Thank you for the email update. I'm excited to "participate" in FHE next week (especially since "The Restoration" is my favorite, and most frequently taught lesson). The story of Clark wanting Will's birthright made me laugh pretty hard. Still, the story of Jacob and Esau is a good reminder for us to ask ourselves: temporal or eternal? That's something I have to remind myself whenever I am tempted. Will this lead me closer to my eternal goal of living with God and my family? or will it distract me or even prevent me from having eternal life? Much of the time, temptations only offer momentary pleasure. I love the way the Book of Mormon makes it so clear: we are "free to choose liberty and eternal life, though the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil" (2 Nephi 2:27). Mormon tells us very clearly "the way to judge" in Moroni 7:12-13: "Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually. But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God." When you look at the source and consider the consequences of each "enticement" the choice becomes very clear. If you want to be happy, do good. If you want to be miserable, do evil. "I know" just like Alma "that he granteth unto men according to their desire" (Alma 29:4). Sometimes it is hard to choose to do good, but if we really think about it, I'm sure we would all prefer the"us" and "forever" of eternal life over the "me" and "now" that will lead to eternal death.
This week I discovered that I LOVE the Trail Center! At first I was nervous and slightly overwhelmed about giving tours, but Sister Meryhew gave me a good pep talk and I did just fine. My first tour was a little family. I'm not too good at keeping little kids entertained, but I must have done something right because the dad gave us a referral for a friend in North Carolina. My second tour was a group of four Chaplains. I really enjoyed sharing the gospel with them because they were respectful and at least mildly interested in what we believe. I kept emphasizing the Book of Mormon as the evidence that the gospel has been restored. Even at the handcart I found myself going back to the Book of Mormon. I told the story of the Mortensen's sacrificing by having their oldest son Morten stay in Denmark and serve a mission. The mission president promised them that they would all make it safely to Utah if he did and they trusted that promise. Even though they got caught in the blizzards of Wyoming along with the rest of the Martin and Willie handcart companies, not one of them died and they did arrive safely. Then I connected it to my life by telling how President Hinckley asked us to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. He gave several promises along with that invitation and I decided to test it out. Sure enough, I found greater strength and peace in reading the Book of Mormon and I know it is the word of God. I invited them to read it as well, to try it for themselves, and shared Moroni 10:4-5. They all said they would read the introduction and thanked me for sharing the "things of my heart." I hope they do read and pray. It will bless their lives so much! The last tour I gave on my first day in the Trail Center was for three of the Nelson kids in the Gretna Branch. They didn't have much time before going to do baptisms at the temple, but I hit the highlights and shared my testimony a lot. It was fun to give a tour to someone that I knew because I didn't have to struggle with getting to know them. That's probably the hardest part for me: getting to know these people and their needs in the first few minutes of a tour so that I can teach to those needs throughout the rest of it. I definitely need to work on my social skills, and being a missionary is forcing me to do that. I love it when people open up and tell us what they need, but when they don't I guess I just have to rely on the spirit. Heavenly Father knows these people, they are His children, and if I am worthy and in tune, the spirit can help me say the things they need to hear. I wish it was as easy as I just made it sound.
Another exciting thing is Michelle's baptism next Saturday. She is so ready. She's inviting her whole family. We are so happy for her and so impressed with her. She is super committed to following our Savior. When we asked how the word of wisdom was going she said that she has been getting better and that she is determined to quit smoking. She even told her friends at work that she can't smoke because she wants to get baptized and they said they would take her cigarettes away if she even tried. They can see how important this is to her and want to help her. Michelle is such a good example.
Jennifer bore her testimony yesterday. I've heard it plenty of times but I think it was good for her to have the courage to share it in fast and testimony meeting. Plus she and Jacob have callings now as branch missionaries! I'm super excited to have them come with us and share their testimonies to our investigators. They are great!
I love you all so much. Mom, thanks for writing so faithfully. Dad, thanks for sharing your testimony with me. Will, thanks for being my buddy as we grew up. I probably didn't treat you very well at the time, but I do appreciate all those times we got to play and do silly things together. Sophie, thanks for being a fun younger sister and for all those times you'd stay up late laughing with me. Clark, thanks for reminding me to have fun and giving me monkey hugs. I love each of you a lot a lot.
Bailey (Sister Mortensen)