I can't believe how quickly all of you are growing up. Sophie is going to highschool and Clark is going to middle school! Yikes! That just blows me away! I know that Sis will love having Julie for her seminary teacher. I loved having mom as mine. It meant I was better able to apply things to my life because I had mom always there to remind me, even at home and not just in the classroom. I saw what she taught not just in word but in deed. I think it is so important that we have that combination. It was also fun to give mom those knowing looks across the pew when someone would quote a scripture mastery verse from the pulpit. I'm very excited for Sophie to be studying the gospel in depth every day. What a blessing it is to know and love the scriptures. I love the time we spend each morning in personal and companion study. It's fun to share insights and plan lessons for our investigators.
Our trio actually went to seminary a couple days ago. The teacher asked us to come recite Joseph Smith History 1:15-20 because she knows we recite it when we teach. We actually only recite a small portion of those verses so I was a little apprehensive about doing the whole thing. Thankfully I did learn it in seminary, so I was able to brush up and it came back fairly easily. We were able to share with those seminary students how significant the first vision is and how powerful it is to recite Joseph Smith's own words about it to our investigators. It brings the spirit every time. I certainly felt the spirit as I recited it that morning and know that Joseph Smith really did see Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I know they called him to be a prophet and restore their true church to the earth with all the principles and ordinances and authority that we need to live with God after this life. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church of Christ, restored to the earth after centuries of being lost. How blessed we are to know these precious truths. I love every opportunity I get to share them with others because they are then able to find greater peace and happiness.
Lately, we have been teaching a lot of people that don't speak much English. I think Sister Ith and her Mandarin skills have inspired some of that. She runs after every asian and non-white person she sees, probably hoping that they will speak mandarin. Instead we have found a lot of Sudanese investigators, a lot of Spanish speakers for the Elders to teach, and a handful of people that speak Laotian. Still, it has inspired me to brush up on my Spanish skills and even learn more languages when I get home.
Last Sunday, we decided to check on Bro. Abhon, someone on the ward list that we hadn't met. Well, when we got near his house we started talking to this group of Sudanese men that were walking down the street and one of them turned out to be Bro. Abhon. He was baptized in San Diego almost a year ago and moved here for work but didn't know where the church was. So it was definitely inspired for us to go find him. He is such a strong member. When we went back to teach him, he had his Ensign, his triple combination, his gospel principles manual, and his baptism program out for us to see. When we asked him and his friend why it was important to go to church, he said "to renew our baptimal covenants." He just gets it and I love him. Already he has come with us to teach a lot of our investigators. He speaks both english and arabic so he is the perfect team-up for Najwa, who speaks mostly arabic. Najwa is a Sudanese lady with a cute two year old son that we ran into on the street the other day. She is so sweet. Every time we come over she offers us water bottles on a tray, and last time she even had some home-made african cookies. They tasted amazing and I had at least four (partly because Sister Bonelli can't eat flour). She believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet as soon as we told her about him. So we invited her to be baptized right then and she accepted September 18th as her baptismal date. She is amazing. We are hoping the arabic Book of Mormon that we ordered comes soon.
We are also teaching a Sudanese lady named Nychai. Elders were teaching her before we Sisters came to the area and she also is set for baptism on September 18th. She speaks noware (not sure how to spell that, pronounced: no "R"), but her boyfriend Peter translates for us and there is a Sudanese family in the ward that speaks it too. Peter is Presbyterian and doesn't want to change, but by the end of our lesson, Bro. Abhon got him to say "I will think about changing and coming to church with you."
We also had a really great lesson with the Spanish Elders yesterday. Darlene and Denis both came to church! Then after church, the Elders did a great job resolving some of Denis's concerns. It turns out that he never really prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true. He just liked going to church and feels like all churches are good. Well, the Elders, and even Darlene were able to explain to him why the praying about the Book of Mormon is so important. Darlene is excited for her baptism on September 18th and is just amazing. She reads the Book of Mormon on her own and came and enjoyed church. She is more into it than Denis, and he is the member. Hopefully, he will get on board and they can become an eternal family. We are all very excited for them.
We had a baptism on Saturday! Anna was baptized and the spirit was very strong. President Kunz suggested that, while she changed out of her wet jumpsuit, we teach the restoration and invite the audience to follow her example and be baptized. Well, the only non-member in the room already has a date to be baptized, so I invited anyone who wasn't baptized to be and anyone who had already been baptized to come take the sacrament and renew their baptismal covenants. I even quoted and 11 year old named Anna who said "Not going to church is like missing your own baptism." I know that is true. I know that we need to take the sacrament worthily each week to receive again that remission of our sins and hte promise to always have the spirit to be with us. All the talks were very powerful and the spirit was so strong it was almost tangible. I just love baptisms!
Things are going amazingly well! I love you all very much! Have fun with school or work (or in mom's case, both)!
Sister Bailey Mortensen