Monday, November 30, 2015

An Eye Single to the Glory...

Hey this week has been stellar! So happy, because we have had some success finally!!! Hopefully there is more to come! To really start out the week, we went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders! It was so amazing. I was re-energized and prepared to work even harder after the exchange ended! 

We had a district feast with 2 districts in Greenville after our district meetings, and it was amazing!! The Spanish elders district cooked and it was amazing!! Basically a pre-Thanksgiving feast! 
afterwards we (Russell and I, since we were on exchanges
Elder Russell & I on exchanges
Sister Albrecht, Mom's fb friend
After this, we met up with Sister Albrecht at Chick-fil-a, and her daughter, Maya, who is 15. It's one of mom's facebook friends through Lindsey Wynia. She apparently lived in Spokane, so I asked if she knew the Lakes-and she does! (Jameson and Hillary) It's a small world! She was saying that I remind her of Jameson- haha. Well, we talked for a bit and took a picture. She is super kind and she and mom would really click in real life. 

We had some street contacts in a neighborhood and this guy we talked to seemed really solid! We gave him a Book of Mormon as well and he said we could come back again! We also got rejected a bunch... for some reason, white people rejection is way harder than Latino rejection. They are sometimes nasty and straight to the point. The Latinos just welcome you in, feed you a snack and say they really don't have time or they are not interested. We went later that night to a bike path behind the Greenville Zoo and drew out the plan of salvation with chalk! Our goal was to get people interested in what the heck two guys were doing playing with chalk, and it worked! Satan is getting creative in the ways of deceiving men, so it's important to be creative in sharing the gospel! We talked to a good number of folks and got their addresses and phone numbers so missionaries could visit them sometime! 
This is our Plan of Salvation chalk drawing! 
To end the night we visited a family of investigators. It went so well! It was a family with 4 little African-American kids and they were super cute! (I don't want to sound, ya know, girly, but don't know how else to put it) they also have a 20 year old brother and they were all golden! They understand the gospel, and the questions the kids asked were so in depth- it surprised me! They really want to learn!!

After our studies this morning, we visited a guy named Pablo. We met him a few days ago as a referral from the sisters. We already talked with him and gave him a Book of Mormon. When he saw us pull up in our car, and when we got out, he tried starting his lawn mower (keep in mind that his lawn mower is old and he is in his 60's) but it would not start, even if he tried his hardest. When we got up to him it started, then made a loud popping sound and died! It was so funny, so his only choice was to talk to us. He said he didn't want to change religions, but we tried to tell him we are here to help strengthen his faith in Christ. He was pretty hard-headed, so we bid him farewell. Funny thing is that a few nights ago when we tried to contact him at his house, his wife said he was asleep, but I saw him hiding on the staircase listening to us! Right after we left, we saw a Latino-looking family outside another house. We went up and it was a young guy with 2 cute kids. Turns out, his parents are Mexican and speak no English, but he is more comfortable with English. He was SO FRIENDLY AND WARM TO US! I was surprised. He is also super humble! He is going through a rough time with his family right now. He has a daughter and a step son, works crazy hours and goes to school at South Carolina. He said he is looking for church because he needs it and has been attending one for a few weeks. He was never heard of Mormons, which is cool, because he has no prejudice against us!!  We got his number, and address and gave him a Book of Mormon and invited him to check out online! Can't wait to see him ultra vez! It's awesome that when I decided to stop worrying about the lack of success and work a little harder, the Lord makes stuff happen! Estoy muy agradecido por el mucho exito este semana! 

The highlight of my week was Saturday and Sunday. Thanksgiving was good too! We played in the turkey bowl! I was so happy to play football. Don't worry, it was flag. Apparently, it is allowed. It was so nice to play it. I covered Elder Fife most of the time on defense, and boy is he a speedster.  I also got to be the receiver on offense most of the time and broke my watch and jammed my big toe, which is now very swollen. So worth it though!!! After, we headed over to Bishop Powell's home for Thanksgiving. My new favorite is fried turkey!  It is so moist and tasty! I also love the brown sugar pecan sweet potatoes! We were fed well and it was my first time trying fried turkey![note from Shay- he apparently doesn't remember all the times that his uncles did fried turkey and almost lit our backyard on fire in American Fork when he was younger]. 
We have been dying to take a pic with these hats the sisters gave us
Saturday night we had a lesson over facetime! The sister training leaders had a husband and wife (both Mexican) who they were teaching with a Spanish member. They decided to stop having the member teach and gave it to us! We got to know them a little bit and we re-taught the restoration. The spirit was super strong and Elder Fife and I were on the exact same page! For example, he started talking about the Atonement and a scripture popped into my head and it was the same scripture he was planning to share! We also shared other scriptures that were totally on point with each other's commentary! Towards the end I had the feeling that he was going to ask them to be baptized and whispered "baptism?" to him and as soon as that happened, the facetime call stopped working for a while. That was testimony to me that Satan knew they were ready and tried to stop us from asking! Not a second after it started working, our phone started to ring!! Holy cow it was a weird, but eye opening experience! We invited them after this and they said they would pray about it. I was praying this week for specific experiences where I could without a doubt feel the spirit and Saturday was one of them. A miracle happened on Sunday night as well. We finally got into a house of a family of 6! They have been reading the Book of Mormon as well and they promised they'd pray to know if it is true! They were so sincere and I know the Lord has been preparing them for a while! 

I know that this work is so important to God and that our testimonies are meant to be shared with others. We need to get some courage and share the gospel, whether that means by talking about it with friends and acquaintances, or sharing by being an example of a true disciple of Christ. We do not have time to be slothful. It is essential to take initiative and start being more righteous. We are helping prepare the Lord's kingdom for when he comes again.

Well we are at church every Sunday from 7am-4pm, so 9 hours of church! No complaining anybody else! It's kind of cool though to have 2 wards. In word council I talked about trying something new. We want to get the wards into the missionary-centered spirit. We want everyone to be excited about missionary work and we need referrals! To do this, I started the 'missionary moment' thing. Every week we will be asking for missionary experiences for members to share. This will hopefully get them excited to share on Sundays what they experience in the week. I invited the elders quorum to pray for missionary opportunities during the week as well.

Elder Fife and I had an awesome weekly planning session and really sat down and discussed in depth three things for each of our investigators: Their personal/ spiritual needs, our goals to help them, and what we will do to accomplish those goals. We set a goal as well to have a baptism on Dec. 26th and two on January 16th. We decided to be better exactly obedient. Obedience does bring blessings and I have seen that this week!! 

Last thing I want to say is that the Book of Mormon is so awesome! When we liken the words included to our lives, we will profit and learn from them! Have a good week!
-Elder McLaughlin

weekly road trip to the library for emailing!
First actual rainy day

A view you don't get in California!

gas is SOOOO CHEAP here!  Thought I might share hahaha

I was on exchanges with the ZL, Elder Russell, this week in Greenville, and this was one of the many impressively huge church buildings down here. It's weird seeing so many churches in one area that aren't all just Mormon churches!

I take a lot of car pics I guess-- Meet Elder Russell

Biking Exchange with Elder Hatch this week in my district...
We don't normally bike, so I wanted to take a pic with my gear on-- yeah, it's kinda weird.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Trying to Have More Gratitude

Hey guys! It feels like I have been here forever. It has only been two weeks- which is crazier. So I have been feeling pretty discouraged this last week. Satan is working pretty hard down here. It is so frustrating that all but one of our scheduled appointments have fallen through. It must be Latino culture to not like appointments or something. We have been trying super hard to find things to do instead. We have a few referrals and have visited them this week with some success, but other than that, we have to knock doors, which I have found to not be so successful. The male figures of these Latino households work super late, so we can't teach them inside and really have a solid lesson. We have been trying to teach some of the first principles in the restoration and we have been giving out cards and copies of the Book of Mormon. However, when we do teach, I do not feel like we have found our groove together yet. With Elder Casey in the MTC, once we had taught enough to realize where we were effective, our lessons became stellar. Here, we do not teach many lessons, so it is just going to take longer I guess. We have found many new investigators, but we have not been able to get back into their houses again. We will just have to keep pressing forward. 

Also, I have felt pretty incompetent when it comes to speaking Spanish. It is hard to understand most people, however there are a select few I understand, and it's taking a toll. We teach a Spanish gospel principles class in the 3rd ward and that is super hard for me as well. On occasion when I do figure out what they are saying, by the time I know what to respond with, the discussion is already past that point, which too, is frustrating. I have been praying a lot for help, and Elder Fife has had to remind me that I am only two weeks in. He is super good at encouraging people, and for me he is always saying that I am doing super well. I'm so glad he is my trainer. 

On Sunday in church, the talks were about gratitude. Some things that stuck out were:
  • ONE: If you are struggling with anything, start living in gratitude
  • TWO: Gratitude has a healing power 
I have realized that I need to stop thinking so negatively and see the good that will come from this. A witness comes after a trial of our faith, and right now, the lack of success is the trial of my faith. As I, and I guess we, are grateful and show gratitude for what we go through or what we have been blessed with, our perspective changes. In this life on earth, it is all about perspective. Having the knowledge of what my purpose is here on earth is, is comforting, because I know in the end it will all work out. I just need to stop worrying and complaining about the little things like this. 
We did have a few on the spot lessons though. We taught the restoration three times this week. Two of those appointments were solid, and they want us to come back again.The other one was interesting. We taught a pretty big Latino family and it almost went south. They liked what we talked about until we introduced them to the Book of Mormon. We said it was similar to the Bible and that it is another testament of Jesus Christ, like the Old and New Testament. We read the introduction (BTW which is really good, so everyone who sees this, read that part!), and then one of the ladies started to oppose it with the obvious, "There can't be more stuff written" because of what John says in Revelation. So this went on for like 30 more minutes and her husband liked what we said but she did not. We gave him a Book of Mormon, and he gave us his number....later this week we called it and it said it didn't exist! We laughed super hard! Ends up we ran into them again and he was embarrassed and gave us his actual number, so yeah haha. We also invited an investigator to be baptized and have had 2 member presents with her. She is super solid, but she said no at the moment. We hope she will accept in the future!

One last thing, I met a guy, Brother Taylor in the Simpsonville 2nd Ward, who works with Bishop Davis! Small World!
Us pretending to teach our English class on Wednesday. Nobody showed up! Sucks for them cause it was going to be a great lesson! hahaha

We took like 20 photos. We love our photo shoots..thank goodness for camera timers!

Simpsonville skyline... around 4pm it starts to get dark pretty early here

Some more pics that just loaded from his camera-- 
these are from the MTC
The guys in my MTC district with our hilarious Branch Presidente Torres

​Me and the Hermanas from my district in the MTC

The guys from my Casa at the MTC ( the guy with the glasses on the right is from Lake Elsinore!) we were all called to stateside Spanish-speaking missions.

Me and one of the other district's teachers I became friends with! Hermano Gomez!
He served in SLC and might move to the states! 

This is me and my night teacher at the MTC, Hermano Cruz- he is only 22!

 Look who I got to see in the MTC!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Coming to Carolina!

Elder Fife & me today at the library
Hey guys! I am back in the states! I flew into Atlanta and then took a connection to Columbia, South Carolina! It was super pretty seeing everything, like the green and the trees! They have seasons here!! U​pon arrival, we met at the mission home and had dinner, meetings​,​ and then got to go to bed 2 hours early! I think it was because some guy was falling asleep while President T​urner was talking- in the front row hahaa.

Wednesday morning we had transfer meeting where they announced the new companionships! My companion is Elder (Paul) Thomas Fife from Colorado Springs! He reminds me of Elder Richards from back home and he is soo awesome! I have heard from ​e​veryone that he is really solid!! He also happens to be our District Leader​,​ which is an added bonus! ​I am in Simpsonville,​ which is near Greenville in the upper northwest part of the state. As S​panish elders, we cover 2 wards:​ T​he Simpsonville 2nd and 3rd ward​s, which means 6 horas of church!  They just split 2 weeks ago, so we have a lot of work to do! They are English wards, but with Spanish members, so we have to translate and stuff.​ I love the Simpsonville 3rd Ward and our ward mission leaders, Brother's Felosh and Enesa (both played ball at Dixie State). It's mostly Mexicans down here, but there are Colombians and a few from Argentina as well.

I have met so many people and its all just a blur. My first day, ​w​e gave a blessing to a member and also gave a blessing in Spanish on Sunday. P​retty cool stuff! We also had to teach a S​panish Sunday School class with no knowledge before hand so that was interesting, but turned out pretty good! We have been doing a lot of tracting in trail​e​r parks,​ and have had many lessons already. It's super hard to understand the older people and their S​panish. It seems like the younger generation of Latinos speaks clearer. 

One of our lessons was with a family who likes to take in "stray" animals... so during our lesson, their little girl put a chipmunk on my shoe and it started to eat my laces! S​o weird! T​hey had cats everywhere and afterwards we felt super itchy- haha. So this week we have done a lot of work and now have 11 new investigators! I did not realize how tiring this all could be.

These last couple days I have been feeling pretty discouraged because of my lack of S​panish skills. People say my Spanish is good, but I think it still sucks.
There were a few lesson this week where I did not talk that much. I would try to understand the investigators and when I finally did, it was too late to go back to what they were talking about. Elder ​F​ife is really good at motivating me,​ so I have had on many occasions to just ​stop and think to myself that I can do this! ​I​'​ve only been here 6 days,​ so I shouldn't be so stressed. We did service th​is week at a less-active me​m​ber'​s home. We used a log splitter and basically made firewoood for like 4 hours. I​t was some tough stuff, especially in the cold. It gets really cold here in the mornings and at night especially. Being rejected at night sucks even more because of the cold. ​(California boy's blood is thin!)​

We had a mini mission set up for ​S​aturday and S​unday,​ but nobody who signed up came,​ so we had to redo all of our plans, but hey, gotta make d​o,​ right? I​'​m super excited for this week and hopefully get some baptismal dates set up! W​e have a goal of 14 before January 1st​,​ and have 2 already, with 8 pos​sible ones with dates right now! Okay,​ no more time, so...til next week!--

Elder McLaughlin

our apartment

our small room
The trailer park house of one of our investigators

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

South Carolina, baby!

We sent Brayden on his mission with a throw-away phone so that when he had his layover today in Atlanta en route to South Carolina, he could call home. The night before he left for Mexico City, we laughed about his little vision he'd be acting out in real life- a scene from a show like CSI or White Collar, being able to covertly chat with us (might be against a mission rule????) and then ditch the phone in a random airport trashcan. Only, it didn't go as he had envisioned. Customs took forever, and so we sat and waited and waited for the phone call. I was afraid the whole obedience and mission rules thing was getting to his head and he wasn't gonna dial. 

Viviana misses him terribly... cries about it, and just needed to hear his voice, so she even stayed home from school to have that verbal reassurance that he was okay.  It didn't come. So I took Vivs to school, disappointed, and as we pulled into the driveway of the school, the phone rang and it was him-- she got her hellos and goodbyes.  He sounded great- mostly was just eager to get there already. He wanted to chat football with Curt and the fact that he had just seen the head coach of a college team in the Atlanta airport. Clemson is ranked #1 right now, so because Brayden is a big football fan, getting into doors and connecting with fellow sports fans on the street is going to come easy, and will probably prove a successful start to sharing the gospel message with some. 

We got a text tonight (from the mission president) that he arrived safely and P-day is skipped this week, so we expect a long letter next Monday on his new preparation day! 
President & Sister Turner with Elder McLaughlin fresh off the plane

All of the new missionaries in South Carolina!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Seis 'til the States!

Hermana Stone & Hermana Law (I was friends with Hma Law at BYU this summer)
Okay so Halloween was decent this year! All the guys in mi casa got packages from their parents full of candy or Krispy Kreme donuts! We had a fiesta! For Halloween I got creative and bought a white tie from the tienda-only 10 pesos, so like less than a dollar- and drew on it!
I was going to wear it, but got chastised for even thinking about it! I also got chastised this week for having stickers on the back of my name-tag so I took them all off....except the In-N-Out one haha! AND, to top it off, I learned that "crap" as in "it smells like crap here" is a bad word in Mexico. And, also got chastised for saying it. So Mexico City smells super bad, like sewage and poop (or C___P). So this rain this last week has been a blessing. It got rid of the smell for like a whole day!! (It's the little things). 

The new districts are having such a tough time with Spanish. It makes sense that one is bad because they got here a week ago, but the other one has been here a month. We have been designated to help them out a little bit too. There is an Elder who literally breaks down everyday from the district that has been here a month. It is really sad. We are here to learn how to teach people better and how to connect with investigators and Spanish is only second to that. He and his comp taught me as their investigator- we have to use investigator profiles, so I used Alec's of course. This Elder had his head down the whole time. I tried helping him out and afterwards talked to him and tried to encourage him and shared my experiences with Spanish and teaching here in the MTC. He is doing a little better but has so much work. I'm so glad that I learned how to be a leader in high school, and how to look at things with perspective. I'm so grateful I have had teachers that were good examples to me, both at Great Oak and in church.

In other news, David Archuleta's sister is here! Little bit star struck lol. I said hi to her in the comedor yesterday and then proceeded to spill my cup of water all over my tray hahaha. My comps in my district have given me the name 'trippy' because I spill food on my shirts and ties EVERY DAY, plus I have rolled both ankles multiple times, just walking. Thank goodness for an ankle brace! 

On Sunday I shared my testimony in Spanish, again! It was like 3 minutes long with no notes, so it was cool! Elder Rodriguez, our fluent Colombian, said he understood it. Sundays are chill days in the MTC! We do a lot of studying. Elder Allen is our zone leader and he is super awesome. We talked football for a while which was so nice since nobody else really can here! He is the one that was on my floor at BYU this summer and I am super bummed I did not know that! He is a great leader and I have been learning from him while I have been here.

Monday was picture day! So every Sunday after the movie, we have a short presentation of the missionaries leaving the MTC. They put pictures up of their district and after, we sing " Para Siempre Dios Este Con Vos" (God be with you till we meet again). We call it being- hasta ver'd. I think all the people in our family that went Spanish speaking for missions would know what that is. So that is me this Sunday!! woo!

One hobby of some of the Elders is to break the pesos. The peso has a gold or bronze color circle in the middle and a silver ring on the outside. They throw them against the corner of a ground and wall and they break apart into two pieces. People have been making keychains and necklaces from them haha. And crickets, we have so many! We kill them by whipping them with a towel, and some other guys in another district line them up against the wall after they are dead. I was going to take a picture, but the cleaners cleaned them up!

Okay to close up, I am so grateful to be serving in the states and I never thought I would say that. Mexico smells and the food has literally destroyed my insides (sorry for the visual). The people are great, but I feel so secluded form the world here. But, I have made so many friends here and have gotten to know some others I already knew, a little better.

Pensimiento espiritual: Read Moroni 9:6 and Jacob 1:19. Talks a lot about the importance to be diligent in missionary work. Also another scripture reminded me of my farewell. Alma 38:2, the context is Alma and his farewell to his son Shiblon. He says, " I trust that I shall have great joy in you because of your steadiness and faithfulness unto God; for as you have commenced in your youth to look to the Lord your God, even so I hope that you will continue in keeping his commandments, for blessed is he that endureth to the end." This is me leaving the nest. Mom and Dad, you have taught me correct principles and all that you can hope for is that I remember what I have learned these last 18 years of my life to use them for the rest of my life, to bless others and continue in the strait and narrow path to eternal life. This made me think of dad in particular because of the bond Alma and his son, Shiblon had, and the father-son bond we have. This bond in the scriptures is so powerful. Alma was an amazing prophet and missionary. I want to teach and say things with the same power he did, and I know eventually I will be able to. On top of that, Alma in Spanish means soul, which is no coincidence!

One more thing my comp showed me: 
Mision (mission in Spanish)
Mi / Sion

In Spanish, this says "My Zion." We are here to convert others and through this, also to convert ourselves. This is a time to show the Lord what we've got. Zion is the perfect place, so make our missions a personal zion.

Next letter, I will be in South Carolina!!!! Friends and family, I miss you guys! Hasta Ver! 

~Elder McLaughlin
(You can now send him packages & snail mail letters-- 
address is on the right of his blog:))
concrete houses on all the hills surrounding us-- it's so sick at night!
One of the only good food items here... plus they have different colors of rice every day!