After a restless night, I woke around 6 a.m. and decided to get some exercise. I thought I would go for a walk, but the chilly breeze made me want to get warmer fast, so I ended up jogging, probably around 5K. It was such a beautiful morning, and interesting to jog down the sidewalk toward the Centrum, passing familiar sights and reliving memories from past trips.
We leisurely prepared for the day and then met the wedding party outside--the bride's family lives next door to the F family. We were introduced to Ron and Brenda, American missionaries who had spent several years in Hungary. Ron discipled Jozsef for a long time and was a critical figure for Jozsef as he grew spiritually and dealt with some difficult issues. Ted and I really enjoyed getting to visit with Ron and Brenda throughout the day.
Our first stop was at the Town Hall for the official wedding ceremony. (You can see part of the building front here.) Apparently it is common in European countries that couples MUST be married by an official representative...the church wedding is not enough. So, we trekked into the beautiful town hall building, which I had been inside before, but this time we went upstairs to a church-like room that I had not seen. We had no translator for this part of the day, but we were able to figure out that they were exchanging vows and rings, and when we all stood for a song, we rightly guessed that we were hearing the national anthem. Interesting! A lady wearing a Hungarian banner was in charge of the ceremony, which was quite brief, maybe 15 minutes or so all together. This picture, taken inside during the ceremony, turned out quite dark...perhaps if you click on it for a bigger image you'll be able to see it better. I wanted a shot of the lady with her banner, plus at the top you can see the Kesckemet crest. The goat is a symbol of the city.
After the ceremony, we went outside, where we found the next couple ready to march in and have their turn. It kind of felt like weddings at the Air Force Academy Chapel the week after graduation--get 'em in, get 'em out, next, please! Pictures were taken of the families, and Jozsef and Zsuzsi also wanted a picture with us, so here we are!
After pictures we drove out of town to a nice restaurant, just past the Kecskemet Air Base! Ted and I craned our necks to see what we could see, but it wasn't much. :-) We enjoyed a leisurely, two-hour lunch that began with fruit soup. The main course was served on big, wooden platters, heaped high with various foods. I think each platter was slightly different. Every four people or so shared a platter. Ted and I were seated across from Ron and Brenda, just around the corner from the bride and groom. I don't think I can remember all the types of food, but I believe I personally tried the breaded mushrooms, some yummy potatoes (roasted?), sesame (fried) chicken, vegetables, and rice. We carefully avoided the goose liver, a Hungarian delicacy.
After we were stuffed to the gills, we enjoyed seeing the wedding cake! It was so beautiful, and very unique. Also unique to us was the Roman candle sitting on top! I believe at this point the guests sang some traditional songs, though not being one of the singers, I can't remember if the singing came at cake time or a different time. Jozsef and Zsuzsanna cut and served cake to everyone. I must say, it was the best wedding cake I have ever eaten, and I thought my own cake was pretty darn good! By this point it was around 3:30 p.m. (The ceremony at the Town Hall had begun at 12:30 p.m.) We piled back into the vehicles that were decorated for the festivities and drove (everyone honking wildly) back through town to the church, as the next ceremony was to begin at 4:00.
We Americans were put into the "cry room" so as to not disturb the other guests by having a translator (Anita V). It was a bit unfortunate that we couldn't be in the main room, as the difficulty in seeing and hearing made us suddenly aware of how incredibly hot and tired we were! The ceremony lasted over an hour and a half--Ted mentioned later that he was not prepared for a 45-minute sermon, which was longer than our whole wedding ceremony! However, the sermon was very good, and the whole ceremony was God-honoring. It was also neat to see some pictures of both the bride and groom from childhood on.
Afterwards we joined the receiving line and gave our gifts to the couple. Jozsef was nearly in tears, overcome with emotion that we had made the effort to be there for his special day. We had also brought a gift from one of my teammates who had known Jozsef well, and I know he and Zsuzsi were touched that Andrea had thought to send them a remembrance.
Then it was time for...more food!! This time it was potluck style, as there was not enough space to seat all the guests (probably at least 150) around tables. We nibbled a bit, mostly fruit, and mingled with the guests. I met up with a student I had had from my first trip in 1996--I remembered her immediately, though not her name! It was fun to catch up with her.
We watched Jozsef and Zsuzsi perform a beautiful Hungarian dance. They did it so well that the crowd "encored" them, and so they did it again, but this time with much laughter and a few mistakes. :-) They had been so perfectly serious the first time, so it was fun to watch them relax and have fun together.
Then everyone went back to the auditorium for "greetings." I think this would be akin to our toasts. The fathers first gave greetings, then the maid of honor and the best man. Another friend spoke, and then I got called up to speak. I was somewhat surprised, though I shouldn't have been, because Jozsef had told me about this and I had said I'd be glad to say some things. However, since I hadn't heard for sure what the program was to be like, I was caught slightly off guard, partly because I was so tired and was nearly dozing in the back despite the efforts of a new translator, as Anita and her family had already left. Anyway, I was glad to say some things to the couple and encourage them with a couple of verses, and then it was time for games.
Games?! Yes. Games. Jozsef's heart is with the youth group, and there was much laughter and silliness, much of which did not translate well. Despite our best efforts, we just could not hold out any longer. We knew there was to be traditional Hungarian and Jewish circle dancing later, but we had to call it quits at 10:30 p.m. Jet lag had SERIOUSLY set in, and it was a long day already! We were home and fast asleep by the time the dancing began...I'm sure it was a fun rest of the evening for everyone else! We thoroughly enjoyed all the festivities of which we were a part.