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Wedding Bells Ring in the New Year at Woodstock


Indian marriages are often arranged by the family rather than the young couple themselves. Among many Indian Christians, love marriages are seen as less stable and less desirable. In the West, where marriages arranged by parents are unheard of and "love" marriages are the norm, many Christians still believe God brings two people together. click for larger Some would even say that God has already chosen the perfect mate for them. As we watched some of our Indian colleagues fall in love with the person chosen by their parents, and heard our Western colleagues share their belief that God had been at work, we wondered: if God does the arranging, is it an "arranged marriage"? And, if a young couple, matched by their parents, fall "in love", is it a love marriage?

Converging from various hot spots in South India, ten staff came to see Priyanathan Dinakaran wed Christy Gnanaraj in Coimbotore on 28 Dec. In the newly redecorated church, the bride outshone the stained glass windows as she walked down the aisle on the arm of her father. Since the ceremony was nearly all in Tamil, the Woodstockers were a bit lost, but managed to get in a word or two about Priya during the reception. Priya and Christy's marriage was arranged by their parents, with some encouragement from Priya when the process seemed to have come to a stop. However, with Priya's fellowship group observing the weekly Tuesday long-distance telephone calls, it was easy to see that Priya was "falling in love".

Mark Shaw-Hamilton and Margaret Rowlands met later in life, after each had lost a spouse. Their relationship began by mail as they shared the grieving process with each other. Believing that God brought them together and was calling them to a life together, they married on Dec. 19 in Risca, Wales, their children beside them. Woodstockers Jon Derksen, Laurie East, Sarah Derksen, and Dave Freeman were there to represent the school.

Lawrence (Laurie) East and Sarah Derksen met here at Woodstock. Laurie was a friend of Sarah's older brother Jon, also on staff. A romance blossomed, and soon we weren't sure who was chaperoning whom at student dances... Several globe-trotting staff members showed up in Tonbridge, England on 9 Jan. to wish them well: Kaye Goodes, Mark and Margaret Shaw-Hamilton, Dave Freeman, Catherine Abraham, Ginny Strom and a number of current Woodstock students, former staff and alumni.

Puneet Kaura, who fixes our computer equipment, wed Sonya in an arranged Hindu marriage, with the celebration lasting three days. The Ediger-Setos and the Wiebes stayed with Puneet's family, joining in the whole affair, from [++Page 2] daubing Puneet with a special blend of spices to make him fair, to dancing through the streets of Dehra Dun and watching Puneet and Sonya walk seven times around the fire. The Mangalwadis and the Shepherds attended the reception.

Whether arranged by God or by Man, we wish these couples well, a life of love and happiness together.

Mrs. Cookie Wiebe

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