Well, today I am 18 years old...and 39 days. It's a little late, but here we go....
My family and friends threw me a big surprise party for my 18th birthday.
Just kidding! That would have been a pretty lame blog post.
First, I want to say kudos to my family for actually pulling it off... I usually find things out pretty fast (not always accidentally), but this time, I had no clue! I mean, I knew 18 was a big birthday (especially for Filipinos) and I figured we would do something a little more special. But I was so busy right before Spring Break and I barely even had time to think about it. I thought we would celebrate it at my grandparent's house, maybe with some friends. Boy was I wrong...
The first of many times that someone almost gave it away was at a friend's house the first night. His grandma was there, and when she greeted me she said, "So I hear you have a big birthday coming up, right?" I wondered how she knew.
When we went to my grandparents' place the next day, my dad asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday. He mentioned that the Old Spaghetti Factory (one of my favourite restaurants) had just opened in Kelowna. My mom said there was go-karts too. All very good decoys, of course.
The next day was Sabbath, and instead of going to my grandparents' church we went to another area church to be with some friends we hadn't seen in a while. We went to their house afterwards for lunch. Though I suspected we might do something special there, we just had a very nice visit. Before we left the father said something about seeing me later in the week (I think he was supposed to), and everyone kind of looked at him funny (because he didn't say it quite right), but I didn't think twice (I did think once, however). Afterwards, I wanted to drop off a gift for an old friend who lived close by. I knew my friend wasn't home, but when we asked where her mom was, her dad said, "Oh, she went into Armstrong to see you and give you a card from Claire. I think she's going to the church...or to your grandparents' house." I didn't know until later that he almost gave it away without realizing it.
My family had to change their plan from plan 1 to plan 2 to plan 3 each time something like this happened. Finally, this is how it turned out...it was quite elaborate.
When we came back to my grandparents' place, they told us they had to go to a "church planning meeting." My mom had to go too because there was a practice right after (for the Filipino ladies, I assumed). I wanted to see one of those ladies, and I also needed to deliver some Help in Daily Living DVDs to her. So, my dad and I waited at the house until my grandparents called to let us know that the meeting was almost over. It was almost 7 o'clock, and as we waited I asked my dad when we were going to eat. He responded, "I'm sure Grandma's making something."
Finally the call came. My dad mentioned something on the phone about eating at A&W. When we got to the church, I was not surprised to see all the cars in the parking lot. It was quiet because the meeting wasn't over yet, and we headed downstairs. When I turned the corner, in the distance I could see some people sitting against the back wall in the dim light, and I thought, "Who are they?" I didn't even notice all the balloons and the tables of food. As I got closer, someone struck a chord on the piano, and everyone sang "Happy Birthday" as I came in. I didn't know what to do; I just stood there, awkwardly holding the DVDs and my purse. As I scanned across the fellowship room, full of around 80 people, I saw many friends I hadn't seen in a long time and thought I wouldn't have the chance to see. I cried. As soon as the song was over, Susan and Denis (my violin teachers) played a wonderful Happy Birthday duet. Then we dived into the food: pansit (Filipino noodles), pansit, and more pansit, plus some other goodies (my mom had asked a bunch of ladies to make my favourite food).
When everyone was mostly done eating (except me), the program started. My mom went up front and explained how big someone's 18th birthday is in the Philippines. For hers, she had to dress in a big ball gown and dance with 18 girls (in ball gowns) and 18 boys (not in ball gowns), who all gave her roses. We did the "tamed down" version. 18 instrumental family or friends in my life got up front to say a few words to me, and then they gave me a rose. Some were letters sent by family and friends who could not come, and my dad picked appropriate people to read them to me. There were special music numbers scattered throughout, as well.
Afterwards, my dad led out in the slideshow. It was more like a game show. He started at the "beginning" with pictures of himself when he was a little boy...and then went into random pictures of myself growing up, and the audience had to guess what my "career choice" was based on what I was doing in the picture, and then the "real career choice" would be displayed on the screen. All good guesses were rewarded with a chocolate bar. If you know my dad, you can imagine what sort of "real career choices" he came up with. The second half of the slideshow was entitled "Love." Again, if you know my dad, you can only imagine what that was like. Basically, there were a bunch of pictures of me and some guy friends throughout my life, starting with a little friend I had when I was 4 or 5 in Australia, who he deemed my "first love." One section of these pictures were with guys who had been "picked out" by others for me, and as we went through them, my dad told everyone to cheer for the one they thought was the best. It was all very hilarious (and a big joke, too, mind you).
My parents had asked everyone in the invitations not to bring gifts, but instead to bring a donation towards ARISE costs, where I will be attending this fall. God really blessed, and we raised a good amount. I still have quite a ways to go, however. Please pray that I will be able to raise the amount that is left, in God's time. Your prayers and support are appreciated!
Well, I hope you enjoyed this long epistle about my birthday party. Thank you, friends and family, for coming and making it a blast!