It has taken a month, but I finally scanned pictures from Andy and Emerald's wedding to share with you.
Weddings here are a feast! When guests arrive, the tables are already covered with salads, fresh greens, cheeses, bread, and drinks. (Just for the record, we always stick with juice and water although there is generally a liberal supply of vodka for the men!) After everyone has had time to enjoy the salads, waiters begin bringing out kebabs--chicken, lamb, beef, ground lamb patties, fish, liver, and potato.
At some point the bride and groom arrive with a great deal of fanfare. The groom will have gone to the bride's home earlier in the day along with his family and closest friends. A small band of three or four musicians accompanies him, so the entire neighborhood knows when the bride is about to come out of her house. The entire wedding party then heads out for pictures in a local park, and then on to the "wedding palace", as it is called.
Once they arrive, the party begins. There are many speeches made by friends and family as well as lots of music and dancing. At some point during the evening, each party of guests has a picture made at the head table with the bride and groom. Traditionally, the bride does not speak to guests, but exceptions have been made in the case of ignorant foreigners such as ourselves!
In case you're wondering why the bride isn't wearing white, it is because this wedding was the first of two. Unless there are severe financial problems, there is a "boy wedding", hosted by the groom's family and a "girl wedding", hosted by the bride's family. We attended the bride's wedding since it was held closer to where we live. At the groom's wedding the bride does wear white, with a red ribbon tied around her waist. At that point, they are officially married, the bride takes her husband's name and goes to live with him and his parents.
We've been to several weddings here, but saw yet one more tradition that we hadn't come across before--at least not at a wedding. People here are very superstitious, and there are tons of "lucky" charms ranging from horseshoes to evil eye talismans. There is also a dried flower that some people put in their cars and homes to ward off bad luck. I had been told (but had never seen it done) some people burn this weed and carry the smoke through their house after having visitors. The purpose is to purge out any jealousy that the guests may have harbored after seeing your beautiful home and lovely possessions. After all, the root behind the evil eye in this belief system is jealousy. At any rate, a waiter brought a tray of burning weeds to each table and waved it around the guests. Many people gave tips, I suppose to make the good luck more potent. It was quite bizarre for us foreigners, and especially for the newcomers who weren't familiar with the depth of superstition in this culture.
As always, please lift up Andy and Emerald. It has been such a long time with no sign of any hope or change. It can be a struggle for me to continue praying, yet I'm constantly reminded of Epaphras. Paul told the Philippians that he labored earnestly day and night praying for the young believers there.
Thank you for praying for us and remembering the work here.