Zina's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Hine Ma Tov

Posted on Sun, 08/28/2016 - 11:39 by Ruth Zellweger

A few days ago we had the wonderful opportunity to visit Zina and her family. After we arrived. we found out Zina had returned from a two weeks visit at her grandparents house only two hours earlier. We were happy it had worked out and so was Zina's family. They welcomed us warmly and treated us as honored guests. Zina had just woken up from a nap and needed some time to realize what was going on. She observed everyone and everything carefully. 

We had brought our guitar in order sing some of Zina's favorite songs with her. Since their return home, Zina's mother had frequently sent us little video clips of Zina listening to and singing along to some recordings from their time in Israel. 

As before, it took Zina some time to realize what was going on and to feel comfortable. But then she joined in with clapping.

Her mother especially requested our Shevet theme song "Hine ma tov", which talks about "Brothers dwelling together in unity." And that is how our visit felt. During our time spent together in Israel we had bonded in a very special way despite differences in language, culture, and beliefs. This is only possible by the grace of God.

We weren't able to spend much time with Zina's family but hope to come for another and longer visit in the future. May our heavenly Father continue to watch over this beautiful family and bless them.

Our Beautiful Princess

Posted on Wed, 06/29/2016 - 19:39 by Juanita Florez Parra

Last night was the final goodbye after three wonderful months. Zina and her mother were really special to each of us; since the beginning we had a special connection with our precious Zina and her mother. It was expressed in our words last night.

For Zina's mother it was hard to assimilate her daughter's condition and accept that she may need multiple surgeries, but she became stronger day by day. She realized that it was for Zina's benefit. After a over a month of waiting, Zina had her first surgery and - praise God - everything went well.  It was beautiful to see how Zina's mother praised God after the surgery, and how she supported Zina in every moment. It was also lovely to see how much Zina enjoyed our Shevet songs. She would always sing and dance. This gave her peace, especially in the moments that she found scary e.g. the medical procedures.

During the time Zina spent with us, she (despite her difficult situation) made beautiful friendships with all of us, and also with our other kids, in particular, Ahmed. They were really happy and played all the time, even when they were at the hospital. When Zina returned from her surgery, Ahmed hugged her and looked so excited to have his friend back again.

For us as a community it was hard to say goodbye because we thought that Zina would be staying with us for longer. We weren’t prepared for their departure. On Monday night we had her farewell party. She wore a cute pink dress, and her mother looked really beautiful as well. Both were really excited for the celebration. We had some butterfly balloons, butterfly napkins and straws, and we also had some beautiful purple flowers gracing the table. Everything was inspired by our beautiful princess, Zina.

We started the night by eating a delicious chocolate cake made by Linsday, and cake which was brought by Zina's mum. Our friends from the Finnish school shared with us some fruits, cookies, and crisps. All of these snacks were enjoyed with a cup of tea. After that we had the opportunity to share our amazing memories, and expressed to Zina and her mother our love. Everybody said how special they are to our community, and how their joy is a blessing for us every day.

After a time of sharing, we had a time of worship; to exalt His name in gratitude for what He has done in Zina’s life. We sang their favorites songs: Hine Ma Tov; This is the Day that the Lord has Made; the Butterfly Song and Blessed be the Name of the Lord (definitely Zina’s favorite). Then we gave Zina and her mother some gifts. Both of them were really happy with these. Zina had some toys, bubbles (which she loves), colors and coloring books, beautiful t-shirts and a girly blanket to keep her warm. She was really excied; taking everything and smiling for each thing. Her mum also enjoyed her gifts because all of the things were to do with makeup and beauty which she loves.

Before the end we watched a great video made by Madelyn which showed us all of the beautiful moments we had shared, and also the work of God in her life. For all of us it was a bittersweet sensation to see the video, because it is sad to say goodbye.

Finally, we ended in prayer and giving thanks to God for Zina’s life. At first Zina's diagnosis was not very good but now we can see once again the power of God.

The day after the farewell party we had one last opportunity to share a day with them. Around 8 pm we prayed and sang "The Name of the Lord" once more:

And, while they were leaving in the car, we sang ‘Hine Ma Tov’ for the last time. A few tears were shed. We will miss them a lot but we are full of joy because they are back with their family in Kurdistan. Our community will be anxiously waiting for their return next year, for her second surgery.

"The name of the Lord is our strong tower" (Proverbs 18:10).


Posted on Mon, 06/27/2016 - 23:06 by Brenda Hofer

The Shevet shuttle service was busy today! Our van was completely loaded with patients, family members, and workers. We started out early, but traffic near Wolfson hospital was slow going. Eventually we arrived and set out in different directions. 

I joined Zina and Mohammed’s moms in the Echo department. We waited a while, but it was a pretty short wait compared to other times. Dr. Alona and the technician were busy attending to their business. Zina didn’t seem too excited to have the exam preformed as she whimpered throughout it. I could tell her mom was tense knowing it could be the last time they would have to go through this until Zina's heart is ready for her second surgery.

After the echo had finished, Dr. Alona said to Zina "bye bye, Zina!" I wish I had known 'goodbye' in Kurdish is 'xwah’afîs', but thankfully Ruth was there to tell Zina's mom that her heart looked great!

An added bonus was to be able to go to the beach this afternoon. Both mom and daughter thoroughly enjoyed their time there.

Let us give the Lord all the glory, honor, and praise for doing miraculous deeds in Zina’s life. May we lift up Zina and all her family to the miracle of personally knowing the LORD and His endless love.

Grow Baby, Grow

Posted on Tue, 06/21/2016 - 18:40 by Alexa Bigl

After rising early, we arrived at Wolfson hospital for Zina's CT scan. Zina clearly knew today was going to involve poking and prodding; her grim face told us all we needed to know about how she was feeling. We waited a while and then the nurses were ready to perform the necessary preparations. Zina received an IV, and was very unhappy about that. 

We then had more waiting time, but finally the doctor and one of the nurses had everything prepared and we wheeled Zina over to the scan area. Dr. Houri met us there, and Zina was soon getting some sedation medicine. She was crying as she got drowsy, and Dr. Houri entertained her with a song and dance. Zina's mom and I then stepped outside for the scan.

Less than 10 minutes later Zina was done! We then headed back to the children's ward for Zina's medication to wear off. It didn't take long, and sweet Zina was awake, happy, and playing again in no time. 

A while later Zina was given the ok to eat, and then her IV was taken out. We hope to soon have the results to know how well her pulmonary arteries are growing. As we wrapped up our other responsibilities for the day, we enjoyed watching Zina play with some toys and make her way around the hospital like she owns the place.

Many thanks to God for the gift of our precious Zina!

Amazing News

Posted on Mon, 06/20/2016 - 22:20 by Valentina Jaimes Vargas
Today we thank God because Zina's situation has improved.
From the moment the doctors knew Zina's medical state they thought that after her first surgery she would need to go back to Kurdistan, and then one year later she would return for her second surgery. But God has been faithful and good. Today, her echo revealed that Zina's heart is in a very good condition. This means that she might be able to have her second surgery soon.
Tomorrow she will have a CT scan. This will help the doctors decide whether she will have the second surgery in the near future or in a years' time. We praise God for this amazing news. He has been filling Zina and her mom with strength and grace to face all of these situations. We ask God to keep His hand over Zina's life and to give to her and her mom even more strength and grace.

Healing Progress

Posted on Mon, 06/13/2016 - 18:10 by Rebekah Yang

Suhail, Valentina, and I brought Zina and Ahmed for their post-surgery echocardiograms today.

It was the first echo for Zina since she has been discharged back to Jerusalem. Both Mother and Zina had a good time on the way to Tel-Aviv's Wolfson hospital.
We spent some time, waiting for the doctors to come, outside of the echo room.
Around noon time, Zina had her echo performed. The results were fine; praise God!! Zina's heart has no fluid around it now. However, around her right lung there is still a bit of fluid. Thanks to the overall progress, Zina could have one medication discontinued and others reduced.
Next Monday will be another echo follow-up for Zina. We do appreciated your prayer for both Zina and her mum. May God's healing hands continue to touch Zina's whole body and heal it bit by bit. May both of them receive God's daily mercy and strength; amen!

Our Little Sunshine is Back Home!

Posted on Thu, 06/09/2016 - 19:09 by Valentina Jaimes Vargas
Zina is a strong and happy girl that God has blessed by filling her with His love and kindness. She is like sunshine for this community and we feel extremely blessed by her happiness and the strong and lovely woman that is her mother. So  we thank God that today brought our sunshine back to our Jerusalem home to bring us more light.
For Zina the recovery days have not been easy. She has been very down, and she has struggled to walk again. But today she had an echo and she looks much better so the doctors decided to let her continue her healing back home.

Zina and her mother have created very special ties with the people at the hospital. Today we could see the love that the other mothers in the hospital feel for them. It is beautiful to see how these mothers support and give love to each other. Also Zina's mom has been really brave throughout this process.



Today  we also see the way that our community is being a blessing to Zina's life because she enjoys watching the videos that her mother recorded of all of us singing  praises like "Blessed  be the Name of the Lord "  and "Hine Ma Tov ." She choreographs and tries to sing the songs, which fills our soul with joy because it means that the praises of God have marked her heart and is something that will always be there. And it is also beautiful to see how in these hard days of recovery, the thing that has comforted her has been worhship to God.
Definitely we bless the Lord's name because He has been good and has brought back home our little sunshine!
"The name of the Lord is fortified tower the righteous run to it and they are safe. Blessed be the name of the Lord."
Proverbs 18:10

Time Together

Posted on Sun, 06/05/2016 - 16:02 by Naomi Knight

Today, I got to see Zina for the first time after her surgery.

She has now been moved to the children’s ward. When we arrived this morning we heard that an echo had taken place earlier and that the results were very good. There is no more fluid surrounding her heart – praise God! Although Zina was a little grouchy at times, we thoroughly enjoyed our time with her and her mother. She put on smiles throughout the day and munched on her lunch.

We went for lunch around 1pm and when we returned she was curled up, fast asleep; looking beautiful!

I am so thankful for the time I had today, to spend with Zina. I am so pleased to see her heart on the mend after her surgery, and I am looking forward to her return to Shevet so we may spend even more time together.

Slowly Making Progress

Posted on Mon, 05/30/2016 - 21:51 by Brenda Hofer

Today Rebekah, Basye, and I went to visit Zina at wolfson hospital.

God gave us favor on the road, and Basye and I went to the ICU together to find Zina and her mom. Both mom and daughter seemed in good spirits; just tired. We were able to spend a little time with them gleaning information from both mom and the nurse. Zina had her central line taken out earlier this morning. She was still draining enough fluids from her chest tubes that she will have to wait to be moved into the secondary ICU. She is now drinking some milk and water as well. Right before we left Rebekah found out Zina had another echo, and she had some more fluid around her heart, in addition to the fluid around her lungs mentioned above. All in all, Zina is making progress, but it is slow.

Please join me in prayer as we lift up Zina and her mother to the Almighty One. Please pray for a clear echo and that Zina will make the next transition in her recovery.


Thirsty for Water

Posted on Sun, 05/29/2016 - 22:29 by Brenda Hofer

Today, Alexa and I were able to go and visit Zina and her mom in the ICU.

We had a stroke of luck finding a parking space somewhat easy. Alexa went to see Zina first and said they had her moved to a more private area because there was a flu bug going around with the other kids. Alexa said she was sleeping peacefully and that she had been extubated earlier. When I got to the ICU, the nurse was attending to Zina to make sure everything was secure. Zina was awake at this point, and she was not too happy as she was fussing about. The nurse asked her if she wanted some water and gave it to her. Then the nurse gave me the cup with the syringe so I could help Zina drink. It was apparent that she was a thirsty little girl. She stopped fussing so much, and eventually she quieted down and went back to sleep. 

Whenever I see our Shevet kiddos in these situations, I always think of Yeshua who is our living water for our thirsty souls. We are restless; unable to be at peace until He gives us what we need, which is Him. He satisfies us because He is our Prince of Peace. He is our Shalom. Please pray with me as we lift up this little darling and her beautiful mother to our Heavenly Father for both physical and spiritual peace.