We have definitely been celebrating here lately! Between our days of vacation and now an invasion of 5 beautiful, fascinating, encouraging women at our house, LIFE & FRIENDSHIP is front & center and our home is full of fun & great conversations! It would be impossible to describe the emotions of all the LOVE in this home for Jenna and the great sacrifices made by these dear friends to be with her on her birthday. I have just been blown away by their loyalty & tireless affectionate acts...
L to R: Carolina (Italy-Lebanon), Dani, Justine (half Armenian, APU/US), Jenna, Hannah (US, Mauritania), Betty (Mexico-CostaRica, Iraq), Saray (Argentina, Uzbekistan, Indonesia)
Justine had had a plan to come since June but it was a surprise for Jenna. We actually pulled it off and it was so GREAT!! Dani & I went to pick her up at the airport in the morning and then had Justine take in her morning tea. We have her reaction on film - shock, surprise, crying, hugging, laughing - awesome. SO GLAD we pulled it off, Justine!! Justine graduated with a Business degree from APU in May, is a real foodie & everything roses, gets along with anyone and I can´t wait to see what she may entrepreneur!
For Jenna´s birthday, she whipped up a sugarless, chocolate-banana soufflé - divine!
Reunited in Málaga, 2014
Representing Argentina, Morocco, Spain, Iraq, Mexico, Costa Rica,
Mauritania, US, Uzbekistan & Indonesia between them!
Saray is from Argentina and met Jenna there when they were just young girls. Later Saray & her family went to Uzbekistan where she spent a good part of her growing up years. She also later lived for a year plus as a high school student in Indonesia where her parents are currently working. Bruce & I are very close to her parents and have journeyed with their family all these years. It is precious to see the special bond Saray & Jenna have that goes back so many years. Saray is studying in med school in Buenos Aires and is getting married on Jan 10th!
Betty´s parents are Costa Rican and Mexican and currently live in Mexico while she goes to university just over the border. She grew up in Iraq and her parents still travel all over the region. I´m so glad she still remembers her Kurdish! She has been friends with Hannah (the 3rd muskateer) since she was little. Bruce & I are also close friends with her parents and there are a treasure & inspiration to us. Betty is studying graphic design. She has a perfect gentleman of a boyfriend who Hannah introduced her to but I will leave that to her to tell you about!
Hannah flew in from the US but grew up in Mauritania. She has fluent Arabic and has been able to intern within the region closer to us. She is studying International Studies at Princeton and her twin brother is at Columbia. Her parents currently reside in the US and are involved in Reconciliation work. Her boyfriend, who also grew up speaking Arabic, is in CA in med school in SF. With her keen interest in NGO´s and ability in languages, we can´t wait to see where she ends up!
Jenna has been with these 3 over the years at various conferences and they just clicked. They have tons of memories, lots in common & can talk international issues all day & night. They all love God and as part of this new generation want to make Him known in relevant ways through justice models. It is an immense treat for them to be all together.
Getting ready for Jenna´s birthday bash. :) I´m glad they´re all
¨taken¨ or we may have had our hands full! haha
Their tea time at one of Jenna´s favorite teterías here in Málaga.
In Beirut, where they met last year.
L to R: Leila, Cristy, Sonia
Then they watched a DVD which was a compilation of birthday greetings from friends all over the place! I was so touched at all the time & work that had gone into that. Jenna is so blessed with so many great people.
She also was delivered some gorgeous roses from Cristy´s family:
Both Carolina and Hannah arrived during the day and they all went downtown to the old Arab castle in Málaga to walk around before dinner. Here they are:
Saray made an GREAT homemade, Argentine-style lasagne for dinner and along with fresh salad, bread and wine we had a great feast outside on our front patio. These pics are a bit dark but you get the idea...
We also were blown away by a special delivery of international cupcakes from the Galloways which were both gorgeous & delicious!!! It even included one small cake which was both sugarless & white flour-less for Jenna. :) You guys are the best!!
With all the jetlag in the house, everyone fell into bed, happy & tired!
Friday night there is a big ¨Garden¨ party with a bunch of young people invited from Málaga and fortunately, we´ll have 5 extra sets of hands for that! Some friends are donating their talents so we can have live music and I´m sure there´ll be lots of surprises since Jenna wants NO gifts, only cards or something creative that doesn´t cost money. :)
In the meanwhile, since there are 8 women in this house right now until next week, Bruce & Jordan felt it was the perfect opportunity to get away on a backpacking trip just the 2 of them! They left this morning to get away from all this estrogen!! haha
Obviously, I´m way behind on the blog because of so many things going on - guests, vacation, patio project, birthday, etc. - but I´ll be trying in this next week to catch up. We´ve been extremely busy but happy and now it´s time to ¨normalize¨.
These 10 days in particular have been an amazing GIFT. I feel as if God has given all of us this:
¨When you give it to them
(aka their food...in this case, the food of friendship),
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.¨
Here´s to MANY good things!!