12 July 2012

Travelling to and fro - Photos + BIG NEWS!

In the weeks since I last posted, we have done some travelling that you might be interested in:

19-22 June - Shinyanga, Tanzania - Sam and me
This was our first trip without Fred.  We stayed at home and at others' homes without Fred, but this was our first time traveling without him.  He went with us to Musoma, which is about 1/3rd of the way, and put us on the bus.  We had two seats for the eight hour bus ride, because there are really no good options for a seatmate who is not your husband when one has to breastfeed a squirmy, fussy infant. 
          Option 1: An older male - These guys usually spread their legs as wide as possible because of the tiny amount of legroom in the Chinese-made buses, and elbow the baby in the head because this 24" little guy needs some stretching space when he's eating.
          Option 2: A younger male - I've not yet sat directly next to a young man, but I've been ogled across aisles and rows by enough of these guys to not want one trying to look down my nursing hood.
          Option 3: An older woman - Older ladies are usually pretty "hippy" and have 95 bags and sometimes a chicken with them.  Regardless of which language they speak, they always make it clear to me their opinions on what I should or should not be doing for my son.
          Option 4: A younger woman - These girls are not too bad, and if I could be sure of having one for a seatmate, I'd be okay with it.  They're usually really interested in playing with or holding the baby.  Worst case scenario they have their own kid (or two or three), and want to squeeze everyone in together.
Hence, I took up two seats, one for me and one for the diaper bag.  I had to defend my extra seat a couple of times, but it was totally worth it.

The conference in Shinyanga was for a potential new Lahash partner called Path of Hope.  It is a children's program similar to Grace and Healing Mnistry, but spread out at several small, remote churches in the area.  The head of the program is Jeanette Nyakyema, an American married to a Luo (just like me and Fred, although her husband is a Mennonite bishop and they are old enough to be our parents).  The conference was to introduce Path of Hope personnel to Lahash's structure and to train them in some key areas.  The Angotes and Will met us there, and together we did several presentations.  We got to meet some of the kids who may be joining Lahash sponsorship in the coming months, and we were all inspired by their drive and passion.

All in all, the trip went well, with one exception.  Reporting time for our return bus was 5:30am, and Bishop Nyakyema kindly picked us up at our guest house and took us to the stage.  Thank the Lord he was helping me because I had three bags and a huge thing of diapers, plus a weed eater and a child's bike which Edwin brought from Dodoma.  After waiting for the bus, which was 20 minutes late, there was a panicked rush to load everyone on the bus.  The bishop was holding some of my bags and loaded the big things under the bus, then boarded to hand me my other bags, and the bus pulled out!  He got me my bags, then got off at the earliest opportunity and had to walk back to his car at 6am!  I have rarely been so humbly served, and I have no idea how I would have made it without him. 

3-7 July - Nairobi, Kenya - Whole family
Confession: Fred and I are child smugglers.  Basically, since we didn't have time to wait around for Sam's birth certificate before returning to Tanzania, and he was sleeping in the car when we passed through the borders, so there was no record of him on the Kenyan side of the border, where they tend to be a little bit pickier than your usual African border point for some reason.  Anyway, Tanzania didn't care about our infant, but when we tried to pass through the Kenya side on our way to Nairobi, the guy kind of freaked out on me.  Long story short: He kept shooing Fred out of the office, even though we kept saying we were together, and after a long time of explaining that we were going to Nairobi to get the baby's legal paperwork and passport, he finally asked where the baby's father was.  I said "HERE" and motioned to Fred.  He asked for Fred's passport and saw it was a Kenyan passport.  "Why didn't you tell me that the father is a Kenyan?" he blustered.  Frustrated, we responded "you didn't ask!"  It turns out he was trying to figure out how to issue a visa to an American infant without a passport, but as a Kenyan, the baby could freely re-enter his home country, apparently. 

Playing with Dad's soda
Anyway, we made it to Nairobi with the intention of getting the baby's birth certificate and U.S. passport.  I had carefully researched all the paperwork needed and made an appointment.  All we needed was the birth certificate.  Fred picked it up, and we realized that the US embassy requires a certified birth certificate, but you can only get a birth certificate certified by using it in a government office.  So, in lieu of the US passport, we decided to start the process for his Kenyan passport.  The thing is that where the US passport process is super clearly defined on their website, you can't even find out the Kenyan passport process if you physically present yourself at their office.  In the end, as we stood outside the gates scratching our heads over the confusing paperwork, we were approached by one of the immigration "professionals" who have a cottage industry of figuring out the right process and making connections inside to fast-track the paperwork.  This guy was the same tribe as Fred (tribe is king in Kenya), and he worked the whole thing for us.  Within 24 hours we had a certified birth certificate and a Kenyan passport, but we couldn't reschedule our US passport appointment for several days.  We decided to return to Nairobi in two weeks when we could schedule appointments for the baby and Fred both.  (Fred is applying for a tourist visa to the States.) 
          High points: Hot showers, cold imported beer, cheeseburgers, tartar sauce, a Turkish gyro and not getting stared at in public
          Low points: Not getting to see the Daggetts (friends who live in Nairobi) and Fred getting his pocket picked of the $300 US dollars we had saved for the baby's passport fees - of course I was told of my very first trip to Africa that Nairobi has "tuff teeves"  (tough thieves)

18-20 July - Nairobi, Kenya - Whole family
So we have to return to Nairobi for appointments for both Fred and the baby on 19 July.  Fortunately it works out well to meet up with John D and Will, Lahash travelers who are good friends from my home church.  They're coming to visit us for a few days in Shirati, but it's way too complicated for non-locals to make it out here, so we'll be escorting them.

September 2012-January 2013 - USA - Whole family
We're trying to plan a trip back to the States to visit family and friends in various places.  Unfortunately, we are facing some financial constraints and are struggling to fund this planned trip.  We don't usually ask for financial assistance for ourselves, but if you could help us raise money for this trip home, we would sure appreciate it.  You can give to our support fund (Leisha Adams) through Lahash at http://lahash.org/give/.  We'd love to introduce you to this little brooder.

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