Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Patch

Dear Family,

It sounds like you had a good time at the pumpkin patch. The cool thing is, I did too! The Second Ward went to a pumpkin patch Wednesday night for the ward activity and we had a blast! So many less actives and non-members came and were able to make friends! I especially loved seeing Wally and Dale, our two recent converts from the nursing home, there in their wheelchairs. They usually bicker or complain, but they sat by eachother the whole night, talking with other members and watching the little kids have all kinds of fun. I even got roast a couple marshmallows for the first time in a long time. We really enjoyed it.

This weekend I gained a lot of insight about the power of covenants. In both wards the talks were all about temples, and then after church we went to see Bro. Hornbacher. He's about 60 and started coming back to church when his 11 year old daughter decided to get baptized a few years ago. He used to feel guilty going to church, but when he promised her he would support her, he didn't feel so guilty because he was just coming for her. Well, naturally the talks and classes started sinking in and he is realizing that he can't sit on the fence, that he needs to change so that he can be truly happy. He's tired of being pulled in two directions, tired of fighting. As he was sharing these things, I realized that true peace comes from keeping promises, especially promises with God because He is bound to bless us when we keep them. This led me to read Elder Christofferson's talk "The Power of Covenants" from the May 2009 Ensign. I love this talk. In it, he points out that keeping covenants strengthens us in three important ways: it brings blessings, it increases our faith, and it permits Heavenly Father to let his power flow into our lives. My favorite quotes are "In times of distress, let your covenants be paramount and let your obedience be exact" and "Come what may, we can face life with hope and equanimity, knowing that we will succeed in the end because we have God's promise to us individually, by name, and we know He cannot lie." Re-reading that talk was a huge reminder that all we really need to do is make and keep covenants so that we can receive the Holy Ghost and the many blessings that come with that precious gift. That is the essence of the gospel. We exercise faith, repent, and keep covenants so that we can have the Holy Ghost as our constant companion to guide and strengthen us in keeping God's commandments and serving others. It is "beautifully simple and simply beautiful" (I think Elder Nelson used that phrase to describe temple ordinances). I know that Heavenly Father will continue to bless us, not only with the direction we need, but with the power we need to follow it, if we will just keep our covenants with Him.

I'm not sure if I've told you yet, but I'm planning on extending my mission. That means I'll come home mid-April rather than early March. Also, I propose that we have a family temple trip when I come home. Clark will be old enough to do baptisms then so we can all go as a family! I can just picture all of us together in the temple and it makes me smile with tears in my eyes. What a wonderful experience that will be! Please prepare so we can enjoy it together. If you feel really ambitious, we could even do our own family names! I know that preparing and then attending the temple together would strengthen our family so much.

Jerome is amazing! He drove the 50 or so miles to church yesterday and ended up staying for over four hours. He came at 9am to attend the second ward (since that's where he lives) but after Sunday School he wanted to go to the first ward with his friend, Bro. Whitehead. So he ended up staying for 2 sacrament meetings and 2 sunday school classes. What a trooper! He has strengthened my testimony that the elect really are out there just searcing for the fullness of the gospel and when they find it they live it.

Ezra (9) and Angel (11) are now both set for baptism on November 20th. They are both just wonderful kids that understand the gospel and are excited to get baptized. They are also both the oldest in their less-active families. As long as their parents really do support them and bring them to church they will grow strong in the gospel and continue to be great examples. I love teaching families with kids because they understand the simple principles of the gospel right away.

Well family, I love you very much. I pray that you are healthy and happy and living the gospel 'cause that is the key to true happiness.

Sister Bailey Mortensen

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Hello Family,

I'm glad you had a fun party for Haley. Tell her I'm so happy for her and I know she will love it! I guess this means the ward will still have a sister serving a mission. That's cool. Leslie, me, Haley, and then who I wonder.

Our biggest miracle this week was Jerome. He's probably in his 70s and gave us a call after Bro. Whitehead gave him our number. He grew up Catholic but stopped going years ago. I guess Bro. Whitehead loaned him a book that helped him recognize the truth of the restored gospel, because he told us in our very first conversation that he believes the mormon church is the true church. That statement blew Sister Warner and I away because neither of us have ever taught someone that is so prepared. In fact, he asked us how he could become a member of the church before we even got the chance to invite him. He was very excited to learn that he could be baptized as soon as October 30th. And when we gave him a Book of Mormon, he wrote on the inside cover "From Sister Warner and Sister Mortensen. Baptism: October 30th." It was so precious.

We also had a great lesson with Candi this week. She's a single mom of three boys: Jared (7), Jordan (10), and Zach (14). She's never been to church or really known about God. In our first lesson we just taught her and Jared about God and prayer. When we came back we brought Sister Orr along and made a special effort to invite the boys to participate. Jordan was gone and Zach didn't want to but Jared and his cousin, Devon (15) sat in for our lesson on the restoration. When Sister Orr shared her conversion story and how she felt such peace the first time she walked into the church, the spirit was very powerful. She said she even heard someone whisper "You've finally come home." It was so great to have her come and share her testimony. We just love having members come along because their testimonies add so much and strengthen mine as well. I wasn't sure how much Devon got out of the lesson because he was reluctant to answer our questions, but after the closing prayer, he asked "When are you coming back?" That really impressed me that he wanted to learn more.

It turns out that hearing investigators pray is still my favorite thing as a missionary. Fairoz is a very soft spoken woman from Sudan that has three cute little kids. We gave her a Book of Mormon in arabica couple weeks ago but were having trouble getting a hold of her again. Well, we stopped by last night and she said she had read some of it but didn't understand. We reviewed the restoration and read some of the introduction with her to answer her questions. We also invited her to be baptized and she said she would if she knew the Book of Mormon was true. She also agreed to say the closing prayer. In that prayer she asked God for help to understand the Book of Mormon and thanked him for sending us. It's moments like that that make missionary work worth it.

The same night we taught Fairoz we taught Elizabeth's family. They are also from Sudan and joined the church about 2 years ago. Four of the six kids have been baptized. Nyan just turned 8 and Bishop wanted us to review the lessons with her so we are having a lot of fun having them teach us. We played telephone to depict the apostasy last week and this week we acted out the plan of salvation and the gospel. At the end, Nyan said the closing prayer. It was short and sweet: "Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the sisters coming over. Please help me to keep the promises I will make when I am baptized. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." I just love their family. They get it. They have testimonies and they live the gospel. Plus they are a lot of fun.

I hope everyone is doing well.
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Monday, October 4, 2010

General Conference

Dear Family,

General Conference was incredible, wasn't it?!? Elder Uchtdorf definitely made me laugh. His talk about focusing on the basics was also very inspired. I've come to realize that the basic principles of the gospel will solve any problem and answer any question. That's why we don't usually here anything that "new" at General Conference. The same gospel principles that applied before are still applicable today so the leaders of the church will just keep reviewing them so that we can continue to improve. I like to think of the gospel as a helix that we go up, almost like a spiral staircase we climb. We go around and around the basic principles of the gospel again and again, but each time we get a little higher and we live that principle at a more elevated level. First we have faith in Jesus Christ, then we repent, then we are baptized, and then we receive the Holy Ghost. But that is not the end. We must repeat these priciples at the next level. We must exercise more faith. We must continue to repent. We must renew our baptismal covenants by taking the sacrament. And then we receive anew the promise that we will "always have his spirit to be with [us]." Each week we should repeat this process. As we go through this process of living the gospel again and again we will get closer and closer to Jesus Christ. It is something we must continue to do until the end of our lives. I have complete confidence that the atonement of Jesus Christ can heal anything. We access the power of that atonement by living the gospel.

President Monson's talk has inspired me to be more grateful. I liked the message that he shared from Christ feeding the multitude with 7 loaves and a few fishes. While the apostles only saw what was lacking, Christ recognized what they had, gave thanks, and preformed the miracle of feeding all those people. It shows that giving thanks leads to miracles. So I am going to say a prayer of gratitude each night before I go to bed. It will be nice to review how Heavenly Father has blessed me each day and feel his love.

One thing I was hoping to gain from conference was a witness that President Monson is the Lord's true prophet. I thought it would be cool to have an experience I could share with people that I teach about how I know that he is the prophet. I already know in my head that he is and I've had moments where I've also felt that in my heart, but I wanted that testimony to grow stronger. That testimony has grown, but not because some miraculous manifestation like I might have been hoping for. Rather it came as many of the other speakers bore their testimonies that President Monson is the Lord's chosen prophet. When they spoke those words I felt good inside and I almost heard the spirit whisper "Yes, of course he is the prophet, you already knew that." This experience served as a reminder that a testimony doesn't come from witnessing miracles, it comes from the withness of the Holy Ghost to our souls and most often that is like a still small voice or a calm, peaceful reassurance. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the Lord's true prophet.

Let's study the priesthood together. To help Clark prepare for the Aaronic Priesthood and Will for the Melchezidek Priesthood I thought we could study it together, as part of family home evenings and our personal study of the scriptures. Each week I'll try to put a little something that I learned about the priesthood in my emails. And I'd love to hear your insights as well.

Thank you so much for supporting and encouraging me as a missionary. It sure helps to have a loving family back home cheering me on.

Family, I hope you know that I love each one of you. I wish I could be more involved in your lives but realize that the best thing I can do for you right now is serve the Lord with all my heart. If there is anything I can do or help you with, please email me. It is a joy to hear from you. I hope you are doing well.

Sister Mortensen