Tabitha was baptized by the Archbishop of Mt. Hagen, Douglas Young, SVD, on June 6, in Good Shepherd’s chapel.
Our friends Jim and Kathy Radcliffe came from Kudjip to the service and were kind enough to take some pictures for us.
To the left are our proxy godparents, the wasmama and waspapa as we say in Tok Pisin: Br. Benjamin Aska, the computer lecturer, and Anna Ding, our neighbor. In the center is Anastasia, proudly wearing her crown from preschool that morning. The crown reads “Happy World Environment Day Ms. Hippopotamus”. (More on her preschool in another blog post.) We had Acts chapter 9, the story of Tabitha, as the first reading.
After the exorcism, Tabitha receives the oil of catechumens, followed by a lovely prayer blessing the “baptismal fount” (an enameled bowl painted with blue flowers) reciting the role of water in salvation history, and the public renuncation of sin and the profession of faith. Then, the sacrament itself:
Before the service, we were standing outside the church waiting to process in. The Archbishop started talking to Tabitha, who has only just started to smile and gurgle. He instructed her not to cry when the water was poured on her head, and she responded with a hearty “goog!” … And she listened!
I managed to leave the beautiful baptismal gown that my mother made for Anastasia in the US (argh!) but managed to fashion one here (involving cutting up a thrifted pillowcase and repurposing the lace border).
The mass also commemorated the end of the first semester of 2014, the end of the weeklong Young Priests’ Retreat held on our campus, and the departure of our Vice-Rector, Fr. Michael Wiame, for further studies in Rome. With all these reasons to celebrate, we had a pig roast afterwards- a mumu, cooked in an earth oven with root vegetables and ferns. (Anastasia is surprisingly fond of ferns. She kept stealing them off of nearby plates.)
(The bowl next to him contains the pig’s head, a customary gift to an honored guest. The plate in front of him has been thoroughly cleaned of Brandon’s chili con carne, our contribution to the feast.) Bishop Young was quite attached to holding her– he tried to get out of his own speech-making duties by exclaiming “But my hands are full!”
It was a wonderful day, and we wish our families and many more of our friends could have been there to share it.