Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Quick Trip to Ohio

Back in October Daniel's girlfriend and Daniel's roommate from last year came down here for a surprise visit to Daniel.  He knew Collin was coming, but not that Kelly was coming.  The Saturday that they were here, they parked their car in the Park-n-Ride, which is free on weekends, and took the metro into DC where they had a fun day sight-seeing.

When they arrived back at the Metro Station at around 10:00 p.m., they discovered that Collin's car had been stolen.  We loaned Collin Daniel's car to get back up to Ohio, since it is just parked in our parking lot.  We start it up once a week and sometimes I take it shopping, but mostly it just sits there.  Daniel has no place to park it in downtown DC.  (Long story short, it was so complicated to get Collin's car back as he had to appear in person at the police station to get a Police Release Form.  After 21 days the car belongs to the tow-truck company, so they got a free car.  By the time Collin would have traveled back down here, paid off the tow-truck company their fees for towing and keeping the car on their lot, and paid to get the ignition switch redone (it had been popped and hot-wired), it just wasn't worth it as it was an older car.)

So, Daniel had already planned to go up to Ohio to surprise Kelly and Suzanne.  He would have driven his car, but since it was already in Ohio, we decided to all go.  We could visit everybody up there and then drive both his and our car back.

We stayed at my sister's apartment.  Unfortunately they were gone to NY for a wedding.  But it worked out nicely as we just spent a lot of time there chilling out as a family.  Suzanne had just come through an extremely busy, tiring week and was ready for some down time.  Her boyfriend, Theo, spent a lot of time with us, too.  We got to see Kelly, but not as much as she had an overnight babysitting job.
My sister's current project was laying out on the little table in the living room.  When her oldest daughter left home, Natalie had made her a box of all their favorite recipes. Now the middle child just got married, so she is making her a box, too.  And the youngest just got engaged and is getting married this coming summer, so my sister has a huge winter project to do!  I asked her why she didn't just type them into the computer and then she could just print out two copies and it would be much quicker.  She said she wanted them to be in her hand-writing and she puts little notes on some of the cards.  It's a very personal gift from Mom that way.  It also shows how my sister and I are different....Natalie tends to be more sentimental and I'm more practical.  Not that she's impractical, but I just wouldn't sit there and write each recipe by hand when there is a faster way to do it!  I love the way her box is all dinged and's been to Africa and back, after all!  Her husband made this box for her and you can probably see her initials etched (not sure that that's how he got her initials in there, but you get the idea) into the lid.  They are backwards and upside down in this picture because the lid is open.Anyway, I just loved walking in and seeing this labor of love spread out on the table.

Saturday we went out for breakfast and that was where we surprised Suzanne.  Theo brought her to the restaurant and we came out the door.  Daniel grabbed her and she couldn't figure out what random guy had just grabbed her.  After breakfast Daniel went to where Kelly was babysitting and surprised her.  After breakfast Suzanne and Theo came over and everybody studied or worked on a project.  Later we watched a movie and Daniel came for supper.  Then they all went to a party and John and I watched a movie.  The kids watched another movie when they got back, then Theo and Daniel went back to the college and Suzanne spent the night with us.

Sunday we went to church together, then just hung out in the afternoon.  We played Trivial Pursuit most of the afternoon.  We all stunk at the entertainment questions, but did pretty well on everything else.  Kelly came later and we all (except Suzanne who had already arranged to have supper with somebody) went to my niece's house for supper. 

Monday John and my brother-in-law did a little work on both cars, mainly tying up the muffler on Daniel's car.  Then we got in the cars to go over to Cedarville to pick up Daniel.  We didn't even get around the block when I stopped and told John there was no way Daniel's car was going to travel to Maryland.  The brakes were very squishy and took forever to stop the car.  We managed to get it into a garage.  By 1:30 they still weren't done with it, so Daniel and John went on to Maryland as Daniel had to be to work Tuesday morning.  I stayed in Ohio and waited for them to finish the work.  It was finally done by 4:00, but that was too late for me to start out.  I left Tuesday morning around 6:00 and after eight and a half hours of driving, made it safely back to Maryland.  Anybody who has traveled with me knows that getting in a car is like taking a sleeping pill.  I'm out.  Thankfully God kept me awake and alert driving all that way.  And we are VERY thankful we noticed the brake problem at the beginning of the trip.  I just hate to think what it would have been like if it had happened to Collin on his way up or to us on our way back down.  (Daniel had this same problem exactly a year ago at Thanksgiving.) 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Erika's Wedding

Way back in May my sister started exploring the possibility of my taking the pictures of my niece's wedding.  I agreed with great fear and trembling....and some nightmares as I shared with you!  As it turned out, it was a fun time and I think the pictures turned out pretty well.

Erika's sister, Alesha, Suzanne, and I went with Erika to a covered bridge and did a photo shoot there.  Erika was brave enough to wear her wedding dress a few days before the wedding.  I was so worried we'd get it dirty or something!  We kept a white sheet under her so every picture took a lot of adjusting the dress and the sheet so the sheet wouldn't show.  Suzanne and Alesha were great dress/sheet arrangers.  At first I was annoyed that people would paint so much graffiti in a historical landmark.  But then the pictures ended up looking really cool.

The wedding was on Saturday, so on Thursday afternoon, right after the photo shoot, we went to their church and decorated for the reception. My sister had bought all sorts of brass mirrors and candle holders at thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales.  Their church used to be a restaurant and when it closed down, they just left all the tablecloths.  So we decorated with white linen cloths and the brass decorations. It was a trick to fit in enough tables for all the people expected.

Friday we decorated the chapel for the wedding.  The chapel was the Collier Chapel at the Legacy Center in Xenia, OH, a popular venue for weddings.  The candle holders were provided, but my sister added the bows.  Erika and Nate had a Scottish theme going on as you will see, hence the plaid ribbons. The chapel is so beautiful it didn't need a lot of extra decorations.

Later that evening, we had the rehearsal. I was so glad to be able to go to the rehearsal because it really helped me work out ahead of time where I needed to be to get some good shots.  We had a nice informal pizza supper and game time after wards.  That was followed by gift-giving from the bride and groom.  This was my Shane got little work boots just like his Uncle Jeremiah's.  We ended the evening with a devotional and singing led by a former fellow missionary from Erika's family's days in The Gambia.

Saturday morning I got to go with the bride, the mothers, and all the bridal party to the salon for the hair-doing, make-up putting on session.  It was a lot of fun to see this jeans/t-shirt crew go from casual to elegant.

When it was time to get dressed, some of the girls were still at the salon and my sister had forgotten her shoes (fortunately just across town) and I was a little nervous about how it
Erika always wears combat boots, so it's no surprise she wore them with her wedding dress!
Erika's bouquet was heather on the Bible her grandmother (my mom), her mother, and her sister had all carried in their weddings.
The bride's hands, her mother's hands, and her grandmother's hands.
would all come together on time.  Thankfully, the schedule wasn't my problem and it did come together and we even had time to breathe deeply and share a prayer with the bride. 

The wedding was beautiful. 

Nate was so calm as he waited for his gorgeous bride.

Erika's dad talked about their purity rings.  
Nate's uncle read a letter from Nate's father, pinned the family tartan on Erika (warning somebody to get ready to call 9-1-1!), and tied Erika and Nate's hands together in a traditional Highland hand-fasting ceremony, tying the bride and groom together (yes, they literally tied the knot).

There were three special numbers, including this one by the bride's mom and dad (my sister and brother-in-law).

Erika's grandfather (my dad) performed the ceremony and preached a wedding message.

The congregation was given a chance to pray silently for Erika and Nate while Non Nomus Dominae played.  Then Erika's grandfather (my dad) prayed a blessing over them.  It was a very solemn and moving moment.

Then, of course, there were the exchange of rings, the vows, the "I do"s, and the kiss, and then they were Mr. and Mrs. 

We took the bridal party pictures behind the chapel where there was a grove of trees and a cemetery.
 From there we went to the reception at their church. They had a delicious lasagna supper.  The cake was a gorgeous creation....a Mexican tres leche (three milk) cake. It was delicious and very unique.  They cut the cake with a sword.  Nah.....that was just for show.  They really cut it with a clean, sanitary cake cutter.

I felt privileged that Erika and Nate and my sister trusted me enough to take their wedding pictures.  And I praise God for the way He gave me ideas, made the lighting good, etc.  And I learned a ton about how to do things better.  Which is a good thing because Erika's brother has asked me to photograph his wedding this coming summer!

Yes, that's right....We're already up to two, maybe three (not sure if it will work to go to the 3rd one) weddings in 2011!  More weddings!!!  Yeah!!!

(I hate all this extra space here, but I can't get rid of it......)

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Year for Weddings

So far in 2010 we have been to six weddings.  We could have attended a total of 9 weddings, but we couldn't because they were on the same date as another one we were already going to.  And one of those was also in Australia, so that was kind of out.

The first wedding was on New Years' Day.  What a way to start the was just a precursor of things to come!  That wedding was in Alabama and was the wedding of Daniel, a guy who had come to Niger to teach math.  We had "adopted" him while he was in Niger.  His wedding turned into a mini Sahel Academy reunion.

The second wedding we attended was our neighbor girl's.  On our last home assignment this family, missionaries to Mexico, had also lived at Missionary Retreat Fellowship.  Every day she, Daniel, Suzanne, and another girl rode the bus to the local public school.  We were delighted when we came on home assignment this time that that family was also there again!  Abby and her husband, Ben, are both students at Cedarville University, so we get to see them quite often, either in Pennsylvania or in Ohio. 

The third wedding was another one of our "adopted" sons.  Jeremy had lived with us in Niger for six months and really became part of the family.  We drove to Michigan for his wedding. Jeremy and Julianna had so many unique aspects to their wedding, but I've already done a blog on that.  One of my favorite parts, though, that I've never seen at any other wedding, was how they had communion.  While they were doing communion and worshiping God together Julianna's ballerina friends danced.  It was a very moving moment.

The fourth wedding was a girl from our church in Pennsylvania who is also a student at Cedarville.  She and Daniel and Suzanne and Abby, mentioned above, all went to high school together that year we were home and were involved in the youth group.  The lighting at Kelly's wedding was such that it was hard to get any good pictures, so I apologize for the quality of this photo. One of the cool things at Kelly's wedding was that her and Chris' kiss was their first kiss ever.

The 5th wedding was of John's nephew, Levi.  Levi and Shannon are so perfect together and we love how they had already been raising support with Campus Crusade, got married, went on their honeymoon, and jumped right into ministry together. I've also done a blog on their wedding.

And the 6th wedding was of my niece, Erika.  Next week I will give you more details as to why their wedding was unique.  Just let me say that I love it when there is enough tradition in a wedding to keep it from being weird, but enough of the individual couple in the wedding to make it uniquely theirs.  Erika and Nate's wedding was very much that way....traditional yet unique.  I've finished editing their pictures and hope to have them sent off to Erika next week.  So next week I promise to tell you all about their wedding and share more pictures with you.  As I said, I want them to have a chance to enjoy the pictures first.

It's November now and unless somebody pops a surprise wedding between now and December 31st I think we're done for the year!  So far we have one lined up for 2011....another one of our "adopted" sons.  I can't wait!

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Colors of Fall

As I've said before, summer is my favorite season with spring being a close runner up.  I don't like fall that much because it means summer is over and winter is coming.  But I must admit that it is a beautiful season and so far, here in our neck of the woods, it hasn't been all that cold.  Here are some pictures of fall in Maryland.
This is our apartment building
We live in the woods which is pretty amazing since we're only 10 miles from DC.

Who would think you'd find daisies in the fall? 
It isn't as colorful here as it is farther north.  But then it isn't as cold either.  In fact, September was absolutely perfect weather and October was good, too.  Now it's November and there is finally a bit of a nip to the air.

When we get back to Niger I'll miss the changing seasons, so even though fall isn't my favorite, I'm going to enjoy it!