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Thursday, May 28, 2009

In My Mind I'm Goin' To Carolina

(Don't these look like the faces of some girls who need to get away??)

Today was the girls' last day of school and tomorrow is the awards ceremony for the elementary school which is always a good time. Then after that, we are headed to the beach this weekend-yahoo! We go to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina almost every summer and we were not planning on going this year since we went to Africa. But the looooong past month of dealing with Zoe's breathing troubles and just general life adjustments to a family of 6 on top of that have left us emotionally and physically exhausted and in need of some refreshment and close family time where we can really evaluate and readjust to our newly expanded family. The girls wanted to go so badly, too, b/c it is just our favorite thing we do as a family every summer so we started looking around and found a really great deal on a last minute condo rental and just made the reservation last week. We will spend a whole glorious week doing nothing but whatever we feel like doing (and of course whatever little Miss demands of us by her loud yelling/crying-she's a feisty one that Zoe!) and we are thrilled!! Hilton Head is a beautiful place with beautiful ancient oak trees dripping with spanish moss and the whole island is covered in winding bike trails and tropical flowers and beautiful white beaches--it is like being in the tropics but only having to drive 6 hours to get there! My sister and her family decided to come this week too so they will be there (but in their own place) and it will be especially fun-they usually go to HHI, too, but we don't usually go together and they were not going to go either but we peer pressured them into it-haha! Or maybe it was the other way around, I don't know, but we are all going and we are all excited about it!!
Zoe is doing MUCH better-we have found, after MUCH ado, that she seems to be either lactose intolerant or allergic to the Similac brand of formula and it was causing reflux. The reflux was then causing irritation to her trachea and inducing an asthmatic response. So, after her MOM tried changing her formula because she was at her wit's end with getting no answers, we have a MUCH happier baby AND mama and daddy in our house!! I sat down with my regular doc and told him our formula experiments and what seemed to have happened but how that didn't seem to make sense but it was working, and it was as if a light bulb went on for him and he was able to explain the WHY of what was happening and we were both so happy! I love our family doctor, he is a great guy and very supportive. Now if we can just get the other bunch of docs she has seen to agree to take her off the TB meds that we are 99% sure she does not need then we will be in GREAT shape b/c well, let's just say those meds have some very unpleasant side effects for our little lady that involve a LOT of laundry. And Mommy is not a fan of 500 loads of laundry a week. AT. ALL. But thank you all so much for praying and continually checking in on our littlest Thing-we are so blessed to have so many folks who care about our family whether we have met you in person or online--God is good to bring His family together!!
We cannot wait to introduce our Zoe to the ocean and the sand and pool-I giggled as I pulled out the tiny bathing suits today and pictured her chubbo dark brown thighs in them-hee hee hee. Next time you hear from me, it will be with sand between my toes......

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Our Compassion Meeting

Hey, what is this? a post about our Compassion visit, promised like eleventy five days ago? YES, it IS! Sit down and put yer feet up while I spin you a yarn about a little boy in Southern Ethiopia...

So, a year and a half or so ago when we were investigating adopting from Ethiopia but had not yet committed to it, we decided to add another sponsored child to our family through Compassion. We had other children we sponsor but had room in our hearts and budget for another and we thought it would be great to have a child in Ethiopia since we had a little bit of a feeling of connection there. So we found a sweet little fella named Sultan (which cracked us up) and began our relationship with him through letters. We researched where he lived and things about his village and then talked about how cool it would be to meet him if we ever went there to adopt. Well, we DID decide to follow God's lead to find our little girl in Ethiopia and once we got close to traveling, we contacted Compassion to see if it was even possible, knowing our little guy didn't live anywhere near Addis Ababa. I need to pause here and say that the folks at Compassion are the real deal and they were so gracious and just wonderful to work with. We cannot recommend them highly enough-they do just what they say they do, and then some! Anyway, we were doubtful the meeting could be set up because they also would not have much lead time since we wouldn't know when we were traveling till just a few weeks before. However, we got an enthusiastic reply from Compassion that they would do everything possible to get a meeting set up and to just let them know when we would be in Ethiopia. So the time came upon us and we were concerned because we did not know how to fit the visit in to our AGCI week which is pretty scheduled, so we asked if there was any way to do the visit on Saturday, before we met little Zoe, so that we would not be tired/distracted/possibly ill, etc. They do not typically do Saturday visits, mind you, but they agreed to do it on the Saturday we arrived in Ethiopia anyway because they understood our unique circumstances-see? Incredible organization, really and truly. We put together a bag of gifts for him and also were able to bring gifts for my sister's sponsored children in Ethiopia. After we arrived in Ethiopia, when we arrived at our hotel and did not yet find the Compassion folks there, we called the field office to see what the plan was for the meeting. Well, we were disappointed to find out they were not in fact able to do it that day because of the Easter holiday. Despite our initial reservations about doing it later in the week, we did not want to miss the opportunity to meet Sultan so we agreed to call again on Wednesday morning to see if they had gotten the visit arranged. Wednesday came and we called Yosef at the field office and he said we were on for the next day, probably in the afternoon-what?! Like as in the day we were LEAVING? Something you also need to understand about African folks-they don't really operate on the concept of a specific "schedule" or have a great attachment with "time" so when we tried to explain that we needed to leave for the airport that afternoon and it might be difficult, we were met with the usual Ethiopian response, a chuckle and a thick accent saying "Oh that is no problem!" We were honestly pretty concerned that it would just be sort of rushed and a waste of a trip for the poor boy because did I mention? They were driving him 8 HOURS!!! to meet us. Us! We felt way unworthy of that and felt like it would be terrible for that poor boy to endure that trip, meet our ragged, jet lagged, pasty faces and then have us run out the door 15 minutes later. We went to bed that night nervous about how the next day would go since Dawn and I were supposed to run out with the drivers to do some last minute shopping at 9 a.m., then back for a quick lunch and re-packing, then meet with Sultan right after lunch IF they came at the scheduled time (see above) and then right out the door to the airport. It really was not the way we wanted to spend our last day, running around like crazy, and to make matters worse, Zoe was up that night with her first of several scary wheezing attacks. Needless to say we woke up tired, Pat felt kind of icky, and I felt stressed as I ran out the door of our room to scoot up to HH to meet the drivers. Well, when I got to the lobby AT 9 A.M. MIND YOU, a nice man in a Compassion shirt approached me and asked if I was Patrick and, thrown off by the whole event, I actually said yes. Then I had to fumble and say that no, I was actually Jody, the wife-I was most pleased with my initial impression I had made on him for sure, doh! At that point my mind was racing with what in the world to do because I was supposed to be at HH and the drivers were waiting, Pat was laying down upstairs with Zoe feeling a little like he'd been punched in the stomach, and here was the little guy we had only seen on a 3 x 5 card for a year peeking through the door of the hotel! Fortunately Dawn was still there too and I asked her if she was willing to flip flop our schedule and go out after lunch and not then and it turned out she was actually thinking the same thing b/c she wasn't feeling super, either. She graciously agreed to tell the drivers at HH our plan and I ran upstairs to tell Pat "Hey! They are HERE, NOW! Like, as in right down stairs!" which made him respond the same way out loud that I had in my mind, "what?! I thought they would call us at noon to see if it was ok?? what are they doing here now??" and he jumped into a pair of shorts (no, he was not naked but boxers are also not appropriate meeting your sponsored child attire we figured) and smoothed his hair, grabbed Zoe as I grabbed the bags of gifts and we headed back down to the lobby trying to look relaxed and not at all like deer in headlights. There was Yosef, the Compassion Addis Ababa field office staff member, Abrahim, the social worker from Sultan's project, and Sultan himself at our visit. We all sat in the lobby and got to know one another and it was both wonderful and awkward and funny all at the same time-we had to have our conversations through multiple translations as Sultan spoke one language (Sidama), Abrahim translated that into Amharic (the national Language of Ethiopia) to Yosef, who translated the Amharic into English for us. Each and every question or sentence had to go through this process so it made it a little funny at times. We gave Sultan a bright orange VT baseball hat and a soccer ball among other things and he was immediately smitten by them. Just doing our part to spread the Hokie love throughout the world!! He looked adorable in his hat and he and the guys (Compassion staff and Pat) and the older boys being adopted in our travel group spent awhile kicking the soccer ball around the courtyard of the Union. It was surreal to be standing there watching the boy whose face has been on our fridge for a year running and playing with my husband and some boys from HH who had just days before met their new parents. Truly breathtaking to see the way God works! We ate lunch at the Union where we got Sultan a second Mirinda (Ethiopian version of orange Fanta soda) and he slurped it down as eagerly as the first. He reluctantly removed his new hat during lunch after being forced to do so by the Compassion workers-they are wonderful Godly men who really love the children in their care-and put it right back on as soon as he finished his last bite. We found out more about Sultan's family and asked him what we could pray for for him. Some of those things I have decided not to share because I am not sure if he would want us to and it is about his family so I will just share that God is working mightily in his family and bringing people to know Jesus in a very personal way and that is what he asked us to pray for specifically, that God would continue to do so. We assured him we would certainly pray for that! Then we asked him what he would tell his friends back home about his visit today and he said he would tell them he got to spend the day drinking Mirinda with firenjis (white forigners)-we thought that was hilarious! Here we were praying fervently and nervous to meet him and make a good impression and guess what? He's your typical kid! Ha ha! We asked if he had ever seen white people before in person and they told us one time a sponsor had come to the project, but other than that, no. Isn't that crazy?! We really enjoyed hearing about the ins and outs of how Compassion works in Sultan's specific project and were once again in awe of their ministry-it truly is the hands and feet of Jesus to the people who have next to nothing, yet have great joy because of who they learn God is through what Compassion does. It was such fun to sit next to Sultan with my arm across his tiny shoulders, as he smiled nervously and kind of went stiff like "uh, this overly smiley firenji woman is touching me-yikes!", and just let the reality of the situation wash over me. This was the boy we wrote letters to, prayed for, read about as a family, right there! We took lots of pictures together and showed him how to use our camera and video camera-got some interesting footage there as he "experimented" with the zoom button!! And we got a picture of him holding Zoe, which was very special to us. It was a great visit, humorously ended when Yosef looked at us and said "ok, I think that is enough, yes?" Gotta love language nuances-they may know the words, but not the subtleties of how to deliver them!! We hugged and promised to send him a photo of all of us and to pray for him and thanked them profusely for bringing him up on such a journey (btw, we asked if he was bored on the trip or slept a lot, and they told us NO because he was so excited! totally humbling....) and we watched his sweet little bright orange head bob down the sidewalk to their waiting taxi. God is using Compassion mightily in the lives of these children, and we were beyond blessed to see it firsthand and to be a part of it. If you haven't experienced the joy of sponsoring a Compassion child, go to their website and get on it!! No this is not a commercial for them, but we wholeheartedly support what they do and how they do it. Go, see for yourselves and maybe one day YOU can meet your little one in person too!! Here are some photos from our visit:

(yes, that IS drool o'Zoe on my shirt-jealous??)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

We're Alive, I Promise!

Hey y'all-we are alive and doing ok, but just trying to re-adjust to normal life and my brain has been too tired to write any posts. I do have half the Compassion visit written so it should be up here tomorrow, but I just have been wiped out this week. Zoe is doing much better FINALLY and we think it may actually be a lactose intolerance issue, after all that craziness!! We will give a more detailed update of how we came upon that conclusion when my brain doesn't sound like zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


We did it-we busted outta the klink, sprang the joint, escaped from Alcatraz!!!! And I wasn't the only one happy to be getting out of solitary:

Happy happy happy Mother's Day to me!! We finally got released from our isolation at the hospital today. This is what my beautiful tribe gave me, a Mother's Day tree!It is a weeping willow, which I have wanted to have FOREVER and ever, even since I was a little girl, and they gave me a beautiful one decorated with notes and pictures of love and encouragement to me as their mom. Best. Mother's. Day. Ever.

Still Here

mmmmmmmm, Mother's Day hospital breakfast

What I better get to see a lot of today

C'mon Doc, you gotta let me go home!

Saturday, May 9, 2009


They will not let us out of this blasted hospital!!!! Almost all of her tests so far (the ones that have come back) have been negative for pretty much anything and they CLAIMED they were going to release us today to let us come back for a blood test on Monday. So I got things packed up, took a little shower finally since I was going to go home with my hubby and kiddos and had a little extra spring in my step. Then, my dear little Ethiopian angel decided not to eat much at all and have a bunch of um, icky, diapers that made everyone freak out and decide they are going to make us stay here ANOTHER NIGHT. They are killing me, seriously. Especially since after they made that pronouncement, she began eating like a pig. The other girls and Pat have spent the day visiting up here, but there is really little to do in a tiny room where you cannot really go in and out freely. So, hopefully we can get out of Alcatraz, I mean, this lovely place of healing VERY SOON because I really want to spend Mother's Day actually with my family, my WHOLE family. I cannot imagine a better way to celebrate than to be with all of them, together, at HOME. Come on doctors, let us outta here!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Update on Zoe - by her Dad

I just wanted to put up a quick note on Jody's behalf that Zoe's doctor appointment today turned into a hospital stay. The doctor was concerned that despite original indications that Zoe did not have TB, he sees some reason to think it might be. Zoe and Jody were sent right over to the hospital (which is an hour away from our house) to be admitted where they will remain in the isolation room until at least Saturday while a series of tests are run to either confirm TB or discover what is causing her breathing troubles. They are not especially concerned that it is contagious because infants are rarely if ever contagious to others, they usually get it rather than give it, but it is standard medical procedure to isolate possible TB cases regardless. Looks like it is going to be a long week for the Hilt family, and possibly an even longer period of treatment/recovery for our beautiful new daughter. Please keep her, Jody, the doctors, and the rest of our family in your prayers. We are trusting God for wisdom and healing in accordance with his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

STILL Not The Compassion Post

I will write about that but wanted to give a quick update on our baby girl-she has not been making much improvement with her breathing and in fact ended up in the ER Sunday nite/Monday morning (2:30 am actually--and Nell Ann and Neely, I prayed for your court dates while I was hanging out there since I was up :)!! ) where she was AGAIN tested for all the same things as earlier in the week (again all negative), given a breathing treatment with a different more powerful medicine but with a cool purple dino mask, tortured into giving some blood (that was NOT FUN AT ALL) from her tiny little veins, observed and released with the instructions that we were to have her to our regular doctor for follow up that day. So, Zoe and I got home at 5:30 to go to sleep for about 3 hours (my super hubby got the other kiddos off to school and such while I slept) and then we headed to our regular doc who has now referred us to a pediatric pulmonologist whom we see tomorrow afternoon. Zoe did have a much better day and night yesterday so that was a huge blessing for all of us and we are looking forward to the appointment tomorrow to hopefully get something figured out to help our sweetie breathe on a regular basis, always a good thing if you ask me. So anyway, if you all could just be praying for our family-we are tired, really tired and it is hard to think straight at times. The re-entry has been pretty challenging in a lot of ways and we are eager to get to a point where we can all be enjoying one another without wondering if one of us is going to stop breathing (that kind of puts a damper on family fun, you know?) At the same time, we are so grateful to the Lord for walking us through all of this and know that He's got our hands in His-and btw, I am not saying that tritely to sound like "oh it is all ok, we have Jesus!" when we are really just in a clueless fog. We have truly seen and felt the hands of God through so many different things and people that it is undeniable that He is part of every step of this too and so we feel a certain peace knowing that the One who is responsible for creating Zoe is leading the way for us in her treatment. Anyway, I wanted to keep y'all updated on things and then I will tell about our last day in Ethiopia!! And I hoped to have some cutie pictures of Zoe-meister but 1. our camera is broken and 2. I didn't think a cell phone pic of her getting treated in the hospital counted as cute (although it sadly crossed my mind to do that while she had her purple dino mask on b/c apparently I have been blogging for way too long!!)

Ok, I changed my mind, I WILL add a picture of her and Jaxson while we were in Ethiopia because, well, they are just CUTE and this is the one we will put up at their rehearsal dinner and you all need to see it too!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Long Day

First make sure you go read the Compassion links in the post below this one and second, I wrote this post while in Ethiopia about our next to last day there but couldn't post it then b/c the internet was down so that is why it seems odd when I am using present tense verbs. I wrestled with whether or not to post it b/c it is a kind of a blah-sounding post, but I wanted to be consistently transparent about how our whole trip went and include every day of the trip so here it is...I will give more details about the last day and our Compassion visit in the next post, I promise :) (hey, you know what? I should really use the word "post" more often don't you think?)

Today started off difficultly as we were the first ones on the schedule to have a meeting with our birthmother. We got up and dressed but neither of us felt like eating as we were nervous and on the verge of tears the whole morning. We made the walk up to HH, barely speaking and silently praying all the way, and got to HH about 10 minutes early as we didn't want to run into her at the gate as we were already feeling self conscious about the meeting. We went to Almaz's office and sat down and chatted with her a bit while we waited. We talked about what to expect and what we might ask her, etc. But then we waited, and waited and waited-she did not come, which does sometimes happen for any number of reasons. The family who was supposed to be after us got there very early for the same reason as we did, only their birthmom was there so we left the office so they could meet and we went outside and played with all the babies-it was their sunbathing time. Zoe fell asleep on Pat so he wandered around the compound while I kissed and prayed over and hugged and held as many as I could, assuring them they had mommies and daddies coming as soon as they could and shooing flies away so they would not pester them. I wanted nothing more than for all their parents to come get them RIGHT. THEN. AGCI provides them excellent care as much as they can, but it is not home and it is not mom and dad. Some loved to smile at me and let me tickle them and give them kisses, some eyed me suspiciously, and some flat out cried when they saw my pasty white face making googly eyes at them. Can't say as I blame them, those Ethiopian Special Mothers at HH, like most Ethiopian women, are strikingly beautiful--I would prefer to look at them too!! We prayed while the other family had their meeting and we cried with them and hugged them when it was over. We weren't sure if we were relieved we had not gone through it or we were terribly sad that we hadn't—such mixed feelings. A little guy at HH befriended me and we sat and played with his little car for a while, zooming it back and forth to one another across the concrete. I let him wear my sunglasses for a bit, which were WAY too big on his tiny head making it extra funny, but he accidentally broke them so that didn't last long. It was getting close to Zoe's bottle time so Almaz told us to go back to the hotel and if the birthmom showed up, she would call us to come back up.
We got back to the hotel and just sat and talked for a bit with Sarah and Allan, another AGCI family who we have loved getting to know on this trip. We eventually went up to our room where we crashed, dead to the world, for a while-the activity of the week, the emotional overload, the teetering on the edge of feeling sick to our stomach from any number of things all took its toll and we were spent. We rested until we had to eat a quick lunch and go back to HH to go over paperwork that will come back with us through immigration and how that will all work. We spent the afternoon hanging around HH some more, then it was back to the hotel for another Zoe feeding and crash on the bed-my stomach is seeming to be discontent right now and I just wanted to lie down. We are so tired right now, weary actually-we have so enjoyed our time here and have seen and done so much, but we also want to take a real shower where you can breathe while showering without fear a drop of contaminated water has gotten into your mouth, we want to get our sick baby to the doctor, we want to eat food we recognize and know how it will affect our stomachs, and most of all, we want to see our other girls because we miss them SO much. We feel a little lost without them, truly. We took the babies up to HH in the evening to say goodbye to the Special Mothers who do the night shift as they have not been there during the days when we are there (thanks Captain Obvious! I am such a clever writer, no??) and it was again wonderful and difficult all at the same time.
We left there to head to a local restaurant that featured traditional food and dancers performing the dances of different regions of Ethiopia. It was ok, but not as lively as the other night and I didn't eat most of the food because I still just felt mildly yucky. They did have COLD drinks though-wahoo! You have no idea how much you miss that until you cannot have it!! There is no ice here because of the contaminated water so most things are room temperature to “cool” which = yuck when you are super thirsty from the hot dustiness--mmm, nothing quenches an intense thirst like tepid water or warm coke. I actually had a dream last night that I was drinking a gigantic fountain coke-it was the Best. Dream. Ever. Anyway, Zoe totally lost it towards the end and fortunately we left soon after-she enjoyed the bumpy breezy ride home though and calmed down quite a bit-phew! We came back to the hotel to find the internet was finally working after 2 days of being down and we immediately got on to check email and were blessed to hear from so many friends and family back home-I cried just knowing how many people care and are following along with us and praying for us-we need it and we appreciate it so much! Most of our suitcases are packed and ready to go tomorrow as we will have a busy day right up until it is time to go to the airport-we are hoping our Compassion meeting works out this time so we can end our trip with one more gigantic blessing! Either way, this has been the trip of a lifetime and we will always treasure it for so many many reasons, the biggest being it is where we were finally united with our Zoe forever.

Good Reading

Y'all need to go here and here and here and read about what Compassion is doing in India from the perspective of the group of Comapssion bloggers on a tour there-it is just incredible reading and the pictures alone are absolutely captivating. You know we have a GREAT fondness for the Compassion organization and here is a picture of us meeting out little guy in Ethiopia during our trip-I will write about that visit tomorrow, it was a wonderful experience!!