Saturday, March 31, 2012

Coffee and Friends.


After last year’s elections, Christina returned to South Sudan from Khartoum to find a new life. Even though she spoke no Dinka --having spent the better part of her life in the North-- she knew that her future was here.

So she packed up her children and came.

I first met her last fall, after she stumbled across our church one Sunday. She was overcome with joy to find a Bible believing church just a stone’s throw from her tukel, and has been coming regularly ever since.

Even though our church service is in English and Dinka (not Arabic), she comes for the fellowship and the worship. When I hear her raise her voice in song, I can’t help but delight in her faithfulness.

She’s a joy to know --even if I can’t understand what she’s saying.

Recently, I found the location of her tea shop in town and have been frequenting it regularly. I take anyone who’ll join me so I can practice the handful of Arabic words that she’s taught me, and drink ‘boon’.

‘Boon’ means coffee, which for Sudan means thick, sweet, sirup-y goop that looks like tar but tastes like heaven. She mixes fresh ginger in with the grounds along with a medley of other spices. I asked once which ones, but no one knew the words in English.

I think there might be cinnamon and cardamon, but I’m absolutely sure there’s ginger. Lots of spicy ginger!

My second favorite drink is the hibiscus tea. It’s velvety smooth and refreshing on a hot afternoon. Plus, it’s less likely to keep me up all night!

This week in an effort to say my goodbyes, I went to see Christina one last time. She was surprised to learn that I was leaving but encouraged me to return as soon as possible.

-- “I don’t have plans to come back right away,” I explained, “But if God wills it, I’ll return and speak to you in Arabic.”

She smiled at the thought and said, “Before you go, I want to give you an Arabic name.”
-- “Really?” I asked excitedly, “You have an Arabic name for me?”
-- “Yes. I want to give you the name Nadie (Nah-DEE-Ay).”
-- “I love it!” I said after slowly rolling the sounds around in my mouth. “What does Nadiee mean?”
-- “Nadiee is the name of a beautiful flower.”
-- “Excellent,” I said grinning ear to ear, “Thank you for this honor.”

I don’t know what it is... but when someone names me in a new language, I get excited. It often means I have a new language to learn! And believe me... Sudanese Arabic is high on my lists of languages to learn next.

I’m going to miss the ginger coffee and sticky sweet teas... but I’m going to miss this sweet lady more.