Friday, May 23, 2014

Legal guardianship

After a two hour court session this morning, the judge of the family court gave her verbal approval for us to be legal guardians of Janet and Lemu. The lawyer said to the judge, "My lord, I pray you'll grant this application," to which the judge answered, "I grant it straight away!" Though we won't get the official documents for another couple of weeks, this statement means we can take the girls home to the US to see our family and friends. And that makes us (and the girls) very happy.

We can't thank enough those who've been praying for us and for this day. We've really felt God's peace leading up to this moment. Yesterday we met with the lawyers and relatives (Alice, the girl's mother, their aunt, and four Ik uncles), and that went better than expected. The relatives seemed calm and confident, much more so than last year. They seemed to be enjoying themselves in Kampala and happy with the travel and accommodations they were provided with. (They are eager to get home, though, and plan to get on the overnight bus to Karamoja tonight.)

Then this morning, after a bit of a long wait, we were called in to see the judge. She interviewed all of us: Alice, Zachary, Lojore, Hillary, Terrill, Amber...she even talked to Janet and Lemu. When she asked Alice if she was happy with the arrangement, Alice said she was happy when we brought the girls to see her. So as hard as that can be, I think we will continue to do that as long as we can. The uncles all answered favorably; it seemed to be a big plus that they all mentioned that we had been personal friends of Lochiyo Gabriel (the girls' deceased father). The judge was impressed with the girls' English skills, as well as my knowledge of Ik (so she said!). She asked me to translate the sentence "God is my Savior" into Ik and write it down for her. So I wrote Mita Nyakuj'a Yeetesiama nci on a sheet of paper and handed it to her. She had me read it and then asked one of the Ik men what I was saying! Zachary said, "God...uh...is my...savior." Phew! This was important because it demonstrated our commitment to the Ik people, their language and culture, and the passing on of that culture to Janet and Lemu. Another thing that was key was the fact that we've lived here for years and plan to keep living here for more years. As the judge said, we're practically "Ugandan, at least by association."

Before we knew it, she smiled and indicated several times that she had already made up her mind to grant us legal guardianship then and there, even though normally the ruling comes much later. So we all thanked her, walked out, and began to marvel at God's favor. And for that, we want to thank all of you who have been praying for us. It really couldn't have gone any better. We also thank our friend Grace Halland for being there with us this morning and offering her moral support. We're reminded how we are all pawns in the great game God is playing to win the world for himself. God has positioned Amber and me for the sake of these two Ik girls, and we pray they will make themselves available to Him throughout their lives. This court date wasn't about me and Amber, more so about Janet & Lemu...but ultimately it was for the glory of God as he builds his kingdom one soul at a time. What a privilege it is to be a part of that incredible process. Praise God with us!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Meandering through life

Please do forgive the random nature of some of my (Amber's) blogs. We rarely have good enough internet in Timu to get pictures loaded, and then I find I have weeks worth of pictures (life events) that I've never posted. So...when I get to reliable internet, I post away...seemingly without rhyme or reason. But I do it for all of you who are interested in what our life looks like, so do forgive.

Some evenings we take walks as a family. Many times, we have tag-alongs. The two kids to my left are the girls' cousins, Kitella and Jeshua. 
 These are some of the flowers that are blooming with all the rain.
 And we found these frog eggs (our guess) in a little pool of water on a rock where many other tadpoles were already swimming.
 Back on the home-front, my girls are beginning to do chores...even begging to do them. I'm actually killing two birds with one stone by 'letting' them work. They're happy and busy...and my work gets done. Janet is mixing up a banana bread and Lemu is doing the dinner dishes. Yes, they still need to be supervised. But they actually do help with my workload.
 Another way Lemu helps with my workload is by licking many a dish clean. Her favorite by far is the hummus bowl. At least it's better for her than frosting.
 One of my favorite hobbies is trying out new recipes. This past month I tried my hand at both doughnuts and bagels. I learned that I need to grease the bagel pan...even when the recipe instructs me not to. Don't you hate when that happens?
 This particular morning, Terrill allowed Janet & Lemu to eat their breakfast (porridge) while on the swing. They truly enjoyed the experience and Terrill won brownie points for the act. It's the little things.
 Almost every day we have at least one infant come into our compound. Many mothers bring their babies in search of clothes or medication. As soon as the visiting mothers arrive, my girls race outside to see who has come and try their luck at holding the babies. Sometimes the mothers eagerly hand the babies over; other times the baby stays safe and secure on the mother's back. My girls are both at the ages where they would start carrying infants around if they still lived in the villages. I think this is one thing they miss about village life. At least they can get a little 'taste' when visitors come.
 And almost every day we have kids come over for playdates. I actually prefer the kids coming to my house instead of our girls going out so I can monitor and train throughout the day. Plus, we have lots of cool stuff for the Ik kids to play with and it's a safe environment. Below are some of their best friends: Lemu, Kitella (their cousin), Lemukol, Janet and Kunume. They had dressed up and were dancing for me.
 One week in April, we were privileged to have an American friend visiting. Sam is a fellow linguist who is studying a language closely related to Ik. He & Terrill talked linguistics non-stop for hours at a time. But, I couldn't begrudge them their little pleasure and it did give me a happy husband. It's such a blessing to have colleagues! Below Sam is having lunch with us.
 Yes, she is hanging from the rafters. We have two daring and courageous girls who are willing to try anything once. Janet is naturally daring and Lemu is competitively daring. She will not be left out!
 One of our preschool activities recently was to make an animal/creature out of playdoo. It took her an hour, but she created a chicken. In case you can't see it well, it's lying on it's back with it's feet in the air. She & I were both proud of the accomplishment.
 We have also started sewing lessons; using a needle to go in and out of the felt. They haven't gotten it 'nailed' yet, but we practice. Now if I could just learn to help them when I'm not tired and worn out (and wanting to throw the sewing across the table after the tenth time of fixing it for them). Never a dull moment being a mom.
 We found this little creature in our garden. In case you can't tell, there is a camouflaged worm sitting on that leaf. I don't know what kind of species it is, but none of us had ever seen anything like it. It was a worm covered in tiny bits of leaf and twig.
 April 23: Lemu's fourth birthday. We invited a few Ik friends and cousins over. They ate rice, beans and chocolate cake. I cleaned rice, beans and chocolate cake off the floor. But they were happy, so I was happy. Lemu knew what to expect this time around because of Janet's birthday party in December. Everyone else was enthralled with our western ways. After a few more parties, they'll learn.
Lemu needed help unwrapping her baby stroller. Janet needed help not being jealous. Thankfully, these girls are wonderful at sharing. 
 During clean-up, I sent the kids outside with suckers and balloons. The balloons were gone in minutes (thorns, rocks and such in the yard). The suckers lasted an hour.
 It was a treat to have Lemu's aunt Lilly visiting us that day. She stayed to help me with clean-up and childcare. Thank God for family, be they mine or theirs.
 And that...is what happened in April. Now May is upon us and we find ourselves in Kampala. We eagerly awaiting the arrival and impending visit of Terrill's brother and sister. We also receive great news two weeks ago that I want to share. We have a court date for getting legal guardianship over the girls! May 23rd is the big day and we'd appreciate your prayers for a smooth process and good family relations. We'll need to bring five family members to Kampala to stand before a judge and give up their rights over the girls. It won't be an easy thing for any of them. But God has brought us this far, so I know He won't let us down.