Monday, November 25, 2013

In Sickness and in Health (Week 16)

What a weird, weird week. Let me tell you, the people over here in Flo-Rida are totes cray! It's fun, but I try to imagine you all here and it just doesn't go over well in my mind. The areas I'm working in daily are just so dirty and unsafe and crazy! I've been offered drugs numerous times! I also made the mistake of asking my companion why nobody ever swims in the community pools that we see everywhere. Yup, that's where people throw in their needles are they use them so they don't get caught. Insanity, my dear family. Insanity!

So, apparently there's somebody in our ward named Nancy. Who knew? Apparently not I. She's less active, so that's why I've never met her. We were invited with the English speaking Elders to her house for a pleasant lunch. Good thing she has four dogs who all haven't been bathed since birth and like to jump onto the table and roll around in the food. We also had some hamburgers which looked perfectly fine, but after a couple of bites, I looked down and it was completely red inside. I kid thee not, my children. Never before have I prayed harder for a blessing on the food. But I'm still alive, so it worked! I felt like Nephi when the Lord made raw meat seem sweet unto him. Well, not really because it tasted disgusting, but you get the idea. After the dinner, Nancy proceeded to tell us the story of how she'd seen Jesus and He'd told her that she was going to be the next prophet. There were some other quite blasphemous things that she said, but she's pretty old and definitely not sane in any shape or form. Still, I had no idea what to say during this event, so I focused on praying that the raw, dirty-dog infested hamburgers wouldn't kill me. Haha, eating with members just hasn't been my forte here.

Elder Van Wagenen, my crazy little companion, was sick on Friday, so we ended up staying at home for most of the day. It was actually pretty nice, because we'd just gotten our conference editions of the Ensign, so I just read in that. I've never appreciated just how amazing conference really is. The words of the prophets and apostles apply to each of us so well, it's incredible! Good times, good times!

Speaking of sicknesses, I've given about 2 billion priesthood blessings this week. Well, not really, it was about 5, but still. I've definitely grown to appreciate the power of the priesthood more, though. I love giving blessings now! The opportunity to be a mouthpiece for God in those moments is incredible, and the spirit that is always felt during and after is so cool. Never be afraid to ask for a Priesthood blessing, because it's just as much a blessing for the person giving it as it is for you!

So Marie Andre has dropped off the face of the Earth. We went over to her house every day this week and called her every night, but her husband always answers and says that she's not there. She is there, because she doesn't go anywhere ever, and one of the times we even saw her, but there's not a lot we can do. When we try to see if we can talk to her husband, he always says he can't and then slams the door. Not fun. I don't know what we're going to do there besides just trust in the Lord and pray for her a lot! On a more positive note, we were teaching Louis again this week (the guy who wanted to see an angel before he was baptized) and he's now very aware that he won't see an angel to get his testimony. He also committed to be baptized either on December 1st or 8th. Though it's not the most solid of commitments, this is the most progress we've ever made with him. And the thing is, he loves coming to church, and he's basically already a member, just without the baptism and Holy Ghost part. He's just got a few trials he's going through right now and he doesn't want to change his whole life around at once. Poor guy.

Well, that's my week. And now it's Thanksgiving week! Good times, really! Hope you all have an awesome thanksgiving! Don't miss me too much:) I love you all so much, and I'm so grateful for your examples and support that you've shown and continue to show me. Have an amazing week!! 
Also, I can skype on Christmas!!! I don't know if I'll be in the same area yet because transfers are the week before, so I can't really set up a place I'll be, and therefore a time, but I'll let you know as soon as I can. LOVE YOU ALL MORE THAN FUDGE!!!

Lanmou, Eldè Skidmore

Monday, November 18, 2013

Of Fights and Flats (Week 15)

I never thought I'd say this, but this week has been surprisingly normal. Well, not entirely, but for the most part there were no super unusual events that occurred. Just another week with my crazy companion, Elder Van Wagenen, who has gotten into the habit of asking me at least 2 billion times a day why I think he's so amazing. Yup, he words it just like that. Cheeky little monkey. Haha, but we love him, even when he goes crazy and pounces on top of the dresser, singing Christmas songs...

The only story outside of investigators this week happened on Friday. I went on another exchange (of course) and I was in an English area again. So, back to the ghetto-est of ghettos for Elder Skidmore. I actually really like the ghettos now, though. It's so funny riding your bike past gangs of black guys that are doing things they definitely shouldn't, because as soon as they see that you're "church people", they look so guilty and awkwardly wave. It's definitely not what I would have expected from them, since I've seen lots of fights go down. Oh well. Also, I haven't gone a day here without seeing the cops arresting somebody on the side of the street. Good times, really. 

Anywho, so I was on the exchange, and we were just riding our bikes down ghetto-town when suddenly we heard this loud popping noise. Yep, Elder Taylor got a flat tire. A bad one. So there we were, two white guys in church clothes sitting on the side of the road for two hours, trying our best to fix the tire, shirtless black guys drinking and doing all manner of illegal things just walking around us. Not to mention the good ol' rap music in the background, swearing up a storm. Must have been a super funny sight for everyone who drove by.

This week we've been working a lot with Marie Andre, who was totally set for baptism yesterday. She's so cool! But Sunday morning, we found out that her husband was against her being baptized, which is a problem because we need to have his permission in order for her to be baptized. Some Haitian husbands. So we're going to have to somehow figure out how to get him on board, which will be hard because he works everyday! I've never even seen him before. Marie Andre is so cool though. Some of the Haitian members got in a fight during Sunday School yesterday about baptisms for the dead, and we were worried that she'd be kind of weirded out, but she was just taking notes on the front row and writing down all the scripture references that were thrown out. Too funny!! There are some crazy Haitian members though!

Speaking of which, that reminds me. We have one member named Stacey. I believe she's 15 or 16, and she wasn't supposed to be baptized because the mission president had "red-flagged" her, but one of the new missionaries in the area a few months ago didn't know that, and so he and his companion baptized her. Anyway, on fast Sunday, she walked up to the pulpit and started yelling at the bishop...There were some words that I'm surprised she knew in English that were said too. Oh man, what crazy times. It was super unexpected, and nobody really knew what to do, so it just kept going for five minutes...I'm telling you, Haitian people are truly crazy, but I love them so much. Stacey is just a little...well, we love her too:)

We've got so many people who are so prepared for baptism and could be baptized any day now, but that need permission from parents or spouses. Some rules! And then we've got Louis Laguerre, Wiltess Estimable, Saintana Andre, and Jean-Claude Thevenin who are all just waiting for a stronger testimony. Haitians!!! But we could have 12 baptisms any day this week, though it'll require a lot of work and faith.

That's another thing that I've learned this week: nothing happens without faith. The Lord can bless you with investigators of all kinds, but without the faith that they are going to progress and be baptized, it's not going to happen. Also, I've learned a lot about repentance this week. I never really considered it as much as I should have before my mission, but now I'm coming to realize just how incredibly important it is! Alma 5:27-28. Oh man!

I just love the scriptures so much!! An hour every morning isn't enough now, which is super surprising because I used to be falling asleep after 10 minutes at home. There's just so many things in the Book of Mormon that help you with EVERYTHING! True story, tell your friends. Personal study is one of my favorite parts of the day now. The scriptures are so true, it's insane! There's no way that they can't be. If only everybody knew that, they'd all be so much happier!! 

This week I've also realized that I need to work on Christ-like attributes. Not only developing them all, but constantly improving every day. I've mainly been working on Charity this week. The pure love of Christ can be hard to have at times, especially when people slam the door in your face or tell you to (insert many explicit words here). But honestly, if you see everyone as the Lord sees them, you feel so much love towards everybody. I've been getting better and loving the people that I just walk up to on the street or knock on their doors. It's so cool when you first meet someone and already have such a strong desire to help them in any way that you can.

Well, you're all amazing and I love you to death! Glad to hear that there are still dance parties going on at home. Also, happy birthday Emily!!!! Hope you got my card, you crazy hooligan!! All of you stay strong and keep being amazing. I'm praying for you all everyday:) Be safe!

Lots of love,
Elder Skidmore

P.S. one of my roommates, Elder Bailey, bought a huge British flag for me...sort of random, but I like it:) I hung it up in our room next to the Haitian flag.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Tears, Drugs, Nudity, and Sleeping (Week 14)

Oh man, this work is great! I had to start off by saying that! I don't know what it is, but today I've just been way more happy than usual. I've gotten in the habit of praying every morning to have the best day ever. Guess it works!!

Alright, let's start off with the fun stories of the week. I found out that there's such a thing as Sleeping Missionary Syndrome. Fun stuff, really. I've had a few nights where I wake up and I'm in the middle of saying something (usually giving a lesson in Creole). Luckily everyone in my apartment sleeps really heavily, so it hasn't been a problem. I brought it up a couple of days ago, though, and apparently it's a pretty common thing among missionaries. I guess teaching is just engraved into our brains at this point. It's super weird waking up and hearing yourself say "Eskè ou ap li nan Liv Mòmon An chak jou? M' konnen ke l'ap beni ou anpil nan lavi ou!" True story. I'm a weird-o! I've had it happen a few times where I'm asking people what snow cone they want though...I prefer doing missionary lessons though. 

Also, this week I went on another exchange, and we were back in the ghettos. Oh the ghettos, what fun you are. We taught a lesson to these girls named Checola (She-cola), D'Jerry, and Taquesta. Fun times. Then we taught some 18 year old guy who just complained the whole time about how he didn't want to give up doing drugs. Then he started injecting himself in the middle of the the heck is going on? 

Final fun story:) There's this super old Haitian person in our ward called Evony. Her record says her age is unknown (probably because they can't count that high), and she's completely crazy. We went over to go see her on Tuesday, and she answer the door completely naked. Yup, just a 90-something year old, fairly large, crazy Haitian lady with no teeth. That's not weird...right? My companion wasn't even phased. I'm hoping that this isn't a regularly occurring event though. I'd rather just get my eyes removed.

Alright, so this week we've been working a lot with Marie-Andre Joseph. She's 29 and doesn't speak a word of English. We've taught her almost all the lessons now though, and she's super committed to baptism. Every time we go over, she asks when she can be baptized. The rule is that they have to come to church at least twice before they can be baptized, though. She came yesterday for the first time! (she would have come last week, but her ride fell through. She was waiting for it for two hours though, poor girl). So, she's super excited for this Sunday after church, because she's totally going to be baptized!!! We've also been teaching Louis Laguerre a lot more recently. If you don't remember him, he's the guy that was all prepared for baptism, but then decided that he had to see an angel first before he'd be baptized...anyway, we've taught him a lot about faith and temples and celestial marriage and all that fun stuff (because his girlfriend's a member), and he's a lot more excited, though he hasn't fully committed yet. He's definitely a potential for this week, though.

One miracle we saw this week was in harvesting. On one of the doors we knocked, a lady answered through the window and yelled at us to go away. We told her we were representatives of Jesus Christ there to leave a blessing. There was silence for a little while, so we were about to start walking away, but the door open. The lady accepted the harvest blessing, and afterwards, she was in tears. She said that her husband has always been against her Christian beliefs, and it was getting harder and harder for her. That morning, she had been praying for a way to help her and her husband come closer to Jesus Christ, so when we said that we were representatives, she knew that it was an answer to her prayers!

This work is so real it's crazy! I know that this is the true church with all my heart. I love you all! Have the most amazing week of your lives! Stay safe, remember who you are and what you stand for:) Love you all so much!!!

Eldè Skidmore

p.s. Si ou kapab, jist voye'm kè foto yo paske mwen renmen yo anpil, men mwen pa gen anpil kounyeya. M' renmen nou plis pase tout bagay sou tè a!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Re-activations and Racism (Week 13)

I'm starting to think I'm never going to have a normal week here. I don't think there even is such a thing as a normal week, actually...

First of all, this week was Halloween, which is normally awesome. But when you're a missionary and you're in Florida where standards aren't quite what they are in Utah, it's not the best experience. Let's just say I thought I was de-sensitized to everything already, but I'm definitely not...Oh man, what a crazy crazy place I'm in. Let me tell you, the poor areas of Florida are like India, but with drugs. But I still love it so much, it's so fun living in a completely different culture, even if it is scary and you have to close your eyes on Halloween.

I found out that I'm racist this week, but not the way you'd think. I'd heard a lot of people say that all black people look the same, even though I'd never thought that. However, this week, I realized the opposite. All white people are the same. Every time we knock on a door and I white person opens, I immediately think "rich and rude". Then they slam the door before we can open our mouths, and I know that I was right. That's not always true, because we have met some really cool white people, but for the most part...
Also, I love black people so much! They're all so unique and fun! Especially Haitians. And Jamaicans, I have a deep love for Jamaican people. Every one we've run into has been so nice, and they always offer us food too, which is a nice bonus:)

So, on Friday we were walking to an appointment and I walked right through a spider web. I immediately thought "huge banana spider" so I freaked out a little and got it all off me as fast as I could. Luckily, I didn't see any spider. We went and met our appointment, walked in and sat on the sofa. About midway through the lesson, I felt something crawling on my head, so I just brushed at it thinking it was a small bug or something, and a huge spider fell off my head and landed on the floor! Oh gosh, I've never gotten the chills as badly as I had them there. Towards the end of the lesson, I saw the spider walking up our investigators leg, and she saw it and didn't even care! When it got to above her knee though, she just casually flicked it off, and of course it landed on my lap. I have never reacted as quickly as I did in that moment. I stood up and slapped it off, then squished it. The bottom of my shoe has a nice, yellow, mushy paste on it times. Spiders are definitely the worst things in the world.

Anyway, work wise, here's what went down this week! We've been working a lot on re-activating less active members,  like John, the guy we ran into a couple of weeks ago. We've taught him three times now, and he's come to church the past few weeks, and has committed to come every week from now on!! We've also met with Oswald, a cool Haitian guy (though he's super feminine and keeps asking us for the Elder who baptized him's phone number). But we've also re-activated him and got him reading in his scriptures every day as well. Marie and Jennifer are coming back from their trip this week, so they could be baptized this Sunday! If not this Sunday, then definitely next week! Also, Jean Claude (the guy who we left a harvest blessing with who was smoking about three weeks ago) has had all the lessons and come to church twice, so he could easily be baptized this Sunday. He's lacking the strong desire right now though, so we've got some work to do this week! Also, we met with Tatyana's mum, Elta, a couple of days ago and started talking about the Plan of Salvation. It was the first lesson where she had questions that actually were about the lesson, and she listened the whole time and wanted to learn more. So we may be getting somewhere with this!!

I realized this week that I love the Book of Mormon more than I thought! I honestly never gave it enough credit before my mission, but reading in it and studying it makes me so happy every day now! Also, I have a new love for the Mormon message videos on Mormon channel. Check those out, because they're awesome!! I know that this is the true church, and my testimony of that grows every day. I know the Heavenly Father is real and loves all of us, and I am so glad for this chance to help others come to learn that too. I love you all so much! Have an awesome week!!!

Elder Skidmore