Yesterday was my 24th birthday, my 2nd birthday celebrated in China, and will be probably be one of the most memorable in my life. I awoke early to a bright sunshine and walked my usual jaunt through dirty streets to school. I arrived and was greeted with a few shy "Happy Birthday"s. When I entered my 2rd grade class however, I was quickly shooed out. As faces giggled with anticipation and finally motioned me to enter, I was greeted with a big chalk banner that read an enthusiastic "HAPPY BIRTHDAY JENNIFER KAYE GERBERDING!" ha. I had used my name in a lesson once about vowels vs. consonants and had written out my entire name on the board for the kids to see (how many vowels? how many consonants?). The teacher had taken note and remembered. After proudly declaring "Happy Birthday" they ran at me and literally hurled letters, cards, and precious pieces of paper gifts in my face.
My 3rd grace class was much of the same: a written message of well wishes from the teacher, TONS of cards and gifts, and proud smiles. They also sang at the top of their voices the o-so-familiar tune (slightly altered due to lack of English knowledge) and beamed with pride. Oh, and my first graders told me "Happy Birthday" too - just in Chinese. They don't know it in English.
Lunch time concluded with one of my 3rd grade students, a smart yet needy little boy, delivering a cake to my office desk. Apparently his father owns a cake shop. A whole Chinese cake. wow.
I also decided to be adventurous and try cook/sort of bake a boxed Funfetti cake in my rice-cooker...
yes, my rice-cooker.
And it worked. sort of. well, basically.
The day ended with dinner out with my dear friends Anita and Terry and joining their father and family for his birthday celebration - it turns out we're birthday buddies!
Cards. Drawings. Paper foldings. Songs. Gifts. Hugs. From both students AND teachers (the teachers were definitely involved). 2 cakes. Time with dear friends who let me be a part of their family for the evening. A beautiful and blessed birthday with more love than I truly expected. I am humbly surprised. It was a love I have not experienced from this Chinese world that I have been a part of for the past year.
And thanks for all your Facebook messages, friends. I definitely felt your love from around the world.
Hopefully, growing wiser and more like Jesus.
I am truly filled with joy.
Anyone want some cake?