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New Years Eve Wasn’t What I Had Expected!

Sparkling stars shimmered in the light, and tinsel garland hung from everything. It would be weeks before we’d be able to clean up all the glitter that was like a magical blanket spread all over the house. Glitter is the kind of magic that Eric hates.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

We had spent all week getting ready for our New Years party. Something inside of me just wanted to spoil everyone that was coming with the most amazing party they had ever seen. We were so excited to celebrate with our friends, that all the time, all the money and all the hard work didn’t even bother us because we just kept telling each other how excited and grateful everyone would be.

Whisking, and mixing, the girls and I had created a feast to be proud of! The Passionfruit cheesecake was glazed to perfection as it sat covered in the fridge.

We had cut fresh limes which we used to decorate the lime cheesecake and then drizzled it with a light fresh lime glaze. The cherries and whip cream were overflowing from their black forest cake holders which surrounded them and the lemon mouse bars were sinfully delicious.

On top of all that was meatballs, spanakopitas, pinwheels, crackers, cheese olives and too many other things to even name. Probably my favourite treat was the ombre coloured jello made up of 4 kinds of tropical flavours and layered perfectly in the plastic champagne glasses I found hiding in the back corner of a Chinese shop earlier in the week.

We had a wishing tree, gifts for everyone, and hundreds of balloons, a picture wall and so many fun games we probably wouldn’t even be able to play them all. I was so excited. I had high expectations for the evening.

When the time for the party finally arrived Teenagers, Young adults and adults all filled our home to bursting. I had invited 30 people and more than 40 showed up. The tables were piled so high with food I was certain that we would never be able to eat it all.

The party began and even though we all barely fit inside the house it was the perfect group for some of the big games I had planned. After about an hour of games, Eric and I did a short devotional together and gave everyone their gifs. The gifts were books of scriptures that I invited them to write in to use as a sort of journal for the upcoming year. We had searched all over town for the books and had finally found someone willing to sell us all that they had just for the activity.

I invited everyone to eat and then was just getting ready to initiate the 2nd round of games when suddenly, and completely unexpectedly 22 of my 30 guests stood up and told me that they had to leave. I thought maybe it was a joke but I was wrong.

Everyone had other parties that they wanted to attend.

I looked at my basket of unopened prizes and my long list of games that I was so excited to play. I couldn’t help but notice the house which was a total disaster and the piles and piles of empty plates and tables of food. I was shocked that the food had been eaten so quickly.

The 22 people who were going were the best friends I had in Vanuatu. Each one was very special to me, and this party was my gift to them, were they really all just going to leave me like this?

Suddenly a story came to my head, and brought more clarity meaning than ever before:

Matthew 22:1-14

And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,

2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.

5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:

6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.

9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.

10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:

12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

I wanted to run into my room and cry.  Cry in anger and frustration and disappointment. I wanted to shake everyone and tell them that it wasn’t okay to just leave like this. I wanted to tell the 8 guests that were staying to leave and go home because I was just going to go to bed and hide under my covers. The truth was, I barely knew most of the 8 guests that were staying. They were all people who had been invited at the last minute or by someone else and I really wasn’t close with any of them. I’m sure they would have understood if I told them that the party was ending.

I felt a voice whisper softly to my heart but I didn’t want to listen to it. I didn’t want to listen because I was so sad. But the voice came again and softly reminded me: “Rebecca, look around you- you have your family and 8 beautiful, good people who could use your love and your friendship. Don’t give up because of choices other people are making, make your own choices and enjoy your night just as you planned.” I knew it was the voice of God trying to reason with me.

I was bitter, and I didn’t want to be reasoned with, but He was right (as always). And so I decided to keep going. I played every game and sang every song, and gave out every prize and enjoyed every minute of our celebrations. In fact we ended up having so much fun that we didn’t even realise it when midnight came and went. and before you knew it it was 3:00am and I was sending everyone to bed.

Eric was exhausted, but he kissed me as he said that it was the best party we’ve ever had and thank you so much for throwing it.

That’s my lesson for tonight. Just be willing to let it go. Let go of all the things you can’t control, all the things that didn’t turn out the way you anticipated and just enjoy life as it is.  I am going to slay 2018!

The Colour of Happy Birthday

He goes on unknown hikes, climbs tall coconut trees, catches snakes, makes friends wherever he goes, speaks two languages, is literally brilliant, doesn’t care how old you are, isn’t afraid of anything, loves his family and serves God. Joshua is the most friendly, adventuresome young man I have ever met!

We really wanted to do something special for Joshua Leavitts 17th birthday so we decided to have a colour festival with colours I had brought in my suitcase from Canada. That was a bit harder than it sounds because at EVERY. SINGLE. SECURITY. Check our bags were searched and little chemical samples were taken from the colored powder to make sure they weren’t explosive or dangerous. As if travelling with 9 kids, 24 bags, one stroller and one baby carrier wasn’t hard enough right?! The only reason I even put the colors in my carry on bag in the first place was because we were overweight on all our big bags so I thought I’d be clever and just bring them in our carry ons.

I’m so glad we went to all the trouble because honestly, we had so much fun, it was amazing!!

The only person who couldn’t join us for all the fun was the “recovering from a dog attack” girl.

Even the workers and neighbors that we invited joined us and all the locals on the beach watched in total curiosity and colored powder flew out of our hands and onto each other and the white sand beach. Zaby loved it. He was a wild man running around catching people with his powder. 

Today the color of Happy Birthday was bright and magical!

A Tropical Mothers Day

I woke up to a freshly picked bouquet of Island flowers gathered from my own back yard and given to me by two of my sweet children.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, plant, tree, flower, outdoor and closeupEric brought me breakfast in bed with the tropical milkshake and an omelet. The tropical milkshake tasted a bit odd but I tried to be polite as I drank it. After Eric tried one taste he realized that what he had thought was powdered sugar was actually tapioca starch, and after a good laugh he didn’t make me finish the rest of my drink!

Image may contain: foodThe omelet was delicious however.

It was Sunday today and we were all excited to go to church because Lindy and Dustin were going to be speaking which meant the talks would be in English.

When we got to church we were so surprised to see the way that Mother’s Day was celebrated.

First each mother was given a flower lei.

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people sittingHundreds of hand cut streamers hung down from the ceiling and were blowing in the breeze.Image may contain: one or more people

Signs that said happy Mother’s Day which looked like they were written and decorated by some creative man we’re posted all over with scriptures underneath.No automatic alt text available.

I’m not used to our chapel being decorated in such a festive manner, but the children were delighted with the Decor and it was obvious that the Islanders love their mothers.

After church was over the men brought out a very large cake that said happy Mother’s Day on it. They said they had a special program for just the mothers. As we sat in the hot chapel we had the privilege of having an entire additional Sunday meeting consisting of an opening and closing prayer, an opening and closing hymn, two musical numbers, and four or five talks (all in Bislama of course!)

Image may contain: 3 peopleThe primary came in and sang the most precious song to us, as did the youth.

 

Afterwards there was an announcement that there would be special food for the mothers.

We went outside and we were first served chocolate cake, then we were served lollipops, then we were served chocolate icing on white soda crackers. It was all quite darling.Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people standing

There were ten matching plates and a pile of mismatch dishes were being quickly washed in preparation for the meal, there were also six glass cups. After they were washed a meal was served on them and given to the mothers first. As soon as the meal was eaten one or two of the men would come up, whisk the plate away, wash it under the outside tap and bring it back for someone else to enjoy a meal. Image may contain: 4 people, people standing, child and food

It was kind of strange having everyone stare at you while you ate because they had nothing else to do while they waited for their own plate. After a little while some of the other women who lived nearby saw what was happening and went to their houses & brought their dishes to add to the collection so more people could eat at once. It was very sweet, and although so different than how I normally experience Mother’s Day but was absolutely perfect and something I will NEVER forget!Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting and baby