It was on this day 22 years ago that I was pulled from my mother’s womb, breathed my first breath, cried my first cry, perked open my eyes, and felt the warmth of unconditional love. Aside from that, the most amazing thing is that God granted me life from then until now of which I have not deserved even a millisecond of. Since my day of birth the Lord has allowed me the opportunity to live in this world which I am completely undeserving of. However, born into sin straight from the womb, Jesus saved me. I am proud to say that for 13 years now I have been living a new life, a life that will bring me eternity with Jesus, a life that allows me to have overflowing JOY!
As I sit here trying to sum up today I am speechless. My eyes are filled with tears as I can’t quite grasp my mind around the love that has been poured upon me. It is a glimpse at the unconditional love that Jesus has lavished upon me. A sweet reminder that Jesus sacrificed his life for me, and in the same way these precious children have sacrificed all they have to pour love into me which I do not deserve.
· Chapatti Mama Sherry brought to me, cooked with the blessed hands of our cook, Mary.
· Happy Birthday notes spread throughout the morning from Lydia, the custodian at the school, filled with encouragement and words of wisdom, who has become a dear friend of mine.
· Birthday notes from Simon Peter who has become like my little pesky brother from school. The boy who snuck into class from the beginning and would pretend to be our student, and has now become the boy who I arm wrestle with everyday. His sweet letter let me know that he “loves me and God loves me.” There is something warming about hearing the word “love” from young boys.
· Hand-made birthday cards from various children in the school, and the common phrase being “I’m sorry I don’t have a gift for you, but I love you very much.” WHAT? Little do they know that I will cherish these letters for the rest of my life. And seeing them hand me a crafted letter, written in their unique hand writing, will bless me for the years to come.
· The climax of my day at school was yet to come. I was summoned to the office to be sprinkled with glitter, crowned with my crown, and blindfolded as I stood outside and waited for what was to come. I knew something was about to unfold because there is never silence among the school. I was guided by students to sit in a chair. As my blindfold was taken off I opened my eyes to see all the children in front of me shouting “SURPRISE!” They began singing Happy Birthday and lit the candles from the cake sitting in front of me.
· The children then danced and I requested they sing “My Redeemer Lives.” That is my favorite song to hear them sing and jump to! I can’t explain how my heart rejoices hearing them shout that our redeemer lives!!
· It is tradition here to serve the cake, so I cut up the 5 little cakes into tiny pieces so that each child could have a nibble. They then lined the kids up to give me a hug one at a time. This was the most humbling moment. Looking these children straight in the eyes, wrapping my arms around them, and kissing them on the forehead as they said “Happy Birthday Teacher Taylor” was glorious. Wow, they are the most beautiful children, and radiate through all the hardships they go home to each night.
· At the school today I received various gifts, mostly food…which is very much appreciated with me, and cards written with tender words. How could I not be happy? But you know the most heart-breaking and humbling part of the day to me was that these kids literally gave me all they had. They made a sacrifice to give to me in the same way Jesus did. These children would literally give me the clothes off of their back even if they had no other article of clothing. The passion they have to give to others is like none I have ever seen before. It was so hard for me to accept small gifts and letters from them, however I had to humble myself and think, Taylor they are doing this because they love you. Be grateful and love them, let them know that their sacrifice is appreciated. I still can’t fully because I don’t understand, I never will. They love so much and yet they have near to nothing. And here I am, supposed to be serving these children and all they want to do is serve me? I can’t lie, I don’t get it. They are simply amazing and selfless; there is no other way to describe it.
· Upon returning home, I hobbled off the boda and pushed open the gate to the home. In a matter of seconds I was greeted with hugs and warm water soaking my clothing. As my pants were falling and my shirt sagging I began to squeeze out my clothes. Ha, I thought too soon. I was then chased with a basin of cold water and a few other buckets to be poured over my head. Going from boiled water to cold water is not a good mix, FYI. I was completely soaked. It is a known tradition here in Uganda that you soak the birthday person in water, and well they succeeded. Kelsey was kind enough to bring me a towel as I shivered into the home to dry off.
· When I walked in the home Kelsey had organized with the kids to scatter balloons in the living room and have letters hung along the walls with birthday wishes. WOW! Just as soon as I thought the day was winding down it only continued.
· Kelsey proceeded to tell me to dry off and we were heading to get our nails done. Kelsey, Izzy, Myranda and I set off for a delightful few hours spent being pampered and sipping over coffee and delicious chocolate cake. But oh no, that’s not all.
· When we returned home, they gathered the kids to the living room. They lit the candles and sang Happy Birthday one more time. When I blew out the candles it was hilarious. They were the re-lit candles and the kids got a kick out of it. They finally dived in and grabbed the candles blowing on them until they wouldn’t light back up.
· After cutting the cake, reading my cards, and singing “bless the Lord oh my soul” Kelsey grabbed her guitar and they serenaded me with “22.” It was at this moment of me sitting as they sang that I looked upon their sweet faces and my eyes filled with tears. They have not the slightest idea of how they have impacted my life. These kids become family, brothers and sisters, each of which I look into their eyes and see their individuality and the unique moments and memories shared with each one of them.
I can honestly say that today was the BEST birthday I have ever had. I cannot soak in the ways in which I have been loved and how much each and every person has poured into my life. If there is anything I have learned, God has blessed me; yes, each moment of my life he blesses me. And these children have taught me that just as Christ sacrificed his life for me and loved me unconditionally, I should in the same way sacrifice my selfishness to love each person that comes into my path unconditionally. Praise God for letting me spend another day of life in fellowship with angelic spirits.