Monday, October 24, 2011

Children adjusting

It's been so interesting for us, as parents, to watch various stages of adjustment in our children.

The baby doesn't care where he is. If he can nurse and play, he adjusts without any problems. He sleeps eventually and just shows his insecurity during change by being clingy and not sleeping through the night yet again. ('sigh!')

Grace, 7 and 1/2, is fairly mature socially and understands the changes and transitions. Since she is nonverbal, we don't know what is going on inside her often, BUT she needs more hugs, snuggles, and kisses, more daddy rough housing play time, and is more picky with the textures that she can or cannot chew and swallow efficiently. She has been quiet, tired, and not as social with strangers as she usually is. She has started throwing major tantrums again when she sees me wear Noah on my back as she wants to be on my back too. She had grown out of that lately but now that back-riding-jealousy is back in full force. She seems to be taking it all in stride besides those few little struggles.

Ana, 3 and 1/2, has been a very interesting case. We have been on the road and unsettled for months so her questions about "home" have been interesting for some time. For a while the children were most "settled" in their carseats - as if carseats represented home to them in the midst of all the commotion and time on the road. In fact, they got into their carseats for the first time today since we finally retrieved them all from the airline, and all three kids settled right into their seats with a satisfied little smile!

Ana has been looking forward to moving to Uganda for so long and all of her short life has been a preparation to move here. (We did candidate school with our mission board when she was 9 months old) So she has all kinds of fantastical beliefs about life in Uganda, such as, "I'll have a kitty cat in Uganda! I'll have a little sister who likes pink in Uganda! etc etc" (fascinating!!!! ;-P)

Now that we're here, she alternates between, "I love Uganda!" and "we're not in Uganda." It doesn't help that we're still in Kampala and have yet to reach our home in the north. Continent/country/city... not a 3 year old concept quite yet! She has been outgoing, more fearless than she was in the USA, but also more tearful, more hyper, more rambunctious, more disobedient... You can see her processing all these new experiences in her own little ways as she reconciles the reality of this life with her dreams of Uganda. She's at a great age for doing this, as her dreams fade oh so quickly and this is her reality. She misses "all my friends" but doesn't pine for friends and family, but rather lives for right now and is satisfied with emails, skype, and stories of her loved ones... if only we could all be that trusting and simple!

Our children are adjusting so well during this rather chaotic week that we have experienced. They are all individuals, all different ages and different comprehension levels. Every child will adapt at their own pace and we anticipate different and new struggles at different times for each child. But what a joy to experience and realize that our children ARE LIVING IN AFRICA!!! :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Longer update

Our trip to Uganda could NOT have gone smoother - we made our connection; our baggage cost a lot, but we thought it would; the BA staff was extremely helpful with our complicated travel situation and we had extra seats to spread out and sleep! Praise God! On arrival to Uganda, we made it down the stairs from the plane onto the tarmac. Gracie managed to stay in an adult folding wheelchair that the airport had until we could get her fold-up chair off the baggage belt (they don't provide it right at the aircraft doorway!). We made it through passport control without problems. Ana was about at the end of her rope with fatigue so she could no longer handle her little rolling suitcase and then just went wild, running around in circles!

Josh rounded up some porters to help gather our many bins off the belts... 7 items were missing. The baby's carseat came through but the girls' didn't. I praise God that the most important carseat made in on the first day! We spent an hour filling out paperwork to retrieve our luggage and finally emerged to find the Robinettes waiting for us patiently with a lovely "Welcome Rattins!" sign - how sweet!

Josh went through some adventures getting the lost luggage, but 4 days later, ALL pieces of luggage are now in our possession (yes, including the double stroller and Gracie KidWalk and Wheelchair)! NOT BAD! Thank you, Lord!

We've been in Uganda since Wednesday. Wednesday was a blur of tortured exhaustion but we are so glad that we pushed through and stayed up until after dinner. That has made jet-lag so much more manageable. We are all sleeping at night. Our only problem is that we are still so tired that we are sleeping in very late into the morning so we're starting to set an alarm to get ourselves out of bed in the morning.

On Thursday, we spent part of the day with fellow ACTION missionaries who are stationed in Kampala. They focus on street children (mostly Karamojong), pastoral training, a radio ministry, itinerant preaching, and many other ministries. They have been a huge blessing to us in our initial days here and we're quite glad to have had time to become friends with them during these days!

Friday, we sat at "home" and rested. The weather is quite lovely (75-85 degrees, humidity 46-71%) so a nice transition for us till we go up to Gulu which tends to be 10-15 degrees F hotter (per a Gulu missionary). By December/January, the temperature will exceed 100 so we're gearing up to that!

Saturday, our fellow ACTION missionary from Gulu joined us. What a lovely day with her! She has 4 years of experience in Gulu and has been running the vast and varied ministries for the last 15 months on her own in the absence of our field directors who were in the USA for health care. What an amazing woman! Pray for rest and refreshment for her and smooth transitions for our field directors who are now back in Gulu and the Ugandan staff who are adjusting to all the changes while keeping the ministries running.

Today, Sunday, we are having our own family devotions at the guesthouse. The children are still showing some signs of stress - Gracie is quiet, not eating well, and not drinking enough liquid yet; Ana (although incredibly adorable in her exploration of Africa) is hyper and misbehaving; and Noah can't quite figure out when to nap and is exploring new found freedoms. They are overall doing fantastic but need some quiet time with mom and dad and some focused time where we can provide some security, routine, and train as needed. Gracie has NOT had any seizures; we have had little colds but seem to be getting over them. God is so good! :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nice internet!

We have excellent internet here in Kampala at the guesthouse, so we're taking advantage of it while we have it!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In Uganda!

Well, we're here! I'm writing some reflections on the patio at Adonai House in Kampala, Uganda on about 4 hours of sleep spread thinly over the last TWO nights and days... talk about tiredness and jet-lag! The children are reacting to jet-lag with hyperactivity and a general crazy fast-paced delirium. Mom and Dad are bumps on a log feeling tortured by the children.

Our trip to Uganda could not have gone smoother. The attendants and ticket agents with British Airways were more than accomodating to us with our insane amount of luggage and unique travel needs. We ended up on less than full flights which meant that we got extra seats!! Those of you who have traveled with a lap infant (or any aged child) know that an extra seat or two is invaluable for sleep and general peacefulness. Praise God for extra seats on both flights!

We made our connection in Heathrow without any difficulty despite having to go through security again (surprise!) and take how many elevators within the same terminal (surprise!). Our instruments made it even though the violin and guitar made our trip MUCH harder and got us frequent references to the Von Trapp family.

The children slept some and were overall excellent, loving the special adventure of flying on an international flight where they feed you well and have lots of TV options!

We did not receive 7 of our checked items once we arrived in Uganda: two of the carseats, the double stroller, half of Gracie's KidWalk and wheelchair (yes, one bin of the parts made it through - interesting!), and 3 more bins. There is another flight in to Uganda from London on Friday, so pray that those items arrive then!

We can't believe that we are IN Uganda finally! It feels so familiar - an interesting mix of west and east Africa - so in that sense it feels like home. But this is the trip that we have been preparing for years to take and now we're here! It is so fun to see our kids in Africa - it's not unusual or strange to them at this age, they're just here and making new friends. What a marvelous childhood!

Today, we focus on recovering and staying awake until dinner time. Tomorrow, we start our long list of things to do in Kampala before we head up to Gulu!

THANK YOU for all your kindness, generosity, and love!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My little helper

Noah got tired of helping me pack for Uganda... so a bin became his napping place!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

10 short days

After all these years of preparing, we leave for Uganda in 10 short days! Our to-do list is long and some challenges seem... well, challenging!

For instance, (and I welcome comments and suggestions!):
- how to fit Gracie's wheelchair and KidWalk into a bin/box so that no parts are lost or damaged in transit.
- what to take for Noah since our pack n' play will arrive a month AFTER we do. He's a crazy sleeper and I might need somewhere to put him to nap safely during the day so I can get things done - a PeaPod Plus?

So many unknowns and so many exciting things! :)

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