Some special guests graced Colin Moody and Rebekah Sartori’s wedding in Eswatini recently.
As expected, esteemed guests came from the couple’s hometowns and former universities in the United States. Family members traveled from afar to participate in the long-awaited day. Many Luke Commission staff members joyfully attended, also.
In addition, quietly, almost reverently, guests in wheelchairs arrived at Esibuyeni, which is TLC’s new off-campus home, a place of gathering, a refuge for family and friends. Colin and Rebekah had invited a few longtime patients from TLC’s hospital on the Miracle Campus.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen a Western wedding,” beamed Nombulelo.“I like the dress code of the bride and groom. The wedding vows were to the point.”
Gesturing with her hands for emphasis, Nombulelo observed later: “I love the reception and the mushroom sauce so much. Whoever cooked the food (the TLC kitchen crew) did a really good job.” A TLC patient for more than a year, Nombulelo smiled when Rebekah passed by and then shyly dipped her head to show her appreciation.
“I’m so thankful to be a part of all this,” waved Nombulelo. “I feel really important but also humbled to be invited to such a big wedding.”
Sitting nearby, ready to jump from her wheelchair if only her body were a little stronger, was Nomfundo, age 15 years.
“I’ve never been to anything like this before,” she exclaimed. “This place is so beautiful. Thank you to Rebekah for inviting us. I like the good food and the swimming pool.”
Nomfundo has lived at the Miracle Campus hospital for nine months. “I was very sick when I came,” she said, “but I am better now.”
An orphan who lives with her grandmother when she is healthy, Nomfundo is now schooling from her bed with the help of TLC staff.
The day after the wedding, a staff member asked Nomfundo about her experiences at the wedding. She said she was welcomed and treated equally with the other guests. Later at the reception, Nomfundo said, “The cake was, oh, so delicious and people were eating every second. It was the first time I attended a wedding. Aunt Rebekah’s wedding was amazing.”
“I’m so happy. I’ve never been invited to a wedding before,” said Joseph, who at 55 years old has been a TLC live-in patient for almost a year.
“I like to watch Colin and Rebekah when they are dancing,” he laughed. Earlier in the day, Joseph told Colin: “You’re right on time. I was worried when he walked down the aisle too slow, that he might not get there in time.”
Joseph continued: “So many things I like today. I like the food and how it is served bit by bit. I like watching the children in the swimming pool. I like the man playing the guitar (violin).
“I like the words the bride and groom gave to each other. I hope they keep their vows, because it’s a tough road ahead.”
Talking about his own life, Joseph said he had been married twice, but both his wives passed away. He has a partner now, although said he does not want to lose her. Therefore, he has not married again.
Joseph and his girlfriend have one child together. Altogether, he has four children. His partner, brothers, and sister visit him on the Miracle Campus.
“I’m happy with the hospital,” remembered Joseph. “When I came here, I had sores that exposed my bones. They are almost closed now. I want to go home soon, but know I must not sit too long in my wheelchair or lie in one place on my mat. I must change positions.”
Although seven-year-old Zinhle is not wheelchair-bound, she lives on campus and was an honored guest. “I want to play with the children. They are my friends. I will think on this day,” she whispered. A few days later, Zinhle asked a staff member how to say “I went to your wedding” in English so she could repeat it to Colin. She was still thinking “on this day.”
While many other stories and delights have emerged from the first wedding at Esibuyeni, these guests understand especially what The Luke Commission Compassionate Medicine means. They are part of the very fabric of what God is doing in Eswatini. And to that, the newlyweds Colin and Rebekah Moody, declare “Amen.”
(by Janet Tuinstra)
P.S. Stay tuned for another update soon about Esibuyeni’s first wedding celebration, with many more photos, to be written by the groom!