Saturday, March 22, 2014

Come hell or high water

Yordy's baptism

Yordy's baptism

Jordy's baptism

Hermana Stanton, Jordy and Kaitlin
Dear family,

Really the only significant event of the week was Yordys' baptism, which was more than hectic enough to make up for all the other quiet days we had this week. The baptism was scheduled to start at 6pm, so we told Yordys to be there at 5:30pm, but 6pm rolls around and no sign of Yordys. It was also pouring rain, so I was also worried that no one was going to show up. I tried calling Yordys, but his phone was off.

At 6:15, the 2 guaguas from the Rama temple trip dropped off their passengers and the room filled nearly to capacity, which was relieving that people had come, but also added to the quickly growing knot of stress in my stomach because there was still no sign of Yordys and he still wasn't answering his phone. At this point, I was beginning to think that maybe he had changed his mind and had decided to back out.

At nearly 6:30pm Eddy, one of Yordy's friends in the rama, shows up and says he'd received a muffled call from Yordys saying he'd been in a car crash, but he didn't know where Yordys was because he wasn't answering his phone. When President heard this he immediately jumped into his car and went out to search for him. For nearly half an hour I sat in the crowded room in anxious anticipation. Eventually, President and Yordys come rushing through the hallway outside the font room, poking their heads inside just long enough to snatch up the baptismal suits. President looked stressed and Yordys was soaking wet. Not 2 minutes later, they both emerged wearing the jumpsuits, and the moment I saw Yordys dressed all in white, I knew everything would be alright.

The service itself - once it finally got started - went well. The talks and testimonies that were shared were very personal and sincere (within a few short weeks, Yordys had already become an integral part of the branch family). And I don't think I'd ever seen him smile that much - not smirk, but genuinely smile.

After his baptism was performed, Yordys asked if he could share his testimony. As he got up in the front of the room, I was a bit worried that whatever he was going to say would be a bit unconventional... and I suppose it was, but as he began to speak, the room fell silent as everyone hung on his words and I really could feel the Spirit.

He began for apologizing for being for being so late and saying how thankful he was that he could be baptized. "Because," he explained, "there seemed to be a lot of obstacles combining against me, and for a while, I didn't know if I would make it here tonight."

He began his story by saying that he received a phone call at 3pm telling him that his mother was in the hospital in Villa Mella. She would be alright, but her blood pressure had risen to an apparently dangerous level. By the time he made it all the way across the city to see her it was nearly 4:30pm.

When he arrived at the hospital, he was relieved to find his mother well and told her that he couldn't stay long because he was getting baptized. His mother began pleading with him not to go, not to get baptized. "My mother is very Catholic," Yordys explained, "She told me, in her own words, that I was 'joining the church of the devil,' but nothing she said or could say to me would keep me from doing what I knew was right...because I know this church is true."

When he left the hospital, he realized it was almost 5:30pm and he rushed over to a cousin's house nearby to borrow a car. He began driving and hadn't even gotten halfway back across the city when the car sputtered and died. He rolled to a stop along the side of the highway in the pouring rain. After several unsuccessful attempts to revive the struggling motor he tried to call someone to pick him up, but then his cell phone died as well.

"I knew that I had to get baptized," Yordys said, "so, with no money for a taxi, I did the only thing there was left to do: I left the car and started running." He said that he felt like he had run several miles before he finally had to stop to catch his breath. As he stood there in the rain, in Yordy's own words an "interesting-looking man" who had watched him running along the highway called him over and asked what he was in such a hurry for.

"I have to get baptized!" Yordys said. The older man asked what church he belonged to and Yordys replied.

To his surprise, the man answered: "I was baptized in that church, but I haven't gone for many years." And after a brief pause: "I'll give you a ride," he offered, and Yordys happily accepted. The man dropped him off at the 11 kilometer marker along the highway, right near Yordys' house.

He ran home to grab a towel for the baptism, and right as he was leaving to begin the two-mile jog to Villa Aura, President pulled up alongside him in his beat-up Chi-chi Turbo and swung the passenger door open. "Get in," he said.

Five minutes later they were in the chapel, 7 minutes later they were in their baptismal suits, and in less than 15 minutes the baptismal service was underway.

"Tonight," Yordys concluded, "I think that God was trying my faith, but I think I've proven to Him and to myself how much I really want to be here and how much this means to me. I knew this was where I was supposed to be and nothing would keep me from getting here. I know that I've made the right choice."

Interesting things that happened this week:

- The war with the rats continues to rage on. We chased several more through the house this week using brooms and dustpans as weapons, but to no avail. Hermana Stanton did manage to kick one of them though. We tried to barricade the cupboards closed so they couldn't get in. We woke up to a pile of wood shavings on the kitchen floor - apparently, Hermana Jorgenson was woken up by it and describes it as one of the creepiest sounds she's ever heard as she lied awake in the dark and listened to a pack of rats trying to scratch and gnaw their way into our house. I was even woken up one night by one of them crawling on the outside of the net over my bed (apparently its good for more than just mosquitos out). On the upside, Liu is willing to lend us one of her cats if we decide it's come to that.

Con amor,

Hermana Kaitlin Olsen

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