Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 1 in Kampala

posted: Thursday, June 30 3:43PM in Kampala and 7:43AM central

It’s hard to believe our first full day (Wednesday) in Kampala is already over. It was such a whirlwind of activity and running around. We only got a few hours of sleep thanks to sleeping a bit too much on the plane rides and anxiety of what is to come. Stephan, our driver who picked us up at the airport agreed to dive us. We left the guest house about 8am to go to the Embassy first. Introduce our selves and find out what we needed to do and turn in. We left there and went to grab a late breakfast/early lunch. Then had an appointment with our attorney at Noon. We were very pleased with our meeting. It is very clear that they have done a wonderful job for us. She was also fascinated by our height difference and loved the way we described ourselves as being a “journey person” (that’s me, Danielle!) and a “destination person” (that would be Wes!). She said right away to Wes “I can tell you’re the extrovert!” She asked if we had any questions (are you kidding!?) and we just started our meeting from there. She told us of 1 concern in our case (which I can’t discuss) and feels certain the judge will mention it. We learned a little more about the kids’ background and their story. We were able to set up an appointment at the IOM (medicals for US Embassy) on Monday and then ran some paperwork back up to the Embassy so they could begin their own orphan investigation.

Note: to keep some anonymity to our situation and case, I won’t be putting names on here yet!

At 5pm we were able to go meet the kids! We were prepared for them to be scared of us and uncertain. When we arrived, it was quite the opposite. They came running out to greet us (which we’d been told they do for most everyone) yelling Momma & Dada and gave us big hugs. We were of course thrilled but again, knew full well that they call all younger women momma, males-dada and older women “Jijji.” So, I prepared myself for the screaming to begin once we left.  Again we were surprised, the girl, “A” grabbed a bag we had brought with clothes, a couple toys and gifts for the women and headed out the door no problem…jumped right into the drivers seat! Boy “M” also got in the car with no hesitation and sat on my lap and just gave me the biggest smile I’ve ever seen! We certainly don’t have shy one’s! In some ways all of this is great, they left with us with no problem but thinking of the bigger picture, we will have to keep a close eye on them to make sure they don’t just run to anyone and hop in their car! EEK the thought! We brought them home and played with them a little while then realized we needed to cook some dinner. Wes choose cooking and that left me playing zone with 2 kids who have no idea where they are! It didn’t take long for them to grow tired of the 2 toys we brought out and “A” began putting everything into her new found bag. I won’t lie, it was tough, we tried to figure out how do we not let them get away with everything, yet discover new things, they don’t understand our language yet, don’t trust us and we certainly don’t understand their language! We decided we needed to choose our battles, if “A” picked up the remote control or flashlight, as long as she wasn’t doing anything bad, it was ok. Eventually, I could ask her to “come” and she would bring the flashlight and make it bright in the room where I was so I could see. I praised her for her help and by the end of the night she was doing a little better of a job handing over items that she needed to give up. She would definitely be the alpha of the 2 even if she was 2nd born! “M” on the other hand is easy to make laugh, he is very joyful and fell in love with a toy motorcycle that the guest house has. He rides it and as long as “A” is on the back, it’s ok. If she wants to drive, there’s going to be a meltdown! So far we have been able to distract him easier but he will still pout and makes a “hmmm” noise with pauses, it’s a calming for him I guess.

Those of you wondering about our parenting/bathroom skills. Don’t worry, both of them had some kind of accident before bed. “M” wasn’t quite sitting on the throne quite right and soaked his shirt and then “A” was standing in the kitchen, tried to get out (We had been told they will walk themselves to the bathroom if they need to go) but we had closed the door since the electricity was out. I was washing dishes and the next thing I knew she was standing beside me in a puddle saying “momma, momma.” We’re in pull-ups today!

We are tired, have not slept well as our thoughts are set towards court tomorrow and know that our intentions will likely be questioned. Not to mention there’s 2 kids in the bed next to us and with every breath we’re wondering if they are ok!

Our internet and power is more sporadic than I had thought. I bought a converter and adapter and already fried my straightener (I wanted to look decent for our first meeting with our lawyer & visit at the embassy). Wes is out making copies of documents and trying to find me something that will help me look decent for tomorrow…curling iron, straightener, anything! Maybe I should just get a weave as my hair is not long enough to go in a decent looking pony- tail. Wes has been amazing, this is truly his strength in this entire process. I’ve done most of the email communication and paperwork but Wes is just so incredible at relationships, small talk etc. I definitely couldn’t ever do this without him. I’m glad we make a good team and glad we’re in it together.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

We arrived

Quick post, I know most of you are just getting off work.  It's 1am here and we have an early morning tomorrow.  We arrived with all our luggage though our "food" suitcase was definitely checked and taped back up by TSA. I think all the food is still there though!

We've gotten settled and everything unpacked in the room we're staying in. Hoped in the shower, after 19 hours flying +10 hours in layovers we undoubtedly stunk. There's no hotwater so it was a VERY cold shower, I hope we get used to this.

Our email from our lawyer asked us to come by her office tomorrow and we will possibly meet the kids on Thursday now. They need to have a very important meeting with us before court. I'm trying hard not to read anything into that and not let it get to me. It's hard but I know God is sovereign! Thanks for all your prayers, facebook messages & tweets, we're seeing them & reading them as we can. We love you all, thanks for being in this with us!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Parting thoughts

We're sitting in the Birmingham Airport ready to start our trip. I think we've packed everything including the kitchen sink! Finally having a chance to pause from thinking about the details, paper work and packing and transition into thinking about the kids, meeting them, and wondering how they will respond. It makes me nervous, starting to think of all the what if's but God is Sovereign, he reigns no matter what.

Boarding plane now, more later!

Update: 11:10am central
We're in Charlotte now. Our flight leaves at 2:18 for Washington. When we arrive, we'll have to pick up our luggage and re-check it with a different airline. We only have a 2.5 hour layover so we're hoping for no delayed flights! I guess we're learning our lesson...don't book a flight where you change airlines to go international! oh well! We have 4 large bags and each have 2 carryons so it will be very interesting carting that much luggage and then re-checking through security.  All of our checked bags were very close to the 50lb weight limit. so we're hoping the scales in DC don't show differently! Once we board our flight in Washington and head to Brussels, we'll start functioning on "Uganda time" It will be about 1am in Uganda when we fly out. Hopefully our bodies will adjust well. We only got about 2-3 hours of sleep last night so I think we'll sleep well on the plane!

Please pray that we will not be anxious and we will handle any little adventures in a way that would glorify our Lord. We are both tired and need to be patient with each other. :) Please also pray for my co-workers, we have a camp in Orange Beach that starts today and I'm just praying that everything goes smoothly while I'm out...shout out to Melissa, Aaron, Michelle, Amanda and everyone else who's got my back.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rescued by our Small Group

I tend to be an independent person. I want to take care of everything myself and feel like everything is under control because I have a grasp on the situation. There's too many I's here. When we found out about our court date I was ecstatic. With just over a week I thought I can do this, I can get everything together, do it all, it will be fine, people have done it in less amount of time...I'll sleep on the plane. As Saturday and Sunday rolled by and I had barely made a dent in my to do list; still trying to feel in control (and not let on how stressed I was), I was humbled when our small group started emailing about coming to the house to help get things done. I realized I can't do it all on my own, I'm eternally grateful for each and every one of them. I don't know how I would have gotten as much done as they did and still have any sanity left!

We made a to do list on this awesome gift
Don't worry about us voting on how to spell a name!

They made the beds, did a little shopping, sorted clothes, gifts, food, toiletries etc

They childproofed the house, "eyeballed" the grass

Installed car seats in both of our cars and sweated buckets doing it

And might have had a little fun

Andrew, Katie, Deidre, Lauren, Gib, Shannon, Andy, Will, Drew, Jana, Sarah Beth, Michael Lindsay & Tyler thank you so much for being the best small group anyone could ask for. You all have no idea how much you're appreciated and how much you've taught me about selflessness. Thank you for loving on our kids before you've ever met them!

God is good!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Court date!

Back in the spring our lawyer was trying to get us a court date by the end of May because courts were closing for the month of June. When that didn't happen, I had resigned my self to being ok with the thought that we probably wouldn't be able to go until August or sometime in the fall. Courts are closing again July 15-Aug. 15. Well, we received a court date for July 1! I'm a little in shock right now and feel like I have that deer in headlights look! We're so excited and have been so blessed. God's timing is perfect and while we don't understand, he does. Adoption carries a different timeline for everyone. We know so many families who waited years for a court date, for us, we're only in month 8 of the entire process. If I could be completely honest, I'm just waiting for something to hit the fan. I hate to say that out loud, it makes me nervous but it's how I feel right now...anything could happen!

If you like a little more detail, keep reading.

We were under the impression that all courts in Uganda were closed for the month of June. After hearing about other families getting court dates in June, I'm think that just the courts in Jinja were closed for June. We were originally going to file in Jinja (about 1 hour east of Kampala). Our lawyer found out that the judge in Jinja wouldn't be returning until August because of a reassignment so she decided to file for court in Kampala instead. Courts in Kampala are closing for July 15-August 15. We will have to go to court 2 times before we're able to apply for American Visas to bring the kids home. The first court date, on July 1 will be the hearing. Then, the judge will schedule a time for us to come back for the ruling (decision). I hope and pray that date will be before July 15.

We have heard to plan on staying in Uganda for 3-4 weeks. This is of course assuming we can get both court dates in before courts close on July 15. Anything could happen!

Here's the next few steps for us:
June 27-Leave for Uganda
June 28-Arrive in Uganda
June 29-Go to US Embassy to begin filing our paperwork with them (they will do their own orphan investigation)
somewhere in here meet our lawyer & kids!
July 1-11am (3am central US time) first court date
Wait for judge to make a decision, then return to court for that decision/ruling
Return to court to receive the written ruling
Schedule a medical (must take place before interview with Embassy)
Get passport pictures of children
Return to Embassy on multiple occasions to turn in paperwork
Once all paperwork is turned into the Embassy, schedule an interview to receive visa for children

We would appreciate your prayers for:
1. For us to be able to get both court dates before courts close on July 15
2. Please pray for the judge and his family. Pray for wisdom, guidance and discernment as he has big decisions to make!
3. Please pray that we will bond with our children quickly
4. Please pray for our Lawyer and the social worker caring for our children
5. Please pray for our hearts to be prepared for all God shows us and puts before us

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer Camp letter #3

Here's another camp letter from those good old middle school days. I'm obviously back at camp for this one as I declare the food is gross!

This one says:
Andrea, I have not ridden the trail bikes & I don't really want to. I'll tell you why later. [I really wish I new why]
I did ride the horses and that was fun (*pause)
The peoples in my room have to go to bed even though it isn't 11:15.
One of the friends that I made, Kelly, her horse reared & bucked. They have a real neat water slide & when I was riding down it I got stuck so I had to walk down all of the sudden some girls came down real fast & they couldn't stop. So when they hit me they threw me over to the wall and I got a big bruise and it hurts, it's right on my hip bone.
I got your letter on Thursday, so I don't have much time to write you.

There are some cute boys here though I don't know what all their names are. One name is John-John or Jon-Jon, oh-well.

Life isn't very well, their food doesn't taste very good. I like your labels, they're neat. {Name} has been bragging & no {name} did not get her hair cut yet. We sit where we want to at meals. {Names} have been flurting with a whole bunch of boys. I am sleeping on the bottum bunk, because {name} wants to sleep on the top. I gotta go to bed now. BY!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Camp letter #2

Sorry for the pause in adoption updates. We're in another waiting stint since the courts are closed this month. We are hoping to get a court date in Uganda as soon as possible.

So, in the mean time, I'm reminiscing about camp since my best friend sent me some letters she found that I wrote to her while one of us or both of us were at camp. It looks like I wrote all these letters in middle school...I had so many interesting things to say!

This one says:
Andrea, I had to get the address from your mother because when I called Katie (on Sunday) she was paking to leave. Hold on my dog says Hello, he wants to help write this letter. Tomorrow Mon. I told her you said goodbye & would miss her so she will be gone by the time you get home. :(
We are letting the dog inside a little bit yesterday Mon. he was on his leash inside but today Tues he is without his leash. The cat still doesn't like the dog. The dog got some shots last Friday and enjoyed playing with the other dogs there.
It's very boring around here without someone to do stuff with. Are there any cute boys there? did you get the top bunk? are u having fun? have u eaten all the candy yet? do u still have that little package of those little candy's? have you spent all your money yet? have you gone horse back riding? do you like this letter (mark one) ___Yes ___No

Is it hot? It's hot here (sizzeling) Since you couldn't come to Icthuse I invited Ashley but she couldn't come. Well I better go so I can get this in the mail :)
PS Write back NOW!!
PSS Have a good time

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summer = Camp

School's out for the summer & now it's camp season! Teenagers, youth ministers, parents, college students and volunteers are getting ready for camp (and so am I). Camp played such an important role in my life and my relationship with Christ. I grew up going to and then working at Kansas City Youth For Christ's L-Bar-C camp (now Youthfront Camp West). Now, 20 years later I'm still loving camp and working for a summer camp!

My best friend since 3rd grade found some letters I wrote her while I was at camp. These letters gave me such great insight into my middle school years. HA! Don't you worry, the next 2 letters are so much more interesting! I love that I had paper specifically for summer camp letters.

In case you can't read it, it says:
Andrea, Hey girl! whats up? I'm at camp of course. That is kind of a stupid reason to be grounded but oh well. I'm in the meeting right before lunch now. Now I'm in my cabin. I'm gonna ride horses today, don't worry, it is the first time this week & I haven't even been on the blob yet! There's a couple people here that you know {names} are all in my cabin. I'm staying in the same room with {names}.
Guess what I met a guy from SMW and he is a yell leader cool huh?
{name} is working in the kitchen this week and {name} is a lifeguard oh also, {name}, he is a horse wrangler this week and he will be down here week #9 & I'll be here too, strange who you meet here isn't it?
Well, I better go, I gotta change for the horses.
PS. I finally figured out the fold over seashell card thing, thanks a lot!!