I smiled. How sweet, I thought. All the plans are made, but Allyson's not taking any chances.
On Sunday morning, we caravaned out to my mom and dad's church along with our neighbors Elizabeth and Lexie (the ones who gave us the pumpkin pie) and my friend Gentle. My sisters Amy and Emily were there (with Emily's family), as well as my brother Rick and his wife Diane, who took all the photos. Of course, Dad and Mom were there too.
Before the service, we met with the pastor and with the elder who would baptize Allyson. Both of them stooped down to her level and explained exactly what to expect. She nodded vigorously when they asked her if she was ready for this step. She said she wasn't afraid, though she clung to my leg the whole time.
When I was seated alongside all my family and my dear friends, I breathed a sigh of relief. Nothing would stand in the way now. My heart was full as I enjoyed worshiping with loved ones on such a momentous occasion.
But when the pastor called forward anyone needing prayer, his next words sent a chill up my spine. He explained that the elder we'd just talked with prior to the service had fallen on his way out of the prayer room and cut his forehead. "He said he'll be okay, and he wants to stay for the service. But please stretch out your hands and pray for him, that he will heal quickly and suffer no ill effects from his fall."
Brother W. came in then, leaning on the arm of one of the other men. He had a band-aid on his temple, and his steps were tentative.
How could a man be perfectly fine one minute and bleeding the next? Was it a coincidence, or was this some sort of opposition to Allyson's baptism? Was this why she'd had the urge to pray the night before?
I prayed fervently for this dear man who had baptized me when I was 16.
At the end of the service, Emily tapped my shoulder and led me to Allyson's classroom, where my mom was teaching. (Nice!) I helped Allyson into a royal blue gown, and then we walked hand in hand to the baptismal.
Brother W. again stooped down and showed Allyson how she would cover her nose. Before he straightened to his full six feet, he kissed her cheek. I pressed my lips together to hold back my tears and followed him up the cement stairs, holding my breath and praying he wouldn't fall.
Allyson settled onto the seat in the warm water and immediately covered her nose. I could see her trembling, and my heart went out to her. All our family gathered around, with Bill, Ethan, and me lining the sides of the baptismal--close enough to feel the anointing when Brother W. spoke the name of Jesus over her.
|Grandma and Aunt Amy|
She changed straight into the T-shirt that the pastor's wife gave her:
|I took the plunge!|
We stood out in the sunshine enjoying the mild spring day and visiting with people I'd known since I wasn't much older than Allyson. When I told Brother W. about Allyson's prayer, his eyes filled with tears. "Thank you, Allyson," he said. "I'm so glad you prayed. I could have been hurt really badly."
|Me, Brother W. (age 81!), and the Happy Girl With the Crazy Hair|