Washington Week 17 - Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men

It's been a most magical Christmas here in Wenatchee! There was something special about this Christmas season for me. Christmas has become so commercialized. I was lucky to be away from all of that this year and to focus solely on the Savior, and it made Christmastime so much sweeter for me. Last week I said that on Christmas Eve and Christmas we weren't allowed to go out and proselyte, but our mission president told us he wanted to go about doing good. We spent most of our time visiting recent converts, investigators, and less actives. My favorite thing that I got to do (besides skyping my family of course ;)) was Christmas caroling in Leavenworth!

You might remember me talking about Leavenworth a few weeks ago. It's a touristy Bavarian village in our zone. On Christmas Eve, we decided to go up there to Christmas carol, and it was amazing! We just stood on a corner at the park and sang classic Christian Christmas carols. It was crazy because when we started singing, tons of people crowded around us and started taking our pictures and videotaping us. There was something so special about sharing our testimonies of Jesus Christ being born to all those people. The Spirit was so strong. It's something I'll never forget.

After we caroled at the park, we drove to a less active's house. She wasn't home, so we tried the people across the street.

There ended up being about 20 Hispanic people in the house who were so excited when we sang to them. They gave us all tamales! Yummmm!

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Christmas Day was so nice. We had another companionship staying with us last week, so we woke up and all opened our presents together. Afterward we went to the stake center and had a breakfast and white elephant gift exchange with the zone.

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And then we got to watch ...

The Best Two Years.
A classic.

The rest of our day was spent driving around to less actives and skyping the familia ...

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(... and admiring strange icicle formations. They don't have icicles like this in Arizona!)

It's been such a wonderful Christmas and it always makes me sad when it's over! The one positive thing is that hopefully people will have more time to meet with us after the holidays are over.

As Christmas season has come and gone I've reflected a lot on the birth of Christ. When the angel Gabriel and the heavenly host came to the shepherds to testify of the Savior's birth, they said, "Glory to god in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

In Jesus the Christ, James E. Talmage said: 
"Tidings of such import had never before been delivered by angel or received by man—good tidings of great joy, given to but few and those among the humblest of earth, but destined to spread to all people. There is sublime grandeur in the scene, as there is divine authorship in the message, and the climax is such as the mind of man could never have conceived—the sudden appearance of a multitude of the heavenly host, singing audibly to human ears the briefest, most consistent and most truly complete of all the songs of peace ever attuned by mortal or spirit choir. What a consummation to be wished—Peace on earth! But how can such come except through the maintenance of good will toward men? And through what means could glory to God in the highest be more effectively rendered?"

This Christmas season, as I was able to serve other people by sharing messages of Jesus Christ, by delivering money and presents to needy families, by caroling at the square in Leavenworth, by visiting lonely people on Christmas ...

I was able to witness the peace that comes through good will toward men. It's through service that we glorify God, and it's the best gift that we can give Christ as we celebrate His birth.

I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and were able to feel the peace and hope that is available through Christ.

Merry Christmas!

Sister Skousen

Washington Week 16 - WHITE OUT!

I know I say this every time, but it has been such a crazy week! On Tuesday we went down to Quincy to a GORGEOUS home and had a Christmas party with all of the missionaries in the northern zones in the mission. It was nice. We had yummy food, a devotional, and then got to watch "Meet the Mormons." 

Right after we got back from the Christmas party, I got transferred over to Mission Ridge Ward. It's been interesting because Sister Danger has only been out for a couple of weeks. She doesn't really know anybody. We've spent the last week mostly tracking down people in the area book, so we've gotten to talk to a bunch of different people. It's been fun. We have gotten sooooo much snow the past few days. I'm actually wondering if we'll be able to go home from the church because a guy just came in here and said there's like another foot of snow outside in the parking lot. We shall see!

I love the snow but don't like driving in it. Luckily Sister Danger is from Michigan, so she's been teaching me all about how to drive in it.

I am so excited about Christmas this week.

 We're not supposed to proselyte on Christmas Eve or Christmas, so we're just going to be going around to investigators and less actives and bringing them cookies, and then we're going to go Christmas caroling with Sister Christensen and Sister Holmes. On Christmas we also get to skype our families. Christmas morning we're going to have a zone breakfast and white elephant gift exchange, and then we're going to watch a movie that President Lewis is getting to us. It's TOP SECRET so we're all trying to guess what it could be. Star Wars perhaps? ;) I am so excited!

I was SO sad to leave the Castlerock and YSA wards! One thing that was so hard was leaving the members that we lived with. It's so difficult leaving these people and not knowing when I'm going to see them again.

I feel kinda bad because I haven't really taken any pictures from this week with Sister Danger.

I'll take lots this week to make up for it!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! I'll see you next week!


Sister Skousen

Washington Week 15 - Broken Car, Broken Phone, Broken Heart

I'm going to start out this week's email with this scripture:

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

I've been thinking a lot lately about ways that I can improve myself, so that I can become a better missionary and person. This scripture is so. real. If we ask Heavenly Father to show us our weaknesses, he will always let us know. I remember one night a few weeks ago I was praying, and I accidentally asked Heavenly Father if he would help me be humble ... I immediately realized my mistake, but I couldn't take it back! I think that because He was more than willing to humble me, lots of humbling things have happened since then.

Since that request, we've been blessed with a broken car (which is still not back from the shop), lots of icy snow to walk through, and a puddle that our phone managed to fall in last night. But that's not all!

Sister Holmes has been an amazing trainee. I don't know how I got so lucky to have her! But OF COURSE it was too good to last ... Last night after our phone fell in the puddle and wasn't working, we put it in a bucket of rice to dry off over night. This morning, it miraculously started working! But we saw that we missed a call from President Lewis! We started freaking out. I knew in my heart what was going to happen because we heard rumors of an emergency transfer taking place with another companionship in our zone. We called him back this morning, and he told us that I'm going to be transferred to Mission Ridge Ward to finish another sister's training. Sister Christensen (my last companion) is going to be coming back from Othello to finish training Sister Holmes. We were so bummed this morning! I have to pack up all my stuff today and tomorrow I'm heading over to the neighboring area to train Sister Danger. (Yes, that is her actual name.)

Needless to say, I've been humbled, and I know that it's for my good. With a more "broken heart and contrite spirit," I know that Heavenly Father will be more able to mold me into who I'm supposed to be.

I'm so sad to be leaving my baby and this awesome area, but I know that this call came from the Lord. He's doing it for a reason! It's going to be an interesting transfer. Since Sister Danger is brand new, it's pretty much like we're white washing this area, which I'm actually kind of excited about. It's always fun to make thing happen!

I've been lucky to have some tender mercies happen this week though! Nick got baptized! It was an amazing service. There's such a special spirit at those convert baptisms.

Another experience we had that highlighted our week was getting to deliver a Secret Santa gift. There's a lady in the ward with five kids who was recently baptized earlier this year. Her husband just lost his job. Another woman in the ward called us on Friday and asked us if we would be able to deliver a jar of money to her, but she wanted it to be kept anonymous.

Of course we would! We got a ride to her house, and she welcomed us in. We gave her the jar and when she saw what was in it, she just broke down in tears. She told us she had been having the worst day ever and she was just in shock. We actually saw her the next night at the ward Christmas party, and she told us that later that same day, another Secret Santa gift showed up with about the same amount of money!

It was a testimony to me of the importance of our church family, and about how Heavenly Father is aware of each of us. We are put into people's lives to be His hands in reaching out to meet the needs of all of His children.

There's a special spirit around this Christmas season. I hope that you all can feel it and look for someone to help this week!
Sister Skousen

Washington Week 14 -Training After Training

Another week has come and gone! I GOT MY NEW GREENIE! Her name is Sister Holmes from Tehachapi, California, and she is awesome. Doesn't "Skousen & Holmes" sound so nice together? She's so cheerful and outgoing, which is super nice when we're finding people. She also knows a lot about the gospel. It's going to be an easy training for me. She was a little surprised when we were out walking around in the snow all week. Which reminds me ... our car is still not fixed! We finally got a hold of the people at the shop on Friday and they said that they finally got the OK from the insurance company to order the parts to fix it, so he said it should be done around the middle to the end of the week. It's kind of fun walking ... but frustrating when we walk a few miles for an appointment and then it falls through. That's mission life though ... 

All before the mission people would tell me that you really don't know what mission life is like unless you've been a missionary, and honestly I didn't believe them. But now I know! There's just crazy stuff that happens to you ... Like on Saturday, we had a lesson planned for 7:00 at the church, but we had to get a member to come with us who could also give us a ride over there. We literally asked 10 people, and either they couldn't or they didn't get back to us! We thought we would have to reschedule. Finally, we got someone to come with us a couple hours before the lesson! And then on our way to the church, we got a text from the investigator asking if we could reschedule. *Face palm!*

Luckily, we still had the member with us who could drive us to this referral we had gotten from the Spanish elders. She answered the door and we had a little lesson right there on the porch, and have a follow up appointment scheduled on Friday! You can't make this stuff up. These are the kinds of things the MTC just doesn't train you for. But, it always keeps you on your toes!

Sister Holmes!!!

It was so sad saying goodbye to people being transferred on Wednesday!

On Wednesday after Sister Christensen had left and I was waiting for my trainee, I went with a sister from another area and we drove through these beautiful mountains. 

This week is going to be super exciting! We have Zone Training tomorrow, a Trainer/Trainee meeting on Wednesday, and thenon Saturday, this awesome guy named Nick is getting baptized! He was found by some sisters before I was here, and has been going to church for awhile, but had a smoking problem. A few weeks ago, we gave him this 7 Day Stop Smoking presentation, and he's been clean now for a few weeks! He's so excited to be baptized! It's going to be awesome.

I'm so excited for Christmas! I've just been thinking how lucky I am to get to spend two Christmases on the mission, because people seem so much more welcoming and spiritual this time of year.

Have you all visited the christmas.mormon.org website yet?! It's amazing. The "A Savior Is Born" initiative is such an awesome missionary opportunity! I hope that you'll all think of someone SPECIFIC you can share it with this Christmas season. Before my mission, I felt weird about missionary work with my friends. I just thought they would think it was weird or something ... I don't know. BUT IT'S NOT! People appreciate it when you share something with them that has made you happy. It shows that you want them to be happy! Even if they don't agree with you, you've got nothing to lose!

I hope that you all get a chance to look at that website, and pray about someone who you can share it with. I know that you will get a lot more out of this Christmas season by sharing this message with someone.

I hope that you all feel the Spirit more prominently in your lives this Christmas season.

I love you all!

Sister Skousen