A Malawi Wedding

Sunday, October 01, 2006
Blantyre, Malawi
We are all set for the wedding in which I'm to officiate from which go on to the airport. I hope that Mr. Chonde has the ceremony book and without a rehearsal I hope that nothing we do in our English weddings is taboo here, but we'll see.

We have appreciated the accommodations at the Baptist Missionary Apartments that amounted to $18 per night. We have tried to stay as economically as possible when traveling and in that way we have more money available to help the people we visit.

We were to be picked up at 8:00 for the 8:30 am wedding. Meshech Chonde didn't come with the ambulance until past 8:30, but things are flexible here and we have lots of time before we have to fly at 1:30 pm for Blantyre. In the meantime we had a wonderful conversation with two young ladies who were doing mission work with orphans. One was Monica from Michigan and the other was Elizabeth from Oahu, Hawaii. Both worked for an organization called Children of the Nations out of Seattle, Washington. They work with orphans and we learned of their work as they helped with feeding and lodging orphans in nearby villages. I was struck by their focus and desire to alleviate suffering. Also, I was impressed by how some organizations are organized and funded to help in this way.

We arrived at the Malakia Clinic and at first there were just a few people waiting for the not only for the wedding party, by for the guests as well. I was wondering what this was going to be like.

The guests trickled in. Finally, about 10 am the wedding entourage arrives in two cars all decorated with ribbons and balloons. I thought the bride and groom looked stunning. There were ring bearers and attendants. It was beautiful. The music started as they rhythmically sauntered up to the front. I couldn't help as the only white person in the area to witness and officiate over this happy event.

The bride and groom sat down in the front row. I asked them to stand up and come up front. I started reading the ceremony and Mr. Chonde translated into Chewa. Part way through the ceremony Edwin Chonde showed up and took over translation. Edwin has a powerful voice and I appreciated his translation at church services the day before.

We came to the part of the vows After each one of them said "I do" the assembled guests yelped with delight. Bev videoed much of the wedding.

The exchange of rings and kiss were acceptable in the African culture and I presented the young Mr. and Mrs. James Luwanja to the happy crowd which started yelping. People got up and started swaying to the music and congratulating. I started swaying myself and Mrs. Chonde laughed as she saw me.

We slowly walked out to the music. The couple and wedding party got into the two cars and drove off. An interesting experience.

Meshech showed me his little shop that he calls Computer Heights where he has a business teaching basic computer skills. Here he has a copy machine and a few printers that we had earlier provided.

On the airport. We had a little free time and stopped by Blessings Hospital just outside the airport at Lumbadze. Blessings Hospital was built by people from Indianapolis, Indiana...they have done a marvelous job building a cooperative venture with the Malawians. They have sent over many containers of equipment, many things from St. Vincent's Hospital in Indianapolis. St. Vincent's had helped LifeNets with a grant to build the Chizeni Clinic in Balaka. We also saw the Children's Village adjacent to the hospital where this same group cares for scores of orphans.

We then flew a short 45 minute route to Blantyre. We were picked up by Dr. Sam Chilopora, his granddaughter Chiku who is very special to Bev and me and deacon Mr. Eliphaz Salawilla. They took us to the Chichiri Lodge. They had prepared a dinner for us and we rested the rest of day as the Day of Atonement approached. Sunset is early: 5:30 pm.
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