Saturday morning we were up and busy. Elder Kendall, who loves to bake, put together some sugar cookies. I worked on the baptismal programs and we both got ready and headed out for our train in Lille. We got to the chapel in time to clean the baptismal font and start the water while the wards in Lille turned the chapel into a haunted mansion. No stress. Which was nice. Everything pretty much went according to order! Yaaayyyyy!!!!!
We were only worried for a moment. The baptism was supposed to start at two in the afternoon. When the clock hit two, hardly any of the members were there, including the bishop. But then my companion reminded me that we were Mormon and that as Mormons we conform to Mormon Standard Time. I wasn’t so sure that applied to France. After all, we’re on the other side of the world.
I was wrong. He was right. Everyone showed up twenty minutes late. Mormon Standard Time exists in France too.
We started the service. The two girls who got baptized had asked their parents to give the opening and closing prayers and Elder Kendall and I to give the talks on Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I did the talk on Baptism.
In my talk I told the members about a very special baptism that I had attended. It was the baptism of my sister, Jacqueline. I can’t remember too many of the details of her baptism, except that I cried the whole time! I just remember crying and crying and crying. And I remember people asking me why I was crying. At the time I wasn’t too sure why I was crying either! All I knew was that I was happy and proud of my sweet sister who had chosen to be baptized.
Looking back on that event now and remembering the feelings that I felt that day, I know that it was one of the first times I truly felt the Spirit and the joy that comes from others celebrating in the Gospel. Which, in my head, makes sense, because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is Heavenly Father’s Plan of Happiness. And when you take a look at the five principles of that gospel (faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end), you see how it’s designed to make us happy–particularly in repentance and baptism.
Repentance is a gift, as Elder D. Todd Christofferson put it. And it’s there so that we might have joy. Baptism is part of that process of repentance. Without it, our repentance is incomplete. And so through repentance and baptism we find that we have safe passage back to our father in heaven. And it’s for this reason that we rejoice in the plan that God created for us.
How wonderful it was to feel those feelings of joy again this last Saturday. The baptism was wonderful. The father baptized the two daughters and it was a beautiful sight. Even yesterday, I felt so happy again as I watched that family take the sacrament together right after the two girls had been baptized.
This last week we got interviewed by some students who’re doing a report on Mormons. They asked if we like what we do. We, of course, said YES. And I do! I enjoy being a missionary. The greatest blessing is to see those you love partake of the blessings of the Gospel. I know that’s true because I’ve felt it over and over again.
One more thing before I finsih this email.
Saturday night I got back home to find a couple of packages. And I was happy to find cards and all sorts of goods. But I was especially happy to find a photo album with a bunch of people holding signs saying: HAPPY BIRTHDAY 21st BIRTHDAY ELDER MARQUEZ! Got to be one of the best presents I’ve ever gotten.
Elder Saul Marquez