Finally — internet! After multiple attempts in various locations, here I am in the Source Cafe on Main Street in Jinja, Uganda, paying 2,000 shillings for one hour of internet access. Lest you think that I’m making some great monetary sacrifice to post on my blog, that’s about $1.15.
There’s a lot to say (especially since we’ve told everyone that our adoption updates will be on this blog), but due to time constraints and the potential for posting failure once I finish writing and click “Publish,” this will be more fact than story. But trust me — there’s a lot of color that I’ll try to add as I find the time (as well as some great pictures).
We left Los Angeles on Saturday morning and arrived at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on Sunday night after making stops in Houston and Amsterdam. Matt and Kara Rehrer joined up with us in Houston. They’re staying for two weeks with missionaries Shannon and Danielle Hurley in Mukono. Matt is doing medical work in Mukono and Kara is serving at the Sufficiency of Scripture (SOS) orphanage and helping Danielle around the Hurley home and the SOS complex. Both we and the Rehrer’s lost a piece of luggage, but that was predictable (ours came in and we’re waiting for it to be delivered; I haven’t heard about the Rehrer’s).
After spending the night with the Hurley’s, we woke up on Monday morning excited (obviously) to see Judah for the first time. The Hurley’s (with their three kids) and the Rehrer’s both made the hour drive with us to Jinja (Shannon and Matt served as video and camera men). We arrived at Amani Baby Cottage around 11:00am. After meeting a few people in the driveway, lead administrator Holly Krebs led us around the front of the orphanage and up the steps. There were about 10-15 babies in the room as we walked up, most of them between one and one-and-a-half years old. It took us a moment to pick out Judah as we entered the room, but we quickly realized that he was the one crying (which is actually rare for him). He was also the only one with more than a diaper on (he was dressed in a yellow Curious George outfit), since the volunteers knew that his adopting parents were coming that day (these kids are more comfortable and more cute with just diapers, but the volunteers like them to look nice when they go to town or when parents come). One of the ladies picked him up and handed him to Cindi as the introductions began. He actually stopped crying when they handed him to Cindi. After a few minutes, she handed him to me, but within 15-30 seconds he was reaching for her again. Throughout the whole introduction (and since), Judah was very calm. That’s not all that surprising since he’s used to a lot of Ugandan mamas and a revolving door of loving, white volunteers, but it was still a tremendous blessing. Within 15-30 minutes he was falling asleep in Cindi’s arms, and I got in on the cuteness when she handed him to me and I sat on a rocking chair on the front porch as he slept on my chest and twitched and sucked the first two fingers on his left hand (typical Judah). We woke him up at lunchtime and watched him eat with the other kids (he’s the fastest eater of the 12-14 kids at his table). Then he got up and walked over to the bathing room to get his traditional lightning-quick bath (the orphanage is a well-oiled machine and the kids all know the drill). Then he walked naked and dripping into the next room where a Ugandan mama dried him off, put him in his diaper, and put him in his crib. He got pretty playful at this point, smiling and rolling around his crib and baby-talking to his next-door buddy. He slept from 12:30-3:00pm as Cindi and I checked into our hotel. Then we returned to play outside with him and the other kids from 3:00-6:00pm. They finished the day with dinner and the same post-meal bath-diaper-bed routine. We put Judah in bed and went out with some volunteers for a nice birthday dinner for Debbie.
Cindi and I agreed that we felt very normal meeting Judah. This may sound disappointing or strange, but there were no tears. We felt like we were supposed to be more emotional considering the circumstances and the cameras surrounding, but it was as though we’d known Judah for a long time (and we feel like we have). We love this little guy so much, and we feel very much at home with him. As the days have gone on, we’ve enjoyed every moment with him and the rest of the kids (I could say so much more about this, but time is limited).
There are a lot more details to mention including Judah’s personality, the other kids at the orphanage, kids that are being adopted by friends of ours, how the orphanage runs, what Jinja is like, fun cultural tidbits, and a very funny story about a chaotic morning before court, but the outcome of our court date is probably the big question that most people have. We went into court this morning (Wednesday) at 9:00am. The judge finally brought us in to hear our case around 11:30am. Basically, he listened to a few details, said that he had been feeling sick and that he wasn’t going to hear the case today, said that he didn’t want to hear that we needed to rush the date because we needed to grab our kid and leave for America (which we’re not trying to do), and rescheduled us for Wednesday, April 25. About halfway through the proceeding (which only lasted about 10 minutes), I could tell that we weren’t going to get a positive ruling today (if any). I had meditated on Proverbs 21:1 this morning and the Lord brought it to mind afresh as I sat holding Judah and looking at the judge. The Lord can turn the king’s (or the judge’s) heart any way He wishes. And we are more happy that the Lord is the one who controls the channels of water than whether or not those channels flow in the direction that we would choose. As they say in Africa: “God is good — all the time. All the time — God is good.”
We were planning on leaving Uganda on April 22, but now Cindi will change her ticket to a later date and I will fly home as scheduled or earlier (since it’s not realistic for me to stay for the April 25 court date and it won’t have any impact on the judge’s ruling anyway). We had anticipated this happening, so we’re not surprised (and God planned it to happen, so He is even less so). But please pray for wisdom as we make decisions tonight about where Cindi will stay and who she might stay with and how we should approach the next few weeks and beyond. It will be sad for me to leave Judah as the bonding process is just beginning, but our relationship is for a lifetime, and lifetimes are not made by a few weeks. Nevertheless, please pray that our time together with Judah as a couple will be sweet and that he will quickly grow to recognize our commitment and affection for him. We can tell that he recognizes us and he is especially fond of Cindi already (he’s very used to female volunteers, and after all, she’s the mama who loves him very much). But we can also tell that it will be a process.
There is so much more to share, and I realize that this post may sound a bit factual and calculated, but I want to give you as much information as possible with the time I have. I need to leave to help one of the volunteers haul some boxes to her apartment, but I will try to post more regularly now that I’ve found a good place to get on the internet. Please continue praying that God would be glorified in our hearts as we seek to walk by the Spirit. God is bigger than our circumstances and wiser than our plans, and we are happy to call Him our God, from one continent to the next. Judah needs a daddy, but we need one even more.