Hands down, the highlight of January was definitely Rosie’s wedding! Yes! It did happen, and yes, I did get to go! Some of the missionary gals helped make sure Rosie had cake to add to her celebration, and though the icing was faultless when first decorated, I highly suspect that by the time the cakes were served (after we had left the village,) everything had likely melted into a swirling paisley effect.

Not that that would have bothered anyone! The decided inclination here would be “the more colorful sugar the better” trumping any pristine appearance of the cake! By preference, the bride wore black! This is not surprising as black is a favorite color for many here in PNG. (White seems to predominate at funerals.) And that white stuff on Rosie’s immaculate black “Sepik Conference 2015” t-shirt??? I’m guessing she would maybe have wished to decline the talcum powder sprinkled on her by the groom’s family as part of her bridal attire, but … I have NEVER heard sweet Rosie complain.

The church at YembiYembi (Rex’s home village) wanted this to be a Christian wedding – a first in their locale — rather than a traditional observance so it was interesting to see what they chose to incorporate in the ceremony. Estimates are that about 400 attended – some coming long distances from other language groups as they too are wanting to begin having God centered church weddings instead of carrying on local traditions.

The village ladies went all out to bring in the bride and groom with stately Yembi grandeur – singing and dancing in their local finery. Space forbids showing some of their more unique fashion attire. Suffice it to say, we uneducated foreigners might have thought it a Halloween party instead of a wedding!

The ceremony itself included the church singing about the Holy Spirit guiding us. Several scriptures were read and expounded. People had been chosen to share about Rosie & Rex’s lives. Testimonies were given – and I’ll save the highlights of Rosie’s words for the later in this update.  Long time missionary to the YembiYembi people, Tim Shontere then proceeded with the ceremony. He explained in detail (among other things) the concept and need to be faithful to one another “til death do you part.” The groom made his promise first, then Rosie.

Her face when she gave her “YES!” says it all! A semi awkward handshake was substituted for the inappropriate kiss but then, surprisingly, the couple did not seem inclined to quickly drop hands afterward!

The service ended with a photo op of the new couple — with a sister to the groom (Rosie’s “attendant” for the ceremony) standing between Rosie & Rex, making silly faces, enhanced by her “red with betel nut” mouth. Another unique to Yembi culture, I guess!

Then for the after service recessional, the couple was again escorted by the dancing ladies group complete with all their questionably appropriate adornments & risqué dance moves. It’s likely that as the young churches mature in the Lord, some parts of this “church” ceremony will undoubtedly undergo further modifications in years to come. The village families continued with food and festivities for the rest of the day while we missionaries left to fly back to duties in town.

Rosie’s father (Noah – a church leader in his community), Rose’s sister, another cousin-sister (all pictured above) and cousin-brother all stayed on for the 2 week “honeymoon” period. Yah, definitely not our style – but evidently totally appropriate here!

But now for the good stuff – some brief excerpts paraphrased from Rosie’s testimony: “Don’t think I’m a really good woman. I am just a woman who knows I am a sinner and I thank God for His grace and for saving me. He saved me and has shown me the road I should follow. God has saved me and given me an understanding of Him. I can study His Word and He has made me come up the kind of woman that I am. …“In Matthew 7:9 it says, ‘if a child asks his father for bread will the father give him a stone? What will he give his child? He will give him bread.’ It’s the same for us. If we ask God to give us something He will only give us something good…. I thank Papa God for His plan for me. According to my plan, I wasn’t planning to get married. I had made a ‘shortcut’ plan for myself and adopted a child from one of my sisters. I thought when I got old that child could look out after me. But God had another plan. God brought Rex and me together and I am very glad to have Rex as my ‘poroman’ = very close friend. …”

Because of your faithful prayers and support of the various ministries God has committed to us here in PNG, you too have had a part in Rosie maturing into the sweet Christian woman that she is. Some specific prayer requests for the couple: – They hope to build a house here in town in the near future. Recycled timber and plywood have already been donated. Rosie’s father and brothers will have a part in collecting and delivering house posts and other “bush” materials for the town abode. Please pray that God can speed along the building process so that Rosie and Rex can have their own house here in town. – Where to build is another matter for prayer. Neither the local YembiYembi settlement nor the community where Rosie’s town brother lives are very secure sites. Pray for God’s guidance as to where they should build.

My grateful thanks to YOU for your part in allowing me to be here and have such treasured friendships as this one with Rosie. You can look forward to meeting her in heaven one day and know YOU had a part in her life.

Co-laboring together with you to bring back Christ as King!

Hope Sharp