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