Monday, August 16, 2010

The reception, August 14, part II

Remember when I put on heels? I knew it was a bad decision when I slipped them on, but I just couldn't bring myself to wear flip flops with my nice dress, but oh how I wanted to!

After the wedding, Beatrice was so excited to see me. She gave me a hug, asked me if I could help her count the offering money and then we would go.

There was never a thought in her mind to get a piki. We just walked and walked. After about a mile, we reached the location for the reception – a soccer pitch at Arua Public school. One of her friends escorted me to a chair under a tent while she went to take care of duties.

The reception was slated to begin at 2:30, and that is when I arrived. That is also when the decorators started decorating. No joke. (I finally remembered my video camera! But since I already stand out like a sore thumb, I didn't want to stand and make myself more obvious, so the videos have a lot of heads. At least you can hear some of the music)!

There were 500 people sitting in tents watching this for 45 minutes. We were entertained by music and singing, which several people stood up and danced to. Also, we watched as four buffet tables were set up with food. Three men had to carry each pot of enya (cooked, mashed millet) to each table. That stuff weighs a ton! (As a side note, after tasting it at Alice's after Sarah's baptism, I knew I was passing on that dish today).

Finally, the bride and groom drove up at 3:30. And guess what?

The whole wedding party of 50 marched into the reception at the same speed, if not slower, than they had entered the church just four and one half hours earlier. It was quite an entrance! They were dressed so beautifully, it really was quite a show!

After prayers and greetings, the families of the couple got in line to eat at 3:50. I looked across the way at a sign on a tent over there, and it said, "Invited Guests."

I didn't know what the sign over me said, and I was a little nervous. As they were telling people who would eat first, I realized, I was in the mother-of-the-groom's section. (The mother sits on one side with her relatives behind her, and the father is on the complete opposite side with his family.) I had been in a different section, but when "my Kindergarten teacher" showed up, I moved to another section so we could have room to sit together. Neither of us knew we were moving to the mother-of-the groom's section.

We held back and were called with another section at 4:30 to go stand in line to wash our hands, and then stand in line for food. I had forgotten we had to eat with our hands (silly me!). I started watching the bridesmaids, dressed so elegantly, all putting their fingers in their mouths.

Now I remember why it's not a good idea to have long nails.

I got some of every food offered except the enya (the stuff in that big pot in the front). There was rice, beans, matoke, beef or chicken, cabbage, and irish potatoes. Finger food, right?

I was SO thankful for the blaring music the whole time, so that no one could hear me slurping my rice and beans off my fingers.

Then the music stopped…

Thankfully, it was just a break between songs. But I heard enough of the sounds of hundreds of people eating with their fingers in that few seconds, that it was enough to make me happy for overly loud music for the first time in my life.

Bake to the hand washing station…

Cake cutting progressed after this. I had seen 18 cakes up on pedestals,

but those weren't the ones they cut. They cut the 8 or so that were sitting on the table.
We were not called up to get cake. The flower girls brought around a bowl filled with one-bite pieces of cake. You were supposed to take one small square and pass it on to the hundreds of other people waiting for their bit of sugar.

I passed. I didn't want them to run out, and I'm not a big fan of cake anyway.

This is what the girl next to me grabbed - a chunk of icing. Smart girl!

I thought we were nearing the end.

It was 5pm.

Then the bride and groom and their wedding party just walked out of the reception.

I asked what was going on.

I found out they went to change clothes for the gift-giving part.

Of course! Why didn't I think of that?!

For the next thirty minutes, the soccer pitch became a dance floor. They sang ONE song over and over for THIRTY MINUTES!

No lie!

But the people had a great time.

This is me with Beatrice on the left and Karen, the headmistress of "my school" and the groom's step mom on the right. We were waiting for the wedding party to return.

By the end of the thirty minutes, the soccer pitch was REALLY full.

And this lady was at it again.

The wedding party finally returned and lined up for another procession. This one was faster, but they still looked just as stylish as before!

The bride and groom then presented cakes one by one to important people or groups of people as part of a wedding tradition here. The groom's step mom and aunt got the first two, then her parents, priests, places of employment, wedding organizers, bridesmaids, groomsmen, best man, matron of honor, and church. How all the bridesmaids were going to share one cake, I don't know. But I saw how "the church" shared its cake.

Side note: Today (Sunday, Aug 15), at 1pm, I went back up to church to meet Beatrice so I could show her to my house, and there she was, with the whole praise team, cutting cake. Again, it was in one-bite pieces. Do you think they would ever believe it if I told them every guest at a wedding in America gets a WHOLE piece of cake!)

These are some of the gifts I saw laying out in the field.

The bride and groom got the last cake and then gave speeches.

At 5:45, the first gift line forms. There was a line for her family first and then a line for him.

I was blown away.

This is part of the groom's line. My guess is that a village of over 100 people got together and purchased what you can barely see. Several groups of people are carrying sheets of tin over their heads. I'm guessing it's for roofing a house of some sort. It was an amazing sight. (For some reason I forgot I had a video camera again).

These are the girls I stood in the groom's line with. You can see they are bringing brooms and wooden spoons.

After they gave their gifts, they were so excited, they stopped beside the gift table and just danced for a while.

Tables and chairs looked as if they were floating through the air as people carried them on their
heads. There was a dresser with mirrors, a refrigerator, brooms, spoons, boxes and boxes, and if someone didn't have a gift in their hands, they dropped money in a huge bucket..

It was really a sight to see.

The line went on and on and on.

The end.

This is Scovia that I told you about in the Culture Shock post.

Beatrice and I walked one mile back to the church on my incredibly sore feet, and when she went into the church to practice worship songs for Sunday…I flagged a piki and went home!!!

Seven hours later, as long as it was, I was still glad I went.

Congratulations Malique and Jennipher!

Hope you enjoy seeing me on your wedding video!

1 comment:

The Spears Family said...

LOVE IT! Just sayin' You look very beee autiful in your dress, although slightly less colorful than your African counterparts! :) Glad you had such a great experience.