This weekend we made a trek out to a friend’s village for her wedding! We have worked with Yim since we arrived–first at Partners with children’s projects, then Yim & I developed curriculum and taught social development courses together. She’s a genius: she’s a master of three languages and learning a fourth; she has her Masters in Political Science; and she knows everyone. And, she makes us laugh, helps us across cultural barriers, and is just lovely.
And now she’s happily married to a man she met two years ago tomorrow at a training we hosted together in the jungle. She asked Stephen to take a picture of them together two days after they met because she thought they’d get married, and two years later they did!
Low: It was in Umphang, a border town 150 kilometers from Mae Sot. In this 150 kilometers, there are 1,219 curves. There is also a designated area to pull over and throw up, which is never a good sign.
High: We didn’t throw up!
Low: I had to go to the bathroom so badly on the way, and there really aren’t any stops for hours. Most people pull over on the side of the road, which I was really open to aside from the fact that we were part of a caravan, and I just didn’t want a friend to come around the corner.
High: It is a beautiful drive. The mountains are absolutely stunning, and gave whole new meaning to Go Tell It On The Mountain and O Come Let Us Adore Him.
High: I heard these songs because it was time to start listening to Christmas music!
Low: We stayed a guesthouse named Phudoi (pronounced “poo-doy”). Doi is mountain in Thai; I don’t know what Phu means, but I know what it means in English, and it was fitting.
Neutral Facts That I Now Realize Are Important: I was in charge of a lot of cooking. Yim wanted some help with desserts since she was expecting around 400 people, and she wanted some Western options, too. With help from a very sweet friend, we made about 400 heart-shaped sugar cookies, a couple dozen Russian teacakes, 400 cups of chocolate mousse, and three kilograms of chicken salad with crackers. Stephen was in charge of photography.
High: We arrived with all food in tact and iced despite the heat.
Low: As we left for dinner, our car broke. The throttle cable–which broke just about a month ago–broke again because it was fixed poorly in Mae Sot.
High: It broke at the guesthouse and not in the mountains or on one of those 1,219 curves! Complete miracle. Matt & Stephen were also able to fix it for $5.
Low: Having a immovable car meant that we were now dependent on friends to take us to dinner, checkout & leave for the wedding early with their whole family (7am!), and this forced their girls to ride in the back of the truck (as I was in a dress and they were in jeans…). It is not fun to inconvenience people.
Low: It is really hard to cross cultures and help at a wedding you don’t understand. We didn’t really know where to put food or what the expectations are for the wedding. Stephen didn’t know what the important parts are to photograph–there is no kiss; the structure and order of the wedding are different and thus difficult to predict and be in the right moment at the right time.
Low: Our chocolate mousse, which was transported in Ziploc bags and intended to be fancily put into cups, turned out to look a whole lot like cat poo in a cup. Unfortunate.
High: We laughed a lot about this, and it still tasted good. And really, at a Karen wedding, thankfully presentation isn’t everything.
Low: While prepping the food barefoot in a part of the house, I stepped on a piece of chicken bone that went into my foot pretty far. It actually got stuck and had to be pulled out, and I later realized it was bleeding when I was sticking to the floor. Not only is this gross, but by the end of the day is looking pretty infected for very obvious reasons.
High: I understood some of the wedding in Karen! This is always so exciting.
Low: Stephen twisted his ankle while taking photos.
Low: Thinking the wedding was near the end, a couple of us snuck out the back to finish getting the desserts ready. By the time we finished, about 1oo or 200 people were eating, so we started passing out desserts. And just as they were gone, we learned that the wedding wasn’t actually even over yet–two hours in at this point–and some (or a lot) of people had just come down to eat. So only about half the guests got a whole lot of desserts. And yet another example of it being difficult to understand and predict the flow of wedding in another culture!
High: The wedding was really lovely. Both Yim & Day Eh were so happy, and it was just so fun to celebrate with them. It was one of those rare weddings where you really know them and are really truly excited for them, not just attending!
High: Matt & Stephen fixed our car in record time and we still made it back to Mae Sot just as the sun was setting over the mountains. It was stunning to watch.
Low: We had a very, very near miss on the way home. We came around one of those 1,219 corners to have a semi-truck in our lane, facing us; we’re still not really sure why. There were actually two lined up, so we just came to a stop and started to go around. There was another car doing the same from the other way, so we stopped again and reversed down the mountain a bit so he could go. As we were waiting our turn, the driver of the semi truck decided to get in and push in the clutch, causing him to roll down the hill toward us. Fast.
Stephen floored Zuk to get out of the way, but flooring Zuk on flat ground isn’t too impressive, and we just can’t get up and go from nothing on a hill. It was a very near miss, and we probably would have been hit if we hadn’t reversed down the mountain a bit for that other car to go. It was terrifying.
High: This was yet another miracle this week, and a reminder that God is keeping us alive for a purpose.
High: Yim called this afternoon and I missed it by just a minute. I texted her that she shouldn’t call me on her wedding day, and she replied with: “Karen wedding :)”. Some things about cross-cultural weddings are really lovely: you can see how another culture views marriage and values the day. And ultimately, you realize how much you love this other person and the culture they bring with them!