There are several traditions that are different and several that are mixed with the Western culture. One tradition is that brides and grooms chose 'testigos' (witnesses) and 'padrinas' (godparents) of the wedding. Liz and her fiance, Obal, had chosen Vickie Miller to be their madrina. When Vickie became ill and passed away, Liz hoped to have her daughter or someone in her family represent Vickie. However, with schedules and timing, this became impossible. I was touched when I received a written letter from Liz and Obal asking me to take this position. They honored Vickie with the words they shared with me and described how I had helped them both through this time of difficulty. Part of my duties included signing the religious documents as proof of their commitment and my willingness to support them throughout their marraige. In they end, they were also blessed with the suprise attendance of David Miller to represent his late wife and his family.
Christian couples in Peru need to have two ceremonies. The civil ceremony is officiated by a government worker representing Peru and usually takes place in a municipal building. The religious ceremony is usually held in a church and throughout Peru is mandated to be at 12 noon or 8pm. However, Liz and Obal have been influenced by the American culture as well and negated the appropriate times for their wedding. (Their wedding was at 4pm.) They also decided to combine the civil and religious ceremonies for finances and simplicitiy... (different dress, another fiesta and an additional guest list.) So, first they completed the civil ceremony at this table, where they were officially married according to the law and then they moved over to the center altar where their pastor officiated the religious ceremony. It was held in a beautiful garden area with cement stage and arches. The interesting part was that all the bridesmaids, groomsmen, even the bride and groom were sitting on stage... that was our hint that it would be a long service!
Liz with some of the children from the albergue who were old enough to come. After the ceremony, the guests stayed for dinner and cake. Then, several groups of dancers put on a show of traditional Peruvian dances, including the Marinera dance from Trujillo (Liz' hometown) and dances from the jungle (Obal's hometown.) Afterwards, the guests were invited to dance with the couple and friends and family enjoyed the salsa. The dancing was quite a controversy for the workers and children of the albergue, as many believe it a sin to dance. There were many long (and very short) conversations afterwards (and still ongoing) about people's personal convictions.
Karolina and Joel
Robyn with some of the ladies who work in the albergue. Kristy (psych. intern), Sarita (new secretary), Robyn, Sylvia (madre tutora), and Miss Aly (teacher for Escuela de Miller.)