The Merry Family

Merry Mission Journal

September 11, 2004

Brooke's Birthday

This morning all of us were invited to a Malawian wedding. It started right on time at 10:30 am (which is unusual for anything in Malawi.) It was an interesting combination of western and African customs. The wedding party was dressed up just as they would be for a wedding in the states. The bride wore a very pretty white satin gown trimmed with sequins. The bridesmaids wore lavender empire waisted gowns with spaghetti straps and chiffon shawls. They were lovely. The groom and ushers were in black with boutonnières. There were huge sprays of white flowers in the front of the sanctuary and the bride carried a beautiful bouquet of white roses. The rows of the church were decorated with silk bunting and lavender ribbon. A flower girl threw petals of purple bougainvillea and red rose petals on the crimson carpet down the center isle before the bride and her father came down to the strains of “Here Comes the Bride.”

It was hard for us to tell exactly what transpired during the service, because it was conducted in Chichewa, but the congregation sang a rousing hymn, we prayed, there were words of welcome and then the couple knelt for their vows. After the groom said his, the congregation erupted in joyous shouts and whistles and cheers. The same thing took place after the bride’s vows. Then the couple held their hands in the air to receive their rings. They sat down in special chairs for the homily. There was another hymn and prayer, a kiss and then they went out a side door.

When the congregation left the church, drums and an old bucket materialized and an impromptu celebration took place. Celebrants (the bride and groom were no where to be seen) sang and danced in a circle in front of the church. Their joy was abundantly apparent. A rented white car was decorated with balloons and ribbon for the couples getaway to the reception, which wasn’t until 1:30.

We were invited to the reception but since it is Brooke’s birthday, we decided to have a celebration luncheon for her. She opened cards and presents and I baked her a chocolate cake.

Tonight we are invited to dinner at the Sherbino’s home. They are missionaries from Canada. Joel is a pastor at St. Columbo’s and Rebecca works in the Synod’s Development office.

Last night we were invited to a lovely dinner party. About thirty members of the St. James CCAP Partnership Committee were there. We feasted on a buffet pot luck supper, which featured Malawian style chicken, chambo (whole fish, fried –a Malawian treat! –delicious) nsima, rice, pasta and vegetables, cooked greens, cole slaw and cake. It was an evening of fun and fellowship. We were truly blessed by their hospitality.

As you can see, our lives are full and busy!

Beth Merry

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