Thursday, October 28, 2010

The First of Our Travels

Travelling: Our first flight was from Seattle to Washington D.C. on a 4.5 hour flight. We then changed planes and flew on a 777 from D.C. to Frankfurt Germany. This flight was pretty comfortable as we had a whole row to ourselves. Justus did wonderfully! Isaac loved hearing all of the German speaking that was going on. We wandered through the airport in Frankfurt a bit like a fish out of water...what gate, were we supposed to take the bus, on and on, but it worked fine and we enjoyed our final flight from Frankfurt to here which was about 2.5 hours. (Flight times are here for Cody Hilson). We met many interesting people, one man who was flying down as an american representative to help validate the local elections. When asked how he was going to do that, he really didn't know. hmmmm......ok.

Time to Reflect: It was wonderful to take a bit of time to think about how much the Lord has blessed us during this trip already. We have such a large group of people supporting us and lifting us up in prayer and encouragement. I was thinking about the amazing acts of kindness of others throughout this journey. How amazing story after amazing story has been made manifest in the acts of others. What a blessing it has been and we don't even have the children yet. We haven't but barely begun the travel part of the journey and the many manifold blessings. Thank you Lord for allowing us to go on this journey, entrusting us, and blessing us so.

We arrive: Customs was a quick process and was not an issue at all. Praise the Lord, all of our luggage arrives in tact. We travel out of the baggage claim area to find a humbly dressed man with a sign that says "Brownings". He immediately, graciously grabbed some of our luggage and uttered some words in the local tongue. I have no idea what he said, but we knew we needed to follow him. He lead us to a VERY small car for 5 people and all that luggage. "Travel light" was not what we did, especially seeing how Gabriel, Ethan, and I had so much fun buying gifts for the orphanage during a time of shopping days before we left the U.S.

The Capital City: What a beautiful place. Agriculture in the outskirts, with a meriad of modern and mainly old buildings, all mixed together, fighting for prominence. I think the older buildings were winning the contest, but it was wonderfully and entertainingly beautiful. We arrived in a back alley sitting in the car as our driver, who we now knew as Sasha was making and receiving calls, we assumed he was waiting for someone to show us in to the old building where our apartment would be.

The Universal Language: I noticed that he had a cross on his rear view mirror and so I jestured at it and tried to ask him if he was a christian. I am sure that however I tried to animate or gesture this must have been ridiculous, but he smiled and reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small and worn bible and turned through the pages. He then took out his phone and pulled up an application that had wording that I recognized as the psalms. He pushed a button and I could hear the Eastern European language being spoken, discerning only psalms and David. I said, "Psalms and King David" to my wife and he looked at me and nodded and smiled. I heard Psalm 1 being read in the native tongue and could hear by its tempo in my mind as it was being read..."Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful...". I began reciting it out loud as it was being read. Fun. I pulled out my bible and pointed to Psalm 121, which has been such a blessing for us as we remember to look to the Lord, our prayer being that the Lord would turn our burden into praise. He read it and smiled and took us in the same fashion to Psalm 41. We were reminded that the Lord cares for those that care for the poor and needy. This interaction reminded me of the story that my family recently enjoyed called, "God's Smuggler." This was a story about a man who took bibles behind the iron curtain in the 50's and 60's to places like this country. This is certainly a different city today, but what a wonderful time enjoying this universal language, the Word of God. The man in the story did the same thing, but much more detailed, using specific verses in the bible to communicate to someone else who spoke a different language.

The Apartment: Travel light! Sasha unloaded the luggage as I went into the building with another man who spoke a little bit of broken english. He was going to show us our apartment. As we went up the MANY flights of stairs and reached the sixth floor I thought of all of the luggage that we had packed. Travel light. Hmmmm and no elevator. The apartment was quaint and much nicer than the outside of the building or the old cement steps would have lead you to believe, but VERY HOT. I started to sweat immediately...ok it was the stairs. After trying so hard to communicate, the man eventually called a woman, Yulia, who spoke wonderful english. She told us that a man by the name of Niko would be stopping by around 7 or 8 o'clock to provide us with a local cell phone and would fill us in on the travel plans for our SDA appointment the next morning at 9am. Sasha took me to exchage some money and that was that.

Boys Night on the Town: Charrissa and Justus were worn out, but Isaac and I just had to go adventure out into the big unknown. We went down some roads in the direction that Sasha had earlier told me was the Center. That is about all I could make out from his speech, but he made it seem like that was where everything was. He was right. We found a TGI Fridays and a place to exchange more money. We met some great people and we were told by someone who spoke english that we should eat at a Local Restaraunt with local cuisine right by TGI Fridays. The food was all buffet style and so we just pointed at stuff, not really knowing what we were getting. Well, we knew the brauts and borscht, but other than that, we were stepping out. We had a great time and enjoyed our adventure and our selections. LOVE THE LOCAL CHOW! Not good, so much for losing some weight while here. We went to a pizza parlor to order pizza for Charrissa to be taken back to the apartment. They had wifi there and I tried desperately to FACETIME with the children back in the U.S., but I could not get it to work. All of a sudden, my phone rang asking me to join a facetime session with the browning boys, apparently Gabriel, my 9 year old boy was trying his hand at figuring out facetime as well and he was able to get it to work. Go figure, I am only a computer programmer. I guess some things are better left to 9 year olds. I answered the request and in no time we were face to face on our phones half way across the world. I was able to introduce Gabriel and Ethan to the pizza parlor, our waitress, and was able to walk with him a little down the street to show him the big beautiful buildings in the city. Facetime is amazing and did I mention FREE if you connect directly over wifi. (hint hint)

This is SIMPLY awesome. The 82.5 on the butter means FAT and GOOD. The biscuits with the butter and a strong coffee. Breakfast of champions!

SDA Appointment: When I spoke to Yulia the day before, I had asked if we should dress nice for the SDA appointment, to which she said yes if we had nice clothes. So Isaac and I wore suit and ties and Charrissa was her normal beautiful self. We had a cab number 1554 meet us outside and he was supposed to know where to take us. He was on time, sharply at 8:30. Wow people drive CRAZY here. I am secretly glad that Charrissa is experiencing this kind of driving here while someone else is driving because she is going to go home thinking I drive like a grandmother. Another unexpected benefit of the trip! We arrive in front of a building and the driver nicely says something along the lines of, get out. I reiterate "SDA" to which he says, "yes, yes" and points to the building in the direction to the foreign writing. I have no idea what it said, but it was REALLY long for SDA. I didn't know what we should do once on the sidewalk standing in the cold, so I grabbed the phone that Niko had given us the night before and call a preprogrammed number for Yulia. Oh sweet Yulia says, "do you see the door with the flag over it...stand there, someone will meet you there." Sure enough, after waiting there about 5 minutes a women shows up and takes us to our appointment. Everything went wonderfully! We were told about Ivanna and Matthew. Both children have siblings, a brother each. These brothers do not have handicaps so they live with their biological mom, but Matthew and Ivanna have disabilities and were both given up at birth with both parents immediately surrendering all parental interest and rights. So sad. We learn that Ivanna's mother is a teacher. She has an open oval window in her heart, she is not walking, has eyes that cross, and of course has Down syndrome. We did not learn much about Matthew's parents. He may have scoliosis, he has flat feet, an extra cord on his heart, some eye issues, and Down syndrome. They both need a home and are loved so much already. Not loving them more than of course their heavenly Father who designed them PERFECTLY!

Today: We ventured out with Charrissa and took in some of the sights. We are taking a nap now and will go out again in the evening so that we can facetime with the boys and make this post where there is wifi. Tomorrow we should hear from the SDA whether we will have all of our approvals to meet Matthew and Ivanna or if we will need the second appointment on Monday. Pray that we can forgo the second appointment and directly head down to the city Matthew and Ivanna are in. We can't wait for what the Lord has for us there. I LOVE THIS PLACE!


Anonymous said...

Just sat down and read all your updated posts!! And "WOW" I am so excited for you guys, I am so happy you keeping us posted with all of your adventures!!! Sure do miss you though.. Sad about Ivanna's mom though. I can't believe such stable people give their beautiful childeren up. Anyway,I will be keeping up with you guys. . . Love you.

Jessica said...

I don't know why it said anonymous abouve... it's obveisly Jay

mamagentry5 said...

Wow! What an exciting start to your trip! Phillip you should write books! I felt like I was there too! ;-)
please tell Charrissa hello and give her *hugs* from me!


Just Me @ My Domestic Experiments said...

Wonderful. I loved the Universal Language part. Praying.

amanda said...

Praying all the time.

Amber said...

Im in tears, what a wonderful adventure for Isaac and its so great that you can share it with the kiddies here at home.

Amber Browning

Anonymous said...

Phillip & Charrissa,
Sorry we did not get to see you on Sunday before you left. We have been fighting colds.
We praise the LORD for your safe travel there. I was in tears as I was reading about you and the man and Psalms. The LORD is Good!!
We will continue to pray for you and that things will go smoothly. Looking forward to meeting Mathew & Ivanna upon your return back home to Washington.
We are so very happy for you and your family.
Take care and God Bless,

Chris & Janelle

Anonymous said...


Love the pictures that you posted. They are wonderful and you look fantastic!!


Julia said...

Great POst!! We're praying! I'm typing this as my Aaron is running around the house playing hide and seek with his big brothers... that will be you in 6 weeks or less.... Amazing thought! God is good.. One step at a time...

Tom and April said...

Loving me some Brownings and wishing we could enjoy the experience with you. Chrissy- I keep thinking bout Faith in the car laughing and I keep giggling out loud over it still :) May the Lord bless your time there and may he allow all of you a safe travels.

Garth and Becky said...

Praying for you guys. Keep the pictures coming! It's awesome to hear how the Lord continues to work, and we pray you'll be home with the little ones soon!

-Garth & Becky

handstrustinhim said...

So excited to see this post. Teary eyed....rejoicing..and hungering for more testimonies to God's goodness and provisions.
Miss you and praying for you!

Luba said...

So wish we could be there. I am glad you are loving that part of the world. Now you understand how I feel!!! Enjoy and we're praying for you. Those cookies and butter is exactly the way you should eat them with some hot tea!! mmmmm!!

The Casaus House said...

Sooooo exciting you guys! Tears of rejoicing going on over here and much prayer. Thank you for posting and allowing us to take the journey with you. We can't wait to meet sweet Matthew and darling little Ivanna. We love you guys.

Anonymous said...

Cody Says: Thank you SO much for the flight times! That sounds like a LOT of flying. It's really cool that you answered my question so quickly, and with so much detail! Thank you!
Alyssa says: She wishes she could be there! It sounds like the kiddos have a lot of health problems, but I know because they have so many people that love them that they will be able to get through it.

We will continue to pray for one appointment and a quick and safe trip to Matthew & Ivanna. Thank you for your detailed posts and pictures! Holly H

Katie said...

I actually have goosebumps reading the last couple blog posts...I am so thrilled that you are so close to the children! Thank you so much for taking such great pictures and telling your story so well. I just can't wait until you meet them! Please give sweet Ivanna an extra hug from me when you are able. :)

Lisa said...

Great pictures and info! It sounds like you are making the most of your trip...enjoy it, you will look back fondly on your time there! Excited for you to meet the kids and looking forward to reading about the rest of your journey!


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