This is what I found when I did wake.
The girls had set their alarm and had gotten up early to set up this surprise. They each picked me flowers, made me a card, and gave me a giant heart-shaped comote (sweet potato) they found at the market earlier this week. Travis had also gotten up and headed out to the bakery to buy breakfast so that I wouldn't have to cook. (There's no cereal and milk or canned biscuits here for a quick and easy breakfast.) He showed up with cinnamon rolls and chocolate swirl cupcakes that he thought were a different kind of cinnamon roll!
After breakfast the guys left for a work project, and the girls and I had time to kill before meeting the other missionary moms for "home visits" later. We decided to invite the girls gathered at our gate in for a little spa party.
My friend Marsha showed up carrying two huge bags of gifts for me! She had made us five beautiful pillows for our very hard bamboo sofa and chairs. She also gave me two more homemade cards that her two girls had made for me.
After Mars left, the girls and I headed to Isla Bonita, a nearby mountain community, to make some home visits. Home visits are one of my favorite ministries. We usually bring a dispensa bag with us filled with food and other goodies for the family. We visit for awhile and read the bible and pray with them before we leave. So, I was happy that this was the ministry planned for my birthday!
When we arrived at the zone center, we were greeted by lots of our new friends. When they found out it was my birthday, they ran to the little store in their community and bought a few liters of Coke. One man worked at a bakery far away and had just returned home with a few boxes of pastries. He handed them out for everyone to taste. So, we had mini celebration!
We visited two families and delivered the bags of food after our birthday snack. Then we met up the guys who were helping to change a roof on a nearby house. (Nearby meaning up the hill, down the steep path, over the foot bridge, and back up again.) The Filipino men in charge of the work project wouldn't allow the Americans on the roof to help ("too big" is what they kept saying), so Travis and the boys were able to come home with us for lunch.
Our friend Irene had cooked two of my favorite dishes: bihon, a noodle dish, without the pork since it was Ash Wednesday and fried Ramen noodle patties. (Yes, that sounds crazy! But they are delicious!) She even shaped all the patties into hearts for my birthday to show me how much she loved me!
After lunch, I decided to treat myself to a reflex foot massage at the Cathedral with the birthday money my mom had sent. But it's no fun to go alone, so I took my friends Irene and Mars. For the first time, we left ALL the kids behind and went to town for a girls afternoon! They were so excited to get away for just a little while without their little ones. And it blessed me so much to see them enjoy themselves even for just an hour. Both of these ladies work very hard to help support their families and are always putting others before themselves. And both of these ladies have been a HUGE help to me since we moved here!
Travis went to check on a friend of ours who was hurt and snuck off to town while I was gone. He returned with a giant birthday cake!
We decided to open the gates and let ALL the neighborhood kids in. They sang their Filipino version of "Happy Birthday" to me and then devoured the cake! They even licked the icing off my knife and the cardboard box!
I don't think he knew what to do with the cake when I gave it to him! He sat like this for a half hour!
Even some of the neighborhood parents scored a piece of cake! Even though they were too shy to come into our yard.
Later that night our mission team showed up with another cake and ice cream! They sang to me and then prayed over me. And this time I actually got a piece of cake!
I went to bed that night feeling so blessed and so undeserving of all the love I had received! I am truly living the best life in missions!