Levi is 3!
How did this…
Grow into this?
Ah well, yesterday was Levi’s 3rd birthday and it was a wonderful day, but let me set the scene, starting with Friday.
I planned Friday. I have learned that to “plan” a day means to actually not plan much at all, but to have a few things in place to help the day go well. I had very little to do because the party was at our house, where we have not been living and the construction is finally done and Papa Willy has been cleaning like a mad man. Seriously. That man has moved every piece of furniture, scrubbed every wall with bleach, mopped every day he’s been around. We have officially hired him each Saturday, now that his regular families are back in town and he was looking for one more day of work. Yay! So, the house was empty, mostly tidy, and clean. All I had to do was make cupcakes and set up. See? Not more than a few hours. I had two teen girls, Emily and Lydia (who had celebrated their birthdays on Thursday and that day), daughters of other MAF families, ready to keep the kids at the apartment. However, Friday morning, it was clear that we can just throw all those plans down the toilet.
We woke to no power at the apartment. No power at the apartment means little to no water. I couldn’t leave the kids and the sitters at the apartment without power or water, so I brought them with me. No big deal. But, of course, every time I walked through the room, the kids wanted to visit with me. How sweet… Then we discovered there was no power at the house. Okay, I’ll do everything I can and then turn the generator on. It will run the oven if almost everything else is off, no problem.
So, I set to work making cupcakes. I figured I needed to multiply my recipe by five. It became a production. At least I had all of the ingredients on hand, and all of the tools.
By the afternoon, including numerous necessary interruptions, I had made three cakes and 60 cupcakes. Whew. At least I wasn’t planning frosting. Chocolate cupcakes with sprinkled powdered sugar on them are very pretty…and save a lot of work!
By the evening, Matthew was done with work, but he’d had an equally stressful and eventful day. Unfortunately, we had learned that the apartment’s power was not coming back for a while. Some soldiers had arrived in the middle of the night and stole that street’s power cable. Lovely. And the landlord’s generator was broken. So, without power or water, it suddenly seemed necessary to move back to the house that night. But, by the time we dealt with all of the other miscellaneous things that came up that day (like our wireless being dead at the house, still no power, the water pump died a week ago and Matthew replaced it, but it still needed some parts, so we are still running on gravity tank water), we fed the children, got Amelia to bed (not without her struggles), we were exhausted.
That night Lydia was having a birthday party of her own, with cake and games, and I really wanted to go. Matthew told me I should go, to relax, and pick up stuff at the apartment, since it was only next door. I had a great time and was grateful for the R&R.
The power finally came back on at the house and Matthew was able to enjoy his evening with Levi. We all got to bed, completely out of it, by 11pm. We felt the weight of Saturday’s needs already on our shoulders. But it was nice to be back in “our” bed again!
Saturday morning, the power was on! So, I made Levi a pancake breakfast (his favorite) and we enjoyed it together as a family. Matthew went over to the apartment because it had been 24 hours since the power had gone out and we needed to get the fridge and freezer contents to a new location. However, the landlady had fixed the generator and had it running! One less thing to do on an already-busy day!
Matthew then went across the street to help ready a guest apartment for a MAF volunteer arriving on Sunday while I put Amelia down for her nap. She slept for two hours, and since it was Levi’s birthday, I turned on his favorite movie and, quite suddenly, I had free time! The time I planned on having Friday was now mine! Praising the Lord for this unexpected blessing, I was able to finish tidying, play with Levi, make lunch, and feel ready for the birthday party.
The birthday party was doubling as a cultural experiment. We invited everyone we knew, which is about half Mundeles (Lingala for white people) and half Congolese. We weren’t sure what the cultural expectations for a party were, but we were excited to find out! I was very careful to tell everyone the time and that we would serve Cokes and cupcakes.
One o’clock rolled around and no on was there. Actually, we heard sirens. Sirens here mean two things: a political figure was coming or a funeral. Since death here is so common, you can generally assume it’s a funeral. The funeral procession went right in front of our house and all the sentinels on the street were standing in front of their gates, at attention, to honor the deceased. It was a neat thing to witness.
Finally, a few people started to trickle in and an hour later it was a party! The swing hanging from a very tall tree branch became a hit with all of the kids (and a few of the adults), since so many of the missionary folks speak the languages (both French and Lingala), we were all able to communicate. But, really, it was most fun to meet and spend time with the families of a few of the Congolese we’ve gotten to know a little bit. Even a few sentinels working nearby that we knew and my vegetable lady, Mama Victorine, stopped by.
Levi was actually quite the little ham and was nice enough to talk to most everyone. He was at least cooperative to go around get pictures taken will the attendees.
The one person who didn’t show was Levi’s birthday buddy. Pepe shares a birthday with Levi and the party was for him as well. Someone finally gave him a call and we learned that his motorcycle had broken down en route, he was sold a bad part for repair and finally walked, arriving just after the last person left, but already late for his regular work for another MAF family. We agreed he and his fiance would come over later for Cokes.
We had a few hours to hang out, Matthew went back across the street to finalize the guest apartment while David Francis was working there, and Levi got to help out a little. Levi was quite happy with leftover pancakes after such a busy day and Amelia went to bed.
Just after sundown, Pepe’s fiance, Joy, arrived and we had our neighbor Orelik come over to help translate. Pepe finally got there and we started party #2. Pepe is like a big kid. I went in to make a quick dinner and when I came back twenty minutes later, I found a rope-climb competition. Turns out that swing is fun for everyone! We ate and Pepe had to get back to work as sentinel for the night across the street.
Overall it was a fun day and I wish you could all experience it. I hope Levi remembers bits and pieces, even if it’s just through pictures. The Congolese people are so fun to have around, at least the friends we’ve made, and we are so happy they took the time and effort to come out to hang out with us and celebrate!
Of course, this post would not be complete without pictures…click on the first one to get started and enjoy!