Koffi serves onboard as a Hospital Chaplain. However, we got to personally know him through the Barnabas project last Field Service, where different people prayed specifically for long term crew. Mick's Barnabas Prayer Warrior was Koffi. And as Mick was away in England studying for more than 50% of our time in country, Koffi's prayers were a huge comfort and blessing to our whole family. In addition, when Mick was home in January, Koffi organised a dinner and games night for all his Barnabas people. It was a really relaxed, friendly evening that we appreciated - and helped us to get to know him a little better.
It was not too long after, that a lovely young lady arrived onboard, whom Koffi introduced as his Fiance - Yubi. She worked in the Dining Room and always had a smile and word of encouragement as she served dinner.
It was an honour to receive an invitation to their wedding shortly after we arrived in Benin. A photo of the invitation is below:
The first part of the wedding was held in the Town Hall for the 12th District in Cotonou, Benin. We were there on time, with a whole crowd of people from the ship. Unfortunately, the Mayor was about an hour late. It was at this point, that we were glad that we had organised sitters for the boys - thanks Courtney and Sharon!
|Outside the Town Hall - Mick's tie matched my Congolese tailored dress|
The Civil service was relatively short - the Mayor had a few words to say as did Koffi and Yubi. Whilst our French is improving, we are still not able to understand as much as we wold like. And the Mayor was also pretty hard to hear. The Salon de Mariage in the Town Hall has lots of lecture style seats - it was like being in a class room - waiting for the teacher to come. But a much better surprise when it was the Bride and Groom.
|Civil Ceremony - waiting for the Mayor|
After the Civil Ceremony, we drove in a convoy - all with hazard lights flashing - but unfortunately not too much beeping of car horns - to the church for the Benediction Nuptiale. It was very loud and very joyful. Best of all - there was a translator, as I think most of it was in Fon - the local language.
There were a lot of people in matching, traditional outfits - not Mick and I. We may try and get one set tailored here but I think I am still scarred from a comment about "new curtains" that a Captain of mine made once, when Mick and I had matching outfits from Hawaii! That said - I really admire the traditional costumes, the colourful fabric designs and how easy it is to see who belongs to whom. It makes some of our celebrations at home look positively bland in comparison.
I have included some pictures of the happy couple with their parents and together in the church. I don't mind admitting, that we were not quite sure what was happening most of the time, even with the translation. But we felt so honoured to be invited and priviled to be able to share in their special day. I don't think any of the photos included show just how happy the newly weds looked - but they were literally beaming. It was a wonderful day full of memories that we will never forget. We look forward to catching up with them when they return to the ship soon.
|The Bridal Couple with their parents|
|Koffi and Yubi - Listening attentively to the sermon|
|Us at the Reception - it was about 4pm by then. Some people brought snacks with them - perhaps next time!|