Roll Back the Cameras - Monday thru Wednesday
I was so hoping to post photos and share the happenings of each day in Ethiopia as they happened. But much to my dismay, that didn't happen. I am not exactly sure what happened but we think it was severe altitude sickness and a stomach bug. We've been really, really sick for the past two days. So let me go back and fill you in...

We checked out of our hotel Monday morning as planned. We had a rough start that day with Joshua and me feeling very nauseas and Andrew losing his breakfast 4 times (is that a good way to say it without being gross?). I updated our blog and facebook, asking friends to pray, and by 1pm we were doing much better.

We went to see Aster and took her to the doctor at the orphanage. He told us she has pneumonia and put her on an antibiotic. I was so glad we were there to make sure she got medicine. Then we took her with us to the guest house we had checked into that is near the orphanage. She was feeling a little better and we had a good day filled with lots of family bonding!

Here are some of my favorite memories:

Now what girl wouldn't love this much attention?

The sweet thing is that these photos are not posed. I walked in and saw our new daughter being adored by the three most important guys in her life - three Godly (young) menwho already love her so much.
Our original plan was to have Aster all day and let her sleep in her normal room that night with her nannies. But Joshua really wanted to keep her with us, so we did.
1am feeding - Daddy and his girl

I am so glad we had this night together. It was such a sweet gift from God. He knew what the next two days would hold. We started feeling sick on our stomachs again and on top of that, we didn't get any sleep Monday night due to an orchestra of barking dogs outside our window ALL night long. And I do mean, ALL NIGHT!

Tuesday morning we woke up very sick. I lost my breakfast and felt awful but we were scheduled to leave at 8:30 for our visit with Meseret, our Compassion child. I was determined not to let the enemy rob us or her of that. It was so important that we see her. I knew she was waiting for us, so we pushed through.

This is Meseret (far left) with her mom, brother, aunt, cousin and grandfather standing in front of the entrance to her home where they all live.

After our visit with Meseret, we went downhill fast. We knew we couldn't go back to the guest house because of the barking dogs and our desperate need for sleep. So our Compassion escort drove us to a hotel with air conditioning and sound proof windows. We were too sick to take care of Aster so we had to leave her at the orphanage.

It was so hard but as JJ wisely reminded us all, like they instruct you on an airplane when you are traveling with a child, you have to get your oxygen first before you can help your child. So we've been getting rest and trying to recuperate. We have been flat on our backs since yesterday at 5pm, other than a brief periodof semi-strength that got us to our Embassy appointment this morning to get Aster's visa.

We still can't eat much. We tried soup tonight but it didn't go well. So we're still living on bottled water and pinches of croissants. Hoping for some really good rest tonight and at least a little breakfast tomorrow. We are meeting with Aster's birthmother at 11am Ethiopia time (Thursday), which is about 3am at home. I know it will be very emotional but also very important.

Again, God's strength and grace will get us through. And then we pray and hope we'll be able to spend the day with our little girl!


Blogger Amy Carroll said...

I'm praying, praying, praying. I'm so sorry that you all are so very sick. I keep thinking about Ashley when we were in Ecuador. So hard.

I'll be especially praying for your meeting with Ashter b-mom tomorrow.

Love to you,

Anonymous Angela said...

I've been following your families journey with Aster and you've been in my prayers for safe trip and good health for all of you. Your new baby girl is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing family moment with us. In Christ love, Angela

Anonymous Kristen Myers said...

Oh Renee, God is healing so much more than your physical ills during this week. Hold on to His strength! After all, He works best when we have nothing left to offer!

Your family is beautiful!!

Praying you through,

Blogger Julie Gillies said...

Oh Renee, I LOVE the pictures! Aster is just so precious, and the pic of her sleeping on your hubby's chest is a true keepsake.

I'm SO sorry you've all been sick. The enemy doesn't like that you are rescuing Aster but God is greater. May He gird you with His strength, surround you with His protection, and anchor you with His peace in the midst of it tall.


Blogger Rachel B said...

Oh, Renee, I agree with Julie..the pic of Aster asleep on JJs shoulder is too precious!!! What a gift from the Lord!

I have been following you on Facebook and have been saying prayers for you and your family all day. So thankful He is there with you strength, peace and healing.

Thank you for sharing these picture with us!

Blogger Mocha with Linda said...

Oh Renee, I'm so sorry that you are having such a rough time with your stomachs. I pray that you are getting good sleep tonight even as I type this and that you will feel refreshed and renewed tomorrow.

That picture of you feeding Aster is so, so precious. (I love how babies wave their arm around when they eat!) Actually, all the pics are absolutely incredible. Her little finger is awfully tiny to have all those people wrapped around it!

Anonymous Tricia said...


I am sorry you and your family is ill. This is a total attack from the evil one. Press on girlfriend. You are and inspiration. I pray that God will blanket you with rest and healing so you can do what you have been called to do there. Blessings to you and your family!!

Tricia in Ky

Oh Renee
Praying for you and your family. You must be doing a great thing in the Kingdom of God if you are coming up against forces like this!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The photos are so beautiful and so precious! God's timing is perfect. You got there and you will not leave without your little precious girl. You have the rest of your life to be with her, attach and enjoy her. Rest up and get everyone healthy before your return flight. This is so exciting! You have such a beautiful family. A family created by God.

Blogger Everyday Becky said...

I'm so sorry you are suffering like this. I'll keep praying for healing and for the opportunity to enjoy your trip. I pray tomorrow is a gift to both you and Aster's birthmom.

Love and prayers,

Blogger Oh Dear said...

Praying for all of you.

Renee-this whole story is so beautiful (except for for you being sick-do feel better)!! What a lucky girl Aster is. Bless you and your family! The smile on your face IN THE PREVIOUS is huge-EXPLOSIVE!!

In His Graces~Pamela

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for taking time to update all of us even though you are not feeling well. I will pray for all of you! Your girl is so ver precious and a blessing from God!!
God's Blessing to you all,

Blogger Kenzi said...

That last picture of Mr. JJ and her almost brought tears to my eyes. I have pictures of my dad and I like that from aster's age on up till I was like 9 or 10.

Always capture those moments with her daddy they will mean so much to her when she get's older. Trust me ;)

Praying for you and can't wait to see you guys!

love you all!

Blogger Lelia Chealey said...

I just re-read the last post and this one and I have tears. I have to be honest Renee and tell you that I have had a really hard time watching my parents adopt at their age, but my heart is just getting more tender every time I come here for my own adopted siblings. I know they are doing what God has asked them to do, but the protective and selfish daughter of theirs has given them wobbly support. They were signed up for 30 day emergency care and now have 5 kids they are adopting, 4 of them siblings w/ the same mom but different dads. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.

Oh, brave, beautiful heart on the other side of the world... I pray.

You are touching so many lives -- thank you, Aster!

Keep blooming!

All's grace,

Blogger Stephanie said...

Praying for rest and health for your family... in JESUS name!

Blogger Victoria said...

Praying for you right now! 4:30am in Ohio, you probably just met with Aster's birth mom. Praying you are all experiencing healing for God's glory. Those pictures are so sweet--they make me want to cry. God bless all of you; what a beautiful family.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Praying that you will all be well soon. I am sooo sorry you guys have been sick. The pictures are priceless and thanks for sharing them with us. Will be lifting you up all day today as you meet with Aster's birth mom.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please see if you can stop taking Tamiflu ...some ppl say that doctors recommend it but they themselves do not take it...the medicine is controversial.

Blogger Kimberly said...

I love, love your pictures! Precious and priceless!

And I am praying for you and your sweet family that all of this yuckiness will flee!

Love to you,

Blogger B His Girl said...

Hope all of you are feeling better today. I pray peace for your meeting with Aster's birth mother, for her and for all of you. The pictures are precious. God has given you a new blessing. Thank you God.

Blogger Kristan said...

You photos brought tears to my eyes. God bless your family!

Anonymous Karen Ehman said...

Renee (and crew)
We are praying in Michigan and are so glad to see you are feeling better.
Mackenzie can't WAIT to see that sweet daughter of yours and we are keeping the boys in the loop by learning about Ethiopia this week. We even made Ethiopian food for our supper Monday night. After a little hesitation, they all loved it! Of course, they are using the leftover 'wat' (meat, onions and lentil spicy main dish) to make nachos with Doritoes and sharp cheddar cheese now!
Love you all and will be praying for a safe and sickness-free return!!!
Karen (for all)

Blogger LEAH said...

Praying for you continuously! Trusting that just the right amount of God' provision and mercy will be given each day - just like manna in the desert.

Missing you and praying for complete healing and speedy healing for all of you.


Blogger tiggerdaisy said...

I've been praying, Renee! I love your faith attitude, girl--KEEP IT UP! :)

Your baby girl is precious! Much love to the whole Swope family!

Prayers and blessings,

praying for you all!

Believing in FAITH for God to provide the funds to bring Jeremiah home quickly

Blogger Runner Mom said...

Oh you precious girl! I am so sorry that y'all have been so sick! I will be praying--really hard! Glad that you got a little bit of rest...bless your heart. Love the pictures! Wish I could give you a hug.

Love you!

Blogger Rachel Olsen said...

Sweet friend, I got to the bottom of this post after looking carefully at all the pictures, and I'm struggling to find words as tears quietly roll down my face.

Love & praying for you ~ Rachel

Blogger Heather Conrad said...

Renee... what an amazing journey. Of course without ease, yet the joy on your faces is unmistakable. We're hitting some sickness here too, amazing how draining it is, yet I know with all my heart that He will sustain you. When you have nothing left, there He is. All glory be to him. May He strengthen you like never before as your return home as a family!

Blogger Lysa TerKeurst said...

We are all praying. I e-mailed MaryAnn this week and also asked her to specifically be praying. And you know MaryAnn... she will call in the troops I'm sure.

I also told MaryAnn I have missed you so much this week my heart literally hurts. Funny how a long time friendship can do that.

Love you and can't wait to wrap you and Aster up in a big hug!!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say thanks for sharing your journey.

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