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 would...so 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 there...it’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.