Last Thursday evening, Jeff and I attended an end-of-the-year potluck supper for our life group. We knew it would be fun--life group get-togethers always are--but we had no idea just how fun it would turn out to be.
It started out pretty much as expected. We arrived, we chatted, we laughed, and once everyone had arrived, we ate. While we ate, we chatted and laughed some more. After dinner, I was not surprised that those who finished first took their own dishes to the kitchen and then returned for the dishes of those who finished later. As one of the last to finish (I was talking too much), I was mildly surprised that two different people almost took my plate before I had finished. Strange, but I chalked it up to overeagerness to be helpful. It turns out that I should have chalked it up to a determination to keep me out of the kitchen!
Jeff finished even later than I did (he had seconds) and made it to the kitchen without being intercepted. I found out later that after he was already in the kitchen, across the room from the door, placing his dishes by the sink, he noticed that the two or three ladies who were in there at the time were looking at him in horror. At the same time, he noticed the cakes on the counter. He quickly whipped his head around in the other direction and said something along the lines of, "I didn't see anything!" He said later that he was surprised that he didn't turn from the sink to see the ladies lined up in front of the counter; they said later that they were frozen in shock and couldn't think quickly enough what to do.
Not too long after that, our hostess stood up to make a short speech. In it, she revealed that our life group had been talking about us behind our backs--planning a surprise baby shower! Then the games began. First up was a "descrambling" game. The group was divided into two teams, each of which was shown a scrambled word at the same time. The first team to descramble the word got a point. The words all were pregnancy- or baby-related, like "high chair" or "diapers." My team won by a huge margin.
Then there were races. For one, a couple from each team had to put a cloth diaper on a baby doll--using only one hand each. They were judged both on time and on how well the diaper was on. Other than banging the doll's head against the table--which both teams did at some point--both teams did well. There also was the "Who can drink a bottle of juice fastest?" race (we forgot to specify that it was against the rules to untwist the cap and guzzle it, so that's what the winner eventually did) and the hanging baby clothes race, in which a representative of each team had to multitask by simultaneously holding the baby, hanging baby clothes on a clothes line, and telling a story into a mobile phone. That one was funny because of the stories people came up with and the poor little baby doll who ended up with her face in a man's armpit while he held her in a basket.
After that, it was time for gifts. Wow, what a haul!
I don't know if you can see everything clearly in the picture, so let me tell you what's in there: We have three stuffed animals, massage oil (a gift for Jeff that I'm going to appreciate greatly!), a onesie/skirt set, a short set, a hooded winter suit with cool foldover arms and legs, and more assorted onesies and sleepers. We also have a wonderful variety of bibs, diaper covers, wash/burp cloths, a navel protector, and onesies that were embroidered just for us by one of our friends. And the circle pattern that you see peeping through in the middle is a tiny bit of the nursing cover that will be so incredibly useful as I learn to nurse modestly in public (think 14+ hours in airplanes and airports on the trip to Cairo). Oh, and I know you probably can't see this in the picture: there's also a bouncy seat. It's up at the top, at the corner of the "Drool is Cool" bib and the nursing cover. Okay, so it's just a picture in the picture, but the APO mail system has been slow lately, so the real thing didn't quite make it here in time for the shower. But from the picture, I think Alexa is going to enjoy it. And I like the looks of it--it has safari-type animals on it, sort of an unofficial, accidental theme in the bedding and such that we've picked out. (We didn't pick a whole matching set, just some separate sheets, blankets, and a mobile, but it definitely is turning out to be a safari theme.)
We have great friends, don't we?
After the gifts, we had a time of prayer. Our group prayed for us, for Alexa, and for the two couples in our group who will be leaving Cairo permanently this summer. That part was bittersweet--life as an expat has many more good-byes than life back in the States had. But at the same time, we would never have met all these wonderful people had we stayed at home, and the joy of the relationships definitely outweighs the sadness of the good-byes. It's even possible that we'll see one of the couples again.
After this more serious time, we got back to the lighthearted bits--it was time for cake. Two of them, to be precise. And they both tasted as wonderful as they look. You can't really tell from the pictures how large they were--we ended up taking home half of the chocolate one, at the insistence of the person who brought it. Only about 25% of the white one was eaten that night--it was huge--and the rest was divvied up among all the guests. We took home a paper-plateful of it, too. Both remained tasty over the next several days.
After cake, everyone started winding down. It was getting late; I wasn't the only one whose eyelids started drifting downward. After the other guests had left, our host and hostess kindly walked with Jeff and me back to our place--we live maybe 2 blocks from them--to help us carry our cake, presents, and dishes.
It was a good night. The potluck part was fun; the shower was hilarious. And most importantly, it was a time of great fellowship with great friends.