Sunday, July 6, 2008

Bikinis and Baptisms

The highlight of June was a few weeks ago (while the American team was here) when the church celebrated the baptisms of seven Albanians and two Americans. The church body, along with some local youth, filled up a bus and we all went together to Lake Ohrid. We gathered in a grassy area, and those being baptized shared their testimonies. Most of the Albanian testimonies began,
“I come from a Muslim family…”

We prayed for the “baptizees”, and headed off for the water. I, Kristal, got a good laugh watching Steve and Plator wade through the murky water looking for a clean place to do the baptizing. The four women being baptized were extremely nervous, and as women here don’t usually know how to swim and don’t have bathtubs, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the first time they’d ever been completely submerged under water.

The three pastors went out into the lake together and all took a part in baptizing the nine. Steve was absolutely honored to be a part of this and worked hard to make sure he could properly baptize in Albanian.

As the church witnessed the baptisms, so did everybody else on the beach. Many people asked what we were doing. Even children playing in the water gathered around to watch. I thought all the women in bikinis (the only type of swimsuit worn by women here) made for an…interesting….setting for such a spiritual occasion. Celebrating the baptisms in public really was a true declaration of faith for these committed believers.

The adventure met its high point while on the bus ride home, the back window shattered and we all ate dust for about an hour as we poked along the dirt and gravel roads. By the end of the trip, I think we were all ready to be baptized, just to wash the layer dirt off! The day was a joy for everyone, and as one of the Americans said, “It was epic.”