HOW WE MET with SYLVESTER CHISHIMBA, Lusaka
FOR many people, telling a tale of how they met comes with detailed information of where they met and the chemistry between them when they met. In fact, that is usually what is considered the old fashioned way of how people meet.
The story of Lawrence Banda and Annabel Achas is different from how most couples meet because they met through match making at their church called the Unification Church.
Their journey to marital bliss started in 1992. In Zambia, Reverend Banda decided he wanted to get married and applied for match making through his church. His church after reviewing applications for marriages from its members all over the world paired Rev Banda with Annabel from the Philippines.
The church then sent him a picture of the woman they had selected for him and they did the same to Annabel. After, that the mode of communication between the matched partners was by telephone and letter writing as they waited patiently for the church to set the date of the mass wedding where they too were expected to tie the knot.
Annabel said her mother; Necita Achas was very supportive and encouraging when she was matched with Rev Banda.
â€œWhen I received his picture, I prayed to God and asked that His will prevails in my life concerning my marriage to Rev Lawrence. My mother was supportive of my decision to marry an African. But the rest of my relatives were sceptical about my decision to marry someone I knew nothing about,â€ she said.
The other concern her relatives expressed was the difference in cultures and tradition of Zambians and Filipinos.
But Annabel said the teachings of Reverend Sun Myung Moon helped her accept Rev Banda as her future husband even though she did not know anything about him.
â€œI felt strongly about my decision to marry Rev Banda. I knew that many people would not understand my decision even if I explained to them because it was spiritual,â€ she said.
Annabel said two days before their wedding in Seoul, in South Korea at the Olympic stadium all would-be- brides and grooms gathered to meet their partners.
â€œI spotted him from the crowd although he looked a bit different from the way he looked in the picture I had received. The fact that I noticed him even though he looked different from the picture was to me an indication that we were meant to be,â€ she said.
After the wedding in Seoul in 1992, Annabel and Rev Banda did not go on honeymoon but instead the couple had to stay apart for three years; Lawrence in Zambia and Annabel in the Philippines.
â€œThe three year separation was meant to teach us to value the sacred union of marriage and also to use this period as a foundation to start marriage life. It was a time to see if we could live together as a couple.
I missed his company and the way he spoiled me when we met before the wedding. He was car ing like a brother. I felt empty inside when I went back to my country,â€ she said.
The couple eventually started living together in Zambia in 1995. Annabel said when she came to Zambia, it was challenging for her to adapt to the changes in her life in regards to tradition and culture.
â€œMy husband loves Nshima and I had to make sure that I learned how to prepare it including other local Zambian traditional foods. Luckily, my parents-in-law treat me like their own daughter and have accepted me in their family,â€ she said.
Together, the couple has four children, three girls and one boy namely Jong Doo, 19, Soon Ji, 17, Soon I, 16 and Juo K, 15.
And Rev Lawrence, who is also the vice president for Family Federation for World Peace and Unification Zambia said he was anxious to meet his bride when he saw her picture.
â€œPictures can sometimes be deceiving so I didnâ€™t care much about her physical appearance. I just wanted to meet her in person,â€ he said.
Lawrence and Annabel were among the 30,000 couples who had gathered at the Olympic stadium to exchange vows.
â€œThe concept of this marriage ceremony was to eliminate the sin committed by our fore parents Adam and Eve in the garden; this would effectively help to come up with families that will uphold Godâ€™s ideals of a family,â€ he said.
And after 23 years of marriage, Rev Banda attributed the success of their union to prayer, good communication and openness to each other.
â€œBeing open to each other as couples is important as it helps build a strong bond between partners. As we get older, we grow closer. We are always working together to build a good foundation for our children,â€ he said.
Their advice to couples, â€œNever quarrel or disagree in front of the children as this would negatively affect them. But always ensure problems are resolved. It is also important to understand spiritual growth of your partner. The level of education of a partner should never be a determinant for marrying someone.â€
HOW WE MET with SYLVESTER CHISHIMBA, Lusaka