The Chiangs (Limeño Peruvians and also SAM missionaries in Pucallpa) did this party a little differently, and although I missed out on seeing the traditional quinceañera, I imagine their version was way better. Saturday night I got to attend their daughter's outdoor luau, complete with leis for everyone, Julio's special pisco sours, candles all over, and a lot of hawaiian shirts. Super fun.
Like any good Peruvian party, it involved some ceremony, but instead of leaving me bored, this one had me nearly in tears. The 95-year-old great-grandfather's speech was pretty awesome, but it was Pastor Dad's words that had me really. It was clear to me all of the sudden that the party wasn't about the party but about a rite of passage, walking through the door of adulthood with his daughter, and celebrating the person she is and will be.
In many ways, this was the wedding before the wedding, and the party marked the beginning of her life as a single woman and not a child. My favorite part was when her dad gave her a ring to mark the pact she had made before God, him, and others to save herself for marriage. The next ring she gets will mark another ceremony, another rite of passage, another man who will commit to protect, love, and care for her always. These two ceremonies will cap an important and challenging season in her life, and one I think she will live well.
I'm grateful that we had the opportunity to peek in on this intimate family moment, which of course was also meant to be celebrated in the presence of friends and family. Seeing this family makes me want to be a good mom someday, and I know I'm going to need a lot of input. I'm glad to be here in Pucallpa, living in close contact with parents and families that I respect and admire. I have so much to learn about what it means to raise children well, and in particular, to raise them to love God with all their heart, mind, body and soul. Good thing I've got friends walking that road before me.