What's Next?!!

I have really enjoyed sharing our adoption journey with you all over the last 16 months. I have been amazed at how many people from all over the world have followed us along the way. Amy and I have been so encouraged by your comments and prayers! Thank you all so much!
Now that Joy is home with us, I have been praying about what to do with our adoption blog. On the one hand, I want to continue to keep everybody updated on our experience as we continue on this journey. On the other hand, there are a lot of other things, non adoption related,  God is teaching me that I want to share as well. Decisions, decisions!
Well, here is the solution I have come up with. Amy is taking over the adoption blog and will continue to share our ongoing adoption story at thebrinkleysjourney.blogspot.com. I will begin posting here on my new blog. You can click on the “About” tab at the top of the new blog home page to see what this new blog is all about. I really want this experience to be less about me just writing and more about us talking. I am going to need your help in making that happen, so please share you thoughts, feedback, approval, or complaints in the comments section of each post. Thanks again for following. 
Here’s to the journey!

Home And Happy

Wow, it’s finally over! Joyce is home and we are all so happy!

Joyce and I made the trek home together and it was fun watching her enjoy some new experiences! Her eyes got so big when we took off on our first flight, but she totally loved flying. Of course, having her own TV loaded with movies and access to all the free Coke she could drink helped take the experience over the top!

When we arrived in Amsterdam and approached our first escalator, she stopped dead in her tracks and had that “you must be crazy” look on her face.  I had to assure her it would be ok, but once she road it; she wanted to ride everyone she saw, even if it was going the opposite direction we needed to go! She slept almost the entire trip from Amsterdam to Atlanta with her head in my lap. It was a nice break for me! All in all it was a smooth trip home.

We arrived in Greensboro to what looked like at least 100 people cheering us on as we walked up the gate! There were people there from our church, our community, and our places of work. We saw friends we haven’t seen in over a year and friends that we have known for less than 6 months. It was absolutely amazing and made it hard to leave the airport! I just wanted to hang out and celebrate with everybody everything God has done over the last four years between breaking my heart for Uganda and bringing my daughter home! We have the best friends and family anyone could ask for. I know there are a lot of you who wanted to be there and just couldn’t. Here is the piece our local news shot at the airport. I hope you enjoy!

Joyce has settled in great and she has really come out of her shell. She is still a little uncomfortable with hugs, kisses and affection in general, but she is talking, laughing, playing with all the kids and making herself right at home. We have even started calling her Joy (at her request!) and she loves it.  She loves playing with the kids and is starting to be her silly self! It’s just the way it is supposed to be.

Home and Happy!

We're Coming Home!

That’s right; The J’s are coming home! Yesterday, Joyce and I had our Visa application appointment and all is well! We were given the green light and will be picking up Joyce’s visa tomorrow! We are scheduled to arrive at PTI airport in Greensboro at 5:33pm Thursday. I hope to see you all there!

This final trip has been amazing. It has been such a blessing to hang out with the missionaries here at GSF! My life is definitely richer having known them. This last trip has been one of adventure and experiencing as much of Uganda as possible. 

Today capped of that experience with a ride on a public transportation van and a Boda Boda!
For those that don’t know, a Boda Boda is a motorcycle taxi. These Boda drivers are daredevils at heart and whip in and out of traffic like they are playing a life-size video game! Today, a friend and I took Bodas into Jinja, a cool little city about 40 minutes from GSF. We took the back roads that wind through some little villages and then zipped through the sugar cane fields. It was an amazing experience and really made me feel like “a regular”! As you ride through the villages, the cutest little kids you have ever seen run out to the road and wave at you smiling the biggest white smiles. Even though Amy is going to kill me when she finds out I rode a Boda, it was a great way to spend my last free day here!

Tomorrow we will finish up our last bit of business then it’s a daddy daughter day! Today I had Joyce’s hair done, tomorrow its mani and pedi day at the mall. After the mall we will swing by the embassy to pick up Joyce’s visa. Then we will head to the airport guest house to have dinner, take a good shower and relax a little before heading to the airport for our 1:45am departure.

I can’t believe this part of the process is finally coming to a close. As I think about my time here in Uganda, here are some of the things that stick out: The amazing support of friends and family, 3 trips to Africa in 9 months, My wife conquering some of her biggest fears, JOYCE!!, Bungee jumping 145ft head first into The Nile, The amazing smiles and hospitality of the Ugandan people, God’s faithful and complete provision, The kids of GSF, Taco night at the Interns house, learning how to wait faithfully…these are just a few of the memorable moments here that have forever changed my life!

I want to thank…again…each one of you who has shared in our journey. Some have prayed, some have given money, some have given time and talent, some have shared words of encouragement on facebook, some have been there for my family while I have been in Uganda, some have simply read the blog, ALL of you have helped make this adoption possible!. Whatever your part, it has been greatly appreciated and words can’t begin to express how grateful my family is for you.

I plan on continuing the blog after our family is finally all together under one roof. I know bringing Joyce home is the end of the adoption process, but it is not the end of the journey. We know God has a lot more to teach us, and our hope is that your life will impacted in a positive way as we share those experiences with you. If nothing else it ought to be good for a few laughs!! OK, a BUNCH of laughs!

Please keep me and Joyce in your prayers as we make our trip home! We are almost there guys!!

See you all Thursday!

Freakin' Amazing

OK, so I haven’t had a lot of time to right over the last 24 hours. In fact it is 7am here in Uganda and I am getting ready for a 2hr dive into Kampala. We have to meet with the Embassy, our attorney,  and Joyce is getting her pins taken out of her arm…keep us both in your prayers for that one!

I just wanted to take a few minutes and tell you that yesterday was one the most amazing days in my life. Most of my trips here have been consumed with hours in the car, visits to the lawyer’s office, doctor’s offices, embassy appointments and more hours in the car! However, yesterday me and another guy who is here with his family to adopt took the day to go do man stuff!  I mean real man stuff!

We went whitewater rafting on THE Nile River, class 4 and 5 rapids all day long. For those that don’t know what a class 4 or 5 rapid is…those are the ones that make you say holy crap…or a few other not so spiritual words!

Then, I bungee jumped from 145ft above the Nile. I have never felt such a rush! Words can’t even begin to describe the felling. It was something I will never forget.

When we were driving back to the orphanage, we drove over the Nile from a very high bridge. As we looked down over the water, there was a big alligator (or croc, not sure what they have here) sitting on a big rock in the middle of the river. To be as big as he was from where we were I would put him at least 6-8 feet long. That put our rafting trip on a whole new level!

Freakin’ Amazing!

It's Official...Team Brinkley is +1

It’s official! Today a Ugandan Judge confirmed what Amy and I have known for the last 9 months, that Joyce Nafamba was destined by God to be a Brinkley! Today Joyce and I went to court for the judge’s ruling and he declared Amy and me her legal guardians! Team Brinkley is +1!

I can’t even begin to explain what I am felling right now. It is probably one of the most surreal moments in my life. I thought I would probably cry when I heard the judge rule in our favor, but the feelings that arose where quite different. It was that kind of feeling that just says, “Yeah, this is the way it is supposed to be.” No big rush of emotion, no tears, just a quit sense that this is what God had planned all along.

I talked with Joyce about what happened today and what that meant for her. She seems to understand a little but I am sure she doesn’t comprehend the world of change she is about to enter! None the less, she seems excited about coming to America with me, having brothers and sisters, and a new bed…and she has already started calling me daddy! Yes, my chest is sticking out a little farther right now! I am one proud papa!

Tonight, she gets to spend the night with me in the guest house. We have just been hanging out together having a great time and things are happening very naturally. We are getting ready to cuddle up together and watch a movie on the laptop before calling it a day.

I want to thank every one of you who have stood with us on this journey. I have a lot more I want to say and so much to write about, but for now…I’m going to go enjoy a movie with my DAUGHTER!

Good night from the J’s!

In-Flight Entertainment!!

My flights to Uganda always yield some sort of excitement! Weather delays, midflight re-routes, lost luggage…these are just a few we have experienced so far. My flight here on this trip proved to be the most entertaining of the three to date.

The excitement began when a rather “round” guy stood up in the aisle with his head phones in and started dancing! He broke out with some rave dancing mixed in with some classic head bobbing! It was bad…really bad! This guy thought he was the next Usher though! You could just tell he was one of those guys who thought he was the stuff out on the dance floor. After he broke bad in the aisle, he started aggravating some of the passengers. He was basically just being loud and obnoxious. Come to find out…he had been hitting the red wine pretty hard! I and the other passengers in my section (who are now mocking this guy) watched several of the flight crew come and deal with this guy to no avail. Eventually, one of the flight attendants that I would even be afraid to tangle with gave him an official written warning and told him if he did not stay in his seat and keep his mouth shut he would be greeted by Uganda 5-0 at the airport. She was no joke! He put his hands on her one time in that “I love everybody” kind of drunken way and she bout took him out! It made for a good 30 minutes worth of in-flight entertainment!

After they got Mr., “So you think you can dance” settled down, I began a conversation with a woman sitting in the same row across the aisle from me. Actually the conversation got started because we were making fun of the guy together! Don’t worry …I repented later. It was hilarious though! Turns out this lady is personal assistant to Billy Graham’s daughter and lives in Raleigh. She told some really cool stories about Mr. Graham. One of the things that stood out was the fact that at 90+ years of age and having preached all over the world…he is still memorizing scripture. Actually he is memorizing the whole book of Psalms, and because he can’t see well, he has big flip charts with Psalms written out on them in big letters so he can see it. It was really neat just hearing about his character and love for God. The man is the real deal, a true spiritual giant of our day! I can’t wait to see what kind of excitement the trip home with Joyce brings! Please start praying now.

When I got off the plane, I was greeted by the very distinct smell of Uganda. The best way I can describe it is Smokey, probably from all the trash fires and cooking fires. It is very unique and you smell it all the time. I spent the first night at the airport guest house. The guest house is very nice (by Ugandan standards) and I slept great. I woke this morning (we are 8 hours ahead of NC) to all kinds of birds singing outside my window. It felt good to be back. Having been here three times within the last nine months; it really feels like a home away from home. I am so glad to have experienced so much of Joyce’s culture.

I arrived at the orphanage after a three hour drive from the airport. The driving here is the worst part of the experience. It takes forever to get anywhere! When Joyce saw me, she ran up and gave me a big hug. It was so good to see her again. We go to court tomorrow for our ruling, after which I will sit her down and try and explain that she is now my daughter and will be coming to live with the rest of her new family in the States.  I would greatly appreciate your prayers for that discussion…for her and me both!

I also got to meet a new baby here at GSF who captured my heart immediately! I say baby, but he is actually over a year old. I don’t want to give you his real name for various reasons, so I will call him Frank. Frank looks like one of those kids you see on the sponsorship commercials. He is around 17 months old and is severely malnourished. Actually, he is clinically starving. He is just skin and bones. He looks like a little old man! His arm is only a little thicker than my finger and he only ways around 11 pounds. This kid is a real fighter though and has the best smile you have ever seen. Claudia is taking care of him and is a pro at nursing these deathly ill kids back to health. Please keep him in your prayers!

It’s almost 10pm here and I have to be up at six, so I’m going to call it a night! Wherever you are reading this form tonight, I pray you have a great night’s sleep! I pray you grab the ones you love and tell them so. I pray you ask God to give you a true burden for something bigger than yourself, and I pray he answers you!

Goodnight from Uganda.

Final Words From Uganda

We have a really slow connection tonight, so this post is going to be really short…just the highlights!!

We had a pretty normal day today (by Ugandan standards) and have really enjoyed our last full day here at GSF. We finished up all we needed to do today in Kampala to prepare for my return trip in January.
We spent the day hanging out with Joyce and had dinner tonight with three girls who are here from the States. Two of them are here on medical mission and the other on teaching mission. They made tacos and apple crisp…it was the best meal we have had since arriving a week ago! They had Texas Pete!!!

There is another family here going through the adoption process too. This morning they went for their ruling and were granted custody of their two boys. It was great news and everyone here was so excited for them. It filled us with much hope looking forward to our ruling date in January.

We fly out of here at 12:40am Wednesday morning, and will have to leave the orphanage at 4pm Tuesday to get there on time. It is going to be hard to say goodbye to Joyce, as well as everyone else here. Since we have been twice now, this actually feels like home when we are here, and we have really settled into life here. There are so many great people here doing amazing work in the name of Christ. I have been blessed to know them.

Before I wrap up tonight, I want to thank everyone who has been following the blog. Yesterday we had over 90 people read our last post. It gives us so much encouragement to know so many people are praying for us and standing with us in this process. I have so much to share about this trip and our adoption, and I will continue to update you guys after our return home this week.

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