Monday, December 21, 2015

"well that's random"...and it's not the unicorn.

This is Courtney's Christmas pinata. 

The trio is dead here in Boone! At church people asked multiple times "oh, so there's only two of you now" and "where's the other one?" 
My new companion is Sister Goring from Logan, Utah! She's old in the mission too, 15 months, so it was nice to hear people tell her she's almost done instead of those cutting comments coming my way! Sister Goring and I have a lot of fun already. She likes quoting movies and talking in a Russian accent. She's a gem.
Yesterday we felt the love of Father in Heaven so so much! A sister in the ward told us to grab our car keys and follow her outside. We followed her out to her car and she gave us three big bags full of presents! Of course we opened them when we got home. We're stocked on candy and snacks until 2016! Then later in the day some random guy we talked to came driving by us in his car later on and forced money into our hands to "go buy a burger or something." He didn't have food to give us but he wanted us to get something to eat. Then at night in a members home they found out we didn't have plans for Christmas Eve. On the spot she invited us and our recent convert, Robert, to Christmas Eve dinner! 
I remember opening my mission call and thinking "well that's random." But no longer is Iowa a random place. Rather, it has a huge spot in my heart! I am reminded of how the waters of Mormon were "beautiful... to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer." For all we know the Waters of Mormon could have been a muddy pond in the middle of corn fields... but the place was beautiful to those people that came to know their Savior there! I share the same sentiment about wonderful Iowa as those people did about the Waters of Mormon. 
I love Iowa. It is the place that I have learned of my Savior more than I could possibly imagine. It saddens me that in six short weeks I will be in California and no one will quite understand why Iowa is so stinking awesome! I know that we all have our personal "Waters of Mormon" though. Places that will always have a piece of our heart because we have come to the knowledge of our Redeemer there.
And if you don't have some "random" place that has a special spot in your heart, move to Iowa! That spot will get filled real fast. 
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sister Sewer Climber Skaggs

Courtney shows her love for her companions by climbing down drains.

Dressed up for a Night in Bethlahem

So President Jensen called this morning... dun dun dun. Sister McKinstry and Sister Beattie will be packing their worldly possessions and will take them to transfer meeting on Thursday as they move on to new adventures. As for myself, I have contracted leprosy and will die here in Boone. No, I will not literally die, nor have I literally contracted leprosy... but I will stay in Boone for my final transfer and figuratively die as a missionary. 
This past week we were blessed to have Elder Martino of the Seventy here in our mission. It was really crazy and we traveled a ton, but we had Mission Leadership Council and Mission Tour, and it was dope! It is always an amazing blessing to be instructed by the brethren. He got us pumped to work with members to find people to teach and his testimony of the living reality of our Savior and His church was uber powerful. It really was just what I and our mission needed. We're ready to end the year strong!
On Thursday night, after a long day going to Iowa City for MLC, we got home and we unloaded all of our personal belongings from the car. I was walking to the door of our apartment and I hear Sister McKinstry yell, "Oh no!!!" I turned around and she said, "My boot just fell down the hole!" I was super confused and she said "my boot, it fell down the drain thingy." Sure enough, her boot fell into the storm drain that was conveniently placed in the curb adjacent to the trunk of our car. After a long discussion of what to do and some pretty strong apprehension about my proposed plan of attack, we pulled off the heavy metal grate, grabbed some flashlights and I climbed down the ten foot brick sewer shaft! Sure enough her boot was sitting at the bottom, and with the help of the maintenance man, Tim, I climbed back out of the whole. All I could think was, "Wow this is the best mission story I have" and "I bet my Momma would be proud!" So there you have it, I am Sister sewer climber Skaggs.
All really good stories aside, this past week was pretty rough in terms of teaching the restored gospel to people who actually want to listen and will do something about this awesome message. Our numbers were low and last night we lamented over the fact that no one wants to come to church and how we have "investigators." But then the spirit slapped me and reminded me how blessed we have been! Robert was baptized this transfer, the sisters in the Ames stake collectively had eleven baptisms this transfer, and our district of four companionships had seven! the spirit also brought to my remembrance that a family of four I contacted on exchanges last transfer are now well on their way to all being baptized and they are beyond solid!
I tell you about these things not to boast or say "look at what we've done". But rather to prove the point that Satan would always have us feel discouraged, disappointed, and low and on the other hand, the Holy Ghost works to inspire, uplift, and encourage. Our Father in Heaven is proud of our accomplishments, he wants us to move forward in faith and build on those things that we have done well in the past. I'm excited for this coming transfer and for the miracles that Father in Heaven has in store for our area!
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, December 7, 2015

Cheddar and Cheese

A couple weeks ago, on exchanges in Webster City with Hermana Smith, we climbed over potted plants to knock on this guy's door. After a considerable time waiting for him to answer the door, it finally swung open. There stood a grown man trying to control two ferrets. One black, and one white. After we laughed and composed ourselves I asked him their names. "Cheddar and Cheese," he said, holding each of them up. He then politely declined the invitation to hear more about precious restored truths that would bring him incomprehensible happiness and peace. Nonetheless, we met two ferrets named Cheddar and Cheese. Only in Iowa.
This past Friday was our ward Christmas party. Sister Beattie sings like an angel and Sister McKinstry is not bad herself. I myself on the other hand try to blend my sub par pipes with their sweet melody. Evidently I do a good enough job because we were asked to perform at the party. Yes, I, Courtney Skaggs, sang in a trio at the Boone Ward Christmas party. We sang a pretty song by Sally deFord called "Would I Know My Savior. That's about all that needs to be said. 
We have mission tour this week with Elder Martino of the 70. He has asked us to study Alma chapters 8-12 in preparation for the meeting. If you want to learn how to be a missionary read those chapters! They are extremely insightful and uplifting. Something I loved was Alma's willingness to follow the counsel from a messenger of the Lord to return to the city of Ammonihah in chapter 8. In the act of being weighed down with tribulation, he was told to return to the city where he experienced rejection and hate. Sometimes in life the path that we must walk will lead us to places that are unpleasant, perhaps places that we have been before and would rather not return. As we take steps forward, with faith in His plan, the way will be clear. And, like Alma meeting his eventual companion and friend, Amulek, our joy will be full as we find peace and solace in submitting to the will of our loving Father in Heaven.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, November 30, 2015

Corgi's, guns and Star Wars

What she called "throw-up Thursday"

This past week I was on exchanges in little dinky Webster City and it was so dope! I was with Hermana Smith, who also went to BYU-Hawaii! We weren't there at the same time, but we had so much fun talking about all the crazy hikes we've been on, local kids riding bikes with chickens on their laps, and the special spirit  and love that is in Laie. Man, it made us both Hawaii trunky!
In spite of our extensive Hawaii reminiscing, it was an amazing exchange and we got work done. For one appointment we drove out in the boonies to a beautiful farm in the hills. We were seeing a less active member that the sisters had been trying to be more bold and loving with so that she could progress. We got out of the car and there was a little corgi dog with his chow dog friend. The little corgi just waddled quickly up to me, slapping up the mud with his midget legs. He was so cute! I bent down to pet him and he jumped up on me... muddy puppy prints on the front of my black skirt! I couldn't help but laugh and keep petting him as I stiff armed him. He was so cute I just couldn't walk away, so I kept petting the little bugger. He jumped up again, I stiff armed him too late, and there smeared on my black skirt were two more puppy prints. By this time Hermana Smith was busting up and I couldn't stop laughing either! I trudged into the house with four muddy puppy prints on my black skirt. The sister we were visiting didn't even notice! The lesson went amazing, I felt the spirit so strong. I could feel God's love for her immensely. Testifying of Father in Heaven's love as a representative of Jesus Christ is really hard to describe. But it is so real as you see people as their Father in Heaven does. Her grandson then came into the kitchen and put a handgun on the table and started cleaning his hunting rifle. Only in Iowa. 
Three weeks ago we had a tornado system come through, the week after we had about 6 inches of snow, and this past week we had an ice storm! What's next? Sister McKinstry is getting the full gamut of Iowa weather here in these weird fall months! It keeps us on our toes, that's for sure.
We went to the Higgs house for Thanksgiving dinner and it was so so good! I carved the turkey and picked it clean. It was sweet. Other than eating lots of turkey it was normal missionary day for us, so not too much else to report on Turkey Day.
Something I have loved and learned here in Iowa is the concept of accepting and loving EVERYONE! A "come as you are" attitude enables you to see others as Christ does. When you see others as Christ does you instinctively reach out in love, you experience real joy, you learn from others the treasures of life that you on our own cannot obtain. Strive to have a "come as you are" approach. If the person at the store looks sketchy, talk to them, serve them, love them. If the person at work is an ultra Star Wars geek and you could care less, listen to them, help them, genuinely get to know them! Because love does. Love is not something you can put on a shelf, stare at, and think "huh, well that's real pretty". Take people as they are and you will find the joy of loving God's children. It's true!!!
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, November 23, 2015

White week in Boone

This past week I was on an exchange in Fort Dodge and this old lady, Sandra, in a nursing home was praying. She said one of the cutest and sweetest prayers I have ever heard. "Thank you for this nice young sister coming to visit, Sister..." I saw her trying to read my name tag as I peeked open my eyes, "Skaggs" I say. "Oh that's right, thank you for Sister Skaggs. She looks like a good ol German gal. I'm German too, we could be good friends. That'd be nice." Best prayer ever! And if you're wondering, I'm not German, at all. 
At the end of the exchange we went to Stratford, a tiny small town, to exchange back with our real companions. The other companionship wasn't there yet so we went into a gas station to get some water, cause who knew you could get so dehydrated when it's 37 degrees out and raining? Well, we were checking out and I offered the cashier, Cheryl, a card that has a link on it to the Because He Lives video. We talked to her a little bit and she told us she was a member and hadn't been to church in quite some time. She was so happy to see us and said she'd come by the church some Sunday
We walked out with our hearts warm and ran to the car to keep our fingers from freezing. The sister who was in the ward that Cheryl was to attend felt like we should go back and talk to her. We went back inside as our companions pulled up and Cheryl was on her way back to catch us. We talked with her more and she told us that no more than ten minutes before we came in her coworker had asked her what church she went to and she responded that she went to the Baptist church in town. Immediately in her head she thought, "but really I'm a Mormon." When she saw us walk in she was shocked. As she relayed the story to us she began to cry. The spirit was there in a little gas station in the middle of nowhere, Iowa. She thanked us again and hugged us even tighter. She knew that God loved her and that our appearance was no coincidence
Robert Lundy was baptized and confirmed on Saturday the 21st. He was so happy and wouldn't stop smiling! He attended stake conference the next day where he met President and Sister Jensen, the Stake President, the Temple President, and Elder Martino of the 70. Solid. 
We got lots of snow. Sister McKinstry has never seen snow before so it was super fun watching her. She was so excited she gave herself hiccups!
Overall it was an extremely solid week full of miracles and tender mercies! I know that the Lord knows us and is extremely active in the details of our lives. It is impossible for Him to be passively involved. He is not a God of scarcity, He truly wants us to have all that Has in joy, love, glory, and peace.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tornado warning!

She said she forgot her jacket, maybe her tights too?

If you know Courtney, you know why she looks so excited!  She said this was only 99 cents.  How lucky.

This past week a lot of crazy things happened. Really, a little bit of everything! 
It was our week of a lot of meetings, Tuesday we were in Iowa City all day, we planned our training on Wednesday, and had Zone Training Meeting in Ames on Thursday. It was fun seeing all the missionaries and being able to learn from President and Sister Jensen.
On Wednesday we had a bit of crazy weather. We knew there was a possibility of tornadoes and in the middle of a lesson with Robert the member's son called to say that surrounding counties were under a "tornado warning." We eventually finished the lesson and took the member home. Two blocks later we got a text that Boone County was under tornado warning so back we went to the member's home to take cover. We sat and listened to the TV and radio blaring about the storm that was sweeping across Iowa. Lots of tornadoes touched down, but none in Boone. We had some pretty crazy wind, heavy rain, and even some hail in just a ten minute span! The storm cellar was ready for us but luckily we didn't have to run down there. After the storm the sun was out and all was well.
Robert is a non smoker and is set to be baptized this Satruday! After passin ghis interview Robert said, "I'll just jump in right now!" He's awesome. The Boone ward is marvelous at fellowshipping and has really just taken him right in, it's great! If you want to know how to get active in missionary work, start by fellowshipping new or returning members. As a member fellowshipper you are some thing special to people, you are someone that we as missionaries cannot be... a normal friend! We're excited for the baptism and are praying that a family emergency doesn't come up and he has to leave town like Allan! This will be Sister McKinstry's first baptism so she's extra stoked! I should be sending some pictures of it next week after all goes well.  
Today marks 16 months since I entered the Missionary Training Center. It's totally a reason to celebrate, but not. Getting old on the mission is a weird thing, something you can't prepare for! So pray that I don't develop missionary dementia or have to have my knees replaced from kneeling so often!
No spiritual rant for your today, really. Just know that you are loved! I love you, your dog loves you (if you have one), my mom loves you or would if she knew you, Jesus Christ loves you because he knows what you're going through, and your Father in Heaven loves you more than you can imagine. 
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, November 9, 2015

life is like a primary program

The squirrels are getting real fat, the trees are mostly bare, and the air is getting more and more brisk! Winter is coming but thankfully it's been a pretty warm fall here in Boone. I walked the three blocks here to the library and didn't even have to wear tights! It's in the 50s and beautiful (which probably sounds freezing to those of you in California).
The other day we were teaching a group of people we met on the street just a block away from the train tracks... As Sister Beattie was teaching about what a prophet is a train roared by blaring its horn! Sister McKinstry and I just laughed. After the alarming and brief interruption the lesson went well and they became investigators! Boone problems. 
Our main man, Robert Lundy, is preparing to be baptized on the 21st of November and is doing great! He loves church and it is so fun teaching him. He's older but we can really get him going when he talks about his hot rod building days and street racing against old grandmas! He's a hoot. Pray that he can give up smoking and be prepared to enter the waters of baptism!
Like I mentioned last year, I'm sure, people in the Midwest love Christmas and aren't afraid to show it. People have their decorations out already while others are struggling to take down their Halloween decorations. It makes Boone look like the town in the Nightmare Before Christmas, really. But I am beyond stoked for the Christmas cheer to get going even more here in the next few weeks!!
Yesterday at church was the primary program for the Boone Ward! It had a little bit of everything, bottom lips quivering, yelling into the microphone, tender moments of the spirit, and of course those poor 11 and 12 year olds in the back looking too cool. It was great!
Something that I really learned though came in Gospel Principles though, as the teacher said "life is really like a big primary program!" We look at the children up there in their different stages of life, some yelling the words to the songs and others looking less enthused. But really, we are proud of all of them. It doesn't matter where they are in their development, they are up there and trying. That is the way our Father in Heaven sees us. We are all performing the tasks of life at different levels. But he loves us. He is proud of our efforts. He seeks to see us smile and be happy. We can all look at ourselves and those around us a little more like we look at those children on the stage. We can be more understanding, more appreciative, more loving. 
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, November 2, 2015

Goat on board

One of Courtney's companions did a little make-up work on her

Ledges State Park

Last Monday we went to Ledges State Park again... only this time it was fall. Aka it was 10 times more pretty! Man oh man did we have fun adventuring and just walking around the little trails.
On Friday and Saturday we had to be in at 6:30 because of "Beggars Night" and Halloween. Sister McKinstry is really good at make up and we had fun making us look beat up and gory. Also, Sister McKinstry is my third companion that has been to cosmetology school. I think Heavenly Father is trying to tell me something... So I learned to curl my hair and with Sister McKinstry's help I'm learning other ways to look more presentable. 
Also, transfers are this week. We are staying together for another transfer here in Boone. The trio party continues!
Allan was supposed to be baptized this past week but had a family emergency out of town. Kind of alarming. Also, one of our investigators, Tommy, slipped in the bathroom and cracked his knee! Three other investigators somehow overslept with the extra hour due to daylight savings time. In the words of Tommy (who is full of solid one liners) "the devil is working overtime!" But we are not getting down, we know that the people we are teaching are approaching something far greater than the trials and speed bumps in their way. 
A few weeks ago I saw a truck that had a sticker that said "goat on board." Intrigued I went to look into the bed of the truck that was covered. Sure enough I could smell the goat before I could see it through the tinted windows. The little fella had some hay he was munching on and even had his horns painted pink... It's an Iowa thing or something. In California you find a beach full of dogs, in Hawaii kids ride bikes with chickens on their laps, in Iowa you find goats in the back of trucks. To each state their own.
Something really cool I have learned recently is that the spirit changes hearts in seconds, minutes, or days. It's true and so cool to see. Earlier this transfer on exchanges in Ames we talked to this young guy on the street. His name was Caleb. He told us he was an atheist and we just talked and invited him to learn more and gave him a card. Five minutes later we were walking back to our car and saw him walking towards us. We talked with him again and he opened up a lot, telling us his life problems and really only his brief doubt in God that he was going through. He gave us a referral and accepted a visit from the sisters for later in the week. It was the coolest thing ever to see his countenance change as he felt the spirit and we testified of God's love for him. I am so grateful that the spirit is the great teacher! I know it can and will change hearts as we are tools in Father in Heaven's hands.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, October 26, 2015

Talking with Joseph Smith and a knife wielding man

Visiting sisters in Ankeny

I never told you all but a few weeks ago, on exchanges in Ames, I met Joseph Smith! No joke. He is the coolest person in the world. He's super funny and a recent convert that the Zone Leaders there taught! As he was walking up one of the elders started singing Praise to the Man, it was epic to say the least. He also sang Sister Beattie happy birthday via voice message. He's got some pipes.
This past week we drove at night up to Fort Dodge and all those windmills I told you about had red lights that would all blink on and off at the same time. Creepy! A whole slew of red lights (there were seriously at least 100) out in the fields blinking on and off. It's like the hills had eyes... except there are no hills here. 
On Saturday we were about to walk over a train track but the bar came down. The train came whooshing by, I yelled at the conductor, waved like a little kid, and the locals all stared. It was a good time. Then we found some sweet people to teach after the train got out of our way. 
Also on Saturday we knocked on a door and a man answered saying "what do you want?" Only thing was, he had a knife in his hand! Granted, he was in the middle of cooking, but still! It didn't get any more normal because he continued to wave his knife around as he talked our ears off. It was quite a treat but unfortunately he didn't accept our invitation to hear more about the good word. 
No spiritual rant today, but be sure to be a missionary! I rarely hear about missionary experiences that people are having at home. So pray, ask "what lack I yet" in reference to missionary work, then go do it! And of course tell me about it
 Invite, teach and testify, and fellowship.  Blessings and happiness will come. The spirit will be with you more often! This is the most important work on the earth, and what's cool is that it's super fun.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, October 19, 2015

Amber Waves of Grain

So like I said last week, fall is in full force. That means that the corn stalks are rotting and all the bugs that were in the fields are now dive bombing our faces because they are scared of giant tractors. But that's besides the point. When we drive to see other sisters in other small towns, a line from "America the Beautiful" takes on more meaning. "Amber waves of grain" are so so so pretty! No joke. We'll be driving, come over a hill above the six foot tall dead corn, and just see rolling hills of swaying grain. It truly is a sight to see, one you can see for miles and miles. It's awesome. 
These past two weeks we've gone to choir practice. If you know me even the slightest, you know I am not that kinda person. But lunch can wait, and when you're a missionary you have greater patience/appreciation for others' interest. Plus also, the spirit is really strong when 30 people are singing Redeemer of Israel!
This past week we went on exchanges to Marshalltown, which is pretty much a miniature version of Des Moines! We talked to so many people and they were all just the coolest cats. We even taught a Liberian family, I was in heaven and my companions were a little less than thrilled about the loud noises and lack of attention given to our words. Going to Marshalltown was definitely a tender mercy! There's even people from Burma there!
I wanted to share the secret to the success of the Iowa Des Moines Mission. We have a successful mission. With 100 less missionaries we are still doing the same amount of work. It's amazing. President Jensen tells us all the time, "the secret to a successful missionary and mission is SANCTIFICATION." It is a true principle. When we are sanctified the Spirit of the Holy Ghost, the real teacher, will be with us. President never focuses on new programs and rarely focuses on teaching skills. Rather he teaches us how to be pure. 
The same principle can be applied to all phases of life. The secret to the success of a ward is sanctification. The secret to the success of a family is sanctification. The secret to the success of a presidency is sanctification. We all have weapons of rebellion that we can bury to in turn become more pure. Through prayer we can identify what the Lord would have us root out of our lives and never return to. We can ask ourselves "what lack I yet?" Do it! The Lord will help you and His grace is suffiecient The spirit will be with you more and personal sanctification will bring success. I know it is true because I have seen it time and time again in myself and other missionaries. 
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, October 12, 2015

"On Date!"

She said there were a lot of frogs.

This is at a place called Ledges in Courtney's area.

So this past week we drove a whole lot! We went all the way to the northern most part of our mission, Mason City. There are sister there and we went on exchanges. It just so happens that my trainee, Sister Nakayu, is serving there and we spent a good 24 hours together! It was epic. 
 In Mason City on exchanges

What else was epic was the massive amounts of tractors and combines on the road and in the fields. Everybody and their dog is harvesting right now. It's pretty cool to see big monster looking things mow down stalks of corn by the dozen and make big dust clouds as they chop up the dry soy beans. What else do you see driving through Iowa for two hours? Wind farms! Man, we drove through this part of the country that had probably 50 windmills all spread out. They are HUGE and it's super cool to just drive with all of them around!
Wow, my life is just full of the coolest and most epic things ever right now, hopefully you'll understand. So when I left Kirksville they closed the are to sisters and brought in elders. That means all the people we taught got forgotten, for the most part. But sisters are back in Kirksville as I exclaimed a few weeks ago. In president's weekly email he has a list of everyone that has a baptismal date and has been to church. I checked it today and THREE people I taught in Kirksville are "on date" for baptism! I am so so so elated!!! Fist pumps were in order reading those three sisters' names. It's great knowing that my efforts in Kirksville were not in vain and that despite not having any baptisms there, the seeds were sown and are now sprouting for other sisters to harvest.
It really is all about the Lord's time and our perspective. We must trust, continue forward in faith, and be obedient always. The blessings and miracles will come. They always do.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, October 5, 2015

Apply it!

This is right next to their building.  Very scenic.

Courtney with Thomas the Train!

So this past week was a doozie! We were blessed to be able to be in at least 20 hours of meetings (Mission Leadership Council, Zone Training Meetings, and General Conference), had two people attend General Conference (Allan and Robert), and it's finally legitly cooling down! I walked out of our apartment building, which smells like pancake batter and dust bunnies, and it was beautiful outside! The air was nice and crisp and the smell of fresh cut grass was in the air. I love tender mercies!
Every small town in Iowa has a claim to fame, some more famous than others. But they really latch on to that claim and run with it! Here in Boone they don't let anyone forget that they have a Walmart, Ledges State Park is right down the road, and Mamie Eisenhower was born right in this here city! Yup that's right, First Lady Eisenhower! Sometimes we drive the street named after her and if we're luckty we drive past her birthplace every fourth day. Gotta love small town Iowa. Oh and if you were wondering there are 12,000 people here in Boone! It's great, pretty soon there will be two wards here with all the people we're planning to help be baptized!
Two people that we are teaching, Allan and Robert came to conference like I mentioned. They are a bit older but both quite a hoot. The demographic of people we teach out here is far different than that of Des Moines! Blue jeans, flannels, man pony tails, and houses full of overstuffed recliners are much more common. It's great.
I absolutely LOVED conference! Like i've said before, it's like Super Bowl weekend for us missionaries. Eight hours is finished and we say "it went by too fast, I wan't some more!"
I especially loved all of the talks... no but if I had to choose one of the talks I enjoyed a lot I would have to say it was Larry R. Lawrence's talk. He spoke of praying and asking Father in Heaven "what lack I yet? What is keeping me from progressing?" I have seen the Master shape me time and time again as I have been in His service and asked Him those questions. Sometimes the answers are simple like "take care of yourself and stop eating so much sugar." And other times the counsel carries equal weight but is more poignant like "don't just look at the atonement sitting on the shelf, apply it!" 
I know that I am not perfect in this regard. I still strive to ask these questions more frequently. But I know that our Father in Heaven will guide us as we turn to Him and we will changed as we heed His counsel.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, September 28, 2015

From Des Moines to Boone...

Man oh man, I am back in small town Iowa! I was transferred last week and now reside in Boone! It's a town of twelve thousand and I love it! There is a full ward here and church yesterday was great. It's quite a change from Des Moines, but I am liking it a lot. Boone is about fifteen minutes west of Ames, which is where Iowa State University is. 

I forgot to tell you but a few weeks ago in Des Moines we found a new investigator, Mu Kye (Moo Kai). She was really cool. She is Kyean, from Burma. Well we were in her house and were looking at photos on her wall. All the ladies had gold rings on their necks and on the knees. Yup, Mu Kye used to stretch her neck with those gold rings. You've probably seen her on National Geographic. To contrast the type of people we find here in Boone, I'll tell you about Robert. We taught Robert yesterday on his porch. He has gray hair that is pulled back in a pony tail, and wore a flannel and blue jeans. Oh the people you find in Iowa! I love 'em.
My new companions are Sister Beattie, from Nashville, Tennessee and Sister McKinstry, from Phoenix, Arizona! They are just great and we have a lot of fun together. I actually served around Sister Beattie in the Nauvoo Stake and I was her Sister Training Leader in Des Moines, so we're good friends already. Last night we were taking mustache pictures with our hair and watched the blood moon. We're pretty much BFFs already.

Here in Boone there are a lot of trains! Like for real, we go to sleep hearing the trains rumble by just a few blocks away. Also, Thomas the Train was in town. No joke, a train that looked exactly like Thomas. His eyes moved, smoke stack spewed some sort of vapor. He was the real deal, and totally the talk of the town. 

I really liked the song we sang this morning in companionship study, "They the Builders of The Nation." Particularly there was a line I felt to share. "Ev'ry day some burden lifted, Ev'ry day some heart to cheer". Everyday we can have our burdens lifted by the atonement of Jesus Christ. Truly the atonement is for everything, an everyday remedy. And as we have our burdens lifted we can in turn let the light of Christ shine through us and cheer another one's heart. There's really nothing better than applying the atonement and sharing the resultant light with others.

Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, September 21, 2015

Last week in her beloved city

So this past week has been beyond stellar! The weather has been perfect, in the 60s and 70s. I keep telling people "Hey this is what Christmas day feels like in California!" It's safe to say I have had some great nostalgic moments, like thinking briefly about riding my new scooter from Santa down the street in shorts and a new hoodie that is too warm.
Yesterday we were out contacting less active members and inviting them to church, these were people that did not have home and visiting teachers assigned. AKA people that have requested no contact with the church. Those can be really interesting at times, super awkward for them but I just laugh it off and fulfill my missionary duties. So knock on a house door and we talk to this guy who is living with a member. The member wasn't home. We extended the invite, he said "cool", and we gave him a picture of Christ. The picture had our number on the back, and oh yeah, the 13 Articles of Faith. It was the sweet picture of Jesus sitting with the kids, the one you get in primary. So this random guy takes the card, glances at the back and says "Oh, it's got his stats on the back!" That gave me a solid laugh that I couldn't hold in. Touché, random bearded guy, touché.
We got transfer calls this morning... President Jensen called. I am leaving Des Moines! I am so sad, but all good things must come to an end. I have made so many great memories and friends here! Des Moines will always have a big place in my heart. I love this city! (Insert yet another cheesy and cliché phrase)! I am excited about a new adventure though! President informed me that I will go to a new area, I will have a Sister Training Leader companion, and us two Sister Training Leaders will train a brand new sister!!! That is insane! I have never heard of such a thing happening! I am curious how a trio will work out... but I am super excited for this new adventure. What's even crazier is that Sister Williams will be staying here and the same situation will happen! Two Sister Training Leaders and a fresh new sister. Transfers are always exciting, but nothing this adventurous has happened to my companionship before. Next week I will be sure to tell you about my new area and my TWO new companions!
Yesterday in church we heard about humility and pride. It was a great reality check. Someone said once "If you think you are humble, you're not." I have come to learn that humility is like a drop of water on clay. It softens us up and makes us workable. When we are humble we are able to be shaped and formed in the Master's hands. When we are prideful, or lack humility, we dry up, become hard, and simply sit on the table as a hunk of clay. I'd much rather be the soft and workable! I know that as we strive to be humble through prayer, studying the Savior, following the spirit, and serving others we will be able to become what the Master has in mind for us.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, September 14, 2015

Take Courage

So being here in Des Moines we have the lucky privilege to just stop by the mission office any time! It's awesome. We go almost everyMonday, to get supplies or just say hi. I have really grown to love the office missionaries! Sister Stringham takes care of all the missionaries coming in and going out, and she has a blue sheet that has the next three transfer's arrivals and departures on it. It's not good news when you've made it to the blue sheet... Last week one of the Assistants, Elder Zabriskie, was at Sister Strigham's desk talking with us and said "hey Sister Skaggs, look at this." There was my name on the blue sheet. Not cool! I have three transfers left and plan to keep sprinting to the finish line! I love this too much to get trunky already.
One of the Assistants is going home this transfer so the new one was announced this past weekend so that he could attend the temple and transfer plan this week. It's Elder Banta! I'm super excited because he and I have served together a lot. He came out just a transfer before me and we were both trained in Kirksville. And then I followed him to the Quad Cities for our second areas! He's coming here to Des Moines and hopefully I don't leave! We'll see what happens because transfers are next week. 
This past Saturday we attended a funeral for a little boy in our ward. It was really sad. There were a ton of African people and they were grieving pretty significantly, weeping and wailing. My heart hurt for them as I heard and saw them cry. They had a time in the service when people could get up and say something. Many of them used the phrase "take courage" as they addressed the grieving family. I don't know if it is an African thing to say but I really liked it. I also didn't know that it was custom in Liberian culture to wear white to funerals... us missionaries were a little out of place.
Nonetheless, we can all "take courage" a little more in our lives. Missionary work, shunning Satan, loving others freely, having family home evening, keeping the Sabbath day holy, forgiving frankly. Take courage! Living the gospel is not easy nor convenient. It takes courage. Daily, hourly, and moment by moment! I have had to pray for courage many times as I have served and every time Father in Heaven has given me more strength and resolve to do that which is required and expected of me. So take courage! Pray for it and apply the two word sermon to any aspect of your life. Blessings WILL come!
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

stringing scriptures

Searching hard for signs of Fall.

So this past week was stellar! Still hotter than no other, but this week is cooling off already. The leaves are changing on about one in every 50 trees... but that's still pretty exciting! I've already collected a handful of super rad ones and they're in my scriptures getting extra flat.

We found a whole slew of new investigators this past week. A few weeks ago we realized that not many of our investigators were really progressing. So over two weeks we purged about 50% of them. It was hard but a total act of faith that the Lord would lead us to those where prepared and legit about finding and following truth. It was amazing because Father in Heaven blessed us with eight new investigators, three of which we have already set baptismal dates with! One of them, who's name is TaRena, saw an ad online for The Book of Mormon and felt like she needed to read it. She is so SOLID! I am so grateful for the blessings of diligence, faith, and obedience as we serve and strive to bring souls unto Christ.

I am beyond grateful for the gift and companionship of the Holy Ghost.
This past Sunday our recent convert, Sylvia, bore her testimony! A week with the gift of the Holy Ghost has done her wonders. Her testimony and conviction concerning the restored gospel has just blossomed. She is filled with peace, love, and so much joy. She said in her testimony "I am not ashamed to say that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!" To which bishop and us missionaries got the biggest grin on our faces. "People ask me if I go to church and when I tell them yeah they scoff. I just say, I'll pray for ya!" Man oh man do I love Sylvia and her testimony. Miatta also got up and bore a powerful testimony about how she can feel Jesus with her all the time because of the Holy Ghost. There's nothing like hearing your recent converts bear their testimonies, your heart is filled with joy and you feel like a proud mother!

Also on exchanges I was in the Hermanas area. I didn't know what was going on most of the day because everything was in Spanish. Needless to say it was great because the spirit was there. During a lesson I was prompted to share a sequence of scriptures from the Bible, all scriptures I had memorized references to but had never strung them together. Because of the influence of the spirit I was able to teach Allan simply and clearly why he needed to be baptized again and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. It was amazing! The spirit bore witness of the truthfulness of the doctrine and Allan accepted a baptismal date!

I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost. It is a foretaste of Heaven that can bring it's blessings and miracles. Be worthy of it, seek it, and then strive to always heed it's promptings!

Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, August 31, 2015

Fear thou not

Unplanned matching

So this past week I was driving down a street in a neighborhood we frequent. This kid was on the sidewalk dribbling a basketball, practicing some sweet moves. Just before I got to him he lost a handle on the ball... it rolled into the street right in front of our car and I ran it over. I felt like the worst human being of all time! It was a huge coincidence and kinda funny but mostly saddening. We slowed down and apologized to the kid and realized we had just knocked on his door the day prior looking for one of our investigators. It's safe to say though that my week got a whole lot better!
On Tuesday we had interviews with President and Sister Jensen, it was the BEST! I love interviews with President. I remember my first interview back in Quincy, Illinois, I was so nervous, but now it is such a great time. The fifteen minutes just flies by! After the interview we were in the hall saying goodbye and President almost gave me a hug! It was so funny. I just shot out my hand and he was like "oh, I was ready to hug ya." I love him and Sister Jensen so much!
All over Des Moines there are billboards with babies on them. Some cute, some... not so much. Well, they are accompanied by clever phrases like "we are the future" and "hair raising fact!" Sometimes they are in baby sized bath tubs and other times their hair is spiked real high. It's a strange little quirk about the political propaganda here in Iowa.
Sylvia Thomas was baptized and confirmed this weekend! Wow, what can I say. Just three weeks ago helping her be baptized was the gretest anxiety of my soul! Really though, I would have done anything to help Sylvia be baptized! She was so happy and wanted to stay in the font just to hang out cause she liked it so much. The service and confirmation went on without a hitch, which is a modern day miracle!
I wanted to share a few things that helped Sylvia be baptized. She had been taught so long that we weren't sure which direction to go. About a month ago her brother passed away and she had relapsed on smoking. It was really tough for Sister Williams and I. But we knew the gospel would help. We taught her about the eternal nature of families and the work of salvation done in temples. Those eternal truths answered one of her deep questions of the soul. Next up we focused on the restoration of the gospel and the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. We shouldn't have been shocked but we were a week later when she said she had given up smoking! It was a major testimony builder that the gospel of Jesus Christ is real. It's not just a good idea or a catchy phrase that we preach. It heals hearts. All the answers to life's hardest questions can be found. We can be lifted beyond our own strength. The adversary would have us think otherwise. I have seen it time and time again as people have yearned for truth yet turned away just when it was at their doorstep. We need not fear, the Savior of the world and creator of the universe is on our side! Christ and His teachings will never fail, as said in Isaiah 41:10 "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Iowa Fair Food

At a SLT meeting

This past week a member texted us and said "Sisters, I'm going to the fair to get some food. What can I get you?" Needless to say we were stoked! I had a gyro, Sister Williams had a cord dog, and the member surprised us with deep fried pineapple and a pork chop on a stick. Fair food coma is a real thing!
We also had four meetings this week (Mission Leadership Council and three Zone Training Meetings) which consisted of 19 hours of sitting, six more hours sitting in a car, five hours of planning a training, and an hour total of training missionaries. It was totally awesome and very exhausting! Astonishingly we were still able to have time to see some miracles and teach some sweet lessons!
Sylvia passed her baptismal interview and will be baptized this coming Saturday! She's quit smoking and is super excited to finally be baptized. I've been teaching Sylvia for close to five months now, so I'm pretty pumped too.
Just yesterday we had a lesson fall through and we had recent convert Janet Quam with us to be the member present. So we decided to go sit at some benches with the Janet and study Preach My Gospel. We get to the benches and there was a man sitting there, his name was Frank. He told us he was ready to give up on God and really was discouraged with the direction his life was going. We were able to testify of our Father in Heaven's love for him and invite him to be baptized. He was overjoyed and the spirit was insanely strong. He knew without a doubt that Heavenly Father loved him! Janet, the recent convert, then testified of the beauty and blessing of baptism. Frank said so many times, "No one is going to believe me, God sent angels here to me!" It was a very special experience to be a part of and I felt very humbled to know that Heavenly Father used us, two young girls and a recent convert of just seven months to comfort and bless His son who was in need. We'll be seeing Frank this week and after setting the appointment for Tuesday he said "I'll be holding y'all to that!" It's people like Frank and the experience we shared that I will never forget.
I am so grateful to be a tool in Father in Heaven's hands. This is His work and glory, and I love it!
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, August 17, 2015

I love love!

Somewhere in Des Moines


My oh my there is a lot to cover today, a lot of random things that I wrote down during the week that I just need to explain!
So this past week we recognized that we needed to help one of our investigators, Sylvia, stop smoking. It was vital! She has had multiple baptismal dates pass by and I have been teaching her for almost five months now! We go to her apartment on Saturday with one of her good friends who is a member and who used to smoke. One of the first things Sylvia told us was that she had her last cigarette the night before! She is totally done. She knows she needs to be healthy and wants to get baptized so bad. It gets better because she came to church, stayed all three hours, and was participating in the lessons! We are so excited to stay close to her these next two weeks so that she can be baptized ASAP!
Also this past week on Tuesday the branch president and his wife, the Jespersen's, in the Spanish 5th Branch took us and the Hermanas to la mie, a French bakery! The Jespersen's knew me and my family way back in the day in San Diego! It was super fun to be with them and talk about our families and friends.
Random Iowa information! The state fair is going on here in Des Moines, it's crazy! Well, there are billboards for it everywhere. Even one from the Iowa Egg Council that reads "Get your egg on a stick at the fair!" That's exactly what I would be craving at the fair as I walk around in 95 degree weather, a hard boiled egg on a popsicle stick. Also at the state fair I a life size butter cow. Legit, no joke. It's all the rave.
The cicaidas are as loud as ever and leave their little outer shells everywhere, it's quite pleasant. The other day I was making dinner and they provided a very nice backdrop to the chicken I was grilling. The window was closed and I could still hear their melodious screeching!
So there's this little Bosnian boy who must be six or seven that lives near us. Whenever he sees us he asks if we have candy. His name is Muyo and he's a gem. The other day we saw him on a little razor motorcycle, it was so cute! We raced him on our car and his dad got mad. Then I got a sweet video of him saying "My name is Muyo and I like to go fast!"
Also, with transfers this past week, I'm still here in Des Moines with Sister Williams! And... drum roll... they opened Kirksville back up for sisters!!! I am so stoked! One of the sisters that was serving here in the stake went down there with her new companion. Hearing that news made me so happy because after being trained and spending six months in Kirksville they closed it. But the Sisters are back in town and "that just tickles me" as the old ladies out here would say!
I wanted to briefly write a little bit about the importance of love. I love love! With pure love and concern for others our motives will be pure. We will act the way that Christ would and that love will lift others. I have found that loving others is the most valuable lesson that I have learned on my mission thus far. And with just five months left (CRAZY) I don't know that I'll learn anything much more valuable. I can say it's the most valuable thing I have learned because I was very clearly without it before I came to Iowa. I had a testimony of the gospel and my savior, and yes that testimony has grown immensely and entered my heart deeper. But I have learned that love is the gospel in action! So love freely! Love everyone and seek to love like the savior, it's the best!
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sometimes the easiest thing isn't always the best thing

District Meeting

Teaching Primary

So this past week the two people that we had on date to be baptized had a tough time with commandments and getting permission from family. It was kinda rough not being able to see them be baptized. But such is life and such is missionary work. We say a prayer, act in faith, and put on our working shoes to find more who are prepared!
Transfers are this week but it is looking like Sister Williams and I will stay together because we haven't heard anything from President and he'll usually call when one of us gets transferred. Fingers are still crossed though! I can't leave Des Moines yet, I just love it way too much.
Random awesome moment during the week: one of my favorite people to bring to lessons, Janet Quam, said this week in a lesson "Sometimes the easiest thing isn't always the best thing." She testifies so boldly and kinda puts people in their place! It's the best.
This week I have been focusing more on utilizing and seeking the spirit during lessons. I have prayed for help and it has been amazing! I love that the spirit testifies of truth, there's nothing better than testifying of precious truths, feeling the spirit strongly, and knowing that those you are teaching are feeling it as well. I love it! It is an amazing blessing to be a representative of Jesus Christ and to testify of Him with the Spirit. The mantle is heavy, it's hard, and I am always tired. But I know that my Father in Heaven will not leave me comfortless or directionless. The Spirit is always there to help, lift, and inspire. What an amazing gift! This week seek the spirit more in prayer and listen to promptings. I watched "On The Lord's Errand" this past week during a lunch hour (yeah, that's what we do as missionaries), the movie about Thomas S. Monson and he said something to this effect: "There is nothing more rewarding than to act on a prompting of the spirit and find out that it was an answer to someone's prayer or concern." I know that we can ALL be instruments in the Lord's hands if we but seek the spirit in all we do.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs