7.05.2012

Alaska Road Trip: Day 13

Lucy's baptism was perfect, and there's really no better way to put it. Part of me wants to just post the pictures and leave it at that, but I also want to include the details of this special day. 

Soon after we planned our trip to Alaska, Lucy realized that we would be gone on June 2, the date penciled in on our calendars for her baptism with the other 8-year-olds in our stake.  

"Can I get baptized in Alaska?!? she quickly asked/begged. 

After some consideration, Steve and I decided that was actually a good plan. 

Lucy had her baptismal interview right after her eighth birthday. We received permission to conduct the baptism in Alaska from both our bishop here and my cousin's bishop there. 

We had originally planned on the baptism taking place in the baptismal font in the church. A couple of weeks before our trip, I received an email from my cousin, Jake, who was then serving as a counselor in his ward's bishopric, "I'll check the building schedule to see which day would work best. Of course, we could always pick a local lake or stream and avoid scheduling conflicts altogether."

Steve and I had always been under the impression that outdoor baptisms were discouraged, so we pulled out the church handbook. "When a baptismal font is not available, any body of water that is safe may be used for a baptism if it is large enough to immerse the person and to permit the priesthood holder who performs the baptism to stand in the water with the person." 

We went to church the next day and heard that there were a couple of kids who were going to get baptized during our stake's Mormon Pioneer Handcart Trek. We talked to Steve's dad about it. And even though Steve was still somewhat concerned about maintaining an appropriate level of reverence, we told Jake that we were interested in having him conduct an outdoor baptism for Lucy. 

While we were in Alaska, there was talk of holding Lucy's baptism at a number of different places: at a semi-private lake in Anchorage, in Homer, and even back to the original plan of the indoor baptismal font. But in reality, a baptism at the church was going to be a lot of work and require a lot of preparation: three hours to fill the font, waiting for the font to drain, etc. 

At bishopric meeting in Alaska, the morning of Lucy's baptism, there was talk of why Lucy was being baptized outside. "Because she's a Malouf!" someone answered. I guess there might be some truth to that. 

I hoped that an outdoor baptism might work out because it would have special significance and remind Lucy of my paternal grandmother, Ausdrig Malouf's, baptism. 

I tried to shorten and condense this story, but I think my family members will enjoy reading Grandma Malouf's baptismal story in her own words. (Thanks to Aunt Dona for sharing the history with me; I have omitted the dates for privacy purposes.)

This was written by Ausdrig on January 4, 1994: 

     Like Nephi of old, "I was born of goodly parents." We read from the Bible as a family, and had prayer each night and morning for as long as I can remember. However, my parents were not satisfied with their religious affiliations and were constantly searching for a church whose teachings conformed to the teachings of the Savior. I recall, as a small child, attending the Methodist Church, and later seeing my mother baptized into the Baptist Church in a swimming pool in St. Gallen (Switzerland), and subsequently participating in their Sunday services. 
     On one occasion when my father was away from home for an extended period of time, two LDS missionaries came to our door. My mother sent them away because 'Mormons' were in ill-repute and she did not want to have anything to do with them. The Elders persisted, but it was only after their seventh visit that my mother finally listened to their message! Subsequently, she read the Book of Mormon and received a witness of its truthfulness. Four months after my sixth birthday, my mother became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Two months later, my brothers, David and George, then eleven and nine, were also baptized. 
     At that time the baptism site for the Saints in St. Gallen was deep in the secluded safety of the forest in the River Zitter. Whenever there was a baptism, all the members of the branch attended and feelings of great joy and reverence prevailed. 
     By the time my eighth birthday was close, I had read most of the Book of Mormon, and even though much of it was beyond my comprehension, the Spirit bore witness to me that it was true. I had a very strong testimony that it was from God and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was indeed His Church. I was eager and ready for baptism!
     Throughout the previous year I had been afflicted with frequent, very severe, painful ear infections, and was also plagued with a persistent cough dating back three years to the time when I had whooping cough. The winters in St. Gallen were generally very cold and that year was no exception. Because of my symptoms, mother and the missionaries decided I should wait to be baptized until the weather was more favorable. At the moment I was agreeable to their recommendation. However, as the time came closer to my birthday I had an overwhelmingly strong desire to be baptized and simply did not think I could wait any longer. The missionaries tried diligently to postpone the event, but I would not be put off. 
     My enthusiasm and determination were so great that my baptism was scheduled two days after my eighth birthday (in January). It was a very cold day with considerable snow on the ground. As we walked through the forest, with snow almost to my knees, the excitement within me rose to such heights that I thought I would burst. After walking for about two hours, we reached the familiar bend in the river. Some of the older boys had gone ahead and already had a fire burning. A dressing room constructed with rope, sheets, blankets, and clothespins gave me protection and a little privacy. 
     I was thrilled that the time for my baptism had come at last! As I stepped into the icy water, a warm feeling, such as I had never felt before, enveloped my whole body and I felt very comfortable knowing that Heavenly Father approved. As I stepped out of the river, the warmth and joy within me far exceeded the cold temperatures on that beautiful winter day! I was thankful to note that after my baptism the persistent cough and the painful ear were never again experienced!
     These events taught me that when we focus out lives on Christ and strive to keep His commandments, we have Heavenly Father's promise that His Spirit will always be with us. I know that I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to be baptized at that time. Since then I have had many experiences which attest to the fact that when we keep the commandments to the best of our ability and listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we receive special blessings. 
     One year later, my father was baptized in the same river at the same spot, which by now had become hallowed ground to our family. 

My grandma truly was an extraordinary woman. 

After church, Steve and Lucy changed into their white clothes, and we drove over to the bishop's pond. The drizzling rain stopped just as we were setting up our camping chairs. The pond was quiet and peaceful; there were even a few ducks to add to the ambience. We quickly took a few pictures before the baptism.  


We missed our Utah family, but we were thankful that we had such a great group of extended family members in Alaska to participate in the baptism. 

Amy, Jake, Lucy: 


Ben and Abi: 


Erica and Matt: 


Jake conducted the service and briefly spoke about Grandma Malouf and her baptism in Switzerland. We sang I am a Child of God. Jessica gave a talk on baptism and Rachel gave a talk on the Holy Ghost. Abi and Ben offered the prayers.

Steve told me I could take pictures right up until he raised his arm. But I felt a little silly snapping pictures with my camera in such a spiritual setting. So this was the only shot I got of them in the water.


There was a brief second of uneasiness once Lucy got in. The water really was cold. But Steve calmly reassured her that she could do it, and she was just fine. 


After the baptism, Steve confirmed Lucy as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My cousins, Jake and Matt stood in the circle. Steve and Lucy's clothes stayed remarkably white. 


The bishop shared some remarks and spoke about the importance of baptism and the opportunity we have to renew our covenants when we partake of the sacrament.  


There was a special feeling of reverence at Lucy's baptism. Like my grandma, I felt very comfortable knowing that Heavenly Father approved. 

We drove back to Jake and Amy's house. Lucy changed and warmed up by the fire: 


The kids played "Grandpa's Game" while dinner was prepared.


Dinner was delicious: grilled salmon, baked potatoes, toasted baguettes, hummus, mangoes, kiwi, and apples. 


(No photos of the beautiful fruit because it was all eaten before I got a picture.)

Playing card games:


Making silly faces:


More card games (Rachel, Abi, Ben, Jessica, Lucy):


Abi:


Jessica:


And more silly faces from Ben:


Getting a picture, in focus, of Barrett is harder than you would think; he is always moving. 


Thanks to Jake and Amy for coordinating the baptism and hosting the wonderful dinner!

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

Congratulations on being baptized Lucy! You look beautiful!