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Remembering Uganda: Nonstop

July 9, 2013

We are telling our adoption story through recounting memories and sharing a series of emails that were sent while we were in Uganda in July & August of 2012. If you have made your way here because you are thinking about adopting from Uganda or are in the process, please know that the process is very different now than it was in 2012.

After a very long and full day as our first day in-country, Tim and I were hoping we would have a day to just be rest a little before our court date the next day. We were ALL still in our PJ’s and eating breakfast when one of the office assistants at Loving Hearts came up the stairs to our guest suite. She explained that she had talked to “I” (our Ugandan attorney) and that he needed us to go immediately to get passport photos taken of our new children and deliver them to his office. She then suggested we call “P” (a driver) to come pick us up right away.

As we were registering this information, we started sputtering, “But, uh, but, I mean, we don’t have a phone… And we don’t have “P’s” number… Someone was supposed to bring us a phone and never did… we don’t have any way to all “P”…” We felt so helpless, completely unable to do the task we needed to complete. She looked at us so strangely and then took off, saying she would find out how she could help.

After she left, we just looked at each other like, “What do we do?” Tim suggested we just go ahead and get ready and hope that something works out with the transportation. And so the tornado started, trying to get all six of us into clothes and shoes, as well as throw a diaper bag together (which had to include things like snacks, bottled water and toilet paper, since we didn’t know how long we would be out or what it would be available where we were going).

The six of us finally made it downstairs to find the same office assistant talking to one of the maintenance staff. She explained that they had not been able to reach “P” and so we would just be driven to get passport photos and then to “I’s” office in the Loving Hearts van. We said that was fine and loaded in.

Three out of four ready for our outing

Three out of four ready for our outing

This was our first long drive in the daylight, and we finally got a chance to see some of the city as we were driving to the passport place. Our kids were fascinated to see goats wandering on the side of the road, people on bicycles and motorcyles balancing heavy, large loads on the back, and roadside fruit stands, markets and more.

We arrived at the passport place and were relieved to see that there was no one inside. They started taking Nate and Naomi’s photos right away, but it still took a long time because Nate and Naomi were not big fans of having to sit in the chair all by themselves and having a giant camera with a huge flash stuck right in their faces. Let’s just say it took quite a few shots to get one that would be usable.

After we got the photos, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that our attorney “I’s” office was just upstairs, so we took the newly printed photos upstairs to his office. We then had a chance to meet our attorney briefly and get a quick explanation of court the next day. He basically explained that we had been assigned the judge who was known for being late and therefore we should expect to be at court all day waiting on the judge and to perhaps be prepared to return the following day if the judge did not show. We nodded along and were so thankful to know that this was a possibility so that we could plan accordingly. We left and on our way back to Loving Hearts, we asked the driver to take us to the market to pick up a few essential food items we would need in the days ahead.

You would think that this outing, passport photos, an attorney visit, market stop, wouldn’t have taken very long, and yet in Africa everything takes longer than Americans think it would or should (this is not a complaint or criticism, just an observation on the African definition of time and how it is wildly different than the American sense of time). As such, we arrived back to Loving Hearts pretty late, just in time to start the dinner time, bath time, bed time routine.

During the middle of dinner/bed/bath, our social worker “G” came up to our suite to explain what would happen the next day for court, what we needed to do to be ready, what time we would go, etc. We nodded along, and then he left. Feeling pretty overwhelmed at the thought of court the next day, I told Tim, “Do you think he would let us use his phone? It feels weird to be going to court tomorrow and no one back home know anything about it.” Tim said it wouldn’t hurt to ask, so I went downstairs and found “G” in his office.

I asked him if I could use his phone, explaining that we still didn’t have one and we needed to get an update to our family in the US. He graciously agreed and handed it over, but I didn’t know how to make an international call, and I didn’t want to do that on his phone anyway because I was sure that would eat up a lot of his phone minutes (all cell phones in Uganda use pre-paid minutes). So instead, I quickly called my friend in-country “L,” giving her my dad’s phone number and briefly sketching out the details that “G” had laid out for us and asking her to pass them along. She promised she would, and she also gave me the news that her husband “A” would be at court the next day as well, having to appear for something with their case. I was so relieved to hear that we would have a familiar face at court tomorrow, and I thanked her, hung up and gave the phone back to “G.”

As I walked back up the stairs to the guest suite, my eyes were brimming with tears. I felt so overwhelmed and so alone. I hated not being able to talk to anyone back home and update them on what was happening. I helped Tim get the kids into bed (which sounds like a much more simple process than it actually was or even still is), just barely able to hold back my tears. And yet, that night as I was lying in bed, the Holy Spirit reminded me of God’s kind provision. In spite of not having a phone for ourselves, that day we had been able to secure transportation for an important errand, AND we were able to get a message back home. We had a competent attorney and social worker who had prepared us for what was lying ahead of us the next day so that we could plan accordingly, which is important when you have four small children to look after. And we were going to court the next day, which means our court date, the one we had prayed for and longed for for so very long, was finally here. All good, sweet gifts from the Lord.

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