Today was an amazing day! Much bigger and better than I could have ever imagined. The build up started last night when Lex, Lily and Olivia were practicing there song for JT's baptism. They sang the song, "Gethsemane", they sounded to me like angels from heaven. I may be partial but it was very touching to me to hear my 3 daughters singing in harmony for their little brother. This morning we awoke early to JT's excitement, he was so excited he actually slept on our floor. He ran around the house singing and screaming with excitement. JT asked Mason to baptize him and for me to confirm him. That made it even more special, to see them both preparing themselves both mentally and spiritually for the big day was a real treat. Before we left for the church the 3 of us knelt and prayed, I let them know that as a missionary you always pray before leaving the the apartment and in preparation to perform sacred ordinances. This was a very powerful moment we all felt the power of the spirit prepare our minds and hearts for the upcoming sacred baptism.
During the opening meeting in the chapel we met with all the youth in our stake who were being baptized, there were only 3 total so it was very quaint and personal. Tyler our friend and renter spoke on the importance of baptism and the power of the Holy Ghost, it was spot on for the excited youth being baptized. We each took turns going into the RS room where the font was located. We were fortunate enough to be the last ward, this was special because it allowed us to stay after the baptism while JT and Mason changed their clothes. When Mason and JT entered the font the spirit was very string and it felt as if we were in a different realm for a moment. Mason spoke with power and confidence as he said the baptismal prayer, and gracefully and lovingly he baptized his younger brother.
We then quickly helped JT change into dry clothes, as Mason changed as well. Lily provided some thoughtful music for the family while they waited. Bishop Andrews conducted the meeting as we confirmed JT with with all of the Parker Uncles, both Grandpa's, Brad, Tyler, and Casey standing in the circle. I was the mouth piece and the spirit flowed though me to bless JT, this was one of the most powerful blessing I have ever experienced and I contribute a lot of this to our preparation with prayer before we left home.
Lex, Lily, and Olivia then sang the song, "Gethsemane" with Jodi at the piano. This was so tender and touching to me, they sang so beautifully and so personally to JT the spirit was very strong once again in the room. Bishop asked for Jodi to share her testimony, she shared a very personal message with us all, reminding us that on this very day 33 years ago she was baptized. She is a wonderful friend, wife and mother in our family. Bishop took a few minutes to welcome JT to the ward and let us know he is the only baptism this year in our ward. He put a climbing harness on JT and instructed that it is time to "Climb On", the harness is like the Holy Ghost and it will keep you safe as you go through life. It will also help guide you back to the path up the mountain, he did a great job of making the comparison and the importance of being protected by the Spirit.
Lunchtime, we had a great lunch in our gym with food provided by friends and family. This is where I chose to share the baptism video we made for JT, it was so fun to watch JT as he watched himself in the video. I thought to myself this is a great day, but it was just beginning. We were able to go and watch Olivia perform her dance routines in a local dance recital. She looks like she is having so much fun when she dances, makes all the driving her to practice worth the effort.
Round 3, with Lex getting her call she chose to take out her endowments today as well. I had no idea how awesome this would be, I remember well my first visit to the Temple, it was a very special day for me but I didn't realize how special it was for the parents and others. With the Idaho Falls Temple being closed for renovation, we have at least twice the visitors as usual so we had to to get to the Temple early to make sure we could get into the session. Since we had some extra time we chose to do some initiatory work, Myself, Dad, Brad, and Grandpa Baldwin did this while Jodi, Mom, Amy and Grandma Baldwin helped Lex do her own initiatory work. This was a great refresher since we don;t do this very often, the blessings that lie in store are amazing. It was neat to have one of my professors and "Beehive Bob" working in this area and helping us to get the work done. This was all great but there was better to come, when I walked into the room and saw Lex and Jodi sitting there in preparation for our session it was breathe taking, I was overcome with so many emotions at one time, Joy, Relief, Peace, Love, just to name a few. The spirit felt there in that room was intense, I could feel the presence of Michele, Grandpa and Grandma Parker and Sperry, Dot and Everett, Josh Strobel, Elder Taylor and so many more it was amazing to say it mild. I just keep thinking to myself this is a fullness of joy, this is the climax, this is what it is all about. There were many other events that took place that I am not able to write because of the sacredness of them, it was simly an astonishing feeling and so very powerful to experience. I wept several times during the session and felt so many great feelings, to see all my siblings and my wife and daughter in the celestial room was priceless! Makes it worth every challenge we have to overcome, every effort put forth to make the last 19 years lead up to this were all paid back tonight in this very special event. John said it well in 3 John 1:4 – "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." What a day! I feel that today I have experienced a small glimpse of Eternal Life and it was so sweet, I wish I could convey my feelings of this day better, but just know that days like in my life this can be counted on one hand, they are so very very special.