It’s time to get blogging again, and this first post is going to be a little unique as we had a special opportunity to help in a beautiful ministry.
First, a little background. Rod and Debbie Wray have a ministry to help couples get married. They often have teams come in, raise funds, and help put on a “mass” wedding. This time they agreed to host a mass wedding for 15 couples if we could get funds raised. Thankfully, the ACC Bluffton Young Group willingly jumped in and provided the funds to help get them married. We (Tim, Joan, Bethany, Hannah, Faith, Mackenson, Berlica, Daniel and Alex Seel, Scott, Mandy, Bri, Chloe, and Gabby Yordy, and myself) had the opportunity to help with the whole ministry.
Sunday afternoon the Reinhards and I headed out to Wrays’ Camp for the evening. We helped pull out totes and filled them with dresses, suits, decorations, shoes, rings, head pieces and everything you need for a wedding. We pulled out 20 plus wedding dresses in a variety of sizes and I’m not sure how many suits. We also helped prepare the turkey meat for sandwiches. We chopped up onions, ground them, and opened many cans of turkey meat. It was all quite a project. After a fabulous supper, we played some volleyball against a bunch of little Haitian girls. This also is a ministry the Wrays do. They teach little Haitian girls in the community to play volleyball, building relationships that way. It was a lot of fun. We called it a night sometime after 10 o’clock. The sunset on the ocean was spectacular! The breeze felt amazing! Monday was going to be a big day.
Monday we were all up bright and early by 6 o’clock to start our day. Around 6:30 we started working on unfolding napkins to wrap the sandwiches in and cutting the bread. After breakfast we made up over 400 sandwiches and headed for the church. Shortly after arriving at the church we started to set things up. We rearranged rooms so we could hang up dresses and suits and kind of made a “dressing room”. 200 cupcakes were iced, and little edible flowers were put on top. A fake cake was decorated and positioned for pictures. Five different photo locations were picked. One of those places was a balloon arch, one was behind the fake wedding cake, and the other three were with trees and plants behind them. Each couple had the chance to get five pictures taken at each of the five different locations. This was so we could do up an album for each couple and hopefully find a good one to put in a frame for them.
After all was set up, it was time to get the couple ready. A few helped get the bride and groom ready. This consisted of fitting the brides in dresses, finding them shoes, and letting them picked a veil and any other accessories needed. The men were fitted in suits and received shoes and ties. After a couple was ready, they came out to the photo locations. Five of us took the photos. This was sometimes very interesting. Culturally, the Haitians don’t smile for pictures. If a camera is pointing at them, the smile vanishes. You see though, we as Americans smile for pictures and especially for wedding pictures we try to get different poses, kisses, heads together, and hugs. So, I don’t know if you can imagine Scott and Mandy Yordy, Tim Reinhard, Daniel Seel, and myself trying to get these not very photogenic people to have these “special” moments in front of a camera. I think Tim, Scott, and Daniel found a new hobby. They really got into this photography thing. =) Anyway, after pictures were taken, the couples sat and waited for the ceremony to begin.
Finally the sixteenth couple was ready. All the couples and their maren and paren lined up to walk in. They had originally planned to play a song for each couple walking in. Thankfully, someone suggested that maybe just play one or two songs for them all to walk in on. We didn’t want the couples to be standing out in the hot sun for so long…and maybe we didn’t want to be doing that, either. It was around one o’clock, and we were all getting pretty hungry and tired. So, the beautiful couples all walked in. Haitian weddings are just slightly different from American weddings. They had some young people do a kind of special, very slow dance coming in after the couples were in. And did I mention how packed the church was? It was packed! Some people couldn’t find seats. Lots of hot, sweaty, sticky people packed into one place can make for an experience. Thankfully, after the ceremony began, we could all leave and head for lunch. It was a nice break away from the hot, sweaty, noisy mass of people. The ceremony lasted about two hours, and then it was time for us to head back to pass out food and drink for the “reception”.
Now, for the reception there had to be order, and thankful the Wrays have this down pat! Each couple got 20 tokens to hand out. If a person had a token they received one sandwich and one drink. Doing lines here in Haiti never seems to work, because the people at the end of the line are afraid food will run out. Also, people come through the line twice and try to get whatever they can get. The Haitians aren’t used to having enough food, so it’s built in them to get what they can. This concept often creates for chaos. The 200 cupcakes were passed out first to the couples and their maren and paren; then to the guests until they were gone. After an hour of squeezing through sweaty, smelly people we were finished. The food was gone, and only a few drinks were left. The last few drinks were given to some boys in the community. After all was cleaned up, we headed back to the Wray’s place to work on printing pictures.
We printed 10-15 photos of each couple for albums and one more for a photo frame. It was a lot of sorting, picking, and choosing. It took something close to 3 hours to get the whole process accomplished. We were all pretty googly eyed and tired by the end of it. We printed something close to 240 pictures and sorted through around 400 that we had taken.
The next morning the albums and photo frames were delivered to the Pastor of the church the couples were married at. As the couples returned their borrowed clothes they would then receive their album and photo frame. The excitement on the couples’ faces as they received the albums was priceless. Such excitement for a few photos, and for some it was the first time seeing themselves. Some didn’t recognize themselves or who they married in such dressed up pretty clothes. It was just really neat to see them get their photos.
Over all, it was a very special event to get to participate in. It is such a neat ministry the Wrays have here. We are very thankful we got to take part in it. We want to thank all those who helped out with it through funds and prayers! Many blessings we pray your way. =D