This year I celebrated my 26th birthday in Africa. It was unlike any birthday I have ever had. Although I was not home celebrating with family and friends, blowing out candles on my “cake” of chocolate chip bars, and listening to my parents and siblings sing about 5 different versions of happy birthday to me, I was surrounded by friends who are like family here in Africa and felt loved and blessed on my special day. Celebrations began the day before my birthday on Friday, March 7th. Since my birthday fell on a weekend the clinic staff celebrated with me on Friday by singing Happy Birthday to me twice and eating a cake that Anne made. Celebrations continued when I visited Moreau School and my co-teacher immediately wished me a happy birthday. I had not mentioned my birthday at all to her so I was surprised to hear her say this. She then had my primary one class sing happy birthday to me, and throughout the rest of the afternoon I got well wishes from many of the teaching staff.
The next morning I woke up to decorations on my door before heading to mass where I received a blessing from two newly ordained deacons. This was followed by a birthday run complete with a short stop for a breakfast of milk and bread at my friend, Eva’s, African hut with her one year old daughter, Irene. Oh, and as a birthday gift we stopped at her shop where she gave me a bunch of bananas.
After my run the Sisters took me on an outing to Nyakasura caves where we saw stagmites and stalactites and took a nice hilly walk to a crater lake. It was a beautiful sunny day and with the Rwenzori mountains in the background I felt like we were straight out of the Sound of Music…well it probably helped that I started to play the song “climb every mountain” on my iPod as the Sisters and I climbed the hills. Our outing was followed up by a delicious lunch- American food(!), cake, a birthday prayer, and presents at Mountains of the Moon restaurant. When I returned home I opened my birthday box and was excited to read so many beautiful letters from my family. (I had received my package about a month before my birthday, and it was hard to resist the temptation of opening it up- I had to push it farther and farther under my bed!) I feel so blessed as I enter my 26th year of life to be surrounded by people I love in a country that has become like home. Webale muno for all the birthday wishes!
Oh and did I mention that two of the kids I like to play with from the village each bought me a chapatti for my birthday…which I ate after riding on the “backseat” of the bicycle driven by Living, one of the children. Now that is what I call a good birthday!