Yan Yuhang's Baptism: The Seventh Try Is the Charm
Ugh. Sometimes I miss typing in a program that doesn't have a 5 minute automatic save like my nice little word documents back at home. I just typed Gen a long email, but now I'll write the family one, and if there is time switch back to the email to Gen. It seems like I lose an email at least once a transfer. There are worse things in life though. Since I'm on a mission, I realize that typing an email is lucky, since it means i don't have to write a paper letter home every week. I've been quite awful about writing paper letters ever since transfer 3 or 4. I still write people back, but I don't just write to people I think of, sporadically like before.
Okay, so this week was quite an interesting week...but the mentionable of the week first, and if there is time other things later. Yesterday night, we had Yan Yuhang's baptismal service. The talks went pretty good, and were touching. I just was smiling so hard it hurt when Yan bore her testimony about being grateful for us teaching her how to pray, and why she liked our church and such. It felt good to be part of her experience. She was definitely someone the members took great care of. Her brother-in-law is a member, so she is a referral from him, and his brother-in-laws girlfriend came all the way down from Taizhong to be with her. It was good. But, as you may remember, interesting things have happened the last few baptisms (during the ordinance part) that makes the last few people my companions and I have taught baptism quite the experience. Now, Yan Yuhang was no different. In fact, I have to say that her experience in being baptized by water takes the cake...and here's why:
You see, the church in Danshui has no built in baptismal font. Next week I'll send pictures, but this week there is no drive on this computer for that. So, the baptismal font is this...well, the best way to describe it is to say that it is a blue tank. It's kind of a weird looking thing. Nothing like a child's swimming pool in the backyard or anything. Totally unique. Well, to get you a better picture of what this was like, the entire tank itself comes to about my hips. You know, me at 4'11'' and it only comes to my hips. Well, last time there was a service, we actually traveled from Jilong to go to Chen Meishan's (who attended Yan Yuhangs baptism :) ) and the Elders had filled this thing too high, so there was a little flooding in the Primary room. Elder Smith did not want the same result this time, so they didn't fill it quite as full. In fact, I think the water was...pretty darn low. So that was problem one--low water.
Elder Scott Carlson is the one baptizing, he even calls himself Scott the baptist before he puts on his white clothes, funny joke. It's his first baptism service on his mission, so we thought it would be fun to have him be the one to perform the ordinance. He was very dedicated and practiced the prayer and the tones on her name a lot. So, he does a great job, gets through the prayer like a champ, and goes to help submerge her. Unfortunately, Yuhang's body is really tense, problem two...so her legs and arms went in, but for some reason I can't figure out, her stomach floated up. She just couldn't get low enough, it was like they she was playing limbo and not quite succeeding. Let me just tell you, it was a pretty HILARIOUS sight to see. The crowd is cracking up with laughter, I'm not much help, because I'm trying to restrain myself and not doing a good job, and Elder Carlson is a champ and does it again, no luck. Again, stomach still not going in. After three unsucessful attempts, we get enough control of ourselves to start giving advice. We tell her to relax a little more and get her as she is going down to knee on one knee, which helps him get her deeper. Unfortunately, even with this extra help, attempt 4 and 5 a knee pops up. Poor Elder Carlson, the crowd is so rambunctious, people would interrupt him and offer advice, he'd get nervous he just tried 5 times unsuccessfully and had to pull it out together...he must have started the prayer at least 15 to 20 times I think before the end. Finally, time 6, Elder Broadhead at the left calls it good, her knee went in and everything, so, she gets out of the tank, which isn't an easy task and we usher her toward the bathroom, when we hear from the right...that her elbow was not in. So, she has to get back in the tank, and this time #7 is the charm. Baptism. By complete immersion. 7 times just to make sure. We are lucky it was Elder Carlson and Yan Yuhang, because both of them are just pure examples of patience. Yuhang wasn't even bothered at all after we said it had to be complete immersion...and Elder Carlson said, oh, if she's good I'm good. So that was that, and we all got a pretty good laugh about it. We told her she was extra white and clean. It was fun because everyone there were big picture takers, so there are some good pictures of us back in the bathroom with Yuhang...and as a group at the baptism. It was very excited group, and we ate some fruit together after the service, and it just felt really fun. Yuhang was happy, and so were we. It was a baptism to remember for sure. The last 3 have been! Yuhang, Jasmine, Chen Yiting...all three of them had experiences I'll probably never forget. Too unique. :) So yeah, that was what I was up to yesterday night!
In other news, the Chinese New Year is starting Saturday. I've heard of people gaining as much as 20 pounds over the 10 days it lasts. Our schedule has already seen a hit, due to the new year, nobody wants to meet. Anyone I call to set up with, says they'd love to meet with us, after 2/21. So, I have 12 names in my planner to call on the 21st and the number grows. That's good news, but I hear our schedule will be a little nontraditional starting here soon. The nice thing is now we get to do a load of member work, as there is a feeding missionary (chikebiao) and members will feed us lunch and dinner daily, and occasionally even a breakfast or two, for the entire guonian. In America missionaries get fed pretty much nightly. Here, we eat outside from the street vendors most days, and maybe at a members once about every two weeks or so. But guonian (the chinese for chinese new year) the feed us every lunch and dinner. I hear sometimes we eat during the new years for 2 hours, then roll ourselves out the door to eat some more. I don't know how it will really be, but we have 3 wards that we regularly attend, so all three wards have put us down to feed us, sometimes we can't go, like when we have temple tour and stuff, but we are going to try to find a way to meet as many members as possible in all 3 wards. We'd love to extend sister's member work. I'm still asked in some wards sometimes "Do we even has sister missionaries in this ward?"...yes, we are them. I say it all the time :) It's because we only come every other week, so I guess it can be confusing...but no problem. Next week should be good for meeting members and an interesting time of the year. I'll tell you how the first two days went next week.
In other investigator news, Xie Huiru is doing great. We told her she was ready to get baptized and asked when she wanted to change her date to, and she wanted this Saturday, chuxi...or the first day of the Chinese New Year. She basically didn't want hardly anyone to come, she's a little scared of a huge baptism...but a bishop representative would not come for an hour baptism on chuxi. The bishop took it upon himself to interview with her and talk about it, and the end result is that since church is one hour next week, they convinced her to have her baptism after church, so next week after church Whitney will have her baptism. We are excited. She's really ready. She's been super diligent about repenting, and has changed a lot. She seems super ready, and since Sunday is guonian, she will probably get her wish, and have a relatively small baptism. Not sure though. The ward loves her. Today, the MM Leaders wife, Sister You called us and asked us to come to her house tonight to meet with Whitney. We hadn't even mentioned we were meeting with her tonight to anyone. She must have called Whitney herself. So that will be good. Sister You is a very cute return missionary with 2 children. I'm excited we can go over there and not only Whitney, but also us missionaries can get to know her better. Good things have been happening lately with Shipai. Good ward.
Chen Zhirou is also doing pretty well, still has a little bit of parent opposition. We had a little experience, her mom called the church and accused of us teaching Zhirou to swear at her and argue with her. I guess those two had gotten in a fight, and her mom was really upset. She called us to probably rant a little, and it sounded like she couldn't find her child, so she was worried. She asked a million times if she was at the church. Fortunately, that night, Zhirou said the Holy Ghost impressed her to write an apology to her mother for the means words they exchanged and gave her the note. Her mother forgave her and gave her permission to come to church on Sunday...so she came to church and the baptism. It was good for her. She got to talk to the bishop for quite some time. She's made good friends with him. The ward will really help her out I think. She played the piano for us and the ward was just amazed by her amazing piano playing skills. She's quite fast. I'm impressed too. :)
Um...let's see...not a lot more going on, Jiang Xiuwen, or Doreen didn't come to church. That made me a little sad because I really would like to see her make friends at church....that and I'd like to see her progressing in the gospel of course. I know the church will help her. She's still really willing to meet, so I think we can get her to church eventually, especially after the new year. We are going to even check and see if she can come up to Beitou for just an hour, or go to church in Yonghe and still make her goal...if not we will just move back the baptismal goal...either way I think she will progress. I've had nothing but good feelings about her since I met her. She's someone I loved very much from the first meeting, so I'll keep you updated on that. We'll go see her tonight at 6.
Hm Hm. I think that's about it for this week. Write again next week. Until then...love you guys. Jiayou!