Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

We're home, praise God!

Okay...I know I'm gonna miss something. This post can't be as good as the one I just typed out...and LOST! Arrrggggghhhhh! Obviously, I am sorely in need of some sanctification (as if I would not be!) I must grow in patience. So, deep breath....let's try that again:

That last day in Guangzhou was nice...we took those famous red couch photos in the lobby of the White Swan Hotel, our home for 2 weeks. We packed the last few items, slept a short time, woke at 4:30 am for a 5:45am departure to the airport. We made it through check in, security, customs, departure of immigration/visitors (whatever that part was called) and after one last security check we boarded the plane. Our flight to Tokyo was almost 4 hours and then we passed through the airport in Japan (security again) and boarded THAT plane. We enjoyed a LONG flight (over 11 hours)...ate some airplane meals, napped a bit and arrived safely in Detroit. After passing through customs, we were welcomed...all six of us to the US...our new daughter is officially a US citizen.

We spent some time "freshening up" in the Detroit airport, ate a bite or two and then waited to board our plane to Memphis, the last stop before the last plane home to Niceville. Of course, God had other things in mind. We would be delayed....and would miss our connection in Memphis. We ended up staying overnight there (put up in a hotel by Northwest) and finally, close to 48 hours after we started, we were greeted at the airport in Niceville by our parents (mine and Jim's!!!) and MANY dear friends from our church! There must have been at least 45 folks waiting for us, balloons, cameras and gifts in hand, hugs and kisses to spare. What a joyous reunion it was! Thank you, dear friends for your wonderful support!

We drove home with our folks and were welcomed into our home, clean and completely stocked with good food, welcome signs and sweet little notes stashed EVERYWHERE, that we'll surely be finding for months to come! Our sweet caregroup and church family really blessed us by preparing our home so well (thanks especially to Kendra, Jessica, Berry's and countless others, I'm sure) and for providing us with such great food (thanks, Caregroup...and friends!) Sunday was a real treat, as Emmy Xiang was welcomed into our fellowship and we spent some time praising our most wonderful God. Thanks be to Him alone for the blessing of a new daughter, for three other precious gifts from Him, for family, for friends, and all good things, but most of all for the gift of His Son and the Eternal Salvation provided only by trusting in His Righteousness. This is the miracle of Christmas, I am reminded by His Word.

With Christmas day gone, our dear family all back secure in their homes and we've put *most* things away, we now begin to settle into life back home at the Brown's.

Please keep us in your prayers, as the transition for Emmy Xiang and for us has just begun. We've been blessed beyond belief with such a smooth one so far, and, by God's grace, we'll continue to seek His ways as we live life together as a family in the body of Christ. Thank you for following our journey to the newest Brown daughter...but stay tuned for happenings of us all. We'll continue to update as often as possible, and will certainly post more pictures as we have time to go through them and post.

Rejoice with us, praise our good and kind God for His riches have been graciously poured upon our most undeserving heads. May YOU, too, experience His forgiveness, His kindness and receive His joy.

Love to you, from us...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Some pictures from Sunday...okay, we're out of order!


Some pictures from Monday....we're a bit late

Remember the bus trip we took to visit an orphanage? These are some photos that we all took. Hope you can see a bit of taste of what we're seeing.
Love y'all!Tammy

Wednesday in Guangzhou

Well, it's official, except for the landing on US soil thing. She's ours. We pass. She's got a passport (though it's a Chinese one) and a visa to enter the States. Lord willing, we'll be home in a couple of days.

Last night, we had supper with our friends in the Century Club....those other five waiting child families (except one is already home...missed you Kate) who, along with us waited that terribly long time, getting lost in translation and all. (I think Katie took pictures of our little club, though not all of us together. Funny, it was the first "just us six" picture that we'd had taken since we've been a "just us six" family. Any others we had taken had someone else in them.) It was great fun to be together as a group, to talk and share about our experiences and to get to know each other a bit more. We'd been fortunate enough to spend a bit of time with JB and Laura, since we'd toured so much with them in Beijing. Our families really hit it off, so we met up quite a bit once they got to GZ. Lisa and Terry was another couple that we've really enjoyed talking with a bit. They are strong Christians and share many of our same observations on the sad situation of the people we've seen here in China. I am grateful that God has allowed us to bond with these folks, and I pray that He would allow us to continue friendships afar.

This morning, after breakfast we had to stick around the hotel room for about an hour in case there was any problem with our paperwork. Jim stayed while JE, Katie and I dropped off some laundry (can you believe that I am looking forward to doing my own laundry...that is, in a washing machine and dryer!) and looked at a few items they were interested in. When we got back Jim said that Grace, our guide had called, but that it was good news. We were going to be postponing our "Red Couch Pictures" (the ones that all of the adoptive families take on the White Swan's red couches...the babies in their traditional Chinese costumes, the families and the whole travel groups) until tomorrow because we had been requested to take "the oath" a day early. YEAH! That means that tomorrow is a nice free day.

Today, however, we did a bit of shopping (I'm actually tired of shopping!), not much napping, and a bit of driving through the city of Guangzhou to visit the US Consulate. We'd heard that the oath was kinda anti-climactic...and it was, but it is a milestone you look forward to none-the-less. Afterward, we enjoyed a Brown family dinner at the local Cantonnese place (the one with the mud eels, snakes, waterbeetles, and other yummy stuff for sale to eat....gross) and then headed back to the hotel to pack. How nice it will be to just enjoy our last day in China without the burden of packing.

Thank you dear friends for keeping us in your prayers. Katie and I were just sharing together how all of a sudden, time is flying by. We are ALL excited about coming home. It won't be long now. What an awesome Christmas present coming home will be!

Can't wait...soon, friends and family....soon!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Slacker mom is finally posting....

It's been a while...we've been busy hanging out, having fun and doing a few things. Here's a rundown on life in the Brown family the past few days:

Sunday, when we skipped the zoo trip, we walked around and did a bit of shopping on the island. We found some more squeaky shoes for Big Foot (EX being an older than usual adoptee and a big girl anyway, pretty much tops out the sizes of squeakers)....a shiny black pair and a pair of brown ones the next size up. We walked around and found ourselves drawn to the sounds coming from the Christian church on the island. We had decided this morning not to go to the service. Elf said best what we probably all felt...we just weren't sure about attending a government sanctioned church....we didn't want to give the appearance of supporting a watered down gospel. However, as we neared, we could hear the scripture being read from Numbers. We decided to listen, so we entered the courtyard and stood near the speaker. The pastor would read or preach in (probably) Mandarin, pause and the iterpreter would translate in English. We heard almost the entire message.

It was quite interesting. We all were pleasantly surprised that the message was solid. Some new friends we met at breakfast earlier, Scott and Cheryl, who are believers were equally surprised. They had spent two years in China, much farther north, and said they would've never heard that kind of teaching in Nanjing. It is encouraging that God's word is being proclaimed, even in China.

Later, we had supper with our friends we'd met in Beijing, JB and Laura and their Maggie, at the Chinese restaurant and settled in for the night, as we would have an early morning. But, EX didn't sleep well. This night she woke twice, we think with night terrors or something. She didn't appear to be awake, but would scream and cry. We'd try to soothe her, but to no avail. The last "fit" was the worst, and I was beginning to not be so patient. My very smart husband knew that I'd consoled enough and that she might even be responding to me not being so patient, took her from my arms. Instantly she relaxed. I wasn't so thrilled that I couldn't soothe her (a bit of pride, eh?), but was glad she was comforted. I prayed, repented and we all slept well.

The morning was an early one, so we ate, brushed teeth (which EX loves to do....YEAH!) and boarded the mini-bus headed for a city about 3 hours away. Four of the 11 families made the trek (we being the only family whose child was not from this particular orphanage). We drove past areas that were VERY industrial....the air was even more polluted than in Guangzhou, which was hard to believe. The living conditions that we could see in those areas were awful. We also drove past some beautiful hilly areas, and some farming areas...even duck and goose farms. Finally we arrived at the city (can't remember the name). It was quite interesting...hard to describe. There were bikes, mo-peds and motorcycles everywhere, but few cars. You would also see a few buses and lots of big trucks carrying recyclable factory scraps, wares that folks would sell, like fruits and veggies, and even garbage. Occassionally you'd see a woman with one of those familiar pointed Chinese peasant hats would have two baskets slung over a bamboo pole hoisted on her shoulders. Then, you might see a man pulling behind him a cart full of bamboo, which almost all construction scaffolding everywhere in China was made of....high rise buildings, interstate overpasses, everything. Who needs 2x4s.....China has lots of bamboo and twine!

We drove to the orphanage, which was basically just two main rooms, as this orphanage was quite small. It was clean, but there were about 40 beds in each room.....lots of babies in a small space. It was in a sad area, but the people were very nice and the babies looked clean and healthy. The nannies were very excited to see the babies who'd made the journey back. We were all, I think, glad to have come, but equally glad to go. We visited a few of the babies finding sites....a grocery market, a hospital gate, the water plant and an elementary school. Our own daughter had been found three years ago in a waiting room of a bus terminal. As sad as it is, we must recognize that these babies had been left in very public places so that they would be found. That must be hard for a parent, but it does show a remarkable kind of love. These parents were trying to give their daughters, and sometimes sons, a chance for a better life. I am grateful that God allowed us to provide that chance for Emmy Xiang.

We stopped to buy some food to eat on the way home...ever tried to eat noodles, topped with meat and veggies with chopsticks on a VERY bumpy mini-bus speeding down the China interstate? Interesting! We all did well. Of course, we took turns feeding our bird who doesn't know how to eat with chopsticks..."only with spoon" we had been told before. Right. (Remember how we told you she is an expert with a fork?)

Once home, instead of the suggested Papa Johns pizza, we opted for the Cow and Bridge Thai place. As the food came out, we began scoop up the plates, but realized that we hadn't asked for a fork for EX. We looked over at her and she was eating, quite expertly, with chopsticks. Who taught her that?!? I can just hear you now....duh! She's Chinese! Of course she knows how to eat with chopsticks! We didn't know. But now we do. She's better than us all!

We left there with her pushing her stroller (hear that Aunt Rufus? She's gonna love the stroller you got her!) and got ready for bed. It had been a long day, an enlightening day.

Today's been nice. Leisure breakfast...boy am I gonna miss that breakfast buffet! No one does French toast like the White Swan...and the omlettes! They're delicious. Good thing Jim's good at omlettes! We filled out all our paperwork for the US Consulate, so that we can obtain Emmy Xiang's visa. Our Consulate Appointment is tomorrow, we take the oath on Thursday and Friday morning we head for home. Jim and I were just discussing how all of a sudden it seems like time is flying.

I'll try to put together a little slide show since we've got a little time...stay tuned....and lots of love to our friends and family. We will be home soon.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Didn't Scarlet say, "Afterall, tomorrow is another day!"

And what a different day it has been. Sleep, good food, family time, date "afternoon" and godly counsel of God's ruths....what a difference these make. Thank you, friends and family for your continued faithfulness to encourage and speak truth to me, to remind me of the gospel, and of the need for perserverance. I am truly grateful.

Today was good. We've consistently met those "issues" of which Jim previously posted with gentle, but firm resolve. Emmy Xiang has responded well and seems to be "getting it." So the day has been pleasant.

Good news! She's decided that green beans are yummy, watermelon is fun to eat and even dehydrated apple slices are good. The other surprise food is this wonderfully sweet and tiny orange here. One of the floor attendants at the hotel reached in for a treat for EX (probaby to try to convince her to actually obey mama and baba) and instead of reaching for a lollipop (which one sweet and well-meaning girl did days ago), she handed EX an orange. We thought we'd better not peel it...she enjoyed just holding it. But later when she signed for food, and the Elf offered the orange she consented - and loved it. This girl doesn't like fruits or sweets? Hmmmm.....

Supper tonight was at a local authentic Chinese restaurant...and was it delicious! We all loved the food...some yummy pork dish with cilantro, sweet and sour beef (which almosted tasted like bar-b-que sauce with onions, though Jim said it tasted like ketchup), chicken that was fabulous and these cut up steamed green beans with pork meat. I think we'll go back there.

We've been doing some counting with EX, and pointing to body parts, having her repeat back what we say. This girl is clever! But we crack up everytime she says "four"'s hilarious.....something like "bllaawwwhhhhh" just gotta hear it. We filmed her, but I think the clever girl is getting better by the minute on her speech.

Finally made it to Starbucks today. It was hot (we'd all been playing on the playground, which is more acurately an exercise place for grown-ups, too...looks a lot like a playground in NYC), so we got those cold drinks and a few sandwiches. It's fun to go anywhere on the island and have people you "know" to chat with. Almost every person here who frequents shops or eating places is another adoptive family...and many times we'll run into the folks in our own travel group (total of 11 families!). Tonight after supper, as we walked along the sidewalk, we saw our friends with whom we toured in Beijing. They had just come in from Nanjing, I think. It was fun getting to meet JB and Laura's Maggie. Such pretty children we've seen!

I think I'll sign off now. Just put EX in her crib (Oh, mama! Before I forget....can you bring your pack-n-play? We want to see if EX will sleep better in it than in the tall bed? Thanks!) and the girls are off to bed. Jim and I are turning in early.

Tomorrow is another free day for us (we opted out of the zoo trip), but Monday should prove interesting, as we are driving in a bus 3 hours one way to visit an orphanage. Though we won't be able to see Shantou, the city EX is from, we'll at least be able to see more of the countryside of China and an orphanage here. Pray that EX does well on this lengthy trip. We like to think of it as training for that LONG plane ride(s) home!

Blessings, y'all! More to come!

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Other Side of EX

Ba Ba here ... this is the picture mom mentioned in her previous post. We've seen quite a bit of this in the last few days. It doesn't take much to set her off. The severity does swing across a spectrum, which is good, since it means they are not all like this one. Sometimes just her "" sound, sometimes crying, sometimes a yell or two or three. Just as her fits swing, so does the duration of them. Some are short. Some are long. This just depends on how long before she decides to let go of it. I admit, and you'll see more on this in "Letters," the discipline as come sooner than I expected. I wanted to bond first. Make her feel loved first. Not have battles of wills first. None-the-less, we are bonding and loving, we just do the other in the midst of it all. I do believe she is learning that we are the ones in control, not her. It is evident, just as we read in our foster care updates, than when "princess" wanted something or wasn't happy ... they just fed her to make her happy. Adjusting to a new ma ma and ba ba who don't just make her happy, well that's hard. I also realize this, in between those hard times, this kid is full of love and she shares it with all of us. Her smiles, laughs, cackles, hugs, snuggles, singing, etc make my heart sing.


It's late. I should be sleeping - everyone else is. Second night in row of the "can't sleep because I'm alone and left to my own thoughts."

I must admit that I am struggling. How and why? Could it be the "post-partum blues" that my mom, so perceptively asked of? Sort of....for starters, I want to come home. Not just because I like ice or salad or my own washing machine (though I do!). No what I mean is I'm out of the "comfort zone", away from so much of what I (wrongly) rely and friends and their godly fellowship and encouragement; our home and the comfort of it; a real schedule...even if it is a hectic one, it is "real life" for us; my country, with people who speak my language...that is a comfort. You see, I realize that so often I rely upon those things and other means of grace that I neglect the Source of grace.

Plus, I am fearful of this change of environment, of situation, of life. I "knew" what we were in for with adding to our family by adoption, but I had not experienced it. God is truly using this to stretch me, and I feel like my muscles aren't warm and pliable, but cold, tense and resistant. I am really wanting a "normal" life and I'm battling a selfishness and I fear that my spirit of self-focus is wearing on me, and probably my family. Would you pray for me?

I am truly wanting God to change my heart, to make me more grateful for the moment, to make me content with my situation, to not be disillusioned because reality has hit. Please don't get me wrong....I am grateful for our new daughter, grateful to be here to experience the culture and land of her birth, but I am weary. I am trying to "bond" with her, but find it hard (I hope that doesn't sound awful....I love her, but I'm trying to get to know her...God will grow my affections for her as I look to Him....I know, but I must rely upon Him for that.) I am also struggling with fear...for the future, for tomorrow. My thoughts are not as lucid as my husband's are....His letters say things so well, so forgive me please, if I am not clear, however, would you just pray that the Holy Spirit would minister to me through whatever means of grace He desires...that He would work a miracle in my heart and turn my selfish heart toward Him and that my goal and purpose would be glorfying Christ.

Maybe these consuming thoughts have kept me from blogging to share our life here. I must say that it's not all grim. We have had some wonderful moments (and others not-so). Yesterday we went to the medical examination for adoptive children. Emmy Xiang has begun to express herself more and more (and many times it is quite the negative expression. This is HARD...we must be firm and yet, speak gentle words of encouragement on correct responses. So hard when she doesn't speak the language....we are trying to discern what she understands and what is unclear. This takes MUCH patience and wisdom....pray for us, please....and for a compliant spirit with her). EX was examined by a doctor who called in doctor after doctor to read over her file and look at her. They seemed quite surprised that this healthy child had been labled as a special needs child. ""She's not delayed at all, said the sweet doctor."She's completely normal!" Of course, we knew that~in fact, once you meet her, you'll realize how incredibly smart she is! We did get the best picture of her while we were waiting for the showed her, shall we call it the "not-so-happy-in-fact-quite-ticked-off" face. It was NOT a fun moment, but the picture says it all....Jim will post it soon. That night we went to dinner with another family with three older children who were adopting their fourth (a baby girl). We enjoyed the time with them.

Also, Emmy Xiang continally grows in the ability to communicate and understand us. She doesn't respond much in English (though she has a few times....surprised us!), she does use signs regularly for "more food please" and "thank you", for general "please". She points occassionally (though with that finger that most Americans might find offensive!), and she understands much of what we say. This is a great praise. She even responds quickly to our gentle reprimands when she begins to (sometimes out of nowhere it seems) pitch a fit. She may not stop right away (no, many times it takes time and great patience, something we recognize only as God's grace!), but she does seem to realize that we are not going anywhere, but that we won't tolerate fits. Keep praying about will be a LONG time and require much perserverance on our part an patience on hers as she learns what is expected. May we use these times to point her to her need of a Savior, and may we then introduce Jesus.

The Elf has not been well today, so we hung out together and opted out of the tour of a Buddhist temple, the Old Chen House and a Provencial Arts and Crafts market. That time was sweet for us. I am so blessed to have a daughter who can speak the Truth to her mom, as I read what was really an encouraging response to a personal plea for prayer and was weepy. I felt like the child, not the mom, but I was so blessed and encouraged....(thanks, sweetie). When the kids and Jim came back, we enjoyed some Papa John's in the hotel and then most of us napped. Our day was slow and we are planning to not go to the Pearl Market tour tomorrow to have some family time with no agenda. I am looking forward to that.

I believe this post has been a source of release for me. Thank you for reading, for "listening." I miss you, dear friends and family. Thank you for being a part of this process. I am realizing how much greater than I could've ever imagined is this blessed event to which we've come. God has greater things than I in mind. I'm so grateful He's sovereign. That is reassuring for a girl who feels vulnerable and out of the comfort zone. HE is my comfort zone. I am even now, reminded of that great truth.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Orphanage and Foster Care

Plug for Jim's Blog

Jim gave each of us journals before our trip. I watched everyone write in one and felt guilty each time I saw someone scribbling away. Katie and Jane Ellen journaled some, but Jim was constantly writing. But words just did not come to me on the plane ride over...and while in Beijing. I was too overwhelmed, too nervous. I watched Jim faithfully pen page after page. I wondered what he was writing. He just said he was writing his thoughts.

He has decided to share those words. You can read them just as we do. Join me over at his newly created blog (thank, Elf). Notice the link on the right hand side....I'm amazed at the poignancy of his words and have shed many a tear as I thank God for the most precious gift of a godly husband to lead our family. I am so blessed by him, his thoughts. I'm sure you will be blessed as you read the candid words of a dad to his daughter...and if you're the crying type, grab a tissue before you click.

More pictures to come...more fun, more details. Know for now that we're doing fine...working through a few issues with Emmy Xiang when the times arise (and they do), and continually trying to encourage and "check in" on the Elf, Ladybug and Pooch. At times it is hard, because we don't understand what she needs or wants, but we are relying upon God's grace for each moment.

One really nice thing that has occurred is that Emmy Xiang is communicating very well with a few signs or babbling words that we've identified the need. We usually know when she'd like some "more please" (sign), and we encourage and model still "thank you". We know all too well when she doesn't want to be carried...and wants to walk (something like "aa-oh-i") and a few other "necessities." She knows us well by name and even calls us at times (good news) and she is beginning to talk (in some other dialect - not Mandarin or Cantonese) a LOT more...she babbles all kinds of stuff, but no one, not even our Chinese guides, understand the dialect. Oh, well! We'll learn to communiate in God's timing. Pray for patience and gentleness from us and patience, security and obedience for her!

We're all needing some more sleep, so I'll sign off. Go read Jim's blog! And I'm sure we'll post more pictures and tell more stories soon.

Love y'all and keep the prayers and comments coming. We really miss y'all and home. We are so grateful to God for your support! And when you pray...thank Him for His work in us, in Emmy Xiang and in advance for what He's gonna do!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Scenes from Guangzhou & Shaimen

City Life in Beijing

The Great Wall

Tuesday in Guangzhou

This morning began quite early for Jim, and consequently for Tammy. We spent time reading your comments and were so encouraged! Then, we popped in the disc that was given to us by either Love Without Boundaries or the orphanage (we're still not sure which, and were so excited to see MANY pictures of our daughter, from the time she was about one until the present time. The earliest pictures show a tiny little girl with the same sweet face, large eyes and distinct ears. She was as precious then as now. Other pictures showed familiar outfits and hair-dos from pictures we already had. And still others showed Emmy Xiang receiving the care package we sent last, with her baby doll. It was so neat to see her expressions then!

But perhaps the most special pictures are the ones that show her with her foster family...some with the foster dad, some with the foster mom and others with foster siblings. What a treasure for us and for Emmy Xiang to enjoy one day. The love they had for her is evident in the pictures! Once the kids were awake, we showed them the pictures, too. Then we all readied for and went down to breakfast. OH! Emmy Xiang slept great and though she was the last to wake up, she did so with the largest smile and happiest mood! That is a huge blessing!

We enjoyed watching her eat...she knows what she likes and dislikes. And you should see how deftly she maneuvers a fork! Most kids twice her age would've had more trouble with such a large and long fork! She LOVES eggs, bacon, muffins, and noodles, tolerated watermelon and cantelope (at first anyway!), and avoided cabbage like the plague! She was suspicious of the skim milk at first, but decided it was good. She does like to eat! And she loves the flip-top straw sippy cut (likes to chew on the soft straw...I know she's not teething, but she seems to REALLY enjoy the chewing...anyone with little ones have any thoughts on that one?)

She's quite independent...likes to walk by herself most times. Lynda and Eddie, she has the same "Banessa stroll" that Eddie mimics so well and she's the same height but twice the depth of O, believe it or not! We went to the Civil Affairs office today to take our official adoption "family picture" with just mom and dad and new "baby", as well as the two official interviews so that we could legally be deemed her parents (which we passed!). The officials seemed quite surprised that parents with 3 girls (gasp) would want to adopt ANOTHER girl! Still we told them ho we loved and "knew" girls! They seemed pleased and signed off on the forms! And we were very grateful.

Our bus trip there and back revealed a better section of the city. It seems that it is divided into different sections or markets where booth after booth sell many of the same wares. Yesterday we saw a lot of hardware supplies (nuts, bolts, etc)and much metal. Today we saw time pieces, mechanisms, etc. and a lovely area of a flower and plant market. After we got back to the hotel, we exchanged some money, the girls bought lunch (6 bun-type of deli sandwiches for less than $3 US(they were pumped!)and met a friend, Kate and her family. They are here to finalize their 12 year old daughter's adoption and will head back later this week. It was great to meet in person one of the people who has been an encouragement to me when the wait was so long. Kate and Jim, and my Jim and me were two of those six families who experienced that little "lost in translation" mishap. Three, maybe even four of the other families will be here next week, so we'll get to see and visit with them, too! They all received their children yesterday too, so I pray their transition is going well too.

The three older girls and I left Emmy Xiang and Dad (to hang out and nap)and went on a shopping adventure in the city. Ann, a sweet local gal who has recently begun to take adoptive parents shopping, took us to the pearl market (and other jewelry stuffs) and to the silk/clothing market. It was an eye-opening experience to say the least. We got a closer look at the local economy (much different than at home!!!!) as well as life in a LARGE city. Wish I could describe it...wish I'd had a camera, thought I wouldn't have felt safe carrying it. It was strange to carry money in my belt and to feel so vulnerable, but all went well. We rode in two taxis and even experienced the China subway. We shopped for almost four hours and Katie was quite the trooper, keeping on without complaining, but feeling awful with a headache and the need to, well...let's just say there are not nice "toilets" as they call them in these kinds of places. Our guide said, "no, you won't want to go there...real smelly." I am sure she was right. Have you ever seen a squatty potty? Even a "nice" one is a glorified port-a-potty...not fun, unless you REALLY gotta go. Okay. Enough of that kind of talk.

We returned with fun stuff, souveniers and gifts. When we got back Jim and Emmy Xiang were just hanging out. He said after her nap he *tried* to do her hair (which is quite wild), but as he put one clip in and reached to do the next one, she handed him the one he'd just put in. It became a most fun game! So he just gave up. Smart.

On the way to supper tonight (it was quite late...almost 7pm) Emmy Xiang began to whine or moan. At first we thought it a ploy for attention or maybe just those normal sinful tendencies to pout or "cry" when we don't get what we want (aka selfishness). However, we realized quickly that she might be wondering if these strange people would feed her. She *had* to be hungry...we all were...and these moans seemed to be communicating *something*. So we whipped out the peanuts and voila', she stopped. Only a few were needed to assure her we had not forgotten. We were going to care for her. The girls and I discussed the fact that we really must help her to feel secure, and one way we could help is to maintain a realistic eating and sleeping, personal hygiene and exercise schedule for her. These things communicate love and care. Please continue to pray that we would be sensitive to needs and gentle, kind and firm with other issues so that she learns that we love her and will be here forever for her.

Last but not least, we popped into a local shop and purchased a pair of famous "squeaky shoes" for her. She barely made it...her foot is the size of the largest pair! Our laundry was ready (we'd dropped it off the day before) and the shop loaned us a stroller while we are in Guangzhou.

So after a bath and brushing teeth, all went to bed...that is all but me. But that's where I'm a-headin' in just a few minutes.

Blessings to y'all and more pictures later!

Tammy and co.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Beijing and the Forbidden City

The Empress posting again. Here's another slideshow the Elf created!

Gotcha Day's the scoop!

Where to begin?

We boarded our bus...the last ones on (surprised Daddy?), but on none-the-less. The drive to the Civil Affairs office was very interesting. Jim and I both had butterflies! The scenery outside was dreary. Such poor conditions for these people...and to live in an area in which the air is so oppressive and polluted... yet we know that these aren't the poor ones. It makes me so grateful for the blessings we have...and we don't even know the half of it!

After about a 20 minute drive we arrived at the building. There were only three small elevators so our group had to go up in shifts. We, being the last OFF the bus, too, waited in the last group. While waiting, in walks a young lady (not more than 20!) holding the hand of a short, very round Chinese girl with pig-tails. The lady carried a yellow bag and other things, and the girl was holding something, too: a little Asian babydoll with a white eyelet dress (except we didn't see what she was holding right away). We all thought and whispered...that looks like Emmy Xiang. The more we looked, the more we realized....THAT WAS OUR DAUGHTER! Of course, she spied us watching her and moved closer to the young lady.

The elevator opens and we all ride up....with our daughter! Unofficially, we see her before we are suppose to! What a gracious and kind God we have!!! We are all overwhelmed at this point, and quite anxious. We are the first family called and she walks out (from behind a curtained playroom) with her lady friend toward us. She's not real sure about us....until we bring out the peanuts. Then, one by one, she looks us over. The peanuts are keeping her interest. She played with her doll and watched us, while her friend encouraged her toward us in her local dialect.

We had learned earlier that day that she only likes almond juice to drink. Almond juice? What is that?!? Apparently it is not a best seller among adoptive babies, adoptive families OR the local people, because a bottle or can of it could not be found on the island (either at Beatrice's grocery store or the 7-Eleven....yes, they have those too!). Anyway, we found this powder stuff to mix with water (I think) so we had *planned* on bringing it, but forgot it. But we did bring the cool sippy straw cup I'd bought back home. So we scrambled for a bottle of water (can't drink the water around here...gotta boil it or buy it bottled!) and poured it up. She loved it....almond juice, huh!

Jim got near her and held out his hand to see if she would come to him, but she surprised us all and slapped his hand....she gave him five! Must have been a "daddy" thing because she wouldn't do it to the rest of us. She warmed up to Jim, so I got to do the interview with the caregiver lady (who just works in the office at the orphanage, but who also was special "friends" with Xiang Xiang Gongzhu (she confirmed....Emmy Xiang is royal!) We learned a bit about her, exchanged gifts with the lady (the foster family sent us a gift...the bag I sent the doll in was FULL of unshelled roasted peanuts! How sweet that they would send her favorite snack!). She also gave us a pendant (kid-kind...acrylic) from Love Without Boundaries...and I believe a video CD from them as well. I haven't had a chance to check it out. What was really cool is that all of the cameras we sent were used up (hopefully they have good pictures!), the Nicolette Larson lullaby CD I sent was returned, as was her baby doll (which she played with constantly and we noticed she had scribbled on the doll's feet) and dress I'd made for it, her crayon roll up I'd made for her, the books we'd sent for her and the outfit we sent recently. Plus they sent a little purse and a stange net-like scarf, her funny hair extensions from the pictures we'd had of her before AND a little mini cd that we hope has pictures on it! Haven't slowed down to check it out!

You saw from the pictures on the previous post that she loved the ball we brought with us and played and laughed! We were able to distract her with that same ball, after the photos with the lady friend, when that said friend made her exit. You could tell that it was not easy for her to leave. However, I think it was quite evident that Emmy Xiang is right where God wants her to be!

So the bus trip back to the hotel wasn't great. Once we walked outside of the building, Emmy Xiang started to cry. She struggled a tiny bit, but then just sort of moaned. We'd learned that she got carsick earlier on the trip up. Perhaps she'll be with Gracie when we dole out the dramamine! She didn't look great, but soon stopped crying and drank water. When we got out of the bus, it was as if she'd not even been on it! She walked right in the hotel...rode the elevator up and had no problem with the western toilet. Then, the fun began...

We enjoyed watching her play with the ball, laugh and lean back on her sisters, and later eat pizza. We encouraged her to sign and say, "more please" and "thank you" and to our surprise, after just a few times of modeling and asking her to say it, she said or signed both! We'd been told that people from Shantou are clever...even one of the locals here said she would be! She LOVED pizza. (Personally, just looking at her...I think she loves FOOD...gonna have to be conscientious parents on the eating thing!) She took a bath while mom did paperwork...and when I came back in she was having a blast. The girls were so excited!

Speaking of the girls...they have been AWESOME! They were just as excited and teary eyed as Jim and me....and have been the most help. This is no surprise to me, but I want to be sure to tell the world that my daughters are the best daughters in the world!

We finally settled down...colored a bit, and watched a few of the pictures on the computer (BTW....everyone say together, "THANK YOU TIFFANY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" for letting us borrow your computer! We...all of us, right folks?...are sooooooo grateful to God for you!). I made a pallet on the floor (sounds awful, but really the four fluffy quilts make the nicest bed!) for the Pooch and Emmy Xiang. She inched that way, and allowed me to tuck her in, though, she's not fond of kisses yet. Ladybug was already asleep, and the Elf was working on slide shows. I came in here to post. It's been very quiet for a LONG time...the Elf has been in bed for a while, and Jim's been snoring since before the pallet was laid out.

So that's the run down...hope you enjoy it! And, in the waiting time....enjoy a few more photos from the hotel!

Praise be to God for this very awesome gift of a life to nourish. Pray that we will glorify Him as we train her up in the way she should go...and that she would come to know Him. Good night, all!

We've got her!

Miss Emmy Xiang Brown is with her folks!

Sorry for the delay...between taking pictures, filling out some paperwork, feeding the crew Papa John's pizza (and you thought they only had Chinese food in China!), getting everyone ready for bed...oh, yeah! And playing with and watching our new daughter laugh and giggle...and even cackle! Well, between all that...we've been downloading pictures for the slide show.

Hope you enjoy it!

I'll post again with the official gotcha day details, but for now:

Love to all of y'all...and many thanks to our God,
Tammy and co.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Gettin' ready for the big event!

Wow! Breakfast buffet here at the White Swan Hotel is amazing. Even Ladybug was "stuffed" ~ and many of you know how much that girl can eat for breakfast! What was even more amazing was being surrounded by families with newly adopted children....well, babies!...and how that adds to the surreal-ness of this entire adventure. God is so awesome to allow us this opportunity!

We're up and ready for the day. We sat around the computer and read through the comments on our blog posts! How they encourage us! Please keep it up! You can also email us...we can easily read our emails!

Just wanted to say that we are so excited for today's big event. Around 2am in N-ville we will be meeting Emmy Xiang. We're working on the correct pronunciation for Xiang. So far, the general consensus is (soft t sound) tsee-ahng or tshee-ahng...the important "new" interpretation being the two syllable action. See if you can say it with us. Ready? Xiang. How did you do?

Gotta get off the computer so the Elf can work on the slide shows of pictures of past days and we can begin to develop a detailed post.

Thank you for your prayers and your comments of encouragement. Love to the to the friends! Thanks K and J for watching Hank! Give him lots of hugs and kisses for us! Hello from the girls to all their friends. We miss y'all. Glad to hear the progressive dinner went well. Sorry we missed it. Love y'all!

Hello from Guangzhou

I know the suspense must be eating at many of you...and we are so sorry for the lack of communication thus far. However, we have been from one fun or necessary activity to another for...well, I haven't a clue for how long...I rarely know what day it is at home, much less when days and nights are different at the same time (that was clear as mud, huh?). Also, we had a TERRIBLE time with computer, internet and electrical outlets while in Beijing, not that it wasn't available, no, we just had a rough start. Jim has it all figured out now, and we are safely here at the very nice White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou, which has wonderful internet service (as well as turn down service and chocolates...can someone remind me again why I stuffed my suitcases with good "American" chocolate, when it seems readily available here?!? No matter. I must say though, that God is so kind to us to allow us this awesome opportunity to fly around the world to adopt one whom we are prayerfully claiming to be His own child.

Before I go any further, I'll just take a moment to assure you that we will be updating each day's events routinely now, Lord willing, as well as going back in time to give you a detailed explanation of our brief stay in Amsterdam and Beijing. Jim has been taking A LOT of pictures, so we'll have to weed some out to create lovely slide shows to go along with each post. So, you see, you have much to look forward to!

Right now it is 9:19pm in Guangzhou and all three of the girls are asleep. We are preparing to be so as well. It's been a nice day, though we were up early (by the way...our bodies have adjusted quite well to the time change!) and spent three hours in a plane, and almost two hours on nice buses; we are ready to rest. We've been given the quick tour of Shaiman Island, visited Susan at Susan's Place, eaten some good American food (except for Jim!) at Lucy's, thoroughly unpacked, and finally sat down to catch up on emails and comments from keep 'em coming!

I am going to resist the desire to stay up for many hours to type out post after post, because I need some sleep. In case you're not aware of the official itinerary, we are meeting in person for the first time, our daughter, Emmy Xiang! Can you believe it? The family sat around the supper table tonight sharing our thoughts on tomorrow. We simply feel like we're in some surreal dream. We can't believe we'll really know her tomorrow. Please pray for us, for her (she'll be taking a 5 hour drive to us tomorrow) and for that precious family from whom she'll be taken.

So I'll sign off now, reluctantly, but know that since our schedule slows down so much for the next week or two, we will be filling in the gaps...and most importantly, as soon as possible we will show you pictures of that daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin and friend we've all been waiting to see.

Much love to y'all....know that we are all extremely blessed,
Tammy and co.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Great Wall of China

This is The Empress (aka Hannah) updating for the Brown family. Here are photos of the Great Wall of China!

Hopefully more photos to follow soon!

Friday, December 7, 2007

We made it!

We made it here to Beijing at 9:45ish am on Friday the 7th. All went well through customs and Pheobe, a sweet gal, met us at the airport. She gave us great news...we were going to the hotel...and we could get a shower. YEAH! Over 36 hours of traveling...and more of being "ready" had me feeling yucky!

On the trip, we stopped over in Amsterdam (in the late morning there) and booked a minibus tour of that city. Amazing...we saw a few windmills, visited a wooden shoe factory and saw the city. People and BICYCLES everywhere. The cars don't necessarily drive crazy down those narrow streets, but they certainly pay no mind to the bicycles and pedestrians, who also pay no mind to the cars and buses who they walk right in front of. It was fun...more later. Left Amsterdam EXHAUSTED...we even dozed a lot on that crazy bus tour.

When we got on the flight to Beijing we all slept great...even on the airplane. Jim and Tammy agree the food and service was great on KLM flight, the kids agree that the food was better on the NW flight. Hmmm....Then we arrived Beijing, mostly rested after a 9 hour flight.

We checked in our hotel, got settled and then met another couple from Phoenix and our guide Lisa to tour Tiannamen Square and the Forbidden City. That tour was AWESOME! I'll post pictures (hopefully) and tell all about it tonight, however, I only have a short 30 minutes on the computer to let all know that we're here and safe.

All is well, and I've only blown one outlet (and killed my curling brush iron...oh well), so we're ready for breakfast and a climb to see the Great Wall of China! Can't wait. We love all y'all very much. Keep praying, please. We've felt your prayers. The kids say hello to their friends.

Love, Tammy and company

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

"Do we have time to visit Graceland?"

Mammy here (new at blogging)......I am, as of this very moment, on the phone with Tammy.....
they made the flight to Memphis - albeit - two hours later than expected. Gracie says air travel is "THE WAY TO GO"!

Jim and Tammy say all is well in Memphis......Elvis is EVERYWHERE in the building. They are tired, but doing good...just waiting on the next leg of their journey. The Airlines gave them lots of food vouchers to use in any domestic airport, so Tammy and the girls have feasted and only spent 43 cents out of their pockets (isn't that information just SO Tammy?). Jim is looking forward to BBQ on "his voucher $'s" before boarding NW to Amsterdam in a few hours.

They would like to thank all of you for your continued prayers. Stay tuned..............

We're back......already?

3:30 am: Dad wakes up the children
4:15 am: Our pastor picks us up and drives us to the airport
4:30-5:30 am: Get tickets, eat, go through security, board
5:40 am: Find out the battery on plane is mostly-dead and will take 30 min. to charge
6:00 am: Battery not charging and Browns exit plane
6:10 am: Our airline begins trying to get a new flight
7:50 am: Browns exit airport with new itinerary
8:05 am: Arrive home, greet dog, wait...

This is a rough estimate of the Brown's morning. We are now scheduled to leave at 11:42 am. Our flight goes to Memphis then we go to Amsterdam (YES!!!!) and then finally arrive in Beijing, 12 hours later than originally scheduled.

We will post more later, just wanted to inform everyone of the new plans.


PS At this point almost everyone feels like it is around 1:00pm and are ready for a nice nap!

PPS Keep praying, PLEASE!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tomorrow's the day

Well, we're packed and ready to go. Of course, Hank gets melancholy when we get out the suitcases. Poor Hanky! He'll perk up when he sees that he has house guests (thanks Kendra and Jessica!)

All we need now is rest...and LOTS of prayers.

Stay tuned...I so hope we can post and share our journey and pictures with you!

Thank you friends and dear family for your love and support.


Tammy and company

Monday, December 3, 2007

Just in time....

to go to China! God is absolutely in control. The events leading up to today have surely been enough to see God's amazing hand in this journey, but in His kindness, He reminded me again today of His love and care for me, and of His sovereignty! Enjoy:
For a few weeks now, we've been actively pursuing an updated document that we realized was incomplete. You see, when someone adopts a special needs child, an addendum to the original home study must be completed, stating the child's Chinese name and her special need. This addendum must be taken to China along with a few other official documents. Being affiliated with a highly respected agency, we were given a checklist back in that travel packet (TP2) for which we waited so long, but received just before my birthday in October. Needing something to DO to pass the wait, I gathered documents. I remembered that the addendum had been done twice, because the first one had Emmy's Chinese name spelled incorrectly. However, the new one was not signed and notarized. It had escaped my notice back in May or June when we first received it. I knew it should've been.
So I called our agency and spoke with the director, who immediately jumped on it! She contacted our social worker. It was being taken care of....I rested in that. Then we went to Tallahassee for Ladybug's cross country meet and the Elf's soccer game...then to Tampa for State championships with cross country, and Ruskin for Thanksgiving...and Tallahassee for Thanksgiving...and finally back home! Needless to say, the document was far from my mind. Until, that is, when we got that all important TA (travel approval). I called again and checked up on it (a few times). Last week I was told it was being mailed....and should have it Friday. Today, it had still not arrived. But I kept reminding myself that God is sovereign over official documents and mail and Civil Affairs offices in China...well, you get the picture!

So, to make a LONG story short (so it's already long!) I called MANY folks today. The agency here in FL (director was out sick), the agency in CO (it couldn't hurt to have other folks help out!), my social worker at home (left a message)....and I prayed. This is how our awesome God worked it out:

I heard back from the agency (FL) and got the cell phone number of the (very sweet) social worker, who was about to board a plane in Orlando. She called her husband, who was taking that very document to the post office to mail today ("It should be there in two days!")
"I'll be on a plane to China in two days!....Can you call him back to ask him NOT to send it?"
"Oh, yeah! I could have him overnight *should* get there tomorrow."
"Hmmm..." I say aloud. "Can he give it to my mom? She now lives there in Tallahassee. Surely she could meet your husband in town, get the document, start driving this way and I could drive THAT way, and we'd meet up....and then I'd KNOW we'd have it to take to China!"

So that's what we did...except Jim did the driving toward Tallahassee and my mom (who just "happened" to move back to Tallahassee a few months ago) drove toward him. They made the exchange. YEAH!
I don't believe in coincidence; I know this was Providence! Thank God with me.

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

A Psalm for giving thanks.

100:1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.