Since we first arrived, our friend Shem (also called Samuel, Samueli, Shemmi) has been talking about the plans he was making for his “ringing”. Shem and Grace have been together since they met during the war and have four children. But for them to be publicly recognized as married only to each other, they wanted to have a proper church wedding. To raise money for his “budget” for the wedding (which includes giving goats to her family), he has been a CSB gate guard, painted houses, made 10,000 mud bricks, and has collected donations from friends and family. Orphaned at an early age, Shem has been raised by uncles, brothers, cousins, aunts, and sisters. His community of support is quite large! Grace is a petite, beautiful, soft-spoken woman who lovingly cares for her children and husband in their two room 12 foot by 8 foot house in Nyahuka.
This morning, we awoke to knocks on our door by young men requesting chairs to put in the front of the church for people of importance to sit. The knocks continued as 10 youth came to wash and decorate our car for Travis was today’s wedding chauffeur. As the time drew near for the pick-up to happen, the sky grew dark and a wet-season rain poured down. The rain delayed the wedding two hours, but spirits were still high! Travis arrived with the groom and his family. I laughed when he opened the door and more and more people kept climbing out of the car...at least 10! Pat “Never A Dull Moment” Abbott was the bride’s driver and sent us a text with the plead to pray because her car full of the bride and brides’ party was stuck in the mud! The congregation continued singing and eventually, the bride’s car arrived.
The wedding included singing, welcoming, more singing, a choir performance, prayer, a homily about marriage, the calling of couple, the ringing, and an introduction to the community as a married couple. Elder and Bible translator Charles Musengusi read from Genesis 2 and challenged married men and women to be like one person. He called for all married men to raise their hands and then asked them if they created their wives. Did Shem go to the river and take mud to make the woman Grace? No! She is a gift from God! He challenged men to be honest with their wives, especially about financial matters. To truly be one in the Lord.
Shem, the exuberant extrovert couldn’t help but to hug his sweet wife in celebration! Grace, the quiet introvert, seemed as if she would faint at any minute. It was dear to see this husband and wife together, one in the Lord, proclaiming their unity in front of the whole community.
And then the party... well, all that we need to say is that Ugandans like to have a good time!