Monday, May 27, 2013

Homeward Bound!

Here is a brief wrap-up of our time in Uganda...

February 27 - Left for UG
March 1 - Arrived in Entebbe, UG
March 2 - Traveled to Lira, UG
March 3-5 - Spent time at Calo Me Lare (the orphanage and school built by Project Hope Worldwide. We got to hang out with the kids for a few days & meet the sisters we co-sponsor)
March 6 - Traveled to Jinja, UG
March 7 - Met Asher for the first time
March 8 - Got temporary custody of Asher and he stayed with us from this day on
March 10 - Traveled to Kampala, UG
March 11 - Briefing with our UG attorney
March 12 - Entebbe Zoo
March 14 - Court
March 30 - Traveled back to Jinja
March 31 (Easter) - Boat ride on the Nile and Easter at Asher's babies home
April 5-7 - Safari at Murchison Falls
April 15 - Received our ruling of guardianship; Began the passport process
April 19 - Received Asher's passport; Scheduled our visa exit interview
April 22 - Visa exit interview @ 3 p.m.
April 23 - Picked up Asher's visa @ 4 p.m.; Left UG to go back home at midnight!
April 24 - 5:45 pm. HOME at last!

Our last night at our guest house was bittersweet. We were sad to leave the friends we had made there but we were soooo ready to be home. We spent all day packing up our things. Why does it always take longer to pack than to unpack?! ;-)

Our awesome cook at the guest house, Harriet, cooked a great feast to celebrate us leaving and 3 other families were leaving shortly after us. Harriet is so sweet and thoughtful. She asked each of us what our favorite foods were then she prepared them for our last meal together. Our favorite was her chipati - it was sooo good!

Then our driver, Francis, took us to the airport. Everything barely fit in his van! It's hard to pack light when you travel for a 2 month stay ;-)

We were a little nervous about having to go through Immigration at the Entebbe airport. Several of the officers have been really rude to adoptive families lately. Most of them are trying to protect against child trafficking, which is understandable, but they could sure handle themselves differently. Many families I know were detained and taken to the basement for questioning. One family was not even allowed on their plane and the officer refused to look at any documents saying they had legal guardianship of the child that was with them. But we had many people praying for us and it all went quite well - just took a long time. Fortunately, we're on a "Uganda Adoption" facebook group & we were told ahead of time the documents that were required...

1. Court ruling
2. Court order
3. Passport photos of mom, dad, and adopted child
4. Copies of passports
5. Homestudy with background check
6. Irrevocable releases of living relatives
7. Probation report
8. Copies of adopted child's birth certificate
9. Copies of death certificate of adopted child's bio parents
10. Irrevocable release from the orphanage

We were also a little nervous about how Asher would do on the plane but he did so great! When we landed in the States in Chicago, we only had one hour to turn in our legal guardianship documents to Immigration, gather up all 9 suitcases, go through security, catch a tram to United, then still run quite a ways to get to our gate. God worked miracles because we made it just in time & our flight was even delayed by about 45 minutes which helped tremendously.

Then we finally made it home about 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24th. What a happy day that was! So many friends and family greeted us at the airport - such a sweet, amazing site...

Those pictures make me well up every time! We were so thankful to be home! And especially so thankful to be home with Asher. There were so many times we didn't know if our adoption would even go through so this was definitely a happy day to be on U.S. soil with our little man.

We'd like to thank everyone so much for your thoughts and prayers for our family while we were in Uganda. They were definitely felt and so appreciated. Like birth pains, it's all just a blur now - a distant memory. We remember the good times and have forgotten (well, almost!) the bad. We thank Jesus for his protection and for bringing Asher into our lives. What a sweet blessing from Above!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Safari at Murchison Falls

April 5-7, 2013...

We had our court date on Thursday, March 14th, and we kept waiting and waiting for our ruling. We ran into a few obstacles that were very frustrating and truly tested our patience. Most families typically wait 1-2 weeks for a ruling so for us to wait 4 weeks was very unexpected - but as we learned, you have to expect the unexpected.

We were told numerous times that we should hear something "tomorrow" but we learned you can't have faith in "tomorrow" - only in God. And we were reminded time and again that everything would be done in His timing. Our patience and faith were tested like never before and we were beginning to grow very weary - wondering if the adoption would even go through in the first place.

We decided our family needed a break from "waiting" and got away for three days to take a safari in Western Uganda. Steve and I had both been before but we were so excited for the girls to experience it, too.

So, we made the 6 hour journey to Murchison Falls in western Uganda. At the halfway point is Masindi and a good place to eat, stretch & go to the loo is at the Masindi Hotel. The hotel is actually rich in history as it is Uganda's oldest hotel and has had several famous visitors such as Ernest Hemingway, Humphrey Bogart, and Catherine Hepburn. We ate at their restaurant and had the largest pancakes we have ever seen - which was funny because our waiter told us they were "small" but they were so big, even folded in fourths, they were the size of our large plates. Size is relative, I suppose ;-)

Here's a few pics of the hotel...

We then drove another 2-3 hours and caught a ferry to our lodge...

We were greeted in the lobby with passion fruit juice and cold rags to cool us off from our "journey" ;-)

We checked into our room...

Ate an AwEsOmE buffet dinner...

Then went swimming. I would say that's a nice break from "waiting"...

We saw big lizards...

and small lizards...

The girls especially loved the bats that flew above our heads during dinner and on the way back to our room at night. NOT! ;-)

Early the next morning we woke up and went for a safari. Our driver drove us and we hired a tour guide to tell us about the animals & to help us find lions - which we did not see this trip :-/  The girls had so much fun & they took most of these pics...

After lunch, we then took a boat ride on the Nile...

About half way through the ride, a horrible storm hit. The sky turned dark & strong, cold winds came out of nowhere! Thunder and lightning was all around us and then the rain started and the water currents were really starting to pick up. I was getting a little nervous and started praying hard that we would all be okay. After about an hour's ride, the boat stopped at a location where we could get off and go for a hike. By this time, the rain was really coming down which made it pretty difficult to cross over slippery rocks & mud - especially carrying a toddler! 

But we survived and it probably ended up being one of our most favorite things we did in Uganda our entire trip. It was a reminder to us, as well, that we have to persevere when times get tough & to not give up. It also reminded us that we are not strong in our own strength & that we must rely on God to get us through those difficult times. And guess what?! We finally ended up getting our guardianship ruling a week later. 

James 1:2-4 - "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."