Saturday, September 17, 2011

part 2. grace upon grace.

The first picture we saw of Godfrey.
(also know as the moment kate claimed him.)


The amount of paperwork required to adopt deserves its own post. And if you are going through the adoption process now, and you've just submitted your first round of paperwork, and you're thinking to yourself, "that was kind of a pain, but I really don't get what the big deal is." Heh. You will. And if you haven't developed a personal relationship with a notary yet, you may want to start working on that now.

Waiting. (also deserving of it's own post.) LOTS and lots of waiting.

While we were still waiting for approval from Good Shepherd's Fold to adopt, Gene and Loren (remember them?!) made a trip there to see how our church might be able to partner with them in the future. Obviously they were given orders to take as many pictures of the 1-3 year old boys as possible (because clearly this was all about us, right?!), and of course we stalked each and every picture wondering if "our" boy was in there somewhere.

Kate poured over the pictures and immediately announced that one particular boy was going to be her baby brother. We tried to tell her, "um, Kate, we don't get to pick. and he actually looks a little too old - so let's not get our hopes up." Have you ever tried to tell Kate anything? Forget it. She was sold. So for the next 5 months we tried to figure out how it was all going to go down once she realized that Godfrey was not, in fact, going to be her baby brother.

I think you see where this is going.

Waiting, waiting, waiting. Godfrey, Godfrey, Godfrey. We don't get to pick. We don't get to pick. We don't get to pick.

We get the referral. aaaaaand, it's Godfrey. Kate's response? "I told you." I guess you did. And God's grace in showing us His hand in this adoption just slaps us in the face again. So I email our contact at Good Shepherd's Fold and share this story with them and this is what I get back:

Hi Blake and Angela, it has blessed our hearts to get your email and just see God's hand on our decision concerning your referral. I must share with you that we had actually picked initially another child for your family but the Lord very clearly moved our team from that child to Godfrey. He is so good and true to the fact that we make plans but He directs our steps.

Well Amen.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Because we are crap. And God is so not. The story of Godfrey - Part 1.

(yes, i know this picture is kind of weird. i like it. leave me alone.)

This is as close to a scrapbook as my kids will ever get, so I realized that I really needed to write out the story of Godfrey before I forget all the details - which will happen about 5 seconds after he walks in the door. Because seriously? There is no easing in to a 4 1/2 year old boy.

So I think this all started with Kate. In Kindergarten. Who came home from school and said, "I think you should have a baby boy. A brown one." (and don't even go all p.c. on me. she was 5 and she knew her colors.) My response, "mama doesn't make them brown. aaaand we're pretty much done with babies." We blew it off, but the seed was planted and she wasn't backing down. Funny thing how the Holy Spirit can use a 5 year old girl to prepare you for something you never would have seen coming.

Fast forward about a yearish. Our church was going through the book of James. And there it was. James 1:27

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

And it just sort of hit me like a truck. That pit-of-your-stomach, knock-your-breath-out realization that, crap - We totally have to do this. And not in a works-based, lose your salvation if you don't sort of way - but a you have totally been called to do this, so just try and stop it kind of way. So go. Do it.

Or, in our case, shuffle slowly towards something that might look like adoption in a few years. Talking about it in that well-meaning, "oh, we're really thinking about it" way, and just kind of pray that it fades away.

Well about 2 seconds after we mention it, along come Gene and Loren (yeah, I'm calling you out) - who met every one of our excuses with, "really?", "hmmmm", or "why?" - followed by dead silence and questioning glances. And suddenly all of our excuses were embarrassingly lame and shallow. Because WE are lame and shallow. But God is not.

(There are an abundance of ways to care for orphans, and that may not mean adoption for you. But it may. And if you have ever felt that tug to adopt - I'm sending Gene and Loren over.)

So August 1st 2010 we jumped in. With both feet. And submitted our application with Good Shepherd's Fold Orphanage in Uganda.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Beach Trip 2011

God's timing is pretty great. And kind of funny all at the same time. When we didn't get a court date before the Ugandan courts took their summer break, we were told that it would be early December at the soonest for us to get into court. So, we decided that if we couldn't be in Africa, we'd take the next best thing (ok, really not even close. but cheap and do-able.) - Myrtle Beach!

A week before we left for the beach we got the call. Court date. Uganda. August 26th. So we packed. For the beach for a week. For Africa for a month. For a 4 year old boy we hadn't met yet. And we went to the beach for the last time as a family of 4. And it was perfect.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Just last week . . .

I realized just how much I take for granted when the 9 year old boys were praising God for being alive in Sunday School.

I got to serve rice to about 150ish Ugandans (and a few Americans). Bowls full of rice. Plates full of rice. And I was just stop #2 on the buffet line.

I got to watch my husband make a name for himself with his African dance. (Video to come . . .)

I got to take a 4 year old boy to the mall and the grocery store for (I think) the first time.

I waited over 2 hours for that same little boy to be seen by the doctor. Even though we were the only ones in the waiting room. And, again, realize how much I take for granted.

I prayed more desparately than I ever have for about 5 minutes, and watched God answer that prayer immediately.

I ironed more than I have ever ironed in my entire life.

I met a young man from Rwanda whose parents were killed in the genocide, and who is flying to America on Tuesday. I would love to see his face when he gets there.

I met a precious left-handed 80something year old man who reminded me of my Grandaddy Bill and had a smile that looked familiar, too. I am humbled by his graciousness, and can never thank him enough for the gift he is giving our family.

I experienced Ugandan High Court for the first time. For about 30 minutes. And was told to come back in a week.

I finally got a good nights sleep.

I chased some monkeys.

I narrowly avoided death by motor vehicle approximately 63 times.

I fell in love with a country I'd never even thought about just 13 months ago.

I had the best pizza of my life. In Uganda. Go figure.

Well Hellooooo Uganda!

OK - let's catch up! Monday morning (like, 3am morning) we headed out to PTI airport with 4 giant suitcases and 2 trunks all at max weight. By the grace of God we weren't charged for the trunks. Score.

Once we got to DC we switched to Ethiopian Airlines. Let me tell you. Ethiopian Airlines is Legit. 3 delicious meals, sweet blankets and pillows (even thought there is no chance you can ever sleep on that plane) and self serve drinks. Legit. Ethiopia Airport on the other hand - not so much. That is some sketchy business.

So Greensboro to DC to Addis to Entebbe, Uganda. With all our luggage. Nice. Driver takes us to our hotel. Around dinner time our gracious and wonderful hosts from Good Shepherd's Fold come in and take us to dinner at Goretti's Pizza which is right on Lake Victoria. I mean right on it. So, so pretty it feels like it should be in a movie. We sit just beside the water. And then the flies. Oh the flies - boy do they come out. We move up a little under the shelter and 2 hours later we are full of delicious pizza! (When they say there is no fast food in Uganda, there is no fast food in Uganda. Really. Delicious and cheap, yes. Fast, absolutely not.)

The next morning we meet the team that came in the night before from Florida. They'll be at GSF for the next week on a mission trip, so we're joining up with them and sharing the guest house. Summer Camp style. This is actually a huge blessing because we'll be able to blend in with them and hang out with the kids without having to answer questions about why we're actually here.

OK, so words and pictures just can't do this justice. We get to GSF and are met by all the kids with music and dancing and I think it just can't get any better. And then Blake and I get off the bus and there is one particular boy waiting at the bottom of the steps with a flower in his hand and the biggest smile you've ever seen. And it was just perfect. And yes, Blake cried.

The next day all the Florida team is treating all the house moms to lunch and fancy hairdos in Jinja, so Blake and I get to run the toddler room while they're gone. :) (ok, actually one of the toddler house moms stayed because it was just her second day on the job - and seriously, I think God must have sent her from heaven because this? this house mom business? is the hardest job on earth.) There are 4 older boys that we get to take on a walk, and down to the big playground and it's just pretty fantastic. A relentless, messy, exhausting and wonderful 3 hours later, we head back for lunch. Now I'm just so tired from thinking about it that I don't even remember what we did the rest of the day.

OK, the next day - Friday. The team has a field day thing planned for the morning, so we help out with crafts and stuff. But the best part is when the toddler house (our favorite) gets to the water relay. They look at the bukets of water and say, very matter-of-factly, "I bathe!" So cute. And although the game is explained, and played - within a few minutes they're head down in the water, scrubbing. So stinkin' cute. (you'll see pictures later. just trust me.)

Almost done. Friday afternoon the team heads into Jinja for a couple of days, so Blake and I get some down time which is nice. We finally get to skype with Kate and Anneliese! Yay!

We got to sleep in a little today (Saturday) and got invited to Jinja with the Gwartney's for lunch. It was our first time to Jinja, so that was exciting. Chinese in Uganda for lunch? Yes please! A little shopping after lunch? Why, of course! We didn't get much time with the toddlers today, but we're looking forward to church tomorrow and plenty of playtime in the afternoon. I hear there might even be African dance involved. And you know Blake loves to dance.