We're Jason, Beth, Lee Anna, Sawyer, and Sarah Claire, a family of five living, learning, and laughing lots in Northern Africa.
We hope you can learn a little (and maybe laugh a little too) as you read about our latest adventures.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Another Wedding

Last night I went to a wedding that was a great deal more familiar to me than the other wedding events we’ve been a part of here. Any of you who attended my wedding to Beth (15 July 2000) have been to a very similar affair. The room was about the same size, replete with stained glass and a balcony. There were several hundred people gathered, mostly wearing Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes. There were, however, a few subtle differences I’d like to share with you.

When we got married, we had the rehearsal on Friday night and got married on Saturday. This wedding was supposed to start at 7, but the bridesmaids and groomsmen did their rehearsing at about ten minutes before seven. Not to worry, though, they still had a full hour before the actual event.

The bridesmaids processed to the tune you’re accustomed to hearing for the recessional. Then, the bride’s father turned her over to the groom at the back of the church and he walked her down the aisle himself. The bride and groom then took their seat on a small golden loveseat on the stage. They were situated stage-left just a little, while the pulpit was on the far right edge of the chancel. The bride wore a pretty white dress, and enough eye-liner for all the women there.

The service started in a traditional way with a prayer for the couple. Then the musical group presented two of their songs. That’s why I was there. I’ve been playing my guitar with a group in their rehearsals (trying to get comfortable playing in minor keys), and they wanted me to play at the wedding. So I did. The first song we played was “I Will Enter His Gates” and I sang through it in English first (I really don’t know why) then the others sang it all in Arabic. All told, we played and sang seven or eight songs, and the crowd sang along on several of them.

At our wedding, Shirley Callaway was there to regulate and keep everybody in line. Our church had a policy that the camera folk were not permitted any closer to the action than the front edge of the balcony. Last night, however, the video guys (and their cable-men) roamed freely about the room and the chancel area. And these video cameras were rigged with bright TV lights. The video was being displayed on the big screen beside the stage, so I looked up from my guitar one time and saw my smiling face much larger than life.

There were four junior groomsmen boys there. They stayed seated for a while, but after about an hour, I saw the four of them drinking from juice boxes and walking around between the pews and the stage. The stage was at least six feet high, so the boys didn’t really distract much. The camera men, however, had ladders set up in front of the stage so they could get a little closer to the goings-on.

Another element that was very familiar was the message from a pastor. It was all in Arabic, but I understood something about not going home to your Mama and Daddy. You’ve heard that at a wedding, haven’t you?

Generally, it was a whole lot like weddings in the states.

The language barrier is hard to describe. I was seeing very familiar sights, but I still couldn’t really tell exactly what was being said. I couldn’t even read the program our music leader printed so I’d know when we were singing. I felt somewhat like I was wearing a blindfold or something, since I couldn’t really keep up with the event. I often feel like I’m on the outside looking in, even when I’m up front and everyone is watching me. At times last night, I felt a little like an animal in the zoo: “Hey, look! A very white kid! Go talk to him, he can even say a few words in Arabic!!” Sounds like good motivation to keep studying.

+++There are no bad experiences—only good stories.+++

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