I love airplanes. As a young boy growing up, I spent hours building and flying model airplanes. I studied airplanes and dreamed of airplanes. My cousins and I would even fly our model planes for air shows several times a year for interested groups. I visualized myself starting a flying career in the military. After my first mission that plan did not seem attractive to me anymore. My love for flying was still there but my need for different career dominated my mind.
On 25 May 1976, 2 years after graduating from Utah State University in civil engineering, my wife gave me a unique birthday gift. She went down to the local municipal airport and purchased for me a flight school and training package to solo fly a private aircraft. The package deal included some class room instruction and 10 hours of flight training with an instructor plus a solo flight. During the following 13 years I took every opportunity that I could find to fly airplanes. I currently have about 1200 hours with a private pilot license, single-engine, land category and instrument rating. When I quit flying, I owned and flew a Cessna Turbo 210 in my business and have flow across most of the USA.
Over those years as pilot in command, I had many memorable flying experiences. But, the one experience never to be forgotten was my first solo flight. I remember every minute of my boarding the Piper Comanche aircraft for the first time without Dick Mumford, my instructor, taxiing, take off, flying around Utah Valley for 30 minutes, landing and taxiing to the tie downs. That experience is indelibly engraved in my mind.
We all experience those life changing moments that we never forget. For example, a few other, never to be forgotten, memories for me include: kneeling across the alter in the Manti Temple with my wife to be sealed for time and all eternity, receiving my mission call to serve as Mission President, the day my father passed away, returning from my first mission, being baptized, baptizing my children, my confirmation ordinance to receive the Holy Ghost, etc.
I remember where I was at my baptismal service. I was 8 years old, my uncle baptized me, I remember the feel of the water and I remember the baptismal service.
The ordinance of baptism is huge to this existence and is founded on the 3 pillars – The Plan, The Creation and The Fall. The Plan was devised by our Father in Heaven to allow you to receive a body in this earth life where you can learn and grow to become more like Him in ways impossible to do in the pre-existence. Through the Atonement you would be able to return to live with Him. The Creation prepared this wonderful earth where you are exposed to opposition and adversity with free agency to choose your actions. The Fall gave you the opportunity to receive a body of flesh and bones and be tested. We all make mistakes plus our physical bodies will die. These 2 obstacles would have keep us from returning to live with God but the atonement overcame them. The atonement of Jesus Christ is the center of the Plan and provides the resurrection, forgiveness of sins stemming from inevitable wrong choices and comfort and relief from pain and sorrow. (Alma 7: 11-13) Therefore, in this life, trials and adversity are mandatory; misery is optional.
To receive exaltation you must believe in and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, repent of your sins, receive saving ordinances and keep your covenants, referred to in the church as enduring to the end. Baptism is the first saving ordinance. The other saving ordinances necessary for salvation are: the gift of the Holy Ghost, weekly sacrament, priesthood ordination, temple endowment and temple marriage.
Since the world began, all the prophets and later the Savior himself, spoke of the importance of Baptism:
“32 … Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (3 Nephi 11:32-33)
9 And again, it [baptism] showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them.” (2 Nephi 31:9)
“21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ...” (2 Nephi 31:17-21)
The ordinance of baptism is a memorable, life changing experience for everyone. It is someone’s solo flight. A personal bond between the one performing the ordinance and the one being baptized is always created. But, missionaries who perform the ordinance are soon transferred and eventually return to their home and post-mission life. It is a great blessing to the one being baptized if that bond stays in Holland and Belgium.
Consider the one performing the ordinance of baptism. Ideally, he may be the home teacher to the newly baptized, he may be a new convert himself, a newly reactivated member or a priest age boy who needs to experience performing the ordinance. With a little forethought, the one performing the baptism could already have been on joint teaches to the one being baptized so a relationship has been established before the ordinance. It is a great blessing to the one performing the baptism to strengthen his testimony and reinforce his faith and commitment.
It is now a new mission rule; the ordinance of baptism must be performed by a member not the missionary. Missionaries must diplomatically explain the importance of this protocol to investigators who will usually ask the missionary to baptize them because of their special relationship with the missionary. Missionaries must also explain this protocol to the Ward or Branch Mission Leader so they can make the best assignment for a member to perform the ordinance.
We are following here the example of Jesus Christ. He understood the value of the ordinance and the importance to allow others to perform the ordinance:
“1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)” (John 4: 1-2)
Sister missionaries have never performed the baptism ordinance yet their relationship with newly baptized members is not diminished. Elders will have many opportunities to perform baptisms with their own children, relatives, missionary work in their home ward and as young men leaders at youth temple trips to do baptisms for the dead. In the meantime this new mission rule will bless the Dutch and Belgium members. I recently attended a baptism where a member did the ordinance. From time to time during the service the member explained things and answered questions to the young woman being baptized. After the service he talked to me about his wonderful experience and then said, “I am committed to give her the support she needs to prepare to go on a mission in one year.” That is what I am talking about.