The service was led by Dave Totman, youth pastor at Sahel Academy and for the wider English-speaking community. It came together rather quickly when the Totmans found out they needed to go back to the USA for the birth of their 3rd child.
There were 11 Sahel Academy students and one Peace Corps volunteer baptized. The baptism was held in the back yard pool of a family who graciously opened their home to us. (If you're counting heads...two of the dads with younger kids got in the pool with their kids.)
Pastor Dave explained the whole process of baptism and the seriousness of the event, then the candidates entered the water together. One by one he asked each young person if they had accepted Christ as their Saviour and if they were determined to live for Him. He then baptized them. What a beautiful and vivid picture of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection! Afterwards somebody the young person had chosen prayed individually for them.
Daniel and Suzanne were the last to be baptized. It was an exciting moment for them as well as for Mom and Dad. In the past two years we have seen them growing stronger in their faith and making it their own faith instead of something they do because Mom and Dad do it. So we knew they were ready for this commitment.
At first they had asked John and me to pray for them. But then Gary and Joy Freeman, who we had invited to come, were able to come in from their bush village, so we suggested to Daniel and Suzanne maybe they would want them to pray for them. They agreed that that was a good idea, so we arranged for Gary to pray for Daniel and Joy to pray for Suzanne. That was really cool since they have known Daniel and Suzanne all their lives. In fact, they held Daniel in their arms when he was just a few hours old and Joy and Daniel share a birthday. They've known Suzanne since she was just a few months old.
After the baptism there was a time of fellowship with snacks. Of course! The coolest thing was three young men (two students, one on staff) who were going around praying with each of those who had been baptized.
The baptism was in the afternoon, so later we went out for supper to celebrate. We went to an outdoor Chinese restaurant that has superb food. We turned out to be a big crowd: us, two other sets of parents, and about eleven teens, for a total of about 17 people. There were plenty of tables, but once we all sat down, there weren't many chairs left for other patrons! I had tried to call to warn them we were coming, but they had moved to a new place and I didn't have their new number. I think the waiter (notice waiter, not waiters) was a bit overwhelmed, but he did a great job. As far as I know there was only one meal that didn't show up and one extra bowl of rice that was served.
All in all it was a great day.