Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Dear Prayer Partners, Supporters and Friends,
I want to thank you for consistently praying for me and supporting me over the last four years. I cannot tell you how crucial your love, prayers and support are for me while I am in Liberia!  I really could not serve in Liberia without you!
Over the past four years, God has opened my eyes to so many things about the world around me. I have seen God’s hand of provision and protection on my life, the ministry of Orphan Relief and Rescue, and on the lives of the children that we love and serve. God has taught me so much about Himself, myself and the body of Christ. God continues to work miracles, answer prayers, change lives and make His name known in Liberia. God has been incredibly faithful, and I have never felt His hand more on my life.
Over the past six months or so, I have really been seeking God’s direction for the next step of my journey. The searching, seeking and wrestling has been both beautiful and painful, but God has given me clear direction that it is time for the next step. 
I will be leaving Liberia on June 3rd to come home for the birth of my nephew. When I leave Liberia, my time with Orphan Relief and Rescue will come to a close. The decision was not easy--my heart is still for Liberia and the children here. But, God has been opening my eyes to more needs in Liberia and enlarging my heart to include others. 
I don’t know what the future looks like but I know this: I know that God is in control, and I know that I will be back in Liberia in the future. I need to come home, enjoy my family, rest and recuperate, but then I will really be seeking God’s direction for the future. God has given me ideas and dreams, but I want my dreams to be His dreams. 
I will keep you updated on the dreams that God leads me to, and I look forward to continuing to share my heart for Liberia with you all! There truly aren’t enough words to say an adequate thank you! You have been a part of this journey, every step of the way, with your love, prayers, encouragement and support for me personally, and also for Orphan Relief and Rescue’s ministry. I really could not have done it without you! Please keep in touch--you can always email me, and I will continue to update my blog and share needs and prayer requests. I look forward to sharing the next chapter of my journey with you, and I hope that you will once again join me!
Love in Liberia,
P.S. My current prayer requests are:
-I’ve been praying for various “impossibles” over the past few weeks. We have multiple children that are ill, a few of which have quite serious medical problems that cannot easily be treated in Liberia. We have also been dealing with other seemingly impossible situations, but we are trusting in a God who makes all things possible!
-My last few weeks in Liberia--that my time would be used wisely, and that it would just be a sweet time of fellowship, joy, laughter and thanksgiving!
-I have so many mixed emotions, and I know it will only get more emotional as my time comes to a close. God has really been giving me His perfect peace, but I want (and need) His perfect peace to carry me through until the end.
-For perseverance and strength to finish well.
-God’s wisdom, guidance and clarity for the next step.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Liberian Garden

This post has nothing to do with kids...but I think it's time for a light-hearted post. Since I came back to Liberia, I have spent a considerable amount of time experimenting with seeds in my yard. I've always enjoyed gardening (I come from a line of gardeners...), but it's even more fun in Liberia! There are so many things that grow here that would never grow back home in Georgia! And, there's also problems and pests and plant mysteries that aren't in Georgia either! So, I thought I'd give you a tour of my garden! It's nothing spectacular, and I have a bunch of plants with one tiny tomato to show for it, but it's been a great way to get out in the yard in the evenings to get alittle dirty and sweaty. So, I present to you, Ashley's Liberian Garden.
This is my front yard and house. The best time to garden is when a killer storm is approaching...nice and cool!
You can usually find me here.

Completed nursery...and my sweet boots!  
Momo (and One Love) proud of our nursery!
 The Herb Garden:
Cilantro (which has since bolted) and basil.

There's a frog family that LOVES my basil. Every morning Momo will take the frogs out and throw them over the fence, and every morning they somehow find their way back into the basil. Makes Momo and I laugh!
Oregano and Liberian peppers--like Scotch Bonnet (on nursery).
The front wall...

...includes okra... 
...and cucumber. (And eggplant, which hasn't come up yet)

The tomatoes. My labor of love. Started these from seed in a handy little nursery ($8 at Walmart), and now they're about 3-4 feet tall! I have Brandywine, Early Gray Hybrid and Big Boy planted. Early Gray and Big Boy have done the best.
Only problem is the pests are LOVING all of these new tasty treats! After consulting The Tomato Doctor (my mom & Mr. Bray), I have learned alot about tomato miners.
My one and only tomato--he's pretty cute! He's on my only Early Gray Hybrid plant that survived.
The other half of my nursery (this side is not thatched) is my testing ground. I had some green beans that did amazing, until the bugs ate every last leaf. I had cantaloupe too, until the bugs got them. Currently, I have squash (back left), lettuce (white sticks...I don't think they're working) and every other stick is collard greens.
Buds on a squash plant.
Random 'pumpkin' (more like butternut squash) vine.

 The Exotic Garden:

The barbed wire on top of my fence is nicely camouflaged with beautiful passion fruit vines (the blooms are BEAUTIFUL!). And this year, the passion fruit are already in abundance--usually they don't arrive until July or August. 
We have probably half a dozen pineapple plants around the yard.
Of course, we can't forget about the 'plum' (mango) tree!
Sugarcane along the front fence. We have sugarcane on three sides of our house, as well as outside the front of our fence. Momo loves his sugarcane!

 As you can see, I practically have an entire produce section in my yard! I also have other things growing--like galia melon (cross between a cantaloupe and honeydew melon)--and there have been plenty of failed attempts too (any flower seeds). And, I've transplanted all kinds of flowers, trees and shrubs into the yard and flowerbeds too. I'm most excited about the bougainvillea that FINALLY stayed alive, after transplanting a stick of another tree, and will probably take 14 years to be big enough to add a bamboo trellis and then turn into hammock central! Oh, and we've transplanted banana trees and coconut trees, and there always seems to be a few 'pawpaw' (papaya) trees growing up out of the compost bin. The gardening has been a fun experiment, and it's also been a fun (usually) project for me, Momo and Amma (my other security guard). We will eventually taste the fruits of our labor, but in the meantime, it's a fun process, and makes me feel like a real [Liberian] gardener!