Monday, December 30, 2013

Domingo's Baptism: machetes, stress, and wet socks

Dear family,

Well, it's been less than a week since we Skyped and only 5 days since I wrote you a letter, so you might think that I wouldn't have much to say, but I'm happy to say that's not the case... because Domingo got baptized!

Right before the baptism we had an appointment with Daniel and we set a fecha with him for the 25th of January! It has really been amazing to watch how much he has changed in these past few weeks - he has been to church twice, he has read all of the folletos several times over, and has even begun reading in El Libro de Momon. When we gave it to him, I don't think I've ever seen anyone so excited to receive a copy of their own. As I took it out of my bag, he took it from my hands, and planted a kiss firmly on the cover. We even found out that he is legally married to his wife (which, in the DR, is like finding half a needle in a haystack)!!!!

On Saturday, he told us that, after all the reading he had done, he decided to get down on his knees and pray about it. He said that, as he did, he was nearly overcome by an intense joy that seemed to radiate throughout his entire body, sending chills from head to toe. "I have never felt anything like that," he said, "so, yes, of course, I will be baptized."

From Daniel's house, we walked with him to Domingo's baptism, which according to customary Dominican time started over an hour late. Even though I was stressed out of my mind trying to coordinate everything - making sure that all the speakers were there, that the font was filled, and that we had a suit to fit both Domingo and Reymundo - it all came together in the end.

There was a great turnout, too. In only a few short weeks, Domingo seems to have made friend with nearly everyone, and many of them showed up to support him. This even included several members of other branches (I'm still not sure how Domingo managed that) and Wilky, of all people (whom we never actually invited, but news travels fast in Azua, I suppose). Tomas, Carlos, and Adabertino even came all the way up from Villa Palmarejo and walked into the baptism with a giant rusted machete and a bundle of coconuts string together with a palm leave rope. (But I suppose it wouldn't actually be a celebration until Adabertino showed up with an armful of random produce).

Once everyone was there, we all filed outside to take photos and then packed ourselves back into the room - with several people having to stand up in the back and in the doorway.

When we finally got the service underway, I was able to let my breath out a bit and just soak in the beautiful scene of Domingo sitting up front next to the shining blue font in his bright white suit and smiling like a child on Christmas morning.

After the speakers it was time for the baptism. Domingo and Reymundo walked around to the opposite side of the font and descended the small set of tile steps. The water sloshed noisily back and forth, and as the two larger men entered, I was reminded of the font's design flaw. I picked my bag up off the floor and put it on my lap. One of the elders gave me a questioning look. "We're going to wet," I explained, although he still looked a bit confused.

And sure enough, as the blessing was pronounced and Domingo was lowered down into the water, the contents of the font heaved up over its bounds and rushed into the room like a wave on the seashore. A few people lifted up their feet, but most of us just laughed and let it happen.

As Domingo changed his clothes, everyone sang hymns and Hermana Sanchez and I tried to mop the floor as best we could. When Domingo reentered he was enveloped by a crowd of warm handshakes, smiles, and hugs. As I stood a ways back, I couldn't help but tear up at the beautiful sincerity of the scene.

Ironically enough, I think that Domingo was the only one of us to leave the church completely dry. As I walked home that night in my wet socks, I was full to the brim with love for the Gospel and a testimony of this amazing work, which truly is a work of salvation.

All my love,

Hermana Kaitlin Olsen

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