Monday, September 29, 2014

Courtney experiences Fall and JW's

So it is slowly turning to fall here. Some trees have lost all their leaves and others are just turning crazy colors. I know, San Diego girl experiencing seasons. I'm in heaven as I walk down the streets going out of my way to crunch every leaf I can. And it will only get better because most of the trees are still green with just splashes of red and orange! I can't wait.
This past week we had a really good lesson with an investigator. The spirit was really strong as we taught and testified of the importance of baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. We were in a members home and it was such a great setting. Then came a knock at the door. the member went to answer it and all we hear is a man proclaiming the word of God. He said, "we've got this great new website," I was trying not to bust up because it was so ironic! He engaged the member in a discussion and she took a pamphlet nicely. It was just so funny and ironic that he had come by at the exact moment we were teaching. Needless to say our investigator was not phased or swayed and the lesson continued to be very productive and powerful.
Last week at church Sister Ramsey was asked to give a talk. The night before church a Young Women's teacher asked us to teach the Beehive's class. And right after Sister Ramsey went up to the stand before sacrament meeting the Primary President came at me with a green manual asking us to teach the seven and eight year old boys the second hour! We were busy to say the least. As Sister Ramsey sat on the stand I read about Daniel and the lion's den. We acted it out and had so much fun with the three little boys! And third hour was great when we taught the Young Women. We've asked our Father in Heaven for opportunities to serve the ward members and boy has he poured them out to us! Just a couple of weeks ago I think we had seven total hours of service to members. It's great!
I was able to attend the General Women's Broadcast on Saturday night. It was such a great opportunity to hear the word of the Lord through our leaders. If you are a woman and did not have the chance to watch it, do it. We are so blessed to have a prophet, apostles, and leaders who are inspired of God. I look forward to watching all eight hours of conference this weekend! It's like a spiritual feast!
I have told yall about Sister Williams before, she is the one that is in a nursing home that we visit every week. Well we were talking about faith in Jesus Christ to her. She was feeling well that day and talking a lot. She said something I will never forget. "If you don't got faith and obedience, you don't got nothin'." That is so true. Faith is how we show our trust in our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. With that trust and faith mighty miracles can come about in our hearts and lives. Obedience is how we show our Heavenly Father we care about His word and commandments. Without those two things we really aren't giving much to the Lord, and in turn we don't have much. I am grateful for the wise words of Sister Karen Williams. May we always strive to have faith in our Heavenly Father and His plan for us, and in our Savior Jesus Christ. And may we always strive to be obedient so that we can be worthy of all the blessings that our Father has laid up in store for us.
I love you all and am grateful for your support. Open your mouths and share the good word, the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the greatest gift we have.
Love yall,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, September 22, 2014

The smells of the Midwest...smoke, mildew and cat?

 Courtney's super powers

MTC buddies

This past week was pretty sweet. No groundbreaking or crazy stories from the front here in Kirksville, Missouri besides the fact that a lot of people were mad that Mizzou got whooped in college football.

On Thursday we woke up at 5:00 am and took of to Iowa City for Zone Conference. More than half the zone was there and I was able to see a lot of my MTC mates which was really cool. Us Sisters talked about how homes in the Midwest have three distinct smells: smoke, mildew and cat, and the ever refreshing and somewhat foreign smell of freshness. We had some good laughs and it was great to hear about all the amazing work that is happening across the mission. I saw an elder and is nametag read Elder Leavitt! I stopped him and said hey my Grandma is a Leavitt! We got to talking and he is related to Sarah Leavitt just as I am! We were super excited and we were telling everyone we were cousins. I call him Cousin Elder Leavitt now. It's great to have family out here :)

Well we spent a total of eight hours in the car on Thursday because we got lost going to and coming back from Iowa City. It was a treat. But night the Sister Training Leaders from Keokuk, Iowa. It was such a blessing to be with them for a day. I was with Sister Browne and Sister Ramsey was with Sister Nye. Sister Nye trained Sister Ramsey and for any of you who have served a mission and understand mission posterity know that it was pretty cool to have three generations in the same area together! It was a fun exchange and I learned so much from Sister Browne. While with her an investigator that is supposed to be baptized in a few weeks texted and totally said she had to cancel an appointment. I was disappointed and Sister Browne said "It's alright, it's all part of the plan. Heavenly Father has already accounted for it." That though stuck with me and helped me have a great perspective when we woke the next morning to a text from the same investigator informing us that she had to cut all ties with us. I was comforted in the knowledge that I have that it is all part of the plan. Heavenly Father has already accounted for it. Such is true in life. Our Heavenly Father knows exactly what is going to happen and has a perfect plan for us. May we turn to Him in trust and in turn strengthen our relationship. It is all part of the wonderful and joyous plan that we return to Him.

Love yall,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, September 15, 2014

Rain and more rain in Kirksville

Hi Yall,
I've been here a whole transfer! I made it and the ball is just going to keep rolling faster. My District Leader was transferred to become a Zone Leader so that was sad because he was awesome. We would talk about baseball and he used baseball analogies a lot in district meetings. He will be missed.
No funny stories to report on today because it seems like a lot of the culture shock is wearing off and the things that are strange are commonplace now (like Amish people in horse drawn carriages and grasshoppers flying everywhere). This past week there was a huge storm though! It was the worst thunder, rain, and wind storm I've ever been in! It came through at night so we were safe inside but during the course of the night the wind woke me up as did two texts to our phone about severe flash flood warnings! I looked outside at one point as the rain was getting smacked against our bedroom window and it looked like the trees were going to be snapped in half! They were dancing around like those weird wind dancing advertisement things people put outside of businesses. We woke up in the morning and the storm had passed. As we drove to go play sports and we saw so many braches all over the ground and some trees uprooted! It was insane. We got caught in the rain the next day and it is raining today. Missouri is a wet place.
This past week was good in terms of the work. We had more lessons than last week when we really struggled to keep lessons and investigators. We almost had three people at church today! That seems like the eternal struggle of missionary work, getting people to church! I don't know what it is yet, but it's hard. We were blessed to have Kourtney there, she's a High School aged investigator who is just awesome! There were a couple instances in the past few days that frustrated me though. Either members were not supporting other missionaries or saying bad things about other ward members. It really had me in a strange mood as I was trying not to get mad. I remembered what I had planned to do if I was getting mad and decided to pray. And boy did I pray! I don't know how long I prayed for but it was quite a while. I prayed until my mind was clear and my attitude about the work ahead of me was resolute. I know that prayer works. Pray vocally and pray earnestly. He will hear you and strengthen you. I love that in the Bible Dictionary it says that prayer is a form of work to access blessings that our Heavenly Father is already willing to grant us. Turn to Him in prayer in those moments of weakness. It is in those times that we need His help the most! If we open our troubled or sick or weak hearts to our Heavenly father in prayer He will heal it. I know it.
Love yall,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, September 8, 2014

Courtney meets a Hobo, Hindu, Pagan and a Wicken. Learns patience and joy.

Sweet recliner

Courtney's District's awkward family photo

Things are going well here in Kirksville. The weather has cooled down this week and I am so glad it is not so hot anymore! It's pleasant and a little chilly at times. Actually it feels like a nice San Diego winters day. Summer is fleeting and in a matter of weeks I'll be bundled up. I'm glad the heat is leaving but I'm a bit scared of the winter that is approaching!
This past week I met a real life hobo! He had a handkerchief around his neck and everything. He travels on the rails looking for work and is legit! He had absolutely no interest in God or anything church related, but he was respectful enough to apologize for his harsh language. Sister Ramsey asked him where he considers home and he said "America!" We also met a family from Nepal. They live at our same apartment complex and invited us over. We talked to them about religion and it was interesting to hear about Hinduism. They had no desire to become Christian because they didn't want to lose their identity. They were super respectful and nice and accepted a Book of Mormon. We also met a Pagan man this week. Wow this week was full of new kinds of people. He wasn't interested but it was a unique experience to talk to him. His fiancĂ© is a wicken. I walked away from that conversation more confused and baffled than I had been going into it. Oh the people you meet in Kirksville, Missouri!
I have to say that this past week was one of the hardest weeks of my mission. Investigators were dropped and it seemed like a lesson was being cancelled every few hours. We spent a lot of time trying to find people to teach because so many lessons were cancelled or people would not show up. In weeks previous this had made me frustrated. But I had been studying and praying about patience and I think I have developed that Christlike attribute, not perfectly but I know the Lord has helped me tremendously. I know it because even though this past week was the hardest of my mission so far, it was also the best week of my mission. Through the trials and disappointments of the week the Lord blessed me with patience and so much more! I learned so much through the spirit during personal and companionship study Yesterday and investigator, Kourtney, came to church. It was great because members of the congregation bore some of the most powerful testimonies I have heard in some time. We had two great lessons this week as well. The spirit was present as Kourtney and Toni's desire to follow Christ grew so much! It was from the experiences I had with the spirit and those two lessons that I received so much joy. So much that it made all the struggles of the week seem miniscule. I am so grateful to be able to share this gospel.
I want to share something that the spirit taught me yesterday as Bishop Wilson was sharing his testimony. He was talking about how the world views our standards. People say "You have so many rules. How do you have fun?" He gave some examples of "fun." He was comparing God's standards and the world's standards and a great thought came into my mind. This life is not about fun, it is about joy. Fun is something temporary, something that fleets as soon as someone gets hurt. Fun is fun while it lasts and you can laugh about it later. But joy is much more than that. Joy is something much deeper and longer lasting. Joy is serving others and seeing the blessings of God in our lives. Joy is learning about our purpose in life. Joy is searching the scriptures and finding something enlightening. Joy is being with your family forever. Joy is repentance and a change of heart through the Atonement. God gives us commandments so that we can have joy, not fun. With the right perspective joy is all that is important. So no, this life is not about fun, it is about joy. The joy I have felt sharing the gospel and serving others has been the greatest I have ever felt. This work is amazing as is the work our Father performs on our own hearts. Find joy and come unto Him.
Love yall,
Sister Skaggs

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Crossing the Mississippi.....

 The brown stuff is water.  And yes I know it is sideways.

Typical Skaggs face in a picture.

Sunday marked a whole month that I have been in Kirksville! It is crazy how time flies, hopefully it is going just as fast for you all at home. It's amazing that I lasted this long without getting bit, but I got my first chigger this past week. It's a bug bite (I think) that's supposed to itch like crazy, but I like to think I took it like a champ.
This past week we got to go to Quincy, Illinois for interviews with President Jensen! It is almost two hours away and a pretty drive through the country. We went trough maybe five small towns and only one of them had more than 500 people. We needed gas and forgot to get it in Kirksville before we left, but luckily Brashear was on the way! So we decided to stop real fast at the quaint gas station there. I don't know if you remember but Brashear is outside of Kirksville about ten miles, it was the place that we almost got our car stuck and my shoes got full of muddy clay. The place where the population reads 297 on the sign, but one third of the houses are abandoned. So we stop there for gas, we go inside to pay before we pump and the lady told us to go pump and then come inside to pay. So we head back outside and start to pump the gas from this really old machine. We look at the machine and the numbers are running by! They are ticking by on a wheel behind glass! There was nothing electronic about it. Sister Ramsey and I were laughing so hard and were amazed, all while trying not to look like tourists. We went back in to pay and I overheard  two old men say "what you doin' today George?" "oh nuthin' much, just babysittin' some cows." That's Brashear for ya. I love it even though it is so foreign and people look at us like they have no idea why city girls like us are there.
We got close to Quincy and Sister Ramsey reminded me we would cross the Mississippi River! It was so HUGE! It was amazing to look at even though it was all brown and dirty looking.
I was really nervous for my interview with President but it went so well. He is so great and supports us missionaries so well.
On Thursday we went to a Relief Society activity. We invited all our investigators and some less active sisters and none of them came, unfortunately. But I did learn something really great during the spiritual thought/lesson. I shared it with the group because it was so awesome that I learned it just sitting there and listening to the lesson by the spirit. We were talking about the difference between being comfortable and having peace. Being comfortable is dangerous. It leads us to a slippery slope to complacency, where we do not progress. But peace comes in and strengthens us amidst trial or not, bringing us closer to our Father in Heaven and enabling us to progress. I am definitely uncomfortable a lot out here. But I know that is a good thing. Relying on the Lord for peace, strength, and growth is the best way to make it through taxing situations. Don't sit back and be comfortable, get out of the "comfort zone" if you are there. Obtain peace from the Lord and move forward.
Love yall,
Sister Skaggs