Hello everyone! The Wenatchee Valley is on fire!!! Literally and spiritually.

Thanks to everyone who's been writing me! I wish that I could respond back to each of you individually but I don't have too much time to write each week. Anyways, I have big news! I'm being transferred! It's pretty crazy. I've only been out 6 weeks and usually new missionaries stay with their trainers for 12 weeks, but there are so many new missionaries coming out so Sister Wilson's going to be training someone else and I'm going to be going across the river to Wenatchee to finish my training with another sister who's only been out 6 weeks. So we're going to train each other. That should be interesting. Luckily I'll still be in the same zone so I'll be seeing Sister Wilson and everyone else a lot, and the sister that I'm going to be serving with is really cool. Back at home I never realized how dramatic transfers are haha. One of my favorite missionaries, Hermana Alcocer, is being transferred down to Oregon so we're super bummed about that. I'm so, so sad to be leaving Eastmont Ward. :( The people here are so awesome, and we had an AMAZING week with our investigators. It must have been a tender mercy from the Lord that I got to see so many awesome things happen before I leave.

We got FOUR NEW INVESTIGATORS this week, which is crazy. I think I talked about a couple of them last week. There was one who was referred to us from across the river named "J", and she wasn't as solid as we thought she would be, but we're still working with her. She told us she really is just interested in learning about different churches, but not joining a church. We have no idea how she was on date to be baptized with other missionaries. They must have gotten her on date super sneakily. She does like the church though and if we can get her to recognize what it could do in her life, she may become more interested. We also started teaching this lady named "A" whose boyfriend is a less active member who's trying to get back to church. Our third investigator is this lady named "C" who's visiting from Chicago. She's visiting her friend who's a former investigator that we contacted. She seems way more interested than the former investigator, so it's cool that we contacted her at the exact time that she was there. No coincidences, I tell you!

Our last one is this lady named "V" who just married a member. She's different from other people we've taught so far because she grew up Seventh Day Adventist and her grandpa was super high up in the Church. We have a few things in common that she's really happy about, like the importance of the Sabbath Day and the three distinct members of the Godhead. She didn't really even have a hard time with Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, but she has a really hard time with baptism. Her baptism into the Seventh Day Adventist church was really important to her and her grandpa baptized her. The idea that he didn't have proper authority, even though he devoted his whole life to his church, is really hard for her to get past. She's really trying to understand though. We just really emphasized that if she gets a testimony of the Book of Mormon and the things we're teaching she'll understand better and have the desire to be baptized. It was hard when we met with her because her in-laws were there and they made things much more complicated than they needed to be. She was getting so stressed out. We're going to start meeting with her privately.  The best things that happened this week happened after I found out I was getting transferred! 

Remember that lady, "P", I told you about last week? Well, we knocked on her door every day and she never answered, even though we could tell there were people in the house. On Thursday we decided we'd give her some time before we knocked next. But on Saturday, we felt prompted that we needed to go try again. When we got to her house we found the Book of Mormon and Restoration pamphlet we gave her outside the door with a note that said, "Sorry, sisters. Can't do this right now." We were super sad, and so we started to write her a note to leave her. While we were writing, "P" opened the door and came outside! We had a really good talk with her. She's been so, so stressed out lately and has anxiety so she felt like it would have been too much to meet with us. We read her scriptures in the Book of Mormon about how the Lord strengthens us during afflictions and that's why we were there. She said we could come back this week and gave us her phone number! (Which is awesome because she's really distrustful and paranoid about people). If we weren't prompted to knock on her door exactly at that moment we wouldn't have been able to see her and probably wouldn't have come back for awhile because of her note. This was a testimony to me of the Lord's love for each of His children.

Church yesterday was the icing on the cake of my time in Eastmont Ward! "A" came to Church! He was all dressed up in a white shirt and tie. He fit right in! During sacrament, he said: "Skousen, it feels awesome being here." And I was like, "That's the Spirit!" And he said, "I know!" It's amazing witnessing the conversion he's going through. It was really cool because it was the primary program. He was so impressed with how well the kids behaved. I think he could envision his kids up there someday. During Sunday School he seemed so comfortable and was participating in the lesson, and then we had AWESOME fellowshippers who took him to elder's quorum and by the time we saw him after Church, they were joking with each other and the member had invited him over for Family Home Evening. I can't believe how much progress and change has taken place in "A" these past weeks. It has brought me so much joy being a part of that. That scripture about "how great shall be your joy" bringing souls unto the Father---that's what I've felt with "A". Leaving "A" in the hands of another missionary will be really hard for me. I feel like I was meant to be here with Aldo, and I know everything happens for a reason, but it's gonna be difficult. :( I told "A" that when he gets baptized I'll be there!

So to sum up this LOOOONG email, it's been a crazy but wonderful week. Even though it's going to be so hard leaving this first area that's grown to mean so much to me, I'm excited to meet more wonderful people across the river. I hope that you all have a fantastic week, and remember that Heavenly Father loves you and is looking out for you. Until next time ...

Sister Skousen

Washington - Week 5

Hello everyone! The days are flying by out here. This week we've been contacting lots of potentials! We finally made contact with a lot of people that we haven't seen in awhile, which was good. However, for most of them, it doesn't really seem like they have a true desire to find out if what we're telling them is true. Which STINKS because it could change their lives if they let it! BUT, we do have a few solid potentials. We've just kind of been in limbo because we have a list of people who we think could become investigators, but setting up times to meet with all of them has been a challenge. 

As far as the regulars go ...

"A" is still awesome. He's kind of funny because he LOVES everything about the church and every time we see him he says, "I feel like I missed out on my mission. I would have been the BEST missionary!" And he has tons of "aha" moments, but he's scared to commit to being baptized because he's worried he won't be able to live up to being a Mormon. He puts Mormons on this high pedestal, so we're just trying to get him to see that he can do it! It's kind of funny because a couple weeks ago he introduced us to a couple of his friends who he says "need church." They're super nice though. (Don't worry, Mom, we referred the Spanish sisters to visit the Dad. ;))

We met with "Y" again and I feel like I have a much better understanding of where she's at. She really opened up to us. To refresh you a little bit, her husband is a member and they have a 5 year old daughter who loves going to church. She's been going to church with them and trying to live the commandments because she wants the whole family to be unified in their religion for their daughter. I think that's so cool of her to be doing that because it shows just how much she loves her family. But it's hard for her to be living this lifestyle when she doesn't have a testimony of the doctrine. So we really emphasized how important it is for her to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon, because by that she can gain a testimony of the prophets, and of everything else in the Church. I think she understood what we're telling her a little bit more, so hopefully she has the desire to really find out if the Book of Mormon is true.

We have a few other people who we're visiting this week who we think will turn into investigators! We have one referral who just moved from across the river who was on date to be baptized a couple weeks ago, so that will be exciting to work with her. Another lady just married a member of the ward and wants to learn more about the church. From what we've heard, she seems really prepared. We have an appointment set with her for later this week! And the last one is this lady named "P", who has an awesome story ...

"P" lives in a house right by our apartments. We usually don't knock on the doors of the houses near our apartments because they've been tracted so often, but one day when we were walking home we noticed this lady outside who was walking into her house. She waved at us but then kept looking back and staring at us. We thought that was kind of strange, so the next day we went and knocked on her door. She told us that she was babysitting then but she wanted to meet with us the next day! Before we even said anything she was already scheduling an appointment! It was awesome. But when we went back to see her she didn't answer, so we were super sad. We even went back the next day, and she didn't answer. We thought she must not really be interested, but we felt prompted to knock on her door again the next day. This time, she answered, and told us that she's been down because she had kidney stones, and that she still wanted to meet with us! She had met with missionaries before for like a year, but moved and lost contact. When we went back to go see her, she looked super distressed and told us that her husband is in really critical health, and she's worried that he might not make it. She'd been up since 2am worrying. We said a prayer with her and told her a little bit about priesthood blessings, which she seemed interested in. We're going to go back and visit her today to teach her and see if she still wants a blessing! 

It's so incredible to see how the Lord reaches out to His children through other people. I know we were put in "P"'s life at this time for a reason. It's interesting that so many people have no desire to discover if the gospel's true because they don't see that anything's wrong with their lives currently. But then something serious happens, like with "P", and it makes you step back and reconsider everything that's important in life. It's sad that sometimes that's what it takes for people to realize that they NEED Christ.

I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. We all have different circumstances, challenges, and personalities, but the gospel is universal. It can replace sorrow, stress, regret, and guilt with peace, understanding, and perspective. If this hasn't happened to you, you need to reevaluate how you can make the gospel a bigger part of your life. Never before has this been more evident to me than now that I'm up close and personal with people who are discovering this for themselves. It's made me more aware of how the gospel's blessed my life.

I'm soooo happy to be out here and to work with these people! The gospel is true and the Lord is hastening His work!

Love you all!

Sister Skousen

Washinton - Week 4

Hey everyone! I hope you all had the chance to watch conference this weekend! It was soo good. I'm always sad when it's over! I think it's always interesting to see common themes among the different talks. I think there were a lot of talks this conference that were about the "enduring to the end" part of the gospel. It was all about discipleship and how we can progress and change to be better. So all of the things they talked about--keeping the Sabbath day holy, being more obedient, reading the scriptures more dilligently, etc.--are little things that we can apply more in our lives to draw closer to Heavenly Father. There were so many great talks! Probably one of my favorites was Elder Christofferson's, about why the Lord chooses to use a Church. I think one of the things a lot of people have a hard time understanding is the importance of a church/organized religion. A lot of people think that just being a good person, or being spiritual is good enough. Some of the reasons that he had were so good, like how the church creates a community of people that can support and edify one another, and how the Lord uses a church to accomplish purposes that he can't do with just one person. The Church is a way that we can contribute our talents and efforts to lift others up. The Church helps us live the gospel and come closer to Christ.

Conference was a great way to end the week. We haven't had a super productive week because my companion's had some health issues, but luckily, we were able to find a lot of good potentials that we're planning on going back and visiting.

Hopefully by the end of this week we'll have some more solid investigators that I can write about. I think that's about all I have to say for now! Thanks to everyone who's written me! It's always a highlight of my week. Hope you all have a great week!

Love, Sister Skousen

Hello everyone! This is Sister Paige Skousen! I got out of the Missionary Training Center last Wednesday and I'm now in a little town in Washington. I don't have a ton of time to write today but I figured I'd give a quick update. My companion's is super awesome and also from Arizona. I already love the ward members and I'm really excited to work with them. One thing I was NOT expecting was that we wouldn't have a car, so we're walking everywhere! One good thing about that is that we'll meet a lot of people on the streets. I'm just not looking forward to when it gets cold! Maybe people will feel bad for us then and let us in haha. We don't really have a lot of people to teach right now so most of the time we just go down streets and knock on people's doors. Most of the people are really nice, but sometimes there are people who get kind of scared when they see us, which is pretty entertaining. If anyone has any cool finding ideas, I'd LOVE to hear them. Knocking on people's doors can get a little tiring after awhile haha.

Dear Missionary Family,

We are delighted to report that your missionary has arrived safely to the Washington Yakima Mission.  We already love them and are excited to serve with them.  We are confident that they will become an effective instrument in the hands of the Lord in sharing the gospel with the people of Washington and Oregon.

We have assigned them a companion who is an experienced, devoted, and motivated missionary.  All of our missionaries understand that one of the greatest privileges available in the mission is to train a new missionary.  This first companion will be a special person in your missionary’s life and will help give them a great start here.

We feel that our greatest responsibility is the care and welfare of your child.  We want to assure you that we will be in regular contact with them and will be observant of their physical health, happiness and spiritual well-being.  We will work closely with them throughout their mission to help them succeed and fulfill their calling as a representative of the Church and as an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Please be assured that we will be in contact with you if we encounter any concerns that would call for your attention.  You are a great asset to the success of your missionary while they are serving here and we will work closely with you if the need arises.  Please keep us apprised of any changes to the address, phone number or email for you, your bishop or your stake president.  We want to keep our records current so that we can contact you whenever necessary.

Attached is a photograph of your missionary taken with us at the welcome dinner at the mission home.  Please feel free to contact us at the mission office with any questions that you may have.

Thank you for the sacrifices you are making at home to have your missionary in the field.  We have seen the Lord bless the families of missionaries who are serving in untold ways.  We know that His blessings will be upon you as well.

With love and appreciation,
President John C. Lewis and Sister Ann Lewis