Kathleen is not only a great nurse and teacher, she is also a friend (and now a daughter….keep reading). Last Fall on a medical outing together we chatted about her upcoming wedding in January. Unfortunately, for most of us living in Papua, we could not go to Kathleen’s wedding because it was in Manado (a flight away). Thus was born the idea of a wedding reception, in our yard, upon her return to Papua.
At last we decided upon the date of March 11. And plans started going into motion. Borrowed dresses and rented tents and chairs. Church women cooking and a good friend/neighbor decorating. Darron was due back that afternoon from an all week interior trip. Perhaps not ideal, but he was game and so plans continued.
By 8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, the preparations were well under way with dress alterations, food preparation, and silk flowers being arranged. Early afternoon Darron flew in on the bush plane, tired but satisfied. Dirty. Happy to be home and take a hot shower. Along with him were Steve and Verna (Bob’s sister) also Gary, Wendy and Cherise. They had spent the week with Darron building the jungle chapel. Verna exclaimed, “It was wonderful” upon exiting the plane. I tried to listen to a few of Darron’s stories and deal with the flow of reception preparations in the house and out in the yard. The main story I caught from Darron in between chairs being set up and candles and pumpkin bread muffins and cinnamon rolls was that the jungle chapel was not finished and he would be returning interior the following day. I pondered how we would get his weeks worth of muddy smelly laundry washed and dried in that amount of time (with no dryer) and food prepared for my, “I don’t want to spend time cooking” kind of guy????! But those thoughts were pushed to the back burner as we had a wedding reception about to start.
As the sun began to loose its steam the guests started to arrive. I must say we are blessed with a lovely yard and it looked beautiful. I have an obsession with tropical flowers and I am learning how easy they are to cultivate into more plants. Around 200 guests gather. The Indonesian children moved the trampoline to the back of the house, out of adult view, so they could keep jumping through all the formalities.
The girls and I had fun helping Kathleen with her final touching preparations. A tiara and a bouquet of flowers. And at last the ceremony began with singing and prayers and a little sermonette. Then the ”parents” were called forward. Lui’s parents have lived here a long time and were present, but because Kathleen’s were far away, they spontaneously announced us as the parents to Kathleen. So up front we go…..now what???! We were fed cake and hugs were given. Then it was announced that the newly weds could watch the parents kiss and learn from us. Well kissing at Indonesian weddings is a funny thing. The crowd gets very involved with their ooohing and awwwing and clapping and laughter. Also whoever is “kissing” is usually very shy. So the boys parents went first; meanwhile, I’m watching all their social clues closely. The father places a shy kiss on the mothers forehead. The crowd laughs and it is made known that they want more. So then with much blushing and more shyness they kiss on each others cheeks. The crowd laughs and claps, they are satisfied. Now its Kathleen’s “parents” turn. I whisper to Darron, “Are we going to kiss for real?” He whole heartedly responds, “Of course we are going to kiss.” And so the un shy Americans kiss on the lips, much to the entertainment and delight of all our “daughter’s” guests. Then the newly weds are told that they do not need to kiss now, but can practice later.
The food was plentiful. I am so indebted to the church ladies for all their cooking. They made my job so incredibly easy. Around 8:00 p.m. our last guests were leaving and the last few pieces of garbage were being gathered along with chairs stacked.
At 6:00 a.m. Monday morning, I throw all of Darron’’s dirty, nasty, interior clothes into the washing machine. 30 minutes later, they are out on the laundry line. The sky is cloudy and I am praying for sun shine. My morning scoots along with putting together food for Darron’s next few days. Granola. Peanut butter. Dried Fruit. Nuts. Etc. Also I am busy with lunch preparations. I call Darron at noon to find out if he had learned when his flight would be. He notified me that it would be in an hour and a half. I encourage him to hurry home and get packed. Darron came as soon as he could, his morning had been filled with many important meetings and questions from people who had been waiting for days while he was out of touch in the land of radio at best communication only, but 99% of the time no communication. Meanwhile ladies were packing up all the fake flowers on our porch. I longed for just a few snatches of words of conversation with Darron before our next stent apart……so I counter culturally did not invite all the extra people for lunch and we snuck into the one a/c room and had a 20 minute chat over our lunch. Really important words crammed into 20 minutes. Clothes were dry. Darron packed. Then it was time to get down to the hanger. There we learned that Gary had been delayed. Deep breath, the rush was over.
Arriving later into Doyo than Gary intended, the flight got cancelled until the following a.m.. The positive to this delayed flight was we (the boys and I) could snatch some more Darron time. And Darron could get just a few more details, emails and refreshment before his early morning flight. I whip up a decadent treat, an English Trifle to celebrate. And we counted our blessing. This would also give us some time to practice our shy kissing, because apparently we need to be ready for the next wedding we are called upon to be substitute parents again. The joy of living in another culture, is being ready to embrace the unexpected, or at least be willing to be laughed at as you muddle through and be ready to flex with ever changing schedules.