We have attended quite a few baptisms lately, and have discovered some interesting differences in how they hold baptism ceremonies.
Missionaries taking pictures before the baptism begins
Typical baptismal font. The water was not working in the font, so they had to pump water from the Stake cistern–200 feet away.
A young boy prepares to be baptized. I guess I am getting older, because the three children baptized looked like they were 5 or 6 rather than 8 years old!
Here is how a local baptism works:
1. Opening song and prayer
2. Talk given by a member or missionary
3. Proceed with the baptisms
(Pretty normal so far, eh?)
4. ONE person baptizes everyone. It is kind of like doing baptisms for the dead: one person (usually a member, NOT a missionary) gets into the font, then starts baptizing people, one after the other… They do NOT ask their names before baptizing them…
Not to worry! One of the witnesses standing next to the font actually places the baptismal form with the person’s name up to the glass so the brother can read the exact name (see the picture above). Can’t make many mistakes that way!
Now, there were a LOT of people being baptized: one had #9, the other we attended this weekend had #5… so perhaps they use this technique simply because of the sheet number of baptisms they are having in the Congo!
As far as the actual baptism, pas de problem! They did a great job.
Then, after the baptism, when everyone is back into the room, they do something very new and quite striking: they ask the new members to bear their testimonies!
Here is one brother who was just baptized telling of his conversion and bearing his testimony of the Gospel. It was quite moving to see someone so new be so confident in their testimony.
Here is another man who just got baptized sharing his testimony. Wow!
Another unusual thing about the Congo: there seems to be as many, or more, men that join the church than women. In other parts of the world, it is more difficult to get men to participate than women. But not here. Men seem to be flocking to the Church, and eager to hold the Priesthood and participate. What a marvelous change!
After the testimonies, they close with song and prayer. The new members will be confirmed on Sunday, and then stand as a group before the congregation to be formally accepted into the Church. I really like how they do it here!