A place like Uilenstede, perhaps like many other student housings, all the young and (some) reckless youngsters can go in and out with such an ease, especially no access card necessary and no security guards in all towers. After a Chinese girl who came to my room, once inhabited by her past-time lover, to keep the memory of him alive, a visit from unusual guests didn’t end just that.
Who rang my room this time?
Two Korean girls, one had long and wavy hair and her female friend with short and straight hair. That’s the only way I can describe about these particular guests because I’m so bad at names. After a short greeting with big smile to break the ice, the short-haired girl started a conversation.
“We would like to present a school project.”
She held an A4 folder in her hand, folding its plastic cover to the rear side to show me a printed version of a power point proposal in large font size. She read it all out loud, page by page, so what I needed to do was basically to listen to her and look at the charts and other graphic images. Well, “read” is not exactly the right word. The words fell so freely, so naturally as if she had done it a million times before. The texts actually didn’t do much for her.
Who creates men, animals and plants? God. Jesus was sent to the world to mingle with us as a human being and to forgive our sins. Jesus’ parents are Mary and Joseph. Nowadays many people forget to praise the Lord, or even don’t believe in God. And many more. All I know she brought these simple and common facts to live.
Like multilevel marketing business, it is very necessary to make a prospect second one’s thoughts and ideas before going to the next stage. Lucky them, I’m Catholic who entered a Catholic school for 15 years. I’m not one of those people who think Jesus is just another Jew and definitely not an Anti-Christ. Although I don’t go to church that often, frankly speaking, what they said didn’t against Christian bible and everything I learned at school. In short, I agreed with them.
Helping a school project? Why not? So I let them in.
We had a small talk about school stuff and a bit of life experience as foreigners in the Netherlands. It turned out that the Korean girls were studying business in a university in Amsterdam. Neither theology nor Christianity related. One thing I know: that the presentation was part of the school project was a lie.
They gave me souvenirs, a drawstring pouch-shaped mobile phone key chain and a pin, depicting an image of a church and the texts circling the inner side of the pin mentioned the name of church the girls belonged to.
“Look, we are also in Indonesia!” The short-haired girl exclaimed proudly, pointing the location of Indonesia in the world map from the leaflet that claimed the church existence around the globe. “You’re from Jakarta, right?”
I nodded. I had said that during our small talk. The fact that it has spread in two to three major cities in Indonesia is quite amazing, I admit.
Then, they were back to business. The church does not claim itself as a Catholic, a Protestant, an Anglican, a Presbyterian or else. It welcomes everyone regardless various sorts of Christians. Gradually, it shifted to a deeper content — about God created men. How Christianity started. The role of Jesus and miracles He created, including Lazarus’ resurrection from death. Judgement day. Apocalypse. Revelation. I met them over seven years ago. And I forget lots of details about our Christianity talk.
But I remember what I felt about the story of judgement day, apocalypse and revelation. “The ultimate victory of good over evil”. Those scared (and still scares) me a lot. I started introspecting.
How many times have I sacrificed Sunday services for taking some booze at the club until the morning light? I should wipe out my vengeance over people I hate and forgive them instead. Do I cheat on my friends and families? I hardly pray. Have I been a good person? How much time left for me to fix everything before my time comes? Will I go straight to heaven or hell or somewhere in between?
The girls offered me baptism, even if I was baptized long before I could spell a single word. Yeah, may be I have been a lost child and need help to bring me back to the right way.
So re-baptism, with my own consciousness, sounded like a great offer.
What I had to do next was to find a place that didn’t make my bedroom wet. If there was no Jordan river, my bathroom instead would do just fine.
I was a bit embarrassed. As I knelt down on the floor, my face was just a few centimeters from the toilet seat, accidentally left open, since my bathroom was so narrow. What an uninteresting view! They put a white veil over my head, that looked more like a wide handkerchief with lace ornaments all over the borders.
I heard a doorbell. One of the girls went outside to open the door of my unit.
I looked back, suddenly I saw an Asian man in his 40’s wearing glasses, clerical clothing and a cross necklace. While holding a bible, he made a cross sign with his right hand. So I did the same. In the name of God, and Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Next thing I heard was a language far beyond my comprehension and recognition coming from his mouth. It sounded like howling wolves and native Indian chanting altogether.
All right, I just put it that way to prove that I really didn’t know what the priest said. I soon recognized that I just heard a spiritual language, also called “speaking in tongues”, a Methodist friend of mine once said. The voice he heard was from the Holy Spirit. If one fully surrenders to God, one will be able to receive it — if I understand it correctly. Tell me if I’m wrong about this.
However, I remember feeling awkward being surrounded by church members who spoke that way long time ago. I was completely absorbed into tones of questions and denials, not a solemnity and holiness of baptism.
What am I doing here? Why do I accept these people in my room? There is no such thing like the language of Holy Spirit in my Catholic church. What are they going to do with me? I don’t even know what he said. How do I know if he doesn’t bully me? What if it’s not the language of Holy Spirit? Et cetera.
One of the girls took off the veil from my head. The priest immediately poured water to my head with a plastic glass I used to gargle to symbolize baptism.
They said goodbye and asked when they could get in touch with me. After that, they left to continue their mission.
A week after returning from London, I received a phone call. Oh my, that was from the girl who offered me baptism. I almost completely forgot about her and the church. She asked me repeatedly week by week to attend services. Most of the time, she called when I was working. I found it very annoying. I kept avoiding her and never returned the call.
May be I accepted re-baptism not from my own consciousness, but my own sympathy to help students with a “school project”. May be I was still in a complete denial about the language of Holy Spirit. May be it was just an immediate response of being afraid of going to hell.
May be I haven’t opened my heart and soul for re-baptism. May be I don’t even know the real meaning of baptism or re-baptism, after all.
The girls forget taking back the white veil they lent me and the pouch — exactly the same design as the mobile phone key chain — to put it in. Oh well, regard them as souvenirs, then.
If you ask me whether I become more religious than before after my re-baptism, the answer is no. I still don’t understand what really happened to me on that day.
The only thing I know that it seemed like another unusual encounter in my room. And I’m not ready yet for the next big thing (after re-baptism).