The best Valentine’s Day ever

So as I mentioned in this post I had a pretty epic Valentine’s day this year. February 14th was also Ash Wednesday, i.e. the start of Lent and a day of fasting, so my epic Valentine’s actually took place on the Saturday before.

It began simply enough with the normal activity time in the morning with the kids at the center not far from me and afterwards we had lunch with the community which includes the three other French volunteers. As we were finishing up and sitting around the table, the Congolese brother who lives there said he had to tell us something. He said that he met a man on the street who gave him a letter to give to the white girls he lives with. We immediately started to chastise him and ask why in the world he accepted the letter but once he handed it over we saw that it was actually from our very own Andrew! Well that was a nice thing for him to do but it’s not the first time that he’s written us letters or cards. We all assumed that it would be the same thing. However when we opened the envelope we saw four notes (one for each of us) and a fifth that was blank and said “Clue #1” and was empty. The first note that we had would lead us to the second one hidden somewhere at Bakanja Ville. After we each found our piece we put them in order to figure out the next clue. After some help from Andrew and translation into French we figured out that the next clue meant we had to go in to town to a fabric store that we’ve been to many times. When we arrived the owner recognized us and gave us the clue right away. He was very sweet and excited to be a part of the game.

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Before we left Delph had him put the clue back where it was so that we could take a picture. See if you can find it!

This clue led us to a grocery store nearby where we had to look in the butter section to find our clue. We arrived and I started moving lots of butter around digging through it in search of the clue. Two different employees found my behavior suspicious and asked me what in the world I was doing. I tried to ask them if a white guy had been through there and given them a clue for us. They had no idea what I was talking about but one of them went to get a step stool and started going through the butter for me. He found the clue on top where someone must have moved it after getting their butter.

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Any ideas where this one is leading? What’s that? To get ice cream at a restaurant called Vanille et Chocolat? You’re correct! Away we went to eat some delicious ice cream! The man scooping the ice cream had no idea what we were talking about but the manager did even though she was suspicious of us. She asked for our names to verify that we were the ones and then gave us an envelope to open while we ate our ice cream. Flavors from L-R: mango, pistachio, mango and strawberry. So good!!

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The envelope held pieces of an abstract art piece that Andrew had drawn. At first we were really confused however slowly but surely we figured out that it referenced our time spent housesitting over New Year’s. We weren’t sure what it meant and where we needed to go next. So I texted our friend whose house we were at to see if she knew anything. She was trying to be coy when I asked her if she had talked to Andrew recently but when I asked if she had any suggestions for where we should go next she recommended heading over to her house so back on the road we went!

When we arrived there was a clue on the front door and the family welcomed us in to chat a bit but we had already planned to see them the next day so we didn’t lollygag too long. After lots of discussion we decided that the clue was leading us to a chapel at one of the centers where we have mass together once a week. I wasn’t sure that was it and it’s on the complete other side of town (about a 45 – 60 min drive from where we were) so I asked Delphine to text Andrew to confirm that we were heading in the right direction. He got the message and immediately called us. That was not what he was referencing. After a few hints we figured out that he was referring to a piano at the compound where I live that is in a room that echos like a cathedral. Okay. Quick u-turn and we were headed in the right direction.

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Et voilà! We found the clue and it was the last one leading us back to the center where we had started. Side note: Andrew is an amazing musician and one of my favorite things when he comes to visit is to hear the piano playing while I’m in my office. 

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When we arrived back at the center we found another surprise waiting for us: flowers, a bracelet for each of us with our names on them, a card and Andrew cooking dinner!

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We ended up all cooking dinner together (fettucine alfredo and garlic bread) and Clem had the amazing idea to make bananas foster to go with the chocolate cake that Andrew had made for our dessert.

All of the ladies are agreed – best Valentine’s ever! As a thank you I’m going to post a picture of Andrew looking cool instead of the many other ridiculous photos I have 🙂

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