Sister Wang’s baptism!
An excellent week, for two reasons: a great P-day and a baptism.
On Monday, Mixon, a ward member, took us hiking. We biked to the Yuantong Temple Trail and started walking. The trail wound around the thickly-vegetated mountains above Zhonghe, passing by frequent viewpoints where we could look down into the smoggy depths of the city.
Various elaborate temples dotted the mountains around the trail.
At the first overlook, I noticed a very narrow cave-like shaft opening in the ground. It was pitch black inside, but there were stone stairs leading steeply down. I suggested we climb down the stairs and see where they went. Elder Gibson tried to go first, but then became too claustrophobic and backed out. I took the flashlight and went in first.
After about a hundred feet of steep descent through the narrow shaft, I saw light at the bottom. Climbing down further, we emerged from a cleft in the rock into a jungly clearing at the base of a cliff:
The trail wound around trees to a Buddhist temple. Along the way, many alcoves in the cliff face contained small statues and shrines.
The temple at the end of the cave trail.
After returning to the trailhead and biking back into the city, I noticed a huge and very foreboding-looking temple. Its imposing grey facade was topped by a creepy anthropomorphic elephant statue, flanked by unusual bulbous spires. Upon closer inspection, the temple proved to be a mammoth bowling alley. The spires were actually bowling pins. Elder Gibson and I ventured inside and found it very nice. We may return on a future P-day.
On Saturday, Sister Wang was baptized!
At 6:15 PM, Elder Gibson and I arrived early to prepare for the 7:00 baptismal service. We walked to the back of the chapel and opened the water heater closets. It was already dark, and all of the labels were in Chinese, so I couldn’t read most of them. As Elder Cheung had instructed us, we opened several valves leading from large propane tanks to the heaters. We then went inside and opened the baptismal font fill valves. We heard the pilot light clicking in the heater and assumed everything was going well.
When the font was about 2/3 full, we realized that the water was still freezing, and it wasn’t getting any warmer. Elder Cheung came over, but couldn’t find anything wrong with the heaters. I looked at the dials and saw that the propane tanks seemed to be empty. The battery meter on the heater also read empty. It was 6:30.
We called the zone leaders, but they didn’t know what was wrong either. It was 6:40, and we were getting desperate. Then, we had an idea.
We went to the kitchen and found all of the pots we could. We filled them with water and put them on the stove. Years of styrofoam calorimeter calibration experience sprung to my mind. I quickly calculated that ten gallons of boiling water could raise the font’s water temperature to a relatively comfortable 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
After several minutes of filling, heating, and dumping, Brother He from the ward arrived and fixed the water heater. Relieved, we at last filled the font with warm water. Members filed in. We started the service on time. Everything was ready.
But then, a certain individual who was in charge of conducting the meeting stood up and talked. He talked and talked and talked. We had planned an introduction, a talk, and a musical number. However, this unfortunate, well-intentioned member inserted his own dramatic speech in between every single item. What was intended to be a 30-minute meeting turned out to be an hour and 45 minutes.
By the time everyone went to the baptismal font, the water was frigid again. Nonetheless, the baptism went ahead as planned. It was great. Sister Wang has been a fantastic investigator, and I’m sure she will be a very strong contribution to the ward.
That pesky last bottle.