This past Sunday I had the unique opportunity to attend the wedding of some new friends. I’ve been asked if it was a Thai wedding, and I have to admit it was not Thai.
“So your friends are Americans, too?” Actually, no, they’re Thai, but they converted to Christianity.
“So it was an American wedding?” No, not really.
The couple wore western dress clothes, a simple white dress and a shirt and tie for him. The ceremony was held on the patio that connects two families homes. The food was prepared by friends and the help, the decorations were handmade and laid out by friends. The bride was walked in by her friend and mentor, someone like an older sister in her life. The guests came from Thailand, Sri Lanka, the USA, Canada, Sweden, Holland and other nations. The introduction was in English, translated to Thai. The blessings from their friends were in Thai, the prayers were in English. The vows were in Thai, but the communion was in English. The music was a mixture of English and Thai love songs, the playlist saved to YouTube. You tell me, what was the nationality of this wedding?
If you think this mismatch of cultures intriguing, let me share a bit from the stories of the couple. Less than a year ago, they were both on the streets. They were a couple, but their lives were filled with impossibilities. Si, a friend of mine, found Pla selling herself one day. Over time, she befriended her and asked if Pla would like helping creating another life, starting by coming to live with Si. Si brought her new friend, and later her boyfriend, home to her house – a home for those who need it. It’s a home with single mom’s, former addicts, young children, and those with no family. Some are happy for this new home, welcoming each new person into their life. Others are still wary, giving unsure glances to new friends introduced to the circle.
After finding Pla a new job, and later one for her boyfriend Nong, the couple started visiting church. It wasn’t a requirement, they were offered a home with or without a conversion, but they wanted to know what these new roommates were about. While they came, the weren’t certain it was a good idea. Nong walked in each time with a hard face, almost as if he dared you to like him and his bodysuit of tattoos. While he is clean now, Nong has been an addict and experienced the brutality of that life. A few weeks later, Pla decided she wanted to keep changing her life, to make a real commitment to this God she had seen in the love and lives of her new friends. Nong didn’t stop her, but he didn’t join. Excited, Pla came to meetings with questions and hope. Nong sat silently each time, watching, until one day – without a word throughout the evening – he said this was what he wanted too, a life with the Jesus.
Shortly after, with near-glowing excitement and change, Nong and Pla said they wanted to get married. The day-of, they arrived two hours early and walked the house, nearly shaking with nerves and excitement. What was expected to be about thirty guests, turned into nearly seventy. The rain poured off and on for an hour, but cleared in the last hour before the ceremony – leaving a cool evening for a beautiful wedding.