Yesterday we had the opportunity to celebrate the first birthday party of one of our young women at the RAP (Ratanak Achievement Program) Community home. ''M'' was not aware that we were planning anything for her birthday as one of the other young women had told everyone it was another girl's birthday. So at 6pm, the lights in the main foyer area were turned off and I was whisked into one of our staff offices and before me was the birthday cake lit with candles. Because I was the ''Country Director'' I was told I had to give the cake to 'M'---what a wonderful privilege and honor. So off I went into the main area to a small choir of voices singing ''Happy Birthday to You'' followed by a loud booming sound from the internet with a more jazzy version of Happy Birthday being played over the speakers.
As I walked towards ''M'' she was stunned and somewhat confused but suddenly the light bulb went on and she realized we were celebrating her birthday and then her eyes watered, tears flowing from her eyes and a big smile. As I looked at her, a thought flowed into my mind----had she ever had the privilege to celebrate her birthday like this, did her parents ever treat her special on her birthday. One of the joys of this ministry is being able to restore dignity to these young women, by helping them discover that they are special in God's eyes, that they have value and have worth despite all that they have experienced. In that moment, ''M'' was experiencing that she was not an accident or a mistake, but that she was a person of significance. One whose life was worthy to be celebrated. One whose life mattered.
She prayed before cutting the cake and began passing around slices to each of us. And then came the crazy antics. One of the other young woman ''A'' who had helped organized this birthday event took scoops of icing and began dabbing it on some of the faces of the others and soon enough, we had several young women running around screaming and laughing their heads off chasing each other inside and outside of the home trying to put icing on each other's faces. I was not immuned nor were the rest of our staff from these antics. It was an ''icing fight'' to behold as we looked like we had war paint on our faces and hair. One other young woman decided she was going to hide from the icing fight and sat underneath a table with her phone. She was quickly discovered and like the rest of us, was marked with icing.
It is scenes like this that are precious for in such times, these young women get to laugh, have fun and do things that perhaps they have never experienced. This evening was an opportunity to relish in the joy and laughter that erupted from celebrating a young life whose life was not forgotten by the One who created her with an everlasting love .The One who has a plan and a purpose for her life. The One who daily is demonstrating to us His redemptive powers in the lives of these His precious children.