Hello from Cape Town!

I am officially in Athlone! I live (for now) in the Athlone Youth Center. In the swirl of commotion that my life has become, one thing that stands out is a variety in language.

Most of the staff and people here speak Afrikaans, although a few speak Xhosa. The group that was here last week was from Botswana. I spent the weekend with groups from Germany and Namibia in a part of the country that could speak Sotho, Swana, Zulu, or a whole host of other languages. Thank God that a majority of the people I interact with speak beautiful English, but it is clear that English is not their “Mother Tongue” (a phrase I am absolutely in love with).

 In this beautiful symphony of speech and dialect, I have found it difficult to find a language I truly understand. That is, until mealtime. Then finally, people speak a language I understand: the language of food.

I show love through food. I come from a long line of Jewish women on one side and a long line of masterful cooks on the other. This means that I associate a full belly with love, and a good meal with a good heart. I always try to feed my friends and family, and I know that food is a language that is universal and eternal.

While I live in the Youth Center, the wonderful kitchen staff provides my meals. The incredible women who work here definitely speak the food language. They call to me as I walk up “Hello Miss Abigail” in voices that hold familiarity and tenderness. They pile on the food, and when I turn down a second heaping helping of rice, they scold me and say, “You’ll get thin here if you don’t eat more!”

This past weekend I toured parts of South Africa with choirs from three countries. In total, we spent 27 hours on buses from Thursday to Sunday. And every few hours on the bus, someone would pull out food to share. Branwan shared a banana with me, Randall gave me a piece of Biltong, and the Dean offered me some fresh, warm bread. Uncle Titus always offered me some of whatever he was eating, and I graciously accepted the most delicious muffin I’ve ever eaten.

They are all speaking a language I am fluent in, and a language I hear through my heart. The language of food has helped me understand and feel understood, has allowed me to be emotionally and physically nourished, and has shown me hospitality in new ways. And it has only been a week…

 

Today, I ask you for a prayer (or kind thought) of thanksgiving for all the people in the world feeding others, a prayer of guidance for those being fed, and a prayer of hope for those who go hungry. May we find a way to not only feed people, but to nourish the world.

Advertisements