"Love is not an affectionate feeling,
but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained."
"Hello?"--I groggily muttered as I picked up my phone, which had startled me during my slumber. "Hi," the perky, energetic voice on the other end said, "it's your newly engaged sister!!" I may have woken up my roommate with my scream. It was only 10:30pm back in Pennsylvania, and my sister's boyfriend had just asked her to spend the rest of her life with him. I admire Abram and Chelsea's relationship; they met when they were 15 and have been best friends since. But it wasn't all rainbows and roses. They've had to overcome many obstacles such as: most of their dating relationship was long-distance, with Abram in Zambia (Africa) and Chelsea in PA or VA. They compliment each other perfectly, and I couldn't be happier for them.
[The engaged couple. Photo by Gary Gillman. woo! Go, Dad!]
Despite the fact that I have just spent several hours researching wedding photographers for my sister (I want her to have killer photos!!), I don't know if it's sunk in yet: a few weeks after I arrive home in the states, my sister will be somebody's WIFE!!
My sister is my best friend. She has seen every side of me--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Yet she still loves me, and I her! We get each other's odd sense of humor: I don't think there's anyone in the world that I laugh more with and can be 110% silly with. Chelsea's not afraid to tell me what she knows I need to hear--the blunt, honest truth; if I'm being selfish or irrational, she'll tell me! I love that about her. We have always been each other's shoulder to cry on when boys made (make? ;) us cry. When we were younger, we would fight like cats and dogs. But as time went on, I finally realized the importance of sisters when I was about 17....I hated leaving her when I moved away to college, but oddly enough I think we grew closer through numerous emails and phone calls.
With a distance of 300 miles, Virginia seemed so far from Pennsylvania. And now I'm on a separate continent, living in Uganda. I will be honest: I know Africa is where I'm meant to be right now. But let me tell you, it is really difficult to be missing out on this exciting chapter of Chelsea's life. I always imagined we'd be with each other while planning our weddings. Wedding-dress hunting and finding "the perfect one." Checking out possible options for the reception. Paging through DIY wedding books. Instead, I'm not there for her...(although I'm trying my best to browse awesome DIY wedding blogs like Ruffled to offer creative suggestions and be part of it, despite the distance.)
Speaking of weddings...last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend my first Ugandan wedding. Oddly enough, I had no idea who the bride/groom were. But my dear friend, Betty, asked me to be her date. I enjoyed spending time with her as well as Chris + Ruth (all of which are my co-workers from Dwelling Places.)
Betty and me!
Two unique details about Ugandan weddings that I learned last weekend:
1) Just moments after the ceremony--after we filed out of the church--I noticed TWO brides walking into the beautiful, Catholic church. Ruth informed me that if a bride books a wedding at a specific time, another bride can also book her wedding for the same time! The churches here often marry multiple couples simultaneously. Talk about a unique double wedding--imagine standing at the front of the church with your groom, as well as another bride+groom that you've never met before.
2) When we arrived at the reception, I noticed several photographers were passing around wedding photos (they got them printed between the ceremony and reception.) I was incredibly perplexed, because I knew the bride didn't hire three different photographers. So then I was informed that the bride/groom hire a photographer. However, it's common for several other random photographers to just show up and snap photos. Then they print the photos and sell them to the guests at the reception. And that's perfectly ok with the bride/groom! [I imagined me taking that practice with me when I return to the states-- I would certainly be thrown out rather quickly ;) ]
On a completely un-related note, I have been wanting to start establishing some relationships with people here in my flat complex (or in my "neighborhood"). But sometimes I just don't know where to start and get intimidated by that. Well, on Monday, I came home from work and struck up conversation with 6 adorable kids (ages newborn-12 years old) that live together in a flat below mine. I ended up changing clothes and putting on my sneakers to join them outside; we played soccer (my least favorite sport!), laughed, and had a good time. Before I left to go make dinner, James (he's 11) said, "Ash-uh-lee, wait. Present!" and disappeared inside. He returned with a bag full of sugar cane from their farm. I was touched and humbled. So today, I wrote them a "thank you" note and gave each of the kids a "silly band" bracelet. I thought they were the dumbest things when I first heard about them in the U.S., but now they're growing on me. I may or may not be wearing this giraffe and elephant on my wrist right now ;) They're glow-in-the-dark! Yes, I'm 23....
Please pray for these children and that I could encourage them and somehow bless them. (They told me that they love attending school...however, right now their family lacks money for school fees. So they're not able to go to school. ugh my heart breaks when I hear that. It's approximately $60 per child for about three months of school. These children have positive attitudes, but I know they desperately want to be learning each day instead of being stuck at an apartment complex.) Unfortunately, numerous families around here can not afford to send their children to school, which is why you should sponsor a child through Dwelling Places! :)