Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I hope that you had a wonderful day, filled with family, friends, togetherness, food and laughs, but most importantly, I hope that you took a moment to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Christ was born, so that we might live! God sent His Son to Earth, to dwell among us and no matter what, He continues to love and guide us! How awesome is that!?

This Christmas has felt different to me. It's not about December 25th, the gifts, the mad shopping, the decorations or anything that culture tells us today should be about. Christmas is about celebrating Christ's birth, while being surrounded by my family! We've laughed and cried this Christmas. I've had those moments of wishing I were in Liberia this Christmas. But then I sit in the living room and look around at the people that I'm surrounded by (while playing a mean game of Mafia) and am so grateful that I am here, right now, today, in a room full of love, happiness, comfort and joy.

And then, to see the video that's above--joyful kids in Liberia, experiencing Christmas. Thank you to everyone who donated a Christmas bundle--more than 300 bundles were delivered! I am continually grateful for the opportunity that God has given me to be His hands and feet to orphans in Liberia. I am thankful for all of you--the people who pray for me, love me, support me, read my blogs and send me emails of encouragement. I am also extremely grateful for my ORR family! I hate that I'm missing out on being with them right now, but that just makes my return all the sweeter!

God is SO good and SO faithful! His goodness and faithfulness started long before you and I were here, and His love and grace are definitely more than we deserve!

(And on another tangent...)

As my mom and I were preparing Christmas Eve dinner for 14 yesterday, we were blasting Chris Tomlin's Christmas album, Glory in the Highest. We started talking about our favorite Christmas songs. Now, I will admit, I'm not the biggest fan of Christmas music. I can't stand it when that's all you hear starting the day after Thanksgiving (I think it's a combo of working in retail and radio for years--you hear it non-stop at both places.) But, when my mom asked me what my favorite song was, I replied, "I don't know why, but this year, a particular song has just stood out to me, and I LOVE it." So, I'll wrap my Christmas post up with the lyrics...I feel like it encompasses all that Christmas is about

O Holy Night

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,

It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining.

Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!

O night divine, the night when Christ was born;

O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another,

His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.

And in his name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,

With all our hearts we praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,

His power and glory ever more proclaim!

His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Gifty Update--PRAY!

I just wanted to give all of those who have been following Gifty's story a quick update.

On December 18, Gifty was wheeled into surgery. Gifty received her liver transplant! The surgery went well and she began her long road of recovery. Join me in praising God for this miracle for our miracle girl!

Last night, I talked with Debbie in Liberia. She had just gotten word that Gifty was having another surgery. Because of the blood thinner medications she's on for her new liver, Gifty was having bleeding in her brain. She needed emergency brain surgery!

Please continue to pray for Gifty. Her little body has gone through so much, but she's a fighter! Pray for her family--for peace, rest and comfort. Pray for her doctors--that God would give them knowledge and guide their hands. Pray for healing and comfort for Gifty's body. Thank you all for your prayers!

Monday, December 7, 2009

4 Liberia Christmas Gift Market

Since I have some Liberian items left over from the big fundraiser that was held last month, I thought it would be great to offer them to my blog readers! They would all make unique Christmas gifts for your loved ones, and all of the proceeds will benefit orphans in Liberia. You can't beat that! You can click on any of the pictures for a closer look. Please contact me or leave a comment if you have any questions or would like to make a purchase. Shipping costs are not included, but should be no more than an additional $3...not including the artwork or unless you buy everything! You can pay with PayPal, check or cash. So, I present to you...the 4 Liberia Gift Market!

Christmas Cards:
Spread joy this Christmas by sending your family and friends Christmas cards with a purpose. The cards feature some of my own favorite photos of Liberia's orphans. And, the proceeds benefit Liberia's orphans!
[Pack of 10 Christmas cards with envelopes. Two of each card. $15]

All of these purses are made from traditional Liberian lappa fabric.
[Clutch made by my good friend, Joyce. $15]
[Purse above made by me. $30 each]
These two purses are made from traditional Liberian batik fabric.
[Batik purses made in Liberia, $10 each]

These earrings were made by the women at Amazing Grace, Inc. in Monrovia, Liberia. The beads are made out of recycled glass bottles. The women are make beautiful, handmade jewelry as a means to provide food for their families. These were part of the Beads4Bucks auctions I had a few months ago.
[Brown & Gold earrings or brown & pink earrings, $15 each]
[Adjustable, woven 'Liberia' bracelets. Made in Liberia. $5]

Bullet Crosses:
These bullet casings are straight from Liberia. A Liberian man, James, takes the bullets and turns them into crosses. James says that he turns the bullets into crosses because what was once meant for death and destruction can now be used for something good. I turned some of the bullet crosses into Christmas ornaments for myself by putting a hole for a ornament hook in them (like the cross in the front). Just let me know if you'd like a hole in yours--works great for ornaments, key chains or to put on a cord for a necklace!
[Bullet cross, $4]

I have an online gallery of original artwork from Liberia that you can browse. All of the artists were children during Liberia's 14 years of civil war. Check out the beautiful artwork here: Original Liberian Artwork For Sale.

Christmas Bundles:
Provide a Christmas bundle to an orphan in Liberia! You can also enclose a personalized card to the child. So far, 160 orphans will receive a bundle. Let's make sure 250 kids get a bundle this Christmas! Click here to donate a Christmas bundle!

If you have any questions, or would like to make a purchase, please leave a comment or contact me at ashley [at] orphanreliefandrescue [dot] org.

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

7 Hours Left!

Today is the last day for the Undies-4-Liberia collection! Please visit the pledge's site to sign the pledge. What a simple, inexpensive way to impact the lives of orphans living in Liberia. You can either purchase the undies yourself, put a giftcard in the mail or make a donation through PayPal.

Sign my pledge at PledgeBank

Friday, November 27, 2009

Orphan Relief & Rescue Needs Your Help!

Click on the banner below to vote for Orphan Relief and Rescue! We have the chance to win $25,000 from Chase Community Giving! Just think about how far $25,000 would go in Liberia to help orphans!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wisdom of Heart Quilt

Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.
Exodus 35:35

This is the story of a very special quilt. This beautiful handmade quilt was made by Jogma, a bright a funny 16 year old who lives just outside of Monrovia at Frances Gaskins Rescue Home. She is in the 9th grade and is a very good student. Jogma loves to sew. Sometimes I will find her sitting on the front porch with her sewing machine, mending other children's clothes or making a new outfit for herself. She uses a Chinese-made, manual sewing machine that she usually props up on an old chair or bench. She presses her fabric with a coal iron. Sewing in Liberia is quite the task! Because of her love for sewing, Jogma also enjoys teaching the younger children in the orphanage how to sew. I love to sit on the porch with Jogma while she sews; talking about sewing, school and life. Jogma spent her Liberian Independence Day (July 26) manually sewing together the quilt top. I brought the quilt top home and asked a friend (thank you, Sharon!) to complete Jogma's quilt. The quilt backing was donated by the Southern Crescent Quilters Guild and they also provided assistance with the final quilt design.[Jogma working on the quilt top]
Jogma's Wisdom of Heart quilt was the final live auction item at my fundraiser a few weeks ago. I shared the story on the quilt, and then the bids started--at $1,000!! My dad made the first bid, knowing that I loved the quilt. But, I told him to let someone else have it to enjoy, so he stopped bidding. The auctioneer was looking for $1,300...and someone raised their hand. The quilt sold for $1,300. I forgot to get a picture of the winner with the quilt to take back to Jogma.

Two days later, the doorbell rang. It was the winner of the quilt (friend of the family), standing there with the quilt in her hands. I thought my mom had asked her at church that morning to come by so I could take her picture. The winner of the quilt proceeded to tell me that when she bid on the quilt, she thought the quilt was too special and needed to stay with my family (its a Southern quilt and God thing), and she thought my dad couldn't afford it and that's why he had stopped bidding. She also told me that the money she used to pay for the quilt was an inheritance left by her great-grandfather...he helped buy Alaska, and had left all of his great-grandchildren money (what?!). She then handed me the quilt and told me it was mine. Can you believe that?! I was literally speechless! I didn't know what to say, other than 'are you sure??' and 'thank you!' When she left, I put the quilt on the bed in the guest's too small for my bed (schucks!), but I didn't want to just fold it up and put it away...I want to see if everyday and enjoy it!
[The quilt out for everyone to enjoy!]
What a beautiful picture of what God did for us. He gave us His Son for free...with no strings attached. He paid the price, and we are the beneficiaries. We are not grateful and left speechless often enough of His gift. We take the gift for granted. We fold up the gift and stuff it in the linen closet--it can't get messed up and needs to stay nice and pretty. When we do the laundry and put away the clean sheets, we notice the gift and say, "aw, that was nice." We (I'm mainly talking to myself here) need to dig that quilt (the gift of His Son) out of the linen closet and proudly display it! [Does any of this make sense?]

A few weeks ago in church, a guy was leading worship and he said something to the effect of, "Until Jesus is good news to us, He will never be good news to the rest of the world." WHOA! I need to realize how good the gift is so that the rest of the world will take notice. And this all started because of Jogma's beautiful quilt. I can't wait to get back to Liberia and get Jogma started on her second quilt! I wonder what lessons will be taught and learned because of it?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Christmas in November: Liberian Artwork

I have some beautiful Liberian artwork that I would love to sell! So, it's officially Christmas in November at Love in Liberia! I have posted pictures of all of the available artwork on Flickr. All of the artwork was done by Liberian artists who were children during Liberia's 14 years of civil war. The artwork was part of the War Child Art Exhibit that was at the National Museum in Monrovia, Liberia last year. All of the information on each piece, along with information on the artists (amazing stories!) can all be found on Flickr. Please leave a comment or send me an email if you're interested in purchasing anything! Also, share the link with others that might enjoy an original piece of Liberian art!

A few samples:

[I have a few more Christmas in November items from Liberia that I will post later on, so keep your eyes peeled.]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


That's right, the rumors are true. The underwear fairy is at it again!
Sign my pledge at PledgeBank
Click the box to sign the pledge!

Monday, November 9, 2009

What A Weekend!

First of all, God is awesome! Secondly, thank you to everyone who came out on Friday night! And last of all, thank you to everyone who helped make Friday night such a wonderful experience and a huge success! God did it (DUH, of course He would)!

Over $28,000 was raised!!!!!!
Thank you!

I am humbled and thankful to the more than 350 people who showed up on Friday night to the dinner and silent auction! It was a great night to celebrate all that God has done in the past 2 years through HeartCry's ministry, but also my dream finally came true. I have been dreaming about sharing my heart for Liberia's orphans with my church family, and that happened on Friday night! I shared my heart--I had no planned speech, and didn't mean to cry within the first 30 seconds--and I shared the need--to make a house a home for the children at Gold Child. God moved in people's hearts, and it was just an exciting night! I enjoyed meeting so many new people who were so interested in the plight of Liberia's orphans, and had a blast watching the live auction. The night's big moneymaker was an overnight quail hunting trip with Georgia's Governor, Mr. Sonny Perdue (Thank you Mr. brought in $6,000!), but there were so many items donated by alot of really generous people! I still almost cannot believe that enough money was raised to get the Gold Child kids into their new home! God showed up in a BIG way, and I am so blessed to have the support of so many amazing people! I still need to get the rest of the pictures from the night, but here are a few:

[The ORR table, my awesome kiddo backdrop, just a few of the auction items, the room set up complete, me & my table, and me speaking in front of ALOT of people.]


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Two More Days!

Just 2 more days until the dinner and silent auction to benefit Orphan Relief and Rescue! Help us make a house a HOME for the children living at Gold Child Orphanage Home! I wanted to let you guys know about some of the awesome auction items...maybe these items will entice you to come out this Friday at 6pm!

Some SUPER COOL auction items:
- Become a pilot. Flight simulator hours from Delta Airlines for you and 3 friends!
- A unique day with Georgia's Governor, Sonny Perdue. A private lunch, afternoon quail hunting, an overnight stay, breakfast, and a morning hunt for you and 3 friends!
- "Wisdom of Heart" quilt by Jogma Mars. This quilt was handmade by Jogma, a 16 year old living in one of Liberia's orphanages. The quilt is absolutely beautiful!

Some more auction items:
- Vacation homes. Whether you prefer the mountains or the beach, there are 6 homes to choose from, ranging from a 2 night to a 7 night stay.
- Jewelry. From handmade Liberian jewelry to 14K gold. There's something for everyone.
- Photography sessions from local photographers.
- Handicrafts and artwork from Liberia, as well as other countries around the world where New Hope is on mission (Haiti, El Salvador, Burkina Faso and Ecuador).
- Gift baskets galore. Movie night, coffee lovers, winter survival, food items, etc.
- A summer supply of home-grown tomatoes from Master Gardener, Mr. Lester Bray. These are the BEST tomatoes that you will ever taste! A summer full of tomato sandwiches--YUM!
- Misc. Items: clowns for a birthday part, sports memorabilia, training sessions with 8 time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney, etc. etc. etc.

See, this is really going to be great night! I'm so excited and I hope that you can join me in making a house a HOME for Gold Child Orphanage Home!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Making a House a HOME for Gold Child

[These are the children of Gold Child Orphanage Home.]

Yesterday I told you about the dinner and silent auction that will be held on November 6th, but I want to give you more information about what the proceeds will be used for. All of the proceeds from the night are going to be used to make a house a HOME for the children living at Gold Child Orphanage Home in Liberia.

[They are currently living in the downstairs, right corner of this building.]
The orphanage home is currently squatting in a bombed out, two-story building located in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp. There is no electricity, running water or proper bathroom facilities. The children living here are vulnerable, abandoned, orphaned. Imagine living with such uncertainty--you don't know if or when you'll be kicked out. The children need our help!

[This is the new dormitory! The construction is nearly complete!]
Orphan Relief and Rescue has been building a new dormitory for Gold Child, and it is almost complete. But in order to get the children moved into their very own HOME, there are still alot of things to do. All of those small things, the things that make a house a HOME, still need to be taken care of. The HOME is still in need of latrines, showers, a fence, plaster and paint, bunk beds, mattresses, linens, mosquito nets, dishes, pots, pans and more.
All of the proceeds from the dinner and silent auction will be used to minister to the children who call Gold Child their HOME. Just think about the joy on the children's faces when they can crawl into bed at night, knowing that they have a permanent home...a home that's safe, clean and comfortable. And, imagine the relief that this will bring for the director--she won't have to worry about being evicted any longer and she can focus on loving her children! Will you help make their house a HOME?
If you will not be at the dinner, but would like to donate towards the Gold Child project, please make a secure online donation here, and designate that the donation is for Gold Child.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Footsteps For The Orphan

You're invited to join me for dinner on Friday, November 6th at 6:00pm. A pasta dinner will be the kickoff for the "Footsteps for the Orphan" weekend at New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. There will be both silent and live auctions, as well as plenty of cash and carry items. There are some pretty cool things on the auction block--vacations, flight simulator hours, sports memorabilia, artwork, and handicrafts from Liberia and other countries. I will also be sharing more about Orphan Relief and Rescue's ministry in Liberia. All of the proceeds from the dinner and auction will support Orphan Relief and Rescue's efforts to make a house a home for Gold Child Orphanage Home in Liberia! Tickets are $8 or you can sponsor a table for $100. This will be a fun, family-friendly event! Please contact me or leave a comment if you'd like to purchase tickets or sponsor a table! (You will want to come to the dinner just to see what the final live auction item is...and then you won't be able to stop yourself from bidding!)

On Saturday, November 7th, New Hope will host its 9th annual Harvest Classic 5K Run/Walk, "Footsteps for the Orphan" and a Kids Fun Run. Proceeds from the 5K will be used to move an orphanage in Haiti to a safer place and provide immediate needs in HeartCry's orphan, foster care and adoption channels of ministry. You can find a registration form on New Hope's website.
And, if you're not in the area, or you just can't make it, please keep the night in your prayers. Pray for God's provision and that people will be moved to help 33 orphans living in Liberia--they desperately need our help!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Love Fall...minus this cold stuff!

I've been waiting for fall to come! I haven't experienced fall for two years, and I love it when the leaves are falling off the trees, but you can still crunch around on them in your flip-flops and long-sleeves. Fall has arrived in Georgia, but I don't think this Liberian girl will be able to handle it. And I know I'm going to be pretty miserable come winter.

This past weekend, my family and some of our friends went on our annual trip to North Georgia. This trip always includes visits to: the apple orchard, pumpkin patch, Amicalola Falls, and the corn maze. It was a great time with my family and friends, and there was plenty of good food and outdoor activities to be had....but, DANG it was cold! As we sat and had our picnic at Amicalola Falls in the 44 degree weather, I was miserable. I ate quickly and then got in the car and cranked up the heat! Everyone else had gathered around the fire in the grill, left by our picnicking neighbors, to warm their hands, haha. I really didn't think I'd be able to last much longer, but the hike down the falls warmed me up. And somehow, miraculously, I was semi-warm (relative term, here) at the corn maze for alittle bit. I'd have to say that the day's highlights included: spending time with my family and friends, being in God's creation...even if it's freezing, warm apple fritters and racing through the corn maze at night!

And, for entertainment purposes, here's what I was wearing (and still freezing!): one tank top, one thick long sleeve shirt, one sweatshirt-like hoodie, one fleece hoodie, another sweatshirt-like hoodie, my winter coat, 3 pairs of socks (my feet are always cold when I'm in America), a scarf, gloves, and all three of the hoodie hoods on! Yes, I felt like a fat kid all bundled up in a snowsuit, or a fat marshmallow, but I'm not convinced on the whole layer thing actually working anymore!

Anyway, here are some pictures from the day.

[Group shot, minus my dad--the photographer--and John Ryan who was guarding his pumpkin.]

[The Hardy kiddos]

[View from the top and view from the bottom]

[John Ryan documented my 'Ode to Cold Dance', in fat marshmallow style. Pretty good job, eh?]

Happy Fall!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Global Handwashing Day

October 15th has been designated as Global Handwashing Day by UNICEF. The day focuses on teaching children to wash their hands properly with soap and clean water. Every year, 1.5 million children under the age of five die from diarrhea-related diseases that are easily preventable by proper handwashing. Orphan Relief and Rescue has seen the need for handwashing education in Liberia, and we continue to emphasize to the children and caretakers the importance of preventing sickness, not just treating it. Through regular workshops and in-home instruction, children have learned that the single most important thing that they can do to stay healthy is to wash their hands.

To demonstrate to the children where germs like to hide and how to properly wash your hands, the children cover their hands with bright green germs (paint), like Evelyn demonstrates above. They get to practice washing with soap and water and see how much of the "germs" they can wash off. Orphan Relief and Rescue's handwashing program is fun for the children and beneficial to their long-term health. To see programs like this continue, go to and donate using our new, simplified PayPal system.

Happy Handwashing!