Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Hello Family,

I did compose a lovely email thanking you all for your wonderful gifts and saying what a good time I had this Christmas, but it disappeared when I tried to send it. So, here is the abbreviated version.

Thank you for all the warm stuff you sent. I have already used it and am very grateful for the extra warmth. My favorite thing you sent was those individual letters. It was so good to hear from each of you in those letters and then on the phone.

Sister Smith and I had a wonderful Christmas. The senior couples spoiled all of us Trail Center sisters with quite the Christmas Eve party and then a brunch on Christmas day. It was great to spend time with them and all the sisters.

We found lots of new people to teach yesterday as we helped them dig their cars out of the snow or talked to them as we walked. So, I guess all the snow is a blessing. Still, I was very happy when our cars were ungrounded. It makes getting everywhere so much easier.

I hope you all have a wonderful start to the new year!

Sister Bailey Mortensen

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas

Dear Family,

I am excited to call on Friday evening and hear from all of you! The missionary handbook says to keep the call short (preferably no longer than 30 or 40 minutes).

These past few days I have felt so full of love. I am overflowing with it. Singing Christmas hymns with the ward makes me feel like I have a family here. I feel their love and I love them.

I have never felt so full of the Christmas Spirit in my life! Christmas as a missionary is amazing so I'm glad I get to do it twice! On Saturday our ward had their Christmas Party and it was fantastic because this family that we just met came and felt very welcomed. We had been trying to contact and teach the McCormick family for weeks and finally we did. And then they came to the Christmas Party the next day! They are neighbors of the Wahls, a family that was baptized last summer, so Sister Wahl was so excited to see them and share the joy she has found at church with them. After the party, the McCormicks 11 year old daughter came up and said to us "We are definitely coming to church tomorrow." And they did! And they absolutely loved the Christmas program. The mom gave Sister Smith a hug and said "Thank you for opening my eyes." Sister Smith and I have were beaming the entire weekend because we felt the happiness of sharing something so precious and dear as the gospel of Jesus Christ with this family. The gospel has blessed us so much, knowing that our families can be together forever and that we can receive guidance through a living prophet, that we are so anxious to share those blessings with everyone around us.

The Spirit of Christmas truly is the Spirit of Christ. To me that spirit is the love or charity that he has for each of us and that we should strive to have for each other. And missionary work is all about sharing the love of God with others. God loves us and wants us to receive all the blessings he has. His whole purpose is to help us become like Him (Moses 1:39). So, He has provided a way (through our Savior, Jesus Christ, Mosiah 3:17) and commandments (2 Ne 9:23-24) for us to return to Him and receive that greatest gift of eternal life (D&C 14:7). And He did it all because he loves us (John 3:16).

As missionaries or members of the Church, we have received many blessings from God. When we recognize those blessings and feel God's love for us, our love for others increases, as does our desire to share those blessings of the gospel with them. Like God, we love them and want them to enjoy the same blessings that we have found in living the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, we invite them to keep the commandments upon which those blessings are predicated (D&C 130:20-21). We invite them to be baptized so that they can be clean and worthy to enter the kingdom of God (Alma 7:14-16, John 3:5). That is the greatest gift we can offer anyone, the gift of eternal life with God and our families. It brings me such joy as a missionary to see people accept that gift that God and Jesus Christ offer through me (D&C 18:10-23). And I offer it because I love them.

To those who feel the joy of living the gospel, I invite you to "pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love," this charity, this Spirit of Christ and Christmas so that you can "be an instrument in the hands of God to bring ... [your] brethren ... to the knowledge of the truth" (Moroni 7:48, Alma 17:9).

To those who have forgotten the joy of living the gospel of Jesus Christ I invite you to remember and start anew to follow him. Think of those times when you felt God's love or recognized His hand in your life. Know that He is there, that He loves you and wants to bless you. His love is unconditional, but His blessings are conditional on our obedience. Because of the atonement of Jesus Christ we can repent, we can change, we can start new. And if we are sincere, God will forgive us and give us the strength to overcome all things. I have seen this happen in my life. Even when I have no idea how I can possibly overcome a certain trial or weakness, I trust that God knows and that He will provide a way. And He does! Because Christ suffered for us he understands us perfectly. He knows what we are going through and he can help us through it. Turning to our Savior Jesus Christ is the only way to have lasting happiness.

To "those who do not belong to the church I speak by way of invitation, saying: Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life" (Alma 5:62). The tree of life represents the love of God. As we follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized we are cleansed and the doors to the kingdom of God are opened. That is the only way to live with our Heavenly Father after this life. I know that the authority to baptized was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church of Christ once again on the earth. We will be blessed and have lasting happiness as we follow His teachings.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Sister Bailey Mortensen

Monday, December 14, 2009


Dear Family,

It sounds like the Ward Christmas party was pretty fun, a little crazy with the fire alarm and all, but I’m sure that just made it that much more memorable. Thank you for sending my Ensigns. It is so good to have them as a reference. I just love looking back at all the amazing talks we get at conference. Our leaders are so inspired and their messages contain so much truth and counsel. They are great!

We had a blizzard! It was at night so we slept through most of it, but still, we actually had a blizzard! Basically, it was snowing and the wind was blowing really hard. The wind was still pretty bad the next morning, but the snow had stopped. I’m not sure how much snow we got because it all got blown around into these mountainous drifts. The drifts actually reminded me of sand dunes; the only differences were that they were white and sparkly and not quite as big as sand dunes. Another difference from Washington is that the snow doesn’t melt. So, it is a good thing that they plow the streets here. We weren’t allowed to drive for a day and a half so we got rides from members when we could and walked. I think trekking through the snow was a good bonding experience for Sister Smith and I. We had a couple people pull over and offer rides, but we said no thanks. Then we offered them the gospel and they said no thanks. I think that sums up a lot of my experiences with talking to everyone in Nebraska. Most people are nice, but happy where they are at and therefore blind to all the blessings they are missing. It’s usually the humble people that are going through hard times that are willing to listen and change their lives for the better (Ether 12:27).

My first ever snow tracting experience was great! We were walking through a neighborhood where tons of people were shoveling their driveways. We would always ask if they needed help. Most said no, so we shared a brief message and asked when we could come share more. They didn’t want us back so we’d just give them a Joy to the World pass along card. Then a man named James said we could help! We grabbed shovels and had a great conversation with him about service and trusting in God and the restoration and coming to church and eventually baptism. We have been challenged to invite everyone that is receptive to be baptized, but James got to it before we did. When we explained that we don’t baptize infants he asked “So, can I be baptized?” and we said “Sure … how about January 2nd ?!?” And he said yes and we set up a return appointment! We were so excited! I’ve determined that those that let us help them shovel their driveways or get their cars un-stuck are humble and more prepared to accept the gospel. So, snow tracting is a great way to find those that God has prepared.

Sister Bailey Mortensen

Monday, December 7, 2009

It Snowed!

Dear Family,

It snowed yesterday! Because it is so windy here it took a while to stick, but we have maybe two or three inches today. A guy out shoveling snow this morning said we're supposed to get another foot of snow tonight. Sister Smith is from Arizona but had some practice driving in the snow at BYU Idaho so she drives really slow and that is good. I love how the snow makes everything bright and sparkly. It made walking around last night much more cheerful. Maybe I will make a snowman or something today 'cause it is p-day. Staying warm hasn't been too difficult yet. I wear my track tights and my underarmor top every day. Last night I finally gave in and put on my big, long, black parka. I also bundled up with mittens, tights, normal socks, winter boots, a scarf, and a beanie. I bought some tan-ish colored tights that are knit (I don't think they are wool) a while back and tried them out a few days ago. They were very warm and I liked that a lot. Mainly, I think my ankles will be getting cold because my skirts are all about mid-calf and my boots only come up a few inches. So, good Christmas ideas are layers (under or over) and anything else that will keep me warm and protect me from the wind.

Thank you for the Christmas package! Sister Smith and I are enjoying the advent calendar and plan to make gingerbread cookies next week. Tell Julie thanks for the CDs; we both love listening to Christmas music. I think I will give the nativity to the Corrigans (a family in the ward) so that they can give it to Gladys and her kids (an investigator we found this week). That way, both families will benefit from the Christmas spirit that it brings. Gladys is super solid. She went to church as a kid, but never got baptized. So, we taught her the restoration and set her for baptism on December 26th! She is amazing! In that first visit, we read Moroni 10:3-5 with her and asked "How can you know if the Book of Mormon is true?" and she said she knew it was true because it felt good. We were shocked, but quickly recovered and told her that yes, it is true and that the feeling of goodness and peace is the spirit telling her that it is true. When we came back for our next lesson, she said she felt a difference in her home, that it was more peaceful. She is so sensitive to the spirit, I just love it! I have never seen or heard of anyone progressing so quickly.

Gladys came to church yesterday and had a great experience with fast and testimony meeting. All us missionaries bore our testimonies, but I think the most powerful testimonies were the simple ones shared by the little kids. A 7 year old named Erica said simply "I know the church is true. I know that Heavenly Father loves me. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." I loved it! Two simple truths that she can hold on to to get her through anything. Her sweet, simple testimony really rang true for me so I got up and shared mine. At the end, Cory (the man that Sister Gingrich and Sister Maxfield taught), bore his testimony. He said he couldn't sit still after hearing mine. He said it was the spirit that those two Sisters carried that made him curious enough to listen. He knew the scripture that says you will know them by their fruits and had been disappointed by many churches in the past because their fruits weren't good. But, when he was taught by Sister Maxfield and Sister Gingrich, he saw the goodness and wondered "Who raised these Sisters? How did they get to be so good?" That is why he kept listening and learning and doing what they asked. I hope I can have that same influence on those that I meet.

Well family, I hope you are enjoying and making the most of the Christmas season. Remember, it is all about our Savior, Jesus Christ. His atonement makes it possible for us to return to live with our Heavenly Father. He lead the way and we strive to follow and become more like him. That is the whole purpose, that is why he came: to show us how and provide the way to become like our Heavenly Father and live with them again. I know Heavenly Father loves me and He loves you. He is watching over each one of us and doing all He can to help us come back to Him. We just have to follow. I think my mission is helping me learn to follow the Savior and be more like him. I hope that you are also doing your best to follow the example of Jesus Christ. That is how we will find the greatest, truest, most lasting happiness! I love you all!

Sister Bailey Mortensen

Monday, November 30, 2009

Transfers & Turkey Bowl

Dear Family,

Thank you for the prayers. I feel a little embarrassed to be tearing up in the library, but hearing that you and others pray for me feels really good.

Right after I emailed last week, we got the transfer call. Sister Gingrich was transferred to the singles ward in our stake. We were super surprised! I tried to help relieve the stress that Sister Gingrich had about packing and saying goodbye to people, but it was hard. Transfers are stressful! Moving your whole life and leaving everything and everyone you know in a few hours! I had no idea what a big deal transfers are. I felt pretty nervous about turning over the area, but grateful that I had taken the time to learn the area and get to know the people we teach. My new companion is Sister Smith and she served in Ralston six months ago. It helps that she knows the area and the members, but our teaching pool is completely different than when she was here. She is really good at helping the members get more involved in missionary work and I love it.

Sister Smith and I had a great Thanksgiving. Our ward actually had a Turkey Bowl! It was invigorating! Definitely a great way to start the transfer! I was so happy that President let us play. And he was there, in his sweats, running around with the rest of us. I thought it was weird to see him without a suit, so I'm sure the members thought it was weird to see me without a skirt. I had a great time and even made a few good plays. It also helped me get to know the ward members a bit better. President actually wrote the following in an email to me. "You are a great athlete and held your own at the Turkey-Bowl!" That made me smile.

After the Turkey Bowl we had three Thanksgiving dinners. It was hard to restrain myself and only eat one or one and a half plates at each one, but I did. That way I didn't get too full to eat at the other dinners. The members were all very excited to see Sister Smith again.

Sister Smith and I have seen several miracles in our short time together, but my favorite happened last night. We were going to visit a convert from Colombia named Rosa and her husband Carlos. It turns out that her sister, Cecilia, and two nephews, Alejandro and Estevan, have moved in with them. Cecilia and her boys are not members, but they went to church in the Spanish ward and liked it a lot. They don't speak much English but I understand their Spanish and Rosa would translate for us. So, we taught them about the Book of Mormon and praying to know that it is true. Cecilia really felt the spirit, both at church and in the lesson. She even told a really funny story that happened that day. I guess Rosa showed her a picture of Joseph Smith at church and she said "I dreamed about him. In my dream, I was his girlfriend and he was sad because my mom said he couldn't give me shoes." We all laughed really hard at that. Still, I think it shows how prepared this family is to receive the gospel. They were all so happy and excited to learn and we had the best time laughing and learning and feeling the spirit together. We are going back later this week with the Spanish Elders.

Well, I love you all and hope you make the most of this holiday season. I've found that focusing on others is the key to happiness. When I care about others and put them first, all my selfish cares and worries disappear. It's an amazing but simple principle.

Sister Mortensen

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

(Bailey had a different preparation day this week so had a ward member email me to let me know not to worry when I didn't get her email on Monday)

Dear Family,

I'm glad you got Cory's email. He is quite the guy. He's about 40 and single and Sister Gingrich and Sister Maxfiled taught him in Papillion (just south of LaVista). I love hearing the different view points on his conversion. I guess Sister Gingrich and Sister Maxfield were having a rough day with all their appointments falling through. But, like the dilligent missionaries they are, they looked around for who the Lord wanted them to talk to. They saw Cory outside with a huge dog and went to talk to him. He tried to scare them off by explaining that all churches are corrupt, but that didn't bother them 'cause that meant he already had a testimony of the apostasy. So, they started meeting with him and gave him an experiment. If he would do everything they asked him to do for four weeks (Word of Wisdom, read scriptures, pray, go to church, the works) then he would know if the church was true or not. If he didn't know by the end of those four weeks then he didn't have to get baptized. Well, he took that challenge very seriously and got baptized last spring. Now he does baptisms at the temple twice a week! So, Cory loves us Sisters and is always willing to help, even if it is just telling our parents that we won't be emailing until Tuesday. For future reference, don't worry if you don't get an email on Monday 'cause p-days can switch occasionally.

Sister Gingrich and I have had a good week. The highlight was definitely Luka's baptism. Sister Gingrich called it a "birthday baptism bash!" And for a missionary, what better present could you have for your birthday? I was so happy for Luka! I don't even know how he got to be so amazing. We just taught the lessons and he accepted everything. He loves studying and knows the Bible really well. Now he loves studying from the Book of Mormon too and is developing a strong testimony. All he needs is good friends in the ward to keep helping him learn and feel welcome. I got to speak at his baptism and as I did I felt very strongly Heavenly Father's love for Luka. I knew that God was proud of Luka and super happy for him. Baptism truly is the gate to the celestial kingdom and I just love helping people enter that gate and begin on that path.

On Friday nights all the sisters spend the night at the Trail Center apartments so that we can go to Trail Center training on Saturday morning. So, last Friday night, Elder and Sister Williams (one of the senior couples) threw a little birthday party for Sister Gingrich, Sister Brady, and Sister Anderson. It was a fun little get together with cake and icecream and lots of smiling faces. I love the unity that I feel with all the sisters in the mission.

The Trail Center is all decked out for the Gingerbread event that started this week. There are all kinds of gingerbread houses downstairs so it smells really good. I really liked the Winter Quarters Temple one that one of the districts made and the Noah's Ark one that a family from our ward made. Hopefully, it will help more people come see the Trail Center.

Today we find out about transfers. We are pretty sure nothing will change for us since trainers usually stick with new missionaries for two transfers. Still, I'm very curious to hear what will happen to other companionships. I'm learning that transfers are a very big deal because everyone loves predicting who will go where and be companions with who.

Thanksgiving with Brandy and her boys sounds fun! It will be weird without the Andersens, but good. Sister Gingrich and I will be eating with a couple families in the ward. We also hope to check up on people that might be lonely on Thanksgiving.

Some things I'm thankful for: my testimony of the gospel, Sister Gingrich, letters from friends and family, great people that are open to learning and living the gospel, a nice apartment, President and Sister Kunz, Luka getting baptized, the Book of Mormon, and all the love and support I feel as I serve a mission. I'm grateful for this time that I have to serve the Lord and His children.

Sister Mortensen

p.s. All of Sister Gingrich's birthday presents will help her stay warm and I thought that was genius. So, any layers (underarmor, sweaters, etc.) or other bright ideas for helping me stay warm this winter are great Christmas presents. I already have gloves, but maybe those poly-pro gloves and socks in the closet would be good. By the way, I love my green sweater, my skirts, and my shoes. I get tons of compliments on my wool coat, so thanks to you and Julie and Nat and Sis for helping me find cute clothes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Elder Oaks

Hello Family,

You'll never guess what happened on Saturday! I met Elder Dallin H. Oaks! Each Saturday morning we have an hour long training at the Trail Center. After this Saturday's training, we stayed a little longer because we knew Elder Oaks would be coming to get a tour. All the sisters and senior couples were there to greet him as he came in. He and Sister Oaks were so cheerful and loving. They went around and met each one of us briefly. When I shook his hand I just couldn't stop smiling. He asked where I was from and after hearing that I'm from Vancouver said that he was there just a few months ago for a stake conference. That surprised me a bit, but I was glad to have that little connection to home. The coolest thing was the way he looked into my eyes. I could tell that he really cared about me.

After Elder and Sister Oaks met everyone he said "I'd like to talk with you for a moment, if that's alright." Of course that was alright, so we all knelt in a circle at his feet while he and Sister Oaks sat on a bench in the foyer of the Trail Center. They gave us a few words of advice, but the main thing I got out of it was how much they loved us. Elder Oaks would look at each one of us briefly as he spoke, and he even said that he was trying to see into our souls. And he said that he could see the light inside of us. The whole experience of kneeling at an apostle's feet helped me better imagine what it must have been like to kneel at the Savior's feet and hear him teach. The other thing I learned was that Elder Oaks isn't as dead serious as he seems at general conference. He likes a funny story or a good joke just as much as anyone else. And when he laughs, he really laughs. His shoulders go up and down pretty wildly if he thinks something is funny.

Stake Conference was also really good. An investigator that we met on Friday actually came. Her name is Tara and she brought her 1 year old daughter. Her daughter wasn't used to sitting still so that was distracting but cute. I'm really glad that Tara got to come listen to an apostle. She even shook his hand afterward. Elder Oaks must have shook hands with at least 500 people before and after the conference. He was very friendly and genuine the whole time, wanting to get to know each of us.

One analogy Elder Oaks gave, that I really appreciated, was the gospel as a merry-go-round. If you try to stay on the edge you will get spun right off, but if you stay in the center, it's a lot easier to stay on. And if there's not enough room in the center, just get as close as you can and link arms with the people around you. To me that means that we should all work together as friends in living the gospel the best that we can.

I hope you all have another wonderful week!

Sister Bailey Mortensen

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'm a real missionary now!

Dear family,
It turns out Sister Gingrich has mono. The nurse said she must have got it in the past and her sinus infection made it flare up again. I believe it 'cause she was sleeping a lot. Actually, she lived with the Kunz family for a few days while I went out with other Sisters. It was weird to be without her, but I've seen amazing blessings come because of this whole ordeal. Without her, I became the missionary that was familiar with the area and the people. This put some added responsibility on my shoulders so I had to step up to the plate. During an exchange with Sister Maxfield I really went outside my comfort zone and became a better missionary. Sister Maxfield had us talk to everyone we saw and knock on every door we passed AND had me start nearly every conversation. It was awkward at first, but by the end of the day my confidence had grown. Incredibly, the spirit filled my mouth each time I opened it. Many blessings/miracles resulted from working hard, talking to everyone, and testifying boldly.

One of those miracles was Larry. Sister Maxfield and I had gone to check on a less active family but they weren't home so she suggested we tract the street. Eventually, we found Larry. He only has one leg so he hopped out on the porch and started talking with us. After Sister Maxfield recited the first vision, I asked him how he felt. He said "That's a nice story" with a tone of voice that said he really believed it. Then I bore my testimony of Joseph Smith. I even started crying, a first for my mission. I just really felt the power of the spirit bearing witness of the truth of what we were saying. Then we invited Larry to be baptized on December 5th and he accepted. It was amazing! The Lord truly does prepare people to receive the gospel! We just have to find them and share it with them.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy November!

Hello Family,

Thanks for the email. I especially liked the picture of Sis and Clark in their costumes. I had a pretty good Halloween as well. On Friday night we went to the ward Halloween party and got to visit with a few recent converts. And on Halloween we did have to be in by 5pm. We were going to go to the Trail Center to make Christmas cards and spend the night with the other sisters but that didn't happen because Sister Gingrich is sick. She started noticing on Thursday so we went to see Karla (a nurse practitioner in the ward) that night. Sure enough Sister Gingrich has a sinus infection and the flu. She's taking antibiotics for the sinus infection and that is clearing up, but she still has the flu. So, we have been staying in the apartment for the last few days. We didn't even go to church. All this staying inside is killing Sister Gingrich. She would work herself until she died, so it's my job to make sure she doesn't. Sister Kunz calls every day to check on us and to tell Sister Gingrich to stay inside, not only for her own good, but so that no one else gets sick. That means that today all we get to do is go grocery shopping and email. So far, I'm not getting sick so I guess I'm kinda like you mom, holding down the fort and having plenty of vitamin C until everyone gets better. It's been pretty relaxing to stay in, plus it gives me the opportunity to serve Sister Gingrich. She is pretty fun when she's sick. She tells lots of funny stories that help me get to know her better. We also pass the time by watching church movies on the portable DVD player that a ward member lent us. Sister Gingrich knows sign language and wants to become a teacher of deaf kids so she practiced signing to "The Restoration" DVD. Afterward, she even taught me a little bit. I just love learning new things! I was so happy that I couldn't even make the right facial expressions to go along with the things I was signing. I'll have to work on that. Tomorrow I will probably go on exchanges with Sister Maxfield and her companion, Sister Worthen (who came out with me) will hang out with Sister Gingrich for a while.

Right now we have six investigators set for baptism on Nov. 21st. Sister Gingrich wants to fill her birthday with baptisms. Every time we get a "set" we call President Kunz and sing him a song. He doesn't even ask what day anymore. He just knows they are set for her birthday.

One of the people we set this week is a miracle! Her name is Stephanie and she has a six month old baby named Blake. We were tracting and decided to knock on one last door: hers. She was very open so we gave her a Book of Mormon and invited her to read it. She grew up Methodist and has never looked at going to other churches but likes that we encourage her to find out the truth for herself. Then she said that her roommate was mormon. That surprised us so we asked who and she said Crystal. You should have seen Sister Gingrich's face of happiness and surprise at that. She taught Crystal when she served in Papillion! Crystal is also a single mom with a six month old named Joseyln. So, we are excited to get all four of them to come to church! A miracle, I think yes!

In answer to your questions I'd say that people are either really receptive, polite but not interested, or neither. We mostly get the middle one with the occasional extreme. We spend a lot of time in the more humble apartment complexes because people there are prepared to hear the gospel. We don't tract a whole lot cause we run into people outside, but that might change once people stay inside during the winter. We do spend a good portion of our time tracking down less actives. A couple times now we have discovered that the less active members have moved, but the new resident is interested in learning more. So it's pretty cool to see how the Lord works.

This week was also my first ever Zone Conference! We drove out to Lincoln and met in a Stake Center for pretty much the whole day. I loved getting words of love and encouragement and advice from President and Sister Kunz! They are so great! They really love us and want to help us. The focus was on improving our teaching (PMG Ch. 10). I'm excited to apply the things we learned there.

By the way, Dallin H. Oaks is coming to our Stake Conference on Nov. 14-15. I'm way excited and will be sure to tell you about it.

I love you all!
-Sister Bailey Mortensen

Monday, October 26, 2009

My first baptism!

Dear Family,

Thank you for the email. And yes, I got some mittens for the freezing cold that I'm sure will come soon. You should see Sister Gingrich's combat boots. They are heavy duty. Being from California, she doesn't mess around with the cold.

I've had a pretty amazing week. On Thursday we went to the Temple in Winter Quarters. It is the smallest temple I've ever seen, but very beautiful with all the stained glass windows. President Kunz and plenty of missionaries were there so it was hugs and handshakes all around. Then on Sunday President Kunz gave a talk in sacrament meeting emphasizing the importance of the temple. Just like you said in your email, we should be willing to take the time to attend often, especially with a temple so close. In his talk, President Kunz also gave his "secret to life" which is something that he and his wife have found very helpful. After a session in the temple they sit in the celestial room and discuss how they are doing on keeping those five temple covenants. Then they ask Heavenly Father how they can improve and follow the inspiration they recieve. I thought that was a really good idea so I'm going to try it next time.

On Friday I went to my first baptism! Mary has been investigating the church for a long time and finally was baptized by her husband Billy. Sister Gingrich and I were so happy for her! The spirit was very strong throughout the service and I just couldn't stop smiling. It feels so good to see someone change their life for the better.

This week, we set two more people to be baptized on November 21st! Luka is from Africa and has already been to church twice. We taught him about the Restoration in a member's home and he is excited to learn more. Dianne is a nurse that used to work for a Doctor who is a member. She was also very interested in the restoration and accepted the invitation to be baptized right away. It is on her calendar and everything! I'm so happy for both of them and look forward to teaching them and helping them come unto Christ. Baptism truly is the gate to the celestial kingdom.

By the way, there are a lot of Spanish speakers here. Thankfully, I still remember a little and can converse well enough to get the names and addresses of people that are interested. Then we call the Spanish Elders with our referrals. Dad, I think you would be proud. Even though I stumble over words I can communicate and help these people feel comfortable. It makes me want to learn Spanish again.

One last funny story. Jim is a less active member that we're trying to help come to church. He loves meeting with us but because we are sisters we cannot teach him in his apartment. So we often meet at restaurants or just teach in the hallway of his complex. Well, yesterday he invited us over for dinner. When we turned the corner and saw a table and two chairs sitting in the hall outside his door we had to laugh. And sure enough, he had prepared a delicious meal and set a cute little table just for us. So we ate and read scriptures in the hall. It must have looked pretty weird to those that walked by but we had a grand old time.

I'm glad you all are doing well. I love you very much.

Sister Bailey Mortensen

Monday, October 19, 2009

News from Nebraska

Hello Family,

I am loving life as a missionary in Nebraska! We (the new missionaries) arrived safely on October 13th (Dr. Sampson said I was well enough to go as scheduled!) and were greeted by President Kunz and his wife. During our first two days we visited the Mormon Trail Center and Winter Quarters Temple grounds, had interviews with President Kunz, received training from the assistants and the Kunzs, ate several meals at the Kunzs, and even went on exchanges for a few hours. While at the Trail Center I received a strong spiritual witness that the Nebraska Omaha Mission (NOM) is where Heavenly Father wants me to be.

President and Sister Kunz are wonderful. They love me and I can feel it. The best part is I'm serving in their ward! My trainer is Sister Gingrich and she is fantastic. She really loves the people here and works very hard. She trusts the Lord so completely and knows that He is guiding us in every aspect of the work. She's from Valencia California (near LA) and loves to play soccer. So we run in the morning as long as it isn't freezing cold. So far the weather has been decent, some rain and plenty of wind, but the snow is supposed to come soon. We have a car and live in a very nice apartment.

For the first time, there are some Elders serving in the Ralston LaVista area with us. I've never heard of having two sets of missionaries in the same ward but I'm sure we will make it work. The other new thing for Sister Gingrich is proselyting full time. I guess I'm one of a handful of sisters here that didn't recieive that extra week of visitor center training at the MTC. So instead of working a day or two a week at the Trail Center, we will only go there on Saturday Mornings for training. President Kunz said my call may change to include the Trail Center, but for now Sister Gingrich and I are "full proselyting."

The people here are amazing. For me the biggest surprise is how quickly I love them. I don't even know the people we are visiting, but as soon as we start to teach about the gospel I feel this great love for them. A man named Jerry Smith moved in with a part member family on my first day. He's had a rough life but accepted our invitation to be baptized because he really wants to change. I was amazed, we had just barely met him and I already felt this great love for him. Even though I didn't know him, I knew that Heavenly Father did and I could feel His love for Jerry. So, we now have four investigators set for baptism! "In NOM we baptize!" And surprisingly, they encourage us to invite anyone that shows any interest at all to be baptized. And we do! Usually in the very first lesson we invite them to prepare for baptism on a certain date.

I love you all very much. Be sure to help the missionaries at home. We love it when members can join us for lessons or let us teach investigators in their home. And visiting teaching and home teaching are the same thing as missionary work so do those too. It is all the Lord's work so He will help us do it and everyone needs to be reminded of Heavenly Fathers love for them.

Sister Mortensen

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Guess who is in Nebraska!

I guess all is well and she made it to Nebraska. We got a letter and pictures from the mission president saying she made it, her companion is Sis. Gingrich, and she will be serving in Omaha. The mission president also requested that mail be sent to the mission home address and they will forward it to her.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Still at the MTC

Today I (Andrea) received a short letter from Bailey saying that she is still at the MTC for another week. She developed a pilonidal cyst a couple of weeks ago and the doctor put her on antibiotics hoping to avoid surgery. On her return visit the doctor said things were healing properly, that she would not need surgery, but that he wanted to continue to watch it for one more week. So, she will be a "solo sister" since her companion left on Tuesday and she will spend her time with a district "a week younger" than her. Here's her take:

"I'm sure it will work out just fine but I am a bit disappointed. Maybe this extra preparation time will turn out to be just what I need."

I don't know for certain when she will leave to go to Nebraska but I have posted the mission home address and I'll update her address if I get a new one.

Monday, October 12, 2009

MTC - Oct. 8, 2009

Dear family,

Life at the MTC is still fantastic, especially because of conference. It was fun to watch it with a whole bunch of missionaries. You should have seen & felt the intensity during Elder Holland’s talk. Everyone stopped looking at their notes and looked up with their eyes riveted to the screen. He spoke with such power, such conviction ,such boldness. I don’t know how you could hear that and not believe that the Book of Mormon is true. I’ve already watched it again and again. It gave me the chills. My other favorite talks were Pres. Uchtdorf’s about love and Pres. Monson’s about service but it seemed like every talk had at least one tidbit that was meant for me. I’m really excited for the Ensign to come out so that I can re-read and study all those wonderful talks (especially Elder Oaks because it was too deep for me to grasp in one hearing). For me, the big take home message from conference was love. Love is why I’m serving a mission. I love my Heavenly Father. I love His gospel, and I know He loves me. I want to share this love with all God’s children because it feels so good and brings such happiness.

One of the big things Sis. Allred and I are working on is getting to know people. We need to not be so shy and also step out of teacher mode so that we can really get to know the people. Only then will we be able to help them see how the gospel can bless them in their unique situation. And the best was to do this is through questions. One example would be, “How will the atonement bless you?” That way they can make connections on their own and find meaning for them personally. Sister Porter (a teacher) had us practice this as we taught lesson 2 by pointing at us when we should ask a question. Amazingly, good questions kept popping out of our mouths. The promises in D&C 84:85 and 100:5-6 are real!

I can’t believe how quickly my time at the MTC has gone by. In just one week I’ll be in Nebraska with my trainer doing real, alive missionary work! I’m excited but a little nervous and a little sad. Sister Allred will be in New Mexico and I don’t feel very ready. I’m not the only one that feels this way though and I’m sure it will all be just fine.

I’d like to conclude this letter with my testimony. I know that God is our Heavenly Father and that He loves us. He wants us to be happy and enjoy all the blessings He does so He provided a perfect plan for us to become like Him. Jesus Christ is at the center of that plan because it is only through Him and his atonement that we can repent and be forgiven. I know that Christ suffered everything that we will ever suffer so He understands us perfectly and knows exactly what we’re going through. I know that the true, full gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth through the prophet, Joseph Smith. If we follow this gospel, by having faith, repenting, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end we will receive eternal life and live with God forever. The Book of Mormon is true. I know that God answers every sincere prayer we offer.

Love always,
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Thursday, October 1, 2009

First letter from the MTC

Hello family!

Life at the MTC is wonderful. The days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days. I've really appreciated all the letters you've sent. It makes me think that letters are the way to go. Only 30 minutes on P-day (Thursdays here) to email will be too short, so I'll write most of everything in letters that I actually have time to write (that will still only be on p-days). You all can still send emails, but I prefer letters that I can read whenever I want.

We have a wonderful district! We are all so unified in our desire to serve and preach the gospel. Everyone is so spiritual and has a strong testimony. Having four sisters with six elders probably helps the elders behave (they goof off less than the elders in other districts). I love the discussions we have in class and the spirit that I feel almost constantly. I love the MTC!

My companion, Sister Allred, is excellent. She's kinda shy so I end up talking the most when we give lessons. But her simple testimony is very powerful and always brings the spirit. She is a good sport to play volleyball with me everyday.

Anyway, the MTC is hard work but the best work. The schedule is rigorous, especially for the sisters, but helps us stay focused. I feel the spirit stronger than I ever have.

Sister Bailey Mortensen

P.S. Preach My Gospel is such an inspired book and you should all read it!

Monday, September 21, 2009

She's a missionary now - Sept. 21, 2009

It's official - Bailey Mortensen was set apart as a full time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Sunday, Sept. 20, 2009. So now we have to call her Sister Mortensen and she gets to wear skirts for the next 18 months. She packed, said her good-byes, and caught a plane to Salt Lake City Sept. 21 where she will meet up with grandparents and friends before entering the Mission Training Center Sept. 23. We look forward to seeing her with her black name tag and hearing stories about companions and learning "Nebraskan" at the MTC.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Called to Serve

On July 9th Bailey received her mission call to the Nebraska Omaha mission! She reports to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah on September 23rd. Her sister, Sophie, caught her reaction to this assignment with our camera: