Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tea With Our Sisters From Africa

Today was a fun and interesting day. I had the opportunity to be a part of an Amani African Tea Party at the Proverbs 31 office.

Little did I know, that drinking tea is a favorite past time, a social etiquette requirement, and a constant staple in the cultures of Africa. I'll never look at my good ol' Southern sweet tea quite the same! Although their version of Chai tea is different than what we would drink, including lots of milk and sugar mixed into each cup, it was neat learning about their special tradition.

Renee Swope, my friend and fellow P31 speaker/writer/radio host, is a member of a church who is hosting an African fashion narrative performance, put on by this sweet group of ladies from Kenya, Nairobi, Sudan and Uganda primarily.

Their performance will include bright, cultural costumes, music, and personal testimonies of victory and redemption over their traumatic and difficult pasts. They flew for 30 hours to get to the US, and are only visiting 5 cities in the US during this tour - what a blessing that they came to my home town of Charlotte NC!

Below is a group picture we took in the lobby of the P31 office this morning as soon as they arrived.

Amani is a project which helps women from war torn, desperate countries to learn valuable skills such as sewing, marketing, and special training so that they can achieve success in their personal lives and help provide for their families. The main center is located in Nairobi, Kenya with sister centers in Rwanda and Burundi.

This project not only helps them improve their sewing and marketing skills, but also bookkeeping, skill training, quality control, management and even design. But most importantly, it fosters women to have faith in God and transcend ethnic differences, and reach out to other women who are hurting. It was really cool to get be a part of this.

As a special gift for them to take away with them as a keepsake from their visit, we each brought a unique tea cup and saucer for them to take away. In their country, tea is a staple of life. It is a social necessity, and something they partake in multiple times each day. If I drank as much tea as they do every day, I would never sleep again due to caffeine overload!

They were so excited about their tea cups - here is a picture of them below. Each one had a bible verse in it for them to take home. Their faces lit up so brightly when they learned that they each got to pick a cup and saucer of their choice. It is so neat to think that within an week or so, one of them will be sipping tea from a little cup I purchased here in Matthews, NC!

They sang some songs for us, and then I got a clip of them trying to teach us Americans how to sing one of their traditional songs. We could do the hand motions a lot better than sing the words!

Here are a few more pictures of our special tea. We ate, we drank, we sang, we laughed, and a few tears were shed. What a great day!

What a blessing to meet these special ladies.

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Joyful said...

What a sweet time you all enjoyed. Being a 'tea granny' myself, I loved the picture of the special cups and saucers - a real treasure for each lady to take home - how very precious and thoughtful.

Just as you were blessed, I'm sure these ladies were blessed by the kindness and love shown to them all.

Joyfully His,

B His Girl said...

Tea for more than two! How wonderful God is. Love the cup idea. My friend gave me a JOY cup for my morning decaf coffee (Dr. said cut the caffine) God had me use it in a post a week ago! I know God will use the tea party to speak to them long after they leave NC. I saw this verse as I was surfing on my PC Study Bible for another verse. It jumped out at me for your post yesterday. I had a similar situation a few years ago. Every day when I picked up my daughter from practice, I had to pray for strength to walk past the evil glances. It hurt when I had done nothing to any of them. I will tell you that God ordered my steps with three of them sometime later. He had me reach out to them about things that happened in their life. God let them see me in a different way. They knew they were wrong. One even apologized and made a point to wish me a Merry Christmas that year. My job was to walk in love with them no matter how they were acting. By His grace and ONLY His grace, I did that. Here is the verse I felt I was to share with you Tracie. 1 Peter 2:12
12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Go God!!! Yeah Team!!!!