A week ago it was raining and I was standing in water up to my ankles in my house. Today it poured and thanks to a second roof that went up in 11 days (!!!! such a grace of God thing !!!!) I stood in socks in my house and it wasn’t a problem.
Here when you want to celebrate a home, a blessing, an event you do so in community. You have folks over for juice, tea and coffee (in that order) and celebrate. You don’t wait until everything is in perfect order you want to spend the time being not arranging. I felt it would be important to celebrate the completion of the roofs over our houses and even though it had been “one of those weeks” where half our family (including me) wasn’t feeling great (stomach “bugs”) and we were all a bit tired from the construction I decided to host a Sudanese celebration for the campus. I went around and told everyone around 2 hours before start time (which is not too unusual around here) even though I had been planning it for a week. The festivities started around 3pm (I said) which meant that by 3:30 the kuwaijas (white people) arrived. and around 4 or 4:30 our Sudanese friends. It was great fun. We served, juice, tea, then coffee (I had made one with ginger and one with cinnamon). There were over 30 people that came and there was even a brief rain storm to “bless our house”. The woman sang several songs of blessing over the roof and we talked about what a gift from God it is. The men talked about the rain gutters J– had built from pipes and excitedly thought of ways to collect water from their roofs. Our last guest left around 6:30. It was such a wonderful time we are looking forward to hosting more gatherings on our back porch in the weeks to come.
It was such a learning experience for me hosting an event in another culture. On the way over one of Joyce’s friends (who I just met when she showed up to celebrate with us) commented, “kuwaijas celebrate houses with tea and coffee too?” and Joyce said proudly, “no, just our kuwaijas”. I hope that the time was a blessing but I am so impressed with the woman here that do it all the time. I had such a hard time remembering not ask people what they wanted to drink next but just offer it (in the right order) and when everyone was there I struggled to remember who had been served what and keep cups full. The women here never cease to amaze me they make it look so simple but I felt very busy the whole time. I love love hosting though so I loved every minute of it. Sweet Claire made popcorn for me and Nyadeng and Claudia helped me wash cups to keep up with demand. It really was a special time.
Of course half the men on our team couldn’t sleep from drinking so much caffeine so late in the day…but it was totally worth it.
*all photos compliments of Nyadeng *Bethany Fader*