Monday, November 24, 2014

Gringos no le gustan

So hunting season is in full bloom here in Northern Missouri. I've seen more camoflauge in the past two weeks than a city girl's eyes can bear. They like to wear bright neon orange as well, the two compliment each other nicely. Just last week a truck in front of us was pulling a trailer with a four wheeler on it. I looked closer and lodged right in between the four wheeler and the side of the trailer was a buck! Just sitting in there with his hooves sticking straight up in the air. Frozen dead deer carcas. Oh the things you will see in Missouri.
A week ago today we met a sweet old lady named Maria. She's from Mexico, has been in Missouri for 15 years and doesn't know a lick of English! Sister Paul and I talked to her in our broken Spanglish we have picked up being from Southern California. Her son owns a restaraunt here in town, the one I went to my first week here. It was nothing even close to special. Maria cooks there so I asked her why they don't serve good food like al pastor, carne asada, or lengua. She said "Gringos no le gustan." I just about had a fit! She said she makes tamales at Christmas time and I am banking on the fact that we will be teaching her then because I need some of those. We are going back tonight to teach her the Restoration with a member of our ward who speaks Spanish.
On Saturday we took our preparation day and went to the temple. It was a great experience to attend and feel the spirit of the Lord. It was neat because earlier in the week I watched a few short films about the building of the Nauvoo Temple and the things the early saints went through. The blessings of worshipping in the temple are available because of those early saints and i cannot be more thankful. I know that the work of the Lord is the work of salvation. It will not be frustrated or slowed, whether it be in the holy temples, in the mission field, or in our congregations. What a blessing it is to be alive and on the earth in the dispensation of the fullness of times! Oh how glorious is this work and the Lord's kingdom on the earth.
Love yall,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, November 17, 2014

"I can't put my arms down"

This past week was a doozie, in a great way. Time for your weekly midwest weather update. The seasons change as fast as an indecisive four year old changes clothes! It is very well winter as it was a cozy 19 degrees this morning as we drove to go shopping. I had my first experience of scrapping ice off every inch of a car on Tuesday morning and I threw a few snowballs at the elders. I wear at least two pairs of leggings or tights, two long sleeve shirts, two cardigans, a heavy coat, and wool socks. Plus a hat and a scarf and gloves and mittens. If you can imagine it, I look and feel like the kid from A Christmas Story that can't put his arms down. Maybe not that drastic, but I could care less cause I stay toasty! Sister Paul and I haven't had the car for a week, but we're glad cause neither of us wanna try and drive when there's who knows what making the road all slippy. I'm glad I haven't slipped walking on ice, but i have had a few close calls and good laughs over it!
On Thursday we went to Iowa City and got Panera. Not the highlight of the day but definitely worth mentioning because it was delicious and I haven't seen a Panera Bread in four months. The main event was that we had Mission Tour! Elder Cardon of the Seventy came and spoke to us. We got to shake his had and take a picture with him, and then we heard trainings and talks for a good five hours! It was awesome and Elder Cardon spoke with such great clarity and power on gospel and missionary topics that are usually not so well said. He had us write down two questions we had before the meeting began. At the end of the meeting both my questions were answered as the speakers and the spirit taught me emensely!
Yesterday at church we had our Primary Program. It was so cute to see all the little ones sing and teach us. Of course there were some good laughs at the irreverent kids or the few teachers who painstakingly sang every word of the primary songs. The children sang a song that I had never heard before that I loved so much, it's called "The Family is of God." At the end of the program the whole congregation sang the song. The chorus goes like this:
God gave us families to help us become what He wants us to be—
This is how He shares His love, for the fam’ly is of God.
This simple but powerful truth, that God is our loving Heavenly Father and that he puts us in families to show His love, is the first thing we teach someone. The very first principle we teach to anyone willing to sit down with us. That is a testament to its importance. If we all but understood and internalized this truth, that the song so beautiful illustrates, our lives and families would be greatly enriched! As the congregation sang the song our bishop was on the stand, and he was weeping. I thought of his role of strengthening the families of the ward, and how much he prays and fasts and hopes that all the families would understand this simple truth. There is power in knowing that God is our father and that our families here on earth are ordained by Him.
Love yall,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, November 10, 2014

Courtney found a best friend

Today it is a solid 59 degrees! No tights and I am loving this beautiful weather. Your girl from California is holding up great... until tomorrow when the high is projected to be 37 degrees! Snow is supposed to come next week. I'm looking forward to kicking it around for a good five minutes, but I'm scared to spend a whole day walking in it. I'll be sure to update yall on my ice and snow adventures.
This past week the Sister Training Leaders came in for exchanges from Keokuk, Iowa. They are super sweet and we got so much done! It's always good to have them in our area for 24 hours because they help us with investigators and finding new ones so much! This past week we found a new investigator named Paige. Paige is so cool. If I were not a missionary she would be my best friend, really. She met with us in sweats and a bun on top of her head, she goes to Truman and was going to play softball but her knee is all messed up. So pretty much she's sweet. After teaching her the Restoration I realized that I was sent here to Kirksville, Missouri to meet and help people like her. People talk about how you will know there are specific people you were sent to find, ones that in the pre earth life you told you were going to rescue. I am beginning to realize and recognize that more and more, and I am so excited to see Paige progress in the gospel.
I am having great experiences as a servant of the Lord. It is funny because I have had maybe one progressing investigator for two weeks the whole time I have been here. It's been tough at times to not see people grab hold of the gospel that I love so much. But I could not be happier. Seriously, I wake up everyday with a smile on my face and think "let's go spread that good word!" It's strange how it works. Living the gospel and being obedient to God's laws brings happiness every single time, no mater what. Even if you get the door shut in your face and investigators telling you to delete their number and baptismal dates are not met and people tell you you're wrong. God's laws are the only way to live your life and find happiness amidst the hardship. This life is meant to be enjoyed and it can be even through the darkest hour. Strive to be more obedient to God's laws, support your priesthood leaders in decisions they make with the Lord, study the word of God daily, turn to your Father in prayer often, and serve those around you with a grateful heart. There is no other way to live, no other way to find joy in this life.
Love yall,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, November 3, 2014

What Joseph and Courtney have in common...

So I can't believe that I have already been here in Kirksville for three months and that it is already November! I calculated with my sharp math mind that I am already one sixth of the way done with my mission! What?! That was super weird to realize. How did that happen?
Anyways, this past week was pretty good. We went to Quincy again for Zone Training Meeting on Friday, and of course we played "Dead Thing." I saw some interesting things that I better not describe. But Zone Training Meeting was so great as we heard trainings from our Zone and Sister Training Leaders. Those trainings always come at the right time and teach us what we need to know and do to elevate our service. It is so amazing how the Lord inspires leaders of the church to carry out His work. Our Zone Leaders are sweet and got us all fake mustaches, which we wore for a family photo. I'm sure that was inspired as well.
Friday was also Halloween, but we didn't get home until five from Quincy and we waited to be picked up for the ward Trunk or Treat and then the person that was supposed to pick us up finally showed up at our house at 6:30 and gave us gobs of candy! She forgot to pick us up so we just ate candy and hung out in the apartment the rest of the night. We had to be in by six. Zero trick or treaters came by. Super eventful night.
On Saturday we had a great lesson with an investigator, her name is Brenda and is a sister to a less active member and the aunt of another investigator of ours, Ryan. We watched The Restoration, it's the 20 minute Joseph Smith movie. It was super cool cause as I watched it the spirit taught me something. When God the Father and Jesus Christ appear to Joseph Smith our Heavenly Father says, "Joseph, this is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!" Our Heavenly Father doesn't say "This is My Beloved Son." He calls Joseph by name. Right then and there the spirit confirmed to me that my Father knows my name just as he knows Joseph's. Sure Joseph Smith was foreordained to be the Prophet of the restoration of the gospel in the latter days to prepare the way for Christ. You might think "of course God knows Joseph's name!" But I know that He knows our names too. I testified to Brenda that our Heavenly Father knows her very well, and that He knows her name just as He knows Joseph's. I have never felt the Holy Spirit of Truth testify that what I was speaking was truth more than I did in that moment. I know without a doubt that we are all sons and daughters of a living God. That our spirits are divine and in turn we are divine. Our potential is endless and we have a Father waiting for us to turn to Him. Oh how great is this truth! There is power in this knowledge as it has blessed my life and those around me.
Love yall,
Sister Skaggs