Today we received the best Christmas present ever…a ruling from the Ugandan courts finalizing our adoption of Daniel. It is a little strange because now we can say that Daniel is officially our son, but anyone who knows our family, knows that Daniel was officially our son from the moment he came to live with us 3 years and 9 months ago… we just didn’t have the paper to prove it… now we do!!! It was a little difficult to explain to Daniel because this day doesn’t really validate anything for him, he has been our son as far back as he can remember! For that we are so thankful! We are also incredibly thankful for everyone at home that has continued to support us through prayer during this process.

So what’s next? While this is another huge step there is still paperwork to be filed in order to bring Daniel back to the US, but this time as a citizen. The one good thing is that the remaining paperwork will all be filed through the US Embassy and if they say it will take 2 weeks… it will take 2 weeks! Jamesdon and I were ready to jump in the car and leave for Kampala this weekend to file the paperwork, but quickly realized that Wednesday is Christmas and while the Embassy works on a slightly less-African timetable, like any red blooded American, they take off a day or two for Christmas . So we are going to patiently wait until Thursday (if we are able to get an appointment at the Embassy for Friday) or Sunday (if we don’t get an appointment until the following week). Once we file the paperwork with the US Embassy, we will have a better idea of when we will get to come home and start to make arrangements for that.

We are all looking forward to coming home and getting to share life with all of our wonderful friends and family.

We can’t wait  get home to see you all!

...:::Our Day in Court:::...

On Thursday we finally had our hearing to finalize Daniel’s adoption. We were so blessed to get our court date on this day because it was the last day our judge was taking any cases before going on holiday for a month. While this day had been highly anticipated and many preparations had been made to ensure success, there were still many potential issues.

On Wednesday we made the 7 hour drive down to Kampala. A few hours after we reached Kampala we received a call from our lawyer who was wanting to ensure that we had traveled with all our original documents…we hadn’t. Our file containing all of our original documents was packed away nicely in Gulu. In all fairness, when we submitted our court documents we were required to have certified / notarized copies of everything, which we assumed would take the place of our original documents. Jamesdon went straight to work trying to figure out how to get the documents down to Kampala. We had a plan! Jamesdon was going to have a friend in Gulu, go to the house (we had a left a key with him just in case) and get the documents, put them on a bus that was headed down to Kampala and we would pick them up from the bus station when they arrived. We did not feel completely confident putting so many original documents in the hand of a bus conductor, but it was the option that would get the documents to Kampala on time for the hearing. Well God had a different plan because when we left that morning, we made a last minute decision to add an additional lock to the front gate, and Jamesdon was the only one with the key. Our friends could not get into the house. We called the lawyer and he said “Let us pray that it is not an issue”. After waiting so long for a court date and then having to accept that if the judge did ask for the originals and we could not present them that it could postpone our case at least a month. So we prayed!

Later that evening, we continued to receive calls from our lawyer as he was trying to prepare for our hearing, and this added a lot of stress, trying to search for recommendation letters that were never sent to us directly. Needless to say, we didn’t sleep so well Wednesday night. On Thursday morning we woke up early only to find the power was out. One thing about court in Uganda, as I guess it is everywhere, you have to dress the part! The fact that Jamesdon did not have a 3 piece suit was bad enough but there is no way that he could go into the court room without ironing his shirt. No problem for Jamesdon though! He placed a frying pan upside down over the stove then put the iron on top of that heat up the iron enough to iron the shirt. Although it didn’t stay hot for long, he just repeated this over and over until he had his shirt and the boys shirts ironed. About an hour later they were all dressed and “looking smart”! Then Daniel and I prayed for the rain to at stop or least decrease in intensity by the time we had to leave and it did!

We piled in the car and drove into town to meet the lawyer, and soon after went into the waiting room where we spent the next hour and a half waiting to see the judge. (Considering we planned on being there all day, waiting an hour and a half was incredibly short). We would have waited longer, but our lawyer convinced the judge to hear our case before another family because our case was much simpler and would take a quarter of the time and the judge agreed. 

When we entered the court room, the judge made a very good impression being that she was quite friendly and personable. She started by asking Daniel questions like “ Who is that lady?” which Daniel answered “ My mama!” and “ What do you call that man?” and he answered “Daddy!” and who is that boy and he said “ My brother!”. The judge then commented on his certainty for each of those questions as if the answers were obvious. Lastly, she asked him if he was happy. With a big grin he responded “YES!” He still seemed a little confused about why she was asking him such silly questions. The judge continued to go through all the requirements that need to be met by us as his guardians and as we went through each one, the judge was very easy on us. One case being, that in order to finalize an in country adoption, we should have fostered Daniel in Uganda for 36 months. While we have exceeded the 36 months of fostering, we had not been in Uganda for that entire time, but the judge quickly recognized our fostering time as sufficient seeing that Daniel was receiving medical treatment in the US that could not have been provided in Uganda. Throughout the entire hearing, the judge never asked for an original document, Praise God!

As the court case was winding up and we had told the judge everything we could about our families story, she looked at me and Jamesdon and asked “Do you have any regrets?” This question brought unexpected emotions from both of us as we answered “Not even one!” Jamesdon then said “We would do it a thousand times over!”. After a few final details were recorded Daniel turns around and says something to Jamesdon that made him laugh out loud. Rightfully so, the judge wanted to know what Daniel had said that was so funny. Jamesdon responded “Daniel just asked, 'Daddy if you did it a thousand times, wouldn't mommy have a thousand babies!'” The judge was quite amused not only that he came up with that but that he had been listening to everything we had been saying. The judge had just discovered one of Daniel’s most infamous traits…he hears EVERYTHING! At the very end the judge thanked us for taking care of him and told us that she can see he is very well taken care of and is very happy! Jamesdon and I were able to leave court feeling an enormous weight lifted realizing that we are one step closer to legalizing what God put in place almost 4 years ago!

We are so thankful for all the people who have been praying for us! We definitely felt God’s hand in everything that took place in the court room. With that being said we would still ask that you continue to pray for the ruling to be given before the judge goes on holiday this coming Friday. The ruling is what we need to take to the embassy to begin all the paperwork to bring Daniel back to the US as a citizen. If the ruling does not come by Friday, we will have to wait until the middle to end of January to file the paperwork with the embassy, which would bring us home in February.

We definitely know that we will be spending Christmas and the New Year here in Uganda, but pray that we will be home by late January. While we have been super blessed and God has taken care of us through all of this, we had hoped to be home for the holidays. Because of our extended time here, we humbly ask that you prayerfully consider supporting our family financially through the duration of our time here.

Financial gifts are being handled by our good friend and can be sent to:

C/O Andrew Galbreath
354 Avocado Street #16
Costa Mesa,  CA  92627

Please make checks payable to "Jamesdon and/or Coryn Kissling"

Could it be???

Just a quick post... 

Just got off the phone with our lawyer and, apparently we are "scheduled" to be in court on Dec 12th!

We really want to get excited about the prospect of making it home for Coryn's mother's "birthday cruise" (Feb 7th and paid for!), our sister's wedding,(Feb 16th, walking her down the isle), or even CHRISTMAS, but after being here so long, we are reluctant to get too excited just yet as things here can be rather unpredictable. If we do see a judge on the 12th, we still will have to scramble with the courts to get the physical ruling, and Daniels citizenship sorted!

With all that said, we're asking anyone who reads this blog to pray DILIGENTLY that this court date sticks, and that the following processes go without delay!

...:::Big Five on the Nile:::...

I know it has been awhile since we have posted an update, but part of that is due to the fact that there hasn’t really been much to update you on. This past week was a good week for us though, mostly because we got to celebrate Daniel’s 5th birthday and get out of Kampala! 

So just like any 4 year old, Daniel has been awaiting his 5th birthday for a long time. When we were still in the US he would talk about going to Disneyland (he has never been, don’t judge us!), but Daniel was super blessed to get to spend his birthday in Uganda, which meant a mini vacation out of Kampala!  So we headed out on Sunday after church and drove to The Hairy Lemon (I know it sounds sketchy but isn’t), a small island in the Nile River. It was an all-inclusive three day trip for us, when I say all-inclusive I mean meals (which were actually really good) and a small bunkhouse (but no flushing toilets), cold showers, and no phone or internet service. That all may sound a bit “rustic”, but trust me,  getting to wake up in the morning and sit on the small log (bench) outside of our bunkhouse overlooking the Nile River was absolutely priceless. I feel like it was the first time since being here that my mind just shut-off from all of the worries and I felt absolutely blessed to be in this beautiful country.

The days we spent at The Hairy Lemon, consisted of swimming in the Nile (praying the boys don’t get bilharzia), fishing, relaxing in the many hammocks on the island, eating, playing Twister (Hairy Lemon style) and spending time as a family. Daniel was super stoked when one of the guys on the island, who had come to kayak (the Nile has some of the best white water kayaking in the world) let Daniel ride in his kayak around the island. The boys also had a blast watching the many monkeys that were jumping from tree to tree, all around the island. The whole time we were there, Daniel kept expressing what an awesome way this was to get to spend his birthday, and we couldn’t agree more! Also this was much cheaper than taking our family to Disneyland for a day! 
When we left the island we headed to Jinja for some lunch, but really we wanted to go to a restaurant there that has the best milkshakes in Uganda. So Daniel got a chocolate and peanut butter birthday milkshake and LOVED it! After that we headed out to visit a couple that met here through mutual friends to check out the project that they head up here in Uganda, called Musana Community Development Project. This was such a great time for Jamesdon and I to see an amazing way that God is working here in Uganda. I could write a whole other blog talking just about their project, but for now I will just say that Jamesdon and I were incredibly impressed with the vision of this project and the way they are empowering Ugandans to take pride in their community and the children in the community. Daniel and Nehemiah loved getting to play with the kids at Musana primary school and enjoyed getting to visit the chicken hatchery and the dairy farm. We got really lucky because one of the cows gave birth the night before so we got to go and see the day old calf. Daniel was a little confused about the size of the calf and was trying to figure out how something that big was only a day old. 

The next day we ate lunch with our new friends and headed back to Kampala. Only to drive straight to our friends house (John and Elma) to have dinner and celebrate Daniel’s birthday AGAIN! Elma made him fried ice cream for dessert and after everybody got their share, Daniel licked the pan clean! Overall Daniel felt super loved and blessed by his big birthday trip and Jamesdon and I felt refreshed after getting away from the city! 

We spent the next day unpacking, washing, and getting back into the groove of things, which really just means more waiting. Our lawyer has continued to tell us that we will have a court date soon, but what that means is not defined. He did say at one point we would be in court by November 16th, but if you look at the date, that day has come and gone. So we continue to wait and while many people at home continue to ask us if there is any news, we feel discouraged every time the question is asked simply for the fact that we have no idea when we will actually get a court date. And just to add insult to injury, the judges all get a one month holiday starting December 15th, which means we need a court date in the next few weeks to have even the slightest chance of being home by January. All the uncertainty regarding a court date brings a lot of uneasiness with our financial situation. The longer we stay here, the thinner our savings is stretch! 

We totally trust that God has an awesome plan and continue to trust that He has us covered. What we hope that means is that we get a court date VERY soon, but in the meantime we recognize what a huge blessing being here is for our family, especially for Daniel. He is not just going to have stories that we have told him about Uganda, he will now have many of his own to tell! So get ready!

A week in Gulu...and then back to Kampala!

It has been two weeks since we last updated our blog so when I sat down to write a new one, I felt like there was way too much to write. So I will try not to make this too long.

And we are off...Gulu here we come!
Two weeks ago we began our trip to Gulu. For those of you not familiar with Ugandan geography, Gulu is about 400 kilometers north of Kampala. Because we have friends that live outside of Kampala, we stopped off there and visited them on the way. We were able to once again visit Donela Orange School in Bombo. After having another awesome day in Bombo/Wobulenzi we went to a guest house close by to stay the night and then headed to Gulu Tuesday morning. Luckily Jamesdon got a good night sleep because the only road that goes up to Gulu is a pretty daunting road to drive.

Even when the road to Gulu was at its best , it was a stressful road to drive.  You share the road, which is barely wide enough for one car in each direction, with huge buses that go very fast and as they head towards you, you feel as if you are going to be run off the road. The road is filled with potholes and rain continually erodes the edges of the road, so there are times when there is barely enough road for one car let alone for the bus with bad alignment, that is literally driving sideways and heading towards you. This does not include the people riding bicycles, school children running alongside the road, or the women carrying babies on their back and jerry cans of water on their head.  Jamesdon says it feels like 6 hours of playing some twisted game of chicken and Russian roulette. Most of the time Jamesdon was trying to find the best path to travel and sometimes there wasn’t really a best path, but he did a great job.

Nemo (baby Mzungu) always gets swarmed!!

Lazyboy Seesaw
It probably goes without saying, but Jamesdon was exhausted by the time we traveled the 320 kilometers to get there! Even though he was exhausted,  Jamesdon really wanted to see the Congolese women at Remnant International (the organization Jamesdon worked with when we lived here before) so we headed straight there to surprise them. Although, not all the women were there, the two that were there were very excited to see him. We then headed to CTCM (Christ the Center Ministries) school and visited with Pastor Ron and Mama Joy. We wrapped up our day be getting together with our dear friends, Kent and Becky, who are missionaries sent out by Antioch church. After 2 years of not seeing them, it was great to have dinner and catch up with them. Plus Daniel and Nehemiah were stoked to have kids to play with, since they have four girls.

I really missed these Remnant gals!

On Wednesday, we got the chance to meet Jake and Khara, some fellow Rock Harbor goers, that moved to Uganda shortly after we left. Although, I had only met Khara once in Uganda, right before we left, it was so great to sit down and talk with them about their time in Uganda so far and to get the chance to pray for them and what they are doing in Gulu. Later that afternoon, Jamesdon met up with Kent and got to visit their discipleship school as well as a new income generating project that will be used to support the discipleship school and provide business and management training for their community. (Kent spent the better half of the week trying to convince Jamesdon to move back to Uganda to come work alongside him, and Jamesdon spent the better part of the week telling him no!)

Jamesdon moonlights as a 
baking instructor!
Ana, one of the Congolese bakers.
We spent the remainder of our week meeting with friends and visiting different projects/ ministries in Gulu. Jamesdon celebrated his 30th birthday, which was very low key. (I always pictured getting to do something big and exciting for him, but that didn’t happen).
Kent and Becky’s daughter did make him a pretty tasty cake though!! The boys had a great time road tripping and getting to see more of Uganda and its beauty, including the Nile River and some of its wild life! All in all it was a great week and a good reminder of why we love being here in Uganda!

Worn out from our 
AWESOME week in Gulu!
No big deal, just a scary baboon on the side of the road!

Beyond worn out, just 
CRAZY at this point!
Getting to spend a week in Gulu and having the chance to reconnect with friends made the past week in Kampala a tough one. Reality set back in! Jamesdon has now been here for 8 weeks and I have been here for 4 weeks and there has been absolutely no movement in the courts. While the family time we are having is priceless, not knowing how long this whole process is going to take is a really difficult reality. We know that God has a plan for our family in all of this, but sitting and waiting is not easy to do. Our previous time spent in Uganda was spent in a posture of serving and ministering to the people here, but this time around we are just waiting. Even though we get to visit different ministries here, it is tough not being a part of one and really getting to take part in what God is doing here. As we wait, we continue to pray for God to show us discernment about where He wants us to be, but so far we just feel like we should be home! We feel like God has blessed us with such an amazing community at home and that He is not ready to take us away from that. Although we love Uganda, we do not feel like God is calling us back here. With that being said, He hasn’t allowed us to leave yet either, so we continue to pray and wait on God.

Please continue to pray alongside us for the following:
- a court date
- discernment about God’s plan for our family
- that this would be a period of spiritual growth for our family

...:::If Laundry Mats Were Gyms:::...

“I wish there were laundry mats here!"

That is a phrase I definitely never thought I’d hear but, in the last few weeks, I know that Coryn and I have both said or thought that phrase many times!

In my bachelor days, I loathed the thought of dragging all my dirty clothes to either my apartment’s overpriced laundry room, or hauling everything over to the, always crowded and rarely clean,  neighborhood “Sud N’ Wash”, but recently, those days seem like fond memories. 

During our previous stay in Uganda, Coryn and I both worked in fulltime ministries/jobs that left little time for a lot of the everyday household chores made easy in the US by the aid of modern appliances! We instead opted to hire a dear friend as a caretaker for the kids and a housekeeper. This was a great solution but since we’re just here, basically waiting, we figured we’d take on the household chores on our own.

One thing we knew when deciding to do this was; laundry here is quite the ordeal…

Being the “Googler” that I am, I set off to learn all the inter-web had to offer about hand washing clothes which was basically; It’s hard work, don’t use too much soap, vinegar gets the soap out, wash often, and it’s really HARD WORK. Keep in mind our process has only been adapted over the last few weeks of washing but it goes something like this.

It all starts with a pre-wash-day soak. Everything gets divided up, just like back home, by their various colors and wash temps. Each pile goes into its own bucket or basin with a bit of soap, and left over night to soak. Sweet, the easy parts done!

The next morning we get the kids up, washed, fed and hopefully entertained by some toy, game, or show so the real fun can begin! We start by removing the clothes from the soak water and setting up three buckets. 

The first bucket is for washing. We throw a few items into about 8in of water with a tablespoon or so of detergent (not too much) and look for any persistent stains and scrub those out with a firm bristled brush.
Then we agitate the snot out of it with this handy gadget that people on the web were raving about. It works really well too! Wring the clothes out and transfer to the next bucket.

The next bucket is plain ol’ H2O. Using our new “washing machine”, we again agitate the clothes until our arms give out, forcing as much of the detergent as possible out of the clothes. We then wring and toss them in the last bucket. (Apparently, most manufacturers recommend 3xs the amount needed to get clothes clean which just makes clothes harder to dry, attracts dirt, and leaves clothes feeling stiff. Who knew?!)

The last bucket is again water, but this time with a capful of vinegar, which neutralizes any remaining detergent left in the clothes. Then we just give them one last hardy wringing and hang them on the clothesline (which I fabricated out of angle iron so that it clips onto our balcony and can be removed without damaging the property). 

All done (almost)! Yup 5 whole pieces of clothing all clean! Now we just repeat those steps over until our family of four’s half week of laundry is clean which typically takes half a day. 
Then we wait for the sun to dry them, which takes the rest of the day as long as it’s not raining (it’s rainy season).

The last step is to iron every, yes EVERY, item of clothing! Flies here lay their larva on wet clothes which can then burrow in ANY part of your body (yup, laundry mat sounds pretty good right now) which would be a bad day in my book!

Well, that’s about it! Sorry about the long post but, seeing that it takes up a lot of our free time here, I figured it was worth the five minutes of reading! Hope you enjoyed it!


A window into our adventure that is UGANDA