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Remembering Uganda: Contact!

July 11, 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.

Once we arrived back at Loving Hearts from our incredibly long day at the courthouse, we fed our kids dinner as quickly as we could and put everyone to bed. Tim and I sat out on the balcony of our guest suite that doubled as our living room, and we talked about the day and how the two of us were doing. I told Tim that my biggest struggle was not having a phone. Here we were, in Africa, oceans away from everyone who knows us and loves us, and we have no way to communicate with anyone. We couldn’t update them or give them the rundown of the day’s events, this day many of them had prayed for and longed for right alongside us.

And so we prayed. We asked God to give us a phone. We asked God to make a way for us to communicate with everyone back home. I wish I could say that this was a first instinct, that when we landed in Uganda and did not receive a phone as we had expected, that we prayed right away and trusted that God would work it out and provide. But no, we had struggled and complained and become frustrated and asked everyone who we thought could help us reach the person who was supposed to bring us a phone… and all this before we had even prayed and asked God to meet this need.

And so on Tuesday night, emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted from our day at court, we sat together and confessed our frustration and our worry and our pride that made us think we were entitled to have the phone we were “promised,” and we asked God to provide, to meet this need, to enable us to connect the family and friends back home who we knew were dying to hear from us. We went to bed with no phone but with more peaceful hearts.

We woke up Wednesday morning not knowing what the day would hold. We were hoping for a more restful day and yet as we had learned on Monday with the passport errand, there are things that come up and you just have to GO. As it turns out, what the day would hold was a big, fat answer to prayer.

We ate breakfast, got dressed and leisurely made our way downstairs to take the kids outside to play for awhile. As we were coming outside, we ran into our social worker “G” who said he had talked to “P” (a driver, who was also supposed to deliver our phone) and that “P” said he would be coming by that day with our phone. Our mouths dropped open. We had just prayed for this the night before, and here it was- an answer to prayer before we could even go asking or inquiring about it. I was so giddy at the thought of having a phone you would have thought I was a kid on Christmas morning. We went about our morning, playing outside and exploring the property, and lunchtime routine with a spring in our step, looking forward to “P’s” arrival.

Eliza hanging like a sloth from the mini-carousel

Eliza hanging like a sloth from the mini-carousel

Sure enough, just after lunch, a car pulled into Loving Hearts, and we went down to meet it. The driver introduced himself as “P” and pulled a cell phone box out of his car. I almost hugged him, but then I couldn’t remember if that was culturally appropriate or not, so I restrained myself. He explained how to make international and local calls, gave us the number for the phone so we could give it to family and friends and showed us some numbers that were already programmed in (including his own and our social worker “G’s,” which was helpful). We asked if we could start making calls right away, and he said it needed to be charged and loaded with minutes. So of course we asked if he could take us to buy minutes right then and also drop us off to “check in” at the US embassy, just to let them know we were in-country and pick up some paperwork we would need once we got to the visa step. He said he could, and we dashed to gather our things.

We ran up to our suite to plug the phone in so it could be charging, threw a few snacks and diapers in a bag, grabbed the kids and got into “P’s” car. He took us to the embassy first, which was a formidable looking building, with heavily secured gates and armed guards surrounding it. He dropped us off, and we checked in at the gate, showing our US passports and leaving everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) we had brought with us at the guard station.

We were directed to a small waiting area, and once there, I asked to see the individual embassy employee, “N,” who our agency had directed us to. She was with someone else, so we were asked to sit and wait. Surprisingly, it did not take long for her to become available, and I just walked in, explained who I was and why I was in-country, and she handed me two giant stacks of paperwork (one for each child) and her card, letting me know I could contact her at any time with any questions I might have.

We left, retrieved our things from the guard station, and met with up with “P,” who took us to the market to get phone minutes, bottled water and a few other essentials. I remember this was my first time having to use Ugandan money (shillings is the name of their currency), and when the total rung up for our things, I almost choked. It was over 60,000 shillings! (which, once Tim did the math, we figured out was only about 24 bucks). I opened up my wallet with my Ugandan money, and I just stared at it. “P” had to help me pick out the right bills. So strange, not even being able to count out a simple grocery store exchange. Definitely a “we’re not in Kansas anymore” moment for me.

We got back to Loving Hearts just before naptime. It was PERFECT because we put the kids down, and then I immediately started dialing. My mom first. She started crying as soon as she heard my voice. Then I started crying. I started talking a mile a minute, telling her everything from the beginning, and I had barely gotten through day one when the phone went dead. NOOOOOOOOO!! Apparently, international calls eat through phone minutes at lightning speed. Fortunately, we had bought more than one phone card, so I loaded the next one, called my mom back, gave her my Ugandan number and told her she had to call me (receiving a call uses WAY fewer minutes than making call). She called me right back, and I caught her up as quickly as I could. Then it was Tim’s turn. He called his folks and had them call him back to give them the scoop as quickly as he could. By now, the kids were back up and the phone had to be put away so we could focus on them.

We played and bathed and ate and just went about the rest of our day, and as soon as the kids were down again, the phone came back out. My turn- call “M.” Tim’s turn-call “D.” My turn- call our agency. Back and forth and back and forth it went, each of us taking turns connecting with people we loved so dearly and missed so terribly. It was refreshing to our souls, truly life-giving, to simply hear the voices of these treasured friends and family. We are truly not meant to be alone- every person really is created for community, to know others and to be known by others. We didn’t realize how much we depended on that until it was unavailable to us. Tim and I prayed together again before we went to bed that night, this time a prayer overflowing with thanksgiving for the precious gift of connection with our community back home. God is so good.

 

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