Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Birthday

My 31st birthday was on Saturday. The kids at Hogar made my day special from the moment I woke up. I snuggled with some of the younger girls who were playing with their stuffed animals in their beds. Then I said, 'good morning' to my 11 year old friend Paola. She wished me a Happy Birthday and gave me a little stuffed sheep off of her bed. I teared right up. It's not like these kids have piles of toys. Each toy is very meaningful to them and they treasure each one. I know what a sacrifice it is to give one up, and what generous hearts these kids have.

A little while later another girl came over and gave me her teddy bear. I was really touched, especially since she was the girl that didn't used to like me very much! She's warmed up and she even smiles at me and talks to me now. Yay.

When I got back to my room two older girls were waiting for me - one hiding in my bed (ha!). They sang "Happy Birthday" to me and gave me lots of hugs and kisses. My roommate Kyla wrote me the sweetest card it made me cry. After that two more little girls came in and gave me gifts of their own things…I seriously spent the first two hours of my Birthday surrounded by so much love, tearing up at the generosity of the girls, and getting piles of hugs. I learn from these kids. I am completely humbled by them.

At breakfast, once again hugs from many people. I know for a fact that they made a bigger deal out of my birthday than each other's. Sometimes I find out it was someone's birthday the day before and I feel so bad I didn't even know. For the most part here birthdays come and go and closer friends may acknowledge it, but the kids don't get special treatment on that day. There is one celebration a month (though sometimes it's forgotten, like February) for kids who have birthdays that month. Usually, it involves soda and cake or sweets of some kind and perhaps a bonfire or music blaring from the stereo.

Five of us have birthdays in March, so I helped organize a party for all of us for Saturday night. I ordered a huge (3kg - 6.6lbs) cake, chocolate tres leches with coffee cream frosting. It was insanely enormous.

Oh, before I get into telling you about the party, I have to mention that my favorite, Caleb, my husband, the most supportive husband in the world, traveled 18 hours by bus to be with me on my birthday. He's here for a week and will go back with me on Saturday to Tulum. It was so great to see him after 6 weeks apart. He looks like a giant here. It's hilarious - he get's stared at by every one, and the girls here have a crush on him. I have to say, he's pretty good looking. My heart went pitter-pat after being apart from him for so long.

It's also been really great for Caleb to see what I do here. My days are filled with loving and caring for these kids, trying to understand and be respectful toward the culture, the rules, and how things are done here, learning Spanish and sounding ridiculous, having art classes that are usually great fun and occasionally a flop, and just experiencing life here. I think I bring more fun to Hogar. I think that's been one of my greatest contributions. That and physical affection and words of affirmation. That's what I aim for.

That being said, Caleb and I bought soda and goody bags for the kids as well and we had more cake and treats, and sugar than we knew what to do with. The Tios had even provided ice cream and little sandwiches. Caleb had a playlist on his ipod of about 800 popular reggaeton, hip hop,and electronica songs, mostly artists that I told him the kids liked. It was a great party. Before we ate dinner, the five of us March babies, lined up in the front of the casa and every one sang the Mexican Birthday song to us. Then we got swarmed with hugs and I probably got 50 hugs. It was so amazing. Later that night I danced with the girls and Kyla gave us a lesson in the Macarena. The whole day was so special and I couldn't help but think about the fact that a year ago, living in Rhode Island, uncertain about our future, waiting for Caleb to finish grad school….I never could have imagined myself here. Yet here I am in Chiapas, Mexico, at a children's home, and my heart is so full. God is good.



Elisa said...

Ahhh - this is so fantastic, and it warms my heart to no end! I can't get through to you on your phone/computer for some reason, so I love reading these updates! I love you :)

Katie said...

¡Feliz CumpleaƱos! Glad it was fun - you'll surely be hugely missed!!

Hank the Bank said...

Happy Birthday from Hank and Jane ( Kyla's folks). We enjoy reading about the going ons at Hogar and really appreciate hearing how Kyla intersects in your daily life. We hope to meet you and your husband someday!

shawna said...

Happy Birthday old friend! We miss you terribly here in Rhode Island but I know you are doing God's work and living life to the fullest. Que el Dios te cuido!