saying goodbye at Amani

November 24, 2008 at 5:27 am | Posted in adoption process, Uganda | 1 Comment
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November 24, 2008 at 5:11 am | Posted in adoption process, Uganda | 3 Comments
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the prayer of blessing

the prayer of blessing

This morning we went over to Amani and gathered under the giant tree in the front yard while the mamas sang beautiful songs of goodbye to bless our boys.  Then they stretched their arms outwards towards our family and prayed over us as we go.    No one led the prayer – rather it was a chorus of whispers, each mama praying her own words before God on our behalf.    Finally, they presented Phillip and Zachary baby quilts as a parting gift from Amani.   Mama Sarah called it ‘a memorial from where they have come’.     She wanted them to know that they did have a home as infants…. That it was Amani and they are always welcome back here, whenever they would like to come see the place of their babyhood.     She asked us to continue to tell them that they are Ugandan-Americans and to be proud of where they have come from.    It was deeply moving and beautiful.   The truth is, these mamas have known my boys longer than I have.   You could feel their love and we felt deeply blessed that Phillip and Zach have been in their care for these past months.
After one final trip in Abdullah’s car, we are in Patrick’s guesthouse in Kampala where we will stay until our flight leaves.    It’s a quiet home without much distraction, so we’ll try to make the most of the time getting to know each other some more.
Assuming all goes well, we will board our flight on Tuesday night and expect to arrive in Minneapolis on NWA # 41 (??)  from Amsterdam at 12:40pm  on Wednesday.     If you’re in the area, please feel free to come on out.   We won’t linger long at the airport but would love to see you!

Last evening in Jinja

November 21, 2008 at 11:16 am | Posted in adoption process, Uganda | 2 Comments
quad bikers

quad bikers

Tague and Joseph arrived in Uganda safely and we had a happy reunion yesterday morning.    We’ve finished ALL of our paperwork and now await the arrival of our visas, perhaps on Monday.    We hope so, since our flight leaves Tuesday evening!

After checking into the hotel, we headed over to the baby cottage across the street for the men to hang out with the boys for a little while.   Both boys know me by now and claim me on sight.   But, I had brought ‘strangers’ with me this time.   Zach would have none of it and clung to me the whole afternoon.   Which was fine.   We sat together on a log and Joseph sat next to us, just talking with him and slowly warming him up.    I do think Phillip remembered Tague from his recent visit and the two of them enjoyed a rousing game of soccer.   It was actually more like croquet with Tague holding Phillip and using his little feet like a mallet on the ball below.    Philip enjoyed that quite a lot.    Tague also made the cozy coupe car ‘take flight’ and had Phillip sailing around the yard as if in a miniature helicopter.   That brought actual rolling giggles from him.    Perhaps one of my favorite sounds on the continent!

He is unsure about Joseph, but I remember the stony, glazed look I got from him for the first few days also; so we expect it to pass.

The first few weeks at home will be completely unfamiliar.   Every person is new.   Every room is new.   The climate is new.   The cuisine is new.   The smells are new.   What if Thanksgiving dinner was one of your first meals ever in your new home?    Sounds great to us, but if you’re used to rice and beans, sweet potatoes and cranberry are not so appealing.    (We’ll be sure to have some rice and pintos and pineapple on the table too.)   My heart is broken that my boys will soon face this profound reality.   There is no way I can eliminate the strangeness for them or quicken the time it takes to begin to integrate into their new ‘normal’.    It is beyond me, but it is not beyond my God – so I am asking Him to do for them what I cannot.    To be their refuge and their hiding place when everything is upside-down in their world.
I listened to Tague talk to Phillip yesterday, reviewing a list with him that I’ve heard him review hundreds of times with our other children.
He said, ‘Does Daddy love you?  (yes)   Does Mommy love you?  (yes)   Does Joseph love you? (yes)   Who loves Phillip most of all?   (God does!)”    I had forgotten that he used to do that until I heard it again, being offered to this sweet child.    We pray it will become an anchor for him as he grows up.
While the boys napped this afternoon, Tague and Joseph went quad-biking on an ATV ‘safari’.   Mostly it was ripping around the Ugandan country-side, through villages along the Bugagalli Falls area of the Nile River.  Their guide gave them a little bit of training, made them agree to a lot of disclaimers and then headed out into the dusty, hot afternoon.    The fellas wore coveralls, goggles and scarves on their faces, making them look like modern day bandits as they roared away.
I, unfortunately, have met up with bad water in the last 24 hours and am somewhat confined to my room.   I’ll spare you the details.
Things to pray about:
o    That our visas come through without complication.
o    That I feel well enough to travel to Kampala tomorrow.
o    That the transition will go well as we take full custody of the boys for the first time tomorrow!
o    That God will be preparing Phillip and Zach for their future, even now.

We’ll spend a few days in Kampala at a guest house we’ve used before and look forward to the time together as a family.    It is such a fork in the road for all of us.    It’s really beginning!

Reflections on life in Jinja

November 19, 2008 at 2:09 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s been a long day at the baby’s home today.   Not so much because I’ve been with the boys a lot, but there’s a lot on my mind today.    I’ve stayed upstairs in the volunteer quarters and read and processed and prayed today – that’s been valuable.

Aside from that, here are some of my random musings on culture in Kampala:

Traffic: Tomorrow I head to into the city one more time with one more paper that must be turned in to the embassy.    We’ll leave Jinja a little later this time – 8am– and I hope we don’t run into Kampala traffic!    I’ve done this trip a few times now and it seems to me that there are very few rules in traffic around here.   Oh, they have stop signs and red lights and cross walks and such, but they are more decorative than functional.   The rule of law is more Darwinian here.   You must be brave to even enter the fray, and victory goes to the clever, the quick or the downright reckless.   I have to choose to remember that my driver has done this for a long time.   He is an expert in this competition and we haven’t hit anyone…… yet.

Morning music: Another thing about this culture that I find different (and somewhat mysterious) is the morning call to prayer from the mosque in town.   The mosque isn’t very near to the baby’s home, so the dogs are the first to hear the faint music and they join in chorus in the dark hours of the morning.     Once they quiet down, if you listen closely you can hear a middle eastern melody coming over the loud speakers.   It is a single voice that sings an entire song lasting as long as five minutes some mornings.    Its minor key is hauntingly beautiful as it disrupts the quiet and everyone’s sleep.    There’s no evidence in the music itself that the faith it represents is void of truth and in opposition to the cross.   It’s odd and sad for something that sounds so pretty to be so empty.    The muslim population here is a minority, but you know them when you see them.   They dress differently.  They choose different foods in the foot court at the mall.   And, of course, they heed the calls to prayer.     What if…. Just what if all Christians wore some hat or special nikes or something?   (I’m not talking about a bunch of rules to follow, but just a visible expression.)   What if our mornings started with the local church piping out an instrumental version of ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ at 6am?   What would that look like to be immediately visible in America instead of blending in so, like we do?    Just wondering.

I hope tomorrow marks the last day of the effort in terms of the process here.   Even once the paper is turned in, we must wait several days for the visa to be issued.   Some families have had no trouble and their visas were issued painlessly and quickly.   Still others have waited for weeks and have struggled.    Please pray that that this final hurdle will be overcome.

I am more convinced than ever that this adoption is of God.   The longer I’m here, the more I see that He has created a situation in time (in the Ugandan government) and in the general process here that is just a slip of an opening.   We are squeezing through the crack for these two specific children and are squeezing back out.    It’s a little like a parting of the Red Sea, actually.    Something incomprehensible and unreasonable and yet, it’s happening so that God can rescue His people and get them to the land of His choosing.    It is yet another act of great grace on His part.  Pray for continued favor as God accomplishes His purposes here.

Nov. 18

November 18, 2008 at 1:13 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What a very long day.   The second medical exam is complete with the results being sent to our embassy even now.   We still have one more legal paper to turn in at the embassy Thursday morning, but that shouldn’t be any problem.    The drive into town in the misty morning hours was one of life’s simple pleasures:  Zach was cradled and sleeping in my arms, and Philip slept peacefully on my lap.   By mid day, the heat had arrived and I was covered with slobber-soaked animal crackers, smeared into a paste on the shoulder of my shirt.  By the end of the day, we were all sweaty, filthy and asleep in the back seat, sprawled out with all our gear all over the car, bouncing along over the potholes back towards Jinja.       And this, my friends, is what success looks like sometimes!

Zach’s first birthday will be tomorrow, but we may wait until Dad and Joseph arrive in a couple of days before we start the celebrations.  Luckily, Zach won’t be remotely aware of the switch.

Please pray for safe travels for Tague and Joseph.  They leave today (Tuesday) and arrive Wednesday evening very late.   I am more than eager to see them again.

Nearing the end

November 17, 2008 at 4:02 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Yesterday found me racing around the yard, kicking the soccer ball with Philip.    When he tired of that, I pushed him the cozy coupe, making him giggle and squeal with excitement as we bumped over the little knolls the yard.     The great moment of the day?  — When I first arrived in the yard I didn’t see him, so I approached a cluster of children nearby and asked, ‘Where’s Philip?”   They pointed behind me and when I turned, I saw Philip running towards me – arms outstretched and a giant smile on his face!   How good to witness that he was genuinely happy to see me!   We have prayed and prayed repeatedly for God to knit our boys’ hearts to our own, and this was a little evidence that He is, in fact, doing just that.
Zach made his own strides yesterday – literally.    I’ve had the joy of seeing him take some of his first steps!    He toddles and lunges and walks a few steps without fear before crashing to his knees and palms in giggles.

Tomorrow morning I go into Kampala again for what I hope will be my last legal journey.   Our second doctor’s appointment is at 9am and then on to the embassy for visa interviews.   I’m looking forward to it, actually.   This process is enormous, but I think I have conquered the mound this morning and we are prepared to speak with the consular tomorrow.    Then we wait a few days for the visas to be processed and we’re done!    The end is in sight.

There are days when I am discouraged and feel like this will never end.   But a good friend has reminded me that in reality,

“You are accomplishing the last miles of the marathon, and it’s the culmination of a million small details… The combo of pleasure and pain in your experience are your very own. You are the only one with this particular adventure, in this particular place, at this particular time. This is your brief astounding treasure.”

How very, very true.  God has chosen this journey and these children for us.    We have no doubt that this has been His plan from eternity past.   So we step into it with joy and eagerness, if also sometimes with a little fatigue too.

Tague and Joseph arrive in Kampala Wednesday to a very happy welcoming committee (me!).    We’ll wait a few days to receive the visas before returning to the states on the 26th.   Just in time for Thanksgiving.   I’m sure you can guess a couple things that we’re thankful for this year!

additional pictures added to my facebook.


November 13, 2008 at 11:22 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments














Today’s trip into Kampala was very fruitful!   The passport process was smooth and we left as the proud new owners of two Ugandan passports (even though Zach is holding my US passport in the picture).    Next was our 1st  appointment at the doctor’s office.   The boys were weighed and measured and received some immunizations.    AND we went to a great coffee shop!   aaahhhh…. it was really time for mommy to get a cafe mocha!!

Hopefully, we will only have to make one more trip into the city (2nd medical and visa interview) and we’ll be on our way.    The trip takes over 2 hours each way, so I thought it surely must be over 100 miles.   Found out today that it’s only 50 miles or so.   It just takes so long because of traffic.      Thankfully the sugar cane fields and the tea fields are just gorgeous and make for some pretty nice scenery.

(click on the picture for additional images)

what an encounter!

November 12, 2008 at 4:43 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


Today we have internet and electricity, but no water. Not sure why the water is gone, but a team has gone to the Nile (across the street) to collect water in basins for our use today. We’ve drained the water from the hot water tanks in each bathroom and we’re set with drinking water, but with laundry for 55 children, there’s a GREAT need for water around here. How odd to have a luxury item like wi-fi in the house, but no water.

Also, a few minutes ago I was packing in preparation for tomorrow’s trip to K’pala. We’ll leave at 530 am, so I want to be completely ready so I can just sneak out when it’s time. I have my different bags tucked neatly under my bed, so I was pulling them out to dig through them when all of a sudden…. The world’s biggest cockroach came running out!! No joke… I’ve seen bugs like this in glass cages at the Minnesota Zoo. You can imagine my reaction! I hopped and scrambled away, yelling for Mama Josephine, who was cleaning the kitchen at the time. I ran in there and asked her if she could come help me! She came in with her broom and dustpan and her big can of Doom bug spray but could hardly kill it for laughing at me.   She’s gotten a lot of mileage out of it, actually.    I’ve heard her telling the other mamas the story again and again this morning.   All of them belly laughing each time.    Glad to be of some amusement.

my alarm clock

November 11, 2008 at 11:56 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


plenty of time

November 11, 2008 at 11:03 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


For a few days I’ll be at Amani, awaiting my next rounds of Kampala appointments.  Being at Amani gives me tons of discretionary time.   Time is one thing I don’t feel like I have much of in the states.   But here, nothing is in a rush.  There’s tons of time.   It’s calming at the baby cottage to listen to the gardener push the old-fashioned manual mower across the lawn, in no particular hurry.   Or to listen to the cacophony of African birds calling in the trees.   Or to take notice of the flowers all around.  There’s a giant tree here at Amani much like the pecan trees in my grandparent’s yard in the South Carolina.  Only this one has clusters of lavender flowers hanging from it.  As I sat on a rock under the tree, the blooms slowly and continually fell on the breeze like a shower of floral rain.   And there’s time to enjoy it.   I hope I can remember that when I’m back in Minnesota.   There’s really no rush.

Thursday holds another trip into town.   We’ll pick up the passports and have medical exam #1.

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