Lizan's Heart Surgery

Northern Iraq

His Face Shine Upon You

Posted on Mon, 06/22/2015 - 22:45 by Sophie

Lizan and her mother are very special friends for me. We spent so many days together praying and experiencing God answer their prayers. I still remember the last day they were at Shevet Achim, before they left we met in the front yard to pray for them. I want to share this picture and the blessing I pass to them!

"The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."

I appreciated the time to visit Lizan 's family very much! Her princess bedroom was an amazing surprise! She really looks like princess, as well!

Lizan 's mother gave us another surprise and made a cake for us. We were so blessed; they are the first family to make a cake considering the culture at Shevet (we often prepare the tea with cake or some cookies). We were very comfortable and relaxed!

In the evening we went outside for dinner, and it was wonderful. In almost one month , I felt this was the first time we had time to breath the fresh air with natural smell. And, I have to say, they chose the best place for dinner.

Lizan loves games very much, and not just outside at the playground, but  at home as well. Thanks be to God for the chance to play together.

I am sure God brought us here, and that He wanted to bless them. Before we left, we spent some time to pray for their family. I told Lizan 's mother that God would give her a son.

I asked her, “What is his name ?” Lizan's mother said, “If the father agrees, I'd like call him Dahaz.”

"What does it mean ?" I asked. That is a Kurdish name, she answered. In English it means “God hears”. I was amazed by God's work. May His will be done, and His name be glorified!


Celebrating Messiah, Celebrating Lizan

Posted on Sun, 12/28/2014 - 21:31 by Madison Akins

On December 25th the staff at Shevet took the day off for celebrating the birth of Messiah. That night we were also able to celebrate His great work as we had Lizan’s farewell party. Her final echo, earlier in the week, showed that her health was good and she received permission to return home on Friday.

During nearly four months in Israel Lizan and her mother saw several other children come and go, and Lizan knew there would be fun and excitement in store for her at her own long-awaited farewell party. We all gathered in a large circle on the floor, and you could see Lizan’s eyes glowing in the dim light as she sat quietly beside her mother. The first surprise came out with the tea: two delicious cookie cakes made by Janice, that each had a picture of Lizan’s favorite character on them - Hello Kitty!

Lizan was very pleased and smiled her big, beautiful smile. Then Julia and Sarah led us in a couple of worship songs before we began passing out the cake and tea. In her time here, Lizan has shown her great memory by easily learning the songs that we sing. She has fun joining us in singing in English, Hebrew, Arabic, or Kurdish. After worship, as we all munched on the snacks, we had a time of reflection and sharing with Lizan and her mother. This was a special time where we remembered Lizan’s journey since arriving at Shevet, shared our favorite memories, and blessed and encouraged them.

As we took turns speaking, some of us with teary eyes, we could not help but notice how loved Lizan and her mother are. Since they were here for so long, part of that time being spent as the only family at Shevet, this gave them a very special relationship with each person at the party. As we finished up this part of the party, Lizan eagerly urged us into the next – presents! She has been anticipating this for a long time, and had many beautiful gifts to open. As she rummaged through her pink gift bag, Lizan pulled out dolls, coloring books, craft supplies, a fun scarf, sunglasses that looked so cute on her, and her own version of the game we loved to play together.

She was especially excited about her princess activity book and Anna doll. Lizan also received a couple of packages from overseas from a dear friend of Shevet whom Lizan had gotten to know very well during her stay here. She was so surprised and delighted by those gifts.

Next was the farewell video, which is a slideshow of pictures from Lizan’s time here that Jesse put together with some nice music. Lizan had been looking forward to this as well. When a picture she liked was taken, Lizan would remind us to have it put into her video. It was very moving to see Lizan’s story in pictures, and I think all of us were reminded of some sweet times.

A common memory was how kind, brave, creative, beautiful, and patient she is. Lizan was always making some kind of lovely craft or picture, and freely giving them away to everyone at Shevet. Lizan also loves baking and sharing her treats with everyone after meals. She expresses so much love through sharing with others.

At her age, Lizan was able to understand a little bit more about what was happening as she prepared for surgery, but she was so brave. Even through the tears, she remained calm and just held on to her mother’s hand.  She is so full of joy, and even open-heart surgery could not stop her from smiling and laughing the day after.

Lizan makes friends so easily, and you cannot help but love her as much as she loves you. The first day I met Lizan she took my hand as we walked around the market. She was so sweet, but also playful as she squeezed it and laughed. When more children, all much younger than Lizan, arrived at Shevet, I really got a chance to see her wonderful patience towards them; she was very much like an older sister. She was so understanding and helpful, and shared with them all the time, despite their occasional crying and tendency to break things.

I think that Lizan gets a lot of her character from her wonderful mother, whom we also became close with in her time here. We thanked Lizan’s mother for her kind heart and her calm demeanor. Even though the wait for Lizan was long and at times stressful, her mother remained very gracious and trusting. She knew that everyone wanted what was best for Lizan and would not give up despite the hard days. More than one volunteer remarked on how much Lizan’s mother had become like a friend or sister to them. She agreed, and said how when she was here, she did not feel separated by our different religions, but that we were all brothers and sisters. Jonathan took this opportunity to remind us all that it is because of what the Messiah did that these walls between us are torn down and we are able to love one another the way God loves each of us.

As the farewell party came to a close, we also had a small Christmas party for the kids and they got to open little gift bags, which they loved. It was a special night, and what better day to have such a celebration than on Christmas?

It seemed so significant to be able to celebrate the life and health of Lizan on the day we were also celebrating the day God sent his Son for each of us, Lizan included. A day that doesn’t just affect our lives, but our lives after death as well.

As we said our final goodbyes in the courtyard the next morning, and gave our final hugs and kisses, Lizan’s mother was reminded that we would be praying for them.

And we will, because God has placed some of His love for them in our hearts; a love that cares about both their earthly life and their spiritual life. We will miss them both dearly, but we are so happy that they will now be reunited with the rest of their family, and we hope to see them again one day. Please join us in praying that their transition home would be smooth and that they would continue to see God’s love in their lives.

Here is a video put together to remember all the wonderful times with Lizan. Enjoy!

Suspense in the Air

Posted on Mon, 12/22/2014 - 23:07 by Madison Akins

Today, Jesse and I went with Lizan and her mother to Wolfson Hospital for what we were hoping would be Lizan’s last echo. If all went well, we guessed she would be able to return home soon. Upon arriving, we realized that there was quite a long line of children in the echo department and that it would be a long wait. Since it was lunch time anyway, we decided to pass the time enjoying a picnic outside in the warm sunshine.

After eating her food, Lizan had fun trying to share her leftovers with a stray cat, but to no avail. It was too scared to get close. Oh well! Lizan’s mother was then able to make sure that Lizan had eaten enough herself.

After lunch we walked back to the echo department where it seems the staff had just gone to lunch themselves. That meant a bit of a longer wait, but that was no problem to Lizan. She kept busy playing on her tablet and talking on the phone to family back home.

Finally, it was time for the moment we had all been waiting for – Lizan’s echo. We went back to the room where Doctor Alona would perform the echo, and Lizan’s mother helped her change out of her shirt. 

As we sat in the dark and watched the images of Lizan’s heart on the screen, you could feel the suspense in the air. What would the doctor say? How much longer before Lizan and her mother can return back to their family in Iraq? They first got to Israel at the end of August and have had a long journey filled with waiting since then. Would it soon be over? Lizan and her mother held hands as Doctor Alona looked up from her careful work.

“It’s perfect!” she said about Lizan’s heart and progress. It was Lizan’s final echo, and she and her mother might return home as soon as Friday. Lizan’s mother leaned over and kissed her daughter’s hand after hearing the news. The doctor gave instructions saying that Lizan should wait another two months before playing any sports, but that she could return to school when she gets home. Then Doctor Alona said that it wouldn’t be finished without a picture, and so we took a lovely one of her and Lizan.

It’s very evident how much the staff at Wolfson cares about these kids, and we really appreciate that.

Before leaving, we were able to visit a few of the other children that were at the hospital. Lizan had a fun time celebrating the good news by handing out her candy to the kids, families, and staff. She is so sweet! On the way home, Lizan and her mother looked forward to sharing this news with her father over the phone after he gets off work. Everyone at Shevet is so thrilled to hear this good report, and we know her family will be too. It has been a long journey for Lizan, and we have all grown very close to both her and her mom. We’ll be sad to see them go, but we will be rejoicing over her health and the reunion she will soon have with the rest of her family.

Beautiful Steps

Posted on Mon, 12/15/2014 - 20:54 by Rahel Eschler

A week after being discharged from the Wolfson hospital, we took Lizan and her mum back in for follow-up assessments. On the ride to Tel Aviv, our precious lady in red took the opportunity for a nap.

Once we arrived at the echo department, everything went quickly; the echo technician called us in to the examination room and checked Lizan’s heart and lungs for fluids in less than ten minutes! Then Dr. Tamir took a second look at the results of the heart ultrasound with his trained eye, and announced that she is healing beautifully; they even took Lizan off the last heart medication she was on!

First her mother was not sure if that  was a good thing, but after some explanation she also rejoiced. This mother and daughter duo wanted to share the good news as quickly as possible with Lizan’s father back home in Kurdistan. While Lizan was talking to him on the phone, her mother explained to me that Lizan is really close to her father and that they miss each other a lot, which is very understandable after being away for over four months in a distant and foreign country. As Lizan and her mothers’ home-coming is approaching, Lord-willing only one or two more heart ultrasounds are necessary before we can celebrate their farewell party.

However, before we could leave the hospital for today, we had to make a short stop on the children’s ward to free Lizan from a few stitches in her chest. Lizan was very scared off this, not even her mum could calm her down, but the procedure was quickly done by a skilled nurse, so that Lizan did not even have time to start to cry or scream. She herself was surprised too, that it itched more than it hurt. The crowning of Lizan’s day at the hospital was a gift she received from students handing out presents for the Jewish holiday called Hanukkah (the festival of lights). This is always a wonderful season here in Israel, and we have a wonderful promise from our Lord and Savior. John 12, 46 says “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” May Lizan and her mother encounter that beautiful light through our community.

One More Step Toward Recovery

Posted on Sun, 12/07/2014 - 21:07 by Rahel Eschler

Today, Lizan took another huge step towards a complete recovery. Our precious and beautiful girl is again with us at Prophet Street in Jerusalem, not even a full week after her surgery. The last tests taken this morning all reaffirmed her quick recovery, and the doctors gave the green light for her discharge.

As we heard the good news, Yousef, Brian and I were still waiting at the Gaza border for a young girl to get through for her heart surgery at Wolfson Hospital. After waiting many long minutes, and some interceding prayers, we finally saw the girl and her grandfather walking across the border. After a smooth drive up to Tel Aviv, we gave them both over to the capable hands of the medical staff at the children’s heart clinic.

On the same ward, we were also looking for Lizan and her mother. We found them at one of Lizan’s favorite places at the hospital. It is a room next to the children’s playground where the small patients can do crafts.

Lizan was very carefully creating a beautiful necklace with her name on it. As always, it was a pleasure to observe that smart girl being so creative and working on something with such endurance and passion. She is a gifted girl with a gentle spirit. She is loved and cared for so much by her mother. Lizan’s mother told me on the way home that they were both so happy to come back to our Shevet base. She emphasized that Lizan really doesn’t like the hospital. When the doctors released her, she was only prescribed to take one heart medication. This is incredible. In about a week they want to have her back at the hospital for a follow up echo (heart ultrasound) to monitor the cardiac function after her valve replacement.

After being the only family at our house for quite a while, Lizan and her mother are eager to get to know the new families that arrived last weekend. There are even two more families arriving tonight! How wonderful it is to have again a house full of children’s laughter.

We praise our Lord in heaven for his healing hand upon Lizan and all the beautiful moments yet to come. Thank you very much for caring and praying for this precious family. The Lord told us in Luke 9:48, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.”

Early Encouragement

Posted on Thu, 12/04/2014 - 21:05 by Kyle Carlson

When we arrived in the children’s ward at Wolfon, Kristina and I were very surprised to see Lizan and her mother there. Only two days ago she had surgery for a valve replacement in her heart. Today, she was smiling, interactive and even walked a little. Her face was once again full of color and joy.

Unfortunately, she still has some pain, but her cheerful demeanor was very evident nonetheless. Lizan’s mother was also doing quite well. She was calm and optimistic about the situation. She was even excited about the new families at Shevet. It was very encouraging to see Lizan doing so well. I hope and pray this means a smooth road to recovery.  

Lizan on the Mend

Posted on Wed, 12/03/2014 - 21:23 by Madison Akins

Today, a group of us went to Wolfson hospital to visit Lizan and Samira in the ICU. I was anxious to see how Lizan was doing the day after her surgery. When Julia and I arrived, we expected to go into the ICU one at a time, so as not to overwhelm the small space with visitors. However, there was a slight delay, and we were told that no visitors were allowed at that time and to come back in a little while. We waited for about an hour, had lunch, and then went back to the ICU. This time we ran into Samira in the hallway, and she was able to take us back to visit Lizan.

We were all happy to see that Lizan seemed to be doing very well. She was still very tired and her eyes were heavy, but she opened them and tried to smile when I came in to say hello. She seems stronger than she was yesterday, and we were glad to see that she was taken off the ventilator and is now breathing on her own. Samira was also doing much better today. It must be hard for her to see her daughter like this, but she was holding up really well and seemed to enjoy our company. While Samira and I talked, Lizan rested, occasionally mumbling something to her mother. You could see the love in Samira’s eyes for her daughter as she gently leaned in to listen whenever Lizan tried to speak. Through all of this, Lizan has been very brave, especially with her mother by her side. She asked Samira to hold her hand so that she knew she was near. Samira soothingly stroked Lizan’s forehead again and again, a gesture that is very comforting to Lizan. While the visit was not very long, I think it cheered us all up to see one another. Lizan’s favorite game is the card game UNO, and she plays it for hours at Shevet. I promised her that we would play it together as soon as she felt well enough. As I got ready to leave, I asked if I could pray with them. It was such a sweet moment to take hands with them in the midst of the ICU and to thank God for Lizan’s life.

Through all of the tests, months of waiting, and now open heart surgery, He has sustained them. We prayed that He would continue to give strength and health to both of them each day. Please join us in praying this over Lizan and Samira as they walk this road of recovery together.

Successful Surgery!

Posted on Tue, 12/02/2014 - 22:03 by Laura Bourn

Lizan had a successful heart valve replacement today! We arrived just as she was being moved to the waiting room outside the operating room. We had some time with her and her mother, so Sophie pulled out a beautiful paper cat mask to color in and cut out.

For a moment, Lizan was able to forget her fears and cheer up with us, but as we prayed for her just before sending her out to the OR, the tears started coming to her eyes again. Once more, it was heart breaking for Lizan's mother to have to leave her daughter there. We decided to wait outside in the sun during the length of the surgery. Lizan's mother was very quiet, trying to process what was happening.

She shared a little later that it is very hard for her to take so much responsibility on herself here; usually, her husband deals with important matters, and it was him who signed all the important papers for Lizan's first surgery in Israel seven years ago. She could not brush away the feeling of guilt that weighed on her: she kept asking herself if there was anything more she could have done, or anything she could have done differently to prevent her daughter from having to go through this.

She admitted to us that deep down, she believed her daughter was suffering the consequences of her own sin, and that God's judgment on her was being passed on to her daughter. We immediately countered that lie with scriptures, using also the story of the blind man in John 9, when the disciples asked if his sickness was a result of his parent's sin, Jesus replied it had nothing to do with his parents, but it was all for God's glory. It was beautiful to see how much Lizan's mother would be ready to sacrifice for her daughter; she told us over and over how much she loves her dear daughter.

After three hours of waiting outside, we decided to go and wait outside the Intensive Care Unit, knowing Lizan could be transferred from the OR at any moment from then on. A doctor came to announce that the surgery had been successful and Lizan was progressively stabilizing. Lizan's mother's eyes started watering again; she told us she was very grateful to be with us, because she could not show her emotions in this way at home. Another hour passed before Lizan was finally brought in; her mother got up immediately and hurried towards her, but the doctors asked her to wait outside the ICU until Lizan was fully stabilized.

Her mother burst into tears when she saw her daughter's pale face, and eyes covered in order to remain closed. The minutes that followed were the longest to wait through, until a doctor finally called for her to come into the ICU. Ruth, Sophie and I were able to go and comfort her in there one at a time, and say goodbye. Lizan will stay sedated through the night, and the doctors are hoping to extubate her tomorrow.

Let us pray that her mother will get a good night's rest, because beginning tomorrow, once Lizan is awake, she will need her mother fully by her side. Praise God for a successful surgery!

Gods Perfect Timing

Posted on Mon, 12/01/2014 - 21:17 by Julia Binder

Today we drove again Lizan and her mother to the hospital to admit them for Lizan’s upcoming heart operation tomorrow. Because of the new information we received last night, we simply re-admitted her today for the follow-up operation tomorrow. Nevertheless, the moods of mother and daughter were good. Samira told me that: she is just happy that the whole waiting process is over. She also said that she is looking forward to that moment when the surgery is finally over, and Lizan is feeling better again.

When we came in our room, the hospital clown welcomed us and gave Lizan a ‘precious pearl’. We spent some time joking around a little bit until the time for the blood and other various tests came. Lizan already knew what is going to happen, so she immediately started crying to the point that it was difficult to calm her down. In the end she made it through courageously. One very special moment was when the doctor’s assistant allowed her to listen through his stethoscope.

After that, we spend some time playing her favorite game, UNO, and completing a 100-piece puzzle. All in all, we had a very good time with them; Lizan and her mother are not as worried as they were last week because this time they are familiar to the situation. Please keep on praying for them, and the operation tomorrow. For me, it is always good to know that God has the perfect timing for everything. We just have to trust him.

Lizan Returns Home

Posted on Sun, 11/30/2014 - 11:51 by Kyle Carlson

Lizan came home from the hospital Friday after her catheterization. Both she and her mother seemed pretty worn out, and ready for a restful and quiet weekend. The doctors said that Lizan's heart surgery will be scheduled next week. We will continue to surround them in prayer!