Today is my 30th birthday. I’ve already posted this year’s season premiere and the final contribution of my series on The 24 to 30. That brings me to a rare 3rd post in a single day…this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the 24th birthday party.
How I first came across this moment? This moment takes me back to October 26, 2008…the Sunday after my 24th birthday. Just a couple of days earlier, I celebrated my 24th birthday by having a birthday dinner with 2 of my co-best friends at Kuni Steakhouse. For me, that was actually quite satisfying. A couple of days later, everybody at church wished me a happy birthday and lent no clue as to what was gonna happen later that afternoon. After church, I headed back home to start on my homework for the week. That’s when I got a call from one of the guys at church. He was like, “Hey, what are you doing right now?” to which I responded “just a little homework”. He then told me to come on down to the multipurpose room on the 2nd floor of my building to take part in a church fellowship. At that point in time, I was so deep into trying to finish out my first graduate degree that I didn’t participate in many after-church fellowships. So with this one being in my building, I figured I’d spare a few moments to show face. When I walked in, I got a big surprise from everybody in attendance. Almost all of the church members were there to celebrate my 24th birthday. They presented me with a marble cake, complete with 24 candles, and we celebrated for about 1 ½ hours.
What it meant to me then? At the time, it meant everything to me. The year before, I celebrated my 23rd birthday in Iraq in my quarters listening to the remnants of consistent indirect fire attacks. Celebrating 24 the way they celebrated with me was a welcomed change. It was the certainly an effective surprise as it was perhaps the first time I got caught off guard since my father’s surprise farewell party 1 ½ years earlier.
What it means to me now? When I look back on it now, that was a major turning point for me during my Tokyo stint. Before that, I just closely associated with my co-best friends. After that, everybody had a place in my circle and I literally became one of the more approachable people at church. Having rededicated my life to the Lord only 20 months earlier, it was a crystal clear sign of things to come for me…in terms of blessings from fellow parishioners.