Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sweet Sixteen

It was my sixteenth birthday.

My family lived in North Carolina at the time, and we were struggling financially. I certainly didn't expect a car for my birthday. Matter of fact, my dad had always said he wouldn't buy us a car because we needed to learn responsibility by buying our own car.

So, for my birthday all I asked for was a phone. No, not a cell phone. A corded, plug it in the wall, basic phone. I thought that would be inexpensive enough even in our current money crisis. Turns out I was wrong.

But I got something much more valuable instead.

After school, I came into my room and found a vase of roses and a note. The roses were not store bought roses. These were his special roses that he grew himself. Oh, how he pampered and babied those roses! But he cut every single one of them to give to me. The note? It simply read, "I wish I could give you what you wanted for your birthday. I hope these roses will do. I love you."

Those roses were better than any phone. They were better than any car! He couldn't replace those roses. Those were his pride and joy... and yet here they were, cut, and in a vase... for me.

So what could have been a disastrous sweet sixteenth birthday turned out to be the memory of a lifetime. My Daddy loved me and he proved he would give me the world if he could.

Hebrews 13:5 "Let your conversation be without covetousness;
and be content with such things as ye have:
for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

But now I sort of understand more of how my Dad must have felt. I bet he had a few tears in his eyes as he wrote that note. I have recently shed those same tears myself...

May 1st... My oldest child's sixteenth birthday.

Ben getting baptized in 2014

Now, you have to understand, different fields have different special birthday years. Some celebrate the fifteenth birthday as the coming of age year. Some fields don't have a special birth year at all because they don't even know when their birthday is. Our field doesn't really seem to have a special birthday year, but we had a dilemma. Ben was thirteen years old when we came to the field. He knew the sixteenth birthday was supposed to be special for Americans. And besides that, all his friends had turned sixteen in the States. They talked about getting their license and getting their cars. They talked about the birthday party or special birthday trip. 

Always ready to play and make you laugh

So Ben began asking about what special things were going to transpire for his sweet sixteenth birthday.

So how do you make the sixteenth birthday special in a third world country?!!! No license. No car. I must admit there is a little sadness in not being able to teach your child the typical things that go on in America, like driving a car. But the Lord sees those sacrifices, too.

Matthew 19:29 "And every one that hath forsaken houses,
or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife,
or children, or lands, for my name's sake,
shall receive an hundredfold,
and shall inherit everlasting life."

Ben is getting to be a pretty great cook!

We have never really been ones to sit around and mope about what we don't have. So we began working with what we do have. Well, just as we were beginning to formulate a really good plan... another problem got thrown in the mix.

A week before his birthday, the country was hit by a major earthquake. Most stores were closed down for a few weeks. That means our gift idea would be late. No travelling possible. That means our trip idea wasn't possible. And everyone went into survival mode and rescue, recovery, and rebuild mode. No special birthday party. I could tell he was a little disappointed, but he didn't say much. He knew there was nothing we could do about the situation. He could also tell it bothered us greatly that we couldn't do what we were planning. (Kind of reminds me of the roses I found on my dresser.)

Helping with earthquake relief

So his sixteenth birthday came and went without much fuss. I was able to at least make him a homemade ice cream cake that he wanted and his friend got to spend the night. Ben just kind of rolled with the punches. Two weeks after his birthday, we were finally able to get his special birthday present because the shop finally opened up again.

No car, of course!

Both these boys are 16 yo.

When we first started having children, I always dreaded the day the kids would get their licenses and start driving. But no.

For his sixteenth birthday he got something much more frightening for this poor Mommy's heart!

To be continued...

by Charity, Southern Asia


Rachel said...

You have said so much of the feeling I have faced. My son just turned 16 last month.
Please hurry and finish this article!

Tori Leslie said...

I've enjoyed reading about Ben's birthday and your struggles. Looking forward to hearing how it ended.

Tori Leslie said...

I've enjoyed reading about Ben's birthday and your struggles. Looking forward to hearing how it ended.

Lou Ann Keiser said...

To be continued???? I am still crying over the roses. I guess I'll have to wait . . . . and wait. LOVED this!

Jen Bauer said...

Agh! You left us in suspense?!!

Loved the story about the roses!


Charity said...

Sorry to leave you all with such a vicious cliffhanger. I want to take my time and make sure I word the next part just right. It's such a personal, precious part... I want to do it right. Can you forgive my suspenseful ending for one week? ;-)