Friday, June 27, 2008

Liberia Update (Vol. 6)

[I usually don't post my updates on here...I usually send them through email. But, Yahoo isn't cooperating, and I'm sweating like crazy in this internet cafe, so I give up!]

First of all, I want to apologize for my recent lack of communication. Between my spotty internet connection, and being very busy these last few weeks, I haven’t had the time to sit and write an update, much less get to the internet to send it out. It’s hard to believe that I only have a few days left in Liberia! I left home 3 months ago, not knowing how long I’d be in Liberia, and now I’ll be home in 4 days! I can’t believe how quickly these last few months have gone by. I know that so much has happened at home while I’ve been away, but I wouldn’t trade these past 3 months.

This week started out with a bang—in the sense that I spent Monday and Tuesday in bed, feeling quite miserable. Of course I couldn’t leave Liberia without having sinus problems. My body decided to wait until my last week here to keep me in the bed for a few days, so I was left with only 3 days to get everything wrapped up before I leave. Needless to say, I’ll be spending at least my Saturday working. By Tuesday, I think I reached the point where I just wanted to be at home, with the ability to lay on the couch and watch movies and eat popsicles (hey, it sounded really nice at the time!). The good news is that I’m starting to feel better, and I can breathe again! Just pray that I will be healthy for the flights home. You can also pray that I will get a seat on my flight from Brussels to Atlanta! I’m flying standby, and I know that once I’m actually headed home, I won’t be the least bit interested in spending the night in Brussels. I will be leaving Liberia on Monday night (4:30pm Atlanta time), and will arrive in Brussels at 5:10am. The flight to Atlanta leaves at 10am, which puts me in Atlanta at 1:40pm on Tuesday. I can already say that I’m not looking forward to the trip home—airplanes are freezing to someone who’s been without air-conditioning for 3 months!

Since I haven’t felt great these last few days, I’ve pretty much reached the stage where I’m ready to come home. I know I’m going to miss Liberia once I’m gone, but there are a lot of things that I’m really looking forward to—like being with my family and friends, going to my church, eating vegetables, drinking a glass of ice cold water, sleeping without a mosquito net hanging on my feet, flushing a toilet with the push of a handle, and most of all just blending in to a crowd. There are so many small things that probably sound totally crazy, but it seems like it’s the small things that I miss. I can handle it being hot or not having running water or being without electricity—but it’s the little things that make life “normal” that I seem to miss the most.

I will say though, that today as I was delivering food to two orphanages, God really allowed me to see the beauty of Liberia and her people, which I had momentarily been blinded to. Even after waiting in Red Light Market (the craziest, most hectic place in Liberia) for 2 hours to buy food, and dealing with a very ridiculous police officer, God reminded me that His creation is beautiful…and that I actually get to live in this place and experience it all. Sometimes it’s hard to not get wrapped up in what you need to accomplish, and it takes alittle extra effort to really sit back and enjoy the world around you.

I confess, this last week has been difficult for me to focus on God. We have been incredibly busy trying to make sure we get everything taken care of before we head out, and I have failed to take the time out of my day to really sit and listen to God’s voice. It’s a weird feeling when you realize ‘hey, I haven’t heard from God today…and it’s my own fault’. Most of the time, I feel like it’s incredibly easy for me to hear God’s voice when I’m in Liberia—much easier than when I’m at home, because I feel like there are fewer distractions here (no TV, no internet, no mall, limited finances, etc.). But after being here for 3 months, I think that I’ve started to create my own “Liberian distractions” like sleeping in, or rushing out the door in the morning to get something done or playing with the kids in the neighborhood instead of coming in early for some down time. I think going home will help give me some perspective, and I will be able to spend some time thinking and reflecting over these last 3 months. I’m also looking forward to not living next door to a nightclub that blasts obnoxiously loud music every night…that alone makes me unable to focus and think!

Beyond all of that, I have absolutely enjoyed my 3 months in Liberia. There have been some rough patches and uncomfortable days, but I can’t complain. I go to bed at night with food in my belly. I have a roof over my head. I have the best family in the world at home waiting for me to come home. I have spent time with an amazing group of people doing God’s work for some pretty incredible children. I have a God that loves me and never leaves me. And because of my time here, I am more in love with Him.

I feel like this sounds like a goodbye letter, but I guess this will be my final update from Liberia for now. As of right now, the plan is for me to be home through August, and then I will be heading to back Liberia in early September. I would really like to do some speaking/sharing/fundraising events while I’m home (I will be in Arkansas sometime in July for those of you there), so if you would be interested in hearing about what God’s doing among orphans in Liberia through ORR, then please let me know. I will go ahead and say that I have not made any decisions as far as committing to ORR for 2009, and I think that being away from Liberia will help me to really hear from God about the future.

I want to thank all of you for all of your prayers and support during my first 3 months in Liberia! It’s true when I say that I can’t do this without each and every one of you! Your encouragement has meant so much to me, especially when things haven’t been easy. In case you’re wondering, I will send out my June newsletter after I get stateside, and I will also be doing a bunch of blog updates with pictures since I’ll have a real internet connection! Boy do I have some stories for you! Thank you again for everything, and I look forward to seeing you soon!

Love from Liberia,


Brandi said...

Ashley, Thanks for your sweet note. . We are excited to be a small part. I realized that I had raised money without actually donating it yet. . I just did so! Hoping you can get that money and get those nets out before you leave! Is someone else handling it after you are gone?

I know we'll have more money next week too!

Thanks for everything. . .


Winbush said...

Ashley, Thanks for the work you've done in Liberia. I follow your blog this whole time. The work you are doing now will pay huge dividen for Liberia in the future. Thanks again. From a Liberian born US Marine.