Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Looking Back: One Year Ago (Not) Today–Heading Home!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Packing up and leaving the guest house, I had a swirl of emotions.  The overwhelming one being, of course, sheer excitement of going HOME WITH OUR BABIES!!!!  At the same time, I knew I wouldn’t likely return anytime soon, and so I just wanted to memorize everything I saw.  Have I mentioned that I hate it that I couldn’t take pictures in public???

We arrived at the airport, and were a little uncertain about what we were to do.  We knew Bob would be meeting us, but last time we saw him (when we arrived here over three weeks ago), he was in a DGM uniform.  So today, when a plain clothed man came up, it took me a moment to realize that was actually Bob.

He remembered me from last time, as I was the one who tried to communicate with him…”tried” being the operative word, of course.  He asked if I still had my dictionary and I told him I did.  I fished around in my bag, found it, and showed it to him.  He took it from me, stuck it in his pocket, and said, “Thank you.  Next time I speak English.”  Um, okay. 

We gathered our things, and took off quickly for the airport entrance.  I had Blake on my front in a baby carrier, a ginormous backpack on my back, and I was pulling my carry on suitcase.  The airport parking lot wasn’t paved and I misjudged a “curb” I needed to step over.  As though it were happening in slow motion, I caught my suitcase on something and lost my center of balance.  With all that extra weight on my front and my back, I couldn’t stop myself and literally felt straight backwards.  No bending at the knees or waist, just straight up and down one minute and flat on my back the next.  Oh, I felt silly, of course, but didn’t realize until later that I did actually hurt myself.  My ankle took a beating!  Maybe that whole no pictures in public is a good thing.  There is no record of my sheer gracefulness! :)

We were very early.  Our flight was scheduled to leave at 1:50 and it was before 10:00 when we got to the airport.  We said goodbye to James and Pastor Peter and Bob took us on in.  No one was even there yet to check us in, so we just sat and waited.  Shortly after 10, the airline workers arrived, and we soon realized that to get anything done, you have to be pushy!  We went from first in line to about tenth, just because people pushed and shoved past us. 

The check-in process was maddening.  Try to imagine the most inefficient way to check a group of 8 adults and 7 children and you still can’t come close to how it actually happened.  And in the midst of it all, the power kept going off!  It was wild.  We were getting closer and closer to the time our flight was to leave.  It seriously took hours just for them to check us in and check our baggage.  (This wasn’t even waiting in a line!  This was simply them actually checking us in!)  The sad thing is, is that it was all wrong.  They hadn’t checked several of us in for anything beyond our first flight, and had our baggage all mixed around.

When they were all done with us, we had about 45 minutes until our flight.  We had to head through immigration.  They didn’t seem to happy to see us, but Bob saved the day!  He quickly explained who we were, why we had black children with us, and the guy waved us through.  We still had a check booth to pass through, and then a very intimidating man in a suit who inspected all of our documents very thoroughly.  We had been told that this is where they could tell you there are problems and take you off to a side room and let you sit for a long time (probably looking for a bribe.)  Thankfully, that didn’t happen, and we made it through just fine.

We went through some rather informal security checkpoints and then were told to sit in one large waiting room.  Anyone who was waiting for any departing flight waited in this one room.  It was wild to me that in a city of upwards of 8 – 10 million people, we all passed through one door, one man, and now one waiting room.  A flight number is simply called when it’s your turn, and you make a mad dash to get on the little trams to take you to your flight.  (Remember that they can be overbooked, so the first one on gets the seat.  Thus, more pushing and shoving!)

We sat in the seats and waited for our flight.  Of course, Blake decides this would be a good time for a blow out diaper.  I’m still barely walking from falling in the parking lot, and we didn’t want to leave to try to find a bathroom and risk missing them calling our flight.  Hubby began to change him right there.  Of course it was a giant blow out.  Of course they called our flight while Blake was naked.  So what did we do?  We took some diaper wipes, pushed the dirty diaper, dirty clothes, and icky used wipes onto the floor under our seat, threw a diaper on him, wrapped him in a blanket, and quickly headed out for our flight!  I feel bad for the person who sat there next!

There was a much more, ahem, thorough intimate touching session security check before boarding the trams.  Hubby was finished before me, and was standing there waiting when an officer told him repeatedly that he had a nice watch.  Hubby just smiled and said thank you.  I’m sure the hope was that hubby would give it to him, but nope. 

We rode our tram to the plane and went to find our seat.  Much to my surprise, there was a dude in my seat!  I started panicking, remembering what they had told us about how the flights are overbooked.  I looked at Hubby and said, “I am NOT getting off this plane!!!”  I just started pointing and telling the gentleman that that was my seat.  He kindly pulled out his boarding pass, and sure enough, it was also his seat.  A very nice French man in the row in front of us got up and gave us his seat, and told us not to worry…we’d work it all out.  He called the flight attendant and they began trying to find seats for everyone.  Praise God, the flight wasn’t overbooked, just ticketed wrong, so there were seats for us.  We were on our way home!!!!!!!

As the flight lifted off (about an hour late!), I remember looking out the window thinking that this is the last time for quite some time that Blake and Lauren will be on Congolese soil.  It made me a little sad.  I hope we can convey to them the wonderful things about their birth country. 


They did great on the flights and didn’t fuss at all.  We were a little concerned about what would happen in Ethiopia because our flight left Kinshasa so late and we were not checked in for the next leg of our trip.  The flight attendant told us we’d just have to run when we got to Addis Ababa! 

We landed in Ethiopia and I hobbled off the plane.  I had to look hysterically odd.  I could hardly walk, yet I was moving very quickly!  I was a mama on a mission!  It was difficult to figure out where to go since we didn’t know the proper gate or anything, but we found someone who could help us.  He was wonderful!  Oh, to be somewhere with good customer service again!!!  He told us not to worry, that he was also the gate agent for our flight, and he’d make sure the plane wouldn’t leave until our group all got checked in.  Thank you, Lord!!!!

After being in Kinshasa, the Addis Ababa airport almost felt like home.  It was very modern, and had shops, restaurants, restrooms, and air conditioning!  I know that when you venture away from the airport, the poverty is staggering, but this airport was night and day different from Kinshasa’s!

We made it on our flight just fine and were pleased to see that our ticketing agent not only made sure we got on the flight, but gave us each 3 seats in rows to ourselves!  We had tons of room to stretch out and lay down with the babies.  We were SO grateful!!! 

IMG_1808IMG_1809IMG_1810We settled in for the flight over the pond.  Only about 2o-some hours until we arrive home!!!!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Looking Back: One Year Ago (Not) Today–Waiting For The Letter

Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010

We started our day at Ethiopian Airlines after the worst traffic we’ve seen yet. Yesterday it rained, which we’ve learned means that people just kind of shut down. They don’t go to work or get out much, so today everyone was out in full force! We arrived at Ethiopian Air and while yesterday there was one other person besides us when we got there, today there were probably ten other people and by the time we left there were probably 30 - 40 people in there! They saw us right away, though (we were commenting that people probably thought we were rude white people, not knowing what all we had been through yesterday!) After going round and round for quite some time, they gave us the exact same tickets they had issued us yesterday. We will have to add Blake and Lauren’s lap seats when we arrive at Dulles in the States. Fine. By. Us! Everything is easier to do in the States! (Hopefully those aren’t famous last words!!) : )

We got back to the guest house around 10:30 and Barb was lying on the couch with all of the cell phones. The wait was on for the phone call from Pastor Peter that he had our DGM letters! Well, we waited…and waited…and waited…

We somewhat reluctantly (at least on my part) worked some more on packing and got just about through with that. And then we waited and waited some more. Around 4:00, Barb called James and he told her that Pastor Peter had all but one letter and he was just waiting on that last one.  I still wasn’t getting my hopes up, though. Who knows. It was just hearsay from Pastor Peter to James to Barb to us. It was really, really hard not hearing any updates all day. We were all getting a little frazzled. Poor Barb. She seemed the most nervous. She wouldn’t even eat dinner. It was our last dinner here and we were hoping to celebrate, but everyone was pretty quiet. A few of us hung out where the artist’s things are just to try to wait. One of the dads even did some doorman duty hoping to see Pastor Peter pull up with good news. It was to no avail.

A little before 7:00, Barb’s cell phone rang and it was Pastor Peter. He had all the letters!!!!! We were so excited!!! We started screaming and celebrating and Lauren and one of the other little girls both started crying. But we were just so happy!!!!!

Pastor Peter got here around 7:20. He looked exhausted. He had spent about 12 hours at DGM that day!  I asked him if he was tired and he said, “Yes!” He gave us our letters, passports, and originals and then we made plans for in the morning to catch our scheduled flight. Barb asked him if we could leave at 7 and his eyes got big and he said in his broken English, “Seven? That’s very…morning!” : ) She explained that with the big group we’d just like to have a little more time. He agreed. And he says that he’ll stay with us in the airport. We’ll see. He hasn’t for any other group. We show up and Bob from DGM helps us through, only Bob knows no English. We’d love to have Pastor Peter with us, but we’ll have to see.

I feel excited, but at the same time I’m not really sure it has sunk in that we’re leaving tomorrow to go home with Blake and Lauren! This life here is just so very far removed from our life at home. I miss the big kids very much, though, and can’t wait to see them. I think they’ll probably look huge to me. They sound much older on the phone. Overall, it sounds like they’re doing really well. I think Sarah’s had the hardest time, but I’ve only been told of a few times where she’s cried about it. Overall, I think she’s done fine, too. It will just be so very amazing to be all together!!!!! Only about 45 more hours!!!!!!  Thank you, God!!!!!!!

Looking Back: One Year Ago (Not) Today–To Go or Not To Go

Monday, Nov. 1, 2010

(Just FYI, before you read this…in Congo, it’s not enough to purchase a plane ticket to get on a flight.  Prior to your trip, you have to go in person to the airplane’s downtown office to confirm with them that you do, in fact, want the seat on their plane that you’ve already paid for.  If you fail to do this, it’s highly likely your seat will not be available when you go for your flight.  We’ve heard, as well, that even if you do this step, there is still a chance that your seat may not be available when you physically get on the plane.  We’ve been told that we just need to run like crazy and get on the plane first.  Gulp.  With that said…)

We decided to go to Ethiopian Air today. It was raining when we got up and our driver was late. When we left, though, there was no traffic and we got there around 8:20 (they open at 8:30.) There was a crowd of people outside, so we just stood outside with them, assuming they were waiting for Ethiopian Air to open. There was a security guard and he was asking me some questions. I finally understood enough French to get that he was asking if we were going on a trip with Ethiopian Air. I told him yes and asked if we wait here? (My very broken French went something like “Attendez?  Ici?  Maintenant?)  We actually had a small conversation in French and he told us to follow him. He walked us right upstairs into the Ethiopian Air office and we were the first ones they helped that day!

We were anticipating being there all day, but thankfully it only took another dad, Barb, Hubby and I about 45 minutes to do everything we needed to do. Amazing! Nothing is efficient in Congo!! So now we’re all reserved…we just need to pray we get our DGM letters today or tomorrow!! We came back home and started packing up a little.


Well, it’s later tonight and today has been another rough one. When two other parents went to Ethiopian Air this afternoon to confirm/fix their flights, one of the dads discovered that his daughter’s ticket didn’t go all the way home, but only got her to Washington, D.C. The lady then realized that she had also done our reservations wrong and that our kiddos didn’t go all the way home either. So she did the wonderful customer service thing and cancelled our lap kids without contacting us.  Seriously.  Then, when our friend called us to tell us what she was doing and put her on the phone with us, she refused to assist us today, insisting that we return again tomorrow. Oh my, morale in our group dropped very low very quickly. Right in the midst of all of this, we got a call from Pastor Peter that we’re not getting our DGM letters today. Not a fun afternoon.

But, there is a glimmer of hope tonight. Pastor Peter came and said that half the group will get their DGM letters tonight and the other half tomorrow (first he said by 10 am, then changed it to 2 pm.) We’re hoping our friend can still make her flight tomorrow, so Pastor Peter went back to DGM to get hers. I’m just praying that all of these letters will really come as planned and that we can go back to Ethiopian Air tomorrow and get this all straightened out. Hopefully we’re all on planes no later than Wednesday to head home!!!   I think we’ve all loved the experiencing of being here in country, and getting to know the beautiful people of Congo, but we are all quite ready to head back home.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Looking Back: One Year Ago Today– Out and About, Soaking Up Culture

Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010

We went to Pastor Peter’s church again this morning. Ohmygoodness, was it hot! I thought Blake was going to dissolve, he was sweating so much. We adults were, too. I enjoyed worship again but it was harder to focus, just because it was so very hot. There was no air movement in there. And some guy stood up to give a week in review and talked for about 20 minutes. Whew. Barb got up and said some nice things about how much we appreciated all the church has done for us, and also mentioned that we’re praying that we get our letters Monday so we can fly to America on Wednesday. The DGM guy was there again. He told Pastor Peter we’d get (or hopefully get? - translation differences) our letters on Monday. That’d be awesome!!! 

After we enjoyed another cold drink, we drove home and fed the kiddos. Then we sat around and talked about cars for our ever growing family. The people who run the guest house have a Hyundai H1 and that would be perfect for us, but it doesn’t look like it’s available in the States.

At 3:00, Gretchen (an American missionary) came by and took us on an outing to the Congo River. It was beautiful! I’m so glad we went. The area was super nice - it was where all the Ambassadors to the foreign embassies live. Up unto that point, we hadn’t really seen any “nice” parts to Kinshasa. We walked for a couple of miles along the Congo river and then back among the gated houses to our driver. The river is very wide. There were some dug out canoes on it – Gretchen guessed they were fisherman.

congo river walk by heedlee blogI found this photo of the Kinshasa River Walk on Google.  It really is beautiful!

There were armed guards along points of the walk. Gretchen would just walk up to them and say hello and that we were families who were adopting orphans. They’d all smile and it was no big deal. Seemed strange to me because we have had to be so cautious the whole time we’re here about telling people why we’re here. Thankfully, these armed guards didn’t have a problem with us adopting! 

On the way back to the guest house, Gretchen drove us by her home. It was nice as well, but more modest of course than the Ambassadors’ riverfront homes. I hate that we can’t take pictures. I’m hoping to get home and Google pictures of Kinshasa. Maybe someone else was more daring than us and risked it to snap some photos. : )

(I just spent way too much time looking through Google for more pictures, and I’m surprised by what I see.  There really isn’t much out there that gives an accurate picture of Kinshasa.  Here are two pics I found…one of the airport, and one of a roadside.)

a kinshasa airport

a kinshasa road

We have 23 minutes to dinner. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Probably my favorite dinner of the week. We have them all memorized now. Sun - fried chicken, Mon - spaghetti, Tues - hamburgers, Wed - pork chops, Thurs - beef and vegetables with rice, Fri - sausage/green peppers/onions, Sat - pizza. Breakfasts are Sun - cinnamon roll and granola, Mon – omelet (just an egg…no cheese or anything with it), Tues - French toast, Wed - oatmeal, Thurs – omelet (same as Mon.), Fri - pancakes, Sat - bread and cheese. Just about every lunch is rice with some sort of meat and a sauce. That got pretty old, so we’ve been skipping our lunches and eating power bars instead. 

Looking Back: One Year Ago Today–Experiencing a Congolese Village

Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010

We went to the home of a Congolese friend today.  We’ll call her Mary.  As we were walking around, lots of people asked why we had black babies, but they usually said they thought it is very good that we are adopting these orphans. One gentlemen asked if we were Mennonites and Mary told him we were Americans. He just smiled and said, “You are welcome in our country.” That really touched me.

It was neat to see where people live. Her housing was probably middle to upper middle class-ish. She, too, gave us Cokes and Fantas. The people here are so generous. When she called the driver to have him come pick us up, he said that he was stuck in traffic and couldn’t get there. She hung up the phone and said he was lying. Luckily, her husband has a car and could take us back in shifts. She talked some about politics. She thinks that Kabila is a good president. She said that she’s 46 years old and after growing up under Mobutu, who did nothing to help the country, she feels like Kabila is at least trying. It was interesting to hear her thoughts.

IMG_1777Playing soccer!

IMG_1778Kids on a slide.  Notice the slide stops a few feet from the ground.


We came back and took another nap with the kiddos. Then we hung out in the apartment with everyone, just asking random questions to start discussions. Barb had a couple of riddle/mind bender things we did. Those were fun. Pizza night! We’re always excited for that. The pizza is okay, but we like that we get quite a bit - ½ pizza per person! All of our meals are rationed and while the food is good, there’s just not as much quantity wise as what we’re probably used to. Sad but true.

We heard from Pastor Peter today that DGM doesn’t have our letters yet, but that they’re on the last step. He’s very hopeful for Monday or Tuesday. We’re trying to set plans for when we’re going to Ethiopian Air to confirm our flights and purchase the kiddos’ tickets. It makes me nervous to gamble $800 (change fees if we aren’t able to fly out as planned), but Hubby wants to go Monday morning. We’ll have to wait and see.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Looking Back: One Year Ago Today–A Day To Relax

Friday, Oct. 29, 2010

Here was our day in convenient bullet form:

  • Pretty quiet morning.
  • Said goodbye to our friend who lives in our city. She’s on her way back with her son!
  • Pastor Peter’s wife gave Blake a piece of bread. He’s only seven months old and I didn’t know how that’d work, but he just gnawed at it for a long time.  He was a hot mess.
  • Played would you rather?  Learned some funny things about our new friends!
  • We’ve been skipping lunch. We’re just kind of tired of rice w/ meat and sauce. We’re just eating the Clif bars and dried fruit we brought from home. 
  • Took a nap with the babies on our chests. Precious!
  • We went over to TASOK (The American School of Kinshasa) in the afternoon. It was a nice change of pace. We watched a soccer match. The Congolese team that they were playing didn’t have all the necessary equipment. Some played barefoot and most didn’t have shin guards.


  • After watching the game awhile we walked to a playground. It was wonderful just watching the kids play a little.
  • One of the guys played us a song on his iPhone that had us cracking up.  It’s called Business Time and it’s quite odd.  But it made us laugh. :)
  • We played tetherball and I got the giggles again. (I always get the giggles during tetherball…it’s really such an odd game.)  Hubby and I both knocked over one of the little guys. Lauren got hit in the face. After that, we decided Tetherball with babies wasn’t such a good idea.

IMG_1736IMG_1743IMG_1745IMG_1749IMG_1751IMG_1757Congolese women can carry anything on their heads.  They are amazing!

  • We played Phase 10 after our community gathering. We were cracking up. There were lots of jokes about business time, band camp, etc.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Looking Back: One Year Ago Today–Our 2nd Trip to The Orphanage

Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010

We met with Pastor Peter early this morning for him to go over our paperwork to get originals to DGM. He kept inspecting two documents very closely and finally handed one back to Hubby and told him to keep it. Hubby looked at it and it was her birth certificate. He said, “You don‘t need it?” Pastor Peter said we had two and then looked at the one in Hubby’s hand and said, “This one good.”  Then he pointed to the one in his hand and said, “This one very good.” : )

We said goodbye to some of our friends from Group 1 as they headed out for the airport and then we got in the van and headed to the orphanage where Blake and Lauren were taken again. One of the dads (I’ll call him Jake), Hubby, and I were crammed in the back of the Jeep and ohmygoodness, Jake had us rolling again. He was sitting over the bar on the side of the back seat. Not exactly comfortable.  Hubby got the privilege of riding in that spot on the way home.  I hope five kids is enough! :)

We got to the orphanage and there weren’t nearly as many children there this time as last time. That place is just very depressing. The walls are dark. There’s hardly any natural light. There is nothing for the kids to do all day. I mean nothing. There are no toys. There was one little boy just playing with the scrap pieces of wood thrown off to the side. I got a picture of nails sticking up inches away from the walkway up the stairs. It’s truly no place for a child. The mamas are sweet, and I think they’re doing the best they can (at least that’s what I want to believe), they just don’t have much at all.

While we were there, though, we ran into a Swedish lady named Jane. She has been supporting the orphanage for almost 10 years. She was there now because she bought them a bus that they can use to earn income. She was so happy to meet us and she had tears in her eyes as we introduced our kids and told her why we were there. I pray God will use her to do great things for those precious children.

I picked up and held a couple of little ones. They just seem so lifeless. There is no expression to their faces. Their bodies are covered in bug bites or skin irritations of some sort. Their clothes are filthy. It absolutely breaks my heart both for these children, but also to know that Blake and Lauren lived that life for awhile before God brought them to us. No child should have to live like that. It’s really hard to visit for 30 minutes when you know that you’re leaving soon and going back to a comfortable life, but these kids have no escape. God, be the Father to the Fatherless.

IMG_1679IMG_1690IMG_1696The kitchen.

IMG_1699Blake was scared of anyone with something on their head.  He’d act terrified if I got out of the shower and had my towel wrapped on my head. : (


After the orphanage, we headed home and ate some of our snacks for our lunch. We gave the kiddos baths (which they HATE!) and took showers ourselves and then tried to Skype home. We got to talk to Hubby’s mom. The connection wasn’t great, but it was great to talk with her. Then we fought and fought the stinkin’ thing to get in touch with the kids and it just wouldn’t work. Finally Hubby found the lady who runs the guest house and we were able to use the internet phone to call home. Oh, it was so sweet to hear the kiddos’ voices. We miss them so much. They’re having a great time, though, with Gaga and Papa and seem to be doing really well.

After that, we hung out with the group in David and Barb’s apartment playing truth, truth, lie and asking all sorts of favorites, what would you do kinds of questions…what super power would you have, what spot would you sail to, what do you want to do before you die, etc. etc.  Funny quote of the day came from one of the moms,“We’re all adults here…except for the kids.“ : ) We count down all day long for meal times. They’re like the highlight of our days. Tonight at dinner we got to try Fu Fu. It’s made of some kind of flour and water and really had no taste. While I didn’t really care for it, I’m glad we got to try it.

After dinner we had a pretty short community gathering and then headed upstairs to watch a movie. The husband of the lady who runs the guest house had a pretty sweet setup with a projector on a screen. They made popcorn for us and we watched Bolt. Lauren was falling asleep and Blake was pooped, so we didn’t get to watch the whole thing, but it was a nice change of pace.  A little touch of home.  Popcorn and a movie!

**It was suggested that perhaps I should explain why we’re dressed the way we are.  To respect the Congolese culture, the ladies wore long skirts and the guys wore khaki pants and usually long-sleeve shirts.  Yes, it was very hot.  And yes, we make quite the fashion statement.  I found my lovely skirts at Goodwill.  I knew I’d be leaving them behind, so I just took what they had!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Looking Back: One Year Ago Today–Just a Few Things

Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010

A bulleted list for the day:

  • Group 1 got their DGM letters! I’m so excited for them, and encouraged to see that the process does happen the way it’s supposed to! 
  • We played lots more Bananagrams today, and took care of babies while group 1 was at Ethiopian Air getting their flights home arranged.
  • Jason and I got in our first disagreement here, but we worked it out this evening. I guess one disagreement in this stressful of a situation isn’t bad. : ) I’m so glad we have each other to go through this journey together.
  • I finished my Adopted for Life book.  I found it really encouraging, especially after reading some adoption books that ironically don’t seem very pro-adoption!  It did an excellent job of explaining the Biblical view of adoption, and how adoption is a beautiful example of how God chose us (out of nothing of our own doing!) to be his own children.  I loved it!

Here’s some cute pictures from the day:


I guess that Lauren didn’t like getting kisses from her buddy.  : )

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Looking Back: One Year Ago Today–Another Orphanage Visit

Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010

Pastor Peter came early to go through our documents for DGM. He was going through our stuff and asked Hubby for one particular form for Lauren. He looked through the stuff the Embassy gave us, but there wasn’t one.  In fact, we had never seen one for her.  Pastor Peter looked very concerned and got out his phone to make a call. We were so nervous. Here we were, thinking we were all set and then there’s a document missing. He hangs up the phone and says that she doesn’t have one. We were gearing up for more hurdles, and feeling more tummy flip flops, but then he says, “Not a problem. She doesn’t need it.”  Evidently, because of the way her birth certificate was created, we don’t need that other form. Whew. That was close. Thank you, Lord!

That afternoon, we headed out of town a little to visit another orphanage.  It was not easy to get there. It was quite a long drive and we had to go down some very narrow dirt roads. At one point there was only one lane carved out of some hills. At two different points on that road, there were other cars coming and we had to back up the entire road to let them through before we could go! But, getting out to Jean Marie’s where there was fresh air, some green spaces, and some pretty views was wonderful. We had seen so much of the dirty city, and it was a blessing to get to see the true natural beauty of Africa.


I’m so glad we were able to go Jean Marie’s.  The kids are well cared for there and loved. It’s a medium-sized orphanage (maybe 50 or 60 kids?) and Jean Marie treats them like family.  None of the children there have been placed for adoption.  When we first got there, there weren’t very many kids there because they were at school, but soon they started trickling in. They were very shy and reserved, but once I got out the beach balls I brought, they began acting more like kids. The totally sweet thing is that they sang for us and prayed a blessing for us. They were very appreciative of all we brought - the books, the balls, the food, etc.


The children are well loved, and you could feel the difference between this orphanage and the one that Blake and Lauren were taken to, but this orphanage has so many needs.  Our group was able to do some painting a few days ago and we were working on finding mattresses for them.  This is what the children sleep on.  : (


I waved at one little girl and she came over by me. She didn’t leave my side after that. I asked her what her name is and she told me Claire. I told her my name and I just put my arm around her and rubbed her shoulder and arm. She didn’t really smile much, but wouldn’t leave. I had James ask her how old she was and she said 7. I told her I had a 7 year old at home, and everyone seemed shocked that I had other kids. I told them that Blake and Lauren made 5 kids and they were so surprised and kept telling me how great I was. That always makes me feel awkward.  I said that we just love kids.


It was time for us to go and Claire and I walked out together. I told her that she was very pretty (I wanted to say so much more, but my French didn’t go very far.)  I gave her a squeeze and then we had to go. She smiled at me and then stood by our Jeep. They all were out there just waving goodbye. I just pray the Lord watches over them and meets all of their needs. Especially Claire, God. I got tears in my eyes as we left.


The rest of our afternoon we hung around MPH, playing some games, looking at each other’s family pictures from home, and finding each other on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Looking Back: One Year Ago Today–We Have Visas!

Monday, Oct. 25, 2010

Blake woke up happy!!!! This is a big thing for him.  He definitely has some food issues and usually wakes up screaming bloody murder until he gets his bottle.  Today, we saw some definite improvements, though!

It was our day to head back to the Embassy to pick up Blake and Lauren’s visas.  We were expecting it to be a smooth process, but of course we were there for 3 hours!  At the end of the day, though, it is what it is.  We got what we needed and that’s all that matters!  Praise God, we have their visas!!!!!

Just a couple other interesting moments today:

1.  We headed to the market that is just down the block from the Embassy and were entertained by some interesting chip selections!  They’re normal brands we have here in America, but some super odd flavors (of course I didn’t journal what the exact flavors were, and now a year later I can’t remember!)

2.  While driving through the city today, our driver’s door kept coming open!  I can’t imagine how freaked out I’d be if my door flew open while I was driving down the road!  He just kept slamming it shut, and then drove with his left elbow out the window to try to stabilize it.  It was wild.  Thankfully, he didn’t fall out or anything terrible like that!

3.  We saw Mama Grace again today at the Embassy.  She held Lauren for a short time, but Lauren was sobbing. As soon as she went back to Hubby, she stopped crying.  Pastor Peter said in English, “She reject old mama.”  I felt terrible for Mama Grace, as I know she loves Lauren, too, but at the same time, that was a good sign for attachment with us and we were grateful that she feels so comfortable with us so soon.  (That, and Pastor Peter just makes us smile.  He does a great job with his English and it is just adorable to hear him speak.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Looking Back: One Year Ago Today–Church and Another Orphanage

Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010

It was a good day! Hubby was feeling better and I didn’t feel as nauseous as last week after taking my antimalarial, so we got to go to church as a family. It was an awesome time of worship! I had tears in my eyes, just thinking about how this was a glimpse of heaven when we’ll all worship together, from every nation, tribe, and tongue. David did a blessing for Pastor Peter and I cried through that, too. 

It was different from American church – hardly anyone was there when service started and the entire time people just trickled in.  They worship with freedom – hollers, whistles, dancing, clapping.  It was awesome.  Their offering time was truly joyful, as well.  They all walk (or dance) up to the front to put their offering in one or more of several different offering baskets (one for men, one for women, one for children, one if you are thankful for something, etc.)  It was very hot in there, and the benches are far from the cushy seats we all think we need in our American churches, yet you won’t see them complain.  They did a receiving line afterwards, and it was cool to greet everyone. They treated us as honored guests, providing us with resin chairs and having us sit in the front, as well as  insisting on giving us all cold Cokes or Fantas after the service. The Congolese are some of the most generous, giving, serving people I’ve ever met!

IMG_1565IMG_1566IMG_1571Blake and Lauren were quite popular!

IMG_1576The men sat on the right, the children in the center, and the women on the left.


At one point when I was standing in the back of church with an antsy baby, for curiosity’s sake, I counted the people there. There were 79 including our group. We found out after church that one of the head guys of DGM was there. What are the odds!?!? God is so cool! The guy said he’d get our stuff done on Tuesday. We are hopeful and optimistic, but ultimately trusting God, not men.

We had lunch and then sat around hoping to go to another one of the orphanages. We sat in the sitting area and shared about all of our church backgrounds, which was cool to hear how God has worked in so many lives. We were able to go to Mama Ruth’s orphanage. It was a million times nicer than the orphanage Blake and Lauren were in. It felt more like a family home and there were no more than a dozen kids living there. We had a meeting with the lady that runs it – she’s a widow. She was very appreciative of the gifts we brought. We asked her  if we could hang out with the kids and she said that we could. They were not as ready to play with us as the kids at the other orphanage. Some were downright scared. There were two little boys that we tried to play hide/chase/tag with. One of the boys really got into it. There was an older girl (maybe 16?) there who was beautiful. I thought she was working because she always had a baby with her, but I found out that she’s an orphan, too. Heartbreaking. I had James translate to tell her that she had a beautiful smile. She just blushed and grinned. Precious soul.

IMG_1584IMG_1586IMG_1591IMG_1593Here’s the sweet girl I mistook for a caregiver.  I didn’t get a picture of her smiling, but she could light up a room.  I pray for her future…I don’t know what will happen to her once she “ages out” of the orphanage.

IMG_1594IMG_1599Trying to get him to play.

IMG_1600I ran around all silly and played tag with Hubby and then the boys followed suit.

IMG_1601IMG_1602 He busted out into some cartwheels.  He’s so stinkin’ cute!

We headed back then to our Sunday night fried chicken dinner at the guest house. Yum. That’s my favorite of the week. We played more Bananagrams, too, which is always lots of fun. We’re excited for tomorrow! (We are picking up their visas and possibly starting the DGM process, the last step before we can bring them home!) Praying it goes well!  Blake fought sleep again tonight for about thirty minutes, the little stinker. : )  I guess he just loves us so much he wanted to spend more time snuggling and walking the halls with us!