Thursday, December 19, 2013

Whirlwind to Christmas

So we got our passport on Monday. Tuesday morning I called IOM to see if we could drop of the papers for Jonathan and get an appointment for him to get his medical done. They said to come in at 10 to drop of papers AND do the medical. I only had about 30 minutes to get everyone ready! We went to IOM and it went well. He passed and the file was going to be sent to the US Embassy the next morning. As soon as I got home from IOM I emailed the embassy to see if I could get an appointment for Wednesday to drop of my paperwork to them. You have to be paperwork ready before they schedule a visa interview for you. They told me that I could come in Wednesday at 11:30 for my paperwork! They said that if my paperwork was ready I would probably be able to get an interview that afternoon. AMAZING! When you have a visa interview- if you are granted a visa then it takes two days to process. Once you have the visa you can leave the country. It is the final step. That means if it works out- my visa would be ready on the Friday the 20th! They only do interviews on Monday and Wednesday so Wednesday was my last chance to get a visa in time for being home for Christmas!

Tuesday night I was a ball of nerves. I had already been running like crazy for 2 days straight with passport and IOM. Now I had to make sure my paperwork was in order- and my mind started to drift to all sorts of what-ifs about being home for Christmas no matter how hard I tried not to! I talked with Adam about it and called my parents to let them know. When I was talking to them I got really excited. As soon as I hung up I got an email from the embassy saying that all appointments for Wednesday were cancelled because of the unrest in Sudan. They would let us know when they were rescheduled. I instantly felt like I was going to throw up. SO close to being home for Christmas. I cried and went to bed. Each night before I go to sleep I've been reading my Bible and a devotional book I've brought. The book has been so perfect each day for what I need. That night the verse for the day was 1 Thessalonians 5:24, "Faith is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass." The devotion part made no sense to me, but God's word was all I needed. I laid in bed and said that verse over and over in my mind. I had to tell myself that God's will was going to be done, and I needed to get myself to a place to accept whatever that may be. I needed to choose then to be joyful no matter what the outcome. I want God's will over my own. I didn't sleep much. I kept waking up to check my email to see if somehow they had changed their minds. All I got was junk mail. I woke up early and just laid in bed with my mind racing. When I heard the boys awake I decided to check my email one last time. The embassy had sent an email saying they weren't needed to help with Sudan anymore so please still come in for my appointment! PANIC AGAIN! I scrambled to get the driver here and kids taken care of. Thankfully I got to the appointment on time and my friend watched the kids. I spent all day at the office making sure the paperwork was ready and filling things out exactly how they needed them. My paperwork was NOT ready though. By the time we were done looking through all of it they realized they had never sent me a code for one of the forms that is supposed to be filled out online. It was too late in the day to get it done. I was so deflated. I knew this was the last day for me to get a visa in time to be home for Christmas. If I wasn't going to be home for Christmas I didn't really care about the rush at all. The lady told me that they would be willing- if I could get the form filled out to have an interview for me on Thursday at 2:00. A non-interview day! MIRACLE! Off I sped out of the embassy to fill out the form and make sure one more time that everything was accounted for in my paperwork. They said that if I had the interview then the visa would be ready on the 23rd. YIKES! Christmas was still a possibility. You guys- my emotions and nerves have been out of control in a way I have NEVER experienced before.

As I looked through my papers last night over and over I realized that I had a copy of Adam's passport, but not a notarized one which is what I needed for embassy. We didn't plan on any of this happening this fast at all so we figured he would be back here with the original passport with him. Panic set in again. It would be so sad to be so close and miss out on all of this because I didn't have a notarized copy of the passport! I went to bed planning to call our lawyer in the morning to see if he had one on file. I slept for probably 15 minutes last night. And as soon as I feel asleep I got a nose bleed. annoying! This stress is doing all sorts of strange things to my body. I knew the office didn't open until 8 so when I felt like it wasn't too ridiculously early I got out of bed. I checked the clock about every 30 seconds until 7:45. Then I called the lawyer's secretary and asked if they had what I needed on file. THEY DID! I called our social worker and asked her to bring it to me ASAP! So now all the paperwork was in order! It would just be up to the interview. I thought that when I reached that point my nerves would die down. WRONG! I constantly felt like I was going to throw up and just fall over. The level of nervousness is something I can't even explain. The morning crawled by and I did a HUGE load of laundry and hoped it would take my mind off of things a bit...nope...not at all. But I did get laundry done. :)

The driver finally showed up and Jonathan and I were off. SUPER FRIENDS watched the boys AGAIN! The traffic on the way to the embassy was insane. Each passing second my nerves got worse. When I arrived at the embassy I went through the security process, which I am very familiar with now after being there so many times and going in and out (you can't take electronics in so any time I needed to make a call etc I had to go out and go through the whole process again). As I walked up the path to the office I said out loud, "Thank you Jesus for all you have already done." Then I started crying and couldn't go on. The amount of blessings that flooded my mind from this whole journey overwhelmed me and I knew that I have reason to worship Him, even if this situation doesn't turn out how I would hope. I got up to the room and waited. There are 4 telephone booth type rooms connected to the waiting room with standing only room and a high shelf that you stand at. I have memorized everything about that room after the hours I've spent in it the past 2 days. They finally called me to make sure my paperwork was in order. IT WAS! PRAISE GOD! Then they called me to pay after waiting a while longer. Then I had to sit some more. No one else was in the room other than the guard, because it wasn't a normal interview day. I was singing Great Is Thy Faithfulness to Jonathan over and over because it is the only thing that seems to calm my nerves through out this whole thing. My interview was supposed to be at 2...I don't think I had to wait that long in real time but according to my stomach it felt like 5 hours! I finally went into my little booth for my interview. I was asked about Jonathan's story- about our process a little- and then I was told that he would be granted a visa! The lady said it in such casual passing conversation that I was caught off guard. I said, " that's it?! We are ALL DONE with this process?!" She said yes. I asked her how many people she had seen cry and she said all of them and gave me permission. :) As I walked out of the embassy I couldn't stop smiling. I called Adam right away and said,  "I WILL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!"

WE CAN LEAVE THE COUNTRY WITH JONATHAN! EVERYTHING I'VE WORKED HARD ON FOR A YEAR ON IS DONE! There is absolutely no way to make this post eloquent, or remember every single detail of the last 3 most stressful days of my life. We get to pick up the visa on Monday afternoon and we will fly out and return home Christmas Eve around 6:30 at night. I will have been in country for 5 weeks total. SO MUCH FASTER than it usually ever goes. I have no idea why this is the timeline that God chose for us. I have friends here who have much different stories. I wish every story could be like ours, but God chooses to bring glory to His name in all sorts of different ways. I'm excited to get home to start what our "normal" life will look like as a family of 5 all together, but I am also sad to not have been able to experience so many things about Uganda that I wanted to because the process has been so fast and busy. I have ABSOLUTELY loved this past month. I love this culture, and pace of life.

Please pray for me as I pack up quickly and prepare myself to travel home three little boys. I'm scared out of my mind to do this! This whole thing is so crazy. :) There is your update in whatever sloppy form I just threw together. Thank you for praying even when you didn't have details and being encouraging when you knew I needed to be. Looking forward to seeing you when I get home...and for you to meet my sweet little Jonathan.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Miracle

Today another lady here and I decided to go last minute grocery shopping before the Christmas crazies are out on the streets. Hard to believe the traffic could get crazier- but I think it is true. When our driver showed up he told us that we were supposed to be at the passport office at 2. They didn't know if our passports were there- but we were to show up. Our other friend here was super mom today and kept ALL the kids. A mistake I'm sure she will never make again :) but off the other two of us went! We showed up to the tent office that we applied at. In the afternoon it is the pick up office instead of the application office. There were SO many people. Hundreds. A man stands in the front and whispers reads the names off of passports that are ready. Somehow people understand him and stand up and head to the other part of the office- aka another tent. Thankfully we had a helper with us who kept telling us where to go etc. We arrived around 1:15. Things get started around 2. My friend eventually got her passport. The man informed me that they were looking for Jonathan's. I was so surprised that they even called for me to go to the office today that I wasn't sure I would be going home with one. It has only been a week since I applied. Around 4:30 he told me that they should be calling our name anytime and I had to go inside this little room and sign for the passport. They close at 5. Around 4:55 they motioned me into the room. Jonathan was in the carrier on my front and I was carrying our diaper backpack on my back. My shirt was SOAKED! I looked like I had run a marathon- but in fact I had just held a baby against my body for almost 4 hours in the hot Ugandan sun. I pushed my way into the room. Seriously... jammed my way in. I finally reached close enough to the counter to sign a piece of paper for the man who took our file. He casually handed our passport behind the counter to another man further down. He motioned for me to go down there and sign. I CRAMMED my way through people to get there. The man actually had to finally push 2 people out of the way so I could stand close enough to sign the book to release the passport. VICTORY!! Just before closing I walked out the office with both hands raised in the air grinning so big! Obnoxious white 'betcha. If people are staring at me anyways- I might as well have fun. I'm so thankful for this Christmas surprise and miracle! I'm VERY thankful that I didn't have to go back and wait another day because the office closed. I'm so very thankful for my friend who watched Matthew and Andrew. The "office" would have been an absolute NIGHTMARE with them.

I got home and facetimed Adam and held the passport in front of the camera. I wanted him to be as surprised as me! We did not expect to get it this soon! Now that we have it before Christmas we should FOR SURE be able to make it home by the time we planned. PRAISE the LORD! Next is our medical appointment for Jonathan that is required by the US Embassy. I am calling tomorrow to hopefully get in this week and have it done before they close for Christmas so that when everyone opens back up after the holiday's we can do the Embassy and be DONE! Everything seems so close all of a sudden- of course it will take time with holiday closings- but having our passport is so unexpected and really the only "unknown amount of time" thing that we were waiting on. The rest is pretty predictable and scheduled. AMAZING!!! (Brandon- I am actually yelling that :))

Blurry but in my possession!!

Tonight we bagged up some special Christmas candy we had planned ahead for and brought to share with our friends. After bath we went and delivered it. So much fun. The boys were SO excited to tell the neighbor's Merry Christmas!! I'm so thankful we have other families to celebrate with. It is making the season still really fun while being away from home. 

Please pray that tomorrow the medical place will take us for an appointment. I fully trust God's timing in this- but I know prayer moves the hand of God and I see that very clearly in the provision of our passport. I know a lot of you were praying for that with us. THANK YOU! I get so giddy every time a new step happens towards getting our son home with us! I'm so amazed every time I re-realize that he is my SON! Now I have a passport with the CUTEST little face in it from an amazing other country that will get my boy back home with us. I will keep this treasure forever. As I continue to ask God to give me more faith- something I learned at the VERY beginning of this journey- He continues to prove Himself EVER-FAITHFUL.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

1 month

Well... we have survived 13 days without daddy so far. Only 10 more to go! The past few days have been hard. Probably just because things are just the same every day...and I'm on my own. Nothing unbearable- just exhausting.

The other morning at breakfast Jonathan was crying, Andrew was whining mommy over and over (literally like a broken record) and Matthew was sassing me. I said, "crying and whiney children make me want to pull my hair out!" A few minutes after breakfast was over I heard Matthew playing in the living room say, "Crying and whiney children make my hair fall out." That may be true too...not sure. Made me giggle.

Yesterday I had to take Jonathan back to the doctor for his recheck and I went to the grocery store afterwards. I had only Jonathan and Andrew because Matthew always chooses to stay behind and play with his friends. :) I can't say I'm upset that he would rather have this option. I was SO hungry at the grocery store- they say you aren't supposed to grocery shop when you're hungry because you will over-buy. Not in Africa. YOU GUYS! I wanted a good meal! I looked so hard for something that sounded yummy, that wouldn't give us some disease, and that would not be too much work since the lights in my kitchen don't work and I would be cooking in the dark. I found nothing... except donuts. Haha. Everyone knows my love for Dunkin Donuts. If the one on Sunbeam is closed it is because I have been gone too long! I decided I didn't have the energy or desire to figure something else out for dinner. Our electricity has been out for a few days so keeping food in the fridge is impossible and I had already eaten as many throw together things as I could handle. Eggs and donuts it was. Yes...Matthew drank a Fanta with it. I deserve an award...or a report written up on me. Not sure which one. Everyone seemed pleased with my choice though. :)

I did find a special treat for myself though! I was so excited!! They weren't the tastiest, but they were a lift to my spirit. They were so small that from a distance I thought they were cherry tomatoes.
Yes...that is the condition of my "non-stick" pans here. I have to scrub dishes for a while. Haha

So we have survived a month being gone from Florida. Some parts of me feel like it's been no time at all- and other moments in the day I feel like it's been forever. :) The other families here have been here much longer and I know I have nothing to complain about. Crazy that I've lived in Africa for a month. It's truly a dream come true! I always hoped to be able to travel to this continent. I had no idea it would be to do life! I'm so blessed. 
 The boys returning from their many adventures outside. Andrew somehow slipped his arm out of his shirt and this was his reaction. Haha.
 Matthew LOVES hiding himself in all the pillows. He also loves the water bottles here. Easy toys. We have enjoyed a few chilly days here due to rain. It's so nice!
 This is bath time here. There is a sliding shower door and after I'm done washing the boys they like to slide it closed and splash and scream and have a grand time. I'm thankful it contains the mess. :)
 We made a chain to count down to Christmas/daddy's return
These boys can't wait for Jonathan to wake up each morning. As soon as they heard him they came bounding in and peeked over the edge of the bed at him. Look at Jonathan's sweet face between Matthew's legs. He is taken with them too! It is so hard for me to not be able to post sweet pictures of them all together on here! Ugh. SOON!

Today we went to Watoto Church to see their children's Christmas cantata. I was a little nervous about it because it is me vs. 3 kids 3 years old and under. For an African church service...aka LONG! It went pretty well. :) The kids were so cute. They did an AMAZING job of telling the story of Jesus' birth. Next week we are going to brave going to see the adult cantata. I'm excited about it. Christmas gets more amazing to me each year. JESUS came to earth! God WITH us. AMAZING! I hope that you all are getting to take time to think about the reason for celebration this time of year. Listen to the words of all the Christmas songs playing- they are POWERFUL! We went to dinner afterwards at a little restaurant here that was so yummy. I got chicken tenders and mozzarella sticks. Both big treats. :) There was room for the kids to play again. This swing was so fun. It was in the shade under the coolest looking tree that-oops- I didn't get a picture of. Hopefully these cute boys will be enough though! 
 This was one SLEEPY boy! We left for church at 11 and didn't get home until 5. Jonathan was in the carrier that whole time by the way. 6 good hours of bonding and SWEATING!

 The only moment besides when the food came out that these ones were sitting still. :) I'm so thankful for friends for the boys to play with. I can't imagine entertaining them by my boring self this long!

So one month in and we are doing great. We can't wait for daddy to be back with us. I forgot to tell you that after church today a lady came up and introduced herself to me because we have boys the same age. Her in laws know my family and work for the same organization and they are from the same town as my parents live. I LOVE how God provides connections everywhere I go. I always get excited to see what ways He is going to use each time. I hope you had a wonderful Sunday and got to focus on Jesus. I know it was encouraging for my heart to be able to worship with a church family here in Africa. God's truth rings out even across the ocean. And honestly it rings REALLY loud. :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rainy Day...

I woke up this morning to the mosque...and RAIN! I LOVE being able to hear the rain so well. It has only rained a little here so far- but today it rained all day. It was nice. We got some down time as a family- much to Matthew's dismay. He was so antsy to get outside and play. I really am so nervous about what is going to happen when we get back to Jacksonville and have no yard for him to play in. He has discovered the outside and fallen in love since we've been here. It keeps him entertained and wears him out too- so I love it as well. :) I made a delicious meal tonight that was simple, but made with American things and really hit the spot. Matthew even ate a whole round of seconds! We also got to FaceTime with some people we really love today- Grandma and Papa, Pops and Milly, Daddy, and Mr. Anthony! This also resulted in a few tears from me. I realized today that I haven't even been here a month and still have over a month until we are back with those we love. I love it here- but wish I could somehow combine both worlds.

I also had another moment of tears tonight as I fed Jonathan. I feed him his last bottle after the other two go to bed and it is the sweetest time. He has a few little scars on his body and as he held my hand while I fed him I was looking at the scars and realizing I will NEVER know what they are from. I will NEVER know what pain he endured in the first 6 months of his life. When he was sick and being poked at the hospital in the first few days of his life (as I have experienced being here and at the doctor with all 3 boys)- no one was holding him to comfort him and wishing the pain away. There was no face of love looking down at him, talking sweetly to him, and holding him tight- reassuring him that everything was going to be ok. As his little fingers held my hand tight tonight my heart was broken thinking about how someone else missed out on these moments with him. It brought a million questions about birth parents to my mind that once again will NEVER be answered this side of Heaven. I love him with all of my heart and am SO grateful to have the opportunity to be his mommy- but I am so sad about the circumstances for him that brought this about. I am praying like crazy already for grace and wisdom from God when questions start to be asked. I want him to know that I love him the hardest and deepest of anyone- and though that won't wipe away all pain I am praying that it is known without a shadow of a doubt and can give security and a safe place when he needs to hurt.

Ugh...enough of that. I'm crying again.

One very important thing!! Please go check this out! AMAZING! My sweet friend has been working on this for a while and it is READY! I can't wait to make one for Jonathan. My friend has adopted twice (so far-hehe) and is one of the most talented people I know- it's kind of ridiculous actually. Haha. I want one or more of EVERYTHING she makes- no exaggeration. She made the sweetest little brown Jonathan doll for our boy that we brought to Africa with us. It's adorable! Please check it out and share with anyone you may think would be interested!

Here are a few pictures from our day (and last nights party).


Matthew and his buddy watching Mickey Mouse Christmas something...they are clearly in the zone.

The gang excited about hot chocolate and marshmallows

We did some more coloring today

I have been saving toilet paper rolls since we got here so we could make this nativity.

I'm glad they seem to be interested in playing with the tree.

Our final product. The boys both colored a few- I ended up coloring more than planned. Haha. It was good therapy during nap time though.

Andrew is obsessed with people's eyes- mostly poking them. This is a typical sight with him.

He was laughing at my singing tonight at dinner- I decided not to have hurt feelings and take a picture of the cuteness instead. 

I'm not sure how this kid is getting so big! I have some ridiculously handsome men in my family!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thankful for a TRUE God

To start with today and then give an update on the past few days...

I went to a meeting at the US Embassy today. It is something they host each month to give updates on what is happening with the adoption process in Uganda. It was good. Nothing monumental...but good to go to. The Embassy "campus" is BEAUTIFUL! My driver told me that Americans know how to make things nice. It is true. We are good at going above and beyond for looks! :) Sometimes that's good-sometimes it's terrible. Haha. It led us into a conversation about how I thought different things about Uganda are beautiful and things we don't have in America. He thought some of the things were crazy because they are so normal to him. We had a great conversation about how creative God is- and how LITTLE we know about Him the more we learn. One thing I LOVE the most about going different places is seeing different things God has created and fashioned that are not in the area I usually live. The CD that was on in the car was a Passion cd. Both of us sang along as we drove through crazy Kampala traffic. I know this is a terrible description of it all but it was such a sweet worship moment. I can't wait to see God! We are all made in His image...and I look WAY different than Ugandans...or Chinese...or Norwegians- and yet all of us are created in His image. I can't wait to see how beautiful and complex He is. Worship is really my only response to even thinking about that reality- I can't imagine when it is made real! I'm so thankful to be loved by a God that I don't have to earn favor with- that was proactive in a plan to redeem me to Himself. I pass a mosque on my way to and from anywhere here because it is right near our house. EVERY SINGLE TIME I get a feeling of emptiness looking at it. It is completely empty and looks so unloving and uninviting. I am so sad for those that go day after day seeking the approval of someone that will never be enough to save them. I'm thankful for my adoption. My heart is so full of worship in the most unconventional ways here. I really wish there was a way to write how my heart feels here-but I can't seem to find the words. I am content in the chaos.

On Monday I went early in the morning with Jonathan to the passport "office". It is actually a tent outside with benches underneath it and 5 desks at the front with immigration officers working at them. You literally have to fight your way to one of the chairs in front of their desk to get your file seen. Once again I am so thankful for being raised in a culture where the concept of a line was absurd and it is not actually rude to push and shove- it is necessity. I sat and observed for a bit to get a feel for the process and then jumped right in and got my baby boys file seen so he can get a passport! :) Now we wait (maybe a few weeks- maybe sooner- you never know) for it to arrive so we can do the last steps with the US Embassy to leave Uganda with our boy.

Monday also held Jonathan's last IV appointment at the doctor. I am SO thankful to God for His provision of Dr. Susan! We met her at the hospital with Matthew which has lead us to appointments for the other boys as well. We are now going to a clinic she works at that is more private and is AMAZING! Room for Andrew to run- literally no one else in the office. They show up when WE are available to come. She even called me today to see how Jonathan was doing! The blessings are overflowing. He has some more oral meds we are taking at home and then we go for the recheck on Saturday. Pray for his cough to completely go away. This seems to be something that the babies from the orphanage struggle with. He doesn't seem too bothered by it, but I want his body to be healthy! He has slept through the night for the past 3 nights!!

We also moved on Monday to 2 units down from where we were. We moved AWAY from the noisy restaurant and I am SO happy! :) We also now share a backyard with the other family that has little boys here. Matthew is one happy camper.

So thankful to have survived Monday. It held a lot and was very exhausting, but I thought today as I drove back from the embassy that I was afraid of all Monday would hold but here I am and it's Tuesday and I survived. God's mercies are new every morning. I am experiencing that in such a real way here. He truly gives me no more than what I can handle, and I can only handle things in His power. I'm happy to be putting the Holy Spirit to extra use. I think that is part of the reason I feel so satisfied here. I NEED God- and even though that usually means a little tougher life- it is far more fulfilling because that is how we are created to live! I can set up for myself a pretty easy comfortable life in America sometimes- Uganda will stretch you past your ability to hold it together!

Tomorrow holds nothing so far. :) Today I made cheese blintz- a Christmas tradition for us. I was so happy to find cream cheese here (which I was told didn't exist) and was able to make them! They are a little crumbly because the bread here is that way- but I am SO happy to have a bit of tradition here with us. We have been doing different fun things with the two other families here to help us feel Christmassy. Tonight we ordered pizza (so yummy!) because it is BOGO on Tuesday. We usually always eat together which is so fun. Then we watched lots of Mickey Christmas movies and had hot chocolate with marshmallows (a surprise find at the store today!)!! I also had found a Betty Crocker chocolate chip muffin mix here! It was almost too much goodness for my tummy to handle! I left my camera at the neighbors so I will post the pictures later- not that you will be that impressed with them because they are normal things in America- but they are CELEBRATED here! :)

Jonathan is THRIVING! Love looks good on him. The boys are SO great with him. They LOVE to play with him and he smiles at the constantly! Andrew has been really fun today. Goofy, sweet, and fairly obedient. :) Matthew is having the time of his life with his new friends. We are struggling a bit with him having to remember that mommy's requests trump friend's requests. Melt downs usually happen about 15 minutes before dinner is ready. Tomorrow I am going to pull him in for a little down time in the afternoon- hopefully that will help. Today was better than yesterday so I hope I can say the same thing tomorrow. We miss daddy. The boys LOVE to see him on FaceTime. They are always poking their big ol' heads in the way of each other so I'm sure Adam's view isn't that great- but they want to make sure they get daddy time! :) 2 more weeks until he's back!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

December 6, 2013

Something important happened on the continent of Africa this past Friday December 6th. Many people will think that I'm talking about the death of Nelson Mandela. My friends will know I'm talking about something else...

The day started like normal. Me tired. The boys somehow fully rested after what seems like not enough hours of sleep to me. Breakfast. Getting dressed. And the playing begins. I was rushing around a little crazier than usual trying to make myself presentable. Thankfully we had electricity for me to straighten the hair I had slept on wet the night before. I did everything possible before putting on my outfit for court so it wouldn't get ruined by food, snot, spit up or poop. I'm happy to say none of those things ruined my clothes! :) 

Jonathan however slept. And slept. And slept. At the very last minute I woke him up and dressed him in his handsome little outfit. He was happy. And oblivious. The driver arrived and I ran out the door with him. My sweet friend watched the other two boys at home for me. As we drove through Kampala it was rainy. This was a blessing because it meant that many people were still inside and not on the street!! I fed Jonathan his bottle and he was as happy as could be. As we drove all of a sudden a mob of butterflies attacked my stomach. At least that's what it felt like. I had not been nervous up until that point but as we approached the court house the reality started to hit me (in the chaos of just getting through the morning) that Jonathan would become legally my son on that very day! I kept telling him over and over that today was a special day for him, and that today he would become a son and would no longer be an orphan!

When we arrived at the court house I was 45 minutes early for our court appointment. I sat and stood and paced with Jonathan in my carrier. I was the only person in the waiting room for the majority of the time. I had woken up with a little cold and had chugged a bottle of emergen-c before I left the house hoping it would give me a little extra immune boost. I'm not sure it did that, but it did make me have to go to the bathroom. I figured I shouldn't try holding it since court went 1 1/2 hours longer than expected the last time. I asked the guard where the bathroom was and she told me to follow the hallway all the way down until the last door on the right. I came to what I thought was the last door before the cleaning closet, and then I realized it was actually past that and in what I thought was a cleaning closet. There was a men's sign on the door, but it was the only one I saw. The door was open and no one was in there so I carried on. I chose the bigger stall and attempted to lock the door. The lock didn't seem very sturdy, but I thought I got it enough to keep it closed while I went to the bathroom. Jonathan was still in the carrier and I tried to hike up my skirt and squat with all the thigh muscles I have over the toilet without touching it! It was a success. I re-situated my clothes, making sure everything was covered before I walked back out into society. I took a few pictures for you all...haha. And then I decided to leave. I tried to turn the lock and it wouldn't budge. I tired a few more times with different techniques. Nothing. Apparently the lock I didn't think would do it's job was now working overtime. I heard some men outside the door (maybe it was a mens bathroom after all) and decided I better not waste too much time trying to figure it out on my own incase I never actually did and then was stranded at the end of this hallway with no help until who knows when. I knocked on the door and the guy immediately said, "are you stuck?" Haha. It must be a common thing. I said yes and he said ok...I'm coming to help. This door was an actual door. No crawling under the door (not that I would've done that even if it had been an option- I actually was considering how to kick in a door from the inside). The walls were almost all the way to the ceiling with just a little space at the top. My rescuer came up over the wall and down into the stall with me. Why oh why is this adventure not being video taped?! He jiggled the handle a while. Thankfully he didn't get it unlocked right away- then I would've felt really stupid. Eventually he got it open and I said many thank you's and walked out. As I walked down the hallway I could not wipe the smile off my face. I was so thankful that this was another story of this adventure. It seemed to fit so perfectly into it. It took everything for me to not giggle actually. 

What I had to work with. I touched nothing except the lock and used many clorox wipes. At least it was a toilet and I didn't have to squat all the way to the floor. Been there, done that...don't want to try it carrying a baby.

The view from the bathroom.

As I arrived back at the waiting room, still no one was there. I walked, sat, stood some more. My lawyer showed up and said the judge was busy with another case and we would have to wait. Wait wait wait. Jonathan was great. So happy and sweet. As usual.

Eventually it was our turn! The judge we had was SO kind to us during our first court date. I was really hoping it would be the same during our ruling date. I had prayed for good health for her, for not traffic jams etc. so that she would be in court that day! God answered my prayers and she was there. And she was SO kind again. In the court room it was the judge, her two helpers (not sure of their official titles- but they were so kind to us too!), my lawyer, Jonathan and I. 

We started with her asking how Jonathan was doing, where the other boys were, how we were all doing etc etc... I was so happy that she was so personally interested in our family and how we were doing. Then she officially started our time together and read through the ruling. A ruling includes who the child is, their story, who we are, and if we are suited to be parents to this child. Then they read if they give you guardianship of them and the specifics of that. As she started to read I hung on every word. I wish I could've recorded it! These words she was reading were the words that officially change the status of Jonathan from orphan to SON! YOU GUYS!! THIS IS AMAZING! I was sad that our whole family couldn't be present. I was sad that Adam didn't get to hear the judge declare that he is ours. I also felt like it was that special moment after delivering a child and MOM gets the first rights to hold the new baby. Jonathan was so happy and squirmy. I kept looking into his eyes thinking- you have NO idea what is happening and PRAISE the LORD that you are too young to know. How GRACIOUS of HIM. So the judge declared that she found us to be equipped and qualified to be Jonathan's parents! That we are allowed to take him back to America...and a bunch of other things. :) MY HEART FELT LIKE IT WAS TRYING TO FLY OUT OF ME! The smile on my face was probably ridiculous. I looked at our lawyer when she said that and he smiled and nodded at me to let me know it's really real!

After she was done reading the ruling the judge put down the paper and just started talking with me. I really felt like I was talking to a friend. I have the utmost respect for this woman, but it also felt so normal to me to be able to talk with her about my SON! She told me that she too loved Jonathan. If your mouth didn't drop to the floor then (it should've) then it better after what you read next... she asked if she could hold him?! THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN!! I OF COURSE said YES! So I walked up behind her desk (WHAT?!) and handed him to her. Then I squatted next to her as she snuggled with him... not just held him but snuggled with him! We talked some more, like old friends. Honestly- I wish you could hear me say these things- I'M STILL FREAKING OUT WRITING THIS!

I had really wanted a picture with the judge because of how gracious and wonderful she was to us and Jonathan. I didn't know how to go about such a thing or if it was a possibility. God flung that door wide open for me! As I was next to her I asked if she would mind if I took a picture of her and Jonathan? She said that would be ok. I looked at my lawyer who seemed a bit caught off guard and he said ok. I took the picture and we talked a few more minutes and then it was time for me to leave. 

As I went to the waiting room to wait for the lawyer to finish things up I told my driver and social worker about what had happened. Their mouths DID drop and they were surprised at each new thing I said. She loves him...WHAT?! She wanted to hold him...WHAT?! She let me take a picture of her with him... THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED EVER!! THANK YOU LORD FOR SUCH A GIFT! The lawyer said that no one had ever taken a picture with a judge before. I'm not really sure why God is so gracious to me, and I'm SO thankful that He clearly is CRAZY about Jonathan. The story that we have seen that He has written for our son already is unbelievable. I'm so excited to be able to print this picture for the judge so she can keep it and remember this sweet boy she fell in love with and how thankful his family is for her kindness to us!

As we drove home I kept saying to Jonathan- You're my son!! It is a reality that has been true in my heart since the day I saw his picture for the first time, but I am so happy it is legally true now too. I had a sweet talk with our social worker in the car about how amazing it was and how awesome it is to think about our adoption into God's family during every step of this process. I'm so thankful to learn more about MY spiritual adoption through our adoption of Jonathan. 

When we got home we had a couple of hours before we went out with our friends to dinner. It was a great restaurant with "muzungu (white people) food" as the Ugandans kept describing it to us as. The setting was fabulous! Large space for the kids to run around. Shaded area for moms to sit and talk. A fun end to a phenomenal day. 

Such a pretty place huh? All the kids were washing off sand box (aka red clay) filth before dinner.

Alone doesn't feel so alone with these ladies here with me! PS- check out that burger! It had cheese AND bacon. 

I had posted on Facebook that it was official because I knew I wouldn't have enough time to sit down and write all this out that day. The amount of people that showed excitement for us was so overwhelming to me! People I haven't talked to in years- that I didn't even know they followed what we were doing in our family. It was sweet to be reminded of them, and to see such support. I have tried to keep an account of this journey on this blog as best as I could so that I would have a good record of all that God has done. I hope that some of you have been able to keep up with it and praise God with us for His faithfulness. God's faithfulness screams out OVER AND OVER AND OVER again at every turn of this story! The PERFECT journey He has taken my heart on was tailor made for me and I couldn't be more thankful. Not everything has been easy, or happy, but it has been perfect in His plan. 

Thank you for your prayers. Please keep them up. We will still be here a while as all the paperwork/passport etc gets in line for Jonathan to be able to leave Uganda with us. It seems like a big hurry up and wait game which is tiring and hard. Especially with three children alone here. I have a passport interview on Monday at 8 AM (which means I have to leave much earlier than I normally get moving) and I will leave my other two behind to play again. Not sure exactly what happens at this step, but I know it's a good thing we have it so soon. :) I took Andrew and Jonathan for their rechecks today at the wonderful doctor that is taking care of them. Andrew got the ok and Jonathan got an iv of antibiotics. His cough is getting worse and moving towards a bronchitis type thing so they are doing iv antibiotics over the next 3 days. This means we have to go back to the office at the same time for the next 2 days. Thankfully it is at a good time for our schedule and the traffic schedule. 2 days isn't that long, and I'm so thankful it wasn't something that required staying in the hospital. I'm not really sure how I would swing that with Matthew and Andrew too! God provided the other clinic that the doctor works at that is small, quiet, clean, and fast, so we don't have to do the hospital scene anymore. PRAISE! On Monday at 8 AM I am supposed to be at my passport interview, then at 2 I am supposed to have Jonathan at the doctor. That sounds like a big range of time, but not in Africa.  I also am moving apartments that day. It is something I have known about, but seems to fall on a "bad" day. I know it will get done and be fine, but please pray for stamina, grace with Matthew especially (his sass is pushing my limits the past few days), and no traffic, fast appointments, and anything else you think we will need! Pray that this antibiotic will take care of Jonathan's problem. He was on one at home first and it didn't do anything, so I really would LOVE to have 3 healthy boys and no more doctor visits. :) My sweet friend Hellen came by for about 3 minutes today and brought us fruit! YUMMY! She has been so sweet and taken such good care of us even in the hectic schedule she keeps at her job. God is good to me. She says I look like I've lost weight- I told her thank you- she told me that wasn't a good thing. Crackers, grilled cheese, and apples must not be a good diet. Haha.

I'm going to take some nyquil for my cold and hopefully get lots of sleep before the boys get up! There is some birthday party at the restaurant tonight so we will see if I can actually sleep. When I move apartments I won't be next to the restaurant and parking lot anymore. I will be in the farthest corner and am excited for hopefully a little more quiet! Goodnight sweet friends.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

"Is he yours?!"

Just a quick update and a few more pictures. Today was good. Got all my chores done pretty quickly. The lizard hasn't killed me yet, though I'm not sure where it ended up so anxiety may be the end of me. The boys were pretty good- Andrew took a great nap for the first time since we've been here. Thank you Jesus. We got to go to dinner at a Mexican restaurant here- The Little Donkey. I got dressed in something that sort of matched, put on make up, sort of did my hair, and put on a necklace-which quickly came off because Jonathan tried to strange me with it from the Ergo (all rare things for me to do here by the way) for this special occasion. We were supposed to go a while ago while Adam was still here but when all the sickness hit it didn't work out. My mind has been thinking of guacamole since I first heard of this place though and I couldn't wait to go!! It did not disappoint. I had a chicken quesadilla dipped in sour cream and some guacamole and chips. This may sound normal to you- but this was quite the treat here! After dinner one lady brought all the other kids home to watch a movie and the other lady and I went to the store (with Andrew and Jonathan). I wish I had a video of the three of us ladies trying to carry on a conversation at dinner with the 10 kids we were all responsible for. At the end of our time (and maybe our rope) a couple came into the restaurant (probably on a date) and sat at the only other table in the little room with us. I felt so bad for them- I'm sure they were happy when we finally cleared out! :)

Tomorrow I have our ruling at court. It's at 10 AM (thankfully I don't have to leave too early) our time which is 2 AM your time Jacksonville (incase you feel lead to wake up and pray- haha). The other ladies are so kind to watch Matthew and Andrew so I don't have to take them with me. Please pray with us as we hope to hear that we have been granted guardianship of Jonathan and are able to bring him back to America. I was thinking on the way home tonight how crazy it is that all of this process will hopefully be finalized tomorrow. The judge will declare him my son. In my heart that is what he already is but it will be SO exciting to have it official. It is really interesting here because a lot of people will look at me strangely (trying to squeeze in some sort of awkward kindness at the same time) and say, "is he yours too?" And I smile and say yes. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM has replied, "no he's not." I have to explain that we adopted him, but SO WHAT that his skin is different. HE IS MINE and don't tell me he's not. I feel like they are probably asking if he's mine biologically but honestly why would you have to ask and then argue with me about my answer? Just the beginning of what is to come I'm sure. I fully expected strange looks in America but I totally forgot that we would stick out even more here!! I am one proud momma though and I beam when I get to tell them that YES he is mine.

Here are a few pictures to follow up on what I posted yesterday...

First song of the day he crawled on the coffee table and whipped out his dancing fingers. I had to take a picture to show you!

I took this from my kitchen window. Roofing in Uganda. I was for sure that at any moment this man was going to slide right off the roof on his sled he was sitting on! 

I took this from the boys bedroom window today. They went to the side yard to play together without me. I love that they play well together. It made me so sad that they didn't need me though. 

Matthew was writing A's today. And was staying inside the lines on these ones. It took much concentration as you can tell from his tongue. We colored a little craft today too and without me saying anything he colored in the lines and was so proud to show me. Maybe my suggestion yesterday did register with him. I came home tonight to a crazy scribbled coloring paper though and it made my heart happy. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Day in THE Life

I really am enjoying life here SO much. A lot of people would probably think I'm insane. That's fine. Haha. I grew up with life like this. My heart really feels at home in the most unexplainable way when I am in a setting like this.

Today was good. Andrew seems to be getting better. He gave me lots of smiles today. Only cried twice instead of every other second like he has been lately. We played with toys a lot. We had a few dance parties. Apparently I dance with my pointer fingers pointed. Andrew now dances with his hands like that and shows me very proudly every time. The things you learn in the mirror of children. :) I'm fairly certain I have better rhythm than him. It wouldn't take much though. Watching him dance is one of my highest forms of entertainment. One of Matthew's little friends came over for a while. I attempted to teach Matthew how to color inside the lines...not too interested. I told him it looked better than when he just scribbled like a crazy person all over the place. He cracked up at that. Whatever I guess. He will learn eventually. Haha. Kids got baths. We ate 3 meals again...sort of... dinner didn't seem to be too big of a hit. I am trying out all sorts of things I found at the store here. Some are good. Some are...well...gross. I made bran muffins from a mix. I added a cut up apple. They were yummy.

OH MY GOSH! MID TYPING I SAW A LIZARD WALK ACROSS THE LIVING ROOM FLOOR!! THEY ARE MY WORST NIGHTMARE!! SEND ME HOME!! But seriously... that is by far the worst moment of my trip so far.

I have a few pictures to share from our day (and a few in the past). I figured you may enjoy some of the little traits of Jonathan that we love. I hope you enjoy the little sneak peek at him. I'm also putting in some pictures of stuff around here too. And a little of our Christmas decorating time before Adam left.


When I said scribble like a crazy person I wasn't exaggerating.

Letter to Santa! He asked for a talking Buzz Lightyear and a James train.

Matthew's favorite ornament

Thank you Hobby Lobby for having Christmas stuff out basically at the end of summer! 99 cent stockings for us to hang on our indoor clothes line.

Decorating our tree. Please don't judge my craftiness too harshly.

My washer...

And dryer. 

This is my laundry room. And you can see my clothes hamper. You can't let it be too big or laundry piles up and I feel overwhelmed. The bottles are our new favorite toys as you will see in a few pictures. So we keep all of them. 

Sometimes his cuteness is too much for me to handle.

DJ Matthew loves to pick our songs on his little computer for us to dance to.


He has the longest fingers and toes.

There was a fly bothering Andrew. It was hilarious to watch him figure out what was happening.

He figures out new ways to hold more every day.

Another adorable belly.

Our feet are stained red from the Ugandan clay. 

My heart is so full when these two play together like best buddies. They were off on an adventure with their bottles. 

During our back porch dance party/play time/photo shoot our friends brought us some treats!! 

Andrew wasn't sure how exactly to eat this thing. His concerned face cracks me up. n

Hope you enjoyed some pictures. Thank you for praying for us. We had electricity all day!! You must have been praying every time you used electricity. It kept dipping and rising. Lights would fade and then shine bright. There is a house being built right across from us (it is so neat to watch the progress since we've been here and to see how they do construction) and every time they used whatever tool they used all day the power would go way down. Pretty amusing. Adam is home and we got to FaceTime with him today. I'm so thankful for how far technology has come and how helpful it is to stay in contact with loved ones far away. Jonathan even smiled when he saw Adam on the screen. Anyone else we have FT he has big scared eyes. He LOVES his daddy. I'm off to wash off the red clay and hop in bed. The lady that helps keep the houses clean around here changed all our sheets today. I can't wait to lay down in a clean bed!! Hopefully the party people at the restaurant right by our window aren't too out of control tonight. Goodnight!