Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Last one!

Dear Family,

Sister Monson and I have been receiving lots of referrals for other areas, mostly because we were in the right place at the right time and we talked with everyone. One man actually lives a few blocks from us in Florence, but we met him outside working in Millard. He said he'd really like the fresh start that our Savior offers through repentance and baptism. About ten minutes after meeting him we went to another area but the people we were hoping to see weren't there. As we walked around the neighborhood we ran into a lady on her way to visit a friend. We handed her a website card and she said "Oh, you're Mormon." in a very cheerful tone and immediately invited us over "Mormons never visit me. Why don't you come by sometime?" Then she wrote her name, number, and address on the card, handed it back to us, and said "Give me a call first." We barely had time to thank her before she went inside but it was quite a miracle.

I can tell you are excited to see me. Well, I am excited to see you too. I'm glad that missionary work is an eternal principle and that I'll still be a missionary, just a different kind of missionary. I read about "A successful missionary" today and decided that I've been successful. I haven't been perfect, but I've learned that I can be great without being perfect. I've grown a lot and seen a lot of other people around me grow as well. I just hope we can all keeping growing closer to the Savior together.

See you soon!
Love always,
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

General Conference

Dear Family,

I LOVED General Conference. We had four investigators watch it at members homes! I think the interaction with members was more interesting/helpful to them at this point than the actual conference messages, but Heidi, Greg, Holly, and Scott all seemed to enjoy it.

My inspired questions were definitely answered as I watched conference. They were: 1) How can I help my family return to Heavenly Father, 2) What else should I add to my list of small and simple things (see the attached document), and 3) What is the Lord's vision for me and my family?

Elder Oaks talk about desires/vision and Elder Robbins talk about "to do" vs. "to be" really rang true. My vision, desire, and hope for an eternal family was strengthened and I realized that those small and simple things are how I'm going to get there. I also realized that rather than trying to teach people what to do, I should show them who they can become. I'm still developing this thought but so far this is what I've come up with (see PMG pp. 20,198).

know what teach principles
feel why testify of doctrine
do how invite them to apply those principles
become who demonstrate and promise blessings that come from living those principles

Anyway, what did you learn from General Conference? I'm glad Clark took notes at the priesthood session. I am so excited to get the Ensign and really study these talks more in depth. They certainly invite personal revelation.

Sister Bailey Mortensen

Monday, March 28, 2011


Dear Family,

We had a huge miracle last night! Jim's son David just moved in to our area.The Sisters in the Lakeview area had taught him about the restoration but last night was our first time meeting him. One of the laurels from our ward, Carol Ann, came with us and it was a great lesson. We prayed beforehand that he would accept the invitation to be baptized, and he did! We reviewed the principles of eternal families, priesthood authority, and praying to know the truth and then asked if he would be baptized. He said yes! In me head I thought "No way ... he said yes!" but quickly recovered from my shock and invited him to prepare to be baptized on April 16th. Again he said yes with no hesitation! I was so happy! I told him how great it would be to receive that remission of sins and fresh start in life and he smiled and nodded right along with me. He is a good man who recognizes when God is prompting him to do something. He is a trucker so he shared that sometimes he'd be driving down the road and something would tell him to pull over and a little while later he'd hear about an accident on the radio. He knew that was God's way of protecting him. We were able to explain that that is one way the spirit speaks to us. We read Galatians 5:22 and Carol Ann did a great job sharing how the spirit felt when she prayed to know the truth. I am so excited for him to continue studying the Book of Mormon, to come to General Conference and church and to be baptized! It is so great to see people hear, recognize and follow the spirit! I love it!

On Saturday night we also witnessed the miracle of a 9 month old baby taking her first steps! I don't think I've ever seen that before! It was so exciting! Little Hazel was kind of standing next to the wall as we shared a spiritual thought after dinner, when she took a step all on her own. She caught her balance without even using the wall. Her mom, Kristi, said "Did she just take a step?" And we all said "Yes" and started clapping for her. Hazel smiled really big and started clapping too. Needless to say, that was the end of our spiritual thought because mom and dad pulled out the camera and started having Hazel walk back and forth to eachother. I felt privileged to be there to witness such a special event.

I hope you are all as excited, or even more so, for general conference as I am. We have been inviting everyone to watch it. Who will you watch it with? I definitely like going to the church because it's a lot less distracting, but we are trying to get some of the people we teach to watch it in members homes so they can develop that friendship. I love making conference a big event, because it is! We get to hear from living prophets and apostles! I can't wait! Be sure to share your insights with me afterward.

I love you each so very much! Keep being the amazing family that you are!
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Travel Plans

This is Andrea. I received Bailey's travel plans today. She will be returning April 15 around 1:30 p.m. We can hardly wait to see her!

Spring is here!

Dear Family,

Spring has pretty much arrived here in Omaha. I'm wearing my green jacket again and it is just perfect for shielding me from the wind without making me too warm from walking in the surprisingly warm weather. Sister Monson and I go without a car some days and we had to laugh on Saturday because it started out so sunny that she didn't bring a jacket. Well then it got really windy and finally it started to rain. Thankfully, one of the members let us borrow an umbrella, but it was one of those little rainbow ones. We must have looked ridiculous walking around these neighborhoods with both of us squished underneath a tiny, colorful little umbrella and me in my bright green jacket. We even came up with a little song "Let it blow, let it blow, let it blow." It wasn't nearly as creative or funny as the raps that Sister Itri and Sister Kusnerik compose (a member taught them how to beat-box) but we were pretty proud of ourselves.

On Sunday, Holly came to church for the first time! She wore a cute dress and brought her 6 month old boy, Jaxin. She fit right in with all the other young moms. Thankfully, Maria and Efrain came too. They are Holly's neighbors and missionaries have been teaching Maria for over a year. They just need to get married so that Maria can be baptized. I think having Maria there made Holly more comfortable. I think she was also glad to see how family oriented everything at church is. Sadly, Holly left before sacrament meeting because she didn't feel ready to take it. I told her she could stay and not take it, but she decided not to. When we ran into her later that night she said she really enjoyed everything else. We were also able to schedule a time to meet with her and her fiance, Scott, tonight. We're praying that he will also jump on board.

Jim is now in a nursing home outside our area but we told the elders there to go visit him. Incredibly, Jim's son, David, just moved into our area and we have an appointment to see him tonight as well. I guess he was really impressed that people from church would go visit his dad in the hospital.

We're still teaching Heidi and Greg. In fact, we're having dinner with them at a members house tonight. We're planning to teach the Word of Wisdom. She is a heavy smoker so we'll see how she takes it. We've been doing everything we can to build her faith in the Savior and His Atonement, but really it is up to her. Hopefully she has the faith to live this commandment. If she does, I know she'll receive her answer that Joseph Smith is a prophet. Living the word of wisdom makes recognizing the spirit so much easier.

I hope you are all doing well.
Sister Mortensen

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy Pi Day (3/14)

Dear Family,

How are you? I got an email from Clark but not from anyone else. I hope you are all doing well. I love you and I pray for you.

Steven was confirmed yesterday! Again, his brother Dan was the one to perform the ordinance. For me that was probably the most exciting part because previous missionaries and members have thought that Dan would never come back to church. But now he's teaching primary, going to the temple for baptisms, and baptizing and confirming his brother. It is wonderful to see people come into but also return to the fold. Their family is well on their way to becoming an eternal family.

Jim was in the hospital again this week, but we sent some members to go visit him after church. Sister Minino (excellent team up), Brother Minino (RC who just got the Melchizedek Priesthood last week), Brother Call (amazing high priest), and Brother Jensen (our Ward Mission Leader) all went to give him a blessing. They said he was very emotional and very grateful. He appreciated the company as well as the blessing. Jim also said he loves when we visit. He figured we had been knocking on his door and worrying about him not answering and only wishes he could have left us a sticky note on his door to let us know where he was. Thankfully we ran into his friend that was helping clean his apartment and that's how we found out what happened to Jim. His comment about the sticky note made me laugh because we often leave them for him. He is just a great man, the kind I'd like to adopt for a grandpa.

We have an amazing exhibit at the Trail Center. It's the one we saw in the Nauvoo visitors center called "The Healing Power of Jesus Christ." It is powerful. I love showing these beautiful statues to people. It strengthens my faith. I'll tey to remember to send you a brochure in the mail. Please read it. I wish you could be here to actually see it, but the pictures are really good too.

Let me know what I can do for each of you. I love you!
Sister Mortensen

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Stephen got baptized!

Dear Family,

Stephen was baptized on Saturday! It was so great! I think my favorite was seeing the huge smile on his face, his brother's face, and just everyone's faces. The joy that comes from following Jesus Christ is contagious. Seeing his older brother come back to full activity in the church and even be able to baptize Stephen was so exciting! They are both on the path back to Heavenly Father and I am so happy for them. Stephen is a great kid! I can picture him becoming a powerful missionary.

Sister Bailey Mortensen

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bro. Warner visits

Dear Family,

I can't believe you got that much snow. I'm sure it is long gone now, but I really do love snow. Mostly when it is fresh and sparkly. It reminds me of how clean I can be.

Turns out Sister Monson and I will both be staying in Millard. We expected that because it's my last transfer and she is still brand new. We actually found out this morning. President Kunz called to thank me for serving as Trail Center Trainer and said I should love having one more transfer as a normal missionary. I really am excited to be relieved of the stress that comes with being Trail Center Trainer. It will be much easier to focus on serving the people in Millard. I'll still serve the other sisters, but I won't be the one taking care of all the administrative stuff and that's a big relief. Part of me wishes I could finish my mission as a full-time proselyting sister, just so I could focus full-time on our area, but it will be good to serve in the Trail Center too. I just want to give my very, very best for these last six weeks.

Stephen is getting baptized on Saturday! He is such a smart 11 year old. And he is so excited! He won't be confirmed until next Sunday (because of Stake Conference) but that might be good because it will give his brother, Dan, time to practice and feel comfortable preforming a confirmation. I can't wait!

My favorite thing this week was taking Bro. Warner (the 70 year old man I taught in Grand Island) and his friend, Emma Jean (a cute little lady with a scarf tied around her head), on tour at the Trail Center. Bro. Warner has been writting me ever since his baptism saying that he wants to come visit me at the Trail Center. I wasn't sure how we'd be able to coordinate schedules so that I'd be there when he came, but the Lord provided. I was so happy to see him! Elder Watson teased me about how much I was glowing the rest of the day. Anyway, Emma Jean was sooooooooooooo prepared to hear the gospel. Bro. Warner had told her a little bit, but she was curious and even wondered how she could know what church taught what was true. She also was concerned about her husband and daughter that had passed away. Throughout the tour I was able to testify about Joseph Smith's call as a prophet, the restoration of the priesthood, eternal families, and the plan of salvation. After sharing the conversion/immigration story of my great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Peder Mortensen, and his family, I asked her how she thought she could know the truth. She replied that she would study the Book of Mormon and pray. When I asked if she'd like to have missionaries come visit with her she said she'd like that. So, we showed her where the church building/family history center were (she really wants to begin her family history) and sent the missionaries! I am so excited for her! And I am excited for Bro. Warner. What a blessing to see how Bro. Whitehead sharing the gospel with Bro. Warner is now extending to Bro. Warner sharing the gospel with Emma Jean and who know how many other people! Truly "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass." It is as simple as inviting someone to come to the Trail Center, to read the Book of Mormon, to meet with the missionaries, to learn more about family history, to come to church, and before you know it, many people will want to learn and live the gospel! I love missionary work!

I love each of so, so much!
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Warm Weather

Dear Family,

Things here have been much warmer than usual, which is very nice for missionaries. Walking outside and talking to people is one of our favorite things to do, so a taste of spring was very welcome.

I'd say a big highlight this past week was teaching a 70 year old man named Jim. Sisters Kusnerik and Lasalosi found him back in December just a few months after his wife passed away. He's very lonely at times without her. After I came to Millard, we stopped teaching him because he was never willing to keep commitments. He just didn't see the need to read the scriptures or come to church or do anything that we asked him to do. Well, the other night, we were praying to open our nightly planning session and Sister Monson kept having the name "Jim" come to her mind. So she asked "Is there a Jim that you know of?" I told her about Jim and we put him in our plans for the next day. When we went by he was very friendly. We shared a brief scripture and set up an appointment on Presidents Day. Thankfully, Sister Minino didn't have to work that day and was able to come with us. She was the perfect team up. Jim had actually read some of the Book of Mormon that morning and he still had our phone number posted on his wall. He told about how he was struggling with the passing of his wife and we were able to offer comfort as we discussed and read scriptures about the resurrection and the Holy Ghost. He seemed to feel, as we did, that his wife is okay and that he will reunite with her after this life. We invited Jim to pray and read Alma chapter 7. He said he would and expressed a sincere interest to learn about the gospel and the plan of salvation. It was a big change from the Jim I knew before. I think that part of the change came simply because we followed the spirit in addressing Jim's needs. We taught him instead of teaching a lesson. Sister Minino also followed the spirit in sharing her testimony and her experiences of finding peace through the scriptures and prayer. It was a powerful lesson.

Another fun thing this week was going on exchanges. I got to go back to Ralston with Sister VanderDoes. She is a great missionary and I learned from her that I need to testify more. She also has a very calming demeanor which seemed to help people feel comfortable. I really enjoyed that. It was also quite a treat to go back to my first area and be reminded of so many memories. It kind of helped me to see how much I've changed in the past 16 months. I've definitely grown as a missionary and a person.
I hope you all know how much I love you. I pray for you often and wish I could do more for you. Please tell me if there is anything I can do.
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Dear Family,

Happy Valentines Day! Thank you very much for the Valentines Day package. That was a pleasant surprise. You sure do know my favorite things (Reese's and cheescake ... mmmmmmm). I think Sister Monson will be very grateful for the rice bag. She is always cold, even though things are starting to warm up around here. I now consider anything above freezing to be a heat wave.

I'm so excited for you to be doing a 21 day missionary challenge. Who are you praying for? It has been fun for me to refer someone that I know (Bill) because I get to log on to the place where we enter the referrals and see how things are going. So far the sisters have only gotten his answering machine. But who knows, maybe in a couple months the status next to his name will go from potential referral, to new referral, to contacting, to teaching, and finally to baptized! It makes me want to refer everyone I know. And when I think about it. If I really love them, I would naturally want to share the gospel with them. It is the most important thing to me and I know that it will help them be happier now and throughout eternity. They may not be ready to accept it now, but as I follow the spirit in extending invitations they will feel that spirit and that will make all the difference.

I had an idea the other day. What if Will drove me down to Provo for school? I dunno if that will work or what the plan is, but I kinda like the idea of a siblings road trip. Also, I wanted to recommend that you get the D&C Church History DVDs. They are amazing! It has the Joseph Smith movie along with a bunch of other great little films. They strengthen and inspire me every time.

Jesus is probably moving this week. So as soon as we get his new address we will have the Spanish Elders continue teaching him and preparing him for baptism. He met them once but said he preferred learning from us. Hopefully he won't mind the switch and will still make his baptismal date of Feb 26.

Stephen is still set for his baptism on March 5. He such a smart kid. I think 11 year olds are my favorite. They understand things so well and just want to do what's right. At least, I've taught a lot of 11 year olds like that. Is Clark one of those awesome 11 year olds?

Heidi and her son Greg are reading from the Book of Mormon everyday but didn't come to church yesterday because they were out of town. She is really struggling financially and the ward is being somewhat helpful with looking for who is hiring and giving her websites where she can get help. We've also been praying for her a lot. I wish I could just take all her problems away. I know that the gospel will help, that paying tithing and living the Word of Wisdom will bring those blessings that she needs, but I don't feel that her testimony is strong enough to where she will have the faith to do those things. They would probably scare her away. So, we are planning to teach about the Sabbath Day and have her build her faith by keeping that "smaller" commandment first. As she sees the blessings her faith will grow and she will want to keep the others. Also, she still doesn't think she's gotten an answer about Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon. Hopefully, as we explain to her son Greg how the spirit feels, she will gain a better understanding and more readily recognize those answers.

Well family, just know that I love each of you very much. Oddly enough, I think being away for so long has helped my love for you to grow. You are great!
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Blessed by Members

Dear Family,

We had 5 investigators at church on Sunday! Plus it was fast and testimony meeting so they got to hear a ton of heartfelt testimonies. It was such a miracle and we owe so much to the members of the ward that helped.

* Heidi and her son Greg followed us and really enjoyed it. They both dressed up and looked really sharp. Greg made himself right at home in primary with the other 11 year olds. Heidi's only comment afterwards was that she liked it but was dying to have a cigarette. She said she hasn't gone three straight hours without one in probably 6 months. We'll cross that bridge when we get there. I'm just so happy that they came and felt welcome.
* Jesus and his daughter Julisa followed the Halls to church and then came to the Christensen's home for dinner and a lesson afterwards. Bro. Soza was a great friend to Jesus because he is also from Mexico. And Julisa loved Sis. Palmer as her primary teacher. She is so cute. I'm so grateful for Sis. Christensen coming as a team-up to teach Jesus and then opening her home to him by inviting him over for dinner after church. He was able to get to know the Lundwalls and Bro. Lundwall did a great job testifying of the Atonement in just normal conversation about the challenges Jesus is dealing with. Our lesson on the plan of salvation helped him get the big picture a little better and we were able to re-set him for baptism on February 26th. He is doing great!
* Maria also came but left right after sacrament because her two year old was being really rowdy. We try to help her with that by bringing coloring sheets and things but he just has a lot of energy. We asked the ward members if anyone could sit with and entertain him so we'll see if that helps.
* Stephen is the 11 year old we've been teaching for a while now. He is so smart! He is tentatively set for baptism on March 5th. His family just needs to see if that is a day when people can come in from out of town. I am so excited for his older brother to baptize him.

We are seeing a lot of miracles in Millard. We also started teaching a hispanic family that we will probably give to the Spanish Elders. The funny thing is that when the Spanish Elders called Araceli, she was busy and at the grocery store so they got the impression that she wasn't interested. But when we went to our return appointment on Sunday, she was so excited to see us. We watched the Restoration DVD in Spanish and then she accepted our invitation to be baptized! So, she said she'll be baptized if she finds out for herself that the things we teach are true and her husband is thinking about it. They would do well in the Spanish branch, but their two granddaughters that live with them would prefer English. Sister Monson and I both understand Spanish and she speaks it way better than I do, so our lessons thus far have been bi-lingual. It is fun to see how the spirit really can bring all things to our remembrance, even the little bit of Spanish I took years ago. I know that the gift of tongues is real, because I could never communicate this effectively in Spanish before my mission. The Lord is blessing us a lot.

Recently, we have received a lot of trainings on becoming consecrated missionaries. I love it. When else in my life will I truly be able to devote all my time and choices to God and give my whole soul to him? I really enjoyed Elder Christofferson's talk from this last conference. Hopefully I will become a consecrated missionary and member in the next few months.

I love you all!
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Monday, January 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom

Happy Birthday Mom!

I know it's still a little early, but I won't get another chance to say it. So, I hope you have a wonderful day! You are such a great mom, to all of us kids. I'm sending something in the mail later today so you can be looking forward to that also.

I read Mosiah 4 and 5 this morning and it reminded me that service truly is the way to become more Christ-like. Mosiah 5:13 says "For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?" If we truly want to know God (in other words, to become like Him), we must serve Him and we serve Him by serving His children. It is a very simple but very important principle. Always thinking of others and not myself has helped me more than I can say. If I'm ever feeling down it is usually because I am thinking about myself and what I want. As soon as I turn that around by focusing on others and their needs, my problems evaporate and I am back to my happy, cheerful self.

Yesterday was the best sacrament meeting ever! Two of our recent converts spoke and then a not as recent convert shared his story as well. The spirit was very powerful. David was first. He did a great job speaking about repentance. Then Fola did a super great job speaking about baptism. Both of them shared beautiful stories about learning from the missionaries and how much it blessed their lives. If I get the chance I'll type up my notes and send them to you, as well as the missionaries that taught them. It was incredible. Afterward I was so excited to be a missionary that is sharing this glorious gospel that I ran from apartment to apartment and yelled across parking lots so that I could tell as many people as possible. I love the spirit.

Well, I've got to go give a tour. Someone that speaks Spanish walked in so they asked me to take it. I'll do my best!

I love you all a ton!
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I love shoveling snow!

Dear Family,

I'm glad that things are going well with you. Life in NOM got a little crazy this last week with transfers. I'm training a new missionary in Millard. Sister Monson is from St. George, Utah and therefore not a big fan of the cold Nebraska weather. Otherwise, she is doing great! She has just jumped right in with teaching and testifying and talking to people. I'm very proud because I remember how quiet and reserved I was as a new missionary. She doesn't seem to struggle with that as much as I did.

We had a miracle first day together on Thursday! Both Jesus and Heidi came to the church for a tour (at different times). As we were setting up for Heidi's tour Sister Monson saw a copy of the Family Proclamation in the library and suggested that we give it to Heidi. I wasn't quite sure how that would relate to being baptized by proper authority (our original lesson plan), but went along with it. I mean, she's entitled to receive revelation for our investigators just as much as I am. Well, it turns out that Sister Monson was inspired because eternal families was exactly what Heidi needed to hear. After we showed Heidi the baptismal font and the Restoration DVD we invited her to be baptized. She said no, that she still needs to study this out before deciding if it is what she wants to do. Then we asked what her greatest desires were and she started to cry. Eventually, she shared how she just wants to know where her dad is (he committed suicide last month) and if he is okay. Sister Monson was able to bear powerful testimony of eternal families and comfort Heidi. After we read the part in the Family Proclamation about family relationships being perpetuated beyond the grave, Heidi said "I hope that's true" and we said "I know it is." We encouraged her to read all of it and pray to ask God if it is true. She said she would. We'll see when we go back to see her tonight.

Jesus also had a really good experience at the church. We re-set him for baptism on Feb 12 and helped him better understand the Atonement and the sacrament. Bro. Lundwall was able to come and share how important sacrament is to him and I think that is what gave Jesus the motivation to accept our church invitation. Sadly we didn't see him at church. We got there a little late ourselves and found out later, when we called him, that he came to the church but didn't go in because he didn't recognize anyone. It made me so sad to hear that. We want everyone to feel comfortable at church. It showed me the importance of involving members, especially in having them pick up our investigators for church, so that they have someone to help them feel comfortable. Even though we showed Jesus the church and have brought members to his home for lessons, he still needed someone to ride with, or at least follow to church in order for him to feel welcome and comfortable enough enough to actually come inside the church.

Well family, have another great week! I love each of you!
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Snow Girls!

Dear Family,

Holy Cow! Sophie's hair is short! Does she like it? I do. I miss my short hair sometimes. I'll probably get a haircut soon but I can't decide how much to cut off. Maybe just an A-line to my chin. Thanks for sending the pictures. I think for the first time I see the resemblance between her and Will. A lot of the Sisters here (I showed them the picture) say Sophie looks just like me ("a mini Sister Mortensen!"). I guess we are all siblings after all! Ha ha!

Family, you should look at the new We, even as missionaries, are supposed to spend about an hour on there every week so that we can invite people to watch certain videos or read certain pages. So, I thought I should invite you to look at it as well. Then you can share it with your friends. You can even make a profile. I think it's neat to read everyone's conversion stories. Oddly enough, we ran into Zach Christensen's profile last week. I was like, "Wait a minute ... I know him!" Naturally Sister Kusnerik asked how, so I had to answer that we had dated at BYU. Ever since then she has been teasing me about what a great guy he is. She loves teasing me.

So, we didn't get to spend much time in our area this week (only about 2 days) due to snow and serving in the Trail Center. Instead, we shoveled a lot of driveways in Florence. Sisters Minert and Itri (our roommates) came with us so we were like the four Musketeers tromping around Florence with our boots, huge coats, and shovels across our shoulders. It was a lot of fun. Those long driveways went by a whole lot faster with four of us, singing EFY or girls camp songs as we worked. Incredibly, I didn't get that sore. The other fun part was seeing how grateful everyone was for the help. Some even gave us gifts. We got some kolache (a german dessert/snack), a nice card addressed to the "Snow Girls", and the best hot chocolate I've ever tasted. I don't even like hot chocolate but I had two mugs full of this stuff. It was good!

I think Heidi is our miracle new investigator. Just before Christmas, we were walking outside an apartment complex when she and her 10 year old son came out and started scraping ice off their car. We took off our name tags (they are very good ice scrapers) and helped them out. We asked if she was excited for Christmas and she almost burst into tears. Her father had committed suicide just two days before and she was trying not to think about it. We expressed our concern and asked to come back. A few days later, she let us in and we were able to listen to and comfort her and share more about the Atonement and the restored gospel. Ever since then, she has been reading the Book of Mormon. When we invited her to be baptized she said she's not ready to set a baptismal date because she feels good about her previous baptism. But she really wants to study this out for herself to see if what we teach is true. Tonight we will follow up to see how she felt as she prayed about the Book of Mormon.

Jesus is also doing very well. He hasn't come to church yet, so we'll have to push his baptismal date back (probably to Feb 12). He is coming on a church tour on Thursday and to the Trail Center on Friday to watch the Joseph Smith movie. He has really noticed an improvement in his life since he started meeting with us. In fact, he got after us the other day for not calling him every day. It's really exciting when people want to have us over all the time. It shows that they feel the spirit that we bring and want to have it with them. We are very excited for him.

Well family, I love you lots. I pray for you every day. Keep living the gospel!

Sister Bailey Mortensen

Monday, January 10, 2011

Training & Temple

Dear Family,

I was very blessed this week to attend four days of Leadership Training with President and Sister Kunz, the Zone leaders, the District Leaders, and Sister Evans (the other TC trainer). We learned so much about the Atonement and were able to apply it more in our lives and I came away just so much more excited to serve the Lord. One big "aha!" moment for me, and apparently President Kunz as well, was realizing why we focus so much on baptism. Baptism is central to our purpose because it is central to God's purpose to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." As we work to help others be baptized we are becoming more and more like Heavenly Father because we are becoming more and more united with Him in His purpose. And really that is the whole point: to become like Heavenly Father. That's what we want for ourselves, our families, and the people we teach: to become like Heavenly Father. And we do that by uniting with Him in helping His children follow our perfect exemplar, Jesus Christ, so that we can all return home to Heavenly Father. I hope that made as much sense to you as it did to me.

One other huge thing that I learned during leadership training is the importance of and the power of prayer. I am trying to improve my prayers by really taking the time to converse with Heavenly Father, to "counsel with Him in all my doings" and pray specifically for others and the blessings I receive. Also, there were several instances throughout the trainings in which my personal prayers were answered. At Sister Evans suggestion I had asked Heavenly Father to teach me about me, to help me understand my true worth. From comments made throughout the week I learned that I have a powerful testimony because I live it, that I am clean and pure in heart, that I am a peacemaker, and that Heavenly Father can use me to minister to others as I reach out in love. These have helped me so much to see my worth more clearly and choose to be my happy, cheerful self. Sister Kusnerik and I realized that we just needed to be ourselves and love each other for who we are. That simple decision has helped our companionship so much. I don't worry about what she thinks of me nearly as much as what I or Heavenly Father think of me and we are all much happier as a result.

The highlight of my week was attending the temple. It has been way too long, at least 5 months since I was there last, and I plan to never, ever go that long without serving in the temple again. I realized that it is much easier for me to resist temptation when I know that I'll be going to the temple soon. It's like that painting in the Trail Center called "Shall we not go on in so great a cause," that shows the pioneers struggling towards the vision of the temple in the distance. When I have that goal in mind it is much easier to overcome any obstacles that lie in my path. I truly appreciated the opportunity to bask in the peace and the joy that always fill the temple. I also gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of the covenants that we make there. It was a great chance to renew those covenants and recommit to live them more perfectly. I just love the temple. We are so blessed to have them all over the world and often so very close to us.

Our big miracle this week was Jesus G. accepting a baptismal date. We read Alma 7:11-16 with him and asked him to prepare for baptism on January 29th. He hesitated by asking "Do you think I'll be ready?" and I immediately responded with "I know you will." We explained that as he continued learning from us, reading, praying, and coming to church he would be ready. He is a very sincere man with a great desire to follow Christ. He's going through a rough time though because his wife just divorced him. He definitely feels and recognizes the spirit and he always calls to tell us if he can't make an appointment or something. We are just so happy for him to be working towards starting new on January 29th!

Well, I Iove you family! Have a great week!
Sister Bailey Mortensen

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

Dear Family,

I am so happy for this new year! It is a great opportunity to start new with a clean slate and begin to be the new, better people that we want to be. In our gospel principles class the topic was baptism so we spent a lot of time talking about how that ordinance, and the sacrament for every week thereafter, gives us the opportunity to be born again and begin a new life as a disciple of Christ. How blessed we are with the opportunity to repent, renew, and recommit every week during the sacrament. Many of the converts in the class (including Sister Kusnerik who was baptized two years ago today!) shared how they did feel that "newness of life" that the scriptures talk about when they were baptized. And we emphasized that they can feel that same cleansing and forgiveness as they prepare and worthily partake of the sacrament every week! Because our meeting schedule is backwards with Relief Society, then Sunday School, and then sacrament meeting, our discussion in Sunday school helped me better prepare to take the sacrament and make more specific promises with Heavenly Father as to how I would improve in the coming year and week. As a result, it was one of the most spiritual sacrament experiences I have had. I really do feel like a different person, a better person with a very bright future. I am choosing to make that future bright by choosing to follow Jesus Christ. There is so much power that comes with making covenants and renewing them each week (see Elder Christofferson's "The Power of Covenants"). Instead of having to decide if I will follow Christ with each temptation that comes my way, I can choose once and simply stick with that decision. In addition, we receive so many blessings as we keep covenants. We receive increased faith, strength, and most importantly (I think) the gift of the Holy Ghost which carries with it many wonderful gifts and blessings.

I was a missionary for all of 2010 and it was great! I was the new, improved "Sister Mortensen" rather than the same old "Bailey." Now, I'm entering 2011, with plans and goals to become an even better version of myself and to ensure that the progress I've made will carry over into life after the mission.

Family, I love you sooo much! Keep being great examples of living the gospel!

Sister Bailey Mortensen