Saturday, July 15, 2017

#rwanderful: Crashing a Wedding

This is Day 20. My last day in Rwanda. I promise I won't cry as I write this.

I woke up on Saturday feeling so sad that I was leaving. I didn't want to go yet.

I got up early to watch the sunrise one more time. Then, I packed up my bags. I've gotten really good at approximating 50 lbs or 23 kg.

Janet and I left around 10 to do some last minute shopping. I had no money so this would be easy, right? Wrong. Abraham's shop takes credit cards. I had fought the urge to buy anything the first time we went there, but then the second time all bets were off. Oops.

We had one more lunch at Meze Fresh with our favorite driver, John. So much yum.

Janet is our resident Krest spokesperson

Since we're diabetes buddies, we're the spokespeople for Coke Zero. #TheBetes

John took Janet and me back to the house so I could change quickly, and we would head to the wedding. When I came downstairs wearing my fancy African skirt and new jewelry from Abraham's store, John was down there waiting with a present. WHAT?! While we were in Abraham's shop, Abraham asked me to try on a skirt to see if it would fit "a friend of his" that is about my size. LOL they were plotting to find a gift for me since I had brought John more test strips for his glucometer. It didn't fit, so we moved on to the jewelry section. I asked Abraham if he had any brass Africa shaped earrings that would match the necklace I was going to buy. He said no, but that if we became friends on Facebook I could ask for specific things when I come back. SNEAKY. That was what was in the bag from John. New earrings to match the necklace I was wearing to the wedding. I almost cried. Over earrings. I have problems.

Best buddies!


Disclaimer: This is how I understand things. If you are reading this and you are Rwandan, please comment and correct me if there is something awry with my explanations.

John drives me to the wedding, and I'm really glad I'm going with him because I know he won't lead me astray. You know since I'm a wedding crasher and all. Also I stand out because I am one of 3 white people at this wedding. The wedding is at Pastor Fred's home in his backyard. As we're driving John shows me parts of the city I've never seen before and tells me that banana trees are planted to represent the location of a wedding. It helps people know they are in the right place. Just like America and their cute Pinterest signs.

So we walk in and down the stairs to the backyard. There are two tents, one for the bride's guests and one for the groom's guests. John tells me to sit in the second row right behind all the men representing the brides family. I am also sitting in front of Phiona's (the bride) mother. I'm crashing and I SIT IN FRONT OF HER MOM. Ridiculous.

Anyway, as we're walking in, there are traditional Rwandan dancers. There was a group of men and a group of women all dancing in traditional clothes. This is by far my favorite part. They were amazing. After that, the male representatives of each side began their negotiations. The father (I think) of the groom brought a bottle of wine to start the discussions. Then the bride's family says something. This goes back and forth some before they actually start talking about cows for the dowery. All of this is in Kinyarwanda so I really have no idea what is going on. John translated the general happenings for me though. Phiona's dowery was 8 cows. John said that in Rwanda a bride normally has a dowery of 2 - 10 cows.

Enjoy the dance videos!!

Once the families have agreed upon the dowery, the groomsmen come over to meet the bride's family. The men wore traditional clothing and walked with fancy canes. Then, the bridesmaids and the bride come in. All of the ladies looked lovely in their traditional dresses. They were also carrying gifts for different members of the families. Jeje (our team's translator and leader) was a groomsman and Annette (she runs the guest house and works with teams) was a bridesmaid.

The Groomsmen

All the bridesmaids!

Phiona looked SO lovely!
After everyone comes in, the bride and groom meet together. Jonathan gave Phiona the ring. Phiona is Rwandan and Jonathan is Ugandan. In Ugandan culture, the bride kneels before the groom. I was sitting on the bride's side so when this happened everyone clapped, hooped, and hollered because it's so different than Rwandan culture. At least this is my understanding... :)

Jonathan and Phiona

All the laughter and enjoyment on my side of the backyard
After the giving of the engagement ring, the bride and groom give gifts to certain family members. This is not the real wedding. It is just the introduction of the families. They will have the church ceremony today and will officially be married.

Pastor Fred is a father figure to Phiona because he helped her become educated after she became a worker in his home as a young girl. Now she works for Africa New Life. Jonathan also works for Africa New Life, so it was a fun wedding where everyone knew each other. 


The bride, groom, maid of honor, and best man sit in the seats in the center of all the merriment

This kid is my favorite. He had a Spiderman tie. #winning
There was also what seemed like a skit reenacting the negotiations for the cows. Here's a video...

She sang a Ugandan song and danced a lot. She was fab. #goals

More dancing

Gift giving
Overall, this might have been my favorite event from the trip. I loved experiencing Rwandan culture first hand. I also got to spend my last few hours with my favorite diabetes buddy, John. He drove the team for my first two trips, and he's like my big Rwandan brother. Love him so much!

We had to sneak out a little early, so I could finish packing and head to the airport. It was sad saying goodbye to so many friends, but I know I am returning next summer for most of my time off. I can't wait to make a difference in students trying to go to university. Pray for God to bring me back to this beautiful land of 1000 hills. I don't feel like his work through me is finished there.

Hope you enjoyed all my adventures! If you missed some days, you can read more here.

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