Monday, December 31, 2018

A Rwandan Wedding... sort of

The week after Christmas, President Collings and I had an experience that we really never expected to have on our mission. 

My cousin, Shayla, her sister and several of their friends came to visit Uganda and Rwanda a couple of months ago. It was wonderful to see them, and to have them experience the culture and people of these countries we love so much.  You can follow this LINK to see the blog post of their visit. After they went home, Shayla kept in touch with me by way of Facebook Messenger. I found out that she had begun to like one of our members in the Kigali Rwanda District. Paul had spent time with Shayla and her friends, and took them to see all the sights in Rwanda. Shayla and Paul were communicating online with each other and fell in love. They kept in touch and after asking permission of Shayla's father, my Uncle Roy, Paul asked Shayla to marry him! This meant Shayla would take another trip to Rwanda! They decided to have a traditional Rwandan introduction ceremony so that Paul's family and friends would be a part of their "wedding" ceremony, however, it would just be an engagement celebration. Then they will get sealed in the temple when he is able to travel to the United States. 

We have been in the mission field for 2 1/2 years, and have never been to an actual wedding ceremony. Shayla asked President Collings and me to stand in place of her parents. I got to be the Mother of the Bride one more time! (This is the part I never expected)  It was going to be interesting, having never even witnessed a Rwandan Introduction/Wedding before. We were so humbled that she wanted us to spend this special time with her and Paul. 

We went out to dinner with them the day before the ceremony, and Paul explained a bit more of what we would be doing. These two were made for each other! It was so fun being with them throughout these few days.
Shayla showing us the 15 (mini) cows given to her for the wedding!

When the day came, I got another fun surprise. Shayla and I got to spend the morning together getting all pampered for the ceremony. We were dropped off at a salon where they gave us a manicure and an up-do. Something else I have never done while on my mission! Haha. 

I was a little nervous when the hair artist went to the back room and pulled out the blond hair for Shayla, but he knew exactly what he was doing and she was absolutely gorgeous!

Getting the manicure.

The man that was doing my hair kept asking his co-worker to take over. I think my muzungu hair scared him a bit. Even after my hair was dry and the curlers were taken out, he wanted to "oil my scalp". I assured him that it would be a bad idea, and I would look very greasy if he did that. He asked his co-worker to just take over, and went on to one of the African women with "normal" hair. 

I was very happy with the results though. They did a great job!

We also had to wear traditional clothes, (mushanana). It was a little confusing, and we had to have someone help us to get dressed up, but I really like how comfortable and modest they were. The people all made such a big deal of me wearing it. It was very sweet.

Steve had his umushanana and special sandals too. I think he looked pretty great! And so did a lot of the people we were with. It was definitely a fun experience.
A quick picture with Shayla before the ceremony started.

A fun picture with Elder and Sister Maughan, our senior couple serving in Kigali. 

Richard and Martha Okello
It was so fun to spend this time with people we have really grown to love in our mission! Paul was a full time missionary in the Uganda Kampala Mission. He was released shortly before we came to Uganda. We have gotten to know him very well, and he knows many of the missionaries and leaders in Uganda, so many of them were invited. Such a fun experience. 

The ceremony is very fun. As I said before, this is our first experience, so as I describe it, I will probably get it all mixed up. I apologize to everyone in advance if I slaughter it. We are all seated under tents. The bride's family on one side and the grooms family on the other. With a tent at the far end for the bride and groom when they came in. The groom's family actually comes in a procession while music is played. They all file in and take a seat in the tent opposite the bride's family, who was already seated. There is a spokesman for each family, and they barter back and forth, talking about all the qualities of the bride and groom. After some friendly banter, the groom is presented to the brides family. 

Then they start talking about the bride. They start talking about how many cows the groom's family should pay for her. President Collings was asked to name the price (this is all friendly banter, and no cows are actually given). He said she was worth 50 cows! The groom's family agreed that she was an amazing woman, and felt that she was worth even more than that.  Then it was time for the bride to come. The music started, and dancers came in followed by "brides maids?" and then Shayla was escorted in by two of our missionaries. I'm describing this all in a couple of sentences, but the actual ceremony took several hours. 

Shayla was presented to the groom's family, and then given to Paul, who placed a ring on her finger. Then she presented Paul to her family. 

They gave gifts to both families, which included a cane and hat for Steve to wear. Doesn't he look good? 

Then the bride and groom took their place together under their own tent. I think they danced, and food was served. It was just a fun celebration. Paul and Shayla looked so happy together. It made me feel so happy for them. I'm grateful I was able to be a part of this! I'm thinking we will miss the ceremony in Utah, so it was a blessing to be here!

The happy couple. Isn't Shayla beautiful??

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Christmas 2018

Christmas in the mission field is something special. We spent time with all of the missionaries right before Christmas. We wanted to wait as close to the holiday as possible to visit all the missionaries, so we would give as much time as we could for presents to arrive and be delivered. As far as I know we did pretty well. We have a couple of stragglers, which is normal for here, but the missionaries are all in good spirits, and I believe were pretty well taken care of this year.

We really enjoyed our time with each missionary. I just loved the activities we had with them. 

The missionaries in Rwanda went to a fun place. I don't even know what it's called, but they had all sorts of games, horses, trampolines, even a small zip line. There was even a place for a barbecue. There are many missionaries from different countries, in Rwanda, who haven't ever done any of these activities. It was pretty fun for all of us. I'll just mainly be posting pictures of the activities.

In Ethiopia the missionaries planned a service for our Christmas gathering. We spent the day at an orphanage in Addis Ababa. The missionaries just played soccer with the kids. Afterwards we went inside and sang Christmas songs to them. It was a really special day to see the missionaries interact with the children, and make their day a little bit brighter.

While we were waiting to go to the orphanage, the missionaries were at the church throwing a football back and forth. The football got stuck in a palm tree... Elder Trippe saved the day when he climbed the tree in his proselyting clothes to knock the ball down. I had to get a picture. 

In Uganda, we invited the missionaries to the Kololo Chapel for lunch. We had a spiritual meeting in the Chapel, and then moved to the cultural hall for some fun skits and songs. I took lots of pictures of the missionaries eating, but mostly videos of the skits and songs. They really did a great job. Mostly kept it appropriate, and fun. I loved their creativity!

Elder Dickson singing The Spirit of God in 4 different languages.

The bags behind us were gifts for the missionaries. A mission DVD, a book of tender mercies written by the missionaries, a pen that has our mission scripture on it, and a few other things we thought they would enjoy. 

The mission DVD was very well done. Here is a LINK to it if you haven't seen it. 

We thought that we ended the day with enough time for our missionaries to travel home to their own apartments before Christmas, however, the traffic getting out of Kampala was TERRIBLE. One zone of missionaries who had quite a long drive back, got stuck in a pretty bad traffic jam. After about a 2 1/2 hour wait in the traffic, they could see that they would not get back on time. The zone came to the mission home for Christmas Eve!  I enjoyed having them in the mission home on Christmas Eve. We were able to let Elder Winiata talk to his family in New Zealand. The rest of the missionaries helped me bake some cookies. It felt a lot like Christmas having them there cooking with me. 

They left early on Christmas morning, and were able to get back on time for some Christmas dinner appointments, and most important, Christmas calls home. 

On Christmas Day we had about 8 missionaries come over and use our technology to talk to their families. That is my favorite part of Christmas in the mission field, listening to missionaries talk to their families. It chokes me up every time. I think I will miss having Christmas in the mission field. I will definitely love to be with my family, and see my grandchildren enjoying the excitement of the Christmas Season, but I will miss this... a lot. 

This is my favorite picture! These are all of the missionaries serving in the Uganda Kampala Mission right now. We love them all, and are so grateful for all they do.