Monday, January 4, 2010

Feliz y frio

Dear Family,
I can’t believe that Joel and Kenny and John are engaged! That is so weird to think about. Especially since they all got home so recently (at least it feels that way). Well, I congratulate them and wish them the very best. I’m especially excited for Joel because Jenna was a lot of fun at her birthday crab boil. I can’t believe that all Julie’s kids will be married! I’m sure that will be just one of the few interesting changes for me to come home to.

I love that you put my name tag on the fridge along with "La hermana es feliz y frio". That pretty much sums me up: a very happy and cold missionary. Okay, I’m not cold all the time thanks to our car, the people we visit, the layers you sent, and our apartment. But it has been sub-zero pretty consistently. And we even got a few more inches of snow. The big difference between here and Washington is that the snow never melts. It just piles up. It makes me very grateful for all the modern conveniences we have to stay warm. I cannot imagine how the pioneers survived here at Winter Quarters. Two or three families would live together in just a one room log cabin or sod house. And yet they were so grateful to even have that. There is so much for us to learn from the pioneers so I’m grateful to be serving in such a historic area.

This week I learned that we, as missionaries, are gathering scattered Israel. I just finished reading the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi and the allegory of the olive tree in Jacob so it has kind of been on the brain. Then, Sister Smith and I met this man at the library who is of Jewish descent. He saw us emailing and eventually asked “Are you amish?” That made me laugh, but also led to a great little discussion about how we are missionaries sharing that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored. We asked if we could come teach him and he agreed. When we visited him later in the week to teach about the restoration he understood it really well. He has gone to a few different Christian churches and found a lot of hypocrisy. So he completely agreed with the apostasy. Still, he has heard some weird things about “mormons” and was pretty apprehensive about learning more. But he kept saying yes to our invitations. At first he was like, “I don’t know if I’ll read the Book of Mormon” but when we asked him again he said “okay.” He even told us “something is telling me not to say no to you. I just can’t say no.” It was a really neat experience. We came out of that lesson in awe. Wow! We really are gathering scattered Israel and God truly does prepare His children to receive the gospel.

We also had a really good lesson with Krista this week. She has been investigating the church for a year and knows it is true, but her family is against her getting baptized. She is about our age and started investigating because she is dating a member named Travis. They are both so good. After a lesson about how the temple blesses families Krista expressed her concerns about joining the church. I wasn’t sure what I could say to help her, but Heavenly Father did and He filled my mouth. I told her how good she was and how I could tell how much her family cares about her and how much she cares about them. Then I said “This is the best thing you can do for your family.” Those words definitely didn’t come from me because I have never thought that before. But it is so true. When I said that, it really rang true. Living the gospel and attending the temple is the best thing any of us can do for our families … past, present, and future. In the temple our families are sealed together for eternity. To me that is so comforting, to know that I will be with you, my family, forever. Our greatest growth and our greatest joys come from our families, so of course Heavenly Father wants us to live in families after this life. I’m so grateful that He has provided the way for us to receive that most wonderful blessing of being united for eternity. I know that the greatest blessings come from keeping temple covenants.

One last thing I’ve learned this week. President Kunz taught us in a training that

love -> faith -> obedience -> blessings

If we want blessings we need to be obedient. If we aren’t as obedient as we should be, it’s probably because we don’t have complete faith that we will be blessed for being obedient. And faith comes from loving the savior. That’s why he said “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Love for the Savior leads to faith, which leads to obedience, which brings blessings. All through the Book of Mormon it says “Inasmuch as ye will keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land.” (Jarom1:9 and other places). I never really noticed the word “inasmuch” until now. As much as we are obedient, that is how much we will be blessed. If we are 60% obedient we will get 60% of the blessings. So, if you want more blessings, be more obedient. And if it’s hard to be more obedient, you need to exercise more faith. Do those little things that build faith like praying, expressing gratitude and reading the scriptures. And if building faith is difficult, try to recognize Heavenly Father’s love for you. Remember those times when you have seen Him bless your life. Know that He loves you and is always there for you. He wants you to be happy, to become like Him, and receive all the blessings He has for us. Catch the vision that you are His child with the capacity to become like Him. Also remember the atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ. That is the greatest manifestation of God’s love. The more we understand the atonement, the more we will love our Savior and exercise faith in him.

I love you all very much!
Sister Bailey Mortensen

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