We ended 2012 with a festive Christmas celebration with our Khmer church, and within a week, we began 2013 with the beautiful wedding of our friends, Bros and Dalis. To prepare for the two events, I decided to buy a traditional Khmer outfit–especially since I would be performing in the Christmas program at church. I was clueless as to how to go about it, so I asked our pastor’s wife, Sophanna, and sisters to accompany me to the dress market (Psaar Orussey). Christina and Cassie Mayer joined us on the adventure, and I was grateful for everyone’s company! We spent 2 hours or so, trying on various combinations of tops, bottoms and full dresses (for Cassie), sweating profusely in the hot market, as we changed behind the makeshift dressing rooms (a sheet held up by one of the workers). After making our selections and waiting for the alterations (most sellers provide the complimentary service–Sophanna’s sister, Jenny, helped me with my alterations later) and performing the obligatory bargaining dance, we left with purchases in hand, and another new experience under our belts. (The blue outfit pictured to the left is one of many that I tried on. I ended up choosing a similar style in a silver color.)
CHRISTMAS SERVICE – I was thrilled to participate in the Christmas service this past year. I joined the older ladies in singing “Joy to the World” (in Khmer). I was able to memorize the first two verses, but my brain literally refused to memorize the last two, ha ha. It was definitely helpful that I already knew the tune! After the program, we ate a delicious meal and enjoyed blessed fellowship with our wonderful Khmer family.
WEDDING: DALIS & BROS – I have been to countless weddings since coming to Cambodia, and they have all been fairly the same deal…the same beautiful costumes, the same menu, the same ornate decorations, the same deafening music. In some ways, it’s nice because you know what to expect–it’s now all so very familiar to me. What surprised me about this wedding, however, was how different it felt from all of the other weddings that we’ve attended. Nothing was different, except for one notable thing: We are more than mere acquaintances of the bride and groom. We count them as dear friends, as part of the Khmer family at our church. In addition to Sunday morning church, they attend the grua-saw knyom (My Family) Bible study, where we have grown to know and love them. After being here for three years, I finally feel a deeper connection to the precious Khmer people in our life. And this is a wonderful, glorious feeling. And, it was more than knowing the bride and groom–it was knowing multitudes of people in the room–friends from Khmer church, friends from Logos/Asian Hope, our own ACTION Cambodia team mates. We were able to join with countless other dear friends in rejoicing over the God-glorifying marriage of this special couple.
Perhaps the other thing that made the wedding more enjoyable, was that it was the first wedding where we left the kids at home (We love you children!). We usually have them in tow, and we usually have to leave by the “boiled fish course” (a staple at EVERY wedding), since it’s usually past their bedtime at that point. It was so fun to see the courses that came after the boiled fish and even more fun to finally be able to participate in the dancing portion of the evening (for those who don’t know me, I love to dance!). Oh, the wonderful memories of dancing traditional Khmer steps with my husband and then tangoing and swing dancing with lovely Tirot around the dance floor. My absolute favorite memory of the dancing was watching the beautiful mother and grandmother, Vanny, cut loose on the dance floor, completely reveling in the joy of the occasion (and with some fancy moves!). I remember being so grateful that a woman who had tragically lost her husband a few months prior, could be restored and renewed by the gracious mercy of our Lord…and I thought…”Lord, you have literally turned her mourning into dancing.” What a beautiful picture of His grace. The entire evening was such an amazing picture of a His grace–a young couple defying societal norms and having a Christian, non-Buddhist wedding. A room filled with Cambodians and foreigners, bound in unity by the blood of the Cross, capturing a foretaste of heaven. A woman dancing with joy, despite the loss of her most precious earthly possession. All of this spoke volumes to me, renewed my passion for our ministry here, and ultimately, caused me to sing praises to the God who had made all of these things possible.
The Christmas Service and the Wedding: