Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Literally walking by faith

Yes, this picture was taken in May.

Her zone
Yesterday we went to Iowa City all day for Mission Leadership Council, which was totally rad. On the way home it was about 7 pm and the sun was not quite setting. The clouds filled the sky so beautifully! The great thing about the flatness of Iowa is that you see so much of the sky, a solid 180 degrees and even more if you're looking in your mirrors. There were billowy cumulus nimbus and stringy stratus clouds, rain clouds, and clouds so dark they looked like a tornado was about to come. There were clouds showering rain and others letting the sun just shine through. White, baby blue, periwinkle, deep purple, grey, and charcoal. I am not exaggerating when I say it was the most beautiful mix of every cloud I have ever seen!
I didn't write about it last week but I am staying here in Des Moines for another transfer with Sister Froerer! She will go home at the end of the transfer so I'll probably be here two more. Sometimes we have too much fun, so I'm excited to send her out with a bang! Like last night we were on the phone with some elders, she wouldn't stop poking me and then she poked my armpit. I tackled her and her knee came up and bopped me right in the nose! I bloody nose and some pretty good laughs ensued. I'm sure the elders on the other end were really confused.
We teach a recent convert named Janet every week. Janet is blind but reads the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants in brail! We had a lesson with her about faith recently and the spirit prompted me to testify of her own faith as she goes through life not being able to see. Janet literally walks by faith each day. She has to trust constantly. She has faith that her furniture will be in the right place when she goes to sit, faith that it is indeed us on the other side of the door, faith that she can endure the anxieties that come with blindness. It isn't easy for her, but her faith is incredible! I have often thought "when can I qualify my faith as being sufficient." I have come to realize that our faith is sufficient when we can take steps in the dark knowing it is not popular, when we have firm hope in the Lord's promised blessings as we endure trials, and when we as the Lord's servants are instruments in his hands without hesitation. Tad R. Callister in The Infinite Atonement said it so well, "the tides of trial can come, the ocean waves of worldly reason pound against our souls, the current and popular trends tug with all their mighty sway, but there unmoved, unfazed, unharmed is the soul that is anchored by FAITH." So do as Elder Holland implores so well "Hope on. Journey on... fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe." Whether a flicker or roaring, do whatever it takes to fan that flame of faith!
This work of salvation is true. Our Father wants nothing more than for us to return to him more pure and sanctified, and the gospel of Jesus Christ is how we do just that. 
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ming Ka La Ba (hello in Burmese chin)

Hey so like I've said before, spring is totally in full bloom and it is beyond beautiful. There are trees that produce seeds that fall to the ground like helicopters. They spin so fast and are fun to try and catch!
A weird side note. When we teach Burmese families we sit on the floor for the whole lesson. Sometimes they try to have us sit on stools or on the couch but that is weird if they are all sitting on the floor. So we sit cross legged for a solid hour, or try to at least. Almost every time I get up after a solid lesson I feel like my hips are about to pop out of their socket and my knees go backward like a flamingo. But hey, at least it only feels like it and it doesn't actually happen... that would be bad. Good thing I really love the precious Burmese people!
We were lucky enough to teach a lady named Mami this past week. She's from Sierra Leone and we found her one day as she was listening to African music, holding a baby, and dancing on her balcony! She is older and babysits her grandchildren all the time and just dances with them, so "all the kids want to go to grandmama's house." She is so cool, happy, and has a lot of faith. It was really fun teaching her.
This week Sister Froerer and I really focused on using the scriptures in lessons and it was so great to see investigators respond well to both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. I have found myself studying the scriptures and running out of time to study anything else as I have been just immersed in scriptural discoveries. And yesterday our lesson in Relief Society was on the flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon. I guess it is accurate to say that the word of God has been the theme this week. I want to tell you a little about Ann L a member in our ward. Sister L is a gem! She lives at a group home, a place where a lot of "interesting" people live. Let's just say I have only felt the spirit there a handful of times. It's rough. But Sister Lknows how to manage and make it work as she lives there. She reads and reads and reads. She has read the Book of Mormon FIVE times already this year! Sister L came to a lesson with us this past week and bore powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon and the restoration to our investigator. The word of God protects and fortifies us folks! May we help it flood the earth and our lives!
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Just a bit of laundry

Happy late Mother's Day to all you awesome women! Oh boy do I appreciate the women in my life who are far away at home and who are here in the Midwest and have adopted me temporarily.
This past week we were able to go on exchanges twice. It was a pretty crazy week, but for one of the exchanges I went to Winterset, which is almost an hour south east of Des Moines. Winterset is a small little town kind of like Kirksville was. It is also the hometown of John Wayne and there is a main road in town called John Wayne Boulevard. Just some random small town Iowa trivia for you! Also while we were teaching a lesson in Winterset this lady's dog was just so our of control. He was a puppy and was just nipping at us like crazy, he was gnawing on my achilles tendon in the middle of the lesson. It was so hard to not just kick him, but then the spirit would have definitely left and the lady probably wouldn't have become a new investigator! It was quite a unique experience, that's for sure. To top it off, he jumped up on the couch at one point and spastically nipped at my cheek, right under my eye! No crazy damage incurred, the lady is just lucky I rather teach than get all mad about a crazy puppy dog.
As I have been on exchanges with sisters I have learned a lot about the value of helping people feel Heavenly Father's love. One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou I think, and it kind of goes like this: "People will forget what you say. People will forget what you say. But people will never forget how you make them feel." There is nothing more valuable in our relationships than helping others feel Father in Heaven's love. If our motivations are pure and we seek to act as Christ would, that love will emanate from us. Consoling and counseling others used to be awkward and pretty hard for me, and although I am not perfect, I feel my Father's love for His children as I comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and mourn with those that mourn. It is an amazing blessing to be on the Lord's errand. This lifelong call is available to us all and what a joy it is!
Love ya'll,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, May 4, 2015

Spring is in the air

Loving Spring weather

Loving Des Moines

Yesterday it was in the 80s and it was so awesome! Summer is coming and I am so very excited. There is pollen flying everywhere, literally. When a gust of wind comes it looks like a cloud of yellow is whooshing away. Our car is covered in it!
This past week we went on exchanges and stayed the night in Lamoni, which is about an hour and a half south in the middle of nowhere. Kinda like everything else in Iowa. Lamoni is full of Community of Christ members, formerly known as RLDS. The sisters who serve there come across some "different" challenges. Lots of people down there know the Book of Mormon is true (even though they denounce it...?), believe in a modern day prophet, and understand priesthood authority. People tell the sisters "don't worry, one day you'll get the priesthood too." Super weird and unique to serve there! I was consistently baffled as Sister Froerer loved reminiscing, as she had served there earlier in her mission.
I guess you could say that this week was a little strange, as we had dinner with an atheist... We went to see our sweet investigator, Nellie. She is Bosnian and just likes learning about Christ even though she is Muslim. Well, her friend was there and he was not digging the whole religion thing. Nellie invited us to the table and so came Carl to eat some chicken and potatoes. Let's just say that Sister Froerer and I had to truly stand as a witness of Christ, boldly. We refrained from bashing as he mocked almost every front of Christianity and Mormonism. Bearing our testimonies of Christ as our savior and that temples are the house of God was a testimony builder. I know more now that the world and its people need God more than ever! It is impossible to find true happiness without the goodness of God. So share it, don't be ashamed, and stand as a witness! It's a guarantee that we will have the spirit with us and will find joy as we stand as a witness against Satan's mischief.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs