Lessons learned in Malawi now include things at the rural "bush" wedding. As an American we hold high to our values of a white dress and the attention being on the bride (and sometimes on the groom) and on how sacred the day is to them. Yesterday, we had the great fortune of seeing a different side of the world and how they view their day. We went about an hour down the road and we then turned off and went another hour into the rural area. It was not a pleasant drive due to the bumpiness but God was with us. When we arrived at the town, the children came to the church (we were the only vehicle in the town). Then when we got out they were in shock. One of the men later told me that Leyana was the only white child to ever visit the town (or what he said was the only child with no color). We listened to the kids sing, watched them dance, and tried to be friendly to them. I can not imagine if I had never seen a person who was black/brown/African and then all of a sudden to be introduced. I will tell you, the babies cried. All except one, Christina, she was young enough to just stare at me and let me hold her. Funny thing, Leyana made friends with Brenda, which was the name of one of my childhood best friends who was african-american. The experience was unnerving for Leyana. She isn't sure how to react when the children laugh, touch, and possibly mock her. The language barrier for her caused her to be scared. It was brilliant to watch this out of a child who has never been scared of her shadow, I hope God uses these moments to bring her into his fullness and faithfulness. We heard the word brought by Rev. David Mosher to the children-translated by a young ministerial student from the campus, Philemon. He told them of the full truth found in John 3:16. It was beautiful. God is so real, if we listen we hear him. The wedding, well the wedding there was about telling the story of God's faithfulness. We heard the truth from the word about waiting to love, learning to love, patience and God's faithfulness in love. We watched the couple exchange wedding vows, exchange rings, and exchange their kiss. It was really interesting. They act shy and cautious, it is sweet. She had rented a very pretty white dress and veil, gloves and shoes. He had on white suit, white shoes and a great smile. She chose the color sage green for her bridesmaid (one) and her junior bridesmaid (one) and her flower girl wore white.
It was precious.
At the end of the ceremony there is a time of dancing. The couple sat up front where they were through the ceremony and then they put down a piece of material. When they started chanting and singing, people came and threw money on the material. Then they danced away. This happened over and over with money being thrown...lots of money in fact. This is part of the ceremony. It is called Perekani, perekani, which translated means give offering. Really enjoyable watching how happy people got giving the money. The money is then used to curb wedding expenses, pay for needs, and start new life.
The rest of the experience to the reception and after was beyond words. I will say that we were treasured guests and I felt at peace the whole time, watching how the world responds and how we respond to the world. Philemon and Teresa live here on campus, would you pray for them. They are wonderful people and helped to ease any discomfort we may have experienced in our first trip to the rural area.
What if we gave and gave, what if our offerings stretched deeper into our pockets. What if perekani was a dance of happiness to the Lord, what if when we gave we danced to the offering plate and gave of ourselves? Tithe shouldn't be painful, we rejoice in the marriage of Christ to the church (his bride), what if we invested into that marriage in the same way that they invest into the marriage of new young love in the perekani celebration. God wants for us in the same way that a bridegroom wants for his bride. He wants us to have love, peace, blessing and happiness. He yearns for his bride to be happy and blessed, safe and growing in knowledge. What if we had this and more!
I say, the next time you give, try to outgive God. We can't, perekani, perekani, give offerings!
From here to next time,