Monday, December 26, 2016

Last Mission Christmas!

I had a memorable last Christmas on the mission!

We went caroling in downtown Charleston Friday night. It was fun, and every missionary in the zone came! Spread the Christmas cheer! Going to downtown again today for pday...you inspired us, mom. hahaha




We went to church from 10-11:15, and the Goose Creek Ward and us combined. We sang a congregational hymn, then someone got up and spoke about a Christmas hymn and bore their testimony and then sang another hymn and then repeated. It was pretty good. A lot of people showed up, including 3 investigators!!! wohoo! After church we went to Brother and Sister Evans house for lunch. There were other members there as well, and man was it so tasty! We had green bean casserole, prime rib, potatoes made some sort of southern way, and some good desserts! Brother Evans was a general authority in the southern area of the US, a stake president in Charleston, and also the temple president. We had some good gospel conversations, and oh boy is he sweet! 

Afterwards we facetimed the family, and leading up to it I was kinda nervous! It was great to see them all grown up! 9 months left- don't even get me started to how crazy that is...

Last Tuesday we had exchanges and we were driving around the Dorchester area of North Chuck. We had just visited a potential who said he was not interested. We got to the car and I looked at the plans. I felt to go see next a lady named Joann. We met Joann a few weeks ago while trying to locate our potential investigators. She lives by herself with her disabled daughter, and frequently has doctor appointments. I thought to myself as I sat there "well, we have no member with us, so we can't go inside her house, and we really need a member present lesson-" immediately a thought came into my mind to call a priest named Patrick- who by the way is the coolest 16 yr old kid in the country- 2nd to Monson of course! He answered right away and we went up to Goose Creek to pick him up and back down to Dorchester... we knocked on Joann's door and she opened up right away! She was so happy to see us and invited us right in! We taught a good restoration lesson, and she seemed to understand all of it. 


What made me so happy is that as the elder (Elder Kimball) I was exchanging with shared the first vision, her mouth opened showing all 6 of her teeth, and her jaw literally dropped. She said something like "Wow! Did that really happen? It's amazing!" We have a return appointment with her on Tuesday. Patrick bore a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon, and it really brought the spirit. He will be a great missionary one day. He studies his scriptures, isn't afraid to talk to people in the streets with us, and he helps us so much during lessons- especially the last few weeks! He and his family went over to Joann's house yesterday and gave her a turkey for Christmas! So sweet!

On Wednesday we had 2 lesson with ladies on two opposite ends of the spectrum of faith. The first lady, Ms. Elliot, was a bible referral and she allowed us back in to teach her. We shared the Restoration with her and she immediately had a hold up with modern prophets, and the Book of Mormon. She used the standard "I'm Baptist" and "I have faith in Christ" cards. Those generally mean, I'm not interested. She bore a strong testimony about the Savior, and became emotional while sharing her testimony with us. She is a good Christian woman, which is so great! However, wouldn't open her heart and mind to the possibility of more scripture given to us from God. We told her that we aren't here to take away from the faith that she has in Christ. We invited her to read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully, and see if what she reads causes her to feel enlightened and edified- thus strenghening her faith. And if what she reads adds upon her current faith in Chirst, then she can know of a surety that this is the word of God, and that the word is true. She listened then thanked us for coming. We all held hands in a circle and prayed-- BTW I love the holding hands in a circle prayers! Super cool! I remember the first time that happned was in training and a lady put her hand out and I kinda freaked out and looked at Elder Fife and asked if that was allowed...It's a culture thing.

The other lady we met with was Ms. Parker. She is like 72 years old! She has met with missionaries before and she shared stories of her childhood, growing up Methodist, then switching to Presbyterianism. She talked about how her mom had tremendous faith and was an amazing woman. She read to them the bible and really cared for her children. She went on to say how she can't comprehend the faith her mom had, and how she felt that it was unfair that God gave her so many trials and challenges that took a toll on her. We shared the video "because of him" and talked about the realtionship we should have with God, and his relationship to us. 

She told us how she couldn't see how having a down syndrome child could be a blessing. She said that God occasionally messes up with creation... I was kinda mad when she brought that up. Those children with disabilites are little angels, and are so innocent. She said she wished she could have aborted, and that broke my heart. She had trials with raising a down sydnrome child, and from what I understood, didn't understand or see the blessing that followed. She does not go to church any longer, and can't remember the last time she went. Being her age, I felt bad becasue she is coming to an end of her life (she was physically frail) and lacks faith in Jesus Christ. She was kind, and I hope we can come back and help her with her faith.

Per my mom's request:
I love South Carolina, don't get me wrong, but most of my pet peeves center around driving. As missionaries, we do a pretty good roast of South Carolina. 

  • drivers are worse than Utah drivers
  • everyone honks at everyone for no reason
  • worst traffic system
  • on and off ramps that cause heart attacks for drivers
  • sideways sheets of humid rain that you literally slow down to 25 on the freeway in order to drive through them
  • traffic flow is darn right terrible
  • tiny roads
  • one way in and out of every major retailer taking like 20 minutes to get out
  • little to no sidewalks
  • no bike lanes
  • houses are pretty dirty and smelly, trash everywhere
  • everyone smokes here
  • car accidents every mile it seems
  • trains take forever to cross
  • jay-walkers like crazy, who walk like they own the road
  • sirens like nothing else
  • humidity- well I'm used to it-- 
  • getting bit by mosquitoes even on Christmas when it's cold
  • smell of the paper mills- wreaks like sewage in most places
Love y'all!
Woohoo! I'm in a family picture finally! 

MTC name tag & shirt  I wore for the first 14 months of my mission and sweetgrass that can only be handpicked & made by the Gullah- it is nowhere else but the Charleston area.




Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! We had a great start to the week. So backstory: we switched up the boundaries between us and the other elders in North Chuck last transfer, therefore we got a bunch of their investigators. One of which is named Peter. Peter came to general conference in October, and really loved it! He has been so hard to get in touch with. He switched jobs and we did not know where he was working. On November 5th, Elder Dillree and I went to Walmart in the afternoon to buy refreshments for Sheena's baptism, and as we were looking at stuff, a guy called out to us from behind the bakery counter. His name tag read 'Peter' and at first we did not know who this guy was. Then it clicked for me and I asked his last name, and wohoo it was who we had been looking for! Fast forward to Monday night. We finally got to sit down and teach him again. It had been since mid November that we had the chance to. We set expectations, had a member with us and taught a powerful lesson of the Restoration of the Gospel. He shared personal experiences and boy does he have a ton of faith. Like, he has been so prepared to accept the gospel. As I shared the first vision in the words of Jospeh Smith, I felt the spirit so strongly. The Spirit confirmed to me once again that young Joseph in fact did see God the father and Jesus Christ. There was a lot of silence as I tried to compose keep myself from weeping too much...I just couldn't help it though. We put him on date for baptism and invited him to pray to know if this was true, but immediately it seemed as if he was a bit frustrated with us for asking. He said that he did not need to pray about it. He already knew it was true from attending the general conference broadcast. He felt this confirmed to him especially as the choirs were singing. #PowerInMusic
He told us that he would have not invited us back if he did not know it was true...He is so golden! Now this week we had set up 2 other appointments and he forgot about one, but never showed up to the other. We have as of now lost complete contact. We have tried hunting him down at Walmart, because when we went to his house, all of his stuff was on the side of the road. He had been evicted! Pray that we will find Peter!!


This week we had 7 lessons with members present, but had 9 lessons with members present fall through! 9!! That was so frustrating! Right now the zone is on the upward slope, which is good! Our district is killing it right now... we have some dang hardworking elders. It is evident that every district has an x-factor. If these "x-factors" don't preform, the district as a whole does not. Its kinda cool seeing all of these patterns.

We had zone conference on Wednesday here in North Chuck! We combined with the Florence zone, which was pretty fun! We made district videos and watched them the second half. There were some pretty dang funny ones. Ours was pretty good too. I'll try sending them, but if not, after the mish everyone can see.


I learned a lot. The assistants trained on key indicators again, but put an analogy inside of their training that totally made sense. Right now in the mission, we are pushing a focus on key indicators and hitting our standards of excellence. So we are trying to change the culture of the mission...slowly but surely. We want to see more conversions taking place and get rid of the days where we feel inadequate about our work not being reflected by our numbers. So he is the analogy... it comes form the movie "money ball". Apparently in MLB they would choose players who had the celebrity factor- those flashy big playmaker players. The A's got a team of not known players. They selected them based off of their on base percentage. On base leads to stolen bases, leading to runs and ultimately wins. When we focus on our key, key indicator- Member presents, everything else will fall into place. Investigators will come to church, we will get referrals and conversions will take place. It's cool.

Saturday we had 6 set lessons fall through. We had members with us as well. Even when we do confirm that they will be there, they aren't always there. Saturday night we went to a member's home who requested we do them a favor. Every year they put a bunch of Christmas food and goodies together in a HUGE box for a family in need in the ward. They asked us to drop it off at the family's house. They wanted it to be anonymous, and we as we were driving, Elder Jacobsen and I decided to ding dong ditch them! It was fun! I straight booked it down the street- clocked my 40 at 4.2 seconds while doing so, and dove behind a parked car in someone's yard. Elder Jacobsen was one house down from me, trying to catch the member's reaction on video...it was too dark to see, sorries! As I was behind a car, this lady comes out all confused and kinda scared- woops! I told her real quick what we were doing and she was impressed! We drove out of the neighborhood with our lights off as the family was at the door peeking out. Felt good to do that for them, although we were just the deliverers.

There was a less-active lady who referred herself through mormon.org this week. She said that she wants to come back to church and that her kids want to be baptized, so of course we were stoked as ever! We called her, and the number was out of service. We stoped by twice, and the second time we looked in the window and everything was gone from the apartment. We talked to a maintenance guy and he said they moved a few weeks ago! We are still confused, but just found her email yesterday, so we will send her a message! Stuff like this has happened to me before, so it wasn't too out of left field.

We forgot to send out referrals of people we talked to at the flea market, so yesterday I decided to put them into the referral system and send them off. There was a lady named Machell who had no address, so I called her! She said that she had looked at the card the missionaries gave her at the flea market Saturday night, and thought to call but got busy...talk about perfect timing! I got to answer some questions she had, and I clarified the doctrine of the godhead being three separate personages. I read her over the phone Matthew 3:14-17 I think is the verse, where it talks about Christ's baptism, and the voice of Heavenly Father. She said that she believed in the separate personages doctrine for 52 years until recently when a pastor showed her a scripture in John that talked about Jesus being God, but in the flesh, since God didn't have a body. We talked about her background a little more, and wants to learn from the missionaries! Super solid too.

LUKE 9:57-62..... Christ invites us to follow him--- what will be your response?

I gave a talk on Sunday based on this story from last week:

Monday while shopping for food, I talked to an older man who was stocking shelves with cereal. He saw my tag and recognized me as a missionary. We talked and I found out he is a pastor of a small local congregation. He told me he was looking to relocate and told me this short story as to why... during church a while back, a man walked in and said that there were two gunmen. This man proceded to command that those who were willing to take a bullet for Christ were to stay, and those who wouldn't should leave. The pastor said the man was blowing smoke and there was no gunman, but many of his congregation left, and never came back.

He asked me then, if I would be willing to sacrifice everything for christ.

I talked about people who put everything on the line for christ... Acts 5:28-42, Alma 23: 6,7 and the story of the anti-nephi-lehies. If we want to truly come unto christ, we have to "offer [our] whole souls as an offering unto him" omni 1:26

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This is a place in Mt. Pleasant called Pit Street Bridge







Brother Treadway emailed me that he was in the area and then surprised me on 12/13
 at my apartment with cherry turnovers! 



Monday, December 12, 2016

That's a weird looking chicken & an unexpected visitor.

Yesterday I saw a man who will forever be engrained in my memory. We were driving towards an investigator's house after church and this guy was wearing an old brown suit, riding a beat up bicycle. He wore a worn out motorcycle helmet with no visor. He looked skinny and frail. I had seen him before many months ago, and as I turned around to catch a glimpse of his face, he looked to be in his 70s. I felt something for him. It was dang cold yesterday too, but that didn't matter. He put in effort to go to church to worship God. How many of us would be willing to do what he did? He is being blessed for doing what he can to get to church, even in a dangerous part of town.

Fun fact: the first black man to receive the priesthood in South Carolina lives in our ward. We took him out with us this week. It seems that people are more apt to listen to us when someone of their color is with us. This rang true with hispanics and hispanic fellow shippers as well.

Yesterday I learned a lot at sacrament meeting! I was kind of tuning out until the lady speaking talked about charity. I feel like I have been judging people too much lately. Especially other missionaries and members. She said for her, charity means holding back judgements. I liked that a lot. She told a story of a three year old. This 3 year old saw a peacock and said, "that is a weird looking chicken". Our perception of others can be so skewed, when we don't know much about someone or their situations. We don't know why people necessarily act the way they do. Certain experiences cause people to act a certain way. So to me, charity is really giving others the benefit of the doubt.

I feel like my mind has been slowly enlightened these last few weeks. I read a talk by Bruce C. Hafen that really changed my perspective. He talked about 3 levels of people. There are advantages and disadvantages of the first two levels. The first level is categorized as the "ideal". The second is the "real" and the third are those who can merge the both of them. Y'all have to read the talk or none of this will make 100% sense.
We trained about key indicators at ZTM on friday- (side note: ZTM  as so great. It was very uplifting and spiritual. We felt excited and peace about our trainings as we prepared them together. Elder Jacobsen and I work well together and we left a good vibe amongst our zone. We got a few texts later on Frida, thanking us for bringing the spirit. People felt empowered, which is great, and just what the charleston zone needed!)

Back to key indicators, we used this subject of real vs ideal to train on it. Before the mission, we had idealities of missionary work. I thought I was going to baptize every week. I thought we would have success like none other. I thought every day would be a blast. (Don't get me wrong, it is a blast). I thought everyone was obedient. I thought P-day would be all day. I thought people would respect the missionaries. I thought I would have a huge teaching pool. I thought that once my tag was put on, I would automatically change. Those seem negative, but I also expected to have so many spiritual experiences, grow my testimony, grow a love for others. I experienced the realities of this work real fast. Doors slammed, appointments cancelled, people hiding from you, investigators who were once golden became uninterested, commitments not kept, mental exhaustion, spiritual experiences, testimony builders, planning and goal setting, administrative side of missionary work, listening to people's concerns and relationship problems. It is my responsibility to understand the realities of this work, but to still have the faith to reach the idealities. That is where the success comes. If I just focus on the ideals, I will fail to see that there is any problems with my current place. Thus, being no room for improvement form that view. If I focus just on the realities, I may become pessimistic and let skepticism take over, lacking faith. There is no improvement there either. As I understand the real and focus on the ideal, I can better use my faith and the atonement to improve....Key indicators in missionary work, connect the gap of real and ideal.

Another example: Jesus Christ is our ideal. He is what we want to become like. However, there is a problem. From the foundation of the world, Heavenly father understood that we would sin, thus keeping us from returning to him. That is the reality. We are human and make mistakes. Jesus Christ came down, and atoned for us. He had to understand the realities we face, and step down below us all, so that he could help bring us up to reach the ideal, which is him. He connects the gap of the real and ideal. The cool thing is that this third level are improvers-rather, problem solvers.

Last example of this is in Alma 4. Alma had at this point baptized thousands into the church. What a great time for that people. It talks about in the chapter the peace they had. That is the ideal- conversion to the gospel all taking place in great abundance, which brings about peace. However, alma saw the realities. He saw people becoming prideful with their riches, and vain things of the world. There came about contentions and strife and malice. The wickedness of those in the church became a stumbling block to those outside of it. The poor and the needy were rejected and alma became very sorrowful. Because he saw both sides, he understood that he needed to do something about it. He decided to give up his political power to serve a mission and bring people to a remembrance of their God. If Alma saw all the success at first and didn't acknowledge that a huge problem was arising, he wouldn't have stepped down. If he saw only all the iniquity of the people, he would have been distraught and maybe would have lost all faith in the people, thus doing nothing on his end to help them. Because he understood both the real and the ideal, "the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him" and he was guided to how he could best influence others. Well, thats my little shpeal on that.

We were so busy this week. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we did not work, because we had meetings and we were planning for ZTM. So the next 4 days were super duper busy. We had so many appointments and we managed to get some pretty good key indicators still. We found some really cool new investigators as well. I love it when you walk in to an appointment, introduce the Book of Mormon and they really get pumped to read it. BEST FEELING EVER! It was a great week. President Turner had some sweet tracings in MLC, and overall I was very uplifted.

To end the week, Sunday evening Uncle Mark surprised me- thanks to jorge and mom... Uncle Mark is a pilot and was in Charleston on a layover. I felt kinda bad, and could've been more warm at first, but I was so surprised and thrown back to see him here. It was great to see him though! He got a warm welcome from Jorge and other Spanish members, so that is good! He said I got taller too---heck yea! 


(side note from mom: Uncle Mark served in Portugal, but while he was awaiting his visa, he was in Arcadia, CA for a few months. It was only about an hour from our family home, so when Brayden was 4 months old, we all went and visited Uncle Mark on Christmas Eve. So this same uncle visited Brayden on his mission almost exactly 19 years later. Karma:)

Okay, that's all for now!

Loves,

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Waiting by Brayden's apartment door for him to come home.

Uncle Mark & Brayden




Monday, December 5, 2016

Drum Roll....

Okay drum roll please!! My new comp is Elder Jacobsen!! I am so
freaking stoked out of my mind this week! We are getting along super duper well. We have a similar work ethic, and this zone will see so much success here pretty soon! We finished the month in the zone with 8 baptisms- and we had estimated 11. Not bad. 38% of the missionaries in the zone baptized. I want to eventually get above 60%. That would be sweet!! New month, new transfer, new comp, new adventures, new investigators....couldn't be better. 

Back to my comp- he comes in at 5'6" (fun fact). He is from St. George (like tons of the missionaries here). He has been out one transfer longer than me...he will go home in August. He has been a zone leader for 7 months in West Columbia, and I served with him while he was in Mt. Pleasant, SC for 9 months. We are actually instagram friends beleive it or not from before the mish- and while he was in Mount Pleasant we would always say how cool it would be to be comps one day, but never thought it would happen since I was Spanish. We made it y'all!

Last night we had a stake event called coookies and carols. The
performances were amazing, and I definitely felt the spirit! Every
ward had two performances last night. I was going to be playing
violin, but bageled out on Friday morning...I hadn't had sufficient
time this week to practice the songs they wanted to do, and I really
need some more practice after seeing last night- there were 3
violinists and they were all pros... next time though, maybe?

We did a lot of finding and contacting reassignments this week-
but not too many people were found. Doors went unopened and
appointments fell through. We did get 2 new investigators, and taught 6 Less-active and recent convert lessons.

The First Presidency Devotional was pretty good last night! I
felt that I need to put more effort into studying spanish. I had the
gift of tounges, but recently from talking to hispanics in public, I
just can't understand them as I used to. I felt really bad about it.
I have been reading in Acts for the first time-- I love it!!! Straight
up missionary work and basically missionary stories. I liked when
Phillip was out and about and came across an Ethiopian dude who was trying to understand Isaiah, but really couldn't. Nephi talks about how it is hard to understand Isaiah's words because we are not familiar with the Jews manner of prophesy.

2 Nephi 25:1 "...For behold, Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand; for they know not concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews."

The same was with this Ethiopian- obviously an Ethiopian may not be a costumed with the prophesying of the Jews, just like us.

Acts 8
27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet
Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a
sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so
opened he not his mouth:

33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall
declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom
speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Pretty cool to me how this is an instance where the Bible and the Book of Mormon support each other!
Not much else to tell...
We have an apostle and General authority coming next month, and
tonight we are heading up to Columbia for MLC Tuesday!

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Monday, November 28, 2016

The Cat Lady & Thanksgiving

Jorge & me celebrating Thanksgiving in style
Hey y'all! This week was a long one! It is hard to remember what
really happened! Lets try to..


Tuesday morning we went and did service as a zone at the rec center in North Charleston. They wanted like 20 or so of us, and so we came with about that much. We showed up and there were already hundreds of people!!! What happened is that there were three huge columns of tables with food on them and under them in boxes. We unpacked the boxes and placed Thanksgiving food items in them. 
Part of the Charleston Zone looking so fly at Tuesday service.

There was pumpkin pie, stuffing, green beans a frozen turkey and whatever else you would traditionally eat. It literally lasted 45 minutes and we did sooo many boxes. They then had drivers take them to peoples houses who needed thanks giving and that was it! It was pretty cool! Hurray city of North Charleston!!
I went on two exchanges this week and one of them was a super fun one with Elder Fuchs!! We were biking around, and we went to visit some kids who they have been teaching. We threw the football with them for a few minutes and then shared a lesson. These kids' mom is an alcoholic, and I think they dont have a dad figure in the picture and as I talked to Elder Fuchs, he was telling me that they are trying to be role models for the kids. They love the missionaries! The kids are pretty dang solid too. We went to go contact a referral named Dominic, but he wasn't home. We knocked around his town house, but nothing. It was 6:30 and it was dark (It sucks how fast it gets dark now). A lady then came out with grocery bags as we were walking back to the bikes.
So there is a forested area that borders the parking lot of this town house complex. There is some dirt for like 10 feet then it gets to some trees. This lady puts the bags down and started dumping out cat food kibble along the dirt next to the curb. It was like 20 ft long. Then she puts out leftover meats and potatoes. Within a minute of this happening, 18 cats come from this forested area to eat the food!! EIGHTEEN!! This lady said that there are 22 plus a few possums and raccoons. Carolina has a terrible stray cat problem. there is no way it will ever get fixed... there are just too many. We talked to her about the cats and every night she feeds them. She has a kind heart for sure. We tied in somehow talking about her religious background, and then we got on the subject of the sacrament and communion. We talked about our beliefs and then the Book of Mormon and she was super excited. She wants to come to church and take "communion again."  She seemed pretty excited to learn about the Book of Mormon too! 

To end the exchange, we had a dang sick lesson at 7:30 with a less-active lady. She is 29 and was baptized at 19 yrs old, but does not remeber jack squat about what she was taught. She hardly knows anything about the church too. So basically they are teaching her as a brand new investigator. We had a member out with us, and she was such a great fellowshipper. We only got to like the first 2 points of the restoration message, but it was a powerful lesson. We each bore strong testimony of the atonement.

Something cool is that a scripture popped into my head and so I
flipped open to it (2 nephi 25:28 talking about grace... not sure which verse) and as I was opening to it, the member started bearing testimony that went in line perfectly with the scripture I was going to share! The spirit was strong that night. Members who know their stuff, and are not afraid to share testimony are so vital and great for our investigstors and less-active members! If you are reading this, and you are a member, GO OUT WITH THE MISSIONARIES! The Lord needs you, and we need you. Speaking of members, the Muckenfuss family has 29 fellowshippers. The more, the better.

Thanksgiving was great! We started off with a turkey bowl, and it went super well! The quarterback was some older guy who couldn't throw to save his life. I decided to give up on ever getting a reception (which I didn't) and go hard on defense instead. I pulled a corner blitz play a lot during the game...talk about QB scrambles. We had some African American guys show up, and they were dang good. They played some college ball, and one was a DB at Furman University! I woke up Friday, my whole body soooo sore! Good workout though. I miss football, for sure.
We ate with a family whose last name is Elder! Haha the Elders ate with the Elders. It was some dang good mess! I want to eat there again! We also had Thanksgiving at the Rivera's house. They are a Guatemalan family in the ward. Us, the spanish elders, the other North Charleston elders, the Costellos (senior couple) and Jorge showed up. I was so full that I couldn't finish apple pie!! Dangit! 'Twas a good day!

Well, I cant recall anything else too big! We have transfers this week and I get a new comp! Not sure who it is yet. Only sisters are being transferred this transfer from our zone! Kinda funny!

Till next week!

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Last District pic + Sisters Heaton & Davis



Happy Thanksgiving mom & dad!

Thanksgiving with the Riveras


Monday, November 21, 2016

Free Bibles

So we had a really sick exchange full of miracles on Tuesday! We have not had many new investigators the last few weeks, but we sure did get some on Tuesday! So in our area we get tons of media
Elders in the district at The Battery
referrals every week. Mostly for requesting free bibles. We went and contacted some on Tuesday. We went around and at first had no success meaning nobody opened their doors. Then we had some miracles. The first was we went to go contact a referral named Latoya. We drove past her house, and parked then walked up the street. We were almost to the door and we saw a lady walking to us. She pulled a baby from her car and I asked if she was Latoya. It was her! We talked with her for a while and we found out that she works with one of our less-active members. She has talked with missionaries before like 8 years ago, but lost contact with the church! We shared James 1:5 with her and talked about prayer in her life. She talked about needing to learn to forgive others. She had a super bright countenance and I hope she will accept our message! She said she is very open! 


A little later we pulled up to an apartment complex. We got out and a couple came out of their apartment on the second floor and walked to a dumpster. We looked at the number on the door and it was them!! Wohooo! I forget what we shared but it went well! We went by again on Friday, but they were not home. We will try them again this week. We went to go by a potential investigator named Andrea, but as we were approaching her house, I felt to continue past it and go to an investigator named Lakoiya. She was on date before, and the other elders used to teach her before we split their area up. We pulled up, and she was on her way out of the house! That is 3 times that day with people coming out of their house or to their house at the perfect time! With that last impression I had, it was the smallest thought. Like I didn't realize it was a spiritual impression until after the fact. Also to end the night, we yet again hit up a referral in an apartment complex. She was not there. We walked down the stairs back to the car, and there was a younger lady standing out front on her phone. I got in the car and felt that I should get out and talk to her. I turned the key and I was basically fighting the prompting. I thought to myself "don't be stupid just get out and go over there." I got out, and we (Elder Butterfield and I) started to talk to her. She is 22 and she is a less-active! She wants to get back to church and needs her ward family again. She grew up in the Georgetown branch and funny thing is that Elder Butterfield used to serve there, so they were able to talk about some members! It was sweet!!

Other than that, we had interviews with president. The topic was on personal study. It was pretty good! The zone has 7 baptisms 26 of November so I hope all go through!!! The zone is at 3 right now for the month of November.

We had stake Coordination last night and man, this stake really has missionary work rolling forward. I love meeting with President Johnson. He is a close tie with President Ham!!

Ps. We ate at a famous sea food place called Hymans and I sat the same spot as Neil Armstrong once did!

We have an apostle coming in January along with a member of the
seventy and one of the presiding bishops. On a separate occasion in January, we have Whitney L. Clayton coming to the mission for a tour!! WOOOHOOO!

Loves,

Elder McLaughlin

booth at the flea market

Me & Elder Edgington






Sick sunset at the battery downtown Charleston


Monday, November 14, 2016

'Pokemon Go to Church'

This was a good week! 

Every church here has a sign you put letters in or whatever to display a message-- <marquis> I have been writing some of them down. There are some good quotes, and some funny ones too. I'll add in new ones every week.

"give satan an inch and he will be your ruler" -Baptist 

"pokemon go to church"- Baptist 

"The bible is a book that reads you as you read it"- Baptist

"God gave his son. What will you give?" -Pentacostal

"Lifes trials are God's school of faith" -Methodist 

"If you are looking for the perfect church, this is definitley not it" -Community church

"Be still and trust me" -Baptist

Yesterday during ward council, we prayerfully chose names of less-actives to visit and selected fellow shippers for them. The fellowships this week will go and contact these less-actives and see if they could bring the missionaries in to start teaching them! It was so cool to see the ward council put names out, and discuss all of them! Going after the ONE! That is what we all need to be focusing on in our wards and branches. So I am going to be out of order for this email... 

Friday we had a member out with us to go visit an older lady (in her 80's) who is returning to church. Her name is Sister Chaney. We had a really good lesson with her. We read from Mosiah 27 and it really applied to her life. It was cool because when we shared our testimonies, she understood what the chapter meant for her...I forget exactly what she said clicked, but it did! After the lesson (which by the way was in the Ghetto) we find out that the member's car had a flat tire...like he was riding rim. We pulled into a street light and replaced the tire real quick. We had church fold up chairs in the trunk that we used for our lesson, and so when we went to go take out the donut, we placed them along the fence next to us. We totally forgot about the chairs until we pulled up to our apartment. We uses these 3 chairs as our dinner table chairs, and we needed them back. It is a 10 or 15 minute drive, and at this point it was like 9:15--- safe to say we got home late whoops! Saturday morning, said member took his car in to get a new tire, and the guy gave one to him for free! Blessings of going out with the Elders for sure! 

Quick side note: I may have said this before, but my grammar is getting worst the longer I am in the south...no joke! Hanging around the projects and teaching people down there is having its effects haha!

Speaking of grammar, someone gave me a PDF of the Gullah Bible. Gullah are Native Africans, well I don't know too much about who they are. All I know is that there is a Gullah museum in Georgetown, and that they are the only ones permitted to pick sweet-grass and make/sell sweet-grass baskets. They are sold in Charleston at the market, and along the streets of Mt. Pleasant.
I had an exchange in Georgetown this week.
We saw some huge cotton fields! It would be fun to do some cotton picking one day- maybe. One thing those elders do is drive to an appointment 30 minutes early and park far enough away where they can walk and street contact people as they head towards the appointment. We did that together and it was pretty cool! That is something I have not thought of before.

This last week in my personal study, I have been studying the sanctifying power of the holy ghost. I have learned a ton so far, and its pretty exciting. It ties in with everything too- sacrament, atonement, baptism etc... two things that I have learned is that first, we baptize for the remission of sins, and baptism is the starting point, meaning that receiving a remission of our sins is not our final goal here either. Our goal is to have a pure heart-basically changing our carnal nature to have no more desire to sin, which comes through the sanctifying and
strengthening power of the atonement. Having the companionship of the Holy ghost is so vital, because it allows us to have constant access to the grace of God. I'm really excited to learn much more about all of this...this week we have interviews with President Turner and the topic is what we are studying during personal study. I am excited to share!

We set up some sick appointment this week and we hope to be seeing members some more! We have exchanges this week in Mount Pleasant, and Charleston (I'm in north Charleston) and we are doing two baptismal interviews on Wednesday, one here and one in Georgetown. Georgetown is in the stake and it is sooo far away!! 2 hour drive basically!! #roadtrips

The Muckenfuss daughters are about the same age as my sisters, and they have such strong testimonies. They pray with so much power and it is so amazing to witness the powerful spirit they each have. Made me miss my family a lot last night.

The ward had its primary program and we had a full house! The last song they sung was scripture power and every time they sang the words "scripture power" they all raised up their scriptures! It was fantastic!

much love,
elder brayden

Monday, November 7, 2016

Baptism

The week started off and ended great!! Monday we went up at like 3:00 to West Columbia to hang out with the other zone leaders. We were not able to proselyte due to
Halloween, so we just ended up playing basketball. My skill has been honed to the point where I could totally beat Mons one on one EVERY time haha! We have a lot of good ball players in the mission. We have a 6'8" elder who won a state title with Bountiful HS....heck ya! MLC was really awesome again too! The assistants and president gave some really good training. 
Six Zone Leader companionships, Sister Training Leaders, Assistants to the President, President & Sister Turner

We talked about charity and love- well it seemed like we talked about that at least. I learned more about that topic this week for sure, but I need to still do better at applying it. President trained on 1 Corinthians 8:4-13. As we went through it, I was a little bit confused, because he was training on music. But finally it all clicked. if you read these verses it talks about a higher law. When we do something that is not contrary to any commandment, or is
 not wrong, but may offend someone else, we sin against Christ. He mentioned the music we listen to. If we are listening to music that is not against mission standards, but someone else feels uncomfortable or offended by it, don't listen to it. Same principle applies to everything else. If we do something that offends somebody- even if we understand that it isn't bad, then don't do it. Not sure if any of that made sense or if you think I'm crazy, but read the scripture and figure out what it means for yourself :)

Sheena got baptized on Saturday! It was an awesome service too! She wanted me to baptize her, and I was super grateful for that! She was a bundle of emotions.
She felt the spirit, she was anxious, she was nervous, but she did it! This is what a missionary works towards. We brought one more soul to Christ's fold! Only a lot left to go! The success of a missionary is primarily measured by their commitment to find, teach and baptize. However, we are successful missionaries when we feel the spirit testify through us, when we love the people
and desire their salvation, when we obey with exactness, develop Christ-like attributes, warn people of the consequences of sin, work effectively every day, help build up the church unit we are assigned to, live in a way to be in a position to be influenced by the spirit, and when we go about serving people at every opportunity- whether or not they receive our message. I feel that I have been a successful missionary thus far, and still have much more work to do, but I am becoming better every week.

Something I thought about during Sheena's baptism was this: How can you know how to live the way God wants you to if you don't study the scriptures? You can't.

A new policy rolled out at MLC was that going forward, we cannot teach the next lesson (we have the restoration, plan of salvation, Gospel of Jesus Christ, Commandments, laws and ordinances) If the investigator has not done their reading commitment. Instead we must read from the Book of Mormon with them. We should be reading the Book of Mormon in every lesson as well. This will put a bigger emphasis on the Book of Mormon as a tool for conversion, I think. If people will really get into the Book of Mormon, one... it will lead to conversion and two... they will feel greater peace in their life. Last night Jaime told us that she has been reading every day without fail. She said she feels super bad and has a terrible day when she does not read now. I think that is super awesome. She is still going strong for Dec. 17!

So glad that I am on a mission. I keep learning so much every week- forgot my journal that mentions more stuff I learned this week though...

love y'all

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Timberrrr!










So I need to go and buy some long pants. During service Saturday and Sunday I was bit so many times by mosquitos! Last night's final total was... drum roll please!

79 bites on all of my body! SEVENTY-NINE!  #itchy. Note to self...wear thick pants in the South. They get you through thin pants and socks too. They love my ankles.

Okay so we put Kevin on date again for December 3! He is super solid! He feels good every time he meets with us. He said that we give him strength that he did not have before we started to meet with him! This last lesson, we read 1 Nephi chapter 1 with him and he understood it super well! He got really excited too! Now he has not come to church because people keep quitting at the place he works at, so he is constantly covering peoples shifts! He will get to church soon though! So you know those cuckoo clocks that play music or make bird noises at the top of the hour? Yeah so immediately after he said yes to baptism, their clock went off playing the tune "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring," which happens to be my favorite song to play on the violin... pretty legit haha! 

SHEENA!! Last night we met with her to prep her for her baptismal interview on Wednesday! She is all ready for baptism this Saturday at 6pm! I am so excited and happy! She is so ready for this in her life and really understands the Gospel. We asked her a question on repentance, and she bore her testimony to us of repentance. It was so powerful! Please pray that all will go as planned for her!

A few months back, Elder Douglas and I taught a less-active member named Maribel one night, and then asked some questions to obtain a referral. We sent that referral out- which by the way was for someone in Mexico. I got word that this referral we sent out got baptized this last week!! Hurray for helping Mexico baptize!

This week we hit up a restaurant in Summerville called Perfectly Franks! It has been featured on the Food Network- the guy with the spikey white hair came or something. It is super original with some wacky hot dogs. There was a peanut butter french toast syrup breakfast hot dog, and all the names had "frank" in
 (mom note: I looked it up online- place looks legit! Featured on Diners, Drive-In's & Dives)
it. 
Aretha FRANKlin, FRANK Sinatra, and many others... I had the Anne Frank which is a turkey dog with swiss cheese topped with coleslaw and spicy mustard. It was DANNNG good!! I did not take a picture though- woops!

I went on exchanges with an Elder in Summerville, and we biked a ton!! 28.2 miles! My legs were dying guys!! These missionary bike elders have some dang strong legs. No twigs allowed!

We did more service this weekend! It was super duper fun! We aren't permitted to use power tools, but we took a picture with chain saws. We did not use the chain saws just to let y'all know that....we would be in some trouble if we did. We took down, or watched a member take down some huge trees...video above. It slightly damaged the house as it came down. Once again people were so grateful for our help. While doing service I met an older lady named Ursula. She had a thick accent and she said she was from Germany! Sent her info over to the Charleston elders, so hopefully she gets taught soon! We helped clean up her yard and she was so happy!

So today we are on lock-down because of Halloween, so it's basically an all-day P-day. Elder Dillree and I are headed up to Columbia to chill with the Assistants and the other Zone leaders. Tomorrow is MLC again so might as well head up a day early.

We have some really cool elders serving around us! Elder Fuchs and Elder Edgington are two of them- Elder Fuchs is a really good missionary and he is currently training out of training! Elder Edgington is hilarious, and is such a greenie hahaha! They took over the old spnaish area and are doing English work there now. They started with 0 investigators and are working super hard! Elder Fuchs is from St. George (as it is with so many of the missionaries here) and Elder Edgington is from Kaysville, UT.

Can't think of anything else! Till next week! I am doing super awesome and couldn't be any happier with this upcoming week!