“And then you say…” Sandra prompted.
“No,” Sandra said sternly. “You have to know exactly what to do, be able to do it in your sleep. I don’t want you to embarrass Pastor Simon, me, or yourself. You don’t want that either, right?”
“Good answer. Now, at the ceremony, the first person called to be baptized will be a decoy.”
“A decoy? You mean Melody didn’t really baptize with us?”
“Don’t look so shocked. It’s just so all of the newcomers can see how it’s done first, make them comfortable. There’s no evil plot at work here. We’re the Children of the Rose, after all.”
“Right, of course. Sorry. Go on.”
“Okay, so, once Aimee’s name is called, you…”
“After Pastor Simon baptizes her, I help her dry her face a little, put her new Level One scarf on her head, let her light her candle, and then lead her back to where we were standing.”
“Good girl. You’re ready.”
“Now, when we get to Aimee’s house, be sure to remember to tell her to change into all black, Rose-appropriate clothes and her visitor’s scarf. Go with her if she needs help. Whatever you do, don’t tell her she’s being baptized tonight. That’s supposed to be a surprise. And make sure to tell her to be quick.”
By now, they had pulled up in front of Aimee’s house. Elizabeth wondered how surprised Aimee would be to see them—they had never told her what time she was being picked up for the “little youth gathering” they had invited her to. After a quick shove from Sandra,
got out of the
car, tucking the blindfold into her sleeve as she approached the front
door. Tentatively, she rang the
doorbell. A few seconds later, she could
hear the lock click open and someone eased the door open just wide enough to
peek out of it. Elizabeth
The door opened the rest of the way and there stood Aimee in a ratty pair of pajama bottoms and a sweatshirt.
“I thought you guys had forgotten about me,” Aimee whispered, but her eyes had brightened.
“Of course not!” Elizabeth said. “We could never forget about you! The youth gathering was a surprise—we didn’t even know the time until tonight.”
“Oh, that makes sense.” Aimee looked slightly confused.
“You still want to go, right?”
“Yes, of course!” Aimee’s enthusiasm was almost contagious.
“Good! Because it’s going to be great. I just need you to change into all black, Children-of-the-Rose-appropriate clothes and your scarf. Quickly.”
Aimee nodded, eyed Elizabeth’s all-white clothing for just a moment, and hurried back inside.
turned to look back at the car and saw Sandra was standing outside it now,
leaning on the hood. Elizabeth gave Sandra a reassuring smile and
wave, which Sandra returned. Several
minutes later, Aimee returned, decked out in her all-black and scarf, her hair
pulled into a fairly short French braid. Elizabeth
“Come with me,”
instructed, holding out her hand,
which Aimee took gratefully. Elizabeth
As she led her back to the car, Sandra stood up straight and gave Aimee a stern, but kind, look. “Pastor Simon teaches us that in order for there to be a strong relationship in a church family, there must also be a level of trust. We must all know we are all looking out for each other’s best interests and we are safe with each other, no matter what others say,” she began, then looked pointedly at
“Each person interested in the Children is asked to proclaim their trust. Sandra and I have already proclaimed trust in the Children. Now we ask you, Aimee Jones…do you trust us?”
“Yes,” Aimee answered.
pulled the blindfold out of her
sleeve and fixed it over Aimee’s eyes before guiding her into the back seat of
the car. Once they had started down the
road again, Sandra announced, “This is a time for silent reflection,
Aimee. Think on all your friends in the
Children, think on Pastor Simon’s sermons, think on your own growth since you
started visiting.” Aimee nodded her
understanding and sat quietly. Elizabeth Elizabeth was impressed by her trust, her willingness to
do as told—
had had a million questions on the night of her baptism. Elizabeth
When they had pulled up in the church parking lot,
noticed Delia and Morgan standing outside a car. As soon as they were parked next to Delia’s
car, Sandra and Elizabeth exited. Elizabeth
“You’re late,” Delia whispered harshly to Sandra.
“Maybe you were early. Ever think of that?” Sandra whispered back.
“How’d it go?”
quietly asked Morgan as the other
two continued to argue over who was late or early. Elizabeth
“Fine,” Morgan answered in a whisper. “Kristen’s in the car, reflecting.”
“So is Aimee.”
“You guys were late, you know,” Morgan whispered, giving
a mischievous smile. Elizabeth gave her a playful punch in the
“Perhaps reflecting time is over?” Sandra whispered.
All four girls nodded and Morgan and Elizabeth opened their respective car doors. Aimee and Kristen were led out and stood, still blindfolded, in front of the other four. Sandra prompted
speaking with a rather painful nudge. Elizabeth
“Aimee Jones and Kristen Peters, today is a special day. We put it to you both again…do you trust us?”
“Yes,” Aimee and Kristen answered together.
“Good, let’s go,” Morgan said.
Finally, after the stragglers had arrived, Pastor Simon began with words
recognized from her own baptism: “The
Children of the Rose is a close-knit family—a family that focuses its
priorities on doing God’s work and bringing people to an eternity in
Heaven. This is an eternal family. The first step to an eternity in Heaven,
however, is baptism into the Children.
One of the most important factors of making our family successful is a
strong level of trust. You have already
declared your trust in those Children who have now played a significant role in
your first weeks as visitors. Remove your