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