ANNA : How would you describe yourself as a friend?
ASHTON : I like to listen, so I would say I'm a listener. Umm...
ANNA : Don't be modest!
ASHTON : Haha. This is a hard question though! I do like to encourage others. And I like to make connections with things that relate to the both of us. I love when I can relate to someone, because it shows me that we're not alone and it allows me to really appreciate and understand the other person that I'm with. I love to see new things in friendships all the time. I've been friends with Laura and you for a really long time, and I still feel like I'm learning new things about you two all the time. I love that! because there are endless levels to a person, you can never fully know a person, and that's so exiting to me. There are always new things to discover about someone.
ANNA : So who is your best friend and how did you two become friends?
ASHTON : Laura's my best friend! We met when she came to CSCS in the 7th grade. CSCS is a small school, so everyone knew that there was a new girl. We had a class together and sometimes we'd say say hi to each other, or make small talk. But the one time we really bonded was when we were both in the bathroom, and we were washing our hands. Laura went over and grabbed a paper towel and was drying off her hands, and somehow the paper towel got pretty wet. She went to throw it in the trash, but it fell on the floor and made this weird plopping sound. We both looked at each other when it happened, and just busted out laughing, and it was our first moment of friendship together.
ANNA : Haha of course that's how it started, laughing at something insanely stupid ha! What is so great about your friendship, and why has it lasted so long?
ASHTON : Oh man, everything. The one thing that really keeps us going though is communication. We have to talk about everything.
ANNA : You guys could teach a marriage seminar!
ASHTON : Haha! It seriously does sound like that! We just really do have to stay in touch and keep communicating though everything. Also, we both like to listen and have similar humor and we both really appreciate similar things in other people. We also have similar values and like to do the same kinds of things, and we share a common dream.
ANNA : Oh yeah? Speaking of sharing a common theme... tell me about Bella.
ASHTON : Oh my gosh, that is such a big dream!
ANNA : I know it's not a short story, so just do your best.
ASHTON : Yeah. So it started when I read through the book Redeeming Love. It was in 8th grade I think. That was at the beginning of Laura and I's friendship. The book is basically about a prostitute, and I started looking into more stories that pertained to sex-trafficking. I was shocked when I read them, because I didn't even know those kinds of situations existed in the world. I started reading up on the topic more, and I found a story about this girl and her cousin who were kidnapped and then sold into human-trafficking. While in a brothel, they met another girl who was around 8 years old, whom we now call Bella. The two cousins were eventually rescued when their Brothel was raided. However, a few girls weren't able to be rescued because some of the men got away with them, and this little 8 year old girl was one of the girls that got taken. This story just broke my heart. So I decided to start praying for that little girl, and I told Laura about it. I remember we were at Coram Deo, a youth group retreat, and we started praying about it then. As we were praying for her, I started to call her Bella and I didn't know why. It was just the name I gave her so I could call her something as I prayed for her I guess. Laura and I looked up what the name Bella meant, which stems from Isabella, and we found out it means "God's Promise". After that, I just felt so strongly that God was promising that He would redeem her and pull her out. That moment really ignited a fire within Laura and I and we still continue to pray for her and for all victims. This story has led me to really know what I want to do with my life, because of the experiences I have had reading many stories and praying through them.
ANNA : Why do you continue to pray for Bella or others?
ASHTON : Because I don't know where she is or where her life is at. Even if she has been rescued already, she is still a human who needs prayer. She's really been through a lot. I want to pray for her continuously because I know through prayer brings comfort. I think it's the most powerful thing anyone can do for someone. Prayer is giving the situation to God, and that's what I want to do with my life.
ANNA : Do you think you'll ever meet her?
ASHTON : I do. I know it sounds crazy, but I really do. I believe that the Lord has that in store, and that the Lord will take her out of trafficking someday. And I believe that Laura and I will be a part of that process.
ANNA : Wow. Ash, I can't wait to see this story unfold. You are so brave.