One of the greatest things about living on the APNTS campus is our incredible neighbors God has blessed us with. Right now, we're living in a building that houses the 'married without children' couples... Of course, we'll be moving in a few months to the 'married with children' housing, but we're really upset about leaving our neighbors. In July, four out of the twelve of us (6 couples) had birthdays, so everyone else conspired and threw us a surprise birthday party last month. It was great, because even though we live so close to each other, sometimes it takes a special occasion to bring us all together to just relax and forget about school and work for a few hours. Here's a picture from our July birthday party:
(Top row, left to right: Myong Suk (Ruth), Mari, Julie, Allaine, Lot, Mark, Sun Gi (Peter)
Bottom row: Lillian, Andy, Brian, Maria, Junichi)
But in August, Brian was the only person with a birthday, so they decided to do something extra special. There's a Filipino tradition of waking someone up on their birthday by all their friends and family coming to their house at 4:30 in the morning and serenading them with birthday songs. Well, our neighbors are Filipino, Korean, and Japanese, so we decided 6:00 am would be early enough, and I gave promises that Brian would still be asleep at that time. So, on Monday morning at 6am, there was a knock on the door, and Brian awoke to all of our neighbors standing outside our apartment with a guitar, singing birthday songs.
Of course, that was not all... everyone then came in for a pot-luck breakfast, and we ate, laughed, and talked for another few hours.... Here's Brian's version of the morning:
The night of August 19th Julie had not been feeling well. This is typical in our rainy season. For some reason whenever the rain starts her allergies also hit hyperdrive! She said she might not sleep well and might be getting up in the night. This has also been common during her pregnancy so I just agreed. Well sometime in the early morning I woke up and she was up and a light was on. She quickly came and told me 'Go back to sleep!' to which I readily agreed to!
The next thing I remember is being woken up to the sound of guitar and singing. I looked up and all our friends from our building were standing at the door singing birthday songs! Julie came and threw a pair of shorts and tshirt on the bed and said, 'Get dressed and come to the door.' I was, however, trapped because our whole house is one room and my smiling friends had a beeline view to me in the bed. Getting out of bed to put on clothes would be quite revealing and trying to put them on under the covers would be awkward, what with them all singing away and all. The culture here is fairly conservative so I sat up to show I was awake and appreciated the music but didn't know if I should hold a sheet up over myself. All this was compounded by my quite groggy brain which expected another hour of sleep. Finally I managed to slip out of bed and into my clothes while Julie was blocking their views. Thus all relationships were kept intact and I was not 'revealing'!
After about 4 songs and 10 minutes of singing we invited them all into our house and made as much coffee as we could possibly could. Everyone was up a bit earlier than normal! What was so neat is before we ate they all went around and gave a birthday wish, bible verse, and then we prayed together. It is sometimes easy when living in a Christian community to become unintentional about opportunities of speaking our faith to one another. It was really special to me to hear my friends share their prayers and hopes for what God is and will do in my life. After that we ate all the food and sat and talked for two hours. In the middle of a busy semester with lots of obligations it was so nice to just spend time with friends from many different countries. At 8am everyone's eyes were red and we decided to all go back to sleep, since it was a holiday and there were no classes.
This was the most unique birthday morning I can remember and was really special for me.