April 20, 2010, KIGALI, RWANDA – Praise God! This is a quick blog to share with you briefly how wonderful and faithful God is and just share a few photos from the wedding trip. We have been back in Kigali for a week now (since April 12) and I have been busy cramming deadlines for a class as well as dealing with survival issues so please forgive me for taking so long to get this out. I want you to know that God worked out every little detail of this wedding so perfectly in His own timing.
HOLDING ON FOR GOD’S MIRACLE. Why do we call this a Miracle Wedding? Well, not only was our meeting and coming together a miracle, but the planning and implementation of the wedding event was beyond human hands. We began this wedding project several months before the wedding with literally zero in the bank. Even a few weeks before the wedding, that balance had not increased and we were worried. We held on with the strength of our love and faith in the Lord, persevering through fleshly temptations to take out a loan or to change the wedding plans. And God came through faithfully.
GOD MOVES MOUNTAINS. Three weeks before the wedding, things began to move. God miraculously granted us favor with God’s people. Faithful people from both the US and Rwanda began donating funds and services to make this wedding not only happen but glorify God with its magnificence. We were still tight on funds, but we had our airplane tickets and we were packed and ready to go. As long as we got to Houston we knew we could always continue to downsize the wedding. JP got his visa in two days and on March 11th our loving church family in Rwanda picked us up and sent us off at the airport with love and prayers.
A NEW EXPERIENCE. This was Jean-Paul’s first trip in an airplane and out of East Africa so I got to experience the trip through new eyes. Jean-Paul was full of mixed feelings of excitement, nervousness, and awe.
It was a long journey on three airplanes (flying through Uganda, Ethiopia, London, to Houston), 21 hours of flying, and two 8-12 hour airport layovers. We watched a few movies and tried to get some sleep, but Jean-Paul was glued to the map screen that showed our continuous flight path. He loved to see where we were flying over. He was amazed at the Atlantic ocean and the snowcapped mountains as we flew over east Canada and the American northeast.
As we finally flew over Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, JP was amazed at how huge the airport was and how far it was to the centre of Houston. We arrived on the evening of Friday, March 12th and my friend Amy picked us up at the airport. For me it was refreshing to be on highway roads without loud horns and people shouting and jumping out at you. I was home indeed.
We stayed at the house of a church family who offered to let us stay in two of their rooms during our month long stay in Houston, minus the wedding week when the church graciously offered to put us in a hotel. We took our first hot shower and picked up a missionary loaner truck the next morning (Saturday) at Houston’s First Baptist Church.
We spent the first two weeks driving all over Houston organizing low-cost decorations for the wedding reception and visiting a few friends. This was a long and difficult process, but it allowed JP to see quite a bit of Houston.
The next morning we went to service and Bible Study class at Houston’s First Baptist Church. The size of my megachurch of over 10,000 members excited JP. We enjoyed Pastor Gregg Matte’s pre-Easter message, the excellent choir and orchestra, and the wonderful hospitality of the Bible Study class.
After class we enjoyed Mexican fajitas and chili con queso at Pappasita’s Cantina. JP loved it. He said it was like African food.
DENTIST. Jean-Paul had acquired a sore jaw joint that prevented him from eating. The pain was so excruciating. I didn’t know what to do because we didn’t have health insurance or funds for dental care so we asked around the church for a referral to an affordable dentist. Praise God! We got one. This would be JP’s first dental visit ever. The dentist turned out to be a sweet Christian. He told us JP had some muscular strain from stress so he needed to take some muscle relaxers and sleep with a mouth guard. When we told him we were missionaries from Africa he didn’t charge us for the visit. We were so blessed. PTL!
MEETING WITH THE MINISTER. The next two days we met with Don Munton, our marriage minister, who coached us through the whole wedding process and writing vows. Don is the Singles Director at the church and I've known him since I joined HFBC. He is a sweet and humble soul. He had some time each of us. We had no clue what to do since we'd never been the star players of a wedding, but Don made us feel very at ease. He simply told both of us not to worry because he was in charge and would direct us throughout the ceremony, the minute we walk into the chapel. Don is quite the pro at this. Thanks, Don, for making JP feel so loved and cared for. We both love you so much! Thanks, Denise (his wife), for letting Don spend time on this.
THE GUITAR CENTER. I took Jean-Paul, a professional lead guitarist who has never owned his own guitar, to his first real guitar store. The look on his face was priceless as we entered the huge warehouse of guitars. The walls and ceilings were covered in a forest of electric and acoustic guitars, basses, effects, amps and other musical instruments and devices. For JP it was like being in a playground because he was free to test out any equipment. I think we spent four or five hours in the store our first time. He was so happy as he played like an angel. I was so proud that my fiancé was obviously the best guitarist around in the store.
WEDDING SHOWER. The next Sunday afternoon my friends gave us a small wedding shower (pre-wedding party) so they could all meet JP prior to the wedding. We had cupcakes (my first in 3 years) and punch and opened gifts. They bought us lovely corsages to wear. It was wonderful to see friends I hadn’t seen in a long time and share with them the blessing of God.
MEETING THE FAMILY. We got through the first week of organizing, running from store to store getting prices, returning things and purchasing others for the reception. I got my dress and shoes fitted, reserved a tuxedo for JP, and made my wedding day hair appointment.
Five days before the wedding, we checked into the Drury Hotel Galleria for our wedding week, courtesy of Houston’s First Baptist Church. A few days before the wedding my sisters arrived from San Francisco and Oregon. It would be Jean-Paul’s first meeting with my family.
We arranged to take my nephews to the downtown Aquarium, a mini-amusement park and aquarium museum. So, it was a double treat for JP as he meets my family and sees his first aquarium, shark tank, and amusement park. It was always my dream to see JP and my favorite nephews meet and get along. Oh, what a joy to see my dream come true. Jean-Paul rode his first mini-train through a shark tank tunnel, rode a ferris wheel in the middle of downtown Houston, won my nephew a toy in a shooting game, saw and touched live fish, and saw his first captive white tiger. What a treat and dream come true for me! My sisters loved him too!
JP GETS SICK. Two days before the wedding, JP’s diabetes starts up again and got progressively worse. My church’s Missions Pastor sent us to a local Christian doctor and covered the expense. JP’s blood glucose level was extremely high so the doctor gave him insulin injections, a glucose meter, and medication. That night JP’s migraines became intolerably explosive to the point of nausea and tears. I called the doctor and he recommended that I take him to the hospital emergency. First we quickly called the church in Rwanda to ask for prayers. After a few hours of sleep, JP began to feel better so we avoided the hospital. The next day he continued to get better so we continued the treatments as the doctor prescribed. Thank God almighty! Thanks Dr. Su and William. Later on we heard that the entire church got down on their knees and were praying for Jean-Paul to get better. Thank you ERC family!
REHEARSAL & DINNER. Friday evening we meet at the church for rehearsal. We did a quick run down of the wedding. Afterwards, we had a nice rehearsal dinner with my family and bridesmaids at my sisters restaurant Hunan Downtown. It was a nice reunion of my family members.
WEDDING DAY. It's Saturday, March 27th and it’s my wedding day. I get up early to go for my hair appointment. Farida, my favorite hairdresser at Visible Changes, puts me in curls for a sweet soft look since I wasn’t using a veil and wanted to just put flowers in my hair.
We get to the church and I begin to take a look at the table settings. Thank God for my friends Saba and Ben who volunteered to go pick up coffee. Karen was also a lifesaver with the table decorations. The wedding coordinator Debbie was fabulous. She took over everything and told me not to worry and to go just get myself ready. I went to the bride’s room to put on my makeup and dress, and do my hair. The next thing I knew it was time to enter the chapel for the wedding.
MIRACLE PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEO. We had no funds for professional photography, but I wanted nice photos to testify of this blessed moment. My friend Stan had another engagement, but a few days before the wedding he found two fabulous Christian photographers, Topher and Marlo, who donated their services so graciously to capture this miraculous event. They really bent over backwards to take wonderful photos and get us a few to take home before we leave. God bless their hearts! This is God’s extraordinary favor.
A filmmaker friend from Rwanda was supposed to come take professional video and edit a wonderful video for us, but he canceled the last minute and couldn’t make it to America so we were strapped for a videographer the day before the wedding. We were down to the wire in our funds so I got desperate and reached out on facebook. My good friend Kelly came to the rescue and answered my facebook call, volunteering to shoot the video with my camera. Praise God!
WEDDING SURPRISES. I knew my sister was getting me a cake and some bouquets and boutonnières for the wedding, but when I saw the beautiful three tiered cake covered with sugar flowers and the chocolate covered groom’s cake surrounded by chocolate dipped strawberries, it was an awesome sight. Then, Debbie came to ask me what to do with the huge altar vases. Should she put them on the floor becauser they are so huge? I didn’t know what she was talking about because I had ordered some simple flower arrangements for the altar. My eyes were amazed when I went to see. In the chapel were two of the largest red rose arrangements I had ever seen. Each rose was gigantically the size of my stretched hand. They were the most beautiful rose arrangements I had ever seen in my life. Everyone was in total awe of the flowers. I was not expecting such a beautiful thing for my humble wedding. This doesn’t end. Then came the bouquets and boutonnières. They were also huge and beautiful. My sister Gigi had surprised me with the flowers and cakes and really spiced up my wedding. I was so happy because I knew God was so glorified by this act of beauty and kindness provided by my sister. Now everyone could see truly what God had done by this wedding.
THE WEDDING PARTY. Oh, the wedding party was an entourage of loved ones. My nephews Cody and Tyler were flower boy and ring bearer. My precious brother Andrew walked me down the aisle and gave me away, in place of my father who could not attend. My mom was there with my brother Justin who was the best man. My baby sister Christine was my maid of honor. My best friends Beth and Amy were beautiful bridesmaids. My niece Ella was the photo beautifier. My sisters Nancy, Shirley, Gigi, and nephew Beckett were also present to represent my family. My friend Fred and his wife Josephine (pastors of Victory Mission Church Rwanda) read opening verses in English and Kinyarwanda. All these people flew or drove many hours to partake in our wedding. Don Munton kindly donated his time as the wedding minister. And many wonderful friends from all over the globe came to bless us. This was the second happiest day of my life (the first was when I found Christ). Oh, there was absolutely no nervousness in me after I put on the dress, but complete peace when I walked down the aisle and saw Jean-Paul waiting for me at the altar. It was thrilling to see the sweet faces of family and friends in the chapel witnessing this union of love.
WEDDING PHOTOS. I don’t want to add more words so we can get to the photos. I’m going to end this blog with a few more wedding photos. You can view more by clicking this link to Our Miracle Wedding. Just uploading a few photos onto the blog took centuries and then it just reached its limit. We had a truly blessed trip and a superblessed wedding. I believe God was glorified at all the presence of love and compassion. I will come back later to describe the aftermath of our wedding trip. Love ya! Enjoy!
TO OUR LOVED ONES IN USA & RWANDA. THANK YOU ALL SOOOO MUCH! I want to thank every single person who gave us their hearts to make this event so wonderful and such a miracle of God. Thank you Apostle Masasu, Mama Lydia, Michel and all of Evangelical Restoration Church Remera for your love and blessings. You may not have been there inn flesh, but you were with us in spirit and we felt it. Thanks to all my family for making the long trip to be there for me and for welcoming JP with such love and kindness. It meant so much to me to have my family there. Thanks to Beth and Amy for all their help and encouragement. Thanks to Karen, Ben, Saba and Barbara for helping with the reception. Thank you anonymous donors for the airplane tickets. We're so grateful. Thanks to Stan, Marlo and Topher for the beautiful photos and more to come. Thanks to Harvey & Bonnie for the car. Thanks to Fred and Josephine for coming such a long way to bless us and pray over us. Thanks to the Kovaly’s for opening their house to us. Thanks to William Taylor and HFBC Missions Department for the hotel and doctor. Thanks to Dr. Su and the dentist for caring for JP. Thanks to all our friends who came to bless us and all who sent us gifts. And we hope we have not forgotten anybody. Words can’t express the magnitude of our appreciation and love for you all! WE LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!
MOST OF ALL, THANK YOU GOD!
Lord God, thank you for taking me from nowhere and showing me the love of Your Son and the love of the Family of Christ. Thanks for choosing me for this mission and taking care of me all these years. Thanks for saving Jean-Paul through hardship and war. Thanks for giving him to me now as my life partner. Thanks for taking care of our wedding. I know that you've been glorified by all the love that showed through our wedding. Bless our friends and family. JP and I love you so much and we are overwhelmed with love and gratitude. Please be with us in our marriage and family. We love each other sooo much. The road ahead is covered with strife and uncertainty, but Your Love strengthens us for the journey ahead. We know that you are with us and we are covered by the blood, the Love of Christ Jesus and destined for victory. Lord we follow you and forge ahead, focused on your Glory. Amen.
Love in Christ Jesus,
Linda & Jean-Paul
Bigirindavyi (pronounced "biggie-ring-daav-yee")
- For a wonderful wedding, trip and return
- For all our loved ones in both USA and Rwanda
- God’s plans and direction for our life together and for the ministry
- Speedy 501c3 approval for Urukundo for the Children, Inc. (we need this in order to secure grants and greater funds needed to operate the ministry and begin programs and partnerships in Rwanda)
- JP’s I-130 (US Spousal Green Card Petition) & K3 Visa
- Jean-Paul continued health - diabetes
- A job for Linda - "tentmaking" to survive in Rwanda
- Peace & safety in Rwanda especially during this year of re-elections
- Jean-Paul’s family in Burundi - health and welfare
WEDDING GIFTS THANKS: A great big thank you to all who contributed gifts to help make this Miracle Wedding such a testimony for God. The funds really made a huge difference. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.
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