This year’s birthday celebration may be a contender for a Guinness World Record – now going on month 3. It begun with a great September weekend in Dili featuring homemade pumpkin pie (yuuuuum), pool party, mushroom-filled fancy dinner, Burger King hash browns, dancin’ and creative gifts from fellow volunteers.
A few weeks later the party continued with a huge package from America! Our packages are stored in a glass cabinet, so we often check out who is getting the goods, maybe with a twinge of jealous curiosity, but mostly because it is smart to have a good idea of who is going to have snacks in the near future. But this time, I knew I had one on the way and was a little disappointed I didn’t see it in the cabinet. I didn’t expect the big box on top of the cabinet to have my name on it! I opened it immediately, maybe shed a few tears, and was so excited to eat/use all my new goodies.
Since then, I’ve slowly been taking items to site and celebrate with each snack opened and fresh t-shirt worn. This weekend I took the last batch home, and since I can’t very easily write you all thank you cards, I thought I’d share my gratitude here.
Mom and Bret – You’re right Mom – I did instantly think “geez Mom you got carried away” but you definitely achieved your goal of making me feel loved and special. And individually wrapping stuff?! Nice touch. Coordinating this package couldn’t have been easy, definitely with your busy schedule, thank you again. I can’t wait to share this place with both of you. Those fresh, soft t-shirts are so nice, although they now allow me to wait to do laundry even longer, which results in very wrinkled, tired hands. Maybe when you’re here you can help me get rid of the old ones. Also happy birthday Mom!
Dad – And I’m proud to be your daughter. If hand sanitizer is a representation of your love, know that I’ll be swimming in it for a while. Thanks for all the snacks (some I haven’t ever seen before! I’m fans of those peanut butter and banana chip packets) and sweet card. Hope you’re keeping up on all the new hip spots in Salem and in the music scene – I’m gonna need an update when I get home.
Sydney – I think your note in this birthday card is longer than any message you’ve sent me in the past year, haha. But your collage speaks for itself 😊. I put it right next to my mirror, but I definitely look at it more often than in the mirror (I can feel the grease, don’t need to confirm it lol). It still blows my mind that when I come home you’ll be in your second year of college! And it seems like you are killin’ it your first year! The only regret I can think of from my first year is crying to a professor about an A-, so whenever you’re feeling stressed, remember you’ll probably never be that pathetic.
Payton, McKenzie, Brittany and Kevin – Thank you for your sweet words and most importantly, Instagram comments 😊. I can’t wait to catch up with all of your adventures and accomplishments. I am constantly in awe of the strength and dedication of the women and girls in this country, and don’t think I would be in constant admiration and recognition of them without the experience of growing up surrounded by women of the same sentiment. Here’s to hoping Timor has prepared me for the heat in Waco.
Isabellah and Madi – Holy moly dudes! Good thing I have a year left to think of a way to reciprocate the love and sparkle (nice touch btw) I feel each time I open a card or flip a month on my calendar. Not to mention all the goodies in the package! Know that the Laffy Taffys fueled a very intense hike to the highest spot in Timor. Also, thought you should know another reason banana is the best flavor: they don’t melt and get stuck to the packaging like the other flavs do. I can’t wait to hang out with you guys and literally do anything. I can’t wait to get caught up on all your stories, interesting people you’ve met, any wardrobe or style changes that have been made, etc. You’ll have to meet my fellow volunteers so they can become obsessed with you too. I am so proud of you and would also definitely want you as a sister wife.
Grandma Nancy – Wow, I hope the garden was as delicious as it sounds! Berries aren’t very common here, but there has been a recent push to grow strawberries up in the mountains for a unique source of income. But nothing compares to Oregon-grown berries. It was difficult not being home and hearing of Marty’s passing, but my heart was there. I am reminded of his quiet kindness each time my little host brother pulls out his yellow Hot Wheels car, which, according to all the neighborhood kids, is the best car toy in Timor. Thank you so much for the iTunes gift card – some new music will definitely make my long walks home more enjoyable.
Grampa Jon and Gramma Carla – Being able to hear a person’s voice when reading their handwriting is a pretty cool thing; I felt right at home when opening your card. I recently hiked the tallest peak on the island (Mounth Tatamailau), and was transported to the lake for a bit while walking back down among the smell of pine trees in dry heat. If only I could have ended that long adventure with a dip in chilly water.
Grandpa Mike and Victoria – I am so grateful for your birthday and holiday cards! Knowing my support system extends to so many places is comforting. Sometimes celebrating holidays here is difficult, with different traditions and being so far from home, but finding a card in my mailbox is always cause for a smile. Know that the birthday money is going towards great things, in this year’s case, pizza! 😉
Grama Linda and Papa Dick – Thank you for thinking of me and involving me in exciting moments in Salem! I love the eclipse t-shirt and it is a great conversation starter among volunteers and locals a like. Most volunteers didn’t know Salem was the best place to see the eclipse from, which serves well in my on-going argument that Oregon is the best state in the U.S. 😀 And explaining how it works to locals results in some shocked faces and sometimes interesting stories about what they remember when that happened here a long time ago. You’ll have to tell me all about it when I get back.
Carol, Trish and Peggy – Didn’t think it was possible to feel homesick for the Country office, but opening your card proved it is. Thank you for your lifelong support and following my adventures, even though I’m not very good at posting. I’ve made a goal of posting more this next year – so be on the look out! Can’t wait to see familiar faces in Salem and with all those changes I’ve heard about, I might need some tour guides. 😉
Thank you again for all your support and making me feel special all the way across the Pacific! Also of course, big thanks to the volunteer family here that made me feel right at home!