Today is my 59th birthday, I don’t feel any different than I did at 39, I am wonderously blessed and I know it. I have the three most amazing children, two fabulous daugthers-in-law and two beautiful grandsons whom I shall meet eventually! My daughter is soon to be married to an exceptional young man and all of that generation are practicising their faith seriously and trying to follow the Lord’s will for their lives. I mean, really, what more could a person ask? And, of course, I am not forgetting my faithful, long-suffering husband who does most of the lesson planning for our English classes while I travel by bicycle around Dili trying to find good things to eat. He may be last on the list, but he is certainly first in my heart (after Jesus, of course).
The director of the school, Sr. Zinya, announced to all the staff and students that it was my birthday, so I was surrounded by many happy shouts of “Happy Birthday, Teacher!”, with a large greeting on the whiteboard as well. The women greet such an occasion with a check to check kiss and a handshake, which happened numerous times throughout the morning.
In the afternoon, while the sun was at its highest, the electricity went off, leaving us fanless. As I sat thinking about sweat and other unpleasant subjects, I realized I had to do something to make my birthday special. A Korean friend, Rosa, had told me to call her anytime I wanted to share a swim at their compound’s pool. I decided this was the perfect time to change my condition and my attitude. Voila! The swim was on, I was on the “Princess” in no time and soon enjoying the comforts of A/C, walnut pie and coffee and the delights of a salt-water pool. After the swim, with my wet bathing suit keeping me cool underneath street clothes, I rode the Princess to my favorite store, purchased the last loaf of whole wheat bread at the Turkish bakery AND had my first real ice cream cone while doing my grocery shopping. A very wise owner has recognized that offering real ice cream cones for 50 cents a scoop has got to draw hundreds of otherwise ambivilent customers to his store (their vegetable selection already had me hooked). Although David and I have given up sweets and meat for Lent, I know that birthdays are allowed to be exceptions to all Lenten sacrifices and this ice cream cone was definitely in that category. You have NO idea what ice cream means until you have lived without it for months in the tropics.
So, with my birthday swim, my birthday ice cream and my new attitude, I was able to brave the always insane rushhour traffic with a light heart and legs filled with the energy of pistachio flavored creamy sugar.
And, the city of Dili took part in creating special ambiance for the birthday dinner. Just as David and I sat down to eat, the electricity went off leaving us hunting for candles. So, our otherwise rather normal dinner was now candlelit, drawing this old married couple back to the days of romantic interludes and sweet nothings. Well, maybe that is a bit of a stretch. However, it was truly nice to have the birthday dinner lit by candles, whether by necessity or thoughtful planning. Maybe the Lord knew He had to give us a push in that direction. I think He does that kind of thing, don’t you? [posted by Rory]