Sunday, April 20, 2014


The first time I came to the Philippines was almost exactly two years ago and ever since I have wanted nothing more for my birthday than to be able to spend it here. It's not that I wanted some big Filipino celebration. In fact my grand plan was to not let anyone here find out until after it had happened. That way they didn't feel like they had to do anything for me. That was the plan. 

Then we went to the Black Saturday Celebration. I was talking to Beth and my new friend Mhayty when all of a sudden he asked when my birthday was...uh..."Tomorrow" I muttered under my breath. I couldn't lie. 

Beth got so excited, "Oh my gosh, I am so glad you told me! We have to have a party" she said. 

"No really, it's ok" I replied. Then we moved on to talking about the celebration and I didn't hear much more about it. Maybe they"d forget. 

Then Saturday night rolled along. One of my church mates added me on Facebook. I don't know why I didn't think about it, but I accepted him right then and there, not thinking about Facebook being the big discloser of birthdays. Within moments I had a message from Ian. 

"Is today really your birthday?" He asked. 

That's the moment I knew my plan had failed. The celebrations began a few hours later at dinner. 

I don't know that many Americans have ever spent much time actually living under the same roof as 13 other Filipinos, but it is the best!! It was "Happy Birthday" at the dinner table. It was "Happy Birthday" in the halls. 
The next morning, on my actual birthday, I had forgotten that it was even my birthday until I went in to the cultural hall to get some water. 

"Happy Birthday" shouted Lani! Only to follow it with the Happy Birthday Song from Sesame Street, "You're a little bit older, a little bit wiser." I heard that song for days and I loved every second of it :)

I love that every once in a while I get to spend my birthday remembering the Resurection of he Savior and how his work on this earth makes it possible for me to receive the greatest gift I could ever receive. I know that I will be able to live with all the people I have come to know and love throughout my life forever because of His selfless sacrifice, and I am so grateful for that knowledge.  

After breakfast we walked to the other side of the church and sat down in the Chapel. It's not uncommon for visitors to be introduced in church. What I wasn't expecting was a birthday wish over the pulpit. But there it was. The sister who gave the first talk, whom I had never spoken to before, wished me a happy birthday right then and there. How she even knew it was my birthday is completely beyond me! Did it make me super uncomfortable? Maybe. Was it really sweet of her? It sure was. 

The remainder of the three-hour block was all the same way. Full of birthday wishes from people I'd never talked to. People here are so kind. I am constantly in awe at their ability to look outside themselves as they love and serve those around them. I hope throughout my time here I will be able to learn from their example, and be able to love not just those close to me, but those people who I barely know too. 

After church that day we stayed at the church. Unfortunately that was also the day Arturo began to get sick. We weren't sure at the time but the Tonsilitis monster had made its way in with a vengeance. Arturo would say I was bored out of my mind, but other than feeling completely helpless in getting him to from sick to better I really didn't mind at all! It gave me a chance to really spend some time with the others living here. Bishop and Lani. Juvy, Imel and their girls. Ian, Dallin, Clark and Christene. Albert, Gilbert, and David. I'll talk more about them tomorrow, but I loved the time I got to spend with them! These little girls especially. 

With an ube cake and a room full of friends to end the day, I'll have to say it was perfect! The birthday I finally got to spend in the Philippines was at last a reality :) 

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