Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Ugandan Snow Princess

Here we are, 2 days back home, and the snow has begun. Welcome to Colorado, Kirabo! The day passed with us all warm and cozy, just staring out the window at the snow .... until the other kids came home from school and asked to play in said snow. Sigh. I'll admit, along with my friend Angie, that I sorta loathe getting the kids ready to play in the snow. So.Much.Work. And now that we have 5 kids to bundle up .... oh my. It is quite the production that quickly sends my mood in a downward spiral. But we'll forget about that and focus on how much fun the kids had....including Kira.

For a Ugandan Sweetie who has never seen snow, you'd think she was born on the ski slopes or something. She LOVED it! It didn't take her long to understand the joy of throwing snowballs (and the pain of being hit by one). It didn't take her long to realize you can fall completely backwards into the snow and not get hurt. It didn't take her long to realize that you can fall face forward into the snow and your face gets really cold ... but that didn't stop her. She couldn't get enough of face planting into the snow. I thought for sure that once she felt the sting of hats coming off and gloves coming loose, she would be DONE. But nope. She would just walk over and ask for help re-adjusting and then return to face planting.

The other kids had a blast introducing their new sister to the joy that is snow. (And the yumminess that is hot chocolate afterwards!)

Finally I realized that frost bite must be setting in, and seeing how Kirabo wouldn't recognize the feeling, I called them in. Aaaaand then I made them all help each other get out of the snow gear, because I was still recovering from getting them in it. And sorry Angie - I gave up having them pile it by the back door inside, because like you - that drives me nuts. Nope, all the wet stuff is out in the garage growing icicles until tomorrow when it will be 60 degrees.

Watch out, Malachi!

Daddy getting some snow balls in.

Snow Angels

Eating more snow.

Friday Market

Every Friday in Kampala, the "Friday Market" is in business! This is a group of vendors who come together to sell their local treasures at unbeatable prices. True African finds, and bargaining to boot! (I don't even know what "to boot" means, but I wanted to say it there.)

The atmosphere is fast and furious. Every booth you walk by, you are greeted with the traditional greeting of, "You're Welcome. Come see." And just about every booth, I couldn't say no.

I went two Friday's in a row, and left both times with my arms weighed down with items. Top finds? Maybe the drum for 30,000 shillings. (Um, $10 US Dollars!) The scarfs, as beautiful as they come. And my favorite??? The beaded jewelry, purse and wallets that are handmade by the women there. To think that many women make their living on wrapping and stringing paper beads blows my mind. And after learning more about Kirabo's mother, these beads hold an extra special place in my heart. She was one of the women who did this for a living....and she didn't just keep the talent to herself, she would teach other women how to provide for their families through this amazing gift.

Friday Market was one of the highlights of my trip!

The bead-makers!

So many to choose from!

Bargaining away!

I'm supposed to pack this how???

First days home

**Warning, this post may be a bit scattered. My eyes won't stop crossing and the world is spinning.**

Thank you everyone for the kind messages and checking in on us. Kira and Malachi finally stopped moving long enough to watch an episode (or two) of DORA, so I'm going to get out as many posts as possible now. (Hopefully you caught the pictures in the previous post!)

So here's a little update:

I couldn't have imagined our first moments home to be any better than they were. After the long, annoying flight delays .... we finally arrived at DIA around 10pm on Monday. We were greeted by the 5 most beautiful people I know. What a sight. Lots of hugs, lots of giggles, and everyone trying to talk Kira's ears off. She would just laugh - probably because this foreign language sounds a little ridiculous coming from 4 little mouths all at once. In fact, just about every time Malachi talks to her in his sweet little voice - she laughs. So cute.

We got home and the feeling that came over me was that it was RIGHT. All of us in one place, under one roof, about to sleep in our own beds. Aaron had done an amazing job getting the house cleaned up, and some friends hired a cleaner for the deep cleaning. Clean sheets and everything! Oh, my husband and friends love me! It was so peaceful to walk into MY HOME all clean and lovely! After introducing Kira to our house, her new room (which she LOVES the Zebra bedding) and the dog... it was off to bed for everyone.

The dog. Oh the dog. She wasn't super excited at first about him. We'd talked a lot about him, and I had been warning her that he would try to lick her. He did. I'm not sure she could fathom the size of his head or tongue in all our talks, so it was a bit much. She would run away from Gunther, in which he of course thought she was playing a game and would chase her. A short 24 hours later though, and she goes in search of him. She loves to pet him and play the game of chase now. This morning she ran into our room at 7 am asking where Gunther was. So thankful that went as smooth as it did. We have heard horror stories of families bringing kids home from Africa who just can't ever get used to the inside dog thing. I think Gunther even likes his new pack member.

Yesterday we heard the forecast of snow. WHAT?!?!? I only saw those red leaves for one day, and really? Snow. So off we went to stock up on hats, gloves and boots for our new little African Sweetie. Eden stayed home from school to spend some much needed time with mom, and her new sister. The giggles and the wonder went on all day. I could barely keep up. Correction, I couldn't keep up.

The cold weather has been interesting, to say the least. Yesterday afternoon as the storm was thinking about moving in, the kids were outside playing. Kirabo had on 3 coats .... but refused to put on her new warm shoes and kept the flip flops on. She wears her hat inside. Poor thing can't stop being cold!

Between 8 loads of laundry (nothing says welcome home like that much laundry), unpacking, chasing after Kira and the others as we introduced her to her new Village (aka - the park up the street), and jet lag - I began to shut down fast. By 7 pm, it was all I could do to stand up. I took a hot bath, fell asleep in the bath (shh, don't tell Aaron - it's his biggest fear) and headed to bed by 9 pm fighting a fever and some kind of cold/flu thing that I'm sure I picked up on one of our 45 plane trips. Or maybe just exhaustion. (Does that cause a fever though?) (No Mom - I don't have malaria.)

On to day 2. We will stare out the window and stay warm inside. There is more laundry to do. And I'm feeling a little better - but not much. So I'm thinking that laying around and watching the wonder of my two little African babies sounds like it will make for a fantastic day!

A picture is worth a thousand words

So excited to be on the plane! (Until the second flight, when she began to say, "no more plane.")

New sisters are the best!

Everyone trying to talk to her at once, and she just would laugh.


The Britton Bus is filling up!

SNOW?!?!?! She decided to eat it. We told her to stay away from the yellow stuff.

"COLD!!!", she exclaims, but can't stop sticking her hand out the door. Yes, yes we were in the jungle 3 days ago.

Taking in all the white stuff for the first time ever!

I finally had to tell her to shut the door. :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Delta, meet Satan.

I need to re-read my words that I wrote prior to leaving Uganda, because right now I'm feeling pretty defeated. 48 hours on 4 hours of sleep probably isn't helping. But seriously, when I mentioned that the Enemy doesn't like adoption (I mentioned that, right?) .... apparently Delta Airlines is now the anti-Christ. This is unreal.

We made it through our first 2 big flights without a glitch. So thankful! Kira slept for the first flight (for about 6 or 7 hours of it). She too has been awake since. She and I are walking Zombies at the moment. We got to Detroit with a little over an hour to make our connection. I kinda want to go on a big rant and complain about every failure Delta has had - but why? The point of the annoying story is that we made it to our gate with 3 minutes to spare as the man at the ticket counter told us to RUN because there were no other direct flights available today to Denver. So like Forest Gump, I ran - w/ 80 lbs of carry on luggage and a Kirabo. When we arrived, they were just pulling the walkway away from the plane and would not let us board. We tried to go standby on a 3:00 flight, but it didn't happen.

All that to say - I would like to fall in a heap on the floor, but then someone would probably put something in my luggage when I'm not looking, and the man overhead keeps telling me that is bad.

Kira is a little traveling trooper. She has had her share of "moments" during our travel, but all in all - she's amazing. I took advantage of our time in Detroit and had dinner at Chili's. 4 weeks without Chili's is not right! It was so yummy! (Oh, and I'm also sitting here with a Pumpkin Spice Latte to get me through the next 7 hours. Mmmmmm......) At Chili's, it was perhaps a bit too much too soon for Kira to be knocked up side the head with the reality that her world is about to change - big time. She took a chip, stuck it in the Salsa (of which they DO NOT have in Uganda) and bit into it. Her eyes got huge, she spit it out and began to cry. Oh my. I of course thought it was funny until I realized she wasn't joking. Fail. She bit into the chicken strips though and got a big grin and yelled, "YAY"! So, good - Chili's will be somewhere she won't cry at upon remembering the salsa. This is necessary since we eat here about once a week.

She's having a hard time understanding why we have two more planes to ride on when she and I have been talking for the last 2 days that we had 3 planes. Now it is 4. She has made it clear that she is not happy about the change of plans. I guess I have too.

So, there you have it. What I do know is that at the end of today - we will STILL be home, and we will all be together. I'll take it!

****After posting this rant, I remembered something to be thankful for in the midst of this. The kindness of one woman toward me was a breath of fresh air. She offered to the people at the counter to give up her and her 2 sons seats so that Kirabo and I could get home. They wouldn't let her - but the fact that a woman who doesn't know me would offer up such kindness was unreal. You don't see that often. (She saw me miss the flight and crumble into tears.)  So....there's one to remember! I pray that God blesses that sweet woman.****

Sunday, October 23, 2011

We're coming home!

Tonight is my last blog post from Uganda. Tonight has actually been bittersweet for me. I've been gone exactly 4 weeks. That is too, too long. I miss my kids more than I can express. I miss Aaron. I miss the dog. I miss my bed, my shower, my tap water, my car. I've made new friends here. I've lived in the birthplace of my new daughter, I'm taking her away from her birthplace. Bittersweet.

In the last 4 weeks, God has revealed Himself to me in ways that I think he needed to get me to Africa for me to see. (Yes, that is just how thick-headed I am.) I honestly did not think I had what it took to get through 4 weeks in a foreign country, with a new daughter, and without my husband for half of it. There were moments I thought I would crumble. But here I am, a short four weeks later (when it could have gone much longer) and I realize I did have what it took - God.

This morning we went to church again, and I'm so glad that I did. It was only the second time I've gone here....and this morning was amazing. God gave me a little gift in this morning's service. The song, Our God is Greater, has been one of "my songs" throughout this adoption. So many times during adoption, it feels like nothing is going right, and the Enemy is winning. There is a line in this song that would always remind me of truth...."and if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us. And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?" Hearing it sung (with soul) here in Africa brought me to tears. A special going away present from the God who has been with Kirabo for 6 1/2 years. The God who brought us through another adoption. The God who has been with me for the last 4 weeks. Nothing stopped us!

We said good-bye to our home from the last few weeks, I said goodbye to new friends, and we are on our way!!!!

Praying for safety, rest, and joy on the long journey home. (Oh, and connections to be made.)

Thanks for hanging in there with us on this ride!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Signs, Signs, everywhere Signs.

If I don't laugh, I might just cry. So everyday here in Uganda I allow myself to find humor in some of the things around me, despite all the sorrow.

The signs posted throughout town have proven to be my source of comedic relief. The thing I love about the signs here, are how blunt they are. Right to the point of what you should know. I appreciate that.

Some signs are as simple as ZEBRA CROSSING. This one took me by surprise, as I of course thought it meant we might see Zebra crossing the road. My driver laughed at me, explaining that it was to tell you that the stripes on the ground are for people crossing the street. I laughed in return, explaining that in America, we call it a Crosswalk....and at the humor in there being a sign posted telling people where to cross - um.... the lack of signs everywhere else in the country don't seem to stop anyone from crossing whenever and wherever. (Oh, and BTW - pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way here. Scary!)

Then there was the shop we passed called, China Home Furnishings and Furniture (meaning, made in China, not Chinese decor...). Oh the clarity of it all. In America, we call it Walmart.

The gas station called MoGas. Why yes, I do need mo' gas, please.

The rest I was actually able to catch on my camera. Enjoy.

Okay, so maybe this one isn't FUNNY - but it's still something you wouldn't see in the US. Although, it is very true!

Beyond this sign was a cliff into the swirling waters of the Nile River. In the US, it would read something like, "For your safety, please do not pass this point." Then all the teenage boys would dive in head first.

Love this one. Really? I can't urinate ANYWHERE? Then what is the key for? In America it would simply read, "Private Restrooms available. Please ask attendant for key."

I would probably be granted some form of Political Office in Boulder if I managed to get this sign back to the US with me. Oh wait, maybe Uganda stole this sign from Boulder.

Preach it! I'm going with this one, considering all 3 of those medical issues run in my family. I'm good to go!

****WARNING. THE FOLLOWING SIGN MAY BE INAPPROPRIATE FOR YOUNG VIEWERS (or those who will judge me for posting it). *****

I have no words. I'm sure it is some legitimate warning having to do with the spread of HIV or something, but I'm sorry..... it was just funny to see this huge sign on the side of the road with absolutely no understanding of what it means. Judge away.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What's in a name?

Some of you know that we have wrestled with if we should change Dorcas' name or not. Dorcas, while a pretty name, is not popular amongst cruel school-aged children in America. We were hoping to be able to call her Tabitha - which is the Hebrew translation of her name. We decided to let her decide.

So since being here with her, we have offered up many different name suggestions. Dorcas, D, De-De, Akiki (her nickname at the Orphanage, which apparently she really dislikes), and even Linda (her middle name). She always says, "No, Dorcas". Aaron and I threw out the possibility of "Kira". Her last name  is Kirabo.(Well, it's not really a last name, but I'm not exactly sure how to explain how it is part of her name. They tried explaining it to me several times, but I still don't get it myself.)  So we thought Kira would be a cute shortened name off Kirabo.  (Because also, if you know us - we shorten all the kids names somehow. It's a must.) But she continued to say, "No, Dorcas".

Until today.

Today she told me she wants to be called Kirabo, not Dorcas. So I'm going with it. She was referred to by any of her 3 names (4 if you count, Akiki) - Dorcas Linda Kirabo - at the Orphanage. So it isn't unusual for her to respond to Kirabo. I keep teasing and shortening it to Kira, and she just grins. (Good sign, right??) We may be on to something.

So what is in her name???

DORCAS was an amazing woman in the Bible. She was also referred to as Tabitha. The name itself means, "gazelle".
Acts 9:36
Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity.

Powerful, huh?

LINDA means "beautiful" (or "snake" if you are German. ha!) The other fun tidbit about Linda, is that is also my Mama's name!
              *****I just found out that the name Linda in Africa is in no way connected to the name Linda in the US (or in Germany - thankfully!). The name Linda in Africa means, "to wait".****

KIRABO is perhaps becoming my favorite after all. Who knew. It means, "Gift from God". Could it be any more perfect?

We are a family that names our children based on the meanings. Some names came to us easily, and some not so much  - but in the end, each name has become so fitting for each child. And while Dorcas seems fitting because that is how everyone now knows her and it will be difficult to change, I can't help but fall in love with the name Kirabo.

Providence - The goodness and sovereignity of God.
Eden - Delightful
Samuel - God hears
Malachi - Messenger of God
Kirabo - Gift from God

I like! (I also like that she will keep her given name(s)....just with one more last name!)

(oh - and here is how you would pronounce Kirabo - Key-Ra-Bo..... Roll the "r" if you really want to sound official)

*****I just clarified what Kirabo is, if not a last name. A family of 7 kids will not share a single name. There are no "family names" in Africa - like our name, Britton. So each child will have three different names. One of the names will be a Christian name, and the other names will be Western names. I guess technically, Dorcas, is her Christian name - but Kirabo seems to be a Christian name to me as well. Not to mention that Dorcas and Linda would be the Western names. Hmmmm....So maybe I still don't get it. ha!*****

Friday, October 14, 2011

Manna Rescue Home

An Orphanage is no place for a child to grow up. But we all know that many do....many, being millions. I have seen with my own eyes several orphanages. And so when I walked into Dorcas's Orphanage, Manna Rescue Home, to say I was impressed would be an understatement. The kids were well fed, well cared for, getting an education, and thriving - all things considered. The Matrons of the home were doing a good job caring for 30+ kids ranging in age from 5-17. I'm so thankful that Dorcas, having to enter an Institution, was able to be a part of this one!

I often stand on my soap box and preach that there are MANY ways to care for Orphans. Adoption is just one of them. I'm here to talk about two now.

Carol Adams, perhaps one of the most fantastic ladies I have ever been graced to know, is running an amazing program here in Uganda. She is a Mzungu (10 points to those of you who remember what that is) who has been here for close to 17 years. She started Carol Adams Ministry Y.E.S. Uganda from the ground. Hearing her stories from over the years would make anyone laugh and cry all in the same story. She has seen more than I can bear to imagine, and lives out in one day what would crush me in less than an hour. She is called "The Grandmother to All Children" in her town ... and I would say it is a fitting title!

In the world of Orphan Care, there are many schools of thoughts on how to tackle the "problem". Carol is somehow managing to pull off every option available. Through her organization, children are being sponsored - thus staying with their families who could not afford education or medication, which often results in abandonment. Through her organization - counseling is being given to young children, growing teens, and entire family units. She desires to educate the family as a whole, thereby allowing vulnerable families to remain united. She has contacts with Ugandan authorities and agencies, doing work that no outside traveling Missionary could accomplish - helping to bring aid to the most vulnerable of children. And as a last resort - she has an orphanage - Manna Rescue Home - where kids who have nowhere to call home can live and grow. All of the Children in her Orphanage are living with HIV. She is able to feed them, clothe them, send them to school, and get them on medications (ARV's) all through her program. And as of recent - she has begun to try to find adoptive families for a handful of the kids at Manna Rescue Home who are "true orphans".  The best part is - she does it all in the name of Jesus !! These kids get to learn of the love of their Heavenly Father when all earthly beings have seemed to let them down.

Saying goodbye to the kids at Manna Rescue Home was bitter sweet for us and Dorcas. Each young child, upon entering Manna Rescue Home is given and older child "mentor". Dorcas's mentor was in tears at Dorcas's going away party. :( The kids put together an entire show to say goodbye to Dorcas. They have been her "family" for almost 2 years. Dorcas is the first to be taken out of the Orphanage by an adoptive family - so I can't even think about the mixed emotions these kids must have been feeling.

So I am here, not on my soapbox, but as a Mom pleading for some of Dorcas's friends - family - to be adopted as well. I'm here as an adoptive Mom, but also as a woman who believes that not everyone is "called to adopt", but that we are ALL "called to care for the Orphan". Asking that you would prayerfully consider partnering with Carol Adams Ministry through her Sponsorship program. She is maxed out in her program - meaning she cannot take in any more kids. The money is just not there. I know it can be though!

So there you have it - 2 ways to join this cause! These kids need HOPE, and Carol Adams Ministry is doing a fantastic job at offering it!

On behalf of us, our new daughter; and the countless other children she helps - we cannot thank you enough, Carol!

"The Medicine cabinet" ~ I can't even keep meds straight for myself, let alone 30+ kids!

The going away FEAST! The dear cooks made up more food than I have ever cooked in one setting (and I've cooked for some pretty large crowds!) all to say goodbye to their friend - Dorcas.

The kids, getting ready for the show

The Grandmother to All Children explaining to the kids that even though God has a special plan for Dorcas in sending her to America, He has just a special of a plan in each of their lives. AMEN and AMEN!

The kids being served

It began to rain, so all the kids huddled on the "porch".

Shoes donated from Calvary Bible church in Boulder, CO. The kids lined up and each got to try on the pair they wanted. It was like the Croc Warehouse Sale, folks - right down to the trampling of other humans.

Dorcas's Mentor

Our last goodbye!