“Dear Dad,” I started the most important e-mail of my life. “Since Allie is about to turn eight, I was wondering if you would let all of us get baptized together.”
My brother, sisters, and I had known our entire lives that baptism was out of the picture until we turned 18. My father is not a Church member, and my mother has always hoped for the day when the entire family would be able to fully embrace the gospel.
That e-mail marked the first time I had gathered the courage to ask my father’s permission in a straightforward, sincere manner. I’d fasted and had so much hope that this would be the time he would agree. His answer of “no” followed by an explanation of his personal beliefs and why he felt so strongly about having us wait was disappointing.
Even though I was not a baptized member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was an active participant. I had stood by as my friends were baptized at age eight. I missed the trips to the Idaho Falls Temple when others my age participated in baptisms for the dead. Although discouraged, I kept my faith and activity. I knew someday I, too, would enter the waters of baptism.
The long-anticipated open house for the Rexburg Idaho Temple began in December 2007. My uncle arranged a private tour for my siblings, my dad’s parents (who are not Church members), and me. A member of the Quorums of the Seventy led us through the beautiful temple. Once in the sealing room, he spoke of his son who had died early in life and talked about how he would be waiting for them with open arms in the spirit world. Tears began to roll down our faces. My grandparents had lost a son when he was 15. Sharing that tender moment with my grandparents in the sealing room was a miracle that strengthened my testimony and prepared me for what would transpire over the next month.
On January 25, 2008, I arrived home late after a school skiing trip. I was very tired and inattentive during family scripture time, only half-listening to my mother read from the Book of Mormon. Suddenly Mom’s voice said, “I talked to your dad today.” My ears perked up mildly because he had recently moved to the East Coast. She continued, “He has decided to let all of you get baptized.” I sat up on the couch and stared at my mother in disbelief.
One week later my siblings and I were each baptized by our maternal grandpa. He had not baptized his own children, and this was his first experience performing a baptism. Humbly, my grandpa took me by the hands as I was immersed in the water into an unbelievable moment. The next day my uncle confirmed me a member of the Church and I received the gift of the Holy Ghost. Later I joined the youth in my ward on a trip to the Idaho Falls Temple to do work for those who had also waited for baptism.
It took the same courage as before to contact my dad, this time by phone, and thank him for allowing me to be baptized. He gave me a quick but sincere “you’re welcome” as we moved on to talk about other things. Even though most of this conversation seemed a usual chat with my dad, I know this was one of the most special phone calls of my life.
Illustration by Dilleen Marsh