WA Week 26 - The Promised Land

Greetings from Sunnyside, Washington!

It's been quite the week.

It was so bittersweet leaving Wenatchee and all the people there. It was pretty surreal.

Two other sisters who I've become super close with, Sister Robalin and Sister Christensen, got transferred with me and all three of us were born and raised in Wenatchee. None of us could believe that we were leaving. We kept talking about how we felt like we were just going to a zone conference or something and then at the end of the day we'd go back home to Wenatchee.

Sister Torman is going to do so great taking over in Mission Ridge!

It was a three hour drive down to Sunnyside. It was a fun little road trip. I got to meet my new greenie down in Yakima. Her name is Sister Mork, and she's from Winchester, Kentucky. She's super hardworking and up for anything. We got an all new apartment, all new area book, and a brand new phone.

After only a few days of being in Sunnyside, I can tell you that I feel like I've died and gone to heaven.

Before I got down here, there were missionaries that had served there that told me it was the best area, that the members are awesome and that the work is booming. I was not disappointed!

That first night we got there we met with our ward mission leader, Brother Anderson, and the elders who used to cover the area that ours split off from. The ward mission leader told us that we're the first English sisters in Sunnyside in 35 years, and that the ward is so excited for us to be here. He said it's the most missionary minded ward that he's ever been in. In the past five years, they've gotten around 60 baptisms!

We were just talking with him out in the lobby of the church building and all these bubbly teenage girls came up to us and told us how excited they were to be there because they want to serve missions. Even in the first couple few hours we were here we felt so much love from everyone.

Then the elders commenced to give us a STACK of teaching records and lists of potential investigators. They had sooo many people for us to see. I was in shock. It all seemed too good to be true.

The next day, we went out walking (because we only have a car every other day) to meet some of these investigators and potentials and I was amazed. We talked to so many people and they were all so nice and receptive. Sunnyside is so prepared!

On Sunday, between us and the elders, we had 14 investigators at church! 14!!!! I'm still in shock. One of those was a lady that we had met outside her house Thursday morning. Insane. I didn't even think that places like this were real.

I'm so excited for this week. We have so many people to see that I don't know how we're going to keep up with all of them. I realize now how hard I had it my first few areas. I love Wenatchee with all my heart, but the work was really hard there. It is so nice to be in a ward where the members are just as into the hastening of the work as we are. This ward is evidence to me of what MIRACLES can take place when the missionaries and the ward work hand in hand.

Sunnyside is MUCH different than Wenatchee. Wenatchee was packed super close together and was always busy. Sunnyside feels kind of like the town in Cars. It's much more slow and easygoing.

It's also 90% Hispanic. Which is fine with me! Hispanics are so friendly and love talking about Jesus. Actually, every single one of our lessons that we've taught so far have been with Hispanics. I'm looking forward to eating a lot of tacos during my stay here, and brushing up on my Español.

We live about 40 miles southeast of Yakima, right at the eastern border of our mission. We can see the Kennewick mission from here. Along with another companionship of sisters that got doubled into Yakima, we're also the first sisters in the Yakima zone. Another tender mercy is that a few of the people I'm serving around I served with in Wenatchee! My district leader, one of my zone leaders, and my sister training leader are all people I know super well, and one of the elders in Sunnyside was in my MTC district, so I don't feel totally uprooted.

And get this ...

Do y'all remember that trip to Africa I took last summer? Well two of the people that went there with me, Matthew and Lezli, live in Yakima, and the zone leaders live in their house. Today we're having a zone P-Day at their house! So I get to see Lezli! So crazy. Such a small world.

Ahhhh .... so in a nutshell, it's been good here. I'm so excited for things to happen in golden Sunnyside.

Hope y'all have an amazing week!

Con cariño,

Hermana Skousen

WA Week 25 - My Old Wenatchee Home

Good Monday morning, everyone! It's been a wild week here.

We were able to have interviews with President and Sister Lewis on Tuesday, and it was wonderful. They are the best, most inspired people. Transfers are this Wednesday, and of course, everyone was trying to get a feel from President Lewis about whether or not we would be staying or leaving.

After the interview, I was really feeling that Sister Torman and I would be staying together another transfer with all of the rebuilding efforts we've had going on.

I'll give you a little run down of how transfers go. Transfers take place every six weeks. The Saturdaybefore transfers happen, President Lewis personally calls everyone in the mission who has been called to a leadership position, and then that night when everyone's back home he gives a general voicemail announcing all the leadership assignments in the mission. Then the assistants send the zone a voicemail letting us know what's happening to each individual missionary. So, Saturday before transfers are generally madness. Everyone keeps the phone super close in case President Lewis calls. The past couple times we've gotten a call from President Lewis it's been between about 11-2:00

To make things even more crazy, Sister Torman and I got to drive down to Selah (about 2 hours away) to go to Louie's baptism! Louie is someone I taught in Yakima before he moved down to Selah, but we got permission to go down to his baptism.

Saturday morning we got a text from the Selah elders asking if we would give a talk on the Holy Ghost at his baptism, and even though it was a bit of a short notice we said we would. His baptism was at 7pm, so we left Wenatchee at 3pm with our ward mission leader. We had dinner with his daughter who lives in Yakima, and then went to the baptism. Throughout all of this, we didn't get a call from President Lewis, so I was thinking we were safe and that both of us were probably staying together another transfer.

Lo and behold, it's 7:00 and we're at the stake center waiting for the baptism to begin, and who should walk in? But President and Sister Lewis! So we got to give a talk to the mission president and his wife. I think it went pretty well all things considered.

After the baptism, President Lewis looked at us from across the room and mouthed, "I need to talk to you two." Oh man ... I couldn't believe it was happening.

We went out into the hallway and President Lewis told us that Sister Torman is going to have to hold the fort down in Mission Ridge, because I'm going to be opening a new area three hours south of Wenatchee and TRAINING again! The town that I'm going to be going to is called Sunnyside, and it's 40 miles southeast of Yakima.

It's going to be INSANE! I hope that I get a good, patient, new missionary, because this next transfer is going to be quite the adventure. I'm so sad to be leaving the Wenatchee zone though! Even though I've been in three different areas, I've been in the same valley and have really felt like Wenatchee has become my home. 

We had stake conference last week, and looking around, I realized I knew half of the people in the room because of all the areas I've served in. It's going to be hard leaving it, but I'm ready. President Lewis told me the work is booming in Sunnyside, so I'm excited!

I'm so grateful for all of the people I've been able to meet and grow to love these past six months in Wenatchee. I never knew how much love a heart could hold for so many people.

See you later, Wenatchee. It's been great.

Sunnyside, here I come!

-Sister Skousen

WA Week 24 - 20 YEARS

As of Saturday, I have officially been on the earth for 20 YEARS.
Gahh! By the end of the year I always feel so content being the age that I am that I always get sad about turning the next age.
19 was such a good year for me. I did a lot of things that were really hard and scary, but I learned that I really AM capable of doing hard things.
I finished my first year of college, went on a life-changing trip to Africa, and hardest of all ... dropped everything and said goodbye to everyone for 18 months to serve the Lord.
And it was the best decision I have ever made.

I'm looking forward to this 20th year being one fully dedicated to God as I serve the people here in Washington.

My birthday was everything anyone could want in a birthday -- full of awesome people, sweets, and good Chinese food.

The next day was VALENTINE'S Day, so we decided to knock doors on Loves Court of course! Ironically, we were not feeling the love from the people of Loves Court.

Oh well, what are you gonna do?

It's been a trying week for us. Last week I said that we dropped pretty much everyone that we've been working with so that we could start fresh. It's been pretty difficult since then. We've knocked a lot of doors and haven't seen a lot of fruit from our efforts yet. We're really trying to find some way we can get our members more involved to help us out. It's kind of felt like we've been finding and teaching all on our own. There was a statistic we heard at zone conference that was something like: "1 in 1000 doors missionaries knock on will yield a baptism. If a member invites a non-member to hear the missionary lessons in his home, the odds of a baptism are 1 in 12. If a member invites a non-member to church, and then to hear the missionary lessons in his home, the odds of that person joining the church are 1 in 3." Aren't those incredible statistics?! Members-- you are SO, VITALLY IMPORTANT in missionary work! This gospel is not meant for you to keep to yourself; it's meant to be shared. You were put in the place that you are now for a purpose. I have a testimony that there are people around us that are being prepared to hear the gospel, and they are going to be much more open to receive it from someone who they care about than from two strange girls in dresses knocking on their door.

 "For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory." -Alma 13:24

I know that the more we get members on our side, the more success we will see. It's just been difficult building back the member trust that former missionaries damaged. I have faith that we'll get there though!

The amazing thing about this week is that every time things got hard and I was just holding on to a thread of hope that things would get better, we'd see some kind of tender mercy. Yesterday was really hard. We were knocking and knocking and people were just mean, and then we had a sweet experience visiting a lonely old woman with terminal cancer in a nursing home. We read the scriptures to her and she just started crying and thanked us over and over again for coming to see her.

It's moments like that that assure me that the Lord is there. Even though things can get hard, He is always there, shoulder to shoulder with us, willing to take the burden from us.

 "But behold, I ... will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." -1 Nephi 1:20

I am so grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord that I have been privileged to see every day. They're what carry us out here.

I know that if we keep pushing on and have faith, the fruits will come.

Next week, hopefully I'll be able to write about some of those fruits! But if not, I know that I'm doing the best I can, and that's enough. I'll talk to you next week!

Sister Skousen

WA Week 23 - Dropping Spree

I've had a lot of epiphanies this week. It's felt like the whole time I've been in this area, we've had a ton of people who we've been seeing, who just haven't been progressing. It seems like we've been putting the same names in our planners every week, and trying the same potentials over and over again, with nothing really coming of it. So this week, we decided to just drop them! I should have thought about it a long time ago. I don't really know why I didn't. I guess we always hope for these people to progress, and it's sad to let them go, but we can't change people against their will. Hopefully in the future, some other missionaries will go and see them and they'll be ready. We just planted the seeds, and someone else will harvest.

It's been kind of liberating moving all those teaching records that have been giving us grief for the past weeks into the "Former Investigators" section of our area book! I am super pumped to spend that time that we had been putting into these people into finding new people who are ready to hear the gospel NOW! It's going to be great. I've felt a much greater sense of urgency with the transfer coming to an end in a couple weeks. I've been in the Wenatchee Zone for nearly six months, and I LOVE Wenatchee, but I'm worried that my time is almost up here, so I've gotta give it all I've got with the time that I have left.

It's been a super fulfilling week of walking and talking to a lot of people. We found a couple people that we're excited to follow up with. BUT, we're excited to get our car back today! It's just nice being able to zoom around to places so quickly.

It's going to be a GREAT week, and I'm excited to follow up with y'all next week! I hope that you all have an amazing week full of miracles.

Sister Skousen

Snow Again!

WA Week 22 - It's a Slippery Slope

Hey everyone! It's a beautiful day here in Wenatchee! The snow is melting, the sun is shining, and it's the start of an amazing week. Last week it felt like time flew by so fast and we had no time to do anything! Monday was P-Day, Tuesday was exchanges so I went with Hermana Harston and got to practice my Spanish, Wednesday we had an amazing zone conference, Friday was weekly planning,Saturday we had a stake relief society conference, and Sunday we had church! So Thursday was the only full day we had of proselyting, and even then we took up a lot of the day with service at a local nursing home. So it felt like we didn't accomplish very much last week, even though there was a lot of awesome things going on. This week I'm excited that we really don't have as much happening. We did have to take our car into the body shop because the last sisters in the area got in an accident, so we're going to be walking for a few days. I'm pretty excited about that because I always feel much more productive when we're walking! We can talk to everyone on the streets.

I loved zone conference. A few of the north zones got together in Wenatchee and President and Sister Lewis and the AP's came up and talked to us. It was super good.

My mission twin.

Zone conference took up most of the day. We went straight to dinner afterward, which was a crazy experience. Our area covers super pretty mountains with pine forests and a ski resort, and the people that were feeding us dinner live up there. We hadn't been there before, and we had quite the adventure finding their house. We were driving up the road and saw their address with a bunch of mailboxes next to a small, icy road that led up the mountain. We figured they lived up there, so we turned and started driving up. We soon realized that our car would not be able to handle going up there, so we turned around and started down the hill. As we were going down, a mountain man with a snow plow on his truck started driving up toward us. We were at a bit of a stand off for a couple minutes. We hoped he would realize that we physically could NOT make it up the hill and he would have to back down, but he didn't seem to get that. He actually TURNED OFF his car. I had to get out of the car and tell him that he would have to back down the mountain for us. He was like "What are you doing up here without snow tires?!" And then we explained what was happening, and I think he felt bad after he saw who we were, so he backed down. It was so funny hahaha. And that's not the end of it!

We had to park at the bottom of the hill and tried walking up the mountain to try and find their house. (And I forgot to mention that our phone didn't have service.)

I don't really know how I made the face in this picture but I guess it pretty accurately describes what we were feeling.

It was so crazy. We walked by one house and there were dogs that started barking at us. A lady came out to see what was going on, and it ended up being this super nice lady who let us use her phone to call the members and she gave us a ride to where their house was. Their house ended up being at the bottom of the hill close to where we parked our car! Ahhhh ... we were like an hour late. It was quite the adventure. 

So that was the most interesting thing that happened to us this week.

Anyways ...

If you've been reading my emails for awhile, you probably know that I like to include some uplifting message that I've been thinking about. I thought I'd share something that I heard at the stake relief society conference on Saturday. The theme of the conference was "Brightening Our Vision." The stake president said something that I thought was really cool. He talked about faith, hope, and charity, and in the scriptures these three are always connected to each other. Hope is believing, faith is acting, and charity is loving. If we ever find that one of these three is lacking in us, we can act on the other two, and it will cause the one that is lacking to increase. 

I think that is so cool. These three things are attributes that we definitely need to have to be successful missionaries, and I believe that if we're ever struggling with something, working on developing these three attributes will pull us through. There's a reason it's one of the last things Moroni talks about in the Book of Mormon.

So that's my two cents.

Well, I hope y'all have a wonderful week as always. I really appreciate all the support!

See ya next time!

Sister Skousen