The Great Deluge

Notable events of this week:

On Monday, we were walking up a stairwell to one of our recent converts’ apartments when Elder Clark noticed a gigantic spider on the wall. It was the size of my hand. It was also very fast. It started running all over the concrete walls, then suddenly dropped several feet onto the stairs in front of us! Elder Montierth dashed up and stomped on it. It took several hits to kill it.

We had the privilege of hosting a baptismal service on Saturday for one of our investigators, Sister Xu, and one of the sisters’ investigators, Sister Chen.

Sister Chen.

Sister Xu.

Elders Clark, Montierth, and I arrived early to start the flow of hot water to the font. After several minutes of troubleshooting and lugging around some huge propane tanks for the heater, we were finally rewarded by a successful ignition and rush of flame within the heaters. We thought we had figured everything out.

We hadn’t.

After teaching several lessons in the interim, we checked the level of water in the font again. Despite having filled for half an hour, it was barely 1/8 full, and the baptismal service was in another 30 minutes! Our original plan had been to fill the font in advance with nothing but hot water so it would still be hot after the introductory service, but we decided to open the cold water valve as well to sacrifice some warmth for greater volume. We also resolved to leave the water flowing during the opening song and talks so as to ensure adequate water depth at the time of baptism.

We began the service confident that we had solved all of the remaining pre-baptismal problems. After sitting through fifteen minutes of the opening talks, a disturbing thought occurred to me: we hadn’t checked on the water level and had no idea how full the font was. I reassured myself that, if worst came to worst, the font was surely equipped with an overflow drain. Besides, it would be rude to suddenly abscond from the service to check.

Five minutes later, Brother Lu jumped up from his seat by the door of the chapel. "Water!"

We ran to the chapel door. Water was flowing from the hallway under the door onto the carpet. Elder Clark swung the door open, and a terrifying scene confronted us: water was rushing into the hallway from beneath the restroom doors and quickly spreading across its entire length. We splashed to the restroom and shoved the door open, and a flood of chill water spilled forth into the hallway. The entire bathroom was under six inches of water! We frantically dashed to the overflowing font and closed the valves.

By this time, the hall had completely filled with water, and everyone from the chapel was now aware of the desperate situation at hand. All of the little kids from within ran out and started splashing in the water. Some members grabbed buckets, dustpans, and mops, and we hastily began bailing out the chapel, filling buckets and pouring them into sinks and toilets already overflowing with gallons of swirling water. The church became a scene of absolute chaos. Members piled stuff on top of tables to keep it from getting wet.

After about half an hour of work, we finally managed to clean up the church with the help of several dozen members. The floor was still damp, but a member installed a fan to speed the drying process. We decided to proceed with the baptisms.

The water was frigid because the water heaters had automatically shut off after 20 minutes. Nevertheless, we helped our investigators into the bracing font and carried out the baptisms as planned. Elder Clark baptized Sister Xu, and I baptized Sister Chen. I hoped that the chaotic circumstances would not detract from the spirit of the ordinance.

After the baptismal service, we attended/participated in the Shuanghe 1st ward’s Christmas dinner and program. Our whole district sang Christmas hymns together:

A sonorous septuplet.

Other than that, it’s been a great and mostly uneventful week. We’ve been toasting marshmallows over our space heaters in remembrance of the Christmas season.

Elders Montierth and Clark at a Zhonghe intersection.

Elder Elliott


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