It is exciting to hear about all the things you are doing. Mom, I had to laugh about "using that archaic technology and turning my hand crazy colors." I'm sure using an old fashioned overhead projector isn't that bad. It actually reminded me of something L. Tom Perry said yesterday. As he explained how the Lord prepared the world for the restoration and how all kinds of technologies came about to support the spread of the gospel, he mentioned the invention of paper. He said "Can you imagine preaching the gospel without paper?" and we all laughed because, no, we can't. Teaching from the scriptures and giving out pass-along cards and pamphlets are two of our major activites and we could not do either without paper.
L. Tom Perry also bore powerful witness that Jesus Christ is the head of this church. Christ’s church is one of order, led by prophets and apostles. The authority to lead his church was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith and Thomas S. Monson is his prophet today. Elder Perry explained that the next prophet is always determined by seniority, or by who has been an apostle the longest. This means that the Lord chooses who becomes the next prophet because he chooses when these men of God move on to the next life. It was pretty funny when Elder Perry said how, as he keeps moving up the chairs, his respect for the men sitting ahead of him increases. He said "I check Elder Packer's blood pressure on a regular basis. I want to be sure he lives a long, healthy life. There is no aspiring to positions." Something else he said that I really liked has to do with accepting assignments from the Lord and loving missionary work. He said he was really sad when he was no longer the apostle assigned to the missionary department, because he loves missionary work so much, but that when Elder Packer gives him a new assignment he says "yes sir" and moves on. I really like that attitude of doing whatever the Lord calls us to do.
We also got to hear from Elder Hallstrom of the Seventy yesterday. His comments helped me see that I need to re-dedicate myself to the service of the Lord by focusing on serving others. The spirit really spoke to me about how I need to "Forget myself and go to work." It has told me that before, but I guess I didn't really learn my lesson yet. So, I'm trying even harder. I wrote the following quote from President Hinckley on my new planner to remind me: "Do you want to be happy? Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause. Lend your efforts to helping people ... Stand higher, lift those with feeble knees, hold up the arms of those that hang down. Live the gospel of Jesus Christ."
Mom, I really wanted to thank you for teaching me the importance of asking questions when you teach. Way back when, when you had me give your relief society lesson, you told me the secret to a good lesson. You told me to come up with good, thought provoking, open-ended questions; ask those questions; and then give the class members time to answer. You clearly told me not to be afraid of silence and not to answer the questions myself. That simple advice has helped me a lot as a missionary. It is a lesson that I keep re-learning, especially as I teach and as I study from Ch. 10 of preach my gospel. I'm very grateful that you taught me to ask questions.
The work in Gretna is really booming. We have three investigators with baptismal dates. Jacob and Ty are set for March 20th and Michelle is set for April 3! We are so happy for each of them, and each of them are showing significant progress as they continue to read the scriptures, come to church, and pray. Their lives are changing for the better and Heavenly Father is blessing them with greater peace and happiness. I just love this work!
I love each of you very much. Mom, I love you. Dad, I love you. Will, I love you. Sophie, I love you. Clark, I love you. Have a great week!
Sister Bailey Mortensen
P.S. We all got to shake L. Tom Perry's hand, but the only thing I had time to tell him was that I'm from Vancouver, Washington. He seems a lot less tall than the last time we spoke. Probably because I have grown and he has shrunk. There is an Elder Bailey in the mission that is gigantic, taller than Elder Perry and a lot wider too. When Elder Perry shook his hand he said "Great Scott! What happened to you?!?" We all burst out laughing at that one.