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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Home Sweet Home

I'm very excited to tell you that I'm writing this blog from my spot, on my couch, in my house!!  It is so good to be home.  Once we landed we spent a few days in Wylie at my parents house with Nik's parents and my sister.  It was just SO nice to relax and really do nothing on those days.   After our very very early Sunday morning we had a great Sunday.  My mom made her famous (and best in the world) fried chicken with all the fixin's.  It was so great to have most of Moses and Clare's new family all together (we did miss Val and Jason Black!!) as we ate around the table.  Surprisingly the kids loved the fried chicken, haha. :)  This was to celebrate our returning and a belated celebration of Nik's birthday.  She got a few presents and had her mom's amazing Mandarin Orange Cake, and overall it was just a great evening.  It was SO good and so needed.

Then we had a fantastic meet and greet at the park in Wylie.  It was so nice to see and meet with all of you that have been praying and thinking of us these long weeks.  The kids had a blast playing on the playground and it was really nice for them to meet so many friends.  I cannot hope to name everyone who came, but thank you all so much as it was just wonderful!  After the meet and greet we went and the kids met my grandfather, Pappy.  He is at a rehab facility in Wylie and it was so nice for the kids to get to see him.  They hugged him and it seemed to really cheer him up.  It is always good to see Pappy!

Clare and Pappy

When we came home Sunday night we were all exhausted and fell asleep pretty quickly.  I desperately tried to stay awake to watch the DVR'd Cowboys game, but I fell asleep a few times (didn't help that it was not the most stirring of games).  Then everyone awoke at a much better time Monday morning (except for Nik who woke up super early again).  Monday was nice as we woke up and the kids played and played.  They got our my sisters box of old toys and loved it.  They of course had a ton of new toys and clothes to enjoy from all their grandparents. A large stuffed Nemo was really enjoyed and Nik used it as a pillow when she took a nap!  My parents also purchased a basketball and soccer ball for the kids and they loved playing basketball outside on the hoop at my parents house.  They lowered it down to 6 ft so it was perfect for the kids.  Of course within 30 minutes of playing we kicked up a wasp nest that was in the basketball pole and Moses got stung by a wasp right between his eyes!  Yes it hurt as bad as that sounds, poor guy.  Then Pop went oustide and did his best to kill all those wasps asap.  After an easy morning Niks parents had to head back to Oklahoma.  That afternoon Nik took Clare shopping with my mom.  Moses, Pop, and I did a few things around the house and then went to Moo-Ya, a burger place in Wylie, and Moses had his first hamburger!  He loved it and really loved his fries as he kept alternating dipping them in ranch and ketchup.  First hamburger was a huge success!

Nemo is "swimming" on the roomba

Aunt Emily's old toys!

"Swimming" in Dani & Pop's big tub

Dani, Aunt Emily, Clare and I (Niki's writing now.) all went to Emily's wedding dress fitting, then went to the mall to get some new clothes and shoes for Clare. We went to three stores before we found one with children's shoes in her size. She wears a size 1! That's what some of my 4th graders wear. We finally found a store and she picked out some white dress shoes and pink tennis shoes. Luckily, she has good taste, so I didn't have to say no to any ugly or tacky shoes. We ate at TGI Fridays and Miss Clare perked up! We bought some clothes and headed home. Clare really enjoyed getting to go out with the girls.

Moses had a lesion on back of his head that's really been really really painful. I'd contacted the insurance rep at my school district to find out that the kids can't be on my insurance until they are fully adopted. We only have legal guardianship of them current. Full adoption will come in the next 6 months. So, we've applied for Medicaid/CHIP and should find out about that soon. I hope we don't make too much to qualify for that. So, since there's no insurance we were worried about the cost of taking him to the doctor. Dana called up her friend that works for a county program that provides low cost medical care for kids without insurance. She let us in even thought we aren't that's county's residents, got us an appointment and took care of the $50 charge! YAY! What a blessing!! He was perfect at the doctor, there was a fun house mirror in the room that he loved. She said he had a lesion that had gotten infected (this happened in UG) and gave him an antibiotic that tastes like death and we were on our way. Poor Moses cried the first two time he took the medicine (we even got it flavored!), but now he takes it just fine with a Sprite or apple juice chaser.

Okay, I keep meaning to put this in the blog, but keep forgetting. Dana was looking up Acholi phrases and words before we left for UG. She found that "Dana", pronounced Donnie is the Acholi word for grandmother. So, she's taken on that name and we changed the spelling to differentiate it from Dana. So, she's Dani (pronounced Donnie).

That night Dani & Pop took the kids to see Pappy again. Travis and I stayed home and cooked for the first time in 6 weeks! We love cooking and have really missed it. We made fajitas, rice, and guacamole. MmmMmm! Travis and I left for a mini date. We went to Braum's for shakes and then walked around Firewheel mall. We had a great 2 hours. He hadn't been alone in 5 weeks! When we got home the kids had just finished "swimming" in the big big bathtub. That's their favorite thing at Dani & Pop's!

Tuesday morning Travis went to get my car battery fixed. I'd gotten a brand new one two months before we left and it died while we were gone. They replaced it for free since it was so new. The kids and I went up to Dani's school to surprise her. She was surprised! They got to meet A LOT of new people and her class. The kids had a blast! They loved sitting at the desks, writing on the white board, looking at the books. When the class came back from specials Clare was handing out stickers to each kid in the class. They all knew who Clare and Moses were and were SO excited that they were in their classroom. There's 20 minutes between specials and lunch, so the class and my kiddos played during that time. My kids even got in line with the class and went through the lunch time. The class was fighting over who C&M should sit by. Luckily, it was speghetti day, so I knew they would eat it. They tried chocolate milk for the first time. Moses was not a fan, but Clare loved it! They ate all their lunch and before I knew it they'd followed the class out to recess. Clare played with the girls. They swung, played basketball and played on the monkey bars. Moses played soccer with the boys. After recess we came in and went home. We were there for about 2 hours and the kids can't wait to start school! They will start school as soon as we get them on medicaid and get their vaccinations.

When we got back the kids played and played. We went out to play basketball and M saw the sprinkler on. I told him he could put him swimsuit on and play in it. He was confused at first, but then got excited. I told him to go tell C. He ran in, babbled something in acholi to her and his word for sprinkler was "ch-ch-ch", the sound the sprinkler makes. "Blah, blah, blah, blah, ch-ch-ch, blah, blah" with hand motions like a sprinkler. It was hilarious! They had a blast playing in it, but we needed to pack. So after 30 minutes of playing in it, we had them come in a watch a movie, so we could pack our 5 weeks worth of stuff back up, along with all the new clothes and toys. That was a chore! We got packed up, said our goodbyes (although C did not want to leaver her Dani!) and were on the road.

We stopped in S. Dallas at the Chicken Scratch to eat with Andy and Ellis Kirkdorffer, and their kiddos. It was so great to see them and their kids. After we ate, the kids got to play on the playground there. M loved playing with the tractors. He loved all thing transportation. It must be universal :) We got on the road, the kids watched two movies and fell asleep during the second one. We got home to our house, FINALLY!!!! It was such a relief to be in our very own home! The kids were asleep, so we carried them upstairs, put their pj's on and put them in bed. Neither one woke up enough to see that we were home.

The next morning was like Christmas morning for the kids! They woke up to new rooms and new toys. There was a Buzz Lightyear and Tiana from April, that they were very excited about! Wow, those toys took it out of me opening them! They put them in the package ready for nuclear warfare! Moses found an airplane from the Rachel, Kester and Harrison. Good thing I love putting things together! It was fun :) They played and played and played. Every once in a while they'd discover something new they hadn't seen yet, new toy after new toy. They both love Clare's two doll houses and the dolls.

Moses checked out all the drawers and cabinets :)

Moses and I then went and ran some errands. Picked up 6 weeks worth of mail at the post office and went to the grocery store. We had fun learning English and Acholi. I would tell him the English word for different fruits and vegetables and he would tell me the Acholi word for it. He was very helpful and we had a lot of fun.

After lunch Ellen brought Tag to us!!!! We missed him so much! Tag ran right in and the kids looked at him and went back to playing. We thought they'd be either excited or scared. We didn't think they'd be indifferent. I think it really helped that we had Tucker (Dani & Pop's dog) to introduce them to being around dogs. They now think Tag is funny and love to play with him. We had a great time catching up with Ellen. We'd missed her too! They sang and danced and showed her their rooms.

Tag and Moses played some soccer, then we all got ready to go swimming. All the Pflugerville community pools closed in early September, so we went to Lake Pf. Tag came too and they all had fun swimming and throwing the ball for Tag to swim after.  Clare would throw the ball for Tag and swim out and then when Tag turned around she would swim back.

Moses helped Baba make dinner. He got to cut the mushrooms, and he stirred the pasta sauce.  He did a great job!  He really enjoyed cooking with Baba and now asked to do it tonight.  After this the kids watch their only (!!!) movie of the day and we put them to bed!  Day one of parenting in Austin done!

We won't update every day, but will every few days.  Thanks so much for your prayers and everything you have done!  Friday we will have an Austin area meet and greet at our house from 5 pm to 8 pm.  If you need our address just message us on Facebook or leave a comment here with your email address.  Should be a great chance for our friends to meet and get to know the kiddos!  Hope all our Austin peeps can make it!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Home at Last

It's 5:30am Sunday morning and we've all been up since 4:00. We've heard it takes one day per hour changed (8 hours) to adjust. Travis and I will be fine in a day or two, but I think the kids will take the 8 days to adjust. We'll get there :)

So this is a mega blog entry that spans two days, 3 continents, and the longest flight ever! Between flights, excitement of family and exhaustion, the blog is just now being written. Starting Friday morning we got up, ate breakfast, and then started mega packing.  Emma had told us about a week ago that he would take us to the airport.  Then, on Thursday night George told us that Emma had got booked and we would need another driver.  So we asked Francis and he arranged our transportation for 11 am as the embassy had told us to pick up our VISAS at noon.  So all was going according to plan until 9:45 am when the embassy calls and asks if we can come now to get them!  Our airport is about 45 minutes from the embassy with normal traffic so I told her we could try to come early, but no promises.  I then called our driver and he said he would see what he could do, but didn't think they could come very early.  We finished our packing and weighed our bags which caused us to redistribute some to meet the 50 lb max per bag.  We then settled our bill and went to the lobby to wait.

Our driver got there a little early at 10:45 and we hopped in and told him to hurry. I said, "Let's go to the Embassy." and the driver started to go without seeing that Niki was only leaning in the van, getting stuff situated. She jumped back, before she got cut in half, and screamed. The driver slammed on the brakes and profusely apologized. Then, as we were about 5 minutes out from the hotel Emma called and said he was almost at our hotel to pick us up!  I guess he resolved his issue and never told George.  So we had our driver pull over and wait for Emma, which took longer than we thought.  Finally he got there and we transferred all of our bags over and got on our way to the embassy.  We got there pretty fast and picked up our documents by 11:30.  Now on to the airport!

We wanted to stop for a quick lunch and The Little Donkey was nearby and fast, so we swung by there, but they didn't open until 12:30. :( We're sad we weren't going to get The Little Donkey one last time. We drove the Entebbe, to the airport and stopped for some chicken and beef pies (empanadas). We got to the airport and past security just in time to board the plane. We didn't realize we were cutting it so close! We sat on the plane for an hour, but still. Moses was so exited to see all the planes and his eyes lit up as we were walking onto our plane. Travis and Moses sat in the two seats behind Clare and I. Both kids had the window seat so they could see everything. They were so amazed with all the new things to look at we didn't have to entertain them much at all. All those new toys we bought them for the plane we're really played with except for the Hotwheels. They LOVE the hotwheels! Clare was curious where the pilot was. I wanted to take her to the front, but there wasn't an opportunity before we left. We were worried about take off, with the loud noises and uncomfortable feelings, but they did great! We taught them to swallow when their ears hurt and they were good to go. Clare was fascinated when we lifted off the ground. Her face was saying "I knew we were going to fly, but it's actually happening!" Wish I had more exciting plane stories, but really they watched movies and played with hotwheels for the first 5 hour flight.

We landed in Dubai at 9pm (UG time) and we thought the kid would be tired and want to sleep. NOPE! They were revved up! For the 5 hour layover they had McDonalds for the first time, listened to the iPod and played with the cars, some more. Even when it was 2am and we were boarding our next flight, Moses was being loud and giggling and running around. I was the one going to be sitting with him and I was worried, but I also hoped that as soon as he settled down he would sleep. Since we booked our tickets late, we got the worst seats. We had the middle two seats in the middle section of four seats. Worst seats! Travis and Clare were in row 22 and Moses and I were in row 39, the very last row. I asked one of the guys sitting next to us if he's move, but he wouldn't b/c he wanted an aisle seat. I don't blame him. It stunk that I didn't get to sit with Travis, but we all survived. Moses fell asleep as soon as we got on the plane and slept through take off. He's so little he could curl up in a ball in his seat. He then proceeded to sleep for the next 14 hours of the 16 hour flight!! When he woke up, he ate and watched Lion King, then we landed. He had NO idea how long that flight was. Clare slept for the first 7 hours, then watched several movies for the remainder of the flight and played a bit. She was really good and really patient. We'd been so worried about that flight and it ended up being nothing to worry about.  Travis slept about 3 hours and watched 5 or 6 movies while I slept for 6 hours and watch 4 movies.

We landed, changed the kids out of their pajamas and headed to customs. We thought it would take 30 minutest to an hour. No one warned us about what was about to happen! There's two lines: Citizens and Non-Citizens. We had to get in the Non-Citizens line because of the kiddos. We then proceeded to wait in line for 2 hours! All while our families were waiting at the airport for us. We got to the Customs Officer, he got our paperwork from the Embassy and we thought we were on our way to get our luggage and go! Wrong. We were then taken to another room and were told it would be up to a two hour wait for their paperwork to be processed. Eh! Luckily the kids had a huge place to play and were happy and occupied during that time. We waited for an hour and a half before getting to leave. We'd gotten off the plane at 9:30 and got to FINALLY see our family at 1:30. I started crying, in anticipation, before I ever saw our family. Clare was so so sweet and ran to them and hugged them all. It was so great that we'd been Skyping with everyone so they knew everyone before we arrived. Moses suddenly got super shy and clung to me, but eventually hugged everyone. We all cried and hugged and hugged and cried.

We stopped at Chick-Fil-A on our way home for some Dr. Pepper, er, I mean lunch. The kids played on the playground while Dani wantched them and we all ordered lunch. We were all sitting down with our lunch when it dawned on Travis and I that we forgot to order food for our children!! Oh, ya! We have children to feed! Wow, we were harassed  for that one. My mom immediately texted my sister and she got in on harassing us, too! Oops. We all sat down and had a great lunch and headed for Travis' parent's house.

We weren't sure how the kids were going to react to being at Dani and Pop's big house, but they didn't seem amazed with the house, just all the fun things to play with. They played and played and played. Moses and Grandpa (my dad) played basketball for quite some time. Then they all played with all the new big bubble wands. They have so many new toys and clothes from their grandparents and Aunt Emily. They are just happy as can be here.

Clare feel asleep at 5:30. We woke her up at 7:30 for dinner, bath and bed. She was so out of it she couldn't eat, I barely got her bathed and the second her head hit the pillow she was fast asleep! Stayed up until 7:30, but was ready for bed just after we put Clare down. We stayed up and watched some of the horrendous OU game and fortunately we were too exhausted to care about the terrible terrible football (if you want to call it that) they were playing. We were in bed by 9:30 and thought we'd sleep pretty late. Wrong! We were all four awake at 4am! Pop was up with the kids when we got up. He made them bacon and eggs and made them a race track with packing take on the kitchen floor. They are now watching Willy Wonka and we are all wide awake at 6:15, this lovely Sunday morning.

We are having a get-together at Olde City Park in downtown Wylie, today from 2-5pm. It will be very casual, with cookies, juice and fun! Everyone's invited! For our Austin friends, we will get back to Austin on Tuesday and will be having a get-together on Friday night 5-8pm. We'd love for you to come over! FB message me for our address, if you don't have it. We'll be at Servant Church next Sunday. I can't wait to be back with my church family and for them to meet our kids!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

We're Coming HOME!!!

(This was written last night, but the internet wasn't working, so I'm posting it this morning)

Today started normally.  We got up and ate a great breakfast and then the kids wanted to watch a movie so we put in Charalotte’s Web and Nik and I worked on various things in the room.    After a little while we went outside and played too.  We had arranged for a driver again today as the last couple days we had been at the hotel and needed to get out.  So we went to market to pick up a few things like more Ramen and more water as at this point we thought we might be here for the weekend.  After this our driver took us to a restaurant we had found earlier in the week which was very nice and not very expensive.  It is called Fuego and we really like it.  They have a nice patio to eat on and they serve really good pizza!  Moses has really started liking pizza and Clare got Chicken and rice, of course.  The only bad part is if you come for lunch they don’t always have the pizza oven hot (they use a real fire) so it takes a while, but we brought the kids toys and Nik and I just enjoyed a Coke while we waited.  The pizza was fantastic!

Now we have to backtrack.  At 10:45 I called the embassy again to get an update and of course they told me they were busy and would call me back in 30 minutes.  So I decided I would wait until 2 pm to call back as I really don’t want to become a nuisance and be on these peoples’ bad sides as they have massive power over us.   So, after lunch we decided to go to the Ugandan Museum as it is cheap and something to do.  On our way there we get the call we have been waiting for.  I see the number and in the process of trying to answer I accidentally hung up on the caller.  I screamed OH NO!  I was so scarred what if that was it.  But thankfully they called right back and the person we have been working with answered, “Travis, I have good news!”  I just yelled for joy!  She told us the VISAS would be ready to pick up Friday at noon which is perfect because the daily flight we wanted leaves Uganda at 3:40 pm and noon gives us plenty of time to pick up the VISAS and get to the airport.  As soon as we heard Nik started crying in the back and I told our driver to pull over.  I jumped out and pulled Nik out of the car and lifted her in the air in a giant bear hug!  We are going home!  I then yelled for joy again, Nik and I were hugging and she was crying and the kids were laughing so hard that Moses started crying, but Clare started saying, “Happy cry! Happy cry!”  It is one of the best moments of our lives.  Praise God Praise God Praise God Praise God!  He and all your prayers helped make today possible, thank you from the bottom of our hearts we can never thank you enough for the thousands if not millions of prayers we have received. 

After this we jumped in the car and told the driver forget the museum take us to the Emirates Air office.  Once we got there we only had to wait about 30 minutes (which isn’t bad) and we finalized our tickets and picked our seats.  We are so excited!  We leave tomorrow (Friday) at 3:40pm Uganda time for a 5 hour flight to Dubai and then from Dubai we take a 16 hour flight to Dallas.  Your prayers will still be appreciated for our kids to do well on that long flight, or at least to not be total disasters!  After the office we headed back to the hotel.

Once here Nik turned into a packing machine while I took the kids swimming.  Today they got brave enough to let me throw them.  I threw Clare across the pool a couple times and Moses was very nervous.  So I got him to come over and try it.  I threw him and as soon as he came out of the water he turned to me and said, “AGAIN!”  He loved it!  After pool time we hung out in the room and the kids put on a movie while I helped Nik to pack some more.  We had texted our normal driver when we find out what happened and invited him and his wife to dinner at the hotel to celebrate since he, Francis, has been so helpful in getting us through these weeks of waiting.  At the time we thought our lawyer George was in Western Uganda for a hearing, but we had called him with the good news.  Before dinner he suddenly appeared at our door and we found out the court hearing he worked on was actually in Kampala.  So he stayed around too.

One thing Nik and I have really missed is that even with the kids we have not got to hang out or sit around relaxing with friends.  Tonight was so nice because we have really become friends with George and Francis and it was so great to have dinner tonight with them and sit for a couple hours talking and eating.  The kids played really well and it was just a huge blessing.  We talked and talked and talked and it was great!  The hotel then came out and told us as a thank you and for our last night they gave us our final meal for free!  What a great day and a great night.   Words cannot express how much a blessing today has been and how much we thank God for all God has done in this process. 

I know many of you have been praying and following our entries.  We hope to have events in Wylie and Austin so everyone can come and meet the kids and so we can thank you in person for your prayers.  Can’t wait!  More info on these events will come soon. 

Many of you have been concerned that we won’t continue the blog when we get back home. Don’t worry, we will keep it up. There will be many new things to discover in America, meeting friends and family, going to school, Clare’s upcoming birthday, etc. It won’t be daily, but we will still update J

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I want to punch the embassy in the face!

Not really, but almost!  So we submitted our paperwork to the embassy on Monday morning.  This was the paperwork our case worker Krista asked for.  We were told on Monday she will call you back this afternoon.  Did not happen and when we called back on Monday we where told, "oh Krista isn't here today, she will call you tomorrow.'  Then on Tuesday we called and were told, "Oh she was in for five minutes this morning, but won't have time to look at your paperwork today, we will call you tomorrow."  So Wednesday comes around.  We first call at 11 am and are told, "Krista is here and she has your paperwork she will call you in about an hour."  No call, we then call at 1:30 and are told the same thing.  Finally we call at 4:20 as the office closes at 4:30 and are told, "its been really busy but she will look at it and call you before she leaves."  Of course no call.  ARGGGGGGGGGGG

Yes it has been very frustrating. Nik has been dealing with the stress better than me.  I have been getting very anxious and stressed out.  It has been hard for me to think about anything today other than this situation.  Theoretically we have turned in all the paperwork she has asked for so far and she could tell us this is great we will have the VISAS tomorrow, or she could tell us I am still not happy with what we have and you need this and this or even worse we need to do a full investigation that will take a couple weeks.  So we are very nervous as we could be home this weekend (PLEASE LORD!) or still be here a couple weeks.  Please pray lots!  I know we are.

Besides that our day was very uneventful.  We have recently found that if Clare picks our her clothes before bed we don't have any trouble in the morning with that so it has been a big help and our last few mornings have been super easy.  Most of the morning was spent playing out side with the soccer ball, legos, and the other stuff that the hotel has.  At lunch we had the normal tasty fare.  The kids have also been eating so well so it is a blessing as our stress increases from the embassy stuff the kids are getting into more and more of a rhythm.

After lunch we went swimming per normal routine and the kids while swimming had brought out some legos (I made Moses a lego cell phone and he carries it everywhere now, its pretty cute), and found out that legos float!  It was very exciting and created tons of fun.  After swimming they were playing with their towels and were wrapping them like traditional dancers and where just dancing up a storm!  They both love to dance.

This came out later too when it was dinner time and the hotel was playing some rocking 80's pop and Moses was just jumping, twirling, and moving like crazy to the music.  He was practicing all his amazing moves he has learned from watching High School Musical.  We will for sure have to get them both into dance when we get back. We are still hoping to be returning soon (next few days) please keep praying!  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Our Sneaky Children

We had a great morning and went outside to play for a couple hours before being picked up to go out the lunch. About 11am the kids started talking to a couple of the hotel staff, near the bar. I couldn't see them, but I could hear them chattering away. Next thing I know, the two kids and two hotel staff are walking over to my table in the courtyard and one of the staff members has two orange sodas in her hands. What? Did they offer them to my kids? Did the kids order them? I was confused. When they got to the table I asked what was going on. The waitress said they ordered them!! Stinkers!! They know they only get one soda each day and it's normally at lunch. I told Moses, that's his one soda for the day and he said "Yes, water at lunch." Ok, as long as he understood that. They are a mess!

Travis was in the room calling the Embassy while that all happened. Turns out Krista was in the office for about 5 minutes, today. She got the documents, will look over them, and will call us tomorrow. I know I've said it before, but I really hope that she finds all of the documentation sufficient and that she doesn't want more info. Just give us the visas!!!

We went out to lunch at Fuego, a pizza place. We sat up on the terrace and it was surrounded by trees and prettiness. It's always the perfect temperature outside, so everywhere we go or eat is always outside. We ordered two delicious pizzas for Travis, Moses and I to split and Clare got fish and chips. While waiting on our food, Clare completed her coloring book. There were a few pages she didn't like and didn't want to color, so she scribbled them over with one color just to "complete" coloring all the pictures in the book. What they don't know if we have two more brand new coloring books for the flight. We have several new toys for the flight that they don't know about yet :) After we ate, we were counting and realized that Moses ate 6 pieces of pizza and most of Clare's fries. That boy can eat! I'm going to have to get a second job to feed him when he's in high school, if he's eating like this at 5. The Italian Market was next door, so we went over there to get gelato. We've had so much Italian food since being in Uganda. Very strange, but delicious!

We came home, they swam for a while, then played in the courtyard for quite some time. We came inside for dinner. We've made this a routine and the kids love to help out! They love to get the water ready, get the noodles or macaroni ready, and when we're done eating they grab all the bowls and spoons and do the dishes in the bathroom sink. They are very helpful and like to do it. I know I'll be reminding them in a few years about when they used to like to be helpful. We watched A Muppet Christmas Carol, tonight. It's not Christmastime, but it was fun introducing the kids to The Muppets. They kept pointing at the screen and saying "What is this?". Most of the time we could answer: Pig, frog, rat, bear, but some of those Muppets aren't anything, they just are, like Gonzo and Animal. How do you explain them?

Ya, ya, it's September and we're watching a Christmas movie. It's not the earliest I've ever watched this movie. One August, when Travis and I were dating I drove 3 hours from Norman, OK down to Ennis, TX to visit him, but I ended up being sick and miserable on his couch for most of the weekend. The only non-action non-boy movie he owned was A Muppet Christmas Carol, so that's what I watched.

So, we just find things to fill the time as we wait for Krista. Our lives are in her hands right now. Pray that she is IN the office tomorrow and calls us in the morning to come pick up the visas!

Monday, September 17, 2012

One Month

We arrived in Uganda one month ago, today. Wow! What a month it has been. Ups and downs and thrown for a loop, then sitting on the beach, then up and down again!

Uganda is such a beautiful country. It's not called the Pearl of Africa for nothing. As you've seen in photos, it's so green and lush! I wish you could feel the weather here. It's almost a perfect temperature at all times. It's rarely too warm, or too cold. (I refrain from using hot, because, they don't know what HOT is here!) It's lovely to sit in the court yard with a pot of African Coffee, hot milk with instant coffee and a bit of sugar mixed in, a good book (or 6) on a cool afternoon while the kids play and run around. Then, they decided they want to swim, and they are so independent and comfortable with the place we're staying, they take the room key and go change clothes and come right back and we head to the pool.

Today's plan: Eat breakfast, play, have Francis pick us up at noon, eat lunch with Emma, and hope the document got to Kampala before 4pm so we could drop it off at the Embassy, today.

What really happened: We ate breakfast, the kids played, and George called us at 9:30am saying he had the document!!! Awesome!! Francis was driving someone else at the time, so his wife, Harriet (also a driver), came and picked us up to go to the Embassy. We dropped them off and they said Krista would call us. So, then we had some time to waste before meeting Emma for lunch. We went and bought Moses some new slippers (flip-flops) because somehow he lost one between breakfast and 10am and his other shoes are too small. Then, we went to a bookstore because Travis has read every book we brought with us and of course he found some lame book about Rome. We still had 30 minutes to waste. What to do? What to do? We'd been to this mall before, but we hadn't been to the majestic third story. What did we find?!?! A huge playground! The kids had a blast for the next 30 minutes and we were relieved :)

We met Emma and his wife Sarah for lunch. It was nice to see him, it was only the second time we'd seen him in the last three weeks. Moses hit his head on the table and was upset for quite a while. I knew when the food came out he'd be just fine. But, what happened? Five meals came out, but not Moses'. Great. We were all done eating by the time his meal came out. Poor guy! After eating, Dr. Emma checked out both kids. We were concerned about Clare's right hand because she's show signs of pain and it really bothering her. He messed with it and felt around and it seemed find. He checked out Moses' face because he seems to have a rash of some sort. He said it was something he's allergic to but nothing too alarming. We stopped by a pharmacy and got an ointment for it. We'll have a doctor in the US investigate further. We headed back to the hotel and had the lovely afternoon mentioned above.

Travis called the Embassy at 4:30 to see if he could speak to Krista. He found out that she was out of the office, today. Could they have told us that this morning when we dropped the document off, instead of us waiting on pins and needles all day for her to call? Thanks...  So, we wait for a call tomorrow. Krista told us she was going to Gulu last weekend, so she was probably still there, or on her way back. I hope she's back and can look over our file asap.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Good Day

Today started well.  We got up and went to breakfast and then the kids wanted to watch a movie so we watched Cars (which is still pretty fun).  It is getting easier to get the kids to try new movies as they are starting to trust our taste!  After some playing and other fun things George came and picked us up.  We went to his home for lunch before an excursion to Lake Victoria.  His wife is an excellent cook and lunch was wonderful (even if they said it was a simple quick lunch).  It was a tomato gravy that went over basmatti rice, some spaghetti noodles, cooked cauliflower, really really good beans and other veggies and finally some fried potato slices.  Mmm Mmm!  The kids played at his house for a while and then we all piled into his father's car (which he borrowed again as the honda accord just wan't big enough for all 9 people!).

We then went to the Speke Munyunyo Resort to visit Lake Victoria.  It was beautiful!  This is a large, expensive (to stay, not to swim), and amazing resort on the shores of Lake Victoria.  We just went for the day.  They have a little beach area and the kids hoped in their swimsuits and started swimming away.  At first Clare and Moses were very nervous about swimming in a large body of water, but after seeing George's sons jump in they eventually tried it and loved it!  The water was brownish and had a gulf of mexico look to it, but it was still fun.  While they swam the adults had lovely adult time while watching the kiddos.  Amelia, George's wife, also brought popcorn for a snack and we think it was Moses' and Clare's first time to have popcorn.  They loved it of course.  It was actual homemade popcorn not the instant stuff so it was extra good.  After a grand time at swimming we decided to do some exploring of the this beautiful resort.  George took us on a tour and wow was it neat!  Below are some of the pictures of this place and the swimming fun.

As you can see we went around the grounds and they were amazing.  The pond pictures are of the kids looking at fish in the pond here.  Then we walked around a bit and took a look at the marina before finding some amazing wood statues.  We ended the tour at the stables with a number of beautiful horses.  It was funny as it appears neither Moses nor Clare had any idea what a horse is and they kept calling them donkeys!  We went up to a gentle one and it took Clare some time, but with mommas help she eventually reached out and petted it.  She got very excited.  It was an amazing resort.  In Kampala there are not many green spaces so there are not a lot of places to run and play so a great number of people of all ages come to resorts like this and pay a small fee to go and play soccer, or swim, or just enjoy the grass and beauty.  I think of hundreds of parks and green places are things we often take for granted in America.  We spent about 4 hours at the resort we came home and ended the day with Toy Story, just a nice easy day overall!

We hope to submit our final paper work tomorrow afternoon.  There was a slight delay so the earliest we can submit is tomorrow afternoon, but we may have to wait until Tuesday morning if there is any delay in the buses as the signed document is coming from the north.  There is no real quality mail system here so if you have to get an important document from one place to another you pay a bus driver a fee and he keeps it with him and drives it to the bus depot in the city you choose.  So we will be hoping to get our signed form before 4 pm tomorrow off the bus.  Please keep praying as we really hope the end is near!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

God shows up at just the right time

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

This is what I needed, today. I need the Peace of Jesus to calm my aching mind and heart. We're running out of money, we're running out of patients, our emotions are high and we're just ready to be home. And, by home, I don't mean Austin, I mean landing in Dallas and arriving to my family. I can't wait to see my in-laws and my parents. I can't wait for them to meet our kids that we've fallen in love with. I can't wait to be at my in-laws house, where I will finally feel at peace and find rest and comfort. (We will stay there for a few days before heading to Austin.) In my mind it's the most beautiful, wonderful thing I can think of and all I want is for that day to be here. It will be here in God's time. It's His plan.

This afternoon we were going to go to the beach at Lake Victoria with George and his family, but a little storm rolled in, so we changed our plans. We all decided to go to church tonight and then go to the beach tomorrow.
We had a rather uneventful, but very cooperative, day. Just a normal day at the hotel, except no swimming because of the storm. 
This morning we were figuring out finances and I asked Travis how much cash he had on him. "Oh, about half a million.", he said. "If only that were in US dollars and not shillings, we'd be set!" I responded. (Half a million shillings is $200.)

George picked us up for church at 4:00. Clare was shoe-less because she didn't want to go and refused to put on shoes (even though she begs us every weekend to go to church). We were worried that our family of 4 and his family of 5 were all going to have to fit in his Toyota Camry, but fortunately he borrowed his dad's SUV that fit all of us :) When we got to church Clare still refused to put her shoes on. Amelia, George's wife talked to her and she put them on! Stinker! As George said, if it were us telling his kids to do something they refused to do they'd do it too. It's just someone else, not your parents, telling you and you do it. I'm sure every parent has experienced that. I know I did it when I was a kid. Still frustrating. 

After worship started, I cried for the whole first hour. I'm just overwhelmed with emotions and thoughts and a yearning to go home. (At some point I was crying b/c I couldn't get myself to stop crying and I was even more frustrated!) Worship was really good and really meaningful, we really needed that time, tonight. I'm glad we ended up going tonight. The message was about peace and peace making. It was what I needed to hear tonight. We need to have peace about this situation and that God has it all in His hands. He wouldn't have called us here, to adopt our children, if He wasn't going to get us home. Clare held my hand and leaned on me for the second half of service, it was so precious and I really needed that. After service, she clung to me, she grabbed my arms and wrapped them around her and we walked all the way to the car like this. In the car she was still hanging on to be for half the car ride. God is working there, in our relationship, helping her to trust us, helping us to bond with her and helping her through her tantrums.

Travis and I both agree that we feel so much better and we feel His peace in our hearts, now. Please pray that this peace remains with us throughout the next week.

Travis and I have gone through a lot of books on this trip. I read the entire City of Ember series and now Travis is reading it. But, one book we both read in the last week is LOVE DOES by Bob Goff. Emily, Travis' sister, lent it to us and said that we really needed to read it. It's a great, great (and short) read! He's a Christian Lawyer that does all sorts of whimsical and outlandish things that is "doing love". It's hilarious, unbelievable and captivating! Go out and read it, then lend it to a friend, and have them lend it to a friend. It's inspiring!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Clare vs Parents.... and the joy of Ramen

This morning started out as the best day in a while.  Clare always sets the time we all wake up as she always gets up first.  Today she slept until 8 am... it was glorious!  When she finally got up she was good and quiet and put on a movie.  We were able to sleep until 8:45 before I got up to take the kids to breakfast.  Nik even kept sleeping until 9:15 it was so great.  While we were at breakfast they had the normal spread (every day I eat toast, cereal, and grilled potatoes, the kids have an omelette and toast), but today the manager asked me while we are in line if I would like for them to make us some bacon.... the answer was OF COURSE!  So a few minutes later she comes out with a plate piled high with awesome bacon.  So breakfast was awesome!

We returned to the room and the kids finished their movie from this morning.  We then went outside and did the standard playing and everything.  I (Travis) have finally reached my book limit.  I brought 4 books to Uganda and have read all of them and then I read one of Niks books too.  I am finally out of reading material :(  Hopefully we will run by a book store this weekend so I can pick something up as we read A LOT!  While the kids watch movies and do other stuff its adult reading time.  So since I was out of books while the kids were jumping on the trampoline and playing I was playing with legos!  Yes I am 32 and the staff did glance at me a couple times, but I enjoyed my lego time.

After a fun morning it was lunch time.... this was when we hit a wall.  Lunch is different each day, but it comes in similar forms of rice, meat, veggies.  We always get in the buffet line with the kids first and go up to each thing of food and ask the kids do you want this?  If they say yes we put it on their plate, if no, then we don't.  So today Clare got rice, a beef thing that was stewed in this sauce.  Normal for her.  She also got a banana, yams, and some papaya.  She loved her banana and ate it immediately.  She then tasted the beef and rice and decided it wasn't for her.  This is where it went downhill.  We don't have any other food options and we don't have enough snacks in the room.  The beef and rice was barely different from what she eats every day. Its just some days she decides she likes it and some days she doesn't.  On days like this we will usually look at her plate and tell her ok you don't have to eat everything, but you have to eat something.  So it seemed the beef and rice was the least objectionable so we put about half the rice and most of the beef aside and said all you have to eat is this.  Very slowly she ate the beef acting like each bite was torture.  When the beef was done we said ok now the rice (about half a cup of cooked rice).  She shook her head no.  So the saga begins.

We all finished our lunches and she was sitting their with her rice.  So we put it on a small plate and took it to our room with us.  The times this has happened before what we do it sit her in timeout with her food.  We tell  her if you eat this you can leave timeout and have fun... but this didn't work.  The only other time we have had this situation she gave up and ate the food after about 45 minutes.  Today it was three hours!  Moses watched a whole movie (on his headphones) and she just sat in the corner.  Then we went swimming and she sat at a table outside the pool with her swimsuit and the rice next to her.  We told her if you eat your rice you can swim.  She still didn't.  Then we went in the courtyard to play.  She sat in the chair and kept leaning back and trying to nap so we took the chair away to make her stand and then things got serious.  At this point she cried for the first time.  We took her back to the room (one of us stayed outside to watch Moses) and then she really started on the full air raid siren wailing.  We tried to explain things to her and she understands a lot, but she just didn't want to submit.  After another 45 minutes of standing, Moses came back in and we put on another movie for him.  Finally after about 15 minutes into the movie something must have clicked for her and she ate her rice in about 4 bites.  We thanked her and told her we loved her and let her watch the movie and have some cookies.  It was a hard 3 hours, but hopefully she is learning to listen to us and trust us.  The last thing we needed was a kid with no food in her trying to go all afternoon.

That felt like the whole day, but the rest of the day was nice.  We played soccer, and other stuff and had a good time together.  At dinner we had it in the room.  When we came over we brought some foods that can be made with hot water (easy mac, oatmeal) and eat that for a meal every couple days to save money.  The kids like the easy mac, but I was SUPER TIRED of it.  So the last few times we ate in the room I just didn't eat, but at the store last week I found some packets of something that looked like Ramen and I got super excited, and despite college I still very much enjoy cheap ramen.  Last night was the first time I had it and it was glorious!  I even looked forward to it tonight.  Nik had it to and really enjoyed it as well.  Just so darn tasty! (Lee, we know you are cringing as you read this!)

Finally we ended the day watching a movie together as a family.  It was my turn to pick and I picked Night at the Museum.  Nik was worried that it might be too scary, but I told her that any movie with Dick Van Dyke as the villain can't be very scary!  The dinosaur wasn't bad at all.  Nik and I enjoyed it a lot, but the kids not so much.  They ended up watching Cinderella on their head phones so all were happy.  Should be a quiet weekend we hope to go to the Embassy again on Monday with more paperwork and we will see where we go from there.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Embassy Embassy Embassy.....

When I was a kid I can remember waking up on Saturday mornings and I would have to go in and ask my parents if I could get up yet. My mom would look at the clock and decided if it was late enough for me to get up, or if I needed to go back to bed because it was too early. If I was allowed to get up, I'd grab my prepared cup of lidded juice from the fridge and turn on cartoons until the rest of the family got up. Wow! I can't wait to train Clare to do that when we get back to Austin. Here, when she wakes up, we're all awake! It was only about 45 minutes before our alarm was going to go off, but still. It was too early...

We met George this morning to get Moses' corrected birth certificate, but then found out that we won't be able to get it until tomorrow. We went to the Embassy to talk with our case manager about the other documents she wanted. We realized she had some of the things she asked for, so we wanted to point them out and talk to her about the report she wants from the welfare officer in Kitgum. We got in and were able to talk to someone (not, Krista, the case manager) and gave her Clare's corrected birth certificate. They then had us wait for Krista to return to the office to talk with us. After waiting an hour they told us she was back, but had to go to a meeting that may last the rest of the day, but she would call us after the meeting. Her assistant called us later today and told us that all we need is the a report from the welfare officer from the kids' district. George contacted him and he's writing it up, sending it our way, and we should have it on Monday. We'll drop it off with Krista on Monday and wait to see what she says. Pray that this is sufficient documentation!

Two weeks ago we booked a flight back to the US for the 14th. We booked without knowing the correct day because we found a really good deal and we realized that the prices were rising. Some days the prices were twice as high, so we bought them when they were low. Today we went by the Emirate office and had them change them to next Friday. I asked her if we could moved them to Wednesday if things were worked out by then. She said we can come by and solidify our plans whenever we know when we are leaving and all it will cost is $25/ticket. Really?!?! OK! Somewhere we were told that changing flights would cost us $250+ /ticket, so we were scared of the horrendous amount we were going to have to pay. But, $100, for moving my flight to whatever day we needed. Awesome! Clare and Moses were really good while we were there. They are being so patient. They sat there and colored and looked at pictures of animals and named them in English. (Well, almost English, they called the penguin, Pingu...thanks, Uncle Greg!)

We were back at the hotel by 4:00, and of course we immediately went swimming. After they are done swimming they like to lay out their towels and sunbathe. Today, while laying out they got to talking about something and laughing and carrying on. This went on for a good 15 minutes. It was all in Acholi, so we had NO IDEA what was so funny! The pool manager (who's name I've yet to find out, even though we talk with him daily) came over and asked what they were laughing about. We told him we had no idea, we don't speak Acholi. He doesn't speak Acholi either and we were all just watching them in wonderment. It was pretty cute, but I really, really wanted to know what was 15 minutes worth of hilariousness! We were out there for about 2 hours, came in, changed clothes and went and played in the courtyard. Lots and lots of playing! Yay! I hate that the kids have to be stuck in the car and in the embassy so much, I'm so glad there is so much for them to do when we get back to our hotel. Tonight the four of us gathered in one bed and watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Clare is like her momma, we both think that any movie is made 100 times better when the characters spontaneously burst into song!

So, we should get Moses' birth certificate tomorrow, the welfare officer's report on Monday, bring those to Krista and wait to see where we stand. Like I said earlier, please pray that this is all sufficient documentation and that she doesn't ask for anything else!

This blog has had 11,000+ page views, so far! Crazy! Thank you so much for following our journey. I can't even fathom how many people are praying for us and the wild adventure we are on!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Crazy Crazy Day!

So buckle up and grab a cup of coffee this post is going to be a long one!  Trust me its worth it to read all the way.  The day started very early for us. We have been getting up each day around 8 am or 8:30 am and today we got the kids up at 6:30 am for Embassy day.  Francis picked us up at 7 am and off we went.  Kampala is notorious for its traffic jams so we finally got to the embassy at 8:15 am.  We had almost all the paperwork.  While we were going to the embassy our lawyer George was picking up the kids passports and going to the Ministry of Births and Deaths to get the final death certificate.  We have felt like today has been a bit like a movie for us.  This was the split scene beginning with our characters in two locations.  We got to the embassy and they are really big into security there (understandable especially with what happened today in Libya) so our driver cannot park and is not supposed to stop and drop off in front of the embassy.  So there is a gas station about a quarter mile down the road where our driver parks and we get out and walk to the embassy.  We then check in and have to hand over all electronics to be stored (no phones, cameras, or anything in the embassy) and then walk back outside to get to the Consular section that handles our case.

We submitted all the paperwork we had and spent the next hour going through it with a lady named Diella (who is Ugandan) as you have to get approved by the Ugandan staff before you can speak with the Americans who actually make the decisions on your case.  She helped us correct some mistakes on forms and then she noticed our first big problem.  Clare's (we have recently decided not to change her first name at all and leave it as it is spelled her without the I) passport showed her birth date as 10-17-07 and her birth certificate shows it as 01-17-07.  So she said we had to have these match before we could get the visas, but we thought it may have been a typing error to type 01 instead of 10 as all of our other documentation shows its as 10-17.  And the passport is WAY harder to change so we thought maybe the birth certificate can be changed.  She also pointed out that we only had 2 photos of each kid and we had to have four.  Then after reviewing more and more paperwork she told us that we can get an appointment for the interview in the afternoon as long as we get her all the paperwork (death certificate, extra photos, and passports) before 11 am.  That was our hard deadline.

So at this points its 8:50 am, plenty of time we think.  We call George and he is working on the documents and thinks its doable.  He tells us to get the photos and stay near the embassy.  So we head to the car at the gas station and ask Francis to take us someplace close that is open for the photos of the kids.  He finds a very close place.  We go in and end up asking 4 people where the photo place is and all four tell us different things that are all wrong!!!!!  Finally we get Francis and he asks and finds the place for us.  We get the photos (thankfully the kids cooperated and they were great all day).  While taking photos with the kids I run downstairs to a coffee shop to get Nik and I a pair of lattes and the kids juice and croissants as none of us had a breakfast other than a granola bar and water (not the breakfast of champions).  We head back to the embassy and the time is about 9:30 by the time we finish all this up.  George calls at 9:45 and tells us to rush over to the Ministry of Briths and Deaths to meet him and get all the documents. Remember all documents must be at the embassy by 11 am.  We looked at each other and I asked Francis how far away that is, he said about 6 kilometers, but with traffic in Kampala it could be close getting there and getting back so we head off and I encourage Francis to drive fast.....

Now you should hear the theme song to Raiders of the Lost Ark in your head for this sequence or something else equally epic like Flight of the Valkyries...

9:50 leave the gas station and hurry down the road in our minivan
9:55 encounter first traffic jam  (concerned but we will make it)
10:00 get through and on our way
10:04 we get caught up in a jam at a round about (Ugandan traffic has almost no laws and very few stoplights but they have lots of round abouts which are at major intersections, think the intersection of two very major roads, no highways here, with a roundabout in the middle... yes its as bad as you are thinking it is) (at this point we are getting concerned we might not make it)
10:15 finally clear of round about
10:20 get close to ministry and I call George he says he is outside looking for us (we will make it!)
10:22 we are driving by as I see George on his phone calling us, I yell STOP! and unbuckle and jump out as the vehicle is still moving to run over to George.  He hands us everything and I run and get back in and the car is moving again.... on our way back to the embassy! (yes we will surely make it now)
10:30 in another jam, at this point I tell our driver Francis that if at any point he thinks we get stuck in a really bad jam and we are in danger to let me know and I will jump out of the car and flag down a motorcycle cab (called a boda boda) which is as dangerous as you think.  Its basically a super old motorcycle with a really long seat that 1 to 3 passengers can sit on it behind the driver.  It is the fastest travel as since there are no traffic laws, they dart in and out of traffic and cut around and through corners.  It is also the most dangerous (I can hear my mom cringing right now) and Francis tells us it is the greatest cause for traffic loss of life and limbs currently in Uganda.  So not a great option, but I was determined.  (at this point worried about making it)
10:35 we hit the round about again... while almost around it a semi truck (yes the semis use the round abouts) breaks an axle.... oh no, taking up the whole road way.  We sit behind in the round about for about 5 or 6 minutes when Niki behind me says Travis it might be boda boda time... then Francis says no wait and he turns and hops the curb and jumps some railroad tracks (which we catch some air on) to get around the semi and we are back on the road.   (at this point thinking ok we are not making it)
10:40  At this point he is driving much faster than normal and taking some awesome chances passing other cars as we are a little behind on time.   (hopeful again we will make it)
10:48 he says we are almost there, but with security check in we don't have time to walk from the gas station.  So he will somewhat slow down and I will hop out quickly in front of the embassy (remember they really don't like that and they have been trained to shoot when they sense provocation).
10:52   I say a quick prayer and then there is the embassy and he slows down a bit... I jump out the with the documents and Nik and the kids go with Francis as they will meet me inside  (we will make it)
10:58 get to the waiting room and drop off the documents!!!!  We have made it, but barely!  Got the documents dropped off and they scheduled our interview for 2 pm, but the lady said she still wanted us to correct Clare's birth certificate..... the day keeps going

Now that we have the proper documents it comes time to pay.  We knew about the $230 due per kid so we are ready for this.  They then drop the bomb that since these kids are not related we must pay the $620 filing fee for each kid (had paid once months ago and thought that was it) so we had to make that as well.  Yet, one we get to the cashier she tells us its actually $720!!!!!  We are shocked and pretty upset as after 4 weeks in Uganda our finances are getting tight and an extra $720 was not planned on.  Now at this point many of you are thinking what I would argue until I was blue in the face, which we did for a minute.  Then we  stopped because getting on the bad side of these people could literally mean we could be stuck here for weeks.  So we just grin and take it as these people have the power of life and death over us right now.

At this point we return to normal space time, but the last hour was so stress packed that Nik and I felt like we packed a couple days worth of stress into that time.   It was neat as another of George's clients named Brad and Holly who are here adopting were at the embassy too and we got to meet them.  It was fun seeing them and getting to tell them about the Little Donkey, awesome Mexican food, since they were from Plano and lovers of it too.  It was great meeting them.

 We finally talk to George about the birth certificate and he says he is on his way to the embassy too.  Once he gets there and gets out we discuss the birth certificate issue.  He says that it is clearly a typo and we should be able to get it fixed today!  That is very exciting, but he says he needs the form to do it.  So I go back to the embassy and meet with Diella again and she won't give me the birth certificate without cancelling the appointment, but will give me a copy.  I take that to George and he is on his way to the Ministry of Births and Deaths again.  We head to lunch as its only 11:40 and we have until 2 to get back.  About 5 minutes down the road George calls me when he realizes I had given him a copy of the certificate and not the real thing as he needs the real thing for sure.  So we turn around and I am highly skeptical as to my ability to get this form from the lady that has already told me no.  But anyways Francis drops me, Travis, off at the gas station and takes Nik and the kids to lunch.  At this point I see George again who has come back and talk with him about whats going on.  He says that I should insist that it is a typo and we get it corrected today, we just need the original.

So saying a prayer again I walk back to the embassy and enter for the 4th time today.  I have to wait a long time in the waiting room (it is clear Diella does not want to see me again), and as she sees me is not very happy.  I plead with her and stress it is a typo and suddenly she seems ok with it and gives me the form!  I was a bit shocked!  So I take it out to George and he is back on his way to the Ministry.  It is starting to drizel a bit so I decide to walk back to the embassy again as they have an outside waiting area that is covered.  By the time I get there I am a little wet but not bad and I wait for Niki.  She will now tell of her lunch and the following aftermath....

We left Travis and headed to the Little Donkey. We were happy to hear it was nearby (we don't know which way is up in the city and what's near what...). We know we all like it, it's cheap, it's fast, and it's delicious! We ate there and luckily, today of all days, Moses decided to not be the slowest (s-l-o-w-e-s-t!!) eater in the whole world. Yay! We ate quickly and brought a burrito back for Travis. Clare was very excited to bring it to him and even threw in a few of her chips for him. The three of us had a great lunch and Clare and I actually were able to have a pretty decent conversation about where we were going next, what all was going on and what our plans were for rest of the day. I'd been wondering the last three weeks what in the world the kids think is going on. So, it was beginning to rain and Francis took us back to the embassy. It's 1:30 at this point.

Now it's not just raining it's raining cats and dogs! A toad strangler, as my mom would say! We think about waiting it out, but I was afraid it would get worse before 2:00, so Francis pulled just past the entrance (b/c he can't stop at the entrance) and the three of us ran for it! Splashing through this puddle and that mud puddle, trying not to slip and fall, tightly clutching the binder of documents and finally making under the covered seating area outside the embassy where Travis was. We were drenched! Dripping wet. My clothes felt like I'd taken them out of the washer and put them on. Ick! And, my skirt was so heavy from the water it kept slipping down. We all looked awful and we wanted to look nice for the much for that!

We then had to run in the rain some more to get to the office we needed to be at. The security guard said, "but it's raining really hard" and I looked at him and said, "we have to, we have an appointment". What were were supposed to do? So, we ran for it again. We made it into the waiting room and we all four went into the respective restrooms to dry off. Luckily their bathrooms have paper towels (first time we've seen that in UG)!

The interview wasn't what we thought it would be. Our case manager was very nice, Krista, from Wisconsin. She went through our paperwork, had us sign the ones she needed to witness the signatures of. She asked us some questions about 'why Uganda?", "How did you come to find out about these orphans", "how long have you been in UG?", "When were you matched with these children?", things like that. We were matched with Clare and Moses on May 31st and she wants documents that were dated before our match date. She didn't like that some of the birth/death certificates and other documentation was issued after that date. So, everything she had was good, but she wanted more. Also, Moses birth certificate was incorrect because it stated that both parents were unknown. Not true, his mother was known and we have her death certificate. These both were typos by the Ministry of Births and Deaths and can be rectified easily.

We finally went back to the hotel. We'd called George and let him know what happened. He explained to us and wants us to explain to our case manager (which she should already know), that birth/death certificates aren't made at the immediate birth/death of someone in UG. They are only issued if you seek it out for a specific reason. For example. George's boys are 4, 6, and 8 and he just got their birth certificates issued 2 years ago so that he could get them passports. Some of the certificates that are needed for this adoption were only issued because they were needed for the adoption. They weren't needed for any reason prior to this, so they were issued after 5/31/12.

So, where we stand now: Tomorrow morning George will get Moses' birth certificate rectified, then we will all, including George, go to the embassy and meet with our case manager and see where we stand. Pray that she is understanding of why the certificates are dated the way they are and that things go well.

Thanks for reading the whole post. It was a long, crazy day, but we are so blessed that Clare and Moses were SO GOOD, today, being cooped up in a car and office for most of the day. They got to swim and play this evening, but we are all so exhausted. G'night!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Almost there......

Tonight our lawyer George came by and told us the passports will be picked up tomorrow along with the death certificate we need, so we are on for going to the Embassy tomorrow.  George will meet us there with the needed documents.  This is of course a little nerve racking (this defines cutting it close I think!), but we believe it will all work out.  God is at work in all of this.  Tomorrow is a big day and LOTS of prayers are needed.  If you are a specific prayer here are the things needed:

1. George gets the needed death certificate and the people are cooperative
2.  George is able to pick up the passport and get us all documents at the embassy in a timely manner. (It closes at 10am, remember...)
3.  We get an interview at the embassy on Wednesday afternoon (the way the embassy works is we go there  and drop off our documents and once they see we have everything they schedule an interview for us to be interviewed by the embassy with the kids)
4.  The interview is with a friendly "make it work" sort of person, not really a stickler for the rules!
5.  We stay calm no matter what happens!

So please be in prayer we will be at the Embassy by 8 am Kampala time or midnight Dallas time.  This is a big day and will really influence how much longer we are here.  

Besides all that today has been fairly slow, but more than a little stressful.  This morning was easy and fun with the kids playing and watching movies while we read a lot (We are each on our 5th book of this trip!).  After this we went out to lunch to a place called The Woods, where we went to on Saturday.  It is the cool one with a playground, thus the reason for returning.  Almost immediately once we got there it went bad.  Neither kid wanted to play on the play ground and we made it plain they would either go and play or sit on their chair and do nothing.  The food takes about 30 to 45 minutes to arrive there.  Both decided to sit and then things got worse.  Claire didn't like sitting and didn't want to play so she did her silent but angry routine of ignoring us and not doing anything we ask and acting like a limp noodle.  It made us both very frustrated!  After 20 minutes of arguing and all kinds of fun she finally told us, she doesn't like to talk when she is angry, that she wants to go home.... well we told her we have to wait to eat and then things got better of course.  It was mentally exhausting, and can be at times very trying to deal with a very stubborn child who can barely speak our language.  On the plus side they serve a nice sirloin steak for super cheap, $7, and it was super good.  We also finally got the kids to try something different, pizza, and they both liked it of course.  So it was a successful meal in that sense! Everyone felt better after we'd eaten.

After this it was back to the hotel and we didn't swim today as it rained most of the afternoon.  So it was games inside and movies.  We ate dinner in the room tonight with some tasty easy mac and granola bars ( I am super tired of easy mac and will probably never get it again!).  Tonight we got to Skype with my mom for about 5 minutes (due to George arriving) and then later Valerie, Nik's sister, so that was awesome!  Please be in prayer for tomorrow and hopefully it will all go well!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Lights Out!!!!

So as a write this the lights are out all across Kampala!  It is very dark and this will be a bit of a short entry in the hope of keeping our battery life on the lap top.  I am impressed that we still have internet access.  Hopefully all will be well by tomorrow.  We have been told power outages like this are a normal thing here. We're fortunate that this is the first time it's happened.

This morning went by fairly smoothly.  Claire tried something new for breakfast today, cereal, and seemed to like it!  So we avoided the eggs drama again.  After this it was some good outside play time followed by the kids watching Little Rascals which they picked.  They don't always pick the DVDs without pictures on the outside, but I guess they are starting to trust that everything in the kids DVD folder is good stuff as the Little Rascals DVD has almost no ornamentation.

After this it was Lego time.  For you How I Met Your Mother watchers we have had a HIMYM moment recently.  Lilly, a character on the show is a kindergarten teacher, has a student that comes up to her each day to show a picture of a rainbow like it's the greatest drawing in the world.  She draws the same rainbow every day and every day Lilly says something like, "A rainbow!  How beautiful!"  Until one day she gets tired of seeing a rainbow every single day and she snaps, as the kid shows her the picture Lilly yells a bit at the kid and asks if she can draw something else than a rainbow for once!  It is so funny!  This is how I have been feeling with Moses.  Every time we get out the legos he makes one of two things either a giraffe or an airplane.  Its always one or the other and he will run up to you with a big smile on this face and say Giraffe!  We always say wow what a great giraffe or great airplane!  Don't worry we wont snap at him, but sometimes we think about it!

After lunch we got to Skype with my parents which was tons of fun,  My mom has already gone clothes shopping for the kids and the kids loved seeing their new stuff.  Its such a blessing to get to skype with friends and family over here.  It makes home not feel so far away, and gives us an excuse to check on our dogs who we desperately miss!  After this we went swimming for a couple hours again.  The kids are getting braver and braver which is lots of fun to watch.  They also enjoy sunbathing to get dry!  They even got in the big pool today on their own to swim a little.  I was swimming with them and doing some laps on my own and their were some people in a conference room at the hotel that overlooks the pool and we had an audience!  I don't know if they were curious about they kids or just don't see people swim much, but they watched me go back and forth as I did laps!

After swimming we decided to have a family movie night.  Most of the time when the kids watch movies they watch it on their DVD player with their headphones on.  Tonight we watched Shrek 2 on the laptop and we all really enjoyed it.  We had dinner in our room and just had a big time watching the movie.  Tomorrow hopefully we will get all our final paperwork, passports and one death certificate.  Please keep praying!

Early bedtime, tonight, because we can't see anything other than our laptop. G'night!

Photos of the African Dance Performance

Playing Cookin' Cookies

Terrace at the Ndere Center

Fun palm trees behind the ampitheater

Our Ugandan BBQ dinner

It started getting dark, so some of the photos begin getting a bit blurry.

Randy, our MC and comedian for the evening. He was so great and hilarious! He told history and jokes and basically gave the dancers time to change costumes.

These drums are balanced on their heads and some of them are up to 100 kilos (220 lbs.)!! 

That's Claire in the pink jacket. The kids had so much fun up on stage with the MC. He was so good with the kids! 

Moses is in the red plaid shorts

I love this one of Moses!

This was the final dance, it was of the Acholi tribe, where Moses and Claire come from.

They used dried hollowed out gourds at instruments and they were SO loud!

Dancing with 1 pot

Dancing with 2 pots

Dancing with 6 pots!!

7 pots!!

Claire dancing with her pot on her head. You can see the blurriness from her dancing. (She just left the room with her Play-Dough bucket balanced on her head.)

Moses loves drums! Very exciting for momma!!