Unexpected Baptism

by Bart L. Andersen

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Me? Do baptisms for the dead? I didn’t think it was possible. Then my bishop made the unexpected happen.

When it was announced on Sunday that the young men in my ward were going to do baptisms for the dead, I just 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 up from school on Tuesday (the day the young men were going to the temple), she said we needed to hurry because the bishop would be picking us up at 5:30 P.M. I didn’t even pay attention because I thought she was talking to my brother, Beau.

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 that the bishop didn’t want me to be left out and thought that 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 go to the temple!

As we hurried to get ready, I could hardly quit smiling; just the thought that I could go to the temple made me happy. Rick Hansen, my teachers quorum adviser, drove me to the temple in his nice, new van. My wheelchair fit inside just fine.

The temple was so beautiful. I had heard people say how strong the Spirit of the Holy Ghost is in the temple, and boy, were they right. I sat behind the window looking at the other boys being baptized, wishing 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 that was 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 it was neat to be dressed in white.

Then the 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 that 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, a handicapped boy, 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. The bishop stopped after completing the ordinance for each name and made sure I was still breathing all right. I did a total of five baptisms. The bishop and Rick then dressed me, 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 was so 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 just makes me feel that I know the Church is true.

Illustrated by Mike Malm