Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bubble Bearded Bath Time

Praise Him!
MAy 21, 2011 Ainsley in the hospital in Ethiopia.

June 29th Ainsley at home one month.

July 8th Update- We have been home a month and a week and God has poured out so much blessing on us. "Little E"- Ainsley Edil is walking and gaining weight. She is smiling and learning to talk. "Big E"- Titus Eyob is over flowing with huge smiles and "Mommy, I lub you!" I wish you could see them in the hospital and orphanage and see them now. (So I put those pictures up.) I wish you could see the impact of a loving, gospel saturated, super imperfect family has on these children. Praise Jesus for all He has done for us!
We have had so many sweet moments. Titus really gets that this is home and we love him. He feels that he is ours and we are his. Most of the time his face is lit up with a huge amazing smile. He is taking it all in and loving it. I am not going to lie. There are 2 year old, "I am not getting exactly what I want fits", but God has given us enough wisdom to know how good it is to not always get exactly what you want. Right? In a family with 6 kids you will be mercifully blessed to learn how to share, be patient and forgive. I think he loves that too. He will.  hehe. 
I love watching him experience all of his first time doing things. I am pretty sure he had never seen a slide before. We only saw one park in all of Addis. It was outside the Hilton. His orphanage did not have play equipment or really any toys. When we were at the US Embassy, I took him to a little slide they had while we were waiting. At first he wasn't sure but then he just kept going on it over and over and over. I wish you could see the look on his face when he tried ice cream for the first time or when I brought home new pajamas for him and Jude. He is almost beside himself with elation. He giggles and puts his over his mouth and just smiles. He did not have anything of his own at the orphanage. He loves play grounds, play lands, bicycles, bubbles, and balls. When we drive up to the park he says, "Thank you, mommy. Thank you, mommy." He probably knows 200 English words and is soaking it in like a sponge. He is so energetic, fun, playful, eager, and opinionated. We don't know how you could be a Brown without being persistent and opinionated. 
Ainsley Edil is our little "Ediloukia." (My little Edil in Amharic.) She was crawling after me when we had been home a week. Daddy plays PT with her and had her walking while holding his hands at a week and a half. I went away to a wonderful shower for me hosted by my amazing friends. (They had people donate money en lieu of gifts and raised $1800 for 147 million orphans. Praise Him!) When I came home from the shower she was walking while holding hands. The next week she began to walk more and more on her own. She is a full-fledged walker now. Except for when she is tired or hungry, which is a lot. Then she wants me to hold her. She is gaining weight! Thank you God! We think 3-4 pounds so far. She still has stridor, a tightening in her airway and a bad rash on her head. Please pray for healing for those.
I love to see her smile. In the hospital the orphanage director jokingly said she would give some one 200 Birr if they could make her laugh. Only her brother and some silly- throwing antics by Daddy made her smile then. Now she is smiling and happy so often. She has amazing eyelashes that reach her eyebrows. She is beautiful. She too tells us her opinion loudly. hehe. She can say, "Daddy, Ma, Hi and Bye." She goes up to random people to get food if they have something that looks good to eat especially goldfish. She loves bath time, at first she was not so sure. I loved watching her learn to splash. They get so excited and then the water gets all in their face. Kennedy and I make the bath tub full of bubbles and then put the bubbles on our faces for beards. We laugh and laugh about it. Ainsley loves to play peek a boo with the towel while drying off and always tries to get back in the tub. So much sweetness. It is hard and God is sanctifying us. I am pushed way beyond my ability or desire to endure, but we are thankful that He is changing us. I want to be more fun, patient, Christ-dependent, joyful, fervent in prayer and loving than before. Please pray that for  our family.
I am working on a blog I really want to write about the kids’ orphanage. I really want to tell the story of those orphans. I want to ask you to pray about adopting or fostering a child. 
God, please raise up more families to take your precious orphans for the sake of your glory. 

Jesus is the All-Satisfying Treasure!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Burgers and Watermelon

We saw a whole new side of Titus and Ainsley today.  This morning several of Ashley's friends threw her a shower. The women donated money to one of our favorite charities "147 million orphans." Ashley felt so loved. It was good for her to have a break from the kids for 3 hours and to spend time with friends.  

I managed to keep all six kids breathing so I'd say it was a success. I'm amazed that Ashley does this every day. We had so much fun. I've taken on the role of physical therapist in our house to rehab Ainsley - I was encourage by recent medical prowess in Ethiopia.   She enjoys our sessions... sometimes. This morning she was a fan. I was able to coax her into holding my hands and walk - she probably took 20 steps and at the end she let go of my hands and stood for 2 seconds. Her tiny legs shake like a person lifting a very heavy weight.  It is hard to watch.  I'm so encouraged by her trying and the way her body is starting to recover. God was so gracious to her. I feel like I continue to have a front row seat to watch how His work to expedite their arrival is restoring her. This little girl  21 days ago couldn't hold her head up and now she is walking with my help. 

Tonight, some friends invited us over to swim and eat burgers. Honestly, we were nervous about accepting. Titus and Ainsley had never seen a swimming pool much less been in one. We thought we might end up leaving in less than 30 minutes after creating a scene. Turns out, Titus was fearless. I taught him to put his face in the water in about 2 minutes. Then, he just wanted to go under again and again especially after he discovered the joys of jumping in the pool. I've never seen a kid love the water that much the first time. It may be the happiest I've seen him since we met him. 

Following swimming, we sat down to eat. The menu was burgers, hot dogs and watermelon. Ainsley decided that she loves burgers and watermelon. She ate and ate after we convinced her she should eat the red side and not the green side of the watermelon. I can't believe this is the same girl who had a feeding tube 3 weeks ago. She is rarely without food in each hand - she is comforted by it.  It is funny though to see watermelon in one hand and a burger in the other.  

We are all adjusting well. It is hard to have six kids - sometimes really hard. We end most days exhausted. We are loving it though. When I glance around our table at meals, I keep rejoicing that two orphans have been rescued. I can't help but remember the smells and sights of their orphanage. There was no table, little food and so little affection. Now, we don't go through a meal without hugs and plates usually go to the sink with some leftover food.  Their world has changed, our world has changed. We're more tired but we'll have all of eternity to rest and recover.  I am so proud of how Ethan, Kennedy, Braden and Jude have loved on Titus and Ainsley.  They have done so well and have made the transition so much easier. I'm praying that all our kids grow up with a love for the poor and orphans.  Jude keeps telling me he wants to be a daddy when he grows up and he wants to adopt.  It makes me smile to see him plan to love. 

Thank you for your continued prayers. 


Friday, May 27, 2011

We're home!

We're home!

The person who said after 3 kids it's not any harder to have more never actually had more. I'd say having six kids is pretty hard. We're so thankful our in-laws offered to stay a couple extra days to help us get the house running.  They took off two weeks of work to serve and help. Trust me - this was no vacation in the Caribbean. They have worked so hard to help us. 

Our Little E has been diagnosed with stridor, which is a tightening of the airway in her throat. It causes a terrible whistling sound when she breathes.  The doctors believe that it is being caused by an infection and will not require surgery to correct. She is being treated with steroids. Her other problem and the root of all the past problems is her severe malnutrition and protein deficiency. Our doctors believe she was was malnourished for a long time and that it will take probably 6 months for her to begin to catch up to her age. She is about 13 pounds and 20 months old.  She is home now. Our doctors at Texas Children's were a bit divided on releasing her but thought we could feed and medicate her at home. She has been isolated in hospital rooms for 8 weeks so we think it will be good for her to be in an environment where she is pushed to move and play. She is completely immobile currently.    

Big E is loving the attention and fun of the house. Ethan, Kennedy, Braden and Jude have done so well at loving and sharing with him. They have made his transition so much easier. Although he is quickly learning English, he mostly just does what they do. Their obedience has been a huge help.  We are working on the fits of a two year old who has had no parental oversight. I really hurt for him and the loss he has experienced in his life. He seems surprised that I hug and pursue him in his fits.  It seems like he is accustom to crying in loneliness. Tonight, we read about how Solomon prayed for wisdom when he became king. I desperately need wisdom about how to guide, lead and discipline him. I am reminded that there is a path that leads to destruction and I have a huge responsibility to help him see and avoid that path. Our Father both loves and disciplines His children and I pray that I will be a wise, good and serious father like Him.  

We are thankful to be home. We were not prepared to bring them home this early but we are so grateful for His work to do so.  It has been a difficult couple of weeks. We have been stretched more than ever before. I'm thankful for my wife who is so willing to do the difficult for His glory. On next Tuesday, four adults and six kids will become 1 adult and six kids during the day. My wife will love and care for them excellently.  Proverbs 31:10 "An excellent wife who can find?  She is far more precious than jewels.". 

Please pray for wisdom and strength for us in loving our children.  Please pray that Little E eats and continues to gain weight.  


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sitting on the stream's bank

Top ten things you learn from 2 yr old Ethiopian after 25 hours on a plane
10. Airplane food is actually really good
9.  Seat belts are from the devil
8.  Bumpy is fun
7.  Fits come in all languages
6.  Butter can be consumed as a separate food 
5.  Flushing the toilet is the bomb
4.  Chapstick can be used as leg moisturizer 
3.  Sleeping is easy
2.  Hand sanitizer should applied first to the neck and face
1.  When he says "caca", something smelly is about to happen very quickly. 

One of my favorite Proverbs is the Lord directs the hearts of kings like a stream of water.  It is an odd analogy to say that hearts of kings are directed like streams of water. Why this analogy and not a bit in a horses mouth or a rudder on a boat?  Water willing seeks the lowest point. The stream bed draws the water that willingly comes. We were eyewitnesses to this Proverb throughout our 10 days in Ethiopia. 

As you probably heard us explain, the process in Ethiopia is a two trip process. In order to adopt, the adopting parents must appear before an Ethiopian court, which sets in motion a series of steps necessary to request a US visa. These steps are taking 6-8 weeks in Ethiopia recently. God had a different stream than 6-8 weeks for Little E.  The kings' hearts willingly sped up the process.  

As we navigated our way through the Ethiopian processes of getting an Ethiopian court order, a letter from the Ministry of Women's and Children's Affairs, a new birth certificate with their new name, a Ethiopian passport, medical exams and US visas, we were not asked, not once, for money to speed things up and we never offered.  We just laid out the prayer requests, asked you to join us in our prayer requests and God made a new stream bed. Water flowed willingly. The first four Ethiopian processes were completed in less than 24 hours. The comment from a senior Embassy official was "I don't what you did but I've never seen an adoption move this quickly through the Ethiopian processes."  The comment from our Ethiopian attorney who has been processing adoptions for over 10 years "did not think it was possible."  The comment from our translator who works almost exclusively with adoptive families "I've never seen anything like this."  

In the technical sense of the word, this was not a miracle. It was not a supernatural event like making water into wine or making a blind man see. He chose to work through natural means to bring about His glory. He cut a new stream bed and we watched from the banks the water go streaming by with ease while people remarked how the streams never came this way in the past. 

As I'm writing this, we are 3 hours from Houston having just entered US airspace. It has been a long way from Ethiopia with a 2 year old who has no where to run and play. We weren't prepared to find our daughter so sick and weak and we didn't prepare to bring them home this time.  However, we are thankful and grateful for His purposes. In Matthew 8, Jesus says that the man was born blind so that God might be glorified. We pray that He has been glorified in the sickness of Little E and the cutting of a new stream bed. This long on an airplane also reminds us of the desperate spiritual condition of our children and the need for a new stream to be cut in their hearts where Living Water will flow.  

After we arrived in Houston, we took Little E directly to Texas Children's Hospital. After an initial exam, our doctor determined that she had to be admitted.  She had a whole battery of tests run tonight. Hopefully, we have a good idea about the diagnosis and treatment plan in the morning.

We pray that this week has changed us by more than adding 2 more kids to Team Brown. We pray that the Christ dependence of the week in Addis carries into life in Houston.  We pray that we will pray for faith and hope in Christ for us and our kids as much as we prayed for their homecoming. We pray we will be diligent in teaching them the truth of God. We pray that our household will be full of grace and patience as we adjust and our new arrivals learn English. We pray that God would give us wisdom as we consider how to discipline them in a Christ-exalting way. We pray that God would use this experience to help us be better advocates for orphans in the world. Pray that Little E recovers quickly and her doctors have wisdom. 

Many thanks to all who have prayed for this day and all who met us at the airport today. We feel so loved that you would come join us as brought the kids home to Houston. 


Monday, May 23, 2011

Prayer request

Pray for the Browns during their flight that they would be able to find a way to feed and hydrate Little E.  Also pray for them as they sit on an airplane for 20 hours with a two year old.  Pray for grace as they journey with two children that do not speak English and have never flown on an airplane before.

Team Brown is heading home!

(This is Shannon filling in)

Praise the Lord!  The U.S. embassy approved both of the kids' visas and Team Brown is headed to the airport!  They will be getting into Houston tomorrow morning around 10 a.m.  Jay and Ashley have requested that everyone who is willing to come to the airport to welcome them back home.  So come and celebrate with them!
Flight info is as follows:
They will be coming in from Dubai via Emirates flight EK213.   They will arrive into Houston Intercontinental Airport tomorrow morning (Tuesday) at 10am in Terminal E.

Will let you know if there are any other updates.  Thanks for all of your prayers!  Thank you Lord for finding favor on the Browns.  Please continue to pray for Jay, Ashley, Big E and Little E as they travel back home.  And hope to see you at the airport tomorrow.

Little E passed her tests

Praise 1 - Little E passed medical diagnostic tests.  Embassy physician working hard to clear us before Embassy appt at 1pm.  God is moving with favor towards these orphans.