WA Week 73 - Through Snow, Rain, Hail, and Fog

Good morning, everyone!

It's been a good week here in Yakima, Washington!

We met the Gates family on Monday and they are super sweet. They made us a delicious dinner and are some of the nicest people. They're really familiar with our Church and said they're very spiritual but don't attend a church. They said they'd be open to taking the lessons though, so we're going back to see them tonight!

Denise and Tyler are doing super great! We did a "stop smoking" lesson with them on Wednesday and so far they haven't smoked since then! Yay! Tyler's still set to get baptized next Wednesday. We are trying to decide though whether he'll be baptized into the Ahtanum Creek Ward or the YSA branch. He's coming to FHE tonightto see if he wants to come to the YSA.

Regina decided that she wants to be baptized in the family ward, so it turns out we won't be teaching her. :( We were sad that we don't get to teach her, BUT the important thing is that she's getting baptized!

A few of the most memorable moments from the week--
1. Getting the cops called on us when we parked our car in a trailer park and tried to find a less active member. Apparently we "looked suspicious." The cop was super nice though and loves missionaries! He told us to keep doing what we're doing. 
2. Realizing that the sun was still up at 4:30pm! Woooooh!
3. The temperature finally rising above freezing this week! Yayyyyy!

A fun little wrench that was thrown into our week was the CRAZIEST weather I've seen on my mission.

Over the course of the week we've had snow, ice storms, rain, fog, and hail! It's been crazy!
They cancelled school this week when we woke up to thick ice covering literally everything outside! A couple of our lessons fell through because people were afraid to leave their houses. People literally brought out ice skates and were skating in the streets!

 President Lewis didn't restrict us from going out, but he told us to just be wise and use our best judgment. Sister Christensen and I were able to get around without any problems. I think we actually had a little too much fun with the weather.


We also had a great zone conference this past week! Sister Christensen and I were able to give a short training on planning lessons.

My favorite part of zone conference was a training President Lewis gave on desire.

There's a quote he shared from Elder Dallin H. Oaks that I love:

"Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming."

If our desires are selfish, they lack power, and we achieve less. President Lewis encouraged us to start by establishing good desires, and he promised us that we will be able to become and achieve more. I figured out that my ultimate, top 3 desires that motivate me every day as a missionary are:

1. to become like Heavenly Father
2. to feel the joy that He feels
3. to be an instrument in His hands

It's kind of cool, because once I figured those out, I realized that those desires aren't limited to my time as a missionary. Those can be my motivating desires for the rest of my life. If I can keep them in mind, I know that I will change, achieve, and become more than I ever could if I was motivated by selfish desires.

This week, I want to challenge you all to ponder what your top 3 desires are, then set goals and make plans to help you reach them. I know that you'll feel have a much more rewarding, fulfilling life if you do!

I hope that you all have a wonderful week! Thanks for reading. :)

Love,
Sister Skousen 

WA Week 72 - THERE CAN BE MIRACLES!!!!!!

Hey everyone!

First of all, I just want to say that before I came to Washington I never realized that snow actually could fall in flakes! I always thought it was just clumpy masses of white that fell. But it's been actually snowing giant flakes! I don't know if you can see in these pictures, but they're so cool!



Remember last week how I talked about the humbling experience of having no work? Well this past week we've seen some incredible M I R A C L E S and if you'd have told me last week that they were coming, I probably would have passed out. As soon as I felt humbled to the dust incredible things started happening, and I know that they are tender mercies from the Lord.

So here's a few things that happened ...

On Tuesday we were out tracting in the snow and not really finding anyone. We knocked on a door and met a girl named Irene who told us she wasn't interested, but told us to go by her grandma who lives in a trailer park behind her house. The grandma lives in a no soliciting trailer park which we usually stay away from so that we don't have to deal with grumpy people. When we found the right trailer, we met Paula. She let us right in and immediately started crying, and told us how she recently lost her job and had to take care of a few grandkids because their parents are homeless. Right before we had knocked on her door she had been crying in her room and praying for help. She knew that God sent us to her. We went back the next day and taught her the Restoration. She loved everything we said and is going to start reading the Book of Mormon!

On Friday, we met with Denise and Tyler. Flashback to a few weeks ago--- we were looking for this trailer park on the edge of our area we wanted to tract and accidentally turned on a street too soon, but we found these houses that were hidden behind a car dealership and stacked boxes, so we decided to knock those instead. We found Denise, who told us that she's actually a member but hasn't been to church in years. She remembers close to nothing about the church. She told us to come back, and later we found out that the only reason she let us come back is because she had just been thinking about going back to church when we knocked on her door. Her son, Tyler, lives with her and he's not a member, so we started teaching them. This past Friday, we had a super spirit-filled lesson and Tyler committed to be baptized on February 1st, his birthday! He's looking for a change in his life and he feels like this is it!

So we were on cloud 9 after that, but then on Saturday we had some more amazing things happen. We went by this potential named Becky that we've been trying by forever, got in with her, and she told us that she really wants to meet with us because she has some questions about why things she reads in the Bible don't match up with things taught by churches. So we're going by her on Saturday! And then we got a call from the elders in the area right next to ours. They were confused about their area boundary and tracted in our area by accident. They found an awesome family who's met with missionaries in FLAGSTAFF, ARIZONA (!!!!) and that are going to have us over for dinner tonight! We are super pumped about that, because we've been praying for a family to teach.

As if things couldn't get any better, Sunday we went to church and Tyler and Denise came! They loved it! Tyler said that he's already read the pamphlet we left him and the first two chapters of the Book of Mormon. While we were at church, we got a text from the APs who asked if we were free at 6pm to have a pass off lesson with a girl named Regina who's on date for January 28th! Turns out she's YSA aged, and we're going to start teaching her.

Last night Sister Christensen and I were so happy, we felt like Ammon and the sons of Mosiah. At the end of the night, we cranked up MoTab and just soaked in our happiness. 

I feel so grateful that Heavenly Father has allowed us to be a part of so many miracles, and they feel so much sweeter because of the patience and hard work we put in the first weeks of the transfer.

I know that things might not work out with these people and maybe by next week things won't be as great as they are now, but for now I'm just so happy that I can be a missionary and that I can get a taste of the joy that comes from serving others. There's nothing else like it!

Heavenly Father's real, and I'm so grateful for the experiences I've had that have turned my belief into a knowledge of His reality and goodness.

I hope you are all able to recognize His tender mercies in your life this week! Love you!

Love,
Sister Skousen


WA Week 71 - We Met the Three Nephites

Hello, everyone! As always, I hope that you've all had a great week and have great things planned for this week.
Last week was pretty eventful. It was the one week out of the month where we have a ton of meetings to go to.

Tuesday was MLC, and Sister Christensen and I got to give a training on Using Time Effectively. 

Awhile ago, another missionary told me that it's important that we aren't focused on using time efficiently, but effectively. The dictionary definition for "efficient" has something to do with using the least amount of effort possible to get results. I think this is the mindset of a lot of missionaries because it's the easier way. It's our natural instinct to want to do the least amount of work possible. Sister C. and I talked about how we need to switch that efficient mindset to a mindset of effectiveness-- focusing on getting the most results possible even if we have to put in more effort. It was cool being able to give a training on that because it helped remind us that we need to constantly be evaluating whether we're being effective or just going through the motions.

I also learned a lot about humility this week. Sister Christensen and I have been out for awhile now. I feel like with all these months of experience and learning, and a stronger desire than ever to work hard and baptize people, we're at our peaks. However, we haven't seen a ton of tangible fruits yet in our area. We've seen some cool things happen for sure, but we don't have a ton of amazing investigators or people lining up at the font. I spent a lot of time in my studies at the beginning of the week evaluating myself and trying to figure out where I was lacking that was preventing us from seeing more success. But then I realized later in the week that the work really has nothing to do with me. I had a good reminder that this isn't my work, that God will cause to happen what needs to happen and if I'm doing my part and doing all I can do, it will all be according to His plan. It was a humble reminder that the "success" I might see as a missionary has nothing to do with me or my skills at all. It's Heavenly Father that's preparing these people and the Spirit that's converting them. With that in mind this week, I'm going to keep a better perspective and just focus on doing all I can do.

This week was soooooo cold. Everyone's saying it's the harshest winter Yakima's seen in awhile. Definitely colder than last year! The temperature stayed between 0-20 degrees and windy during the week. People thought we were insane knocking on their doors! On the bright side, a few people let us in that probably wouldn't have if it wasn't so cold.


Over the weekend we got another good foot and a half of snow, and our car was struggling. We got stuck on Saturday at someone's house, and three super nice Hispanic men (strong suspicions they were the Three Nephites) helped push us out. On Sunday our ward cancelled church after the first hour because the weather was so bad, and our car could barely make it home, so we walked for the rest of the night.

It was actually super fun walking. Sister Christensen fell three times.


Here's some videos from our snowy adventures last night. I really hope these links are working!




WA Week 70 - GOALS

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

We've had an awesome week. We spent a lot of time tracting and talked to a lot of cool and interesting people. 

A few highlights:

-We got to go on exchanges with the Terrace Heights sisters, which was fun. After 5 transfers as an STL I finally feel like I'm beginning to understand this whole exchange thing!
-Knocked a guy's door who started out yelling at us for trespassing and then felt bad and gave us pants... I love Yakima.
-Got a call from President asking us to prepare a training for MLC tomorrow. We're actually pretty excited about it!
-Had snow DUMP on us on New Year's Day! 
...and then lost our phone in the snow. Whoops! Of course this would happen right after we lost the Silverado and got a Corolla. :( BUT it is super pretty so I'm okay with it. :)

This weekend we weren't supposed to tract after Saturday at noon, so we spent a lot of time with members, which was fun. I have loved getting to know the Ahtanum Creek ward members. This ward definitely has some of the best members I've worked with my whole mission. At Christmastime, even though they barely knew us, they gave us so many gifts! And Sister Christensen found out a few weeks ago that she's gluten free, so our Bishop's wife went and bought her a rice cooker. So awesome!

And now it's 2017, which is going to be a big year!

It's the season of New Year's Resolutions, and I've learned a lot about the importance of setting goals on my mission. I think some people are really motivated by goals and some people don't like setting goals because they feel disappointed if they don't reach them. 

In my opinion, if goals make you feel discouraged they're not good goals, or you're not using them right.

Elder M. Russell Ballard said: 
"I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life."

I think that the secret to reaching a goal is in planning how you're going to reach it and holding yourself accountable. 

Here are a few of my goals for 2017:

1. Be a member missionary when I get home, and invite someone to listen to the missionaries.
2. Start and finish the Book of Mormon between General Conferences.
3. Read the New Testament.
4. Volunteer somewhere regularly just because.
5. Talk with everyone!

My plan to accomplish these is to review my progress each Sunday to make sure I'm on track! I hope that you all will take some time soon and figure out who you want to be at the end of the year, and make goals and plans to become that person! I know that this will give you more direction in your lives and make you better people.

Have the best first week of the year ever, and thanks for all the love & support!

Love,
Sister Skousen