Shalom. Much more than peace. Shalom is a condition when things are aligned the way God intended them to be. Complete. Whole. The presence of serenity, mutual agreement. A feeling of contentment, well-being, harmony.
This would very well describe the aura of the Saturday morning in December where twenty couples from various communities, attending various churches, shepherded by various pastors, were gathering together for an incredible display of intentional commitment to lead a God-honoring life.
The ties were tied, the suits and dresses altered and pressed, the shoes shined, the jewelry borrowed, the veils creatively and beautifully placed on the radiant brides.
The Grooms pictured below are waiting to see their Brides. Some brides arranged for gloves, flowers, even a tiara. Filling the air is an atmosphere of anticipation and gratitude…and here is where we sense the serenity, the harmony, the contentment.
This is truly a Many Hands event! Many members of the Many Hands’ staff have been working to prepare for the event. Even a group of girls from the Many Hands’ Primary School and Venia, one of the Many Hands’ teachers, prepared a liturgical dance as part of the processional as the brides and grooms walk down the aisle.
Do you suppose these school girls, on either side of the couples walking in, are beginning to dream of their wedding day?
This young groom, pictured below, Anyol, with his bride, Madeliene, are looking very serious. They came to campus by way of the common form of Motorcycle transportation. However, they were in an accident and had to pass by way of the hospital before reaching the Many Hands campus where they would dress for the ceremony. With some scrapes cleaned and bandaged, and some extra tender loving care at Many Hands, all the bride could do is repeat, “Mesi! Jezi, Mesi! Jezi.” Madeliene was simply grateful that God had provided protection, not at all dwelling on, “How could this happen?”
They were able to be focused on the blessed moment and exchanged their vows with confidence. A picture of shalom apart from the chaos.
Many Hands’ Chaplain, Pastor Jean Ronel, tenderly calms this couple to get through their vows and exchanging of rings.
Imagine sharing your ‘Special Day’ with nineteen other couples. Does it sound like a time of uncertainty and commotion? On the contrary, look at the faces in the background as they each are in support of the other! This also, a picture of Shalom.
Another couple (below), have been together for years and have seven children… Magualiter and her groom, Fleuridor, have class, spunk, and JOY! While repeating the vows from the prompts of the pastor, they make their vows complete and whole by making them personal. They have an obvious mutual adoration of each other.
The couple resides in the same area where Many Hands will soon open the third First 1,000 Days center.
See Ronie in the background (below). Her JOY overflows as she waits her turn.
Benitha is one of the mothers enrolled, with her child, in the Many Hands First 1,000 Days program. Husband-to-be Judnel wiped tears from his eyes as Benitha spoke the words of promise to live together as one.
After all had declared their promises and exchanged rings, the couples stood face to face, arm in arm… in a posture to receive a marriage blessing through prayer.
Meet Jeanrilus and his bride Ronie, pictured below. With eight children, they have been together for years. You can probably conclude, from Jeanrilus’s size 13 wedding band he will soon be wearing, that he is a hard working man.
For Ronie and Jeanrilus, their day is not yet complete. This couple attends the church that one of Many Hands’ chaplains, Pastor Lumanes, leads each Sunday morning from 6:00-9:00 am in the community of LaJeune. To bring an even greater sense of shalom to the chaos of the world, the couple will be baptized by Pastor Lumanes at their church on this very same day.
In the chaos of the world, approximately 350 people witnessed this moment in time, in alignment, the way God intended it to be. Complete. Whole. In harmony. Serenity. Contentment and well-being.
Here is the group of supporting pastors who will continue to walk in step with these couples.
What a team Many Hands Staff continues to be. Guesthouse cooks Evenie (L) and Beatris (R) Bake, frost, and decorate the deliciously beautiful wedding cakes.
A whole army of Many Hands’ Staff scrub high, low, and everywhere in between. The decorations are simple with an easy elegance about them. The night security guards join in the ‘tying of the wedding tulle bows’. The bows may be less than ‘fluffy’ as these guys are more accustomed to tying with ROPE!
Many Hands’ very own Jean Wil, a transportation staff, was united in marriage to his beautiful bride Mania.
Thank you to our supporters back in the U.S. for helping to make this happen. I hope this gives you a feel for the day, it is a very amazing experience to be a part of!