Tag Archives: Weddings

Wedding Blessings and Celebrations for our beloved Setu and Jacob!

Ah, THE DAY finally arrived! YES!

After years and years of waiting ~ they’ve FINALLY made it down the aisle, tied the knot, had the obligatory kiss AND the wedding blessing!  CONGRATULATIONS!

Advent Church on Saturday February 10 at 2:00 pm was THE place to be. It may have been pouring with rain and cold, cold, cold outside, but inside, it was a buzz of activity and filled with warmth! Excitement was in the air, but, also, well, let’s face it, a little concern about whether it was all actually going to happen as planned, or yes, even if at all! So when we all got to the church, and actually saw bride AND groom BOTH there, both looking Ready with a capital ‘R’, well, what a great relief! Smiles all around. And y’know what? Everything went off without a hitch. Thanks be to God! The bridegroom smiled all afternoon. He even smiled in my direction. At my camera. So did the bride, but, well, we knew she would smile! The bride’s months of careful planning and organization, plus the hard work and support of a huge team of helpers all paid off. And what a great day it was!

To understand our smiles of relief and amazement, you just have to understand a little about the very lovely bride and her very handsome groom. Setu works with our Chaplaincy Team at St. John’s University (SJU). We’ve been based in the same office now for about the last 7 years. We even went together to India this time last year. She has the most wonderful, fruitful and inspiring ministry with our students, particularly those in our SJU Student Fellowship. That’s how come so many SJU Student Fellowship alumni came back to participate on Saturday, joining with current Student Fellowship members in singing or playing instruments or acting as ushers, or whatever – all there to ensure everything ran smoothly.

In our life in the SJU Chaplaincy, Setu also provides us with plenty of laughs on a daily basis. She doesn’t mean to, of course, but she does! She’s creative, idealistic, gifted in multiple languages, compassionate, kind, and is always searching for ways to make the world a better place – whether it’s some words of encouragement for our students on facebook, or through Bible Studies, meetings, organizing activities, outreach ~ she’s on the go from morning to night. She runs, yes RUNS around the office. It’s a small office, there’s hardly no room to swing a cat, yet Setu, on the move, manages to run! (She even ran on Saturday…. round to the front of the church!)

And guess what, in the process of all this, she totally forgets to eat. Breakfast lies unopened, or half eaten on her desk until lunchtime. Her lunch is still being eaten, one noodle at a time, throughout the afternoon. Actually she has much improved over the years, but hey, if a student asks Setu about the deeper meaning of life and the world and the universe, her face lights up, she stops running, and wow, before you know it, a whole hour is gone in deep and meaningful discussion.

And guess what too, in this respect, Jacob is very similar. While other couples might spend hours discussing how to decorate the house, what to buy at the supermarket, where to go on holiday etc etc; no, not these two. They thrive, positively thrive on discussing all things spiritual, philosophical, theological, ethical, moral, eschatological and, of course, meaningful.

So, not surprisingly, when it comes to arranging something as practical and down to earth as a wedding, well, it has taken rather a long time. They’ve kind of been ‘together-but-not-really-together’ for what seems like a century, and ‘married-but-not-really-married’ for the last five years. So, as our rector, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang explained during his sermon on Saturday, their wedding celebrations were more of a marriage blessing, which of course in this situation is just as meaningful and moving.

Setu’s parents both died while she was at university in Taipei, and partly through that experience, she became a Christian and found much support and friendship in their Student Fellowship. She discovered the Anglican / Episcopal Church when she moved out to the countryside, not far from Advent Church, looking for a quiet place to write up her thesis for her MA in Japanese (on Shūsaku Endō, author of ‘Silence’), and has been here ever since. She LOVES the Episcopal liturgy and traditions, the spirituality and quiet reflection of monastic orders, and every year disappears off for a few days of silent retreat in a RC Retreat House. So, in planning her wedding, she invited her good friend, Fr. Jacques Duraud (杜樂仁), originally from France, now at the Jesuit Community at Fu-Jen RC University, Taipei, to walk her down the aisle. In his speech, he said that he accepted the role as an elder brother in the Christian faith. And he looked so natural!

And the bridegroom, Jacob? He’s the man to talk to if you want a deep and profound discussion. In the days when we used to have monthly English Bible Studies at Advent Church, he would be the one to ask the most very deepest and most very profoundest questions, all the result of much contemplation and reflection prior to the Bible Study. In more recent years, since he got busy running his own design company, he keeps very unconventional hours, working very late into the night and sleeping very late into the day, and rarely gets to come to Advent Church, and if he does, well, it’s quite a bit later than everyone else. And because he usually wears a face mask, Taiwan-style, he appears even more elusive and mysterious! Kind of like James Bond 007, we all want to know what he’s thinking, what makes him the man he is! In the event, we needn’t have worried about what would happen on Saturday. Jacob rose wonderfully to the occasion, and did Setu (and all of us!) proud. He smiled all day long, graciously cooperated for all photos and charmed us all with his elegance and grace. Thank you to Jacob!

The wedding blessing service was led by Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang, assisted by our chaplain, Rev. Wu Hsing-Hsiang, with songs from our Student Fellowship choir, Advent Church choir, and supported by our seminarian Stoney on the organ and piano, plus former and current students all on hand to help as necessary. We even had live streaming for those unable to attend…

After the blessing of the couple, they bowed to the congregation in thanks – then we had THE KISS!

This was all followed by Holy Communion….

After the final blessing, we had the procession out of the church of bride and groom…

And the 2 best men and 2 best bridesmaids…

And so to the church centre next door, where we had a buffet-style reception (I found some interesting delicacies ~ rolls of bacon with a strawberry in the middle!)…

Jacob’s great friend is Rev. Joseph Ho, in charge of St. Mark’s Church, Pingtung ~ Joseph couldn’t be with us on Saturday, but his lovely wife and gorgeous daughter and mother-in-law were all there, so we had special photos for Joseph!

The entertainment at the reception was provided by different groups of students and friends. Some danced, others sang, some had even written their own songs for the occasion. One group who were not able to attend were our Student Fellowship members from Malaysia who have all gone home for Chinese New Year. They had each recorded a short video of their greetings which was shown at the reception, so lovely.

And the other group who must be mentioned are Machiko, Junko and Megumi, who came especially from Osaka, Japan to attend the celebrations. Last summer they were here for our joint youth outreach (with our companion diocese of Osaka), organized by Rev. Lennon Chang, with much support given by Setu. I had the chance to take the 3 of them around Taipei on Friday, including a great visit to drink tea with Bishop Lai, and later accompanied them to Taiwan’s most famous dumpling restaurant, Din Tai Feng, kindly hosted by Rev. Keith Lee, from Good Shepherd Church. So, yes, a very warm welcome to them!

After the food, speeches and entertainment, we had group photos, first the family…

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And those belonging to Advent Church!

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By then it was already 5:30 pm and I had to leave to get to St. James’ Church, Taichung, in time for preaching at the English service the next day, so I had to leave before the photos were finished. Actually I had the chance of a lift to the MRT Station, and as it was pouring with rain and I had tons of luggage, I made the most of the opportunity, and got to Taichung by 9:00 pm. Since then, I’ve been sorting out the 604 photos that I took on Saturday afternoon. Ha ha, you’ll be glad to know that I am not posting all 604 here, just a few!

Thanks be to God! It was a wonderful occasion! We are also grateful that Setu and Jacob had this opportunity to stand together in Advent Church to receive God’s blessing, and that of the church and university community. Thank you to all those who organized, helped, supported, and made sure everything went so well. Yulin and Ro-Han deserve our special thanks, plus the church clergy and staff, church members and all who came to show their support.

We all love Setu and Jacob so much, and wish them all the best for their future together. Please pray for them, and give thanks to Almighty God!

Happy Wedding Day Mr. You Bo-Min 游博閔弟兄 and Ms. Hsu Ying-Ping 徐穎蘋姊妹!

A beautifully sunny day at Advent Church for the wedding of our former student, Mr. You Bo-Min 游博閔 and his lovely wife, Ms. Hsu Ying-Ping 徐穎蘋 ~ congratulations to them both ~ and their families!  Here they for the group photo, titled ‘The Kiss’!

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Actually, Bo-Min has always been known to us as A-Bu-La 阿不辣, a good nickname for a fun guy, who loves to act and dress up and do imitations of people and pull faces and make everyone laugh – all the time, that how I remember him!  He’s now 28, and for the 4 years that he was a student here at St. John’s University, he kept us all well entertained, ah how we loved him! He was baptized here in Advent Church and became the leader of our student fellowship, and has continued on as a Christian. His wife Ying-Ping is a Christian too ~ they’re at the Torch Church at Taipei Main Station.

In the summer of 2009, Bo-Min was part of a student fellowship mission trip to Malaysia, led by our rector and chaplain, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang. Today a large group of about 30 former student fellowship members and those who went to Malaysia joined together to sing and play for the wedding.  Very meaningful!  They are such a great group, and today they helped with all the organizing and arranging too….

While Bo-Min was here at the university, we also did a lot of outreach in LaoMei, my favorite village on the northern tip of Taiwan, and 2 of the girls we got to know there came today. At the time, they were 12 years old, and they’re now 20!  Here they are with Hannah, our rector’s wife….

And so to the wedding ~ 9:00 am start!

Congratulations to Bo-Min and Ying-Ping, and best wishes and God’s blessings for their future together!

PS: I’ve been to lots of weddings at Advent Church and I think this is the first ever where we’ve had a whole group photo on the church steps with ‘The Kiss’!

Happy Wedding Day 林家亨弟兄 Mr. Lin Jia-Heng and 李嘉芬小姐 Ms. Lee Jia-Fen!

And yes, their names, Jia-Heng and Jia-Fen, are very alike, though actually the ‘Jia’ is a different Chinese character in both – but still!  Today we are celebrating their wedding day at Advent Church!

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Jia-Heng and Jia-Fen were 2 of our students in our student fellowship for all the 4 years that they studied in the same Electronic Engineering Class here at St. John’s University. Jia-Heng is from Taipei and Jia-Fen is from Jinshan, so not too far away, and they’ve kept in touch with us since graduation and come back to visit often.  A few months ago, Jia-Heng was baptized and then last weekend, confirmed.  Their friends from the student fellowship have supported them both from the beginning, and all came today to sing and to congratulate them on their wedding day at Advent Church ~ a beautiful service!

Congratulations Jia-Heng and Jia-Fen on your wedding day and may God bless you today and always!

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Tseng ~ and all the Tseng family!

Last Sunday was an auspicious lucky day in the Chinese calendar, so there were lots of weddings being held all over Taiwan.  It was the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, Chongyang Festival, which is also Senior Citizens Day, so there were many activities going on for older people as well as weddings.

Mr. James Tseng works in our General Affairs Office at St. John’s University, after many years heading up the Student Recruitment Office, and last Sunday his elder son was getting married ~ and I was invited, yippee!

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He told me this morning that on that day, early on Sunday morning, they were all up at 5:00 am, ready for leaving soon after 6:00 am. They had to get to the bride’s home on the dot at 7:30 am – exactly the right moment, very important in Chinese tradition.  After all the marriage customs and traditions were performed there, then they had to leave the bride’s home before 8:15 am, and be on their way again. Next stop was to get back here to the bridegroom’s home, where the groom’s father, Mr. Tseng had to present all the 12 members of the bride’s family with red envelopes.  All the wedding cars were on duty to make sure they arrived and left from each place exactly at the specified time.

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I was invited to the wedding banquet at lunchtime, along with 240 others, that’s 24 tables, and what a great banquet it was!  We had course after course, all of delicious foods, and significantly in the middle came the Tang-Yuan, sweet round balls which signify wholeness and perfection in the marriage, and family togetherness.

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Mr. Tseng’s younger son, Tom was one of my students some years ago, as he learned English to prepare him to study for a Masters Degree in Australia. He was also at the wedding banquet along with his girlfriend.  So good to see them!

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The bride changed outfits several times, as is the custom. She looked stunning….

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So, many many congratulations to the happy couple and to all the Tseng family!

Wow, such an amazing day! JJ 廖健均 & Anny 蔡昀臻’s Wedding @ Advent Church!

And the first ever wedding reception in our newly-finished-and-about-to-be-opened-next-weekend brand new Advent Church Centre ~YES!

It was a beautiful sunny weekend for a very special wedding ~ always helps to have good weather for the tossing of the bride’s bouquet, and this time it was perfect!

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And the lucky girl was so happy!

In fact everyone was so happy ~ and much due to the Tsai family, ah, they are so much loved by us all!

Mr. 蔡秉桓 Tsai Bing-Huan is one of our most mature and active members of St. John’s University Student Fellowship ~ he’s just great, so polite, so dedicated ~ and so brilliant on the guitar!  Ah, we love him so much!  Here he is with his mother….

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In fact his whole family are very much associated with St. John’s University, his father Professor Tsai 蔡錫鐃  (I notice he calls himself ‘Old Tsai’ on Facebook!) also started his college life here, and has been working here for the last 30 years – he’s currently an assistant professor in the Dept of Creative Design, and Bing-Huan’s mother works in the university administration in the General Affairs Office.

His sister 蔡昀臻 Yun-Zhen (Anny) also studied here – she’s 12 years older than her brother and after graduation went off to Missouri, USA for further studies, and then found a job – and along the way, a very handsome husband!  The very handsome husband is Mr. 廖健均 Liao Jian-Jun (JJ), he’s also from Taipei but they met in Missouri and, well, they’re still there!

Here’s all the Tsai family with JJ as they said goodbye after the reception last night, with Advent Church in the background…. and, yes, all the family are very very tall and elegant, and all natural born dancers!

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Old Tsai (I just love that name!) was the first person in his family to become a Christian, he was baptized as a student in his 4th year by Rev. David Chee in Advent Church. Later he brought his wife for baptism, and his children have always been active in the student fellowship and church too.  Anny encouraged JJ, and he too is now going along to church – in fact during the wedding they played a video recording from the minister of their church in the USA sending his blessings on their marriage, and the best man (JJ’s senior high school classmate) shared his testimony about how delighted he’d been to hear that JJ had started going along to church with Anny.

It’s 11 years since Anny and JJ first met, and now they’ve returned to Taiwan for their wedding. They’ve been back in Taiwan for several weeks getting ready, but we’ve all been preparing for this great event for many months!  The Advent Church Centre was still a mass of scaffolding and boxes right up until Friday night as we made the last-minute preparations.  This was the scene on Friday….

Among the student fellowship group there’s been much excitement and anticipation about the whole wedding – especially as the reception was going to be a party with dancing, and about 20-30 students offered their services to help ~ boys in their best suits and girls in very beautiful outfits.  All led by our 2 lovely chaplaincy staff, Shu-Jing and Yu-Lin. Everyone worked really hard, and all were so well-dressed and so happy (and very good at blowing bubbles!) ~ here’s all the students waiting to escort the guests out of the reception on their way home!

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The wedding service was at 2:30 pm yesterday in Advent Church.  It was led by Rev, Lennon Chang, chaplain and rector, and assisted by Rev. Wu Shing-Shiang.  Our church choir sang a really lovely anthem.  St. John’s University President Chen Jean-Lien gave a short address, and there were many faculty, staff, students and church members as well as friends and family in the congregation. The church was full!  A beautiful and very relaxed service.

The wedding cake was a tiered platter mostly of small cakes, and after the cake-cutting, everyone had some of the cakes and coffee, yummy yummy!

The new church centre is only really able to cope with about 100 people, so the reception was small and cosy!  After the grand entrance of the bride and groom at 5:00 pm and their first dance, we had video greetings from all the friends and colleagues in the USA, speeches and then food, and all choreographed by Nien-Tzu (Eric) and his twin daughters ~ they did such a great job!

Bing-Huan had composed a special song for the happy couple, ‘All of me’ which he’s been practicing for months, and which he sang in English with some of the other students ~ it’s very moving and a great tribute to his big sister! Check it out here on  You Tube….

Old Tsai and his wife are very involved in our church outreach programme with a group that does singing and dancing on a Sunday afternoon, and some of the group came to the wedding.  In fact the dancing leader led the dancing at the reception.  Dancing?  Yes, all the students were up and away, and everyone loved it!  We started with an opening dance from the bride and groom, then a few dances from the bride and her father, and finally everyone got up to have a go.  By then it was starting to get dark, so the flashing lights were a great success!

Here’s a sample ~ dancing to the YMCA song – you’ll hear Nien-Tzu (Eric) our announcer in the background – he’s just brilliant at getting everyone involved!

And by 7:30 pm it was time to say goodbye and wish the happy couple many blessings and much happiness – everyone lined up for photos with the bride and groom, and here are some ~ the big photo below is of the groom’s family all smiling away!

And I have over 800 photos to prove I was there ~ ah, always a hard job knowing which ones to delete and which ones to keep.  This was the last photo of the evening, all the students and helpers gathered in one final goodbye!

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And so, praying for God’s deepest, richest and most abundant blessings on Anny and JJ as they start their married life and return to the USA!  Do come back and visit us again soon, and thanks for having such a wonderful family and such an amazing wedding celebration ~ YES YES YES, it was great!

Congratulations to Michael, Hany, the Lee family and all at St. Peter’s Church, Chiayi!

A very special day yesterday at the beautiful St. Peter’s Church for the wedding of a very lovely couple, Michael and Hany Lee!

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The newly-restored church looked stunning, and of course it was a real church family event ~ St. Peter’s excels at being a really close church family!  Michael’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lee are devoted members of St. Peter’s, his father is on the church committee, and his mother is chair of St. Peter’s ECW (Episcopal Church Women).  So together with Rev. Simon Tsou and all their friends in the church, they planned and organized all the wedding themselves, including doing all the flowers and most of the food and drinks.  A group of ladies were arranging flowers and cooking until after 11:00 pm on Friday night, and then up again early yesterday to cut up fruit and lay everything out, helped by the youth group, all dressed in yellow.  Even little Jonah was trying to help out, he was so excited to be a flower boy!

The Lee family also got together to sing in a choir for the occasion with flute accompaniment, and the church choir also sang. Bishop Lai and Mrs. Lily Lai, Mrs. Grace Chien, all of us had traveled from Taipei specially for the wedding.  Bishop Lai gave the final blessing.  Altogether about 85 guests, family members and church friends – but enough food for double that number!  Here we all are…

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A very lovely – and a very international – wedding!  Michael and his family immigrated from Taiwan to Brisbane, Australia when he was very young, and he continues to live there, but in more recent years his parents have returned home to Chiayi and joined St. Peter’s Church, having become Christians along the way.  Hany is from S. Korea and went to Brisbane to study, which is where she met Michael and where they will live.  So the bride and groom communicate in English, and Hany translates into Korean for her parents.  They’re also traveling with some Australian friends, so it’s quite a group!

So they had the formal wedding registration in Brisbane, then the big wedding in Korea last week, the big wedding in Taiwan this weekend, and when they return to Brisbane, they’ll have a big party to celebrate.   This has all taken over a month.  Oh yes and a few days honeymoon in Thailand on the way back to Brisbane.   Today they’re in Taipei showing their Korean family the sights and sounds of Taiwan’s capital city before they all leave tomorrow!

Michael’s family name is Lee. Hany’s family name is also Lee.  Me too.  One big happy Lee family from 3 different countries lol!

Such a wonderful day!  The church members were amazing, so hospitable, so welcoming and they have all devoted so much time and energy to making food and drinks, arranging flowers and getting everything ready.  Many of them were also attending the evening’s formal wedding banquet.  Sadly not us, we had to get back to Taipei.

Ah, St. Peter’s is such a great little church ~ and for Mrs. Grace Chien, who’s recently moved up to Advent Church from St. Peter’s Church, it was such a delight for her to be back at St. Peter’s and meet all her old friends.  Here we all are!

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Such a happy day for everyone ~ and especially many congratulations to Michael, Hany and both Lee families!

Just Married! Many Congratulations to Yi-Chia 鄒宜家 and Si-Han 陳思翰 on their Wedding Day ~ and it all started in Boston!

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Our beloved Teacher Tiger’s big day ~ YES!  And yes, we call her Teacher Tiger (well, after all she was born in the Year of the Tiger!), otherwise she’s known as Yi-Chia 宜家, and in fact that’s what our friends in Boston call her.  Yesterday was a very big day for her and her brand new husband Shawn ~ Si-Han 思翰, and what a lovely couple they are!

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IMG_0136Yi-Chia’s family are all members of ‘The Church in Taipei’, YongHe Branch 新北市召會永和區一會所, affiliated to the ‘Local Churches‘ Movement or ‘The Little Flock’, which was started in the 1930’s in Mainland China by Watchman Nee, and in Taiwan from 1949 onwards by Witness Lee. Interestingly Watchman Nee started his education in a CMS (Church Mission Society – that’s me!) school in China, and was quite influenced by CMS people throughout his life.  Ah, connections!

Yi-Chia teaches in our St. James’ Preschool, Taichung ~ where I was for 7 years from 1999-2006 – she arrived after I left, but she arrived at a key time.  We had just started linking up with Cambridge-Ellis School (CES), Boston, USA and over time that link has developed into a full sister-school partnership, of which I am part of the liaison team from St. James. In 2012, Yi-Chia went to CES for a year as part of our exchange programme, and one of the activities arranged for her was daily English classes at a local college in Boston.  Boom! Not only did she learn plenty of great English, but it was at that college that she met Si-Han.  Both are from Taipei.  But they met in Boston!

Yesterday was their wedding day, YES!  I had the honour of attending the wedding celebration at their church in Yonghe, Taipei at 9:00am, and speaking on behalf of St. James’ Preschool to share a little about their story and the Boston connection, and to offer congratulations and best wishes to them both.  So easy to do, as Yi-Chia and Si-Han are both such wonderful people!

It was my very first experience of a wedding celebration in a Local Church, and it was very moving.  Both Yi-Chia and Si-Han shared their joint testimony, kind of one sentence each at a time, and much of it centred around how Si-Han had come to faith in Christ since knowing Yi-Chia, and how he was baptized almost exactly a year ago, and has now become a member of the Local Church ~ and all this because he genuinely came to faith, not just because he fell in love with a lovely Christian girl!  God is good, and it’s quite a story!

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The 6 elders of the church all spoke from their hearts and shared verses from the Bible, words of wisdom, blessing and thanksgiving ~ also the father of the groom, and the father of the bride – who had everyone laughing away, and here he is, below!

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We also sang a special hymn, chosen by the couple. The most important part of the service was right near the end, when the 6 elders and the bride and groom knelt down in a close group, and the elders laid hands on the bride and groom and prayed for them and for God’s blessings on their marriage.  Both in their sharing and in their praying, the elders showed such passion, joy and eloquence, speaking from their hearts, moved by the Holy Spirit, and the congregation responded frequently with shouts of ‘Amen’.  It was humbling, joyful, worshipful and awe-inspiring!

The couple had been the day before to officially register their marriage, so the next step was lunch, and then they had a whole day of celebrations to follow, with the wedding banquet in the evening,  for which a coachload of teachers and friends from St. James were coming.  It being Easter Eve, I was to be back at Advent Church, but I was delighted to attend the wedding service, along with some of our St. James’ teachers, their boyfriends, and the groom’s friends too ~ here we all are, the ‘Friends’ group!

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A very big Thank You to all the church members and the families of the bride and groom for their very warm welcome and their friendly greetings, much appreciated!

And many congratulations, best wishes and God’s richest blessings to Yi-Chia and Si-Han on your marriage ~ yes, may God bless you both greatly and your new life together, Amen!