Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Break

Dear Family,

It is spring break for the Gretna schools this week as well. I’m sure you will all enjoy this time to relax.

Are you all super excited for general conference? It is going to be amazing! On several occasions, I have prepared for conference by writing down a few questions that I would like Heavenly Father to answer during conference. And every time, He does. I know that if you write down your questions and pray for the Lord to answer, He will. Sometimes the answer will be clearly spoken by one of the prophets or apostles. Sometimes the answer will come through the spirit as a thought or feeling of what we should do. These spiritual promptings may not relate to the topics that the speakers addressed, but we will be more open to hearing them because we are listening to conference. One conference, I asked “What one trait should I try to develop?”and Joseph B. Wirthlin gave a very specific answer in his talk, “The Great Commandment.” After hearing that talk I knew I needed to work on love because that is the great commandment: to love God. That is just one example. Every time I try this, it works. So, I invite each of you to try it and tell me what you learn. It will make general conference that much more meaningful.

The work here is amazing. We set two more people for baptism this week! Sister Jolley came here on exchanges last Friday and we had a brief but powerful lesson with Dave. We shared Alma 7:11-13, testified of the power of the atonement, and invited him to be baptized. He’s very humble and wants to change so he accepted April 24th as his baptismal date. The next day, Jennifer (the wife of our recent convert, Jacob) came with us to check on Ty, another investigator who wants to be baptized. Well, Ty wasn’t home but his wife Jen was. We had never really spoken with her and were very pleased to learn that she would support Ty in getting baptized. Apparently she had been reading all the pamphlets we left with Ty and had a few questions for us. Her first question was perfect “How is this going to help Ty?” Jennifer was the perfect team-up because her husband Jacob just got baptized and it has strengthened their marriage so much. She was so helpful in relating with Jen and sharing how the church has blessed their family. We emphasized eternal families a lot. Jen asked “How can I know that I will see my mom again?” Another perfect question. We were able to testify that God answers prayers through the Holy Ghost. She believes that God will never give her more than she can handle but feels like God hasn’t answered her prayers. Sister Bleazard was able to show her that we were an answer to her prayer that Ty would be saved. We were prompted to come knock on their door and have been teaching Ty everything he needs to be saved. We also explained that we want those same blessings for her. She was a little unsure because she has been baptized before, but we explained how this baptism would be different. We also pointed out that the “spiritual uplift-ment” she was feeling as we spoke was the spirit testifying that these things are true. We invited her to be baptized with Ty on April 17th and she said yes! We are so excited for both of them to prepare for that together. It will be such a huge blessing to their family.

The most amazing thing about our lesson with Jen was how powerful the spirit was. At some points, I felt so warm that I thought I might get heat exhaustion or something. THE SPIRIT IS AMAZING! It told us what to say: exactly the things that Jen needed to hear. Afterward, Jennifer described it as “the most amazing night ever!” She also found herself saying things that she did not come up with on her own. I think that is one way that the gift of tongues is manifest. We opened our mouths and the Lord filled them. I feel so blessed to be a missionary. I really don’t do anything, it is all the spirit. It is the true teacher. I am just blessed to watch it work. It truly is a privilege to see the spirit work through us. There is no better feeling than knowing that I have been an instrument in the hands of God to bless the lives of His children.

Have a wonderful spring break!

Sister Bailey Mortensen

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Journal Entries

Dear Family,

Here are the first sentences of my last four journal entries:
Thursday, March 18, 2010: SUNNY DAY!
Friday, March 19, 2010: IT SNOWED!
Saturday, March 20, 2010: JACOB GOT BAPTIZED!
Sunday, March 21, 2010: JACOB GOT CONFIRMED!

Kinda funny when you look at them all like that. Thursday was soooooooo warm; I think it got up into the 60s and I actually wore short sleeves in the afternoon. But then crazy Nebraska threw us for a loop by having it snow the next day. It felt so cold in comparison to the previous day, but it was mainly in the low 30s. Now things are getting sunny again, but I guess I shouldn't pack up my winter clothes just yet. Also, on Friday night, our stake had an Easter concert with each ward choir singing a song or two. We even had a missionary choir and I got to conduct it. It was so fun! We sang "Nearer, My God, to Thee" and "I Believe in Christ." I got really into it with exaggerating my conducting and even my facial expressions. I thought they sounded great and I really felt the spirit. I love conducting. The best part was that they actually followed me with dynamics and everything. We got loads of compliments. All in all it was a great evening.

The highlight of the week was, of course, Jacob's baptism. I'll try to tell you the whole story of his conversion. His wife, Jennifer, joined the church when she was 21 and loved it but didn't go regularly for years and was pretty inactive by the time she married Jacob. She always had a strong testimony that the church is true, but never felt very welcome at church. Back in November, they moved to Nebraska from California. One Sunday they were outside trying to take a picture of them and their house by holding their camera at arms length. Well, a huge van pulls up and a man jumps out to offer to take the picture for them. Jenn and Jacob thank their neighbor and then go back inside. Jenn turns to Jacob and says "They're mormon" because, clearly, this big family was going to church. So the next Sunday, Jenn has them take their dog for a walk at about the same time so that they can ask their neighbors what time church is. But, they never saw them and didn't get to ask. So, early in February, Jenn tries a new plan of praying for the missionaries to knock on their door. For the record, we did tract their street and ended up stopping two doors down because we had to go to an appointment. Meanwhile, Jenn finally worked up the courage to call the Branch President. His wife answers and in her very cheerful way welcomes them and gets their information and tells them when and where church is. Then we get the amazing news that some random lady moved in and her husband wants to take the missionary lessons. Basically it was every missionary's dream come true. We called Jenn immediately and she invited us over for lunch the next day. At lunch, she told us her life story and we became instant friends. We had our first lesson with Jacob later that week in the Branch President's home. Jacob was pretty quiet but did say that he wasn't really sure if there was a God. We bore our testimonies that God loves us and that he answers our prayers and had a really good discussion. We taught Jacob how to pray and what the Book of Mormon is and then asked Jacob to pray and read the Book of Mormon. Because he did those two things and came to church, he felt the spirit. In just one week, he went from no belief to believing the church is true. He continued to keep all the commitments we left him and his testimony kept growing. Now he is baptized and has received the gift of the Holy Ghost! He is amazing! Jennifer keeps calling it a miracle and it truly is. After his baptism, Jacob said "I feel as if a weight has been lifted." Then, when the priesthood holders laid their hands on his head to confirm him, he felt a tingly feeling down his back. To me, this is all very strong evidence that the gospel is true. It can change our lives if we will just live it.

Something else I wanted to share with you all is a pattern that I have discovered in teaching the gospel. Preach my Gospel says to 1) teach, 2) testify, 3)invite, and 4) promise blessings. I love that: teach, testify, and invite. We each need to know the gospel in our minds, feel it in our hearts, and live it in our lives. Whenever I give a talk, it seems like my outline always starts with what the principle is, why it's important, and then how we can live it. This pattern of teaching the what, testifying of the why, and then inviting them with how is very powerful. Learning the gospel is not enough, we must live it so that it becomes a part of who we are.

I love each of you very much.
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

More March


Thank you for the package. I thought it was funny that the elders knew I would appreciate nylons.I guess the sisters have taught them well. In NOM we interact with the elders fairly frequently with district meetings once a week and zone conference once a month. It is easy to tell who the really good elders are. Some are kind of annoying because they haven't grown up yet, but most just like to goof off. The good ones know when to be serious though. Our district and zone leaders have been really helpful in training us on how to be better and I appreciate their advice and encouragement.

Since you asked, we usually exercise inside. When the weather was nice, we would run every day, but that hasn't happened in ages. I actually miss it. Being confined to a small space is not fun. I'd much rather have space to run and jump around. I've been doing some of those exercises you gave me 'cause we have some free weights in our
apartment. I think my arms are getting stronger and that I'm staying fairly in shape. I would prefer more cardio-vascular stuff though.

Yes, transfers are coming, but not for another couple weeks. We're pretty sure Sister Bleazard is leaving 'cause she's been in Gretna for almost six months. After Trail Center Training on Saturday, I guess she and the other Sisters started making predictions. I haven't really gotten into that because I know the Lord will send us where we are supposed to be. It's always fun to hear where everyone has gone, but
the excitement of transfers usually only lasts for the day when they happen. I'm grateful for the fresh start that they give us.

After Trail Center Training, I gave Sister Endeman a tour of the gallery there. We had just been trained to make it a "walking gospel lesson" rather than a tour and I think that's what happened. Because I don't know many historical facts yet, it was easier for me to focus on the doctrine and throw in a little history now and then. Mostly I used the stuff around me to give analogies for how we can live the gospel or I asked questions that helped Sister Endeman see how we can follow the examples of the pioneers. I prayed that the spirit would be there so that I could teach to Sister Endeman's needs. After asking some get to know you questions we went around the gallery and it was amazing. The spirit was very strong. We both bore testimony of principles that we know and encouraged one another in areas where we each need to
improve. A lot of the time Sister Endeman was saying exactly the things that I needed to hear. And I hope that I was able to share things that will help her too. For me it was a testimony that the church is there to help us lift each other. We aren't meant to go this alone. We each have strengths, weaknesses, and experiences that we can share to the benefit of someone else. It also reminded me that when we
rely on the spirit and love the people, Heavenly Father can guide us to say exactly what He would have us say. At one point Sister Endeman talked about how the pioneers gave up so much to follow the prophet and how we as missionaries were called by the prophet to serve. His signature is on our call letter, so we better give our very best. We don't have to sacrifice physical things so much as give of ourselves
and set our selfish desires aside to focus on serving others. It was such a powerful tour. I came away very motivated to be the best missionary I can.

These last few weeks have been a bit of a struggle because I have been selfish. But I'm feeling much better now. Some rebuking from Sister Bleazard and then going on that tour with Sister Endeman have helped me turn things around. I'm trying harder than ever to focus on others. When I do, I am happy. Hopefully I can remember that.

Thanks again for the package, your letter, and your weekly emails. I love you!
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Dear Family,

Believe it or not, things are warming up a bit here in Nebraska. The
huge piles of snow have actually started to disappear. I really am
amazed at how quickly the snow is melting. I thought it might never
leave. We might even get to wash our car today because we finally have
a p-day where the temperature is above freezing. The car looks
disgusting so we are excited about that. When I got my haircut the
other day the lady asked how I like Nebraska and I said I never
realized how warm 30 degrees was. I actually understand how people can
go outside in shorts when it gets up to 40 degrees.

This last Thursday, Sister Bleazard went to a leadership meeting so I
got to be companions with Sister Hale for the day. It was sunny so
people were actually outside enjoying the fresh air and doing little
outside chores. I'm convinced that the sun makes people more cheerful
and open to listening to us. We were able to find a handful of people
willing to have us come back and teach them. It was great! Sister Hale
and I also learned a lot from each other about how to be better
missionaries. The other fun part about exchanges this time around was
that I got to drive. I was very pleased with my ability to find my way
around. If you ever come to Omaha, I will be a great navigator. I even
drove us safely to the temple, where we had a temple session and
switched back to our usual companions.

While at the temple I had an interesting thought. I thought how doing
all this work for the dead would go a lot faster if we could do more
than one name at a time. But then I thought, no, Heavenly Father
wouldn't do that; He loves us each individually so ordinances are
performed and covenants are made individually. Plus, salvation is an
individual matter. We each choose for ourselves whether we will follow
the gospel of Jesus Christ. My choices can't save someone else and
their choices can't save me. It was a good reminder of Heavenly
Father's love and the gift of agency.

Thanks again for writing. I love you all. Have a wonderful week!

Sister Bailey Mortensen

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Dear Family,

Mom, you would be proud of me. I now like green beans. A lot of people
here in Nebraska keep making them as part of the dinner so I eat them
and they actually taste pretty good. So now I don't have a food that I
don't like. I think that is a good trait for missionaries, because
everyone is nice enough to feed us dinner and it would be rude not to
eat it.

Something I'm learning is that missionary work is a lifelong thing. It
doesn't stop after someone is baptized (they still need to work
towards the temple and endure to the end) and it doesn't stop when I
get home. We are all missionaries. Teaching each other with visiting
and home teaching is just as important as teaching people that aren't
members yet. Conversion, activation, and retention are all missionary
work. As missionaries we are supposed to help with all three. We are a
full time resource for the members in our areas. Missionaries help
members do missionary work, not the other way around. I've never
really looked at it like that before, but I think that's how it is
supposed to go. We're trained to be the best teachers we can be so
that members can trust us to teach them, their families, and their
friends. It's a very short time that we have this privilege. Another
thing I'm learning is how amazing "Preach My Gospel" is. It is
inspired. It is like new scripture to help us today. If more scripture
needed to be added to our triple combinations it would be "Preach my
Gospel." We don't use it enough. If we have any questions about how to
be better missionaries, they are answered by a chapter in "Preach My
Gospel." I should be better about studying from it.

My story for the week isn't really a story. Mainly, I want to tell you
how amazing the Rohbocks are. They are an older couple in the Gretna
branch that help us a ton. They feed us lunch every Sunday between our
meetings, they give us rides, they print off talks, they bake us
bread, they come help us teach, they exercise with us on p-day, they
take us shopping, and are all around amazing. We love having them come
teach with us because they have powerful testimonies, they can explain
things simply and clearly, and they are soooooooooooooooooo good at
relating to people. I admire them so much. I hope that I can become as
giving and loving as they are. I feel like I learn so much from them,
by conversing with them and by observing the way they live their

Well, I'm glad you are all keeping busy. I hope you continue to be successful.
Sister Bailey Mortensen