They Got Married
Yes, they got married – finally. We left Addis Ababa at 9 AM to make the wedding at 12:00 noon. We stopped in Muketuri to deliver a large gift, and to pick up some people who were in the wedding.
At 11:30, we were sitting in a restaurant, eating lunch. "Weren't we supposed to be on the road? The wedding is a half hour away." No concern – the guy hasn't shown up yet.
At noon we leave to go to the reception hall – actually, a compound of homes in a "U" shape with a tarp hung in the open area, which was filled with tables and chairs. The ladies were cooking, getting ready for the 100 or so guests who would eat after the wedding.
At 1:00, the Best Man and the Groomsmen showed up at the reception. A few minutes later, the groom-to-be exited his dwelling in the "U". I was wondering if the bride was starting to feel like she'd been left at the altar, but my Ethiopian companion, Asrat and Fikre, assured me she was not.
Then the proverbial dinner bell rang and everyone hurried to get fed before the wedding. Quite different from the American culture we are used to.
At about 2:30 we left for the wedding. It is normally about a half hour out to the Nono Bole church and the wedding was "supposed to be near there" – That's code for "I don't know where it is". But one of our riders had been there before, so we followed his directions. OOPS – we passed the turn!! What turn!! We had missed the 3 rocks in the field where we left the road and ventured out onto the plains. No road - just grass, farm animals, more rocks and kids herding cattle and sheep.
32 minutes later we arrived at the wedding site. A nice Ethiopian compound, all decorated and beautiful for the main event. The bride was nowhere to be seen, but there were lots of young people singing and dancing in circles.
We were told that the bus, carrying 50-60 people that had been following us had decided it couldn't make it any further and one of the main participants (the groom) was on it. So, we headed back and found the bus about halfway back to the road. Not stuck, but facing one of the large mud puddles that we had driven through in 4 wheel drive. It likely would not have made it through.
The important guy and a bunch of others (10 total) hopped in our vehicle to "get to the wedding on time"? (It is almost 3:00 and the wedding was scheduled to start at noon). Others ran the rest of the distance.
When we got back, the groom, gathered his cohorts and went to the bride's house where she had been patiently waiting. With more song, dance and other hoopla, the Bride, Groom and wedding party exited the home and entered the large tent that was the wedding venue.
Good, they are going to get married!!!!
OOPS. There are other cultural ceremonies to be done. One of the guys who we picked up at the bus was in charge of asking the family elders – Uncles, and brothers, since the parents were deceased – for the hand of the bride.
"Who are you?" "How do you know our daughter?" "Do you promise to care and keep her?" And other questions of the sort.
The young man who was asking (in place of the groom), answered the carefully scripted answers and proceeded to give gifts to the bride's family.
Then the Bride and Groom were asked about their choices. How did they know that this was God's choice for them? Again, carefully scripted answers about prayer and meditation giving assurance.
Then they were married – after- a sermon and admonition and a reading of the churches commands to the couple. I think the vows themselves took 4 minutes.
But – They are now Man and Wife.
They started their married life with another feast in the tent. Then, I'm told, because we didn't stay much longer, they moved back into the city to the wedding reception area we had been at earlier and had another feast.
Oh, yes, the bride, Mebrat, is one of the early women we ministered to at the Well House Women's shelter. Praise God for a life transformed.
A story about her we published a couple of years ago follows.
We had a guest who had the blessing of preaching at the Nono Bole Church. Another great blessing was to see Mebrat, one of the ladies from the Well House, leading worship that morning. Believe it when we say, they know how to worship. Before Mebrat came to the Well House, she was emotionally damaged and not accepted in her village.
During her time at the Well House, Mebrat interned at Harvest International Academy and learned well from Fre, Asrat's wife, how to teach in a pre-school. With the blessing and support of the Nono Bole Church, we started a pre-school in Nono Bole. It is thriving, she is thriving and the church uses the connections with the village parents as an outreach. God is so good - all the time! !