Saturday, July 18, 2009
For those of you who receive Randy's newsletter, you know that "Allen" has been one of our closest friends during our six years in Central Asia. We have shared holidays together, both ours and theirs. We have shared many meals together along with a lot of laughter. We have shared our faith, with no visible results. For a long time, we have looked forward to sharing Allen's wedding day. In the current economy, it is difficult to get married, so it has been a long wait. At last, the day finally came!
Allen and his wife are distant relatives, which is common. Theirs is an arranged marriage, worked out by the parents, which is also quite common. They are living with his mother and grandmother, again very common. His new wife has lived in Russia for some time, so she will be facing more than just the usual adjustment to life with a new husband and a new mother.
As always, there was quite a spread on the tables. I don't know if someone from the family warned our waiters, but they knew that we wouldn't be drinking any alcohol. They cleared away the shot glasses and most of the bottles for us so we could enjoy our cherry juice without any unnecessary dishes cluttering up our table.
Kevin and Randy took this close-up of the relish tray for a reason. Can you see the smiley face pickle?
Since this wedding was a special one for us, we stayed almost until the end. One of the most interesting parts of a local wedding is the very last course of the meal. The emcee announces, "Dear guests, the pilaf has come to our gathering!" The lights are dimmed down to just candles, and a young couple dressed in traditional clothing brings in a large dish of flaming pilaf. They set it down in front of the bride and groom, then perform a traditional dance.
Rice pilaf with chestnuts, raisins, dried fruits, and lamb, all dripping with melted butter, is the ultimate in hospitality. The more butter, the better. Ours was absolutely swimming in butter, and it was delicious!
No eastern wedding would be considered complete without live music and dancing. This wedding had mostly traditional dancing with a few "youth dances" thrown in. The poor guy singing for the youth dance obviously didn't know enough English to understand himself, or he would never have sung what he did! Here is a group of women dancing in the more traditional style.
A couple of weeks after the wedding, I got a late night phone call from Allen's mother. She was very excited and it took me a minute to understand everything she was saying, but it turns out that many families have a private party the day after the wedding. They hadn't been able to do that, so they were having a delayed "See the Bride Party". No men allowed. She was very clear that only Julie and I could go. It's a chance for close friends and family to--see the bride. I'm curious about this traditional and look forward to finding out more about it, but Julie and I did go to see the bride! I wasn't sure what we were getting into, but it turned out to be a luncheon party. Of course, we ate; we danced, because you can't be happy and not dance here. Then, to my horror, we had to make speeches for a video!! I wasn't totally unprepared, because this culture is into speaking blessings. I just wasn't expecting a video. I had spent some time earlier in the day reading over 1 Corinthians 13 in the local language so that I could share some of what Scripture says about real love. Please pray that the few words that I said would take root, that Allen and his bride would realize their need for the only true God who can give them love that never fails.
Julie and me at the See the Bride Party with Allen's aunt and cousin