Her (Coffee) Cup Overflows
PHOTO + STORY BY TALOR MAY
Coffee’s been a friend of mine for a long time now. It fascinated me first in high school when I learned that walking up to my classroom before the morning bell rang with a Starbucks cup in hand made me look infinitely cooler than I did without one. It wove it’s way deeper into my life in college when free WiFi and a close proximity of caffeine became the backdrop for many treasured memories with many treasured people. Then it became my normal; a job as a barista turned into a sort of belonging to a group of people who know way too much about little beans that turn into steamy cups of shared goodness. That’s how I met Asmita. I was in a strange, new place so naturally, all I knew to do was search for the nearest cafe.
She was beaming from the start. I didn’t know her yet but by the sweet, rosy rouge in her cheeks and the gleam in her smile I knew we shared something deep: a love and yearning for our Savior, Jesus. It helped too, that we were both a part of this little coffee niche. Though we’ve walked roads worlds away, we had something to share.
I walked up, heard the familiar sounds of burr grinders and milk steaming, and she greeted me before I was even through the door. After taking my order and sincerely inquiring about my life, I noticed her tattoo. On her arm were little ink stains of different coffee gadgets: a grinder, a portafilter, and a coffee cup. Thinking little of it, I asked her about it and she told me she found Jesus because of coffee.
Asmita comes from a Brahmin family, the highest, most religiously prestigious caste in Nepal. Her father left when she was only eight years old to join in the political reverie of Nepal. “He left during the civil war, it’s been fourteen years,” she said matter-of-factly.
We sat across a table from each other and she told me how she came to know this Savior. While she recounted her life she expressed that she never thought she’d be here, completely free and completely at peace. For a millennial female living in Nepal life usually pans out in a particular way: believing what tradition tells you to believe, marrying into your own caste, and providing for your family. “In Nepali culture, you raise kids and once the kids make money, the parents become dependent on the kids,” she told me.
But God, the one true God, had other plans. He would find His way into Asmita’s heart and fill it so that it would spill out onto the world around her.
He was always present, she now recalls. But the road to Jesus became clear to her when she started working in a cafe in Kathmandu. While attending a youth center after high school, an American who helped her to learn English announced they were opening a coffee shop and needed baristas. Asmita laughed a bit as she thinks about the years that have passed, “At that point I was like, ‘what is a barista?!’”
As the years passed she would grow to understand what a barista was and fall in love with what baristas do: make coffee and connect with people. After interviewing and winning them over with her enthusiasm and wildly loving demeanor, the job was hers. It was through her job as a barista that she discovered Jesus in a real and intricate way.
Asmita knew about Christianity — she went to a Christian school at a time when evangelization was very prevalent in Nepal. “But no one ever told me I could actually have a personal relationship with Christ,” she said. A friend who Asmita met through the cafe poured into her regularly and showed her the radiant and abundant path to eternal life.
“Growing up Hindu I used to think: ‘If God is real, then why doesn’t he talk with us? Either he doesn’t care about us, or he doesn’t exist at all,” she shared, “But then I started seeing the difference and Jesus started becoming more real to me. He was no longer just another god who didn’t speak,” she said. I took a sip of my coffee, swallowing tears, thanking God that He could reach so far and so deeply into this sweet woman’s heart.
With elaborate hand gestures and a constant singsong pitch to her voice, she told me about her plans for the future. They were no longer plans dictated by the rigidity of her culture, but by a powerful God who desires to use her and grow her. Her life is committed to people, to serving them (coffee and other things), loving them, and sharing the Light of the World with them. She does take care of her mother, who has also professed Jesus as Lord, and trusts God will provide what He says He will provide.
“If I invest my life in His people, God will take care of me,” she exhaled. “A lot of times God will allow me to carry the pain for other people or even for a whole nation.” But that’s just what Jesus does.
“He also struggled … that’s why he is so full of compassion and mercy for us,” she said with a content grin. “It’s so amazing to see how His will has become my will.”