We had a baptism at church this morning. It was a kid who already faithfully attends youth group functions and actively helps with things like prayers and song leading. I don't know exactly how old he is, but I would guess he is anywhere from 11 to 14. (It's so hard to gauge age here!) As far as I can tell, he doesn't have any biological family members at church (I think he may even be somewhat of an "orphan" at home), but he is sort of like the fifth brother to the four sons of one of our preachers (who is also, more or less, the youth minister). From everything I have seen of him, he is a really sweet, godly kid. I was a little surprised that he hadn't already been baptized, since he obviously already has faith and tries to live by it. But, we were all very excited that he made it "official" today.
The thing that was especially exciting, though, beyond the actual baptism, was the response of the other kids at church. The baptistery that we have here doubles as the communion table (it's just a box filled with water that has a top on it most of the time), so it is on the ground and easily accessible. For the baptism, all of the kids eagerly crowded around the "box" so they could see the happy event. It was clear that they understood the significance of what they were seeing and were genuinely excited for their friend.
Now, the church building itself is right across the street from a row of fruit vendors, and many of them bring their children to "work" with them every day. There are several of these kids that we have gotten to know, and when they see us they call us by name, run up, give us a hug, and say "¿Cómo estás?" to us. This morning, the doors of the church building were open (as they always are when service is in session), and we could see one of the girls we talk to most often looking in. She seemed to be intrigued by the baptism. At first she just looked on from outside, but eventually she came in. After the event was over, I asked her if she understood what had happened, and she said that she did. I don't know what was actually going on in her mind about the whole thing, but I was so glad that she got to see not just the baptism but the joyful response of the other kids.
I am convinced that love and joy attract people like nothing else. I don't know what will eventually become of our fruit market friend, but I am honored to get to witness and participate in loving, joyful interactions with her. (Is it just me, or does it seem like this love and joy stuff is so much easier with kids? I hope and pray that I can carry the same spiritual "fruits" into my interactions with adults too.) Sometimes the "work" here can be frustrating, but mornings like this remind me of what I am really trying to do and why it is worth it.-Becky