I had a pretty bad headache all of Saturday. I don’t know why, but I get super stressed before baptisms. I’m like a rabbit trapped in a little box. But I’ve survived. And most importantly, the baptism happened and it was a wonderful experience!
We’ve been teaching this 19-year-old girl for two months now. She’s from Guinea-Bissau and she used to be Catholic. She was very active in her church back when she lived in Portugal but she lost a lot of that faith when she moved here in France. She went through many, many trials and felt that she needed more of God in her life, but she wasn’t finding it where she was.
About a week before I arrived in St. Nazaire, Elder Fuller, my companion, contacted her when getting off of a bus. He said that she hardly said anything during that first contact, but that her interest was apparent. They taught her once and the rendez-vous went really well. I arrived in St. Nazaire the next week. The first rendez-vous that I was in with her, the Spirit was so incredibly strong. She came to church the next day, we talked to her afterwards and set a baptismal date.
Since then we’ve been working with her a lot to prepare for the baptism. The zone leaders came down on exchanges Thursday night. We met with her for her baptismal interview. She brought her father with her. Turns out he was baptized six years ago but left the church when he decided he wanted to be Catholic so that the family would be unified in their faith. Well, Elder Fuller and one of the zone leaders talked to him as the zone leader I was with interviewed her. The father is okay with the baptism, but he’s not interested in coming back himself.
The baptism had to be in Nantes which is a good hour away. We got on the train and the members helped bring her and her family to the chapel. One of the members who was supposed to give the talk on baptism had an emergency just before and said she couldn’t come anymore. She told us that she’d give her talk to her husband and then we could have someone read it at the baptism. When her husband got there, we asked for the talk. He forgot it!
So I gave the talk off the top of my head. I had given a talk in Valenciennes on baptism just a few months ago, so I mostly did the same one again. But it was still really different.
Then we had the baptism. Elder Fuller baptized her. It was wonderful. After the service, she was really, really happy. There was just a good feeling. Everything was calm.
Sunday morning came. She asked me to do the confirmation. I had never done one before. I was pretty nervous. And then to make things better, the branch president asked us just a few minutes before to give talks during sacrament meeting. Guess who got to give on a talk on the spot again? And then I had to play the piano. I always stress out when I play the piano.
When the time came, I laid my hands on her head. As soon as I began talking, it was like my mind went empty. All that stress that I had just vanished instantly. I was calm. All I could hear and focus on were the words that were coming out of my mouth. It was very special. I’ve not really had an experience like that. Even when giving blessings… This one was just different.
She was so happy after church. She’s normally very quiet and shy. She was shooting the breeze with the members after it was all over. She left the chapel saying “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.”
I’m so glad to be on a mission. This is the best experience in the entire world. I just know you can’t understand what I mean unless you’ve experienced it yourself. Words do not describe this. I love my mission. I hope this never ends.
There are many good things coming in the next weeks. Time is so short, I hope to make the most of it while I still can.
Elder Saul Marquez