Flashback Friday Moment of The Week: 10/24/2014

by Just Juan

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.

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