The fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. Dueteronomy 14:29

~ Silas and Naomi are HOME from Uganda ~

19 February 2011

10 Minutes

The kids were a mess. Noah was having bowel issues fairly frequently. Maela was short on sleep…very short on sleep. Nicholas was showing off for Sister Christine (his primary care giver for much of his life) who we had just met and Abi was protesting the hot sun. It was our turn for court. The Judge was gracious and asked us to come back into his office instead of having us be a spectacle in open court. There was a lot of talking and truthfully I didn’t know what was going on (partly due to the general rowdiness of the kids). The Judge asked for a few documents, an original copy of our marriage certificate. Then all of the sudden he got real friendly, he looked up from his papers asked Sister Christine about the babies’ home, how things were going there, and how she was doing. He made a few personal comments to our lawyer. And then he looked at us and said. “Your petition is granted.” We filed out and went home.

That was it. 10 minutes.

As we walked out I thought “That was it…how could that be it?” We got in the car and I was lost for a short time in another huge moment that lives in my memory on the other end of life. A moment many years ago, about which I thought exactly the same words. My mother had fought a ten year battle with cancer and was at the end. She said “Praise be to thy name” and she breathed her last. It was the moment that we had been dreading my entire childhood and I thought “That was it…How could that be it.” The truth is that the great moments of life will always be overshadowed and made insignificant, even foolish, by the small and “insignificant” moments of life. My mothers passing was completely overshadowed by the quality of her life and the work of God through it and in it. In the same way this great moment “Your petition is granted,” will be overshadowed by a thousand opportunities to be faithful; diapers, fits of crying, hard parenting choices, and the moment for which we have already been praying, “I believe.” The terribly anticlimactic end to the last four years of effort was really quite fitting for it is not really the end of anything. We are now parents of four beautiful children instead of two. The reality of what that means is joyful and far more difficult than we anticipated. I should have known, after all we already had two children (and we even took some classes on it) but somehow the dirty part of parenting escaped the anticipations of our hearts. The act of parenting, the task of it, is much harder. Yet God in his mercy is always faithful and those moments are overshadowed too, at least we have faith that they will be. The journey has certain difficulties and hardships but the end is eternal glory through Jesus Christ our Lord. My uncle who has adopted 3 children himself once said to me when we were at their house “you think you know about adoption now, just wait till you hear Nicholas and Abi profess faith in Jesus. Then you will really understand that this is Kingdom work.” How much more infinitely can a moment be overshadowed and how foolish will our adopting and parenting effort seem when “your petition is granted” becomes “I believe.” One is only about this life, and the other is life eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord. One is only a shadow, a meager representation, of the other.

So please pray with us over the small moments that overshadow the big ones. Pray for Noah as he learns to be a brother in a newer and harder way. Please pray for Nicholas to learn to trust us in little bits over the next months and years, for Maela as she struggles with the loss of being the youngest, and please pray for Abi as she grows that she might become stronger and begin crawling soon. Last but not least please pray for Jen and I as we dive into parenting in a new way, that we might recognize each small moment for what it is, an opportunity to teach and learn about Jesus.

The moments which truly matter and end up bearing the weight of eternity are always small.

So ten important minutes are a thing of history.

12 February 2011

Silent Night...For Now

It is a Silent night…for now.

I just finished laying down Nicholas and Maela. Noah is with Jen in the other room reading books before bed. Abi is sitting next to me patiently waiting for her nighttime bottle. Alexa is getting some much earned and I have no doubt much needed R and R by the pool. What a day it has been. We traveled to Kampala yesterday at the request of our lawyer and the Providence of God. The request came and I will admit that the thought of 6 hours in the car, the cost of the trip, the City and…I don’t know…anyway I slumped down in despair. “God please don’t make us do this…Please.” God immediately answered my prayer. He said go. I spent the day making arrangements to leave a place I have sort of come to understand for a place that makes my spine tingle and my lips go numb. As we were driving out of Mbarara I said to Jen, “isn’t it amazing how in such a short time the rhythm of a place can start to make sense.” Mbarara, which is a relatively small city has started to make sense. Kampala makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and…well you get the point.

We arrived in Kampala in the early evening yesterday, just in time for Jen to collapse (she is now extremely ill with whatever it was that I had last week) and the kids to fall headlong into the pool which had been their only consolation for the last 6 hours (we sprang for a nice hotel). I immediately had to brave the Kampala crowds to find an ATM, which was a curiously long 1km walk. I paid our driver and sent him home and we called Mubiru who had become a part of our family driving for us the first 8 or so days we were here. He is without question a gift from God. I went to bed tired frustrated and extremely angry with God for “forcing” us to make this trip. As I rolled over next to my suffering wife I had a fairly heated argument with God. The trip was hard on the children, hard on Jen, hard on us all really and it had not gone all that well. The details got messed up; the arrangements included a broad spectrum of misunderstanding (both cultural and language), and trying to move about in Uganda is just plain exhausting. God responded to me in a way that I have begun to understand as we have started to parent Nicholas who doesn’t speak the same language as us and has no Idea what is expected of him. When he gets frustrated or angry I just hold him. I hold him because I don’t know what is wrong, and because I cannot ask him. God responded to my bitterness and anger by washing me with a peace that passes all understanding. He said “My strength is sufficient for you. My grace is enough. You are equipped for the work I have for you. Be at peace.” I was. I fell asleep with an awful plan in my head that I knew God would carry our family through.

The next day I rose early and arranged at the front desk for Mubiru’s arrival packed some bags and took the kids downstairs with Alexa for some breakfast so Jen could get a little extra sleep. The plan…cue Mission Impossible music…between the hours of 10:00 and 12:00 get passport pictures taken, and printed, and get IOM Medical checkups for both children…in Africa…with no appointments. Nicholas and Abi and I took off with Mubiru at 10:00 and arrived at our lawyer’s office at 11:40 (which is about 10km away). Not exactly a great start for someone with no appointments. We went straight down to the picture place and got pictures taken and printed…easy enough. Next step IOM medical…only they close business on Friday at 12:00 which is…right now. “Lord please give us favor in the eyes of the doctor.” We walked into a small office and began speaking in a combination of Lugandan (by Monica one of our lawyers) and English…all I heard was no. no. no. Then the doctor came in and agreed to do Maela but not Nicholas because he had to have his TB test read and because we were going to be in court on Monday He could not read it in time. We would have to wait until after the elections. TWO WEEKS!!! Hold on. Wait just a moment something is wrong. “God please give us favor.” I leaned over to our lawyer and said “I thought that we were in court on Tuesday am I wrong.” “No” she replied, “I told them that to help us get this done” “well tell them the truth and we will stay in Kampala till Monday and be in court on Tuesday…” More Lugandan and a nod of approval from the doctor. Praise God for answered prayer even in the face of being ambushed and lied to the doctor agreed to do the check ups. God granted us with abundant mercy and had us in Kampala at the last moment we could have done our medicals before elections. The consequences of not having this done on Friday would have another two or three weeks in Uganda. This was information only God knew and He took care of it anyway. Thank you Father for your blessing, righteousness, and giving strength for the task. After another two hour, 10km trip we were back in the hotel. Had our “good plans” gone forward instead of the provision of the Lord our whole family would have had to endure long waits and longer car rides. But God in his provision provided not only for our adoptions needs but also for Jen as she was able to spend the day sleeping in a dark room alone, and for Noah, and Maela, a fun day at the pool. Alexa was wonderful and watched them most of the day.

As the day began to end I realized that I had not done something…well accually two things. I had left our phone in Mubiru’s van and I had not arranged for Sister Christine one of our witnesses in court to come from the far north of the country. I had to wire her money. Now. I walked out the front door to get on a Boda Boda. These are the motorcycle taxies that kill you. I rode one to town in Mbarara last week, but that was Mbarara. The level of recklessness needed to ride a boda boda in Kampala was only supplied by my intense need to wire money before the close of business and the fact that I had already sent Mubiru home for the day. Resolved to risk my life I walked out the door and who was walking towards me but Mubiru with my phone. He gave me a quick ride and once again God provided, the info I needed (which was in my phone), and a ride to the bank.

Thanks God.

Noah is now sitting next to me and wants to add that he went to the pool 3 times…big smiles…thanks Alexa

Father you are abundant in mercy and always supply strength for the tasks you give us to do, thank you for your provision for our family and I pray that you would continue to show us your path, and give us your strength. Heal my wife of her sickness and protect those who have not yet gotten sick. Thank you that your mercies are new every morning and I bless you for what you have done for your names sake and for your glory. Help us to be clear that you deserve all praise and honor now and forever. Amen.

05 February 2011

Ibanda Trip 1

the sign we'd seen so many times in our dreams

first meetings

brothers at last!

walking out of the orphanage hand in hand...father and son

first of many wrestling matches

Alexa loving on some babies...this precious girl ("F") feel in love with her...she's waiting for her mama to come get her very soon!!!

another of sweet "F"...she's ready mama!

Mae playing with some of the kids...or bossing them around :)

our happy boy!

Noah passing out "sweeties" (DumDums) to the kids.  He did so well and played with each one.

some of the kids gathered to watch our tearful goodbyes at our first visit

Niko not wanting to let go of heart was tearing

prayers and promises to our boy...we will not leave you an orphan.  We will return for you, our son!


More pictures coming of our second trip to Ibanda soon!


I claimed my son. Niko is now with us forever. I sat in the back seat of our van on the way back to Mbarara, Niko’s head was resting on my chest and I was crying, but I was not crying for the reason you might think.

This particular story actually started last Sunday when we went to visit Niko for the first time. Upon arriving we met Sister Edvina who is currently in charge of the baby home. The children were eating lunch and she wanted us to wait to see them so that they would finish their meal and not get distracted. We sat in a comfortable reception speaking with Edvina about life in the orphanage when the gentle African breeze was interrupted by a cry of desperation and relief “Mommy Na Dada, Mommy Na Dada!!!” Nicholas’s bare feet slapped their way down the long hallway and he leapt into my arms with an understanding of our relationship I can only assume was provided for him by God.  I have imagined that moment for four years and there is no way I would have dared to hope for something so wonderful as my son yelling my name and sprinting in to the arms of his father. We played, wrestled and tackled for a bit of time which passed too quickly and then we were told by Sister Edvina it was time to go…without Niko. Our hearts were heavy but not nearly as heavy as Niko’s, who “the sisters” had to steal out of my arms. He screamed, and screamed for us as we left. The joy of that first meeting was tempered by an ache which left us empty as we drove away without our little boy. We had to have a court date to “talk” about claiming him…and as of then we had none…so there was no “talk.”

As each day passed with an un-kept promise of a court date we began to explore other options of bringing Nicholas home, perhaps become a foster family for him till we have a date. But to our great pleasure because our lawyers had failed to get a hold of the judge on the phone for several days they got on a bus and took the long trip from Kampala to Mbarara to meet with him in person. (seems nothing happens here without extreme persistence). The Judge still refused to meet with them for a day so they spent the night and the next morning, praise God, we were given a pre-election court date Feb 15th. The news came late in the afternoon and Alice (one of our lawyers) said she would speak to sister Edvina and call us in the morning.

The pink line on the horizon which marks the beautiful Ugandan sunrise is predictable and has been something of a target for us. When the children are begging for food at 3:00 am “wait till the sky is pink.” When Maela is loudly protesting the indignity of being confined in her crib at 4:00 am “you may
 get out when the sky is pink.” When suddenly overcome with intense thirst at 5:00 am “I will get you juice when the sky is pink.” Well on this particular morning I opened my eyes and saw pink reflecting off the white backs of our brightly patterned curtains which where swaying slightly in the cool morning breeze. “Father I have slept till morning thank you…thank you…please Lord let my son come home today.” Maela was waking up too so I picked her up and strolled out into the living room and turned on a cartoon for her so I could read a little. I flipped to the place I had left off yesterday, Ex 3. “But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I will do in the midst of it; and after that He will let you go.” I thought “ok God I believe; you can do it for them you can certainly do it for one small African boy.” I didn’t realize till later that I had missed the point entirely.

The call came. “You may go and get him.” We went…immediately. The land changes a lot between Mbarara and Ibanda (where Nicholas was) and truthfully not much was said as savannah-like grasslands gave way to rugged hills and tropical forests. I grabbed Jen’s hand as we turned the sharp corner that would bring us into the grounds of the orphanage…and we saw him. All the children came running but I looked passed them all and found Niko. I grabbed on to him and he clung to me with a determination that said “Daddy, don’t you dare leave me again.” I won’t. We walked around the orphanage grounds a bit and tried to get him to eat his lunch…to no avail. He wanted nothing to do with the orphanage. He did not want to be touched by “the sisters,” he did not want to change or even say goodbye. We finally pried him off my chest long enough to bathe him and change him into new clothes, we put new shoes on his feet and we left. It was very unceremonious really; we just took him and left. As we pulled out he waved goodbye and leaned against my chest and relaxed for the first time…He knew he was not going to be left in that place any longer. He knew he was with his parents, his family. Nicholas is home.

As we drove and Niko’s dense little body pressed into mine I began to cry because all of the sudden I got the point. This thing, this wonderful thing that we have done for Niko is so small compared to what has been done for us. This great redemption that Niko has experienced cannot be compared with the great saving acts of God, but like the Israelites story in Egypt one day Nicholas will look back on his life story and see great deliverance. Then, when this adoption pales and is overshadowed by another Niko will begin to understand just how great the Fathers love truly is. But for the moment in the car I wept because I realized that whatever distance I have covered for Niko, whatever trouble I have endured, whatever difficulty I have passed through. My father covered a distance infinitely greater to arrive at my door, to bathe me, to clothe me in new clothes, to put new shoes on my feet, to hold me close to his heart that I might know fellowship with him forever. I have never had a physical picture of what salvation looks like in my minds eye. Today a little brown boy standing naked in a basin being bathed is that picture. Niko had no hope of finding me across the great gulf that separated us, I found him. Niko had no hope of accomplishing the terms of his redemption, I did it. Niko has nothing to offer me, I am giving him full inheritance in my family. The infinite chasm separates each one of us from God we have no hope to cross, in Christ, God has crossed it. We have no hope of discovering a way to God, in Christ God has revealed it. We have no good thing to offer God, In Christ we have been given full inheritance in the Kingdom of God. In Christ he purchased our redemption. In Christ he covered our sin. In Christ he clothed us in bright and shining clothes, and one day what we already posses through faith will be our reality and we shall see him as he is. Praise Be to God our Father who has adopted us.

So I held Niko and cried.

02 February 2011

Day in the Life

I know you are all so anxious for updates and we apologize for not writing…we’ve had some interesting events these past couple days and stealing away the time to write has been difficult, but don’t worry – we have several blog posts tucked away in our memories and we promise to get them all down…eventually!

So yesterday Craig woke up not feeling well at all. He decided to stay in bed as much as possible and fight off the fever and flu symptoms that were coming on. (Don’t worry – it’s not malaria, we already checked) Alexa and I got the kids ready for the day and we skyped with my parents (and then today with Craig’s family) – so fun to be on THIS side of the world looking at them in their cozy home. Very surreal (definitely a theme of our trip so far).

Wrestling under the "tents"

THEN… I climbed into the van and zoomed over to our sweet Abi-girl. Tricia had her all ready to go and when I walked in the door, Abi lit up with a smile that could substitute for the sun. A warm rush surged through my body; this is my baby and she knows me!

We got buckled into the van and just stared at each other for the 8 minute drive back to our house. The kids were outside jumping up and down on the porch anticipating her arrival. “Abi-sista HOME!” Maela was shouting. We came inside, it was seriously similar to that moment you arrive home from the hospital with your new little bundle of joy! My heart was jumping out of my chest with happiness (but still wishing Craig were up to see it all).

The kids took turns holding her and she greeted them as if she’d missed them too. We laid several layers of blankets on the hard floor to spend some tummy time together and even changed her clothes into one of the sweet outfits we had brought for her. It was heavenly!

Just to give you an idea of what the land looks like - so tropical and lush.  It's just beautiful!

An electrician, Edison came over to work on the small hot water heater attached to the shower head because, as I discovered much to my dismay, if you touch any part of the metal faucet or handles while the heater is on you will get quite a shock! We exchanged some friendly words (Edison teaches language to the missionaries and their children) and then Alexa led him to the electric shower head. I heard Craig get up to talk with him for a minute and then he came out to grab a stool for Edison. I could tell he still wasn’t feeling well. I heard Craig say to Edison upon delivering the stool, “I’m sorry, I’m sick and I…”


“Help! Help!” Edison cried from the bathroom. I looked up from our blanket in the living room and saw Noah staring in disbelief down the short hall to the bathroom. I jumped up and quickly handed Abi to Alexa. I turned and saw my husband’s feet from behind the mostly closed door. The warm feelings Abi had sent through me were instantly replaced with chills. Craig had passed out and was laying face down with his head in the corner between the wall and the door. It was terrifying…

Family riding a BodaBoda - motorcycle taxi - common way of transportation here

Noah ran to the other bedroom in tears…this is the first time he has ever seen his big, strong father incapacitated and it must have been very frightening for him. Maela saw her chance for freedom and darted for the door (fortunately our heavily fenced compound ensured that she wouldn’t get far .) Alexa raced back and forth the between the two, consoling Noah and checking on Maela, Abi in arms the whole time. I seriously can’t imagine all this without her here!

A began shaking Craig and yelling his name. It was the longest 30 seconds of my life. When he finally came to he had no idea what had happened and as I helped him roll over blood streamed from his lip. He had hit the door (or the wall) with his face and his lip was split badly. He had scratches on the sides of his head and he was a deathly white and very confused. I yelled for Alexa to bring me the phone. My hands shook as I dialed our friend down the street; it felt like it took me forever to find the numbers on that tiny screen.

While we are still on the floor, Alice, our lawyer’s assistant called. Of course! Craig and I both managed to smile at the irony of it all – we had been waiting for this call for 2 days and here it comes just moments after he regained consciousness on the bathroom floor! However it wasn’t the news we had been hoping for. We still didn’t have a confirmed court date but one of the lawyers in the firm was heading to Mbarara from Kampala tomorrow (Wednesday) to meet with us and pick up our paperwork and the kids passport and Visa photos. We told her that we didn’t have Nicholas home with us yet (the Sister currently running the home is not the one we have built a relationship with over the last 10 months and she was not willing to let us take Nicholas until we have a court date.) Alice was disappointed with this news (we are too!) and said she would have our lawyer call and see if she could persuade her….Please pray for Sister Edvina for her to release Niko to us!

Ugandan woman carrying her goods to sell

After his color returned a little, Craig managed to get up and we slowly walked to the bedroom so he could lay down. After some water and a few minutes of resting and reassuring Noah that Daddy was ok, a missionary doctor we had dinner with a few nights ago arrived to check on Craig (another demonstration of God’s foreknowledge and providence for our family!). A house-call! So cool! He checked Craig’s lip, talked through all his symptoms and made sure he was stabilized. Just the flu and dehydration. So Craig spent most of the day in bed, resting, and we all prayed he would kick this thing in 24 hours. I took Abi into the room, keeping a safe distance of course, and when they locked eyes she yelled several times, “DaDa!” No joke! We both burst out laughing, with a few tears of joy mixed in…she knows her Daddy. God has done an incredible work in this little heart and we are in awe!

Trying to hang another mosquito net.  What you can't see is the dresser he is standing on is really on top of Alexa's bed! Days before the "fall" too...

I refilled my arms with Abi, made her a bottle, and spent the next 4 hours with her tucked close against my chest, with the occasional shared turn for Noah and Mae of course. I watched her sleep, memorized the curves of her cute little nose, stroked that tight ringlet hair. I love this baby girl!

Eventually it was time to take her back to Tricia. Maela joined me for the ride and they cooed at one another form their carseats. I carried her in the house and when I placed her back in her loving “NaNa’s” arms, she kept her eyes locked on me. Melting….

Yup...that's how they sell it here.

We swung back by our house to pick up my bag and Alexa and headed to town. We waited in line at the ATM for nearly 40 minutes. Appearantly there is only one person allowed at a time in the tiny room that holds the cash kiosk. We could not figure out what each person did in there, but it took an strangely long time to withdraw money.

When we finally had our cash, we asked Meburu, our driver, to take us to the market so we could buy some fruit. It was beautiful – an edible rainbow so much to take in. We had so much fun!!! He promised to get us African prices, not Muzungu (white person) prices. We could tell he was enjoying himself too as he skipped between stalls and picked the choicest mangoes, pineapples, watermelons, jack fruit, bananas, and eggs for us. He shared the best way to prepare each one and introduced us to several new vegetables too. Poor Maela was a star attraction – the Ugandan women could not get enough of her, wanting to hold her, play with her blond curls and tickle her tummy. She took it very well and occasionally would let one hold her for a moment before saying “MaMa” and careening her body back towards me or Alexa. She had been painting earlier that day and her cheeks bore the remnant of a few stray strokes of her paintbrush. Several women asked me what it was and as I motioned with my hand to paint a wall and said, “paint” then demonstrated the strokes that marked her check. They roared with laughter and spread the news down several stalls. It was fun to make them laugh.

We walked down the street a ways and bought large bag of popcorn (the kids were going through withdrawls) and then wandered to a few small grill-type cooking stations where a specific type of banana (which I can’t remember right now) and cassava where being cooked, charred rather, along with chapatti, corn on the cob and several other Ugandan staples. Meburi bought us a banana and a few cassava to try. They were both delicious but we couldn’t believe he was able to hold on to them and break off pieces with his lips since ours were searing our laps through our pants. Alexa and I talked about how healthy it all feels and we love wandering through the market. She said she thinks she could live like this for a while...warning, Michelle. :) The whole experience was definitely a highlight of the trip so far! (Aside from meeting our kids of course.)

We are going back again soon and Meburu said we can bring our cameras this time and he will ask if we can take pictures. Promise to share with you!

Oh yes and we have been catching geckos, espcially the ones in the toilets!

Please pray for health protection for the whole family!  We know the Lord is faithful to provide and protect and we are trusting Him for all things...being here makes it so evident just how little control we actually have and how much He truly is!  It's wonderful!!!