Wednesday, November 12, 2014

a simple baptism in China (that made my heart burst)

On Saturday Lucy got baptized by her older brother Max.
And it was one of my favorite days.

I have a lot of those, I know, but I'm telling you, my heart was so full it was overflowing.

I kind of didn't plan on the "overflowing" part.  I mean, baptisms are always wonderful of course, but as we led up to the big day I realized how different it is to do a baptism in China.  Not only are there no LDS chapels or baptismal fonts, but all the little details are different.  I haven't figured out how to get pictures printed, ingredients for the refreshments I wanted to make are hard to find, all the street flower stands were closed because it was raining, blah, blah, blah.

I clicked over to my post about Claire's baptism a few years back (over HERE) and kind of wished I could figure out how to replicate some of the things we did that grand day.

But then I had a stark realization/reminder: baptism is not about the frills.  It is about a sacred ordinance that daughter of mine was making with her Heavenly Father.  All that mattered was that she could feel our love and His intertwined with what she was doing.  Of course I know that.  In the long-run who really cares about all the little details.  But somehow in trying to make it special I was forgetting how special it already was.  

And with that realization the very simplicity of it all became so beautiful to me.

Elle and the girls took her out for a few photos:
 Then of course everyone wanted to get in some with her.

Because sometimes we just can't stand how much we love this girl of ours.
Max was taking the SAT of all things that morning...for real...happened to be the same day, and Dave was picking up my brother Noah from the airport (who's visit we kind of planned the baptism timing around).

Then it was off to the house where Lucy would get baptized.

There's this family in the other branch (congregation) of Shanghai who happens to have this spa tub in their basement that they graciously let us use:
It's almost like it was built for a baptism.  Weird coincidence, but pretty awesome.

We got hooked up with Grammie and Grandfather and Nana and Papa who joined in via skype.

Loved that part.

 We are in a tiny branch with just a few kids Lucy's age, so sweet that they came to support her.

Max arrived from taking the SAT in the nick of time.

Elle, Grace and Claire gave short talks (great job girls!), then it was time for the baptism.

When Max started saying the blessing so clearly and beautifully the whole room just filled up to the brim with the spirit.  Apparently the water was pretty cold, as attested by Lucy's gasp when she came up for air, accompanied by a huge smile.

After the baptism Dave gave Lucy such a beautiful confirmation with the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Our Branch President gave some beautiful comments.  Lucy led the closing song "I Am a Child of God."

And then it was over.  That last little girl of ours had become an official member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

So grateful for such a kind group of friends there to support Lucy.
(Minus a few I missed before they left since I was talking to the Skyping grandparents.)

Her Primary teachers:

My friend Kellianne and her son Sawyer:
(Kellianne brought all the things I couldn't figure out how to round her.  Thank you Kellianne!!)

Our wonderful neighbors from Hungary: 
And many more people we have grown to love in such a short time.

(So sad that the Chinese government won't allow us to invite any of our Chinese friends to church occasions like these...we would have so loved to have them join us.)

Loved having Noah and my cousin Ben there (they are here for work meetings).  And I love Noah's animated listening face.

Having these guys here made it extra special for Lu:

A simple day full of a lot of love with a beautiful covenant made.

Love you Lu Lu!


  1. How special and AWESOME that Max got to baptize her :) You're right--it's special because it happened and Lucy made those sacred covenants with her heavenly father! It's not special because you have flowers, or the right kind of popovers! :)

    It's crazy to think your journey in China is almost over!

  2. Shawni, did you have non-members of your church there, too? Just curious. And I think it's really sad how the Chines gov. does not allow any (other) religion or even the attending of such an occasion for their own people. What a shame!

  3. Beautiful! Pure, peaceful simplicity with all of its Joy!

  4. my heart's all a-mush! wish i could have been there (i saw all your other kids get baptized!). love that max did it. and that noah and ben were there! what a beautiful day. what a special girl! love you guys and really want to skype soon!

  5. "(So sad that the Chinese government won't allow us to invite any of our Chinese to church occasions like these...we would have so loved to have them join us.)"

    Man, I didn't realize that. I knew religion was outlawed and driven underground over there (somewhat literally with the baptism in the basement!). But I didn't realize Chinese citizens weren't allowed to attend non-citizens' special occasions. Though, in retrospect, that makes sense. It looks like there were still a lot of nice people there for the event. And those look like super genuine smiles on Lucy and Max's faces!

  6. Sorry, I also wanted to say, this was so beautifully written. I love that simple reminder that the day her big day was already so special. Also, her primary teachers are my aunt and uncle. So weird to see their pictures on your blog.

  7. There are sanctioned churches in China. And by sanctioned I mean ones that are controlled by the government, not favoring a particular branch of Christianity. And a chinese citizen could attend that church. To invite a chinese citizen to the baptism would be trouble all around. It would be clearly seen as trying to convert the person to a church that wasn't sanctioned by the government. Foreigners are allowed a lot more freedom in this area.

  8. My baptism, which was only a few years ago, was one of the most emotional moments of my life - it's such a special occasion no matter how it's performed, where or by whom but having Max baptise Lucy must have been extra special! Congratulations, Lucy!

  9. Yahoo for Lucy! Congratulations! Simply Beautiful! She will always remember she was baptized in China!

  10. Wow! What a very special day! I love that you were sort of forced to have the day be all about the special ordinance! I think all too often we get wrapped up in the frills and don't focus as much as we should on the most important parts! I LOVE that she asked Max to baptize her! They will never forget that! I wish I had realized that my older brother could've baptized me when I was younger. I think that would've been a great boost to our relationship. Also, the tub totally looks like it was designed just for baptisms, that is PERFECT!!

  11. I'm not LDS, but I teared up at this. It sounds like such a sweet day for your family.

  12. What a beautiful day! Thrilled for Lucy and your family! xo

  13. That 2nd to last picture of Max & Lucy was enough to bring tears to my eyes. Beautiful!!

  14. My daughter turns 8 next year and her oldest brother will baptize her too, such a sweet experience I am sure. Seeing your pictures made me tear up just thinking about it!

  15. You have me crying at work. It's all so beautiful. So much love.

  16. One look at that first picture and you had me crying! What a wonderful sacred experience your family will never forget.

  17. That is so special!!! I got all choked up seeing your parents on Skype. Modern technology blesses us in so many ways. That's just truly special. Great job, Lucy. What a wonderful decision you have made.

  18. Shawni, I am really tall and have a really hard time finding long skirts without slits. Where do you find your skirts?

  19. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this! I am crying as I read and as I type. It is WONDERFUL that your kids love each other so much. Just yesterday, I watched as my older (she is 4) let my younger (2 in January) hug her and not let go while she tap danced at her ballet lesson the other day. When I asked her why she didn't make Collins come back to the bench with me, she said, "Because her needed to hug me, Mom." My heart grew about fifteen million sizes.

    Congrats to Lucy and Bless your beautiful family!

  20. I have been following your blog quit some time now but usually don't comment:) But today i had to after i saw you have some friends/neighbors from Hungary:) That's awesome! I'm a hungarian girl myself, living in the US (Utah) for ten years now. Hungarians are awesome people:) Are they members? What are they doing there? Anyway- it was just fun to read it :)

  21. Love all of the pics but especially the ones of super tall Max and little Lucy. How adorable! A beautiful memory for both of them. Congratulations Lucy! And I love your red glasses ;)

  22. I have poured over Claire's baptism pictures as I carefully planned my daughter's baptism. I was so jealous of your pictures with hundreds of worthy priesthood holders surrounding her and a big party. And then I saw this post: This is exactly what my daughter's baptism looked like--and we are here in the states. Not a big party or all about frills. But you know, just like you said, it was perfect! It's all about the ordinance, not about the extras. Thank you for that.

  23. So lovely. Way to keep your eyes on the big picture, Shawni!

  24. We were SO excited to have our faces showing up next to Nana and Papa and to be carried around so that we could see where all that was happening! Just loved being there! And so glad Noah and Ben could be there to represent us! Congratulation Lovely Lucy! We love you! G&G

  25. Getting caught up over love this. Love that height difference between Max and Lucy;)

  26. Oh my gosh! I so loved this. Every. Single. Part. I cried. ha! I love how simply you write but how the spirit comes through. This was just beautiful. And makes me think back to my own baptism. And my children's baptisms to come!


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