Conducting a baptismal interview
I recently had a very rare opportunity for a woman in the church – I got to help carry out a baptismal interview. My in-laws are serving a mission, and they asked for my help with an investigator who is an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has been taking the lessons virtually through French-speaking missionaries on Temple Square, but the local missionaries had to conduct the baptismal interview, but don’t speak French and the investigator speaks only limited English. I do speak French, but I live thousands of miles away from their area of service. My mother-in-law asked if I would help resolve the issue by acting as a translator using FaceTime. I was happy to oblige.
I printed off the official questions in French in advance so I could be certain that I was using the approved terminology in translating what the interviewer said. I asked a friend to watch my kids for a bit and shut myself in a bedroom so I wouldn’t be interrupted. I translated the questions that the Elder asked, and then I translated the responses of the investigator. It was a powerful spiritual experience, and I felt the excitement and joy of someone just discovering the Gospel.
I served a mission myself, not French speaking, about fifteen years ago. However, only one person that I taught joined the church while I was around to be at the baptism. Of course as a sister missionary I never conducted baptismal interviews, much less baptized, witnessed or confirmed a new member of the church.
When I express a wish that women could hold the priesthood, I often hear that everyone benefits equally from the priesthood, but that simply isn’t true. The powerful spiritual experiences that can come through administering in the church and conducting ordinances are not available to me. Were it not for the fluke of necessity and the advantages of modern technology I would never have been a party to any baptismal interview since my own twenty-seven years ago. I’m grateful for the opportunity that I had to play a role in helping this brother on his spiritual journey, and I wish that it weren’t a once-in-a-lifetime, never met any other women who have done this kind of opportunity.