Thursday, May 27, 2010

Busy, busy, busy


I am glad to hear that you are all doing well. The news that Will got a job is especially exciting! Congrats Will! It must feel good to have a car and a job.

I gave a tour to some distant cousins this week, Curt and Mary Whitaker (and I probably spelled that wrong). It was a powerful tour, and of course they loved hearing about the Mortensen family that came across in the Willie handcart company because Curt is a descendant of Morten (the oldest boy who stayed to serve a mission). They came back the next day and left a note with their email. Would you mind emailing them to say thanks for coming in and that I loved talking with and learning from them?

This week, Sister Worthen and I learned the power of the Book of Mormon. We went to visit a recent convert named Sandy. She's an older lady that struggles with the Word of Wisdom. When we arrived, she was smoking and drinking and had basically given up. We were heart broken. Sister Worthen, who knows her better, did everything she could to persuade Sandy to stop, to trust Heavenly Father and remember the promises she made with him at baptism. We tried to help her remember and recognize the blessings that come from keeping the commandments, but she didn't seem to care. Sister Worthen was about ready to give up and leave because we can't force anyone to choose happiness. I didn't know what else to do except read the scriptures so we all opened to Ether 12 and started reading about faith. We took turns reading and talked about what it meant as we went along. After reading verse 27 about Heavenly Father making weak things strong, Sandy took a deep breath, walked over to the sink, and dumped out her beer. Sister Worthen looked at me in shock and then gave Sandy a huge hug. The change that came over her was truly a miracle. Instead of being depressed she was smiling. Instead of being discouraged she had hope. That is the power of the word of God. It truly will "divide asunder all the cunning and snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of miser which is prepared to engulf the wicked" (Helaman 3:29). Needless to say, Sister Worthen and I are on an Ether 12 kick and keep inviting everyone to read it. We just love the Book of Mormon.

We're also working with a really sweet old man named Don. He is set to be baptized on June 12th. He really knows the Bible and at first he was more interested in teaching us than letting us teach him. He has a lot of good questions and is getting better at listening so that we can answer. Bit by bit he is developing a testimony and it is so cool to see. It took him awhile to see why priesthood authority was so important and he would leave messages on our phone saying "So, supposing all this stuff about Joseph Smith is true ... I don't see what you want me to do about it. You say I need to be baptized again because my baptism wasn't valid? ... well can't I just wait until I die and have you do it for me? ... I just don't know what you want me to do. Anyway, I do appreciate you girls coming over and I thank you for your fellowship. See you tomorrow." Isn't that great. He really spends the time studying these things out and is usually able to answer his own questions. We are just there to guide him where he already knows he needs to be. He has also said that he sees something different in us; at first he thought it was "the vitality of youth" but now he knows it is the spirit and is excited to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost because he desires that happiness that we have. Sister Worthen and I are constantly getting comments about how smiley we are. I think that is mainly because Sister Worthen really is always smiling. So I guess that is working well for us. Another one of Don's concerns about being baptized again is that he won't really change. He's afraid he will be baptized but then go back to his "evil ways." So we had a really good lesson about repentance being sincere when we confess and forsake. He is doing great and we just love teaching him.

Sophie, have a very happy birthday! It sounds like mom is planning a most excellent party. Have fun!

I love you all!
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Dear Family,

Guess what?!? I got transferred to Iowa! Isn't that nuts! And I'm with Sister Worthen! We are so excited! We came out together so we both were very happy when transfer calls came on Wednesday. Oddly enough, I only lived in Iowa for five and a half days. Today we moved from the member's house we were living at in Council Bluffs to the apartments near the Trail Center. So instead of commuting from Iowa to work in the Trail Center we will commute from the Trail Center to go proselyte in Iowa. Ever since transfers, things have been a little bit crazy. It's always a little bit stressful getting used to a new companion and a new area with all these new people to meet and love, but this transfer has been especially crazy. I'm just grateful that I already love Sister Worthen. We laugh all the time, mostly at ourselves because we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off. We just took over the Council Bluffs singles ward in addition to the Greenview ward. That means our Sundays are full; we have a meeting from 7:15 to 8:00, breakfast from 8 to 9, Church from 9 to noon, another meeting from noon to 1, church again from 1 to 4, dinner from 4 to 5, and then serving in the Trail Center from 5 to 9. It is nuts but I love it! Being a busy missionary is the way to go. And I love working with a singles ward; we can be very straightforward without causing offense. Younger people tend to be more open and less weird about people our age teaching them. So, I'm really enjoying the singles ward so far. The other main contributor to the craziness was moving. We've basically been living in two different places because we kept spending the night to work at the Trail Center. In fact, I only spent the night in Iowa three times. Still, I think that is enough to say that I've lived in Iowa. Now that we have officially moved, we are hoping we will begin to feel more organized and less frazzled.

The work in the Greenview area is amazing! That first Thursday, Sister Worthen and I were teaching constantly! It was so fun. I feel like we've been going from appointment to appointment, teaching really simple and really quick so that we have time to get to the next one. I love it! This is how missionary work should be. Being busy is the best, and with all our different responsibilities now (Greenview Ward, Loess Hills Ward, and the Trail Center) we are very busy. Heavenly Father definitely blesses us to be effective with our time when we spend so much of it in the Trail Center rather than out in our areas proselyting. It is really cool to see how that works.

Our main investigator right now is Jason. He loves the gospel and can't wait to be baptized but needs to stop smoking. The first day I met him, I had on my green jacket and he said the funniest thing in his prayer ... something like "Thank you for sending the sisters to teach me ... and Sister Mortensen is wearing bright green coat so she'll stand out so people can see her. So please help them to find people who will listen." It was hilarious! As you can tell, he loves the gospel and can't wait to be baptized. The only thing is that he needs to stop smoking. We are working with him on implementing the church's "No Smoking Program." We had a great lesson on it at our ward mission leader's home last night and he is committed to doing it. At the end of the lesson he asked why we care so much about him. I immediately responded with "Because you are worth it." Even though I've only known him for a few days, I already love him and can feel how much Heavenly Father loves him and wants to bless him. So of course we will keep working with him and helping him as much as we can to receive all the blessings that come with baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. One last funny thing Jason asked. He asked Sister Worthen if she could baptize him. We explained that the priesthood is only given to worthy males in the church so, no, she would not be able to. Still, it was funny to picture Sister Worthen baptizing Jason because she is really small and he is huge. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't be able to help him out of the water at all, no matter how strong she is (and she is pretty strong).

Yesterday, Sister Lawlor and I had the most amazing tour. Sister Lawlor just started her mission so we took these two old ladies and an old man on tour together. They were Lutheran, but the one lady had found a Book of Mormon in her mother's old things and was very interested to learn more. It was a powerful tour because Sister Lawlor testified constantly and that really brought the spirit. We taught the restoration at the bust of Joseph Smith, the plan of salvation in the memorial room, the gospel at the wagon wheel, and committed them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon at the end, near the handcart. They really enjoyed it and you could tell because we were all beaming as we came back into the lobby. Who doesn't love feeling the Spirit? They loved it so much that they gave us hugs, even the old man (slightly awkward, but it would have been more awkward if I didn't accept his hug). It was definitely one of my favorite tours.

Well, I love you all very much. Thanks for the gospel art book and the camera card! And thanks for keeping me posted. It sounds like you all had a fun filled weekend with the parade and all. Sis, you look good in the picture mom sent. I'll try to atatch some pictures of the Trail Center spots I mentioned.

Sister Bailey Mortensen

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hello family

Hello family,

It was great to talk with you all last night. I'm sorry it was later than expected and that the hour went by so fast. I love you all so much and wish I could share everything that I am doing, experiencing, and becoming as a missionary. Hopefully these emails help.

So, I hear FHE isn't going so well. Well guess what, it is important! Even if all you do is get together to read my email, that would be great. So, it doesn't have to be hard, but it does need to happen. And I think it would be great if I could continue to "participate" by sharing things from Preach My Gospel. I think this week is the apostasy. An analogy that I really like that Sister Meryhew taught me is that of a classroom. When the teacher (the authority) leaves the room the kids go crazy. Yeah, there are a few good kids that try to keep things under control and how the teacher said to do things, but for the most part the kids start making up their own rules and whatnot. That's what happened with the apostasy, and thankfully, Heavenly Father saw fit to end this period by restoring the priesthood, the gospel in its fullness, and the exact same church that Christ set up when he was on the earth. I am so grateful for the restoration. It clears up all the confusion that resulted from the apostasy. It's important for people to recognize the apostasy so that they see the need for the restoration.

Just in case Clark didn't convey my sick story accurately here you go. Last Monday was filled with exercise and I played very hard at our zone activity. Sister Meryhew was sick so she didn't join in. A little later, as we finished our shopping, I felt really tired and like there was a knot in my stomach. I wasn't sure if that was because I had run around too much or what. I told Sister Meryhew "I think I might be getting sick." Well, at dinner time, I didn't feel like eating much but knew I should have something and settled on an orange. Later that night we walked to an apartment complex to visit a few investigators. We knocked but no one answered. The sudden halt to our walk made me feel queasy. I said "I feel pretty nauseous" and sat down on a little wall in the grass. Sister Meryhew asked "Would you like me to carry your backpack?" I handed her the phone and said "Call someone for a ride" just before throwing up my orange. Sister Meryhew's face was pretty funny and I could tell she was wondering what on earth I ate that was neon orange. My timing was impeccable and we did get a ride back. We layed low the next day 'cause I had the flu. She loved telling people how I "puked all over our investigator's lawn" (a slight exaggeration). It was pretty funny.

Hopefully you got the pictures I forwarded from the parade. It was a lot of fun. Definitely a highlight of my mission.

Next week I'll start giving my "virtual tour" of the Trial Center. It will be just a little each week but hopefully will help you see what it's like. And hopefully my "walking gospel lesson" will help you all.

I did get my camera card in the mail last night. I guess Sister Meryhew and I are pretty bad at checking the mail 'cause I also got a package from Harrison. We are enjoying the Men's Chorus CDs already.

Well, I love you family! Keep writing! I'm glad you are doing well.
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Can you believe April is over?

Dear Family,

April definitely flew by. With General Conference and then Stake Conference it was a pretty weird month. A good one though. The weather here is really nice. We do get some crazy storms, which is fun, but for the most part it is sunny, warm, and windy. We have had a few tornado watches but no tornadoes. And yes, all the members and leaders in the mission have told us what to do if there is one.

I'm very proud of Clark for not throwing a fit when he was playing his game with you. I love that the gospel helps us even in those little things. We met a lady out walking the other day. She was from Germany and couldn't believe how crazy society is today with too many parents letting their kids get into trouble and break rules and everything. We reassured her that the gospel can heal societies ills and that it all starts in the home, just like she said. That's exactly what our prophets are telling us. She was really animated about it and we could hardly get a word in edgewise but she said we could come teach her more. When she comes to church she will be dumbstruck with how good the kids there are.

The highlight of this last week was going on exchanges with Sister Gingrich. Her companion, Sister Hale, was sick so they came to the Trail Center and asked if anyone could go proselyte with Sister Gingrich so that Sister Hale could stay at the Trail Center and sleep. I was more than happy to sacrifice a day in the Trail Center to serve with Sister Gingrich. It gave us a chance to be companions when she wasn't fighting death and I wasn't a super scared baby missionary. We had a blast! It was so fun to teach together again because I actually felt comfortable talking. Sister Gingrich was proud to see how much I had grown as a missionary. We even taught this young guy named Eric that I remembered us trying to contact way back when we were companions. Now I see why Sister Gingrich really wanted to teach him. He is amazing! He's really smart and very logical. He knows the Bible and has been reading the Book of Mormon, recognizing that they really do work together and support one another. After I recited the first vision he said it made sense because the "pillar of light" description isn't too different from the way prophets in the Bible describe their visions. He also said it made him feel that "uplifting, reassuring feeling, like a warm hug" that he feels when he reads from the Bible and the Book of Mormon. I loved that description of the spirit. I think my favorite thing as a missionary is to see people feel the spirit and/or describe it.

Another fun thing Sister Gingrich and I did happened when we went to the hospital to visit an investigator. We had to suit up in surgical masks and things before going in because their investigator was being tested for TB. Well, then we found out we couldn't go in at all. So, we took off our gear and got to keep the masks. Later, we were visiting a lady who smokes and I was tempted to put on my mask, but I knew that would be rude. I still think it is funny that missionaries often smell like cigarettes, but it really is part of being a missionary. That night, when we went back to the Trail Center, Sister Gingrich and I put on the masks to wake up Sister Hale. She was definitely startled. We all laughed at how goofy we looked. I was very grateful that Sister Gingrich and I could leave each other on a such happy note. It was probably one of the happiest days of my mission.

Well family, I'm excited to talk to you next Sunday. We will probably call in the evening. If I remember right, church ends at 4pm for you, which would be 6pm here. Mother's day really snuck up on me.

I love you all very, very much!
Sister Bailey Mortensen