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Thanksgiving and call to prayer

from Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather


Shelvis and Nancy featured on CNN
Watch Shelvis and Nancy as they are interviewed on CNN about the birth of baby Jordan.

Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather continue to offer thanks and ask their friends and supporters from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to pray for the health of their baby boy Jordan. Presbyterian World Mission will continue to update this web page with new information and photos as they become available.

UPDATE: Monday, December 3, 2012
Dear PC(USA) family, 

Jordan is doing great, and last week he reached 6 pounds!!!!  The doctor has released us to travel mid-December, so we hope to be home for Christmas.  At this point, Jordan is awake more during the night than during the day, so we hope the change in time zone will work in our favor:) Thank you for checking on us.  We have felt very well cared for and loved in this season of our lives.  God has truly blessed us with a miracle and we are enjoying everyday with him.  We know he has not come this far on his own, but with the power of many prayers and of a mighty God.  Thank you for all the prayers, support and love.

With grateful hearts,

Nancy, Shelvis and Baby Jordan

UPDATE: Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dear PC(USA) family,

I am sorry for my delayed responds to your notes. Nancy and I spend the majority of our days at the hospital with baby Jordan and usually don’t have the focus or energy to write e-mails  when we get home at night. The last few weeks have been exhausting and overwhelming, yet God continues to show goodness, offer compassion and surround us with love. Thank you for your prayers and encouraging e-mails.  They have meant a lot to our family.

Our son has made incredible progress over the course of the last three and a half weeks; his breathing, eating and growth have improved drastically and he no longer needs the assistance of an oxygen machine or CPAP Machine. He has been released from the Intensive Care Unit and has been taken out of the incubator. He is still in the High Dependency Unit, but the doctors have seen progress each day. Our hope is that his body, little lungs and immune system will be strong enough to travel back to the States before Christmas. I will send out images and another update in the near future, but I want to thank you specifically for your support during this time. Thank you so much.

We hope to talk to you, see you, pray with you soon.

In God’s Grace,

Shelvis, Nancy and Jordan

UPDATE: Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hello all,

Thank you so much for your words of concern and hope. While I have a moment, I want to provide you with a brief update:

My son, Jordan, continues to inspire us all as he grows in courage and strength each day. Although he must remain in the hospital for an extended period of time, he is now breathing WITHOUT ASSISTANCE! He no longer needs a ventilator, oxygen machine or CPAP Machine to breath, but he is now doing it on his own. In addition, the doctors now allow us to take him out of his incubator to hold him. As a result of his progress, Jordan has been moved out of Intensive Care Unit  into the High Dependency Unit.

Nancy is also making very good progress as she recovers from a challenging and difficult labor. Finally, I am feeling much better after experiencing several days of migraine  headaches, nausea and fatigue from malaria.

Overall, the Smith-Family is going in the right direction. Please pray for Jordan’s continued progress and our rest.

I will try to send pictures this week.

Good night,


UPDATE: Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dear PC(USA) family, 

Thank you for all that you have done on our behalf. We are writing to you to request your continued prayers.

Nancy was scheduled to return to the US this week because our first child is due in December.  Nancy, however, went  into labor last Saturday, October 20, 2012. The Medical Team in South Sudan knew a premature birth of this nature might exceed the capacity of their facilities, but they courageously worked to save the child’s life. The doctor initially treated Nancy with a medicine to stop/delay the contractions, but the labor continued. They also injected her with steroids hoping that (with time) the treatment would transfer from Nancy’s blood stream to the baby’s, in order to strengthen baby’s lungs. They hoped that the contractions would stop for 48 hours… but the labor continued.  Given the circumstances, once the baby was born, the head doctor advised a medical evacuation out of South Sudan to a hospital with a neo-natal care unit.

During all of these events, Nancy and I felt the presence of God in every step of the birth and evacuation. A short-term Mission Team from Wisconsin arrived days earlier to our town in South Sudan with medical equipment from the US which was used for the first time during Nancy’s delivery. The head of the short-term mission team was a Pediatrician and his wife a nurse; they joined the hospital’s staff and worked tirelessly to care for Nancy and the baby. Dr. Jeff Perry, the hospital’s primary doctor, remained composed, attentive, thorough and optimistic throughout the entire procedure. While his wife, Elizabeth, drew from years of experience mothering nine children and her graduate degree in Public Health to coach Nancy during the labor. In addition, we were surrounded by the prayers of dozens of South Sudanese mothers and children who left their own hospital beds to stand at the entrance of our door to pray. Many believe this level of medical assistance is unheard of in a country which was recently identified on International Women’s Day as “the worst place in the world for a woman to give birth.”

When the child was born, the doctor’s assessed that a “CPAP Machine” (also known as a “Continuous Positive Airways Machine” was needed. They, however, did not own this expensive machine, so they used a device which was fashioned together months ago with plastic tubes, a cup of water and several small bands. This device was made “in the event” that a CPAP machine was ever needed.  And it worked beautifully, absolutely beautifully. The Medical Team also used the only incubator in town to stabilize the baby.

After the child’s breathing steadied, a chain of colleagues from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), RECONCILE International, Yei’s Immigration Office(S. Sudan), Juba Immigration Office (South Sudan), the United States Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya and several NGOs secured an air evacuation plane holding a nurse, a doctor, and all the medical equipment needed to care for our baby. They flew into Yei, landed on the dirt airstrip, fixed the incubator into a Land Cruiser, transferred the baby into their medical equipment and flew us to Nairobi, Kenya. Once we arrived in Nairobi, an ambulance met us on the runway and hurried us to Aga Khan Hospital where the child was admitted immediately into neo-natal ICU. 

As you can imagine, the last few days have been quite challenging, but we are convinced that through this process the Lord has revealed the height and depth of God’s love through the hands of our South Sudanese, American and Kenyan sisters and brothers. We are happy to report baby continues to improve day by day. To God be the glory.  The US Embassy in Nairobi has also informed us that according to their records, little “Jordan Eman Smith-Mather” is the first American born in the new country of South Sudan. (The 1st baby born from American-born parents).

To God be the glory for the life which has been given to our child and the hope which has been shared with us. We ask for your prayers for Jordan’s continued progress and our rest. The medical team feels Jordan will shortly be moved out of ICU, and we are prayerful that he will continue to improve each day.

Please feel free to share this with anyone who will pray on our family’s behalf.

Thank you.

In God’s Grace,

Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather

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  • The prayers of your extended family at Decatur Presbyterian Church continue to be with you. We are encouraged by this news and look forward to the day when we will see Jordan in person. by Todd Speed on 10/30/2012 at 11:24 a.m.

  • So happy to hear this good news! What joy in the receiving of such fitting support from so many capable hands and loving hearts! Blessings to all of you. by Michelle Lori on 10/30/2012 at 10:38 a.m.

  • Meg posted this update to facebook, I had no idea where you were! What an amazing story of God's power and grace to your family. We will continue to pray for you all. God bless little Jordan! Rachel by Rachel Selph on 10/30/2012 at 10:32 a.m.

  • The prayers of many surround Jordan and both of you. Much love from all of us in Louisville! by Hunter Farrell on 10/30/2012 at 8:40 a.m.

  • Praying for you all. Know you are loved and are in God's constant care, surrounded and grounded in lovingkindness. by Bobbie Epting on 10/29/2012 at 9:28 p.m.

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