Pages

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Court

On Monday we appeared to the Jinja court.  This was definitely another experience that makes me grateful to be an American.  I love that in our country we have the right to due process.  The judge summoned us to court at 9:00 am.  She arrived a little after 9:30.  The court was an open courtroom and the judge had about 10 civil cases that day.  She called each case up and proceeded with the hearings in front of everyone in court that day.  While she was working on other cases we were expected to sit there and keep the girls quiet.  This doesn't seem like too hard of a task until you include the fact that we were there for 8 hours.  Ours was the last case of the day.  We finished around 5 pm.
The judge said that we would get our ruling on October 10th.  All of our council and lawyers have said that this is a good thing.  It means that we will get a positive ruling on that day.
Now we wait and pray.

This has been a very nerve wrecking process.  During all of this I keep reminding myself that the Lord has provided for us to be here.  He has taken care of us until this point and will continue to look after us until we get home.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pseudo Triplets!!!

Today we did not go to church.  Instead all 7 of us went back to the baby house.  They were having a birthday party for two of the children there.  We had a wonderful day.  We played with all of the children there for several hours.  We took bubbles and balloons.  We also took some toys that we brought from the states.  The children had a great time.  Sadie and Nolen played outside with the other kids and made some new friends.
The birth mother of the girls was also there.  We were able to learn some more about the family.  We also learned that the birthdate that is on the girls birth certificate is not correct.  They were issued birth certificates this summer when we began the paperwork process to adopt them.  Several times over the past few weeks I have asked the lawyers and our coordinator if they are sure that it is the correct date.  I have felt like they are a bit older than that based on developement.  Everyone said that it was the correct date.  Then today the mother told me when they were born.  There was a typo on the certificates.  We have thought the girls to be born in the summer of 2009.  Wrong!  They were born in the summer of 2008.  This was quite a shocker to me.  This means the girls are 1 month older than Nolen.  I guess he won't be needing that big brother shirt I bought him.  Poor Nolen he has three older sisters.  We have four children whose birthdays are all within 54 weeks of each other.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I Would Gather Children

Some would gather money
Along the path of life,
Some would gather roses,
And rest from worldly strife.

But I would gather children
From among the thorns of sin,
I would seek their twinkling eyes,
And reveal mischievous grins.

For money cannot enter
In that land of endless day,
And roses that are gathered
Soon will wilt along the way.

But oh, the laughing children,
As I cross the sunset sea,
And the gates swing wide to heaven
I can take them in with me!

Author Unknown

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thursday and Friday

On Thursday we made yet another trip to Kampala.  Just Holly, Chad, H, & L went on this trip.  Sadie, Nolen, and Nancy stayed at the guest house.  We finished the girls physicals at the IOM office, they got the all clear.  One weighs 24 pounds and one is 25 pounds.  L is a centimeter taller and 1 pound heavier.  The girls did okay.  They were afraid they would get pricked again but relaxed after being there a few minutes. 
After this we went to the lawyers office.  The people we were to be meeting their were running a couple of hours late, this is common in Uganda.  We decided to go to a nearby mall that had a playground.  The girls were very skeptical of the slides.  Once we convinced them to try them they loved them.  The morning was filled with lots of giggles and laughs.  We ate lunch at the food court mall.  This was an interesting experience.  It was not like in the states when you go to the food place and order your food.  You sit down in the food court and a person from each restaurant brings you a menu.  This means that about 10 to 15 people are shoving menus in your face and just waiting on you to pick their restraunt.
We proceeded on from the mall back to the lawyers office.  There we had our meeting with the birth parents.  I will not be sending any details about this.  It was an emotional day.  Few words were said due to a language barrier but no words were needed.
We were also able to schedule a safari.  Next week after court we will travel to one of their national parks for three days and two nights.  Sadie is really looking forward to this.

Friday morning we did a bit of touristy things.  We first went to see the source of the Nile river and Lake Victoria.  The source of the Nile is a spring that bubbles up from the ground, it is a really neat thing to get to see.  We took a ride on a boat down the river and onto the lake a bit.  We saw lots of birds, lizards, and monkeys. 
We then went up the river a bit to some water falls.  These falls are commonly white water rafted on.  We took another small boat ride and a hike to see some of the best views I have ever seen.  It was absolutely beautiful.  I will post photos as soon as I can get my memory stick reader to work.  There were some teenage boys there that you could pay to go down the falls.  This is their job.  They hold onto these big yellow jugs and ride down the waterfalls.  As we are watching these boys do this I was thinking I just paid to watch these boys die.  But they surfaced, smiling and waving.
We are going to hang around the guest house a few days and relax before court.
Thank you for all of the prayers you have been sending.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Security for the Blog

I apologize for the inconvenience of having to sign in inorder to view the blog.  Due to the upcoming events security is very important.  I have been receiving a lot of blog hits from readers in Uganda.  I do not know if they have any relations to our case or not but it has been suggested to up the security settings.  The blog will become open to the public again once these events have occurred.
This week we have been busy completing the more paperwork.  We almost have it all completed.  Tomorrow we will be going to an office called the International Office of Migration.  This is where the girls will finish their physical.  Children entering the U.S.A. must have a physical and be tested for certain diseases.  Earlier in the week they recieved a TB test as part of this physical exam.  This is just another part of the process to bringing the girls home. 
We have still not been able to make contact with the birth parents.  We have had 3 failed attempts so far.  Hopefully in the morning we will be successful.  This meeting is required by the judge and must be made before court on Monday.
This morning we were able to visit the baby home where the girls lived.  It was wonderful to get to see the home and all of the children there.  We were able to hand out lots of headbands and recieved many smiles.  The director told us that they were always in need of more food.  We went to a place in the market that sold bulk bags of rice.  We purchased 2 fifty kilogram bags of rice for the home.  That is approximately 220 pounds.  The director and the children were very excited to see the rice.  If only all it took was a bag of rice to make my children at home this happy.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Trips to Kampala

These past few days have been a bit crazy.  Chad, Nancy, and Nolen arrived in Kampala on Friday night.  I got up at 5 am on Saturday and drove into the city with the girls.  It takes at least 2 hours to drive from Jinja to Kampala.  It is not very far distance wise but there is no interstate here in Uganda.  There is one road between the 2 cities and everyone takes that road.  The drive is interesting the first time but gets old very quickly.  I have been vomitted on, peed on, and pooped on all on this stretch of road.  There are no bathrooms and therefore no stopping.  This does not make for a child friendly trip.  The drive allows for you to get to see a bit of the country.  You pass sugar cane plantations, tea plantations, and through a rainforest.
Saturday we had our meeting at the lawyers office.  She prepared us for court.  We did not meet the parents of the girls there like we had thought.  It was a very long day.  We were at the lawyers office for a total of 3.5 hours with four toddlers.  After that we returned to Jinja Chad and Nancy got settled in.
Sunday we went to church and were able to distribute more headbands.
Monday morning Chad, Holly, H, & L went to Kampala again.  There we took care of a bunch of different paperwork.  We had their passport photos taken, the girls had physicals including TB tests, and we visited the U.S. embassy.  All of this is to help us get out of here as quickly as possible after court.

Church



A few of the other adopting families had some ladies come by the guest house to have their girls hair weaved.  They had some of the older girls get twists in their hair.  Sadie watched the ladies very closely and wanted dearly to have hers done.  I asked her what color hair she wanted and of coarse she said pink.  The lady said she could do pink so I figure why not.  There are worst things in life than looking ridiculous.  I only wanted a little pink put on the top of Sadie's hair.  Sadie had a different opinion.  I now have a child with bright pink hair.  People already stare at the little white girl, now they are really going to stare at her.  Sadie loves her pink hair, she sees herself as a beautiful pink princess.

Friday, September 16, 2011

No Words

I have been trying to come up with the words to help you understand what is going on over the past few days.  I have written and deleted many drafts of blog posts.  The truth is, I just can't come up with a good way to describe the week.
This week I feel like I have experienced every emotion possible.  I have had the extreme joys of meeting my children to the deepest lows of seeing other children eating trash.  My heart breaks for the people here, yet everyday they are so gracious and giving to me.  This week I have had many struggles, food issues, not much sleep, and major change of plans.  The one thing that I seem to come back to is how blessed my family is.  These little girls have truely blessed Sadie and I this week.  I feel blessed to get to come on this adventure to the other side of the world and learn just how fortunate I really am.  I am blessed to have met the other adopting families and the staff at the apartment. 
I recently heard news that Chad, Nolen, and Nancy will be here in a few days.  I am so relieved to get some reinforcements.  Chad was not supposed to be here for about another week.  But the Lord knew what I needed.  Matthew 6:8 ". . . The Father knows what you need before you ask him."

When I look at my daughter I can't help but think of James 1:17
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wednesday: Hanging Around

It is Wednesday evening here.  All three little ladies are in bed pretending to be asleep.  I know they are exhausted.  L has a difficult time going to sleep.  She is handling the stress by crying.  This prevents everyone else from taking a nap.  Today, H took a nap nextdoor at one of the other adopting family's apartment.
Today we stayed at the guest house all day and played.  A new family arrived last night making a total of 4 families and 8 kids.  The kids play outside most of the day, that is the best place to catch a breeze.  The employees here completed a swing for the children to play on.  This was the highlight of the afternoon for most of them.
Today I did some laundry.  That is definitely a chore here.  I feel guilty about complaining to Chad about my laundry closet before we came.  I now appreciate it more than ever.  Believe it or not laundry here is more difficult than in Russia.  In Russia we had a bathtub to wash our clothes in.  Here we have some platic tubs no bigger around than a pizza and about 5 inches deep.  You can only wash a few items at a time and with 3 little ones it is a big chore.  They do have laundry lines running behind the guest for us hang up our clothes on.  For anyone traveling to Africa soon it rains a bit each afternoon so don't leave your laundry out unless you want it to have an extra rinse cycle.  The plastic tubs that I use for the laundry are multifunctional.  They also serve as a bathtub, dish washing tub, and a small but loved swimming pool.
Tonight for dinner we through together a potluck.  Each of the adopting families brought something.  We ended up with canned corn, canned mixed veggies, spaghetti noodles with tomatoes, oatmeal, baked beans, and hotdogs.   It was the best meal we have had since I have been here.  We plan on doing this most nights.  It is much cheaper than having the guest house cook and was a bit fun.  The kids had ice cream for dessert.  There is something so special about watching someone have their first ice cream and first taste of chocolate )(Chad, I wish you were here for all of the firsts).  It is kind of neat how you create a surrogate family here.  You spend your days with them, shop with them, love on each other kids, help out with each others chores, and eat together.  It is wonderful to have brothers and sisters in Christ here to help encourage me.

Monday, September 12, 2011

First Sunday in Uganda

Yesterday morning during breakfast the chef here asked the families if we would attend church with her.  So for some crazy reason I decided to haul my crew to church.  It was a Christian church.  This was definitely an experience to remember and I look forward to returning next week.  The service was given in Lugandan and in English.  It was hard for me to understand the message but the songs I knew.  We sang This is the Day Which the Lord has Made  and  Are God is an Awesome God.  We stayed a little over an hour but were told the service lasted around 3 hours.  Sadie clung to me during the service and cried anytime I tried to put her down.  The chef, Evalynn, held L and a nice lady that sat behind us held H.  The girls were well behaved for most of the time.  I also had the opportunity to hand the first of the headbands out at church.  The little girls were so proud of their new hairbows.
Last night I cooked Krafts macaroni and cheese for dinner.  The 3 girls ate 2 whole boxes and L licked her plate clean.  Mac n Cheese was a big hit.
I am so grateful to the other families here who have helped me out with the girls.  Evalynn who works at the guest house has also been a great help.  Last night I was having a difficult getting the girls to bed because L was a bit wild.  S and H were tired but couldn't fall asleep because of the commotion.  Evalynn came took L to the kitchen with her so I could get the others to sleep. 
Today I am doing laundry.  Exciting I know.  Since I did not know I was getting the girls yet I did not pack clothes for them.  I brought one dress for each of them.  They have been wearing S's dresses and her pullups.  I also did not bring any toys or medicine for them.  I am definitely winging it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Survival Mode

Our second whole day in Africa and second day with girls is complete.  Wow, I am tired.  It is amazing how little sleep the body can fuction on when one has too.  I hope to get everyone a good nights sleep tonight.  It has taken Sadie a few days to flip flop her schedule around.  The second night her she woke up at 3:30 am and I found myself playing barbies in the middle of the night.  She has done very well considering the circumstances.  She loves her sisters and is being a wonderful big sister.  Her favorite part of Africa is getting to live out a princess fantasy by sleeping under a mosquito net.  We are still working on the toy sharing thing.
The girls have started to come out of their shells a bit for me.  Am I going to have my hands full.  L is a character and full of energy.  I hear her say a few words.  When I feed them she says thank you and will ofter call the other one by her African name.  They mostly speak to each other.  What they are saying, who knows.  This irritates Sadie when she is trying to play with them.  At one point in the evening all the girls were running up and down the hall way screaming catch me catch me.  It was awesome to see them playing and giggling together.
H is very shy.  Painfully shy.  When it is just us in the room I get to see her personality but if we are around large groups of people she will shut off.  She loves to be held and would sit in a lap all day. 
There are 2 other adopting families at the guest house with us.  The children have been playing in the courtyard together.  These families have been a huge help to me sense I am greatly out numbered.  We went to the "grocery store" today to get some provisions.  One of the other ladies went with me to help me hold babies.  We have been eating the breakfast served at the guest house.  The lady here has also been cooking us dinner since I don't think restraunts are in my future for at least a year.  The meals are simple and carb loaded.
The sweetest moment of the day was when I heard H&L call me mama.  Precious.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Change Of Plans

Wow has life changed in 3 days.  Three days ago I was in Tennesse, sitting in air conditioning, and trying to plan how this adventure was going to take place.  Wow, God did not like my plans.  He really through me a curve ball.  To explain the drastic change that has occured I will start with the beginning of our trip here.
The first plane we were to catch out of Nashville was cancelled (this should of been a sign of things to come).  Sadie and I had to take a different path around the world than expected.  The orginal route was Nashville to New York, to Amsterdam, to Entebbe Uganda.  This is how we came:  Nashville to Detroit, to Amsterdam, to Rwanda, and then to Entebbe Uganda.  Sadie was wonderful on the planes.  I could not have asked for much more considering how we were traveling.  Since our flights got all messed up we did not get the nice window seats we originally reserved.  I owe a bit of apologies to the Ugandan man that had to spend most of 10 hours with coke spilled in his lap and the legs of a sleeping 4 year old on him.  Anyways it was entertaining and made for some memories.  Photos will soon follow.
After we landed in Entebbe we drove to the next largest city, Kampala which is the capital.  We spent the night there at a nice but modest guest house.  We went to sleep around 1:00 am and Sadie woke me up a little after 6.  Apparently, there was a chicken coop outside our window and the roosters started crowing a little after 6.  We ate breakfast at the guest house.
Our driver then came to pick us up and drive us around Kampala to do some business.   I purchased a sim card for my phone and a modem for the computer.  I also exchanged some money.  Around noon we began our car ride toward Jinja.  Jinja is the town where the baby home is.  The ride took several hours.  Sadie road in my lap because she wanted see out the window.  It was wonderfull to see the country during the drive but a bit of culture shock as well.  Sadie kept saying look mom a lady with bananas on her head.
Once we arrived in Jinja we checked into the apartment which is our new home for the next few weeks.  It is nice with 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen.  This is where things begin to do a backflip for me.
The original plan was for the girls to stay at the baby house and for us to visit them daily until after court.  We would gain custody of them and bring them to the apartment in early October after Chad arrived.
Wow what a good plan,  God did not think so. If I must add at this point I have had approximately 10 hours of sleep in the past 3 days and some of the details are a bit fuzzy.  I will regret that later but that is just how it is.  After we were in the apartment a half hour Sadie was settling in well, unpacking, and finding all of the treats I had brought for her.  A lady that works for our adoption agency came by and said we will go get the girls in an hour.   GO GET THE GIRLS.  Wait.  What. It had been requested by someone unknown to me that I obtain immediate custody and by immediate I mean NOW.  So within alone being at our final destination for 2 hours I had the girls.  We went to the baby house to pick them up.  Had a very short introduction, changed their clothes, and off we went.
So, as I sit here and write this there are three little girls in the other room all asleep in the same bed.  Not what was expected but far sweeter than I could ever imagine.
For the first few hours we all sat around and looked at each other.  Sadie and I were both in this stunned, sleep deprived state, yet somehow able to remain composed.  The girls are overwhelmed and that shows.  They are starting to warm up with us.  Sadie has shared all of her toys with them.  Then the power went out.  And we sat in the dark for a few hours.  Around 8:30pm the electricity came back on and the lady that runs the guest house cooked us some dinner.  It was wonderful we ate 2 whole plates of fried chicken and fries.  Comfort food was just what we need.  The girls ate with these huge smiles on their faces.  Shortly after dinner I was able to get them to go to sleep.  I think them going to bed easy was a Gift God gave me today.
Anyways, I am exhausted and I am sure tomorrow will be another adventure.  More to come.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Plan

As the big day approaches our house has become total chaos.  I was blessed yesterday by some amazing ladies from our church.  They spent most of yesterday at our home packing us.  I am so grateful to have an organized person come in and pack my bags.  I have been a bit overwhelmed, so this was a wonderful gift.  As we got started packing the kids got crazy.  Kids can just sense disorder and then they take it to the next level.  At one point both of the kids were lying in suitcases and had packed their most valuable possessions with them.  I of coarse was unable to locate a camera in the craziness to get a photo.  I think in all, including Chad, Nolen, and Nancy, we will have 7 large suitcase, 3 carry-ons, 6 backpacks, and 2 umbrella strollers.
In the morning we will head to the Nashville airport with some friends.  There is a couple here whose flight leaves just before mine.  They are going to visit some family.  We are going to give them a ride to the airport with us and they are going to assist me through the check in procedures.  
Our flights are Nashville to JFK in New York. We then go to Amsterdam and onto Entebbe, Uganda.  Our flight in Uganda lands at 10:00 at night.  Once we land in Uganda we will drive to Kampala and spend the night.  The next day we will get up and take a several hour car ride to Jinja.  We leave Wednesday morning and will make it to our final destination sometime on Friday.  Please pray for safe travels during this time.



Thursday, September 1, 2011

Beginning to Pack

With less than one week left before myself and Sadie leave for Africa our house has become a bit crazy.  I am trying to pack for us and get everything ready for Chad, Nolen, and Nancy's trip.  The things you need to take when you are going to Africa for 7 weeks with four toddlers is just a bit much for me to wrap my mind around.  I am also finding it difficult to find a place to put all this stuff to keep the kids and dogs out of it.  Normally when getting ready for a trip I make a list of things to take and things to do.  For this trip a list just will not do.  I have a binder.  Yes an entire binder of things to take care of before leaving and things not to forget to pack.
It is like trying to get ready to have twins.  I have been told that this is a feat in itself.  However, add to it the fact that we are preparing to spend 2 months in an underdeveloped country with 4 toddlers.  Just thinking about it gives me a headache.