02 March 2008

I do!

Until yesterday, this had been a most ordinary week. But, yesterday we did something we never thought we would have a chance of doing. We were invited to a Thai wedding ceremony for our friends, Don and Nan. We just recently met Nan, but Don we've known for quite some time and he's now our home teacher. His visit last month marks the first time we've been home taught in 4 years. Wow. Needless to say, we think he is great, and were very happy for him to be married to a sweet lady like Nan.

We've planned on the wedding for a few weeks now, but Monday night we got a call from Nan and her friend, Napa, to ask if we could help out with the wedding ceremony. I couldn't understand what they needed, but told them to come over anyway and we'll do whatever they need. They came over a couple hours later and explained that Bishop Anderson wasn't able to be there to act as Don's Guests of Honor, and they wanted Jeff and I to play that part in the ceremony and party. To make a long story short, Jeff needed to learn to give marital advice in Thai, and I needed to stand and smile. Both things we are capable of. So, Jeff, being the genius and dedicated Thai student that he is, learned how to say many phrases in Thai for his "speech". A big thanks to his friends at work, the missionaries, and our wonderful Anutra! Is Jeff not amazing?

SO many pictures from yesterday, but we thought we'd share mostly the ones that show a little culture along with the people. We felt so honored to be a part of this wedding party, and although we don't know what everything symbolizes, we were loving seeing it first hand, and enjoying the traditions.

Kind of a funny place to start, because the morning part of the wedding was not a traditional Thai wedding in the least bit! It was held at our new church (we move in next month), and the Bishop married them. I was able to play my violin and conduct the music, which was interesting to conduct while singing in English, but 95% of the audience was singing in Thai! We were glad Bishop could be there for the morning so he could conduct the ceremony and give his words of advice based on his own 30 years of marriage. He's a little beyond us when it comes to experience!

There were very few children there, so it was nice to have so many people to help with our two! Jane found a balloon and was using it like a fitness ball in the hallway after the ceremony was over. Whatever keeps her happy!

We had about 2 hours at home, then off to the afternoon/evening events. This was a part of the ceremony where they had a whole bunch of people walk around a building holding platters of all kinds of food and flowers. Then they walked through three "doors", one of which was Jack and Janie holding a gold necklace they needed to pass through. Don was required to negotiate his way through each door with pink envelopes full of cash. The children thought this was great, and loved being a part of it. Jack and Jane both got an envelope of their own. Jack was THRILLED! He's never had 100 baht before! The flower thing on the left of the photo is what Jeff was carrying as a part of the group.

As they came in, they placed everything on this table for all to see. Notice the cooked chicken (and maybe pork) at the end of the table. Also, the big pan of cash on the lower right hand.

Are my kids not SO cute in these Thai outfits? They were so excited to get all dressed up!

So, here's the story about MY Thai outfit. When they came on Monday, they measured us all for traditional clothing. I made sure to tell them that I'm BIG and TALL compared to Thai women. I was sure everything would be fine if they remembered that. Well, I don't know what happened, but when I got my clothes, I tried them on and was sure they had confused my clothing with Napa (Nan's good friend) because the shirt was extremely short and I couldn't even button it up! I have no idea what happened. I eventually made the skirt work, but in this shot, I only had my normal (very wrinkly) dress on with the sash. I felt like an idiot for messing up the entire Thai look, but what's a girl to do? I'm just NOT a size 2 and 5 feet tall like most Thai woman! BUT, everyone else looked wonderful, so like my mom always says, "smile, and no one will notice!".

Don put out loads of money on a platter (pictured above) to offer to Nan's mother as dowry. A woman packaged it all up, then they presented it to Nan's mother in a special way. It was interesting to watch, I just wished we had a running commentary on what everything means! I love the amount of respect they show their elders here.

Later, we all went into the big hall and Jeff and I were able to place string on their heads symbolizing unity between them, flowers around their necks, and we ran water down each of their hands, then stepped back to watch as many others did the same while offering congratulations and encouraging words. We all stood for pictures for probably a good 45 minutes, as we had people come and go, yet we were in almost all the pictures! Even after we were done, Jack had been turned into a prop and stayed for even more. What a good sport!

We were in a whole series of pictures that the children were not in before the one above, so all the while, Jack and Jane were just running around this room while I tried to stay calm for the camera. I'm sure I did a lousy job of it, because every time Jack came near this cake, I was stressing out! I had these visions of it toppling over on top of him before everyone even sat down to eat! I'm happy to say that besides orange soda all over my dress, Jack's pants, the white chair cover, and floor, oh, yes, and a broken glass, no cake touched the floor. Whew!

We all sat down and had dinner while the program carried on. They eventually called Jeff up, the guest of honor, and he was incredible. I think everything stopped when he got up there and started to speak Thai. Everyone was SO impressed, and it was very obvious they were pleased with what what he said. I thought I was off the hook when I knew I could count on Jeff to represent us, but no. They called me up too, and I said a bit, but in English, so I think about 5% of the crowd understood (Jeff pointed out later that besides a French woman from church, we were the only farangs there all night). Speaking at a wedding is fine, but when you also have two children tugging on you and wandering in all directions, it's a little rough. Throughout the entire night, we were SO grateful (as we always are) that Thais are so fond of children. Anywhere else, this would never have worked!

This little boy was Nan's nephew, and Jack and Jane were very fond of him! They had a GREAT time on the dance floor!

Jack and Jane are always dancing together lately. Jane will spontaneously grab Jack's hands and start singing "I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream...", so having music and a very captive audience, they went at it and entertained the whole crowd!

And, eventually, they got cake! They brought over this huge piece for the children, and Dipu let them dig right in! Dipu and Napa are good friends of Nan and Don, and we've had a small amount of contact with them at different church functions. After spending this day with them, we have realized they are SO WONDERFUL! Our kids love them, and they were so helpful and fun to be with! We are hoping to hear a wedding announcement from them soon too!

We took pictures in the morning, while we were getting in our Thai dress, before the ceremony, during the ceremony, after the ceremony, in our normal clothes, during the program, and as we went to say goodbye, it started all over again! It was kind of like a "line" in the traditional western reception, except instead of people just offering their congratulations, they all stopped to take pictures with the bride and groom. And, there were at least 3 BIG cameras (with huge lights) going the whole time. It was crazy. But, they'll have lots to remember this special day by! By this time, we had spent the last 5 hours at this place, and were all pretty beat! It was a HUGE day! It made me super excited about my brother's wedding day in April (YAY Jesse and Danielle!), because I think it will be fun to have a day like this with our family being all together! Although, this day was crazy with our two children. Add my sister's families (8 more kids!), and it will be quite a sight! I can't wait!

If you are wondering if we did anything else during the week, the answer is... not really. Like I said, it really was an ordinary week. But, we did spend a short time at Ocean world, so our picture of the week is Jack holding this awesome snake! Like I said in my latest post (Joanna tagged me), Jane also wanted to hold it all by herself, but I didn't quite trust the snake with a two year old. She was a little too excited for my comfort level. Maybe in another year or two.

Jane loved this turtle and walked up and down this side of the tank with it for several minutes. These turtles really are quite impressive and have become something we look forward to each time.

Jane's also become a little "nurturer" recently. She has us help her wrap up this little baby so she can carry it around the house. It's funny to see her putting the baby to bed when we go places or helping the baby sword fight with Jack. She can be so gentle, but watch out! If she gets distracted, that baby is the first thing to go! It's hilarious!

I know I've asked this before, but does anybody else let their children go out with weird things on their heads, or in costumes or something? My kids always want to, and I rarely think it's worth the hassle of saying "no", so I let them. Do your kids like to do this too?

Our good friend, Crisse DeJesus (mother of Jack's friend, Kurt, from the Philippines), is in the hospital tonight with something they haven't figured out yet. Instead of having a primary presidency meeting like we scheduled right after church, I went to Alice's house and watched everyone's children (7 to be exact) for several hours while they moved Crisse from one hospital to another trying to find the right care at a reasonable price. Crisse is also in the presidency with us, and this was going to be the first time we could get all 4 of us together at once, and she's in the hospital! I think she's going to be fine, but she's in a lot of pain and will probably go in for a CT scan tonight. We're a little worried about her, so please remember her in your prayers.

Hope you all have a wonderful week!


Jennifer said...

Your kids are definitely SO CUTE in their Thai outfits - but so are you and Jeff!

You have the coolest places to see animals. LOVE the turtle.

Andrew & Vanessa and kids said...

Yes, I let my kids wear crazy things out. I'm sure people think I'm nuts!
What a fun wedding experience! Your kids are always the "hit" of any party! Miss you, Mindy, and I actually miss Thailand!

Andrew & Vanessa and kids said...

Jeff, I like the facial hair! Were you trying to look OLD, or more DISTINGUISHED, or did you just forget to shave?

Mindy said...

I think I can honestly answer for Jeff when I say, he just does NOT like to shave! He's been letting it grow, and it doesn't bother me, so we'll see how far he really wants to let it go!

Team Hanni said...

What an exiting event! Good for both of you for making it so special for your friends. How on earth will you say goodbye to this life? You have figured out how to fit in and enjoy so well!

Malia said...

How awesome!! You ALL look awesome in your Thai outfits (and Mindy, your smile lights up the world - seriously - but you also looked beautiful)! What a neat experience. I think Jack is super brave to hold that snake...looked scary to me!

Mimi and Papa in Provo said...

My of my Mindy, what a rich experience that wedding was for all of you. That is exactly the type of thing that most tourists NEVER get to do and such an honor that they asked you. Of course, it doesn't surprise me that they ask. You four are some of the most loveable and kind people I know. Thailand will weep when you leave! They'll be tears here as well but tears of joy. Love ya, Mimi

John, Megan and girls said...

All the pictures are so great! It's a fun adventure just sharing Thailand with you! I hope it's okay, but I put a link to your blog on mine so I can visit more often.

Jenn said...

Mindy what a cute family you have!! How exciting for you guys to be living in another country and having such fun experiences. My little boy loves to go out dressed as a Power Ranger or Spiderman-he usually wears his moonboots too! I think it is cute, most moms just look at me and say "yeah Ive been there" Hope all is going well.