The first of July is Burundi’s Independence Day. It also happens to be Gilbert’s birthday. Gilbert is our “God-send”. Two years ago he was recommended to us as a house-worker from a Belgian family that was leaving the country, but he has become so much more than a “worker” for us. We are thankful for him every day.
While his job entails housecleaning, gardening, laundering and guarding, he is one who always goes the extra mile. In addition to being diligent, hard working and resourceful, Gilbert is also honest, amiable, humble, joyful and has a very big heart for others. He takes care of many of the extra things we need done, like standing in line to buy our electricity each month or going to the local butcher to get bones for the dog’s food or finding sugar for me when there’s a shortage. He fixes things around the house where he knows how, saving us from getting a plumber and translates for us to the night guard who only speaks Kirundi. Daily he endures my poor French speaking and patiently tries to restate things I don’t understand until I get it. He has goals and plans for his future but as is so often the case in poor countries the injustices and realities of poverty are constantly throwing barriers and roadblocks against him. Yet, he maintains his integrity and is a man of his word.
His birthday offered the perfect opportunity to honor him and communicate our deep appreciation for all he does and for who he is. So I offered to make something for him to take to his mid-week church meeting. After discussing the choices (cake, cookies or cupcakes) he decided on cupcakes (easier to transport, closest to a cake). With 40 people in his group I made two batches of cupcakes, more than enough to fit all the letters of “Joyeus Anniversaire Gigi”.
We carefully placed them all in airtight containers, wrapped them in a sack and he strapped them on to his bike for his friends. He was so tickled by the whole thing, as if he was 10, bringing cupcakes to school, instead of 28. It was such a pleasure to make his birthday memorable and honor him among his friends.
Having the privilege of knowing Gilbert and employing him is yet another way we experience God’s provision and care for us daily.