Starbucks may list it on the menu, but their baristas fail to serve authentic chai.
Chai originated in East Africa. In fact, the Swahili word for tea is chai.
And here, chai is more than tea, spices, sugar, and milk.
A cup of chai. A drink to nourish the soul.
The aroma of the spices wafts, “welcome home.”
Milk strengthens the sick like salve to a wound.
Warmth washes away the worries of the day.
Chai says, “be fully present”.
Never consumed alone, chai is community. Turn off the phone, ignore the distractions. Share a cup and share your heart with the company around.
Chai says,“slow down, breathe”.
Hurry only hurts the soul. Chai provides the anecdote by offering rest.
Chai says, “give thanks”.
For God’s providence in this cup. For the life you are living. For the guests you are visiting.
Next time you order a chai, channel its African roots.
Embrace the culture of chai. There is no such thing as a “to-go” cup because in and of itself, chai says “stay”.
Calm your spirit. Savor the moment. Drink up the blessings.
This morning my alarm clock sounds different from normal. Instead of the beeping, I awake to a choir of tropical birds backed by clanging pots and a crowing rooster. The cries of a baby are the descant; the bass is sustained by a man’s deep voice singing along the path outside my window.
Sitting up in bed enveloped by a mosquito net, my soul smiles as it finally registers: I’m back in Congo.
Arriving late in the night and weary from the 42 hours en route, I must have been delusional, stumbling to bed in the darkness of a home without electricity.
Now in broad daylight using solar powered internet, I open my journal and share my heart.
Contemplating my return, I remember all the illness I suffered last time.
Is it worth it?
With increased danger due to Congo’s elections, I examine the risk.
Is it worth it?
Spending nearly equal time traveling as I will visiting, I wonder,
Is it even worth it?
But something in my gut told me to go.
So, 5 days in transit and a mere 7 days in Beni.
- When the Mamas welcome me with smiles and songs, praising God for bringing me back, I know its worth it.
- When I arrive at UCBC and see the look on students’ faces when they realize I have not forgotten about them, I know its worth it.
- When Bethany and Chelsie (volunteer staff) need assistance with English courses and I can help instruct, I know its worth it.
Anselme replacing guitar strings and receiving drumsticks for the band
- When the chapel band drummer is playing with literal sticks (as in, twigs from the forest) and I surprise him with several pairs of drum sticks, I know its worth it.
- When Anselme shows me the worship band’s guitar with only 5 fraying strings and I’m able to exchange him for a brand new set, I know its worth it.
And even if I accomplish very little by American standards, my presence is accomplishing more than I ever imagined it could.