27th March, 2009. I woke up in the morning still feeling sick but grateful I didn’t have malaria. I got ready for the day like normal, and went downstairs for breakfast. Someone had put red flowers from the blossoming tree in the playground in a little glass, and set the glass at my place at the table, along with a little plate with a fried egg. Eggs are a treat usually saved for Sundays, so I felt so special! When Sister Juliana and Sister Dorothy came in, they both greeted me with a huge smile, a hug, and a “Happy Birthday, Kate!” Dorothy ran back to her room and returned with a card in a huge red envelope and a little gift. They were very excited that the flowers and the envelope matched the red dress I was wearing! Haha! When I opened the little gift, I found a little vase with little red silk roses and a heart that said “I love you” on it... a little leftover Valentine’s Day treat. It was a nice way to start the day!
I had such a wonderful day at school! When I walked into Class 4A after assembly to greet them, they erupted loudly into the Birthday song, and at the end, swarmed me and drowned me in hugs. So cute! I spent most of the day teaching English, although I had to stop midway through the morning to go to my room to rest for about an hour. I felt a little better that morning, but still not 100% yet. After a short nap, I was able to return to class and teach the second English class. So many of my students gave me cards, notes, drawings, little gifts, snacks, drinks, chocolate, etc. At the end of the day, I had a gift bag that was FULL of presents and actually quite heavy!
I’ve started a “Writer’s Club” on Fridays during activities for my little storytellers and poets to perfect their craft, and this Friday, we heard some marvelous poems and talked about personification and dialogue. Afterwards, some of my favorite students hung out with me. Oh, I just love them all so much! Some of the girls had made up a little birthday song and dance for me... it was so precious! I made a video on my camera which I tried to upload, but the internet connection is too slow. Anyway, I had such a great day at school with my kids, and now I have dozens of sweet little cards and drawings that I’ll treasure forever. Being with my students was definitely the best part of my birthday.
I spent my birthday evening with Friends. When I came down for dinner that evening, everyone was gone. I waited for a while until I remembered that the doctor said I needed to take my malaria medicine every twelve hours on the dot with a meal, so I went down and ate alone. At 8:30, I turned on the TV... Viasat1 shows reruns of Friends every weekday! Friends is my favorite TV show and always makes me laugh. The best part of the evening, however, was receiving a few long distance phone calls from friends and family in America, which of course put a huge smile on my face. :)
Yesterday, Fred was supposed to come over with Mavis around 10 to take me out, but his car was still being worked on in the shop, so he didn’t come around until after 3. It was okay, because around 2:30 I got a call from Sister Juliana telling me to come downstairs... she had a bottle of Guinness, a little cake, and a big tub of ice cream for me! She, Sister Anne, Sister Dorothy, and I ate and celebrated. Everything was SO good! I love birthdays!
Fred and Mavis finally showed up and we left around 4 in Fred’s car. (He’s had this old Mercedes for quite a while, and he’s been working on fixing it up, and it was finally drivable!) We stopped by a Teacher’s Training College and picked up their friend Margaret and her friend who was also called Mavis (we called her “little Mavis” to distinguish between her and the other Mavis). We went to the shopping mall and had dinner at this Portuguese restaurant that served only chicken. I had a spicy chicken burger with french fries and pineapple juice. After dinner, we walked around the mall for a bit... nothing too fun. I appreciated the effort, but it made me really miss my friends from home. Margaret and little Mavis barely even talked to me, mostly just having quiet conversations with each other. None of them drink, so after dinner we spent a while just walking around a grocery store. Not exactly my idea of an exciting time. I thought about my birthday celebrations the past few years, the wonderfully fun times I had with my dear friends. Africans are so very different. They don’t go out very often, preferring to stay at home or to visit friends in their houses, and they consider 10 o’clock to be “late.” It wasn’t even 8 o’clock yet, and Margaret and little Mavis were complaining that they wanted to go back. We dropped them off first, then Fred drove me back to the convent. Just before I got out of the car, I opened up the present that Mavis had given me... a piece of lovely African-print cloth for me to make a dress. What a sweetheart! I was very touched. I can’t wait to have it sewn!
I walked into the house at 9 o’clock. So early! However, I was feeling strangely tired. I couldn’t figure out why I was so tired until I remembered that I’m still getting over being sick. I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and was sleeping by 9:30. I slept in until 7 this morning, and woke up feeling much better than before. I’m still a little bit sick, but I’m definitely on the mend.
So, that was my African birthday celebration! I’m 23 now... yay! Thanks for all the birthday wishes, everyone!