Saturday, June 5, 2010
That’s what today was for me and some eighty folks who were able to attend my 50th birthday celebration held in Fellowship Hall of Memorial Park Church, Pittsburgh, PA.
Ann Thompson and Susie McCabe prepared a delightful program with refreshments provided by the renowned hospitality committee led by Shirley Sedlacek. Pastor Kevin Gourley brought us together reminding us of saints who have served in Memorial Park years gone by (Keith Brown, Dick Todd, Jay Passavant, Bobbie and George Anderson…) and then we began our walk with testimonies by friends who knew me when I was a little child and progressively through the decades. My mother’s name was mentioned frequently as was my father’s, which served to remind us all of the bountiful legacy I have inherited. My pastor from my junior high years until this day, Jay Passavant was present to add his perspective as were friends from my days in Youth Group (Betsy Meister Gourley). Chuck and Henri Doren brought a fresh perspective as they shared about the mutually beneficial investment short term missions teams have made in their partnership with me from 1999 until now. Charlie Beck clarified how I spell WORK TEAMS in capital letters, with an emphasis on WORK! My very own niece, Shannon Rose, shared as did Valerie and Victor and finally Alfredo which you will note in the video clip.
As I sat and looked at the faces of so many loved ones, tears filled my eyes and I thanked the Lord profusely for the privilege of being loved so unconditionally while present as well as far away. I observed how people lingered long after the formal program ended, just enjoying visiting dear brothers and sisters whose paths they haven’t crossed in a long time. There are few things I enjoy as much as watching people relate deeply and relating deeply to others myself. I watched my children be embraced by folks who spoke of having held them as babies and played with them on some long ago missions trip. They heard people speak endearingly of their Nana Anderson whom they long to meet in heaven. Valerie was amazed when one woman said: Your Nana Bobbie Anderson would have cried with joy had she seen you on stage speaking of your mom and singing her Happy birthday in Spanish, at which point, another woman chimed in: But dear Valerie, she is beaming with joy as she watches from the cloud of witnesses. Amen and amen.
This is the part of my world that my children and husband only taste and see when they are in Pittsburgh. These funny stories, warm embraces (Valerie observed that Americans hug when they greet versus Latins who kiss on the cheek), and reminiscing fill out what Alfredo calls those “30 years” he never knew me (we met when I was 30). I am known in Latin America from 22 years on so people in Pittsburgh have a historical perspective of my roots, my family and my growing up years which I savor each trip north. I have relished the opportunity to thoughtfully read through the cards and notes that were sent, appreciating the parenthesis people made in their lives to give expression to their love and affection for me.
My heart is filled to overflowing or as Victor would say: My love buckets are full. Indeed, mine are full for the next 50 years!
I invite you to enjoy this brief walk down memory lane by clicking on this link which will take you to a short video clip of the day’s events.