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About Me

Saturday, July 31, 2010


I really don't know how to express what has happened over the last few
days.  No child should ever had to go through what Joseph has been
through.  We set out on Thursday to Masaka, about a 3 hour drive from Kampala.  
We were going  to visit the graves of his mother, father and 2 younger siblings.  I was very
nervous about seeing where he grew up, and having him relive so may
memories.  On our way to Masaka the road became jammed with cars,
trucks and bodas.  After waiting for about 2 hours we learned that
there was a weigh station and that the trucks were angry that they
were being overcharged to pass.  So, they decided to block the road!
Our time was very short, so we decided to leave our driver, walk past
the "riot" and try to get a taxi.  A taxi is a small van that is meant
to hold 14 people.  They are known for being crazy and driving too
fast.  After walking some time, we found a taxi and held up our
fingers that we needed seats for 3.  The conductor waved us over and
we quickly hurried to get a seat.  Upon arriving I noticed the taxi
was already totally full yet the conductor was yelling at people to
make room.  As we got closer I noticed the group inside were a group
of Ghadaffi supporting Muslims.  As the conductor starts to shove me
to the back, this huge lady starts screaming in my direction.  The
taxi starts to move and Joseph and I get shoved to the back, all the
while the lady is yelling in Luganda.  At this point I was totally
shaking.  After all 19 of us get situated the women taps me on the
back and screams at me, "Where are you going"?  At this point, I had
had it, and I yelled back, "I don't know, nice to meet you too".  At
this, she breaks into a jolly smile and starts laughing!  I was like,
"What! Is this women high"?  Let's just say I was very happy to get out of there.
The Women Who I Thought Was Going to Kill Me!

2 of the group in the taxi!

When we got to Masaka we went and visited a neighbor Esther.  As we walked into the house, the sky opened up into a loud raging storm.  We sat there in the dark as without
Inside Esther's House During the Rain. It was Pitch Black Inside, But My Flash Lit Things Up!

electricity.  While Joseph was talking I had the distinct
feeling that the rains were a symbol of heaven crying.  Crying for my
boy who has endured more than any child should have to endure.  I
asked the Esther everything I could about his mother and father and
learned a few cute stories about him when he was a boy.  She said his
father was very harsh and he would get in trouble when his dad would
send him to market and he would run off to the football pitch instead.
 After the rains stopped we walked down a muddy road into a clearing
where his mother, father and little brother and sister now rest.  The
graves were not marked and were just a mound of dirt.  We each used
our hands to groom the graves ( a Ugandan tradition).  It was very
humbling to see the dirt where his parents lay and to see the smaller
mounds of Willy and Rosette.  I thought my heart was going to break
for my boy.  His family is buried on land owned by someone else which
means they could be removed at any time.  Oh how I want to buy this
Paying Our Respects
land and give them a proper place to rest!  After that, we started the
walk to the land his family used to live on.  The home is destroyed,
but we were able to look at the space and Joseph recalled several
childhood memories.  We continued walking back to grandma's and
Esther said something in Luganda that my friend Hilda interpreted.
She said, "I can remember Joseph walking this road so many times when
he was a boy.  He lacked food and clothing.  Now, looking at him
walking that same road and seeing him looking so good made her so
happy".  It was a very humbling experience and I am so honored that
God is giving us a chance to be be Joseph's mother and father.  I wish
that his parents were still here, that Willy, Rosette, Fiona and

The Property Where Joseph's Home Once Stood
Geoffrey could be together with them, but, since they can't we can
only try to do our best by them.  After that experience I didn't think
things could get any harder, but little did I know!  After searching
for the better part of a year, we were given a contact where Joseph's
little brother and sister were staying.  We got a number, called and
were told that we could see them if we came.  The build up and
anticipation at seeing them was almost too much!  My best guess is
that it's been about 4 years since Joseph had seen them.  We arrived
at the center (not even knowing anything about it) and were greeted.                               
 Then, it happened.
 The most beautiful, sad, and tragic thing I've ever witnessed.
Joseph was reunited with F and G.  They hugged and Goeffrey
sat on Joseph's lap as they tried to catch up on 4 years of lost time.
 I sat a cried.  I couldn't help myself.  After searching so long and
finally finding them it was indeed sweet.  Fiona has the most
beautiful voice and was so sweet and pretty.  Goeffrey looks just like
Joseph.  I won't share what they talked about, but let's just say
Joseph is a great big brother.  He instructed them as to what they
should do to help one another since they are together.

Together At Last!
Joseph had no picture of his brother and sister.  It then came time to
go.  I cannot even talk about how that went as I still haven't fully
recovered from it.  I cannot stand to see Joseph hurt.  I found out
from Fand G that they have been to the US on tour with the faclities
childrens choir.  I couldn't believe they had been to the US before
their brother.  G told Joseph that when they were older and he got
money, he would build a place and they could all live together.  After
doing some research on the facility I learned that the choir is coming
to the US in September.  My son is the bravest, strongest person I
know.  We are so lucky to have him.
Anyway, that is what's been going on.  We are waiting to go  to the embassy.
Will update when I can.  Thank you for the love and support.  I am not
going to have a very easy time jumping back into American life after
this last month.  I feel like the things we have gone through trump
everything and I just hope people will be understanding if it takes me
awhiled to catch up and be myself.
Monday, July 26, 2010

It's Official!

Telling Joseph The Verdict...

Calling To Tell Dad!
Well, today was a great day!  The judge came and we received our ruling................Joseph waited in the waiting room and I went in alone.  I thought I was going to throw up and was shaking so hard.  I thought about how far we had come.  I thought about the times I lost hope and never thought this day would come, but mostly I thought about how God carried us through this difficult journey.  When the ruling finally came back positive I about fell off my chair.  I walked back into the waiting room where Joseph sat nervously waiting for me.  I think he knew by the smile on my face and we embraced and cried together.  The relief came so fast and quickly that it overwhelmed us.  I'm still not sure this is real!  We then celebrated by going to see a real movie at the very western theater.  Joseph and I had the theater to ourselves!  Shrek 4, his first movie!  So, as we celebrate this day, I can't help to think about all of the dear friends I've made along the way still waiting.  Don't give up, the reward is so worth it.  Now, off to call the embassy in the hopes for a quick appt.  Still waiting for our written ruling, but after that we pray for smooth sailing!
Sunday, July 25, 2010

Big Day Tomorrow

Today was a special day.  We were able to go to Birra and let Joseph say good-bye to Mama Dorothy and the others he lived with.  We took lots of pictures so he will be able to remember everything.  It was so interesting to see him speaking his native language and conversing with the women who has helped care for him for the last 3 years of his life.  Most of what we have ever given him has been stolen so we were able to retrieve what was left of it.  Also, after we got back we were relaxing and Joseph suggested we go down to Sanyu Babies Home to help with the kids.  He was quite a pro and I was so proud of him wanting to go and give of his time to help the orphans there.  Tonight we get to borrow a friends computer and Skype again with the kids.  It was so fun for the kids and Joseph to "meet" for the first time.  Tomorrow is the big day.  Hoping the judge shows up and is kind to us:) Thanks for the prayers!
Saturday, July 24, 2010

General Upate of This Last Week

Sweet Boy, Tried To Bring a Smile To His Face!
Sweet Girl Suffering From Sickle Cell
The rollercoaster never seems to end!  Seriously!  I am so grateful though for the support of friends and family.  Everytime I get a chance to get on the computer and read the messages it brings tears to my eyes to and I feel so strengthened.  This past week was a waiting game. The anticipation of our ruling dashed away my good mood.  I went to my room and spent some time praying and shed a few tears while I was at it.  I think my biggest concerns are that we are going to get stuck here for a long time and how the family back home will cope.  We were so unprepared when I left.  I usually have a full schedule written out and have everything arranged.  This time, not so much.  So, thanks to the help of family and friends everyone is o.k back home, but it is still eating away at me.  This week brought many experiences that were very difficult and hard to deal with.  I went to visit a childrens home that 2 sweet Ugandans have opened. It's their home and they have taken in about 35 children and are raising them.  There was a little boy named Tim.  When I first walked in I could smell him before I saw him.  I'm not sure what is wrong with him, but he was laying in his urine on a bed with flies swarming around him.  He is 4 1/2 and he was about the size of a 6 month old baby.  I'm guessing he is about 15 lbs.  I did not want to take pictures of him as I didn't want to feel like he was getting photographed because he was in such a bad state, but I started showing him photos from my camera and it brought a smile to his face.  I then took a few photos of him and showed him pictures of himself and he was so happy!  I can't get him out of my mind.  We tried to get some diapers for him and are getting them to his caretakers today.  The other kids were so sweet and we spent time playing duck, duck goose and such.  There is one other girl there that especially broke my heart.  Her name is Esther and she has sickle cell anemia.  She would be fine if she lived in a first world country, but because she is in Africa she is now living with this disease as it slowly eats away at her brain functions.  I've also spent some time at  Sanyu Babies Home.  I won't even talk about those experiences.  So, I'm off to get Joseph now and he will be with me through Monday evening.  I can't wait to see him!  Thanks for all the love, support and prayers!~
Friday, July 23, 2010

Discouraging Day

Today was our court ruling appointment.  Unfortunately the judge would meet with us and told us to come back on Monday.  I am hoping to be able to get Joseph here with me this weekend and the school said I can keep him until Monday night.  So, if we get a positive ruling then I will keep him forever~


So happy I found a new friend!  Yesterday while in the "mall" I saw a group of girls I recognized from the babies home near my guesthouse.  I met a new friend who is here setting up things for her new adoption agency and we hit it off.  She was completely alone and having some trouble so we connected and she is now staying at the guesthouse with me.  She has a wonderful little netbook and I've been able to use WiFi for about an hour and catch up on so much!  I'm so grateful.  Anyway, Monday, we went to do medicals for Joseph.  The embassy is now requiring you to go to IOM.  It was quite the day.  Super long and full of blunders.  Joseph and I are now expert Boda riders, something I swore I would never do!  Hiring a driver is so expensive so we have to ride Boda's once in awhile.
I have been so busy trying to do as much as I can  to stay busy.  I've spent time working in babies homes and orphanages.  Mentally it's been a challenge, but I want to serve as much as I can while I"m here.
Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beautiful Day

Elder Magero and Joseph................
I have a limited time on net (so, so slow too) but wanted to give a quick update.  Had the most beautiful day with Joseph yesterday.  I amazed at how much Joseph and I have to learn about each other.  I pumped him so full of information that I think his head was about to burst.  Funny thing, our last name, Gillies is prounounced Gillis.  Joseph calls himself Joseph Gills.  I had to break him of that, so we practice saying his last name and it was so funny because it's difficult for him to pronounce.  I told him that I wouldn't stand for a son whose last name sounded like a fish!  We are having so much fun getting to know each other and are able to have deep conversations without others around and it's absolutely beautiful.  Also invited Alex ( from 2009 trip) better  known as missionary Alex to dinner.  He stuffed himself full.  He has lost so much weight as he is struggling to hard to get his secondary education ( he is 27 years old) and cannot afford much food.  He is all alone and so lonely.  His dream is to have an Ipod fills with church music so he can listen to music like he did on his mission.  He is so faithful and I adore him.  Off to medical appts, visa photos and much more today, then Joseph has to leave.  So sad.  Also got him 4 shirts and one pair of socks along with 2 shorts.  He barely has anything to wear as so much has been stolen.  He is my son!  This I know and I am so excited to share him with everyone!
Saturday, July 17, 2010

What a Great Day!

Looking "Smart"

Sweet Friend Sarah, Doing The Wash

The Clean Wash........Laying to Dry on The Ground

Some of the Adorable Kidlets From Shalom

Abdulah, Singing His Original Song
Sheesh!  After 1 1/2 of trying to get to blogger I finally did!  I am starting to feel normal again and am doing much better.  Re-cap of yesterday!  In the AM I went to St. Mary's Kitende School to watch Joseph play in a football game.  He is the captain and looked so "smart" in his uniform.  His school is the nicest school I've ever seen in Uganda.  They even had a small soccer stadium with a real grass field!  When we put him in boarding school we had no idea how nice it was!  I was such a proud mom watching him on the field.  Before the game he looked up at me and we gave each other the thumbs up sign.  I'm sure he felt proud to have someone there to watch him.  That was first for him!  After the game his team played in the semi-finals and won and then won the whole tournament.  I didn't stay for the other two games as Hilda needed to get moving.  After that we went to a place called Shalom.  It's a center for children who used to live on the street, often referred to as "street children".  I have a really hard time using that term as I don't see these kids as throw aways and so I've decided to refer to them as "homeless" as they are so much more that street kids.  While there I met the most amazing young man ever.  His name is Abdulah

This morning Joseph is coming to the guest house and gets to stay overnight.  We are going to church and then I'm hoping to get him a few clothes so he has something to where on the way home.  Most of what we've given him (if not all) has been stolen.  Tomorrow we are headed to the doctor and he will have his medical tests done for his visa.  I cannot wait to spend the day with him.  I've also been given a peace that I didn't have regarding my responsibilities at home.  God lifted that burden from me and I'm able to soak up every minute here and serve without feeling like things are going to fall apart at home.  That is such a blessing!
Thursday, July 15, 2010


Yesterday was  long, not so fun day.  I'm not sure what it is, but the excitement I usually feel when I'm here is absent this time.  I'm separated from Joseph as he is in boarding school doing exams and it would be disrespectful to take him out.  I have stayed at the two nicest missionaries place for 2 nights, but I need to move on and let them be missionaries.  Red Chili, my famous standby have a hodgepodge or rooms available over the next few days, but each night I would have to move and one night they have nothing.  Some of the nights are in a dorm with strangers.  I want to go and do things everyday, especially serve in schools and orphanages, but the expense of hiring a driver everytime I go somewhere is killing me!  I got totally taken by a driver yesterday and he basically left me and Hilda after giving him money. I was beyond exhausted and tired and wanted to sit and cry.  I am so missing my family, already!  I have this big pit in my gut with worry about them and especially Peanut as she is "addicted" to me (in her own words).  I am so grateful for the help of friends and family, but it is so hard for me to ask and to inconvenience people.  Shawn has already missed 2 weeks of work as we were on vacation when we left.  He has to work when he gets home..................Yesterday I finally got a phone, but of course the battery needs to be changed and there is no charger.  We couldn't find one!  So, today, I will move from the Beachley's and try to have a driver take me to find a charger and battery before this one completely dies today.  I am then hoping to find somewhere to stay besides Red Chili.  I really want to connect with some friends (o.k. I haven't made them yet,) but there aren't too many adopting parents here.  I would be lost without my trusted friend Hilda.  Even with a driver taking me, she refuses to leave me and makes sure the driver gets me home before she has to take a stinky, crowded taxi back to her house.  Hilda is the reason we are here (God provided by using her).  On Friday of last week she had to go to Masaka, 2 hours away to plead for the report from the probation officer.  It had to be done.  On Friday AM I called her to check and see if she was on her way.  She told me that her grandfather had died, but because she had to go to Masaka to get our paperwork she was missing his funeral.  I was heart sick and so was she.  She said, "The lawyer needed it and I had to go".  That paperwork was given to the lawyer and turned in on Monday which resulted in the court date!  What a true friend!  So, I will sign off.  I don't know how much internet I will have, so, I will do my best to update.  Now is the waiting game.  Wait until the 23rd for the verbal ruling, then, the written which could take some time, then, waiting for a visa.  My dream was to have Joseph home for summer, it's looking hopeful that we will at least be home for part of summer and that is soooooo good!  I was talking to him about our religion and bit and let him know that he is welcome to stay Catholic, but as a family we will go to our church and do things together.  He was so cute.  "Yes Mother, I will go".  It's funny too, trying to tell him, this is where you live and have him say the name of the town, his school etc.  He has so much to soak in when he gets home!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Call and Much More

I never want to forget the miracles that took place to get me to Africa with a 2 hour notice.  My family and I were on vacation at my brothers house in Idaho Falls.  We were getting up early Monday AM to head to Yellowstone. Before the trip I believed it would be impossible to get a court hearing because courts were closing July 16.  But, big but, just in case I threw in my passport and a binder of documents.  Other  than that,I didn't have much of anything useful to me in Uganda.  I was sound asleep Monday Am and Shawn burst into the bedroom and said, "Get up, we got an e-mail from our lawyer in the middle of the night and she had to know 2 hours ago if you can be to Uganda by Wed. AM".  I totally freaked out! I hopped on the computer and started looking at flights.  Idaho Falls is not a booming metropolis so the airport is tiny.  I found one flight that would work, but it left in 2 hours.  Not only that, but it was 7,000 USD.  But, we called the lawyer and said yes.  How could we possibly say no?  So many people would die to be in our shoes and we had to make it work.  After that I did an internet search for adoption travel agencies and they were able to get my ticket price cut in half.  I am leaving out so many little miracles due to time, but know they were there!  Got to London with a 9 hour layover and then when headed to the plane ran into the captain on the tram and jokingly asked him to get me there on time as I had a court appt. at 9 and flight arrived at 7:45.  Imagine my surprise when I checked in and the captain had upgraded me to first class so I could rest and be closest to the exit row so I could get off the plane quickly!  The plane ended up landing late, at 8:45.  Yikes!  But, the man I sat next too on the plane told me to leave my bag on the carousel and he would pick it up and I could get it from him later.  That was quite interesting (getting the bag) as we had such a hard time finding him later, but I did get the bag and was soooooo grateful!  Another miracle!  Everywhere I went on the journey I met people who strengthened me.  I sat next to a church group and one of the girls gave me three beautiful versus written down so I could read them and give myself strength.  It worked!  So, when I got to the airport, Kiganda, my trusted friend and driver picked me up and we ran to the car.  He sped through town and we arrived just before 10.  I wasn't prepared properly to meet Joseph's grandmother for the first time, but there she was.  First, Joseph tackled me and broke my back hugging me so hard. We went into this small waiting room and waited for Justice O to call us in, and waited and waited.  Hours later she called us in.  She never spoke to Joseph or me. She never once smiled.  She told us to come back on 23rd at 10 am for the ruling for Legal Guardianship.  I am anxiously waiting to figure out what I'm doing.  When arriving I had no where to sleep and the Mormon Missionaries who I met a year ago invited me for the night.  I felt so happy to be with them.  It was like stepping into my own families home.  I had dinner with a bunch of couples and it was delicious.  I took an Ambien and made it sleeping until 3am.  I'm on their internet typing as fast as I can I as I actually have a connection.  Todays list, figuring out where to stay and buying some supplies.  Sad note, a friend who we worked with last year when here was killed in the bombing.  Things feel very safe to me, but am still being vigilent.  The church has sent people to evaluate if it's safe to keep missionaries here.  I def. feel it is.  Please continue to pray like mad.  If you know Shawn, please reach out to him when they get home on Sunday.  He is going to need helping hand.  Since he is self employed he has no vacation and we were doing a 2 week vacation when I left so he needs to work.  Thanks for your love and prayers!
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Crazy!!! Please Send Prayers

We have been on vacation for the last week and were in Idaho about ready to head into Yellowstone.  Our attorney had mentioned that she might be able to get us a court date this week, but honestly I thought that would be a long shot.  Regardless, I took my passport and Malaria pills with me.  Monday about 9AM Shawn ran into our room and woke me up.  He said, "Get up now and call the attorney, she can get us a court date but you have to be in Uganda by Wed".  Usually a trip to Uganda takes about 25-40 hours via plane.  I thought for a brief second, "Could I even make it by Wed" ?  I started looking at fares online and since we were in Idaho I would have to find something leaving from the tiny airport in Idaho Falls.  The fares were about 7grand!  Ouch!  Regardless, we called the lawyer and told her I would be there.  I then remembered the Golden Rule travel agency and did a quick search on them.  After finally piecing together a much cheaper itinerary I had about 45 minutes to pack, shower, get to the bank and be to the airport.  It was seriously insane.  Meantime, Peanut was a little freaked out as I was running around the house (my brother's home) trying to throw things in the suitcase.  Luckily I had brought my passport with me!  I had no driver, lodging or anything arranged and Shawn is working on that for me.  I now sit in the London airport on a 9 hour layover.  My eyes are heavy and I'm already tired, but I feel like this is a miracle and I'm rejoicing in it.  Today so many strangers have done things for me that have eased my mind and burden.  I even got moved on the flight and had 3 seats to myself so I was able to lay down the whole way!  I am still waiting to get an e-mail from Shawn verifying that we still have a court appointment.  I am trusting that God is orchestrating this beautiful symphony.  I am so weary.  This journey has brought me to my knees so many times and I'm praying that this part ends soon.  If all goes well, we will have a hearing quickly and Shawn will then have to fly back and go to the embassy for the visa.  We filled out a paper putting him as the Petitioner which means I cannot go to the appointment, he has to.  He is excited to get back to Uganda, so, I don't think he'll mind.  Please pray for us on this journey!  *****BIG UPDATE*****  I was writing this post while in the airport.  I didn't want to post anything on Facebook or blog until I was safe in Uganda with a secured hearing.  Shawn just chatted me and said I do have a hearing at 9AM.  I arrived at 7:45AM.  I will have to leave my bag and pray for a miracle to bless us to get there in time.  I will be coming off of 40 hours of travel and racing to get there.  I will have never met the grandmother who is giving me her grandson to raise until court.  I am so scared.  Please send out as many prayers as you can muster!  If you know where court is located, try to get ahold of Shawn, he is trying to tell the driver who is picking me up so he can get me to the right place.  This is insanity.  Blessed insanity!
Monday, July 5, 2010

Off We Go!

I'm a mess tonight.  We are headed out to Yellowstone tomorrow for our vacation.  When planning this trip for the last 5 months I really believed Joseph would be with us.  I thought it would be a perfect trip for him to bond with the family before the craziness of real life began.  I thought it would be a great time for him to meet his extended family as we visited members on Shawn's side and then ended with a Benson family reunion.  But, God's timing was different. It's a hard pill to swallow, but I have to believe that.   I have this horrible sense of guilt as we head off for this fun and memorable adventure.  I want Joseph with us.  There is little to no chance of getting a court date while we are gone, but, I am packing our documents and passport just in you Joseph............we're coming soon! 
Thursday, July 1, 2010

Turning and Turning

It's funny, but life keeps turning and turning even when you want it to stop.  I want the world to stop.  I want it to stop and say, "Hey wait, Joseph isn't home yet" and completely stop revolving so that time could stand still.  This summer is going to be very hard.  I've already felt it.  Every adventure, sunset, taste of ice-cream, or funny thing that happens I see Joseph.  I visualize what he would think if he were here.  Would he like Yellowstone?  What would he think when he saw a geyser?  Old Faithful?  How would he react to our loud and crazy family staying together with his 15 cousins?  Would he like smore's or would he find them too sweet.  Pretty soon he will grow up and leave our home.  I just wish he were here building memories before that that day comes way to soon.  On an interesting note:  About a month ago I sent a package to my friend for Joseph.  Her Aunt was going to take it to Uganda and I was to arrange pickup of the package from her and to get it delivered safely to Joseph.  It contained an "album" of family photos, 2 books (from Benson), letters, vitamins, and Joseph's favorite thing in the world, Axe Body Spray.  I told Joseph that he package would be coming.  It was a miracle that he got it.  So many phone calls and drivers and helpers had to be arranged before a pick-up and delivery were successful.  So, on Sunday when we spoke with him he said he got the package but he said, "Mom, there was no perfume (Axe)".  I said, "What about vitamins"? To which he replied, "No medicine or perfume, just 2 novels and an album (the letters were inside).  So, some dork, yes I said dork took my boys vitamins (and Axe)"!  My only thought was, maybe they needed them worse than he did....................oh well, at least he got the rest!