Showing posts with label travel to Uganda. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel to Uganda. Show all posts

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Fear Not: Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

The fear series continues.

Feb 2011

Our Ugandan angel turns three today.  I spent a chunk of yesterday reading Kisses from Katie, remembering those swirling red dust roads that carried us to our daughter.  I clearly see myself stepping off the plane into the black Kampala night, passing soldiers armed with machine guns, and clutching Brad's arm tight as our driver swerved through potholes and crowded streets to take us to our temporary home.

The adoption agency had asked us, "Are you sure you want to go to Uganda now? We cannot guarantee your safety."  

Egypt and Libya were rioting then, and there were rumors that Uganda's presidential elections might also end in violence.  Our sleep in Africa was often interrupted by the sounds of men screaming Lugandan into loudspeakers, campaigning from their vehicles.  On errands, we noticed endless lines of new civilian soldiers marching, training in case of riots, holding sticks which would soon be replaced with machine guns.

But I was not afraid.

I'm baffled as I think back on that.

How in the world was I less afraid then than I am now?  One armed robbery wrinkles the down comforter of my cozy American life, and I'm wrecked?

In the end, Uganda's elections turned out peacefully.  But even if they hadn't, Brad and I were coming for our daughter.  There is a love so strong that it doesn't back down to fear.

Needtobreathe has an amazing song about this.  Read the chorus:

Tell me why I should run for cover/ at the sound of the coming thunder/ when all I hear is the cry of my Lover./ So take your shot. /I won't turn back.
And I think I finally understand what this Christian group is saying.   The "Lover" is Christ... this is common Biblical imagery.  And the point is this:  When we love someone fully, and when we know what we can do for them, we will not back down.

We loved Amelia, and no fear was keeping us from Uganda.
And Kisses from Katie is about a girl who loved Jesus, and no fear was keeping her from following His call on her life.

And maybe right now I'm filled with fear for one reason: I'm not living with a profound sense of purpose from the Lover of my soul.

"Perfect love drives out fear." And the only way we can love perfectly is to be transformed by the only Perfectly Lovable One.  Do I live to serve Him, so confident of my calling that I can stare death in the face and continue in my joyful work?

There have been seasons in the past when I knew what God was calling me to.
Our sweet birthday girl is the fruit of one of those seasons.

And Amelia reminds me today...
Perhaps, instead of praying for peace, I should pray for passionate love and purpose, in Jesus' name.  Peace will be a byproduct.  And when thunder rumbles loud, I'll instead only hear the cry of Jesus' call on my life.

Dear God, make us a people who can't back down.
Because of our love for You.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Evacuating to Uganda

Uganda is addictive.  No foot visits without longing to again tred on dry red dirt, feel the bustle of Kampala, even sleep sticky under mosquito nets.  Ugandan culture is warm, patient, sometimes confusing to this I-want-it-now American girl.

I miss Uganda.  I miss the perpective I had there.  Leaving the Western world reframed all that matters.  I need the reminder that the richest people are those good at relationship -- with God and man -- not those with Gucci sunglasses and massive homes.

When we "evacuated" from Isaac to Birmingham this week, we got something almost as good as a trip to Uganda.

To the far right in this photo is David. He was our driver in Uganda, and is still our friend.  He navigated us through one of the most pivitol months of our lives with the grace and love of Christ.  He'll never know how he ministered to our family.

David was in Birmingham yesterday! I never imagined we would ever again eat lunch with both him and the family we traveled with to Uganda.  My heart could have popped.

How I love those precious twins!

I can't return to Uganda any time soon, but my husband is working on getting me to a mission trip in Honduras with him in March!!!!  I will probably fall in love again.  It can't hurt to gain a touch more of God's heart for the nations. 

"God said to me, 'You are my son;
today I have become your father.
Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.'"
Psalms 2:7-8

Where in this world has God pulled your heart?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

12 Luxuries I Shouldn't Take for Granted

I recently found a list I wrote while in Uganda.
It was a list of things I said I'd "never again take for granted when we get home."

I read the list and a) chuckled and b) smacked my forehead.

I do, in fact, take most of these things for granted now.  Except #11.  In Uganda, I washed every article of clothing by hand for weeks.  Mine. Brad's. Amelia's.  It qualifies as manual labor.  Don't laugh at me until you've tried to scrub red African dirt out of a white t-shirt.  I still hug my washing machine and give it Valentine cards.

12 Things {I Thought While in Uganda} I'd Never Take for Granted When I Returned Home
  1. quilted toilet paper
  2. tap water safe for brushing teeth, washing dishes, making formula, and cooking
  3. air conditioning
  4. being able to drive myself around
  5. that most other drivers around me aren't nuts
  6. good roads
  7. mosquitoes that don't cause malaria
  8. that my gas stove lights itself
  9. cooking pans that have actual lids and are made of something other than cheap aluminum (I have a blistering steam burn on my arm from trying to peel an aluminum cooking sheet off of a boiling pot of water with an anxious baby on my hip!)  [Update: Today, this is a weird purple scar!]
  10. canned soup and other convenient lunch food that takes less than 2 hours to cook!
  11. washing machines and dryers
  12. my hair straightener
Yep. Next time I go to Uganda, I'm bringing my hair straightener. :)
Too bad the washing machine won't fit in a carry-on!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

We are Home!

At 8pm on Friday night in Uganda, Amelia slept against my chest in the back seat of a swerving car while Brad shat shotgun with our camera, taking snap shots of the insanity of Uganda at night.

At night, Uganda is pitch black, yet crawling with people, cars, bodas.  Each tiny roadside shopping booth usually has a single dangling flashlight or string of Christmas lights, illuminating just enough to silhouette the hundreds of pedestrians, peddlers, club-goers, and shoppers.  Red dust billowed from the car ahead of us, irritating my eyes, so I closed them. I closed my eyes to hug Amelia closely, breathe in the sweet scent of her baby hair, and feel warm African wind drying the tears on my cheeks.  We were living a miracle. We were leaving Uganda to come home to be a family of four.

Sitting in the car on the way to the Entebbe airport, my mind wandered...

... back to that Sunday morning over 4 years ago when God impressed an urgency upon my heart that I would have children who did not come from my womb.  Yes, this baby in my lap could not be more MINE.
Saying goodbye to the hosts at our guest house.

... back to Caroline's first birthday when she received her first black baby doll. Ironically, that baby doll looks much like Amelia.  I laughed. Caroline would soon be receiving her baby in the flesh!

Eating dinner at the Entebbe airport.

... back to each moment of the adoption process when I wondered whether we'd ever reach the finish line. Would the pain ever end and the joy of completion begin?

About to board our flight!!!

... back to an hour earlier when we'd left our guest house. Brad and I packed in a feverish rush, and in the end were shocked by the tears that came as we pulled away from the friends we'd lived with and the new life we'd lived for three brief weeks. We would miss our friends, and we would miss Uganda. But there was better in the near future. We were going home.

Flight #1 of 2.

Yes, we reached the finish line.

Flight #2 of 2

Thirty some-odd hours of international travel later, we touched down on American soil.  I whispered to Amelia, "We're almost home!" She flashed a big smile, as if she knew that life was about to become sweet.
U.S. soil!!!

Amelia received her first flowers as we exited the airport... and then she met my parents for the first time.

Two hours later, we arrived at our house. Amelia met more (great-)grandparents, and best of all, she met her sister.

My heart could have exploded.

We have been home for less than 3 days. So far, it has been the sweetest season of life I have ever known. God has worked miracles for our family. I am so in awe of His goodness.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Flying Out!!!

We have Amelia's visa!
We took her to a Ugandan hair salon once more, just to be sure she looks "fresh" for meeting everyone in the US!

And we are packing now to fly out tonight!!! We will be home Saturday night!!!


Friday, February 18, 2011

Elections Today, Resort Yesterday

It is election day in Uganda. While no one expects Egyptian-level rioting and revolt during Ugandan elections, we were still advised to be safe and stay in the house.  So today marks day one of our 4 day shut-in.

Yesterday, we prepared for the boredom by grocery shopping and taking an impromtu trip to a local resort. As much as I love Uganda, I have to admit that my American-bred body breathed a deep sigh of relaxation to leave the noise pollution, smog, dust, and cluttered streets... especially in favor of lush gardens, a pool, and a delicious lunch.

This guy greeted us in the parking lot of the resort,
along with several of his monkey friends.
This is the life.

We finally see Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile,
after all of this time... and this is the best picture
 we manage near it. Windy!

Under a waterfall. Amelia is mesmerized.
Lunch time!

To the right, you can see Amelia with our driver's fiance.
Look how well they match. Guess who they thought was
Amelia's mom? Hint: not me!

No election campaigning was allowed yesterday, and that led to better sleep last night!

Most of the campaigning we've seen has been closer to Kampala. So when we've gone to court or downtown, we've driven by hundreds of people in yellow t-shirts at peaceful rallies. We've passed lines of civilians-in-training to be extra police during elections.  That is in Kamapala. But even though our guest house is in Ggaba, removed from these areas, we still hear loud campaigning all night long.  Candidates hire two-tiered vehicles to drive around blasting music, while the people on the top tier yell in Lugandan through a loudspeaker. All. Night. Long.

It was so nice to have a break from all of that noise last night. We enjoyed our dinner, watched a movie, and Amelia only woke up once! Ah, peace.

After our resort day, we come back to find this guy
on our bedroom wall. Back to Ugandan life as usual.
Sweet dreams!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Here for Elections

Elections are this Friday, and it looks like we can't leave until probably next Friday.  

So for safety's sake, we've been advised to stay in our guest house Friday through Monday.  This is not a complaint. We've been running like mad, so staying still with our sweet Amelia and the other family living at our guest house sounds nice.

And it's not like we've been stuck in Uganda for a long time. If we really leave in 9 days, it will have been a 3 week trip. We expected 5. Some families have gotten stuck here for months. We are so blessed that things moved so quickly!!  We are thanking God.

Still, pray for Uganda and peace during elections. We're growing to love this country. (The only reason we're anxious to leave it is because we want our WHOLE family to be together with Caroline!)

In the meantime, check out some seriously nasty pictures.

Yesterday after court, we passed a  guy selling fried grasshoppers. I've been obsessed with Uganda for some time and have read what a treat these are in the right season. So I wanted to try one. I thought it'd be battered and fried where you couldn't tell what you were eating anyway. 

Here I am, nervously holding a bag of fried grasshoppers.
(They don't use car seats here.)

Unfortunately, these grasshoppers were not battered.
I could still see the eyeballs. Disgusting.
I guess "fried" means "pan-fried."

I ate one. It tasted like a crispy, greasy bug.
No thank you. I was done.

At least I can say I tried it.
You want one?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Amazing Day!

What an amazing day!

Yesterday, I would have told you the following concerns about Amelia:
  1. She won't let us feed her a bottle because she thinks bottles are for lying alone in bed.
  2. She won't let us rock her to sleep because she can only fall asleep alone drinking a bottle.
  3. She will take longer to bond with us because we are only temporary volunteers to the baby home in her mind, like every other white family.
  4. She does not yet get upset when we leave.

Today, praise God, we have overcome EVERYTHING on the above list. Is that not incredible? Is God not truly lavish with His gifts!?

Much of Uganda's capital is under construction,
and THIS is their scaffolding!
You couldn't pay me!
Today was a big day for us. We had to be out in Kampala for a long time, instead of in the quieter outskirts where we have been staying. So Amelia fell asleep on me twice and let me feed her several ounces of a bottle. (see worries #1 & #2.)  Then the director of the baby home offered to let us TAKE HER WITH US FROM NOW ON!!! Praise God! So she is now sleeping near me and in our constant care! (see worry #3).  All day long, she laughed and got closer to us, and even cried when I left the room or was out of view. (see worry #4).  And tonight, I rocked her to sleep with a bottle, held her for quite a while, and then put her in the pack-n-play. (see worry #1.) Today was nothing short of a heaping of blessings from the Father who knows how it feels to love His adopted children.

I cannot believe she is with us now! I love her more than words could even say. It is bizarre to love someone so much who you only barely know... but I am getting to know her more and more by the minute. She laughs easily, sometimes at nothing, just to hear us laugh in response. She loves to throw things and watch you scamper to get them back for her. She loves to be kissed and for her belly to be blown on. She is scared of every diaper change because she has had so many diaper rashes. She loves to be held, and she is starting to flirt with her dad.  Of course, I hardly let go of her, so she prefers me at the moment! I am sure that he will have yet another daddy's girl on his hands as soon as I am willing to loosen my grip of Amelia!

It was very sad to see the nannies say goodbye to Amelia on such short notice. They seemed okay, but I knew that Amelia would have to mourn leaving such a loving place. She hasn't yet, but I wonder whether she will. For now, I will not borrow worries. Instead, I will bask in the beauty of TODAY! Thank you God, for your lavish love!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mastering Uganda & Loving Amelia

Before I tell you the best of our Uganda trip, (meeting Amelia!,) let me brag...

I have been hand washing our clothes and hanging them on a line to dry.

Not the ones I washed! Babies' home.
We have gone to the fresh air market and selected fruits, vegetables, beans, and rice.  (Nevermind that our driver helped us and made sure they didn't charge us mzungo -white man's inflated- prices.)

I have learned to light the stove with a match and cook Ugandan bean dishes.

We sleep under misquito nets and do not mind that there isn't AC. (Nevermind that there is a fan and our guest house is ridiculously nice. I am trying to brag, here!)

Taken the moment our plane began to cross Africa.

We took a taxi (along with 15 Ugandans) to Ggaba Church this morning. I even sang one song in Lugandan with them!

We turned down several boda-boda drivers, dodged a herd of huge-horned cattle, and eaten Indian cuisine in an African country.

As eye-opening and culturally amazing these things are, NOTHING holds a candle to meeting Amelia.

The first morning we were here, our sweet new Ugandan friend (Phiona) who works at our guest house took us to the babies' home. It was far up a steep winding hill, but I still had to hold myself back from sprinting! We heard the sound of children playing through the shrubbery and open windows before we even entered the gate. Phiona went in ahead of us to announce that Amelia's parents had arrived, and then we entered to a playroom of lively children, loving aunties... and Amelia.

It was everything I could do to not snatch her up and kiss her all over, but I knew that could frighten her. She did not lean to me immediately when I reached for her, but she was fine to go to me.

She is incredibly beautiful. She seems younger than we expected from her pictures. She is long and very very thin, but not in an unhealthy way -- she simply has a tiny frame.

All of these thoughts crossed my mind within the first few seconds of holding her. And then, I began to kiss her and hug her and tell her how much we love her -- despite that I'd told myself NOT to do this. I couldn't help it. Luckily, it amused her instead of frightened her!

We are so in love.

Our court date is soon, along with the court date of another family who should be arriving any moment to our guest house. PLEASE pray for us. We are learning quickly that Uganda is not predictable or easy, but it is an amazing place to watch God at work.

Most of my internet communication will be written quickly & very scattered, I'm sorry! Saving our usage to talk to Caroline. It was an incredible moment that could never be put into words anyway! :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

We're Here!

We're here! It's beautiful, the accents are beautiful, our house is incredibly nice, (especially compared to my expectations,) and we meet Amelia in less than 1 hour!!!! 

None of our luggage made it, so we will hopefully go back to the airport tonight or tomorrow for it.
I will send pics of meeting Amelia soon!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Here We GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bags are packed.
Ride is coming.
Caroline is bathed in kisses and well cared for.
I am a basket case for leaving her but she is fine... and I know that it will be so worth it in the end.
We leave for Atlanta in 30 minutes.
Next stop, London.
Last stop, Uganda.




Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Love Stronger than Death

I had this morbid thought that if our plane crashes on the way to Uganda, both Caroline and Amelia will be left without parents. And I thought, no matter how much we love our children, we are so limited in what we can do for them. We are not in control.

Just as I had this thought, a John Mark McMillan song came on and said,

“The love of God is stronger than the power of death.”
Can you imagine loving your child so much that you could will yourself to stay alive for them? That no matter how death met you, whether cancer, or plane crash, or crucifixion, you could conquer even death through the strength of your love?

I cannot do that.

You cannot do that.

How MIND BLOWING to think that Jesus – God in the flesh – was resurrected because His fierce love refused to let the grave hold Him. Our Heavenly Father loved His children so much that He conquered His own death. To be alive for us.

And now He is alive to hold every situation in His loving hands.
Our flight.
Your worries.
Our trip.
Your marriage.
Our children.
Your ministry.
Our court ruling.
Your frustrations.

We have nothing to fear.
Nothing can separate us – or our children, from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

(We fly out tomorrow!)