“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

One ordinary day, several volunteers and staff started getting messages from Mariam, a young Afghan woman we’ve known since 2021. It turned out that Mariam wanted to throw a surprise birthday celebration for VOR staff member Anna! For two years and counting, Anna journeyed closely with Mariam through some very challenging seasons soaked in tears, heartbreak, and prayer. Now that Anna’s birthday was around the corner, Mariam decided that it was now her turn to bless this angel in her life. And of course we all concurred, while also curious about how to support Mariam in her plan.

The special day arrived. I (one of the VOR staff) walked around the park at the “appointed” time. Lo and behold, I saw two picnic tables beautifully decorated and a spread of refreshments and snacks, two other Afghan ladies, and the eight young kids excited to bless our beloved Anna. Soon, everyone arrived and gathered around the birthday cake, bearing gifts of (more) food, presents, and most of all, PRESENCE. For two hours, the heavy burdens of single motherhood, future uncertainties, jobs and childcare…melted into the air as we celebrated Anna (and Mariam on the successful party!) and had a wonderful time out together as fellow human beings

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”