Friday, December 2, 2011

First Hug

Written in my journey on Wednesday 10/12/11

I asked many times when we might see the kids. I asked our driver (as if he would know). I asked the manager at the hotel (as if he would know). But no one knew. I was hopeful to see them soon but also set in my mind that it probably would not be until the next day. We settled into our room. I busied myself by organizing our bags while Josh conked out for a nap. About an hour or two later our driver reappeared at our door and asked us if we had time to see the kids today. Ummmm...... YES!

I woke Josh up. He was completely disoriented and groggy. I had showered earlier but wanted to put on some make up. In a way this felt like a first date. I got ready just as quickly as I could.

We arrived at the orphanage and all the children (not just ours) were in a group in the front yard. We got out of the car and approached them. It was without ceremony. I said hello to our 4 and asked each for a hug. Then we just stood there and I was thinking "now what?" My day dreams of this moment had never gone past that first hug.

JoAnita's English is very good. She understood almost everything we said. Oh! We had Sarah and Sylvia backwards in the photos. I had suspected that but it still caused me to stutter every time I went to call one of them by name. Sylvia (who we had thought was Sarah in the photos) also speaks a fair amount of English. She understood all of the basics. Sarah and Ryan speak no English at all. But JoAnita is a huge help with that.

After a few minutes, I sat down on the grass. Instantly all the children were sitting too. All just looking at me. I pulled Sylvia and Sarah next to me. Ryan wouldn't make eye contact with me. JoAnita explained that he wants to leave with us. He was sad that we were not taking them with us right then (We would learn weeks later that all prior parents had taken custody on the first day. Some parents have felt overwhelmed in the past by such a quick transition and so our agency recommended that we give it a week or so before taking custody. However the kids did not know this. It had to have completely unnerved them when we said that we were there for them but then left without them twice. We took custody on the third day). We saw a guest book inside and it shows that they get lots of visitors. Ryan obviously does not feel confident that we really are going to take them with us. After a while with him on my lap, he started talking. Ryan kept saying (JoAnita translated) "I want to go in the car. I want to leave with you. I want to go now." Sarah was saying (again, JoAnita translated) "I want to go to America. I want to go to America."

We played with bubbles. We ran out of liquid within about 10 minutes. Those kids are bonkers for bubbles. I tried taking pictures but they were all mobbing me so much that most pictures had a hand right in front or something. It was completely exhausting. But we had a great time.

Finally in Uganda

Written in my journal on Wednesday 10/12/11

I slept almost straight through the night. Thank you God for your hand upon this debilitating jet lag. I awoke to a thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk. I was trying to figure out what kind of machine it was that I was hearing when I realized that it was large African raindrops falling on the metal roof of our guest house right above us.

After landing yesterday, our driver helped us make stops to exchange currency, buy a phone, buy an orange stick (air card to access the Internet), and stop for lunch. It took 5 hours to reach our hotel just outside of Jinja. Of those 5 hours, approximately 4 were spent driving. The pollution from the cars is smellable, tastable, and visible. There are black clouds emitting from everything with an engine. Cars, vans, motorcycles (more like dirt bikes), bicycles, and pedestrians all share the same space. It's an insurance adjuster's worst nightmare in action. (If you don't know this about me, I work in insurance claims. So I say this literally. All you can do to make it less frightening is not look).

On the Ground

When we first landed in Entebbe, Uganda, the first thing I could think was "I would believe it if this were the location of the Garden of Eden." The landscape is so very green. I can't even explain how lush it is.

We stopped off to exchange dollars for shillings, buy an orange stick (aka air card for internet access), and buy a cell phone.

Traffic in Uganda is crazy! It make Los Angeles look like a picnic. There are no photos that could properly capture this. 

Motorcycles weave through traffic carrying enormous loads. (There is a motorcycle under that giant blue box). It is common to see small children being transported on these little death traps that dart to and fro.

Women can be seen everywhere with a baby on their back and up to 50 lbs of bananas on their heads.

All along the roads are tiny little shops (1/2 the size of my cubicle). People are hustling and bustling. All you can see is hundreds of people working their butts off to make a living.

Almost There

Written in my journal on Tuesday 10/11/11

After another long flight (9 hours) we are just 30 minutes from landing in Entebbe, Uganda. I have to admit that I am very nervous. At times I can literally taste the adrenaline. We have a long car ride ahead of us. I think we will get to meet our kids today. But I am trying to not be too hopeful just in case. It is hard to explain what I am feeling right now. Joy. Excitement. Fear. Nervous. Happy. Exhausted. The wide gamut of feelings seem to be netting out to a dull feeling of neutrality. I know that is a weird thing to say but it is the only way that I can think to explain it.