Last night’s party

October 31, 2008 at 11:22 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

the 'Diaper Cake'!

Wow!   What an evening it was last night, gathering together and celebrating what God is up to in the lives of these two little fellas (and in our lives too).   We had a wonderful group of friends join us downtown and we enjoyed visiting with each of you.       Thank you to our sweet hosts, Lyle and Carla, Paul & Lauren, Garvey and Carol, and Rob and Jan.    You guys made us feel so special and loved!!  (click on the diaper cake for more pictures of the night)

Being prayed for and blessed by dear friends is a gift beyond words and your enthusiasm and support for us is just overwhelming!

This whole journey sometimes feels surreal!   It still feels like somebody else’s life.   Our friend, Maridel Sandberg assured us last night that it will all feel very real in just a few short weeks!  The message she brought about the beauty of God’s purposes in adoption was such an encouragement to our hearts.   He is the first adopter of all…. He thought this up.   And He calls all of us to be involved in the plight of the orphan somehow – in some way.    Whether through supporting kids in a orphanage, or helping a missionary who helps those children, or perhaps providing foster care for a new baby whose mother is releasing him for adoption here in the states, supporting adopting families or adopting a child who needs a home and a future — There are so many ways to be part of God’s call to care for orphans.

God continues to provide the necessary resources to finalize our upcoming trip and we are awed to watch funds come in, frequent flier miles be donated, sweet gifts appear and prayers be lifted up on our behalf.  People have rallied around us in stunning ways.  Thank you – everyone – for walking with us and being part of bringing these two home.

Just the other day a dear friend contributed enough miles to fully purchase my (Lisa’s) round trip ticket to and from Entebbe!   What an amazing gift!
I have to admit, that there are times when I get nervous about how it’s all going to happen.   Will the legal process go smoothly?   Will my journey over there alone be ok?   Will the boys connect with me at all?    Will we be able to finalize our payments?   Will I remember all the details to leave for those watching our kids here in MN?     Then God reminds me of what He has said:

“My purposes will stand,
and I will do all that I please.”  Is. 46:10

What a ride!    What an amazing ride!

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WE ARE OFFICIAL GUARDIANS!!

October 28, 2008 at 12:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

From our Ugandan lawyer:

“The oral ruling was received today and it was in your favour,
Effectively you are now the Legal Guardians of Zachery and Philip.

The written ruling and the sealed Order should be out soon. Hopefully
by Wednesday or latest Friday.  We shall keep you posted.

Kind regards.”

The written ruling he mentioned will give us concrete permission to start the final documentation portion.   (Passports, visas, etc) .     Wow.    It’s happening!

I’m home, she is preparing to leave…

October 26, 2008 at 11:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I have been home a week now.  My Ugandan trip was a whirlwind marathon sandwiched between 2 large slices of work and it was taxing (but I would do it again if I had to).  After getting back from a work trip, I switched gears and put my coach’s hat on for the end of the season soccer (and volleyball) tournament.  Haley joined us from Chicago and we had a great time.  But I keep passing pictures of Phillip and Zach in our house wondering how they are.  Do they think I deserted them?  Do they remember me?  How soon can I see them again?  My constant prayer has been:  “God, knit their hearts to ours and ours to theirs.”  I believe that He is the God of all flesh and nothing is too difficult for Him.   Heart surgery is His specialty.

Now we are doing something different.  We are preparing for a solo trip (at least 2 weeks of it) for Lisa.  Leaving sometime in the first week of November, she will go to work on the remaining paperwork details in preparation for our final departure from Uganda.  Imagine taking the manager of a fairly busy enterprise out of circulation for 3 weeks total.  Imagine if, in her absence,  the work had to be done by job sharing among  a few people who are not as nearly as skilled at it as the manager.  That is what is about to happen to the Harding household.  While I will probably not resort to washing dishes with the garden hose in the grass (like Beaver did when his favorite uncle came to visit), I will still not be nearly as good as Lisa is at this huge task, especially considering that I will also be flying a trip or two while she is gone.

Please pray about these things:

  1. All the logistics of travel for Lisa (tickets, transport, lodging, schedule
  2. A spirit of peace and cooperation at home as we go without Lisa
  3. Health, courage and safety for Lisa

An open invitation

October 22, 2008 at 8:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dear friends of ours are generously hosting a celebration party for our family next week!   You are all invited to be a part of the drop in and join us for a short program in the middle.   We’ll share a little bit of what God has done in this process and pray towards the future that He has in store for us with Phillip and Zachary.     What fun it would be to see each of you!   The info is in the invite below — see you on the 30th!

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“Come and listen all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me …”

(Ps. 66:16)

Join the Harding family in celebration of God’s faithfulness and blessing in the impending arrival of their newest sons, Phillip and Zachary.
(arriving around Thanksgiving)

October 30th, 2008
7:00-9:30 pm
Our special guest speaker at 7:45 will be
Maridel Sandberg, President of Christian Alliance for Orphans

Grant Park Condominium
Fireside Room-Entry Level
500 East Grant St.
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Meter parking on Street

Desserts and coffee will be served.

Questions?  Contact Carla Zeller
czeller@charter.net or 612-799-8277

“Vindicate the weak and the fatherless.  Do justice to the afflicted and destitute”. Psalm 82:3

This event is also a fundraiser to help close the financial gap on adoption costs.
Thank you for considering partnering with us to bring these boys home!

a couple of new pictures!

October 19, 2008 at 9:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Isaiah 64:4 — “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”

We are in the last few weeks and sometimes the waiting seems super hard. On an emotional level, we are more than ready for these boys to be with us. On a logistical level, many things (legal, financial, organizational) still have to happen and the ‘type A’ in me is easily freaked out by the numerous uncompleted details. I know enough to recognize that as the old, familiar ‘sin of unbelief’. But I love the verse in Isaiah above. It reminds me that God is the one handling all those details. It soothes and re-encourages my faith. I am to wait on Him. Rest. Relax. Trust. Wait. He acts on behalf of those who wait.

Phillips plays with a rattle from home

Phillips plays with a rattle from home

Zach gets a bath

Zach gets a bath

a little soccer with Phillip

October 19, 2008 at 9:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Thought you’d enjoy some footage of Tague and Phillip playing soccer at Amani the other day! (sorry it’s a little blurry!)

Court Day!

October 16, 2008 at 2:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Court Date

Court Date

Well, it has been a long day.  Got up at 5 AM to finish packing and head over to Amani by 6 to check on the boys for our 6:30 A.M. taxi ride to Kampala.  It was a overcast, cool morning perfect for the 2 hour travel.  The boys were perfect, Zachary went to sleep and Phillip sat on my lap, had some crackers, mostly ignored my mini-beanie baby theater (until the walrus tickled his ear…that got a brief grin), and started talking some about “motorcars” as we hit Kampala traffic.  (prayer request number one overwhelming answered)

We stood, sat, played, read and waited for 2 1/2 hours and then were called to see the judge.  The boys did great during the waiting time (God gave us the grace to endure! (prayer request number two answered).  We stood out side the judges office in a line of prospective parents to be.  One couple went in and came out some minutes later quite happy.  We were called in next (myself, the boys, the foster coordinator, and our lawyer).  After some initial formalities and introductions, the questioning of the judge began.  I was asked about when I met the boys and to furnish some required documents (neatly categorized and arranged by my amazing wife).  Then the judge asked many questions of our lawyer (the kind of questions you would want a judge to ask who was interested in the welfare of the children) and then in what seemed abrupt to me she was done, and said would issue her oral ruling later this month.  Typically, the written ruling (the document that drives the final paperwork process) is issued 7 to 14 days after the oral ruling.  I guess since we don’t have the oral ruling yet that we would say that prayer request number 3 is still outstanding.  Prayer request number 4 was answered by giving me only 1 question.

We  finished at court headed over for lunch at my favorite pizzeria where we were joined by my friend Ben, who was a great help at the Passion Kampala conference and had just returned from helping out at the Passion Seoul conference!  We then headed to get passport and visa photos made of both the boys and then the end came quickly.  I had to say good bye to them at a mall entrance and quickly leave before I lost it.  It was really hard to leave them, more so than in June.  The end is close, but we still aren’t there.  Prayer requests 5 and 6 were also answered…I heard from the foster coordinator that the boys did fine and mostly slept on the way back to Amani.

I met several parents whose legal proceedings have hit major snags, causing huge changes to their travel plans and huge changes to their costs.  I am so grateful that we have dodged that to this point.  God has been with us every step of this path in ways that we have seen and probably many ways we have not seen. Whatever happens, we will continue to cling to Him and His promise “Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”  (Ps. 16:8b NASB).

I am hoping to get on an airplane tomorrow and fly home.  Which leads me to my next prayer requests:

  • Pray that even though I am flying standby, I get a seat on both flights tomorrow and that if possible, I don’t have to wait until the last minute to find out.
  • Pray that I am able to get a bunch of sleep on the flights home (really hard for me to do more than about 20-30 minutes at a time.)
  • Pray that the boys don’t think they were abandoned by me.
  • Pray for the timing of the written ruling and the need to arrange flights ahead of time to be sure we get seats.

Me and the boys, part 2

October 15, 2008 at 11:15 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Tague and Phillip

Tague and Phillip

 

I caught up with the boys just as they were finishing breakfast in their respective rooms (eggs, milk, and porridge).  Zachery was his usual charming self and Phillip was his usual quiet self.  Phillip has no problem with me picking him up or holding him, as a matter of fact, I think he prefers I hold him.  He just takes a while before he will give you any feedback.  Hopefully, with time, patience and the grace of God (mostly) we will begin to see more of who Phillip is.  

 

After breakfast I played with them both separately and we had a great time.  Phillip has been practicing his soccer skills a bunch…we play a game where my legs are the soccer goal and he slowly but steadily works the ball till he kicks it through my legs.  At that point a yell “GOAL!!!” and a great celebration ensues.  Phillip also likes to have his picture taken just so he can see it (not smiling most of the time, but likes to look anyway).  He now knows what pocket my camera is and has taken some pictures himself.  I have to tell him frequently that the camera needs a rest.

 

Zachery likes to make bubbles and motor noises with his tongue.  Generally happy go lucky and likes to mug for the camera.  We played with my hat and tossed him in the air to get him to giggle.  I laid down and laid him on my belly (which is probably smaller than his…wait till you see the pictures!).  He was genuinely content there.

 

I am trying to upload pictures on a precarious internet connection so I am not promising anything till I get home, but I am trying.  I had promised Phillip that I would come see him at dinner time and got there to be told he was crying.  He walked through the door into the big kid dinning room and saw me and just started balling.  His hands rolled up into little fist balls (not anger, it is his self protection mode, I have seen it before and it is heartbreaking).  The good news is that he came right to me and I picked him up and he started calming down quickly (other than that repeated, deep sniffle that shook his whole body).   I stayed with him until dinner was served and sat him down.  He didn’t seem to mind, so I came back to finish here.  Which leads me to prayer requests…

 

§      Pray for a smooth, peaceful trip to Kampala (2 hour ride, early in the morning).

§      Pray for a quick hearing or grace to deal with the waiting.

§      Pray for favor with the judge, she holds the future of these boys in her hands.

§      Pray for me to have the Spirit controlling my words and actions in court.

§      Pray that Phillip and Zachery wouldn’t be freaked out about riding in a “motor car”.

§      Pray for me and the boys as we say good bye and the 2 caretakers who have to deal with the aftermath of Phillip’s tears.

What I did sitting under the awning at the U.S. Embassy

October 15, 2008 at 1:47 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Psalm 1:1-3 & Jeremiah 17:7-8 Merged (NASB)

 

(A byproduct of my quiet time while waiting under the awning at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala)

 

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord and his delight is in the law of the Lord.

And in His law he meditates day and night.

For he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, a tree that extends it’s roots by a stream.

Which yields it’s fruit in it’s season and will not fear when the heat comes and it’s leaf does not wither, but it’s leaves will be green. 

And it will not be anxious in a year of drought, nor cease to yield fruit.

And in whatever he does, he prospers.

 

“Trust and obey, for there is no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

Frustrating to Fantastic

October 15, 2008 at 1:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Frustrating to Fantastic…

Oct. 14th, 2008

I started the day in Kampala with an U.S. Embassy visit (it was closed yesterday for Columbus Day). Got there early even, went to the front of the line as a U.S. Citizen, saw the man I was to see through the glass. When my turn came, I went into the cubicle with thick glass separating the Embassy representative and me. When she asked what I wanted, I told her who I was looking for and she said he was called out to a meeting and would I like to talk to his assistant. Sure, should be fairly straightforward. When she came and I started asking questions, she was honest to say that she wasn’t going to be much help answering them and that I could wait just a half an hour till he returned. Sure, 30 minutes wouldn’t hurt. I exited the cubicle and explained what the situation was to the man I will refer to as the “gate keeper”. He suggested I wait outside under the awning so I could catch the cool breeze. Sure, I like cool breezes. After about 45 minutes outside, an American couple walked up (holding a baby) and asking to see the same guy I was looking for…hmmmm, but they had to wait outside too. I could wait a little longer…then in about 15 minutes he called them, I walked up to him before they got there and made sure he knew the situation: I was here first, I was told to wait till the man returned from a 30 minute meeting, etc. and he said it would be fine. SURE, fine until that couple walked out having seen the guy I was waiting on (I asked them). The “gate keeper” and I had a discussion to “clarify” what was to happen next. He said that the man wasn’t back yet, and I let him know that the previous couple had JUST SEEN HIM. Knowing there are about 2 more visits to that very same office and not wanting to burn any bridges, I exercised some self control, sat down at the front of the line again (those people were real happy to see me) and watched as the guy I was to see waited on another guy who had come after me (he was already in the cubicle)…took him forever. Finally, I get to go in and talk to “the man” who was very helpful and probably save me a lot of later frustration. SO, at 11 AM, I was off to Jinja to see my boys at Amani.

That time was fantastic, quickly checked in at my Inn (right across the street) and went over to find all the kids napping. I showed the 2 Ugandans (Eddie and David) who drove me here the orphanage and pointed out my napping boys then they left back for Kampala and I went to get a quick bite to eat at the Inn. Then it was back to Amani to greet some of the staff and see the boys! Phillip is quiet and warms up to you. I had a kid-friendly picture book of our family that Lisa had made which include a family picture at Amani with all SEVEN of my kids when we worked at Amani after Passion Kampala. Phillip loved it, practiced the names, loved seeing his picture and clung tightly to the picture book even while we played soccer. I took a brief break from Phillip and went to visit Zachery with his picture book. He is a pretty happy kid overall and doesn’t miss many meals as evidenced by what looks like the world’s smallest beer belly. Feeling like it was critical to spend time connecting with Phillip, I went back to him and he sat in my lap mostly silent for about an hour, occasionally saying “motor car” or looking at the picture book. It seemed like he genuinely enjoyed me holding him. I talked to him about “football” and how he would be a great striker and we talked about striking technique a bit.

I put him on my shoulders and we spent the next 45 minutes to an hour trying trick shots with the soccer ball (Millipede alert!!!…. While I am typing this one of those long, black, African millipedes is making it’s way across my floor…don’t tell my wife! On closer inspection, it has an orange head and a yellow tail.) Back to Phillip, I had to set him down and go visit Zachery who was eating dinner. Phillip had nothing but a long, silent stare…makes me wonder what thoughts are behind those deep brown eyes. After assuring him that I would be back, I ventured into Zachery’s room where he was enjoying something that looked white and reddish-purple like what would happen if you mixed rice and beets. It was rice and a green vegetable called “booga” (unless Junior was pulling my leg). I saw them serve it, it was no kidding green out of the pot and within a couple of minutes, it had stained the rice reddish-purple. Anyway, they all loved it. After talking to him a bit, I went to catch Phillip’s group eating. He was still very quiet. Everyone knows that I am “Phillip’s daddy” and that he is going to America. I’m not sure what Phillip thinks of that yet (as much as he can comprehend)…is he OK with this new adventure or is he petrified? How will he react to our morning ride into Kampala on Thursday?

I went back to help get Zachery ready for bed and played with him a bit before I prayed for him, kissed him, and put him in bed (for the record, he cried when I left). Then back to help Phillip get dressed for bed. I found out which bunk was his (he has a lower bunk) and put my head down next to his and talked to him a bit…until all the other boys wanted in on the party. So I told them if they all quickly got ready for bed and got in their bunks I would tell them a story. They complied and then I asked for a volunteer (because this story requires audience participation). I chose one of the eager volunteers and began to tell the story of Jonah and the Whale “Harding” style. “Harding” style is where the child gets to be Jonah and I am the special effects (voice of God, ship in a storm, sailors, and of course “the belly of the fish” where Jonah prayed and prayed and prayed. I’m not sure what the volunteer thought when the fish spit Jonah (“Ptuey”) on to the land (bed), but it normally gets a giggle after many repetitions. Then I prayed for the boys and called it a night after saying a special good night to Phillip.

I went back to the Inn for dinner and now in my room (I don’t even report on Gecko’s or even spiders unless their bigger than a 50 cent piece). Lisa asked me on the phone about my “feelings”. Not much of a talker about my feelings; sometimes they pop out in tears or a grin or some other physical manifestation, but talking about them…well. Let’s just say in the realm of feelings, I think there are 3 easy and useful classifications: Good, Fine, and Bad. I am definitely in the “Good” range…can’t wait to get them home, start the patient task of drawing Phillip out, loving the daylights out of them both and learning some new things that our great God has in store. I love my sons, Joseph, Phillip, and Zachery.

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