Hope in a bottle: one simple thing that changed Baby Zoe’s life

 Hope comes in many forms. A kind word, a small courtesy, a pat on the back. For baby Zoe, it came in the form of a bottle.

A few days ago, my husband returned from a mission trip to Peru, where the team members worked at an orphanage run by our church-supported missionaries, the Powlinsons.

  • Some days, certain members played with the children: read Spanish picture books, had fun with Play-doh, played games.
  • Other days, they worked on the missionaries’ house; they needed their guest bedroom finished for a frequent visitor who worked with the children. In less than a week, the team took the room from studs and bare lightbulb to drywalled, painted and beautiful. One lady even organized the bureau.

The team also met Zoe.

Zoe was born with a cleft palette and has difficulty sucking. Though she was probably full term when she was born, she is small and then lost weight when she couldn’t latch onto a regular bottle nipple. She’s itty-bitty: one photo showed her being bathed in a Tuperware bowl. She weighs about five pounds. To put that in perspective, my purse weighs more than she does.

Her parents abandoned her at the hospital. That sounds horrible until you realize that they cared enough about her to leave her among people who would care for her. What were their options?

  • Take her home, where there was undoubtedly no resources for a special needs child.
  • Throw her into the river, as many other babies are.

Leaving her at the hospital was an act of love and mercy, a miracle of unselfishness amidst heartbreaking circumstances.

A second miracle: the state giving her to the Powlisons, where she has been lovingly taken care of for several weeks. When she’s older and has gained weight, she will have surgery to correct the cleft palette.

When the team arrived, Zoe was having to be fed with an eye dropper. It was difficult for her to get as many calories as she needed for weight gain. Without proper nutrition, there wasn’t much hope for her survival.

She got hope.

The Peru mission team brought along a special bottle and nipple set, one with a different type of nipple that allows her broken mouth to latch onto it. What seems like an ordinary thing to me is a vast improvement over an eye dropper. Zoe can now eat from 4 ounce bottles and get the calories she desperately needs—and have the chance to thrive.

My husband and several other team members took turns caring for her overnight to give the Powlinsons much needed time to rest. Another simple (though exhausting) thing: rolling out of bed to feed a hungry infant during the middle of the night. But it was a way to help the Powlinsons and show love to Zoe.

I wonder what this child’s future holds. Will she grow to be a beautiful, dark-haired woman with bright eyes and a sweet personality? Will she be feisty or calm or mischievous? Only God knows.

One thing is certain, though: she’s a living and breathing sign that hope can be found in the simplest things. And even from a thousand miles away, she’s given hope to me that I don’t have to do something huge or spend thousands of dollars or start a special charity to change someone’s life. I just have to do small things with great love.

For more photos of the mission trip, visit http://spcperu2010.blogspot.com/

What simple things have given you hope? Have you ever found encouragement and hope in an ordinary thing?


7 thoughts on “Hope in a bottle: one simple thing that changed Baby Zoe’s life

  1. Another wonderful post, Laura. I agree. Hope is often found from the smallest things.

    A few years ago, we were having a very hard time financially. I remember sitting at the table, doing bills. It didn’t matter how many times I figured (I am very good at math) I didn’t have enough. It was winter and there was snow outside..very unusual for Texas. I was near tears and the most extraordinary thing happened. A cardinal landed on a tree branch outside the window. The stark contrast of the gloomy weather and the pristine bird literally took my breath away. Peace fell upon me an something told me to figure the bills again. I did and guess what? $0.00 left after everything was paid. I have never been so happy to have nothing left in my entire life. God gives us enough.


    1. Wow, Diane, what a story. God really did send you some hope in the form of this beautiful bird. Even without any money left, God gave you something priceless to help you keep going through that difficult time. Thank you for sharing. That is a beautiful story! Laura


      1. Thank you, Laura. God has blessed my life in so many ways but the little things I hold near to my heart. He cares enough about me for the little things.


  2. Laura, this is a beautifully told story. I’ve really enjoyed reading through several of the posts on your blog. Congratulations on the book. I’ll definitely be checking back for updates on its status. I admire anyone who can write an entire book. Sometimes my patience/persistence barely lasted while attempting to write a 20-inch newspaper article. But the threat of a deadline is an incredibly motivating factor 🙂


    1. Thanks for reading this, Charlotte. Don’t congratulate me on the book yet: I’ve still got to find an agent and then a publisher. Not easy! But it was really gratifying to finish that first draft: one year, 100,000 words (about 300 pages). I wasn’t sure I could do it, but just completing that made me a little more confident on my ability to actually write a novel! Thanks for the encouragement. Laura


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