I have been many places and I have seen many things. Some have been amazing, impressive or deeply moving. Some have been truly tragic. But of all the things I’ve seen and done, few can compare with the joy of seeing my children happy.
My youngest daughter, Heidi, was married on the afternoon of September 7th of this year, and I am simply thrilled to tell you how beautiful the day was, and how I felt seeing her laughing and smiling with her new husband, Anthony Cassise.
The ceremony was held at the WEC base in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. At that location is a gorgeous old stone building called “The Castle”, and with good reason. Sitting in a chair on the lawn as the service began, under draping swaths of plum-purple cloth, the feeling of a medieval castle was very strong indeed. The wedding party entered, bridesmaids in plum-purple dresses, groomsmen in smart black suits, and took their places on either side of a set of stairs that led into the castle. The bridesmaids were Luci and Ji Young, who both served with Heidi in India, Dietlinde, Heidi’s big sister, and Mindy, the maid of honor, Heidi’s best friend from childhood. The groomsmen were Kurt, Heidi’s twin brother, Curtis and Brian, Anthony’s younger brothers, Mike, Anthony’s friend from college, and Dustin, the best man and Anthony’s close friend for many years. Anthony, the groom, looked on expectantly, his face glowing.
And then Heidi entered, looking lovely in her cream-colored wedding dress, walked down the aisle by her twin brother, Kurt. This was probably the most painful part of the day, as everyone felt the absence of my husband, Edmund. I felt the scar tissue of that long ago tragic time cracking open. It actually felt like an emotional train coming toward me. I managed to control myself and I must say that Kurt filled his father’s shoes admirably, and delivered the bride to the groom’s side.
The service itself was God honoring. Anthony’s father officiated and two other men whose families had been like surrogate parents to Heidi when we were far away in Papua New Guinea added to the meaningful ceremony. The couple took great pains to make it clear that the Lord was as much a part of this marriage as they were.
With the service completed, and cheers made for the happy couple, we all headed inside for the reception. There was food and laughter and joy aplenty.
During the reception there were two surprises. First of all, several of us on Heidi’s side of the family had decided to sing a song for the couple. We went through several possibilities before settling on “I’d Do Anything” from the musical Oliver, because this was a song Heidi knew well from her childhood. We performed the song as a flash mob, which means we didn’t give any warning, and people in the audience stood up and joined in when it was their part.
Kurt started by addressing Anthony, “Since I am Heidi’s twin brother, Anthony, I think I should give you some advice, just one word, “Anything”. He started the song, then Heidi’s maid of honor, Mindy, joined in followed by my oldest daughter, Dietlinde and her husband and step-children. Heidi’s two other bridesmaids, Ji Young and Luci also joined in, and I was the last to join. All the time we moved closer to the bridal table. So all of us ended together kneeling before Anthony and Heidi singing, “We’ll do anything, (anything?) Anything for you!” Heidi tried to wipe away her tears and not mess up her make-up through all of this. By all accounts, we caught the happy couple by surprise.
After that, my oldest son, Jonathan, and his son Isaiah – with help from Dietlinde – performed a skit about Heidi’s life growing up in Papua New Guinea. He talked about how he teased her by singing the song, “Inky, pinky, ponky, Heidi had a donkey, the donkey died and Heidi cried, Inky pinky, ponky.” It was good to laugh about how we were then.
The groom’s family had flown out from California, and it was a delight to get to know them better during this time. Anthony comes from a strong Christian family, and he brings a new depth to our ever-growing family.
The couple took their honeymoon in Wyoming, visiting the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and the beauty of God’s creation. They will be settling down for now in California. They hope to travel to Turkey in the future to bring the Good News to those who have not heard it yet.
It was a beautiful day, indeed!