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.  

His, 
jb       

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. 

His,
Jb

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.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tomorrow is a worry-wart

It's Sunday in Ethiopia and we were greeted again with the very early morning echoes of the call to prayer by the Muslim mosques followed by the groans of the Orthodox Church.  It's bad every morning but Sunday is brutal - nearly an hour and a half. So, I slept with earplugs - that is I slept until the chanting started and then I laid awake listening to muffled chanting. It was good prayer time for Ashley and me.  Thankfully, there were no middle of the night kills by hyaenas, at least, none that I heard.

Like last week, we went to church this morning at International Evangelical Church. It is fun to be in a church that is so culturally diverse. I met tons of people from Ethiopia plus Zimbabwe, Holland, Canada and Oklahoma. I was thinking this is what heaven will be like - people from every tribe, tongue, language and nation.  The message was from Luke 12 about our need to keep our lives free of greed but instead be generous with what we have. If he had preached that lesson last week, I would have thought how irrelevant to preach on this in such a poor city.  A private toilet (inside or outside) is a very rare luxury. Yet, after spending 8 days here I see the relevance. It's not that Ethiopians are greedy people as compared to Americans.  It's that we tend to plan for a future too near to today.  We don't plan and spend our money for treasure far enough into the future.  This is a problem only the Gospel solves.  The people of Addis need the same thing the people of Houston need - Jesus and He is seen through His Word. Praise God for faithful servants around the world who proclaim the whole counsel of His Word regardless of the economic condition of the people they shepherd.

After church, we visited Little E in the hospital again. It was the best time we've had with her all week. We nearly had the room to ourselves. We sat on her bed and talked and tried to play with her. We got to feed her a couple of times, change a dirty diaper and change her clothes. It is so good to get to care for some of her needs but it was hard to look at her body unclothed.  She is so small.  Thankfully, she was the best we've seen her all week. I pulled out my best 1 year old daddy trick and achieved a sustained smile and the weak sound of an initial giggle. She really warmed to us today. It is so hard to see child in this condition, especially your own daughter, but the improvement over yesterday was encouraging. Thank you God for a step of healing and a sweet time of bonding.  My favorite moment was when after holding her and letting her lay her head on my shoulder she cried when I tried to lay her down. She liked my embrace more than her bed. I guess former orphans love squeezes as much as orphans. 

Tomorrow is a big day, God willing.  We complete the medical tests in the early am and then have our Embassy appointment at 1pm. If we pass, we get their visas and we plan to hop on a late night flight home. This has been our prayer - God please help us get her home quickly.  We need God's favor on our little girl to pass the tests. I will fall asleep tonight praying that she passes.       

All week I have been attempting to take every anxious thought captive with Jesus' command in Matthew 6:34 "therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow."  Preceding this command, Jesus tells us to look at the birds and fields. The birds eat. The fields are not naked. Jesus says do not be anxious because we are of more value and our Father knows our needs. Right after the command, Jesus says tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Jesus says tomorrow is a worry-wart. I am a deeply loved adopted child of a Father who not only knows my every need but has the power to meet those needs. I am not a worry-wart.  We will try to sleep tonight like loved children and let tomorrow roll around all night in worry.

Thank you for the unrelenting encouragement and prayers. We have not responded to every email because it would be a full-time job. You love us so well. Thank you!

His,
jb       

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hard pressed; not crushed

We woke up this morning at 5:45am to take Little E to the clinic for her second of three tests required by the Embassy. We were surprised to find that Big E spent the night in the hospital with her but we were happy to get to take him with us.  As I walked through the shared living room of our guest house, my iPhone downloaded all the emails I received through the African night from our friends back in the States. This is highly unusual as the Internet is so slow here and only works when the power is on, the modem is working and the traffic isn't blocked.  Typically, it takes about an hour of work to get a connection to download emails. It happened in seconds this morning. God was good to us!

As we jumped in a van with our translator, Bizzy (he's going to get an entire blog entry when I get home), I saw my email had downloaded and a close friend had sent me 2 Corinthians 4:8-9. Those verses begin with the great encouragement of Paul that they were "hard pressed on every side but not crushed."  Amen!  This is our great hope in this life that we cannot be crushed.  We cannot be crushed for we are His adopted orphans. Our pain and hardship this week is nothing compared to the sufferings of our merciful Savior to accomplish our adoption. We are hard pressed but not crushed because He was crucified for us.

We got to the hospital and picked up the E's, the nanny who stays with Little E and a nurse from the hospital.  We have to hire a nurse to bring to the clinic to draw the sample.  When we arrived at the diagnostic clinic to have fluid drawn from Little E's nose tube, we were told that the clinic didn't provide the syringes to draw the fluid but we had to provide our own.  When I return home, I'm going to open a BYOB McDonalds (that's bring your own burgers not beer).  We were sent down the street to a pharmacy where you can buy your own syringes along with self-prescribing all the common prescription drugs we have in the US.  Unfortunately, I missed the day that my professor explained in Intermediate Accounting 2 that a gastric aspirate test on an NG tube must be performed with a 3ml syringe not a 5ml syringe.  One more trip back and I got it right.  Once back at the clinic, I watched as the nurse barely attached the syringe to the tube but got no suction. At this point, I took over like a guy who'd stayed a Holiday Inn Express. I tightened the syringe to the NG tube and drew out some disgusting looking stuff. Then, I squeezed the syringe into the test tube, replaced the cap on the NG tube and handed it to the tech. I walked out so discouraged. My Little E has been trying to survive horrific malnutrition and a series of infections with medical 'experts' who have so little training and tools.  God we need a miracle!  We need the kind of miracle where hungry lions lay still while a man uses their soft fur as a pillow for the night. 

After returning Little E to the hospital, we spent the rest of the morning at the orphanage playing with the kids. See the "Squeezed" entry - it happens every time. We played ball, colored, taught some English and handed out stickers and Pez. God please bring Godly parents to love these orphans. They are just like the kids that live under my roof in Houston. They laugh at the same silly dad tricks, want to do everything again and love to be chased and tickled. They so need a dad to hold them tightly and tell them of our great God who sent His Son to rescue us.

We spent the afternoon trying to investigate a backup plan for next week if we can't get Little E home. It was a futile effort. I pray it was futile because His miracles don't need backup plans.  I'll just add the afternoon of May 21 to the hard pressed column of the week. We've been told by many about the best hospital in Ethiopia and after visiting it and talking with a doctor there it just isn't equipped to handle Little E either. They actually suggested the hospital she nearly died in 3 weeks ago.  Prayed more in the van on the way back to my only Hope.

Today was a tough one. We're tired, hungry, discouraged, homesick, smelly, unsure but we are not crushed. Yes, we are not crushed!  Corporate worship tomorrow will be sweet for us.

Not crushed,
jb               

Desperate for God

Hey friends,

Today was a very hard day. I feel like it seems like more than i can bear. We are still trusting Him. We went to take our kids to testing for the us embassy medical.  We are in a difficult spot as Little E needs significant medical help and is acquiring more infections, which means it's more difficult to bring her into the country.

Please, please, please pray for us to be able to leave here after our us embassy appointment on Monday at 1 pm.

We are helpless and need God desperately.

Thanks be to God who loves us.

Jesus is the All-Satisfying Treasure!
Ashley Brown

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May 19th Jesus is Glorious!

Opening my Bible this morning I was deeply deeply needing the Holy Spirit to use the Word to encourage and strengthen me. I open to John 11 and I read, "This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of Man may be glorified."  I began to cry. "Yes, Lord Jesus. Be glorified here. Show us that you are the Resurrection and the Life."

Rarely have I seen the hand of God carry us through a day more than He has this week. Again and again, He is making a way for us and showing us His glory.

Jay woke up today still feeling bad, but he went out with Beezi to try to get everything we need from the government. He begged and pleaded with people to ask them to help us get the documents that we needed faster. He showed then a picture of our sweet daughter with a feeding tube in her nose, her head slumped over because it is too heavy to hold up, an iv in her arm, a peeling and bald head and her looking very malnourished. God moved their wills like a stream of water and they helped us. Praise Him!

I went with our 2 little ones to get passport photos and go get their medical approval done. Here is our snag. Our little ones have to have a tb test that takes three days for the us embassy. I praise God for the doctors who examined her today. It has been unclear what her condition really is. The 2 doctors here do not agree. We know now that her main problem is severe malnutrition. This has made her vulnerable to infection and sickness. The doctors think she has pneumonia and we are notsure about tb. She has been tested 3 times for it already and it has come back negative so I am very thankful for that. The doctors were kind and clear. The head doctor assured us that when she has good care she will get over her malnutrition and be fine. She is so weak and frail. This word was so encouraging.

I got to spend a good amount of time with our kids today. I loved and treasured every minute. Big E fell asleep in my lap 2 times and I just held him tight. He is so fun. He smiles easily with a huge beautiful smile. At first he was a little reluctant about me today. I think he is guarding himself from more rejection. He was really letting us love him by the end of the day. We had to leave him at 4 pm to run more document errands. He put on his little back pack to come with us. We assured him we would see him tomorrow.

Little E always seems like she is on the verge of sleep but we got to snuggle while she slept. She will make great eye contact with me now. She puts out her arms just a little to be picked up. She loves to be held. We went and visited her late tonight to arrange a nurse for her test tomorrow. We gave her some juice we bought and she so wanted to drink it. She threw it all up. We felt so bad for her but right after she half smiled 3 times. We got the little photo talking book that we made for her and she smiled at the pictures of Ethan, Kennedy, Braden and Jude. I was so excited to see her half smile, her lips tilted up. She smiled for Big E on Monday, but I didn't see it. She does not lift of use her hand with an iv and she barely uses her other hand. I think it just requires too much energy. But she used her iv hand to show us a place on her arm where the skin is raw from her last iv. She tried a little bit to make a noise. (Today she made 4 sounds that sounded like she was barely able to get out a sound of a word. Praise Him!) She was very concerned about this spot and we asked her if it hurt. She just kept pointing to it. We told her it was okay and kissed it and rubbed her arm.

Please pray that we would all see the glory of God  through this and worship and believe in Him more. It so encourages me to see Him care so personally and intimately about every moment of my day. The fact that He cares for us this way is an amazing display of the riches of His love. Rarely do we get to see His purposes for the ways He has led us. It has been so clear this week. I will tell you more about this when we get home.

Please pray that we will be cleared by medical and will be able to leave on Monday.

Please pray that Little and Big E will believe that we love them and God loves them.

Please pray Little E will continue to heal and we will know how to help her.

Please pray that the hurt and the tears that I have for this orphans would not cease. I feel like every moment I am on the verge of sobbing. If you could see our little girl and the boney babies you would too.

Thank you so much for your encouraging notes and prayers. It means so much to us. The power goes off here and the Internet is spotty, but when we get to read your notes it feels like God Himself is whispering to us, " I am for you. I am with you."

We love you Ethan, Kennedy, Braden and Jude. We long for you. We miss you so so so much. Jesus is worthy of the sacrifice of having us gone. We can not wait to hear all your stories.

Thank you our wonderful Mimi and Papa.

Thank you Shannon for posting this for me. Blogger does not work here.

I will post a forward facing picture when we get home. 

Jesus is the All-Satisfying Treasure!
Ashley Brown         

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May 18th 2 New Members of Team Brown!

Trusting in Isaiah 41:10
Fear not for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am you God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous night hand.

Big E and Little E have officially entered Team Brown! We can not wait for you to meet them.

I praise God that he granted us grace for Jay to sit through 3 hours of waiting through court. He felt very bad.

I praise God that the judge had mercy on us and granted us the court decree this afternoon.

I praise God that our agency's director here is going to try to help us get our things done tomorrow so we can submit our paper work to the embassy.

I praise God that I got to meet Ashley York, a young women who is here trying to help the orphanages. I will tell you some horrific stories soon.

I praise God that I got to see Little E tonight and the orphanage director told me that Little E is not putting her head down and hugging me because she is sick but just because she likes to hug. I praise God for another snuggle bug.

Please continue to pray for her. She does not seem to be I proving. She is weak and has no hair. Her head is covered with peeling skin. She is so beautiful but she really seems to be struggling to breathe.

Please pray for a health clearance for Little E so they will let her in the united states.

Please pray for favor with the government to be able to make a special exceptions to process their paperwork very quickly.

Please pray for Jay. He is still sick and feeling bad. We actually think it might be viral. 2 of the nannies got it at the same time.  He spent the whole afternoon in bed while I ran around.

Please pray for God to prepare all of Team Brown's hearts as we come home.

Please pray for us to trust, hope and have more joy in our amazing Savior.

We can not thank you enough for praying for us, He is always good.
I promise to try to send pictures tomorrow. So much more to say but I am so tied after 3 hours of sleep. I am racked with hurt for these orphans. It is way worse than I thought.

Jesus is My All-Satisfying Treasure!
Ashley Brown

We passed!

We passed court today. Big E and Little E are officially Browns. Praise Him!  Thank you for all the prayers for this day.

Ashley and I got traveler's illness last night. She feels better this afternoon but I'm running a fever and symptoms continue. Please pray that antibiotic wipes this out quickly.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Praise the Lord for May 17th

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name. Psalm 103

We bless the LORD today for His presence covering over us like the cloud overshadowed the Israelites as they walked in the desert. We praise Him for being our Strength, our Hope, our Help, our Protector, and our Treasure today.

I praise Jesus today that He gave us a good deep sleep last night. We were hurting for sleep and He provided.

I praise Jesus that Beezi was back to be our interpreter today. He is an amazing man of God. Loving. Kind. Wise. I can’t wait to tell you his story but that will come later. He loves the Lord and knows His Word. He not only helps us to translate what people are saying but to discern what is going on.
I praise God we got to see the Adoption Avenues Foster Care home. The children there were precious and beautiful. When I see them I can sense how precious they are to God. One little 18 month old girl followed us around as we took the tour. She wanted to see her picture on the camera. I took a picture of her and showed it to her. She loved it. 

I praise the Lord for our Ethiopian Agency doctor who God used to save Little E’s life. He said when he went to the government hospital. He knew she was not properly being taken care of. Father God, please, please send Christ-loving, selfless workers to love these babies. Beezi said it is not a matter of resources but a lack of people who hurt for these children with the love of Christ.

I praise Jesus that when we went to see Little E this morning she ate very well.  When we walked into the hospital, she was laying down and her head was propped up on a pillow.  She was holding a chocolate in her non IV hand. It was melting all into her hand. Nanny H tried to feed her some but she did not want it. I asked if we could wash her hand. I washed her hand and wiped it on my jeans. They sat her up on the bed and brought her some pasta soup to eat. Jay fed it to her and she liked it and ate it well. It was so sweet to watch. She seemed very hungry. She ate every bit of the soup. A little boy from the orphanage was there too. He is 9 years old and learning to speak English. At the orphanage yesterday he started calling me “Mama.” So now all of the children there call me “Mama.” .The older children at the orphanage are so endearing. I feel like I have gotten to know them well. I love them. It gives me such a heart for adoption for older children.  I held and rocked Little E.

I praise God that we got to learn a little more incredibly valuable information from the orphanage workers about Little E and Big E’s story. Jay asked them some questions and Beezi was there to interpret and help us navigate what they were saying. Jay  got it in on video. We are so thankful to God for the information they gave us. They told us that when they first got Little E 5 months ago she was severely malnourished. This helps us explain why she was already malnourished when the Shigella hit.

I praise God for the opportunity to pray over Little E and the other 4 babies in the room. So they added another baby to Edil’s  room. The new baby is so little and just bones. She is beautiful and desperate. She looks like the smallest premie I have ever seen but with no fat. They do not cry. The workers prop a bottle on the side of their mouths and the babies eat until it falls out. I praise God we got to pray over them. God hears and I know His heart breaks for them way more than my own heart. We are broken to the core over it. 

I praise God that this afternoon we got to go back to the orphanage and see Big E. When we arrived the older children were playing on a mat outside with some of the toys we had brought. Jay scooped up Big E and we gave them all hugs and kisses. We sat back on the mat and played. Jay played soccer with some of the boys. Big E went back and forth between Jay and me to play. He knows the favored spot in my lap is his any time he wants it. He carried around a little block gun that they had made and shot at people. He is precious and energetic and fun. He giggles easily when we kiss or tickle him. I went and got some of the crayons and coloring pages we had brought and sat down with them to color. They were constantly showing me their work for approval. I replied with as much affirmation as I could, “Betam Tiroo. Gobez.” Very Good. Good job. Eyob cried again when we left. We ache for him.

I praise God that the orphanage workers have had so much favor on us. They are believers too and have been so gracious to us. Many families only get to see their kids 2 times on their visit and for only 1 hour per child. We have seen our children for several hours each day. God has had so much mercy in the favor we have enjoyed with these workers. The whole way in the van the orphanage worker talked to us and answered our questions. They have complimented how much we love the children.  Praise Him!

I praise God that we got to go back to the hospital to see Little E and the Agency doctor met us again to give us the letter we needed to appeal to the court and to the US embassy. He said that she looked like she was doing much better and you could tell just by her skin. We still have not seen her smile. We all prayed over her and the other babies. Jay held her hand to tell her good-bye and she did not want to let go. She just kept squeezing it.
Praise Him! The US Embassy said they would be willing to expedite our case.

I praise God for my amazing husband who has done an awesome job affirming and encouraging the workers. He seems always to say just the right thing. He is wise and encouraging and totally endearing. He is ministering to the prosperity gospel people here with the word of God. This is the Spirit of Christ in Him! Praise God!

We love you all and we are so thankful for you. 

Please pray that the court would rule in favor of expediting our case in our court tomorrow.

Please pray that our agency would be able and willing to get the documents together for us to get their birth certificates and passports.

Please pray the God would continue to heal little E. She is still very weak and fatigued. Her breath is short and she seems be struggling.

Please pray for Big E’s and Little E’s hearts as they learn to love us and sense our love for them. 

Jay twisted his ankle today. He may not be quite ready for the Harlem Globetrotters after all - He is in pain. Please pray God would heal it.

Tomorrow is a big day. We look forward to tasting of the Lord’s goodness to us. We praise Him! 


Jesus is the All-Satisfying Treasure!
Ashley Brown

Monday, May 16, 2011

Squeezed

It's 10:40pm and it's pitch dark in our room except for the light of my iPhone as I type. The power has been out since about 6pm. We ate dinner by candlelight with 2 other couples who are adopting and staying in the same guest house.  It was great to hear their stories. One couple is adopting for the second time from Ethiopia twin girls about 20 months old and the other couple is adopting for the first time a 28 month old girl. It was fun to celebrate with them. They have much more typical adoption stories but God had something different for our good and His glory.  Like us, they have court dates this week. Thankfully, all three of their girls are healthy. They have been a great encouragement to us here.

Today, we went early to the orphanage to play with Big E. We had a great time playing with Big E and all the other kids. Big E is so fun. He will fit in great with our family.  He is strong, focused, determined and a little feisty.  It's good to see that he can hang with older boys since he'll have 3 bros soon.

I promise you have never felt a squeeze like the hug of a lonely orphan. It is unforgettably strong.  They long to be loved and you can feel it in your soul as they squeeze your neck and plant a big wet one on your cheek.  It's not the passing church hug that greets a friend but a hug that says don't let go of me I don't have anybody else to love me.  There was a great deal of hugging with all the orphans during and in between kicking a soccer ball, teaching the kids to dribble between their legs and making a behind the back pass.  While I busy pretending to be a Harlem Globetrotter, Ashley was having her hair braided by 6 kids simultaneously.  It was a good look as long as you're already married.

After lunch, we went to the hospital to visit Little E.  She was sitting up and eating injera.  She looked much better than yesterday.  Shortly after we arrived, we met with her doctor.  He said Little E was "lucky" to be alive given how bad she was when she arrived.  It was not Lady Luck who has been restoring our girl. Our doctor told us that Little E developed pneumonia yesterday and was now on another antibiotic.  She remains very sick. Her breathing is labored and by the time we left she was again struggling to hold her head up. While we didn't get any smiles despite our best parenting efforts, she did reach out her arms to both Ashley and I to be held.  Her nanny H is loving her well.  Please pray for nanny H as you pray for Little E.

Yesterday, Little E had a room by herself. Today, she was joined by 3 infants. Infants who had been found abandoned and taken by the police and given to our orphanage.  The youngest was about a week old. He was so dehydrated and had lost so much weight that his skin was as wrinkled as the most wrinkled elderly person you have ever seen. He was bones and skin. I will struggle to sleep tonight as I think about his condition. God please have mercy on this little boy.  The other two were in terrible condition also as they weighed about 8lbs but were 3-4 months old.  This is just a glimpse of what is happening in over 140 million cases in the world.

We prayed this morning for His daily good and like every other day in all of history He provided. He is faithful to thousand generations and not one of His promises fail!

Please pray for us to hold fast that Jesus is enough, that we do not grow weary in doing good (we're a bit homesick today), that our kids' Pappa has great strength while he covers Tues to Fri in Houston by himself, that Little E continues to recover, that Big E begins to understand his adoption, that I comfort and encourage Ashley, that our final steps of completing the adoptions are speedy and that we do all for His glory.

Tomorrow, we are going to look at a fostercare home that could be where we move Big and Little E following our court date.  Please add discernment to the prayer list above.

Former orphan squeezed eternally by a loving Father,
jb

Faith Required

We woke up this morning (Monday) thanking God for our trial. It is not what we would have picked - we would have picked a healthy vibrant girl who ran into our arms. However, our pick would not have required as much faith.  This requires faith. We are dependent not capable. We are weak not strong. We are ignorant not intelligent. We are struggling with being unable to communicate in the native language, particularly with the technical jargon of medicine. We can't just buy the medicines she needs to restore her health.  This trial is not fixable by us. It requires faith.

So, we wake up this morning with two thoughts simple Christ-exalting thoughts.  First, Jesus is enough. As Ashley says, He is the All-satisfying Treasure!  In our trial, Jesus is enough for us. We need nothing more. He has given us more but we need only Him. Second, He will provide bread for today. Like the manna and cloud by day, the Israelites saw God provide daily. He will be faithful today for our good and His glory. So, we ask for our daily bread from our Father who gives only good gifts. He doesn't promise to give what we ask but He never gives a stone when we ask for bread or a serpent when we ask for a fish. So, today we pray for bread. We can't wait to see what good He gives.

Jesus, You are enough and Father, please give us our daily good!

Loved by Him,
jb

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday afternoon

We got to meet our kids this afternoon.  It was amazing!  Big E ran to me immediately and wanted me to pick him up and he didn’t want to get down for a long time.  We played in a courtyard with all of the kids from the orphanage and had a great time.  It is staggering the number of children in a small space and it is heartbreaking how these kids long for someone to come and get them.  We gave Big E a picture book of our family and he wouldn’t put it down.  Then, we left and went to the hospital to see Little E.  I was not emotionally prepared to see a hospital in Ethiopia.  Little E is in much worse shape than we had hoped.  She is the size of a 9 month old and barely able to hold her head up.  She was very lethargic and not very responsive to sounds or movement.  However, there is a beautiful nanny who has stayed with her for the last 2 ½ weeks and loves her like a grandchild.  Little E still has a nose tube for feeding.  While we were at the hospital, the folks from the orphanage started what could best be described as a freestyle rap session beat to which Big E showed off some mad dance skills - I can’t wait to post the video when we get home.  I’ll teach him English and he can teach me to dance. Best part was that it brought a smile to Little E. We are meeting with her doctor tomorrow and hope to gain some more information about her condition.  We were told that the doctor is going to try and expedite her adoption process so that she can receive better care.  Big E cried when we left – our hearts break for this little guy who has dealt with so much suffering both personal and watching his sister.  Unfortunately, the internet connection is too slow for us to send pictures.
 
We are amazed and thankful for the love and care that the orphanage workers and director have for these orphans.  I can only imagine the eternal reward that they will receive in heaven.
 
Please pray for Little E to recover and for the government to look favorably on her case.  Please pray that I will be an understanding husband to Ashley – this is so hard for anyone but for a mom to see her child in that condition is terribly difficult.
 
His,
jb

Sunday morning

God is good. We arrived late last night along with all of our bags.  Last night was crazy navigating the airport and customs. We got to sleep around 11pm. We were awakened with the Muslim calls to prayer at 4:45am. As the loud speakers throughout the city echoed with chants and prayers for 45 minutes, we prayed and thanked God for His mercy towards us. Thankfully, God put us back to sleep when the chants stopped. He was so kind to do so. We're struggling a bit with jet lag and altitude (Addis is at 8,300ft) but nothing serious. We went to church this morning. It was good to say to God corporately what we had been saying privately. The sermon was encouraging from Matthew 5 about the command to rejoice in persecution because we are blessed. The best news today is we are leaving in 15 minutes to meet our kids to see Big E at the orphanage and Little E at the hospital.
 
Tasting and seeing His goodness,
jb

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday night

It’s 7:11pm on Saturday evening and we’re at 37,000 ft.  I just looked up at the flight map monitor and saw we were over Southern Sudan.  My brother and friend, Peter Swann, has given his life for the people of this new nation.  As we fly over, I am challenged again by his words at the Aid Sudan banquet a few weeks ago that we should have joy-filled anguish for the lost.  What looks like empty dry desert to me from the airplane window is home to some of the most neglected and persecuted people groups in the world.  I am praying for the people of Southern Sudan their new found national freedom would be an impotence for an awesome work of God among them.  Oh God make their souls pant for You as a deer pants for water! 

 
His, jb

Guten Morgen!

We are sitting in the Frankfurt airport awaiting our flight to Addis Abba. We are grateful for a few hours of sleep. I spent the periods between the naps praying that our luggage would make it to Addis with us. I'd be happy to wear my favorite pair of shorts and comfortable polo for the whole trip but we have 4 75lb duffle bags packed with things for the orphanage. It's the stuff we take for granted, like shoes and underwear. In the pictures of our son, he is wearing no socks and sandals too big for him. We solve that in Houston by driving 10 minutes to Stride Rite. After praying and thinking this way through the night, I woke up and read through Romans 8 and 2 Timothy 2. Our spiritual reality before our adoption was much worse than cold feet and bad shoes. We were slaves. Slaves to a master who desired to annihilate us. Thanks be to Him who adopted us as sons. He who adopted us calls us to live purposeful lives for His glory, like soldiers, farmers and athletes that Paul gives as an illustration (2 Tim 2). God grant us the strength to do as you call!

His,
jb

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pray For One Thing

We are at the airport about to get on our plane to Ethiopia and I just wanted to tell you some of our prayer requests. I really have 1.
1. This first prayer request is the foundation and filter of our other prayers. Please pray God would grant love, faith and joy in Jesus for the praise of His glory. not just more love, faith and joy for us but for us and you and my kids in Ethiopia, and my kids in Houston, and orphanage staff workers, and my parents, and our friends, and our kid's friends. We know this is the will of God for us. We do not know if health, or airplane flights on time are His will for us, but we know love, faith and joy are. I am praying our love for Jesus increases. I am praying He draws near to us and shows us more of His beauty. I pray our love for people increases. I pray our dependence on Him increases. I pray our trust in His goodness to us increases. I pray our joy in Christ increases as we experience His love and trust Him.
2. Please pray that our 2 children in Ethiopia would feel loved by us and by God.
3. Please pray we develop a good relationship with the orphanage manager and workers. Please pray we are able to meet with our children for more than 1 hour a day. We have heard this is determined by the orphanage director.
4. Please pray we pass court on May 18th. sometimes people do not pass court the first time.
5. Please pray our little Girl E continues to get better. We think she is still in the hospital, but off the feeding tube. She is continuing to get better.
6. Please pray we do the work of God He desires for us to do while we are there. We want to really sense from the Spirit the words or actions of faith He wants us to take. We feel like we are get to be the eyes for so many who would love to be in our spot. We want to see it well for you and communicate it well to you. This is a work of the Spirit.
7. We are going to get to meet our Compassion child, (we love Compassion International) and visit a compassion site next Thursday. Please pray for us to encourage their work and faith in Jesus.
8. Please pray for strength, faith and patience for my parents as they take care of my kids in Houston.
9. Pray that God would do a fresh work in us as we walk among orphans and the poor.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Best Mother's Day Present!

Psalm 103: 2-5 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity,who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit,who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."
This is the best mother's day gift. We just got this news tonight from the doctor in Ethiopia. We praise Jesus for healing our little girl in Ethiopia. It was so sweet of Him to show us His steadfast love and mercy through this.
Here's the note. 
"Edil is doing fine no diarrhea, no cough, no fever. She is taking food orally. Still there is NG tube feeding with her special milk. She has special attendant. Her checkup for TB is negative. Her leg edema has improved she lost like 300g because of this edema, but i am very hopeful that she will start putting in weight in few days."
Thank you, God for this precious gift for Mother's Day. I receive it as love and a glorious display of the riches of your mercy!
Jesus is the All-Satisfying Treasure!
Ashley 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

She is improving. Join me in the fight for FAITH!

The doctor in Ethiopia said that our Baby E is still improving. Thank you so much God! All glory to you. Thank you for hearing us and choosing to answer us in this way. Her diarrhea has stopped. She is taking some feeding by mouth. She does not have a fever. She is coughing less. She still has an IV and needs the Kwashiokor milk. Please continue to pray for her healing and the presence of the Spirit to fill her with comfort. I have spent hours and hours today trying to figure out how to get her some vitamin supplements they requested. Please pray God would help.
I have to say that I am having to battle anxiety right now. I just wanted you to know that in the midst of this it can feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders. I just got sick and have a fever. Jay has been sick. We are doing some remodeling to our house and we are putting in a new pool. This is the last 3 weeks of school for my kids. They have parties galore. We leave in a week and  a half for our court date in Ethiopia. All I want to do is stay on my knees for Edil. It is so cool how God uses trials to clarify what matters. I love times when I am so desperate I do not want to get off my knees.
So I am listening to Piper's series Battling Unbelief, http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/by-series/battling-unbelief, specifically the Anxiety sermon. They are may be my favorite Piper sermons, but I love 1 & 2 Peter.)  The Christian life is a fight for faith. 2 Tim 4:7 God commands us not  to be anxious but trust Him Matthew 6: 25,27, 31 and 34. The root of anxiety is unbelief in the promises of God. 2 Responses. 1. This is not good news. It is good news and bad news. Like finding out you have cancer. You need to know you have it so you can fight it before it kills you. 2. How can I have any assurance at all?
Listen to Piper and learn how to fight. "My answer to this concern goes like this: Suppose you are in a car race and your enemy who doesn't want you to finish the race throws mud on your windshield. The fact that you temporarily lose sight of your goal and start to swerve does not mean that you are going to quit the race. And it certainly doesn't mean that you are on the wrong racetrack. Otherwise the enemy wouldn't bother you at all. What it means is that you should turn on your windshield wipers and use your windshield washer.

What I mean is this: when anxiety strikes and blurs our vision of God's glory and the greatness of the future that he plans for us, this does not mean that we are faithless, or that we will not make it to heaven. It means our faith is being attacked. At first blow our belief in God's promises may sputter and swerve. But whether we stay on track and make it to the finish line depends on whether we set in motion a process of resistance. Whether we fight back against anxiety. Will we turn on the windshield wipers and will we use our windshield washer?
The Testimony of Scripture
Psalm 56:3 says, "When I am afraid, I put my trust in thee." Notice: it does not say, "I never struggle with fear." Fear strikes and the battle begins. So the Bible does not assume that true believers will have no anxieties. Instead the Bible tells us how to fight when they strike.
For example, 1 Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you." It does NOT say, you will never feel any anxieties to cast onto God. It says, when the mud splatters your windshield and you lose temporary sight of the road and start to swerve in anxiety, turn on your wipers and squirt your windshield washer.
To the One Who Struggles Daily with Anxiety
So my response to the person who has to deal with feelings of anxiety every day is to say: that's more or less normal. The issue is how you deal with them.
And the answer to that is: you deal with anxieties by battling unbelief. And you battle unbelief by meditating on God's Word and asking for the help of his Spirit. The windshield wipers are the promises of God that clear away the mud of unbelief. And the windshield washer fluid is the help of the Holy Spirit.
Without the softening work of the Holy Spirit the wipers of the Word just scrape over the blinding clumps of unbelief. Both are necessary—the Spirit and the Word. We read the promises of God and we pray for the help of his Spirit. And as the windshield clears so we can see the welfare that God plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), our belief grows strong and the swerving of anxiety smoothes out."
What an amazing word. May we use the trust His promises in scripture with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use your windshield wipers and wiper fluid when anxiety attacks. 
Hear Piper model how to fight for Faith:
  • When I am anxious about some risky new venture or meeting, I battle unbelief with the promise: "Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God; I will help you, I will strengthen you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand" (Isaiah 41:10).
  • When I am anxious about my ministry being useless and empty, I fight unbelief with the promise, "So shall my word that goes forth from my mouth; it will not come back to me empty but accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11).
  • When I am anxious about being too weak to do my work, I battle unbelief with the promise of Christ, "My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9), and "As your days so shall your strength be" (Deuteronomy 33:25).
  • When I am anxious about decisions I have to make about the future, I battle unbelief with the promise, "I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you" (Psalm 32:8).
  • When I am anxious about facing opponents, I battle unbelief with the promise, "If God is for us who can be against us!" (Romans 8:31).
  • When I am anxious about being sick, I battle unbelief with the promise that "tribulation works patience, and patience approvedness, and approvedness hope, and hope does not make us ashamed" (Romans 5:3–5).
  • When I am anxious about getting old, I battle unbelief with the promise, "Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save" (Isaiah 46:4).
  • When I am anxious about dying, I battle unbelief with the promise that "none of us lives to himself and none of us dies to himself; if we live we live to the Lord and if we die we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and rose again: that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living" (Romans 14:9–11).
  • When I am anxious that I may make shipwreck of faith and fall away from God, I battle unbelief with the promise, "He who began a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Christ" (Philippians 1:6). "He who calls you is faithful. He will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:23). "He is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25).]
I am printing this out and using it to fight for faith in Christ tomorrow. Trusting that when I seek Him first all these things will be added unto me in the exact measure He desires!
Thank you Father, for your great and precious promises. You are Faithful!
Jesus is the All-Satisfying Treasure!
Ashley 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thank you, God that our Baby Girl E is doing better.

I am so thankful for every day that God saves our Baby E's life. I am so thankful for every step she takes towards getting better! I just want to declare that every bit of healing is from His merciful hand! We got a report from her doctor in Ethiopia that her condition is much better than yesterday. When he visited her she was sitting up comfortably and being fed a little orally. They are concerned that she is getting another infection. Please pray with us that God would protect her or heal her from this new infection. He also said that he is hopeful that she can get better very soon. We praise you, God. Thank you.
I just wanted to tell you also thank you so much for praying with us and bearing this burden with us. Gal 6:2 says, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." You have loved us well in this. You have carried this burden with us and encouraged us to hope and trust in Christ more. I can not thank you enough for that!
We love you.
Jesus is the All-Satisfying Treasure!
Ashley 
Luke 9:24 "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."

Praise God! Our little boy E is doing fine.

We got an update that our little boy E is doing fine. Our agency told us that they think the water was contaminated and that is how the children got the bacterial infection. They are saying all the children got sick, but it was only the little ones who needed to be hospitalized or died. They said many more died that we had originally thought and several are still in the hospital. Please continue to pray for all these children. We praise God that our little boy is doing well. Thank you God for saving His life! Please, Great God, save our baby girl too.
We have no update on our little Baby E. Thank you so much for praying.
Jesus is the All-Satisfying Treasure!
Ashley
Psalm 104:1 "Bless the Lord, O my soul!
O Lord my God, you are very great!"

Monday, May 2, 2011

Please pray! Our Baby Girl E is not doing well.

Friends,
We are desperate for God to work on behalf of Our Baby Girl E!. 
My heart is so very, very burdened. It seems like she is not doing as well as we had thought. Her condition is stable but still critical. She still has severe malnutrition and anemia. They are concerned that she has Sepsis. All that we knew, but we thought that her condition was improving, not getting worse. Please, please continue to pray for her to have healing and comfort. Please pray God would allow her body to get the nutrition it so desperately needs. Please pray that she would feel the Holy Spirit's comfort and the love of God. Please pray that she does not have Sepsis. 
Please pray for Jay and I to have wisdom on how best we can help her. 
I know I can not heal her. I can't even hug her. Please pray that it would be God's will for Him to heal her.

I will make Him my Refuge and taste of His goodness. I trust Him no matter what.

Jesus is the All-Satisfying Treasure!
Ashley Brown

Romans 34:8, "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!"

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Praying for my sweet Baby E! Trusting deeply that God is good!

On Wednesday at 6:00 pm. We got a message from our agency saying that our Baby Girl E in Ethiopia, (the little girl we are adopting,) was in the hospital with the flu. We were devastated with the news and began to cry, pray and ask everyone to pray. We received an update on Thursday that it was normal for orphanages to take children to the hospital to quarantine them from the other children and get them basic medical help. At 3:00 pm on Friday we got news that our our little girl does not have a the flu but a very serious bacterial infection and she is in critical condition. Several of the other babies in the orphanage have already died. Our hearts ached for her. We desperately pleaded to God to help and asked even more people to pray for her. We know God alone is the Healer, Protector, and Comforter. He can do in an instant what we can not do in a life time. We need Him!
Praise God on Saturday we got word that she is now in stable condition. We are thankful for this news and we are praying for her body to get the nutrients it needs to heal and that she would not get a secondary infection. Please continue to pray for our sweet Baby Girl E and that God would be glorified in all this. Right now we think her brother, our our little Boy E is fine and has not gotten sick. We praise God for His protection and we are asking for it to continue.
I feel like He is teaching us so much through this:
1. It draws us to our daughter even more. We loved her already but this sickness has made us long for her and her brother even more. We can not get to them fast enough.
2. I feel like it has confirmed in our hearts that death is GAIN for those who are in Christ and yes for babies who have yet to know Him. We have talked to our kids about our Baby Girl E being sick and told them the Bible is clear that babies go to heaven if they die. 2 Samuel 12:22-23 So we are sitting out on our driveway having a picnic dinner on Friday and I am still crying. Braden says, "Daddy, all babies go to heaven! So Baby E will go to heaven if she dies and that is better." Amen, Braden. Yes, it is Gain! Kennedy says, "Baby E would get to learn about Jesus from Jesus! How cool would that be." I start laughing at the sweetness of it and Kennedy says, "Look mommy is laughing and crying at the same time."
3. It is teaching us to trust more in God and not in human resources. Being 8,344 miles from our daughter just confirms how helpless we are as humans. We need God to work and move on our behalf for the sake of His glory. Some trust in doctors and some trust in medicine, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Don't get me wrong. We love TCH, doctors, medicine and IVs but they are not our Hope or our Refuge. He is.
4. It is making us pray more fervently. I praise God that He hears and cares. When we got the good news about Baby Girl E, Braden said, "God heard us and He is healing her." I love that!
5. Even from Jay's lesson today from Psalm 34, he is teaching us to taste and see that He is good. We have no promise that He will heal our little girl. We say with David and Joel, "Who knows whether the Lord may be gracious to me..." 2 Samuel 12:22, Joel 2:14  But we do have the promise of Romans 8:31-32, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" He is for us! He will not spare giving us one good thing. 
We love you, Father. Thank you for being for us. Please heal, protect and comfort our Baby Girl E tonight. Please continue to protect our Little Boy E. Be Glorified in all!
Jesus is the All-Satisfying Treasure!
Ashley