Blessing & Baptism

Friday was a big day for the Palmer family. Sterling was blessed (kind of like a christening, but without the baptism component) and Miriam was baptized (kind of like a christening, but without the infant component).

Mormon babies are generally blessed sometime within the first few months of life, and they wear white for the ceremony. A few weeks ago, we took Sterling to a tailor shop so he could be measured for a bespoke kandura. The tailors didn't know quite how to measure a 2-week-old baby, but they managed. The finished product fit perfectly.
Have you ever seen anything cuter in your entire life? I submit that you have not. The blessing went very well (meaning he did not cry throughout) and we were so happy that our families could watch it by tuning in to the online broadcast of our church meeting from across the world.

Mormon children are generally baptized sometime after they turn eight years old. Miriam turned eight back in September. We waited a while to have her baptized, in part because we were hoping they would finish building the font at our church villa (Mormons are baptized by immersion, so you need a good-sized body of water). Our old villa had a pool that we used for baptisms - or, in a pinch, like the morning they showed up to do a baptism and found the pool covered in algae, the jacuzzi tub upstairs (!) - but our new villa does not. So a few members of the congregation have been working on constructing an above-ground font of sorts.

Anyway, it was almost done by the time Friday came around, but not quite. That left us with a few options: drive to Abu Dhabi to have the baptism in the font at the chapel there, use a friend-of-a-friend's swimming pool at a private villa in Dubai, or postpone the baptism until the font in Sharjah was finished. We chose to go to Dubai.

(Note: two things were NOT options. First, we can't use a semi-private or a public swimming pool because of the religion-based attention it would attract. Not a good thing in this part of the world. Second, we technically could have used the waters of the Gulf, as is done in other parts of the Middle East - I think Egypt uses the Red Sea, for example - but that is also a little touchy around here. You just never know who could see you and take offense.)

So off to Dubai we went on Friday morning. The amazing thing is that we did not even know the people whose beautiful home we took over for an hour. But they were so gracious about offering it to us and provided everything we could need, including their gorgeous pool. Here is where Miriam was baptized:

Jeremy wore his own bespoke kandura for the occasion, and Miriam wore a dress from her Grandma Palmer. Magdalena is wearing white just cuz - except that I just remembered that we bought that dress in Vermont right after she was born, for Miriam to wear on the day that Magdalena was blessed, so I guess it's come full circle.

If this is the only Mormon kid baptism you've read about, FYI, it is slightly atypical. But it's also completely typical, in that they wore white and it took place in a body of water, so. That's all that really matters (see jacuzzi incident, above). The exact nature of the white clothes may differ, the form of the body of water may vary, but the ordinance is the same.

Pro tip: consider NOT scheduling your child's baptism for the day after Halloween. It was a chaotic "night before," and don't tell anyone, but there may have been very, very slight traces of a dark mark still on Miriam's forearm when she was baptized, despite all our scrubbing in the bath the previous evening. Thankfully, all the colored hairspray had washed out, no problem.

It was a very special day for all of us, and I hope Miriam can always remember sharing her baptism day with Sterling's blessing day.

U-turn or not U-turn?

Halloween, UAE, 2013