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

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