Thursday, July 30, 2009

Count your many blessings

I forgot to write about Socaiable last week. Thank you for your prayers, they were felt! It went well and everyone said they loved it! We all felt it went well. I had been able to serve in Carthage that Sunday too. It made for a good day. The end of Sociable was a welcome event at least for me. It was a really good experience and was a unique opportunity. The Socaiable was a chance for all twenty of the Sisters to teach a group of people all together. To combine our testimonies into a heartfelt program that taught and testified to a group of people that was larger than any we will ever teach again. Everyone did a fabulous job.
Today has been crazy. It's been good, but I have just felt rushed. Rushed is never how a p-day should go. If you feel whirlwinded by the end of p-day there's no catching your breath for the rest of the week. We are going to be able to attend the temple after writing this e-mail and that should help. I need to think. There is no better place to do thinking than in the temple. What a blessing it is to have one so close by. This morning we went to the Howards for breakfast. The Howards are temple missionaries that dote upon the sisters. They feed us and feed us healthy food. They are a blessing in this mission. They had us over, fed us a healthy breakfast and made us feel like missionaries. We were even able to teach a short lesson before we left. It was the bright spot in my day. Thank Goodness for the Howards. They are a couple that never stops giving. They gave us a scrubby for our dishes, brought out a massage thing from Brookstone for my companion as soon as she mentioned her back hurt and declared the they wanted to make her a candle holder. They tried to give us a box of Raisin Bran but we declined. That couple would give us the clothes off their backs if we would let them. After a delightful morning we headed off to Walmart to get some things and then came home to write some rushed letters and have a short lunch. We watched the "Letters of Emma and Joseph" vignette at 1:30 and then went home to pick up the other Sisters for e-mailing. After this we are going to go to another vignette (King Follet) and then the temple and then rendezvous and then pageant greeting, back to rendezvous and then a late night because we're watching pageant. That will put us in bed around 11:45pm. And somewhere in between all that goes on before rendezvous I'm trying to get another letter in. Speaking of letters...As I gathered up all my things this morning I found the letters I had written everyone last week!!!! I never sent them!!!!!! If I hadn't been to disappointed I would have killed over laughing.
Okay, well, now that you've gotten a play by play of my entire day maybe I can write about less trivial matters, like giving and gratitude. I want to take this e-mail in a different direction than I usually take them. There are so many blessings here in this mission. I want to list some. I need to list some. I would invite each of us to stop and reflect on what the Lord has blessed us with. To literally, as the song directs, "Count [our] many blessings"

Sister Bailey and Sister Meyers at breakfast at the Howards' home

The spirit here is so strong. For anyone coming here to Nauvoo there is "Something different" about this place, "Something special". I know that something different is because the "Spirit of God, like a fire is burning" thrives here. My blessings...

The amazing Sisters I have the privilege of associating with.
All the senior couples.
The Temple, not only a place of refuge and peace, but a constant reminder of the sacrifices that have been made for each of us.
President and Sister Ludwig. Their love, care and spirits. And their closeness. I don't know of many missionaries that can walk to their Mission Presidents house if need be.
The people I serve with.
The people I meet.
The Howards.
The sunsets.
The countless teaching opportunities to the young the old, the lost and the found.
The love and support I receive from around the globe.
The best of both worlds.
The weather.
The new skills I never planned to acquire, especially on a mission.
A comfortable bed.
A nice house.
Being kept busy.
Pageant, as well as all the other shows.

This place is not what I had in mind when I filled out my mission papers. But it is what the Lord had in mind, and what the Lord has in store for us is always better that anything we could dream up ourselves. Come what may and love it. :)

I love all of you. Thank you for your letters. Thank you for your prayers.

Sister Bailey

Psalms 89:8-9

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Iron wills" are wrought by holding fast to Iron Rods.

There isn't much to write about this week. Pageant is amazing and wish all of you could see it. The days are long and the work is hard, but there is nowhere else I would rather be. I can't even imagine what I would be doing else where, doing something different. Things have gone from fuzzy to crisp in a matter of months. I can't say that I miss the bumping around in the dark I had been doing the months prior to my mission.
So I totally forgot the talk I wanted to write about in this e-mail at home. But I encourage you all to look it up and read it. It is the greatest article/talk on pride that has ever been given in these latter days. "Beware of Pride" given by Ezra Taft Benson. It talks about how almost anything can be traced back to pride and what a destructive force pride can and will be in our lives if we let it. It is pride that keeps people away from church, pride that causes us be disobedient in any way, shape or form, pride that keeps us from saying our prayers at night, pride that caused the apostasy, pride that caused the destruction of the Nephite nation and pride that was the driving force behind the Crucifixion of Christ. "Pride goeth before the fall". Pride is thinking that our knowledge and wisdom exceeds that of our Father in Heaven's. Pride is forgetting our dependence on God in all things. C.S. Lewis said something along the lines of, the prideful get no pleasure out of having something, only having more of it than another. An egotist will never get anywhere in life because they think they're already there". "Egotism is the anaesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity" These quotes on pride are not all from Ezra Taft Benson's talk, but I do like all of them.I think that it should also be said that Humility, is not the tearing down of one's self, but the building up of God! (You are His child after all, what's there to tear down? I cannot think of a more cherished, more important, more valuable identity than that noble birth right. However, it is not a birth right we can claim if we shut out and turn away from the One we are to receive it from) .
President Ludwig suggested that we make Helaman 6-12 part of our study on pride. So I've been reading there. Something was brought back into my mind that has been there before, I may have even expressed it to some of you. I am a "people watcher". I like to sit back and observe. This is one of my observations: I heard somewhere that our will is the only thing we have to give Heavenly Father that isn't already His, which is only partially true when you realize that the only reason we have a will (or agency) is because He gave it to us in the first place. But,(and this is the part that I've thought about before) it has been my observation the we have only two choices. We can either give our will to our Loving Father in Heaven, or it will be taken from us by Satan, that being who wishes to "drag us down to the depths of hell" and makes us "miserable like unto himself". We cannot hoard our will. It is going to go to someone. I would much rather have it in the care of a loving Heavenly Father whose work and glory is to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" than to let Satan get his cold grip on it. My heart belongs to God! and my will also. That is conscious decision each of us needs to make. In chapter 6 it talks about the rise of the Gadianton robbers in both the Nephite and the Lamanite nations. The Nephites "did build them up and support them, beginning at the more wicked part of them, until they had overspread all the land of the Nephites, and had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils, and join with them in their secret murders and combinations". Not looking too hot for the Nephites. The Lamanites on the other hand, "did hunt the band of robbers of Gadianton; and they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them, insomuch that this band of robbers was utterly destroyed from among the Lamanites"! These verses reminded me of a poem I read once. I don't remember the title, or the author or any of the lines but the last. Ha ha! But, in the poem it describes a feeling of having to wolves living inside of us, fighting constantly. One wolf represents demons and wickedness, all manner of awful things and the other represents good. A question is posed at the end of the poem "Which of these two will win?" The answer is also given, "The one I feed". All of us are here to overcome the natural man and become better. The fight between good and evil in this world is very real, but it is usually within ourselves as opposed to the much grander scale that books and movies make it out to be. I promise that the wolf we feed will be the one to conquer. It is our decision to make, and it is much more easily made early on.

I love you all.
Sister Bailey

"The Iron Rod Is The Word Of God!"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Four months minus 3 days

Transfers. Again? Really? I don't feel like I've even blinked since the last time I wrote about transfers. I am back in Nauvoo. I have not spent more than four weeks in one place the entire four months I've been out. Four weeks in the MTC, four weeks in Carthage, four weeks in Nauvoo, four weeks in Carthage, and the next four weeks in Nauvoo. I'm convinced I'm going to switch every transfer. I wouldn't mind. Rexburg gave me a tiny taste of the gypsy life with six months at school and six months in D.C. Illinois is just helping me refine my packing skills.
My new companion is Sister Meyer. She is a signing Sister from Hollywood California and use to walk around Disneyland in a giant Sponge Bob Square Pants suit. Yep, Sponge Bob is serving a mission! Seriously though, she's hilarious and we get along great! It's a give-give relationship.....meaning we're both giving. Does that make sense? It's fun to brush up on signing too. Boy, am I rusty. I printed out a ton of pictures today so, family, when ever I have time I will be sending them your way. They're mostly people pictures of companions and Senior couples. Hopefully you like them.
Pageant is up and running. This makes for long days, but good days. We have different assignments every night such as seating, post greeting, water kiosk, missionary kiosk, pioneer games, pre-show greeting, watching, etc. Sometimes we don't get home until 11:20 at night. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am dragging at this point. This Sunday is going to be our little "sociable" thing. The one where we sing our guts out. It should be good. The program is so good. Sister Stagg and Sister Reece have been in charge and they have done a fantastic job. It is the only opportunity we have to teach this many people all at once and as Sisters. And teach we do! The theme is "Because of the Restoration, This is what we know". I'll send a program if there ends up being one. It teaches from the Great Apostasy when truth was lost then uses music to teach the Restoration. The most embarrassing thing about it is that they are taping it and it's my understanding that we get a copy. So some of you might end up watching it.
Nauvoo is Nauvoo and although it's pace is picking up it's pretty constant, so sorry if my e-mails get continually shorter. I just don't want to make you guys read the same things over and over again.
OH! This week I gave a tour in the Visitor's Center to a family from Colorado Springs! They said they knew some Baileys and I said "Stan and Linda?", and they said, "No. We know a Jon and Becky Bailey". I almost knocked them out of their seats when I exclaimed, "Jon and Becky!!!!! Jon is my Cousin! I LOVE JON AND BECKY!" We talked for a while and then they went on their way just like all the visitors do. It's hard to fall in love with people who are just passing through.

I will never be able to describe accurately how amazing Nauvoo is. Just come and see.

Love you all,
Sister Bailey

P.S. 2Nephi 9:52

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Mission Unlike Any Other

     Good news! This morning during my morning work out I cleared the high jump!!!  It was sweet. I took a couple of falls before I got it but I now can run and jump over a hurtle that comes up half way past the bottom of my ribs.  I was pretty pleased.  Wahoo for perseverance.  Also, yeah for the forth of July!  After serving at the jail we had a barbecue with the Mechams (a senior couple serving here at the jail with us).  We had hamburgers, salad, home made ice cream, chips, watermelon, and cake. It was so fun. I know I have said this before, but the senior couples are just wonderful. One of the biggest blessings of this mission.
       Bad news.  A not so friendly something ate my foot on Sunday evening at our sociable.  It is still intact, but it got me good about three different times. I felt it when it happened.  I feel really dumb.  It makes me wonder if I should be a little more squeamish about bugs.  The first two times I felt something crawling on me and just kicked at it. Then it got me again!   I never did see what it was but it looks like a spider bite. Three spider bites,  and it hurts like the gulf of misery and endless woe.  So, that may or may not be an over exaggeration, but it's making me grateful for AMAZING bodies that heal themselves quite effectively. Just one of the many expressions of love from our Heavenly Father.
       Nauvoo news: Sociable is coming up (July 19th).  I mean that one I have to sing in. At least we're not dancing.  I think it's hilarious how much we sing in this mission... once every month in sacrament meeting and then this sociable thing.  Anyone who knows me knows how musically disabled I am.  It's been quite the adventure, but I really do think it's going to be spectacular.
       Pageant is here. which means Nauvoo has been turned upside down! Or has it been turned right side up again?  At any rate, things are CRAZY (wonderful, but crazy). Which means writing letters has been moved from a side burner to a back burner.  I don't plan on writing many letters until August when this tornado has past.  I will still be e-mailing though.
       I am excited.  I have never seen pageant and am looking forward to watching it tonight.  The sisters watch it once a week and since our preparation day is today we get to watch it opening night!!!   It's pretty sweet.
       Today we went to the temple.  I love it there (duh).  Whenever I go to the temple I always have a hard time leaving.  I wish I could stay there for ever.  As we left a calm assurance came over me that I would be able to return.  That it would not be the last time I would ever be in the temple.  It made me think about how it might have felt, what we must have thought, as we left our Father's presence to come down here.  I would imagine, knowing our Father's plan for us, we must have had a calm assurance that we would return. That it would not be the last time we would see His face, and feel His presence.
       For pageant the Sisters here in Nauvoo have a theme.  It is, "I had to give up everything I had, to get everything I wanted".  We have all thought of things we are going to sacrifice in our lives to become consecrated missionaries and make pageant all that it can and is suppose to be.  It has been really cool.  I have thought a lot about that theme " I had to give up everything I had to get everything I wanted".  It's a line from pageant and it depicts the life that Joseph, Hyrum and the early saints all lived.  They gave up EVERYTHING they had, not only to get everything they wanted but also to give us everything we want.  They gave up everything from their homes to their possessions, and even their families, their livelihood, their safety, their comforts, and their pride.
       What do we have in our lives that is keeping us from everything we want?  I think first, it is important to think about what exactly it is that we want.  And I know that it is a bold thing for me to say, but I can promise each and every person that what lies inside that sacred building, the temple, is everything you want.  For yourself, for your children, for your loved ones, family, friends; everything that you want is there.  All you need to do is to give up everything you have, perhaps everything you are holding on to, in order to get it.  I would challenge all who read this to analyze your life.  Take inventory of what you hold as important and let go of those things that block your view of eternity.  Music, books, grudges, pride, clothes that demean you as a child of God and anything that defines you as anything BUT a child of God.  Because in reality, that is what you are.  A beloved child of a Father in heaven.  I guarantee you that that is a better identity than anything that world has to offer you.

I love you all so much and pray for you always.

Sister Bailey.

P.S. 2 Nephi 31:20 <3

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

If you're not American, you're not American. So say the sisters of Nauvoo

This weeks news? I am still in Carthage. I am still loving it. My companion is still amazing and the gospel is still true.

I would have much rather written you all on the 25th, 26th, or 27th. On June 25, 2009 it was 165 years to the day that Joseph Smith, the Prophet of God, and Hyrum Smith, the Patriarch, arrived in Carthage Jail to wait for the men who would eventually slaughter them to come find them. As I gave tours and stood in the room where those ten men spent their first night chills ran up and down my legs. As the days went on I had similar experiences. On the 26th I climbed the stairs that 165 years ago the man who "has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world than any other man that ever lived in it" (D&C135) climbed when the jailer George Stigall, who feared for the mens' safety, moved them upstairs to stay in his own bedroom. He must have noticed that their was something different about these men. Much different than any other group of men, let alone the prisoners, that usually graced his home with their presence. He moved them from room to room, hoping that they would be more comfortable, more secure, letting them eat with his family. They were different. And that difference was that these men were men of God. I was running my fingers along a railing that men of God had steadied themselves on. I hoped --- prayed --- that the people following me could feel it. The sound of our footsteps became the sound of their footsteps. I could almost hear their voices. The 27th was no less powerful than the previous two days had been. One- hundred-sixty-five years, to the day, that Joseph and Hyrum had been shot and killed. The spirit in Carthage is so strong all of the time, but on these three days it was especially strong. It was almost exhausting. The jail was crowded, but, for the most part quiet. I was grateful that the people who had come there on that special day had some sort of a grasp on how sacred that little jail house is. I never would have imagined that a place in which something so awful had happened could be what it is today.....a spiritual powerhouse. One that I get to spend most of my days. I am humbled to be serving here.

At 5:15 p.m. (the approximate time of the martyrdom) a special commemoration took place. The sisters from Nauvoo all came down to attend and to sing "Hark all ye Nations". I thought it was an interesting song choice at first, but it couldn't have been better. There were other musical numbers and a speaker. It was fantastic. We squeezed about four more tours of 50-60 people through the tiny little jail and then closed up for the night. When everyone had left all the sisters in the mission went over to the jail and sat in the room where it all happened. It had just barely been three hours since the time of the martyrdom. We just sat. Then we sang "We thank thee oh God for a Prophet", "Joseph Smith's First Prayer", and "Praise to the Man". Then we just sat there. As we did, I thought to myself, "we are the only missionaries in the world that get to do this. That get to come to Carthage jail after all the crowds have cleared out on the day that it all happened and sing praise to God Almighty. The only missionaries? The only people!". Sister Patterson then got up and started the tape (for those of you who haven't been to Carthage, the tape played in that room depicts the events that took place before the mob arrived around 5pm). After it was over we just sat again. It was an experience I'll never be able to explain accurately and will never forget for the rest of my life.

Today has been very relaxed. We've written letters, cleaned, done laundry and driven to Nauvoo. Filled up on gas, walked around Zion's Mercantile for a little bit and spent at least an hour in the temple. In short, It's been a good day.

I hope all is well with you. I love you all and pray for you always.

Sister Bailey

P.S. Funny story of the week: There is an Elder here who is Canadian but for some reason carries the American flag up to the stage for one of the performances. He's absolutely nuts so mostly it's just funny. There is a senior sister who has mentioned it to some other people who have just laughed it off. This Sister is completely baffled as to how the discrepancy is going unnoticed. It really gets under her skin and after a long discussion about it she finally just says, "Well now you know one of my pet peeves: People who pretend to be American!!! Go home and wave your maple flag! Leave ours alone!"

P.S.S. To keep things spiritual .....
"Perhaps some of us may find it hard to believe that we love enough, or that our lives are good enough, or that our power to testify is sufficient for any invitations to our neighbors to be accepted. But, the Lord knew we might feel that way...we must have the faith that we can love enough and that the Gospel has touched our lives enough that our invitation to choose can be heard as coming from the Master whose invitation it is" --- President Henry B. Eyring