Glad to hear from you all, it’s always a highlight of the week.
The week hasn’t been very eventful—we've been doing teaching appointments, but haven't been able to focus as much as we'd like on some of our amis.
One of our amis is doing very well, her name is MJ. She’s a member of the large family that is coming to church. She is preaching the Word of Wisdom to everyone in her neighborhood (this after having heard about it in Sunday School). She so ready to be baptized, and loves the Church and the missionaries. Our only difficulty is...you guessed it...marriage, which is always the problem here.
We had our 4 baptisms this past Saturday. They went really well. They
were for the youth we’ve been teaching. Two are 14 years old, and the other two are 9 years old (siblings of one of the 14 year olds). Barnes did the baptizing, and I’m sure it was a pretty unique experience.
First of all, Barnes had been sick just the day beforehand. He was hoping he would be well enough to do the baptisms. We were in a pool that was probably about 4 feet deep. The first little 9-year old went in and she was terrified. (Africans don’t swim, and the water was deeper than her head.) Barnes had to end up letting her sit on his knee while he did the prayer, and then just kind off dunk-tanked her. Then the other 9-year old came in and he could stand, but he had never been in a pool before and didn’t really know how to stand. Barnes kept trying to do the prayer, but the boys’ legs kept floating up to surface. Barnes would push them down, but they’d float right back up. Finally, Barnes resolved to stand on the boy's feet while he baptized him. Then the icing on the cake was when Annette tried to get into the pool. She started by walking down the stairs like normal, but then we saw that somehow she lost control and next thing we know her head is under water and her rear end is up in the air. We thought she was just being silly or trying to take advantage of the chance to be in a pool, but we quickly learned that she was actually really struggling. She was wiggling around trying to stay above water, but you could tell that she had never even attempted to swim in her life or knew anything about treading water. (Hence, the "Near Death" title for this email.) Rich and I had to smile as Barnes helped her to stand up in this 4-feet deep water. Finally, Françoise, after having seen the experiences of all who had gone before her, had a nearly flawless baptism.
You could tell that they were all really happy to have been able to
have been baptized and confirmed. Also our young women’s group has now tripled in size.
In other news, I had to cast out a demon yesterday. One of our more strong members of the church wanted a blessing from Mayamba for her young granddaughter (who is maybe 9 years old). Mayamba caught me and asked me to assist with him. We went into a little room off to the side and the grandmother started to explain the illness, which she was convince was caused by a demon. I wasn't really sure if the girl was truly possessed by a demon, as people here are pretty quick to jump to the conclusion of demons for all sorts of things--especially when their children act up. Mayamba was quick to say that there was no problem to give the girl a blessing. So we gave a little blessing of comfort and Mayamba did say a little about getting rid of bad spirits. Anyways, we’ll see what happens with that.
In other news we had transfers, Barnes and I are still together and will finish training in 6 weeks. Peterson will leave for home, and will be replaced by Ribera, who is one of my favorite missionaries. He's French and was in the MTC with me. He is a great worker and I’m sure he will help Barnes' and my French a lot.
The work is going well and I love you all!