July in Westport, on the West coast of the South Island of New Zealand, can be very cold and wet. Being in the southern hemisphere, the seasons were opposite those of the United States where I had been born. This particular July was to be a special month in my life, as it would see the passing of the final month of my mission.
Mandy Kay is a very special person and has a wonderful spirit. She had already taken the discussions before I arrived in Westport, but was unable to be baptized because she was under eighteen and her parents would not give her permission. She came to Church nearly every week and took part in our small branch Family Home Evenings and study classes.
My companion, Elder Brent Packer, and I spent a lot of time with the members teaching them the Gospel and encouraging them in their faith. With no priesthood in the Branch, our duties included watching over the members as well as sharing the Gospel with non-members.
Mandy’s eighteenth birthday started with quite the excitement-–an earth quake at about 3:00 am. It ended up raining all day, and with Elder Packer ill, I got a lot of reading and writing done. Mandy, and her good friend Tui Hutley, arrived in the evening with some fish and chips for our dinner. Mandy was excited as the zone leaders would arrive the next day to interview her for her baptism. She would be baptized in Nelson a few days later, on July 20, 1982, as there was not a chapel in Westport.
Her baptism was wonderful. Elder Packer baptized her, and I had the blessing of confirming her. In her blessing, I felt inspired to share with her the love Heavenly Father had for her and to encourage her to begin to prepare to serve a mission. It was a wonderful day for Mandy and a great experience for a missionary who would leave for home in a couple of weeks.
When her parents learned of her baptism, Mandy was nearly kicked out of their home. Apparently her father was the one who calmed the situation, and Mandy was allowed to stay.
She had patiently waited, been baptized, and was now continuing to learn and grow in the gospel. At the appropriate age, Mandy served a mission in Australia, lives in the Christchurch area, and continues to be active in the Church and gospel today. She is truly a special daughter of God.
Nephi, being the great teacher that he was, delighted in plainness and taught according to our understanding. (2 Nephi 31:3) With great love, Nephi teaches us that baptism is a requirement for each and everyone of us. “If the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water . . . O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!” (2 Nephi 31:5).
Jesus set the example and then called upon us to follow his example and be obedient to the commandments of the Father which include “repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son” (2 Nephi 31:11). Nephi also declares that if we “follow the Son, with full purpose of heart . . . witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism . . . then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost” (2 Nephi 31:13).
Alma explained the baptism covenant at the waters of Mormon to those who desired to become the people of God. We must be “willing to bear one another’s burdens . . . willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places . . . even unto death” (Mosiah 18:9).
If we desire to become this type of person, we shall “be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection . . . [and] have eternal life,” and we shall be “baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that [we] have entered into a covenant with him” to “serve him and keep his commandments” (Mosiah 18:9-10). Then we shall have “his Spirit more abundantly” (Mosiah 18:10).
Alma then describes the lifestyle of a believer in Christ who has covenanted with God through baptism–-a lifestyle of love (Mosiah 18:21), worship (Mosiah 18:23, 25), and the caring for others (Mosiah 18:27-28). The people of Alma “did walk uprightly before God, imparting to one another both temporally and spiritually according to their needs and their wants” (Mosiah 18:29).
Hugh Nibley has written, “The oldest Egyptian creation drama, portrayed on the Shabako Stone, says that when the earth was adorned and ready to receive its inhabitants, a law was given by which every action of every creature would be judged: ‘To him who does what is agreeable (loveable, mr.wt) shall be given a life of eternal rest or happiness (>nh n hr-htp, rest, peace, happiness), while to him who does what is hateful (detestable, msdi) shall be given death and condemnation (disfavor, mtnhr hbn.t)” (Abraham’s Creation Drama, p. 15-16).
The baptism covenant brings with it the blessing of the Holy Ghost in our lives. It is through this gift that we are able to overcome the natural man, be filled with “unshaken faith” in Christ, “having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men” (2 Nephi 31:19-20).
May we, like Mandy Kay, be “willing to take upon [us] the name of Christ, by baptism” (2 Nephi 31:13), be filled with the Spirit, and show evidence of our faith, hope and charity through our actions with our fellow man. For there truly is “none other way” (2 Nephi 31:21).
Barton Golding, editor