Monday, August 30, 2010

Missionary Monday - Bridal Shower in Ukraine

Of course, the number one goal of missionaries is to bring people to Christ. But, what then? Well, we have many secondary goals as well, with one of these being to see young people marry other like-minded Christians, have Christ-honoring Christian homes, and start Christian families.

There will soon be a wedding in our church, and excitement is at an all-time high in these here parts. Two of my children will have special roles in the wedding.... Nate (our 6-year-old) will be the ring bearer and Brianna (our 3-year-old) will be the flower girl. And I {excited giggle} get to fix the bride's hair on the day of her wedding!

"Towel cake" made by Vera, our hostess

Something that is not a Ukrainian tradition is bridal showers (baby showers either, for that matter). And, by the way, have you ever tried translating the word shower to explain what a wedding/baby shower is to someone who has never heard of one?! Even though not everyone completely understood the significance of a wedding shower ("Yikes... does this mean I have to give two gifts?" was heard as well as, "Why should we give gifts to the bride only and not the groom?" or "Why should the bride open gifts separately from the groom?"), we decided it would be a fun tradition to start in our church anyway. I mean, who doesn't love to spoil brides-to-be?!
Mrs. Vera Mitchum, also a missionary's wife here, graciously hosted the bridal shower in her home, and we were all pleased to see that nearly 30 ladies showed up for this "strange" event! (Maybe they were just curious?!) Vera did an excellent job at preparing the event, and Lena, the bride-to-be, left a couple of hours later with her arms loaded with gifts and a big smile on her face. Success.

Our pastor's wife, Mrs. Judy VanSant, gave an excellent devotional about having the proper "ingredients" in a marriage, and I had the fun job of running the game. I searched online and came up with the simple idea of separating the ladies into teams, giving each team 3 rolls of white toilet paper, and letting them "go to town" in decorating a member of their team with a "bridal gown." They had 15 minutes to decorate their "bride," and I was so incredibly pleased with the results! Talk about creativity from our ladies! I would definitely recommend this game to any of you.
Our bride-to-be had the difficult task of judging the winner, and she graciously chose her own mother (center, in picture above). What a sweetheart!
And, by the way, have I ever mentioned that Ukrainians take their shoes off at the door before entering a home? The nearly-60 bare feet was funny, but I guess it would have been funnier to get a picture of the shoes piled at the front door! This is one tradition that we ourselves follow, even in our own home. However, when we go back to America we get strange looks from time to time when our kids walk in a door and immediately take their shoes off. This is usually one of the first things we find ourselves explaining about Ukrainian culture when we are guests in an American's home.
Igor and Lena

So, guess who will be living in our home for 5 months while we are on furlough? You got it! Igor and Lena! Just two weeks after they get married, we will be leaving. Our home (which has an open floor plan) still has unfinished, concrete and sheet-rock walls in the living room/kitchen/dining room/office, which is actually just one, large room. While we are gone, Igor (who works in construction and has worked in our home already) will be finishing this room. Even though I have seriously gotten used to looking at the drab, gray concrete, the more that I think about it.... I can already hardly wait to return home next March!


  1. What a small world! My husband and I went to Bible college with Roland and Vera Mitchum!

    I have wanting to ask if you knew of them. They may not remember us because it seems that they graduated about a year after we started in 1998(I think!)

    Anyway, glad to hear that the bridal shower was enjoyed by all...especially the bride-to-be :)

  2. What a beautiful bridal shower! Thank you for sharing the pictures!

    Love you

  3. Hi Jolene,

    Taking your shoes off at the door is also a Canadian custom. It is very rude to leave your shoes on in someone's house. It may have something to do with all the snow and mud that Ukraine and Canada have in common.


  4. Looks like you all had a fun time. I'm blown away by the TP dresses!

  5. What a lovely story! I especially enjoyed the part about the shoes. We follow the same custom here and during our recent furlough we found ourselves explaing the same thing over and over again. :-)

  6. This was so much fun Jolene! I felt like I was there... and wow, the gowns were beautiful and creative. I am impressed! What a special time in this young woman's life and how blessed she must have felt.

  7. Thanks for visiting my blog! I just wanted to let you know I found you by reading Jessica Curtis's blog. I'm so glad I did! I look forward to stopping by and reading more. :-) I agree with the other ladies... those wedding dresses are beautiful. They did a great job!


Thank you for your encouraging comments! "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." Proverbs 25:25