Monday, June 29, 2015

First Ordinances

Friends from Burma on baptism day

New Burmese Karens

Wow I cannot believe that this transfer has come to an end so fast! My time with the ever awesome Sister Froerer is rapidly coming to an end and I will miss her a ton! But I'll be staying here in Des Moines for at lest six more weeks, so there's some consolation.
This past week on Wednesday we had some crazy weather all day, thunderstorms off and on and downpours! We had a good time playing in the rain and the rivers that ran down the streets. At night we were at a member's house for a late dinner which was great. We got out and had a missed call and text from our zone leaders, we were to return home immediately because of multiple tornado warnings! We were racing home with the sky totally green and not a soul out on the streets. It was the longest ten minutes! We made it home safely and there was immense amounts of thunder and lightning for the rest of the night. It was pretty fun to watch the sky light up like a camera flashing every four or five seconds.
Despite some crazy weather this week everything went well to help prepare Ruth M and Peet M to be baptized. They were both baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday! There was the sweetest spirit there as we witnessed their first ordinances of the gospel.On Friday night we had just half an hour to get home but we stopped by to see Peet Min and his family. He bore his testimony to us through his cousin, Aung, who translated for us. Peet  thanked us for helping him come to know Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father better, and for teaching him about repentance. The spirit was so strong there, and I knew that it was not our masterful teaching or eloquence of speech that converted him. It was the spirit. The simple truths of the gospel touched his heart and his countenance shown through as he acted in faith to receive his first ordinances. It's the spirit that is the greatest and most powerful tool because when those we teach feel it's influence they have a foretaste of heaven. That feeling is eternal and motivates us to act.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, June 22, 2015

110% humidity and 110% love for the work

These past few days have been in the high 80s and low 90s with probably 110% humidity. Hello summer in the Midwest! My oh my has the weather been lovely, most definitely wilt worthy. The other day on exchanges with the hermanas we were talking to this Mexican lady and I was just standing there not knowing what was going on as sweat dripped down my face and neck. Solid. Anything for this amazing work!
I was also blessed to meet a man downtown who plays his guitar in the skywalk. His name is Gordon. The first thing he said to me was "Are you Latter-day Saints? It's a shame about old Gordon, I took a ride with him a few years ago." He then proceeded to tell me that at Woodstock he baptized 3,000 people with rain. He gave us a fist bump and said "Jesus power, pass it on!" Gordon is a hoot.
Peet Min passed his baptismal interview and a lady named Ruth who we just met last Monday is having her interview tonight! They will both be baptized on Saturday, which is definitely a miracle. I am glad that Sister Froerer's last Saturday on the mission will be spent seeing our beloved friends enter the waters of baptism!
Something that I have learned as I have had the privilege to work closely with mission leaders as well as President and Sister Jensen on the Mission Leadership Council is that the basics of the gospel are by far the most important to spiritual progression and happiness. President said this past week "I'm not about developing new programs, I just look at the brethren and follow their lead." If you think about General Conference, what is most often preached is the atonement of Jesus Christ, the sacredness of the family, prayer, Sabbath day observance, missionary work, and our relationship with our Father in Heaven. The basics. We need not clutter our mode of operation in the gospel or in our callings with new programs to roll out or nifty ways to do the work of salvation. Stick to the basics that the brethren counsel us on and all will be well. We WILL progress spiritually and find joy as we stick to the basics. Keep the Sabbath holy, pray fervently, and read the word of God everyday!
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

raise the bar and check your speed

This past week we had Zone Conference here in Des Moines with the Des Moines and Ames Stake missionaries. It was super fun as I saw a lot of friends and Sister Froerer and I gave a training to the almost 100 missionaries there! The main man over the global fleet of the church was there and trained for an hour and a half right before us. You'd think that hearing about a driver accountability program would be boring but Brother Ott was the hit of the conference! He was so spiritual and loving and bold, all the while talking about a little black box that was going in our cars to monitor our driving! So we followed him and we think we kept the goodness going. That little black box told me "check your speed", which was alarming as I was going 63 on the freeway here in Des Moines.
We also went on exchanges this week and I went back to Winterset, the place where I got bit by a dog during a lesson and where John Wayne was born. On the way back home there were some clouds that were beyond sketchy! The sky was green way off in the distance and the black and grey clouds were ominous. We scurried on home and were safe, but man have I never been more afraid of clouds!
Stake Conference was this weekend and before the Saturday session we went out to eat with the sisters in our stake. There was a couple there at the mall that were members and were in town from Omaha for the conference. They bought our food, knew President Jergensen, and were so nice to us all! It was definitely a great tender mercy to spend dinner getting to know the Okiishi's. We went to conference and they were on the stand because they are the President and Matron of the Winter Quarters temple! They were so humble to say that they were on "assignment in Omaha." We then heard from David S. Baxter of the Seventy for the weekend and it was a great blessing! Also, Sister Froerer was picked by Elder Baxter to share a two minute testimony! She nailed it.
Much of the meetings were focused on keeping the Sabbath day holy. The Sabbath is a blessing and should not be taken lightly. I know that living the Sabbath day at a higher law brings about spiritual progress, I have personally experienced tremendous growth as I have kept the Sabbath day holy. The work will hasten when we live better and qualify for the spirit. D. Todd Christofferson said at a leadership training something to the effect of, "The world is wicked enough for the Savior to come again, but the saints are not righteous enough." Raise the bar, live the higher law of the Sabbath so that we can begin to qualify for the Savior's spirit and presence.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Blessed and Happy

Our two exchanges this past week were pretty great! For one of them I was with Sister Hansen who is so cool and has an amazing story. Over a year ago she got hit by a car while riding her skateboard in Provo. Because of prayers and fasting she came out of coma and is now serving the Lord! She is an amazingly humble tool in Father in Heaven's hands.
Also, it's been getting unsettlingly hot here in Des Moines. The sticky 85 degree air is back! Maybe I'll start getting some sweet sister missionary tan lines here soon. I can only hope.
So last week it probably sounded like we were having a hard time here in Des Moines. And that's a pretty accurate statement. This week we had a lot more time to proselyte though, and we saw some major miracles!
We were able to teach a kid named Sam who is an atheist, requested a Book of Mormon online, is committed to read a chapter a day, is far more intelligent and put together than I'll ever be, and is fifteen. The spirit was definitely there and guiding the lesson because I'm pretty sure Sister Froerer and I both felt intimidated by this boy genius. It was such a bomb lesson and a really cool experience as we bore testimony and promised blessings to him.
We also set a date with an investigator, Peet Min, for the end of the month. And another investigator who we haven't seen in a while, Princess, wants to be baptized then as well! Two major miracles that came after definite trials of our faith last week.
Peet Min is the cousin of a member and lives at their house. The family is Karen Burmese and so fun! Peet Min was able to come to a baptism this past Saturday and we asked him how he felt. In his limited English he said "I feel happy" as a smile was strewn across his face.
Happiness is a real byproduct of feeling the spirit, righteousness, and service. I could not be more happy serving here in Des Moines. Yes, there are ups and downs but I often remember the words from King Benjamin "I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God... and if they hold out faithful to the end theyare received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness." That's it. Happiness is the end all of the gospel and our Heavenly Father's plan.
I love this work and thank you for all your love and prayers!
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tender Mercies

Downtown Des Moines

Courtney still smiles the same.

A tidbit of info about Iowa. People really like porch ornaments! A whole lot. Here in Des Moines I've seen gooses that people will dress up for the different seasons or holidays, two lion statues dressed in pink Hello Kitty rain ponchos, a rooster of a variety of color that stands a good six feet, and two little children statues with face paint of Kiss (my personal favorite). I will try and get some pictures this week. They really are something else though, and they give us a good laugh.

After going to MLC on Tuesday we had three Zone Training Meetings spread out over Thursday and Friday. That was super fun to see some other missionaries and friends! The Oskaloosa Zone is one of my favorites, it is full of gems and great on liners. One of the zone leaders said in the items of discussion, "anything other than a high five or fist bump with children is apostasy." Solid.

This week we are going on two exchanges and will have a great time with some other sisters here in the Des Moines Stake.
It really was a strange and trying week with 15 hours of meetings, 7 hours of planning, our side car mirror being smashed, Sister Froerer and I getting sick on Wednesday and Thursday, our cute little Burmese family slipping from our fingers, eight member present lessons falling through, and our most solid investigator being in the hospital for extended observation of mental health. I have a greater appreciation for the tender mercies of the Lord. Like us having a member dinner yesterday, catching fireflies and feeding them bananas, taking dope pictures of downtown Des Moines, and referring a family to the Hermanas that became investigators! In in 1 Nephi 1:20 I have been able to find consolation amid trials and as I look for tender mercies, "I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." I have great hope that the Lord will deliver us and our area as we seek for his promised blessings and a baptism this transfer! God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs