I turned 29 on Friday, the last year in my 20’s. In Africa. In a part of Africa most people cannot find on a map (I couldn’t until I came here). Many people have asked me if “it felt like my birthday” and I guess the answer is yes and no. No, it did not because it was a cool 94 degrees, no because I did not eat Mexican food, no because I did not treat myself to a latte, (and it is too flippin’ hot to have one anyway). Yes because I got tons of encouraging emails and birthday wishes, yes because Anni and Jason gave me a handmade card, Yes because some girlfriends on my team here were amazing and baked me a cake and gave me presents…I LOVE presents! This mixture of emotion coupled with the rough health issues we have had lately made me feel weepy. Not because of the “I am getting older,” less firmness, more cellulite issues that may creep into my thoughts occasionally (although much less here) but because I somehow feel like celebrating holidays here is a big deal, marking the passage of time, it means we live here, that this place; however foreign is our home for now. The day started with a long run which gave me tons of time to think and pray. I reflected about my life and how different but how the same it is since last year. How much I have learned about myself just in the past year; that I am resilient and strong, and at the same time petty, selfish, and weak. That God is teaching my through everything that happens and how much of the time I am not listening. How His grace is still always sufficient. How He has plans for me and although they are unknown to me they are good. How I am thankful I have the opportunities I have had to learn that life is not all about me and yet He cares about the daily living stuff that has been so rough for us to adjust to.

I arrived home to find my hubby preparing some bread for breakfast while getting Anni ready for school; awesome! Especially since he awoke AGAIN in a cold sweat followed by several trip to the choo (Kiswahili word for you can guess). He surprised me with telling me he had arranged team members to babysit tonight and saved money so we could go out to dinner. I was very excited since it has been a tough few weeks and our fridge is still broken. After breakfast we headed to school and I passed out muffins I had made in our sun oven, you know like 3rd grade style when it is your b-day you bring treats. It was fun since our teacher had never had banana bread and loved them. After school we came home, ate, cleaned up and got ready for our team meeting. The team arrived a bit early and the girls on the team surprised me with presents wrapped and even tied with ribbon! It was awesome and I teared up a bit. I desperately missed my family and friends on my b-day and although these girls have known me for only a few weeks or months they made an extra effort to celebrate with me. Julie even baked a carrot cake!! I got a fun bracelet, a cute bag, some crackers (Ahhh, salty crackers :), and the best of all….a 6 pack of diet coke from Dubai (Alex was there last week for a conference and carried it all the way back for me). The hard part will be to save the precious few for special occasions (or really bad days…hey no judgements we all cope in different ways).

my fav B-day gift…diet coke all the way from Dubai (Alex you rock!)
After team meeting Jason was still feeling terrible so he had to cancel for my b-day dinner. Of course, I completely understood but I was seriously bummed. I knew we would go another time but I really did not want to cook or clean up on my birthday and was feeling a bit sorry for myself. I knew Jason would rather be feeling better and taking me out but I am just sick of us being sick and felt like crying.* We called Julie and let her know that we did not need them to babysit and she immediately suggested that the girls go out instead for a girl’s night for my b-day. They even treated me to my chicken burger and a yummy hot chocolate (Ah, chicken & chocolate)! So, my 29th birthday turned out to be special and fabulous; markedly different, with an African flair but notably similar surrounded by friends & family.

Thanks ladies…you made my b-day special!

*After another day of him getting worse he went back to the hospital only to find out that they had given the WRONG MEDS! and that the amoeba was still alive & kicking! He got the right meds on Saturday after several more tests and about 4 hours later started feeling better (amazing what the correct meds can do). Today he seems back to normal for the first time in almost 3 weeks!! Yeah! Thanks for continued prayers!

  1. Anonymous says:

    Rox! I am glad that your b-day turned out so well even with the blip of you & Jason not being able to go out. Thank you for sharing your stories here, makes us feel a part of it all. Praying for you all.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Those gals are awesome! Now that is a new middle eastern import I don’t mind her buying! Geeps, If you were here in the USA I could’ve wrapped up a six pack of diet coke lime for your bday and you probably would have loved it! That Alex really knows you. Should we be looking around Amazon for an Amoeba handbook? Poor Jason. I hope he’s better. In addition to learning Kswahili you need to learn pharma-speak!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am so glad you had a good birthday, even with the unexpected blips in the radar! If you ever have a question about meds, email me the name on the package (should be in English somewhere) and I will have my mom look it up for you in her AMAZING software program. She will be happy to as she loves drugs!

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is most likely one of those birthdays you will never forget . . . both the good and the bad. We are so thankful that Jason is finally better!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’m glad Jason is better, but bummer that the fridge is still out. You can’t even cool your coke! We went to Dos in your honor and drown our sorrows after the Illini lost with two pitchers of maragritas! We all, Katy,Rob, Annie, John, and Daddy and I, all wished you were with us. I kept thinking that 29 years ago I had been in labor with you- But were you worth it! I’m glad that your friends there took you out. You are such a giving person, people want to give back to make you smile, because you make everyone smile. šŸ™‚ Love and Kisses!

  6. Anonymous says:

    ah rox, i love you! i cried a little on your birthday for missing you! because i am pathetic and, well, because i do miss you. and i am sooooo glad that you had a fun birthday. so happy about the diet coke! i think we cried together the first time we found ‘coca light’ on the island all those years ago =)i’m glad jason is finally better!you rock!happy 29!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Rox! It's really all about having those friends there on your birthday. I remember feeling sad on my birthday in Sudan bc it was when I'd first arrived, but Andrea baked me a cake, her & Jordan gave me a pack of gum and other wazungu trinkets, and then we celebrated w/ our Sudanese friends. Those moments are really special and memorable.I'm sorry Jason was feeling sick, but it sounds like he tried his lil amoeba heart out to make it nice. poor guy.Hey, you're awesome and keep doin' your thing there. I can tell that you're making connections and showing His love!!! <3

  8. Anonymous says:

    One more comment- you look gorgeous in all of those pictures! How do you do it in the heat???