Tuesday, October 16, 2018

How are we doing 2 months in?

The pretty street we live on

In some ways it's been a very typical season of settling down:
- unpacking and moving into a house
- getting to know our new town, how to shop in the market, where to buy things, etc.
- finding a church family
- making friends
- starting our home school year

The banana section in our market

But in other ways it hasn't quite been normal:
- we're not in our final home/location yet
- we've traveled quite a bit

Basically: we've still felt like we are in limbo.
Being in limbo isn't a bad thing but as many moms know, it can get old after a while. So we are excited to now have a plan and a flexible timeline for what we can expect for the rest of the year.

This weekend Eli will travel back to Kenya for a week-long Theological training conference and he is taking 2 South Sudanese theological trainers and 1 from Uganda.
Starting the beginning of November, we will take another trip up to Adjumani which is 2 hours away and is the town we hope to settle in by the end of the year. Our next trip will be to try to secure a house for us. We found one that we really liked last time we were there, but we want to look around a little more before we settle on one.

The house we really liked while house hunting

Once we have a rental agreement for a house in Adjumani then we'll need to go on a huge shopping spree most likely in the capital city (Kampala) to buy all the furnishings for our new home. Once we have everything then we can move! Isaac will come home for his Christmas break two days after Thanksgiving and will be home for 6 weeks so we would like to make our move when he's home so he can be involved and feel like it's his home as well. My Christmas wish this year? To be in our new home to celebrate Christmas. :)

It's been an interesting time I'll admit. It was kind of crazy to land in Uganda - a big change from South Sudan - not fully knowing yet where we were going to settle or what our ministry would be exactly. But as we've prayed and sought the Lord and asked daily for His wisdom, He has answered and has allowed His plan to unfold little by little - just enough to encourage our hearts but also to keep us completely dependent on Him. Though never easy, I am grateful that the Lord designs these types of seasons so we can feel and know His nearness and be comforted by the truth that when we are weak and have no idea what we're doing, HE KNOWS and is perfect in His strength.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Gulu: our new home

The nice ride we hired to take us to Gulu from the capital city 
On September 1st we left Kampala shortly before 6:30 in the morning while the city was still waking up and began our journey north to Gulu, our next stop and home for a while. We rented one van for us and one van for all our stuff! Though it took about 6 hours we thoroughly enjoyed watching the scenery of Uganda as we drove.
Karuma Falls

The boys' favorite part of our trip was when a baboon jumped onto our windshield to try to hitch a ride!
This is the house we'll be staying in for the next 2 months.
 Since we're still not sure exactly WHERE in Northern Uganda we'll be settling for ministry, we are beginning in Gulu - a major hub and central place in Northern Uganda. We are in the phase of learning about this part of the country, a little language learning, and lots of  "shadowing" Eli will do in these first weeks to see what God is doing in this area, what other missionaries and organizations are doing, and see where we might fit (though it might not be in Gulu). He's also going to start traveling into the different refugee camps in this area to continue gathering information, networking,  and building relationships. One hope we have is that we might be able to move closer to where the South Sudanese refugees are living in the camps (though there are many even here in Gulu.)

This is a scene of our yard - the kids' favorite place
We are amazed at our yard here! No joke these are the types of trees we have and many of them are bearing fruit right now: guava, lemon, macadamia nut, avacado, papaya, and mandarin orange!

Joshua's first pick of guavas, the day we arrived.
 We eat guavas all day and every day. Over the weekend I tried my Mom's recipe of guava sauce which is like apple sauce but with guava. Boy is it good!

Our school books all set up
 In order to establish a routine for the kids, we started our home school year right away on Sept 3. Evan is in 7th grade and Joshua is in 5th. As you may remember, our oldest, Isaac is at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya, in 8th grade and LOVING it. We're missing him like crazy but it really helps that every time we talk to him he goes on and on about how awesome everything is there and what fun he's having! Carson is not quite 5 months but joins us for part of school, sitting quietly on my lap while I read or playing on a blanket on the floor.

Auntie Hellen with Carson

A pretty typical afternoon for us these days
 We are daily amazed at how smooth this transition has been for our family. We can't believe how at peace we feel and the ease with which we've all adjusted! My favorite part about last week was when Evan and Joshua bravely ventured across the street to play soccer with a group of boys in the grass. About an hour later when I called them in for dinner, they were smiling from ear to ear and reporting to me everyone's names and that they'd been invited to come back and play every evening at 5.
They've also really hit it off with a few missionary families' children that we've met. We are praising God for providing new friends so quickly!

Another highlight last week: hosting this lovely family!
Last week, we invited a South Sudanese family over for lunch. Eli met Pastor Tito and his wife Edwina on his trip to Uganda in May and he is one of our contacts here in Gulu. We enjoyed our visit with them, the kids played nicely and we went to church with them on Sunday.

Might have been their first popsicles!

So basically I want to report that God has been so gracious, allowing us to settle so quickly and easily and giving us such joy to be here. We are really soooo happy to be here. Though there are hard parts of this transition (like missing Isaac and not having him with us) God is comforting us and causing us to depend completely on Him. We still have a lot of question marks in our future but that's OK. It keeps us always trusting and looking to the Lord to guide us. That's what we want.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

First days in Uganda

Carson enjoying the beauty of Uganda
 After a very smooth trip, we were so excited to learn about this new country we're moving to. The boys have enjoyed playing outside because it's so cool and beautiful here.

Crazy city traffic
 Driving around Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, has definitely been a big adjustment. As you can see in this picture, the roads are taken over with motorcycles. We are slowly learning our way around.
Carson and I enjoying the porch and cool weather

Last talks with Isaac ("you've got to shower every day and don't forget to wash your sheets every now and then...")
6 days after we arrived in Africa, Eli traveled to Kenya with Isaac to get him settled in his new school, Rift Valley Academy. It is an awesome school and being there confirmed to Eli that Isaac is ready for this step of independence. He's been super busy this first week of school but we are able to talk on the phone and he is really excited to be there. We, on the other hand, are missing him terribly!

Isaac moving into his room at school

What a gift! He gets to room with a long time friend.
This is such a God thing! Isaac has 3 other roommates and one of them is the son of our dear friends Phil and Emily Greene. He started at this school last year so he's been able to show Isaac around and help answer questions.
We get to live in the same country as my parents!
 A big perk about being in Uganda is that my parents still live here too. They are in a town about 4 hours away from the capital so they drove over to have a special family "send off" for Isaac and then to keep the other boys and I company while Eli was away.

Mimo cuddles

Enjoying delicious chai

My high school, life long friend, Emily, and I enjoying time together

Big ol' shopping spree for our new home - we filled 4 carts!
Kampala is not where we will be settling down. This is where our mission base is and where we'll pass through on our way to Kenya to visit Isaac or pick him up at the end of each term. So we have been shopping for what we might need in our new home. We will be moving to our next "stop" which is a town called Gulu, this Saturday. Eli has hired 2 vans to arrive at 6 am on Saturday morning. We will pack all our stuff in one and then all of us plus the extra stuff in the 2nd vehicle and make our way north to Gulu. We've been told the trip can be done in 5 hours without stops but Google maps said it takes 7 1/2 hours so we'll see how it goes with 2 boys, and infant and many many trunks of stuff.

The plan is that we'll be in Gulu town for at least the new few months. We will be house sitting and dog sitting for missionary friends and during that time will be working on where would be the best place for our family to settle. We would really appreciate prayer for wisdom regarding WHERE exactly in northern Uganda to live. 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Safe and sound in Uganda

Our packed bags ready for departure
The last week in the States was a blur of packing, painting, cleaning and tearful goodbyes. But we are so grateful for all our dear friends who gave of their time to help us.

This is the crew who came to carry all our things up to our storage space the day before we left.

Dear friends ordered pizza to be delivered to our house for our last lunch

Though our travels were long they were uneventful and smooth. The big boys enjoyed watching many movies and Carson was a champ. The best answer to prayer of all was arriving in Uganda and all 20 of our bags showing up in tact.

Carson playing on the airport floor

We are staying at a beautiful place. Our favorite spot is the porch where we can see out on beautiful green uganda and hear all the birds singing.

Carson watching his brothers play in the front yard

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Gearing up for TRANSITION

We now have only 2 days left in South Carolina before loading about 15 pieces of baggage and our family onto a plane to fly across the globe to Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. We grow more excited every day and the house is getting emptier as we pack up.

We are delighted to report that God has answered prayer after prayer and in a way we couldn't have even hoped. We have all of Carson's important documents, just about all the house projects finished, and even sold our car. We are just waiting on confirmation from a family interested in renting our house and then everything will be done.

Tonight before the boys went to bed we spent some time talking about the transitions ahead of us and discussed how important it is to say goodbyes well, leave with no regrets, and how to have healthy, hopeful expectations for what is ahead. It was a really sweet time and I'm so thankful God gave us that pause in the midst of the crazy!

We fly out of Charlotte on Thursday at 1 pm so please say a prayer for us as you eat your lunch.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Details of Carson's Adoption Story

This was that unreal moment when they placed a sweet baby boy in our arms and we were now in charge of caring for his every needs. We named him Carson John and the hospital gave us our own room in the hospital to bond with and care for Carson. He didn't leave our sides except for his different medical checkups.

Joy, fear, relief and most of all - a flood of love

Bonding with sweet Carson

Totally loved

This was a perfect representation of our days in the hospital: 
coffee, bottles and counting poopy diapers

Lots of skin to skin

1st smiles

Discharged from the hospital on day 3

As you can see by my face in the car, I was in total shock. Were we really allowed to take this sweet baby home? Since we were in another state, we still had to stay another few days before we were cleared to go home to SC but we had special friends to stay with. We began to get into a routine with feedings, diaper changes, and even our first walk outside.

Trying the baby wrap for the first time

Yep, I'm super happy!

1st pediatrician appt at 3 days old
We were actually at the doctor's office in this very room when we got the text from the lawyer that Carson's birth mom signed the papers to give up her rights. Still more shock, total thanksgiving and excitement.

Meeting the Fader grandparents
 When Carson was only a week old we were granted permission to return home to SC. We couldn't wait to get home and introduce him to his big brothers! They all wanted to hold him and cuddle him - we'd prayed for this baby for so long!

Joshua was already eager to learn how to change diapers.

Helping with feedings
Our first family walk

Meeting Mimo (Sorensen grandparents)


Meeting Uncle Stan

In July Carson got to meet his cousin Silas who was born the day after him!

Meeting Aunt Audrey

Aunt Alyssa came all the way from Michigan to meet Carson and be here for his court finalization
So this is our journey so far. Carson is now 3 months old, officially and forever ours, and now we're all working on his paperwork/passport so he will be ready to move to Uganda with us in only 3 weeks!