When I think about all the preparations that went into our special day nine years ago, and how far in advance we let people know with save-the-dates and invitations, it is comical to hear word-of-mouth in the morning that there will be a wedding later in the afternoon.
Before the Gospel came here there really wasn't a "wedding". There was just an agreement between two families and a time where the groom's family tied up pigs and clipped money to stakes on some neutral ground and the bride's family came and collected their share of the loot. The bride and groom were no where to be seen. It really wasn't about them anyway. It was simply an exchange of goods.
Now the people have decided that marital exchanges between believers should be different, so there is not really a focus on the payment, but a focus on bringing the bride into the family line of the husband. But the husband and wife still don't get anywhere near each other because that would just be scandalous. No one talks about the two people getting married and all the preliminary discussions are done in secret to keep from embarrassing everyone with such talk. At the end of the wedding a female member of the groom's family comes and takes the wife by the hand and leads her to where his family is sitting to symbolize that she is now leaving her family to join his.
For me, the wedding guest, it meant a lot of garden work. The ladies told me that there would be a mumu (cooking a lot of food in the ground with hot stones) after the ceremony, so I had to quickly get to work to add my gift to the feast. I spent the afternoon in the garden digging out root vegetables, and by the time I had an appropriate amount for a village feast (a huge bag full) I was sweaty and covered in mud. When John Michael came out we laughed about how I dressed for our special day…and how great I smelled too. We carried food up the very muddy trail and came home while it cooked all day in the ground. At about 5:30 in the evening our neighbors came to tell us it was time to go back up the same muddy trail to witness this wedding.
It was a sweet and fun time for the whole village and at the end we forced the bride and groom to take a picture with us as we explained to them that we thought it was special that they got married on our anniversary (we first had to explain what an anniversary is). They were totally embarrassed but humored us anyway by actually standing next to each other in the picture with us.
As we walked back down the sloppy trail to our house in the rain with our three kids I couldn't help but smile at where our nine years together has lead us. I quietly thanked the Lord that He put a call and dream in both of our hearts and allowed us to experience such a unique and special life together. And I thanked Him for allowing us to celebrate the day He made as a family by witnessing Him create a new Hewa family.
I think this has been my favorite anniversary yet.