Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas 2009

Our Christmas celebration was exceptionally special this year for obvious reasons. We were so thankful to have Pamela and Innocent home to celebrate our first Christmas as a family of eight. I have no doubt that it was the prayers of the saints that brought them home. I am extremely thankful for the prayers and the emails letting me know that you were praying. Pamela is just starting to read through them and could not believe how many people wrote. It has been extremely meaningful!

Pamela was gone for 35 days, 11 hrs, and 24 minutes.

The last week in Uganda was grueling for her as she battled to get a Ugandan passport and a US visa for Innocent.

We had to buy new plane tickets when she could not keep her travel arrangements with British Air.

She spent 108 hrs getting from Uganda to Knoxville.

She was on one airplane for 25 hrs without getting off.

She was stuck in a snowstorm in New Jersey for two days.

And without a doubt, it was all worth it!

This temporary struggle for our family will change a life forever. Adoption is really an amazing thing and gives us a great picture of the Father’s love for us.

I think Pamela and I were both so tired for Christmas that it was difficult to have outward excitement to match the inner joy. She was still struggling with jet lag and I was still dealing with Mom-has-been-gone-for-5 weeks lag. I was emotionally prepared for her to be home on Dec 11th and as it lingered on (and on), I began to wear down physically and emotionally. The last few days of trying to get Pamela home were the toughest. She was already tired and the last week there was very demanding physically and emotionally exhausting. Once she was here, we kept looking at each other wondering if it was real. It just had seemed as though the journey home would never end.

All the boys were more excited to go to the airport than they were on Christmas Eve before opening presents. Collin was so excited to greet Pamela at the airport and was the first to hug her. They worked really hard while she was gone, and we had the household in good order for her arrival. We had been working diligently in the yard removing trees, trimming shrubs and raking leaves. The house was clean, and they had all played a part. We had purchased and put up Christmas decorations, including the tree. Each boy had purchased Pamela a Christmas present with his own money. I was able to replace her pearl necklace after the one that I gave her for our 10th anniversary was stolen while we served in Uganda. I believe she felt very loved and appreciated.

We have had time with all of our family over Christmas. We have had somewhere to go or people at our house everyday since their arrival. We will have to wait to rest, but are thankful for these special celebrations with family.

Everyone is doing great at home. Kai has been so sweet with Innocent and has been sharing his room, toys, and Mommy very well. They are almost identical in size, though Innocent is 11 months older. Innocent seems to be fitting in so quickly. He sleeps and eats well and acts like he has been here a long time. He is still a little timid, but it diminishes more each day. Communication is going fine, too. He understands English pretty well but does not speak fluently yet. He is obviously a bright boy and we expect that he will be speaking fluently in just a few months.

Innocent is into EVERYTHING. Pushing buttons, opening doors and drawers, flipping lights on and off, getting out every toy in the house, turning on the television, spilling juice, and activating the emergency alarm that calls the police and fire department. He is very curious and exploring his world. He is so different from Kai. Innocent is much more demanding with his messes but less demanding emotionally. We have to keep an eye on him pretty much all the time, which I wasn’t really expecting since he is four and a half years old. He obeys fairly well so it should get better soon.

I cannot imagine what Christmas would have been like if they had not been able to come home.

All of the seats at our kitchen table are occupied. The once empty bed in Kai’s room is no longer empty. Our 8-passenger Yukon is filled to capacity. Our hearts are full and our home is blessed.

It has been a very special Christmas to close out a very challenging 2009.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Kevin for the Tribe

I have posted pictures on previous blogs, too, so look through recent posts to see them all.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A few more pictures that were taken while still in Uganda. Kai and Innocent are doing very, very well. Kai has been very patient and loving. It has been a great blessing to see them together.

Sorry for the delay in posting some pictures. These are pictures from Innocent and Pamela while still in Uganda, plus some from the airport. I can only post a limited number of pictures and will update a few each day.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A few pictures from Addison's school play for chapel and of a recent fun day for the women from church that was held at our house. See pictures of Collin and Blake below.

Pictures from Collin's birthday party last weekend. His birthday is on Friday this week.

A few pictures of the boys from recent events. I can only post 5 pix per blog so I will add a few more each day. The gross picture is Blake's leg from a spider bite.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Day After April 1st

What is that old saying…fool me once, then shame on you. Fool me twice, then shame on me. Well, most of you were not fooled this time. All of the blog was true except for the pregnancy part. I thought that by posting on April 1st, it would be a clue as to the validity of it. So, I will provide you with another true tale. I promise to refrain from foolery for at least 364 more days.

A True Story
We have rats, rats, and more rats. We have battled these pests before, and I thought that we were rid of them. But alas, they have returned. I have been able to kill two, and one of them was huge. He had been living in my gas grill and storing up dog food. I opened the grill one night, and there he was. He met his end when he was met in the head with a 32-inch, 20 oz, aluminum bat that happened to be handy. I would get a cat to keep away the rats, but our dogs would kill the cat (it has happened already once). I set several traps before bedtime tonight so we can hope for success.

The biggest problem right now is that the rats appear to be nesting. When they get in this phase, they start looking for paper and/or fabric to make their nests. Somehow, they manage to get in our cars and chew up papers, socks, or anything that they can find. Twice now they have built nests inside the air condition vents of my Prado. The worst part is that I think one died in the ductwork. My car smells horrible. When I turned on the fan yesterday I heard a lot of noise, and now today it smells. It is growing worse, too.

The rats are about 6 inches long, minus the tail, so they are not so easy to catch. I am using that glue stuff that just catches them in the glue. The problem is that I have to put my traps in a place that the dogs cannot reach because I don’t want them to eat glue-covered rats. The glue is supposedly non-toxic, but it terribly messy and sticky. I really don’t need dogs with half eaten rats stuck in their mouths. Yuck!

Until next time....


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

March Madness
Just some random events from the past month to give you a taste of the cultural experience in Kampala….with a surprise ending!

Night on the Town
When we are meeting new people in Uganda, they will often ask, “how do you like Uganda?” We often tell them that we love the Ugandan people because they are so friendly, but that we do not like the city because of the horrific driving conditions. Tony Gibson, the ministry director of Heart of the Bride, just finished a visit with us, and our last night out was one of those nights when the traffic was crazy. It was Thursday night, which ordinarily would have been a fairly calm time to drive. However, it was the night before Good Friday and in Uganda Easter is a 4-day holiday beginning on Friday. Thus, the traffic was very heavy as people prepared for the holiday and were moving about. We went out for dinner at a restaurant about 6 miles from our house and traffic was fine getting there…getting home was another story. When we left the restaurant traffic was bumper-to-bumper and barely moving. We had not gone but about 0.5 km when my car was rammed in the rear twice. I was able to pull to the curb and immediately got out of the car to assess the damage and find out what happened. I was confused because we were moving so slowly that it did not seem likely that someone would hit us from behind. The driver of the car behind me also exited his vehicle and began explaining to me that the taxi, or matatu as they are called here, had pushed him out of the way in order to get through a roundabout. The taxi, which is a minivan, had placed his bull bar on the rear bumper of the car behind me, and then pushed him out of the way. When he did this, the car behind me rammed by car. The damage was restricted to the rear bumper and is only cosmetic, fortunately.

Well, that was just the start of a wild adventure home. It took us two hours to drive the 6 miles to our house, and almost that entire time was spent just navigating the first three miles. There was so much traffic that much of the city center was in gridlock, with traffic unable to move in either direction and preventing either from being able to move. It is not uncommon when traffic gets heavy for people to create their own lane by pulling out into oncoming traffic. This is an extremely annoying habit that I have yet to have patience with. On this particular night, it was occurring in both directions and two-lane roads could not support the newly established four lanes of traffic, which resulted in gridlock. At one particularly bad intersection, civilians had gotten out of their cars and were directing cars one-by-one through the intersection. They even had whistles! If not for them, then we would probably still be sitting there. There was a car full of Dutch people directly in front of us for most of the drive home, and one lady passenger was furious with the events. She got out of her car on multiple occasions and yelled at the oncoming cars blocking the way. It was great entertainment. At one point when we had totally stopped, she got out of the car and bolted for a small grocery store. Tony joked that she was going to get some beer to calm her nerves. He was close…she was getting cigarettes. Once we finally got through the jam we stopped at another small store to get some groceries, and we saw her buying wine. Hopefully, she has calmed down now because she was close to a nervous breakdown or heart attack.

In order to get through the heaviest part of the jam, we had to drive on the sidewalk and squeeze through spots that could not have had more than 2 or 3 inches of clearance on each side of the car. It was definitely our craziest driving experience yet, and one that I hope is never repeated nor topped.

Pests at School
We recently had our class schedules interrupted for some unplanned inspections. Each class, in turn, was told to report to the school nurses station to have their heads checked…for lice. There have been three outbreaks of lice since Christmas and several boys have had to shave their heads. On this particular day, one girl in my class had them, as did girls in Christian’s and Blake’s classes. Fortunately, none of our boys had lice, (nor me!) and we all kept our hair. They said this is not uncommon, but that this was the worst year in recent memory.

We are always hearing witchdoctor stories and you never know what is true and what is just legend. They definitely exist here, and some of them have real spiritual power. During the recent violence in Kenya, we heard multiple reports of weird events. During the violence, looting was rampant and the witchdoctors in the coastal city of Mombasa decided to take action. We are told that many of the witchdoctors gathered and put curses on anyone who stole things so that they could not steal or would return items. The following events are accounts that we heard from many Kenyans. Some of them said that they even saw some of the events on TV.
• There were stories of people who stole bikes who could not get off of the bikes and had to keep pedaling until they collapsed.
• People that stole TVs and carried them on their backs could not remove the TVs from their backs until they returned them.
• People who stole cell phones would hear the ringing of the phone coming from their stomach.
• People who stole timber could not release the timber until it was returned to the place it was stolen from. They even said that the timber was speaking to the people and would tell them to put it back in its original place in the warehouse.
• And some tales that are not related to the post-election violence…some Tanzanian men were speaking to the students recently about marriage and were warning them of the dangers of impotence from being “bewitched”. They said it was very common in their village.

Too Much of a Good Thing
Some recent activities reminded me of an event several months ago that I don’t think I ever related. We often go swimming at a local resort that hosts large conferences. Just over a week ago, Anwar Gaddafi, political leader of Libya, was attending the conference and so security was very tight and included metal detectors. Several months ago, security was high, and we also had to pass through metal detectors and be inspected. During one those inspections some police officers asked me if I was married. When I told them yes, they then asked me if I would like to have another wife. I explained to them that I was happy with one wife, and that my current wife would not approve of another wife. They explained to me how sweet Ugandan women are and how all men need more than one wife. They told me that my wife did not need to know about another wife because I could keep her in another town and visit her while on “business trips”. They were half kidding and half serious. They told me that if I got them 10 cows that they would arrange the whole thing. After about 5 minutes of trying to convince me that this was a good thing, I noticed a female officer off to the side listening to the whole exchange. So, I asked her, as a woman, what she thought about what they were trying to talk me into, thinking that she would take the side of my wife and say it was a bad thing. However, she caught me totally by surprise when she responded, “yes, you should take a second wife and it should be me!” They all got a good laugh at my expense and I have since avoided being baited into such conversations.

Could It Finally Be a Girl?
We have been pursuing adoption for several months now and it has gone much slower than we anticipated and is much more complicated than we would have thought. We have often wondered why it is taking so long. Well, maybe we have our answer. As part of our adoption process, we have had to undergo medical testing for various diseases, including HIV (we were both negative), which involves a fairly comprehensive blood screening. I guess they just want to make sure that adoptive parents are not going to die soon. Anyway, they called us back in last week to get our test results and Pamela had tested positive on one of her screenings….yep, the one for pregnancy. This was quite the shock for us! So, now we wonder if we should continue to pursue adoption or not. I have heard many stories about people getting pregnant right after adopting, but I did not know that just pursuing adoption could cause such things.

Blessings from the Tribe,


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

February 6, 2008

Scooby Doo – Where are you?

We got our second dog on January 10th. Scooby, a 16-month old female German shepherd, is now part of the family. Our other dog, Paska, has not been too happy about it, which has resulted in some skirmishes and one pretty nasty fight. If you look at the pictures you can still see the cut on Paska’s left eye. Scooby is much bigger than Paska and beats her up badly, but Paska keeps picking fights (and keeps losing). Scooby still has a lot of puppy in her and always wants to play with Paska; however, Paska is rarely in the mood. It has been good for Paska because she will soon be 8-yrs old and she was starting to get too lazy and inactive. Scooby keeps her up and about much more. Speaking of keeping someone up…Scooby has been doing that to us as well. We noticed that the first two weeks that she was here that she never barked. We were concerned that something was wrong. Well, I wish she still didn’t bark because now she does it all night long. I don’t think she knew how to bark and has just learned. Sometimes she just barks at nothing while she is lying down. It reminds me of a young puppy when they are first learning to bark. I hope she gets over this soon because she is greatly disturbing our sleep.

Scooby is a sweet dog and the boys really like her. We are being careful not to ignore Paska and pay extra attention to her too. It is interesting how much Scooby likes Christian and how she immediately took to him. I think it is because her previous owner had a teenage son and she relates to older boys.

Kenya Crisis
I hope that you are keeping up with the crisis in Kenya so that you will know how to pray. I have not written about this for a while, but it is still very serious and could easily grow worse. The news media is reporting over 1,000 dead and 350,000 displaced. Our Kenyan friends, who witnessed much of this first-hand, believe that the number of dead is probably 2,000 to 3,000 and possibly more. One man told us that he was in Eldoret the first day of the violence and saw at least 300 people that were killed. He said that the bodies were stacked in the back of a large truck like firewood, with one layer of bodies stacked in one direction, and the next layer turned 90 degrees and stacked in that direction. He saw two trucks of this nature. One was filled with women and children and a second truck was filled with bodies of men. He also saw many bodies still in the streets. On this particular day the news media reported that less than 250 people were killed in all of Kenya. There were also three churches burned in Eldoret that day, yet only one was reported in the news. The Kenyan government is controlling what the media see and report. It is a horrible tragedy and tensions do not seem to be easing even with all of the recent attempts at mediation. The 350,000 people who are displaced likely do not own anything now except the clothes that they are wearing.

One friend of ours knows a very rich Kenyan man. Because this man is from the Kikuyu tribe but was in a non-Kikuyu area, they burnt his home and his business. He lost everything, which was worth over a million dollars. He now owns one shirt and one pair of trousers. This is happening all over Kenya. Another friend of ours has a father who is an attorney. They burnt the home, the law office, and even all of the law books. They also lost everything but the clothes they were wearing. It is tragic and sad. The people in the refugee camps don’t have enough clothes, food, or blankets. There have even been reports of killings within the refugee camps between tribes. There is some deep-seeded animosity between the tribes and especially against the Kikuyus because the Kikuyu tribe has been very influential in government and business. Kikuyus are known for being hard working and good businessmen. Most of what the have was not just given to them. However, the animosity is still there and the election results have spawned all of the violence. Most people believe that the election was not the cause of the violence but rather the spark that ignited fuel that had been built up for years. Tribalism, or ethnic violence, has long been a problem in Kenya, which almost any Kenyan can explain to you. None of them seem surprised by what is happening in their country, though very saddened.

At our campus church, it is about 80% Kenyan and many tribes are represented. Please pray that there will be unity in the Body and that their love for one another will be an example to the rest of the campus. They are trying to help refugees who have come to Uganda and made a mission trip last weekend to the Kenya-Uganda border town of Tororo.

Blessings from the Tribe,

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

MTN Marathon

A few blogs back Kevin mentioned that I ran in the MTN marathon held in Kampala. Thanks to all of you who congratulated me on finishing the marathon; however, I am ashamed to admit that I was only running the 10K portion of the marathon not the full 42K. I am also ashamed to admit that the winner of the 42K finished only a little over an hour of my 10K finish. The winner was a Kenyan who finished in 2hours and 17 minutes. Unbelievable, except that I saw him cross the finish line. The second man to finish was from Uganda. He was being greatly criticized for even entering this race as he had just competed in another marathon only four weeks earlier. Two months time is recommended for full recovery of a marathon. The MTN Marathon is a huge event drawing many participants, including international runners, and huge crowds of spectators. There is an amazing amount of publicity all over the city and the race itself brought out over 6,400 runners. Being an international race and having so many participants made for a very exciting morning. I met up with my friend, Alice, who had signed me up to race and off we went. I have participated in many running events but never one of this magnitude. It was absolutely amazing.

Christmas Day

Our last two Christmases in Uganda have been great opportunities to teach our boys that it is truly better to give than receive. Last Christmas, we shared with the Uganda Jesus Village by taking gifts and cookies. This year we decided to share with our neighbors whom we have grown to know and love so much. Amongst four homes very near to our compound, there are twelve children. We invited them to come to our home on Christmas day for a movie, snacks, fun and gifts. They all arrived 1-½ hours late- not unusual, just wished I had remembered when I set the time- in their nice Christmas clothes. They all seemed so happy to be invited somewhere to share in this special day. For many, it is just another day for work because there may not be any money to do anything special. Christmas in Uganda focuses on being together as a family and eating special foods you might not eat at other times of the year – like chicken for example rather than gift giving. The gift is being together. We had a great time sharing the truth of Christmas, snacks, a movie, some gifts and candy but most of all the love of Jesus that beats in our hearts for these little ones. It is truly better to give than receive. The joy and blessings of that day are ours. If you would like to see a four minute video clip of this day, go our friends the Rineheimer’s blog at and follow the link on the left hand side to Christmas 2007. John and Erica are excellent at adding these special touches to their blog. The Ironsides do not know how to do this, so enjoy theirs I don’t think they will mind. You would probably enjoy reading about what is going on up country Uganda in Arua town. Thanks Rinehimers!


Godfrey is one of the twelve children who came to our home for Christmas. Godfrey lives with his Auntie because his mother died of HIV/AIDS and the father is now sick. Godfrey is ten years old and the oldest child living in his home. Because of his circumstances of being the oldest, a boy and a rejected child, he is often the source of much abuse. He walks long distances to purchase food for the family. He goes to school early in the morning, returns around 6, washes his clothes, and begins fetching water for cooking and more. Godfrey does not look at you when you speak to him and he mumbles his words looking down--- signs of emotional and physical abuse. While at our Christmas celebration, I reached under Godfrey’s chin to lift his face up to look at me while I spoke to him and let him know that this was ok. Kevin said that after I touched his face Godfrey reached up and touched his face in the same place that I had touched him and continued to hold his face. It was as if this was the first time his sweet little face and been touched with love and affection. Also, while he was at on our home on Christmas day, I noticed that he had a very deep wound on his knee. I asked the Auntie if I could clean and bandage the wound. The wound was so bad and needed daily cleansing and bandaging. I asked the Auntie if she would allow Godfrey to come for several days for treatment. She allowed him to come and today marks day 18 of his visits to our home. When he would come, I would doctor the knee, pray with him, sometimes offer food and drink and most of all share the love of Jesus while I pushed him on the swing for a while. These visits to our home in the afternoon have become a highlight in Godfrey’s day. Before leaving each day, he would always say “tomorrow at four?” The knee has almost completely healed and I pray that in someway so has Godfrey’s little heart. I realize that the healing of heart that Godfrey needs is far beyond a few days of bandages and affection but it is our pray that in some small way he has indeed felt the love of Jesus for him. We are so thankful for these opportunities to be the hands, feet and heart of Jesus to those around us. It is truly a privilege that blesses our hearts continually.

Addison’s 8th Birthday

Addison turned 8 on January 7th. He choose to the spend the day celebrating with his brothers and a few friends at Didi’s World Amusement Park – the self-proclaimed “Disney World of Uganda”. Their favorite activities at the park are the water slide and the bumper cars. Unfortunately, on this particular day, the bumper cars were broken and the pool water looked like pea soup. Now, for some of his brothers, this would have meant for a very cruddy day, but for Addison his joy is people and in spite of the circumstances he had a fabulous day. We are so thankful for Addison and his love for life. He continues to have such a joyful spirit and is a blessing to our home. He is most loved by our African friends and often they refer to our family as the “Addisons”. May God continue to grow and nurture his heart with a strong love for people and use him for HIS kingdom purposes.

Unrest in Kenya

Thank you for all who have been faithfully lifting up our brothers and sisters in Kenya. It has been two weeks following presidential elections that went awry. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced living in IDP camps with very little food and water if any. The news reports 700 hundred who have lost their lives; however, those returning to Uganda from Kenya are reporting that that number is very low. Please pray for our brothers and sisters who suffer unjustly, who have lost everything they have worked for, and who are being killed innocently. Our hearts are so heavy for this land. Will you carry the burden with us in prayer?

Demonstrations are planned for Wednesday through Friday of this week, and it could create some horrible violence. The stories that we are hearing from our Kenyan friends that have returned to Uganda are horrific. The killings and lootings are rampant in Western Kenya, and through they have calmed in the past week, the new demonstrations this week could easily rekindle the flames of hatred and violence that have subsided.