About Me

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Maine, United States
Happily married for 14 years- celebrating the reality that our children are home

Monday, May 30, 2011

"mamma wange"

pronounced like "mamma wan-gay"  
it means my mommy
Jonny had asked for his Momma Wange several times the first week he spent with us.  Benny never did, to my knowledge.  Right from the first week Benny consistently referred to me as Momma Benny and then they both started doing it.  [meaning Johnny also started calling me "Momma Benny"] In fact, the nanny at the first place we stayed would jokingly tease Benny because he said/whined it so often.  In Uganda, you are often referred to as Momma-your-1st-born's-name.  So for example, my mom would be called Momma Rachel etc.  You can be called Momma-any-one-of-your-children's-names depending on the situation, but it is usually the 1st born.  Benny called me Momma Benny and referred to me that way when he was talking to other children as in: give me back my toy or I'll tell Momma Benny on you! 

our boys playing w/Deyo who lives there w/his momma
The Wednesday before we left, we were out longer than anyone expected and had left the boys at "home" in the compound with their friend Deyo and his mamma.  We had asked her to watch them since the 3 boys got along so well and she happily agreed.  We mistakenly thought we'd be out for just a couple of hours and why drag the boys along when they could have a great day playing?  When we got back I was tackle-hugged with exuberant shouts of "Momma!! Momma!!"  To my delight Deyo's momma reported that the boys were asking for Momma Wange all afternoon!  It made me smile to think how quickly that had happened.  I was their momma not because I was a female who was taking care of their needs. (like in the orphanages in Jinja)  This woman spoke their language and looked a lot more like them than I ever will and they were asking her for me all afternoon!  That was soothing to a tired momma's heart after a hard day.

Yesterday I received an email saying that Benny is asking for his Momma Wange.  That's me.  He is asking to be brought back to his Momma Wange.  I am asking for the same thing.  I want to be brought back to my Benny Wange and my Johnny Wange.  I referred to them that way while we were with them.  I would scoop them up and kiss their necks and say Johnny Wange or Benny Wange.  Also if they were sad I would hold them and call them MINE in their own language.  I wanted them to know that they were my babies.  I am glad I did it so often.  So far they still remember.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

a smidge of news from the boys

Nothing unexpected.  They miss us too. That is good. At least they miss us and aren't glad to be home.  Not sure if that makes me feel any better...maybe a little. Knowing the ones you love love you back feels nice.  Knowing they have to keep missing you for at least the next 11 weeks, not so good.  And a nagging feeling of when I get back in all those weeks from now will they still miss me like they do today?
Here is the email I received this afternoon in it's entirety:

My mum says the boys are fine. They are trying to adjust back to not being you with you but it's been a bit tough for them because they really miss you. Especially Ebenezar who perodically cries and asks to be taken to you. But otherwise they are in good health and God is keeping them well. My mum requested me to ask you whether processing of the documents is proceeding well and how you are doing. Have a good day. Greetings to Norm.
sad face Benny (this was in the 1st place we stayed)

Our lawyer says that the Ugandan courts take off for holidays until end of August so there's not much chance of anything happening b4 then.  other than that though all of the paperwork we handed in to him before we left was acceptable and in good order. 

pre-K school photo?
scared to swim: look at those eyes!
So that is the update from Uganda.  I can take leave from work starting after August 9th.  The court date won't be at least until late August.  I will want to go as soon as possible, but that will probably mean weeks of being there if I go earlier in August.  My thought is that lots of people are waiting now and lots of them will get pushed til after the court holiday so we will not necessarily be the 1st in line the day the judges get back from vacation.  Just trying to keep it real and face facts. 

day 1: playing alone- but they don't even have each other now
The fact is: those babies miss their mommy and daddy and they're going to have to keep missing us from right where they are for the time being. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

How to Survive in the meantime: Step 1: start to feel something

Things happened while I was away for a month.  Significant things.  Things that changed other people's lives.  Big things.  Events, even.  hard things, fun things, sweet and special and wonderful things... should those things matter to me?  probably.

My homeroom -and some other very special students as well- are graduating this year .  I am glad that I am not going to miss the event next Sunday, but not AS glad as I would be to be there showing off my babies to all my colleages and former students.
my place at the wedding

A very dear friend of ours is getting married tomorrow.  This is a big thing.  They are celebrating all weekend.  I am genuinely happy for them.  But not the same happy I would have been if my boys were in attendance at the wedding with us as I has thought they would be.  There are different kinds of happy...one is not necessarily less sincere than another.  But they do differ in intensity.
Day 1: instant family: just add bubbles
sick baby boy. 1st day- tired after playing ball
Have you experienced love at 1st sight or a time when you "just knew" somebody was "the one"...I hope you have because it is a tender and faith-building moment.  How could you believe anything but that there is Someone our there bigger than you orchestrating your life?  How else could those moments be possible?  There was no warming up time, really.  we were a love at first sight family.


If Jonny hadn't been sick when he met us I think it would have been a solid month of joy and family bonding.  I say that not from some fairy dust rose-colored-glass perspective but because the day we met them (Easter Sunday) we walked them to end of their road and as they started down their road they both were turning and waiving but it was Jonny that broke into a run and headed back towards us.  Day 1.  don't leave us.  we wanna stay with you.  After lots of kisses and promises of "we'll play again tomorrow" they let us go.
Day 1: is that it?  are you really leaving us?
How is it that you can find the rest of your heart in the most unexpected places?  I know you have asked yourSELF that question at some point along the way.  You must have.  Love is a many splendor'd thing.
 Everything reminds me of them.  I know this is a normal part of grieving.  And while Knowledge may be Power; it is not an analgesic.  

"meant to be" family moment
During seasons of great loss the faith in "meant to be" is all that maintains sanity.  Touching the touchstones with the hands of your memory..."okay THAT day I was sure this was meant to be; so it still is." you tell yourself.  For months now when a setback happened I have repeated audibly to myself.  "I have not had control of this from the beginning and this is no different.  I need to continue to trust."  [let me just tell you...easier said than done barely scratches the surface of indicating how hard that is to live out.]

naps on the ride to Kampala.  no safety seats.  no rules at all.
For those of you who can't bear the though of your child going to a sleepover because you think, what if he needs something and I can't give it to him or the other parent doesn't treat him how I would or he gets scared or wets the bed or gets hurt... (you get the idea).  Well, it is safe to say that you would not be holding together right now if you were us.  I will leave it at that.  Or worse: What about those of you -- and you know who you are -- who want to control (and usually do) each and every morsel that goes into your child's mouth or disinfect every surface he comes into contact with and can't even let them out of your sight with out prayer and fasting and anxiety medication.  I was thinking of you while I was there watching my boys eat food that had been dropped on the floor (and not always recently) and lick every bit of the sticky goodness off their hands when they got a sweet treat and riding in the car with no safety measures etc.  You all especially need to lift us up in your hearts because we left our boys and have no control over anything that happens to them for months.  We saw where they live, I went into their homes and we still waived goodbye to them and walked away because we. had. no. choice.
the last time I saw them

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

beauty in chaos: they're just like us but different

Ok admit it.  You have felt sorry for yourself before.  Haven't you?  I sure have.  Even while in Uganda surrounded by people whose lives are so so much worse than mine that there is no comparison even on my worst of the worst of the saddest days.  Because that's just a day or a few days of my life and then I can go home, but they live here.  This is as good as it gets...EVER.  There isn't anything to look forward to for them.

Now do NOT hear me saying that our pain is somehow less important because we don't live in the 3rd world. I am not saying that we should live in guilt for the wonderful, blessed life that we have.  Also not saying that we are not allowed to experience loss or allow ourselves to simmer in it and really ache and acknowledge that our lives are hard or that our pain is real. 

We were born into a safe, blessed, wealthy, healthy place.  Every second of our lives is OF COURSE not characterized by those words, but in general that is where we live.  We didn't have anything to do with the location of our birth.  No one can choose where to be born. 

What if you were born in the dirty darkness of a mud hut in Uganda.  You may have never really felt full in your entire life.  So many people you know would have died from diseases that are barely a problem over here.  But you would still be you, with all the dreams and hopes and creative drive.  What would you do?  The woman who owns the shop above decided not to give up.  She is being who she was made to be and making things beautiful even surrounded by poverty, smog, burning trash, cockroaches, political riots and whatever else.  Her sign made me smile and feel like it is worth it to shine right where I am.

Be inspired to make things beautiful with the life you were given.  (and forgive me if you feel preached at...my heart is heavy with what I have seen, heard, smelled, tasted, touched and it's gotta come out.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

the bunnies are waiting & life goes on

benny in momma's glasses (hannah on the floor)
before we left the compound Friday evening in Uganda, we carefully packed away the boys' bunnies and blankets for safe keeping.  They love those bunnies (and it seems the feeling is mutual).  slept holding them tightly every night.  carried them around in the morning while sleepiness was still strong in the air.  beat them up.  gave them repeated "fist pounds" -while shouting "bonga"- took them on rides on the trikes.  gave them loud kisses "mmmwah!"  beat daddy with them.  the bunnies have a lot of good memories to hold them over during the long wait in the dark of the box in the closet.  they are being stored in a former water bottle box until their owners return. (see below) it wasn't safe to send them "home" with the boys since they would most certainly be ruined and nasty in a matter of days.  that's the thing about stuffed toys, they are always ready when you are.  they'll be ready when we get back.  then they'll hear Jonny's voice say "Quata, Benny, dolly!"  (Benny take your bunny.)  Being the older brother he likes to distribute things to the younger and acts very impatient when Benny is not quick enough to respond or isn't paying attention to him. :)
bunnies heading for storage

work was brutal yesterday.  plain and simple it was just hard to be functioning at any capacity, but we managed.  The Bruins won game 5.  That was the highlight of the day, I suppose.

Send peace and caffeine filled thoughts our way

Sunday, May 22, 2011

photos and a video

week 1 - John/Hayden already happier
Day 1-Benny/Garak never looked back
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vb8AMf8xURE  We watched this on the evening news while we were there.  Yes really.  This is how poor they are.  It is worth it to her to do this because she is that desperate to keep her kids (as in goats) alive. 

78 days and counting

Already counting the days til I can go back and get my babies...
August 9th is my 1 year anniversary at the bank and when I can take paid adoption leave.  It is honestly nice to be home in some ways but it feels odd not to see banana & palm trees and to feel cold in the spring weather.

Our lawyer let us know that it could be weeks before he could secure a date with judges being reassigned to other place to take care of political petitions etc.  We obviously couldn't wait an indefinite amount of time. 

You're probably all wondering how we're doing... we don't know the answer to that, honestly.  Not good of course, but we are still numb and just in survival mode.  we are both heading to work tomorrow so pray for strength.  This week should just be about doing what absolutely Must be done and nothing else.  Thanks for reading and caring and replying.  I will keep you all updated here even during the interim.  I have lots more pictures so I will add those and tell some more stories in the upcoming days as I have the energy to do so.


is it better to have loved and lost?

Benny w/his gramma (in red) & Jonny w/his auntie when they came to pick them up Friday afternoon.

All of us together just before the boys went home.  We sent them with all their toys, snacks, clothes coloring and art stuff so they weren't too sad.  Also they could not have understood what was happening.  They each have a family photo as well.

they're outside the gate and we're inside. "bye mamma"

my shadow in the doorway. 

through the peephole I was blowing kisses (something they love to do with me) and they ran back to say goodbye.  Elizabeth is on the right.

Saturday afternoon: home to the fresh cool air in Maine

Friday, May 20, 2011

court date concerns

our lawyer just called to say he is having trouble fixing our court date because the judge we were assigned is going to Jinja next week.  the irony there is that our 1st court date was in Jinja and the judge from there was reassigned to another city.  He said he is staying around to try and see if he can get us assigned to another judge.  That is his intention right now.  for all you early risers, please pray that he can get the date fixed today!!  Most of you won't be awake b4 end of business today here.  IF we don't get a court appearance next week that tacks on another week at minimum to our stay... :'(  we really can't afford that financially or emotionally. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

and this is why it's still worth it

this is Garak in his true form.  he is a little ham.  very silly and giggles a lot!
Hayden loves to draw and keeps saying "cho-ko-la-beh" which means look at this. he is very proud of his work!

you're unique: just like everyone else

The Embassy says we're special and they recognize that we have reasons to need things hurried up, but not any more special than anyone else.  Our trip yesterday was so that we could give them all they needed for their investigation as to the orphan status of the boys.  They are required to investigate the report written by the local social worker and also the death certificates of the parents...basically to do their due diligence that the boys are not being trafficked etc.  Usually they won't start that until you already have the court ruling giving you legal custody.  However in this case with all of the delays they have be allowing people to hand in all documents save that ruling so they can do the part that takes the longest while we also wait for the court hearing.  Shockingly efficient for this place!  it was a struggle to get all the necessary papers but yesterday was a huge moment when we handed them in.  Then she told us that the week we need to do our final interview they are only available to speak with us on Wednesday since Monday is memorial day and Friday is martyrs day (a Ugandan holiday) and they honor both countries' holidays.  And they will only see US citizens needing to adopt on m/w/f.  Ugandans can be seen for their visas any day of the week, however.  We get no special treatment as citizens in our own Embassy.  We can be angry about it but there is nothing that can be done.  We said what if we talk to our senator in the US.  She replied, "go ahead if that will make you feel better.  At least you could feel like you were doing something."  She penciled us in for the Wed of memorial day week but said that she was already full that day and someone else would have to cancel for her to see us that day.  This would push us to the following Monday and then it takes 48hrs for us to receive the visa after she interviews us and the guardians.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

guess what woodchuck chuckers? ...it's ground hog day!!

yes indeedy!  every day is like the one before and you lose all sense of the passage of time and no matter how many times you try to end it...you wake up in the same place and nothing has changed...we're think of starting piano lessons...we haven't started robbing banks...but we could use a little more life insurance...BING!!!

we dropped off our necessary documents at the Embassy so they can start our process now which will speed up the process down the road.  long tiring day.  rest tomorrow. no appointments.  daddy bought a soccer ball today so tomorrow should be good!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

victory

wanted let you know that the lawyer, Cornelius, called us at 5pm with the death certificates in his hand!  take that! we fought hard and won!  thank you GOD!  now all is in place for our appointment tomorrow AM at the Embassy.  please pray for us before you sleep because we will be finished with our appointment before you get up!we have to bring the boys with us so pray for their peace and contentment as well.  It will be pretty boring for them.  i am having trouble uploading photos from this new computer.  I will do my best to get more on here soon.

the battle is already won


What to say…wow.  That’s a start.  Yikes…
Ok so our day was interesting to say the least.  There was no power in the entire town all day yesterday as I said.  We spoke to a girl right nearby who has a print shop where you can bring a jump drive and get things printed out.  She said she’d be there at 7am today and if there was power we could get all the forms we needed printed out.  We got up around 6:30 because we had an 8am appointment with the probation officer and the guardians to get all the corrected and edited (by me by the way) documents signed so we can have our petition filed in court with documents that are not full of errors.  That was our plan.  It helps to have a plan even when it deteriorates into a rough outline and then a hope.  At least you knew what you were shooting for when you miss.  So let’s say we had an outline of our day that looked something like this.
Before 8 am – wake, take boys to bathroom (or “pit loo” as our hostess called it), dress and feed them and ourselves, pack the backpack full of snacks, water and lots of distracting things for the boys.  Have everything we need for the official paperwork stuff for the day set to go.
8AM – meet with probation officer at his office. A very short walk from here to his office.  This should be quick.  Have he and the guardians sign all the necessary forms.
By 9am – have all the forms signed and filled out. Bring the forms to the town office to be signed and then be off to the lawyer’s office by 10
10am – our driver will bring us to our lawyer’s office in Kampala as we arranged yesterday
11am – arrive in Kampala with everything the lawyer asked us for and be filled with a sense of accomplishment
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED
6:30 –up and at ‘em
7:30 – completely ready to go with everything we needed for the day we left the compound and walked around the corner to the print/copy shop.  She wasn’t there.  Hummm. What a shock.  The shopkeeper next to her stall was there and he said there was another place not far. 
7:36 --So we walked down to the main road and in the first set of shops was a print and copy shop that was still locked up.  A man walked out from the back and we asked him about getting something printed.  He said he’d ask the owner and disappeared inside.  A few minutes later we heard the shop being unlocked from the inside.  Unfortunately that was a junk shop next to the shop we needed and we were informed that the print shop owner wasn’t coming today. 
7:46 – walk back to the original shop (which is in the direction we are to be heading for our meeting) still locked up. 
7:50 --I go just a bit further to our friend’s house who is supposed to be walking us to the office for our meeting.  Her maid says she’s home and tries to get her for me.  No one comes out.  After several minutes I go back out of her compound and see that the print shop girl is opening her shop.
8am –(our meeting should be starting now and I have no papers to sign and  no one to walk me to the meeting) we tell the girl what we need copied.  She seems confused.  I help her get the file I need off of the jump drive.  She starts printing it out and the copier gets a jam.  While she is fixing that some men come over and she starts working on their stuff even though ours isn’t done.
8:05 – my friend calls and says there’s no rush because she got a call from the probation officer and he won’t be at his office for another hour.  One would think that would give us plenty of time to get 4 copies of 2 documents and 2 copies for 4 letters done…one would think.
8:45 – she printed out the document but the formatting had all moved bc her program must have been different then the one I edited on so the heading for the next pg was on the end of the last etc.  So I edited that all but we hit print before we hit save and it printed wrong again.  While I was editing it a 3rd time and the power went out.  I nearly assaulted the woman verbally or physically at that point.  I wanted to cry scream or injure someone or maybe all of the above.  Norm just waked away looking like he wanted to do the same… how can this be?  How can it be this bad?  How can it be this hard to do something that would take me 15mins in my own kitchen at home?  Can this really be how hard this is going to be everyday?
8:50 – after paying for the pile of messed up crappy documents that would not serve my needs I walked to my friend’s house in despair.  Norm and I were very near tears and our day was still very young.  We had a lot that NEEDED to be done and now power was out again maybe for the entire day!
9:00 – we walk with our friend to another print shop but there wasn’t any power.  Our friend flags down a boda boda (motorbike taxi) and explains to take Norm to a place with a generator and a printer!!  He is about to lose it but gets on the bike because; it is try that or have nothing.  The look on his face as he drives off tells me to pray HARD!! 
9:05 -- My friend, the boys and I start to walk to the office to wait for our appointment.  I am thankful that Benny walks so slowly so that I can cry with out her seeing me. 
9:10 --We get there and the social worker/probation officer has still not arrived.  I’m praying hard for Norman
9:20 – one of the guardians arrives (we had given them both taxi money the day before so they’d be on time. They were asked to be there at 8:30) still praying for Norm and trying not to cry on front of everyone
9:30 – we’re told we can wait in the probation officer’s office -he’ll be here any minute
9:45 – the 2nd guardian arrives and the probation officer/P.O. and Norman just with in a few minutes of eachother. 
9:50 – we’re all in his office now.  Norm hands the whole giant still-warm un-collated stack (19pgs x 4) to the officer because he is so flustered.  I take it back and pull out a report and hand it to him to read over so he can see the changes I made.  While he is reading I have to collate and staple all the individual documents within the stack –around 12 docs.  Norm explains that the 1st place he went didn’t have power so he was taken to the post office which has a generator and he had to pay a decent amount but he did get it all done correctly.  There are also affidavits that the guardians need to sign.  The guardians can’t read very well and not in English barely at all so I am thinking that the P.O. can help them and then they’ll sign.  He looks at the docs and says no they must be signed in front of a lawyer.  You’ll have to bring these women to the lawyer’s office with you.  We all groaned in disbelief.  That was not a happy thought for any of us.  So we left there with at least the forms signed by the P.O.  sadly we though we’d be heading out  of town by now. 
10:20-- The driver arrives to pick us up.  5 adults and 2 boys pile into a sedan and we’re off. 
10:30 – arrive at town office with docs we were told were necessary to get a signature.  We are told they can’t help us because we need the local district chairman to fill out the forms and sign and stamp them.  We try to push them and they say that is the only way it can be done.  I call the lawyer with the last of my phone credits (most phones here are like a track phone).  He is in court and unavailable his aide says. 
10:31 - I think about what good it would do to throw the fit that is happening on the inside of me.  I decide against it.
10:35- arrive at the chairman’s office (be aware that we have been to his office twice already for the same purpose and had him fill out other forms and wrote letters that we were told was ALL WE NEEDED last week and yesterday)  he isn’t there either.   He’s come and he’ll be here soon they tell us. 5mins. We ask what that really means. They say maybe 30mins or so.  We give the boys a lollypop and get out their art stuff. They sit on the floor and color.  I ask the chairman’s assistant (who we saw yesterday and who speaks very good English and whom we talked with quite a lot about America.) if he would please translate and explain the irrevocable release forms to the guardians so they could sign them in good faith.  He was happy to help.  That was a great blessing and a good use of time.  They both were nodding and “uh huh” ing their approval as he read off and translated each bullet point for them and he helped them sign and date them.  They needed help spelling the month in English etc.  That killed some time and then since the chairman was still not there, I started filling out the forms he needed to sign and stamp for us.  I had to get all the info from the ladies which was a bit of a challenge with the language barrier, but we managed…hey we had time to repeat ourselves if nothing else!  During this hour I also bough more phone time and called the lawyer’s office back and spoke with his assistant and also our lawyer once he got out of court.  I expressed our extreme frustration in that this was NOT what he originally told us we needed to do but was a LOT more involved.  All of this is jeopardizing our visa application appointment tomorrow because we need to have death certificates of the parents in order to get the visas and we need these forms to get the death certificates.
11:30 -- the chairman arrives… smiling.  We are thrilled to see him and he genuinely wants to help us.  He is good man just a busy one.  He looks the forms over help us fill in the last blanks
12:00 noon --, stamps them and sends us all on our way. 
12:05 – our driver (who has a 1:30 appointment and so we are also trying to think about how we can get ourselves to the lawyers office while all this other stress mess is happening) takes us (7 people) back to the town office. 
12:10 – Norm is distracting the boys with snacks while their guardians leave.  Some how we manage to avoid the usual meltdown that separation causes.  Our driver is dropping them home and then coming back for us.  We have the papers and we’re told they are filled out incorrectly.  But the office worker there just tells me to cross them out and tells me what to write to make it correct.  It all set now but the town clerk is STILL NOT AT WORK!!
12:15 – we’re told where to sit and wait for him indefinitely.  I again consider the tantrum.
12:16 – As I walk out to the porch were we can wait, I see an angel shaking Norm’s hand.  I do a double take.  What is HE doing here??  It is our lawyer.  He works an hour away.  He looks up at my surprised face and says, “didn’t you get my text?  I said I was coming.”  I grabbed my phone, still stunned, and he said “there’s no reason to retrieve it now, I’m here. What do you have completed?”  I felt the realization hit me that his presence where we were meant we didn’t have to drive to his office.  A wave of relief hit us both.  We showed him everything.  It all looked great to him.  We tell him his showing up is a miracle.
1pm --He went in and ruffled some feathers to get the guy we needed to actually show up in this lifetime.  We’re told “5mins”
2pm – the town clerk arrives
2:15 – we have the papers we need in hand.  The lawyer offers to drop us home.
2:30 – we are “home” not having eaten since breakfast at 7:15.  Norm nearly passes out. 
2:35 -- Our host peaks in our doorway and says “have you eaten? come and have lunch.”  I almost kiss her.
3pm – we’ve all eaten well and Norm is in bed…where he still is at 4:30as I write this.  The boys are playing with the maid’s son, Deyo, who is about 6yrs old. 
Conclusion: all documents are complete.  Our petition will be filed with the court by tomorrow.  Our court date will be confirmed at that time.  We will stop by his office early in the morning to get a few things we need for the US Embassy appointment tomorrow AM.  We feel as if we have been in a physical hand to hand battle just to get the smallest things done.  These boys must be pretty important, because someone doesn’t want them to leave. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

traveling at the speed of a distracted snail

our new diggs
So we found out today that some of the good work that we did last week was a waste of time.  What a shock, I know I am stunned that we would have actually wasted our time on something here!  Last week we spent hours at a local chairman's office to get letters we needed proving residency and orphan status of the boys.  These letters were required in order to get official death certificates printed up, a US Embassy requirement. Births and deaths are rarely registered here as a rule.  Today we received a call from our lawyer.  When they requested the death certificates they were told the letters weren't done quite right and also there's another step required where we need to have the papers registered at the town office.  Seems simple enough if you live in the US.  We found the chairman in his office and he was his pleasure to help us again.  He knows the boys and their families and said he was once like they were and had no one to help him and if could help us in any other way to just let him know.  So that was great.  The trouble is that no one has had power all day.  As in not one store in town had power.  Try to imagine that and then you MAY realize how life is here and why no one is in a hurry.  Things literally cannot be accomplished and there's nothing you can do about it.  Our lawyer wanted us to drive all the way into the city to his office and pick up the forms but I asked if he could scan and email them which he did.  There was no point to that however since we can't print them out.  There is a print shop about 10 steps outside our gate but without power it is just a tease.  How does anything get done here you may ask...we ask that a lot too. the answer is very slowly if at all.

SIGH

The woman we are staying with has friends staying here as well.  They are staying inside the house (as opposed to we who are outside in a little apartment) and are really great people like our hostess is.  They left their life in England for a 6mo. commitment to come and support her work.  We a tired and discouraged but are not giving up. 
I have pix of the boys but am having trouble w/the internet so I will be thankful I can even do this much and call it a day.  It is nice to know you are there and that you care about us so far away from home.

"I was never much for roller coasters" or "Adoption take 2"

Couldn't decide which name to give this blog.  other than those 2, "opposed at every turn" "the truth is a rare and wonderful thing" "all's well that ends well" may have worked as well.  The lyric "you give and take away but my heart will choose to say Lord blessed be your name" is quite fitting for yesterday's experience.  All's well that ends well.  Our day ended well.

If you can recall a time when you could sense that you were getting personal attention from a being working against all the good you were trying to do, you can relate to our experience yesterday.  Witchcraft is quite rampant here.  A lot of darkness permeates the culture.  Child sacrifice is common as well as other unpleasant things.  Until you have been here, is seems cheesy to say you can feel the heaviness in the air, but you really can.

Yesterday we rode quite a roller coaster.  Church was great!  We went to the early service and were encouraged by the music and message.  We returned from church to our host saying he needed to talk to us and -in a non-direct way- asking us to leave his house.  Hours later after much stress that I honestly don't want to rehash... we were literally without a place to stay and had no prospect for the night except to walk down the street to a friend of Elizabeth's place and ask to stay.  I was not comfortable with this at all but it was literally our only option.  As we were walking (with Elizabeth- our 1 true ally here) around the corner from Elizabeth's house we were passing a beautiful property that I had admired last time we came to see Elizabeth.  In my heart, not out loud, I said "this place looks so nice I wish we could stay here." She intended to continue, but said something like "let's ask here.  this is a nice lady."  we knocked and a British woman opened up and invited us in.  We explained our somewhat desperate situation and she said she was pretty well booked up (she has several out buildings as well as her main house)  Her house is so beautiful.  Everything is quality and she is such a generous and dear person!  She and her husband had been living here for years and they have worked with orphans and the poor for all that time.  He recently passed and she is still here doing good.  I was holding back tears from our very stressful day and almost lost it when she said she'd move some things around and be happy to have us stay with her.  She didn't want to talk about price.  When we asked she replied, "just go and get your things and you can eat supper with us tonight."  The house felt so safe.  The air felt so light and clean.  We slept so peacefully.  HOORAY!! She's a missionary.  We talked about faith and prayed over our meal together.  God is good all the time.  more later.  off to feed the ever hungry boys

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A family outing day

the power came back on just in time for us to watch the news...not the most encouraging thing to watch in any country but in a 3rd world country it makes you question yourself as to why you are still here!  [http://af.reuters.com/article/ugandaNews/idAFLDE74D05U20110514] please keep praying hard for our safety.  There is not a cure for this.  Yikes what a tough place to live!  Death is a part of life anywhere of course but here it is more like a way of life.  It is so sobering.  We watched a man get beat by a mob on the news tonight because some people thought he may have stolen a bike.  You watch the news and part of you wants to say how can these people be so violent etc. But them you see 50% unemployment and see where they live and how they must live just to survive and you instead ask, how would I act if I lived here since I was born?

While the house was being fumigated for mosquitoes today I took the boys to get new shoes.  They cost 14,000 shillings (or $7) for both pair together.  The boys were singing about their new shoes a few minutes later.  Translated the song went somethings like "I'm wearing the new shoes that mommy bough for me" this was chanted over and over with big smiles. 

We had good communication with out lawyer today and he emailed us the documents he had edited and corrected for us to look over.  Unfortunately we lost power soon after so hopefully we can finish editing them tomorrow and get them resigned Monday.  Please pray specifically that we will find the probation officer/social worker in his office and able to sign the papers we need signed. 

redeeming the time

wow I finally have access to the blog and the power is still on so here I go w/ a quick update.  I don't believe a day has gone by that we didn't lose power.  for all you sci-fi fans, you've heard the term "an interruption in the space-time continum."  Well that is pretty much how we feel.  Just the ups and downs hurry-up-and-wait-y-ness of it here is enough to drive you over the edge at times.  For example finding out there was something important we needed to do yesterday but we didn't find out til 5pm and since it was Friday afternoon we can't do anything about it until Monday.  Couple that with the heat and learning to be patient with 2 2yr olds who can't speak English.....and, yeah, there are some hard moments. 

Today we woke up w/3 mosquitos inside the net :( so pray against malaria!  I made pizza last night from scratch!  What a nice change!  Our diet here is about 80% starch (Pastor Scott, you'd love it here!)  The stuffed bunnies took their first bath yesterday.  Even w/o a dryer they turned out ok.  Our boys have a very hard time sharing, normal 2yr olds do, but people who have never had anything nice have an even harder time.  If you are getting gifts for them, a tip: duplicates in different colors is a great idea.  Meaning get one boy the green car and one boy the same car in blue etc.  They love toy cars, ride-on toys like a tricycle and playing outside kicking the ball around.  They are definitely going to need stuff to climb on and jump off of like a swingset/jungle gym etc. 

Even though we have a new lawyer who is very great, [for the curious: http://cms-advocates.com/] this will still be a huge miracle to have completed in just a few more weeks so continue to ask for miracle on our behalf!!  We have an appointment to apply for our visa ahead of the court date which is great news!  we are going early Wednesday AM for that (remember we're 7hrs ahead of you on the East coast) pray that every single necessary document is deemed acceptable and we can move forward with speed.  Also ask God that our lawyer will feel a strong sense of urgency and compassion for us because of our prior bad experience and will honestly do his very best to expedite our case. 

Also, we don't want to wear out our welcome with our hosts.  Pray for favor with them also.  They were pressed into service in a sense because they are related to the person we were originally going to be staying with but it was her 50th anniversary celebration the week we arrived and she had house guests.  They have a 4 yr old son (turning 5 in a few weeks) who is perhaps a bit sick of not being the baby and not getting his own way and having to share his toys etc.  He woke up grumpy this AM.  I can hear him whining right now as a type.  I'm sure it is hard for he and his sisters to have us here every day and also this is their last week of vacation before school starts up again for them.  Well it is 9am, time for breakfast. My boys woke up at 6:30 as they always do, but the maid doesn't serve until 9am. we usually  get food and serve ourselves but I wanted to write an update before we lose power which usually happens early on weekend days.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

leveling the mountains

The local pastor prayer over our family of 4 on Sunday that God would make the crooked places straight and level all the mountains and smooth the rough places.  I held that prayer close to my heart these days since then.  On Monday we decided to hire a new lawyer and had a great meeting with him.  On our way home, there was a LOT of traffic on the main road so our driver took a side road through a village (some pictures on the prior blog are from there).  It was a great idea except for the fact that they were repairing that road.  The traffic was extremely slow there too and it was a lot dustier!  Something struck me as symbolic about that physical detour we took with those words still ringing in my ears. "He will make the crooked places straight and smooth the rough places" (this is from Isaiah).  I dared to hope that it could be a foreshadow of good things to come.  Tuesday we returned to the lawyers place and Wednesday as well.  By Wednesday we were asking...if we have gotten this much done in 3 days could we possibly make this work all in this one trip?  This guy is amazingly efficient...a VERY RARE quality in this country.  On Wednesday the entire country was concerned about the opposition leader returning to the country and everyone was poised near a radio wondering if the riots would break out any minute.  We, however, decided to head to our meeting w/the lawyer despite this situation and were rewarded by having almost NO traffic.  He actually needed some official documents from their hometown verifying the boys' orphan status  to be brought back to him so another miracle occurred. The chairman we needed to see was in his office and was able to write us the letters needed and officially stamp them and send us on our way.  Then we were able to take each guardian to her home and get their official ID cards so we could copy those to have on file.  Each woman invited me into her home and I was able to see where my babies used to live... I'll tell you about them in person.  John's home has 7 residents and 3 small rooms (kitchen, living rm, bdrm).  Benny's has 2 small rooms and 5 residents (both not including our boys in that count)

In short we have decided to stay here and see it through now.  We humbly ask for any support you feel you can offer.  Prayers and encouragement are wonderful as well as more tangible support as well.  love you all

our day in pictures

there are several geckos who live in the house. they are well fed w/all the bugs

blue lizard

out Norm's window on the way to Kampala yesterday. they have machine guns w/tripods

sad little child in a slum near the city

thirsty?  coke sold here

still asleep early morning

too funny not to share w/you! "topless pub and pork takeaway"


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Empty Handed

these soldiers are just a few meters from the end of our lane

armored car in Kampala. they shoot tear gas

our lodging. the top room is ours
So we met with our new lawyer today who is wonderful and just excellent and efficient and connected.  Our confidence in his abilities is very high and he is a huge answer to prayer.  We are not going to live in the past or feel regret etc.  We will return to Uganda to get the boys in a short time.  There were police and army personnel as well as armored vehicles out in full force in Kampala today.  Threats of riots and government shut down are imminent.  This is absolutely NOT a time to get anything done in a timely manner.  It doesn't make any sense to stay and keep not earning any income while waiting on a hope.  Our new lawyer could not give us a confident answer or any assurance that he could get a court date even if we extended the trip to the following week because of the political situation, so that is a pretty obvious closed door. Our original lawyer was promising things he had no way of delivering.

Elizabeth, the woman who found us the boys, will keep them at her house which is a great safe place.  It is nicer than many homes in the USA.  She has lots of space and is the mother of 10 and grandmother of several.  The family we are staying with is her daughter and son-in-law and 3 grandkids.  She is an elder at her church and a wonderful person who really loves these boys.  They know her and are very comfortable with her.  Also the 3 kids here whom the boys are great friends with are over at her house all the time since she is close by.  The boys will keep getting fed the great food and milk they have been getting since we arrived, so all is well.  We will SKYPE with them and be back in a matter of several weeks.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Reality is not for the faint of heart

we had a great day yesterday at church. it was very encouraging to worship our BIG HUGE GOD with His people/our family this far from home.  He is the same GOD in Uganda as He is in the US but they worship him in a way I have rarely seen on our side because they ACTUALLY need Him to sustain them each day.  We are so self sufficient.  it is amazing how we felt so connected even though we could only understand half of what was being said and sung.  The first 2 songs had me crying...the words were "we serve a miracle-working God" and "Things are already better because the Lord is on the throne...I'm already better...you're already better etc." It was hard to admit, to be honest, since my heart was breaking but I am better knowing that He is in control.  

the pastor prayed with us after the service the God would make the crooked places straight and level all the mountains and that we would find favor in all we do this week and that we'd have peace.  The mother's day aspect of the service was nice but bittersweet really  as I face the Reality of our situation. It does not look good at all.  Most likely we will return this Saturday as originally planned but w/o the boys.  I literally feel physically ill as I type that but I can't pretend that the situation is better than it really is just because I want it to be.  We could be here indefinitely.  Everything that had to do w/the paperwork was false about things being ready for our coming here.  We actually consulted with a new lawyer today who would need to start from scratch with our paperwork, but he is at least competent and professional. A refreshing change from our current situation.  we still don't have a court date but are told it may be possible to be heard in court this week.

There are several adoptive families who have been waiting ahead of us and there is no real reason why we should get to go ahead of them in line.  The government declared today that Thursday will be a national/public holiday --just arbitrarily...apparently this happens a lot-- so the courts will not be open.  Also the political opposition leader who caused all the riots is out of the hospital in Kenya and will be returning to Uganda with as much fanfare as he can muster to disrupt the swearing in of the current president.  so safety is also a concern.  

Every time the boys run up to me and say "Mamma!" or just come up to me for a hug or a kiss I feel worse.  What will they think when we leave them here?  We were discussing their possible accommodations with their guardians today.  We have to face facts. 

pool time. Garak was too scared to go in and Hayden hopped right in and was so brave I had to jump in fully clothed to rescue him

so hungry he ate the plate...jk

along the road

market

the sign says "welcome shmuck"  a priceless description of this place

this says it all. It is a billboard at a major rotary in the capital city. which is obviously not functioning correctly...what a shock...

Garak found his inner rap-star today when he discovered "bling"

happy daddy's boy

biggie smalls??