The Portugal Chronicles – Year One: kaleidoscope summer

The Amish generally get married in November after the crops are in for the year. After the wedding, they  spend the months before planting time visiting relatives from house to house. Harry and I did not visit all of our relatives, but in one way or another we connected with quite a few before we left for Portugal.

The days flew by like a Spine-tailed Swift! One of our projects was writing thank you notes for wedding gifts. People had asked what we needed/wanted and we always told them something that will not break. A few brave souls gave us things like crystal candle sticks, but most of them gave us blankets, sheets, towels – and money. The money, of course, is long gone, but we are still using some of the blankets. Harry manned up and wrote his share of the thank you notes.

While we were still at Central Oak Heights campground, we pulled out some board games one day. Harry wanted to play Monopoly with me, and I demurred. I had given up Monopoly after dutch blitzthe summer that I spent hours on a friend’s porch playing it with friends. Finally he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: he said if I beat him in a game of Monopoly, I would never have to play that game with him again. One down! Then we pulled out the Dutch Blitz cards and I did not fare as well! I think he cheated. 😀

We spent a week at my grandparents’ home. The first night we were there, we discovered that my mischievous little granny had talked my grandfather into short sheeting the bed and putting corn flakes in it. The next morning before we were awake my grandfather knocked twice and then opened the door.  He told us to get busy as he was going to build the crates into which we would be packing our things to be shipped by boat. Those crates survived the trip to Portugal and a few moves after that. At times the preparation to move felt surreal.

Our next temporary abode was Harry’s sister’s apartment. She and her husband were heading to Grand Rapids for a week. The next morning we were to head out to Harry’s mom’s family reunion in upstate Pennsylvania. My newly minted father-in-law was knocking on the door at 7 a.m.! That was a long day. There were about 120 members of the family there and they all wanted to talk to the newlyweds, and to me in particular. The apex of the day was when they discovered that the people who were supposed to wash the dishes that year. Apparently, being  newlyweds in the family makes one the automatic default for picking up the slack.

Everyone we knew wanted to see us before we left. This entailed a lot of shuffling of dates and commitments. And, of course everyone waited until the last week before we left. But early one morning we said our last goodbyes to family and boarded a plane headed for Frankfurt, Germany where Word of Life Lufthansawas holding a conference for all of the Word of Life missionaries in Europe.

Portugal Chronicles – The First Year: Honeymoon

When the wedding reception was over (complete with musical numbers from students) we went to my friend’s house to change out of our wedding garb and into something comfortable. Then we got in the car and set off with the sun setting behind us. We stopped at a restaurant where Harry enjoyed a turkey dinner (his favorite meal). Harry alleges that I also had food, but apparently it was not terribly memorable.

After dinner, we continued to drive east toward the coast. We had a reservation in a hotel in Ocean City, NJ. Harry had asked me where I wanted to go on our honeymoon, and I opted for the beach. He asked me to choose another destination and mentioned the Bahamas and Florida/Disney World. I was surprised when I learned that this was not just our honeymoon, but also “deputation,” otherwise known as finding people to support our ministry in Portugal. We spent time with some of his extended family and with friends along the way.

Today the rest is a photo post with some snaps of our journeying.

First day: the beach in Ocean City, NJ
First day: the beach in Ocean City, NJ
Harry dealing with our rented bicycles.
Harry dealing with our rented bicycles.
River Boat, Disney
River Boat, Disney
Outside the Tiki Hut
Outside the Tiki Hut
Harry in the stocks. Please note that no chains or whips were involved.
Harry in the stocks. Please note that no chains or whips were involved.
Dolphins at Sea World
Dolphins at Sea World
Shamu - at least, one of them.
Shamu – at least, one of them.
cyprus garden
Cyprus Gardens
ducks
Ducks at Cypress Gardens
Cypress Gardens
Cypress Gardens
Cypress Gardens
Cypress Gardens
Orchids growing in Cypress Gardens
Orchids growing in Cypress Gardens
Our last stop on the honeymoon: Central Oaks Heights, an old Methodist Campground. Our cabin looked over the swimming pool
Our last stop on the honeymoon: Central Oaks Heights, an old Methodist Campground. Our cabin looked over the swimming pool

The Portugal Adventure – The Long Year – The Long Day

The rehearsal was Thursday night. On Friday, Harry and I had our suitcases packed (he almost made it out of the house without his sister throwing rice into his suitcase). We dropped the car and suitcases off at the apartment of one of my teaching colleagues for safety’s sake.With a LOT of help, we were ready for the big day. I had read that there is always something that goes awry, and I determined to stay calm no matter what.

The Mirror Photo
The Mirror Photo

Saturday morning, I got up early to get my nails and hair done. I picked at some food and in an eternally short moment it was time for my dad to take me to the church. The gown in the car? Check.  Engagement ring on my right hand? Check. Harry’s wedding band? Check. Then we took the longest five-minute ride to the church that I can remember.                                                                                                                                                                                  Harry

My bridesmaids helped me dress, and the photographer took the before pictures. Harry was down the hall and when he left the men’s dressing room, his sisters filled his clothes with rice.

The wedding was set for 1 p.m. and it was about half past noon when one of my attendants announced that the flowers had not yet come. Music played. The soloist sang. Still no flowers. My friend made phone calls. Repeatedly. I was breathing and in my happy place. Finally, at five minutes till one, men dressed in T-shirts and cutoffs carried potted plants lumbered down the aisle.

The groom and groomsmen entered the church, and the organist began playing Jesu, Joy of  Man’s Desiring. The bridesmaids began to sway down the aisle. My sister, my maid of honor went next. Our sweet flower girl and ring bearer followed her. My dad hugged me with tears shimmering in his eyes, and offered me his arm while he pulled some nitroglycerin out of his pocket. I don’t know exactly how he managed to give me away and perform the ceremony afterward. I do know it was a labor of great love.

From the photos, I can see that there were many people there that day. Students from three years had dragged their parents to the wedding. My nephew, who was then five months old, had something to say during the ceremony. One of my students asked his mom out loud if I was married yet.  But Harry. How shall I say this? Harry looked like he was about to bust out laughing.

I had opted to have the attendants wearing crowns of baby’s breath. Unfortunately, the baby’s breath was of the unruly and wild sort. When Harry

Wedding Party
Wedding Party

saw the bridesmaids walking down the aisle, he thought (as would any good Scot)  that Birnam Wood was approaching the castle.

My mom with my nephew, James
My mom with my nephew, James
Cutting the cake
Cutting the cake
The cake
The cake
Some of my students
Some of my students
Nearly over
Nearly over
My Family
My Family
Harry's Family
Harry’s Family