THE WEDDING AND
An atmosphere of excitement captivated Aneta, her mother and
all who were involved. They had to move quickly. The wedding was to take
place in less than twenty-four hours in the family’s spacious house. But
they had little time to relish this enthralling prospect. How could a
mother-daughter team set the stage for a life-long commitment in this brief
time? An insurmountable task lay before them.
Any thought of sleeping that night was abandoned. Even by the
standards of their own distinctive Anatolia, a wedding with only a day’s
notice was unheard of. Aneta’s mother, an industrious woman, was used to
hardship and heavy work. So she tackled this challenge with gusto. A
neighbor’s assistance was badly needed nevertheless. A knock at the door
awakened her from a restful slumber. Could she relinquish her night’s sleep
to assist? Her readiness to help was true to her reputation of unselfish
The work got underway in the large living room. The newest rugs
were brought out and meticulously laid on the floor. Then they moved to the
other rooms. Total mobilization was the order of the night. The scrupulous
labor was to be completed by morning in order to devote the day to cooking
and baking, another formidable task. When morning dawned, they felt that
they had just gone through an extremely exhausting day. But the day was only
The town was informed by this time about the exciting event
through the ‘poor man’s newspaper’ as it was called in those days. It became
the talk of the town. People were dropping in one after the other throughout
the day to congratulate the bride. These visits only added to the commotion
of the hour.
The minister’s daughter, a skillful seamstress, started sewing
Aneta’s bridal gown early in the morning. After uninterrupted, steady work,
she completed it by evening, to the admiration of all who had been sitting
on pins and needles all day! Aneta’s mother was engrossed in baking. All
sorts of Anatolian delicacies were carefully hand-prepared and then taken to
the public oven for baking. All other essential preparations were carried
out one after the other.
In the meantime, the groom was in nearby Kayseri, administrative
center of the region, feverishly seeking to obtain the wedding license. He
was racing against time, with the intention of returning early enough to put
on his newly-purchased wedding suit just before the ceremony. At the
governmental office for wedding permits the presence of the groom was
sufficient. The officials were not so much interested to see the bride,
receive her affirmation or get her signature. Normally, the issuing of the
license took a month. However, there was a provision for a temporary permit
to proceed with a church ceremony. The day after the wedding the permit
with the minister’s signature and the birth certificates of both bride and
groom would be taken to Kayseri. This was a great convenience in times of
pressing necessity. Until now, this provision is on the law books, and is
called ‘yıldırım nikahı’ — ‘lightning wedding!’ There
was an extra charge for speedy marriage licenses.
Customarily, weddings in Anatolia were held in a church; but this
one was an exception. Everything had to be done quickly and as conveniently
as possible. The house was large enough for the service and all the
guests. About one hundred townspeople gathered into the spacious living
room that evening. There was no time to invite friends even from nearby
places. Communication wasn’t the same then as it is now.
The two ministers who were to officiate came: The Reverend
Stephanos Sirinides, their own pastor, and his son-in-law, the Reverend
Vahram Tahmizian, already mentioned in detail. They later made illustrious
names for themselves for their faithful and fruitful service in Asia Minor
during that period. As time went on, Reverend Sirinides’ many children
dispersed to various countries, leaving children’s children with his
The hour for the wedding arrived, but the main person was
nowhere to be seen! The groom was still not back from Kayseri with the
license! An amusingly expectant atmosphere ensued. Everyone was thinking
that it would be an extraordinary success if the license were to be issued
on the same day. Delay of official transactions was proverbial. Actually,
deciding to have the wedding on that day without first obtaining the license
was trusting for the impossible. At last Haralambos appeared — out of
breath, but full of joy. Pastor Sirinides, never lacking in humor, made a
remark which put everyone at ease, “My friend, hurry to take your place
before someone else takes it from you!”
It was on September 29, 1914, that Aneta became Pastor
Haralambos Bostanjoglou’s wife. The marriage vows were clear and exact;
their lives were joined together until death. Little could they have
envisioned that a cruel end would be theirs in less than a year. The
wedding was two months prior to the entry of the Ottoman Empire into the
It was a simple wedding with no elaborate gifts. Anyway, who
could have bought gifts at such brief notice? However, relatives and friends
who had some gold in their homes handed Aneta gold coins of various values,
a well-known custom in those parts.
The reception was a time of witness with songs and prayers.
Aneta’s mother’s hastily baked delicacies drew considerable praise. Only the
day before no one in town could have dreamed that they would be attending a
wedding reception the following evening! Events had unfolded speedily and
were going to continue at a rapid pace. There was no time to wait.
Haralambos was burning with a desire to return to his beloved
Aintab to restart his service for his Lord. He was convinced that the
warning of the friendly official had run its course. He had been in need of
a season of respite, which culminated in his matrimony. And now, peace or no
peace, he and Aneta were returning together to Aintab within ten days! It
was a hectic time of getting everything ready, surpassed only by the
twenty-four hour preparation for the wedding.
Now Aneta also had a mother-in-law with whom her lot was cast.
Life was taking on a different course with Anastasia’s entry into the
picture. She was to eventually be with them in Aintab. Her presence would
become more valuable and supportive in times to come.
Haralambos’ mind was set on his upcoming preaching mission.
Aintab was the place and there could be no escaping it! However he had the
urge to preach in the city of Kayseri and the towns of Talas and Munjusun
before setting off for Aintab. “This may be my last opportunity to
evangelize in these places,” he remarked. The town of Munjusun had special
importance to him because it was there that he had written his last book,
‘The Cross-Bearing Life.’ The Christians of this town had an awful ordeal
awaiting them. During the massacre the authorities came to the non-Muslim
people and told them that they had two options: either accept Islam as a
group, or be deported. In a single hour a person had to leave all his
belongings and take off for who-knew-where? Naturally, the people chose the
second option. Old and young adults, little boys and girls, were driven out
of their homes and towns like animals.
Two days after the wedding Haralambos left Aneta’s parental home
to devote his ministry to these places. From the very outset he took the
admonition in I Corinthians 7:29 seriously: “... from now on let
those who have wives live as though they had none.” This guidance was
from the Lord. The meetings were profoundly blessed with many responding to
the message of this newly-married evangelist.
On the following Sunday he preached at the Greek Evangelical
Church in Zinjidere. On that day many Greek Orthodox neighbors also
attended. It was a touching service. Haralambos and Aneta were committed to
God’s tender care. It was the last opportunity for her to be at the church
which had nurtured her from childhood.
After a little while they said their final good-byes to beloved
Zinjidere and its warm-hearted folks. How could she have imagined that this
would be her last glimpse of the town and its simple, gentle people?
Suddenly, events in her life took a very unexpected turn.
The coach pulled up in front of the house. Friends and relatives
carefully loaded Aneta’s belongings. With tears in every eye and some women
weeping, they hugged and kissed Aneta good-bye. The carriage went along at
walking pace as people accompanied it to the outskirts of town. They wanted
to be with Aneta and Haralambos until the last possible moment. Then it
gradually picked up speed as it set out on the long journey. Haralambos’
last words to her sobbing mother were, “Next summer, the Lord willing, I’ll
bring her back for a long stay!”