My birthday began with many well-wishes from both my own team, and the East Asian team over a breakfast of coconut cakes. Tyler unfortunately wasn’t feeling well, and couldn’t join us that day, (yeah, on my birthday, what a stinker.) After breakfast, the East Asian team showered me with gifts all morning, and never in my life have I felt so loved. Somehow, despite having only known me for a week, they guessed my personality spot-on and brought me the perfect gifts! I really wanted to stay near to them forever.
We had lunch in the cafeteria of the main university (wayyyy better than the food we got at the freshman campus), and then split into pair to meet with students. I had the joy of being with Natalie, and we and our translator had many awesome conversations with students. It’s amazing how many people at the university had heard the gospel, despite Thailand being less than two percent Christian! It really gives me hope for the country, and the world as a whole, to see the gospel spreading so much.
One girl that I shared the gospel with came very close to accepting Christ! She said she understood everything I was saying, about how Jesus had died for her sins because he loved her and wanted to be in a relationship with her, but she wasn’t quite ready to make the transition into receiving it. I continue to pray for her as often as I think of her.
During our last conversation, some of our friends from the freshman campus showed up with a pet sugar glider!!! It was the cutest thing I had ever seen in the world; it had these huge eyes, and the softest, fluffiest fur! I got to hold it, and experience the weird sensation of having a sugar glider claw it’s way around your shirt and all the way down your arm. That might sound incredibly weird to some people, but it made me fall in love and wish that I had a pet sugar glider.
As I was returning it to her later on, a bunch of Thai students came up to me with coconut cake jellies topped with candles, and began to sing happy birthday to me in Thai!! I was already so floored by their love and acceptance that it completely overwhelmed me when they surrounded me and begin to pray for me! Thai people, like many Asians, pray all at the same time, so their prayer to my ears became a chorus of intercession in Thai. I could not understand the words being said, but I understood the language of love, and it enveloped me like a holy cloud. I can never ever imagine a more special and perfect way to celebrate a birthday, and I know it will be hard to find a memory at any point that lives up to this one.
For dinner that evening we went back to the place where we first had dinner with the East Asian team, and joined with them and our friend Peach. I tried papaya salad for the first time, which tasted really yummy, but I think is one of the spiciest things I’ve ever eaten. My mouth was on fire.
When our teams finished eating, I was asked for my choice of dessert, so of course I chose mango sticky rice! We headed down the street to get it, and once the food was ready, my team surprised me with a happy birthday sign and some candles! I was all set and ready to blow them out, but suddenly, I realized I didn’t even have a wish! I was having the time of my life, I felt so happy and loved by everyone I came in contact with; I couldn’t imagine anything better! So, wishing only for continued growth in God for the year to come, I huffed, and I puffed, and I blew the candles out– only to realize they were trick candles! No matter how many times I blew them out, they kept coming back on! Finally, we decided to stick them in ice, and then hunkered down to enjoy our mango sticky rice.
When we got back home, my roommates came in and sang happy birthday to me again, and prayed over me like the other girls had! As I took my shower and reflected over this and all that had happened over that day, tears began welling up in my eyes. I never could have possibly imagined such a lovely birthday, surrounded by so many people who care about me so much, despite having barely known me for a week. This is truly what the kingdom of heaven will be like, and I’m so happy to have had the chance to experienced a taste of it on my birthday this year.