Wednesday, June 30, 2010

So Good!

Dear Family,

Recently, I've found myself responding to everyone's question of "How are you?" with "So good!" I feel great!

Transfers happened again. It was hard to say goodbye to four sisters, among them two of my favorite companions, Sister Gingrich and Sister Meryhew. But now we have four new wonderful sisters. I got to give them their very first tour and it was a good one. The spirit was strong and I was able to share all these scriptures and things I've learned as a missionary. I hope it helped them. Sister Worthen is training Sister Myers in West Maple, but we are still roommates so I'm happy about that. Sister Itri is my new companion in Greenview and she is amazing! She's from Fruit Heights, Utah and went to BYU studying exercise science. We have very similar personalities: goofy; enjoy sports, music, and learning; organized (our apartment looks amazing thanks to her); and we both choose our words carefully. By that last one I mean that we're not super quiet, but that when we say something, we mean it and people listen. Sister Itri is also really good at getting to know people and joking around with them to help them feel comfortable. It's nice to have a new companion to ask those important questions like "What's your name? your religious background?" and all those get to know you questions that I always forget the answer to. Sister Itri came out 3 transfers after me so I am the senior companion now. Driving again is a little weird, but I'm getting used to it. I love how the missionary handbook describes leadership assignments as "opportunities to serve others, develop greater love, and to learn" because it is so true. I am learning lots from Sister Itri and we have a good time teaching and serving together.

It's weird to remember that our family was on our church history trip this time last year. We have tons of families doing the same thing come into the Trail Center. Some are clearly worn out, but others are just starting or still excited to learn. One thing I love about the Trail Center is that people come to us instead of us going to find them. And I love getting to bear my testimony all the time. Sometimes I wonder if that repetition will make it lose it's meaning and power, but I think it just re-affirms and strengthens it. I'm glad that we aren't in the Trail Center all the time though. We are very blessed to serve here and have a proselyting area as well. It makes the time we do have in our area that much more precious, so we almost always fill it with teaching appointments. I love being busy. Sometimes it can be a bit hectic, but on the whole it helps me be happy because I don't have time to think about me, just them.

This Saturday, Kevin and Beth are getting baptized! We are so excited for them! They stopped smoking and chewing and love coming to church and have changed so much. The other day, we came and their house was cleaner. Little things like that show that they really are becoming more like Christ, and baptism is the covenant where they get to promise to follow him and show their willingness to take his name upon them. They will be great members of the church.

Thanks again for the email. I'm glad the dance festival and Will's Birthday were successful. I love you all very much! By the way, it's not too crazy humid yet 'cause people keep telling me it'll get worse. The good news is my allergies haven't bothered me much at all, even though Nebraska is supposed to be one of the worst places for them. Heavenly Father is merciful!

Sister Bailey Mortensen

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Book of Mormon is True

Dear Family,

We had a great Father's day. I'm pretty sure it was thunderstorming the whole time, but we were inside so it didn't matter. Sister Worthen and I delivered our talks despite or lack of preparation (she was more prepared than me but just as nervous). She did a great job and I really felt the spirit as she told the story of her family being sealed when she was 16. My talk also ended up being a lot about covenants. The little preparation I did do told me that these young single adults needed to hear about the importance of making and keeping covenants so I quoted a lot from Elder Christofferson's "The Power of Covenants" and a little bit from Elder Bednar's "Honorably Hold a Name and Standing." In our first sacrament meeting (the family ward) Brother and Sister Hillam spoke on many of the same things Sister Worthen and I were planning to share in our talks later that afternoon. Bro. Hillam told a story that I really liked about his first night being a father and holding his little baby boy through the night. As he looked this precious child of our Heavenly Father, which he had been entrusted to raise, he wondered how he would be able to help him become who he needed to be. Then it hit him: just help him make and keep sacred covenants, that is the most important thing we can do and teach our children. I loved the way he put it because it gave words to an idea that I was starting to discover. This life is all about becoming like our Heavenly Father and we do that through covenants. As I looked back on all the lessons dad taught me, the most important one was to live the gospel, to make covenants with my Heavenly Father so that I can become like Him and live with Him again. I tried to convey the importance of the baptismal and temple covenants to the young single adults and I hope they understood. I used Helaman 5 and Mosiah 5 to emphasize the importance of taking the name of Christ upon us. Something that I love about being a full-time missionary is that we literally have Christ's name written over our hearts. We represent him and must honor his name. And yet, we all have shown our willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ by being baptized, and we renew that covenant each week as we partake of the sacrament. It helps me realize what a great responsibility I have to live up to that name by trying my best to follow the example of Christ.

A wonderful thing happened this week. We went to teach Kevin and Beth and persuaded Beth to say the opening prayer. It was very short, but in it she thanked Heavenly Father for answering her prayers. Afterward, Sister Worthen asked her how Heavenly Father had answered her prayers. Beth then told us that she knew the Book of Mormon was true. We wanted to shout for joy and run to give Beth a hug, but we decided that huge smiles and words of praise were more appropriate. Apparently, Beth was having a rough night when she decided to pray and ask God if the Book of Mormon was true. The next morning, she felt this warmth that she had never really felt before and she just knew that the Book of Mormon was true. We asked her what that meant to her and she explained that it helps to know that despite all the confusion and different ideas that are out there, there is something true that she can hold on to. Isn't that wonderful! I was so happy I could have lept through the ceiling! I was reminded of Ether 12:6 which says "ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith" because Beth's answer was, in a way, my answer as well. I admit that I have been a little frustrated recently with all the people that keep telling me the Book of Mormon isn't true. I hurts to have them criticize something that I hold so dear. My entire testimony is founded on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and I love it so much. When I teach, I always bring things back to the Book of Mormon. No matter the concern, I know that it can be resolved by studying, pondering, and praying about the Book of Mormon. I know that Heavenly Father will answer that prayer by the power of the Holy Ghost if we "Ask with a sincere heart, real intent, and having faith in Christ" (Moroni 10:4). The trouble is, most people don't sincerely want to know and Heavenly Father won't tell them it's true if they aren't willing to act upon it. That's where the real intent comes in. On Wednesday night, Sister Worthen and I literally ran from an appointment where a lady told us the Book of Mormon was true. As soon as we got home, we went in our room and prayed, asking Heavenly Father to reconfirm the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. And He did! I felt that warm reassurance that I have felt before, testifying to me that it is true. I know the Book of Mormon is true. And I love seeing other people receive that witness for themselves. Heavenly Father loves each one of us and He will let us know the truth.

I love you all very much!
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Note from Sister Flake

I (Andrea) received this email from a senior sister missionary in Bailey's mission. It is fun to get another person's perspective about Bailey's missionary life.

My name is Sis. Flake and my husband and I are senior missionaries in the Nebraska Omaha Mission serving with your daughter. I have the opportunity to serve with her frequently at the Trail Center and I just wanted to tell you that you can be very proud of "Sis. Mortensen." We came out together and I didn't know much about her until she started serving at the Trail Center. I am so impressed with her. She always has a smile, is confident and relates well to everyone who comes in. She is always gentle, quiet and kind. She has a great knowledge of the Gospel and bears powerful testimony.

As visitors come into the Trail Center they are usually taken by the sister missionary that greets them, into one of our theaters to watch "Zion In the Wilderness" and are then brought by the sister missionary, to ponder on a large painting of Christ calling Peter and Andrew to be fishers of men. I sit at the desk across the lobby from the painting keeping track of the visitors and answering the phone and I've heard Sis. Mortensen begin many tours there. She does just what she is supposed to do -- ask those on tour to be thinking of someone they can share the Gospel with. She does it in a sweet and tender way and people love her. After most of her tours she comes back to the desk and says "that was a great tour" or "I just those people" or something similar. I love Sis. Mortensen and she is a great example to me.

Sis. Flake

Mission Life

Dear Family,

I want to thank you for sending me good emails each week. It's nice to know what's going on back home and helps me feel loved.

I'm so excited for all the sister missionaries in our ward. Leslie is home! That is very exciting! I can't believe she is already done. And when I read that Haley Hatch and Brianna Northrup were preparing for missions, I cheered ... out loud. It came out something like this, "Yeah! They are going to be missionaries!" Needless to say, I am very happy for them.

Mission life is amazing, as usual. I still love serving in the Trail Center because I get to bear my testimony constantly. We have tons of families doing church history vacations so I like telling them about ours. Often, they have an oldest son or daughter preparing for a mission. It reminds me a lot of our family. I love encouraging them to strengthen their testimonies and be missionaries now. Recently, I've found myself asking them, somewhere towards the end of the tour, how they will be better because they came to the Trail Center. I love the different answers: I'll bear my testimony to my kids more often, I'll study my scriptures every day, I'll serve my siblings, I'll attend the temple more frequently, I'll think about Christ when I take the sacrament. They are all such wonderful answers. I also love how everyone gets something different out of it. The spirit is able to invite each of them to do something that they need to do. I also love hearing their testimonies. You can see how much parents love their kids when they share their testimonies with them. I'd like to thank you, mom and dad, for always being so good at sharing your testimonies.

I think the most exciting thing that happened this week was helping a semi-active mom in the ward quit smoking. Her daughter Ally just got baptized and has been a really good example to her. Her other daughter, Annette, is 16 and deaf. We are trying to teach her by having her mom or siblings sign as we teach. I'm also learning some sign language from Sister Gingrich and it is a lot of fun to talk with my hands. I'd like to really learn sign language some day.

Dawn and her daughter Meredith are also doing very well. They love coming to church. Meredith actually reminds me of you, Sophie. She is a good kid, maybe 11 years old. She loves cooking in the kitchen and even made us dinner and lemon bars that were very delicious. She reminds her mom to bring her scriptures to church and is basically a lot of fun to be around. Something I really appreciate about both of them is that they realize what a blessing it was to have their friends introduce them to the gospel. They are both excited for their baptisms on July 10th.

Sorry I don't have time to write more. I love you all very much.
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Dear Family,

It sounds like things are going well. Congrats to Sophie in track and band. That's pretty cool that we got the same award. And welcome to Ty. I'm sure it's fun for everyone to have a full house again. The cleaning sounded like a good adventure. I hope you don't get rid of all the little kid books though because I'd like to have some of them. If "Go Dog! Go!" is still alive I'd like it for the memories. And Rox-a-boxen and some other ones that I can't think of right now.

I also wondered if you could help me prepare a talk. Sister Worthen and I are both speaking on the 20th in the singles ward about fathers and having priesthood in the home. The counselor who asked us to speak said it might be a little mean to make us talk about our dads when we don't get to see them, but he figured we were tough enough to handle it. We'll see. Mainly I'm wondering if mom or dad have any stories I could tell. I can't remember a whole lot (I think Heavenly Father blesses us to temporarily forget things from home so that we can use that brain space for remembering names and scriptures and missionary stuff) and don't have access to my old journals so anything you can think of would be great.

Church was really good yesterday. We had three investigators come to the family ward and one to the singles ward. Our lesson in the family ward for gospel principles was incredible because everyone felt and followed the spirit in sharing their experiences and testimonies. It was exactly like D&C 50:22 says it should be: "Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together." Dawn (a new investigator) shared how she has tried a lot of churches but never felt at home and now she knows this is where God wants her. She knows it wasn't a coincidence that her daughter met Sister Whatcott's daughter because they were supposed to invite her church. I sat there in amazement because we've only had one 15 minute lesson with her and she already knows the church is true! The elect are out there, searching and "only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it!" A little later in the lesson, Dawn also shared how she was only able to overcome the "demon" of cigarettes by praying to Heavenly Father for strength. Her story really helped Jason, who is still struggling to stop smoking. Jason also had a cool light-bulb moment during that lesson as he looked at "the gospel" diagram on the board. Out of nowhere he says "I get it! I'm on step number two: repentance." And we all smile and say "Yes Jason, you're in the process of repenting, and once you do that you can be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." It was a great Sunday!

We're also making a lot of progress with Bob. He's engaged to a member and grew up Catholic and is an all around great guy. They have four kids and we really love their family. He has been taught by missionaries before but never had the lessons in order and that seems to have confused him. I think he likes knowing that we are teaching him something that we've been trained to teach instead of just answering his questions. He read his assignment in the Book of Mormon and was excited for us to come teach him more. In our last lesson he accepted the baptismal date of July 10th, saying that he is willing to work toward that! We are super excited for him and his family because they are taking the steps to become an eternal family!

Kevin and Beth have had a rough week 'cause their three year old, Tara, has been in the hospital with pneumonia. We went to visit them had a lesson there. Tara is a trooper. Their other daughter, Grace, is five and has some kind of mental disability. She is the sweetest little kid and she always runs over to give me a hug. I just love that. Little kids are the best and I think they can tell that we have the spirit because they love being around us. There is this one neighborhood where they all come running up to us asking when we will come over and see them. Too bad their parents don't do the same thing. Hopefully little Tara will get well soon and Kevin and Beth will have time to meet with us and come to church. They are a great family.

Family, I suggest you read together the section in Preach My Gospel entitled "Bear Testimony Frequently" (p.198-199). It is very good. It doesn't mean that you have to get up every fast and testimony meeting, but it does mean that you should bear your testimony as you share the gospel. In the MTC we called it "teachifying" and I love it. Our role as missionaries is to invite the spirit so that others can feel and follow it's promptings. Bearing our testimony is often one of the most powerful ways of inviting the spirit so it is important that we do it. Also, "a testimony is to be found in the bearing of it" (President Packer). So, I challenge you to read that and then try it. Bear your testimony this week. It doesn't have to be formal. It could be as simple as "I love going to church because I know it helps me be a better person." It doesn't matter if it is in FHE, at church, on a home/visiting teaching visit, at school, at work, or even to a complete stranger (bonus points for anyone that does share their testimony to a stranger). I know it will invite the spirit and help you strengthen your testimony as well. Please tell me your experiences with sharing your testimony.

I love you so much!
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hurray for church!

Dear Family,

Thanks for the email. It sounds like Sis had a good Birthday. I'm sorry I didn't get the chance to send anything. The nerf swords sound like the perfect present though. I can't wait to hear how the party went.

Sister Worthen and I learned a good lesson this week. We planned on teaching Don the restoration, emphasizing the pattern of apostasy and the need for the restoration, because he doesn't see why Joseph Smith is so important. When we got to our appointment Don was in a contentious mood. It was like he was determined to prove us wrong. It was so different from the Don I was used to, the one that loves having us come and teach. He always asks a lot of not-pertinent-to-your-salvation questions, but this time he wouldn't listen long enough for us to answer them. Keeping him focused on the lesson was very difficult and we all went away feeling sad and frustrated. He just wouldn't open his mind and heart long enough to truly listen. He passed judgement before he really understood what we were saying. As Sister Worthen and I drove away we discussed the lesson and realized that we had both felt the prompting to just bear our testimonies and leave. But we didn't follow that prompting because we thought getting through the lesson would help answer Don's questions. Well it didn't because he wasn't really listening. We should have listened to that prompting. When they aren't open to the spirit there is nothing we can do. We can't convince people or persuade them to believe. It is the spirit that teaches, not us. So, if the spirit isn't there, we shouldn't be there either. Now I know to just bear my testimony and leave. Really our job as missionaries isn't to teach, but to invite the spirit and then help people recognize and follow it. We do that by being obedient and worthy of the spirit, by declaring the truth, and by inviting them to act on it. The spirit will bear witness of the truths we say and inspire them to live accordingly. Then it is up to them to choose to follow or not. We actually do very little. It is mostly between them and Heavenly Father.

This week I recognized how much I love church. I feel very blessed to be able to take the sacrament each week (twice!). When I really come with a penitent heart, desiring to change and become better, I feel the power of the atonement cleansing me and changing me. I come away spiritually recharged and inspired to be better. I also really enjoy our Relief Society lessons in the singles ward; they are very motivating. This last week the lesson was on missionary work! At the end, the teacher had us role play sharing the gospel in different situations and it was a blast. Sister Worthen and I do role plays all the time so we were all for it and helped the other sisters get excited too. We also realized how awkward we are as full time missionaries. Instead of smoothly transitioning to a conversation about the church (like the members did) we jumped right in. For example, in the scenario of sitting by someone on a bus, Sister Worthen grabbed a pass along card with a temple on it, showed it to the "non-member," and asked "Have you ever seen this picture before?" The members just laughed and asked "Do you really do that?" and Sister Worthen had this confused face that said "You don't?!?" It was pretty hilarious. Then they tried to teach us how to be less awkward. Here was Sister Worthen's second attempt. "So, what did you do last weekend?" "I had dinner with my family and ... What about you?" "I went to church! I love my church because it inspires me to be a better person and helps my family. Would you like to come with me next Sunday?" They still thought this approach was a little abrupt and continued to tease us for our enthusiasm. It helped me see how far I've come as a missionary. I'm not afraid to share the gospel with complete strangers because I do it all the time and really do want them to receive the blessings that come from living the gospel. Here is Sister Newman's (previous mission president's wife) for overcoming fear.
And it really works! I highly recommend doing role plays in FHE and finding ways to share the gospel. It is a blast!

Have a great week!
Sister Bailey Mortensen