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.


Hope and Helplessness

High and low, celebration and mourning… that is how today began an ended.

This morning we went to church here at the orphanage. The church is a very simple yet beautiful building. It is very open and has some beautiful stained glass windows which let in a cool breeze. The service began with some of the older kids leading worship. They had a simple PA and were accompanied by a keyboard player. Then one of the missionary’s fathers spoke. He had a translator speaking with him which really added to the cultural vibe. He spoke on the hope we find during the Christmas season in Jesus coming to Earth to rescue us. As I listened to his message, I was reminded of God’s radical love for us and the extreme measures he took to reveal that love to us. It was a great celebration of hope and life in Christ and a great way to start the day.

The end of the day took a much unexpected turn. When we went to court on Monday, there was a mother there with a little baby who was probably 10 months old. The baby was having a very difficult time breathing and was very lethargic. One of the missionaries with us sent someone to the drugstore to buy some medicine for the baby and told the mom she needed to take the baby to the hospital immediately. It was a very heartbreaking scene, but to be honest I have not thought about that baby again…until tonight. We just got word as we were eating dinner with the missionary that bought the medicine for the baby that the he passed away today.  

I have never had such a surreal experience. It really made me realize how fragile and temporary life truly is, especially here in Uganda.  I mean, I just held this baby’s head on Monday, and now he is gone. The only comforting thought I have as I sit here and type this post is that he is with his creator and will never suffer again. I am also even more grateful for God’s provision in Joyce’s life and for the amazing, selfless work of these missionaries. Having been here twice now, I have gotten a pretty good understanding of just how difficult life here can be, and I will be forever grateful for their sacrifice and commitment to these amazing children.  

So, lessons from today…God came to Earth to give us hope and life. That life (here on Earth) is a temporary gift that God has entrusted to us as stewards. As faithful stewards, we should use that life to make a difference in the lives of others for the Glory of God.

Thankful for life in Uganda.

Thank God for Emissions Control

Our internet service here is really sketchy!! I haven’t been able to get on and update as much as I would like, so here is a rundown of the last couple days!

Yesterday our luggage finally arrived! And it only cost me $60 and 3 hours in the car to go get it. The orphanage is located in a really rural area in the middle of acres of sugarcane fields. Nothing is close and you don’t get anywhere fast! We had to go to Kampala, the capital of Uganda, to go to the Embassy and get Joyce’s medical exam. It’s a good 2 hr drive from the orphanage. Amy stayed with Joyce to get her physical, and I hired a driver to take me to the airport in Entebbe to pick up the luggage. It is normally a 45min drive from Kampala. However, with “Holiday” right around the corner, the traffic was ridiculous! It took me 3 hours to get there and back and about thirty minutes in the airport! We finally got back to the orphanage at 10:30! It was a loooooong day!

We spent a total of about 8 hours in the car yesterday. It’s hard to explain just how much traffic there is here once you get into the city. There are thousands of cars, trucks, buses and vans…not to mention all the Boda-Boda’s (motorcycle taxis). They don’t really have lanes and everybody is zigging in and out trying to get where they are going as fast as they can. Almost every car here runs on diesel, and the exhaust is so thick it looks like a storm is coming in the horizon. It’s really hot and you have to ride with all the windows down. Sometimes you breathe in so much exhaust it literally takes your breath away. I will never complain about having to get my car inspected again!!

While Joyce was getting her physical, she had to get a TB test. When the Dr. stuck her with the needle, she grabbed his arm and yanked the needle out of her arm! She did not want to talk to us for a little while after that!!

Today we finally got a chance to take it easy. We got to sleep in a bit, take a shower and put on some clean clothes!! We just hung out around our house all day and recouped. It was very relaxing! Tonight we went into Jinja, a little town about 30 minutes away and did a little shopping at some of the little local shops. It is absolutely amazing how talented Ugandans are and the street side shops are full of handmade items. Afterwards we ate a cool little pizza place. There were about fifteen of us and we had a great time.

Tomorrow, we get to experience our first African church service. I can’t wait! But right now its 11:30 pm Saturday night and I’m exhausted, as you can probably tell by my very direct, undescriptive writing tonight. So, you will have to read about that tomorrow!

Good night from Uganda.

Snowstorms, Skivvies, and Sensing More!

Wow, our trip to Uganda has been very eventful to say the least. We arrived at the Raleigh airport at 5pm Monday afternoon. As we were walking into the airport, the fire alarm was going off and there was a voice over the PA telling everyone to evacuate. Having been a firefighter for 6 years, added to the fact that no one that worked at the airport was paying any attention to the evacuation instructions, I realized very quickly this was a false alarm and proceeded to check in. Not three minutes after the alarm went off; another voice came over the PA instructing us that the security status in the airport had just been upgraded! This would definitely be a sign of things to come!

We flew from Raleigh into NY. We boarded our plane in NY for London with no problem, but before we could take off, the plane had to be deiced. This delayed our takeoff by about 30 minutes. After we were 2 hours into our nine hour flight, the flight crew captain came and informed me that we had been rerouted because of the snow storm, and due to this delay and extended flight time, we were not going to make our connection in London to our final destination in Uganda, Entebbe. He said they had already rebooked us on a flight to Cairo, Egypt.

Well, our flight to London was also delayed and at the exact time our plane was touching down, our flight to Cairo was supposed to be taking off. As we got off the plane, the crew informed us that they were holding the plane for us (there were several of us that had been moved to this flight) and we needed to RUN to the departure gate. So, Amy and I and the rest of our new late friends sprinted across the Cairo Airport, being directed by airport personnel at every turn! I felt like we were all competing on the show “Amazing Race”!!  We made it to the plane and boarded to angry stares of passengers who were now an hour late taking off thanks to us!

Here’s a friendly heads up to those of you who may be traveling in the near future, if you have to RUN to catch a plane that you were not originally scheduled to be on, you can count on the ground crew NOT RUNNING with you to transfer your luggage onto your new flight!! We finally arrived in Uganda at 5:30am on Wednesday morning. However, our luggage is still sitting in Cairo!! It is supposed to come in at 3am tomorrow morning, so we should have it for the second half of our stay!

Today, we drove into Kampala for our hearing. I had to wear a borrowed suit that was too big and underwear that I washed in the sink with shampoo the night before!! I had packed a couple extra shirts in my carryon but somehow managed to forget a backup pair of skivvies!! Looks like the one pair of underwear I have is going another round in the sink tonight!!

I know you’re all wondering if we got the miracle we have all been praying and believing for. The answer, I am sad to say is no. There were questions about Joyce’s father that need to be answered before a ruling can be granted. Though that seems like a setback, we were scheduled for a ruling on January 25th. So, as it stands now, Amy and I will return home on Dec. 22nd, and I will return by myself a couple days before January 25th and stay for a week to finish up. Then Joyce and I will fly home together.

With that being said, Amy and I still have a strong sense that we need to be praying over this situation surrounding Joyce’s father.  The only way that we can explain it at this point is that there is a strong sense of spiritual warfare surrounding the details of this situation. You all have prayed so faithfully and courageously with us, and I can’t tell you what a blessing and strength that has been. Please continue your fervent prayers for us as we continue to try and bring Joyce home to be a part of our family. This thing is defiantly not over yet! 

Ready, Set, Goooooooooooo!

That’s right, the time is finally here! Amy and I are heading back to Uganda! We (along with all of you) have been praying for this moment for over a year now, and I can’t begin to tell you how excited we are that the time has finally arrived! However, this trip looks like it is going to be much different than we first anticipated, so I wanted to catch you all up before we head out.

From the beginning, we’ve been told by our attorney in Uganda that once our case had been assigned to the court we would be given a date for a hearing. Once we knew the date of that hearing, Amy and I would both travel to Uganda and go to court together. After our hearing we would both stay in Uganda for two weeks and then return to court to get the judge’s ruling. The ruling is what actually gives us guardianship over Joyce. After receiving the ruling, Amy would return to the States and I would stay in Uganda another two to four weeks to get Joyce’s visa and passport and then the two of us would return home together. If there is anything we have learned in this process, whether it's in Africa or the States, change is inevitable! 

Over the last month, we have been very anxious about our court date because we know the courts close in Uganda on Dec. 23rd and don’t reopen until the middle of January. This could add several weeks to my time in Uganda if we went to court for our hearing before the break but didn’t get our ruling until after. Last week, we received word that our team in Africa had come up with a new plan. They wanted me to come alone for the first hearing and then return home before Christmas. I would then return in January for the ruling, finish up the process and bring Joyce home. Amy was pretty excited about this new plan because it meant she would not have to go…though she loves being with Joyce, she is not crazy about being in Africa!! So, we have been planning for the last week for me to leave this Sunday...alone.

The down side to this new plan is that it would mean two trips for me and make it even longer before we get to bring Joyce home. So, we have been praying. In our seeking, we have heard his voice. Scriptures have been jumping off the pages of the Bible and stirring faith in our hearts. The messages we have been hearing, even last Sunday’s KidStuf service, have spoken directly to us as if God spoke them just for our benefit. Even as far back as May and the blog post I wrote entitled “The Space In-Between, there is evidence of God prepping us for this moment! To put is as plainly as I can…we have heard God invite us to believe for a miracle. We have been praying that God would give us a ruling the same day of our hearing (which is extremely rare!) and that I would be able to bring Joyce home on this first trip.

Then, just last night, our plans were turned upside down again. We were told that both of us were now going to have to come after all. This news caught us totally off guard! We have gone through a whole range of emotions over the last several days and are now focused on getting ready for both of us to leave the Country together…again. What a rollercoaster ride!

So, here is the current plan. On Monday, Amy and I will leave for Uganda and return on the 23rd. That is the natural plan! We however, are praying for a supernatural plan. As I mentioned before, we are praying for God to do a miracle and move on the judge’s heart to give us a ruling on the day of our hearing and that we get to bring Joyce home on this trip, even if it means us staying a little longer.

We know, “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (Luke 18:27). And if God chooses not to do a miracle in this situation it will not be because we didn’t ask and believe for one, “for the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their prayer” (I Peter 3:12).

I am sorry for such a looooooong post! That is what happens when you only update your blog every 3 months! I am planning on updating often while we are in Uganda, so stay tuned.
Thanks for standing with us and for all of your support! We love you guys! 

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