen, and she loves to spend time with all of us.

Today before came home, Rebekah, Miriam and I hung out with Esraa, Aveen, and Marwan (a boy from Gaza). We enjoyed some of the simple things just laughing and playing with the cameras.

On the road going home Esraa was so happy, full of energy, and she ready for what is yet to come. She will have an echo on Thursday and currently only receives one medication, a vitamin. For this reason we are grateful with God because He listened our prayers and is giving her a wonderful recovery. The Lord has shown us that he is a good God who loves and gives life.   

"See now that I myself am He! There is no God besides Me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand." Deuteronomy 32:39

Visiting a Smiling Esraa

Posted on Thu, 02/25/2016 - 22:54 by Christelle Fonjallaz
Today we went with Ruth to the hospital to visit Aveen and Esraa. I was looking forward to seeing Esraa again; indeed I hadn't see her since she left Jerusalem for her surgery. I was so happy that the surgery was fine! Thanks to God. 

When I arrived in the room, I saw her beautiful smile, and she looked really nice with her hair up. It was great to see her like this only two days after surgery! At first we just hung out while she was eating, although it seemed that she wasn't really hungry. Esraa also told us that she was only feeling a little bit of pain!

After she had finished eating, we did some colouring and stuff from the hospital together and we also played cards. I didn't always understand the rules, but I won, so it was OK! 

After this, Esraa told me that she was tired, which is understandable after her surgery, so she played with my phone for a while. Then we had to leave the hospital because we had to bring some children back to Gaza. Therefore I'm looking forward to seeing Esraa again and spending more time with her. 

I'm so thankful to God that she's doing great! Let's pray that everything will continue to be fine and that she keeps her beautiful smile. We can also pray for her uncle who stays with her.


Surgery Day!

Posted on Tue, 02/23/2016 - 22:42 by Valentina Jaimes Vargas

Miriam, Alexa and I arrived at Wolfson hospital early in the morning to be with Esraa on her surgery day. Upon arrival to her room, the first thing that we saw in it was a big Esraa smile. We all know that Esraa has been very shy and rarely smiles, but this morning she proved to be in a different spirit.

At the beginning we played together and she showed us nearly 10 different things that she kept in her pocket. We colored together, and also made bracelets for Aveen, while Alexa and Miriam tried to make figures in origami. Then, Aveen's father came and showed us that he is a genius at origami--he made boats, flowers, even a small toy gun, which did not represent anything more than innocence, and in a moment we realized that we were surrounded by people laughing and giving support to Esraa.

She also showed us her talent at playing cards. We played a game that her uncle had taught her, and she  taught us the Arabic numbers. Throughout the day Alexa and I kept trying to remember all the numbers.

Alexa made ​​a braid in her hair, and she was so excited than wanted to brush Alexa's hair and together we tried to give Alexa a hairstyle. In the time that I've known Esraa, I have never seen her so ready to play and feeling so comfortable with us. Today showed that she has a lot of joy that only a child could have. The whole time she was full of  tranquility and strength for her surgery.

When the time came, she and her uncle looked very calm. We only had to wait a few moments more, and we spent the time playing and laughing.

The surgery lasted two hours and we had to wait a few hours more to visit her after. Finally, we can say it was a succesful surgery. God put his hands on Esraa the whole time. He gave her strength and filled her with immense joy that only kids can have--and this blessed everyone around her. We will continue praying for her recovery to be swift and painless, and also for her uncle, mother and family to understand the purpose of God in Esraa's life.

Unexpected and Exciting!

Posted on Mon, 02/22/2016 - 17:13 by Alexa Bigl

Another excitingly unexpected decision was made by the doctors regarding Esraa. She was called in to be admitted today in order to receive surgery tomorrow! As we were finishing up with echocardiograms for two of the other children with us, Dr. Alona told me there was a change with the surgery schedule and to have Esraa come immediately. Since we had no available vehicles, my coworker Yousef accompanied Esraa and her uncle as they took a Sherut (a shared taxi) to Wolfson. Esraa will fast from food and water tonight in preparation for her operation tomorrow. We will be praying this doesn't bother her too much and that she and her uncle are able to get some quality sleep tonight. All thanks to God for this unexpected timing!

We were unable to get photos today, but Esraa's blog will be updated in the next 24 hours with photos and details of her surgery. Please be praying! 


Happily Back in Jerusalem

Posted on Thu, 02/18/2016 - 19:51 by Juanita Florez Parra

Among a little smiling and a little weeping for her missed mother, today Esraa finished her first stay in the hospital. Today she did my nails, and Trine's. I have never felt so happy to be getting my nails done, and it was beautiful. She's a very sweet girl. 

Everything is miraculous and marvelous in Esraa's life. Today she was able to go back to the Shevet house in Jerusalem and she's already sharing with us. Her recovery was very fast and we're still praying for her return home. Thank God for your wonderful work; you make beautiful things. 

"See now that I myself am he! There is no God besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand." Deuteronomy 32:39


Bonding with Esraa on Cath Day

Posted on Wed, 02/17/2016 - 22:01 by Juanita Florez Parra

Today was my first visit to the hospital. I was really anxious for this time to come, and now I know what a Shevet volunteer visit means. In Esraa's hospital room (who was asleep when I arrived) was also Aveen. I felt really happy because she was much better than the days before and she had a beautiful smile that was a gift to the others. After a while Esraa woke up. She was a little bit shy, but she looked really good and calm.

It was very interesting how despite the difference of languages (English, French, Spanish, German and Arabic) we could reach a unique type of communication and have a good time through games, laughs, music, colors, origami, and so many other things. 

Finally the time of her procedure arrived. The doctor came, and Christelle and I accompanied her. She was really scared because surely she didn't know what was happening in that moment, and also she was hungry and thirsty because she was required to fast all morning. 

After two hours Esraa was back in her hospital room sleeping because of the anesthesia. Unfortunately, the hole in Esraa's heart was too big, so the doctors couldn't close it with a cath. Therefore, Esraa will need open-heart surgery in the next weeks. 

We continue to pray for Esraa that God will keep her and her uncle in His loving hands during their staying in Israel. 

"But Jesus called them unto him, and said, suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." Luke 18:16