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Today is the 21st birthday of our oldest grandchild, Alexandra Leilani Young, born on the island of Maui. Her Hawaiian middle name, which means “Heavenly Flower”, aptly describes her.

My introduction to this lovely girl came a week or so after her birth. Generous friends arranged for me to fly from Uganda to Maui for her birth, but impatient for life, Alex arrived a couple of weeks early and I missed her debut.

Halfway through my trip, it was a shock to hear my name called over the PA system in London’s Heathrow airport. At the information desk, a clerk handed me a ragged slip of paper with a few scribbled lines. “Baby Alexander born this morning. Mother and baby doing well.” A bad phone connection gave me the incorrect gender. When I got the full story, I was delighted to know that I would soon be seeing my granddaughter.

Before flying to Maul, I saw an infectious diseases specialist in Portland. I hadn’t fully recovered from a recent bout of malaria; the doctor eventually diagnosed hepatitis.

“You won’t be able to hold the baby,” he said.

“But I’ve flown half-way around the world to see her,” I exclaimed.

Eventually he reconsidered, saying that if I took extra precautions, she would probably be okay. Not only was she okay, but she thrived!

Today Alex is a bright, loving, compassionate young woman. Laughter lights her face, and words tumble out of her mouth, trying to keep up with her nimble mind. She serves the needs of others in many ways, exemplifying both her middle name, and the words of 2 Corinthians 2:15 (NLT), “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.” 

Happy Birthday, Alex. We love you!