Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bodas, Weddings, and Being Home

Since I last blogged in late December, I have managed to be a bridesmaid in two weddings--one here in Bolivia and one in the states--AND visit other Maryknoll Lay Missioner (MKLM) friends in El Salvador and good friends and family in Madison, as well as go through a big bout of culture shock (which I'll save for another post).  *Phew!*  Let's just say that it's been quite the exciting ride!

Where to even begin... Why don't we start with the weddings.  I honestly can't imagine two weddings being anymore different.  The one in Bolivia was for my good friend and co-worker Ariane (whom I have blogged about before).  We had our bridesmaids dresses tailor-made, which is not exactly the kind of thing I thought I would be doing as a lay missioner living in Bolivia, but I guess that proves yet again that life is always full of surprises!  And, in very typical Bolivian fashion, we found the taylor we wanted to use just around 3-weeks shy of the wedding...  Yup.  My dress was actually ready "early," which meant I had my final fitting the Tuesday before the wedding and picked up the dress the Wednesday before the wedding, unlike one of the other bridesmaids who had her final fitting/dress pick up at 4:30 on the day of the 5PM WEDDING.  Oh how I love Bolivia :)  But enough about dresses.  Highlights of the wedding were many, but the three major ones that stick out include (a bit unexpectedly) being the legal witness for the bride for the civil ceremony (and instead of having to swear on a bible, I had to make a "sing of the cross" with my thumb crossed over my pointer finger), being a part of the "flashmob" Grease Lightening dance during the reception, and being picked--by my FRIEND the bride--to be one of 3 in a dance-off competition that happened in front of everyone at the party!  Ahhhhhhh!  And sadly, I let my nerves get the best of me, and did not manage to pull off the win :(  Here are some pictures to help make this experience come to life (for those that haven't already seen them on facebook!):

Above, check out my awesome sign of the cross! 

Here I am with my "date" (or sidekick more like it) for the evening: Jade!

Grease Lightening at it's finest!  (I'm actually the person right behind the bride, 
with the sparkly headband...)

 Above is me with the VERY happy bride!! And the picture below was taken seconds before I found myself standing in front of everyone... being asked to dance... Clearly I'm not shy when I don't think anyone's watching (that's me with my hands up!).


And then onto wedding no. 2--USA style!  As I alluded to in the beginning, this second wedding was a *bit* different than the first.  We'll just start off with the wonderfully detailed schedule I received from the bride that laid out Thursday evening activities through Sunday morning activities, each with very specific time slots (for example including exactly when to be ready in the lobby for the car or taxi to bring us to the rehearsal dinner).  Let's just say I was in love.  As much as I have grown to appreciate the "laid back" (to put it lightly) culture of Bolivian timeliness (*cough*), I do love me a good well-thought-out-doesn't-miss-a-thing schedule.  The wedding ceremony itself also reflected this level of organizational awesomeness.  The wedding planner, Whitney (still have her number written down somewhere), made sure everything ran so smoothly I forgot to be nervous walking down the slick marble staircase in my less-than-perfectly-stable heals :)  I honestly was very confused at the end of the night by how people manage to pull off weddings without the Whitneys of the world helping out!  Clearly they do somehow...  The highlights of this wedding included getting to be reunited with many of my very first St. Olaf friends (!), getting GOLD uggs as one of the bridesmaid presents (well done Keisha!), having my very first experience with fake eyelashes (love love love), and getting to spend time with both the bride and groom and the bride's family before the actual wedding day :)  Below are some pictures:

Here we are in all of our glory!  Um Ya Ya!

You know, here we are just spending a normal 
night relaxing with some wine and our gold uggs...

Me and the other Ole bridesmaid Amy :)

Ok.  Let's move on from all this wedding talk...  Stay with me, I'll keep this next part brief.  First, it was incredible to visit the MKLM family living in El Salvador: the Altmans!  I got to spend 4 quality days hanging out with my best "fawrend" Evey and her awesome brother Eli and of course their almost-to-good-to-be-true parents Melissa and Peter.  Highlights definitely included our (mainly Peter and my) nightly killing sprees of mosquitos using what looked like an electrified tennis racket (apparently called a bug racket zapper??--here's a website for all of those looking for the *perfect* Christmas present this year: http://www.mosquitoreviews.com/racket-zapper.html).  I also LOVED getting to eat sugar cereal every morning with the kids and fell completely in love with a typical Salvadoran food called pupusas (which are completely gluten-free and delicious).  I'm still very sad that the Altmans live so far away and definitely contemplated taking Evey with me in my suitcase...  But I guess that means I'll just have to go back for another visit some day :)  Below is a picture of some pupusa eating with me, Evey, Eli, and Peter!


And now for my visit home :)  I cannot even describe the overwhelming feeling of landing in Madison and being picked up at the airport by my parents--it was the best homecoming I have ever experienced.  I still get teary thinking about it now!  And then to have BOTH of my sisters come home for a bit starting that first weekend (Molly was able to stay for more than a full week!) as well as having other good friends make the journey to Madison during my time home (thank you August, Analiese, Chelsea, and Taylor)... *sigh* Seriously, what more could a girl ask for?  I don't even know where to begin with highlights--pretty much every day was a highlight!  But if I had to choose, it would have to include getting to spend an entire afternoon just the two of us with my goddaughter Lea, the potluck gatherings of good family friends that happened both weekends, having time just the three of us with my best friends Hannah and Chelsea, going to the WI v MI State basketball game (Go Badgers!!), meeting my good friend Katie's super adorable baby, AND DID I MENTION GETTING TO SEE MY PARENTS AND MY SISTERS?!?!  Below are just a few pictures from my two blissful weeks at home:

My family :)

At Chris Shelton's with dear family and friends :)

Spending time with the love of my life--ie my goddaughter Lea :)

Now before I end, I need to include how wonderful it was to spend time with family and friends in DC, first during the couple days I was there before Keisha's wedding, and again the evening before I flew out to head back to Bolivia.  Highlights of my time in DC included everything except the weather, which was FREEZING.  I am lucky to still have all of my fingers and toes...  A big special thank you to my cousin Marnie and her husband David for hosting me and just being generally awesome.  Your spare key will be in the mail shortly... :)

Ok.  That's all I got for now.  My hope is to next blog on the less-than-pleasant experience that is culture shock.  Get ready.  It's bound to be a fun one...!

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