The past few days have been somewhat of a blur. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the culture here about 4 days ago. At this time our supervisor decided to take us on a little road trip south to visit some people that she is interested in training to reach out to Muslims. We were able to visit a training seminar where over 100 men are being effectively trained to reach Muslims in their areas. This was very encouraging to see. When we got back to our city I felt much more rested and recharged.
The very night we got back from our road trip Mark and I decided to walk around the streets as we normally do just trying to strike up a conversation with people. We were invited to sit with a group of guys while they were asking us the normal questions about our country or how many girlfriends we have. While we were sitting a couple of guys on a motorcycle stopped to talk to the group of guys. The guys on the motorcycle were actually two of the guys that we spent a long time with the other night. We were all excited to see each other again. Then very non chalantly they invited us to a wedding that very night. Of course Mark and I said yes. There is nothing more culturally charged in any culture than a wedding. So all the guys we knew were really close to the two grooms (we found out later that there was two weddings happening). In Indian/Muslim weddings the close friends help set up and prepare everything for the ceremony and the reception. It was very fun and exciting to ride around town and help prepare. The marriage ceremony is according to Muslim tradition and the bride is not present at the actual ceremony. The two families come together and agree on a price and then the Muslim preist says a few words and thats pretty much it. Then we drink some green milk drink, eat some dried apricots and then hug the groom three times and say "shadi mubalak." This was very interesting considering I had never met the groom before and its safe to say he was a bit curious as to why two foriegn white guys showed up to his wedding. The wedding ceremonies didn't actually start until 12 am in the morning and didn't finish until 3:30 am or so. After the wedding we proceeded to "roam" the town by motorcycle until the sun was coming up and everybody was about ready to drop. This was only day one of the wedding celebration.
The next night there would be a large reception feast. This was the really big part. There were over 3000 people that came to the reception. We were told that this was a small reception crowd. There were people everywhere. They cooked tons of rice and chiken in big pots and then everyone sat on the floor and the food was placed on large pans. Three or four people would then dig into the large pile of rice and chiken, eating with their hands of course. We had a great time. So many people wanted to talk to us and know where we were from and such. I feel like the Father has really used this event to begin to establish us in this community. With over 3000 people at the wedding, we have now been introduced as friends of the community. This is key in the Muslim culture. It is very important that they know we love them. This in turn helps to keep their ears open when we present the Truth of the Word.
It has been truly amazing the past few days to see how the Father has place his work right before us. The guys we spend time with have already recognized something different about us and they have voiced this several times. Continue to lift these guys up; that the Father would open their hearts to His Kingdom. I ask you to pray for this because some of these guys are very strict Muslims and following the Son would come at a great cost to them, which we are promised in the Word that it will cost us greatly.
I'm sorry that I have written a book here, but if you have endured thus far I thank you. There is so much to write about and I just want to share with you all that the Father is doing here. It is truly amazing to be a part of His work.
Grace and Peace