Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Never Walk Alone

Blog post written over the course of the past few weeks...

When families adopt, there is great anticipation for the "homecoming."  No one forgets greeting a family returning home with their adopted child.  The child walks through the gate in the arms of or holding the hands of his/her parents.  

I'll never forget the day we came home with Godwin!  As I typed this blog post, I watched our Homecoming video amazed by all of the friends and family who greeted us at the airport.  Of course I shed a few tears remembering this amazing day and seeing faces from home - family, friends from church, friends from downtown, students from my classes, etc...  I was also amazed to see all of the families in this video who have since adopted children of their own.  Since this day at the Knoxville airport, seven families have adopted children and three more are in the process!  Wow!  
Our God is able!

(To watch the video, click the "Watch on You Tube" link.)

I've always wondered what a Homecoming would look like in Ghana.  

Recently, I had another unforgettable experience.  God allowed me to see the anticipation through the eyes of a child who is being adopted.   Our family had the privilege of taking Richard "Chris" Browning to the airport to greet his Daddy.  Their family has their visa appointment interview this week, and, our close friend, Mark flew into Ghana for the appointment.

Because of the internet access on my phone, I was able to give play-by-play as events unfolded last night here in Ghana through Facebook.  However, below I've included pictures of the long awaited reunion.  (Some of the pictures are not great, but with only the phone it was the best we could do.)

6:00 pm
At this moment in Ghana we are with Richard Browning who is excitedly waiting for his Daddy to arrive. Richard just finished talking his mama who is waiting in Tennessee. (She shed tears that she isn't here at this moment, but she is where she is supposed to be.) Every minute or so Richard asks us, "When will my Dad be here?" And we smile, knowing it will be soon...very soon. The anticipation is beautiful! Adoption is the heart of Christ! Now, one more time I hear, "When will my Daddy be here? Is it time? Is it soon?" Yes, Richard, very, very soon.

7:30 pm

At this very moment in Ghana Richard has just watched his Daddy's plane land. He is jumping around the lookout place where we are singing, "I am so happy. I am so happy! We must go!! We must go!!" (Oh, I hope Mark makes it through Customs quickly!)

7:45 pm

At this very moment in Ghana we are in the arrival waiting area. Richard has his hands in his pockets and both eyes glued to the tiny opening where he will see his Daddy coming! He keeps asking, "Where is he? Where is he?" Soon Richard. Very, very soon.

(This next part was not on Facebook!)
Then it happened!  Richard saw his Daddy!  He viewed him through the tiny opening he was peering through, and then he took off!  Richard broke into a flat-out RUN!  I'd told him the path his Dad would be taking, but Richard did not wait for me to lead him.  Before I knew it, Richard had crawled under the barrier and nearly tackled his Dad with a huge hug!  Who cares if no one is supposed to enter this area?  Richard did not care...He wanted his Daddy and that was it!

(Back to Facebook posts...)

9:00 pm

Drum roll please... After Richard crawled under the barricade and entered the "arriving passengers only" area, Richard hugged his Daddy with all his might. And his Daddy hugged him just as tight!! Father and son walked out of the airport holding hands and talking all the way to the car... with Richard looking up at his Dad the entire time!! Excitement abounds! And at this very moment in Ghana, Daddy and son are scrunched close together in our 
backseat with Mark giving directions to the hotel. Together at last!

Over the next week, Mark and Richard spent time with our family.  We ministered together in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.  Mark seized this opportunity to begin "bonding" with his son.  Witnessing God's hand throughout the week between a Father and his son beautifully reflected God's redemptive plan.  Richard "Chris" was so incredibly happy, he looked like he would burst!

 Both Brownings LOVE fresh mango!

And, both Brownings LOVE bush-meat...
And stew complete with chicken feet.  YUM!

 Daddy and son, on the bench under the tree.

Richard "Chris" plays the drums one more time at GMI for his Farewell Party.
Everyone danced and sang while he beat out the rhythm.

 Richard posed for a few pictures with his precious friends.
No one will ever be forgotten!

Some goodbyes were hard.  This hug with Peter still brings tears to my eyes.  
Neither one wanted to let go.
They are friends for life.
We are prayerful that Peter will join his family soon.  Once that happens, Richard and Peter will be together again because they will be living in the same town!  God is good!

Father and son rejoice during the "Farewell Party" because Richard "Chris" Browning is finally, after a long adoption process, going home!

 Goodbyes are hard for our family here.  Close friends come for a short while, and then depart to return to the life we left behind.  We connect and release again on a regular basis.  Children that we have grown to love are finally able to join their family on the other side of the world.  We grieve, yet we rejoice at the same time!  We witness the answer to many prayers in sending Richard "Chris" HOME to his family!  We praise God for the work that HE has done.  The long awaited day as finally come!

 Richard "Chris" Browning is closing one chapter of his life to begin a new one.
We will miss his smile, his joy, his laughter.  His friends will miss him too.  Although he has lived in an orphanage, Richard "Chris" has been loved here.  His home has consisted of over 40 brothers and sisters, but a home where love is known in the hearts of the children.

We praise God for his plan to bring Richard "Chris" into a family with a mother and a father who will love him unconditionally.  We rejoice that his brother and three sisters will sweep him into sibling relationship with open arms.  Beautiful.

Richard, our family will miss seeing your smile.  We will miss having you tackle us with hugs.  We will miss kicking the soccer ball with you and hearing you play the drums.  We will miss your joyful spirit.  We will miss the connection you always gave us to your family while you were here.

I will miss kissing you on the forehead six times...once for Daddy, once for Mommy, once for Tyler, once for Paige, once for Kylie and once for Laine.  What a gift to have the privilege of reminding you of their love for you!  I am going to miss you!  Our entire family is going to miss you.  Yet, we know God's plan for your life are unfolding.  His plans for you are great.

You teach others through your joy.  
You are a leader.  Lead well.  
Your joy is contagious.  Never stop smiling.  

We love you Richard "Chris" Browning!

As you walk into this new chapter of your life, we praise God for His work in your life.  We praise Him that He has allowed us to be a part of your life here.  We praise God that you will never again walk alone. 

"Walk on through the wind,
Walk on the through the rain,
Though your dreams be tossed and blown,
Walk on, walk on, 
With hope in your heart,
And you'll never walk alone.
You'll never walk alone."

"I will not leave you as orphans, 
I will come to you."
John 14:18

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