I’ve taken a long time without blogging. Usually I can make sense of my life as it happens, but this past week in Uganda has been one to swallow me whole. There haven’t been moments of solitude where I can reflect and understand. It is challenging to be mom, Mama Tonya, and just Tonya for so long as I lived outside of my regular elements. I’m still in Uganda, though my flight home is soon. I’ll spend much of the thirty hours in flight sorting out the good, the bad and the ugly from these experiences. God has taught me so much through this experience. Truthfully, several times after late night meetings I’d write freely with the intention to blog the content. When I finished I could see it was raw material needing some time to cook. I’m going to blog about all of the adventures when I am comfortably in my home office again, after I’ve simmered out my strong emotions and discovered the hidden truths.
I’ve spent every possible moment at our children’s home enjoying the flow of their life. I have loved getting to know each child one on one. Mostly it’s been exciting for Jack to become an authentic brother to them all. Their separation is going to be depressing for us all. Our home is the little bit of Eden in all of Kampala. When the gate closes behind us I feel the peace of God and know the pressures of the wicked cannot touch us. I hear laughter all day long in our home. I see active children. I see hard working loving adults. All that we have strived for is happening. This is so encouraging.
The issue with our gardener being taken away to jail has become a pulling of ropes with him as the scapegoat. The other side has wicked, selfish intentions because pride has been damaged. This is a guy with local power built upon lies. I’ve been concerned for our gardener and doing all that is right to protect him from further harm. I thank God because last Sunday he went to church. We’ve been talking to him about it so when I heard he went I was so encouraged. Robert is going to follow up and get him connected with a bible based church where he can hear the truth. I have a bible for him too! And I’m going to leave money to buy him new clothes and shoes.
The other situation that has caused me concern and kept me from the keyboard has been Kira. I’ve struggled and strained to understand what she is experiencing. I’ve given up some things I should have done to be available to her alone and help her find some security. It is much harder for her to be American and look Ugandan than we ever could have imagined. Kira does not like to be touched by strangers. She likes the American way of adults waiting for a child to come to them. She usually warms up to people quickly if given the chance to go at her own pace. But here every adult has their hands on her instantly, and they are relentless trying over and over again to pick her up and console her screams. She has begun to strike out at anyone who comes near her until she’s in a full on tantrum.
It is confusing for the Ugandans and embarrassing for me. In their vernacular they say she is stubborn and needs more beatings. I am learning there are two personality types for children here. They are either respectful and submissive, or naughty and stubborn. Only one of them is acceptable the other one is abused until broken. Finally it became so stressful for her that I’ve done my best to keep her away from people she doesn’t know. We stayed home from church for this purpose.
Being an adopting family is full of challenges and life lessons that are unique because of adoption. I’m not one to over think problems; I try to think through it as they happen. This adventure for Kira has taught me why she is such a strong girl. God has a use for her strength because she will have to know who she is when she spends time in Uganda. She will need to be able to stand tall knowing who God made her to be for his purposes and have the strength to ignore the expectations of Ugandans. In America she will need her strength to walk tall as the darkest girl in her school and just shrug when everyone learns her family is white. Some day she will need to come to terms with her story. She will probably spend much of her life living in between and it’s that space that isn’t American or Ugandan where she will need to find the comfort of God’s plan for her life. I’ll write more about this in the following weeks. I am only now beginning to see this through her perspective.
She’s one tough little mama, and it is no surprise God placed the most stubborn child ever produced in Uganda into the hands of Mama Tonya. Craig and I can handle her and we don’t want to fit her into a mold. We want to help her discover who God has created her to be and we will celebrate together as she embraces all the challenges before her. But I am learning her age of innocence is about to end. I am thinking of writing her story in a storybook form and using our photos of the events. I’m going to have it made into a photo book for her so we can read the story together over and over. That’s the first project for me when I get home. I might even write it as we fly over oceans and continents. She needs to connect some dots. I think this will help her.