Tuesday, January 27, 2015

He is the best father....

Courtney with her grandparents, right before she left.

So we had a full week in Bettendorf, Iowa, "A Premier City", as it says on the city signs and residential trash cans. I am enjoying it here and Sister Nakayu is so great. We have some good laughs but know how to get down to business. The work here is moving forward at a tortoise's pace, but at least it is moving forward! We are excited for this coming week because we have found a lot of potential investigators this past week and we are going to knock doors for days!
Today we are going on a tour of the John Deere factory. Of course I am going to buy a hat! It also has been snowing a bit here. It was really pretty to watch fall as we studied for two hours this morning. Not much else going on here in eventful Iowa! We're excited for the week to come and hopefully I'll have some great and interesting encounters with people of the Midwest in the coming week. 
These past twelve hours have been pretty eventful though. My Grandfather, LeRoy Hemingway, passed last night and I was able to talk to my family for a little bit. Just a half an hour before I got a call from my mission president I was sitting on my bed looking at the pictures that are up on my wall. There are a good 50+ strewn all across the wall by my bed. But as I was looking at them and thinking about my family and friends I focused on one of my favorite pictures of my Grandma and Grandpa. I was so happy to have them in my life, I was thankful for them. Just an hour later as I talked to my family I realized that my family back in San Diego was doing the same thing as they spent the last few moments with my Grandpa. 
Our Father in Heaven is mindful of us. He knows our circumstances and comforts us. He knows what lies ahead when our vision is blurred or hindered. He prepares us for the trials of life. He is the best father I could ask for. I could not be more comforted and at peace than I am now. I know that I will see my Grandpa again. I know that he is now with my uncle and they are totally having fun together! I know that they will be watching over me as I participate in this most precious work. The plan of salvation is real! It is true! It brings comfort and joy in the most troublesome circumstances. What a joy and blessing the gospel of Jesus Christ is!
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Deer and Deere and Dear

Last few days in MO

Hey so a crazy week just went down! Sister Paul and I spent our last three says in Kirksville visiting all of our investigators, less active members, and recent converts! It kinda was tiring because then at night we had to pack and clean real good. We got it all done and left Thursday for Iowa City at five in the morning because I had to go to a meeting before the actual transfer meeting. It was nice to drive those three hours with Sister Paul and have one last hurrah as the California Dreamers that we were (Sister Lay in our ward would always call us that)! I miss her more than often and hope she is loving the 70 degree weather in CAlifornia. 
Oh it got to the 40s this weekend! Cardigan weather! I am only wearing one pair of tights instead of three, booyah! And we have a car full time here, so no more walking out on the frigid tundra. 
Transfer meeting was totally sweet as all the 17 departing missionaries bore their testimonies. Also, my new companion is Sister Nakayu from Roy, Utah! She is totally rad and has such great energy for the work. We are assigned to the Bettendorf, Iowa ward here next to the Mississippi River. The ward has been so good to us already. We're both fresh to the area but feel at home. Speaking of home, we live with members! The Warner family is totally great, it's just Sister Warner, Annie who is 13, and Benji the dog. I love living with a family because it is so nice to come home to people and a crazy fun dog.
Bettendorf is part of the quad cities which is made up of Bettendorf, Davenport, Moline, and Rock Island. It's a fairly big area with a lot of normal shopping choices. We go to church in East Moline which is on the other side of the river, in Illinois! Pretty dang cool. I love the area and still get lost but it is a super nice area. No joke, I have never lived close to an area as nice as this! It's a lot different than Kirksville for sure. I haven't seen one bit of camouflage or anything close to dead deer on the back of trailers or hanging in garages. The closest thing to deer is the John Deere headquarters over in Moline. We're going there for a tour next Monday. Almost half the people I have met work there, Sister Warner is an electrical engineer for the Deere.
At church yesterday we had a lesson about Christ as our chosen Savior and Redeemer. We got on the topic of why Satan does what he does and we all came to the conclusion that he really does know us and knows how to tempt us. He knew us in the premortal realm and he knows us now. He knows our strengths and weaknesses. Kinda alarming but true. But then the scripture Alma 7:11-13 came to my mind. I read it to myself as the teacher was talking about Christ and I realized how much better our Savior knows us. Christ knows us completely. He knows our thoughts, intents, and deepest desires. Christ saw our faces as He sweat drops of blood in agony. Satan may know us, but Christ succors us. What a valuable truth to remember! Christ will always trump that bitter and angry dude, if we but turn to Him as He beckons.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

PS. I didn't just realize I was misspelling y'all this whole time. It just started bugging me that I was too lazy to add an apostrophe. Happy MLK day!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Good bye Kirksville

So we got a call from President Jensen this morning, Sister Paul is going on the eternal transfer to Garden Grove, California and I will be transferred as well! Elders will be taking our place because there are not enough sisters coming out anymore! I was dramatically devastated to be leaving this lovely place. But I am so happy that I have been able to spend six amazing months here in Kirksville. I have learned to love people freely and will miss them dearly. 
Something I will miss about Kirksville is that people hang dead deer in their garages as they prepare them for slaughter and grubbing. We saw one the other night and it was a little alarming. Then yesterday we had deer roast at the Jenson's. It was deliciously amazing! I'm really glad I made it our of Kirksville having eaten deer.
So this past week when Sister Paul went to the temple I worked in Keokuk with two other sisters. For some reason Keokuk civic leaders do not see it important to plow roads besides the one main one that runs through town. I was walking up a little hill and totally slipped! I've experienced two forms of the "winter slip" now. Ice and snow. The good thing about slipping in snow is that it doesn't hurt as bad and doesn't happen as fast as slipping on ice. Oh the things you learn as a missionary serving in the Midwest!
But after I slipped we almost immediately found a potential investigator. It was a good 12 degrees out. We hadn't seen anyone walking the streets all day. But we had parked our car to do some finding and there comes walking down the snow filled sidewalk, a lone man. It was amazing. We were shocked. We talked to him and Sister Muirbrook set up an appointment to go see him and his family later in the week. The Lord directs His work. He put us, His servants, in that man's path to give Him the opportunity to hear the restored gospel. So too will He guide and direct our lives if we but live worthy of His spirit, humble ourselves to His will, and trust Him with our lives. That lesson is invaluable and something that has been so useful as I have been in the Lord's service. I love His work.
Love yall,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, January 5, 2015

Change is a miraculous thing

She said they filled up for 20 dollars!

This past week was probably the longest of my mission so far. Not in a bad way at all, just because it felt like forever ago that I emailed! It's a time warp of speed or slow motion in a mission and there's no telling what it'll be or why it feels a certain way. But this past week was New Year's Eve and all the hullabaloo, which included for us missionaries being in at six and voluntarily going to bed at eight! Yeah, Happy New Year! It was totally sweet besides the fact that I laid in bed and couldn't fall asleep until 10:30, our normal bed time.
Also on Saturday night we got some snow which is still mildly exciting for me   as a California native. It's supposed to get real frigid this week! Like the high on Wednesday will be FOUR degrees! We'll see how I fare.
This past week the Sister Training Leaders came in from Keokuk, IA. One of them, Sister Nye, is my grandma in the mission, meaning she trained Sister Ramsey, who trained me! She goes home at the end of this transfer, next week. Sister Paul, my companion, goes home next week too! It'll be sad to see her go. It's super weird that she'll be back in California in almost a week! So I'm definitely staying here in Kirksville for another two months almost. I might spend half my mission here by the time I leave! Good thing I love it. 
So this week, being that it's a new year and all, I studied change. You're probably thinking, "oh boy here's another one of the self help lectures on how to make and keep new years resolutions." Wrong! I did set some goals for myself and that is what prompted my study on change, but I wont pump you up for new year's resolutions. You can get that from your spouse who wants to eat more healthy or your mom who wants you to clean your room more than once every three months. Change is a miraculous thing. It is a divine trait in every human. We all have the ability to change and grow and progress. There is no stagnancy in being a son or daughter of God. I learned from my study in the scriptures that change is a spiritual process; faith, repentance, and righteous living are its clear antecedents. When we include our Father in Heaven in our quest to change and become better the results are amplified. We become "new creatures", with "no more disposition to do evil", and experience a true "change of heart." It is remarkable, astounding, miraculous. Whatever amazing word you want to use. Our ability to enact righteous and lasting change in our lives should not be taken for granted. It is within all of us, as we are sons and daughters of a Father in Heaven who wants us to return to Him.
Love yall,
Sister Skaggs