Wednesday was Bonifácio’s birthday, and his wife Estefânia knew just how to make it special. Conveniently, Bonifácio had both forgotten that it was his birthday and invited guests for dinner: four Brazilian ladies who are in town for a month to provide training in children’s ministry. Early in the morning, Estefânia presented Bonifácio with a birthday gift of clothes to disguise the fact that she had anything else planned. With her usual flair for hospitality, she prepared a feast for supper, hiding in my room the beautiful birthday cake she had ordered.

When the moment of surprise came, Bonifácio was stunned to see the cake and hear his wife announce that we were gathered to celebrate his birthday. At her cue, I then launched directly into the speech she’d asked me to prepare. I’d interviewed everyone in the family about Bonifácio and compiled their comments into a unified discourse. Amidst their liberal expressions of love, appreciation, and gratitude were interspersed teasing jabs and even a few well-meaning suggestions for personal improvement, which he received in excellent humor, with copious laughter, even giving an eloquent impromptu response. Our guests then presented their own message and gift to Bonifácio.

Though the rest of the evening, we enjoyed sweet fellowship with our company while feasting on the many delicious dishes Estefânia had prepared. Due to the heat typical of this season, we ate outdoors in order to take advantage of the refreshing breeze. Bonifácio cut his cake as we all sang the happy birthday, with a Brazilian twist that our guests taught us. Past our usual bedtime, we were still talking, laughing, and looking at photos together, but eventually we said goodbye and our friends returned to the house where they’re staying.

How I thank God for the love and joy that fills the home where I live!

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