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Friday, December 31, 2010

Homecoming

We will update this thing with a proper blog post in a couple of days but for now, here are two blogs you can hop over to and view some homecoming photos! Check out The Fruitful Family and Babe of My Heart... thank you Joy and Andrea!

And here... oh, we are blessed. What an amazing night we had last night. We were greeted at the Atlanta airport by many friends and family, and even some people we've never met who read the blog -- they even set up a seperate Hannah & Joseph Cheering Section in the arrivals area. It was an absolute delight and so thrilling for all 7 of us. We were SO touched that so many people re-arrange their day and fight Atlanta traffic at rush hour to welcome home our new babies. Thank you!!! We are also so very sorry for the ones that did all of that but came later and missed us because the flight got in so much earlier than expected.

Hint: Hannah and Joseph are the ones holding the balloons

After the airport party, we squeezed everyone into our Volvo SUV -- oh my word, we seriously need a bigger car -- and headed home. We had a quick dinner, bathtime (what an event!!) and then bedtime.
Everyone slept great, except me - I was so certain that Hannah & Joseph would be up during the night that I stayed awake nearly the entire night listening for them. Oh well, naptime's in a few hours.

We'll post pictures and stories and thoughts on our first few days together later in the week, for now we just want to enjoy one another. Also, our friend Michael Lines (the director of SixtyFeet's film, Bereaved) was on the scene filming last night -- he even got permission to go back to the gate and meet Dan and the children with us. Stay tuned for an amazing adoption/gotcha day/homecoming video.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010

'Twas the Night Before...

'Twas the night before Hannah and Joseph came home
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even Charlotte, the Mouse.



Their stockings were hung by the chimney with care



We didn’t have Christmas
Because they were over there



Mama wanted her new ones all snug in their bunk beds
With visions of fried grasshoppers dancing in their heads



When out on the tarmac there arose such a clatter
We were waiting atop the escalators among all the chatter
When what should appear... But two adorable Ugandan children
And Daddy Dan, that dear!





As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
The children were holding Daddy’s hand, not making a sound.
Daddy looked tired, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all wrinkled and smelled like soot;

But his eyes – how they twinkled!  His smile how merry!

His cheeks were like roses.  But my!  Was he hairy!

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread; 

He spoke not a word, but went straight and gave hugs,
All seven of the Owens were there, covered in love.

We sprang to our car, to his team gave a whistle,

And away we all drove like the down of a thistle.
But folks heard us exclaim, as we drove out of sight, 
“Praise God Almighty!  Praise Him, tonight!”

(Post written by Joy Harty because my internet has been down all week!!!!)



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kampala Goodbye

This evening as I was putting the two little ones down for bed, we went through our regular routine and then I tried to explain to them about how this time tomorrow we would be headed to the airport, getting on a plane and headed to America. They looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language, which of course I was. We said our prayers and I started to put them in their bunks under their mosquito nets and Hannah says "Kampala. Goodbye".
 
That pretty much sums it up for us this week. We pick up the visas at the US Embassy tomorrow at Noon, pack, and head to the airport. There's a little bit more to it of course since we don't depart until 2:00 am, but we have to get to the airport several hours early. It will be interesting tomorrow night as we head to the airport late in the evening and wait at the gate until the wee hours. Please pray for a smooth transition from Guest House Living to World Travelers for the newest Owens babies.

We are excited for the next phase of our transition and the journey ahead. Thank you to everyone for the prayers and thoughts, words or encouragement and emails. We have lived off or it for weeks now. We will continue to do so once we return and as everyone gets settled, acclimated and used to one another.

If you are up for it and nearby, we arrive in Atlanta at 6:20 p.m. on Thursday. We would love to see you there, but if now we'll see you soon.
Monday, December 27, 2010

Prayer - Answered!

Hi, it's me Daddy Dan on a lovely day in Kampala. It's lovely for several reasons. First of all it's just gorgeous out with a cool breeze. But mostly because we went to the embassy this morning with no idea whether they would see us or even let us in. I was 50/50 as to whether they would let us in the gate or turn us away without an appointment. They did let us in, and with very few people waiting I was seen very quickly. After 10 minutes, we were on our way out with an appointment for the interview this afternoon and a promise of visas in our hand by Wednesday. Our flights are currently set for Wednesday night (actually very early morning Thursday) so we should not have any trouble getting everything we need prior to departure.

Thank you so much for your prayers for us here and for Shelly and the kids who are hoping to be able to leave NC in the morning if the snow and ice subside enough. Thanks to Judd for getting here last night and for your prayers for his safe arrival.

This is short and sweet as we now have to get some snacks for the kids, rest and play before a potentially long afternoon back at the embassy.
Sunday, December 26, 2010

Stranded in NC -- and Africa

“But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name.” – I Peter 4:16 (NLT)


By comparison to many of my brothers and sisters in Christ around the world, I am really not suffering this week. But by comparison to my usual nice, comfortable, predictable life, I am totally suffering this week. I wish I could tell y’all that I’m just walking around praising His name and thanking God for the privilege of participating in His work. But to be honest, I’m struggling here. I miss my husband terribly. My children miss their Daddy terribly. We’re all sick with colds and I’m running seriously low on patience.

Absolutely nothing about this week has panned out as I thought it would. Even today – I was planning to head back to Atlanta with the kids first thing this morning. We’ve been in North Carolina all week and it’s been wonderful to spend this time with my dear family – indeed, I don’t know what I would have done without them this week. But it’s time to get home. I have things to do, bills to pay, the usual stuff of life… But no, I’m not going home today. Because the stinkin’ snow storm of the century has overtaken Eastern North Carolina. And in case you’re wondering, I’m not feeling sorry for myself or anything.

And then it occurs to me... I'm stranded, just like Dan. Well, not "just like" Dan. His situation is a bit more intense than mine. I'm "stranded" in a large city in the good ol' USA with my Dad and three of my children. My sister and her family are right down the street. Despite the snow, we have power and phones and (obviously) internet access. We built a snowman, went sledding, now we're sitting by the fire eating lunch.

On the other hand... Dan is stranded (really stranded) in Africa right now. He spent Christmas on the other side of the world away from his friends and (almost) all of his family and has very limited access to internet, email or phone. He's caring for our two brand new children who he barely knows and who speak only a few words of English. He is washing their clothes (and his) in a bucket. He's sharing a bathroom, living room and kitchen with an entire group of people he just met last week.

And is Dan complaining? Is he wandering around like me asking God to hurry up and teach him this lesson so we can move on already? Nope. Dan is not having an easy time and he is suffering -- but he is praising God and he is thankful to participate in His work. He's taking time to learn what he can and what God wants to teach him from this experience. Take a look at the email I woke up to on Christmas morning, from Dan:

Subject: The Curse of Abundance

One of the families we are staying with at the guest house brought

bubbles for each of the kids for Christmas morning. They were so
excited at breakfast about blowing bubbles they didn't even want to
finish their food. That in itself is big.
After eating Hannah and Joseph went outside and I showed them how to blow bubbles
and they took to it immediately. Each bubble was valuable and had to
be pointed out to me. "Daddy, you see. Daddy, you see." Especially the
ones that landed in the grass and didn't pop right away.

Dan has had a restful and sweet weekend with our new little ones. Their Christmas was not full of toys and Santa Claus and everything we associate with Christmas here in the States. It was just about being with each other and with our Lord. May we all take time to learn these lessons and to get our priorities straight.

 Please pray for my dear, awesome husband as he pushes forward tomorrow and tries, once again, to secure a visa appointment with the American Embassy. Please pray that he will be granted this appointment and that they will all be on that flight late Wednesday night. Pray for our friend Judd (who has just arrived in Kampala!) to help Dan this week and for his wife and family at home in Atlanta.

Blessings to all and stay tuned. We'll keep you posted on anything that develops this week.
Thursday, December 23, 2010

Stuck in UG for now

Dan, Hannah and Joseph are not making it home for Christmas. The American Embassy in Kampala just closed for Christmas and H & J's visas have not been issued. We'll try it again next week.

We're disappointed that we can't all be together but we're trying to make the most of it... after all, this is Hannah and Joseph's first Christmas ever spent with their Daddy!! They are no longer orphans -- at home in Atlanta they have a Mommy and a big sister and a big brother and a baby sister waiting on them. This Christmas there are two less orphans in the country of Uganda -- and that is great cause for celebration!

Dan's friend Scott is returning home tonight to be with his family for Christmas. Thank you so much Harty family for sacrificing for us this week! We could not have done it without you!! And get this... we have ANOTHER friend who is planning to head over on Saturday night to spend next week in Uganda with Dan and help him bring the children home (now scheduled for next Thursday afternoon). Talk about an amazing Christmas present... Dan and I have MUCH to be thankful for. Thank you Judd and Valerie!

I just keep thinking it would have so incredible... such a fairy tale ending on Christmas Eve of all days! Well, I'll still get my fairy tale ending -- just not this week. And here's the bottom line: it's not about me. It's all about Him. We can nag our children until we're blue in the face trying to drive home the message... "Listen kids, Christmas is not about presents. It's not about Santa Claus. It's not about candy in your stocking. It's about Isaiah 9:6... and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." But when the rubber meets the road, do we, the adults, really believe it? Guess I'll find out this year.


Thank you so much for keeping us in your prayers. Please especially remember Dan this weekend -- he's awful far from home and I know he's missing us. Merry Christmas to all -- we'll post an update when we have one!
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Making Christmas Plans

Hi friends -- Just a quick post. I hate to say we're losing hope -- but at some point we do have to face reality. And a Christmas Eve arrival is just not looking likely for Dan and the children.

I mean, please keep praying. There's still a slim chance that it could all come together tomorrow. We've made all the arrangements for everyone to come home. This morning I spent over an hour on the phone with Delta airlines booking skymiles tickets (thanks Mr. H for nearly cleaning out your skymiles account for the lil ol' Owens family!) and getting everything set up.

At the same time, we're making arrangements for everyone to stay. Just keepin' it real -- the Embassy is probably not going to be able to get all the paperwork processed by close of business tomorrow ( that's 8:30am EST tomorrow). Dan has had many Christmas Day invitations from our wonderful friends in Uganda and he, Hannah and Joseph will be just fine. I'm here in North Carolina with my family and I'll be just fine too.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I'm sad and disappointed. But I do know our God is sovereign and His plan and timing is way better than mine. So we do it His way -- and I'm going to try my best to do it joyfully. After all, there are many families who have to spend Christmas Day apart for reasons beyond their control -- including the amazing men and women who serve our country in the Armed Forces. What I'm experiencing is just a little taste of what those families experience year in and year out. Lord, forgive me my selfishness and feelings of entitlement.

Dan, Hannah and Joseph will be home!! But at this point, it's looking more like a New Year's Eve arrival than Christmas Eve. I'll update and give y'all the final word tomorrow.

By the way, speaking of entitlement... I read the most amazing blog post yesterday, written by my nephew who is serving as a missionary in Bogota, Colombia with his wife, my niece, Sara. My nephew Stephen is actually the same age as me -- he may even be a few months older than me now that I think about it -- but I am technically his wise old Auntie. I nearly burst with auntly (is that a word?) pride when I read his post from yesterday. If I could write as well as him, I could have written these words myself. They're certainly written all over my heart. If you have an extra few minutes today, this is well worth the read:
http://www.bridgethelove.com/

Merry Christmas friends!
Monday, December 20, 2010

Gotcha Day!

I wish Dan could write this update himself but he's had really flaky internet access today. And now it's the wee hours of the morning in Uganda and I pray that Dan, Scott, Hannah and Joseph are all sleeping peacefully in their beds at the Bridge House Africa.

Today was quite a day. It was the real "gotcha day" for our new babes... Dan's first full day with Hannah and Joseph. You will not believe the sweet pictures he took and the fun they had! Today was also the day that Dan and the children showed up at the American Embassy to beg for an appointment.

I can't share all the details of the day... but wow. It's been pretty amazing and God has shown up, big time. Earlier today Scott sent a private email to our small group with this subtext... "After hearing and seeing [all that I have today], all I honestly want to do is worship." And that about sums it up.

Details and pictures to follow at some point -- but for now please know that Dan was admitted to the Embassy, they did agree to open his file and begin the paperwork AND... they have already made some significant progress... A Christmas Eve homecoming is still a very real possibility. And it's all nothing short of a miracle. Rejoice with us!

"Shout with joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of His name;
Make His praise glorious!
Say to God, "HOW AWESOME ARE YOUR DEEDS!!!"
-- Psalm 66 (Thanks Joy for encouraging me with just the right psalm for today!)
Saturday, December 18, 2010

Having Her Cake & Eatin' It Too!

This may seem slightly out of character for the Crazy Family, but I have treasured the first birthday parties of each of my babies. I know that a 12-month old has no idea what's going on or what all the fuss is even about -- but a first birthday is such a milestone. Such a sweet celebration of the amazing work the Lord has done in your family over the last year... bringing a tiny, beautiful person into your home and then giving you the privlege of watching him/her grow. I mean, wow!!

So all of the 1st birthdays are precious and special to me. But I think I'm going to have to say that Baby Charlotte's party (held just today!) will have to go down on the books as my favorite.

Dan and I originally planned to celebrate Charlotte's (who we call CiCi) birthday on December 4. We sent out really cute invitations -- the whole family was coming and many of our friends. But then I had to leave for Uganda and I refused to miss my baby's party, so we moved the date to December 18. But then Dan had to leave for Uganda. And we just decided that poor Cici had to finally have her party, even without Daddy. So sad.

December 18 is, as y'all know, the Saturday before Christmas. Possibly the busiest, craziest day of the year. Unfortunately, none of our family (most of them are out of town) could make it. I thought maybe a few friends could join us... on faith, I went ahead and ordered two little sandwich rings and a princess cake from Publix. Hoping that maybe someone, anyone would show up.

And today... we ended up with a HOUSE FULL of people. My little house was bursting at the seams. I know people must have had other stuff to do on this busy, crazy day... and all of these people  made time to be there for Charlotte (for me). I was so touched. So touched!

Dan prays for each of our children on their first birthdays. For him, it's an opportunity to publicly thank the Lord for each of our babies and pray blessings over their lives. It's a big deal to us and it's so sweet. Dan couldn't be there for this one -- so in his absence one his best friends offered to do it for him. Our friend Judd (who also happens to be a SixtyFeet board member and spent time in Uganda last month with Hannah and Joseph), put his arm around me, put his hands on Baby Charlotte and prayed over that little girl like she was his own.

And then looked what happened...



That fabulous guy next to CiCi is our family pediatrician, our dear friend and our fellow SixtyFeet board member, Dr. David (who also spent time with Hannah and Joseph in Uganda last month). Before we sang Happy Birthday, David went to great trouble to get ahold of Dan on Skype and held the laptop so Dan could be "with us" while we sang and he even got to watch Baby C eat her cake. It was priceless! I think every adult and every child at the party talked to Dan before he had to go. Doing the Skype thing may not be the same as having Daddy home, but not many children can tell such a great story about their first birthday party!


Madeline (dressed as a princess), Davis (dressed in his African outfit I bought him at the market in Kampala, UG) and our birthday princess, Baby C.

C's baby friend, Kate. Kate's Daddy, Scott, is headed over to UG as we speak to be with Dan. Please pray for travel mercies for Scott as he is going through Amsterdam and headed into a full-on snow storm.
My own awesome Daddy is flying into Atlanta in the morning will drive with the kids and me to North Carolina on Monday morning. I am planning to stay in N.C. with my family until Christmas Eve (or possibly longer if Dan doesn't make it back... but let's not think that way).

Thank you so much for praying for our family. It will take a miracle and so many details will have to fall into place but we are hopeful that Dan, Hannah, Joseph and our friend Scott will all be together on that 2:20pm flight into Hartsfield on Christmas Eve. Please pray for a miracle because right now we're needing one.

Much love to all of you!!
Friday, December 17, 2010

Made for TV Movie, Scene 2

The next scene takes place in Dan's hotel room in Uganda. It's not very exciting. He spends the day sitting and waiting and checking his phone every few minutes to see if he somehow missed that all important phone call -- the call from our attorney's office to letting us know that the written ruling is signed.

We talk on the phone about 11am Uganda time (4am here) -- it's not looking good. The ruling is still not signed and the US Embassy closes at 12:30 on Fridays. Dan walks outside for a breath of fresh air the phone rings -- it our attorney's office!! She has the order! Can Dan meet her at the Embassy? It's closing in 10 minutes but maybe he can make it!!!

He races to the Embassy and... they have literally just locked the doors. We will not be filing the papers today. Or tomorrow. Or Sunday. We'll give it another try on Monday morning and see if we can get any closer to the climactic conclusion of "Bring Dan Home for Christmas."

Here are Dan's thoughts from his day...

I was talking to my good friend in Uganda this evening about the events of the past 29 hours and suddenly realized it sounded like I was complaining. I was telling him about the positive outcome of the meeting with the judge yesterday and about getting the judge's signature on all the necessary documents today (which in itself was a miracle akin to my luggage arriving nearly on it's own 2 wheels). I then told him about how we just missed getting to the embassy on time before they closed and how we will have to wait to try again on Monday. I didn't get into all the details with him about my frantic ride to the US embassy on the back of a Boda and my just missing the embassy's closing right before lunch (yes, that's right, I said before).

This is considered very light traffic. If you aren't touching someone else's rear-view
mirror with each elbow, you've got it made.

So I was telling my friend all this and he interrupted to say "Hey, at least you are moving forward. It's slow and deliberate, like a steam roller, but it's in the right direction." I then realized how much I had been focusing on the negative of the day and not rejoicing in the fact that we now have a signed and sealed court order declaring these two children as not only legally under our care, but also the fact that they are free to travel with us to the US. That is huge. And it only seems like a long time coming to us. Any of our friends out there that have been languishing for months waiting for these events will likely scoff and declare us ungrateful. We are not ungrateful. Really, we are full of grate. Hmmm, it doesn't work the other way 'round does it? But seriously, we are beyond grateful. We are just so eager to have our two little ones with us at home.

Next step is to get to the embassy to beg an appointment so they will review our case and begin their own orphan search. Hopefully the lawyer's exhaustive documentation in this area will reduce the amount of time they require and we will be granted visas soon.

I have to say though, riding on the back of one of those bodas is a little addicting. I took a couple of more trips this afternoon to run some errands and take care of some Sixty Feet business. It really is the only way to travel around town in traffic. I'm thinking of starting something similar back in Atlanta with my own scooter. Maybe it will catch on.
Thursday, December 16, 2010

And it's a YES!!!!!!!!!

Hi friends! Let me just start by saying this...  WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Hannah and Joseph are officially ours. Well actually, they are His. They always have been and always will be His but for a time, He is entrusting them to Dan and me. We are in shock, we are thrilled, we are truly, truly blessed.

Dan wasn't actually seen in court until about 3pm (Uganda time) today. The judge gave his verbal ruling but we're still waiting for the written ruling... that beautiful little piece of paper that will allow us to go to the US Embassy in Kampala, apply for Hannah and Joseph's visas and HEAD HOME! Someone from our attorney's office is heading over to the courthouse first thing tomorrow morning (which is just a few hours from now) to wait on this ruling. Once we have it in hand, Dan will go directly to the US Embassy and try to schedule an appointment.

If (and this is still a big IF) everything falls into place, Dan, Hannah and Joseph will be coming home... ON CHRISTMAS EVE on the 2:20pm flight!!! Already your prayers have carried us so far! Will y'all please pray for this one to happen? I know this is probably starting to sound like a bad made-for-TV-movie... "Bring Dan Home for Christmas" or something... but seriously!!! This is crazy!

In other exciting news, our dear, awesome, crazy friend Scott is planning to fly over to Uganda on Saturday -- at GREAT expense to himself (those last minute tickets to Africa are not cheap) -- to help Dan with H & J and especially to help him with the 24 hour flight home with 2 small children. Do we have great friends or what? Scott and his wife Joy just had a pipe burst and flood the upstairs of their home, yesterday. They have four little girls of their own. They have plans for the week of Christmas. And yet they've put it all aside just to go serve some crazy friends.

Anyways, that's all for tonight. And that's a lot. I think my brain is about to explode. My face hurts from smiling so much today. I'm so happy! I'm so blessed by what the Lord has done and also by the many people He's called to stand with us during this time. We are TREASURING every email, text, comment, phone call... y'all know how to make a family feel loved!!

"I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him."
-- 1 Samuel 1:27

Better Than The Shirt Off Your Back

If you're anything like me, when you have been flying for 24 hours, the shirt off your back is actually no great prize. In fact, the first thing I like to do after an all-day ordeal in the air is to get that shirt off to the laundry and take a shower. And yet it is considered an act of great kindness and a compliment to say that a person would give you the shirt off their back, regardless of perspiration or odor.
So I arrived a few hours ago in Kampala after a variety of false starts, looming delays and other obstacles that threatened to keep me from arriving in time for this morning's court appearance (3 hours from now). When I finally did arrive, on time, in Kampala I felt no small sense of victory and satisfaction. That quickly depleted as one by one my fellow passengers collected their bags and departed. I shouldn't have been surprised. I should have known better too having something similar happen earlier this year on one of our trips. I should have checked nineteen different bags, each containing only one small item that I needed. No doubt if I had done that I would be writing to you of the great travesty of all nineteen bags being somehow lost at the same time.
I reluctantly left the airport to meet Godfrey outside. He is alway cheerful and encouraged me that we would work something out. Even though it was already approaching 11 p.m. he said nonchalantly, "we'll just swing by my place and see which of my suits might fit you best". And so that's what we did. He woke up his wife and rummaged through his closet while I waited in the living room. He pulled out several different suits and laid them on the couch, along with a brand new shirt still in the box, cuff links a tie and shoes. I tried on jackets and remarkably, things seemed to work out very well despite some size differences here and there. As long as I take it easy at breakfast, I should be able to fasten the waist button.
It is truly humbling. I prefer to be the one on the giving end and don't like receiving very well. I don't know why that is. Godfrey so freely gave what he had - the best of what he had. He could have easily taken off his own shirt and I would have gladly taken it as mine is currently better used as a mosquito deterrent. Instead, he gave me a brand new shirt still in the box. Probably a gift that he was saving for a special occasion. I pray I can be as giving and loving as that one day.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010

He made it, barely.

You may have already heard, Dan made it to Uganda! But not without a little excitement...

I need to back up a few days and explain... So I told y'all on my last post that Dan was leaving for Uganda following an urgent message we received from our attorney. What I failed to mention was this... our Ugandan attorney had been urgently emailing us for days asking us to come. We never received one of those messages. None of them came through! On Monday morning I decided to email her one last time, knowing that this was our very last chance to make it to UG in time for the ruling. She replied immediately and that one did come through. Had I not sent that last message on Monday, I doubt that Dan would be in Uganda right now.

Over the last 30 hours while Dan traveled to Uganda, he experienced numerous and very random delays and literally had to run to his gate in Amsterdam in order to make the flight to Entebbe.

Upon arriving at the Entebbe Airport in Uganda, Dan learned that his luggage didn't make it -- none of it. Including his suit and dress shoes for court tomorrow. Ugandan courts are very formal (when I appeared last month I had to wear a long, conservative dress and closed toe shoes) and men do not appear in court in khaki pants, a polo shirt and keens.

All this to say.. do you think someone perhaps doesn't want Dan to be in that courtroom tomorrow? Friends, if you're reading this post tonight, please cover us in prayer.

In case you're wondering, Dan was able to round up some clothes for court. Our amazing Ugandan driver, Godfrey, (yep, same guy that drove for the Levy Family last year) who is pretty much one of the coolest, nicest and most generous people I have ever met -- loaned Dan a suit. And a shirt. And a pair of dress shoes. And Godfrey insisted that Dan let him shine the shoes before he wears them tomorrow. So you know, he'll just come by early to pick up Dan (who is wearing all of his best clothes) and hand over his best shoes which he has just shined for a guy he barely knows. And that is Uganda at it's finest.

I seriously hope someone, somehow snags a picture of Dan tomorrow. Godfrey is a good bit taller than Dan and is thin as a rail..I hope Ugandan courts aren't too picky about whether or not your suit actually fits you... just that you're wearing one is hopefully good enough?

Thank you all for everything, especially for praying tonight as I know many of you are doing. Our ruling will come around 2:30am EST. We'll update the blog as soon we're able. To God be all the glory!
Monday, December 13, 2010

Headed to Uganda, Be Right Back

I planned it all out last night. I was going to take a break from all my doom and gloom adoption posts and write something nice, light and fluffy. I was going to tell y'all about the really cute, fun Christmas wreath I made with my kids. I was going to share about the all of the inexpensive, yet fun, non-toy Christmas gifts that we've rounded up for our children this year. Thought I might even throw in a few pictures of the cookie swaps and all the cookie baking fun over the weekend. Alas, that post is not to happen -- because now we've got more news.

Ever since I returned from Uganda, Dan has felt uneasy about neither of us being present for our court ruling on December 16 (that's this Thursday). When we last met, our attorney assured us that this was fine -- it would be perfectly acceptable for her to appear in court on our behalf to receive the ruling. Since then, we've talked about it and prayed about it and late last week we even sent two emails and a text message to our attorney just to make sure. So that was that... we were pretty certain that we'd all just stay together in our nice, cozy home in Atlanta and await the ruling from the judge. And Dan would return to Uganda once everything was nice and neat and all the embassy appointments were set up and he'd come home with Hannah and Joseph and we'd all cheer in the airport and then go home to our nice, cozy home in Atlanta and live happily ever after...

And then we woke up.

Our Ugandan attorney emailed us early this morning. Her message was brief but clear -- basically, "I've changed my mind, I think you really need to appear in court on Thursday." And that was all the confirmation Dan needed. Flights are already booked for today or else he'd already be gone. He's leaving tomorrow evening and arrives in Uganda on Wednesday night, just twelve hours before he has to appear in court. And here's the hard part -- he'll be back when he's back. We really have no idea how long everything will take to complete this time. Obviously we cannot continue to travel back and forth to Africa every other week. So on this trip, Dan will have to stay until it's done.

By "it's done" I mean one of two things... Either the judge says no and Dan packs it up and comes home alone. Or the judge says yes and Dan stays in Uganda, wades through the US embassy process of getting visas issued for Hannah and Joseph (the timing for us will be extremely tricky because the embassy will be closed for Christmas for a period of time) and eventually makes the 24 hour trip home with two small children who have never even heard the word "airplane" before. By the way, a few friends have generously offered to fly to Uganda and help Dan fly back with Hannah and Joseph so he doesn't have to do that part alone.

So that's the latest. If you want to pray for us, here are our top prayer requests:

1) For no flight delays or issues for Dan. He basically has no margin in his travel itinerary and he must arrive in Uganda on Wednesday night in order to get a little sleep and sit in court all day on Thursday.

2) That the judge would rule in our favor and would quickly issue his written ruling (often there can be a week or more of lag time between a judge's verbal ruling and receipt of a written ruling).

3) That the US Embassy would show favor in quickly scheduling Hannah and Joseph's appointments and would easily issue their visas.

4) That somehow Dan, Hannah and Joseph would all make it home by Christmas Eve. It would take a true miracle but how awesome would that be??

5) That our Lord Jesus would be glorified by our family -- in all that we say and do in this crazy and faith stretching time for our family. That He would use us to spark a spirt of adoption among our family and friends.

Blessings and merry Christmas to all. Dan will be blogging from Uganda -- either here or on the SixtyFeet site so check back with us. Thanks so, so much to all our dear friends and family for your offers to help, for your love, your messages, your support, for just standing with us! We cannot imagine doing this alone.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010

This Was Uganda

Here we go! Flight on the way to Brussels. Notice how clean and fresh we look. Also notice that there is no going-home photo at the end of these pictures. By that point we did not look so clean and fresh...


Pastor Ernest, Mama Catherine and the whole gang. Aren't they beautiful?


Joy and me with Ernest and Catherine

Meeting Joseph for the first time. 

Hannah does my hair while we wait in court. This was actually really helpful because by then I'd been several days without my hair dryer and I was starting to look a little rough...

After court Hannah poses with a picture of brother and sisters back home in the ATL

And Joseph does the same

Cows with horns like I have never seen in my life!!


On the way to visit M with sweet Okiru, who lives with Nathalie.


Here's Joy breakin' it down old school
Sunday, December 5, 2010

Can You Give Too Much?

And just like that, we’re headed home. Early yesterday morning, Joy and I packed up our stuff. I am so happy to come home to Dan, Madeline, Davis and Baby Charlotte. I am so happy not to miss Baby C’s first birthday on Monday. But it’s all bittersweet because I also packed up the sweet outfits, the socks, the shoes, even the underwear I had packed for Hannah and Joseph to wear on the flight home with me. And it’s all coming back to Atlanta unworn.


The details of our case are not simple. Our lawyer did a great job, she certainly prepared us as much as possible. It just didn’t quite play out like anyone imagined. I can’t share many of the details on here but we had a hard day in court on Thursday. Please continue to pray that God’s will be done and that the judge will rule in accordance with His plans on December 16th.

On this trip, we spent much time with the Dutch missionaries that SixtyFeet supports, Nathalie and Werner. We spent many, many hours in their car (thanks to traffic like I have never seen in my life) and had a chance to see much of the area in and around the city of Kampala. So many of the “homes” in this place are structures most of us would consider unfit for our pets. Truly, my lawnmower has a nicer home than many of the adults, children and babies we encountered.

When we drove by these slums or passed young, teenage mothers on the street begging with their babies, my first instinct was to reach into my wallet and start handing money to these people. Because I came to Uganda to complete an adoption, I (for once) had quite a bit of cash on me. I sat in Nathalie and Werner’s car and imagined myself running into the slums handing out dollar bills to every person I encountered. Imagine!! I thought, how many people I could feed with this money just sitting in my wallet.

I know, I know… we’ve all read the “When Helping Hurts” book. I know we’re supposed to direct our giving in responsible, targeted ways that will help people in the long run. And, as a good American, my goal should always be to help people help themselves, right? Well, sometimes you don't have time to come up with a smart, reponsible, American business plan. Something you just want to help. And once we get to Heaven, I really don't think there is going to be condemnation for people who give too much money or have too much compassion on the poor. Seriously.

Out on the roads yesterday, I told Nathalie that if I saw one more young child carrying a baby on her back, I thought my heart would literally break in two. I wanted to put on my sunglasses, turn away and pretend that these things were not happening just on the other side of the car window. And yet I kept forcing myself to look because I never, ever want to forget. During my time in Uganda, I have been asking the Lord to deeply impress these images on my heart and mind.

I pray that the Lord will use these images and experiences to help me live simply and sacrificially. I also pray that Jesus will be glorified through our adoption journey. In this teeny, tiny country in Africa, there are 2.5 million orphans. Dan and I are hoping to soon bring the toll to 2.5 million, minus 2. And friends, that number means that there are a whole lot left.

Do you have a little extra love in your heart? Don’t worry about whether or not you have extra room in your house or in your car or enough money in the bank because the Lord will deal with that part. Pray and ask the Lord how He’d have you serve these 2.5 million orphans. Ask Him to take away your fear and your desire to live life according to your plan – and then ask Him to show you what you can do.

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in Him? Dear children, let us not love in words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” --1 John 3:17-18
Friday, December 3, 2010

Temporary Good-byes

It is so late here... just wanted to write a quick update. Today was a hard, long day but it was also a good day. I feel so much more peaceful about everything.

Joy and leave tomorrow after we serve at M (the facility SixtyFeet works with) so it was my last day with Hannah and Joseph. I held them both on my lap and whispered in their ears that Dan and I would be back for them -- and I do believe we will. Hopefully soon.

We've been privledged to witness some amazing things here in Uganda and it's been a life changing experience for me. I mean, my word, today I even swatted a dragonfly out of the car with my bare hand. Without screaming or anything.

But seriously, I feel like I've been changed forever. It's one thing to see the pictures and, to know the statistics and to hear about poverty from someone else. It is another thing entirely to wade through it yourself, to see, hear and smell firsthand.

Truly, it's been an honor to spend the last week in this country. Some of the world's poorest, most destitute people live in this place. Some of the world's happiest and most generous souls live here as well. In many cases, they are one in the same. And that is some humbling stuff. With all my heart, I look forward to coming back one day.

OK, going to bed. For a little more info on our day, check out Joy's blog. She's a better writer than me anyways... http://www.fruitfulfamily.blogspot.com/.
Thursday, December 2, 2010

TIA

TIA -- this is Africa. There are no straight paths, no easy answers, no quick solutions. I am exhausted. I keep trying to find the words but I'm not even sure how to describe the past couple of days.

Yesterday, I met Hannah and Joseph for the first time. Our time together was amazing. Since July our two little ones have been staying with Mama Catherine and Pastor Ernest. Their home is very simple and modest and overflowing with love. It is situated on perhaps the most breath taking piece of property I have ever seen in my life. Truly, the most exotic Ritz Carlton property you can think of has nothing on this place.

We arrived at Mama Catherine's home yesterday morning. I hopped out of the car and stood around just taking everything in. And out of nowhere, this chubby little boy with a huge smile came walking around the corner. He walked right up to me, dazzled me with that amazing grin, and then let me scoop him up in my arms. Simple as that. That's my Joseph. Hannah took a bit more convincing but she eventually came around and then I think I spent the rest of the afternoon carrying her or sitting with her on my lap. She is absolutely stunning. Her beautiful eyelashes are so long that they curl.That was a great day.

On the other hand, today was not so great. My court appointment was at 11am this morning. The children and I went out to breakfast and then headed over to the courthouse. And there we sat. And sat. And sat. And sat some more. Hannah and Joseph behaved so beautifully and handled it all so well. And finally our case was heard. The judge did not say no -- but he did not say yes either. He told our attorney to come back on December 16th for his ruling on our case and that was that. He had nothing more to say to us. I was so, so bitterly disappointed. God bless poor Joy who had to deal with me all day today. From the judge I had expected a "yes." I had somewhat prepared myself to hear a "no." But an "I don't know about this, come back in a couple of weeks and we'll let you know" I did not expect at all.

So now, we wait some more. Because the courts will not rule on our case for the next two weeks, I am coming home with Joy on Sunday. If the judge's ruling is positive, Dan will return after the 16th to bring Hannah & Joseph home. If it's negative, it's all over. I am sad and scared and worn out but I fully trust in God's plan for our family and know that He is in control.

Overall, it's just been exhausting to be here -- mentally, spiritually and physically. It's hard because now I've seen the poverty here first hand... and because I know of the wealth and abundance on the other side. It is so hard to reconcile the two. Today I saw two toddlers walking alone down the side of a busy rode with heavy water buckets, I saw several young fathers carrying tiny babies through a slum, I saw a girl no older than my 7 year old daughter with a baby tied on her back. I've seen the pictures and heard all the stories but in real life, it's not the same. I have no words for most of it.

Thank you so much for praying. Thank you for the emails of encouragement, the text messages, the comments on the blog. I've been savoring each one of them. Thank you for standing with us. We feel "pressed on every side yet not crushed; perplexed but not to despair." (2 Corin 4:8)