Monday, October 26, 2015

Talking with Joseph Smith and a knife wielding man

Visiting sisters in Ankeny

I never told you all but a few weeks ago, on exchanges in Ames, I met Joseph Smith! No joke. He is the coolest person in the world. He's super funny and a recent convert that the Zone Leaders there taught! As he was walking up one of the elders started singing Praise to the Man, it was epic to say the least. He also sang Sister Beattie happy birthday via voice message. He's got some pipes.
This past week we drove at night up to Fort Dodge and all those windmills I told you about had red lights that would all blink on and off at the same time. Creepy! A whole slew of red lights (there were seriously at least 100) out in the fields blinking on and off. It's like the hills had eyes... except there are no hills here. 
On Saturday we were about to walk over a train track but the bar came down. The train came whooshing by, I yelled at the conductor, waved like a little kid, and the locals all stared. It was a good time. Then we found some sweet people to teach after the train got out of our way. 
Also on Saturday we knocked on a door and a man answered saying "what do you want?" Only thing was, he had a knife in his hand! Granted, he was in the middle of cooking, but still! It didn't get any more normal because he continued to wave his knife around as he talked our ears off. It was quite a treat but unfortunately he didn't accept our invitation to hear more about the good word. 
No spiritual rant today, but be sure to be a missionary! I rarely hear about missionary experiences that people are having at home. So pray, ask "what lack I yet" in reference to missionary work, then go do it! And of course tell me about it
 Invite, teach and testify, and fellowship.  Blessings and happiness will come. The spirit will be with you more often! This is the most important work on the earth, and what's cool is that it's super fun.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, October 19, 2015

Amber Waves of Grain

So like I said last week, fall is in full force. That means that the corn stalks are rotting and all the bugs that were in the fields are now dive bombing our faces because they are scared of giant tractors. But that's besides the point. When we drive to see other sisters in other small towns, a line from "America the Beautiful" takes on more meaning. "Amber waves of grain" are so so so pretty! No joke. We'll be driving, come over a hill above the six foot tall dead corn, and just see rolling hills of swaying grain. It truly is a sight to see, one you can see for miles and miles. It's awesome. 
These past two weeks we've gone to choir practice. If you know me even the slightest, you know I am not that kinda person. But lunch can wait, and when you're a missionary you have greater patience/appreciation for others' interest. Plus also, the spirit is really strong when 30 people are singing Redeemer of Israel!
This past week we went on exchanges to Marshalltown, which is pretty much a miniature version of Des Moines! We talked to so many people and they were all just the coolest cats. We even taught a Liberian family, I was in heaven and my companions were a little less than thrilled about the loud noises and lack of attention given to our words. Going to Marshalltown was definitely a tender mercy! There's even people from Burma there!
I wanted to share the secret to the success of the Iowa Des Moines Mission. We have a successful mission. With 100 less missionaries we are still doing the same amount of work. It's amazing. President Jensen tells us all the time, "the secret to a successful missionary and mission is SANCTIFICATION." It is a true principle. When we are sanctified the Spirit of the Holy Ghost, the real teacher, will be with us. President never focuses on new programs and rarely focuses on teaching skills. Rather he teaches us how to be pure. 
The same principle can be applied to all phases of life. The secret to the success of a ward is sanctification. The secret to the success of a family is sanctification. The secret to the success of a presidency is sanctification. We all have weapons of rebellion that we can bury to in turn become more pure. Through prayer we can identify what the Lord would have us root out of our lives and never return to. We can ask ourselves "what lack I yet?" Do it! The Lord will help you and His grace is suffiecient The spirit will be with you more and personal sanctification will bring success. I know it is true because I have seen it time and time again in myself and other missionaries. 
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, October 12, 2015

"On Date!"

She said there were a lot of frogs.

This is at a place called Ledges in Courtney's area.

So this past week we drove a whole lot! We went all the way to the northern most part of our mission, Mason City. There are sister there and we went on exchanges. It just so happens that my trainee, Sister Nakayu, is serving there and we spent a good 24 hours together! It was epic. 
 In Mason City on exchanges

What else was epic was the massive amounts of tractors and combines on the road and in the fields. Everybody and their dog is harvesting right now. It's pretty cool to see big monster looking things mow down stalks of corn by the dozen and make big dust clouds as they chop up the dry soy beans. What else do you see driving through Iowa for two hours? Wind farms! Man, we drove through this part of the country that had probably 50 windmills all spread out. They are HUGE and it's super cool to just drive with all of them around!
Wow, my life is just full of the coolest and most epic things ever right now, hopefully you'll understand. So when I left Kirksville they closed the are to sisters and brought in elders. That means all the people we taught got forgotten, for the most part. But sisters are back in Kirksville as I exclaimed a few weeks ago. In president's weekly email he has a list of everyone that has a baptismal date and has been to church. I checked it today and THREE people I taught in Kirksville are "on date" for baptism! I am so so so elated!!! Fist pumps were in order reading those three sisters' names. It's great knowing that my efforts in Kirksville were not in vain and that despite not having any baptisms there, the seeds were sown and are now sprouting for other sisters to harvest.
It really is all about the Lord's time and our perspective. We must trust, continue forward in faith, and be obedient always. The blessings and miracles will come. They always do.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, October 5, 2015

Apply it!

This is right next to their building.  Very scenic.

Courtney with Thomas the Train!

So this past week was a doozie! We were blessed to be able to be in at least 20 hours of meetings (Mission Leadership Council, Zone Training Meetings, and General Conference), had two people attend General Conference (Allan and Robert), and it's finally legitly cooling down! I walked out of our apartment building, which smells like pancake batter and dust bunnies, and it was beautiful outside! The air was nice and crisp and the smell of fresh cut grass was in the air. I love tender mercies!
Every small town in Iowa has a claim to fame, some more famous than others. But they really latch on to that claim and run with it! Here in Boone they don't let anyone forget that they have a Walmart, Ledges State Park is right down the road, and Mamie Eisenhower was born right in this here city! Yup that's right, First Lady Eisenhower! Sometimes we drive the street named after her and if we're luckty we drive past her birthplace every fourth day. Gotta love small town Iowa. Oh and if you were wondering there are 12,000 people here in Boone! It's great, pretty soon there will be two wards here with all the people we're planning to help be baptized!
Two people that we are teaching, Allan and Robert came to conference like I mentioned. They are a bit older but both quite a hoot. The demographic of people we teach out here is far different than that of Des Moines! Blue jeans, flannels, man pony tails, and houses full of overstuffed recliners are much more common. It's great.
I absolutely LOVED conference! Like i've said before, it's like Super Bowl weekend for us missionaries. Eight hours is finished and we say "it went by too fast, I wan't some more!"
I especially loved all of the talks... no but if I had to choose one of the talks I enjoyed a lot I would have to say it was Larry R. Lawrence's talk. He spoke of praying and asking Father in Heaven "what lack I yet? What is keeping me from progressing?" I have seen the Master shape me time and time again as I have been in His service and asked Him those questions. Sometimes the answers are simple like "take care of yourself and stop eating so much sugar." And other times the counsel carries equal weight but is more poignant like "don't just look at the atonement sitting on the shelf, apply it!" 
I know that I am not perfect in this regard. I still strive to ask these questions more frequently. But I know that our Father in Heaven will guide us as we turn to Him and we will changed as we heed His counsel.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs