(CNN) -

In Manchester, New Hampshire, a small community is waiting.

Men and women with ties to South Sudan hope to welcome home a neighbor's wife -- a Christian who made global headlines after a court in Sudan sentenced her to death because of her faith.

The plight of Mariam Yehya Ibrahim, her husband and two young children is a topic of prayer meetings and Sunday sermons, dinner-table talk and pleas to members of Congress from people in a city that has learned to embrace newcomers.

"We can't wait to see them," said Zakaria Aging, 35, who came to the United States from Sudan in 2000. "So many people have been waiting."

It's not clear how long they will wait.

A court in Sudan overturned Ibrahim's death sentence a few weeks ago, but police arrested her again when she tried to leave Sudan to go to the United States. Now she's waiting, too. She's somewhere in Sudan, clutched by the anxiety of an uncertain future.

"I don't really know what's going to happen to us," Ibrahim told CNN by phone. "I just want stability for my family. Right now, it feels like I've gone from one jail cell to another. I'll go wherever we can all be safe and together."

Her ordeal is very much on the minds of people more than 6,000 miles away, in leafy New England.

People in Manchester who speak the Dinka language of South Sudan's major ethnic group dream of the reception they would like to host for her and her husband, Daniel Wani, a U.S. citizen who has lived in Manchester.

"You can't imagine how many people will be at the airport," Aging said.

They talk of dinner parties with spicy South Sudanese stews, thin kisra breads and basboosa semolina cakes for dessert.

They speak of Wani's one-bedroom apartment.

"Probably they'll have to get a bigger place with the kids," said Martin Ali, 43, executive director of the nonprofit South Sudan Community of New Hampshire.

Just a few weeks ago, Ibrahim thought she was free after a higher court ordered her release, but the 27-year-old mother, who gave birth in prison chains, was soon back in police custody.

Police accused her of falsifying travel documents in an attempt to fly to the United States with Wani, their baby girl and toddler son. They were taken into custody at the airport in the capital, Khartoum.

Amid concerns for Ibrahim's safety, the family has taken refuge in a safe house.

On Monday, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman reiterated that the family has the necessary documents to travel to the United States.

"We remain in close touch with the Sudanese Foreign Ministry to ensure she and her family will be able to travel as quickly as possible," spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Seeking refuge from peril is a way of life scarred by one of the longest wars in Africa's modern history.

The fighting pitted a government dominated by Arab Muslims in northern Sudan against blacks in the south who followed Christianity and traditional animist religions. War started as Sudan gained its independence from Great Britain in 1956. A first conflict ended in 1972 but flared again within years. Civil war in Sudan killed nearly 2 million people from 1983 to 2005, when a peace deal silenced the guns. That deal led to a referendum that created South Sudan in 2011 as a nation independent of Sudan.

'Everybody comes following someone else'

Manchester -- with a population of about 110,000, the largest city in northern New England -- has long served as a resettlement site for refugees from dozens of countries who have been scattered throughout the United States by the State Department.

Since the late 1990s, more than 500 people from what is now South Sudan were resettled in New Hampshire -- the majority of them in Manchester, according to refugee advocates. The city was attractive for its availability of jobs and affordable housing.

Newcomers included southern Sudanese children taken as slaves during the country's most recent civil war along with a handful of the thousands of orphaned and displaced children, known as the "Lost Boys," who trekked hundreds of miles to neighboring countries to escape the violence.

"Everybody comes following someone else," said Monyroor Teng, pastor of the Sudanese Evangelical Covenant Church, who arrived in Manchester in 2004 after spending three years as a refugee in Egypt.