Friday, May 22, 2009

A 1st for Her 21st

This past Monday, Kerri and I went over to the Allens to celebrate a 1st for someone's 21st.  Our friend Elizabeth was the guest of honor along with her family and some friends.  We met Elizabeth when we first came to Zambia after she was recommended to do some babysitting for our team.  Since then she has become a very familiar face around our house.  Monday was Elizabeth's 21st birthday.  What was special about this celebration was that it was the first birthday party she had ever had!  Can you take a moment and try to imagine that?  Each year, another birthday, and each year, instead of deciding where you want to go to celebrate, having to worry about whether or not your family will even be able to eat.  

Elizabeth is the oldest of the surviving children in her family.  Her father and several siblings have passed away leaving her widowed mother to make ends meet.  Elizabeth has taken on the responsibility of helping provide for the family and put her younger siblings through school.  The great thing about Elizabeth is that you would never know she carries that kind of burden.  Regardless of the pressures of life, she always seems to have a smile and is truly one of the happiest people we've ever met.  On this evening, her smile was a little bigger.

It started off with dinner (complements of Stephanie Allen) - rice with gravy, broccoli, scalloped potatoes and meatballs.  Elizabeth loves the opportunity to eat meat.  So, she was particularly appreciative of the meatballs!  After dinner we all took the time to tell Elizabeth one thing that we enjoyed about her.  As we went around the table, there was one common theme - her joyful spirit.  Finally came the cake & presents!  I wish you could have seen the excitement on her face as she blew out the candles on her cake and opened her presents.  Before blowing out the candles, she must have taken 5 minutes deciding what to wish for.  All she got for presents was a small curling iron and a devotional book, but you would have thought she'd won the lottery.  She and her sister literally screamed for joy as she opened each present.

The evening was overwhelming and maybe more for me than it was for her.  As I sat there watching the excitement in her face, the smiles around the table from her family, and the deep appreciation for the evening, I was blown away.  I  came over just to celebrate another birthday, something I've done a thousand times, but I left feeling like I had just celebrated one again for the very first time.

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