Sunday, July 02, 2023

Zoë's baptism (June 10)

Zoë chose to be baptized in Utah so that she could have family members attend, which I think was an excellent decision! It was lovely to have family witness her special day.

We took some pictures of her in her white dress while we were at the beach and sent this invitation out to our families:

We held her baptism in the backyard of some friends of Naanii's. The bishop of her old ward happens to have a pool and was happy to preside at the baptism there rather than make arrangements at a stake center (and fill the font, etc. etc.). 

Here are Zoë and Andrew in their jumpsuits:

And here they are with Grandpa Frank, who was so excited to see one of his great-grandchildren get baptized (though he was also present at Miriam's baptism in 2017).

Here's Grandpa Frank with all the kids:

And here's Grandpa Frank greeting Naanii:

Here's Zoë standing by herself:

And here's a view of our crowd:

Left to right we have Auntie Josie, Uncle Matt, Benjamin, Aunt Linda, Auntie K, Uncle Bruce, Grandpa, Grandpa Frank, and then me holding Phoebe...and then here's another shot with some more of the kids in there:

For the opening song, Zoë chose When I Am Baptized. Grandpa Frank gave the opening prayer. 

Zoë's song choice worked out well because Rachel ended up referencing that song in her talk about baptism! Rachel was not too happy when this little gem popped up on the family calendar, reminding us all that Rachel did, indeed, say she would give a talk at Zoë's baptism:

She ended up writing a wonderful talk for Zoë:
Three years ago, after refusing to speak at Ben’s baptism, I promised to give a talk at Zoë’s. At the time this seemed very far away. Being the procrastinator I am, I basically switched back and forth between worrying about it and forgetting about it completely for those three years. But here I am, my talk finally written even though I had three years of advance notice.

The primary song “When I am Baptized” says, “I know when I am baptized my wrongs are washed away, and I can be forgiven and improve myself each day.”

Your wrongs being washed away also means that you’re now accountable for your mistakes, and responsible for repenting of your sins. 

Alma 13:27 says, “And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance;” 

Repentance might sound scary to you, which might make you want to procrastinate repenting. But repentance doesn’t have to be scary. We have to honestly admit our faults and our sins, do what we can to correct them, strive to make all the necessary changes we can, and rely on the Savior’s power to change what we cannot. It’s a way to grow and change for the better— “[improving yourself] each day”—so Alma and I both urge you to not procrastinate repentance like I procrastinated this talk. I also encourage you to not procrastinate learning about and living your baptismal covenants, so we’re going to talk about that right now. 

When you got baptized, you entered into a covenant with God. You made a couple promises, and Heavenly Father promised you a few things, too. 

Mosiah 18 explains a lot about baptism. Verses 8-9 say, “as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death.” 

First of all, you have to want to get baptized, which you just did, and be a faithful member of the church, which will be something you’re always working on.  

Second, you have to take upon yourself the name of Christ. You do this first by becoming a member of the church named after him, but there are a few other things involved in this, too. You have to strive to put the Lord first in your life and try to think and act as He would, and stand “as [a witness] of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.” This means not being afraid to share your beliefs and generally being a good example to other people. 

Third, you have to bear one another’s burdens, mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. This means that you need to serve other people, and do things like helping around the house and being kind to your family and friends (and even people who you aren’t necessarily friends with). 

If we look again in Mosiah 18, we find Heavenly Father’s side of the covenants you’ve made. 

First, he forgives all your sins. Getting baptized gives you the opportunity to “be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life.” Baptism is required to be able to enter the celestial kingdom to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. 

Verse 10 continues on to say, “if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” This means that you’ll be given the companionship and guidance of the Holy Ghost, and Heavenly Father will help you when you need help. 

Heavenly Father won’t break his promises to us, but it’s inevitable that we’ll all make mistakes and eventually break a promise that we’ve made to Him. He knows this and loves all of us anyway, which is why we have the sacrament. We take the sacrament every Sunday to remember and renew our covenants. Being baptized and making all these promises might seem scary, but Heavenly Father knows that we’ll make mistakes. You don’t need to be afraid to ask Him for help, because He’s ready to help us fix our mistakes and improve ourselves if we’re trying our best and always striving to keep our covenants with Him. 

Zoë, I’m proud of you for choosing to get baptized and I bear my testimony that the promises you’ve made today will help you improve as a person and make your life happier. 

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

After her baptism we sang my grandma Conrad's song, Baptism, A New Birth. I'm trying to remember who all sang with us—my mom, Uncle Bruce, Auntie Josie, all of my kids. I was accompanying on the ukulele (and singing as well). But it was so nice to be able to sing that song with three generations again!

Naanii gave a wonderful talk about the Holy Ghost, including quite a bit of research on music (which makes sense since she's always researching about music). I'll have to see if she has her talk written down. I know she spoke about the song The Holy Ghost, which just happened to be our planned closing song (so that worked out nicely as well). She spoke about the roles of the Holy Ghost—a guide and a comforter—and presented Zoë with a soft white blanket that had doves on it to help remind her of this. 

Naanii wasn't the only one with gifts! Auntie K came loaded with presents. She brought out Phoebe's while Zoë was getting changed after being baptized because Phoebe had been looking at that pool glistening in the sunshine for long enough, in her opinion, and it was time to get in! After all, Zoë had gotten to go in! Phoebe did not like being told no about that. So Kelli ran to her car and returned with a big stuffed Grogu toy for Phoebe (and that did help keep Phoebe quiet for the second half of the services).

Aunt Linda gave the closing prayer for us, and then we all headed to a nearby park to visit and celebrate. In the picture below you can see everyone there except Auntie Josie, who took the picture:

Benjamin, Miriam, Zoë, Alexander, Daddy holding Phoebe, Uncle Trevor (who couldn't be poolside because it was not very accessible), Aunt Linda, Uncle Bruce, Auntie K, Naanii, Uncle Matt, Rachel, Me, Grandpa Frank, and Grandpa

Zoë snagged a special picture with Auntie Josie after:

She's wearing some sunglasses that Auntie K brought for her. Like I said, Auntie K had presents for everyone! A stuffed gorilla for Zoë, a frog lantern for Alexander, a wood carving kit for Benjamin, the Grogu toy for Phoebe. And she made a "pass the parcel" game for the kids to play, as well as bringing a number of lawn games. The kids had a blast with her. We're so lucky to have an aunt like Auntie K!

Here's a picture of our family (before we started changing out of our dress clothes):

Here's what Zoë had to say about her special day:
My baptism was in a swimming pool in Utah. Alex stuck his hand in the water and yelled “It’s not cold!” Haha! Silly Alex! He was right, though. The water wasn’t  cold. I was shivering after, though. That always happens to me when I get out of swimming pools. I feel cold. We went to a park after. It was 2 minutes away from the house where I was baptized! I rode in Auntie K’s car on the way to the park. She really loves the nightmare before Christmas! She brought pass the parcel to the park, and nerf guns! It was very fun.

(Auntie K drives for Uber and Lyft in her spare time, and the interior of her car is decorated with a Nightmare Before Christmas theme, which is why Zoë mentioned it).

Here are the kids playing "pass the parcel":

They uncovered a lot of fun toys (that were wonderful ways to distract Phoebe in the car on the way home from Utah):

Here are the kids playing parachute with Auntie K:

It was a good, good day! We ended up moving the party to Naanii's house, having pizza for dinner, and continuing to play late into the evening. Here's Auntie K trying to make friends with Phoebe:

We're proud of Zoë for the person she is and the person she's becoming and were so happy to get to celebrate her with our families in Utah!

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