I will begin this post with the end.
Santee Labala and Olwethu Ngcibi
Sealed for time and all eternity in the Johannesburg South Africa Temple, October 22, 2014.
- No engraved invitations sent
- No bridal showers
- No flowers (other than the beautiful roses blooming on the temple grounds)
- No tuxedos
- No bridesmaids
- No receptions
- No wedding breakfasts
- No buffets or refreshments
- No cute favors
- No table decorations
- And sadly, no family. Each are the only members in their families.
It was simply a beautiful day abounding in peace and love and hope and priceless covenants made.
Now for a short history. Santee served as a missionary in the Cape Town South Africa Mission two years ago. While there he served in the Port Alfred Branch for a period of time where he met Olwethu who was seventeen at the time. He completed and served an honorable mission. About a year after returning home to Botswana (about an eighteen hour drive from PA) they began corresponding. Olwethu graduated from High School and went on to college. There's was a long distance relationship that worked. They had many obstacles to overcome, not the least of which is the traditions of their ancestors and the eight-cow wife bargaining. Bottom line, these two amazing people, made the choice to follow the traditions of the church that they firmly testify of and be married for time and all eternity. No family members attended from either side. Olwethu's mother is a member but could not make the 13 hour bus drive.
President Wheeler and I decided to fly to Johannesburg rather than make the 13 hours drive. Olwethu took a bus from East London and Santee from Botswana. We picked them up at the bus station which is a experience in and of itself. Johannesburg has 5 million people. The bus station is ENORMOUS.
While waiting you can do a little shopping in an open air market.
You can even pick up a slab of lamb.
Finally at about 11:00 am the couple are united!
With no sleep (Olwethu rode the bus all night long) and adrenalin flowing, Olwethu was endowed on the 3:30 session. Elder Carl B. Cook, who is our area president, and his lovely wife were able to attend the endowment session. Santee was an A.P. while serving as a missionary in Cape Town, and did a mission tour with Elder Cook. They have remained in contact ever since. Santee is in the bishopric in the YSA ward in Botswana.
The wedding ceremony on Wednesday was lovely. The bride and groom were glowing.
Santee had six members of his ward in Botswana attend. We did not get a picture of some of them. These two mama's promised me that they would take good care of Olwethu when she moves to Botswana. Olwethu must return to East London on Friday to complete her semester of college before moving to Botswana. Both sides of the family will hold some kind of a traditional wedding ceremony for the bride and the groom. Until that happens, neither of the families will recognize this wedding as official. However, they know, and we know that in the eye's of the Lord it is official and binding for all eternity. Santee and Olwethu Labala will be two stalwarts in the growth of the church in South Africa. They are a setting a strong and bold example for the youth of the church to follow in this country that is steeped in traditions.