Chris and Concha had been attending church regularly for a month now and were well received by the ward members. Their baptism had been set for the next Saturday evening. There had been a conflict with the Primary as they had already scheduled a program for that hour, but they finally were able to make some changes and hold the Primary meeting in another room. Chris surprised everyone by asking Pres. Johnson to perform the baptisms. The president normally did not do this, and always left it up to the elders. But he made an exception for Chris.
The night of the baptism arrived and everyone was waiting expectantly in the Relief Society room, everyone that is except Chris and Concha. They hadn’t arrived and the missionaries were nervously waiting by the front door hoping that they wouldn’t back out. They had experienced this enough times that they knew it was a possibility. Finally they got a call from Chris. Their cab had been involved in a minor accident which had delayed them, but they were on the way again. The missionaries breathed a sigh of relief and turned on a church video for the congregation to watch while they waited.
Finally Chris and Concha arrived and got dressed in the white baptismal clothes that the missionaries had provided. They were now ready to begin, and only a half hour late. The meeting was spiritual and the elders gave the talks, one on baptism and one on the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Then Carl Johnson led Chris down into the font. He could tell that Chris was a little nervous, which was unusual for him. Carl raised his arm to the square and repeated the baptismal prayer.
“Having been commission of Jesus Christ....”
It had been some time since he had performed this ordinance. It always gave him a thrill to be able to do it.
After Chris, he baptized Concha. The witnesses nodded that everything was done properly, so they exited the font.
It was then that Chris began to sob uncontrollably. No one could tell whether he was happy or distraught. Pres. Johnson put his arm around him and led him into the dressing room. By the time they came out, Chris was beaming. His face shown like only the Spirit can cause the countenance to glow.
After Concha joined them, Bro. Harris, the ward mission leader, who was conducting the service, invited them to stand and express their feelings. Chris motioned for Concha to go first. She stood up somewhat hesitantly and began to speak softly in her broken English.
“My life has changed so much since I met Chris. I thought I was going to help him because of his disability, but he has helped me so much and helped me to improve my life. I am here in the United States. That has always been one of my lifelong dreams. I am learning English and have a wonderful husband. Hopefully someday we will be able to have children. And now I have found the true gospel and have been able to be baptized by someone who has the authority to do it. I feel so clean and new. I know that this was the right thing for me to do. I have prayed as the missionaries have taught us, and the Lord’s Spirit has answered my prayers. I thank you all for your love and support.”
After she sat down, Chris stood up leaning on the piano for support, and began to speak. He was radiant and his joy shown in his face.
“Brothers and sisters–I can truly call you that now–I want you to know that I am clean! I thought the Lord would never forgive me for the mistakes I have made in my life, but now I know that he has. And even though I am still blind, I can see spiritually, and I feel the presence of the Lord here with us this evening. I know that the gospel is true. I have known it for a long time, but thought that I was not worthy to be part of it. But thankfully the missionaries and Pres. Johnson convinced me that if I would repent and be baptized that the Lord would forgive me, and he has. I want to testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I have more reason to believe it that most people. It is the true history of some of the ancient people of this land. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.”
They closed the meeting. Someone had brought a cake, so they sat around and visited while they enjoyed the treat. Then reluctantly they got up and left one by one. Chris gave all the men an “abrazo” as is customary among Latinos.
The next day was Fast and Testimony meeting. Chris and Concha had fasted for the first time, and asked for help in filling out the donation slip for their Fast Offering. They had gone hungry many times before, but this was the first time they had done it intentionally, and with a purpose.
At the beginning of the meeting they were both confirmed and given the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the bishop. As the meeting progressed and the testimonies began, Chris told Concha that he wanted to get up and speak. The missionaries, who were sitting next to him, asked him if he were sure. He assured them he was. They were a little worried and were not sure what he would say. He had Concha lead him up to the stand. He positioned himself and then began to speak.