At the beginning of this school year, my youth group had just gotten back from Taizé, France and we were totally united and motivated. We were doing monthly prayers with Taizé songs and a potluck dinner afterwards. For the first one, I was expecting less than ten people to come, but instead around twenty came and after dinner stayed for hours playing games and having lots of spontaneous fun.
I thought to myself, this year for my birthday I'm going to have a prayer with Taizé songs and a potluck dinner afterwards here at the parish and invite my family and friends. It will be the first birthday party in which I'll be really, really happy and have everyone united since I've been in Portugal (I used to really love my birthday parties when I lived in the States).
But things turned out differently and I was in the States for my birthday. At first I was really sad about the whole situation and I explained that to my parish priest with tears in my eyes (what a BABY, I know). Then I accepted it and felt loved anyway in the States.
But that sweet parish priest and sweet youth group of mine planned a surprise party for me anyway... better than I could've imagined. And it was so much more special being a suprise. I have never felt so loved. As soon as I set off to the States, they started emailing each other and my parents for pictures (for the nicest video ever). When I got back, I had an email (sent to the whole youth group), saying the end-of-the-year dinner would be the next friday. I thought, oh how convenient that it's the day before I leave for the Azores.
So I went unsuspecting to the end-of-activities dinner and was greeted by darkness and a little group of the most wonderful people IN THE WORLD singing me happy birthday around a cake. Oh you bet I cried.
|The cake they sang happy birthday around|
|Me walking in|
|A cutout of ME they carefully and artfully made|
so that people could pretend it was their party
|And the best part of the party: the people|
I really love EVERY SINGLE one of them
After dinner we sang Taizé songs and had some readings from a little booklet they had made with my favorite Taizé songs! Aw. Like El alma que anda en amor. I felt like I was living the Prodigal Son story. Even though I had left them, they loved me unconditionally. Even though I didn't deserve any of this, they welcomed me back with a huge banquet fit for a king and really did treat me like a king, slaughtering the finest cow. Love is beautiful. And finally, here is the BEAUTIFUL, THOUGHTFUL video they made for me: