Monday, November 21, 2011

Not a bad place to be stuck waiting....

Hello from Uganda!! I am still here... Matt & Luke went home on the 9th and I've been here with our littlest one waiting for his last paperwork to be cleared. We have everything we need - we are his legal guardians - but we do not have his Ugandan passport. Once we get that, we can apply for a visa to bring him home to the US. I'm praying I'll have the passport in hand in the next 24 hours (but I've also been praying that and been told it would be 2 days for over a week now!)
So we WAIT. I've been very homesick. A good portion of that is because I was sick, plus I moved out of the baby home guesthouse and to an unfamiliar place with new people - so I've had some more adjustments to make.
But I have to admit... If I've going to be stuck waiting somewhere, this isn't bad:

That's the view from my balcony. LOVELY. While our little guy naps, I can sit out here (assuming it's not torrentially downpouring...) and enjoy the cool breeze and beauty of the Lord's creation. SO THANKFUL.
Here's the view if I turn to the right (overlooking the courtyard where the kids can play - except my kid, who is terrified of the owners' pet dog!):

And to the left:

I've combatted homesickness by going back to the basics - the Lord is NEAR me, He is FOR me, I am NOT ALONE... Practicing thankfulness... getting enough nutrition and sleep... And cuddles from my sweet little one.

I'm ready to have all of my family in one place. But until the Lord takes us home, I'll enjoy being right here.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ugandan Adventures: The harder days begin...

4/2012  Due to the nature of adoption in Uganda (and, frankly, the occasional craziness of the Ugandan adoptive community), I chose not to blog about many details about our adoption while we were still in process. But because this blog is the story of our lives... I want to go back and fill in those empty spaces.

 To see all of my adventures in Uganda (or at least the ones I've posted so far), click on the "Ugandan Adventures" tag at the bottom of this post.

Here's a message I posted to my secret/private facebook group describing the first of what would be many harder days during our time in Uganda.


Saturday November 5, 2011 

We had a very interesting morning… On Saturdays, they don’t have “class”, so we played with kiddoes all morning, which was fun. I bought some plastic kazoos on clearance @ Michael’s, so gave those out this morning, it was funny to see even the little babies buzzing away on them.

At lunch, the babies’ bottles were all way too hot to drink…but like all babies, as soon as they saw them, they started wailing for them. It was a ZOO. (It feels crazy to me with one little baby crying for a bottle, imagine that times 15 or 20!)

M wouldn’t kiss or hug us goodbye at nap time (he hugged Luke, but not Matt or I)….he pushed us away. This is normal behavior, and I was expecting it (it actually means that he’s beginning to attach, and we’ll probably deal with a lot of this until he feels safe and secure with us.) But still sad…

And then… We attended the funeral of a baby. It’s not a baby any of us knew… He came in just before we got here, but was so sick he never even spent the night at the baby home, he went straight to the hospital. One of the mamas spent most of the time there with him, so she’s really sad…and the rest of them have been praying for him every day in the morning devotions they do as a staff. They think he was 12 months old, but only weighed 4kg…and had some broken bones, so was probably mistreated. He was malnourished and feverish, and 2 days ago got a stomach bug that dehydrated him to the point that they couldn’t save him. So sad…and this is what the staff here deal with (and fight against!) every day. They had a short memorial service for him after we put the kids to bed for nap.

I feel like the Lord is really shielding our hearts. It’s also amazing to see how much this is reality…it’s still sad for those who live here, but not nearly as shocking as it is to Western eyes/ears. I feel a little ashamed to be living in the comfort and ease that we have when so much of the world is so hard, but not sure what to do with that. But we are thankful to know the God who is “making all the sad things come untrue”, and to be a small part of His redemptive plan. He is GOOD.
Well you already knew we had kind of a harder morning, with the funeral and all… And this afternoon, I really hit a wall. I am ready to be done with orphanage life. When I was here before, it was really overwhelming at first, but then I got used to trusting the Lord with all of these things, and was just grateful to be here.

This trip I have felt grateful from the beginning, and not overwhelmed at all. Until this afternoon. I didn’t sleep well last night, so after writing what I wrote above, I took a little nap, and then we planned to go out to see the tombs.

But as we were waiting, one of the mamas came to get me because someone was here to see me. It was one of the people involved in Marvin’s case, who showed up wanting to see us. It was fine, and I was able to find someone to translate, but it made me nervous and it was just generally stressful (mostly because it took me by surprise, and M was wierded out by it).

So after I calmed down from that, I sat out with the kids and one of my favorite Mamas (Mama Betty again, who has loved on M since he was a little baby…she’s really attached to him and I can tell sad to see him go, although she’s been really sweet to me.)

We fed a few kids a peanut butter/nutritional supplement …which caused a riot among all the other kids. They shared, but it basically meant I spent the afternoon with screaming, peanut butter smeared, pee covered kids climbing all over me. Oh, and they were playing in the sand, so add a thick layer of dirty SAND on top. I felt like I’ve never felt grosser…and then when my friend Janet & I were giving bottles (to crawlers, not infants…they sit in this long high chair, and you feed two bottles at once)… one of them projectile vomited.

And now I have sand in my mouth and hair, I’m sticky and coated in pee. And I smell like vomit. Gag.

So…maybe you want to pray for my heart? And just that I would hear the Lord’s voice in all of this? 
You can pray for Luke too…he’s still doing pretty well, but I can tell it’s wearing him down too. He really wants everyone to take turns and share…especially if Marvin is the one waiting for a turn or wanting to be shared with. But that’s just not the way it works here, and it’s useless to get frustrated when the kids are misbehaving – not that we just let them do whatever, but these kids are hurting and they’re not always going to play fair (and sometimes they hit, kick or bite you.) I’ve had to talk to Luke several times today about being gentle when he corrects, and serving and helping all of the kids, not just M.
I’ve taught my kids that thankfulness is the medicine for a grouchy heart (when they complain, I make them give me 5 things they’re thankful for – I started doing this when Luke was 6, maybe? He doesn’t really love it :D). I definitely have a grouchy heart right now… 
So I am thankful for:
…Matt & Luke being here with me for 10 days, and especially for TODAY.
… Sweet hugs and cuddles from M tonight at bedtime.
…that the end is hopefully in sight. The Lord is WITH US, He has not abandoned me, and He’s not going to. And no matter what happens, I am bathed in His goodness!
…the sweet mamas who do this every day, all the time, for not much pay
…Joel (the guesthouse manager, and cook) made pancakes tonight. They are like crepes, and cinnamon-y, and we heat them up, spread nutella on them and eat them for dessert. YUMMY. Tomorrow I’ll have another one for breakfast, with bananas AND nutella. I know better than to find comfort and happiness in food, but I'm not going to lie: Those pancakes were like a gift from the Lord tonight, and they made me happy.
…A hot shower and a good cry.
…instant coffee
…a mosquito net to sleep under
…a comfortable bed to sleep in, and decent food to eat
…internet where I am staying, rather than having to walk 10 minutes for it.
…Coca-cola light
…all of you at home praying for us
…the hope of a good night’s sleep
…we’ve talked to Tobin a couple of times, and he is doing GREAT. Thankful for a Grammie who’s willing to be a stand-in-mama for so long!
…the presence of the Lord

I do think thankfulness is like medicine… I feel better already!
Love you all!

The best history lesson...

When we decided to adopt from Uganda, we recognized that we're joining our family for life to this beautiful country. We want our little mister to know the beauty of his birth culture and. history, and we pray he will be a blessing to both his adoptive culture and his homeland.

Throughout the process, I've read as much as I could about Uganda, and the history of this area of Africa. It's been hard to keep everything straight in my mind, since much of what I've read has been completely unfamiliar. Thursday we did some sightseeing that really helped to bring everything to life. We visited several places of great significance to the primary people group here in Kampala, the Buganda. We spent the morning at the Buganda Parlaiment, and in the afternoon visited one of the palaces of the Kabaka (Bugandan King).

We learned SO MUCH about our little mister's people and heritage, it was really amazing.

This is our little mister's totem, the sign of his clan (the monkey... which means he can't marry anyone from the monkey clan or ever eat monkey :D). This is very meaningful to the Buganda, and it's the reason for one part of our little guy's name (which we can't reveal here until we receive guardianship.)

Our favorite driver (John!) came with us on the tour, which was actually one of my favorite aspects. It was so fun to see him interact with our tour guide and to see both of their evident pride in their people, history, and king.

At parlaiment, we heard the history of the Buganda kings, and learned the traditional greetings for the king - the Kabaka is greeted differently by men and women. A man greets the king in a way that symbolizes the use of his stregnth in loyalty to the Kabaka, while a woman's greeting symbolizes peace.

This is the crest of the Buganda, crossed spears behind a traditional sheild, with a lion.

Luke thought Parliament was SUPER BORING (while Matt & I were fascinated), but he liked the king's palace. It was the place of a military revolt in 1966, so there were lots of war stories (the military stormed the place, but the Buganda king escaped to exile in England…where he was poisoned by a spy 3 years later. One of his sons is now the reigning Kabaka.)

They also took us down to a bunker under the palace where Idi Amin stored weapons for several months…until he turned it into a prison and torture chamber. It was horrifying to stand in a place where so much death and horror happened. I wondered how Luke would take those stories, he thought it was super creepy, but also very cool that we got to see the place.

We bought a beautiful piece of artwork (painted by some of the tour guides) on Batik, of the Kasubi Tombs, which we're hoping to visit in the next few days (it's the traditional burial place of Buganda kings, and the spiritual center of the Buganda kingdom.) Matt picked it out and it's kind of GIANT so I'm not entirely sure where we're going to put it…

It was such and interesting and helpful day of sightseeing, not to mention delightful to spend so much of the day with our little guy! Hopefully we will remember everything to pass on to him! And we hope to be able to bring him home to visit as he grows up, so he can know his heritage in person rather than just reading about it or hearing it from us!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Our day in court!

We were privileged to see the justice in family court to apply for legal guardianship of our little mister on Tuesday.
We will get our ruling on Tuesday (probably the verbal ruling, then we'll wait a little longer for our written ruling, and it will take a week - 10 days for our visa after that), and in the meantime the Judge would like us to visit some local landmarks and learn as much as we can about Ugandan culture. Our lawyer felt that court went well, and we are excited to learn as much as we can about our little mister's homeland during the time we have here.
Highlights of our day in court...
…Obviously: that it looks like it ended well. After MONTHS of unknowns, it is nice to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
… A full day with our little mister. Y'all. He's so cute. It was delightful to be with him today, and all of the folks in our case commented on how we love him. We got to feed him two meals (one at court and the other at the guest house when we got home. He was so excited to eat with a fork b/c they eat with their hands at the home.), lots of snacks, and even let him sleep on us a while.
… LUKE. Luke was so awesome today, I can't even tell you. He didn't complain (much), did so much to gently play with little mister and entertain him, and was just generally AWESOME.
And I've been praying for years that the Lord would grow compassion in Luke. Tonight, he walked with me back over to take little mister to the home after we fed him. The kids were just getting into bed, so we greeted them all and helped them get into bed. Little mister was MAD and very SAD that we were leaving him. I held him for a long while, kissed him, told him we love him and that we were NOT leaving him again. But he was still wailing as we left. I kissed him one last time, turned around and couldn't find Luke. He was already outside…hearing his brother cry made him feel so sad. We had a lovely talk about it afterward, and it was so precious to see his sweet heart. It really bothers him to leave his brother over there. PRECIOUS.
Next up: Sightseeing and learning about this beautiful culture and country!!

Welcome to Africa!

IMAG0149.jpgSaturday morning bright and early we got up to head to the AIRPORT!

I'd been sad all week about being gone from Tobin...but he was more than fine. And so many people were praying for me, I felt a tremendous sense of PEACE. All the way to meet Matt's mom and drop him off, Tobin kept telling Dudley (our border collie), "Dudwey! We're going to Gwammie's! Isn't that exciting???" No tears. I am so thankful!

We had a 3 hour layover in Minneapolis, and some of our Minnesota family were able to come up and see us. The Hinds brought us Chipotle (YUM!) and we had a little prayer huddle with them just before we left. What a sweet memory! Next stop: Amsterdam.

Luke was super excited about the big plane, and especially the individual tv screens in the back of each seat. Of course the novelty of that wore off after 2 consecutive 8/9 hour flights. The 4 hours in Amsterdam felt REALLY long, and on the Europe - Africa leg of our flights we were all able to get some SLEEP.

When I was here this summer, probably my lowest point was those exhausted first moments in Africa, getting my visa and luggage and heading out into the crowd of African strangers, one of whom was holding a sign that said my name. It was a completely different experience this time, being greeted by familiar faces (Ronnie, the babies home driver, and his wife), returning to a place I'm now familiar with, and seeing it all through Luke & Matt's eyes. Luke was SO TIRED, but really wanted to see everything and stay awake on the 1 hour drive to Kampala. Matt was amazed at how busy the city was, even at 11pm.

It has been wonderful to be here again, to see our little mister, and all the babies and Mamas at the babies home. It has been so fun to introduce Matt and Luke to my African friends, and to see how everyone STARES at my giant bald husband and my very blond boy! And I love being greeted with, "WELcome to Africa! You are VERY welcome!!"

It's good to be back.