Unexpected Baptism

By Bart L. Andersen

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    When it was announced on Sunday that the young men in my ward were going to do baptisms for the dead, I thought to myself, Too bad I can’t go. I never gave it another thought because I knew it would be too difficult for me to go. I have cerebral palsy.

    After my mom picked me and my brother, Beau, up from school on the day the young men were going to the temple, she said we needed to hurry. The bishop would be picking us up at 5:30 P.M. I didn’t pay attention because I thought she was talking only to my brother.

    Then she said, “Bart, you need to hurry and eat and get showered and into your Sunday clothes.”

    I said, “What? I’m going?”

    She told me the bishop didn’t want me to be left out. He thought it would be nice if I went and watched the other boys do baptisms for the dead. I couldn’t believe it. I was going to the temple!

    As we hurried to get ready, I couldn’t quit smiling; just the thought of going to the temple made me happy. Rick Hansen, my teachers quorum adviser, drove me to the temple in his van. My wheelchair fit inside just fine.

    The temple was beautiful. I had heard people say how strong the Spirit is in the temple, and they were right. As I watched the other boys being baptized, I wished I could be baptized, too.

    Just then Bishop Homer came over to me. “Come on,” he said. “We need to get you dressed.”

    I wasn’t sure what he meant or where we were going. He took me back to a special dressing room for temple workers, and he and Rick tried to figure out how to get the baptismal clothes on me. They did a pretty good job. I looked down at myself and thought how wonderful it was to be dressed in white.

    Then a temple worker gave me a card with my name on it. The bishop took me into the baptismal font area, where I waited for my turn. As I sat and waited, a special feeling came over me, I kept looking up at the ceiling and thanking my Heavenly Father for this chance he had given me. I also thought about the people I would be doing the baptisms for. I wondered what they would think about me being baptized for them.

    Then my turn came. It was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. I felt as if all eyes were on me. The bishop scooped me up in his arms and carried me down into the baptismal font. It took both the bishop and Rick to baptize me because of my floppy trunk and stiff limbs. After the ordinance for each name was completed, the bishop made sure I was still breathing all right. I did a total of five baptisms. The bishop and Rick then dressed me and placed me back in my wheelchair, and the bishop even combed my hair with his comb. Beau told me that when the bishop pushed me out of the dressing room he had sweat coming down his face. I’m not sure the bishop realized how much work it was going to be to dress me.

    As we went over to do the confirmations, I felt warm all over. I thought to myself, How could people not know that the Church is true? I am grateful my bishop cared enough to give me the chance to be baptized in the temple. It’s so beautiful inside the temple. The powerful feeling inside helped me know the Church is true.

    Illustrated by Mike Malm