Introducing the Schnizler family
UPDATE: Tobi, Nivea and their two daughters are back home in Holsby! Little Laura Sofie made better progress than the doctors expected and she was released from the hospital a week early. We thank the Lord for this answer to prayer.
When Tobi (from Germany) and Nivea (from Brazil) first approached us about volunteering at Holsby, none of us knew the details of the story that would soon play out in their lives and in ours. In early October they moved into the Holsby community together with their three-year-old daughter, Alícia. She is a vivacious little girl, who communicates freely in German, Portuguese and English. So much fun!
When they arrived at Holsby, Nivea was expecting their second child. It was only when they went for one of their first maternity check-ups that they found out that their child had some significant physical and medical challenges. While still in the womb, their child was diagnosed with spina bifida – a serious condition where the child is born with a portion of the spine exposed. It is essential that the baby be delivered by Caesarean section to avoid further nerve damage. All of this was, of course, very challenging to the Schnizler family – especially as they had just moved to Sweden, a country they were not familiar with.
Time was approaching for the scheduled C-section. The Holsby community surrounded the Schnizlers with prayer, and we waited with them to see what the Lord would do. The day before their planned trip to the hospital for the scheduled delivery, Nivea went into labor! They were driven by ambulance first to the local hospital to stop the labor contractions and then rushed to the university hospital in Linköping, where they could receive the specialized care their child would be needing. Lots of prayer accompanied them on that trip, and a beautiful little girl, Laura Sofie, was born to Tobi and Nivea on March 25th.
Immediately after delivery, Laura Sofie was rushed into surgery to close up her spine. The procedure was successful and it appears that no further nerve damage resulted from the surgery. However, another common issue for spina bifida babies is the accumulation of fluid on the brain, which needs to be drained by installing a shunt. It is basically a valve that is inserted into the skull with a tube that drains the extra fluid back into the body.
On top of all this, at birth Laura was not able to breathe on her own and needed assistance. The doctors suggested that Tobi and Nivea call a priest to have Laura baptized. The situation was not looking very optimistic. Within the first couple weeks of her life, Laura Sofie had at least three major medical interventions. The incision on her spine has been taking a longer time than usual healing; the shunt started breaking through her skin and had to be removed and then replaced; little Laura’s bladder and bowels are not yet functioning properly.
And yet, in all of this, Laura has two major things going for her: she is loved by God, and she is loved by her family. And while Tobi and Nivea have experienced setbacks, challenges and frustrations – their faith remains strong. The Lord has answered prayer and Laura is improving each and every day. On Easter Sunday, Laura began to breathe on her own – a definite answer to prayer and contrary to what the doctors were predicting. She is eating well, her incision is healing, and in a special evidence of God’s blessing, the doctors say that Laura’s legs are highly functional. Very often, spina bifida children have severely limited use of their legs. It appears that this is not the case with Laura, for which we are all very grateful.
Although Laura Sofie and her family will continue to face physical and medical challenges, the new life of a child is always a blessing to celebrate. And Laura is so privileged to be born into a family that loves the Lord and loves her. Her sister, Alícia, will be a huge support for her and has already shown evidence of a mature love and compassion for little Laura. And, of course, the entire Holsby community will continue to surround the Schnizler family with our prayers, love and support. We ask that you join us in blessing this precious family through your prayers.
Tobi, Nivea and their two daughters hope to return home to Holsby by the beginning of May. It has been a long and trying period in their lives, but they remain anchored and sustained by their faith in a sovereign and loving God. They wanted to share a few words with you, the readers of this blog, with the request that you would pray for them in the coming weeks and months:
Dear FikaTime readers,
It is all about love, because God is love.
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:16
How precious it has been for us as a family to experience love in such a practical way! Before we came to Sweden, John Poysti assured us that the Holsby community was a loving and caring one, but could we have ever imagined that he really meant it?
We have been feeling God’s care for us through prayers, cards, phone calls, emails, grocery, gifts and visits. We know that we are not alone, we feel very special! Love is more than beautiful words and nice feelings. Love is very practical.
“After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of his body.” Ephesians 5:29-30
Tobi, Nivea, Alícia and Laura Sofie