Monday, April 27, 2015

English, Burmese and Chin, who knew in Iowa you just might need all three?

This a Taco Bell birthday cake for a diabetic elder

So this past week was pretty stellar! This might be all over the place because I don't have much time left on this public library computer and so much happened that was just amazing!
First off, you know you're serving in Des Moines when it's hard to find an English pamphlet in your car. Nothing but Burmese, Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese!
I made pesto chicken linguine for the first time in my life and it was delicious! I am so thankful to serve in the states where all ingredients for cooking are available, especially when I find them leftover from other sisters!
We taught our first American investigator since I've been here. His name is Richard and he is just "so excited!" Seriously, he is so excited about church and the restored gospel and the Book of Mormon! He read 13 chapters in the Book of Mormon in three days! I don't think I've ever done that. He is so so cool. Our recent convert who lives at the same group home as him is pretty legit as well, she resolves concerns about polygamy and was teaching him the word of wisdom yesterday after church. Pretty cool.
We taught relief society and the lesson was on the talk "We'll Ascend Together" by Linda K Burton from this last General Conference. That was unique because the talk was a lot about marriage. It was nice though and I think Sister Fro and I leaned a lot, hopefully the sister did too. Ask the self test questions from it if you haven't already! "Guilt is to our spirit what pain is to our body—a warning of danger and a protection from additional damage" David A. Bednar.
So these past few weeks we've been teaching a cute Burmese family. They don't understand much English and their daughter tries to translate for us. They are so sincere, have amazing faith, and really want to be baptized. The Assistants are also teaching a lot of Burmese people but the language barrier is thick for them as well. We decided we needed to fast. The day before our fast, Wednesday, Sung, who is the mother of our Burmese family, gave us an offering for tithing. Their faith propelled us into our fast humbly. We fasted for a translator to be found or even the gift of tongues. I had never fasted for something so specific and with as much faith. We went through our day hungry and optimistic. The day was almost over and the last half hour of the day we met a man named Then. He is Burmese and speaks stellar English, but not the very specific language of Chin that our investigators speak. We were still so happy to have seen a glimmer of hope, a Burmese that can have a full English conversation! That night we went to the Hermana's apartment just around the way from ours and they said they had a referral for us. They opened their mouth and talked to Maung Shwe earlier in the day. When they told him they were missionaries he said "that's amazing!" He speaks fluent English, Burmese, and Chin! We taught Maung Shwe and three of his friends yesterday. They all want to come to church and be baptized. Maung Shwe is going to bring more young people that know English. He is ready and willing to translate for our Burmese family.
My friends, this work is no joke. The hand of the Lord is evident and the law of the fast is real. Miracles happen. In a city of almost 200 thousand the Lord knew who spoke Burmese, Chin, and English. We can do all things if we but include the Lord.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs
P.S. I love the Burmese people!

Monday, April 20, 2015

More used would I be

This past week was a doozie! Lots of rain and spring is a beautiful sight! My hump day was on Thursday. Not cool and super weird to think I am on the downslope! Sister Froerer and I were able to go to Iowa City for a meeting with other missionaries and President and Sister Jensen. We then had three more meetings throughout the week to present what we learned to the zones here in the Des Moines Stake. Boy were we busy and tired! We had limited time to proselyte but saw some really neat miracles as we found a new investigator and met some really cool people.
Here in Des Moines there is so much diversity! We were in an apartment building yesterday and talked to a Sudanese and Mexican family, two people from Burma, and a man from El Salvador. It was so totally rad. Who woulda ever thought to find so much culture in Iowa? I love it.
We are actually teaching a Burmese family. They were refugees and left Burma because they were persecuted for their belief in Christ. In Burma they could not pray in their own home without fear of persecution. This cute little family has so much faith as they come to church, pray, and are trying so hard to learn English. They don't understand anything at church but go home and study passages in their Bible which has been translated into Chin. They are the greatest! My faith is strengthened each time we meet with them and they put a huge smile on my face despite the large language barrier.
Yesterday church was beyond packed. There were so many visitors, people we didn't even know! The Africans are so good at inviting friends to church. It was definitely a "divide and conquer" effort for Sister Froerer and I. We sang More Holiness Give Me as a closing hymn and words from the last verse struck me.
"More fit for the kingdom,
More used would I be,
More blessed and holy
More, Savior, like thee."
We will not be fit for the kingdom of God in the eternities unless we sacrifice and are used to our greatest capacity in the kingdom of God on the earth. This gospel is not about convenience. As we serve and are used by our Master we become more sanctified, or holy, we become more like our Savior. I love the work of salvation and may we be used and take no thought to the capital we put into the work of the Lord. This is a blessed and happy work and I couldn't be more grateful to be "used."
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hola from Des Monies!

New companion, Siter Froerer.  Courtney used her skills she learned at the PCC to open the coconut.

Last week was transfers and I wound up coming here to Des Moines! My new companion is Sister Froerer (fro-er) and she is so totally cool! We laugh so hard together, she loves sports, and is a bomb missionary. I am really excited for this transfer!
I don't have much time but I'll tell y'all a little about the area and people. We live right in Des Moines, and are in the Des Moines Ward. It's pretty cool being in the big city. There's an actually freeway, with three lanes and overpasses! There are a lot of people not from America here in Des Moines. Apparently it's a hub for refugees and immigrants because I have yet to teach an investigator who is American. Africans, Burmese, and Bosnians are all over the place and they are super sweet people. Also, Sister Froerer took me to a legit Mexican market here in town and I was in heaven! Perks of being in the big city (promised land).
Alfonsio and Makara, who are from South Sudan and Eretria, were baptized on Saturday along with one of the Elder's investigators. It was such a sweet experience as Alfonsio and Makara are a young couple with two little ones and a desire to follow Jesus Christ.
I am so grateful for my call. I am a representative of Jesus the Christ and could not be happier.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, April 6, 2015

A baptism and a good-bye to Bettendorf

Elena's Baptism

Going on a nice nature hike to poke a dead deer.

So last week we received news that all the units are changed here in the Quad City area. Our area got split between two wards and we just barely found out today which ward we will be assigned to next transfer. So these next few days will be pretty busy as we inform members, recent converts, less active members, and investigators what's going down. The change will officially take effect on transfer day,Thursday. We also found out this morning I will be leaving and Sister Nakayu will be staying. I have only been here in Bettendorf for three months, but it will be hard to leave. This place is very special to me. 

This past week was amazing! We stayed very close to Elena and she was baptized and confirmed on Saturday in between conference sessions. Elena felt the spirit so strong, was so loving, and was cracking jokes making everyone laugh! It was an rad and joyous day! We also were blessed to watch eight hours of goodness from prophets and apostles, and remember our Savior's sacrifice and resurrection.  Just FYI, General Conference weekend is like the Superbowl of missionary life. Eight hours ends and we're all just like "give us more!" Ipso facto, it seriously was the best week EVER!

Also this past week while at a member's house their little two year old girl sang "follow the prophet, follow the prophet, follow the prophet, he's not dead!" Hey, it was totally accurate and hilarious. Her name is Scarlett and she has an older brother by two years named Ethan. They remind me of Tyler and I, towheads that are best frenemies!

Yesterday we went to the Sexton's for Easter dinner. They are a totally sweet family. The meal was almost identical to what we have at home, green stuff, ham, funeral potatoes, and deviled eggs. Yum! Then after the meal we went to play outside with the kids because the weather was so nice. They have a creek that runs through their property and they offered to take us on a walk to see a dead deer! You know we were totally down for that! It was super cool going on a little adventure with the kids. I poked the carcass with a stick. 

My time here in Bettendorf is coming to a close and it is a little bitter sweet, for sure. I didn't think I would grow to love an area and people so fast! The greatest lesson I have learned here is patience. When we came to the area it was difficult balancing training a new sister and getting the area going in terms of missionary work. Bottom line, we struggled through the first transfer. This past transfer we found a lot of investigators, saw some progress, and capped it off with a great baptism of my forever sister, Elena! Patience was the key. Trust in the Lord. Trust that what you are doing is right and constantly look for ways to improve. The Lord will stretch us more than we think is possible or necessary. But He always has our back and will always keep his promises. Be patient in afflictions, in trials, in lulls. I know that my Savior lives, loves, and lifts.

Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs