Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Ethan's Baptism

Here's what I told my boss about this week, so it is kind of just a rough outline of what has taken place during the last seven days or so.

I had mentioned I was pretty tired from the last two crazy days, and he asked what was tiring, so I said:

The tiring part comes from yesterday having a birthday party with twelve 8-year-olds, the ducts on our house cleaned (meaning I had to move bookshelves full of books and an entertainment center for access to them), and since new flooring was put in in our kitchen while we were on vacation I needed to put the fridge and stove back, plus install a new toilet - all yesterday. Then today was my son's baptism and another accompanying party to get ready for, and the house had to be really clean for today (after the party and floor and ducts being cleaned) because Michelle's grandma flew in from Long Beach. All that right after coming back from a vacation and driving a total of 16 hours (including the drive time during the vacation around Las Vegas). Oh, and we had another party / family gathering at my sister's house last night, and another gathering Sunday morning early for another sister's baby blessing, besides our own church services (where my wife taught an hour lesson and gave Easter gifts to the girls in the young women group where she is the music chairperson, and I played the organ for the main meeting with just an hour or two's notice.)

Now we are done with everything, but I am a bit tired! It has been nice actually, filled with a lot more joys than frustrations, but I think we could have spread out some of the things that happened a bit more... well at least the ducts being cleaned. Still, things ran very well, and I only had to leave work early two days, and then plan on working more later at night, like last night, and then what I was planning tonight, so I am really happy with how it turned out.

However, what I really wanted to write about was how wonderful some of the experiences were with Ethan preparing and being baptized and confirmed. I got pretty choked up a few times during the actual service, but the time leading up to Ethan's baptism was rewarding as well. I was very impressed by the way that Ethan gave a prayer last night on his birthday at our family home evening at the Biddulph's house. Ethan spoke using wording and tone that was much higher than I had heard him pray before. It appears that he has been really paying attention during prayers.

I'm so proud of him for reading the whole Book of Mormon before he turned eight. That just amazes me. I hope that will give him a good foundation of knowing that he is able to accomplish many things as long as he sets his mind to it. I also hope that he enjoyed what he learned, and that it gives him a strong base for continual gospel learning.

Related to the actual baptismal service and confirmation, I wanted to make sure and write down the things I remember so that Ethan can have something to help jog his memory about his baptism day.

I remember Ethan being very excited before the baptism and jumping around a bit with his cousin Sabrina, who was also baptized just after Ethan.

Ethan asked to practice how he would bend back under the water. We had practiced at home already a few times, but Ethan wanted to be sure to do it right.

I remember feeling grateful and having the impact of what was about to happen hit me again when Ethan's Aunt Malauna gave the opening prayer for the service. I got weepy eyed and had to wipe my eyes dry during the prayer. (Ethan had asked Aunt Malauna to give the prayer.)

Ethan and I waited to one side of the baptismal font for a minute or so while someone kept trying to unlock the doors for everyone to see. We dry-practiced laying him under the water while we waited, and I talked with him about how many of the kids out there who would be watching are just like Ethan was in previous times when he looked up to other kids being baptized.

The water was a little cold, but not too cold. It came up to about the middle of my thigh, about a foot below the high point where it could have been, but it was plenty enough for Ethan to easily go under the water. I went in first, then Ethan came down the steps holding the railing, even though I had my hand out for him to come to me. He grabbed my hand while he was still on the last step, and then he was baptized.

I don't remember anyone by name who was watching when we were in the water, except for the two witnesses: Robert Ralph Gibby and Lawrence Edward Presser, both of Ethan's grandpas. Uncle Ryan said that they both gave a thumbs up after Ethan was baptized. I know I made sure to look to them to make sure it had been done properly.

I remember Ethan did a good job of keeping his legs down under the water, even though I didn't try and hold them down. Ethan mentioned that he heard quite a few little kids who were watching talk about the water and how they wanted to get in.

Ethan and I watched from the side as Sabrina was baptized. I got a white towel so Ethan had a towel over his head and started to get a little cold, but I think he was glad to get to go first so Sabrina wouldn't be cold if she were to have watched him instead.

I remember that Ethan said that he felt really good or really clean just after he was baptized when we were going to change our clothes. He was also a good sport about the fact that we had forgot to pack him an extra set of underwear, and no belt, so Uncle Ryan borrowed a leather braided belt to Ethan that we wrapped more than one and a half times around him to make sure his new suit pants stay up. (His pants are wide enough to fit him for two more years, but that he will probably outgrow in the legs in six months.) We probably took a little too long getting dressed, but that always seems the way of things.

When we got back to the Relief Society room where Ethan and Sabrina were to be confirmed, Grandpa Gibby gave a talk on the Holy Ghost, emphasizing that he is a special, pure and sacred member of the Godhead, that it is a very special thing for us to have the gift to be able to have him with us, that he is a comforter (which Grandpa showed symbolically by giving a white comforter blanket to Ethan and Sabrina which Grandma had made), and that he can speak to us to warn us if we listen and try to stay close to him. Grandpa related how his Uncle Grant had a near crash in an airplane, but had been saved because the Spirit had whispered to him that he was taking off right into the path of a landing plane.

The things I remember about what was said in the blessing that Ethan received after he was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and told to receive the Holy Ghost are that he will continue to grow in spirit and that his testimony will be strong if he seeks to be close to the Spirit. Also, I was very emotional when I was prompted to tell Ethan that Satan will tempt him. I'm not sure that I voiced all that I felt related to that. I think my emotions and tears may have portrayed through the Spirit what was felt more than my words. I felt like saying something similar to 'Satan desires you' or 'You will have some hard trials', but what I ended up saying was that Satan would tempt him, but that he could overcome if he stayed close to the Spirit through prayer, scripture study, and by listening to the counsel of those who loved him or of those who love him and who also are close to the Spirit.

What I remember most from Sabrina's blessing was that Ryan said that this time in the world is a troubling but also a wonderful time to live.

I hope that these things I've written can help Ethan or those who are close to him throughout his life.