WA Week 69 - Christmas All Year Long

Hello, everyone! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful day. We had a great week. Mission Christmases are the best!

We worked hard this week, but are still working on finding people! We met a few cool potentials that say we can come back after the holidays are over. I love Christmas-time and sharing the Christmas initiative with people, but people's schedules are one thing I'm not a fan of during the holidays. Hopefully once life calms down for everyone will be able to start meeting with people regularly.

On Christmas Eve and Christmas we weren't supposed to tract, but to focus on doing good and visiting members and people we're teaching. 

For Christmas Eve, Sister C. and I were invited to some members'  house in Zillah for brunch. We got to listen to my cousin Cleon Skousen's talk on the Christmas story on tape! Then we visited a less active member, made treats to take to the other sisters in the area, and had dinner with the stake president. We finished the night out with some Christmas caroling with the other missionaries.

On Christmas day, we woke up, went to Ahtanum Creek ward at 9 (which was only an hour), and then opened presents with the Randall Park sisters!


At 1 we went to sacrament with the YSA. Then we finished delivering treats to the sisters, and got to Skype our families!


I don't know how many of you know this, but my brother's getting married in two weeks, and I got to meet my future sister-in-law yesterday. She's super awesome and I'm so excited for them!

That was most definitely my favorite part of the weekend!

We finished out Christmas eating dinner with members and going Christmas caroling. Most definitely a wonderful weekend!

I have to say, in years past I think December 26th has usually been the saddest day of the year for me, because Christmas is over! I hate how there's so much buildup and I get so excited and then it's over before I know it. This year, though, I had a different take, thanks to an article my Mom sent me called "The Three Levels of Christmas." It talks about how we can make Christmas last all year by focusing not only on baby Jesus, but on the adult Christ, because that's when He became the Savior and performed all those wonderful acts that shaped us and our destinies forever. I love that. I feel like I'm going to try and take all these good feelings and reminders that I've felt over the Christmas season and carry them with me throughout the year.

I hope that you can all take that Christmas spirit with you too and remember what Christ became after the night in the stable all those years ago. I hope you all have a great last week of this holiday break and wonderful last week of 2016!

See ya next year!

Love,
Sister Skousen

WA Week 68 - GREENIEFIRE

Good morning, everyone! I hope that you've all had a great week.
This week was the coldest week of my mission. It got down to 2 degrees on Saturday.

We've been feeling like bag ladies walking around all layered up, but we don't even care because it's so cold.


It has been A BLAST serving with Sister Christensen again!

- 2015 -
- 2016 -
Sister Christensen and I served together when we were only a transfer old, and she's one of my favorite companions. When I got the call that we were serving together I was in shock! It's not very common for companions to serve with each other again.

Being together again has rekindled the "greenie fire" in both of us. We both have a huge desire to get a ton of work done and to become the best missionaries we can become. I almost wonder if we were together our second transfer to prepare us for these last transfers of being together, when we're at our peaks. We both feel like the renewed greenie fire coupled with the skills and wisdom we've developed over the year will lead to some amazing things. I feel like we're going to see miracles happen this transfer. 

It's also been fun being doubled into the Ahtanum Creek ward. I love doubling in, because both companions are on the same foot figuring out everything that's happening in the area and getting to know everyone.

The Ahtanum Creek ward is amazing! All the members we've met so far have been so incredible and so missionary-minded. The ward is really strong and there are a lot of families, but the missionary work has been slow. We don't have any solid investigators right now. The ward really wants to fix that. Hopefully the freshness of sister missionaries will help things get going, not because I think we're better than the elders but I think that there are definitely people that are influenced more by elders and people that are influenced more by sisters. Hopefully we'll be able to find people who are willing to listen to us that haven't been willing to listen before.

This last week leading up to Christmas, I hope amid the chaos of family get togethers and last minute Christmas shopping, you'll all remember the One who gave us the greatest ever given. We have nothing to give back that will ever repay the debt. He's given us our families, our talents, and every breath we breathe. The only thing we can give Him that He doesn't already have is our hearts. I hope that you'll all resolve to more fully give Him your heart as a gift this Christmas.

I love you all and hope you have the merriest of Christmases!

Love,
Sister Skousen

WA Week 67 - For God So Loved the World

Something I've been thinking a lot about lately is how grateful I am to know that God is truly our loving Heavenly Father. That principle is the first principle that we teach to people, and I had an experience this week as we were teaching Richard that reminded me of this.
I've mentioned before that Richard has been doing everything that we ask him to do. He's been going to church, reading the scriptures, saying his prayers, and keeping the commandments, but he's still been struggling recognizing his answer. We've been praying and really trying to figure out how we can help him receive an answer, and yesterday after talking with him we figured out one of the big issues.

He believes in God very strongly, but he doubts his own ability to receive an answer because he believes his faith isn't strong enough. Because of that, he thinks that it will take him awhile to get an answer. I felt prompted to tell him that I know that God loves him more than he can comprehend. There are incredible blessings that come from being baptized and I know that God wouldn't withhold those from us because He loves us. He would want us to have them as soon as possible. It's up to us to do our part and open our hearts to Him, because His arms are always extended out to us.

Sometimes I think about what life would be like if that wasn't true-- if God was cruel or indifferent or put us here for His own entertainment. Many people have believed and do believe that. It makes me so happy, comforted, and hopeful to know that God is a perfect, loving, all-powerful Father and that He knows me personally and knows what I can become.

I'm grateful to know that trials I face aren't punishment for things I've done. I know that trials are the result of living in a fallen world, but that they're necessary for me to learn what joy is and to grow. Heavenly Father knew that life would be hard for us, and that's why He's given us so many things to help us through the hard times. All we have to do is to be obedient and we can come out on top of anything.

I love that I can share this with other people!

I've been able to see God's hand in my life a lot this week.

First, we had our mission Christmas party and it was great getting to see everyone!


We also got our first snow of the season, and I got to go on exchanges with my sister, Sister Robalin!

And I got to go on exchanges in Sunnyside again!

On Saturday we got TRANSFER CALLS! Right now we cover a family ward (Randall Park) and a YSA and at the beginning of the year they're going to be meeting at the same time on Sundays, so we had a feeling our area might be changing. We were right!

We found out Sister Michalek will be going to Ellensburg and YOU'LL NEVER BELIEVE WHAT'S HAPPENING TO ME!!!!

I'm going to be staying and continuing to serve in the YSA, but instead of Randall Park I'll be serving in the Ahtanum Creek ward. I'm sad about leaving Randall Park because I'll have to leave Richard and Lexy. :( But I'm excited to double into a new area with ...

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SISTER CHRISTENSEN!


I AM SO PUMPED! We are going to have so much fun.

Exciting things are happening in the WYM!

I hope you all have a great week and see Heavenly Father's hand in your life!

Love,
Sister Skousen


WA Week 66 - The Season of M I R A C L E S

It's the most wonderful time of the year!


I know that a lot of missionaries say that the holidays are hard, but I seriously love the holidays as a missionary. The work is so much more fun.

This week I got to do a lot of Christmasy things. We've been allllllllll over the Light the World initiative and telling everyone about it. The Yakima Stake had an incredible live nativity musical that we invited everyone to and got to usher for a couple of times. We had a ton of non-members there. AND we had some awesome members bring us a real Christmas tree!

This week was also our big meetings week! We had MLC, some zone leadership meetings, and zone training meeting. 


One hard thing that happened this week was that Sister Michalek was pretty sick, so we didn't get as much done as we wanted to. :( As you can see in this next picture she was pretty out of it hahaha.


Luckily she's feeling a lot better now and hopefully we'll do some good work this week.

Richard and Lexy are both kind of in the same place as they were last week. They're both doing everything members would do... keeping the commandments, reading, praying, going to church ... They're just waiting for their answers that the Book of Mormon's true. 

Richard's just struggling understanding the language of the Book of Mormon. He says that he feels good when he reads it, he just doesn't understand it. We've been trying to help him see that we don't have to understand everything. That good feeling is the most important thing, because God wouldn't let us feel the Spirit if we were reading something that was bad.

Lexy on the other hand is a very analytical person, and even though she feels pretty good about everything in the church she feels like she has to be completely sure and understand everything before she commits to joining. I think that once Lexy commits, she will be all in.

Prayers to help them get the answers they're looking for would be much appreciated! They're both so sincere, and I know that as long as they continue doing what they're doing they're going to get their answers.


December 2nd marked 1 year since the time that Sister Holmes came to me fresh from the MTC! So awesome that we get to be serving in the same ward again and living together one year later. I'm still praying that we get to be companions again!

A couple of other cool things that happened this week ---

On Saturday night we got a call from the elders about this YSA-aged girl that has been trying to get in touch with the missionaries. She didn't know how to contact anyone so she just wrote a note and stuck it under a rock at the church. It turns out that she's this 18 year old girl that just moved from Ohio all by herself because of a bad situation. She was baptized awhile ago but went less active because she had a lot of unanswered questions. She's been wanting a fresh start out here in Washington and decided that she wants to start over and try the Church again. We're going to be meeting with her this week to help her answer some of her questions! We're pretty excited about.

We've also been doing this 21-day challenge with some members in Randall Park. The challenge is to come up with names of people that they want to share the gospel with and for 21 days to pray for them by name morning and night, as well as to read certain scriptures every day. By the end of the 21 days, we promised them that at least one of the people they prayed for would be prepared to receive missionary discussions.

One of the members that we did this with finished her 21 days, and decided to invite one of the friends that she'd been praying for to the Live Nativity. She ended up coming, and the member took her on a tour of the church. She LOVED the Nativity, and afterwards told the member, "I have a lot of questions." The member told her that she could help answer them but that there were missionaries who could answer them better. She said that she was open to meeting with missionaries! SO AWESOME! Unfortunately, her friend lives in another ward, so we won't be teaching her. :( But seriously, how cool? There's this quote I LOVE that I think all of you should remember.

This is a promise from Elder Neil L. Anderson, an apostle of the Lord:

 "I promise you, as you pray to know with whom to speak, names and faces will come into your mind. Words to speak will be given in the very moment you need them. Opportunities will open to you. Faith will overcome doubt, and the Lord will bless you with your very own miracles."

And Christmas time is THE time for miracles..

I hope you all have a great week and experience miracles! They are real!

Love,
Sister Skousen


WA Week 65 - #LIGHTtheWORLD!

Good MORNING, everyone! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! It's been a great week here! We had a zone conference, Thanksgiving, and lots of great things happen in our area.

Wednesday was zone conference, and it was awesome being able to focus on Jesus Christ right before Thanksgiving. There are a lot of things to be grateful for, but He is who I'm most grateful for! I'm so thankful for the time I've been able to have to learn about Him, teach about Him, testify of Him, and figure out how He plays a role in my life.


A big focus at zone conference was the new #LIGHTtheWORLD Christmas campaign the church is doing! You can check it out at mormon.org. It's definitely one of my favorites ever. The campaign is focused on being a light like Christ. There's a really cool advent calendar you can download at mormon.org/downloads with 25 ways over 25 days that you can serve others the way that Christ did. It should make your Christmas much more meaningful! Last year serving as a missionary at Christmas time was so powerful. Everyone is a little more kind and considerate of others. It's a wonderful time to be a missionary! I'm grateful I get two Christmases on my mission!

Thursday was THANKSGIVING! President Lewis told us that he didn't want us knocking on doors that day, so we tried to figure out what we could do. We had heard about a member in the stake who owns an orchard but who's out of town. Apparently he had tons of apples that weren't being picked, and that would go to waste if no one went to pick them, so that's what we did that morning!





It was super fun. We ate turkey later that day with some members, and spent the rest of our day delivering apples to investigators and members. 

We also picked up a few new investigators this week! We got a media referral (which NEVER happens in this mission. Whoo!) and found a couple people from tracting. Hopefully those go somewhere. Lexy and Richard are still doing good, but still waiting for an answer. Keep them in your prayers, please!

I hope that you all have a great week and look for ways to LIGHT THE WORLD! 

Love you!

Love,
Sister Skousen

WA Week 64 - Take a Leap of Faith

Hello, everyone! I hope you're having a great Monday. It's been a great week for me!
On Monday, Courtney (our recent convert in YSA) brought her friend named Cheyenne to FHE. We taught the Restoration right there and put her on date to be baptized on December 17th! Courtney texted us later in the week and told us that Cheyenne has been reading the Book of Mormon and wants to be baptized sooner. Woooo! I wish that all members had as much fire as recent converts do. Honestly, the fear members have of doing missionary work is 100% SATAN. There's nothing offensive or awkward or relationship-ruining about asking friends to meet with missionaries. If you do it out of love, you won't have to worry about offending them. The worst they can say is no.

We don't have a ton of other investigators, but the two we've worked with a lot this week have been doing amazing. 

We've been meeting with this guy named Richard, who is honestly seeking for the truth. It's refreshing teaching someone who understands how this could bless his life if it's true and who is doing whatever he can to get an answer. This week we had an amazing time watching Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration with him. After the lesson, we asked him if he believed Joseph Smith was a prophet. He said, "Yes. I don't know how anyone could have gone through what he went through and not be." So that was awesome! The only thing holding Richard back is that he's having trouble understanding the Book of Mormon, so this week we're going to focus on reading the Book of Mormon with him.

The other main investigator we have is named Lexy. She's dating a member in our ward and has been going to church for a few months now. She's basically a dry Mormon. She's almost finished with the Book of Mormon. She feels good about everything, but is really wanting to be 100% certain that this is true before she commits. Last week we committed her to pray about a baptism date, so we'll see what happens this week!

The highlight of this week was that MARIE GOT BAPTIZED! YAYYYYYYY! I love driving back to old areas for baptisms. This was the view as we drove over the Columbia River ...


It was so good to see Marie and Sister Rasmussen again. 
I love them!

This is Bianca! I talked a little about her back when I was in Moses Lake.


We drove up with Courtney. She was taught by both Sister Smith and Sister Rasmussen before she was baptized.

On Sunday I had to give a talk in YSA. I've decided to talk about something that I've been thinking a lot about ... faith. 

I think sometimes we feel like our faith is strongest when we're feeling the Spirit, and when we aren't feeling the Spirit, we feel like our faith is weak and that we're doing something wrong. But that isn't true! Sometimes we may go for a long period of time without feeling the Spirit, but when we take a leap of faith and do what we're supposed to anyways, we're exercising a huge amount of faith. Faith is a principle of action. I've seen so many times that if we act in faith even if we aren't feeling like it, we can receive so much power and blessings!

Hopefully you can keep this in mind if you're feeling down or feeling like your faith is week. Just keep hanging in there!

I love you all and hope you all have the best Thanksgiving ever!

Love,
Sister Skousen

WA Week 63 - Time is Flying!

Man, oh man, what even happened this week?! I don't know quite where to start. I don't have too much time to write today because I have to finish college applications, so I'll apologize right now for this short email. Sorrryyyyyy!

On Wednesday we had transfers, and we were sad to lose Sister Hopkins from our apartment. :( For a couple hours while we were waiting for Sister Banks's next companion, we had fun tripan-ing it.


and then we got Sister Banks's new companion ...


SISTER HOLMES! My firstborn! Sister Holmes has already been out for a year. I'm so old.

On Thursday, Sister Lewis came out with us to teach, which was so cool, and on Saturday Sister Michalek and I did a special class with some young women from the stake. It was so much fun talking to young women about missions! 

We've done a lot of tracting this week, and have found some cool potentials 
we're excited to go by.


The best part of the week was finding out last night that MARIE FROM MOSES LAKE IS GETTING BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY! Woooo!

We're planning on road tripping up to Moses with Courtney this weekend. 
It should be super exciting!


We're also going on a couple of exchanges this week so we should be pretty busy.

I hope that you all have a great week! I'll talk to you next time.

Love,
Sister Skousen

WA Week 62 - And Then May We Stand Still

Good morning, everyone! I hope everyone's had a great week. It's been pretty crazy here. 
This transfer has been the fastest transfer of my mission, and on Saturday we got transfer calls!

I found out I'm being transferred!

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JUST KIDDING! I'm staying with Sister Michalek again. Woooo! There actually aren't too many changes happening.

Monday night was Halloween so we had to be in our apartments by 6pm. We carved pumpkins ...


... and Sister Michalek and I put together CDs with our favorite songs that we gave to all the sisters we go on exchanges with. This was our album cover ...


Word's been spreading, and lots of missionaries want it now! Today we have to burn like 10 more CDs.

Tuesday was MLC, and it was one of my favorite MLCs ever!

(Elder King's looking at our CD in the background)


This MLC we had some awesome things happening. We got a sneak preview of the Church's Christmas initiative that's coming out after Thanksgiving. I can't say much about it yet but I'm just gonna say that it's one of my FAVORITE ONES EVER! It's gonna be so good.

A couple of the new policies we talked about is that we can now wear logos on our P-Day/exercise clothes. WOOOOO! I am so pumped about that.

There's also a new policy that every companionship has to tract at least one hour every day except Mondays. I'm super excited. There are a lot of missionaries in the mission that spend their days driving around from potential to potential and end up not talking to anyone all day, and one of the principles for finding people to teach is that we need to talk with everyone. I'm excited that this will make those missionaries get outside of their comfort zones and talk with more people. Our mission is a pretty successful tracting mission, and I'm sure we're going to see a lot of amazing things happen with this policy.


On Thursday I got to go on exchanges with Sister Miller, and I got to see Louie! I taught Louie in Wenatchee almost a year ago, and he ended up moving to Yakima right before he got baptized. It was so good to see him again.

This week we had so many meetings and our time to proselyte was cut really short. I'm hoping this next week will be better.

I also got a chance to VOTE last week! I know you're all probably sick hearing about the election, but I've been thinking a lot about it lately.

I've been thinking a lot about how people these days are so caught up in things that are happening in the world. The internet and the news make us a lot more aware of all of the bad things that are happening-- the riots, the corruption, the violence, etc. ... but the thing I've realized is that even though those things are terrible, we should be more concerned with the things that are happening around us. People know all about what's happening in the White House thousands of miles away, but do they know that their neighbor down the street just had a family member pass away? Do they know that the lady three doors down just found out she's terminally ill? Or that there's a lonely old man around the corner who has no one to talk to?

No! They don't. Knocking on doors I see this all time. People don't know their neighbors. They are so wrapped up in themselves and in their computer screens and they get angry and depressed about huge world problems that are outside of their control. If we all would just take the time to look at our own circles of influence we would be able to see that there are so many things happening that are in our control.

"Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." -D&C 123:17

I know that if we do the good that we can with what we have, we will be happy no matter what happens in the world. That's one of the greatest promises of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

I love the gospel so much. My testimony of it's reality and power has grown more than I can describe since being a missionary.

I hope that you all will take a look around you and look for ways that you can be the good in your own world, and then stand still and know that God will take care of the rest.

I love you all, and hope you have a great week! This world is a wonderful place!

Love,
Sister Skousen

WA Week 61 - Nostalgia

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE! Fall is in full swing here in Yakima. I am IN LOVE with the fall colors and not excited for all the leaves to be falling, so we've been enjoying the views while we can.




It's been a really good week! On P-Day we went with Selah zone to an investigator's place. This guy is so legit. He became a millionaire working at a fish hatchery in Alaska for two years, and then came back and built this crazy underground doomsday shelter that's attached to like 25 of these yurts that people can come and stay in for free. He has enough food for 2 people to survive for 50 years!

So Crazy!
We've knocked on loooootttts of doors this week. I've learned that some areas are better for tracting than others, and this is definitely an area where we've seen some cool things happen tracting. 

The best thing that happened was on Tuesday night. It was at the end of the night and we had just been knocking at some apartments. We were heading back to our car, and we saw a lady in the parking lot walking towards an apartment. We waved to her and said hi. Then we kept walking and Sister Michalek pointed to an apartment ahead on the left and said, "I feel like we need to knock this one." We knocked on the door, and no one answered, so we were about to leave, but then we saw the lady we had just said hi to walking towards us. Apparently that was her apartment. We started talking to her, and soon the lady started crying. We found out her name was Valerie. Valerie had just become a Christian a year ago, and has had some really difficult things happen in her life. She had just said a prayer asking God for help and direction, and when she saw us say hi to her she said that she knew we were going to knock on her door. She took it as a sign from God, and she knew that whatever we had to tell her was the answer to her prayers. We told her about the Book of Mormon and about how Jesus Christ's gospel has been restored. It was so powerful to teach someone who completely opened her heart to the Spirit. 
We are so excited to see where this goes with Valerie!

This week has also been very nostalgic for me. I got to go on exchanges with my old companion, Sister Torman, and then I got to go to one of my FAVORITE PLACES IN THE ENTIRE WORLD ...

SUNNYSIDE, WASHINGTON!!!!

And I got to see Esther!

Being back in Sunnyside, I felt like no time had gone by. I could still remember the streets and where everyone lived, but it was weird because they were teaching different people and there were different missionaries there. It just felt different so it was kinda bittersweet. I was excited to go back to Yakima though. I loved reliving my Sunnyside days but I realized that there really is a time and a season for everything and you can't relive the past. We just have to keep looking forward or we'd feel super depressed. It was a good reminder for me to not take time for granted!

Alright, well it's about time for me to wrap this up because I have to finish college applications. Yuck!

I hope you all have a wonderful week and stay safe tonight!

Love,
Sister Skousen

WA Week 60 - When in Washington ...

Last week I didn't send too many pictures, so this week I'm going to make up for it! Hopefully they can all fit. It's been a super crazy week, and I feel like I say that every week but this one was seriously crazy.

First of all, look at what we got to drive the first few days of the week!
"The Silver Bullet"

 It was so much fun. We were super sad when Elder Thompson called us on Wednesday and told us our little Corolla was ready to be picked up from the shop. :( It was super fun while it lasted though.
We also got to have interviews with President and Sister Lewis, who are two of my favorite people on the planet! Sister Lewis is one of the coolest ladies I've ever met. She's such a spiritual powerhouse and whenever we have interviews with her she gives us kind of a one-on-one training about things that she's been thinking about. This time she talked about the Spirit and how it works differently for each of us. I've come to understand more about how the Spirit works on my mission, and I am growing more and more thankful that Heavenly Father has blessed us with such an amazing gift of guidance and comfort.

I also had a really great interview with President. He just gets me. This past week I've had to work on applying for school and thinking about what I want to do with my life after my mission. I hate having to think about that on my mission because I want to just focus on the work, but I know that it's something I have to take care of now. President Lewis gave me a lot of advice and direction, which I'm super grateful for.

This weekend I was also blessed to see a few old friends.
Sister Whitlock came back to visit, and I got to see a couple of other RMs that I worked with when I was in Sunnyside. So many flashbacks this weekend. I love being in a mission where missionaries become such great friends.

On Saturday with the YSA, I got to press apple cider for the first time ever! Before my mission I knew that wherever I was assigned to serve, I wanted to do all of the local things. Since I got called to serve in the apple capital of the world, I feel like pressing cider is one of the most local things I could do. It was so much fun, and the cider is one of the most delicious drinks I've ever tasted!


We pressed 73 gallons of cider! So good.​
As far as the work goes, we have a lady named Lexy in Randall Park who's pretty solid. She's been coming to church pretty consistently, but wants to finish the Book of Mormon before she's baptized. Luckily, she's already in Helaman, so hopefully she'll make up her mind soon!

Maggie, the golden investigator in YSA that I talked about a few weeks ago, is also super awesome, but she's been sick and super busy so we haven't been able to see her lately. Other than that, we don't have anyone super solid, so we're going to get a lot of finding time this week.

I'm super pumped because we got a new ward mission leader in Randall Park who's a young guy that taught in the MTC. He should be great to work with. I've seen ward mission leaders and bishops have a huge influence on the culture of missionary work in wards. I think exciting things are on the horizon.

I love you all and hope you have another fantastic week! Don't let the little things get you down.

Love,
Sister Skousen