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?