The summer after my first year of uni, waaaay back in the year 2004, I travelled back to South Africa where I’d been in my gap year, and volunteered for three months for a project called Phakama run by Youth For Christ KZN. I lived in a house they owned with about eight other volunteers from America, the UK and the Netherlands. We were all volunteering on different YfC projects but every night we cooked and ate together, and I formed some deep friendships in the three months.
Two years ago when I was studying in California, one of those housemates, Annie, got married in Chicago to Jason, and I was able to fly out and be part of what I still describe as the best wedding I have ever attended.
This past Friday I went to the second wedding of one of my SA housemates. Rianne and I got on so well when we shared a house, her very dry sense of humour had me laughing most of the afternoon, and we shared our joys and frustrations with each other most days.
Fast forward five years and we had lost contact. But work was sending me to Utrecht for meetings and I needed somewhere to stay (I like to save my travel budget for trips like Bangladesh!) so out of the blue I emailed Rianne, and she wrote straight back with the invitation to stay with her and her fiancee Wilco in Rotterdam.
We had such a fun evening, eating Wilco’s great food, drinking wine, and catching up on a lot from the last few years. So when they invited me to come to their wedding, I really wanted to!
Rasmus and I took the day off work and drove up to Etten-Leur, not far from the Belgium border, for the lunch time civil service. We explored (read: drank coffees and beer in a bar) the nearby city of Breda and then headed back for the church service and reception, which Rianne had generously translated into English for us. Despite not understanding much, I understood the moment they said “yes” to each other. It was special to be part of her big day, so many years after that winter in Pietermaritzburg.