Zuster Fox?

Zuster Fox?

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Baptism in Assen!

I don't even know where to begin. I suppose you could say it's been an eventful week... We had a baptism!!!
Sitting in our netjes, clean apartment with the fresh tulips on my 6 month mark! (Friday, February 6th)
I feel like anything else we did this week pales in comparison to the excitement of this past weekend! I'll make a noble, valiant attempt to relate all of the details and miracles of the experience, although I doubt it's possible to be entirely successful.

The investigator whose story I will be relating is Saad, an investigator of ours who's originally from the Middle East. He has been investigating the church for almost a year now, and he has come so far in learning about Christianity, developing patterns of scripture study, church attendance, and prayer. So it's super exciting for him to finally have the chance to follow the example of Christ and be baptized!

We met with Saad or talked to him almost every day this week. He was interviewed by our district leaders and was found worthy to be baptized. On Saturday morning, Sister Dobler and I set off for Groningen, where the baptismal service would be held, since the Assen church building doesn't have a baptismal font. Everything was going great until we got on a bus going the wrong direction... However, fortunately, we still made it on time! A great amount of people from the branch came up to attend and show support- there were almost forty people, only eight of which were missionaries. We had another investigator who came, as did the Elders and Sisters in Groningen each- which is always excellent, because a baptism is such a powerful, spiritual experience.
Groningen Sisters who came- Sister Watts from my group, and Sister Hopkin from Sister Dobler's. We love them!
The program was smooth and spiritual. Something really cool about Saad's story is that none of it could have happened without the assistance of Brother Wartan, a member in our branch who speaks fluent Arabic and Dutch. We were at the point a couple months ago where Saad wanted to be baptized, but we had been teaching with ipads and Google translate and wanted to make sure he understood everything. Br. Wartan hadn't been to church in a while due to health problems- but finally, we connected the two, and with the help of Br. Wartan's translation Saad could move forward in his progression! Br. Wartan's entire family, who haven't been baptized yet, were able to be there, and Br. Wartan gave a talk at the baptism in Dutch and Arabic. He was able to perform the baptism himself- the first he had ever done. Seeing Saad and Brother Wartan standing together in white clothes in the water was so beautiful. There's something about white that prompts one to think of heaven, cleanliness, purity.

The baptism was performed-- a couple of times, because the prayer must be said exactly right, and the dopeling (person being baptized) completely immersed, following the pattern Jesus Christ Himself gave when He was on the earth (3 Nephi 11:21-26). We then adjourned to the chapel again to sing hymns while we waited for them to dry off. There was a thoughtful welcoming word by our Branch President, and then I had the opportunity to end the service with a prayer. I was kind of feeling overcome and teary as we sang the closing hymn (How Great Thou Art/Gij Zijt Groot) but the Spirit took over for me as I prayed, and I think I was able to end the meeting on a spiritually strong note.

Afterwards, we all ate some refreshments (Sister Dobler and I made another brownie castle) and talked, and congratulated Saad on this new stage of his life he's entering, this new beginning! And that was it; a baptism is such a simple, straightforward ordinance. It doesn't need to be ornamented or complicated; just the words of the prayer, a talk or two, some hymns. And it brings such great joy for so many people! Sister Dobler and I saw that service bless and inspire not only Saad, but also the other investigators, less active members, missionaries, just everyone in attendance who had a chance to participate. I'm so grateful to have gotten to be there to witness it, to have had however small a part in helping it happen by teaching Saad. I feel incredibly blessed. What a miracle it is that Heavenly Father has prepared a way for us to return to Him, through His Son Jesus Christ!

The next day, Saad was confirmed in sacrament meeting in church, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and becoming the Church's newest member! Congratulations, Saad!

The entire event helped me think back to remember my own baptism. I was only 8, but I remember being excited as I dressed in white and descended the steps into the warm water of the font, received by my loving dad. I remember feeling clean and happy, especially when I received the Holy Ghost. I'm so grateful that now 12 years later I can be here in the Netherlands, helping others to prepare to receive that same remission of sins and fullness of joy.

Did anything else happen this week? I suppose. It was my official 6 month mark, for one thing! From now on, I'll be home in less than a year. Kind of a crazy thought! In any case, to celebrate, we bought fresh flowers (tulips here: cheap, easily accessible, and gorgeous) and made an especially yummy breakfast. We had exchanges, and I stayed in Assen and worked with Sister Kimmons for the day while Sister Dobler went to Apeldoon again. When she returned, we happened to be walking through the market and bought delicious fresh stroopwafels... Nothing could compare to that. Oh, and our District Leaders came to work with us in Assen on Thursday. We always appreciate the help of Elder Nye and Elder Claflin!
Fresh stoopwafels

Simply heerlijk! (heavenly!)
And that was the week. Seeing the baptism was so special... I'm so grateful that I could be here for that! Saad is fantastic and enthusiastic, and now we have the chance to continue to teach and guide the way. Miracles happen every day!

I hope you all have a wonderful and a Happy Valentine's Day!


Zuster Voss

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