The Wedding!

Sunday, April 28, 2019
Blantyre, Southern Region, Malawi
NOTE:  Today is the day of a wonderful wedding and marriage ceremony for Daniel Rashid Ringo and Carolyn Emily Somba. The photos do not give justice to all the wonder of the reception. We will have some video coming. 
It is raining this morning. This rain is part of the disturbance of Cyclone Kenneth in Mozambique, north of here. We wonder how this will affect the wedding. 
We have no Internet again. It was topped up with 10 GB of data, but the girls must have used it up. I need to give up, but need to be connected. Our main guy at the Jolly Green Giant is a fellow by the name of “Smart On.” He tried to be helpful, but usually after he helps things are what they were. When we came home in the evening, he couldn’t top up the data because “the shops are closed.” Always something.
Gracious and his wife Loney pick us up a bit late after 9 am. But we expect things to start a bit late, so we are not alarmed. Gracious and Loney have done so much to marshall the church to support and organize this wedding. 
When we arrive we see people milling around and run immediately into Nicholas and Megan Lamoureux. It’s like a reunion. Here they are again! They got up at 3 am to drive down here to Blantyre. We trade stories about the experiences of our past week. They brought others from Lilongwe such as Emmanuel and Miriam. We also see Haiton, Nester Phiri and more. All here to celebrate the wedding of Daniel Rashid Ringo and Carolyn Emily Somba.
Then, it’s time to start the ceremony. From the time of the rehearsal, there are some significant changes. No men’s choir at the start to be my cue to come with Daniel to the front for the start of the wedding. So, there was no cue. Just start!! Who? How? Uncertain. Then I’m asked to grant permission to start the wedding which I gladly “give.” But, that doesn’t answer the question about when the music starts and when the bridesmaids and groomsmen come down the aisle.  I walked over the to men’s door and am told to start walking when the music starts. But, what about the bridesmaids… where were they? A door opened for me and I told them to start following when the music started and to do what we did at the rehearsal. Then I ran back and got the AV guys to get the music started, then grabbed Daniel, and the ceremony began!  I was a bit rattled, but all got going. The music started for the processional. Then we had the music come in for “Here Comes the Bride.” It started at the maid of honor, but no worries… it just ran a little longer. When the bride started down the aisle, Bev and our visitors stood up for the bride. Everybody caught on and stood as well. This is the “American” part of the wedding. The African part will come….
Believe it or not, I emotionally teared up watching all this and hoped my a bit rattled composure would settle. We have known Dan since he was a teenager. He was always serious-minded. He used to write for the church’s teen magazine and website Vertical Thought and was a person who sought things bigger than himself. He has been our treasurer, now for the Church and LifeNets assistant business manager.
When the music stopped I went into the traditional marriage ceremony. All went well, prayer, rings, kiss, recessional. People clapped and cheered with the traditional Africa joyous sounds that are hard for us Caucasians to replicate. Loved it. Exciting moments. But, little did we know that this was just a mild start for a super joyous celebration in the afternoon that paled the more formal part I officiated. 
The sun started shining just as the recessional ended. God was shining his Grace and Approval on all of this and we felt so wonderful. People were taking lots of pictures. The people are dressed so nicely.
There will now be a three hour break before we go into phase 2… the African part of the festivities…
There as a reception line of sorts. But mostly people wanted to be photographed with the couple, including Bev and me. Bev wore the blue and gold Malawi dress that was presented to her yesterday at Church. She looked lovely in it. 
During the three hour break I wrote the previous.
A lunch was served as we walked through a buffet at the kitchen window.  As usual, nsima piled high with most people having one or two big patties of it. It’s got to be at least a pound on the plate. Then some also took rice. I just took half a patty of nsima. I like it and know that I won’t eat it again until I return to Malawi and Zambia.
I hung with a group of men that I have known well over the years. I kid them that when I come they have to quickly transition to English from Chichewa. One of the people is Dixon Chiwaya. He has been a kind of foreman on our building projects with the church. He’s a good builder and through LifeNets we helped with some tools several years ago.  His wife’s name is Modesta. I met him for the first time when he was a brand new member when we used to have the Feast at Lake Malawi. He was wearing a tie with a big fish hook that read: “Hooked on Jesus.” We had quite a bit of commentary about that tie. Every time I see him when I come I greet him with: “Hooked on Jesus.” 
Then almost 90 year old GG Chakaza who gave the excellent sermonette yesterday on the Sabbath. He was very talkative and recounted his early days. Back in 1974 in the administration of Malawi’s President Banda he was imprisoned for 15 months for alleged political statements. GG had been an elder at one time in the Worldwide Church of God. I talked to various people as we ate our lunch. Many were busy with preparations for what was to come in the afternoon.
Then, shortly after 1:30 the reception began. A “jazz-singer” as noted on the program sang some popular Malawian and American songs. He was really good! He is a known singer in Blantyre who is a friend of Daniel Ringo. I took a lot of video this afternoon. 
Then the procession of the wedding party began to much more popular music. They had the moves! It was so neat to see people expressing fun and joy all together at this wedding. Daniel had proposed to Carolyn in 2016… they have waited a long time to get married and we are so happy to see this day come. 
Actually in November there was an engagement celebration. In Malawi this is sometimes bigger and more notable as the two families are brought together.
In the procession now, the last to dance down the aisle are the bride and groom. They all wiggle their way up to the stage. Where they have places to sit.
Then there are are tributes, music, a prayer.  On Daniel’s side of the family there are a number of ministers… mostly of the Pentecostal variety. His own mother is an Assemblies of God minister. Another relative got up to speak and in Pentecostal style with some of the people responding. Then there was various presentations of gifts. Some from individuals and some from groups like the Church.  The presentation would be done en masse with people dancing up to the couple. When the Lilongwe congregation delegation presented their gift, it was so much fun to see Nick and Megan dance like the Africans as they followed their Lilongwe peers.
Then the cutting of the cake and all that goes with it. 
When the Blantyre church danced up to the front they all carried a mattress on their heads as their gift. Feelings to us ranged from joy, laughter, hysteria, fun. I told Bev: “Let’s get married again!” More music, speeches from the parents, from the bride and groom. All done in great taste.
Then on the program perekani, perekani.  I don’t know what that means, but in all the festivity, I’m sure it was there somewhere. 
Finally, things ended about 4:30 pm. People need to take mini-busses to their home before it gets too late.
Gracious takes Bev and me to our lodge and we casually get our things together for what we think is our flight from Blantyre to Johannesburg tomorrow.  
I did get Internet on Smart On’s phone (he sets up a hot spot for me) for a little while just to see if there had been any critical emails.  I did get Internet for just a few moments and to my horror I see a note from that our flight to Johannesburg from Blantyre is cancelled!  There aren’t many flights from here anywhere. And, only 3-4 a week to Johannesburg. We find it difficult to call South African airlines and I try to find some alternate flight. We finally did connect with South African and they told us that the airport in Blantyre is closed because they are doing some repair work on the runway. There are NO flights. South African rebooks us on a flight from Lilongwe 250 miles away at 1 pm the next day. Bev and I are frantically scurrying trying to figure out how to find a way. We called several people from our group, but no one’s phone answers. I finally called the pastor Gracious Mpilangwe and told him our plight and sheepishly asked him if he’d take us up to Lilongwe by 11 on Monday. He’s a good sport and said yes. I just feel badly because he and his wife Loney put in a huge amount of time on the wedding. But, we have to get to Johannesburg to connect on our flight to the United States leaving at 6:30 pm.
We feel that it was a miracle that we just casually got Internet and the notice of the cancelled flight. We could have very easily showed up at the airport and gotten the bad news the next day and really messed up and delayed our travel to the United States. 
Gracious is supposed to come at 6:45 am Monday to drive us 250 miles to Lilongwe in the AM…
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