Baptism is new Life
Baptisms were so good! I wish I could relate to you all just how amazing it was. Those who have been baptized know. Our local congregation at MLV, those that come to services on Wednesdays and Thursdays, paid for the bus rental, Cocal Gracias put in for the food and we took a group of 45 to Chachauala river, the river where Rina and I took our wedding party to swim ten years ago. It was funny because Rina and I thought that this would be an easy event because we planned everything in advance. We forgot though that good things in the kingdom always come with opposition and this baptism was no exception. We had 15 scheduled baptisms, but in the end, five of them could not make it. Iris, Julio and David were unable to get the time off of work and Yordi nor Ariel could not make it. Even still, we had ten to baptize and all the friends and family who were going as well. I booked the bus for seven thirty, using our same bus company we always use, Mrs. Marlen and her sons. All of them were students in the ministry years ago and have always helped with transportation needs. Rina, Mario and I had identified and pulled everything we needed out of the bodega, the office, and talleres and stacked it all in the kitchen so all we needed to do was load up the bus. We bought the food and all the ladies from service came and helped prepare it and condiment it. It was also in the kitchen in coolers and we were ready to go.
The night before, Heidy made supper and I was thinking we need to confirm the buses. I also wanted to prepare for the service at the river. I had planned to charge the camera and make sure everything was ready. I had my bible in hand, but as soon as I stood up from dinner, I got an instant migraine. I am used to migraines, but this one was unusual because it came on me all of a sudden. Usually my migraines are the product of one or two days full of stress and tension, or eye problems, but this came out of nowhere and in ten minutes I was nauseous, lying on my back in bed, eyes covered and unable to move. I had taken some Ibuprofen, but was unable to do anything. I thought, this figures, right before a big day. Rina came in and gave me a massage. The headache was all over the place. At some point I fell asleep after asking the Lord to give me health and strength for the day to come.
We woke up early, my headache gone, and got the kids ready. Brayan and Heidy helped get everything into the car and we took off for the ministry. We arrived to a crowd of friends waiting for us. Everyone had shown up early. You could feel the excitement and anticipation in the air! We opened the ministry and pulled out everything we had stored in the kitchen, so that all we had to do was stick it in the bus. We had the guitar, el cajon, music stand, floaties and pool toys, chairs, tents, and all the food and drinks. We chatted about the day, but as time rolled on I got a little worried. Our bus was supposed to have arrived ten minutes ago. I tried calling. No answer. I tried again. I sent messages. I called Mrs. Marlen and her son. Nothing. I had no way to contact them. I found one of the bus drivers on Facebook messenger and he told me no one was informed of our trip today. Forty minutes after we were supposed to have left, I found out we did not have a bus. In the meantime, Pastor Juan was waiting in Cienaguita since 6 am. for us to pick him up. Leda was in Porvenir, Yordi in La Roca, and Isvat in Tulian.
Olman gave me the number of another bus owner closer to the ministry and he was willing to come pick us up, spare of the moment. When he pulled up, it was to cheers all around! The boys activated quickly, storing all the things we needed in the back of the bus while the people piled on. We did a quick look around, locked the car and gate, and left. Happy and relieved, we started our long trip to Chachauala an hour late. We finally got out of the neighborhood, past the high school and were about to turn onto the boulevard when it occurred to me that I didn’t see the BBQ grill get put in the bus. I asked Rina, who asked the boys in the back. The answer came back negative. We forgot the grill! It was back in the ministry. Turing around would mean losing another hour, plus I had locked my keys in the car so as to not lose them in the river. Don Will did the same thing with his keys, only he left them in the house. So, we decided to go on. We thought someone could loan us a grill grate. Berta found one that we could borrow and brought it when she got on the bus. We were all happy until we saw that it was so small only three chickens of the 50 would fit on it at a time. Maria said her mother in law lived close if we wanted her grill. We stopped and sent Francisco to bring the grill grate thinking we could put the grates on some rock and cook. He came back ten minutes later with the grill, but no grate. The part we needed he had left in the house. We did find a grill grate in the river to use, but that was not the end of the problems.
When we got to the river, the water hole we had thought to use was being excavated by machines taking out the sand. So we located downriver. The water was not as pristine as we had hoped, but we made the best of it. There was such a relief when we got the tents set, the chairs laid out, and started to worship. We worshiped as a group, had some prayer time. We talked about baptisms, and Kimberly shared a moving testimony about getting baptized last year. Then Pastor Juan and I waded into the water to receive the new brothers and sisters one by one. Everyone gave a testimony about what God had done in them. Vanessa shared how God healed her extreme asthma. She used to use an inhaler every 15-20 minutes, and found doing things at night impossible. But now she has not used an inhaler all month and she swam all day in the river! Carlos shared that he used to be a drug addict and alcoholic. He had wanted to quit and could not. His family asked us to pray for him and we did. He came to service and God took away his addictions. He has been clean for months and was baptized. Brayan, our adopted son, also got baptized, which was an honor for me. Everyone had a beautiful story of the miraculous work Jesus does when we receive him. I wish you all could have been there. The atmosphere was amazing! We had prayer time over the group where the presence of the Lord was so thick. Everyone was blessed. We spent the rest of the day in community, swimming, playing games, and of course eating amazing food! I hope you are all blessed by this testimony and proud of the students and church members at MLV who have stepped into life!