Chloe, on the other hand, was just glad for her pacifier. :)During the ceremony--here the bride was in her white, fur-lined dress.At the reception--the bride changed to the traditional red dress.
It was especially joyful for us because the groom was a young man that we had introduced to our Father almost four years ago, when we first arrived here. He has been a faithful follower, and a passionate share-er of the good news, including leading his bride to the Father more than a year ago. We were excited to learn that the two of them were getting married! They seem to have similar hearts for the Father's work, and that is really exciting.
The wedding ceremony was held at a church building in town. Actually, this was the third ceremony. In this country, a couple is considered married as soon as they obtain the appropriate paperwork from the government; the ceremony(ies) then follow whenever it's convenient. This young couple had already had celebrations in each of their hometowns (several hours away from our city), so this third one was the final one, here in the city where they will now live and work.
We arrived about 10 minutes before the ceremony was supposed to start. Other guests had also arrived and the bride and groom were mingling with them out in the street. We tentatively made our way inside, only to find that we were the first ones in! The building had no indoor heating of any sort, so the doors were thrown open and the cool breezes (it was probably about 40 degrees that day) were flowing in. We sat down and began to talk with other guests, just passing the time. About 40 minutes later, things finally began. There was a pastor, a choir, and then the bride and groom entered. It was a very nice service (what I could understand) filled with lots of Scripture and singing.
After the wedding we all boarded buses that took us to a restaurant for the reception. John had been asked to give a blessing, but as we arrived he could see that it might not work out--all of the tables for the wedding guests were spread out over many private rooms. We took our places and enjoyed talking with our tablemates who were also all friends of the groom.
Late in the meal, the bride and groom came around, as is customary, to drink a toast with us. I raised my glass of Sprite high as we wished them many years of happiness together. But after we were finished toasting, and the bride was called away for some reason, our friend stayed and began to talk with us about the good news. He was first just expressing his gratitude to the Father, and as he began to talk he became quite emotional. Some of his friends, feeling awkward for him, sort of smiled and laughed, proposing another toast, but as he struggled to regain control of his emotions he said, "No, no, I'm not done speaking yet!" He went on to testify to the power of the good news, how much his life has changed, and then began to name people around the table, saying how much he desires for them to know the Father. He was literally pleading with them with tears as he expressed his heart's desire. What an amazing witness!
We finished by taking some pictures with the bride and groom. Here's a glimpse of the day!
Clara Anne was glad she'd worn her cozy hat, sweater, and gloves along with her winter coat, since we were essentially out in the cold for about 2 hours.
All of us together. Congratulations to the happy couple!