April 20, 2011

The Wedding

The wedding is over, and what an experience!

A few days before the wedding, we were invited to take part in a premarital counseling session for Orpa and Herry at their church.  They had already met twice privately with the pastor, Pak Niko, but this third session was open for the church elders, family, and anyone else the couple wanted to invite.  Different people, including us, stood up to give advice or words of wisdom to Orpa and Herry.  It was encouraging to see their church family stand behind them as they "launch their ship out onto the sea of matrimony," as Pop would say.

The morning of the wedding I walked in the kitchen and there was Orpa, scooping rice into the rice cooker, and a chicken was defrosting in a bowl on the counter, just like it was any other day.

"What are you doing?!" I exclaimed in disbelief.

"Oh, Ibu, my parents are going to come here to get ready and I have to cook for them," she hurriedly replied. I helped wash up some dishes, then Orpa showed me how to cut up a pineapple as we discussed some weighty matters (yes, after almost ten years in Indonesia, I still didn't know how to cut up a pineapple - I am that pathetic).  We discussed the wedding, what their marriage might be like with Herry spending most of his time working at a rock quarry many miles from Tarakan, and then we got down to the facts of life.  We had lots of laughs as we worked our way through that conversation.

Orpa's phone rang; her brother was on the phone.  "Where are y'all?" she asked, then burst out laughing.  She looked at me and explained, "My brother said they're late, because he's having to teach my parents how to wear shoes.  They've only ever worn flip-flops in their village!"

Orpa's parents had never been on a boat, never really ventured far from their small village in the mountains of Sulawesi.  Her mom speaks only their native dialect.  So for them to travel on a ship for three days to attend their daughter's wedding was a big deal.

Orpa chose her 25th birthday as her wedding day.  I told her - lucky for your husband, he only has to remember one day!  I made her a cake that morning, and we laughed about how it looked like it was a 25th anniversary cake.

After the parents finally showed up and got their meal, the makeup and hair lady from the salon arrived with the dresses.  Orpa's dress, the mom's dress, and my dress were all crumpled up in a plastic bag - but amazingly looked pretty good once we shook them out and hung them up.  Makeup Lady ordered Orpa to lie down on the floor while she applied makeup to her.  I'd never seen this technique before - but considering the amount of makeup she put on her, it was the best position to be in.

My friends Joy and Sarah arrived to start working on me.  I haven't been this gussied up since - well, since my own wedding fifteen years ago, I guess.  They did an awesome job, and it was really fun.  I kept popping out to take peeks at Orpa, and when I first saw her all done and in her dress, I lost it.  I kept thinking of her as this 18-year-old girl, who came to us looking for a job, and how she has lovingly worked for us through the years - cooking for us, rocking fussy babies, helping me navigate cultural dilemmas, hanging out countless loads of laundry - all done with her gorgeous smile.

photo by Dave Forney

photo by Dave Forney

Orpa and her mom
photo by Dave Forney

Orpa and her American mom.  She often calls me "Mami".
photo by Dave Forney

Striking the quintessential Indonesian pose
photo by Dave Forney

After our little photo shoot with MAF teammate Dave Forney, Orpa hid herself in our guest room and waited for the groom and his entourage to come and fetch her, per Indonesian custom.  Herry and his family arrived, knocked on the door, then tentatively came in and inquired after the bride.  A few photos were snapped, a prayer was said, and we were off to the church.

The arrival of the groom's family

Unfortunately I don't have any photos of the actual wedding ceremony in the church.  But here is something different - we all - Herry, flanked by her parents, me, and his parents, walked her down the aisle, and all the entourage, walked in behind us.  It was a fairly typical wedding service - music and exchanging vows - but it was different in that the pastor gave a long sermon, the power went out a few times, and after the church service a man from the Indonesian government held his own civil service and gave them their marriage certificate on the spot.

From the church we went straight to the reception, which was held at Herry's parents' home.  A huge tent had been set up, with a stage for the bridal party, and a buffet line.

The looooong line into the reception.  The ladies in the picture are some of our neighbors.
photo by Dave Forney

The buffet line
photo by Dave Forney

Orpa and Herry changed clothes for the reception, as is typically done here.  They then sat on the stage, along with the parents, to receive guests.  Orpa wanted her dad and me to represent her side of the family.  Sitting next to me was a little girl whose job was to fan Herry (another little girl was on Orpa's side) but after a while she succumbed to the heat and fell asleep and was moved, then David joined us on the stage.  I felt like I shook a thousand hands, at least, and smiled so much my cheeks were sore the next day.

Orpa and Herry, on their throne
photo by Tripp Flythe

They very solemnly fed each other wedding cake...

...then they also fed the parents!
photo by Dave Forney

Two of Orpa's sisters and some of her friends performed a traditional Torajanese dance.
photo by Dave Forney

photo by Dave Forney

Orpa with Dorkas on the left, Abi on the right.  Dorkas lives with us and is about to graduate from high school.  She plans to go to nursing school in Sulawesi.

Orpa with her family.  There are nine siblings all together - only five in the picture.

I'm sure we looked a little out of place (ok, maybe a lot!) but it was such an honor to be a part of the wedding.
photo by Dave Forney

April 07, 2011

Wedding Bells

Wedding bells are in the air in Tarakan.  This beautiful invitation was delivered yesterday.

Here's what was inside:

Isn't that the most unique wedding invitation??!!  Beautiful, and practical - in the equatorial heat, you always need a good fan, especially at an event like a wedding reception. The wedding is for Meily,  the daughter of our beloved office manager, Pak Simeon, who passed away in June 2009.  I don't know if you can make it out on the invitation, but David is listed as one of Meily's "pihak" or supporters.  We were humbled and honored by Simeon's family listing David on the invitation.

This is the first time David's been listed on a wedding invitation (other than his own, of course), and the crazy thing is the day before Meily's wedding, our beloved Orpa is getting married, and he's also listed on hers!

Ah, my Orpa is getting married, and I don't know if I'm ready for this.  Orpa has lived with us for the past eight and a half years, and has been such an important part of my life.  It's been such a joy to watch her develop spiritually, to grow as a young woman of great faith.  She has such a joyful and giving spirit, and I have learned much from her over the years.  
Orpa wearing traditional Torajanese dress

A few weeks ago she and I headed off on the motorbike to look at wedding dresses.  She directed me to a little nondescript, out-of-the-way house that apparently is Wedding Central for the neighborhood.  A few guys wearing shorts and smoking cigarettes sat with us, looking more like they should be discussing their next expedition on the Jolly Roger than wedding dresses, colors, and flowers.  But these were the Wedding Guys and they knew their stuff.  

The first dress Orpa tried on had layers of white, fluffly satin.  Orpa's future mother-in-law clucked her approval, but Orpa shot me a look that said, "This isn't the one - help!"

The next dress was bone-colored and not at all to the liking of the mother-in-law, but Orpa was glowing.  

"You are gorgeous!"  I told her.  And she was.  Never the mind the cracked concrete floor she was standing on, the layer of cigarette haze hovering around her head, the rooster crowing his lungs out at the window - in that dress Orpa rose above time and place and was what little girls everywhere dream of becoming - a beautiful bride.

In about an hour, Orpa had decided on colors for the bridal party platform, outfits for the mothers (I am one of them!) and outfits for the greeters, her dress for the ceremony and her dress for the reception (typically, brides change dresses at least once), flowers, etc.  She hadn't pored over any websites of Martha Stewart wedding magazines.  They haggled for a while then decided on a price, and it was done.  I couldn't believe it.

Hopefully my next post will have wedding pictures!