Sunday, November 25, 2001

Groom Kevin Kuramoto and bride Marion Freitas listened to the
Rev. George Scott at their wedding yesterday in Ala Moana Beach
Park, where they once lived. The former homeless couple wanted
to be married at the site.

I do!

A former homeless couple marry
at the park where they once lived

By Leila Fujimori

Kevin Kuramoto and Marion Freitas chose Ala Moana Park for their wedding, not for the scenery, but because they used to live there.

"This is like a dream come true," said Freitas, 41, who wore a muumuu, a veil and a tuberose and ilima haku lei. "I feel like Cinderella."

The former homeless couple exchanged vows yesterday afternoon on the very spot where an outreach ministry fed and clothed them for three years while they lived on Magic Island.

"I believe this is the first at the park, but not the last," said Roger DeAsis, lay minister and coordinator of Beyond the Four Walls, the outreach program that helped the couple.

Kokohead Catering, River of Life, Central Union Church, Performance Window Cleaning, The Giving Tree and the cleaning business Heaven Sent donated a banquet of shrimp tempura, roast turkey, chicken long rice, and poke for the more than 100 guests who attended, some of whom are still homeless and living at the park.

DeAsis' daughter and daughter-in-law decorated the tarpaulin, where the ceremony and reception were held, with flowers and Christmas decorations they had at home.

The Giving Tree donated gold wedding bands, but they were still on order, so someone gave Freitas a faux diamond wedding ring and Kuramoto used a gold band he had given to Freitas as an engagement ring.

The couple sent out 150 invitations. "No need money, just prayers," Kuramoto said he told those he invited.

Kuramoto and Freitas, who met three years ago at a friend's house while doing drugs, then turned their lives around from drugs to God.

"I came here just for the food at first," said the 37-year-old groom. "Soon I was listening to the word. Eventually, it just kind of grew on me.

"They said, 'We care for you,' not in words, but in actions," Kuramoto said.

Kuramoto said he moved out of his friend's house into the park to flee from his friends' bad influence. Freitas, who lived with different friends, stayed with Kuramoto on and off at the park.

But after turning to God, the couple began to see changes in their lives.

Freitas got a job with Kokohead Foods, where a fellow church member works. Kuramoto would wait for Freitas when she worked late and began helping out.

Company owner Kevin Hanney noticed their hard work. So a month ago, he helped them get a place at Harbor House, which has rooms for people trying to get off the street and where he rents kitchen space.

"They're both very hardworking and looking to do it themselves," Hanney said.

Tammy Tong, 42, who would go walking in the park and pray with the couple, saw God's hand in the matter.

"One morning, we just started to pray for a home for them and within two weeks, they had a house," she said.

Although none of Freitas' blood relatives attended the wedding, those related by faith filled the void.

Leslie Naki, 57, a member of Word of Life Christian Center, gave the bride away. "Uncle Les" has been serving up hot meals for the homeless with his wife, Cissy, for the past three years, including Christmas and Thanksgiving.

The couple honeymooned at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel, all expenses paid.

DeAsis said the Kuramotos' example shows how far people, even the homeless, can go in their lives.

"Seeing where they're at now from where they came, there is hope," he said.

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