Sunday, May 1, 2011

Table for Four.

Yesterday, shortly after landing, figuring out my visa-fiasco, and doing a bit of grocery shopping, Sabet, Albino, Awad, and I decided to have lunch.

Pulling up next to a place that Sabet said had ‘the best beans in town’, reminded me instantly of Tijuana. I don’t know why. Flash backs of crispy fish tacos sprang to mind and I started drooling.

But this place wasn’t Mexican. It was Ethiopian.

“What would Ethiopian beans taste like?” I wondered. I guess it was time to find out.

The shop was slow, as it was two in the afternoon. The lunch crowd had apparently come and gone... or quite simply had never come. We were the only customers.

Empty tables --decorated with salt trays, toothpick dispensers, and flies-- were scattered randomly around the room. On the left, five men sat in a semi-circle next to an un-used outdoor grill; they talked softly as we washed our hands in the buckets provided. Behind them, a number of large aluminum pots sat humming over a low heat.

In the back of the main room, a young man rested obliquely in a white plastic chair --one leg up on the handle. Apparently, it was his job to guard the icebox.

Choosing a lop-sided table to his right, Albino and I sat down, whereas Awad and Sabet sauntered over to a man-behind-the-desk; they had to order.

After discussing dishes and prices, Sabet pulled out some money.

-- Albino, are they ordering for us?
-- Yes, here you pay. Then you eat.
-- Oh. So they don’t have menus.
-- No.

Albino is a man of few words, and I think he had just run out.

He’s the kind of son-in-law every mother dreams of-- Kind, patient and great with kids. (He should be though.... as he has so many, I’ve lost count.) He has done a number of jobs for In Deed and Truth over the years. Right now, he translates at church and does the odd job around the compound. His English is excellent.

Once the order was paid for, Sabet and Awad made it back to the table. We had the right to a soda. What kind did I want?

The options were: apple flavored sugar water, mango flavored sugar water, a cola imitation or Vims. Sabet said Vims was similar to Dr. Pepper.

I chose the mango flavored sugar water, and smiled at the first sip. It definitely tasted like mango.... and it was cold.  --So double bonus!

Lunch was served family-style. 

We had yellow sop, brown sop, chunks of fatty meat and chopped, raw onions. In the center, a fried omelette swam in a half-inch vat of oil. And then there was bread... lots of bread as silverware.

We prayed, licked our lips, and dug in.

The yellow sop turned out to be lentils, and the brown was pinto beans -- neither of which was salted. In fact, none of it was salted or seasoned, so I added the white gold liberally. It was palatable after that.

I think I like the goat meat the most. Despite seeing its other half still hanging in the middle of the room, I have to admit it was tasty. But then again, I don’t mind bones and gristle.

Once we had downed our oily eggs and salted sop, and nibbled all the meat off the bone chunks, it was time to go. Washing our hands, we made our way back to the truck. It was time for the ride home.

I wish I could describe the road from Rumbek to Tonj but I don’t remember much. By then, I was doggedly tired; I fell asleep a few miles into it.
When we hit a large rock... checking if tires were still good.
The seventy-five mile trek normally takes five hours, but they have been fixing the road. The potholes that usually make it unbearable have been filled in... all but a few miles of it. However, those last few miles sure give you a beating!
Mounds of dirt they are using to fix road.
Remarkably, it only took us 2h30 to return.

Now, I’m home.

While I was away, I’m told that the antenatal program... and the clinic, had a doozy of a month. There were 15 births -- three of which died-- two women came in with eclampsia and one woman with a stillbirth.

Yesterday, one baby was born with a crushed skull. She was the same woman who was hit by a car four months ago and had a broken leg. There is some confusion as to whether or not the baby’s death could be due to the car accident. Read her story here and pray for all involved.

I also learned that a young boy died after being bit by a poisonous snake, and a girl of 15 was diagnosed with a imperforate vagina!

Oh... and Mary, the woman who got the mastectomy, delivered a healthy boy at home. They named him Thomas (after Dr. Tom who did the surgery)! Woohoo!

Please pray for all these strange cases. Please pray for all the heartaches involved. Also, lift up the staff, and pray for strength in these coming weeks.

Pray for me too... pray for wisdom in how to move forward in evangelism and service to this community. Thanks.