On Tuesday of this week, our assistant took a phone call from a young man who was looking for a place and a pastor to marry him and his fiancé . . . that day if possible. She told him our policies/procedures and also told him that we were in the middle of Vacation Bible School this week, so our facility looked more like a tropical island than a church.
He said that he didn’t mind, he just wanted to get married as soon as possible because his fiancé was expecting a baby and they wanted to get married in a church rather than the courthouse. He explained that he had all the paperwork and was ready to go. She told him that she would check with the pastor and get back to him. Since my husband’s schedule was already full for the week, I offered to do the wedding, but wanted to make sure they were OK with a woman doing the ceremony.
She called him back and he said it would be an honor and it would be different and he would love it. I called him on Wednesday. As we chatted, I could tell he had some type of accent, which sounded Middle Eastern. We talked over a couple details and set the time for 1pm the next day, which gave us about 45 minutes between when VBS was over and when the wedding would start.
I hung up wondering what I had gotten myself into and went to work preparing a brief and simple wedding ceremony. As I was preparing, I got the idea to go get a little “wedding cake” so we could celebrate with them after the ceremony. I texted our assistant to let her know the details and invite her to the wedding and before I knew it, she was helping by getting flowers and sparkling cider to make the celebration complete.
As VBS was ending, I changed into my dress and began to prepare for the wedding. Some of the VBS volunteers were wondering why I was dressed up. Imagine their surprise when I told them we were doing a wedding after VBS was over. They could not believe it! As word got around, people jumped in to help. Soon the Auditorium was serving a dual purpose – VBS on one side, Wedding on the other.
A few people even wanted to stay for the wedding which was wonderful because we knew they didn’t have any guests who would be attending.
Shortly before 1:00, the happy couple arrived. We introduced ourselves to them and learned that he was from Uganda and she was from Saudi Arabia. She was a stunningly beautiful young woman. When she saw me in my dress and the pretty table with flowers and cake, she said she wished she would have dressed up more. Mark offered to give them a ride home for her to change. She came back with her hair done up and a long, flowing dress.
The ceremony was short but sweet as they repeated vows and pledged their life and faithfulness to each other. There were a couple of times I had to choke back the tears. Weddings are such a precious time of hope!
After the ceremony, we took pictures and then gathered around the table. Mark then walked them through a few American traditions. The one the groom liked the best was kissing the bride when anyone clinked on the wine glasses. He said he would institute that tradition in his home from now on into the future. They also shared with us wedding traditions from each of their respective countries. Ugandan traditions consisted of goats and feasting and a game where the bride goes to look for her groom among the guests. Saudi Arabian tradition was much more formal, where the guests are separated between male and female.
We ended the reception by signing the paper work and getting their email addresses so that we could send them the pictures we took. Both bride and groom said they couldn’t wait to send their moms pictures. They were truly touched by our kindness and said they didn’t expect us to make the day so special. In fact, they kept thanking us over and over and over again. By the time they left, they were no longer strangers, but friends.
While we were cleaning up from this impromptu little soirée, we realized that we were the ones who were blessed that day. Of all the churches in Cheney, God blessed us by leading this little couple to our doors. He trusted us to show His love to a young couple who were far away from their homelands and families. We got to be stand-in family and friends as they committed their life to each other and began their life as a married couple. AND it only cost us a little bit of our time and $25 to make a (potentially eternal) difference in their lives.
Only heaven knows how many future generations will be positively affected starting August 6, 2015. (Oh, and by the way, we are already planning a baby shower for their baby who will be born sometime around the first of the year *smile*).
God works in amazing and often mysterious ways. What a privilege to be included in his plans!
Your Friend in Ministry,