Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My Worlds Collide

For the next couple days we have a few  volunteers from YWAM helping out in random places around the house. Their home base is Ireland! The irony of it all. Originally the girls are all from Canada, but their training was in Ireland so they came straight from there to Israel. Girls after my own heart. 
Anyway, today, one of them named Erin (who sadly is not the least bit Irish), joined us on our normal hospital visit. I felt a bit awkward throwing her into the chaos that is Gaza days, but she was great and just went with it. It was actually really nice to have another girl along for the day. It gave me someone to talk to since the language barrier hinders a lot of communication with the Gaza moms.
Erin definitely was able to experience the ups and downs and absolute insanity that sometimes comes with our weekly trips to the Gaza border. While there is definite wisdom in making plans, I find that flexibility is also very important, especially in the Middle East. Anything we plan may or may not happen. In the end, I’m just glad we know that God’s timing is perfect. But for those that don’t have that security, a change in the plans can be a very stressful event. For example, today we thought we were checking three kids in for surgery and at the end of the day we did check in three children; they just weren’t the ones we thought we were going to check in. As a result, tears along with flexibility became a theme of the day.
Dema, a beautiful three year old girl, was our first child checked in for surgery today. The poor child was so nervous and cried most of the day. Thankfully her mother was always there to comfort her and wipe away the tears. Then we checked in Fawze, an eight month old little boy, for surgery. He also was very nervous and big crocodile sized tears frequently spilled out of his eyes and down his cheeks.
It was at this point that the changes began. We planned on checking in Mustafa, an adorable one year old boy that has Down syndrome. But unfortunately, he developed a rash on his stomach and the doctors sent him home. His poor mother was very upset and cried at the news. We will have to reschedule his surgery and get the paperwork through to bring him out of Gaza again. Right now we pray his rash goes away quickly so we can bring him back to the hospital for surgery. In his place, the doctors checked in seven month old Nour. This little girl will have heart surgery eventually, but first they want to do some tests to evaluate her nervous system. Her tiny body supports a head that is larger than normal. The doctors hope to discover what is causing this and solve that problem before addressing her heart condition.
After sorting out that confusion upstairs, we headed downstairs to visit the other three children from Gaza that have just finished their surgeries.The first of which was five month old Sami. Originally he was checked in for observation since he was so underweight for his age. However, the doctors felt he was strong enough and went ahead with his surgery earlier this week. Today in the ICU the nurse said he was stable and was very pleased with his condition. 
Also in the ICU were two of our Iraqi kids, Ali and Noor. Sometimes I get a little nervous walking into the ICU. Some of the nurses are very protective of that space and don't like visitors. Thankfully, today I was admitted without a problem. I think they like it that I can speak a little Kurdish to the Iraqi moms. The nurses probably think I'm communicating a lot more than I am, but hey, whatever it takes to get in there! I actually do feel like I've improved quite a bit. Today I was able to reassure Ali's mom that all his vitals on the monitor were good and learned that Noor demanded pudding when she first came out of her post-surgery induced sleep this morning!
We then headed to the children's ward and were able to play with Selma and Amen, both nine month old kids from Gaza. I have to tell you Arabic hospitality is amazing. These women always welcome us even if we have only met them once before. They are quick to offer us a seat even if it means they will stand, and if they bring food they make sure they bring enough for everyone. I am also learning it is important to greet everyone in the room, even if you don't know them. Each woman gets a handshake and a kiss on both cheeks. Men get a handshake if they initiate it but at the very least a respectful nod. Oh the cultural differences! I hope I get them all right!

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