Starting out on the trail
As soon as we began our walk, it began to rain. After waiting out the rain under a porch roof, we once again began our walk. I had been told that it had been raining, so we had brought rain boots for all of us to wear.
Waiting out the rain
We had to cross a swinging bridge (about 20 meters high) that takes you across a river that is over 100 meters wide and very deep. As soon as we crossed the swinging bridge, one of the men from Tortuguero met us with a horse to carry our children so they wouldn’t have to walk through the deep mud. Andrew and I walked behind the horse, eventually falling behind because of the deep mud caused by the rains. I was so thankful I had brought boots. At one point, the mud was nearly up to my knees! Two of Andrew’s nieces, Mirna and Inez, came down the mountain to help carry some of our things.
Descending the swinging bridge!
New bridge being built
This was the day after Deborah's 5th birthday. As Andrew picked her up and put her onto the horse, she said, "Daddy, this is my birthday present!"
After slipping and sliding through muddy trails for about 40 minutes, we arrived at the bottom of the mountain that we would climb. The trail that leads up the mountain is very rocky; it was so slippery that at times I had to pull myself up with the big rocks above me. It was beginning to get dark as we reached the top of the mountain. I was so thankful to have finally arrived.
The trail on to Madgalena’s house (Andrew’s second-oldest sister) was just as muddy. Soon we heard the excited shouts of our children, “Mommy! Daddy! You’re here!” After we were greeted by sisters, brothers-in-law, and many nieces and nephews, we were able to get out of our muddy clothes and take a bath. After having bathed the children and had a bath myself, I felt so much better. I was so tired! We were served delicious chicken soup and home-made tortillas.
Edgar is Elena’s son, Andrew’s 3rd sister. I remember Andrew telling me right after we got married that Elena was almost like a second mother to him. He said that when he was a small boy, every night, she would put him to bed and read the Bible to him by the light of the lantern. All of Andrew’s sisters (all 6 of them!) are just precious; but there is something special about Elena. She is quiet; and she radiates such a peaceful, sweet spirit. It is hard to describe. Even without being able to communicate well with her (she only speaks Ch’ol), I can tell she is a godly lady. And Edgar is a very sweet young man, as well. He is the oldest of three (Deonicio and Mirna are his siblings); and he is very responsible. He works with cattle and is a very hard worker. Last year, when Andrew had nose surgery in Villahermosa, Edgar rode a bus and stayed at the hospital and helped me with Andrew through the night after we got him home. (Because of his operation, Andrew was not able to get up by himself; he had to be lifted from his bed.) Edgar was a very big blessing to us during those days.
Edgar, the handsome groom
His bride, Diana, turned 16 in April. (Edgar is 22.) I saw her for the first time at the wedding. She has a beautiful smile and seems just as sweet as Edgar is. (When I found out he was getting married, I prayed, “Lord, help her to be a sweet and submissive helpmeet to him!” I feel like he deserves a good wife.) I was only with her for a very short time, but I know that she is a good girl and that she loves him.
I was told that Diana’s parents are Zapatista Rebels who live in Palenque, and when she was only 6 years old, they sent her to live with her sister in Tortuguero. So she sees her sister and her brother-in-law as her parents. Her sister and brother-in-law gave her away at the wedding. (The custom here is that both parents walk the bride down the aisle.)
Diana, the young bride
The wedding was to be at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday. By the time I was up and dressed on Saturday morning, there were guests already at the groom’s house, having breakfast. The men had already been up for hours. They killed a cow and a pig and many chickens. There must have been over 200 people at Elena’s house (actually in her yard) eating from tables that had been brought from the church. The men always eat first, and then the women. At about 11:30, Edgar came over to Magdalena’s house (where we were staying) and asked Andrew if he could help him with his tie. I snapped some pictures of the handsome groom; then Andrew went to the bride’s house to take pictures of her.
The children and I walked down to the church. The walk to the church was very, very muddy…Deborah was carried and Little Andrew managed by himself. (I wore my rain boots and carried my shoes; once I was at the church, I changed in to my regular shoes.)
The custom in the Indian villages here is that the groom and his parents go to the bride’s house and accompany the bride and her parents (walking) to the church. All the church people go to the bride’s house and walk behind the bride and groom and their families, accompanied by a singing group who play their instruments and sing all the way from the bride’s house to the church.
The ceremony was beautiful. Although I did not understand, it was sweet to watch the pastor conduct the ceremony. Two decorated chairs had been placed below the platform for the couple, directly in front of and facing the pulpit, where they sat throughout the whole ceremony. After the sermon, the pastor called them to the platform where they knelt and the pastor prayed for them. He then told the groom he could remove the veil from the bride’s face, which he did; but there was no kiss. Afterwards, the pastor had the couple stand at the front of the church and one of the men held an offering basket; then the whole congregation walked past the couple, where they left money in the basket and hugged the bride and groom. (Some of the people had a gift that they left at the altar for the couple.)
It rained throughout the entire ceremony, and let up only when the couple walked to the house. It rained from then on, all afternoon long and throughout the night.
At about 9:00 p.m., the electricity went out. We had to light candles and use flashlights. Elena invited us down to her house for supper. I was eager to see the couple together after everyone had left. Edgar built a small room in his parents’ house, and that is where they will live. When we sat down to eat, Diana sweetly helped her mother-in-law serve everyone. She seemed very comfortable and she acted like she had been a part of the family for years. I caught Edgar looking at her several times, but never saw any show of affection between them. I asked Diana the next morning, “How does it feel to be married?” She responded with a beautiful, shy smile,
“Lord, please bless Edgar and Diana’s marriage. Please pour out your blessings on this special couple. May Your name be honored and glorified through their lives.”
As I think about the way this wedding was conducted, and the customs of the Indians in the village, I couldn’t help but think of us, the church, as the bride of Christ. I thought of the following Scripture verses:
Revelation 19:7,8: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”
Revelation 21:2: “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared a bride adorned for her husband.”
Isaiah 61:10: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”
I couldn’t help thinking of the parallel between the groom and his father going to get the bride, and of God the Father sending His Son to get His bride, the church… As Diana was preparing herself for her groom to come get her, so should we be ever ready, for we know not when our Lord will come. When Diana walked down the aisle, I could smell her perfume as she walked past our seats. She had a sweet smell about her; it makes me consider myself…is my spirit a sweet aroma before my Lord? Have I adorned myself with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of my God of great price?
Are you ready? Are you watching and waiting? Do you anticipate the day when the Lord comes for His bride? “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Is that your earnest prayer?