Greetings from Mr. and Mrs. Josh Renaud!
Unfortunately we never really had a chance to connect my computer to the internet to update the website. We were just too busy!
However, rest assured that the week went very well and we are back in the States, preparing to enjoy our honeymoon at Clearwater Lake near Piedmont, Missouri.
Of course, you probably want to know about the wedding. It was an amazing and memorable experience.
Friday – The day before the wedding
The day before, we had to visit a market to get some final supplies for the wedding. Corina (director of El Jordán, a ministry that helps street kids) took Yoli and I, along with two other workers from El Jordãn, Eulogio and his wife Wilma. We had to purchase small glass candleholders to use as souvenirs for the wedding. We also had to buy the ingredients for all the food.
After obtaining what we needed, we returned to El Jordán. I took on the task of assembling Yoli’s table centerpieces. She had created some beautiful artificial cartuchos (lilies) with long wooden stems painted green. After giving me instructions and materials, I began working. The idea was to make a basket with three flowers growing out of it. The result was pretty nice! My wife is full of good ideas.
While I was doing that, Yoli was working on the flowergirl’s basket, as well as cutting blocks of special foam called “oasis” which you soak in water and use to keep fresh flowers alive.
After that we had our rehearsal. Yoli’s bridesmaids were three of her sisters (Sara, the youngest; Noemi; and Lucy). Her friend Dora served as maid of honor. I didn’t have a best man, but my three groomsmen were my Dad, Noemi’s husband Alcides, and Lucy’s husband Juan.
(I should mention here that three days before the wedding (Wednesday), Yoli’s brothers-in-law held a surprise bachelor party (último día de soltero) for me after a night of shooting pool. It was fun.)
After the rehearsal, my parents and I took on the task of assembling the wedding souvenirs, based on Yoli’s design. My dad and I, being men of practical minds, turned the effort into an assembly line and had things moving along quite well until we stumbled onto a problem. The ribbons we cut to tie around the candleholder were too short. It took a while, but we found a suitable solution and cranked out 60 candleholders to give away as souvenirs to our guests the nexy day. We returned the GMU guest house where we were staying to try and get some sleep.
Saturday – Our wedding day
The day of the wedding was also full of work. My parents and I met Yoli at El Jordán. Yoli’s vision was to hold the ceremony on the second story of the complex, which has a large open-air patio connecting several apartments. She also planned to hold the reception in the large grassy courtyard at Jericho, which is the building next door to El Jordán (and soon to be the site of an expansion of their ministry).
We had hoped Yoli’s parents would be able to help us set up, but unfortunately they couldn’t. The night before they had not only attended our wedding rehearsal, but they also celebrated Yoli’s youngest sister Sara’s high school graduation. So, my mom, dad, and I cleared the patio, swept, and mopped.
While that was going on, Eulogio, Wilma, Kelly and several other friends from El Jordán were preparing the food for the wedding. They worked all day on the food in a hot kitchen. The food turned out to be absolutely delicious and we are so grateful for all the hard work they did.
My dad and I had to bring tables and chairs from El Jordán to Jericho (no simple task!) and do the general setup for the reception. Later we brought 8 pews from the church next door up to the second-story patio for our wedding ceremony.
Yoli, Corina, my mom, and others worked on the various flower arrangements, all of which I later saw were beautiful. My parents and I returned to the guest house eventually to sleep, shower, and change clothes. Yoli left to get her hair and beauty stuff taken care of.
The day was quite hot, and our wedding was supposed to begin at 4 p.m. en punto (on the dot). But, unlike America, special occasions in Bolivia frequently (some might say normally) begin hours after they were announced. Because of late arrivals and problems with bridesmaid dresses, etc, our wedding didn’t begin until after 5 p.m. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the sun sank lower and shadows covered all the pews, and the breeze picked up. I felt fairly comfortable wearing my suit coat, and not drippingly hot as I’d feared.
The ceremony went great with no hitches that I’m aware of. Around 50 people or so showed up — Yoli’s friends, her family, folks from the mission (Avant Ministries, formerly called GMU), and my parents.
After the ceremony, Kelly took lots and lots of photos of us. We are especially looking forward to seeing the wacky ones taken with Yoli’s brothers-in-law.
There aren’t any photos available to put on the web yet, but rest assured when we return from our honeymoon (probably next Monday, Nov. 31), we will get the photos online ASAP.
Sunday – Travels and our civil ceremony
Sunday was bittersweet for Yoli, as it was time to pack as many of her belongings as she could into 5 suitcases and a carry-on. We spent several hours at her house working on that project. Her sister Lucy was sick, unfortunately, and Lucy’s son Papicho was upset much of the day.
After a final meal at El Tren Rojo (The Red Train), Corina and Kelly arrived with their SUV to take us to the airport. We took all our stuff from the guest house and drove to Yoli’s house to get her suitcases. It was a tight fit during the drive — six people and seven suitcases.
When we arrived there was bad news — Lucy needed some sort of medicine administered by a syringe. Yoli is the one who normally does that when it’s necessary, but the plunger in the syringe broke and she couldn’t do it. This extra little emergency heightened the emotional atmosphere. There were tears and lots of hugs and kisses. The family also sang Psalm 121 (in Spanish, of course).
And while I’ve been adopted into Yoli’s family as a son and brother, I still felt a bit outside everything that was happening that evening. I was the one taking their daughter and sister away, at least for a while. Still, it was a nice goodbye, and it made me wish I could stay in Bolivia a little longer.
So there you have it, the story of our marriage in brief. Yoli plans to share her side of the story very soon. Plus we plan to write about Monday, our travel day, and the day we legally tied the knot in Miami, Florida.