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