Bearing Burdens

This morning fellow volunteers Ruth, Konrad, and I took little Roween and her mother (who just arrived last night) to Wolfson Medical Center for her first assessment. Roween's mother was obviously nervous as she buckled her bundled daughter into her carseat, but she handled the hour-long car trip well.

After we reached Wolfson Hospital, we had a long waiting period before they started Roween's tests and examination, so I got to spend some time getting to know the two of them better.

Roween's mother is incredibly intelligent (she fluently speaks four different languages, including English!), and she is a courageous young woman, who in spite of of her obvious weariness made an effort to talk with me. She is also from a Christian family and very proudly wore a golden cross around her neck. Obviously, she has a very close bond with her baby - what mother doesn't? It is amazing the lengths that a mother will go to ensure her baby's safety and happiness. It made me think about how much God cares for us and how much He was willing to give to rescue us. While Roween was intrigued with "the new people", and we often provided a good distraction from some of the uncomfortable procedures, it was quite plain at different times throughout the day that Roween needed her mother, and only her mother would do. The tenderness between them was touching. As her first assessment, there were some routine tests and checks to go through: drawing blood, taking her weight and blood pressure, looking at her past medical history, and just getting a feel for the case. Her adorable little coo's and giggles made the nurses smile as they worked with her. 

This took most of the morning, and Roween, while crying some at different parts, calmed down remarkably fast once the ordeal was over and even fell asleep in her mother's arm in the waiting room afterward! 

In the later afternoon, we went to see Dr. Alona to get a cardio echo. Dr. Alona gave us some medicine to put Roween back to sleep. However, Roween threw it up, so we decided to just go ahead and try without it. Roween was not happy about having to lay down and stay still again, but she calmed down after multiple attempts to distract her with cartoons and blowing bubbles. Roween was mesmerized by the bubbles and quieted almost immediately. After the cardio echo was finished, Dr. Alona sat down with Roween's mother and gently explained what was going on with her daughter's heart. Roween has a Ventricular Septal Defect, a hole between the right and left chambers of her heart. Roween's mother had been led to believe by doctors in Iraq that all they had to do was repair the hole; however, Dr. Alona discovered that the body has attempted this on it's own by having a large muscle mass grow over it. That's why the effects of the VSD have not been as serious recently as they had been in the past. This large muscle mass growing in Roween's heart, however, if left on it's own, might cause even greater problems. Dr. Alona concluded that Roween would need an open heart surgery in order to first remove the muscle mass, and then repair the hole in her heart. 

Roween's mother had a hard time keeping her composure. It was overwhelming news after a long day and a tense and exhausting trip the day before, and the emotional aspect of things was beginning to take a toll. She rocked a sleepy Roween outside the cardio-echo room, sniffling tears. 

It was very clear that I did not have in myself what was needed to comfort Roween's mother, this woman that, even after only half a day of knowing her, I admired. I prayed silently while placing a comforting hand on her arm. Should I say anything? And what do you say to someone you've only known for a matter of hours when she is frightened for her daughter, who has to go through a dangerous open heart surgery? We were from different worlds, but we came together in that moment, just a scared young mother with her baby, and a fellow sister in Christ who was there to love them. I was reminded of the verse from Galatians 6:2, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." 

The bottom line is, it doesn't matter what it looks like. It may be speaking to someone, doing something for someone, or simply just being there to love them through it; Christ, the great Burden Bearer, will guide you through it. God simply asks us to be a willing vessel, to sit beside someone and share their pain until the time comes to, together, lay it down at the feet of the King. 

On the way home in the car, both Roween and her mother slipped into sleep. All in all, the day had been draining, but it was good to finally get a solid idea of what we were dealing with. And Roween seemed relieved and content. Please pray that Roween and her mother will have a peaceful, restful time here as they absorb the diagnosis, wait for further news (we may have to go back on Thursday to finish a urine test that didn't get completed), and adjust to living with the Shevet Achim family. Also pray that the other families and workers here would be able to come alongside this precious lady and her daughter and together shower them with the "bearing up" love of Christ. 

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