Monday, December 30, 2013

The Whitest of Christmas' (Week 21)

Sak Pase!
What's up, my little minions. Did you know that darling really means little minion. I didn't, but I'm tempted to use it a lot more now. Well, probably not because Ruth told me not to be a #fruitcake.

This week was super crazy! Christmas was great. I loved seeing you all again! You're all exactly the same! Shuper duper funny little minions that you are. The snow didn't look fun at all though. I'm fine being in 85 degree weather, even if Santa has to wear swim trunks over here and his reindeer turn into alligators. Haha, some people's Christmas decorations:)

Christmas Eve we were at some of our investigators house, and I made the mistake of asking one of the six year old girls what she wanted to get for Christmas. She said that Santa doesn't make it to her house because he always runs out of time going to everyone else's house. Heart=broken. Maybe I cried a little that night. It's just super sad that people here go without, and then there are people who get upset if they don't get the bike that they wanted and they're just stuck with food and new clothes and games and such. Some people. Reminded me of India a lot. But it makes me want to do a lot more to help and serve people, especially when I get back since I kind of do that 24/7 right now. Haiti here we come!

This was a really special Christmas for me though. It was really nice to not have to worry about presents in any way. I was able to focus completely on the Savior, and because of that I felt the spirit a lot more, and I also saw quite a few miracles with my crazy Haitian (Elder Claude).

So, remember how Margarette was supposed to be baptized on Christmas day...yeah, didn't happen. Here's what did happen. She got called into work Christmas morning, so that was kind of a bummer. We tried to meet with her the rest of the week to set up another day, but that didn't really work out either. Super duper sad, right.

WRONG! She called us Saturday morning and was like, "Alo Eldè yo, eskè nou ap toujou batize'm, paske m'ap tann ou pou pase e ann mwen konnen." What the heck Margarette! For those of you who don't speak Creole yet, she said "Hey Elders, are you still going to baptize me, because I've been waiting for you to come by and let me know." So we hopped on our bikes, rode 12 miles to her house, got her interviewed, and baptized her the next morning! True story!!! And Margarette's best friend whom we had met two weeks ago got baptized with her!! That's right folks, two souls were saved yesterday morning!!!!!!!!

Oh man, it was such a miracle week for us. Lots of hard work, and it all paid off. Deborah, Margarette's friend, was totally ready to be baptized the whole time, but had to come to church twice before she could be baptized. After her baptism, her 16 year old son told us he wants to be baptized next week. And one of the families who we've been working with came to the baptism and stayed for church after, and the kids want to be baptized next week too. The parents were just like, "sure, go for it!" We will, parents. We will!

All in all, it was an amazing week. I felt the spirit a lot, and I was able to baptize Deborah! We had a member baptize Margarette (who's a big woman), and it was his first time doing it. Poor guy had to baptize her three times. Oh man. It all turned out great though. I was just so happy!!!! Oh man, I love this mission thing:) And I love you all. Have a great New Years and try not to get too merry (because merry=drinking and drinking=sinning and sinning=not a good thing!) True story. Love you all. Keep me in your prayers this week though. Apparently Floridians get pretty rowdy around new years with all the drinking and drugs and crime and whatnot. Good thing Haitian independence day is on Wednesday though! Gonna have me some soup jemou (pumpkin soup). Love you all!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Joy to the World, the Baptism Is Come (Week 20)

Shup weirdo's!
Glad to hear you've had a good week. Sounds like Becky's birthday was nothing out of the ordinary.

This week has been super crazy and a little stressful, but in the best way ever! So I've got a new companion; his name's Elder Claude. He's kind of my favorite person ever! Haha, I really do love him so much. Sure, he's crazy, but who isn't out here. He's Haitian born but lived in New York all of his life, so he's a Haitian guy with a Brooklyn accent. Super random, but it's great. And he loves wearing these hats that makes his look like a Newsie. I added a picture of us at the ward Christmas party being shepherds and wise men.

I realized with this new companion that everyone really does do this work differently, and there's more than one good way to do it. Elder Claude's a lot more relaxed about it all, but we still get so much done, and the fruits of our labor are a lot more visible. 'Tis true.

So, I don't know if I've ever told you about Margarette, so I'll go through her story. Margarette Dorelus is the neighbor of a recent convert in our ward named Edline (who happens to be Louis' cousin). Anyway, Edline referred us to Margarette the very beginning of October. We'd taught her the Restoration and she loved it and looked really promising, but then she suddenly just dropped off the face of the Earth. She wouldn't answer the door or respond to our messages or anything. Then, a little over a week ago we met back up with her. Turns out that her friends had told her that if you are baptized into the "Mormon church", they tattoo 666 on your thigh...what the cheese?! But Edline finally set her straight, so she let us meet with her again. And now she's getting baptized!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It would have been yesterday like baptisms normally are here, but Bishop's pushing for a White Christmas, so she's being baptized on Wednesday evening! Oh heck yeah:) What a great Christmas present:)! White Haitian Christmas all the way!

Anyway, that's Margarette and her story. Loads of other miracles happened this week too. Louis, who's been investigating the church for an eternity, said that he's feeling like this Sunday is the day that he should be baptized. It's not for sure yet, but this is the most progress he's ever made baptism wise, which is super exciting. 

Oh, I almost forgot!!! Tatyana came to church again yesterday and...she brought her dad with her! Her dad lives in Georgia, but is visiting for a couple of weeks. Apparently Tatyana has been calling him and telling him how cool our church is, so he wanted to check it out with her. So, naturally, after sacrament meeting we just asked him if he wanted to be baptized next Sunday. And he said YES! And if we get him baptized, maybe Elta (Tatyana's mum) will finally give Tatyana the okay to be baptized!!!!!!!!!!!! So much good stuff going on in the Coconut Creek ward!!!

So yes, that's my great week! I'm so excited for Wednesday it's insane. First baptism!!! And I'm with the greatest companion ever, and it's almost Christmas! Christmas is definitely not the same at all over here, but I actually like it a lot more. I've really focused on the true meaning of Christmas and all that fun shtuff, and it really has made me so grateful for the Savior, as well as for all of the things that I've been blessed with.

Crazy story wise, I don't really have many for this week. We left a harvest blessing with this super old guy who could barely stand straight, and right after the prayer he just jumped to his feet and was completely fine! We also had our ward Christmas Party on Saturday, which was super fun. We had to sing in church on Sunday though...oh man. It actually wasn't that bad considering we only sang through it once before sacrament meeting. But of course President Anderson shows up right before we start singing. Typical! Still, it was fun. I love this ward!!! There are so many great members!

So for skyping, I'll be at the bishop's house, and we should be doing it between 12 and 1 here-time, so 10 and 11 am your time. Does that work? I don't know why I'm asking because I won't be able to read the response until next week, but I thought I'd be polite:) I'll call right before to get your username and tell you mine, and then we'll skype our little hearts out and it will be great. If you read this email within the next 30 minutes and have something you want me to bring with me or something like that to show you, let me know.

I love you all so much! Can't wait to see you in two days! But until then, have a great Christmas eve and Christmas eve eve. Love you all! Stay safe, and don't freeze:)

Elder Skidmore

Monday, December 16, 2013

Crazy People + Good Haitian Food = Happy Elder (Week 19)

Hello, dearest crazy family of mine! I've been thinking about what crazy experiences to write about this week, but I honestly don't have any that are out of the ordinary (the Florida ordinary anyway). I'm sure one will come to mind as I write though, and if not, oh well

So I got your packages after the Christmas Conference! Very clever, I must say! I wasn't expected the 12 days of Christmas thing at all, but it definitely makes it much more fun! So thank you all for that! Also, thanks for the calendar! There are some pictures on their that I haven't seen before, which made me a little confused at first, especially when they were pictures of me... It also reminded me of the music video that I haven't seen. Are you guys planning on making any while I'm gone? You'd better!:)

So this week we've been working on finding new people, as well as trying to balance all of the crazy investigators that we already have. We found about 4 new families that we are now teaching, two of which came to church and accepted baptism for Christmas Day! White Christmas!!!! The only kind possible in Flo-Rida! And not in a racist way, I promise:) So I guess technically it's a Haitian-in-White Christmas!

We've still got a whole bunch of people who have blocks for taking the steps for baptism, but I've been praying and know that at least 5 of them are going to get baptized at some point, so I feel a lot better about it. It's hard when you feel real love for all the people you teach and they just don't take that step that will save their souls forever!!! A little dramatic, I know:) But still, I really just want them to be able to make that step! I don't care too much if it's with me or not, as long as I know that they do it!

Honestly, that really is about it this week. I've been humbled a lot, which is awesome! I've learned a lot about the fact that I'm awful at teaching and at speaking Creole, but the Holy Ghost can do both perfectly, so I need him there otherwise there's no point in having lessons. I really am nothing without the Spirit in my life, which I kind of new before, but didn't really act on in any way. I've just been learning so much out here, it's crazy! Crazy I tell you!!!

So transfers are tomorrow. Scary stuff. We got the transfer call last night right before bed letting us know who is going and who is staying. I'm.......................staying. And I'm super happy!!! To be honest, the only reason I didn't really want to transfer is because I didn't want to pack:) But I'm super excited for this transfer! It will be a little weird since I'll be the one who's supposed to know everything about the area and whoever my new companion is won't know anyone. So I'm a little worried, but it'll be great!! 

Well, that's about it for this week. Evony Pierre answered the door naked again...One of our investigators who had been living with her boyfriend kicked him about because he beats her a lot, which is sad, but good! Guerda and Guillermo decided they're going to adopt me, and they also want to take me to Luxembourg after my mission...yup. Oh, and Jack wants to go to Haiti with me too. So looks like I'm going to be having lots of trips when I get home. 

Alright, have a great pre-Christmas week! Don't freeze too much! It almost got down into the 60's this week. Almost. Haha, I do not envy you at all. I'm going to die when I get back though. 

Love you all! Thanks for the packages, letters, love, prayers, and support. You are the best family ever!  Also, for Skying next week, apparently I just call you guys right before and tell you what username I'll be using, and then we call each other. I don't really know any specifics yet, but I should by Monday, so I'll email it over. Love you all!!!

Your favorite, super-cool missionary, Elder Skidmore
(the nicer areas in Fort Lauderdale)
^^Sam and Jack^^

Monday, December 9, 2013

Is it Supposed to Look Like Death? (Week 18)

Hello there, you harruns! Long time no talk, yes? I've had a lot of times this week where I've had flashbacks of dance parties or the music videos and things like that. True story. Tis quite sad, but at the same time, it's just getting me excited for 20-ish months when we're going to do it all again:)

This week was just crazy! Lots of ups and downs and stress and all that fun stuff. I guess it all started on Tuesday when we went out to eat at a Haitian's house. Yup, you guessed it, the food was super sketchy. They just started by serving up plain rice, so I was like "Oh, I love their rice and sauce dishes." But then they threw on a spoonful of this weird purple looking sauce, all crusty and chunky looking. I kid thee not, it smelled like old diapers. It didn't taste as bad as it smelled or looked (because it truly looked like death). That night though, I started feeling super weird. Then, all through Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I was super light-headed, and my vision went all black a few times throughout the day. A little sketch, I must admit. Thought I was going to pass out multiple times, but it turned out alright. Last time I eat purple death on rice though:)

Lots of weird things happened this week investigator wise. Tatyana's mum has been hard to get a hold of, and I'm still not really sure what happened, but she's still giving Tatyana rides to church, which is good. Marie-Andre finally got her husband's permission to be baptized! But apparently he said not until she takes his last name, which will probably take until about January. And since transfers are next Wednesday, I might not even be here for it...Still though, she's totally getting baptized at some point!! Louis' still waiting on his further witness, and he's been acting super sketchy and trying to avoid us, so hopefully there's not anything bad going on there. But if you could keep Marie-Andre, Louis, and Tatyana in your prayers, that would be awesome:)

We've had many blessings this week, especially after our district training this Wednesday on Pride. We all were able to recognize the pride that we had, and developed ways to overcome that pride. For me and Elder Van Wagenen, a big thing that we've been working on is being more grateful for the blessings we receive throughout the day. We've been getting into a much better habit of saying prayers of gratitude after such blessings, and it's made a huge difference. After district training, we went out and started our harvest. We came across an amazing family who all accepted baptism. We were able to say a prayer of gratitude right after, and when we finished, we looked behind us and a man had walked up and was standing there with his arms folded, listening to our prayer. We left a blessing with him and got his information to pass by after he returns from his business trip this week. After that, we were walking to an appointment and a man riding his bike along suddenly stopped and told us that he used to be a member, but had stopped coming since the missionaries had stopped coming by! We were able to set up a return appointment with him too, and we were able to inform the Bishop of him so he could get home teachers for him! We said another prayer of thanks for this, then went to our appointment. We were informed at this appointment that Marie Andre, had received the permission and would be able to be baptized this coming week! Prayers of gratitude really do make a huge different. The Lord blesses us so much, and will bless us even more if we just humble ourselves and recognize His hands in the work!

The other big thing that I've learned this week is that miracles occur according to our faith and obedience. I read in Mormon 9:15-21 this morning, and it talks about how miracles happen if you fully believe that they will and ask God sincerely for them. We are in desperate need of a miracle to get a baptism this weekend! It will be mine and Elder Van Wagenen's last Sunday as a companionship, and he's been pretty sad because we haven't baptized anybody yet. I'm actually alright with it because I know that, even if we don't baptize somebody next week, we'll have gotten Marie Andre, Tatyana, and Louis on that path and they will all definitely be baptized at some point. I have no doubt there. Still, it's been a little hard this week since he's been a little sad and discouraged. I've been trying to build him up though, because we're going to need all the faith we can muster for our miracle this weekend:)

Just so you know, transfers are next Wednesday. They'll tell us who is transferring and who is staying next Monday morning, and then P-day will be on Tuesday so we can pack and all that fun stuff, so I won't be emailing until Tuesday. And we won't know where we're going if we are transferring until the actual Transfer meeting on Wednesday. Crazy stuff. I don't really know if I'll be staying or transferring, but it would be super hard to say goodbye to a lot of these investigators. I've made so many connections with so many of them, and I can honestly say that I genuinely love every one of them. I'll do what's asked of me though!

Also, we have our Christmas Conference this week, and they've been holding all the mail and packages for the last two weeks at the mission office because they're going to give them all to us there. So if I haven't responded to a letter, I will! I just have to get it first:) Love you all so much. have an amazing week! I love you, and Heavenly Father does too:) 

LOVE, Eldè Skidmore

p.s. I'm not really supposed to take pictures a lot, but next week we'll probably take a bunch with the people because one of us will be transferring. So next week!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Turkeys, Total Changes and Tatyana (Week 17)

Hello psycho family of mine.

First of all, your emails always make me laugh. Sounds like you guys haven't changed at all. Good! I don't want to come home to a bunch of lifeless robots, though, let's be honest, obviously I was the life of the party, so it's bound to happen at some point. Hope thanksgiving was fun for you all though. Sounds like it was a little different from usual, what with Hannah and Jim in England and Becky being sick and still dancing around. Oh man!

Thanksgiving day was pretty good here. I was a little worried about it at first, because to be honest, me and Haitian food haven't gotten along too well so far. Fortunately, we just ended up going to the Bishop's house. He cooked three turkeys, had a whole bunch of the usual potatoes, stuffing, etc. as well as some Haitian food that wasn't infested with flies or contained the fat of goat feet. So basically rice. But it was really good rice:) Yeah, it was a good day. There is a lot to be thankful for! I tried to spend most of the day thinking of different things the Lord has blessed me with, and I didn't run out the whole day. Just goes to show you how much the Lord loves us all, and how thankful we should be for all he has given us. 

So remember Guerda and Guillermo? Didn't think so, but that's okay. I forgot most people's names here too. They're the country club-ish ones. Anyway, Guerda's son Jeff was visiting from Luxembourg this week, and he's been contemplating serving a mission, though he was leaning more towards not. So Guerda gave us the task of taking him out with us and showing him how fun it is. So we took him out and harvested with him. Yup, 2 hours of nobody letting us in. Good times, if you ask me. Yet, the spirit was super strong, and with us sharing our testimonies to him, he made the decision to serve a mission, so heck yeah! He started his papers two days ago!!! Also, we left a blessing in Guerda and Guillermo's home. I was saying it, and at some point I said that only the spirit of the Lord would be able to reside in the house, and right then the front door slammed shut. Good thing it was already locked before though. Maybe I was a little creeped out, but it's okay because the door slammed shut and didn't fly open. That would have been super super creepy!

We took a member called Jack Voltaire out with us today. He was just baptized a few months ago, but he's really cool. I'm pretty sure he's 21, maybe 22. But in the car he told me about his story. He'd moved from Haiti to Florida 4 years ago to start college. He was on the soccer team and was doing super well in school and had a girlfriend and all these great things, but then he went to a party and somebody injected him with something. After that he went crazy for two months and was sent to a mental institution. He's better now, but after that he lost a lot what he had before. He can't really walk well, much less run, and he has a hard time with school. Poor guy. But then he found the church, and he realized that the trials he went through humbled him enough to help him make the right decision and be baptized. Heck yeah jack! Poor guy though. He's super cool. 

So have I got a cool story for you:) On Wednesday we harvested into a family of 5. They were all really intrigued by the feelings that they got from the prayer, and invited us to come back the next day. We came by again and did a how to begin teaching lesson, focusing a lot on the importance of the Savior. Once again, they invited us to come back. The next day, I went over with a member and taught the Restoration. The spirit was so incredibly strong, especially with the First Vision. It was so amazing!! The next day was Sunday. And THEY CAME TO CHURCH! It was such a blessing to have met this incredible family and to be helping them come closer to the Savior. They are set with a solid baptismal date now, and I'm so excited to see them progress and prepare for it! Unfortunately they missed the sacrament meeting because they'd lost the address to the church, so it'll have to be another two weeks before they get baptized, but still! Super cool. They're called Lorient, Arian, Josh, Rashensky, and Sasha. Fun stuff, I tell you.

We went on Member splits on Saturday, so I went with Brother Harris to the Pompano area while Elder Van Wagenen went to Coral Springs with another member. While I was with Brother Harris, we taught Marie Andre (who apparently had just gone out of town and forgotten to tell us, so that's why we hadn't seen her all last week), and the Louis family, as well as some other new investigators. It was a super solid few hours. Elder Van Wagenen had ended up going to see Tatyana and her mum Elta, and had been there the whole 2 1/2 hours. Silly me, I thought that she would have given Tatyana permission to be baptized after such a long visit. I guess it wasn't a good visit though. Tatyana came up to me at church and said that Elder Van Wagenen had gotten really mad at Elta for not listening and now Elta's all offended and said she's not going to come to church now. I don't know how accurate that all is, but it's not a good situation right now... oh man.

On a more positive note, I love you all so much!!! And it's Christmas season! Whoo!! Mormon Tabernacle choir Christmas Albums with David Archuleta and the King Singers!! That's about all we can listen to. Still super fun though. And we put up our nice white Christmas tree. It's going to be awesome! I love you again, though, and I hope you have an amazing week full of awesome shtuff!! Don't let anybody feed you goat feet fat. I'm still scarred from that. haha, love you!

Elder Skidmore

 ^^Sam's district. He's on the front row lookin' like a baller^^