Through all of that, you couldn't blame Ashley or her parents if they were bitter or resentful. But as my mom and I have spent Tuesday nights over the last few months visiting at their home, I can tell you that they are anything but. Ashley has kept her sense of humor and often has everyone cracking up. One day while we were visiting Ashley said, "With everything I've been through, God has loved me through it all."
So as our family has prepared to go to Uganda this summer, I knew I wanted to to something special for Ashley. I didn't just want her to hear about Uganda, I wanted her to experience it. I wanted her to see the rusty-orange dirt under her feet and hear the kids singing praises to God and feel their hugs. The wheels started turning in my mind.
I knew Ashley wouldn't be able to go herself, but I thought maybe someone could go on her behalf. If you've ever heard about the children's series of Flat Stanley books, then you'll know where I'm going with this. Kids in school do projects with Flat Stanley, a boy they cut out of paper and send to someone they know. That person takes Flat Stanley on some adventure and takes pictures, sends the pictures to the child, and then sends Flat Stanley on to someone else. I thought a paper cutout would be a little too flimsy and easy to rip or lose. So I needed another idea.
I introduce to you, Ashky.
Ashky is a sock monkey I bought. I dressed her up in a t-shirt (which matches a shirt I had made for Ashley), and made a little skirt for her. This is actually the original Ashky, but when I brought her out to explain what I was doing, Ashley's 7 month old nephew Wesley went nuts. He started shrieking, kicking his legs, and flailing his arms. He wrapped his arms right around the monkey and he would not let go. If anyone tried to touch the monkey he shouted. He made hilarious noises that sounded like he was trying to talk to the monkey. Needless to say, we gave Wesley the monkey because he was so cute with it.
Wesley says, "I love this monkey!"
If you are on Facebook, you can follow Ashky's adventures in Uganda by liking the page "Ashky goes to Africa." If you're not on facebook, have no fear. I'll let you know how it goes with Ashky as time goes on.
Ashley (center) with Karen (right), her mom Jenny (left), Aly, and Wesley (the monkey loving baby).