Sunday, October 05, 2008

Some Pictures of Galveston Work

Notice the grass at the top of the fences.

Galveston Cleanup

Yesterday members of the Corpus Christi Texas Stake were asked to go volunteer to work in Galveston with the Church in an effort to help people clean up from the recent hurricane Ike. I believe we had around 100 people attend from our stake. There were many other stakes that also attended, and the cleanup effort is ongoing.

I drove up with my dad and Bishop Nelson. Josh and Jeremy went up also and we stayed at Kenny and Karen and Kelley's house, which we were EXTREMLY grateful to do. Otherwise we would have been leaving around 3:30 in the morning to get there for the beginning assignments.

As we made our way from Santa Fe to Galveston you could see the progression of destruction from wind to water. It is amazing to imagine the amount of time it will take to restore most of what once was. The first thing that hits you is the cars in the ditches or the boats up against the road and all the debris and trash piled up on the embankments of the highway. The second is the smell. If only I could make scratch and sniff pictures, you'd have a much better understanding of what it is like. Although most people tend to think that the wind is the most dangerous part of a hurricane, (what category is it?), the worst destruction comes from the water. The tidal surge reached at least 15-20 feet in my estimation in the places we went.

Imagine losing everything that you have except the frame of your house. Now imagine everyone, block by block, doing the same. All the trees, shrubs, grass and plants are either dead or dying. Every appliance, book, picture, piece of furniture, clothing... it is now ruined. Food in the freezer or refrigerator is spoiled and oozing toxic waste if you mistakenly open the door. Water, mixed with any foul substance and smell you can imagine, is pooled into any conainer will to hold it. After three weeks of sitting, it is now once big cespool.

As we gathered at the chapel in Galveston, spared any damage whatsoever, we formed our team out with Brother James Torres joining us. We received our Mormon Helping Hands t-shirts, our orders and orientation, and after a hymn, prayer, and LONG speech by those in charge, went off to our first of two assignments.

We were only a few blocks from the chapel. Our first task was to gut out the garage of a home that sat at least 10 feet above the road and everyone else around them. They were two weeks from closing the sale on their home. Now...who knows.

We removed boxes of clothes, books and pictures. The garage door. A car that was molding and now worthless, and several other pieces of furniture and personal belongings. The water damage was low on the walls due to the height of the house. We took out the lower four foot section of the walls so that it could dry and be repaired. After meeting the home owners, finishing up and taking a quick break, we were on our way to our next task after about two hours of work.

The next project was to remove everything from the home, including sheetrock and flooring. I feared this would be an overwhelming task. However, to our great fortune all furniture and other items were already removed from the home. We removed all the sheetrock and wooden flooring from the entire house. We had started at about 11:00 am, and including a lunch break and several water breaks, we finished our task around 4:00 pm that afternoon. We were extremely grateful for the cool weather. Even at that, with several drinks ingested, many of us were still depleted of any liquids internally.

We said our many goodbyes, and with requests to join the homeowner for a bar-b-que in six months (he feels that is when they will be able to return to a finished house) we left back for the chapel. After turning in our paperwork, and stretching out the soreness, we returned to Kenny's house for much needed showers. We were pleased that Uncle Kenny joined us for our second house, and then was gracious enough to provide pizza.

Dad and I left for Corpus around 7:45 that night, and, even though we had slept on cots the night before and worked all day, somehow, I just wasn't tired enough to sleep on the way home.

Note: I am having problems with the camera...but will be posting pictures soon.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Great Expectations

Is it plagerism to steal a great title? With so much going on it is often hard to keep up with the many things you want to do,not just the things you have to do. Life is constantly changing, bringing with it the new challenges and experiences that we love and sometimes love to hate. Jay and Jesse are doing well in school as Jesse enters seminary time. Although we thought we had several years before we entered seminary events, life has brought us to it sooner.

As we discussed it today, we realized we'd have seminary duty for the next 19 years. That should be when our next little one will be finishing school. Yes, we are expecting number 6, ( or 8 with Jay and Jesse). That sure seems like a long time to endure getting up early after fighting little ones to get them to sleep. Although lately we're fighting the older ones too!

Bryce, blake, Jenna and Jacie are all playing soccer again. That makes for very busy Saturdays! They're all doing very well, as usual. My new calling in the Stake Presidency keeps us busy in a different way. It is not the same as being Bishop, but the travel is much greater. It is a calling that humbles me, but I truly enjoy it.

We look forward to the holidays to spend more time with family as Justin and his wife are in Galveston and Jeremy is now being stationed in Fort Hood. Sharon was down for a while as Chris is in Iraq and mom had neck surgery. We look forward to David graduating from law school in the next few years. He's already getting job offers. We're happy to be where we are, but look forward to the cooler weather, WITHOUT mosquitos.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Summer Time Events

Yes, I has been quite a while since we have posted to our blog...and I apologize! We have been very busy traveling locally to bowling leagues, birthday parties, swimming events at the Aransas Pass swimming pool and such. Bryan has been gone to conferences in San Antonio and Katy Texas and work has been a HUGE project consuming a great deal of time.

One big change for him was that he was released as Bishop of the Robstown Ward almost 4 years to the day that he was called. That same day he was called as 2nd counselor in the stake presidency. It is a different calling in many ways but should provide a change of pace.

Julie is still busy selling jewelry (she's the new jewelry lady!) and doing well keeping track of that and the many kids. Other additions that have kept her busy are the three new kittens and four chickens. She's not far from being farmer Brown herself!

Jay and Jesse now have braces and Brock turned two this past month. He's growing so much and his communication skills are at that point of doubling every time you turn around. You have to watch out for that parrot!

Bryce, Blake, Jenna and Jacie are enjoying time at Grandma's and Nana's homes and trying to make the most of the summer time off. Jacie recently got her "school" clothes as she will start pre-school this year. She was quite disappointed to find that school didn't start for quite some time even though she had her clothes.

We welcome the recent rains as everything is much greener now. It has also been a nice break from the heat.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Friends, Family and Fun

First, let us thank Kenny and Karen for hosting us this past weekend. Julie and I had a great time getting away from the kids for a weekend and enjoying the great outdoors in Houston. I had a great time playing golf with Gary, Kenny and Grandpa, even if I didn't enjoy most of my shots. Isnt' that what golf is all about? :)

Fortunately for me, the one shot I made from the tee when Julie was around was a great shot! I just wish we could have sunk some of those putts guys. We also had a great time in the pool. I appreciate the offer to bring the kids up this summer. Know that we will do it!

As I work to help our administrators at school prepare for the 20 to 30 FLDS kids we'll soon have in district I am greatly thankful for my kids and the security we have. It would be scary to have our kids taken away to an unkown location. I feel for them and hope their transition will be relatively smooth. We need, in these latter days, to make sure we stick up for our basic constitutional rights and freedoms that Heavenly Father has given us.

Well, off to church...another great freedom!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pumpkin Seeds

So during Halloween as we were scooping out the gooey pumpkins to make Jack-O-Lanterns Blake had the great idea to plant the pumpkin seeds. Dad, who lives next door, had moved the travel trailer that sat for years and thereby had killed any grass over the spot where it resided. To keep the yard looking at least a LITTLE better he tilled the ground. Of course, without sun the soil just didn't seem to want anything to grow there. This seemed the perfect plot since it was tilled and I wasn't worried about the seeds growing anyway.

Come first warm weather this year, guess what we saw! Yep, pumpkin plants! And quite a few of them too! The kids were very excited that they'd have their own pumpkin patch. Of course, with the crazy winter weather we've had the cold came back and the plants wilted away. Or so we thought! We now have no less than 6 pumpkin plants thriving and flowering out in dad's back yard. I guess blake will be the one with the green thumb in our family. Anyone know how to make pumpkin pie from scratch?

I wonder if I can relate this to a gospel story of "sterile" ground and the faith of someone who plants a seed?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Photo contest

I, Julie, found this website for a cute kid contest. I entered the picture of Jacie that is on the blog with the butterfly on her head. If we get the most votes- we can win. So click on the title of this post and vote for Jacie--PLEASE,PLEASE,PLEASE!!!!

Note: Apparently the link doesn't work...sorry guys.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Early Christmas Ham

For those of you that know him, and if you don't then oh well, Steve Reed is a part owner of a new online journal. It is called LDS Journal and is the same premise as a blog, but it does not have public access. The journal is free, but they have a service to copy it to a DVD or print and bind it which I imagine is a fee based service. This is pretty good for those always traveling around or just find it easier and more convenient to post their thoughts and occurances on line.

Along the same note I'd thought of downloading everyone's blog and creating a bound book. Anyone else looked into this yet?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Back To The Story !!!!!!!

Did you read my other post??? If not read it?look at it first!!!!!!!!Still why I want a Finch!!!The reason I want a Finch is because they're CCCCUUUUUUUUUUTTTTTTEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Well are you really serius!!!!! MY dad is going to go to work BYE!!!!!!!!!by:bLAKE bROWN.

p.s. Blake's first post never made it to the site...I'm sure he'll be quite saddened to find out.

Friday, February 08, 2008


Austin TCEA - I've experienced an ifinitely small portion of the problem of problem this week. As I've walked around with my Network Administrator who is older than me and we've talked to vendors they've always started talking to him first. Once they learn that I am the boss they focus their attention on me and continue their discussion. This morning, in a session, I walked in with Holli Horton, who does teacher development in technology, and Duane who is the network admin. I sat in the middle of the two and an older lady who was going to give the presentation talked first to Holli, gave her some notes, scanned her badge, and then proceeded to do the same with Duane. Now, Duane and Holli are a bit more dressed up than I, but she just totally ignored me. She didn't say hello, who are you or even acknowledge I was there.

Now, I don't think she did this to be mean. However, it was an interesting socialogy experiment in which it seemed that she just assumed that since I was younger and not all dressed up that I wasn't anyone worth adressing. The bright side of the issue is that I won't be receiving any junk mail from them!

This whole experience made me reflect and wonder if I ever discrimenate or assume something about someone just because of the way they look. I know I've done it in the past. I recall judging people on the way they looked only to find that their personality was no where near what I thought. Some help that along by TRYING to be different, but sometimes we make assupmtions regardless on if someone is smart, nice, rich, or poor, or even in charge on age, looks and dress.

Have you ever judged someone on appearance only to find out you were wrong in your assumptions?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

One step from Romney

(Note: I wrote this post before I heard later today that Mitt Romney pulled out of the race. I've had a hard time thinking about voting for John McCain, but I agree with what Mitt Romney expresses below:

With our nation at war and many Democrats advocating retreat, Gov. Romney believes our country must stand united.

· Governor Romney has decided to suspend his presidential campaign.

· Gov. Romney has considerable support and resources, but his chances of success have been diminished. He has won eleven (11) states and over 4 million Republicans have voted for his vision of conservative change in Washington.

· Gov. Romney believes that by continuing on he would only forestall the launch of a national campaign and thereby aid the Democrats. He simply will not let his campaign be a part of aiding the Democrats and their vision for retreat in the face of terror.

· Republicans cannot afford to be divided in the general election. Senators Clinton and Obama have made known their intentions regarding Iraq and the War on Terror – retreat and defeat. If Republican are divided, we will watch in 2009 as the opponents of traditional values advance their agenda, heavier economic burdens are placed on families and our economy slows down.

· Even though they may disagree on a number of issues, both Gov. Romney and Sen. McCain agree on the need to win this struggle against violent Jihadists. In this campaign, both Gov. Romney and Sen. McCain have made known where they disagree on the major issues facing Americans today. But when it comes to our national security, winning in Iraq and defeating Al Qaeda, he could not agree more with Sen. McCain.

· Gov. Romney entered this race out of love for America and to build a better tomorrow for future generations. It is because of that love that he will now stand aside.)

Ok, so I'm not anywhere NEAR being related to Mitt Romney. However, I do support him in his bid for President. Moreover, my first companion in the mission field was a sponsor for him in Oklahoma and organized a meeting for him recently there. Mitt was photographed holding Thad Balkman's youngest. Pretty cool! He also wrote in his son's journal who was baptized on Super Bowl Sunday. Congratulations by the way! I hope all of us here in Texas get out and support Mitt Romney, we need someone of his caliber in the White House now, more than ever.

More Christmas pictures

Here are a few more pictures taken around Christmas time. Enjoy:

More of Austin

Bryan - While in Austin, Holli Horton who works with me, REALLY wanted to go to Whole Foods, a grocery store. However, this store is a bit different from HEB. As you can imagine from the name, the foods are, well, "whole foods" or healthy foods. Well, maybe Hippie foods is a better description because they DID have Blue Bell and Ben and Jerrie's ice cream. I've been drinking water all week and wanted some flavor so we looked around the beverage aisles. I never knew there were soooo many different types of wine and beer. We finally found the waters and across from that were flavored health drinks. I got one that has a pound of fruit in a bottle less than the size of a 20 oz drink. It has 23 strawberries, 2 apples, 1 banana and a "hint of orange". The name of it is Naked. It is supposed to be "All Natural Well Being 100% Juice smoothie". I'm sure it is really good. I found many other drinks but bought two. One is supposed to clean out all the pollution from your lungs and sinuses (had a "different" after taste) and the other one is called "Brainiac" and is supposed to help you think clearly. Maybe I need a case of both.

The most interesting thing about the place though, besides all the deli food (it smelled and looked wonderful, did I mention the HUGE sesciton of chocolate) was that there wasn't one person (besides us) who was anywhere near overweight. OK, the dancing workers in the aisles were quite odd, but this is Austin.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

So that's what they mean...

Bryan - I'm in Austin this week for the Texas Computer Education Association conference. I had often seen the "Keep Austin Weird" bumper stickers and thought it was just a cute gimmick. I'm beggining to think otherwise...maybe they're serious! So, there is this homeless "guy" named Leslie who lives downtown. Seems that Leslie (who wears women's clothes,and did I mention he/she was homeless?) ran for mayor not too long ago after it was encouraged to do so. Wonder how many votes she/he/??? got?

I'm walking around this HUGE convention center and see many bathroom signs for females and then one for male/female...wish you could see the sign. I'm told this is for those who are undecided, or that it is a "community" bathroom. I don't even let that happen in my house! I can just imagine being at the urinal while some lady walks in to the stall next to me. Excuse me?!?!

There have been some other interesting items but I don't quite remember them right now. I think that is a self defense mechanism to preserve sanity.

Eating is great though. (Even better since I haven't paid for any of it.) Yesterday for lunch we went to Fogo de Chau. For those that know it, yep I was full. For those that don't, you can't even begin to imagine the salad bar with WONDERFUL items including cheeses, dried tomatoes, huge green olives, dried meats, etc...Then when you're ready for the second course the gauchos walk around with meats on skewers and slice it for you as long as you indicate that you are hungry by showing the green circle. If you are ok you flip it over to red. Great MEAT!!! Did I mention this is a Brazilian Steak house? Don't bother asking for a menu...there isn't one. And price? If you have to REALLY don't want to.

Then, as if that wasn't enough, we had dinner at Louie's 106 on 6th street. Ok, aside from the Mardis Gras celebration there on 6th street it was really good food. I looked at the menu and it started at $20/plate. I had a HUGE pork chop dinner (2 inches thick) and a great creme brule (brulay, sp?).

Tonight's dinner is downtown and so is tomorrow's. I think I'll need to walk home to Corpus. I don't usually do this...(I'm known to get food and go back to my hotel room), but sometimes you have to live large!

The sessions have been pretty good, and there are a ton of vendors. Now I just have to get home and implement all that we've learned.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Kids In Action

I was asked to put more pictures of the kids on the site...guess noboday wants to see the parents. Sigh...OK, so here they are. Some of them inlcude the kids working on the go-cart that dad got for christmas OH so many years ago. Other are them at Christmas time. Hope you enjoy.

Jenna seems to be more of a mechanic than her brothers.

OK, so I don't know if Bryce is the taskmaster here or is just trying to scare the cart into moving. HIIII-YA!

Brock says, "Do you REALLY think I'm going to ride that thing?"

Monday, January 21, 2008

New Additions

For all that don't know, the Brown family now has two more members! No, Julie wasn't secretly hiding twins over the holiday season. We now have legal custody of Jesse and Jay Juarez. These are two wonderful young men who will be living with us for some time now.

Jesse is 14 and Jay is 13 years old. They are both enrolled at Calallen Middle School and doing well in Scouts, Church and school. We are very pleased to have them with us, and the kids love having new "step brothers" to play with!

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Great Hunters

So, I don't know what the big deal is about hunting for a big buck. Josh and I went out for two hours on Friday and came back with what you see below. Granted, we did go out on a lease with a game warden who is a friend of Josh. It was fun though!

(P.S. I apologize in advance to all those Bambi lovers out there. We'll let you know how good the sausage and jerky is though.)

Many thanks to Kevin McDonald and his father for allowing us to hunt on their lease. We are truly grateful for the opportunity.