This is the birthday blog to inform everyone back home how WONDERFUL my birthday has been even though I really wish you all could be here. Not even for me, but just so you could see how huge the love is.
Here are the details of the celebrations thus far:
The festivities began on Saturday night with our typical Girls' Night agenda (stay in and cook a nice meal with dessert and watch a movie) changed to go out to dinner and get ice cream.
So, I chose Chinese. Just as we were heading out of the house with Annika, it started to rain. At this point we thought taking a cab would be better than walking so we negotiated a cheap fare at the corner of our street where the drivers hang out. Low and behold, we got to the restaurant and there was a Zambian Bridal shower there, not to mention it was actually an Indian restaurant. SO, we settled for pizza, which actually was not a settlement because it was delicious. While we were waiting on our pizza, the power went out at Pizza Inn. We sat in the dark for a while until the generator kicked in. We got ice cream and then Annika surprised me with a chocolate birthday cake she made. Also delicious.
Sunday our CIT's came over for Bible study after church and we made popcorn and shared the cake with them. They danced for me and sang....of course I couldn't just let them do all the dancing.
Today I woke up at 6:45 to a birthday visitor...haha only in Zambia. It was Shantel. Our precious little eleven year old who comes over almost everyday, but on Tuesdays and Friday we tutor her. She is a GEM for sure. She came into my room and woke me up. I pulled back the mosquito net and she sat on my bed. I got a hug and she pulled out a little Lisa Frank party favor bag with my present inside. She made me three cards (I wondered where all our markers went:)) and gave me a black headband, metal and rusty. She said she didn't have anything to give me for my birthday, but she gave me so much. She knows that.
We sat talking on my bed while Sophie went outside to tend to the line of women that had formed outside our gate in the wee hours of the morning. If you cross the dirt road at the end of our street, you find yourself in a compound called M'tendere. They have been without water for five days. The women are desperate and lined up outside our gate in hopes that we would allow them to fill their water containers. They all left with enough water for today and tomorrow at least. The knocks keep coming.
As I talked to Shantel, I asked her about her father. He is an engineer who has been out of work for at least five years. He has been trying to find enough money for transport to Livingstone where there is work for him to do on the construction of a road. I asked her if he had gone yet and she said yes. Someone bought the cement blocks they had stored on their lot and the money was just enough for him to buy his bus ticket.
The man who bought the blocks was supposed to come by and bring the remaining 10,000 kwacha he owed on the 150,000 kwacha payment. He did not. That was the money Shantel's father was leaving with them to buy food. Shantel told me that there was no food at home and she had no lunch to bring with her to school. I said, "Well let's go find some food".
I searched our kitchen and made her a lunch of peanut butter and crackers and four cookies. I put a bag of rice in her backpack and hid the the lunch under a bunch of her papers and school books. I couldn't bare for anyone to take that food from her.
She never asks, she's just honest.
And then Shantel was off to school.
I walked into the kitchen, now it's a little past 7.
There is a sign on the oven that says "mmmm....Look Inside!"
An entire pan of Reese's peanut butter cookies! Just for me!
And a table full of wrapped gifts and notes and signs. All from my little sister Sophie.
Then we headed to Chongwe Village to do the pre-school reading program. Two hours of reading, throwing bean bags, and builiding towers with Jenga blocks. Little did I know there was even a surprise there in Chongwe. Sophie has pretty big sleeves to fit all of these things up them.
We walked over to My Father's House and there was birthday party there! With all the kids and the entire EOH staff. It was AMAZING. We had a dance party, the kids sang, and we all ate some chocolate chip cookies that Annika made. At this point incredibly overwhelmed does not cover it. I was humbled to the floor, below the floor even.
What a great day right? At least 23 blessings, one for every year I've been alive. I even left things out, like my jewelry from Siwale and the dinner and a movie Sophie and I went to last night........It was just too much!
I will say there is no way life, or a birthday, could get better...and still I think it will.