One of the best ways to see love in action is on a birthday at the mission home. For each child, employee, and missionary sister, the home goes to great lengths to make a birthday feel special. A birthday usually starts out with a special breakfast, including a fruit display with the child’s name carved from melon, and pineapples in the shape of stars. It continues with an afternoon party on the patio, usually with several song and dance presentations. The presentations stand in the place of gifts, as groups of children get together to ‘present’ something special to the birthday boy or girl.
There is always a special cake, and usually jello as well, and of course there is enough for every child to enjoy. You can be sure that in addition to the party, the birthday boy or girl will receive many beautifully and carefully crafted handmade cards from the other children and missionary sisters. At night the celebrations continue with a smaller dinner in the home where the birthday boy or girl lives.
When many children arrive at the mission home, they have never celebrated a birthday before, and may not even be aware of the date of their birth. When they have their first birthday at the mission home, most are overcome with emotion. Some have shared that their birthdays are an emotional reminder that they no longer live with their biological families, some have shared that it is simply overwhelming to feel so special and loved. We understand that it is probably a combination of many things.
There are so many good reasons to approach birthdays with as much enthusiasm as the missionary sisters do at the mission home. Child psychologists have stated that celebrating birthdays with children can help increase their self-esteem, can establish or strengthen social relationships with friends, can create positive memories, and can help children have a perception of time. But most importantly, and the reasoning the missionary sisters give for their detailed and extensive celebrations, celebrating birthdays helps acknowledge the worth of each child, and is a simple way to express the love and care that the missionary sisters hope that each of the children feel during their time at the home.