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