Wednesday, October 28, 2015

T Minus 13 Days to the States!

I have never appreciated the postal service and the invention of email ever before quite like I do now. I love letters and was so anxious to get more, and they finally came! Wahoo!

My distrito y yo
(district & I) are officially the vets! We have another district coming in tonight, and I am pretty stoked! The weeks here have flown by like crazy. It feels like it was General Conference last week. I guess once you get into the hang of things, time flies by.

So some cool facts first, two of the people in the MTC Presidency were in the Quorum of the Seventy- Tenorio and Rubalcalva. The first counselor in my branch was a seventy and mission president as well and he is super awesome!- Presidente Cardenas. On Sunday, I had the opportunity to bless the sacrament in Spanish twice! Once for the workers at the comedor and once for sacrament meeting. It was cool!

We have been teaching a lot this week and now Elder Casey and I have 5 investigators. It is so hard figuring out who is whom and what problems each have, but we are trying! I think Elder Casey and I have become closer and we are on the same page now. We found our groove this week in our lessons and it feels great. While teaching "Marina" you could just feel the spirit really strong! At one point I thought of a scripture to share and elder Casey started talking to her about something. I was not paying attention to him but after the lesson, what I found out he said tied in perfectly with the scripture I thought of. Hermana Aguirre, aka Marina, said that it was the best lesson she has had. She told us to keep it up! I'm telling you the spirit is awesome.

This week we lost a good chunk of our zone. They are our bros and it was like another farewell. Last night Elder Brent Neilsen of the first quorum of the Seventy gave our Tuesday devotional! He was really good and I could feel the spirit. I shook his hand too! It down poured on us yesterday for like an hour which was unexpected, but cool! I love my teachers here and will miss them! Last night I met some new Latino Elders that just got here and seriously, they are hilarious. Latinos are generally funny people. Helps me too that I know soccer around here and I can talk soccer with them. Well, I can not wait until the states in 13 days!

So this week, and usually everyday, due to a LACK of music, I sing whatever comes to mind, and this week it's been High School Musical (LOL!!!) It may sound like I am off task, but I am not. I'm trying to make the CCM a bit more fun. The hermanas love it, well... some of them- hahaha. Apparently, I sound like Zac Efron:) I'm pretty outgoing here, and that helps me a lot. I've basically befriended all the Mexican teachers in my building (which is two zones). Last week I was thinking about my purpose here in the Mexico CCM. I could have easily been sent to the Provo MTC. I know I'm here for a specific reason: Number 1- to both learn patience, and to teach patience. We have some WEIRDOS, and very impatient missionaries in my zone. You get the point. Number 2- I know I'm supposed to have met some here that will have an impact on my life in the near future, and learn from the people here. I have learned more how to be a great leader and how to act down here. My District Leader, Elder Allen, was supposed to come 7 days earlier, but got an email to report on September 30th with me. He needed to be here to help us, and visa-versa, and I'm grateful he his here.

This week I read in 2 Nephi chapter 4. If you have a Book of Mormon, read this chapter! If you do not, look it up online or something. It is really good! Specifically verse 16-20 and 27 and 28. It talks about Nephi and his inner struggle with sin. It shows his conversion to the Lord, and his enough-is-enough sort of statement, if that makes sense. I do not have my scriptures in front of me, so I can not quote exactly. It is really powerful in the full context and I want to be converted to the Lord just as Nephi was. Okay, time to go, but that is basically all things interesting this week! Adios...

Elder McLaughlin

Blessing & passing the sacrament to the Comedor (Kitchen)

district class door 'decor'

Feasting upon the palabras de Cristo

Our CCM Gymnasium.  We play a lot of volleyball

Still the best at ping pong... in North America AND Central America:)

The yoga & bike room.  We have a weight room too

District 6B (us) and 6A (the ones who left Monday)

Elder Head & I... he left on Monday and is serving in Monterey, Mexico

Elder Kolu (Zone Leader) from St. George

Elder Cazier from St. George- soooo stinking heavy! I almost died LOL

Elder Bradford (ZL) from American Fork

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Three Weeks Down!

Hey guys! This last week we got a new district! They seem really cool! There is this guy elder Merrill from American Fork and he dated Jessica Brower (my cousin). Small world! Elder Bradford, one of zone leaders, also went to AF High and knows Allie and Jessie (Brower)

So, we as a zone have had a few "Tie Drafts'' which is so fun. I got some crappy ties and that next day we all have to wear the new ties. Well, everybody puts in their worst ties so it's funny seeing how embarrassed everybody gets. This week I taught the district a Book of Mormon lesson and It was derecho fuego! I did it on 1 Nephi 2 and focused on the subject of faith. Everybody loved it. I also killed a class discussion on 1 Nephi 8. I basically said what the teacher was going to say, and he liked that too.

I'm feeling super great this week and I am no longer sick! We had TRC
(Teaching Resource Center) on Saturday and it was awesome. The people were all members and so we basically gave them a home teaching lesson but based on the lecciones in "Preach my Gospel." The spirit was super strong and so was my Spanish:)

So every Sunday, our branch president chooses four random people to give talks. Every week we need to prepare a talk on a certain topic. Last week it was baptism, and I stayed up late doing it Saturday night [totally did not procrastinate], but I did not get chosen, which is good.

So this last week, our district has been under some heat for people not staying on task and not doing what they are supposed to. Do not worry, I am on task, but it was a wake up call still for me to be the best of the best and work harder everyday. This reminded me of a Vince Lombardi quote:

"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender." 

That quote is so true and really applies to all aspects of life.

Our Sunday devotional was an old MTC devotional by Richard G. Scott. It fit in with exactly what the branch presidency and zone leaders talked about with our district. Some good points Elder Scott had was that the Lord has called us to succeed, not to fail. He has inspired our call and will fit our tasks to our capabilities. He said we will discover things about ourselves we never knew. He talked mucho sobre la importancia de oracion, and how to receive answers. I have studied so much of the scriptures like never before and could tell you where certain things are! These two scriptures I really love: D&C 88:63,64 and all of D&C 8. Asking God for something in faith is asking with confidence. Elder Scott also said that to reach a goal never before obtained, we must do things we have never done. For me, prayer has never been so important in my life. I don't remember if I shared this yet, but I forgot what scripture this is talks about doing nothing unto the Lord without prayer first, or something along those lines. Its so true. If we are doing the Lord's will, we need to make sure we tap into the communication system, if that makes sense. I have started praying more specifically, in order to receive specific answers to prayers- and let me say how much more powerful this is. For example, before each lesson and basically every night, I pray to be able to understand what 'the investigators' are saying and feeling, and boy, have the lessons been great! There is still room for improvement though. I know God loves us all and he does answer our prayers.We need to be patient though and remember He knows what is best for each of us.

My teachers have complimented us for our lesson strategy and how well our Spanish has improved! We have three teachers, Hermana Aguirre, and Hermanos Cruz and Gonzalez. They each play a role of investigator so we basically have 3 progressive investigators. Hermano Cruz was our very first investigator we progressively taught, named ''David" the first like week and a half. I like him the best, and he said he understands exactly we we are saying in Spanish and he said that we bring a special spirit into every lesson. I need to work on connecting the gospel principles to the investigators lives and show them how they fit in with what their are going through. On another note I have been reading my patriarchal blessing a lot and It is just so amazing!

I got a haircut finally today and I have been dreading it! Doesn't look so bad, but my locks are gone. Okay, I feel like I have been here forever and it really stinks. I love the MTC, but I just want to be in South Carolina already! Elder Casey has a friend in South Carolina and all the missionaries have been doing is service because of the hurricane and floods. Thank you for all your prayers! 

Elder McLaughlin

Pre-haircut pic outside of THE PLACE OF DEATH!

AAAAnd its gone

Missing two elders but I'm being a little goofy....
this was our pre haircut pic

My district and our haircuts (it's a big deal) left to right top to bottom: Jarnagin, Casey, Allen { elder allen was apparently at BYU with me this summer in the same building and same floor!} Hermanas Briggs, Olsen "{from Fallbrook} Robertson and Shumway, then me, Rodriguez"{going to San Diego} and Davey

This is my house. 
We each have a house as a district which is pretty sick

There are rows on rows of houses at the CCM. 
It's basically like living in a gated community of 1200 missionaries

Sunday, October 18, 2015

This plaque hangs in our church hallway along with 14 others serving from our ward (church congregation).  Now I can go to church and see my handsome boy staring back at me and get all teary-eyed thinking of his service and sacrifice in the south.  Only, he is still in Mexico City, sick as a dog.  Pretty sure he will kiss the ground in November when he arrives in South Carolina!  Take a moment to send him a quick email note!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Mexico City: Week 2- Spanish, Studying, Salmonella, & Sundays

Note from Shayla: None of Elder McLaughlin's photos are coming through from his wifi camera.  I'll add them when I finally get them! 

Hey guys! So David, the guy we had been teaching, is now our teacher for our night classes. Turns out he was a fake investigator, but I still had a good experience teaching and learning how to teach him!

I got a bunch of letters and a few packages this week, so thank you mom. I saw another friend from BYU who got here last Wednesday night! So that was cool! Spanish is coming along still. Everyday we have gym time and we play volleyball usually and sometimes basketball, but with some of the native Latino missionaries. To be honest, they are actually intimidating! They travel in groups and love to mess with us.

I have never been so exhausted in my life. SOOO much studying just non-stop. On Sunday I bore my testimony in Spanish during church! It was really cool because it all just flowed out! We had to say goodbye to one of the districts in our zone which was sad because we as a zone are really close! We are getting a new one tonight too! It seems to be that most of the guys are going to the states from Mexico City and the girls are all going to missions in Mexico. 

The food here is still nasty and I have lost some weight. On Sunday, after fasting for 24 hours, we had some chicken for lunch. I put beans and mashed potatoes on it and it was pretty good. One piece did not have anything on it, and as I cut into it, a whole bunch of blood came rushing out. I do not know what other pieces were like that, but chances are it was every piece. So, this week I have had a whole stomach situation going on and I have been sick with some stomach virus on top of that since Saturday. I went to the doctor and that helped a little, but still I have not felt so much pain, ever. Elder Head in my zone has the same medical problems I do and so it's been nice having someone to go to for advice!!

Every Sunday night we have a video, and this week we watched the Joseph Smith Restoration one. The spirit was super strong and sniffles could be heard a mile away. Watching it and studying the restoration this week has reaffirmed my testimony of the Book of Mormon and of Joseph Smith. We started teaching a new investigator this week and I basically did everything in the lesson... it's kinda hard working with my companion, but it's getting there. Tonight we have another investigator (these two are our teachers so they are role playing), but on Saturday we have TRC, which is another investigator- either a legit non-member, a member of a ward down here, an MTC worker who we don't know or a less active member. So it's basically the real deal. I love the teaching atmosphere here and I love the Latino teachers. They are so down to earth. 

Mexico beat USA down here... (national soccer). If Klinsmann could actually win, I would not have had to hear a billion more fireworks and rockets! Those things bug me the most! It literally does not make sense to shoot fireworks at all times of the day since you cant see them with the sun out. 

Every Tuesday we have a service project and we folded sheets for an hour. Thank you to Ama for teaching me how to fold fitted sheets because nobody but me and the Mexican workers could!! Tuesdays we have devotionals too, and yesterday we had an area Seventy GA come speak. Not going to lie, his delivery was terrible and put half the missionaries to sleep, but the message was good-- Keep the Sabbath Day holy. That seems to be, along with keeping the other commandments, really big right now. So remember to keep that day holy! The world is forgetting and we need more ways to distinguish ourselves as true disciples. 

We went to the Mexico City Temple today and it was huge!!! It is super pretty but still does not beat San Diego. It was a neat experience, including the bus ride through Mexico City! I wish I could see more of the city. I saw a lot of elders walking near the temple and they said they know Hunter Jensen! So that was cool too!

The days feel like weeks here and the last two weeks have felt like days!!! Missing home and my friends, but I have been too busy to really even think about it. I',m so glad I went to BYU over summer cause I am not homesick like most missionaries, which is so helpful!! Talk to you all next week!

Elder McLaughlin
Some of the guys in our zone. left to right top to bottom is Elders Romaro, Head, Rodriguez, Allen, me, Bradford (ZL), Kolu (ZL), Casey, Spilker, Windsor, Davey and Jarnagin
The Mexico City Temple is HUGE!
My scripture cases! The left one is my English quad, the right are my Spanish ones and the middle one I got from the temple for my single BoM

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Numero Uno

Hey everybody! The first few days here at the missionary training center were super long. So many meetings and we dove right into the idioma. Spanish 1,2 and 3 were all taught baiscially this first week. It is super hard. The teachers are all natives and they speak so fast! It is kind of ridiculous! Todos maestros are having trouble with my name so they just call me "Elder Mac". I have seen two guys I met at BYU this summer so that was cool.

My companion is Elder Casey from Mesa, Arizona, and he is also going to my mission in South Carolina. I am typing with a Spanish keyboard, so sorry for my grammar. I have felt very overwhelmed and I have been praying so much. I seriously have not prayed so much in one week before. My district is really awesome and I also love my whole zone. The elders are super cool! I will add a zone pic next week, hopefully. The third day here we taught an investigator in Spanish. It was difficult, but I successfully bore my testimony to him and we were invited back. I have finally got praying down in Spanish which is really cool! The guys and I in the district are developing accents too! 

One funny thing here in Mexico City is that for some reason, the Mexicans love their guns and fireworks. The MTC is 90 acres and surrounded by a cement wall with barbed wire so we are safe. I wake up at 3 in the morning because someone decided to have a fireworks party. During the day it happens a lot too. It's weird! The food here is terrible and I don't get how others can stomach it. However, Tuesday night is Costco pizza night and I was in heaven!

General conference was amazing and all the topics talked about, we actually were discussing as a zone the Friday before conference started! That was really cool! The spirit is strong here and I can't wait for states! It is so important that all of us need to hunker down on the scriptures because that is where we receive daily strength. We study like 10 to 12 horas todos los días. Pray for me and my Spanish skills! Remember that we are here to prepare for our time to meet God again. See others the way nuestro Padre Celestial sees them.
Elder McLaughlin

 sent him the $30 trail mix because he hasn't been able to eat the food and needed some protein:)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Earning his keep... Celestial Duty

(This is Shayla speaking)
So I'm in the car driving to do my middle school & elementary school pick-ups today and I get this phone call-- glance at my phone and my heart skipped a beat and I literally almost jumped and turned into the curb...
Brayden is calling me!  Only it wasn't Brayden, but it did a total trick on my brain! I just hadn't changed the contact in my phone yet over to Alexandra, who now has Brayden's phone & number.

Then not even 10 minutes later I get this instagram direct message.  Let's just say the cook at the Mexico City MTC is pretty awesome.  Brayden is here joyfully washing dishes.  Brayden, joyfully, and dishes in the same sentence.  Just WOW.  Hooray for awesome MTC workers that send pics and videos!  The MTC rule is that the missionaries can't take pictures any day except P-Day, and I don't believe they're allowed to take videos of their own.  I won't get into how lame I think that rule is.  So imagine my delight when I got the DM and the email of this series of selfies from the cook's phone. Can't wait to see what P-Day tomorrow will bring!

We zoomed in and saw an Elder Allred!  Whaaaat?  So we're waiting to get an email tomorrow and find out just how we are related.  Cousin comps??  Kind of awesome.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

He Arrived! Day 1- Well Sorta. (P-Day is WEDNESDAY)

Months ago on the instagram account, 'missionariescomingsoon,' a local in Mexico City who works in the MTC (CCM) cafeteria, connected with Brayden as he saw he would be coming to the Mexico City CCM. 

Fast forward.... That feeling of being kicked in the stomach lessened a little and was replaced with some joy when this little tender mercy was received! This sweet guy direct messaged Monson and me this little bit of sunshine last night! He's known for posting pictures of the missionaries and tagging the family.  It sure made this momma's heart smile. 

"Elder McLaughlin likes Mexico.  I hope you enjoy this photo."

And then a few hours later, we received a very quick email note:

They are having us email you that we are at the CCM now! It still hasn't hit me yet but hopefully it will soon! The streets were crazy coming in, its hilarious. Also I saw a guy from college! My P day is on Wednesdays! Let people know that! Also they don't let us take pictures on any day but p-day, so that kinda stinks, but I guess that counts as mission rules.