Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Wedding Preparations

The greatest event at the Bible College this week was a wedding!

The customary way for people to get married in PNG is that after getting approval from the parents and paying a dowry, a bell is wrung, and the guy and girl start living together. No vows or ceremony or rings. If the girl's father does not approve of the guy, the girl knows that all she has to do is get pregnant and then the father has to approve. The dowry for her will be less because a pregnant girl is not worth as much. People seldom wear wedding rings because they are too poor to buy them. 

Sometimes, but not often, Papuans have traditional church weddings. On Saturday we had a church wedding at the Bible College from a student, Tony, who completed his studies there and married Regina, who also took some Bible courses there. Tony is ready to serve as a  candidate pastor. They wanted a Christian wedding, and though they waited 5 years, they wanted to wait until they were married before sleeping together, which is unheard of in PNG. This is the first time the Versteegs witnessed a wedding at the Bible College. It was quite the event! 

Family and visitors arrived on Friday to prepare food and tables for the wedding. A large black tarp was spread on the ground under the trees for people to sit on to eat.

The groom made tables from bamboo stalks, which he cut and flattened.

Next to the classroom, a shelter was made from poles and tarp, 
so visitors could sleep there Friday night - an instant hotel   

At the back of the property, a tarp and tables were erected where the women prepared the food.

Decorations at the gate showed visitors where the celebrations were

The classroom was converted into a hall for the church service.

Pulpit, audio system, and kneeling bench were put in place

On Friday night the bride's family prepared food for the wedding. No outside catering here! Food was mostly gathered from the gardens and prepared on site. 

They made little bamboo baskets, filled them halfway with rice, 
and boiled them in water to make rice balls. 

During the night the women prepared a mumu, which is a large pit dug in the ground, in which they they make a fire, put stones, and make them very hot. They move some hot stones aside, place wet banana leaves on the fire and stones, pile on the uncooked potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, bananas, and chicken wrapped in wet banana leaves, cover with more stones and wet banana leaves, and cover everything with dirt. The mumu smolders away, creating an underground steam oven and allowing the food to cook. They started the mumu around 4:00 in the morning, and took the food out around noon after the service. It was fascinating to watch the women remove the dirt, leaves, stones, and food. You can imagine that the women who prepared the food did not sleep that night. 

Joel (almost ready to be a candidate pastor) and Teny, checking out the food preparations

Food is cooking in the underground steam oven 

The women are uncovering the mumu by removing the banana leaves

Carefully removing the hot stones

Then they picked 
out the cooked potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, bananas, and chicken 

(which is wrapped separately in banana leaves and cooked whole).

Easy way to cook for a crowd! All cooked to perfection

They also cooked a rice dish, a stew, and greens from their garden, all in large pots over an open fire.

They made some unsweetened donuts for the wedding as well. They use very little spices in their cooking. Flavour from the food itself is enough. Preparing all the food this way was a cheerful and joyous social event!

Wedding pictures to follow.....

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