Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Bitter-Sweet End (Week 25)

Well folks, it's been another strange week. I've got some good news and some I'm-not-sure-how-i-feel-about-it news.
So, we had our dreaded transfer call last night where we find out who stays and who transfers. And guess what? For whatever strange, twisted reason, they decided to send me straight to Assistant to the President...so...that's interesting. The thing is, I have no idea what I'm doing still so, should be quite the experience. The other thing is, I'm totally kidding. Haha, but I am transferring. I don't know if I'm sad or happy about this. It is about time for a good new area, but at the same time, I've gotten so close to the members and our recent converts here, so it will be sad to leave them, but hey, it has to happen at some point, right? Oh man, it shall truly be an interesting day.
I was over at Guerda and Guillermo's house yesterday and told them that I was leaving Wednesday morning. Guerda started crying and said I have to come back for my wedding party. So apparently I'm getting married and the reception will be in Coconut Creek. You're all invited! Woohoo, party at Gatsby's house!!! Just kidding, but it was pretty funny. I'm definitely going to miss a lot of the people there. She also asked to see a picture of the fam, but I didn't have one on me so, naturally, I told them to look up our music video on youtube. Apparently they loved it a lot. Guerda told me that she wants her family to be like ours. She also said I have the whitest body ever, so nbd. Maybe I should get an award or something:)
On to the miracles! So remember two weeks ago when I was talking about Joseph Vilsaint and how he didn't want to be baptized because of his situation. He wasn't too comfortable with being baptized because he wanted to be in a more stable situation to do it. But we shared the story of Peter walking on water and how he needed to act on his faith in order for the miracle to occur. He loved it, and ended up being baptized two days later! Right after he was baptized, he just yelled, "I've been reclaimed!!" It was the coolest experience I've had with a baptism thus far. I'm so grateful for the Spirit and the huge influence it has over helping being make these great decisions in their lives. So we've got quite a few recent converts who should all be getting callings and the priesthood pretty soon. I won't be here for it, but hopefully they send some pictures of them in the future:) 
Marie-Andre ended up being shipped back to Haiti...sad day, right. She was at peace with it when she left, though, and she promised me that she would find the church over in Haiti and get baptized as soon as she could. And she's got my email so when she sends over pictures of her baptism I'll forward it to you.

Well, that's about it for this week. Now I get to go pack. Woohoo!! Psych, I hate packing. But hey, it must be done, so I'd better get started. Love you all muchly and shtuff! Elder Claude loves you too.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Mission Vision (Week 24)

So, I have no time after writing this, so sorry there's nothing else. I've been working on this vision for some time. It's essentially where I want to be by the end of my mission. Love you all, and have a great week!

Elder Samuel Skidmore
My Mission Vision
Florida Fort Lauderdale Mission

"Because of faith in Jesus Christ, everything can be known." -Elder Douglas
Faith is essential, and is the foundation for every good quality. As I continue to grow in my faith, I grow in my desire to attain more Christ-like attributes. I realize that I can do nothing without faith. I have a firm, deeply rooted bellies that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer, and the Only Begotten of the Father. I understand that, without Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made for me, I would not have the opportunity to repent. Therefore, I act on my faith in Jesus Christ by repenting and doing all that I can to become more like" (D&C 6:36). Joseph Smith "asked in faith, nothing wavering." Nephi was "...led by the spirit, not knowing before-hand the things which [he] should do." I follow the example of the prophets by putting my trust in the Lord and His divine work.

"Hope is trust in God's promises, faith that if we act now, the desired blessings will be fulfilled in the future." -President Faust
I have hope that the challenges we face, if ultimately endured, will be for our eternal benefit. I am known as someone who is always cheerful and happy. I exemplify enthusiasm, optimism, and confidence that the Lord will always provide. I believe that every person I talk to will one day accept the message of the Restoration, whether by my own effort or the efforts of those to come. As a chosen representative of Jesus Christ, I will not hesitate to reach to lift hands which hopelessly hang down, no matter what the personal cost may be. I work through my trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for the benefit of those around me as well as myself. I have hope that "...after much tribulation, the Lord [will] hear my cries, and [will] answer my prayers, and make[ me an instrument in His hands in bringing so many to the knowledge of His truth" (Mosiah 23:10).

"The highest, noblest, strongest kind of love; the pure love of Christ." -Bible Dictionary
Because Charity is a gift from God, I pray every morning to be filled with this pure love. Charity leads me to labor in behalf of all the children of God, as each one has the divine potential to become like our Heavenly Father. I avoid negative feelings such as envy and anger, and judging and criticizing others. I always put others before myself and seek to do all I can to serve others and help them come to a knowledge of the restored gospel. I look for opportunities to serve my fellow men and do all that I can to help people along the straight and narrow path. I follow the Savior's example of love, even if it places me in situations that may not be ideal for me. "Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men" (1 Nephi 19:9). I love my family. I love the Lord, and I love those among whom I serve. I serve because I love, and I love more because I serve.

"Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do" (2 Nephi 32:3).
I seek to understand the doctrines of the kingdom, and am willing to put in time and effort to accomplish this. I study in the Book of Mormon at least half an hour every morning, as well as study the other words of God. I start and close all of my studies with a sincere prayer, asking God to help me understand more and be guided by the Holy Ghost. As I study the words of modern-day prophets, I feel edified and inspired, and strive to follow their counsel with a belief that they are called of God. As Nephi, "my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard" (2 Nephi 4:16). I understand that one progresses only as fast as he gains knowledge, and that he who has knowledge will have the advantage in the world to come.

"...And thou didst bear all these things with patience because teh Lord was with thee" (Alma 38:4).
I am patient with everyone, myself included, as I strive to overcome my shortcomings. I show respect to everyone and am willing to help them as they overcome weaknesses. I recognize my need to constantly work on improving my patience in all relationships, as trials will always be present. I do God's will and accept his timing. I will never forget that the heavenly virtue of patience is required for overcoming all challenges. My attitude towards tribulations is similar to Paul in that I "glory in tribulations: knowing that tribulation worketh patience" (Romans 5:3).

"Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that you have been sufficiently humble" (Alma 5:27)?
Humility is an essential in serving the Father with all the energy of my soul. I am always repentant and never try to justify my follies. I take criticism well and am teachable. I can and will remain humble by being reminded constantly of my dependence on the Lord. I will do this by and through real, constant, worshipful, grateful prayer. Like Moses, I understand that "Man is nothing," and therefore I go to the Lord in mighty prayer to ask for divine guidance. I recognize that everything I accomplish in this life is because of my Savior. I am a tool in the hands of my Master Craftsman, and He deserves and will receive all of the credit.

"There is nothing we can't do in the building of the Lord's kingdom if we have the desire, do the work, and have the faith." -Henry Moyle
I will never be known as someone at ease in Zion. I refuse to be idle and am always anxiously engaged in a good cause. Of the two years that I am serving: 3 1/2 months are P-days, 7 1/2 months I will be sleeping, and nearly 2 months I will be eating. Therefore, I have less than a year to actually serve the Lord. Literally every second counts. I am known as one of the hardest workers in the mission. I work consistently, earnestly,, and energetically in "[bringing] to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). I focus only on the important things and avoid wasting time in matters of unimportance. I always remember President Hinckley's father's counsel to forget myself and get to work. I know that, as I remain diligent in the work, I will find joy and satisfaction, especially with the knowledge that my Father is pleased.

"Obedience is the first law of heaven, the cornerstone upon which all righteousness and progression rest." -Bruce R. McConkie
Strict obedience is always on my mind, and will protect me and bless me as a representative of Jesus Christ. There will be times when many of my peers won't be exactly obedient, but I will be recognized as an extra-mile missionary. I am making the decision to be exactly obedient now because when the moment for decision arrives, the time for preparation is over. I know that, as I obey every rule given to me, I will increase in my faith, knowledge, wisdom, testimony, protection, and freedom. I, like the Stripling Warriors, obey the words of my leaders with exactness, with my Savior as my King. I will do whatever He asks of me without hesitation, regardless of my own thoughts and desires.

My Purpose:
"Our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." -PMG
I have memorized and internalized my purpose as a missionary. I am called of God. I understand that my mission will not end once my two years are done. I will be a representative of Jesus Christ for eternity. My authority is above that of the kings of the Earth. By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my Master and he has chosen me to represent him. To stand in his place, to say and do what he himself would say and do if he personally were ministering to the very people to whom he has sent me. My voice is his voice, and my acts are his acts; my words are his words and my doctrine is his doctrine. My mission is to do what he wants done. To say what he wants said. To be a living modern witness in word and deed of the divinity  of his great and marvelous latter-day work.

"...But our kings and our leaders were mighty men in the faith of the Lord; and they taught the people the ways of the Lord..." (Jarom 1:7).
I am a leader by and through my example. I must remember that, as a missionary, literally everyone is watching me. I am a leader by my actions towards my companion, members, investigators, and all I come in contact with. I remain conscious that what makes a leader is not the title, and therefore I can never catch myself comparing myself to other missionaries with a position of extra leadership. I always remember that being a leader is really being a tool in the hands of the Lord in helping others. If you want to give a light to others, you have to glow yourself.

"We should always remember the Most High day and night-always-not only at times when all other assistance has failed and we desperately need help." -Howard W. Hunter
Prayer is an absolutely essential tools in the life of a missionary. If I don't pray, II don't have the Spirit, and I won't be successful. I can only teach people the Lord's way through the Spirit, which can only be obtained through the prayer of faith. As I pray, I come closer to my heavenly Father. i can not finish a personal prayer until I feel the Spirit telling me that my Father is content. I thank Heavenly Father for every blessing He has given me, and recognize His hand in everything. I ask questions knowing that my Father will answer me in His own time and in His own way. I seek the Holy Ghost at the beginning of each prayer to guide me and help bring things to my remembrance that must be prayed for. My family, investigators, and companion are always prayed for. I know that the Lord will protect them as I remain faithful.

"Regarding one's testimony, remember, that which one willingly shares he keeps, while that which he selfishly keeps he loses." -President Monson
I will continually seek to improve my testimony until it becomes perfect knowledge. As I share my testimony often, it will strengthen others as well as myself. I will continually increase in my testimony of the reality of the Atonement as I consistently utilize it through sincere repentance. I will also continue to read the Book of Mormon as well as the prophets to receive a perfect understanding that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is God's kingdom once again established on the Earth, never to be removed again. My testimony of Jesus Christ is my most cherished possession. I will strive to strengthen it every day as I turn to Him and keep Him in the center of my mind.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The 12 Bees to Success (Week #23)

Hello there, my little chihuahuas. How's life at home? Freezing? Thought so:) Don't worry, apparently Florida might actually get pretty cold this week. Like down to the 50's and 40's. I'm actually pretty scared, because the humidity makes it so much worse. But hey, I can't complain. It's been in the 80's and 90's the past two weeks.

Alright, so here's the thing. I was going to take some pictures of the areas that I work in, just so you could get an idea of what the places look like...but I forgot. I got a couple last night, but that's about it. #shorry But hey, I still love you all! 

So this weekend we had a couple sad experiences happen. Tis true, feel free to shed a tear or two. I did. The first was with this new person that we've been working with called Joseph. He's friends with Louis Laguerre, who got baptized last week. He came to the baptism and stayed for all of church, so we were all like "Heck yeah Broseph!" This week, we worked with him a lot, and he said that he wants to be baptized this Sunday! On Saturday, he asked us if we could help him with a job application since he knows no English. We quickly learned how bad of a situation he is in. When we got there, he gave me the resume that had made and asked if it was alright. It just had his name (spelled wrong) and three jobs that he'd had previously. So I ended up making him a nice new one, which took about an hour, while my companion went through some applications with him. After I finished the resume, I asked him how he'd applied for the other three jobs that he'd had here. He said he hadn't had those jobs, those were just ones that he wanted to get. So turns out his whole resume was a lie. He didn't even get to go to college like he had written. That's just something he would like to do. I felt so bad! He's never had a job since moving here, he doesn't really have an education because graduating from a Haitian high school, he has no money or car, he walks around 20 miles a day looking for a job, and he has an 8 year old who he drops off at friends houses everyday because they don't have their own home. Poor guy!! Some people move from haiti thinking that they'll find success just because they're in America. But even what all of these things happen to them, they still prefer America to Haiti. Makes me wonder what Haiti is like. From what Elder Claude has told me, it's not the best of places...Speaking of which, apparently Elder Claude was kidnapped in Haiti by his aunt when he was 8. Cool story. maybe I'll tell you later;)

But yeah, so I was pretty sad about that. Still, once he gets baptized, the ward will be able to help him out, especially since Louis just got called as the Creole Employment Specialist!!! Woohoo!

Yesterday at church, we had Marie-Andre meet with the Bishop to discuss her getting married to her husband/boyfriend so she can be baptized. Her situation's still a little weird. They had some guy forge her marriage certificate in Haiti so she could move here, but it wasn't a real marriage liscense and now she's guilty because she knows it's not real and doesn't want to be baptized like that. So they're paying the same guy to forge a divorce certificate (pretty sure it's all a scam). But the thing is, apparently her husband/boyfriend guy doesn't want her to get baptized, and as we found out yesterday, if he doesn't agree with it all and get married to her legally in the next couple of months, she'll have to go back to Haiti. She just started crying when she was telling us this, and my heart broke again. These poor Haitian people just have it so hard! And they're so willing to get baptized and do the things that they're supposed to, but they've got so many trials. Oh man. On the more positive side, i decided that once I'm rich and successful for doing some sort of something that I haven't decided on yet, I'm going to open up an orphanage in Haiti where kids can get a real education and have a chance for a more successful and happy future.

Anyway, those are my stories for the week. Sorry they're super sad, but it really hit me this week how hard these poor Haitians have it out here. 

I read a super good talk this week called Be Anxiously Engaged by Elder Ballard. It talks about how each bee only makes 1/12 teaspoon of honey in their lifetime. It doesn't seem like a lot at all, but combined with the work of the whole hive, it makes a lot more. Honey has the nutrients necessary to sustain life (ask John the Baptist if you ever have the time). But it just hit me that each member of the church, missionary or not, is like a bee. If you work hard all your life in bringing others to the church, whether by example or some other means, then, even if the outward results seem small, it makes a huge difference overall. Cool stuff! My testimony of member missionaries has grown a lot over here! We wouldn't be anything without the missionaries. All of our baptisms so far have been member referrals. And we try to get at least 10 lessons with members each week. True story, tell your friends! But yeah, be a bee, because 12 bees make a teaspoon of honey, and honey tastes really good! 

I love you all. I'll send some photos of me and Elder Claude being random in a second. Hope you have a great week. Sorry this emails a little weird, it's just been a weird week. Love you!!!

Elder skidmore

Monday, January 6, 2014

Coconut Creek Weekly (Week #22)

Hello there, you cheeky little monkeys. What a crazy week it has been. Let me tell you, life as a missionary is always up and down. Never know what's going to happen next. It makes it fun though, so I'm happy!

This week we were working a lot with new investigators that we've gotten. One of them is the Louis family. I think I actually sent a picture of the girl and mum at sacrament last week. They just kind of showed up, and we were like "Heck yeah", and now we've taught them everything and are waiting for them to be baptized this coming Sunday! The boys are more into it than the parents are, but they're all slowly making progress. I'm trying not to pressure or push people too much, because that can just scare them off, but at the same time, they all need to be baptized, and the sooner the better! Oh man:)

So New Years was interesting. New Years Eve was just a normal day, except that we had to go back to the apartment an hour earlier. The next day was like the zombie apocalypse. There were so many people just walking around the streets like they were dying or dead. Lots of people jumping behind bushes to throw up. Lots of people just laid on the grass totally zoned, or yelling not super pleasant things at random walls. Yeah, it was a weird day, but it's all back to normal now. Let it be known that I will never be participating in anything like that ever!:)

This Friday I went on another exchange with Elder Taylor in his area. When I got there, he showed me the schedule for the day and there were 14 appointments that we had set. I was all like, "Oh kèt, gade sa!" Especially since we had to bike to all the appointments and they were spread out pretty far. By the end of the day, we had biked well over 20 miles, and every single appointment had fallen through. We were able to give cards and talk to everybody that we biked past though. I found myself very grateful at the end of the day that I'm able to be teaching the Haitian people, because they're always at home, and though they don't always want to talk, they usually will anyway. I can see why everyone says that the English speaking missionaries here have it harder. It's so true, and I'm incredibly blessed to be a Haitian Creole missionary.

So this weekend was pretty much the best ever! I don't know if you guys remember Louis Laguerre's story, so I'll just tell it all here. We met him my very first week out here in Florida, so 15 weeks ago. He is the boyfriend of a recent convert named Edline (who also referred us to Margarette and Deborah who were baptized last week). We've been teaching Louis the past 15 weeks, and he's come to church every single week. The problem he had was that he wanted to see an angel to receive his witness before he was baptized. Then, this week we had a powerful lesson with him about faith, and he finally committed to be baptized this week! And he was!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Heck yeah, my children. Let it be known that I was the happiest I think I've ever been when I watched him get baptized. 

We have another investigator who was supposed to be baptized this week named Hobin Henry. He's Deborah's son. So he was all set and interviewed to be baptized yesterday, but when he showed up to the baptismal service before church, he told us that he wasn't ready and didn't want to do it yet. We talked with him, but he was set on waiting another month or two. I was a pretty sad to be honest, but watching Louis just made it all so much better for me. The spirit was incredible during the service. Hobin came up to us after, so I asked him how he felt, and he just looked at me for a second and then said "I'm ready to be baptized." So we quickly stopped draining the font and pushed him under the water. Well, okay, maybe not pushed, but we baptized him properly:) It was so incredible!! I was super humbled because with both Louis and Hobin, the Spirit touched them so much that they were ready to make that step, even though they had both been apprehensive. The Spirit is the best teacher out there, and our job as missionaries is just to invite it and help investigators to recognize it. I'm so grateful for these two amazing miracles that happened yesterday morning. So now Deborah AND her son Hobin are baptized. And Louis and Edline are looking towards temple marriage now!!!!!!!!!! Holy chicken, my fellow Skidmore/Wilkinson/Balderson/Cliffords! Missionary work is incredible!!!

Well I love you all. Hope you had a great week too:) And hope you all made New Years Resolutions to send me pictures and ties and food and money and...okay, just kidding. Though if you could email pictures at any time, those would be greatly appreciated. I miss you all:)

Avèk anpil lanmou, e yon gwo embras, 
Eldè Skidmore