Way back in October, we celebrated Charlotte's eighth birthday. Rob took the three big kids to one of our favorite haunts from last time we lived in Germany- Miramar. This is an indoor pool complex with water slides, a wave pool, outdoor heated pools, indoor hot tubs, etc. I stayed home with Amelie because she was running a fever, and baked a birthday cake. When everyone got home we ate dinner, sang happy birthday, and gave Charlotte her gift- a cloth doll that she had seen on Amazon and had wanted for some time. She has named her Bella.
Then this past week, Charlotte was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In our church, you must be at least eight years old to be baptized. We do not believe in original sin, we believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and that little children are innocent and do not yet fully understand the difference between right and wrong. However, by the time you are eight years old, you are beginning to really understand when you have done something wrong, and can be accountable for your own choices.
So anyway, Charlotte decided to be baptized and we were thrilled to help her make that happen. A lovely lady, Julianna, offered to make Charlotte a baptism dress! Charlotte got to draw a picture of what she wanted the dress to look like (puffed sleeves! big butt bow!) and then we went shopping and bought the fabrics and gave it all to Julianna. And she made this dress, which Charlotte loves so much. What a memorable keepsake for her to have from her special day. Charlotte received other special gifts as well. Grandma and Grandpa Anderson sent a book called "My Baptism Memories" with spaces to record guests, the program, and other items, and a sweet little necklace. And Rob and I gave Charlotte my mom's scriptures that have her name on them. I think she would be happy to know Charlotte is reading them, rather than having them sit on a shelf. (She is rapidly plowing through Genesis.)
After church on Sunday, Charlotte and Rob dressed all in white. We had a short service in the chapel where Toby said the opening prayer and we sang Baptism from the children's songbook. Then I gave a talk on baptism and then Rob and Charlotte went into the font where Rob baptized Charlotte. Afterward the guests listened to some piano music played by a woman in our ward while Rob and Charlotte got dried off and changed. Then we had a talk by Charlotte's Sunday school teacher about the Holy Ghost. After that, Rob and Brother Boyer (from our Bishopric) placed their hands on Charlotte's head and confirmed her a member of the Church and gave her the gift of the Holy Ghost and a special blessing. We believe that any person in the world may feel the influence of the Holy Ghost at times in their life, but receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost means that you may always have the Spirit to be with you- to help you make good choices, to comfort you, and so on- as long as you keep yourself worthy of that gift. In other words, if you ignore them enough, you can stop noticing those quiet promptings in your life, whereas if you try to recognize those moments of inspiration, or premonition, and act on them, they can become more noticeable in the future.
After the blessing, we sang the hymn I am a Child of God and had a closing prayer. Then we had brought some light refreshments to share, planning on roughly 50 people. Well, I should have brought twice as much food. It was a stampede! All of the food (curried chicken salad wraps, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a fruit and veggie platter, chips, pretzels, drinks, and about a hundred Kit-Kats) was gone in the blink of an eye, and Rob and I came home and made pancakes because we didn't even eat anything. It was amazing how many people came to support our Charlotte, when we have only lived here for less than three months. We felt the love for sure!
So Charlotte girl, we are so proud of you. You are growing into a kind, compassionate, smart, talented, hilarious, and beautiful young lady. Some days you and I butt heads, but I am really thankful for your strong will and determination, as I am sure they will serve you well in this world as you need to stand up for yourself and to do what you know is right. We love you little Peanut.
(Check out our awesome loaner furniture and dishes by the way... more about those in a future post.)
At home before church.
Just before her baptism.
With the amazing Julianna.
After Charlotte's baptism.