Monday, July 27, 2015

"The reason for which the Universe was created"

Baptism Day

Where do I even start to tell you about this past week?! It was stellar, totally awesome sauce.
On Tuesday we met this lady named Ramona that became a new investigator. When we asked her for a referral at the end she told us about her neighbor who had a church in his home. We knock on his apartment door and lo and behold Reverend David answers! He has a pulpit in his living room, two members in his congregation, a fluffy cat curling around his ankles, a guinea pig named Ariel in a cage far too big for a rodent, and is missing almost all of his teeth like a true Iowan. He's got an amazing love for the Savior and later in the week he and his two congregates became new investigators! One of a kind experience yet again, here in Des Moines.
Miatta passed her interview on Tuesday with flying colors and was baptized on Saturday! Miatta is a woman of amazing faith. Back in Liberia her Mother and Father were Muslim, but growing up she knew she was "born to be a Christian." She bore her testimony at her baptism and said "my decision has been made, I am a Christian, and I will never change!" It was a tremendous blessing to teach Miatta and see her progress so well in the short month we taught her.
On Wednesday we went to Nauvoo for the day with a member family. We walked around Old Nauvoo which is down the hill from the temple and ran into Brad Wilcox, who is a great speaker and religion professor at BYU. Then we went to a session at the temple. It was such a beautiful day and the temple brought such peace into my heart and I learned so much from the spirit! I love the temple! Then at night we were able to stay and watch the pageant. We got hooked up with some sweet seats right in the front as we watched the British Pageant. It was AMAZING! It was mind blowing probably largely in part to the fact that we haven't seen a movie or production of any kind in over a year. Nonetheless it was very well put together and I loved learning more about the early saints who joined the church and heeded the prophet's call to go to Nauvoo.
This week I have also gained a greater testimony of the power of member missionary work. Members are beyond vital for the work to move forward. Both Miatta and Peet Min were member referrals who were baptized. One of our investigators, Mary, had been on the down low for the past two weeks and with her baptismal date coming up we were getting very nervous. We finally met with her on Friday and she said she knows she wants to be baptized. She also told us that two of her friends (unbeknownst to us) were telling her about the Book of Mormon as she read and were encouraging her to be baptized! That is such an amazing miracle.
Bottom line is, members are what drive this work. From Preach My Gospel we read, "The ideal situation is when members invite others to be taught and are present for the teaching. Whenmembers do this, more people are baptized and remain active in the Church." That is our goal as missionaries, to baptize and see our converts make it to the temple. So do your best to get involved in this most glorious work! Pray for missionary opportunities, set goals to invite friends, ask the missionaries how you can help. I have been preaching it to you all for over a year now, this work is a happy work, it is the greatest work, it is the most correct and true of any work going forward on this earth! And what's totally gnarly awesome is that it is not just reserved for us wearing nametags. I love it with all my heart and this work "is the reason for which the universe was created!" - Jeffrey R. Holland
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Gratitude for the Pioneers

Sister Skaggs and Sister Williams

Wowzers this past week was beyond great! We had a couple scares with investigators and them keeping the commandments but Miatta is still on track to be baptized this Saturday, and Sylvia will be next week! Miatta is on fire for Jesus, and was totally feeling the spirit at church yesterday! She said a prayer in gospel principles and was just so happy. It is an amazing blessing to help others feel the joy of the gospel. There really is nothing like it.
We also had Zone Conference here in Des Moines and it was super fun to see a bunch of Elders and Sisters who are my friends. It's like a huge family reunion! It was also a major revelatory experience as we heard trainings from our mission leaders. President Jensen talked about Joseph Smith. He said "we do not worship Jospeh Smith like many of our Christian brothers and sisters think, but we do honor him." President Jensen has a great love for the Prophet Joseph and the work that he did. As he spoke the spirit did not teach me anything new, rather the truths I have known for some time now entered deeper into my heart. I thought of Joseph's extreme sacrifice, the valiant early saints who crossed Iowa in pursuit of religious freedom, and my ancestors who had received their temple ordinances in Nauvoo, Illinois. It was amazing to feel the spirit in such a way. I said the closing prayer for the meeting and was overcome with extreme gratitude as I prayed. I sobbed as I blessed the food and thanked a loving Heavenly Father for this sacred mission. I am blessed to be able to go to Nauvoo this Wednesday to attend the temple and watch the British Pageant. I know that the spirit will be stronger than ever there in "Joseph's City" as I more spiritually understand how amazing this place really is.
In Relief Society yesterday a sister taught and talked about the "froth of the earth." Things that really don't matter. News, social media, athletic events, movies, America's Next Top Model marathons. All of it is froth. As a missionary I have been blessed to discern what matters most. And I am grateful to be here in this most sacred land, solely doing what matters most. There is nothing more important than the work of salvation. I say it all the time because it is true. The Lord and His work are number one! May the spirit bless our hearts to more deeply understand this precious truth.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Brother Fred

This week I had a bajillion emails to read and respond to so I don't have all that much time to write this mass one.
It is beyond hot here in Des Moines! You all won't really understand but I am not exaggerating, when you walk outside it feels like you are breathing water! Just like when you open the dish washer. No joke, it's crazy!
We are teaching a lady named Miatta, from Liberia. She is SOLID! She stood up in gospel principles to bear her testimony in the middle of the lesson! We taught her about the temple and she said "oh yes! I am going there!" We're excited for her to be baptized on the 25th of this month!
This week we had to say goodbye to one of our investigators who is moving to Orlando, Keith! I taught Keith for about two months and saw him progress so much. He went from burdened down and sad to optimistic and pleasant. He understood that prayer and the scriptures could be his outlet! It was really hard to say goodbye to Keith as he thanked us for helping him change his life and strengthen his faith in Christ. But there is so much comfort in knowing that I was trusted by Father in Heaven to be a part of Keith's conversion.
I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ can change us. That the grace of God is sufficient to save, yes. But also to lift us to a higher plane. All things can and will be made right through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Many can be made right as soon as we apply the atonement. I love my Savior and Friend, Jesus the Christ. I know that he lives and oh what a joy it is to be on His errand!
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

PS. Brother Fred, in our ward, said in gospel principles that in his African community they call him "Joseph Smith!" Brother Fred has no shame in standing as a witness. I love Des Moines so much!

Monday, July 6, 2015

More time in the City

So this past week I said goodbye to my dear friend Sister Forerer! I'm going to miss her a ton and a half because we had SO much fun together! There was never a dull moment in our companionship, that's for sure. Her and the other sister going home were able to stay with us the last night and we drove them to the airport bright and early on Friday morning. It was like sending my daughter off to college, into the big world!
I am still here in Des Moines and my new companion is Sister Williams! She is from Mesa, Arizona, short, and such a boss. I'm really excited to serve with her. Plus, her first name is Courtney too! It was just meant to be. 
With the new transfer here, a new companion, and many new challenges surely to come, Sister Williams and I were fortunate to receive blessings yesterday from the wonderful zone leaders. I do not remember all the words that were said but I do remember an overwhelming assurance that my testimony would sustain me through burdens and trials. The words from Helaman have come to my mind as I've tried to identify what would enable my testimony to buoy my soul in adversity, "remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, thatye must build your foundation... which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." I know that with Christ we CANNOT fall. It's impossible. We may stumble or slip or trip, but he is there to catch us. We may be tired or weary or wasted, but he will lift us. I have seen it time and time again as I have been in His service and been called His representative. A testimony of Jesus the Christ will sustain and raise us through our trials. Oh what a comfort and joy!
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs