Tuesday, December 3, 2013

And then there were 5...

SOOOO much to write! We are in Uganda...but let me back up a bit to catch up to where we are now.

Two weeks before we left my mom (and dad for a few days) came to visit. Adam left for the entire week before we flew out to teach at a Bible school in Colorado. My mom was AMAZING! If it weren't for her I probably would have been crying in the middle of my living room floor surrounded by the things I needed to pack and the kids I needed to take care of. I LOVED getting to spend time with her because I hadn't seen her since June. I also am so thankful for all the help she was to me. She even cleaned my whole house before we left while I was out running errands one day.

So... Adam was in Colorado and was supposed to fly home late Thursday night and get back around 9 Friday morning. Our flight out to Uganda was at 1:50 that afternoon. We were praying for good weather and perfect timing. God was gracious in allowing that to happen. We drove to the airport and met Adam. He put his Colorado bag in the car and picked up his Uganda one I had packed for him. We checked in and headed to our gate. The boys were so excited to watch airplanes take off and land!

My mom was flying out the same time as us to go back home. When it came time to say goodbye to her it was really hard. Andrew gave her the sweetest longest hug. He really connected with her during her time with us and of course I started to cry. We really wanted my mom to be able to come to Uganda to experience all of this with us for part of the time, and to help with the 3 weeks Adam will be gone but it was too expensive. It was really sad for me to say goodbye to her and know that I was about to go do something really life changing and she wasn't going to be a part of it. Just like I wanted her there for the birth of Matthew and Andrew- I really wanted her to be a part of the beginning of Jonathan's life with us. I'm feeling a little better about that not being able to happen- but that was a hard moment for me.

We flew to Brussells. There were lots of African men on our flight. I have no idea if they were from Uganda or not but all I could think about when I saw them was, "Is that what Jonathan is going to look like as a man?!" So crazy! Andrew and I were seat buddies and he only wanted to sleep in my arms (first time in his life). My arms were so SORE! At Walmart before we left we were standing at the 88 cent bucket of medicine and an old lady came up and got some muscle rub and told me it was the most amazing thing ever. Since I had been the one picking up the suitcases over and over again to weigh them my back was already hurting so I figured I might as well try it for that price! I was thankful for that choice after holding Andrew on all those flights. My arms and shoulders were in bad shape.

We had a layover in Rwanda. We had to stay on the airplane for an hour! I was really not looking forward to this. The kids had done pretty well... Andrew was melting down from lack of sleep and another hour of airplane time without gaining any distance was not something I was excited about. Thankfully Adam and his mom (who got to come with us for the first 2 weeks here) took over and I got to spread out in a row of seats for that hour and sleep. It was JUST what I needed. I was starting to feel awful and almost panicky from my need of sleep! As a mom I'm amazed at what I keep learning my body can do on so little sleep! Haha

We had a short flight from Rwanda to Uganda and then our trip was really about to begin!! As we walked off the airplane I could hardly believe that our feet were touching the ground our son is from! We walked into the terminal and I kept having to hold back tears thinking that I was so close to Jonathan after being so far away for so long! I kept thanking God for His faithfulness and provision.

We were shown favor by the visa officials and got to cut to the front of one of the lines with our children and carry ons! Waiting in line was not something I saw going well with the amount of sleep both the boys were working with. And then all our luggage made it! YIPPEE! The boys did so great. Of course at points it was what you would expect traveling internationally with children- but they were troopers! Matthew asked Adam on our way out of the airport if he missed his friend from Dunkin Donuts (a black guy) because he saw all the black people around us. His little heart is so sweet sometimes!

We loaded ourselves and our luggage into the car and started our drive "home"-which was about an hour away. There are no carseats here though so the boys were happy to get in!

As we drove out of the airport I felt like I was back in Indonesia (except the weather is much more pleasant here!) The median curbs were painted black and white stripes just like the airport there. The signs all look the same as far as the design and the smells... honestly I wanted to bottle them. They may not be to other people's liking but to me they mean home. I think I breathed DEEP breaths the whole drive. It's a mixture burning trash and street food. Throw up if you want...I was excited! :) As we drove all of a sudden I realized that it was 1 in the morning and there were people EVERYWHERE! You would've thought the sun had just gone down! Andrew was asleep next to me and had been eating animal crackers. Slowly I felt them slip from his hands and the best part was when minutes later I heard him crunch one that was in his mouth mid sleep! He was a tired boy!

Matthew turned around from the seat in front of me and kept asking me how I was doing. He was holding my hand and telling me he was so excited to be in Uganda. I just wanted to squeeze him! So precious.

As we drove I kept thinking about how thankful I was that we were getting to experience this as a whole family. I am so grateful to those that gave money to make this whole journey possible. This is a big page in our family's book and I'm so thankful that we are here together.

Just to let you know- I wrote that first part a few days after being in country. It has been a few weeks now and life has been hectic. I have not had a single moment to sit down and type up anything! I wish I had because I would've been able to recall more specific details- but I am treasuring things up in my heart.

After we arrived at the guest house we are at we let the boys play for a while. Time zone, airplane sitting time, and excitement about finally being here meant a 3 am bed time. We didn't arrive until around 1 am if that makes you feel any better. I was up at 5:15 with a HORRIBLE headache. I took some medicine and as soon as my head started feeling better all I wanted to do was go explore! :) I waited a while and finally went outside to look around. This country is beautiful! The place we are staying is like a retreat in the chaos of Kampala. The temperature here is perfection. I got to meet some of the mysterious Facebook friends I had been communicating with for months. It was like seeing old friends not meeting them for the first time. My heart is so full here. When everyone else got up Adam and I went to exchange some money, but a little cell phone, and get a few groceries. Everywhere we go here we have a driver. It sounds fancy...but it would be suicide to try to drive anywhere by ourselves! The traffic is nuts and we would have no idea where we are going! After we brought the groceries home we got in the car and headed out to the orphanage. Adam's mom is with us and stayed with the boys so they wouldn't have to make the long trip. It was 6 hours to get there. Both of us fell asleep almost as soon as we got in the car. It was good to catch up on a little bit of sleep. I was running on about 5 hours of sleep in 3 days! At one point I woke up and looked outside the car window. We were in the more mountainous part of Uganda and it was BEAUTIFUL! We arrived at the little hotel we would stay at the two nights we were there. We checked in and then our driver told us we were going to the orphanage. It was 7ish at night and we knew that was too late to show up and see Jonathan. He said we could go meet the sisters (nuns) that ran the place that night. We were excited to get a chance to talk to them after all the kids were already in bed. We were hoping to learn all we could about our little boy!

When we got there I was excited. I couldn't believe that I was in the same place as Jonathan. I knew I wouldn't see him, but I was strangely at peace about that. I was a little worried I wasn't going to sleep again that night with excitement, but I was so happy to finally be there! We met the sisters and they were so kind. It was fun to talk to them and hear a little about the program and our little boy. They have 40 plus children at this home right now. 3 sisters run the place and there are 17 mamas that care for the children. Half of them work during the day and half at night. That is A LOT of work! As we sat there one of the mamas came in holding JONATHAN!!! I immediately started crying... and I'm actually crying again right now thinking about it. It was not at all how I imagined meeting my son. It was so surprising! We weren't supposed to be allowed to see him that night! I stood up and took him from the mama. I tried not to scare him, but also wanted to touch each little body part of his that I had stared at in pictures for so long and wondered about! He just stared at us with his BIG wide eyes. I held him for a while and talked to him and cried. The sisters laughed at me a little but I didn't care at all. The way I met my son was not at all what I imagined but it was absolutely perfect. I passed him off to Adam eventually. Jonathan peed on him right away! Haha. Diapers are not a thing at the home. We had to say goodbye to him after just a little bit, but it wasn't nearly as torturous as I thought it would be. I was so thankful for such a sweet surprise of meeting him early! And I knew the next morning we would be back to take him with us forever!!

The next morning I woke up at 3 I think. Excited and jet lagged. Eventually I could get up and eat breakfast and our driver came to get us. When we got to the home it was buzzing with activity. The children were awake and they were getting started for the day. They do the same cycle over and over...feed-clean-dress-play-feed-clean-sleep. There are MANY wardrobe changes in there since there are no diapers. They start with a big pile of clean clothes and as a child dirties a set they take them off and throw them in a dirty pile and pick whatever is off the top of the clean pile to put on them. As I watched these ladies care for these orphans I was amazed at their hard work and their care for them. What an exhausting thankless job. I was so overwhelmed as I met these women that I have prayed for for so long. It gave me more specifics to pray for in the future for them. They love those children well with the most minimal resources. Soon after we got there Jonathan woke up and they brought him to us. I put a diaper on him right away! :) We basically sat around the home the whole day. I was thankful to have time to observe life there and take in details to some day share with Jonathan. We went back to the hotel for lunch, but didn't have enough time to eat so we took a little nap on the bed with our new son! Amazing. Then we went to the probation officer and got foster care of Jonathan so we could bring him back to the city for court. We took some gifts back to the home for the sisters. Some of the gifts were things people had sent with us from America. It was so fun getting to share with them that so many people so far away were praying for them and thankful for them! We also got them some big bags of rice and sugar. Our driver told us it would be a huge blessing to them.

I was very concerned for a few weeks before we left that I was going to be totally upsetting Jonathan's world by coming into it. I was worried that the sisters would have a hard time saying goodbye to a baby they have cared for. God was so gracious in making it obvious that this is the best thing that could happen to Jonathan. That may sound crazy to you- but they were very real feelings for me. I kept telling the ladies there how thankful I was for their care of him and how I had prayed for them. They kept thanking us for giving him a home and a family that will love him. Everyone kept saying, "Jonathan has a family!" I drove away from the home at complete peace. We spent the night in the town one more night because it is too dangerous to drive at night. We had to get back in the routine of waking up in the middle of the night to change a diaper and feed a baby! He is an angel though and only woke up once!

We drove home the next morning. The 6 hours back with him was great. He is so easy going. I was SO excited to get home to be together as a whole family! Adam and I had a plan for how to introduce him to the boys. That plan didn't happen at all. :) As soon as we pulled up the boys came running outside excited to see us and meet Jonathan! It was sweet and perfect!

The next day we met with our lawyer to get an idea of what court would be like. Then on Thursday the 21st (Adam's birthday) we had our court date. I wish there was some way to type what my stomach felt like. It was horrible! We had to leave early which was hard for all the boys. We sat in African traffic for a while which had my stomach in even more knots! We were supposed to arrive at 8:30 because our case was at 9. When the clock hit 8:30 and we were still on the road I was a mess! I had no idea where we were or how close we were. At 8:33 we pulled in the gate and I felt a little better. We went upstairs and waited to be called in. My stomach continued to feel worse and worse as the judge asked the witnesses questions etc. The boys were getting squirmy and we weren't allowed to have toys, books, drinks, or snacks with us! We were told we would be in there about 40 minutes. I was praying like crazy!! Some of the witnesses at our case were the two men that found Jonathan. I had NO idea they would be there and it was such a blessing to get to meet them!! They were so caring and excited to see Jonathan. I cried as I heard their account of finding him. God greatly protected our son and used these two men in an amazing way. Treasures in my heart. As it came time for the judge to ask us questions Adam stood up to be introduced. I turned my head to the left to look at him and as soon as I did that Andrew cannon ball rolled out of his chair to my right onto the tile floor right on his face! Everyone gasped and I was sure we would be denied anymore children ever!! The sound was horrible and his screaming started!! They let Adam's mom take him out which was another blessing. 1- that she was there to be able to help with that. 2- that he didn't have to sit in that room any longer! :) My mom suggested maybe God pushed him out of the chair. Haha. As the judge asked us questions my stomach started to calm down. She was SO very kind to us. She asked Matthew some questions and he did GREAT! (We had practiced a lot so I'm so thankful!!) I really feel like we got to have good dialogue with her about Jonathan's future, how we will address certain questions, and that she got a real feel for what life in our family is like, and what we value. God is so good. At the beginning of the time in court Jonathan had a MASSIVE diaper blow out! Then fell asleep! We put a burp cloth under him and just held him. Remember when I said court was supposed to be about 40 minutes... well it turned into about 2 hours!! Thankfully Andrew fell out of the chair and got to leave. Matthew did so great and Jonathan slept most of the time. When he woke up and fussed the judge let me leave to change him because our time was over. I kept telling her thank you so much. I am so so so grateful for how God ordained our judge, our court time, and Jonathan's whole story. We got a date set to go back for her ruling. December 6.

We had to take pictures with the men and the sister and as a family before I could change Jonathan because I had forgotten to bring a change of clothes...of course. Not sure how on my 3rd baby I could make such a rookie mistake! Haha. Most of our pictures are not the best because the boys were tired, Jonathan had poop everywhere and was fussy and we were all ready to get home! We can't share them on here until we are back in America unfortunately. :(

We got home and chilled out for a while. That night we had dinner with our adoption friends at the restaurant on campus for Adam's birthday. I used the gas stove without a thermometer to make brownies for him. They turned out alright. It's quite the guessing game. :) I also added Reeses  in the shape of 29 since we didn't have candles and they are Adam's favorites. It didn't look so good, but it tasted great. :)

Friday was our first full day home with Jonathan as 5 Alexanders. He had a bad stuffy nose so we took him to a clinic here. Everything here takes extra time so that took up most of our day and we were basically told to do nose drops... Saturday night Matthew woke up moaning terribly and crunched over in what looked like stomach pain. Back to the clinic we went in the middle of the night. Thankfully we had been there the day before with Jonathan so we knew a little of what to expect. The man that owns the place we are staying graciously took us and picked us up...we didn't get home until 2. We were told he had a bacterial infection and we were given meds and headed home. Saturday he still seemed down...mostly watched movies all day. Sunday he went outside for a while but by evening was pretty droopy again. Monday was a bit the same. Tuesday morning he woke up suddenly and was doing the terrible moaning thing again. He had a high fever but said nothing hurt. He laid in bed all morning moaning. In the afternoon my sweet friend Hellen met us at the hospital (no more clinic) and pushed our way through the chaos. She requested a specific doctor for us and that was a GOD send! As soon as we got there they took his temperature and before it even beeped they took us to another room- gave him strong medicine to get his fever down and took off all his clothes to give him a washcloth bath to bring down his fever. During that time they put something in his hand to administer medicine and took blood. We were then sent to wait to see the doctor. He slept on me the whole time. When we got in to see the doctor she was so sweet! She told us that he had pneumonia, a bad bacterial infection that was in danger of turning into meningitis if it was not treated quickly and properly (aka- no going home and doing medicine on our own). Hellen told me she would stay the night with us and I shed a few tears. Just a couple and the only ones the whole time. I'm very proud of myself. :) We were sent upstairs to a "private room". This sounds fancy but in fact it is just a room to yourself. Usually there are 4 people to a room. I'm grateful that this was available for us- we paid for it- but whatever it cost (not much) was worth it!! We were in the hospital for 2 days (basically 3 by the time we were actually discharged- that is the worst part of any hospital visit in any country!!) Hellen once again came in to help speed along the leaving process. God's big story of starting our friendship over a year ago in Jacksonville while she was visiting from Uganda with Samaritans Purse for children receiving heart surgeries is absolutely amazing to me. He knew that she would need our help then and we would need her help now. It was SO nice to have a friend to chat with for hours too. Being stuck in a hospital room is a great time to catch up. Matthew was SO great the entire time we were in the hospital. Sweet to the nurses (who were so kind to us), doctors, took his medicine as best a 3 year old can (flavored medicines that are tolerable don't seem to be a thing here.) and didn't hog the bed too much at night. :) We did share the hospital bed- I'm thankful it fit us both because it was the only option of furniture in the room!

When we got home it was around 4 and the restaurant at the place we are staying had been willing to special cook us Thanksgiving dinner with a turkey and mashed potatoes!! After snacking on crackers for 3ish days I was SO excited to eat real food! It was good to be back with our friends and all together as a family.

Friday we went to a craft market so that Adam's mom could see some stuff and buy some stuff before she left. With the chaos of everyone being sick we hadn't had a free day. That was really fun and we saw some neat things. Andrew cried the entire way there, while we were there walking around in the red clay, and the whole way home. The rest of us had a good time I think. Haha.

Saturday we hung around the house. Jonathan got a fever that continued to get higher. I took him to the clinic that night. I'm getting to be pretty darn good at African clinics at night by myself! They said it was a viral infection and if he wasn't better in a few days to come ok thanks.

We aren't allowed to post pictures of him until we are home. So this will have to do. :) He was sleeping on me at the clinic with his little hand resting on my waist. Be still my heart.

Sunday we hung out again. With all the sickness we didn't brave church this week. Jonathan didn't seem to be improving.

Monday was a sad day. We hung around the house most of the day because it was Adam's last day with us. We wanted to just have family time. We did end up going to the store to get a few last minute things before he left. I was down to 2 bottles of water and without clean water here that's bad news. We ate dinner together after he packed and then had to say goodbye. Ugh. So sad. He headed back to the house (we had eaten outside) before me and as I was walking home I started to cry. The thing running through my mind was, "This isn't how it should be. He shouldn't have to leave us half way around the world. We are now a family of 5 that is about to be split up again." My friend Jenni came walking up to me and gave me a hug and said, "This isn't how it should be." MY WORDS EXACTLY!! Her husband is back in America too. I guess that's how everyone feels. But...bills still pile up in America even if you aren't living there. And work must go on I suppose. Another dad was leaving the same night so there were many many tears. Family isn't meant to be split up. I'm thankful for God's design of family. I'm thankful I've never had to deal with permanent splits in families in my life. God has blessed me with parents that are still married and amazing grandparents as well. It's a rare thing these days. I can't imagine having to say goodbye to someone I love on a regular basis.

As I walked back inside the boys were waiting for me. Matthew just lost it. We sat and cried for a while together. It is so sad because he understands now what is happening. He gets that daddy is gone and will be for a while. There was no way I could explain it to him- I just let him know I am sad too. The boys then asked for a drink so I went to the kitchen to get it. Thankfully Jonathan was already asleep so my hands were empty. Matthew and Andrew followed close at my heels and I felt a wave of panic wash over me as I realized I'm on my own for almost a month. These kids are great...but they are A LOT to handle. All of them are so young. The theme song of this trip has been Great is Thy Faithfulness. I started singing it and got the baths ready. After bath the sun was down and the electricity was out (it has been for days) so we did bedtime by flashlight. The boys handled that surprisingly well. I took a shower and headed to bed. EXHAUSTED and preparing for a day on my own today.

Andrew woke up at midnight screaming. I went to check on him and then he seemed to be fully awake. So we were up until 2:30. He cried most of the time. A headache was coming on and I was desperate to sleep! Eventually he went back to sleep and I crawled back in my bed. Jonathan's snoring sounded like two animals fighting so I laid awake a while longer.

All three families here now are without the daddies. The one whose husband/daddy had left a while ago knew what the others of us were going through. Her and her kids made invitations and invited us all to their house Tuesday morning for a pancake breakfast!! So sweet and thoughtful. The boys GOBBLED up the pancakes. I think they would've kept eating forever! It touched my heart and clearly touched their tummies.

After breakfast all three of the boys and myself headed back to the hospital for Matthew's recheck. I was SO nervous about this. Jonathan was in the carrier, Matthew walking, and Andrew slowly walking or me trying to carry him. He has been SUPER fussy since we've been here and is not an easy going child. He also doesn't talk yet which always causes issues when trying to communicate with each other. Our driver here took us to the hospital. He is AMAZING! The boys and I went inside, checked in and waited. And waited. And waited. We had run out of crackers, our water was low, the entertainment I had brought was no longer entertaining and the doctor was not in yet. Apparently there isn't a specific show up to work time. We were about 5th in line to see her whenever she showed up. She eventually showed up and saw the other patients quickly (thank you Jesus)- and it was our turn. She checked Matthew and gave him the ok. I asked her if she would mind checking Andrew's ear to see if it was infected. He's had problems with that for a while. I told her that I would go back and check him in and pay etc if there was a problem- I just wondered if she would check while we were there. She was so gracious and checked him. Sure enough...ear infection. While she was doing all of that Jonathan was coughing and snotting everywhere. She said he needed to be checked too. She wrote down on a piece of paper the names of the medicines and instructions for them for both Andrew and Jonathan and told me where to go to get them filled at a different pharmacy so the hospital wouldn't charge me and we wouldn't have to go through the whole process for the two of them! She also told me of a clinic she works at that takes appointments (not usually a thing here) that we can go to for their rechecks so we don't have to wait!! I wanted to kiss her!! She has been so great the WHOLE time and this really almost sent me over the edge of my trying to hold it together on my first day alone!! Our driver took us to the pharmacy. We had to cross the road. I think it was supposed to be 2 lanes of traffic but in reality was about 4-5 (cars and motorcycles) no exaggeration. Jonathan back in the carrier, Andrew on my hip and the driver carrying Matthew!! He helped push us through the chaos at the pharmacy...back across the street and HOME! I am hoping this will get everybody completely healthy (and Andrew to not be whining and crying all the time) so we can enjoy our time here!!

Poor little guy keeps falling asleep in the car. He's worn out!

So I have survived my first day alone. We ate 3 meals. Had nap time (that has been a little questionable the first few weeks here). Hand washed clothes. Hand washed dishes. Entertained ourselves without electricity again. Took baths. Watched a movie with our saved computer battery time. And all the boys are asleep!! Nothing too glamorous but I'm SO excited. Haha.

Please pray for us. We miss Adam a lot. It was so sad coming back from the hospital today and realizing again that he wasn't back here waiting for us. It was sad to not be able to tell him how the hospital went either because he is still traveling. The time difference will make it so that we can't talk too often which is sad. This is a HUGE thing in our family's story and it's sad to have to keep him updated over the phone. Please pray that all boys get and stay healthy. Pray I continue to stay healthy. God has been so gracious. I haven't felt sick even once! Pray for our ruling that we will have on Friday. Thankfully I don't have to take all the boys with me- Matthew and Andrew will stay behind and play with friends. I'm not sure I could handle all of that with grace and poise. Haha. This is not really important at all but would be so nice- please pray that we have electricity. It has been out for about 3 or 4 days now all day. It doesn't come back on ( and even then not very consistently) until evening. It's 9 right now and still not back on. And when there is no electricity there is no hot water for showers. I can heat water on the gas stove for kids baths but not for a mommy shower. Like I said...just a luxury but one I would appreciate. :) Maybe you could think to pray for it while you are doing anything that involves needing electricity through out your day. Haha.

I honestly am not even re-reading this post at all. I started typing it SO long ago and so much has happened. Maybe from here on out on my evenings alone I can find time to write more. Forgive me if it doesn't make too much sense or if there are a million spelling errors. Hope you can enjoy the update on what has happened here. I love it here and am so happy to get to spend so much time here. I wish it could be as our whole family together but thankfully Adam does get to come back at Christmas!! God is FAITHFUL and overly generous in His provision of community, helpful Ugandan staff from our agency, and nothing TOO serious medically. Please praise Him with us for these things.

1 comment:

  1. Reading this in a whole new light since I have a dear friend here who moved from Kampala. The "sights and sounds" as described in your words help me see it through another pair of eyes.

    I am so excited for you. I will pray that God sustains you during your time alone and that you will build memories that will never fade. Lifechanging, life-giving, life-fulfilling times ahead!!!