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.
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.
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??