Out of Africa. [In Which I Turned 23.]


Yesterday, I almost forgot that I live in Africa.

I walked downstairs [read: from my rooftop apartment to the men’s apartment directly below] to enough rainbow colored balloons and streamers to make Liberace shudder. It felt for all the world like I was seven years old again-there’s

Breakfast with the guys.

just something about a room full of pink streamers and a million balloons that smacks of piñatas, pony-rides and frosting in a myriad of iridescent hues not found anywhere in nature.

With absolutely no help from me, my team had managed to pull off chocolate banana crepes [a personal favorite] for breakfast. I love crepes because they provide the perfect excuse to eat nutella and whipped cream before seven AM. Over mouthfuls of chocolate, they gave me my birthday present-a set of mugs that I had mentioned that I loved back in January. They bought them for me while we were in Europe and kept it a secret for three months! You have to understand something: I’ve been drinking out of a travel mug since I got to Africa. [Practical, yes-but it does make me feel like a bit of a Neanderthal.] This morning, I felt incredibly spoiled drinking my French vanilla hazelnut au lait out of a real mug!

Everything we did yesterday was a surprise-which, when it comes to me, is a feat of epic proportions. Knowing that I am almost impossible to surprise, my team ignored my persistent attempts to wheedle information out of them in the [months] leading up to April 19, giving me absolutely no hints and re-setting all of the passwords on their computers. I didn’t even know how I was supposed to dress until half an hour prior

At the beach.

 to our departure-when Christy told me to throw on a bathing suit. Now, being the excellent missionary that I am, the only bathing suit I have in this country is a bikini. Why did I bring a bikini to a Muslim country? If you can figure that one out, start working on what dark forces were at work in my mind when I packed my “practical stilettos” in my bright blue monogrammed duffle bag. [Proof: God can use anybody.]

Our taxis pulled up to an almost deserted, private beach [making the white girls in bathing suits thing more acceptable], where I learned that my team had planned on taking me jet skiing. Africa struck again though, and upon our arrival we discovered that you can only jetski in August. [Rationale? If you want rational explanations for things, I highly suggest that you stay far, far away from this continent.] Since there was nobody around and

The new and improved Ben. I should note that everyone on my team is rocking a pretty gruesome farmer's tan-living in a Muslim country makes your clothing options fairly limited...

 we were already at the beach [a first for us since landing in Senegal], we ended up spending a couple of hours digging in the sand and attempting to drown each other in the freezing water. [Call it a team building exercise.]

 Later that evening, they took me to my coffee shop for dinner. Christy, Ben, Cash and Dayton did such a sweet job

At dinner with Christy. Oh, hey there caramel machiatto.

of tailoring every tiny nuance of the day to be something that would make me feel really loved and special. One beef stroganoff and two caramel machiattos later, we dashed

Dayton escorting me into the apartment for my dessert party.

back home where I discovered a literal tower of sixteen cream puffs sitting on the dining room table. I’ve been joking about wanting a “tower o’ cream puffs” for my birthday for months now, and they actually made it happen. My first valuable piece of wisdom to offer as the 23 year old sage that I now am is simply this: if you are ever offered a tower of sixteen

My tower of cream puffs. I may be 23, but I still clap like a four year old when I get excited.

chocolate cream puffs, do not feel compelled to eat them all in one sitting. I managed to down the tops to no less than twelve of them before I ended up curled into the fetal position on the cool kitchen tile. After swearing off cream puffs for the rest of my life, we watched a couple of episodes of House to cap off an all-together excellent birthday.


In front of my coffee shop.

thanks to my team for making my day so fun-and thank you everyone that thought to write, call or post on my facebook wall-I LOVED hearing from people.

Breakfast this morning. Note the cute mug!

That was absolutely a highlight. And as my confession as a 23 year old, I should admit that I ate a cream puff for breakfast this morning…


  1. So glad they know you so well!!!

    (next we’ll talk about this bikini thing…. :-)

Speak Your Mind