Tell Lisa congrats on her mission call! That is wonderful and she will love it! I guess that means our missions will overlap just a little because my new release date is April 15th.
We finally saw our first snow flakes this morning. It is a very light snow, almost like the frozen version of a mist. Still, it makes me excited for the Christmas season. We are planning on decorating a tiny tree in our apartment today. We will make popcorn strings, apple and orange slices, and a foil star. It's funny how such little things bring such joy.
Sister Warner and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving! She consented to come to the Turkey Bowl and actually had a good time. It was really cold but we ran around a lot and one of the men brought hot chocolate, which I am actually learning to enjoy. We had two dinner appointments and both were super delicious. The Orrs expressed a lot of gratitude that Bro. Orr was able to survive a huge semi accident that week. His truck was the second in a 13 semi pile-up on the interstate. Needless to say, his truck was totalled but he walked out with just a few bruises. We read the scripture in Mormon that says God is still a God of miracles because it seemed appropriate. And, miraculously, Bro. Orr came to church on Sunday! He has always had the attitude that there is no point in trying to convert him, but he actually came to church. I think that expressing gratitude really does lead to miracles, just like President Monson said last conference.
Thanksgiving dinner with the Rosenlunds was also a blast because their 6 kids are so cute. And they were able to invite Cretia, a less active member that hasn't had a real Thanksgiving dinner in 6 years. She really appreciated it. All in all it was a wonderful holiday.
On Saturday, we helped the Kori family rake the mountains of leaves in their front yard. Their little four year old was wading through them, but because they are all such good workers we got it done fairly quickly and still had time to read from the Book of Mormon. They were very grateful for our help and it just made me so happy to serve them physically and spiritually.
Last night, we had an intense lesson with Sandy and James. We've been teaching Sandy for over a month now and she's kinda stuck because they are living together. She can't get baptized until they separate or get married and he can't get married again until he gets his previous marriage annulled. It's kind of a mess. But thankfully, James was very open with his concerns and why he feels it is too hard to separate. He has experienced a lot of loss in his life. My heart really went out to him. I tried to help him feel how much Heavenly Father loved him. James wants to do the right thing, but just thinks it is too hard. We did our best to help him feel that God will help him keep the commandments and that so many blessings will come if he does. You can tell how much it is tearing him apart and I know they would both feel so much more at peace if they would separate until they can get married. I always feel so good when I finally humble myself enough to repent and do things the Lord's way rather than my own way. Sure it is hard, but I am so much happier when I obey. In the end, James and Sandy said they would pray about separating. As Sister Warner and I reflected on this lesson this morning, we realized that the lesson wouldn't have gone so well and James wouldn't have felt the spirit and love of God if we hadn't been living the mission rules. We could not have testified of these priciples and have the spirit bear witness of their truth if we weren't living them ourselves. A lot of power comes when we know and they know that we are living the same principles that we are asking them to live. I know that repentance and forgiveness and the healing power of the atonement are real because I have experienced them again and again in my own life. I know that the only way to have true peace and lasting happiness is to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I know that the atonement of Jesus Christ can heal anything. Absolutely anything. I know Heavenly Father loves me and will help me. I know He wants me to be happy and live with Him again. I know that I have the potential to become like Him because I am His daughter. Knowing these things gives me peace and courage to do what Heavenly Father asks me to do, especially when it is hard. I wish I could explain all of this more clearly to those I teach so that they can enjoy the peace that I enjoy by living the gospel.
Thanks for always sending me emails. I love to hear how you are doing. Enjoy this special Christmas season by trying to become a little more Christ-like.
Sister Bailey Mortensen