Malls, Memories, and Marriage / by Joshua P Jacks

This past weekend we were able to go to a wedding.  This was not just any wedding though. This wedding was for Puen.  See, Puen has a special place in my heart.  I first met her when we came to visit in July of 2009.  We had met the team in Thailand.  They had brought all of our Lao friends over to Thailand for a youth camp.  Most of the friends with us were village kids.  They had never been to a big city. Things that are everyday occurrences for us, prove to be a huge source of intimidation for them.

So here we are, the year is 2009 and my team that came (5 of us) had just met up with the team from Laos and all of our friends. They wanted to bring them to a mall. For most of them this would be the first mall they had ever been in. As soon as we got to the mall we realized it would be best to split up into small groups.  So my girls and I and Danika and her girls all went into the mall together.  Their faces lit up some with fear and others with excitement as we went into different stores and went on the escalator. There were times however that fear sank in and they didn’t want to lose the group. So you would see all the girls grab Danika’s hand or one of friends hand and keep walking. Well, shy little Puen, ran over and grabbed my hand at one point. But when she looked up she realized, Danika and I look the same from the back!  She was a little shocked, but never let go of my hand. It was a breakthrough between my girls and Danika’s girls. From then on the whole mall trip you would see us foreign girls with two or three lao girls holding on to our hands. 

Since intimidation between us was broken at that point, Puen would always come up to me and hug me, hold my hand the whole 2 weeks we were with the team.  This girl grabbed a part of my heart during that visit, and even while being in the states for 2 years between that visit and moving here, she has ALWAYS had a place in my heart!  When I thought about moving to Laos, her face was one of the first I would think of and excitement would grow in my heart.

Lao Culture Moment: PDA’s aren’t very big here among the Lao people, most of the time, until you get a wedding invitation, you don’t even know any one has a boyfriend or girlfriend.  Sometimes you are surprised to find someone is married to a certain person because you have never seen them together!

FAST FORWARD: It’s December 2011 and our good friend Keo, informs us that Puen is getting married! WHAT! I had no clue!  So February 2012 is the month. I was so excited to hear the news. Next time I saw her, she came and gave me a hug as normal and I picked on her a little bit for not telling me the great news! 

So last Saturday was the big day!  It was the first wedding we went to where they had it at the church here in LP.  I was able to sit through a good part of it, but then Noah desired for a change of scenery. I opted to change his scenery rather than making a scene!  I went outside peeking in every few minutes to just watch her as she stood up front and made a covenant with God and her husband. I was so happy to be a part of it.  She was so beautiful!  Her husband will be leaving this Sunday.. yep.. only 1 week after they are married.  He will be gone for 1 month, studying the good book in Thailand. 

I am so happy I have been privileged to be in her life for her first big trip out of LP and now for her wedding!  This is true life, walking and living, the good and the bad moments with people.  Caring and crying, laughing and loving.  It was a great day! Please think of her, as it would be difficult for anyone to have a life changing event and then have him go away for a month. Fortunately, they understand the true meaning of this life. They also are willing to pay the price, no matter what. Im so blessed to be part of a family with such amazing people!