I initially met Stella in February 2011 during her first brief visit to the island. Within a short time of talking, we learned we had much in common - similar names - Estella and Esther (my middle name), our birthdays June 9 and July 9, respectively, that we are similar in age (sorry, won't reveal those numbers!), have similar interests, that we are older young women and actively involved in ministry, and lastly that we were each patiently waiting on God to bring just "the right man" for us to spend the rest of our lives with.
We also learned God had answered our individual prayers for a friend - I for a Ugandan friend and she for a non-Ugandan friend. I cried that night - tears of thankfulness to bring such a new friend who would become a dear friend.
|Stella and I on the island in November 2011.|
Since then we have visited each other, texted, called and e-mailed. Almost two weeks ago, I wore a traditional Ugandan gomas and attended Stella's introduction, where she formally "introduced" her fiance Ronnie at her parents' home and gifts from the groom's family were presented to the bride's family.
|Me in a traditional gomas on the "big day."|
|Ronnie and Stella at their introduction in Jinja on August 31st.|
|Stella with her "maids" at the introduction.|
Later the same day, I sat in the beautiful Victoria Baptist Church to witness Stella and Ronnie exchange their vows and rings. I couldn't help but beam with pride and pleasure as I witnessed my beautiful friend, who had saved herself for this special day, marry a man who is such a perfect fit for her and will support and lead her in so many ways.
|Ronnie's family & friends bring in the gifts...|
|...including live chickens.|
Stella's story is unique, even among her own culture and family. For a young woman to reach her early 30s and to still be a virgin is remarkable.
Unfortunately, cohabiting is all too common here - on the islands, in the villages and in the cities. People either can't wait or the costs associated with an introduction and wedding, as well as the dowry are just too great. This is also common among professing Christians. I know of Ugandan couples who have lived with one another for years and have multiple children finally and bravely take the step to "sanctify" their marriage before God, the government and other witnesses. It is not easy because of the costs and cultural expectations.
This is beauty preserved to be beauty discovered.
|Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Kakaire!|