I was sitting in my room trying to create lesson plans. This is how I spend a lot of my time between when I finish tutoring for the day at 6:30 and dinner, which is served between 8:00 and 8:45. I thought I faintly heard one of my coworkers, Jesse, calling my name. I paused my music for a minute to listen, then turned it back on when I didn’t hear anything. A minute later, I definitely heard Jesse call to me from the hallway.
“Yes?” I asked.
He replied with a bunch of Spanish I didn’t understand.
“What?” I said.
(Still in Spanish.) “Something something something blonde something dining room.”
“The blonde cook needs my help in the dining room?” I asked.
Jesse nodded. “Sí.”
As I went to grab my purse and lock my bedroom door, Jesse didn’t wait for me.
I walked past the dorm for the younger girls, when Annabell, one of the girls, grabbed me.
“Tia Sara!” (Tia means aunt, and all the workers here are Tia or Tio.) I’m not sure if she underestimated my Spanish skills or what because then she said. “We all have a surprise for you in the dining room.”
I told her in very broken Spanish that when you have a surprise for someone, you shouldn’t tell them you have a surprise. I’m not sure she understood me.
We made our way to the comedor (dining room, in a separate building from the residence building) and all the kids above the age of six were sitting there waiting for me. They sang Cumpleanos Feliz, (Happy Birthday in Spanish) and then attacked me with hugs. At one point, I counted five kids all hugging my knees at once.
After the hugs, there was cake and soda. Both are a rarity and special treat here, and the kids devoured them in minutes.
My nineteenth birthday on June 15 was full of lots of hugs, happy birthdays and happiness. I got to talk with my mom and one of my sisters, and was wished a happy birthday by many people both here and in the US.
One of my other favorite parts of my birthday actually happened the night before. I invited a few of the teen girls to watch a movie with me before bed. Five of us huddled around my laptop and watched Ella Enchanted with Spanish Audio and English subtitles. I fell asleep, but the girls seemed to love it. The movie finished just before midnight, and the girls stuck around just long enough to sing Happy Birthday to me in English just after midnight.
It was a great birthday, totally in fitting with the great time I’ve had here.
Also, if you’ve ever wondered if a standard grocery store cake can stretch to feed fifty kids, the answer is yes, but only if the slices are very small.
Toda la Gloria a Dios.
(All the glory to God.)