It has been a while since I have done a post of gratitude, but this one is necessary. You see, I turned 23 last week, and my community here quite simply spoiled me with love (and food). Below are some snippets of my wonderful weekend celebrating the beginning of my 23rd year! It might have been my first birthday during winter, but there was plenty of metaphorical sunshine to keep me warm.

–       I woke up and groggily walked to the dining hall to make some instant coffee. About six of the students in the hostel were having breakfast and I walked in to a half-hearted chorus of “Happy Birthday” followed by laughter and conversation. 

–       My supervisor, Joy, treated my coworkers and I to a breakfast out near wine country! The scenery on the drive was incredible. Also, we had jalapeño poppers and filter coffee, so my taste buds were thrilled. Below is a picture of some of the women who make my life so full and vibrant (from L to R: Monique, Tammy, me, Joy, Megan, Tarryn).

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–       After a lovely day, I spent the evening with my friends Ncobile and Elmo. We did a cover of an Adele song and watched a movie together. Ncobile even bought cake, balloons, and popcorn! What a perfect movie night with two of my best friends.

–       I received phone calls throughout the day, but the best were from my mom and when the Dean of the church called and had his entire family sing to me over the phone!

–       Friday night, Aunty Yvonne treated me to dinner with her family. Aunty Yvonne is the church secretary who, in my first days in Cape Town, asked to adopt me for the year. She calls me her Godchild and we had a lovely evening!

–       Saturday, I got to meet up with fellow YAGM Rachel Swenson and her family, all of whom are in town for a week to see the Mother City. Her parents treated me to a day in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens followed by lunch at a lovely restaurant. I had a fantastic time getting to know the Swensons while appreciating Cape Town’s breathtaking natural beauty.

–       Sunday, I received my birthday blessing in church! Every Sunday, whoever had a birthday or anniversary in the past week goes to the altar and receives a blessing from the pastor and song from the congregation. Pastor Nell, grandfather of one of my Sunday School students, gave me a beautiful blessing- “We know it is hard to have your birthday away from your family, so remember that we- the church- are your family members.” After the service, I received a bouquet of roses from my Sunday School kiddos!

Seriously, y’all- I’m spoiled with love, food, and flowers. I can’t imagine a better birthday, and I am so excited to start this new year of life with such wonderful people.

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