Papaya juice and Party favors

You've all been wonderfully sweet to me on my birthday. It's been one-heck of a birthday. Possibly the best ever. I mean I did get to go ice-skating when I turned 7,  but other than that I really haven't been big into birthdays. Ask my college roommates. They knew very well that the four of us going to the SoupPlantation with a 50% off Birthday Club Coupon I pre-printed from my email is about as cooperative as I was willing to be. 

But my birthday this year was big time. I turned 25 today but the celebrating actually started Saturday. It continued last night with dinner at a real restaurant. We would have waited until today but ran into a sort of need-meat-now emergency last night (we're still cooking in the rice cooker). 

It was hard to believe that when I woke up this morning it was stilllll my birthday. So many of you wrote such sweet messages and emails. Thank you. :) We splurged on chips and salsa as a birthday dinner and even went out for Papaya juice as a sweet treat. Go ahead and say it... I'm spoiled. 

On Saturday after the clinic...

(please excuse our lack of pictures)

....with a truck full of clinic supplies we drove through a few familiar villages and pulled up to Monia and Mackenson's house. It was gorgeously decorated and some of my favorite faces were there. 
So I sucked it up and went ahead and partied.

But not right away.

Waiting inside...

Waiting outside....

Still waiting....

The party began on Haitian time.. so... just a few hours later than expected. It might have been a little slow getting started but when it did get started we were in for a night of fun. 

Dancing, singing, performances, poems and solos, games, skits, food, dancing, kissing... yes...kissing. At the end of one of skit/game I landed a big kiss on the cheek. A dramatic poem recitation by 17 year old Jeff also ended in a kiss. There was a receiving line of sorts in which guests appreciated me with kisses and then there was a designated time for gift giving. Of course if you didn't bring a gift (which no one did) you could give a gift guessed it...a kiss. 
Love love love culture. 

The fun was facilitated by this dynamic duo, Jeff and Monia's brother. 
(I spent the whole night thinking I must be pretty hot stuff because I thought the man in green was actually the pastor of their church. I couldn't figure out when I'd become so important that the village pastor was the MC at my birthday party. I was wrong and therefore neither hot nor important)
Regardless, these two kept everyone laughing. 

Here Jenn, as my faithful friend, was required to give a synopsis of the day in which I was born, including the names of my parents and the name of the hospital in which I was born. Talk about a pop quiz. She answered: The Hospital of California. Nice. 

My favorite part...these gorgeous girls. Click to watch a short segment of their song. 
It's so worth the click. 

Their singing group is called Group Etwal or The Star Group.
Monia is their director. They perform at their church on occasion. Sign me up for that church. Shoot! 
The theme of the song: Give glory to God, He deserves it! 

My least favorite part. Attention. 
Jenn had been conspiring with several of her groupies for over two weeks. Monia had been secretly making decorations. Food preparations were underway. Someone was shopping for food. Others contributing from their gardens. A scheme to get me to the party after the clinic had been devised. And although everyone had been given strict orders to keep things basic...speakers also somehow snuck their way into the mix. 

I'm not sure what possessed her to plan a surprise party! I think I actually hurt her feelings last year because I was so against the idea of celebrating my birthday. I can barely look you in the eyes if you wish me Happy Birthday! Being sung to is even worse! I'm that awkward! 

And Jenn is well aware of this. She knows me better than most. 
Needless to say she was a little worried that maybe she'd made a total mistake in planing this party. After losing several nights of sleep worrying that she may in fact lose her life upon my arrival at the party she decided to ease me into it. Two days before the big day she spilled the beans. 

I sat for a few seconds, experienced a hot-flash when I imagined the awkwardness I would surely feel on party day, had to talk myself out of hyperventilating, and then sort of started to get excited. 

I was touched that so many of my Haitian friends were involved in this event, that they'd all managed to keep it a secret, that they were excited to surprise me. 
And so I not only tolerated the celebration, I enjoyed it. 

So thanks again for all your birthday love. Yes, I had a great day.