In my mind, I pictured the baptism day for my wife and me as a quiet, little ceremony. Unbeknownst to me, a baptism in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is quite an event, at least it was for ours in our ward, the Kaneohe First Ward of the Kaneohe, Hawaii Stake.
Prior to being baptized, my wife and I were interviewed by the Honolulu, Hawaii Mission President, Ronald Hawkins. A couple weeks prior, my wife and I had attended a “cottage meeting” at the home of President Hawkins with other people who were checking out the church (“investigators,” is what we are called). And it was at this meeting that we decided that we were ready to be baptized.
Actually, it was President Hawkins who decided, based on the interview we had with him. We met him at the Kaneohe Stake Center one evening about a week before our baptism date. We were asked if we believed the church was true, if I were living by the ten commandments, and if we were living by what the church called “the word of wisdom” which meant we were not drinking alcohol, smoking, and taking illegal drugs. We were also asked if there were things in our past that we wanted to confess.
I did have some things to confess. For one, I had not always behaved in a gentlemanly manner with my wife, and when I told President Hawkins about these times he asked if I had changed my ways and if I had made improvements in my behavior. I told him I had.
President Hawkins, a kind and soft-spoken man, told me that members of the church are not perfect, but they should always be striving to improve themselves. I told him I was willing to do that.
Our baptism was held in the afternoon on January 29, 2006 at the Kaneohe, Hawaii Stake Center. To my surprise, fifty or sixty people attended, many more than I could have imagined. Although there was just one member from our family there (Dustin, our son), we came to find out that we had gained many new family members, namely the good people of our ward and of our church. My high school buddies, Clint and Ted, along with their wives and children, also were there for the big day for my wife and me.
Baptism has to be done by a worthy priestholder of the church, and my wife and I chose Elder Michael Webber, 20, to baptize us. He, along with Elder Samuel Manasco, had been the ones who visited us often to teach us about the gospel of Jesus Christ, so it seem fitting that one of them be the one.
While the baptism was the “main event” of the ceremony, there were other things on the program, including an opening and closing prayer and talks about baptism (given by my friend Ted) and the gift of the Holy Ghost (given by Brother Moses Bergao, a beloved member of the Kaneohe 1st ward. We also sang hymns, and I chose “Love at Home,” one of my favorites till this day.
I will confess that I cried on this day as did my wife. We felt the gift of the spirit that baptism brought us. We also felt the happiness we sought. Yes, we were on our way.