I can't fail to thank God for remembering my birthday this year. When I was praying about whether or not to go to this training and take this step, I nonchalantly mentioned to my mom that I would be gone on my birthday if I went. The next day she came to me and said that she was praying about it, and remembered how I would be gone on my birthday. God said to her, "That's my birthday present to her." When she said this to me, I started to cry. I felt so loved, so cherished, so remembered by God--I mean, who else has a God who remembers their birthday and does something special particularly for them on it? It was like He thought of the birthday gift that would please me the most and surprised me with it. What better thing could I ask than to get to go back into missions? Thank you, Lord, for remembering my birthday. Your gift was amazing.
• Pink cupcake--really a sausage patty topped with tinted mashed potatoes. Aaaah! You expect that pink stuff to be sweet!
• Saltine Cracker--it looks like it's spread with butter and chocolate sauce, but that's no chocolate! Ever heard of Marmite? Actually it was pretty good. I had seconds.
• The white and brown spiral things--They looked like chocolate and vanilla sugary treats, but again, surprise! The brown color is black beans and the white color comes from rice paste.
• Fries--Not your regular McDonald's variety: these were shrimp flavored.
• Drink--This one I had had before, and I heartily approve: Sweetened black tea with mint. Mmmmm!
Anything that involves eating is fine with me, and I have very adventurous taste buds, so I was one happy birthday girl! Let's just say I've never had birthday meals like that before!
Then, at lunch was the culture game. We each received an envelope giving us instructions and informing us what role we were going to play during the meal. The meal was a typical food from a certain country in the middle east, one where people usually eat with their hands. One person would be a national who was hosting the meal, another would be a clueless American who wasn't sensitive to cultural customs, one would be an American who tried to follow the host's customs, and two were merely observers (who also got to eat).
My envelope contained directions for me to be the hostess of the meal, so everyone was following my lead! Aaah! I barely knew what I was doing! Using the right hand only, I was supposed to take a small handful of food, form it into a ball, and pop it into my mouth. I was supposed to eat only from the part of the bowl that was right in front of me, leaving a "wall" of food in between mine and my neighbor's section. The food was really delicious, but I was quite a bit messier than I liked to be as the hostess! Popping that ball into my mouth was easier said than done. The rice didn't want to stick together, no matter how firmly I tried to ball it up, so the ball of food kept falling to bits in between my hand and my mouth. Funny how the rice had no trouble sticking all over my hand.
(We didn't do so great at the "walls," did we?)
Then for dinner, we had pizza--I guess we needed American culture in there somewhere, right? ;-) Afterward they surprised me with birthday cake! It had 12 trick candles on it, and they made so much smoke with re-lighting themselves that we set off the fire alarm in the building! Oops! That made for another adventure!
All in all, it was a very fun day, and I will have a wonderful memory of it for years to come.