I don’t know a stronger word for desperate…so we will go with it…I was desperate. I had spent the past 2.5 months away from my husband…raising 5 children on my own. Feeding, bathing, homeschooling, and hand-washing all the clothes. All.the.clothes. I watched adoptive families come and go. Their stories were never simple, but in one to two months after their arrival, I found myself waving to yet another van full of smiling faces. Driving rapidly toward the airport leaving the country and us wondering when it would be our turn? We were given a 3 year ruling…meaning the children were “ours” legally via guardianship, but they could not be adopted in Uganda until 3 years had passed. We were promised by our lawyers that our case would be overturned by the appellate court. We were told we would have a court date by the first of the year (January 2014)…and it was early February…we had heard nothing.
Most days I felt strong, courageous, hopeful and thankful. Optimistic, even joyful. I had the honor of spending extra time in the country my Ugandan children had called home…what a gift. I was doing life with, and meeting incredible adoptive families as well making many Ugandan friends who were teaching me their language and culture. I had a husband with a great job at home who was sustaining and supporting us until we were granted an official court date. Life was good.
But there were days…when I missed my husband desperately. I was lonely and I was tired. I was exhausted from doing the single-parenting gig thousands of miles and a plane ride away from everything I knew as safe and comfortable. No dishwasher, washer and dryer, no car, no libraries, no parks or playgrounds. No “simple” meals were able to be prepared, no drive thrus, no Starbucks, and all the other things I hold on to in America to make it through a long day with children. And on those days I was desperate.
I prayed a lot. I read my Bible. I read a lot of books that friends had shipped over from America. On a desperate day I found myself reading from a book called, “Love Does,” by Bob Goff.
Halfway through that read, my friend emailed me and said, “Jenni, what about Bob Goff??? He’s super connected to Uganda and loves Young Life…maybe he can help!” And sure enough…Bob Goff put on his “love does” cape and followed through on his super hero promise he makes at the end of his book. He answered my email within 24 hours and put me in touch with a Pepperdine Professor (and attorney) who had actually been a part of an adoption case on the appellate level in UGANDA. And 6 short hours later, Jim Gash emailed me and informed me he would be traveling to Uganda within the next 12 days and would be happy to meet to discuss my case.
Please pause. Did you just read that? Bob Goff connected me with (to my knowledge) the ONLY American lawyer to ever work on an appellate adoption case. Thanks Bob, I owe you one. SERIOUSLY.
But it gets better, because a few weeks later a large football player sized mzungu in a white safari shirt and kakhi shorts climbed out of a taxi style car driven by his favorite driver, Tango. Jim proceeds to have an early dinner with me and my five children at Jaca. Just like that…Jim Gash enters our world and our story. And we were never the same. One might called it a divine collision.
The details get a little swimmy in my brain from here. What I know and remember best is this: Jim was warm, kind, and tremendously honest. He had already looked at my paperwork and he was not as optimistic as my Ugandan lawyers for a victory to overturn the verdict. These words hit like lead. My stomached flipped as I began to let the ramifications of this truth penetrate my brain. SO…that means either we go home and come back in 2.5 years…or we settle in to a new life in Uganda until we officially and legally adopt our children through their system. (I couldn’t get on the phone fast enough to share this information with Chris.) Our first meeting and Jim’s findings, (followed by personal research done while in country) were the catalyst for Chris to take a leave of absence from his job and join us in March.
Jim went further than meeting for one dinner though. He spent time speaking privately with appellate court judges and lawyers not about our specific case, but asking questions to learn what the odds were for or against a case like ours coming to trial in the near future. He also shed light on one of the far more important pieces of the appellate court puzzle. Apparently the appellate court cases were backed up as far as 2008, one as far back at 2005. We had entered our case in 2013…we were FAR down the priority list. It was not looking good for us to be seen in 2014 or possibly even the following year. You may be wondering why I would be so grateful to a man who continued to bring me bad news…
Jim’s words were the first true and honest words I could find surrounding our case. His understanding of the judicial system and his willingness to engage on our behalf…while being respectful of boundaries…and just so doggone kind, was refreshing and exactly what I needed. Like a really great big brother, Jim not only shared his best prediction of our odds…but I felt as if he was mightily standing in the gap for us. In the end, he put his proverbial arm around us and gave us the real honest truth concerning our case: it did not look good for anything but a long and “fruitful” stay in Uganda. Jim’s commitment to our family, his excellent work ethic, and his warmth were tangible. And all of this time he spent “working” on our behalf was done out of the kindness of his heart. I saw in action what Bob Goff had been explaining in his book…Jim was living out Love Does before our very eyes.
I realized after reading Divine Collision, Jim intimately knew the confusion, frustration, and cultural differences I encountered on a daily basis. He knew the “time frames” I had been working with. He knew, and his empathy and compassion for our story sent him above and beyond the call.
One phone call, one glance at our case was all I was hoping for and yet multiple calls and visits followed. To this day he has continued to be a friend and resource for so much more than I could have asked or imagined. It brings tears to my eyes to type this.
I know God more because of knowing Jim Gash.
Which leads me to this blog entry today. You get a chance to now hear more of the behind the scenes story of Jim’s connection to Bob Goff, his encounter with Uganda, and how God has not only transformed his world view; but His life for the better having had the opportunity to be connected to this country and a special young man who lives there…Henry.
Jim’s book took me right back to the dusty red dirt roads of Uganda. I could hear the chickens, and bodas, smell the chapati, and see the sunsets. Jim never thought he would EVER step foot on the continent of Africa and now he is slated to become a Ugandan citizen later this year!
Divine Collision is a powerful story of a boy named Henry and a Pepperdine lawyer…telling the tale of what happens when their worlds’ collide…and how both are changed forever. I highly recommend this page turner; many friends said they read it in only a few short days! So grateful for our divine collision with Jim Gash. You will be grateful when you hear his tale and his heart poured out in every page. We all are looking for those kizmet moments…we are inspired by them. This book reminds us to stay open and receptive to the adventure, you never know who might be waiting at the other end of your “yes”.
May You Be a Blessing and May You Be Blessed,