Monday, December 29, 2014

Courtney's Christmas Spirit

                   Delivering cookies on Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas to yall! I hope it was a good holiday with family, friends, food, festivities, faith, and fun! I had a great Christmas here in Kirksville and we spent a lot of time with members. It was such a blessing to skype with my family and see how much my nephew John has grown! It was a supper low key Christmas, a perfect one to remember the birth of our Savior and keep Him on my mind throughout the day. On Christmas Eve we went to the Davis', an awesome family in our ward. they have a tradition to turn of the lights, sit on the floor, and eat foods that Christ would have eaten for dinner by candlelight. It was super fun as we passed around fish, nuts, cheese, olives, and some pita bread. After skyping with my family the next day we went to a member's house, Sister Jenson. She is totally rad and had a craft for us to do! I will send a picture in the next week or so when it's completed. We then made biscuits and gravy for dinner from Sister Paul's family recipe. So good! We were stuffed with goodness and I slept like a baby.
Something interesting happened was that a couple of weeks ago, I was asked to lead the music for our Zone Training Meeting. If you know me at all, you know I do not have the knack for the musical talent of singing, let alone leading music in front of 20 plus people! Well that was a couple weeks ago and I managed. This week, our district leader asked me to lead music for District Meeting! "What is goin on here?!" is exactly what I thought. I got through it without losing my place or messing up the pattern in the sky, thankfully. I guess the Lord is wanting me to develop some new talents!
Yesterday at church I had a really great experience as I listened to a young twelve year old boy address the congregation. He was giving a talk on prayer and was really doing a great job as he referenced scriptures and quotes, and shared a personal story. I was listening intently and realized almost suddenly the power of the Holy Ghost. It was a strong feeling, one that confirmed the truthfulness of the message of this young and squirmy deacon. The spirit testifies of truth, whether the prophet or a twelve year old boy is speaking. I have felt the spirit in homes that have nick knacks and dog hair overwhelming the senses and in homes where there isn't a pillow missing on the couch and family pictures adorn the walls. I have felt the spirit as I have boldly testified of God's love and as I have been turned away at the door as I testify of latter-day prophets. The Holy Ghost enters in where truth is found. May we strive to find truth, embrace truth, and live the truths we know so as to receive more fully and more often the sweet manifestations of that member of the Godhead, even the Holy Spirit.
Love yall,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, December 22, 2014

For unto YOU...

Merry Christmas week!! Oh man am I excited as ever, I feel like a little kid again and I haven't even thought about the presents that came in the mail a few days ago! I just love this Christmas spirit that is going around like influenza a. Seriously though, that flu is ravaging the Kirksville schools, or so we hear. Good thing I got my flu shot! And there you go, I'm rambling about local disease outbreaks. Onto more important things. It snowed last Thursday but it's gotten to a lovely climate here in Missouri, up the 40s and drizzling!
Onto even more important news, really. This past week we had Zone Training Meeting in Quincy, Illinois this past week and that was a treat cause the Assistants were there with a totally rad training on the qualifications for baptism. Moral of the story, the Lord does not have a nice little measuring stick and does not say, "oops, your spirituality and knowledge has gotta be this tall to be baptized, sorry." Nope. They are qualifications vary with everyone, that's why an 8 year old and a 50 year old with a doctorate degree can be baptized! It might be boring to you to read, but it was amazing for us missionaries to realize and it helped Sister Paul and I so much. 
There is a valuable lesson I wanna share that surrounds the birth of Jesus the Christ. In Luke chapter 2 verse 11 an angel appears to shepherds as they watch their flocks. There are so many lessons to be learned from this encounter, but in verse 11 the angel says "For unto YOU is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." The angel chose to use the word you. Interesting if you think about it. He could have said "unto the world" or "unto mankind." but he didn't, he said "you." That is a direct and personal word. The Savior, our Savior, Jesus Christ came for YOU. From his very being as a premortal spirit, to his first breath as a little baby, to his death and ministry in the heavens, He came for YOU. It is an amazing blessing and very near unfathomable to realize that one man existed for the whole world and for each and every one of us, very personally. May we remember who came to the earth for us. Forget the presents, lights, and fruit cake for a good fifteen minutes please. Or longer, which would be better. Remember Him who came for YOU, for He truly is the THE GIFT. 
God bless you all this Christmas season,
Sister Skaggs
Post Script. 
see it and share it with everyone!

Monday, December 15, 2014

learning about forgiving others

Whoa not much time left! This will have to be a quick one.
This past week was great as we went to Nauvoo for a Christmas Zone Conference! There were three zones there and it was such a good time. We heard some trainings, ate a delicious lunch, each district performed skits, and we watched the movie Ephraim's Rescue. That was an all day ordeal and then we came back to Kirksville to attend a community Christmas concert held at the church building (of course we played Dead Thing on our drive home. That game is a great way to get to know the wildlife in an area). Us missionaries were all almost falling asleep!Saturday morning we helped with the Primary Christmas activity and in the afternoon helped set up for the ward Christmas dinner! We spent all day at the church building! It was such a fun day full of service to the ward and I loved it.
Ealier in the week we met with Maria and she told us to go to the Mexican restaurant her son owns to meet him and his kids. They were totally rad and hopefully we will be able to teach them soon or have them come to church with Maria!
I want to try and explain something that the spirit taught me this week in my studies. It's about spiritual progression and one of the greatest hinderences to that most valuable progress. Simply put, holding grudges, seeking revenge, and not forgiving others is one of the greatest detriments to spiritual progression. When we do these things we are in bondage, unable to move forward because we are to preoccupied with the past to even be able to see where to take the next step. This is exactly how Satan feels. His plan in the premortal realm was rejected and so he acted out in rage. The dude hasn't gotten past it and is so obviously miserable. He is spiritually damned and because of his pride he won't ever be able to move forward. It was interesting to realize that Satan, the author of contention and misery, is holding onto a grudge and seeking revenge. Moral of the story is, move forward, look forward, and don't hold on to the past. Our Father in Heaven's nature is starkly different to that of our lost brother. He wants us to be happy, let go of things in the past, and move forward in faith on our spiritual path to return to Him. It is my prayer that we strive to be like Nephi who "frankly [forgave]" his wicked brethren as we seek for constant spiritual progression.
Love yall,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, December 8, 2014

He is the Gift

Hey so this past week was a sweet one! The work is moving forward here in Kirksville as we found some new investigators, committed another to a date to be baptized (Maria), and Ryan came to church! You have no idea how big of a miracle that was. I think I've mentioned Ryan before, he's a young boy who is the son of a less active member. He is so great. Ryan's mom said they wouldn't be able to come to church because they had visits from Ryan's brother all day. Sister Paul and I were bummed again that we wouldn't have anyone at church. We walked outside to put some free limes that we had snatched into our car. I looked over across the parking lot and recognized a car of one of the friends of Ryan's family. I thought it was strange until I looked closer and there in the back seat was a little blonde haired kid flailing his arms waving at us and smiling ear to ear! We walked over to the car and he busted out of the door to the church building. He was so happy and excited to be at church and see his friends. He sat next to us and I taught him about the sacrament as it was being blessed and passed. It was such a sweet experience and a joy to have him at church!
This past Saturday we got pass along cards for He is The Gift! Sister Paul and I are so excited to use them in our finding efforts. If you haven't seen the film or don't know what it is, click on the link that should be on the He is The Gift that I just typed. I am so excited to be a missionary at this time of year as we celebrate the birth of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. I noticed that people talk a lot about the "Christmas spirit" and how everyone is so much more happy and nice and how everything is honkie dory because of presents, food, and more food. False. Everything is great because Christ's name is being said at an increasing rate as the month goes on, people are singing his name is praises, and others are setting up nativity scenes on their front lawn. The light of Christ is at an all time high on the earth during the month of December. It's not the presents, honey baked hams, and sitting on Santa's lap that is the Christmas spirit. No. It is the spirit of Christ. And it is in abundance. For that reason I am more than elated to be a representative of Him. It is an amazing blessing to be here in Missouri proclaiming and praising His name, even away from all my family and the warm California breeze! May we all catch the Christmas spirit that is centered in Christ, and be a little more kind, gentle, or helpful. Because that is what He would have us do as a gift to Him as we celebrate His birth.
Love yall,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, December 1, 2014

Slip sliding away

Hey so this past week was an adventure. The weather has been crazy and everywhere. One night we were going home and it was in the 60s. I thought, "hmm I wonder if it will freeze tonight?" Woke up to everything covered in white. I think it froze. Saturday was in the 60s again and today it's in the 20s. I can't keep track of this Midwest weather! Well on Friday when a lot of the snow was melting Sister Paul and I were walking to the Salvation Army to give service (it's one of my favorite hours of the week) and I was trudging through sloshy snow and some ice. I was feeling pretty confident about my abilities. Then I took a step into the shade of a car. Foomp! My right leg went sprawling forward and my back leg came with my knee smashing to the ground. Instantly my right leg slipped out from under me and I was on my stomach in a push up position. All of that transpired in a good point two seconds. And there Sister Paul is chuckling because she knows all to well what I just went through. The Lord humbled me right quick and now I am very wary of dark places and stuff that looks like water but isn't. The worst part of it all is that I tore a hole in the knee of my tights.
These past few weeks I have learned a lot about how I have overcome and continue to overcome the trials of life. There are some that will pass and some that will never fleet in our mortal existence, but I have learned to love and appreciate my tirals by striving to do these things:

1. Control your mind and push Satan away
2. Choose to be happy
3. Count your blessings, talents, and gifts
4. Have an attitude of gratitude
5. Look for opportunities to serve and bless others
6. Recognize the hand of the Lord
7. Apply the Atonement

I am grateful for my trials. I thank my Father for them in prayer sometimes and it is weird, but I really am thankful. It is through our trials that our Lord shapes us into the people He wants us to be. It is through our trials that we can turn to Him and better our relationship with a Father that loves us unconditionally. It is through the hard times that we are stretched and strengthened. I am so grateful for this eternal truth and principle, for I am a better person today than I was yesterday because of the road bumps that have come my way.
Love yall,
Sister Skaggs