Saturday, November 29, 2008

Day 6 - Photos

Day 6 - If you were going to watch a movie...

Let's just say you had a free evening after a long day. Let's just suppose.
Let's just say you promised to watch a movie with one 'said' orphan who you were in the process of trying to adopt.
Are you still with me? Just nod if you want to hear where this is going. Okay. Thanks.
So, let's just continue to say that I was going to be a good dad and sit down after a long african hot day and watch any movie that this child wanted to watch. What movie do you think she would choose? Lion King? Brought it, but, "Nope." Madagascar? Negative. Beauty and the Beast? It would have been a fitting title for the two of us, but she didn't pick it. What did she pick, you may ask...

Stuart Little.

Have you seen that movie? She said it was her favorite. I thought I had seen it until we're sitting there with her head on a pillow on my lap and I see the premise of the movie! I'll admit, raising three girls that there are a lot of movies that I have 'kinda' seen. This was obviously one of them! For some reason at the last minute I threw it in and sure enough she loves it. "What is it about?" you may ask. It's about a mom and dad that go to an orphanage looking for a child to adopt and pick a mouse, named "Stuart Little." Then the rest of the movie is about this little adopted orphan mouse trying to figure out how to fit into his new 'family'.

I couldn't believe it. I just had to laugh and watch the movie with her. She especially enjoyed the scene of the adopted orphan mouse trapped in the 'spin cycle'. I couldn't tell exactly why she loved the movie so much, but much of the movie Stuart muses that he is living a 'fairy tale' and can't believe it. I think she shares those sentiments...almost as much as we do.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Day 5 - Every man deserves his day in court.

Day 5 – Every man deserves his day in court.
I’m going to cut right to the chase. If you want a definitive explanation of our day you must read my wife’s blog. She killed it. I will not attempt to recreate the wheel that she already got rolling.
All I would like to do for a moment is paint a picture of where I now sit. If you know me well, this may make you smile.
First off, I’m in Africa.
Secondly, I stole a cold Pepsi from the fridge downstairs. (Lord, tomorrow I will find out whose it is and pay them back…I promise.) I am enjoying that beverage, after a very long hot day, immensely. I will say though that Pepsi in Africa is a bit sketchy.
Third, I’m sitting a top the guest house veranda on a wicker couch with a cat that decided to become my very close friend. The sound of crickets and sirens exchanging songs like that of peace time and tribal war that this country knows all too well. I sit half way between Lake Victoria and Kampala. The birth place of the Nile River that God plagued for His people’s freedom and a city ravaged by HIV and an even more prevalent killer that comes on the wings of a mosquito.
Are these epidemics Modern plagues of judgment or God’s megaphone for mercy? You tell me. This land has had more evil dictators than Egypt. (I saw Idi Amin’s house today.) Yet, I don’t sense God’s judgment here. I see opportunities for mercy. (Okay, I’m back I had to kill a mosquito on my arm. Don’t want to take any chances. Where was I?) Oh yeah, 20,000 people for every doctor. Half the population has access to clean drinking water. Justice for the rich, malaria for the poor. Yet the fingerprints of God are all over this land.
I had an illuminating moment talking to my friend Henry today. I mentioned to him that I saw his King’s house today. (there is a “king” of Uganda) He looked startled and said, “He’s not my King!” As if to say that role of “King” was already taken by the Messiah. I laughed it off and then thought how much happier many ‘post election’ Christians would be if they thought the same way.
I’ll wrap this up before I get myself in trouble.
Every man deserves his day in court, so the saying goes. I had mine today with Tracy sitting on my left and one of my heroes Juliet Hatanga sitting on my right. I could watch the lips of Tracy’s grandmother praying during the entire proceeding. Our attorney presented our case and the judge scribbled out her ruling as fast as she could write. We will hear her ruling on December 4th, which is Wednesday. We’ll come back to the courthouse and listen to the ruling be read out loud. Some of you may know that December 4th is my birthday. How crazy is that? This whole journey is beyond me in so many ways.
The lights of Uganda flicker beneath me from Lake Victoria to the capital. The cat woke up to chase a gecko. My Pepsi is almost gone. I’ve read my fill of N.T. Wright for the evening and I’m listening to some Bruce (not Springstein or Willis).
The cat is back and I’m needing to sleep. This has been a perfect day. Not without suffering. Not from getting my own way. Perfect from realizing what’s truly valuable. It was a masterpiece of finding the Kingdom alive in unsuspecting places. It’s everywhere. As we rise to the dawn chorus of Jesus let us practice resurrection in the way we love and live.
He is risen when the orphan is loved, when friendship is shared, when we quench the thirst of another in service, when the elderly heard, when His song is sung in you. He is risen.
Thanks for being my friend.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The internet is very slow, so I'll just post one small photo.

A couple of pictures for the end of our special day.

Day 4 - A Thanksgiving to Remember

Our ride should be here any minute, but I wanted to give a quick update that we received a wonderful invitation today.  We knew that we would be briefing for our court appearance tomorrow, but we just found out that Tracy would be there and gets to spend the night with us tonight!  You should have seen the look on Tanya's face.  Priceless.  
We're off to the Courthouse to meet with our attorney and Juliet.   Truly a day to be thankful.  
One quick prayer request.  I think my sinuses got really dried out on the airplane trips.  I'm not sure, but my head brain and sinuses feel like they want to be on the outside of my skull.  
Its not going to hold me down, but I'd rather not be affected by it.  Thankful to you and thankful for you today.  Check back for some pictures...
Happy Thanksgiving.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day Three - Hope

Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Day Three – What happened to Tuesday?
I open my eyes to a new day. The sun is about to rise on the continent of our hope. 
Hope, it’s a wonderful thing isn’t it? You don’t realize it’s value until you’ve lost it.
I’ve been challenged with a thought this past year. Here it is. Your faith can only be as big as your hope. For faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen, the writer of the book of, “Hebrews” tells us.
"Hope" has also bounced around a family conversation as the girls have bantered back and forth. Tessa, Alacia, and Emmy all have significant ‘nouns’ as middle names. I have heard them throwing around the idea of making sure their new sister receives a similar name. Tessa’s middle name is Joy, Lacey’s is Grace, and Emmy’s is Faith. It moved me when I heard them discussing the idea of wanting Tracy to carry a ‘sister’ middle name of, “Hope”. As far as I’m concerned Dad is still making the change from “Esther” so I’m not in a big hurry to complicate things any further! But, I’m willing to entertain the idea…
It’s 7:30am and we’re somewhere over Ethiopia. The African nation that first captured my attention and conscience in the mid-eighties. It was a nation and a season in which so many simply had to ask is there not something that we can do? I can remember speaking of the famine, that was ravaging much of that beautiful country, as my Senior project in speech class in high school. I can still hear my stereo playing, “We are the We World.” Somebody tell me you remember that! We all believed we could do something and should do something.
It’s time to land. I always love the feeling that I have right before I land in a new country. It's the feeling of uncharted water and a road less travelled. I want you to share that feeling with me this morning. How big is your hope? I pray that in the midst of the land of our suffering that our hope will spring eternal. I pray hope becomes our middle name as we walk these dusty roads together.
I’ve been informed that it’s time to “properly stow my carry on items and return my seat to the upright position”. So, I’ll leave you with the lyric that plays in my ears from the U2 song coincidentally titled, “Window in the Skies”.
The shackles are undone
The bullets quit the gun
The heat that’s in the sun
Will keep us when there’s none
The rule has been disproved
The stone it has been moved
The grave has become a groove
All debts have been removed
Oh can’t you see what Love has done and what it’s doing to me?
Love left a window in the skies...and to love I’ll rhapsodize.

To hope,


Day Two - Where am I and why is it dark out?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008 –
Thanks to the time zone changes, (11 of them) I have no idea what happened to Tuesday. I’m just going to go ahead and look forward to finding it somewhere along the trip home.


Day One - Chasing the Dawn

Chasing the Dawn
Monday, November 24, 2008
Day One: For the last year I’ve envisioned the possibility of this day. The vision of a fourth daughter. Not of biology, but of destiny. Not of genetic planning, but of seeming prophetic longing. It seems like Tracy Esther Nakayiza was born in the midst of a continent in crisis to be a part of a family that knew it needed her to be what God had called them to be.
After checking in to a quiet airport around 6:17pm er so, (not that I was watching the clock) we sat down for a bite to eat. By the way, thanks again for the ride dad. It had been a hectic day of parent/teacher conferences, last minute errands, and even scrubbing the shower. Lord knows you have to clean up a bit when the house sitters are coming over! But after watching half of Lacey’s first soccer game, racing off to the airport after emotional good byes to the kids, it was good for Tanya and I to just sit down and talk. We reminisced about how we got to this point of imminent departure. We joked about how insistent Tanya was with me from the moment Tracy left our house about the possibility of adopting that little girl. She had stolen our heart and somehow smitten our girls. It wasn’t as if we felt stricken with sympathy nor smitten with child celebrity – it was just as if she belonged and we weren’t sure how to move on without her. We’d hosted Choir children before, it was different. Five concerts later and a long road trip to Eugene we weren’t sure what our girls were going to do without Tracy in their life. A lot of consoling and Kleenex led to a fateful conversation on a cold January night with Uncle Henry. The rest is, as they say, history.
But tonight in row 26 seat F with Tanya already konked out next to me, I feel emotionally suspended. One the one hand, I feel expectant, globally conscious, full of hope and adventure. I feel as if I’m about to reveal the punch line of a great story that will cause the face of God to smile. On the other hand, I feel vulnerable to failure and disappointment. Slightly fearful of the unknown and wondering if I’ve pushed the whole, “I can do all things” through Christ who strengthens me thing a bit too far. I know God’s grace will be sufficient, because it always has been.
If you are interested enough in my rantings as I would record them throughout this journey I ask only one thing. Be patient with me. I’m going to be honest and transparent. It may make you uncomfortable at times. Know that my authenticity is not for your sake, but mine. 20 years ago I landed on the “dark” continent in search of Light. I return 20 years later no less inquisitive. As a young man I was hungry to test God and my beliefs in the context of human suffering and personal crisis. To tell you the truth, not much has changed. In 1988 I had hard questions for God and I was all too ready to jettison philosophical and theological baggage that I deemed to be weighing my journey down. I was ready to travel light with a self-confidence fitting of a young man. In 2008…I have more questions of myself as I look in the mirror. Like, “Where did that wrinkle come from? I never noticed it before!” (Can anyone relate?) I also have other questions of slight more levity. Such as, “Am I still hungry for the dreams that I had twenty years ago? Am I the father and husband I want to be? Am I acquiring the life knowledge and proficient skill to be the disciple of Jesus that I want to be?” In life its so easy to lose focus. Focus about what matters most, who matters most.
Why do I bring this up? Because Africa focuses me. It’s been a mirror for my soul throughout my life. Not just a mirror of my present reality, but a rear-view mirror that has brought my past into focus. It’s also been a painful mirror that I have been able to hold out at an angle to peer around the corner to see what was about to befriend me as well as betray me. But that’s another story altogether.
Since my grandfather brought home a brass souvenir of the continent of Africa when I was a child, Africa filled my dreams. As I grew, I dreamt of going to a place that only filled my imagination. As it grew to fill my heart my time in Kenya defined me as a young man. As I returned in 1995 it was a foreshadowing of new dreams and painful realities. Now, tonight, I write with hope. I am deeply appreciative and entrenched in your friendship and grateful for your overwhelming support. (By the way, the concert/dessert last night was really fun!) Tanya and I don’t feel alone tonight. We feel wrapped in community. We wish our girls were with us more than anything, but we know they are in good hands and we’ll be home soon enough. (Not soon enough for Emmy, mind you.)
It’s time to wrap this up. I’m starting to fade. But at the same time I don’t want to sleep. How can I? In just a few hours we’ll escape the darkness of night and somewhere over Iceland we’ll be chasing the dawn. Maybe that’s why I enjoy living my life so much with you. I feel like that’s what pushes me on. We have such an opportunity in our lives and community together. Thank you for allowing us in to your lives and for risking to be a part of ours.
We are all chasing the dawn,