We are using a dial up modem. Yes they still exist! I hope to post again tonight. We love all you guys!
Our New Roommate
The music never stops! The party did not end as we had hoped until after 12am! Needless to say we were ticked off. We did manage to fall asleep and wake up to our alarm at about 9am. It was a good night’s sleep and we enjoyed our rest. We were scheduled to be picked up by our driver at 10am, but that quickly changed and he arrived with the orphanage director at about 10:30am. She informed us that ZG’s nanny was very upset and we needed to take ZG to see her as a consideration. Her seventeen year old son was in grave condition at a local hospital and the director wanted to brighten her spirits. In the last post I said that I enjoyed driving through the busy congested streets; well I lied! Always beware the “Jam”. This is what the locals called the traffic. It is so hard to get anywhere. The roads are similar to driving down Main Avenue in Northport with traffic three rows wide, motorcycles buzzing through any gaps they are brave enough to risk, people walking in the street, and 32 million of your closest friends with you lined up and down the walk ways. And did I forget to mention they drive on the left hand side of the road! In Uganda, driving is C-R-A-Z-Y! Luckily Patrick, our driver, is the best in Uganda!
When we arrived at the hospital after a one hour drive, we walked into the patient’s room to the chorus of four men praying for the young man in a local African language. And let me tell you, they were praying hard in Jesus’ name! Continue to pray for this young man named Ivan who is still recovering. The nanny hugged and kissed on ZG and, shortly after, we excused ourselves to the waiting area downstairs.
Lesson number one in parenting; don’t go anywhere without food for your kid. Maybe it was an epic fail but she was getting very ill so we fed her the only thing we had in our backpack, a Clif Bar. After about ¼ of the bar was gummed away by her little mouth I said to Carla, ”I hope she isn’t allergic to anything”? Don’t worry, she is ok and we got her some real food shortly after at a restaurant; mashed potatoes and gravy! It was her first time to go out to eat and she had a blast feeding herself with her hands! Proud parent gloating coming up--- my 9 month old eats table food like a grown man and yours doesn’t!
The restaurant is in a very American style shopping center called “Game”. For the next few weeks it will be our sanctuary when we are feeling homesick. Short of the armed guards at the entrance, it is like you are still in Alabama. Immediately after lunch I visited the ATM for some Shillings and then I made a quick stop at ShopRite, a chain grocery store, and picked up snacks, baby food, and water. We fought the jam back to Mukono and played with the children for a few minutes at the orphanage. Just before we rose to leave, we were posed by the director the happiest, and scariest, question of all time; DO YOU WANT HER TO STAY THE NIGHT WITH YOU? Uhmmmmmm, YES, we exhalted after keeping our cool for all of 2 seconds! The director is such an angel and has gone above and beyond for ZG over the last 9 months of her short life.
My Cameron Diaz Moment
I work construction; tough schedules, big budgets, mean people. I have nerves of steel and, sadly, the emotional intelligence of a cross-eyed warthog. I haven’t shed a tear since my high school sweetheart dumped me a decade ago. I ignorantly pride myself in my lack of emotion. Last night as we were driving back to our hotel room with our precious baby girl in my arms, she looked up and had that moment when she realized that something wasn’t right. She cried the single biggest tear that I have ever seen. I looked at Carla with my eyes under water and said, “she’s scared”. Carla has never seen me cry so naturally she let the tears go too when it was revealed that my biggest vulnerability in the entire universe belonged to a 17 pound baby girl from Uganda . She said, “we can’t cry, even if she does”. I agreed with her but cried all night, long after ZG went to sleep. I thought I was hiding it, but I guess it has been so long since I last cried I had almost forgotten how.
My dear friend Justin Ray, who is an English teacher and is, most likely, editing this entry as he is reading it, took a large group of church members to Acuna, Mexico several years back. At the end of our last night there we had a large gathering with all the children from the orphanage. The July heat was still nearly unbearable even after sunset. Everyone was sad because of the relationships that were created would soon be separated by a national border and over 1000 miles. One of the boys in the orphanage named Junior was especially upset about us leaving. Though there were many people crying from both nations, Junior was inconsolable. This caused other people’s emotions to be elevated, and before you knew it, it was like being in the theatre during the last scene of “The Notebook”. When out of the side of Junior’s crooked little mouth he whimpered, “Yo quiero agua.”; I want water. The little boy was just thirsty, but the emotion of the moment sparked a stirring in an entire group.
ZG was not scared when she cried that big tear in the car last night; I was. I just needed a reason to let my real emotions play out. This little girl is a thief; and she has stolen Carla and I’s heart. We are in love in way that cannot be described.
Our New Roommate Continued---
ZG settled down quickly after some food, a bath, and play time. Mommy was able to get her to sleep in less than 20 minutes! The hotel is loud and there are times that we wish we were somewhere quieter. Tonight at the hotel is African Drum night, which was followed the Mukono Thespian Society’s interpretation of what sounded like “Fiddler on a Tin Roof”! Don’t worry ZG slept right through. I prayed for God to seal her ears and He answered my very selfish prayer. PTL!
One clarification on me crying; I may have just been tired, gotten something in my eye, or perhaps it was because I was sharing a full sized bed with more than one person since Spring Break 2002! (ask Nathan Hannah, he was there!) Anyway, back to ZG’s night.
She decided to get up and play for an hour at 2:30am; happy as a lark I might add. It really didn’t matter because we were still awake. ZG slept until 6 o’clock and arose smiling like a perfect angel.
A Story of “Grace”
Never in a million years did we consider that the name Grace would have so much meaning in ZG’s adoption story. We prayerfully considered the name Zari, but like most Americans, we chose a middle name that just sounded cute. What exactly is Grace? How can we, as mere mortals, show Grace? Are we even capable? God does it all day, every day, in every moment, yet we cringe when we are in situations where Grace needs to be shown. Grace in undeserving and unsolicited favor.
At 10am we were introduced to “JAJA”, ZG’s biological grandmother. At 1pm we were introduced to ZG’s disease stricken father. By 1:30pm I was back in the van with ZG’s biological father, a policeman, and the orphanage director on our way to a clinic, where we would come to find out that we save his life by getting him treatments for Malaria and a host of other unmentionable diseases. No matter what your opinion of this is, I truly believe that this was always part of God’s Plan. Without the disease the father may have not been found, basically immobile, at his home and escorted by the police to Mukono to be ready to attend court. The treatment that he was able to receive was Grace from God. The peace that he gave me not to shake the last remaining life out of him was God giving me Grace. Grace is favor we don’t deserve. The orphanage director and police officer had to explain to him the importance of the treatment and while the director was settling the arrangements with father and doctor, I introduced Grand Theft Auto III to the police officer on my IPhone; he wouldn’t put it down and it was eventually taken away from him like a child by the orphanage director. Too Funny!
The day was already so long and it was only 3pm. After playing with all 5 of the children at the orphanage for another few hours we were getting ready to leave when another visitor came through the gate into the courtyard.
She was one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. She was small, but long and lean with straight black hair and a gap between her teeth that only added to her exotic beauty. This young woman, only nineteen years old, was ZG’s biological mother; the same scared girl who, the previous winter, left ZG alone at eleven days old. She immediately spotted her baby because she has the same light brown skin. In her village she is referred to as Mnzungu, the white person. As she approached Carla, God taught us another lesson in Grace as Carla handed ZG to her biological mother. Grace transformed hate into love and resentment into acceptance. We stood to the side and watched ZG’s biological mother love and kiss her.
Grace is more than Zari’s middle name; it’s a part of the plan, a part of the learning, a favor that transcends all human understanding. Praise God.
Pray Without Ceasing,
The Lost Mnzungu Americans