Sorry to be emailing a day late, but you already know of the problems we have with the Internet connection here. My companion especially is having problems because he has never used a computer before. Please tell Brady that I'd love to go with him to Comic-Con. I don't know if I would be wearing a costume to this thing or not , but I'll sure try to get into the full spirit of the thing. Also please tell Sarah that I wrote her a birthday letter and have been trying to send it for a couple of weeks now, but still no luck with the Post Office here. I'll probably just end up scanning the letter and sending it as an email when the actual day comes. Please tell her sorry for me!
So the biggest news of the past week is obviously the baptism. In terms of awesomeness, I'd probably place it equal to the gigantic 40-plus person baptism that took place in Antsirabe a year ago. That baptism was cool for its sheer size, and also for the General Authority that was in attendance. For this little baptism here in Fort Dauphin we had 7 baptized, but it was made special because of the fabulous people whom were dunked, and the unusual circumstances of having to baptize in the ocean.
The waves were over our heads. There were a couple of times that all of the Malagasys went completely under, Elder Cryer being almost totally swallowed in the surf, and Elder Peaden alone with his 6'2 frame being able to keep most of his head dry. Each person that got baptized seemed to be unaware of the giant waves that were coming. All of the women had to be picked up and elevated when each wave would come so that their baptism was not just one long process of being underwater the whole time! Even the older women didn't seem to want to jump up for themselves. For the two little girls who got baptized (twins, so cute) I had to carry them in my arms and literally hold them up the entire time. We tried to see if they could stand on the actual sand bottom, but the waves that were hitting us would have swept them away.
Another challenge, but fun part of the baptism, was that I was the one who had the baptismal prayer memorized. For each of the baptisms I spoke the words with those who were baptizing. It was fun, and exciting, and a little bit scary when one of the baptizees would go under water and not come back up when we wanted them to. I'm thankful that the waves weren't higher. So that, and the wonderful experience of baptizing in the ocean are definitely things to be grateful for. We have another baptism coming up at the end of this month, and at that time we might just try and do it in a river or something. There is one place where a giant lake meets the ocean called Ankoba, and the water there is very calm. Maybe that'll be the trick....
When it came time to head back to land, we all started trudging through the tumultuous water. Unfortunately, and simultaneously fortunately in many respects, a giant wave came that engulfed us all, so I stroked my arms, kicked my legs, and body-boarded that sucker. I cruised into land, eventually getting taken under and flipped over, and finally back-stroked to where the water was a bit less crazy. I love my mission.
Walking back to the church after the actual baptism was over was tough. My feet were covered in scratchy sand, I hadn't brought a towel to begin with, and long-sleeve shirts aren't too comfortable when wet. The testimony portion of the meeting was good, if a bit humorous. The first person to bear testimony included a portion at the end that was...not bad....but maybe timed a bit wrong for sharing with the congregation. The woman told of her old and past sins, saying that because of the church she didn't do them anymore. And then, every one of the other baptizees followed suit. It was really funny when the two little girls said, "I used to not do my homework but now I do!" and "I used to whine all the time but now I don't!"
In conclusion, I know this church is true. I love this church, and I love my mission more than anything.
Till next time,