Monday, July 30, 2012

6th Peru Mission Trip

 Jeremy and I are so excited to be heading back to Pucallpa, Peru this September.  We typically lead the trip in June, but this year it got moved to the end of September - God must have known we needed the extra time!  Plus the Christ Fellowship is rolling out a new Mission Model, so we are now aligning our trip with their new format..... meaning - cultivating life mission minded team members, raising more funds to significantly impact the local regions, going more often, and increasing resources and impact.  Really, the things Jeremy and I have been praying about for 5 years.  It has also been exciting to go through their new trainings and finding that our way of doing missions pretty much align with their goals - so it has been a huge blessing all the way around.  So with all this long wordiness, I am trying to say we are heading back to Peru and are super excited. 

 Please read my support letter below!

Dear Friends and Family,
This year has been an exciting time for Jeremy and myself.  Many of you have followed along with our organ donation journey and the successful kidney transplant surgery on February 21st.  The entire donation story can be found on our blog at  Since the surgery, both Jeremy and Ashley have recovered wonderfully.  There has been a few setbacks, but we are so blessed that both of them are healthy!  Throughout this entire processes we have felt God's presence and protection and we know this journey is just another part of God's plan for our lives.      
It is amazing to think that the kidney donation story started over 5 years ago in Peru.  Really it was that first trip to Pucallpa that was a catalyst for change in both Jeremy and my life.  It is where I met my future husband and watched the friendship between Jeremy and Ashley begin.  It is amazing to reflect on how our work in Peru has furthered God's kingdom and significantly impacted our lives.  So with much joy and excitement, Jeremy and I are heading back to Pucallpa, Peru for the sixth straight year.  As we return to Peru, we want to share with you the ministry that God has laid on our hearts.   
This year we are leading a team of 14 members  on September 20th – 30thAgain this year we will be going through Christ Fellowship and partnering with United Servants Abroad, a ministry that focuses its efforts in the jungles of Peru through medical care, and Bible and leadership training.  The Bible Institute in Pucallpa trains couples, in a two year program, to reach remote villages through discipleship and church plantings. Our mission trip will be focused on the construction and sewing needs of the institute.  The construction team will likely be completing the third story expansion of the Chapel.  The sewing room has two focuses;  Making curtains and sewing lessons for the Indians.
Jeremy and I have been so touched this year by the out pouring of your love and support.  Throughout the kidney donation, we knew we had a strong network of people praying over us.  As we plan to return to Peru, we ask for your prayer and support again.  We truly appreciate all those who have supported us since our first trip and those who have come along side us these past six years.  As this trip comes together, we know it is only possible through Christ.  We ask that you pray for this mission trip, for our whole team, safety and for the work to be done.
           In addition to your pray, financial contributions will also help our mission.  As a team, our goal is to raise over $28,000.  We are each required to raise $2,000 to fund our portion of the trip.  We have increased the cost of the trip per person so that the funds of the trip can better serve the mission of Pucallpa.  Donations can be made to each individual team member through online giving or donations to Christ Fellowship Life Missions. 
            We will also be selling T-Shirts again this year.  The design and details will be posted on our blog in the next week or so.  We will also be posting updates and status of our trip HERE on our website.  
Thank you for your continuous love and support.  Jeremy and I cannot express enough how much we appreciated our friends and family this year.  We know that God has and can do great things in and through our lives.  And each step of the way, we have been blessed by your kindness and support.  We look forward to sharing more of the exciting ministry in Pucallpa and the ways God continues to move in our lives.     

Donations are accepted through a secure site on the Christ Fellowship Website.  When making the donation, please choose “Peru-Pucallpa Mission Trip 2012” and then select the team member you wish to support.  Not every team member has been added to the donation site, so you may choose "Unassigned" and write Kate & Jeremy Morris in the Memo line.

You may also makes checks out to Christ Fellowship with a blank memo line.  Please mail checks with an attached note stating Pucallpa Peru Mission trip and the team member name.  Checks can be mailed to:

Christ Fellowship
Attn. Life Missions Department – Peru
5343 Northlake Blvd
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
Donation Page

or Click HERE

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The past 5 months

Jeremy and I (Kate) started this blog back in January of 2012 to document his Kidney donation journey.  It has been an amazing past few months and we have been so blessed by those you have followed along.  Really, this blog has been the perfect way to share our story.

For many of you, this is the first that you are finding our story.  Recently the Ashley/Jeremy/Kidney Cutie story has been in the press.  Catawba College, Ashley & Kate's alma mater, featured the donation journey in this article.  And Ashley wrote this article for her local town newspaper.

A while back, Jeremy wrote a Cliff Notes version of the donation - that post is a great overview of where this journey has taken us and the time frame of all the events.  The entire story of the kidney donation is just beautiful, and I would highly recommend you reading it all.  You can simply click on the months and each post on the right side of the blog page.  Below is my shortened version of the story with a ton of links.  You can click through and read all the highlights of the donation.   

If you are new to the blog, you can read where it all began in this post that Jeremy wrote.  Jeremy told the story of him meeting Ashley really well in this post - make sure to read this one, it has been known to cause a few tears.  The posts that followed were a way to tell the story and bring everyone up to date.... there was much talk about our engagement, our wedding (our love story according to Kate), trips, and the testing process to become the kidney donor. 

There are some great posts and stories in all these entries, really I could link to each one.  If you have a spare hour or two, start at the beginning and read the whole thing.  I am not promising a perfectly written book, but it will be a great story that will renew your faith and inspire you.

This is a fun little post Jeremy did about the things you learn when donating a kidney.  And this one is Kate's List.

So back to the Kidney Donation.  After all the waiting and the waiting, this is where is all starts to really happenThis is Jeremy ready for surgery.  And here is the Successful Surgery Update. February 21st, the day of the surgery, was a very emotionally charged day.  We felt so much love and support from our friends and family and we knew we were wrapped in Prayer and God's protection.  This is the post I wrote in reflection of that day - it still brings tears to my eyes reading through it now.

Once we made it through the surgery, it was on to recovery.  The recovery highlight came when Jeremy and Ashley first got to see each other - another tear filled moment captured here.  There are several posts talking about the long road to recovery.  We talked about finding a new routine and the ripple effect of the surgery.

Throughout the blog, we also talk about Ashley's health and recovery.  Her post surgery progress was a little bumpier, with a few set backs.... but she is now healthy, strong and doing better then ever.  Ashley wrote her first entry in the blog back in May, and of course it was just beautiful.  You can read all about her trip down to visit us here.

Now that the kidney donation journey is coming to an end - with much joy and praise that both Ashley and Jeremy are healthy - this blog is taking on a new purpose.  As you read through the beginning posts, much of story began in Peru.  And now we are heading back to Pucallpa for our 6th mission trip.  Jeremy wrote all about it in this post, and I will be writing about it soon.

We hope to continue to post and share our hearts and our life with you all.  Plus, we have some fun posts in the works - like recapping the wonderful birthday celebration Jeremy had for my 30th.  So we hope that you check in from time to time and share in our life.  We have truly come to cherish all those who have been praying and cheering us on during the kidney donation process.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pucallpa, Peru 2012 Support Letter

Kate and I once again will be leading a team from Christ Fellowship Cityplace to the jungles of Pucallpa, Peru.  We will be leaving on Sept. 20th and returning on Sept. 30th.  I have attached a copy of my support letter, please take a read and let me know if you have any questions.

Looking back on the last few years, it is amazing to see the work God has done in Kate and my life.
For those of you who don't know I donated a Kidney to Kate's best friend from College Ashley Quinones on Feb. 21st. If you would like to learn more I blogged about the whole process and you can check it out at our website
  It was over 5 years in the making as the first time I met Ashley was when I met Kate on the first trip to Peru.  It is hard to believe that it has been that long, and that the plan that God had for the three of us when he sent us on that trip.  I could have never imagined that I would have met my future wife on that trip as well as have an opportunity to be an integral part of something as amazing as an organ donation.  I feel incredibly humbled that God chose to turn my life around and use me in this way so that he can hopefully be Glorified in my life. I can only imagine if this is what year 5 since that trip looks like, what year 10, 15 or 20 might look like.
2 Thessalonian 1:12 "We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, 
and you in him, according to the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ"
This summer we will be going on our sixth mission trip to Pucallpa, Peru. It is such a blessing to know that God not only brought us together through this mission trip but He also gave us a passion for Peru.  As we continue back to Peru, we want to share the ministry God has laid on our hearts.
Kate and I will be leading this year's mission trip to Pucallpa, Peru on Sept 20th through Sept 30th. This is the fifth year we will be leading, and God has blessed us with our largest and most diverse team yet.  The team of 14 people is from the Cityplace Campus of Christ Fellowship Church.  We have four members who will be returning for the 3rd time,  and this will be everyone else first time to Pucallpa.
Again this year we will be working with United Servants Abroad, a ministry that focuses its efforts in the jungles of Peru through medical care, and Bible and leadership training.  The Bible Institute in Pucallpa trains couples, in a two year program, to reach remote villages through discipleship and church plantings. Our mission trip will be focused on the construction and sewing needs of the institute.  The construction team will likely be laying a third story concrete floor, tile work and painting.  The sewing room has two focuses.  Making curtains, which serve as the couples' only privacy in shared rooms and are often used as their towels, tissues and napkins.  And sewing lessons for the Indians, and more specifically making shorts and shirts.     
Kate and I have been so blessed by all of your prayers and support throughout the years.  As this trip comes together, we know it is only possible through Christ.  We ask that you pray for this mission trip, for each team member, for flexibility in such a large group, safety and that we will glorify God through it all. In addition, I seek your prayers for Kate and myself as we lead this trip. Please specifically pray that we will have the discernment to lead this large group in a successful manner; and that we will be a faithful witness to our team and the people of Peru.
           In addition to your pray, financial contributions will also help our mission.  As a team, our goal is to raise nearly $28,000.  We are each required to raise monies to fund our portion of the trip. We do take a team approach to fundraising, so any additional monies contributed will benefit the entire team. Any surplus funds raised beyond the total expenses for the team will be given to the ministries in Peru.  Donations can be made to each individual team member through online giving or donations to Christ Fellowship.  Please click on online giving and select Pucallpa, Peru 2012, Kate or my name from the list to make a donation, if neither of our names are there please select unassigned and put our names in the notes section. 
    We will also be selling T-Shirts again which you will be able to find at our website we will also keep you updated of the status of our trip here as well.
Thank you for your continuous love and support. I know that Kate's and my life have been and will again be blessed by your kindness. I look forward to sharing with you all the memories and accomplishments of this mission trip, and the glorious ways God was revealed.     

Monday, July 9, 2012

Telogen Effluvium = New Hair Style

Back in mid June, Ashley received another diagnosis - Telogen Effluvium. Telogen effluvium is a form of acute-onset, nonscarring alopecia that causes massive hair loss. It's brought on by stress/trauma.  I think the fight for the transplant, the surgery and several months of pain afterwards qualifies one under the stress/trauma category. 

The bad news of Telogen Effluvium is that Ashley is losing her hair.  Before her transplant, one of her medications caused extreme hair growth.... now she is having hair loss.  The poor girl can't win either way.

So a week or so ago, Ashely got an adorable hair cut! 

 And to Ashley's true form - she made the most of it.... even sporting some colorful wigs.

This hair cut is close to the same style she had back when she met Jeremy for the first time in Peru.  Here is a picture from that very first mission trip to Peru in 2007

Even with the new short hair cut..... it was time to shave it all off.  So on Saturday, the 7th it was wig shopping and shaving day!!!!

Here Ashley is getting ready to have her Brother-in-Law Billy shave all that fluff

Ashley with NO HAIR!!!

Ashley and her sister Kelly had a fun time shopping for wigs.  She tried on several and ended up with an adorable new Hair Style! 
I think it is a great look for this Kidney Cutie

There are more pictures on Facebook if you want to check them out HERE

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Grateful Article

Here is the article Ashley wrote for the Sanford Herald.  There might have been a few editorial changes made, but this is pretty close to the exact article.

On May 21, 2012, I celebrated the 3 month anniversary of my kidney transplant. I know that a lot of people in our community have kept up with my story, so I wanted to make a public thank you to everyone who has supported me, whether through prayer, well wishes or financially.
My family moved to Lee County in 1985 from Harnett County. We were, in a lot of respects, in a strange new land. My sisters and I had to start new schools and my mom, who was already a student at CCTC, had to make friends in a new neighborhood. We didn’t have any family here. Our closest relative was my aunt who lived in Bunnlevel. For all the isolation we might have felt, we were greeted with welcome arms by essentially everyone we encountered. It was not long before my mom had made friends that were as close to her as sisters. My sisters were always going to a friend’s house or going to the movies. I feared that my disease would keep people from wanting to befriend me, but other than a few instances, that was never the case. People saw me for who I was, not for what I had. I am not just talking about other children; I am also talking about adults.
We lived in Sanford for 5 years. While there, I attended Jonesboro and J. Glenn Edwards Elementary. When I was 10, my mother bought a house in Broadway, so I had to switch schools once again. By the time I entered East Lee Middle School, I had attended 4 elementary schools.  Also, when I was 10, I experienced my first exacerbation of Cystic Fibrosis. I had spent my life doing breathing treatments, chest percussion and taking pills, but I never understood what having this disease really meant… until one day, I was climbing a dogwood tree in my front yard, and I felt something stabbing me in the chest. I dropped to the ground in pain. My mother rushed me to the emergency room at Duke and I was diagnosed with pneumonia. It was at that very moment that my childhood ended. I was still the energetic, mischievous child I had always been, but I understood something about the world that most children have the privilege of never even thinking about – that life could be devastating. After the doctors told us that I would have to be admitted, they left the room. I crawled into my mom’s lap and cried while she rocked me and assured me I’d be ok. In that moment, I only knew the comforting warmth of her embrace. Now, 21 years later, I shudder thinking about the fear she too must have felt and I am amazed by the strength it took for her to never reveal that to me.
It was only a week into my hospital stay when I received a package from Broadway Elementary containing around 50 handmade cards from other students in my grade wishing me well and telling me to hurry and get back to school. This is a story that would repeat itself all the way up to my high school graduation.  With every hospitalization, and honestly, there were too many to count, came letters, cards, phone calls, and visits. Most people who have been in a hospital will tell you that it is the last place to go to get rest. This is the truth and for me it was not just because doctors and nurses are coming in and out of your room 24 hours a day, but because between visits, reading my mail, decorating my room with my cards or flowers, and talking on the phone, there wasn’t any time to rest!  My senior year of high school I spent 4 months in the hospital, 3 at Duke and 1 at Baylor in Houston, Texas. During that time, the combination of my disease and my medications caused me to drop to a dangerously low weight and I even lost the ability to read. By the time I returned to school, I had taught myself how to read again and worked my way through a small part of Jack London’s Call of the Wild.  No one in my medical community thought I would be able to graduate and even tried to talk my mom into holding me back a year. But my mom never believed in holding me back from anything. I graduated that year with the rest of my class. I remember on graduation when my name was called out, everyone began cheering for me. After I had crossed the staged, I collapsed into the arms of my guidance counselor, Mrs. Kite. I was weak in the knees and sobbing uncontrollably. I had done it…I had defied every diagnosis thrown my way, and I had achieved my goal of living long enough to receive my high school diploma.

Graduation was 14 years ago, and I am still defying diagnoses. I will be 32 years old on August 1st and my mother was originally told that I would never live to see 9 years old. My fight for life hasn’t been easy and has involved numerous surgeries and treatments, including a double lung transplant 11 years ago and my kidney transplant in February of this year. This fight, however, has not been fought alone. People have come out to my fundraisers in freezing cold, rainy weather. They have donated, even when the expense was too much for them to bear. I have received Facebook emails from children as young as 12 years old asking if they can donate their kidney to me. I have been given prayer after prayer begging God to heal me in some way, shape or form. People have even written letters to our government asking them to help me be able to afford my medical care. I feel as if my community has just as much stake in my health as I do or as my family does. I am beyond ecstatic to tell them that now, over 3 months post transplant, my kidney functions are the best they have been since I was in pediatrics. I am happy to say that I now can go an entire month, working 7 days a week, without needing a nap.

It is important to me to share my life with those who have held me up and helped me maintain my strength and dignity throughout my battle with Cystic Fibrosis. I want for other families who have children with this disease to know my story and, therefore, to know that their child has a fighting chance … but it is a fight and you have to be a warrior. I tell my stories with such personal candor because I feel they exemplify what the human spirit is capable of and because I think they clearly demonstrate how we live in a community that is willing to sacrifice for the good of another person, regardless of superficialities like race, religion or politics. So, again, I say thank you to everyone out there for going out of your way to not only ensure that I remain healthy, but also to make sure I get to wake up every morning to a brand new day!
Readers can follow my story at and by reading my living donor’s blog at
Thank you,
Ashley Quinones

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Catawba Article

Here is the article from Catawba College's Campus Magazine.
You may also find the full issue HERE
and the article HERE

Thanks Catawba for sharing our story!

PhotoFriendship, faith and a kidney have come together to irrevocably connect two Catawba College alumnae and the husband of one.
In February, Jeremy Morris of West Palm Beach, Fla., husband of Kate Merrell Morris '04, donated a kidney to his wife's best friend, Ashley Quinones '04 of Sanford. For Jeremy and Kate, the decision to donate the kidney was one grounded in faith.
"We just really felt like it was something we could do ... that God called us to do it," Kate explained in a phone interview before the Feb. 21 transplant surgery took place in Chapel Hill. "We have a strong belief that God has put us on a certain path back in 2007 and this has been the largest project for us to speak God in our life. It's much bigger than just a kidney."
Kate first met Ashley while both were students at Catawba. Kate remembered, "The first time I met Ashley, I was working in the Student Center doing my work study. Ashley came to see Jan Gillean [Catawba's director of student activities] and Jan wasn't there. Ashley laid down on the couch in the office down there and went to sleep. That was right before her double lung transplant.
"Later in the fall of 2002, Ashley and I sat next to each other going over on the plane to England. We went over and studied for the semester. Ashley and I really struck up the friendship on the first plane ride. She was adventurous like me."
Ashley's Cystic Fibrosis necessitated her double lung transplant in 2001 while she was a student at Catawba. Her studies were interrupted for most of the year due to her illness and recovery from the transplant, but the campus rallied around her. In April of 2001, her fellow students in Dr. Karl Hales Discussion and Parliamentary Procedures class organized a fundraising dance for her, "65 Roses for Ashley Quinones."  All proceeds went to the Children's Organ Transplant Association (COTA) in Ashley's name. The name "65 Roses" was chosen because many children with CF cannot say "Cystic Fibrosis" and the term comes out sounding like "65 roses."
While Kate and Ashley became dear friends while students at Catawba, Jeremy entered the picture after their graduation. Jeremy, a graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic University, and Kate attended the same church in West Palm Beach, Christ Fellowship. Ironically, Kate recalls that her relationship with Jeremy also really started when she sat beside him on the plane ride to Peru in 2007, where the three of them were going on a mission trip. The relationships formed on that mission trip in 2007 resulted in the marriage of Jeremy and Kate in 2009, where Ashley was a bridesmaid.
"In Peru, we talked about how we had this sibling type connection to each other," Ashley recalled about Jeremy in a phone interview shortly before this year's transplant operation. "Now, he and I are  going to share an organ — something that I can't share with anyone else.
Photo"It hasn't been easy. It's been a rollercoaster this past year and a half and they've [Kate and Jeremy have] stuck with me. They've had every opportunity to pull out of this process. It's something that the three of us over this process have really had to come to terms with — that God is going to take care of it — we have to accept life on God's terms not on ours. It has been daily new lessons in our life that this process has taught us. They've chosen to stick with me. If Jeremy's scared, he doesn't show it — he's been a rock. Through my eyes, I see a really brave, courageous Christian man, and I see how lucky my best friend is and I'm happy for her. He says, 'Don't worry.'  He says that no matter what happens he'll never regret this decision.
"We very rarely talk about what this means in the big picture. There are certain things you can't express in words and this is one of them. At the end of the day, a thank you doesn't cut it, but Jeremy doesn't want any thanks from me. He's doing it because it's the right thing to do, not because of recognition or approval."
Ask Jeremy why he decided to donate his kidney to Ashley, and he will tell you because it was the right thing for him and Kate to do as a couple. The couple learned that Ashley needed a kidney when they visited her in the hospital on her 30th birthday in 2010.
Ashley remembered that visit and telling her friends about her dire situation. "Kate and Jeremy came to visit me and once they were face to face with me, I told them I needed a kidney transplant. It didn't take them 5 minutes to offer to donate. They both asked me what blood type and I told them A+ and so are both of them. They knew how sick I was — they saw me. I shared with them how scared I was to go home."
The hospital would only test one person at a time as a possible kidney donor match for Ashley and Jeremy stepped up. "I knew Kate was going to do it, but we discussed all the pros and cons and decided I was the best option. It is something I can do, not only for my wife but also for a dear friend.
"You can't make a decision based on the  what ifs and fears. We just really felt like it was something we could do and that God called us to do it. We wanted to share our story and our faith during this journey. That's why I've written the blog [] about our decision and process," he said.
That decision came to fruition on February 21st at UNC Chapel Hill. Both Jeremy and Ashley's surgeries were better than text book, according to their transplant surgeons. Two days after the surgery, Jeremy walked down to Ashley's room for what proved to be an emotion and tear filled reunion. There is an undeniable bond; "I am quite smitten with your husband" Ashley admitted to Kate. To which Kate replied "For you, I am ok with that."
The trio even named the kidney — JASH — a combination of Jeremy and Ashley.

PhotoSince the transplant surgery, Ashley and Jeremy have reached all their recovery milestones nicely. Jeremy has returned to his job as a systems administrator specialist and Kate to hers as owner and operator of Katydid Designs, a business she established while a student at Catawba. Ashley, who has used her undergraduate and graduate degrees in theatre arts and  master's classes in mental health counseling to work with marginalized communities, returned to work as an ESL Instructor and CAP worker this spring. Ashley and Jeremy were even able to plan for Ashley to make a surprise trip to Florida for Kate's birthday celebration Memorial Day weekend.
"I keep asking God, 'What are you teaching me in all of this?  Aren't you tired of giving me lessons?' " Ashley explained. "I always assume that's all about me, but this whole thing going on with my kidneys could be about someone else. The world doesn't revolve around me, and I forget that sometimes. Realizing that has helped me get through it. It's helped me fight to get through it. I've had to fight to get through it, fight to get the insurance, but it's never crossed my mind to ever give up on any of this. I look at Jeremy and see how brave he is through it and that helps as well."

EDITOR'S NOTE:Although Medicaid funded the cost of Ashley and Jeremy's transplant surgeries, many medical expenses remain. Those who wish to assist with this effort may make donations to COTA.
Friends may contact Ashley at and Kate and Jeremy at

Monday, July 2, 2012

Kidney Cutie in Print

Kidney Cutie is making headlines again!

The kidney donation of Jeremy, Kate and Ashley was featured in Catawba College's Campus Magazine.  Catawba College is both Kate & Ashley's alma mater, and the birthplace of their friendship.  Catawba is very dear to our hearts and we are so blessed to have them share our story.

   Click HERE if you would like to open the entire issue of Campus Magazine. Page 20

Truth be told, this is not the first time for Kate or Ashley to grace the pages of the Catawba's magazine.  While in school, Kate wrote an article about a mission trip to Mexico, had a feature article Katydid - the business she started at Catawba and was pictured at graduation.  Ashley graced the pages several times for her theater performances and had a featured article when she graduated (which showed Ashley fixing Kate's hat..... which is REALLY funny, considering it was Kate who just finished getting Ashley dressed properly in her gown... but that is a whole post in itself).  If I can locate these said article, I will make sure and post them.

Ashley was featured in The Sandford Herald. ; her local newspaper.  In the article, Ashley recounts her journey through Cystic Fibrosis and the many blessings to be thankful for.

Check back tomorrow, we will try to have the full articles in an easier to read format!