Saturday morning, Tabitha and I had the honor of attending our first baptisms here in Guatemala. It was pretty easy for us to attend since they were held across the street.
Every time there are baptisms in the church I attend, I experience different emotions, and a couple of flashbacks.
The first emotions I feel are excitement and contentment. Obviously, we should all be excited when someone wants to commit his or her life to Christ. This is not an easy decision for some, but for some, it's an obvious choice. These are the ones who make me feel content.
On Saturday, things were quite a bit different, beginning with breakfast. Not everyone gets Guatemalan tamales served at their baptism, and I would say they should campaign for them.
These tamales are wrapped in banana leaves (which there are plenty of here, check the sticker on your banana and it most likely says Guatemala on it). The pork inside was perfect and the corn meal filling was just the right texture.
Second, Pastor Tony gave a lesson on baptisms using several Biblical references. My favorite was of the Ethiopian and Phillip in Acts. He pointed out that they used some water on the side of the road.
It was not special water in a special place. Yet the Holy Spirit came upon the Ethiopian and Phillip disappeared. Needless to say Pastor Tony did not disappear after the eight baptisms.
The actual baptisms reminded me of my second baptism. Yes, I've been baptized twice, once as a baby and another as an adult, about three years ago almost to the day. I struggled for several years about whether I should get baptized again. Once is enough to save you, but I didn't make that decision, someone else did. I also wasn't confirmed (one of the sacraments of the Roman Catholic church, which is what I was first baptized into) which to me is similar to adult baptism.
Finally, one Sunday the pastors of Impact Life Church announced they were doing baptisms near the campus of Ozark Christian College. My wife decided that she wanted to get baptized into our new church family. That was all I needed to have the voice inside me say I should, too.
I was baptized by my old, dear friend, Pastor Howie, in Turkey Creek. I'm sure some will think this is either ironic or appropriate. Keep those thoughts to yourself. But it was a perfect summer day with blue skies punctuated with white, fluffy clouds. The creek was clear and cool but not too cold. And there was a disc golf basket nearby. My new favorite sport to play (or the only sport I play now) has brought me thoughts of the Lord as I commune with nature, and it has made me "lose my religion" after some throws didn't go as planned. (Unfortunately, there are no courses in my new country.)
The flashback I have when I think of baptisms is when I was custodian at South Joplin Christian Church. I was in charge of filling the baptismal when they had baptisms, and I was worried about overfilling it. I watched it intently all morning and turned off the water when it was filled. The major error I made was only turning on the cold water and not the hot. It was March, I believe, and I think no time wasted during those baptisms because it was a cold water wash not a hot tub of Jesus' love.
Saturday's water was also cold, but my Guatemalan friends are tough and soldiered on with tiny yelps as they got in the water. And all were glad to have new members of the family as we sang "I've Decided to Follow Jesus" in Spanish.