Queen Material

While competing for my titles, I met some wonderful young women. When we were together it was clear to me that the crown could be given to any individual. Whenever we chat via facebook, etc. they call me queen and I also call them queen. It’s all about perception. How do you view yourself? Do you truly understand your value, your worth, your ability to be in charge? Do your actions and the decisions you make confirm your understanding? If not, you can start today. I have learned so much about myself in such a short time. I’ve overcome fears and I’ve made decisions and have been privileged to do so many things that I am proud of. All of these things have been possible because I’ve changed my way of thinking. You cannot believe that you are average and then achieve extraordinary things. I believe that you have what it takes to do what you want to do. No individual has been created without gifts and talents. As women, we do not just have literal wombs but also figurative wombs that can birth creative ideas, businesses, and so much more. It just all starts with how we think. Today, you must say, “I am a queen.” You can go about your daily affairs knowing that you have what it takes to rule. Being a queen has nothing to do with being the boss of other people’s lives. It’s about what you’re doing with your independence and freedom. It’s about how you choose to live and the legacy you decide to leave.

Now, I think it is important for me to stress where my confidence comes from. Not only do I believe in myself because of my parents, friends, and family that encourage me but most importantly, I believe that God Almighty has created me in His likeness and image. Through His Son, Jesus Christ, I can do all things. His Word confirms my importance by telling me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), I am royal in God’s sight (1 Peter 2:9), and He has great plans for my life (Jeremiah 29:11). This is the truth I hold on to and I believe that all of the things I’ve listed apply to you.

You have all that it takes to rule, wherever you are. If you never wear a crown, if you never wear a sash, it is important to always remember that you are a queen material girl.

Taste of Liberia

"One month will not be enough", he told me. He, was a young man I met while making some last minute purchases for my trip to Liberia. I was asking for his advice about a product that I wanted to purchase from his parents' shop and we got into conversation about my trip to Liberia. At the time I was thinking that a month would've been ample time for me to see the sights, accomplish the work I wanted to, and do a host of other things. Well, he was right. I arrived in Liberia and hit the ground running. The days turned into weeks, the weeks turned into a month, and before I knew it, it was time for me to pack and leave. Although I am anticipating my return, hopefully, later this year, I am thankful for the time spent in Liberia. One month was enough time for me to fall in love with my country, meet the most wonderful people, make new friends, eat the best fruits and food the world has to offer, make a difference in the lives of many by being a blessing, and also strengthen within my heart my passion for the youth and women of Liberia.
Packing supplies for my trip to Liberia. A big thank you to Delta Airlines for the baggage fee waivers and to all those who donated supplies.

In Liberia with my supplies! All smiles after a 14+ hour flight. Just glad to be home.
  The first half of my reign was focused on going to Liberia and making a difference in our home country. We struggled mightily to raise funds, but it was worth the effort because we were able to make a great difference. Below is a list of activities I was able to be a part of while in Liberia:

Besides the occasional musical apperance, I had the privilege  of speaking and conducting different workshops, both related and non-related to being Miss Liberia in the US. The following list explains: (This list was requested by the Daily Observer, a popular Liberian Newspaper, that requested an interview with me)
  •  I donated material supplies to the Bassa Community Women with the help of Delta Airlines and donors from the States. I taught a business session being that most of these women are in the marketplace.
  • I spoke to a group of young women, United Girls for Development and Empowerment (UGDE), about the importance of being focused as young women and especially the importance of making the most of every opportunity. This event was held at AMEU (formally MC, my father's alma mater).
  • Being that I am the daughter of a Pastor, I spoke at the Pastor's Kids Fellowship, an awesome group founded by Gifty Harris of Philadelphia Church. The topic was "The Importance of Interfellowship Among Pastor's Children" This event was held at the ELWA Camp
  • I had the opportunity to tour the campus and speak to the students of Jireh Community International School (which I've fallen in love with). It is a boarding and day school for students in grades nursery through 12th. It is located in beautiful Charlesville and has such great potential. I was able to donate a new encyclopedia set, dictionaries, and other academic supplies. I am seriously considering working as a visiting teacher for about six months at JCIS.  I look forward to working closely with JCIS to see major development, growth and opportunities poured into the lives of the precious students.
  • I also had the opportunity to tour Bethesda Christian Mission School. Our focus area was their computer lab. The school has requested that we donate at least 30 computers for their student body. We are now in the process of requesting help from various capable companies to see that this need is met by latest December 2012. (Note: I work in the school system in the States and I know what it takes for a child to have a quality education on the primary level. I hope to do all that I can to help not only the two schools I've listed but also the school at the Bethel Cathedral).
  • I was able to bring and donate medical supplies to the clinic at Bethel Cathedral. Some supplies were used during Bethel's Medical Mission held at the International Conference throughout the week of February 7th-12th. (Note: All supplies brought (15 boxes total) were made possible by Delta Airlines graciously waving any associated fees for humanitarian purposes. Also, the donations were made possible by donors in the States who wanted to make a difference in Liberia. Fifteen boxes was just a first small step but there surely is more to come).
  • I had a concert at Bethel Cathedral of Hope on January 29th, which was a great success. A portion of the proceeds were used to be a blessing to a man of God in need and other individuals who also had pressing needs. It is my hope that I will be able to launch the CD I am working on in Liberia. I am grateful for the encouragment and support I recieved from so many in attendance. I was joined by the Harris Sisters, the Bethel Cathedral Choir, the Philadelphia Church Choir, Sisters of Destiny, Sis. Josephine of Bethel Cathedral, and Clarence Townsend. The MC for the program was Mr. Paul Muah.
  • I had the opportunity to tour the University of Liberia (my mother's alma mater) with Miss LU, Mabana Kromah (who has quickly become a dear friend). It was such a pleasure! I had the honor of meeting with the student body president and council, the LU choir, as well as other campus officials. It was my chance to see progress in Liberia's educational system first hand. What I love most about LU is the pride that the student's have. They are passionately pursuing their education and it is evident that they understand the importance of grabbing hold of higher education. I was really inspired and challenged to come up higher and to pursue my dreams with the same passion.
  • Being that I am a worship leader at my church, I was asked to teach two seperate worship workshops at Bethel Jallahstown and Bethel ELWA. My favorite thing about these sessions was the fact that each church had a majority of young people in attendance. This allowed me to also speak to them about the importance of serving the Lord while still young and to encourage them to keep up the good work. As Miss Liberia US, I am not ashamed of my faith in Christ. It is simply a part of who I am.
  • Besides being interviewed by the Daily Observer, I was also blessed to be interviewed by Blue from the Blue Show on Hot FM 107.9, ELWA Radio, the LU Radio Station, and Mr. Jallah from Love FM. Many people called in to encourage me and I was touched beyond words.
  • Last but not least, Miss Liberia US is a proud Bethelite! I spent my full final week in Liberia at Bethel Cathedral of Hope, where our International Conference was held. Our Bishop, Bishop Darlingston G. Johnson, his wife, First Lady, Pastor Chrys Johnson, and a host of many delegates from literally all over the world were in attendance and we were so blessed. I love my church family with a passion and I know for sure that I cannot stay away from my Bethel Cathedral church family for too long.
My first full day in Liberia I went to visit the Bassa Town Community Women. I was greeted like a queen! It was so unexpected and really touching.

Here I am walking to our meeting place as the women sing and celebrate my arrival.

My dad, Pastor Lawrence, encouraging the young children of this community and praying with them.

When I read this list, I cannot believe how many things I was able to do. Quite honestly, there were so many uncertanties about going to Liberia because I did not secure a ticket for Liberia until late December and then I did not even have a seat number when I arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport due to the flight being oversold. But I will tell you that story at a later time. I was prayerful that all things would work out and they really did. This trip was only my first of many to come. There are many wonderful things that I started in Liberia that I would like to see through to the end. I do miss Liberia so much and the main reason is because of the people I met. People are what make a place special to me. Everywhere I went there were so many people that were kind, supportive, always giving me an encouraging word. I met people who know my parents so well and were so happy to see me all grown up. I made so many new friends that I have the chance to keep up with via facebook and sometimes through phone calls. And there were many that said to me, "Don't forget about us". I think of them everyday as I strive to do my part. I had one taste of Liberia and I cannot get enough!


"Herstory" Lesson

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf delivering her Inaugural Address January 16th, 2012; Me waiting for the Inauguration to begin
I had the honor of attending the inauguration of Her Excellency, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in January. She is the 24th and current President of Liberia and also the first elected female head of state. On my way to Liberia, the plane was filled to capacity with Liberians from the United States heading back home to witness the inauguration. When the plane landed several people began to sing the National Anthem of Liberia. To say that Liberians were filled with pride for the progress of our nation is a great big understatement. Every Liberian was bursting with energy, excitement, anticipation of not only the inauguration but of the years to come. Although I was born in Liberia in 1986, I left at the age of four in 1990. Returning home after 21 years was one of the best things I've experienced in life. Quite frankly, I could not have asked for a better way to start 2012. Being that I left at the age of four, I basically remembered nothing about Liberia. Of course, I had heard many stories from my parents, relatives, and friends but I was ready to experience Liberia with my own two eyes, ears, mind, and all of me. Never did I think that I would have the opportunity to return to Liberia as the reigning Miss Liberia in the US. I also never thought that I would have the privilege of witnessing history being made before my very eyes. The lessons that I learned while in Liberia are now treasured in my heart and serve as fuel that drives me to be all that I can be so that I too can be a blessing to my nation, Liberia.

Inaugural memorabilia I collected while in Liberia
During her Inaugural Address, "The Values of a Patriot," President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said many wonderful things that were applauded by those in attendance. However, there were several things that really have stuck with me. President Sirleaft stated, "The youth of Liberia are our future, and they sent us a message. They are impatient. They are eager to make up for years of conflict and deprivation. They are anxious to know that their homeland offers grounds for hope. Let me say to them: We heard that message and it is our solemn obligation to ensure that their hope will not be in vain." Impatience is not always a bad thing. When Her Excellency noted the impatience of the youth, many agreed. I met several young people who were eager to be in school, eager to excel, eager to have what is rightfully theirs as citizens of Liberia. President Sirleaf also went on to say, "Your government should offer you an education worthy of our heritage, but it will be up to you to stay in school, to study hard, and to learn the skills required for success in the new technological world. Your government should foster equality of opportunity so that you can get a job, and to know the dignity of receiving an honest day's wage. But it will be up to you to work honestly and hard to realize those ambitions." These are the words that really struck me: "It will be up to you to work honestly and hard to realize those ambitions." As I sat among a sea of proud Liberians, I questioned my own ambitions. As a young Liberian living in the United States, I have had vast opportunities to succeed in my life. I asked myself what I was doing with my opportunities? At that moment, I knew that I had to get it together. Yes, I am a college graduate. Yes, I am certified to teach in the state of Georgia, but I know within my heart that there is more work to be done. As a young woman, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a great inspiration to me
Me and my father at the Inaugural Service on Sunday, January 15, 2012; President Sirleaf and Vice President Boakai at the Inaugural Sunday Service
There is a saying that I really enjoy hearing. It goes something like this, "Never strive for just enough. Always push for more than enough so that you are able to be a blessing to someone in need." Although I am not a selfish person per se, I realized while in Liberia that my life is bigger than getting an education or achieving dreams just to be satisfied and celebrated. If I really want to make a difference, leave my mark and legacy, if I really want to be a blessing to Liberia by building schools, hospitals, ensuring that our youth are learning and our women are progressing, then I must roll up my sleeves and get to work.