Archive for July, 2013

July 30, 2013

Uganda/Zambia Trip – Part 2

Mornings in Zambia were chilly, the air felt like fall at home but smelled like Africa.  So interesting to me, I’ve never been to a truly cold part of Africa…I’m fascinated.  

Each morning I bundled up in my sweater and headed out to meet my new friend Beth from Special Hope Network.   Beth controlled our schedule and planned all of the meetings, I was just along for the ride!   

Our first meetings with the government were slightly disappointing in terms of information we were given.  But by our last day in Zambia we had enough information and positive reactions that we were all feeling hopeful.  A special needs adoption program is truly possible here (and desperately needed!) but it’s going to take adventurous and flexible families with pioneering spirits to get things started.  I’ll write more about our hope for this program soon. 

We visited orphanages.  No matter how many times I walk into an orphanage, I never get used to the sight of children being raised without families.  The orphanages we visited were all nice places.  Clean, organized, the children looked healthy and well cared for.   But still, they’re orphanages and no child should be growing up without a family.   

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We spent time at Special Hope Network and my heart was so happy to see what this small group of people are doing for children with intellectual disabilities in Zambia.   Equipping families to KEEP and PARENT their children, shouldn’t that be the #1 goal for all of us?  

I was blessed to be invited to participate in a Special Olympics program that was coordinated specifically for the families and children of Special Hope Network.   It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon and the children had so much fun.  

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My time in Zambia came to an end too quickly.   Soon it was time to say goodbye and I was packing my bags back up to head to Uganda.   

It seems like getting from Zambia to Uganda shouldn’t be too hard, right?  They aren’t that far away from each other.   Well, it was an all day affair including a 6 hour layover in Johannesburg, South Africa.   I left Zambia at 7am and arrived in Uganda at 7pm.   I was met at the airport by our friend and driver Ken and friend Kendra and her beautiful family.   

After a quick hello and then goodbye to Kendra’s mom and daughter (who were flying out that night) we headed in to Kampala where I got settled into my cottage at Red Chilli Hideaway.   People ask me what I like about Red Chilli’s.  Despite the fact that it can be loud (it really depends on the room you get) – I like being surrounded by people.   Some people might prefer the peace and quiet of being in a small guest house with only one or two other guests, I’m not crazy about it.  I prefer having people around.  The cottages are quiet (for the most part, one night there was a party next door to the compound and it was loud), it is cheap, the food is good and well priced, there is free wifi, a small pool, interesting people to talk to (always interesting people!), a generator (but power rarely goes out), hot water and nice staff.  Downside, it isn’t fancy – the place gets dirty really fast.  There are bugs and lizards and monkeys and the bar area gets loud on the weekends.  But I feel at home there so it’s been my go-to place for several years.  

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The next morning I got up, met with Linda & Ken and we immediately headed out to start visiting and meeting.  It was scheduled to be a busy week!   

Part 3 coming soon. 

July 29, 2013

Uganda/Zambia Trip – Part 1

I am headed to Africa today!  I’m going to miss my kids so, so much!  But I know this is going to be an incredible trip.  I’m excited!

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My flight to Detroit was delayed.  Looks like I may miss my flight to Amsterdam.

Well, I made it to Detroit and after a record setting stop in a Detroit bathroom I ran to my gate and found that they were still boarding.  Thank the Lord my gate was in the same terminal!  Otherwise I wouldn’t have made it.  7 house to Amsterdam, here we go!

The flight to Amsterdam wasn’t bad.  I saw next to a nice Dutch man going home.  Food was decent.  Read and watched movies for a few house then fell asleep for two hours before we landed.

Hello from Amsterdam!  I had a quick breakfast at McDonalds then headed to my gate.  I decided to stand the whole time I was in Amsterdam since I had been sitting for most of the last 8 hours and will be sitting again for the next 10 hours.  Just waiting to board now.

We are in Harare.  Man that was a long 10 hours.  We have an hour here and then we’ll be headed to Lusaka.  Interesting fact – on my flight to Harare I sat next to a professor of psychology who did her master degree on the effects of institutionalization on children in Lusaka’s orphanages.  We had some great conversations and exchanged contact info.  Headed to Zambia now!

Hello from Zambia.  Oh my goodness, there was a lot of drama getting to my hotel.  We got to the airport at 10:30pm but because immigration took so long (long!) it was after midnight by time I got my bags.  I was the last person to go through immigration (boo) so by time I got outside the airport to find my ride I was one of the last people there.  My hotel shuttle wasn’t there.  I turned on my phone to call the hotel but my phone wouldn’t work.  There were a couple of porter type guys milling about and I asked one of them if I could use his phone to call the hotel.  He said yes.  I got a hold of the hotel and the man at the desk said he would call the shuttle and then call me back.  No one called back.  I tried the hotel again and he said he was sorry but the shuttle was no longer running and I should get a taxi.
I asked the men standing around about taxis.  Of course, every one of them claimed to be a taxi driver or knew a taxi driver and offered to drive me or call their friend.  I felt weird about getting in a car with a strange guy from the airport – it was at this point 1am in a city I had never been in.  I was alone at the airport and was nervous.   A man with a uniform from another hotel came up and said his shuttle could drop me at my hotel (for the right price of course).  It seemed like the safest option so I agreed.   I was still a little nervous but we finally got to the hotel safe and sound.

My room at the hotel is nice – it’s modern and clean.  But you know what else it is?  COLD.  Oh my, I didn’t realize it would be this cold here!   I went to bed with ALL my layers on.

Good morning from Lusaka!  I’m here a day early so I’ll just be exploring a little today and then will have dinner with some new friends tonight.

Lusaka reminds me of Kampala in some ways but is also quite different.  It seems strange and familiar at the same time, if that makes sense.  It seems more developed in some ways – lots of shopping malls and the streets aren’t as crowded.  I got my money changed to Zambian Kwacha and got airtime for my phone (my Ugandan sim works in Zambia!).  I got a few groceries and then headed back to the hotel to nap before dinner.

I had dinner tonight with my new friend Beth and her adorable son!  I’m excited to see what this week brings, we have a lot of meeting scheduled for the next few days.  Our goal is to determine whether to government will be willing/able to have a special needs adoption program to the United States.  We are praying that everyone is receptive and the path is made clear!

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Part 2 coming soon.

 

July 27, 2013

Back from Africa

I’m back from Africa!

Wait, you didn’t know I’d been gone?

Poor neglected blog.

I had two families approach me recently to ask why I haven’t been blogging very much.  They both shared that reading my blog and seeing pictures/videos of my kids encouraged them to adopt their children with special needs.

If that isn’t encouragement to continue blogging, I don’t know what is!  I made a decision  to try and blog at least once a week, even if I don’t feel like I have anything particularly interesting to say.  :)

So, I’m back from Africa!  I met some incredible people and had some great experiences.

Tomorrow I will start posting  my journal entries and pictures from Africa.  I can’t wait to share more about the trip with you all!

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