Wednesday, April 30, 2008
At the orphanage the kids pray in the following manner, "hands together, eyes closed, bless our mommies, bless our daddies, bless our uncles, bless our aunties, bless the food, etc." Kade has picked this up. He prays like this, "thank you for the day, bless our uncles, bless our daddies, what else (Tim: bless our mommies), bless our mommies, what else (Tim: bless our aunties), bless our aunties, what else (Tim: amen), amen."
Rather than the normal general prayer, tonight Melody prayed specifically for each of her aunties from Amani she could remember. She prayed, "Bless our aunties, bless auntie Arielle, bless auntie Renee, bless auntie Rachel, etc." It was very sweet and showed the impact these volunteers have had on her short little life. Thanks.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
As you can see, Mia has become a diva. She is so cute and has a lots of fun. She wanted to dress this way so that we could go to the mailbox. She enjoys all of her toys and constantly points out to us that she is going to "her house" when we are on our way home.
Monday, April 28, 2008
The kids sleep really well. They go to bed around 8pm each night and usually fall asleep relatively quickly. Unfortunately, however, Kade wakes up around 530am and immediately jumps in bed with Joey and Mia to wake them up and play with them. This inevitably leads to Leala and I having to wake up and attempt to marshall the three of them back to bed so they can get a little more sleep. That doesn't work very well so the days now begin a little earlier than before.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
As Melody said many times today, she is coming to America. We finally made it through the passport office! Amazing it was done without bloodshed. "Made it through" still comprised two hours and one person going above and beyond to demand the passport be personally delivered to him at the front office. We received it and Melody spontaneously began yelling that we had the "passcort" and that she was coming to America. People were looking at her laughing and enjoying her joy. She wanted to tell everyone. We called mommy leala and Melody told her the same news. I took the phone back only to have it grabbed from my hand by Melody as she wanted to show mommy a helicopter (she called it a plane) that was flying over.
We thanked those that helped us and proceeded to the US embassy. At the embassy the consular representative said that he should be able to get the visas for us tomorrow and in time for us to fly home as scheduled. What a blessing and answer to prayers. We received a text message later in the day that the consular representative wanted to meet with us around 1130am on Friday presumably to give us the visas. He did not indicate anything was out of order in the paperwork and it looks like we will get the visas, have a quick weekend of packing and preparing to leave, and fly out Monday.
Our driver's name is Abdullah. Abdullah is a very nice man. He asked me today about my house in America. We had pictures to show Melody so that she could become more acquiainted so I showed him those pictures. He queried why there were no gates or courtyards on any of the houses in the pictures. He asked me, "Do you not have thieves in America?" To which I responded, "Oh we have thieves in America." He thought for a second and then asked, "Do you have mzungu (white person) thieves?" Of course I said "yes." He erupted in laughter and giggling in utter disbelief that we had mzungu thieves in America. We had a great laugh about it.
Tomorrow we will proceed to the embassy hopefully for visas. At that point, it is as sure a deal as it can be in Uganda. When we returned from the embassy, everyone was so excited. The mamas congratulated us and hugged us repeatedly. When Melody said goodnight to me, she gave me a hug and didn't want me to give her back to the volunteer to put her to bed. That was a great feeling as it was the first time that she wanted to stay with me. Joey was a pleasure today. He walked with me, held my hand, went to me when Ditte told him to, and even laid his head in my lap and gave me a hug when I was trying to get him to slap me five. Things could not be better right now. . . amazing what 24 hours can do in Uganda.
As always, your support and encouragement is appreciated. This would have been so much harder, if not impossible, without all of you. Thanks. Congrats to Todd and Jenny on leaving Uganda with two kids in tow.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
On Monday we started at the US embassy to try to get the paperwork going. We were not able to wait long enough to meet with the consular representative and had to move on to the wonderful passport office. Once there we waited to meet out contact who had been helping us on Friday. To pass the time we played games such as: count how many times you are called mzungu (white person); see how many ants are crawling on you at one time; count how many people are staring at you at any one time; guess how many weeks it will take to get your passport; etc. In all seriousness, we had a wonderful lady help us on Friday who is very high ranking in the NGO office and with rank in the entire compound we were in. We did not have much direction on where to look for the passport applications and were told to leave and come back at 2pm. We decided to use this time to go back to the embassy.
We went back to the embassy and were told that we could see the consular representative at 2pm. (Note what time we had to be back at passports) They told us that if we could be back by 245pm we could see him but, otherwise, it would have to be the next (Tuesday) afternoon. We went to lunch and proceeded to the passport office at 2pm.
At the passport office we were told to come back at 3pm. We left to hurry to the embassy.
We arrived at the embassy and were eventually able to meet with the consular representative. He had briefly looked over our paperwork and told us that our files and that our rulings were fine. He told us that our attorney needed to include supplemental language in the future but that the rulings we had were fine. GREAT NEWS!!!! That was what I was afraid would be the hold-up. Apparently I had never considered the passport office. Thus we traveled back to the passport for our third visit of the day.
Once at passports we began speaking to anyone that would talk to us, begging for assistance, and trying to track down our files. It is really frustrating when someone directs you to speak to someone, you speak to them, and they yell at you for speaking to them. I cannot begin to count how many times my conversations began with "so and so told me to come and see you. I have no idea why. I cannot tell you how they are. I don't know what you do or who you are and I have no idea what I am doing right now. Can you please help me?" Eventually we were connected with the head of the front office. He was a very helpful man that was able to finally tell us that Melody's file was ready for printing but they could not find Joey's. We were to come back on Tuesday.
Now for Tuesday.
Obviously we began at the passport office at 11am because that is when our contact was set to arrive. Our contact has heart problems so she is unable to walk up and down the hill that we traversed many times, but her assistant, who had been out the prior few days, was in and was at our beck and call. We started out speaking to people about our passports, picked up Melody's for which there was much ooing and ahing from Melody and Joey, and had our newfound friend begin searching for the passports. There is a person called the passport control officer. Someone must have called ahead and told him we were coming because he was rude to us each and every time. He told us the passport went through his office to the strong room. We confirmed by two separate searches it was not there. I went to speak with him again and he assured it was probably in room 6--queries. I told him it was not there either and when Ditte had inquired they yelled at her saying, "why are you bothering me?!" Our search continued.
We came back to various people many times to see if anyone had found anything, each time being assured they have never lost a passport. I beg to differ.
Eventually, after 4 hours there, Ditte suggested we speak with the legal department. We met a very nice man that told us to make a copy of our receipt showing payment, fill out a new application, and take it to my bosom buddy the passport control officer. We did just that. While we were preparing these documents we found out that the file was nowhere to be found and confirmed lost. We went to the passport control officer and I immediately explained to him that the file was nowhere to be found, legal had told us to do this, and that we had no other options. He looked over the papers, scribbled a note to confirm the file number, and sent us to another office. We went to the next person, confirmed the file number was correct and proceeded to yet another office to review our documents. This man was not so nice to begin with.
The Ugandans are wonderful people. They are generally kind, extremely giving, and for the most part meek. When they have authority, however, it seems to make them gruff, impatient, and for the most part rude. This man was initially this way. He barked at me for a response as to why I was in his office. I explained what had happened and that we had a temporary file. He asked who had reviewed it and I told him. Not one to be satisfied, he asked for the person's name--I had no idea. He said that I would need to go talk to this specific person. This is a good time for a brief sidenote on finding someone by name. They give you a first name. You find the first poor soul you can and ask for that person. They laugh and tell you there are four people with that name and begin suggesting last names, which obviously you don't know. You go in circles with them and they begin pointing you to offices of these so-named individuals. So it goes.
Back to the passport control officer. Amazingly, he approved the documents with no delay. He told our friend, however, that we would not get a passport without repaying because the bank's receipt was with the original, now lost, file. Ironically, he told her that we had to repay or find the original file. I cannot imagine how hard this must be for a poor Ugandan to make it through this process without the get the front of the line card we carry because of our skin color. We spoke with legal and he said that was ridiculous. The final place we saw that file was when it went to the strong room where the passports are printed. After this, I literally think I barely missed the step at the passport office that will take you directly to the underworld. It had to be there somewhere because it was sheer torture the entire time.
We were told to come back tomorrow to see if it had been printed. We will be back early because we have to allow time for our visas to be approved and completed.
Thank you again for all of you support and your prayers.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
At the same time this was happening, Tim was treated rather rudely by the secretary for this department. She made it clear time and time again that Tim was not going to get what he needed that day.
Tim met with the assistant and explained the situation to him. He called the lady, yelled at her for not helping Tim and told him that Tim would be there on Monday and she would help him. Tim thanked him but Ditte said that they need the letter that day. He called someone at the passport office, asked who he had to write the letter to, wrote the letter, and gave Tim a contact there that would get him through the process quickly.
The rub with all of this great news was that he had to wait for the slightly mean secretary to type the letter--no small feat of patience. He waited and treated her to some candy while they waited. She became one of the nicest people they dealt with. Tim found out she had some children and gave her fruit snacks and candy to give to her children. By the end of Tim's time in the office, she told him that she believed he would have no problems with the passport and should give anyone that complained the phone number for the man that helped him and it would be taken care of.
Also at the time Tim was trying to win over the secretary, there was a riot very near the building. The taxi (matatu) drivers were rioting because they believe the police treat them unfairly. Unfortunately, the building Tim was in was directly behind the central police station and the location of the riot. Tim heard gun shots and shot video of the riot police assembling to fight the drivers. 1 person was killed in the riots and over 50 arrested. No taxis were on the road so it made transport much easier.
Tim used the contact at the passport office, was directed to one of the main people there, was taken directly to the passport control officer, and expedited through the process. After paying for the passports--see other entry regarding bank processes--Tim went back to try to make it through the next step. He met a lady that wanted to help him and she received a confirmation that if the passports were approved, they would be issued that day. Unfortunately, they had not been approved yet and Tim was told to come back on Monday morning to continue the process with new contacts he was told to have help him through.
It is incredible that this worked out with such quick time. We were doubtful we would even get the letter before the end of next week with all the hassle that this lady was causing Tim. It has been incredible to watch God work in this process.
Thank you again for all your prayers and support.
Leala here....I am updating for Tim since he has been unable to update for a few days! On Thursday, Tim was able to distribute crocs to all of the uganda "mamas" that work at the orphanage taking care of the our kids and all of the rest! Tim said the ladies went crazy over the crocs, they were so excited!!!! One lady came up to Tim and told him she has been wanting some for a really long time and is not able to afford them. The ladies have seen them on some of the volunteers that have been at the orphanage as well as a few kids. Back in December, Tim brought a pair of hot pink ones for Melody. Melody's crocs were 2 to 3 sized too big but she loved them sooooooo much that she insisted on wearing them. After that day, every picture at the orphanage, I could easily spot my little girl b/c she was the one with the hot pink crocs that were way too big! Anyway, the women were very grateful for the shoes and it really made their day! Tim will put up some pictures as soon as he can. Thank you to everyone for helping these ladies in Africa!
The women were awed that they could try on different sizes to get a pair of shoes that actually fit. It is such a big deal to have shoes that many times they don't care if they fit. The women were able to each get a pair that fit them. You would not believe the fashion show that ensued shortly after the mamas got the crocs. It was also fun to watch grown women trade candy with one another like young school girls. I received many hugs, many thanks, and heaps of blessings for the people at my office for the most gracious gift. I can say that from my experiences here, it is likely those were the nicest things anyone had ever given these women.
Thank you to all. It is such a blessing to be able to see people with nothing so happy and thankful for things that we take for granted. It was also humbling to see these women--that have nothing--sharing the candy they were given with the orphans.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
On a lighter side. I had to pay a fee to register one of our documents. How that works in Uganda is for you to travel to a bank, pay the fee, and wait for a receipt. After I paid, I was told to sit down and wait to hear my name called. The person that was calling people's names was behind bulletproof glass, speaking quietly, and surrounded by about 25 Ugandans crammed up to the window waiting to hear their name called. I had previously been told that if you are not standing by the window you will not hear your name called. Oh how true. I stood by the window and waited. After a little while of not being able to understand a single thing that was being said, I heard my attorney's name called. I responded that he had sent me down and the woman asked for my paperwork. I handed it to her, she did something on the computer, and stated something in Lugandan. I obviously responded that I had no idea what she was saying and one of the men told me I had 20 more minutes to wait. I responded with, "5 minutes?" And was again told 20 minutes. So I stated, "Okay, 10 minutes." After waiting about 10 minutes, I handed the lady my paper again. With a frown she gruffly asked, "Have you heard your name called." I responded, "I can't really understand anything that you are saying or that is going on here. My name could have been a called a long time ago and I would have had no idea." She took my paper, handed it behind her and announced, "Find Mr. Timothy Danningah's paperwork so that he can leave." That, my friends, is the way to get your paperwork expedited in Uganda.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
The weather is nice--overcast, possibility of rain, and probably 89 degrees. The kids are doing great and have been very well behaved despite waking up at 4:30 am.
Thank you all for your prayers and support.
Monday, April 7, 2008
I can't wait to get out to Uganda to see some of our friends and get the process going. I will continue to update this blog when possible with pictures and text about what I am doing and how everything is coming together.
Thank you again for your prayers and support.