Monday, November 30, 2015

Corgi's, guns and Star Wars

What she called "throw-up Thursday"

This past week I was on exchanges in little dinky Webster City and it was so dope! I was with Hermana Smith, who also went to BYU-Hawaii! We weren't there at the same time, but we had so much fun talking about all the crazy hikes we've been on, local kids riding bikes with chickens on their laps, and the special spirit  and love that is in Laie. Man, it made us both Hawaii trunky!
In spite of our extensive Hawaii reminiscing, it was an amazing exchange and we got work done. For one appointment we drove out in the boonies to a beautiful farm in the hills. We were seeing a less active member that the sisters had been trying to be more bold and loving with so that she could progress. We got out of the car and there was a little corgi dog with his chow dog friend. The little corgi just waddled quickly up to me, slapping up the mud with his midget legs. He was so cute! I bent down to pet him and he jumped up on me... muddy puppy prints on the front of my black skirt! I couldn't help but laugh and keep petting him as I stiff armed him. He was so cute I just couldn't walk away, so I kept petting the little bugger. He jumped up again, I stiff armed him too late, and there smeared on my black skirt were two more puppy prints. By this time Hermana Smith was busting up and I couldn't stop laughing either! I trudged into the house with four muddy puppy prints on my black skirt. The sister we were visiting didn't even notice! The lesson went amazing, I felt the spirit so strong. I could feel God's love for her immensely. Testifying of Father in Heaven's love as a representative of Jesus Christ is really hard to describe. But it is so real as you see people as their Father in Heaven does. Her grandson then came into the kitchen and put a handgun on the table and started cleaning his hunting rifle. Only in Iowa. 
Three weeks ago we had a tornado system come through, the week after we had about 6 inches of snow, and this past week we had an ice storm! What's next? Sister McKinstry is getting the full gamut of Iowa weather here in these weird fall months! It keeps us on our toes, that's for sure.
We went to the Higgs house for Thanksgiving dinner and it was so so good! I carved the turkey and picked it clean. It was sweet. Other than eating lots of turkey it was normal missionary day for us, so not too much else to report on Turkey Day.
Something I have loved and learned here in Iowa is the concept of accepting and loving EVERYONE! A "come as you are" attitude enables you to see others as Christ does. When you see others as Christ does you instinctively reach out in love, you experience real joy, you learn from others the treasures of life that you on our own cannot obtain. Strive to have a "come as you are" approach. If the person at the store looks sketchy, talk to them, serve them, love them. If the person at work is an ultra Star Wars geek and you could care less, listen to them, help them, genuinely get to know them! Because love does. Love is not something you can put on a shelf, stare at, and think "huh, well that's real pretty". Take people as they are and you will find the joy of loving God's children. It's true!!!
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, November 23, 2015

White week in Boone

This past week I was on an exchange in Fort Dodge and this old lady, Sandra, in a nursing home was praying. She said one of the cutest and sweetest prayers I have ever heard. "Thank you for this nice young sister coming to visit, Sister..." I saw her trying to read my name tag as I peeked open my eyes, "Skaggs" I say. "Oh that's right, thank you for Sister Skaggs. She looks like a good ol German gal. I'm German too, we could be good friends. That'd be nice." Best prayer ever! And if you're wondering, I'm not German, at all. 
At the end of the exchange we went to Stratford, a tiny small town, to exchange back with our real companions. The other companionship wasn't there yet so we went into a gas station to get some water, cause who knew you could get so dehydrated when it's 37 degrees out and raining? Well, we were checking out and I offered the cashier, Cheryl, a card that has a link on it to the Because He Lives video. We talked to her a little bit and she told us she was a member and hadn't been to church in quite some time. She was so happy to see us and said she'd come by the church some Sunday
We walked out with our hearts warm and ran to the car to keep our fingers from freezing. The sister who was in the ward that Cheryl was to attend felt like we should go back and talk to her. We went back inside as our companions pulled up and Cheryl was on her way back to catch us. We talked with her more and she told us that no more than ten minutes before we came in her coworker had asked her what church she went to and she responded that she went to the Baptist church in town. Immediately in her head she thought, "but really I'm a Mormon." When she saw us walk in she was shocked. As she relayed the story to us she began to cry. The spirit was there in a little gas station in the middle of nowhere, Iowa. She thanked us again and hugged us even tighter. She knew that God loved her and that our appearance was no coincidence
Robert Lundy was baptized and confirmed on Saturday the 21st. He was so happy and wouldn't stop smiling! He attended stake conference the next day where he met President and Sister Jensen, the Stake President, the Temple President, and Elder Martino of the 70. Solid. 
We got lots of snow. Sister McKinstry has never seen snow before so it was super fun watching her. She was so excited she gave herself hiccups!
Overall it was an extremely solid week full of miracles and tender mercies! I know that the Lord knows us and is extremely active in the details of our lives. It is impossible for Him to be passively involved. He is not a God of scarcity, He truly wants us to have all that Has in joy, love, glory, and peace.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tornado warning!

She said she forgot her jacket, maybe her tights too?

If you know Courtney, you know why she looks so excited!  She said this was only 99 cents.  How lucky.

This past week a lot of crazy things happened. Really, a little bit of everything! 
It was our week of a lot of meetings, Tuesday we were in Iowa City all day, we planned our training on Wednesday, and had Zone Training Meeting in Ames on Thursday. It was fun seeing all the missionaries and being able to learn from President and Sister Jensen.
On Wednesday we had a bit of crazy weather. We knew there was a possibility of tornadoes and in the middle of a lesson with Robert the member's son called to say that surrounding counties were under a "tornado warning." We eventually finished the lesson and took the member home. Two blocks later we got a text that Boone County was under tornado warning so back we went to the member's home to take cover. We sat and listened to the TV and radio blaring about the storm that was sweeping across Iowa. Lots of tornadoes touched down, but none in Boone. We had some pretty crazy wind, heavy rain, and even some hail in just a ten minute span! The storm cellar was ready for us but luckily we didn't have to run down there. After the storm the sun was out and all was well.
Robert is a non smoker and is set to be baptized this Satruday! After passin ghis interview Robert said, "I'll just jump in right now!" He's awesome. The Boone ward is marvelous at fellowshipping and has really just taken him right in, it's great! If you want to know how to get active in missionary work, start by fellowshipping new or returning members. As a member fellowshipper you are some thing special to people, you are someone that we as missionaries cannot be... a normal friend! We're excited for the baptism and are praying that a family emergency doesn't come up and he has to leave town like Allan! This will be Sister McKinstry's first baptism so she's extra stoked! I should be sending some pictures of it next week after all goes well.  
Today marks 16 months since I entered the Missionary Training Center. It's totally a reason to celebrate, but not. Getting old on the mission is a weird thing, something you can't prepare for! So pray that I don't develop missionary dementia or have to have my knees replaced from kneeling so often!
No spiritual rant for your today, really. Just know that you are loved! I love you, your dog loves you (if you have one), my mom loves you or would if she knew you, Jesus Christ loves you because he knows what you're going through, and your Father in Heaven loves you more than you can imagine. 
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, November 9, 2015

life is like a primary program

The squirrels are getting real fat, the trees are mostly bare, and the air is getting more and more brisk! Winter is coming but thankfully it's been a pretty warm fall here in Boone. I walked the three blocks here to the library and didn't even have to wear tights! It's in the 50s and beautiful (which probably sounds freezing to those of you in California).
The other day we were teaching a group of people we met on the street just a block away from the train tracks... As Sister Beattie was teaching about what a prophet is a train roared by blaring its horn! Sister McKinstry and I just laughed. After the alarming and brief interruption the lesson went well and they became investigators! Boone problems. 
Our main man, Robert Lundy, is preparing to be baptized on the 21st of November and is doing great! He loves church and it is so fun teaching him. He's older but we can really get him going when he talks about his hot rod building days and street racing against old grandmas! He's a hoot. Pray that he can give up smoking and be prepared to enter the waters of baptism!
Like I mentioned last year, I'm sure, people in the Midwest love Christmas and aren't afraid to show it. People have their decorations out already while others are struggling to take down their Halloween decorations. It makes Boone look like the town in the Nightmare Before Christmas, really. But I am beyond stoked for the Christmas cheer to get going even more here in the next few weeks!!
Yesterday at church was the primary program for the Boone Ward! It had a little bit of everything, bottom lips quivering, yelling into the microphone, tender moments of the spirit, and of course those poor 11 and 12 year olds in the back looking too cool. It was great!
Something that I really learned though came in Gospel Principles though, as the teacher said "life is really like a big primary program!" We look at the children up there in their different stages of life, some yelling the words to the songs and others looking less enthused. But really, we are proud of all of them. It doesn't matter where they are in their development, they are up there and trying. That is the way our Father in Heaven sees us. We are all performing the tasks of life at different levels. But he loves us. He is proud of our efforts. He seeks to see us smile and be happy. We can all look at ourselves and those around us a little more like we look at those children on the stage. We can be more understanding, more appreciative, more loving. 
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs

Monday, November 2, 2015

Goat on board

One of Courtney's companions did a little make-up work on her

Ledges State Park

Last Monday we went to Ledges State Park again... only this time it was fall. Aka it was 10 times more pretty! Man oh man did we have fun adventuring and just walking around the little trails.
On Friday and Saturday we had to be in at 6:30 because of "Beggars Night" and Halloween. Sister McKinstry is really good at make up and we had fun making us look beat up and gory. Also, Sister McKinstry is my third companion that has been to cosmetology school. I think Heavenly Father is trying to tell me something... So I learned to curl my hair and with Sister McKinstry's help I'm learning other ways to look more presentable. 
Also, transfers are this week. We are staying together for another transfer here in Boone. The trio party continues!
Allan was supposed to be baptized this past week but had a family emergency out of town. Kind of alarming. Also, one of our investigators, Tommy, slipped in the bathroom and cracked his knee! Three other investigators somehow overslept with the extra hour due to daylight savings time. In the words of Tommy (who is full of solid one liners) "the devil is working overtime!" But we are not getting down, we know that the people we are teaching are approaching something far greater than the trials and speed bumps in their way. 
A few weeks ago I saw a truck that had a sticker that said "goat on board." Intrigued I went to look into the bed of the truck that was covered. Sure enough I could smell the goat before I could see it through the tinted windows. The little fella had some hay he was munching on and even had his horns painted pink... It's an Iowa thing or something. In California you find a beach full of dogs, in Hawaii kids ride bikes with chickens on their laps, in Iowa you find goats in the back of trucks. To each state their own.
Something really cool I have learned recently is that the spirit changes hearts in seconds, minutes, or days. It's true and so cool to see. Earlier this transfer on exchanges in Ames we talked to this young guy on the street. His name was Caleb. He told us he was an atheist and we just talked and invited him to learn more and gave him a card. Five minutes later we were walking back to our car and saw him walking towards us. We talked with him again and he opened up a lot, telling us his life problems and really only his brief doubt in God that he was going through. He gave us a referral and accepted a visit from the sisters for later in the week. It was the coolest thing ever to see his countenance change as he felt the spirit and we testified of God's love for him. I am so grateful that the spirit is the great teacher! I know it can and will change hearts as we are tools in Father in Heaven's hands.
Love y'all,
Sister Skaggs