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It is  1:30 in the morning and I’m due to fly back to London in the next 4 hours. In typical ‘man fashion’ I’ve just finished some last minute packing. The last task before I go back home is to see my little Boy. I eventually make the trip to the hospital for the final time, to see Joel.

The nurse looks quite surprised to see me. She asks ‘what are you doing here at this time?, I reply ‘to see my son before I travel back to London in the morning’. Usually they wouldn’t allow any visitors at such a time but given the circumstances she was gracious and allowed me to say my goodbyes.

Having visited this hospital every single day for near enough three and a half weeks, I’ve become almost immune to the sounds and sights of the hospital. That night in particular, I managed to drown out everything, except my only son. 

He’s fast asleep, wrapped in several blankets with an oxygen mask attached to his tiny face. I wanted to hold him just one more time but alas it wasn’t possible. I placed my hand in the incubator and place my finger in his hand. Joel held on so tightly to my finger, a grip so strong you wouldn’t believe he is but a mere few weeks old. He refused to let go. For some that seems like a very normal thing for a child to do and you would be right, however, for me it was almost magical. It was as if Joel was saying ‘Dad, it’s going to be ok, you do what you need to and I will do the same’. I’m not a superstitious in the slightest but I genuinely believe it was a sign. Although, he can not articulate, I’ve never heard a baby speak so clear by merely a gesture.

I stayed there as long as I could, praying that God would just heal my son and bring him home safely. Through this whole time, he held on relentlessly, not letting go at any moment. All manner of thoughts are running through my heard and I’m pleading with God that somehow, he would make my son well.

Uncertainty is a terrible feeling in a situation like this, especially when the outcome is completely out of your hands. There isn’t a single thing I can do and it pains me, more so because I’m about to leave and be so far away, needless to say I felt like I’m of no use right now. I can’t begin to explain to you the emotion I felt at that very moment. 

“Nevertheless, I trust”.

I’ve heard countless christians use the phrase “Trust God” in conversation with me before. A phrase, while drenched in positivity, can sometimes leave me feeling somewhat discouraged. Why? Because it forces me to take the current situation out of my own hands and leave it in the hands of a sovereign God. I can no longer dictate the outcome, and whether I would like to or not, I have to give it over to the one who knows best. This is the only thing I am the master of.

So that’s what I’ve decided to do. I’ll put aside my fear, doubt and anxiety, and simply leave it to God. I can only cling to hope at a time like this. Don’t be deceived, I do this in reluctance, but just maybe that is how God wants it to be so I can truly understand his greater plan for Joel.

Joel is currently 33 weeks, and thankfully he’s eating via a tube and breathing as well, but he’s not well enough to be discharged from hospital. We have to wait, there is simply no other option.

While I head back to London, making sure we have a roof over our head, my wife stays in Portugal with our precious son as he fights for his very existence.

If there was ever a time I need your prayers, now is surely the time.

Written by Daniel (db)

Obrigado

It’s 3am in the morning, and unfortunately I’ve become a slave to insomnia, for some strange reason. So I decided to put the kettle on and write an update on our “pilgrimage” and the progress of our handsome little boy.

We’ve officially lived in Portugal for nearly 4 weeks, but we still feel like complete strangers. We’ve managed to move 6 times so far on this journey, including a place that resembles Aylesbury Estate. Rua Dona Estefânia is the area we reside and we have lived on all four corners of this town. It is very busy and has loads of places to eat (although, not many of them can cook basic chicken properly.

#NoBBCThisDoesNotProveYourSillyTheoryAboutBlackPeopleAndChicken #IWasJustHungry #ItWasStillATerribleIdea

The city is very multicultural, but again, many people seem to be allergic to the English language. Most days we have to use hand signals and gestures just to explain ourselves. Never in my life have I found it so difficult to explain to a human being that I don’t want egg on my burger. Traffic is mental over here, but thankfully we walk most places. I have also noticed that a lot people do seem to take a second look at us when we are walking (I can only assume it’s because of my extremely pale legs).

As you can imagine, most of our time is spent in the hospital. The place looks a little derelict, very quiet no matter what time we visit, however, the ward our son is on is in great condition; we were praising God when we arrived as the last hospital we stayed in looked like a bomb shelter.

(A special shoutout to King’s College Hospital, as much as I diss the place and despise the politics that surround national healthcare, I would do anything to see and hear a Jamaican porter right now.)

Joel’s progress has been nothing but miraculous. The surgery he had yielded no complications whatsoever, he responded really well to the treatment. However, because he was born premature, his lungs have not developed properly yet, which is why he was on a machine for so long, but I am pleased to report he’s no longer on a machine and is breathing independently.

The nurses and doctors have been first class. They gave him all the attention and care he needed, especially at the initial stage after surgery. We kept thanking them every single time we saw them because we were so grateful they saved our son’s life; they told us to stop after a while but we just couldn’t help it.

For the first two weeks we couldn’t hold him at all, he was so small and fragile. Yvette, one of our favourite nurses asked us if we would like to hold him, beaming with excitement, we said yes. Sometimes in life we take for granted the things we see a child do all the time, such as seeing a child move or hearing a child cry. However, for us, that moment when we got to hold our son after nearly losing him forever, is a feeling and moment I cannot describe. It felt as if I was holding a physical manifestation of a second chance.

Every cry, yawn, stretch and grip is absolutely wonderful to us, and a sign he’s fighting for his precious life.

I’ll be frank, many times I have woken up wishing I was not on this earth, due to personal struggles and a fight with depression, but seeing life in such a way makes me feel grateful for the second chance I have been given every single day. It may not cause you to climb Mount Everest or beat Usain Bolt at the Olympics but it will help you to live grateful and be thankful to God for every breath that you breathe.

Joel has become a reminder to me that I must hold on, even when I have no strength. He is the bright light in that dark place in my heart and he is lighting the way every time he keeps on fighting.

Finally, to all who gave financially and said a prayer, I say ‘Obrigado’ which is translated as thank you in Portuguese.

Please keep praying for little Joel.

Written by Daniel (db)

Joel – Here For Us

It has been a while since I constructed a thought of any magnitude but as the little man lies resting in the incubator I am reminded that his name means ‘worshiper of God’, and that’s exactly what he’s doing, praying and getting stronger whilst the world looks in on this gospel version of the Truman show.

The book of Joel speaks of a time of great devastation by an army of locusts and we can look at this and conclude that this situation with baby Joel is akin to being under attack by the same. However, what a lot of people miss is that these locust were indicative of God’s army and a foretaste of the coming judgment of God (the day of the Lord).

The young Oluwatobi is really foreshadowing this wonderful book as we

  1. Witness the lament of the people (hundreds of people are praying for his complete recovery)
  2. Observe the call for national repentance (people are realising the power of prayer and not only are their prayers strengthening young Joel, they are also bringing people back closer to The Lord, where once their faith waned)
  3. God promises future blessings (it is evident that this boy will be loved and cherished by many as he grows and he will not only be blessed but will be a blessing to others)
  4. He will be vindicated just as the people of Israel were (the issues that come with being born prematurely will diminish and disappear and will have no influence on his precious life in the the future).

In only a few days/weeks of life this ‘worshipping’ boy has brought many more closer to God than ever before. Humbly resting, he has made people understand the insignificance of their own issues and brought them all together and praying in unison. He has made us look into our hearts and see past the material ‘wants’ in life and take stock of the ‘needs’ of others. He has for some of us educated us on the nature of giving and supporting our fellow man.

In his short but ever growing and powerful life he’s made a difference, and yes this is a difficult time for all involved but it has forced all of us to re-evaluate our lives and embrace the revelation that God is our rock to cling to on the great precipice of life. He, through times of dark woe will bring us back into the light through such a situation and his name will be glorified.

Joyce and Daniel, you have wisely chosen his name. The name itself combines the covenant name of God, Yahweh, and el (God), often translated as “one to whom Yahweh is God,” that is, a worshiper of Yahweh. Be encouraged family, we all love what this young man has already done in the life of myself and others.

Joel may be a minor prophet but this Joel has helped us ‘profit’ greatly in our lives and relationship with God. Be blessed

– Adonye Orumbie

Lisbon Nights

What you’re about to read is my account of the birth of my Son, Joel.

My family and I decided to go on holiday to Portugal. My daughter had never been on a plane before and with my son on the way we figured we may not get a chance to go on a family holiday for a while. We were four days into our wonderful holiday, and we were really sad that it’s about to come to an end.

At about 5:30 in the morning, I was suddenly awakened by the cries of my wife. I jumped out of bed and rushed to check if she was alright. She tells me she’s having intense pains and thinks she’s going to labour, at this point my whole body went into shock, especially as it immediately dawned on me that she is only 29 weeks pregnant.

I ran to the reception area to ask for assistance, where I was told I was better off requesting an ambulance as “a doctor call out would be very expensive”, I told the receptionist I would call from my room and confirm if she should call an ambulance. I ran back to make sure my wife was definitely in labour and called the receptionist to call the emergency services immediately.

It was 6am at this point and my wife was in excruciating pain. She told me “babe, he’s coming, I can feel his head”. This was at 6:05. By 6:15 my son was here in a towel, born in a hotel bathroom with no medical assistance whatsoever, but this was far from a joyous occasion.

My son wasn’t breathing properly, although he made a sound when he came out, this was short, and that small cry turned into silence, I’ve never longed so much for the screams of a newborn baby. Thankfully the ambulance arrived roughly 5 minutes after he was born, and were able to administer oxygen to him, but he was still really struggling to breathe. My wife was in so much pain at this point but all she cared about was the wellbeing of her son.

After almost 30 mins of trying to get my son to breathe, eventually the hotel room was surrounded by more doctors and medical assistants, my son was taken from the hotel bathroom to an ambulance vehicle outside the hotel.

My 3 year old daughter woke up to the mayhem that had just taken place, I couldn’t let her see her mother or newborn brother in such a state so I gave her an iPad to distract her. Never had I been so thankful for an apple product in my life.

The one thing that made this situation all the more difficult was the fact that no one could really speak English. I can’t begin to tell you how difficult it is to be in a situation like this, and no one can understand a word you’re trying to say.

After about 30 mins, the medical staff took my wife to the ambulance, my son was in a separate vehicle. To my frustration I was told I couldn’t get in the ambulance with her or my son because I had my daughter with me. This meant I had to arrange my own transport, to a hospital I had never been to, which was also 45 mins away from our hotel. (Cost me €70 as well)

I’ve always taken pride in being a quick thinker but I’ll be honest, at that moment I had no idea what I was going to, it wasn’t getting to the hospital that had me stomped, it was the fact that I felt absolutely helpless in this situation. The receptionist offered to call me a cab, so I packed a few things, and got in the cab to meet my wife and son at the hospital.

I arrived at the hospital to find no one spoke English (I was not surprised), and had to navigate my way through pigeon English conversations. I eventually found my wife in a state no mother should ever be found in. She was put in some dingy corner in a room on a hospital bed I could only describe as “flimsy”. My wife was in hysterics, asking “where is my baby?”, the saddest part of that is no one could actually answer.

We eventually found a nurse whose English I can only describe as “commendable”, she told us our baby hadn’t arrived yet. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, especially as our son had left before the both of us.

(Special shoutout to my daughter, whom through all of this was so well behaved as she was completely occupied by the works of ‘Shrek’ and ‘Little Pony’)

What we didn’t know at the time was the reason our son was delayed in arriving to the hospital. We were told the day after all of this, that it was because halfway through the journey, the ambulance stopped in the middle of the road to “reanimate” our son. Our son was no longer breathing and would have no longer been with us if it wasn’t for the second ambulance which met the first ambulance when they stopped in the middle of the road. I kid you not, a second ambulance took our son in the middle of the road, reanimated him, put him in another ambulance and drove him to the hospital.

Back to the story, and our son finally arrives, we were unable to see him at that point as they needed to stabilise him. When we did eventually see him (after several hours) he was in a state that would horrify any mother or father. He was attached to a machine that was helping him to breath and had all sorts of tubes going in and out of him.

I’m somewhat an emotional person, but I hadn’t shed a tear in God knows how long, but at that very moment after seeing my only son, while I was on the phone to my brother, I started weeping uncontrollably, more than I have ever done in my entire life. My son, my first son, whom I had been so excited to see and hear, was completely incapacitated at that moment. I tell you no lie, I was asking God, why the hell this had to happen to us? What in the world did we do to deserve this?

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t subside at this point. The doctors then tell us that my son has to he transferred to another hospital 2-3 hours away for a major operation to correct a bowel issue.

I did not know what to do; my son is currently on a machine to keep him alive and now needs to leave to have a major operation, but the icing on the cake was the fact that I nor my wife were allowed to go with him. We were told we had to arrange our own transport, and not even one of us could travel with him.

At this point, I was boiling, I wanted to smash everything in sight. I pleaded with them, just let my wife go, I’ll make my own way but sadly it was no use, within minutes my son was whisked away and transported to a hospital hours away from us.

Because my wife was still in pretty bad shape from the birth (and the barbaric treatment from the nursing staff at the hospital) she couldn’t be discharged until the following day.

I hugged my wife, and told her everything would be ok, but I wasn’t even sure about that to be completely honest.

I took a cab back to our hotel, checked out the following day, took another cab back to the hospital to collect my wife, waited for her to be discharged, got in a cab and train (which was a 3 hour journey), took another cab to the hospital and eventually saw my son.

(A huge shoutout to my wonderful friends and family, who sent money and helped us figure out how to get from faro to Lisbon and my brother who got on a plane the next day to support us.)

The operation was a success, but there is still a long road, as my son was born prematurely and is recovering from major surgery at the same time.

My holiday, which began as a dream, turned into what I can only describe as a nightmare, however, I’ve chosen to keep my mind focused on the positive. My Son is alive.

My Son is stable but will need several weeks of constant care so he can pull through. Until he’s well enough, Portugal will be our home, how long that will be? Only God knows.

If you’re reading this, and you have a spare moment please say a prayer for my prince, Joel.

Yours truly,

Daniel (db)

P.S: A good friend of mine, started a fundraising page, to help us while we’re here.
https://www.gofundme.com/2uuyn04