This is the first time I’ve written in just over a year and it feels strange to be looking at this screen after so long. Many have asked about my silence and absence online in various forms, so I will attempt to answer those questions in this one simple blog post. My last published blog posting was from the evacuation that happened last December and that is the point from which my ‘year of silence,’ started in blogging and other areas.
This last year of our time on the field has been the hardest for me thus far, if you can believe that reading back through all of the struggles we’ve experienced in our years here. We had to pick up our life and leave, not knowing when we would be able to return and once we did, we lived under constant threat of having to evacuate again and in uncertainty and a feeling of being unsettled. There was constant talk of us leaving and moving and having to evacuate. Then we did evacuate again and returned once more to live under the belief that we would have to leave our home permanently, even to the point of rebuilding houses in other cities and villages that we would be moving into.
Some evacuation threats were from Ebola and others unrest but the result was the same with us living in transition and stress, even more than normal, and leaving me wanting to shut out the world. It was the most stressed I have ever been in my entire life and the various difficulties along the way that added to it, to make it this way. There were things we weren’t allowed to talk about on a public platform because of security and other reasons and the rest I simply didn’t want to discuss, think about, or hash out again. It was stressful enough to live through it once and writing it up and putting it online was something I wasn’t capable of. When I write, I’m open and I reflect a lot, not hiding the truth of where I’m at; having to censor myself or hide the truth because it was so stressful wasn’t in me, so instead, that left me silence.
I’m sitting here today, the first day of this new year, reflecting back over the last and I can honestly say that I’m relieved that last year is over because it was that hard, that long, that stressful, and that complicated. It’s something that makes me tear up just to think about; both with relief that it is finally over and with the pain of all that we went through. I have and retain hope that this next year will be better, easier in some ways, and full of more life-giving things; that I can get back to doing some of the things I enjoy more with a fresh start on life here.
This year will have it’s own set of complications and difficulties, that is a certainty that I take into account. Life is never without difficulties but I also hold onto the hope that we wont be living under the constant threat of having to leave our homes like we were. That possibility is still there because we do live in Congo where there is constant unrest, but it won’t be like the previous year because of some changes that took place in our organization.
This year has also been difficult and felt like constant transition because of so many comings and goings with different families. There have been some visitors, families leaving for furlough, other families coming to join the team and then leaving after only a few weeks, other new families coming and getting swept up in evacuations, another family leaving to go back to the states to take care of family and a leadership transition with that, new leadership moving here and more new families coming. This next year will have this new family arriving in about a week, another family moving back for a couple months as a relief pilot, a family returning from furlough and another two, including us, leaving for furloughs. We will be in the US from April through July most likely but speaking engagements and visitation will be limited.
So this new year holds both transition and difficulties to come. Not in the same way as this last year did but with this new year also comes the hope that I have of it being better in so many ways. My ‘year of silence’ has left me deeply tired in heart and soul, in a place of holding some things close and private that I might not otherwise, and despite it all, carrying hope that things will be better this next year. Sitting on my porch now, on this first day of the new year, I can say in a tired way how much of a blessing it is to be in our home, ending my ‘year of silence.’
Ashley, Thank you for doing such a good job verbalizing your silence in such difficult times. You helped me to understand more of where you have been emotionally. This helps to know how to pray. I can see how it was difficult enough to live through such things and attempt to keep your focus on the Lord allowing him to help you process and keep moving forward, but to attempt to verbalize it to others who couldn’t even know all the circumstances would only have added stress your situation. You were very wise in handling it in the way you knew you needed to handle it. Praise the Lord that he has faithfully carried you all through so much and increased your faith so you could continue to stay on the field and not just give up and go home. Praise the Lord, he is amazing & it is obvious that he is working in your lives. You are all greatly loved by so many of us. We are praying for you.
My heart goes out to you and your family, been thinking about you randomly alot this year, praying that you and Dave were ok. I now know God has a way of putting you in my mind and heart and I believe that those moments I thought of you were moments when you also were reaching out to him. Love you guys, and glad to see your year of silence breaking and that beautiful view your getting to experience again. Hopeful to see you guys when your back in the States. You are always welcome to stay with us or in the RV!
Ashley, I admire your transparency and will continue to pray consistently for the whole family this coming year. May it be a year of progress, joy, and blessing. Love , Barb
Welcome Back, Ashley! You were missed!!! Wishing you all a Happy New Year!~Dave & Kristy
Thanks for sharing Jamie. It was great being able to spend a little time with you at Mata and hear your heart. Glad for new beginnings, new life, new start. Happy New Year. Remembering you and the days ahead. May you feel His guidance and provision each step of the way.
I believe you have my blog confused with another family’s on our base.
We are glad you have come through a year of challenges with renewed hope for the new year. Know that we have been praying for you throughout the year and will continue to do so, knowing only a little of your struggles but confident that the Lord knows and has been your rock. In our devotions this morning, we read Psalm 31 and could identify with David’s struggles as we have had a few challenges of our own this year (nothing compared to yours!) and can say with him, “The Lord preserves the faithful!” and “I trust in you, O Lord: I say ‘You are my God; my times are in your hands.’”
I have wondered about the situation with your dogs and their mange, but realize that your priorities have been focused elsewhere during the past year. We look forward to visiting with you and Dave and Daniel if you have time during your furlough. So, stand firm and remember that your supporters here in the States have your back! I pray that your short furlough in April will be a time of refreshment for your whole family.
With our love,
Dick & Jo Ann
Sent from Mail for Windows 10
Praying that you may feel God’s hand on you this coming year. May you rest in His provision and care. Praying for peace in the area and a stop to Ebola. Also that the new family may feel at home and stay.
Love you! Thankful that today you were able to break your year of silence. So precious to hear from you! Grateful for changes made, opportunities ahead and the Lord’s daily provision. ❤️🙏🏼
Bless you, Ashley, as you navigate the rough seas. I have thought of you often, especially your farm when you had to leave. I hate to even say it for fear of sounding trite, but you will look back on these days and appreciate how much your faith grew as a result. Meanwhile, it sucks. Sending love….
Thank you for sharing with us, Ashley.
It takes a lot of courage to open up when you have been living through such a challenging & vulnerable time,
We’re here for you🙏
Cristi & Doug