Team Brown's Stateside Tour (video)

We've been traveling!! October 13th started a two and a half week trip around the States. About every five to six days we boarded a plane. We started in Northern California catching up with family and friends we hadn't seen since before we left for Japan. On our way to Boston we had an extended layover in Washington DC to visit a friend. Then we stayed with friends near Boston for a week. After that we went to our mission organization, SIM's headquarters in North Carolina for a time of reconnecting, debriefing, and talking about the future. Finally we landed in Texas October 30th just in time for Halloween fun with the cousins. team brown tour

The past three weeks in Texas have gone fast. While in Texas we've enjoyed settling down a bit and getting into a new rhythm for doing life and school with the girls. We have loved having lots of time with Grammie and Papa (Dan's Parents), brothers, sisters-n-law, niece, nephews, aunts, and cousins. We also got to travel to Oklahoma for a short time to visit friends who moved. While there we visited their church's kids' group that we had sykped with while we were in Japan. It was such a blessing to connect with the kids in person and bring them Japanese snacks.

This week is already Thanksgiving and then we head back to San Diego next Wednesday for the month of December.

As we reflect on the past couple of months and all of the people who have hosted our family, invited us into their homes, treated us to a lunch or dinner out, showered our kids with presents, or went out of their way and traveled to meet us, we are overwhelmed with thankfulness. We feel so loved and cared for. Thanks to everyone, even those of you reading this, for being part of our journey.

Here is a video we made from an app that records 1 second of everyday. Enjoy this little video as it follows our journey thus far.

[playlist type="video" ids="1106"]

One Week In!

We've been in the States exactly one week today. It has been quite a week! Dan's parents came out from Texas to welcome us back too. Some of the highlights from the week include introducing the girls to the cereal aisle at Walmart, Mexican food, girls' shopping dates with the grandmas, seeing friends at church, starting swim lessons, and more. IMG_8197IMG_8179

It's been a great week, but not without its challenges. On our third day Landon got a fever. Later that day he broke out in a rash. It looked like hand, foot, mouth disease, which had been going around before we left Japan. Although caring for Landon was difficult, as he was very irritable and woke up every hour for several nights in a row, I was personally very encouraged by God.

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When we first went to Japan I posted many times about dealing with illnesses. The language barrier was so challenging that I often resorted to thinking, "If we were in the States this would be easier." I have recognized that way of thinking as a lie. Finally, by the end of our three-year term I had learned my lesson. After dealing with a recent illness my first response was not reverting to old ways of thinking (previous post here), rather I had peace that God would care for us.

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Now, after our first week in the States we have dealt with a fever, a crazy rash, plus jet lag. I experienced the truth that dealing with illness is not necessarily easier in the States, in fact it's difficult anywhere. I am thankful for the blessings of healthcare and medicine that is easily available. I pray that I remember next time we are dealing with illness to keep my focus and trust on God who provides, heals, and guides us through the uncertainty.

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The End of a Chapter

I (Casi) have been talking a lot with the girls about chapters in books lately. Right now is the close of a chapter for us. We will be heading back to the States September 2nd. That's in just a week and a half!! Obviously living in a foreign country has a long list of difficulties that comes with it, but really this has been an amazing three years. With the close of this chapter there is some sadness, but there's also excitement about a new chapter to come. IMG_7176IMG_7229

 

This conversation I had with the girls describes it well.

Me: "So how do you girls feel about leaving Japan?" Abbi and Ryli: "Sad. I'm sad to leave my friends." Me: "How do you feel about going to America?" Abbi and Ryli: "Happy!!!"

The end result of both of these questions is the same, we end up in the States. But the focus of the question is different, leaving vs. going. One is not better than the other, but I find that this is totally how I feel too. When I think of leaving I also feel sad to say goodbye to friends and our church family. But when I think of going to the States I feel excited about reuniting with family and friends.

So as this chapter closes and we get ready for home assignment we are still praying that we can stay in the moment and enjoy the day that the Lord has made.

8 Weeks!!

We are now in a new rhythm of life since Abbi started school. Even though language is still difficult and we struggle to communicate at the level we desire, life actually feels normal. Being part of the local elementary school has blessed us more than we expected. It's also been great to see fellow students while we are out and about in our community. We are enjoying school life, but as we look at the calendar we can see lots of stuff is on the horizon for the Brown Family. IMG_5788 IMG_6796 Eight weeks from today we'll be moving from our home. When we move out we will spend a few nights at our pastor's home, then two nights with friends in Tokyo before flying out September 2nd.

As I, Casi, was thinking about this blog post, I remembered writing something very similar six weeks before we came to Japan (found here). Only having eight weeks left feels like a mix of emotions, kinda crazy, and simply unbelievable. We still have two weeks of school left. Then there's summer break with all of it's fun; ministry events, water play, summer festivals, and barbecues. Plus, we are packing for the six months while we are in the States, and preparing everything else for storage here in Japan.

From now until we leave our prayer has been to enjoy the moment and not get preoccupied with future plans and all of its unknowns. We don't know exactly what the next eight weeks will look like, but they are bound to be full of great memories.

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First Grade!

Our little Abbi started first grade at our neighborhood public elementary school. This is a Japanese public school, which operates in only Japanese. All the textbooks, teacher's notes, and classroom activities are in Japanese. Just writing this reminds me, Casi, of the seemingly impossible task ahead of us. I find myself wondering often "How is this going to work?!? Will I be able to read the teacher's notes or even her homework?" In addition to learning how to read and write in Japanese, Abbi will have English work when she gets home. Despite how many unknowns, worries, and fears there are, we really sense this is God's plan for us at this time. Even though I can't see how, I can trust that He will guide Abbi and us through this new season of life, one step at a time. Entrance ceremony on Thursday to welcome all of the first graders.

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Friday morning she walked to school by herself! Well, really she was with her friends and the entire school. This is probably one of the biggest differences than if she were to go to school in San Diego. It's very uncommon here to get dropped off by car. Basically all of the students walk to school everyday and in all types of weather, even snow. All of the first graders have a yellow flap on their backpacks. Everyone knows to watch out for the younger kids and help them out.

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