Thursday, December 13, 2012

Good Gifts Market

Introducing the 2012 Good Gifts Market!
[I know this is late, but, better late than never, right?]

If you're still looking for the perfect gift for that special someone, maybe I can help. I have an assortment of items from Liberia that I think your family and friends will enjoy! The best part is that 100% of the proceeds go back to Liberia! If you are interested in any items, please leave a comment or send me an email, and I will get your item(s) in the mail ASAP so that they make it in time for Christmas! PayPal is the best method of payment (it's the fastest!), but I will also accept cash and checks! Please add $5 for shipping!

Paintings -- SOLD!
Painted by a local Liberian artist, these paintings both depict daily life in Liberia--selling bananas and the walk for water. The paintings measure 15" high x 10.5" wide. I can't guarantee that they are perfectly square, but they look to be pretty close!

Alfreda's Dolls -- SOLD!
These dolls are handcrafted by Alfreda, a local artisan. Alfreda learned the art of doll making from her mother, and creates beautiful dolls from natural elements like wood, grasses, leaves and nuts. The dolls are approximately 11" tall and sit on a base that is 3"x3". You can click on the smaller photos for up-close pictures of each individual doll. 

Amazing Grace Jewelry 
Bracelets -- $15 each

All of the beads are made from recycled glass bottles in Liberia. Each bead is carefully handcrafted, and some are hand-painted. They are strung on an elastic cord, so they will fit any wrist size! Please click on the two photos below to see the individual bracelets up close!

 Necklaces & Earrings
Left -- $20 (does fit small)
Middle -- $45 (set)
Right -- $50 (set)
(If you would just like to purchase a pair of earrings -- $10)

Wine Bottle Carrier -- $15
Made from a recycled bean sack.

Purses -- $30 each
Made from traditional Liberian lappa
[The Mary Purse]
[The Georgiano Purse]

Bracelets -- $7 each
Made from wooden beads and strung on elastic cording. Fits most wrists!
[Cross bracelet is SOLD!]

Wood Carved Box -- SOLD
Carved by a local Liberian wood carver. The box measures 7.5" across x 4" deep x 3" tall.

Liberia Bracelets -- $8 each
Great gift for any lover of Liberia! Should fit most wrist sizes. Available in the colors below, except the pink/blue combo is SOLD OUT.

 If you would like to purchase any of these items, please leave a comment or send me an email: ashleystoll [at] gmail [dot] com. I want to get these in the mail ASAP, so again, PayPal is the preferred method of payment, but I will totally work with you!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Six Months + Lucky

This morning I realized that today is my six month mark. Exactly six months ago, I left Liberia and arrived back in Atlanta and met my nephew for the first time. I have been away from Liberia for six. whole. months. In the last 4+ years, I haven’t been away from Liberia for this long...except for that time I got malaria and broke my foot. It's hard to believe. 

Liberia seems like so long ago, but it also seems like it was yesterday. I can feel the heat, and smell the dusty, salty, smoke-filled air. I can hear the traffic, waves crashing and laughter. I can taste Ma Mary’s cooking and fresh pineapple. That world seems so far away from my current world.

There are so many things that I enjoy about this world. I love ease and comfort and family and delicious meals and quiet; and stupid things like straight hair and Target and a bowl of cereal. Life here is lovely and comfortable, but it is also very uncomfortable.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about Liberia. Some days, Liberia is an hourly thought. I can’t and won’t forget the past, but it can be a struggle to live in the present and to not put all of my focus on the future.

I get weekly phone calls from Liberia, which I think helps with making it feel closer. Today I talked with Jogma and Cyrus and Evelyn. Talking with Jogma just like we would talk under the plum tree, and hearing her giggle, made my heart hurt for Liberia. I want to be there so badly. I would [crazily] trade the ease and comfort and good food and straight hair...I really that I could sit with Jogma under the plum tree and laugh. To giggle with Yamah and Christian and Massah. To have a meaningful conversation with Janjay or Helena or Janet. To squeeze Koiboi and carry him around, even though he’s much too big for that now. To love on Anna or Naomi or Ma Ruth or Mercy. Or to hold Lucky’s hand while we sit next to each other.

So often, here seems so much better. [And don’t get me wrong, there are so many great and wonderful and amazing things about here!!!] But when I think about there, it just seems right. If I’m honest, it does make me cringe a bit [or alot]...but my heart is there. I might not always be happy’s hard, so hard...but I am content...and there’s a difference between the two. 

My heart also hurts for Lucky.
Lucky is my daughter. She’s the smiling face that you see at the top of my blog. You can’t help but look at her and smile! The thing is, this photo is literally like a once-in-a-lifetime photo. The older Lucky has gotten, the less she smiles. She rarely speaks, and hardly shows any emotion. Her smile, or a few words, are like gifts!  Lucky and I have a very special relationship. I do all the talking...and alot of times I ask her if she thinks I’m crazy, to which I get a blink or head shake. She’s quiet, but I know something’s going on inside of her. She observes and listens intently and notices everything. After I left Liberia, some coworkers were doing a project with the kids where they asked them something to the affect of ‘who loves you?’ Lucky’s response was, “Auntie Ashley.” [melt my heart]
Lucky really is my heart. 

Lucky is the other person that God keeps bringing to my mind. I think he brings her to my mind frequently because she is the ‘face with a name’ for me. She represents the thousands of children that I’ve met in Liberia, and the thousands of children who need help. She truly is voiceless. God has so many hopes and dreams and plans for her. There is so much potential and promise! 

Lucky’s story has always been a mystery. I have asked many times about her past, wondering if that was the reason for her silence, but could never really get any answers. When Deb got back to Liberia a month or so ago, she was told that Lucky was no longer at the orphanage. She tried to figure out what happened to her, but she was only told, “her uncle came for her.” Before I knew this, God had already started bringing Lucky to my mind. When Deb told me the news, I was heartbroken. I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever see her again. I keep trying to remind myself that she knew she was loved, but then I wish I could tell her or show her how much I love her. And I have to keep the faith that I will see her again.

I’m just asking that you keep Lucky in your prayers. That wherever she is, that she is safe and that she is taken care of and loved. I hope to know the young woman that she becomes, and I know that God has so many great plans for her life. Lucky is a big part of my story, and a huge reason why Liberia is so close to my heart! Please pray for Lucky.