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!

...:::One week down, ??? to go:::...

I can’t believe it has already been a week since I arrived here in Uganda. It has been an eventful week in terms of getting to have good quality time as a family, but uneventful in terms of the whole adoption process.

Just a fun story for those of you at home…

On Friday the water was “over” as they say here in Uganda. Our small water tank was empty and we had a sink full of dishes, clothes to wash, a toilet to flush…you know all the things that require water!! Not to mention the fact that I didn’t take a shower Friday morning because I was just planning on taking one Friday night. (Lesson learned, if there is water, take a shower!) So hoping we would get water back soon we held out until Saturday, but it was still not there! So Jamesdon had a plan, the fixer that he is, to get water from the underground water catchment downstairs from our apartment (luckily we are in a country where rainwater is easy to come by!) So we tied a rope to a bucket that I threw down into the water catchment and let it fill up with water. I pulled the bucket back up, full of water, and since buckets full of water are not the easiest to carry up a flight of stairs, Jamesdon decided to tie another rope around a second bucket that he threw over the edge of the balcony. So I poured my water into the second bucket and Jamesdon pulled the bucket up to the second story and emptied the water into a large Rubbermaid container. We repeated this about 20 times.  But at least we had semi clean rain water to use.

After doing all the hard work of getting the water, we were not about to use it frivolously. First things first, the toilet, In times of water shortage, we live be the credo, “if it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down” (I actually believe that is the worst part about losing water).  I then  boiled a little for washing the dishes, one basin for washing and another basin with the boiled water for rinsing! The boys also got a nice bucket bath that night. Daniel said he actually prefers a bucket bath to our shower, which to be honest so do I! (Side note: Our shower has an instant hot water heater attached, but the problem is, it gets way too hot because the water pressure is too low, so taking a shower consists of turning on the hot water heater until the water is too hot to bear and then switching it off until it is too cold to bear and then repeat. It is usually about 30 to 60 seconds between the switching on and the switching off.  Lucky for me, if I stand on my toes, I am just tall enough to reach the switch! Needless to say our showers are not very lengthy!) Anyhow, we ended up getting the water back on Monday. And life was back to normal! And by normal, I mean Daniel does not get yelled at for flushing the toilet after he only goes pee!

We went to church on Sunday and Jamesdon was asked to lead worship this coming week. I was really praying that he would find opportunities here to lead worship to help keep him distracted from the lack of progress with the courts. We also got to go fishing and have dinner with friends! Jamesdon and I are really learning how to work together to accomplish all the things we need to get done (washing clothes by hand and ironing everything becomes quite a task)! The boys are having an amazing time getting to experience new things, including catching cockroaches, holding rabbits, fishing, chasing goats, 
driving in really bad traffic (they don’t really mind it, Jamesdon and I do!) and visiting friends! Daniel has had to be creative with his worship music, without his guitar, but cardboard boxes make pretty good drums in his mind!

In terms of the courts...

we have been talking with our lawyer often, but still have nothing new to report. While I was really hoping that I would get here and we would have a court date right away, I know that God has a plan that is way bigger than the one I have made up in my head!

So we continue to wait, but in the meantime, Jamesdon and I are making an effort to visit
projects that are on the ground here, just trying to learn more about how God is using people here and what He is doing to better this country.  This week we went out to visit some very dear friends of ours in Bombo and Wobulenzi, and got to visit Donela Orange School which is sponsored by Align Ministries. I had a chance to meet with some of the science teachers and sit in on a biology lesson for the Senior 1
students. It is amazing how much the school has grown in the past 2 years and to see the amazing work that it being done there. We will be headed back there next week and then we will be off to Gulu to visit some friends and continue to wait for our court date!

Thanks for all your continued prayer and support. We are so thankful for all of you!


A window into our adventure that is UGANDA