The Lenhart Family

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Big Fat Haitian Wedding?!

Here's another snapshot from our time in Haiti a few weeks ago....

Being a sentimental romantic sap, I love me a good wedding!!! So I was thrilled to learn the day after we arrived in Haiti, there was a wedding at the church and we were invited!! In fact, we were even asked to be the wedding photographers lol. Looking back, I am laughing at myself because when we were first invited to the wedding, Belinda and I's first reaction was "but what will we wear?" (because our luggage hadn't arrived and yet and we were pretty ripe on day 2 without clean clothes). Even though I didn't understand a word of the ceremony, I could not hold back the tears from flowing but not for the reasons one might think.

The price tag of an average American wedding is $22,000. Americans spend an alarming $72,000,000,000 annually on weddings (that's a lot of zero's). We have created a lucrative industry out of something God intended to be beautiful and sacred. The urban slang dictionary describes one aspect of this industry, known as Bridezilla, as "a new breed of soon-to-wed women who abuse the idea that weddings are their 'day.'They terrorize their bridal party and family members, make greedy demands and break all rules of etiquette, to insure that they are the single most important person on the planet from the time they are engaged to the time they are married."

Yet on that Saturday afternoon, I saw the polar opposite of an American bridezilla. Instead of a couple caught up in planning and preparations of a wedding, I saw a couple caught up in the planning and preparation of a Christ centered marriage. Everything from the decorations (which consisted only of colorful chains of links of construction paper)to the one vase of silk flowers screamed simplicity and beauty. Most of the ceremony was similar to an American wedding but just much more simple and casual. The bride and groom sit facing each other while the best man and maid of honor sit by their sides. The most beautiful sight of all was the bride and groom, best man and maid of honor, literally kneeling on the church floor in heartfelt prayer together!

After the groom and kissed the bride(and the audience erupted in laughter,) it was time to sign the marriage certificate. As the photographer lol, I wanted to capture this in a picture. But as I watched the bride struggle to hold a pen much less write her name, the picture of illiteracy in Haiti was burned on my heart as I watched the Pastor sign the bride's name for her because she could not. My heart physically ached for the bride because of what may have been the best day of her life, she was reminded of the reality that she could not read or write. I then watched the mother of bride require assistance signing her name as well and the portrait of cultural and generational illiteracy was etched onto my heart.

As an avid reader and writer, if I woke up tomorrow morning and somehow lost my ability my read and write, that would be near torture for me. Yet 55% of Haitian (more than half) can not read or write. According to UNICEF, more than half of the nation's children fail to reach the fifth grade, and only one in five young people reach secondary school. As a bachelors degree prepared nurse (who has been considering going back to school to work on my master's in nursing), I am humbled when I think about how easy my education was to access (THANKS DAD!). And as I try to wrap my mind around how different my life and the beautiful bride's life must be, I can't help but to wonder why I have been so blessed?

As my heart broke over the bride's lack of education and beautifully humble heart... I thought of quote I heard years ago.... "How many Rosa Parks or Marie Curies have we lost to poverty? How many Maya Angelous or Sandra Day O'Connors never had a chance to learn? How many Mother Teresas have lost hope due to neglect and abuse?"

Spending time in a third world country is always a dose of reality and gut check for me. It makes me wonder why I have been given the resources I have been given and what God wants to me to do about the injustices I see in the world. It also has made us examine ridiculous ways we have spent our money in the past. And yet the more time I spend in Haiti, the more I think WE can learn from THEM (instead of the reverse) and their humble nuptials are just the tip of the iceberg.

PS the morning after the big fat Haitian wedding happened to fall on a Sunday and our sweet bride and groom where spotted on the front row of church... when most couples would be on their honeymoon, they were building a marriage foundation on the rock!!

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