Friday, December 4, 2009

Siphiwe and Lwethu’s wedding on November 28

On Saturday, November 28th, Siphiwe and Lwethu got married.  For those of you who may not remember or who may be new to my blog, when I arrived in Swaziland Siphiwe was there on a two year assignment as a Pastor’s assistance and local preacher.  I think he was about 23 or 24 when I first arrived. He is very tall, kind of quiet but has a great sense of humor.  He is a wonderful young man.  He reminded me a lot of my sons.  He was my angel.  He went with me wherever I needed to go, showed me the ropes and introduced me to people.  He taught me a lot especially about the culture.  I call him my South African son.  I know that he has no idea how much his presence and help meant to me.  I’m not sure I could have made it through those first few months without him.  Over the year and a half that we were both in Swaziland, I also discovered that he has wisdom and spiritual insights way beyond his young years.  He left Swaziland last December to be an associate pastor in a church in South Africa.  He was taking correspondence courses during his assignment in Swaziland and during this past year in SA.  He passed all his courses and now will start a two year program at Seminary.

While in Swaziland, Siphiwe met a really nice young Swazi woman named Lwethu.  Even though he swore to me that he would never marry a Swazi woman because he was looking forward to going back to SA, love prevailed.  She is very sweet, pretty quiet but also has a great sense of humor.  She is going to make a very good pastor’s wife.

So, Saturday was the first part of their wedding.  It held in Swaziland.  The wedding was beautiful.  I cried. What more can I say?  Ok, so there is a bit more.  The wedding was very western and similar to what you might expect to see in the states.  The wedding was supposed to start at 9:30.  I arrived at 9:35 a bit upset I was late.  There was only one other person and the Bishop there.  About an hour later people started arriving and at 11:30, the wedding finally began.  The wedding was held at a hotel.  I don’t really know why, but I’m told weddings don’t necessarily happen in churches, evidently not even for Pastors.  The room was decorated in their colors: silver and hot pink.  They announce what their wedding colors are on the invitation.  It is amazing how many people came dressed in silver and hot pink.  The wedding program was very similar to the wedding I attended last September. (I wrote a blog on that wedding also.) I love how the bride’s attendants and the groomsmen dance down the isle.  Then the groom came in from the front of the accompanied by a female member of his family (I think a cousin).  He had his own music playing for his dance from the front of the room to about halfway down the isle.  His music was “How Great Thou Art”. (Yep, I cried for that too.)  His cousin sat down in the audience.  Then Lwethu walked down the isle on the arm of her very proud Uncle. (I didn’t realize until then that both of her parents had passed away.  Her Uncle raised her.)  They walk down the isle very, very slowly.  One thing I’ve noticed is that they leave the brides dress so long that some one has to move it each time she takes a step so she doesn’t trip on it.  Lwethu looked very, very nervous and I could tell she was crying.  I was so worried for her.  When they reached Siphiwe, the Minister performing the service asked who would give the bride away.  Her uncle responded and then Siphiwe and Lwethu walked the rest of the way to the front together.  I think that is real sweet.

The service was a bit different because so many ministers were involved.  Rev. France Mabuvso, a newly ordained full Reverend in Central Swaziland Circuit was the Master of Ceremonies.  Rev. Sikumbuzo Ngama, the former superintendent gave the opening prayer.  The Bishop, Rev. Sizwa, performed the service and signed the marriage certificate.  Rev. Kanana Nyamaka, the current superintendent for Central Swaziland Circuit gave the beneficiation.  Just before the benediction, all of the reverends and pastors who were attending circled the couple and prayed for them.  That was awesome.

After the vows were said and the rings exchanged, the Bishop had two chairs brought down from the table where the wedding party sits during the service.  This table is located where we would normally have an altar.  Siphiwe and Lwethu sat in front of the audience facing the Bishop.  The Bishop said he was going to speak to the Siphiwe and Lwethu but we would be able to hear what he had to say.  He also said he was going to speak in English because he “looses too many words when he has to speak in Siswati.”  I was so happy.  The Bishop spoke about colors and paint brushes.  Basically saying they can paint their marriage any color they choose.  They can paint it happy or paint it miserable.  It is their choice which they must make every day and they must paint it together.  He also told Siphiwe it was his job to totally love Lwethu.  And he told Lwethu it was her job to totally respect Siphiwe in all he does.  The Bishop went on to say that Siphiwe has to love Lwethu so much that she has no choice but to love him back and that she has to respect Siphiwe so much that he has no choice but to respect her back.  It was an interesting way to put it, but considering the culture it was the perfect way to make his point.  As the Bishop spoke, he required responses from both of them, and if he didn’t get an answer he asked the question again and didn’t move on until he got answer.  What pressure!

Just before the benediction, all of the reverends and pastors who were attending circled the couple and prayed for them.  That was awesome.  After the wedding a meal was served and just like in the US, Siphiwe and Lwethu went around to each guest and gave them a little box of mints.  There wasn’t a cake cutting ceremony because the cake is cut with the explanation of why they are cutting the cake as one during the wedding ceremony.  There also wasn’t dancing, but that may have been because shortly after the wedding and reception all of the family and certain “family representatives” headed to South Africa to where Siphiwe’s family lives.  Sunday morning there was another ceremony during which and they both wore their wedding clothes.  Then everyone changed into traditional clothing and the bride was taken to the groom’s family’s home.  She presented traditional gifts to the family and then there was a celebration meal which included a braai (cookout).

The only down point of the wedding, is the same thing that detracts from every service here.  Everyone takes pictures.  They just get up and walk right down in front no matter what is going on and take pictures.   I kept thinking that in the US, the bride and the photographer would be furious that this was happening.  I couldn’t get very many pictures, in part because there was always someone taking a picture in the way.

It was a great day. And I pray the young couple will be very happy and find a way to grow in their marriage to each other and their love of the Lord even though for part of the time they will be separated because of his studies and then possibly because of where he will be assigned as a minister.  Their life won’t be easy, but I am sure it will be very blessed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful description of the wedding. I felt like I was there. Thanks. And I also wanted to tell you that your blogs have really touched us about the small babies you are loving on. Finally you get to hold those babies! Love to you. Jeri and Gary