Sunday, November 03, 2013

Blessing & Baptism

Friday was a big day for the Palmer family. Sterling was blessed (kind of like a christening, but without the baptism component) and Miriam was baptized (kind of like a christening, but without the infant component).

Mormon babies are generally blessed sometime within the first few months of life, and they wear white for the ceremony. A few weeks ago, we took Sterling to a tailor shop so he could be measured for a bespoke kandura. The tailors didn't know quite how to measure a 2-week-old baby, but they managed. The finished product fit perfectly.
Have you ever seen anything cuter in your entire life? I submit that you have not. The blessing went very well (meaning he did not cry throughout) and we were so happy that our families could watch it by tuning in to the online broadcast of our church meeting from across the world.

Mormon children are generally baptized sometime after they turn eight years old. Miriam turned eight back in September. We waited a while to have her baptized, in part because we were hoping they would finish building the font at our church villa (Mormons are baptized by immersion, so you need a good-sized body of water). Our old villa had a pool that we used for baptisms - or, in a pinch, like the morning they showed up to do a baptism and found the pool covered in algae, the jacuzzi tub upstairs (!) - but our new villa does not. So a few members of the congregation have been working on constructing an above-ground font of sorts.

Anyway, it was almost done by the time Friday came around, but not quite. That left us with a few options: drive to Abu Dhabi to have the baptism in the font at the chapel there, use a friend-of-a-friend's swimming pool at a private villa in Dubai, or postpone the baptism until the font in Sharjah was finished. We chose to go to Dubai.

(Note: two things were NOT options. First, we can't use a semi-private or a public swimming pool because of the religion-based attention it would attract. Not a good thing in this part of the world. Second, we technically could have used the waters of the Gulf, as is done in other parts of the Middle East - I think Egypt uses the Red Sea, for example - but that is also a little touchy around here. You just never know who could see you and take offense.)

So off to Dubai we went on Friday morning. The amazing thing is that we did not even know the people whose beautiful home we took over for an hour. But they were so gracious about offering it to us and provided everything we could need, including their gorgeous pool. Here is where Miriam was baptized:

Jeremy wore his own bespoke kandura for the occasion, and Miriam wore a dress from her Grandma Palmer. Magdalena is wearing white just cuz - except that I just remembered that we bought that dress in Vermont right after she was born, for Miriam to wear on the day that Magdalena was blessed, so I guess it's come full circle.

If this is the only Mormon kid baptism you've read about, FYI, it is slightly atypical. But it's also completely typical, in that they wore white and it took place in a body of water, so. That's all that really matters (see jacuzzi incident, above). The exact nature of the white clothes may differ, the form of the body of water may vary, but the ordinance is the same.

Pro tip: consider NOT scheduling your child's baptism for the day after Halloween. It was a chaotic "night before," and don't tell anyone, but there may have been very, very slight traces of a dark mark still on Miriam's forearm when she was baptized, despite all our scrubbing in the bath the previous evening. Thankfully, all the colored hairspray had washed out, no problem.

It was a very special day for all of us, and I hope Miriam can always remember sharing her baptism day with Sterling's blessing day.


Susanne said...

I enjoyed reading about this.I was thinking around the time Miriam turned 8 that she would be baptized soon, and I wondered if you would tell about it. I'm glad you did! I enjoyed reading about Mormon baptisms and blessings although I still have questions about it, but I suppose I can find a link explaining more of the theological components. (Like, does this mean she chose to be a Mormon for life or does that commitment come when she's older? What does baptism mean when you are 8, and in the Mormon faith?)

We do similar things although the blessing part isn't required. Just a number of churches do them (without baptizing). Also I was baptized in a private swimming pool although that's probably not typical. It's just what our church did at the time.

Glad you had such a special day! Did you wear white as well?

Bridget said...

No, I didn't wear white.

We expect a lot of our eight-year-olds, because yes, they are essentially joining the church when they are baptized, making the same covenants you would make if you were baptized at age 30, 40, 50, etc.

Kathy Haynie said...

What a lovely, lovely day for your family! Thank you for sharing these dear details. My most-favorite recent baptism was my mom's. She was baptized at age 78 in September!

Sterling is SO cute. He looks like a little dolly in the first photo. Love the surprised look on his face as he studies his hand. (Mine? Cool!)

Ariana said...

There is actually no rule that babies have to wear white for their blessing... it's just something a lot of people do. We never had money for a special outfit, so our oldest kid wore baby khakis and a white polo onesie (which he completely blasted his diaper in right after the blessing and needed a new outfit). Kid #2 was blessed in the same khaki pants, white polo onesie (thank heavens for bleach!) and a tiny little sweater vest my SIL gave him.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Susanne, if you go to you can do a search on baptism, or age at baptism, and so on. And in the Book of Mormon, Moroni chapters 6, 7, 8 explain a great deal about baptism.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Kathy, how wonderful that your Mom was baptized!

Glenda The Good said...

True, true. Jason was blessed in a little white sweater with blue and yellow ducks. I was blessed in a blue flower dress, but I have stuck with the tradition of white and all our children have been blessed in white, although none in a dress of my choosing. Great grandma sends a dress for each of my girls. Part of it drives me crazy because I want to pick but part of it loves it because each daughter has her own special dress from her great grandmother. I wish I could tell you how much I love those kanduras. It's like Jeremy is a priest with an adorable baby priest :) Sounds like a beautiful day! So glad everyone was able to feel special in their white outfits!

Jen said...

My second son was blessed in khaki's and a mom had knit him a cute white sweater, but his chub had ballooned so much by 8 weeks that it didn't fit anymore! It was hilarious.

Alli E. said...

What a wonderful day for your family! Tell Miriam congrats! Hadley will be baptized in January. Little Sterling did look adorable!

Bridget said...

Let's just pretend that my "generally" in that sentence applied not only to being blessed in the first few months of life, but wearing white as well. I don't think I knew that they could be blessed in any kind of clothes, or if I did, I had forgotten!

Liz Johnson said...

Um, this is absolutely beautiful. And I'll join the chorus of "my kids didn't wear all-white when they were blessed," but mostly because I can't stand those all-white frilly, froo-froo things that were really popular when I was a kid. My boys wore khakis and dress shirts with sweater vests, and Claire wore a white Mexican dress with colorful embroidery on the front. But I LOVE LOVE LOVE Sterling's outfit, as well as Jeremy's matching ensemble. The whole day looks like it was a beautiful event!

Nancy said...

We wanted Benjamin to wear his gallabiya for his blessing but it didn't fit him until he was much older. He wore brown overalls instead. :)

Netpique said...

I don't know how I missed this when you posted it! That is a gorgeous photo of Jeremy and the children.


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