Things have been crazy the past few weeks, but I will try to give you a quick review of what we've been doing.
Aaron went to Congo on November 26 and finally met our son on Wednesday the 28th. He said it was one of the best moments of his life. He said that he went to the orphanage that day and expected to see all the kiddos playing, but as they got out of the car he could hear them all being shushed. As they opened the gate he saw all 20+ of them sitting in rows in chairs. Then a little guy came running out of the crowd and into his arms. They both had tears in their eyes as they hugged for the first time. Kamble didn't want his daddy to let him go. He then followed him around after he put him down. He was so sad to see his daddy go, but they were able to see each other again on Friday at our embassy appointment. Kamble was terrified to go to the embassy appointment because he thought it was a hospital. But once he saw daddy he was feeling much better. He even took a little nap on his shoulder during their few hours together. Aaron loved being in Africa with our son and hated to leave him, but he knew that he was leaving him in great hands. The Momma's are amazing with the kids and Kamble was going to be okay until we could return. Aaron returned from Africa with great stories and a little travelers illness (probably from the sandwich he ate at the airport, which was the only food he ate that he didn't bring himself!) It took him about a week to recover at home, but he luckily was well enough to get back on a plane on Dec 11!
Everything went pretty smoothly and Kamble's visa was issued on Dec 10, 2012! We then called the travel agent and book tickets to leave that next morning. Carson was at a sleep over with his cousins so we were able to get packed up that morning with no distractions and then spent a few hours with him as a family. My mom then came and picked him up so we could say our good byes like it was a normal fun evening. Aaron and I then tried to sleep so we could get on a plane at 6 am the next morning. All of our flights actually went really well, everything was on-time or early making it a very stress free experience! We took a ton of solar panel equipment with us, so the most stressful part was waiting to see if all our bags made it there with us! They did and after a hour or so we were ready to leave the airport. We then walked with our escort out to our taxi where we met the translator and driver. They are all such nice people and seemed genuinely excited for us (I know we are paying them for their service, but still they just seemed so happy we were going to be getting our son!)
After a long and crazy drive (okay only about an hour, and they tell me it was an easy night) we stopped by a market to get some waters and then made our way to the hotel. The hotel was really quite nice and the staff was great. We made plans to go to the orphanage first thing in the morning and then went to bed. We had carried some documents for another family so those were picked up by our in country representative first thing in the morning and then we went down to eat breakfast before our translator and drive came to pick us up. Hotel had a great little breakfast of eggs, toast and tea that came with our stay. I can't eat eggs so I shared with Aaron, but they did have Nutella (which I normally don't like, but it tasted really good there) for the bread so I was good!
A little while later they showed up to take us to the orphanage. It was a long crazy drive. I couldn't even tell you where it was if I tried. We drove on paved roads for a while and then on some crazy dirt/rock/water roads. The craziest part was the hill we had to climb that was so covered in pot-holes that we bottomed out many times and I was sure we were going to have to push ourselves out of the tiny streams we had to cross (it's the rainy season so their were quite a few). I felt very insecure in the tiny car we were in and was terrified being behind (and next to as we passed them) huge trucks filled to the brim and tipping over on the same road. I just knew one was going to fall over, but none did (at least when I was there). There were also so many people on this tiny dirt road walking and riding on the back of motorcycle taxis. (The motorcycle's are actually the way most people travel up and down that road.) I was scared we would hit someone or someone would hit us, but our driver was great and he kept us (and them) safe. We finally made it up to the top of the hill where the orphanage sits. We opened the gate and all the kids were running around. I think they had all just gotten dressed or something because they were a little flustered and were trying to hurry and get the chairs out. Kamble came running out through the crowd and into his daddy's arms. We passed out squeezers (those pouches of fruit and vegetable's) for the kids to enjoy. We brought them with us figuring they would be a healthy snack to share. The kids loved them and they had a lot of fun trying to get every last drop out of them. After a little while Aaron handed me Kamble! I was so excited to hold him for the first time. I made sure I didn't cry because I didn't want to scare him, but in that moment I knew I loved him already! He was so tiny and just seemed to melt into my arms. I held him for a long time, until it was time for them to eat. He then sat down for a meal with his friends while we took pictures and measurements of the orphanage and also put together another wire shelf we brought for them to store clothes in.
Almost as soon as we got there it was time to go, we had to go surrender our passport to get our exit letter. We had to leave Kamble at the orphanage to be brought to us later by one of the Momma's for security reasons, which we hated but completely understood. We didn't want him to think we were leaving him again, but the Momma's were great and let him know he would be coming to us later in the day. We went back into the city and dropped off what we needed to before heading back to the hotel. We went back and tried to take a short nap to pass the time. The power went out almost immediately after we returned (a daily occurrence) so it got pretty miserable in our room. We then went down to the bar and ordered a few Fanta's and just hung out down there.
A few hours later we were back in our room when we heard a knock on the door. It was one of the Momma's with our son!!! We were so excited but with the language barrier the moment was less than perfect. She handed him to us and asked for money for the taxi and then just left. I don't think I really had an expectation of that moment, but looking back I guess I just wanted to hug her and tell her thank you for everything! So there we were in our hotel room with our son in our arms ready to start the rest of our lives. The power was back on and we were watching some soccer so we just sat in silence for a while together before we made some dinner.
Kamble was pretty good that first night. He cried a little but really I expected it to be a lot more difficult. The language barrier is hard, but we had a list of words provided by our agency and we were able to communicate pretty well. He hated his first bath but loved pepperoni sticks. I'm pretty sure he had one in his hands at all times until we stepped foot on that first plane. That next day was a little crazy. We just hung out at the hotel and tried to keep ourselves busy with the small amount of toys we brought. In the afternoon we had another knock on our door. This time it was one of the workers saying we had a visitor. We weren't really sure what was going on so Aaron went down to check it out. It turns out it was a missionary who our agency had contacted about us staying with them in their guest house. They literally live like 1/2 a mile from the hotel so instead of playing email tag with the people in the states to get info to us he just came by. Aaron went with him to check out their place. He came back about 20 minutes later and said pack! So we quickly packed up all our stuff and headed over to their house.
Let me just say that they were AMAZING!!!! They live in a compound with a house and a smaller house they rent out. For half the price of the hotel we were able to be in a walled compound with an entire house with a kitchen to live in. They even had a grass yard so we could go outside to play. After settling in we visited with them and some other missionaries next door. The work they are all doing is so wonderful and it was an honor to meet all of them.
Later that day we got the CALL! Our exit letter was completed! What?????????? We had just surrendered our passports the day before. This was a true act of God! We immediately got on the phone with our agency and let them know it was complete and to try to help us get home as soon as possible. With the holidays we knew flights were going to be hard to come by, so we were prepared to stay the entire duration of our trip, but we had to try to get home sooner. A little while later we got an email saying the only flight that would get us all home together was the next day! We had so much we wanted to do in Congo still, but decided this was the best thing for our family.
Our translator had just returned from the store, about 10 minutes before we got the call, with a ton of groceries for us for our stay now that we had a kitchen. The great news though is that we were able to give it and all the other food we brought to the missionaries to have and share with the people around them. I know it doesn't seem like much, but we brought things they cant get in Congo, so it was an added treat for them and we were so happy to share!!!
Later that afternoon Kamble was taking a nap. I went in and checked on him and he was burning up! I didn't have a thermometer (in our haste to pack so quick we forgot a lot of things), so I went over to the house to ask the missionaries to borrow one. Luckily they are so knowledgeable that they set us up right away with a Malaria test kit and thermometer. They told us Malaria fevers usually strike at night and these little $5 test kits can tell us if that's what it is. So after Kamble screamed while we took his temperature and then pricked his finger for the test kit, we had a kiddo with another bout of malaria. The missionaries were leaving for a funeral that night so they sent out a worker to get us the medicine and gave us some Tylenol for his fever. We are so extremely grateful for their knowledge and generosity. We would have been sitting at the hotel in fear on our own, had we not moved to their guest house (another act of God I'm sure!!). (Heres a pic of the $5 test and the $10 medicine. Crazy how inexpensive in our world this is, but there it would be extremely expensive for the locals to get).
To Be continued.....