Over the years there have life events that we have had the privilege of taking part in. I would never have imagined taking people to a near by river or pool and baptizing someone. I still remember the first time I got to baptize someone, I was so nervous that my Spanish was barely understandable. I didn't know what I actually said on that day. I have been a pastor of our small church for over 5 years now and it was inevitable that I would participate in a wedding. Well that day came on June 6. Barbara and Carlos came home from our mission bible institute at the boarder, during Christmas break where Carlos asked Barbara for her hand in marriage. They asked me not long after if I would officiate the wedding. I was honored and taken back as well. Who am I to officiate a "Mexican Wedding Ceremony"? I have only been to one wedding in Autlan, so it is not something, I am familiar with. Don't get me wrong I have seen and attended plenty of American weddings. This past year we were invited to our first wedding in Autlan, and to be honest, I don't remember a lot about it because I had Levi do deal with (trying to keep him quiet), who ended up falling asleep in my arms, so the ceremony was a blur in my mind.
So I agreed to do the wedding with them knowing full well that I may say something that no one will understand as it happens sometimes when trying to communicate in a second language. There are running jokes at church of the things I have said in the past 5 years.
In December, just before Barbara and Charlie left, we all agreed to do pre-martial counseling via Skype on a weekly basis. So I was able to go through the book, Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman. It not hit every issue that young couples tend to face but it brings up various topics to discuss before entering in to marriage. It was a good platform to talk through especially things that you don't fully comprehend like how you were raised can effect how you view the roles of the husband and the wife. It was a good opportunity for me to learn to be on this side of the counseling someone. It was also a good opportunity to get to know Carlos (aka Charlie in English). Charlie is from Chaiapas Mexico, which one of the Mexican states on the boarder of Mexico and Guatemala. He is a quieter guy. When he came to Autlan a week and half before the wedding, I realized just how important it was to have the time before hand to get to know him. He is very reserved in some areas.
The two weeks prior to the wedding, I started focusing all my attention on cleaning and preparing the area where they were getting married at the center (the facility that our mission uses for various events and short-term mission groups). Jessie also finished up school for the year with the girls and was able to focus all of her attention on preparing for it. Jessie was the unofficial wedding planner. I know I am biased when it comes to her, but doing events like this, is really where she is gifted in. She did all the decorations with a very limited budget and it turned out quite beautiful. We had to think about the fact that Barbara and Charlie are missionary bible school students. We were once in their shoes with very little money for our wedding. So it was a pleasure to be able to help Barbara and Charlie with their wedding. I am going to try to get some pictures from our Facebook accounts to add here. I am not sure how it will work using this computer, but I will try.
The day of the wedding was relaxed as we did all the preparations the day prior. Like I said Jessie really shined with all the work she put into it. It started at 5 PM, which gave us plenty of time to get ready. It takes a lot of work to get four kids all showered and dressed nicely for a wedding plus having Laura and two other young ladies getting ready at our house. As many things do tend to start a bit late, we started the wedding at about 5:45. I began to get nervous about 10 minutes before hand. It was when I was standing around with Carlos waiting for Barbara to be ready that it hit me that I was the one leading this, in-front of all these people.
When Barbara finally made her way down the aisle, it brought tears to my eyes seeing the two of them look at each other. They were so happy. Then the ceremony started, I nervously read through the various things that I had prepared before hand. It went by so fast. Even now it is hard to remember each thing part of the ceremony. They asked that I share before the ceremony started. I shared about how a marriage is the best example of Jesus and the church and how two people can love each other in an intimate way. Then it was on to the vows and rings. Then followed presenting a bible for their marriage, the groom gives the bride gold coin as a way of saying he will be the provider for the family where she in-turn receives the money and says she will be a try to be a good steward of the finances, then the union candle, then cord of three strands wrapped around their hands together, then communion, then the declaration, then the kiss and then it was over. It is fuzzy kind of like a dream. After the ceremony everyone moved to a different area so we could set up the tables and chairs in the same area. Having gone through this, I learned so much. I am going to have to do things a little bit differently next time. For one there was no rehearsal. Both Barbara and Charlie said that traditionally there was no rehearsal. It worked ok, not having a rehearsal but it would have been much clearer to what was going to happen next and where to stand. There were times where they were moving farther and farther off to the left side of the front area. Jessie had to help remind them to come forward towards the middle. Minor details that just you just roll with. All in all it was a great experience and it was an honor to be apart of. We will always be in their marriage story no matter where we are in the world.
Sorry this was so long. It takes time to recover after an event like that. Now on to the United States! Look for more posts in the coming days.