Monday, January 25, 2016

Snowed In {and no pics to prove it}

Okay, well I find that it is way easier to do some bullet points! so here was my week this last week!
  • This week we had a world-wide missionary broadcast! It was great! Elder Bednar, Anderson, Oaks, Clayton and Neilson, as well as sister Oscarson all spoke. It was very helpful! (Cousin) Christina talked about in her email how the topic of the Book of Mormon stuck out to her from Elder Oaks' talk. It is cool how people can learn different things from the same program! What stuck out to me was the role of the Holy Ghost in conversion, which Elder Bednar addressed.
  • Interesting thing about South Carolina: There are no Carl's JRs here...instead they are called Hardees... interesting haha
  • Guess what?! WE GOT SNOW! It snowed here Thursday night and also Friday! So that was cool! It does not snow that much here, so the cities do not invest in snow plows or salt to take care of the streets. It was sleeting as well (Freezing rain), so the ground was all too icy to drive. We got told to take precaution and eventually directed to stay in. Elder Fife and I did our weekly planning for the majority of the day. (Friday)

  • On Thursday, we were going to have a dinner with a less-active family, and they ended up having to cancel, so they gave us $30 bucks for food! SO GENEROUS! its crazy! After this however, there was a sad part. The Santiago family we have been teaching since I have been here ( Jose Luis, Silvia, Gloria, Alejandro, Felix, Maria) called us and cancelled on a lesson we had planned with them at the church. We were super confused. They called us and basically said they were not ready to change religions and that they did not want us to come teach them any longer. The dad was talking the fastest I have ever heard him talk and he sounded a little flustered. This family has been doing sooooo well and we have seen a dramatic change in their countenances and the feeling of the spirit in their humble little trailer! After the phone call we were super confused. I remember Elder Fife telling me a few weeks ago, of an experience his sister had on her mission, where one day they went to go teach a family and they drove up and there was a bag of copies of the Book of Mormon hanging on the door. She and her comp were devastated. Thursday morning, before all this had happened, I thought about that and the thought popped into my head that something like that was going to happen to us...and it did. We went by Thursday night to talk with the parents, but they were not home, so tonight (Monday) we are going to find out what really is going on! Pray for us please!!
  • Saturday night, we were in Gray Court going to visit this guy named Faustino. We got to his house, and his whole family was there! As we were walking in, I noticed a couple who we almost had a bash with, my first weeks in South Carolina...so awkward! Elder Fife did not notice who they were until they started talking! I wanted to laugh so hard!! This couple (Nelson and Miladia) had tried to avoid us in the past, gave us a wrong phone number too! but this is the second time we have seen them randomly! They just can't get enough of us Mormons! Another kid there was a guy named Orlando... who we have also taught in the past! hahaha to be honest it was kind of awkward! They were not really down to hear from us right now because we had interrupted their Club America game, which I mean is understandable haha. Now we know who is related to who!
  • This Friday we will be having a visit from Elder Brent Neilson of the Quorum of the Seventy! He spoke at the world-wide broadcast, and I got to meet him my last week in the CCM! Cannot wait to hear from him!
  • We got news last night that the Pats had lost by 2. Fife is a Broncos fan (Only when they do not play the Eagles, so he says hahaa... but he is from Colorado, but still..) so he is happy. I still wore my Patriots super bowl shirt to bed though! #notabandwagoner I just asked Fife for some commentary, and he said, "I'm glad Tom Brady finally got what was coming to him. Go Broncos."

  • I studied the Atonement a little more this week. It is cool how there are two parts. The redeeming and cleansing power of the Atonement, and the enabling and strengthening power as well. We tend to focus in on the first part most of the time, and kind of neglect the other vital part as well. We are told to be using the Atonement in our everyday lives, but sometimes I ask myself, "well how?" I was studying a talk from Elder Bednar and it opened my mind so much! He talked about how he likes to replace the word grace, with "The enabling and strengthening power" of Christ. This helped me understand better what grace truly is. there is a scripture that says, "We know that it is by grace that we are saved after all we can do"(2 Nephi 25:23) Replace the word grace and then re-read it. As we understand this part of the Atonement, and seek to apply it to our lives, we will pray for strength to deal with our circumstances, rather than pray for our circumstances to be changed (still what he said). I do not think i am writing down in words very well, what I am thinking, sorry. But from this, We can truly do all things through Christ, who strengthens us.
Alrighty that's all!
~Elder McLaughlin

Monday, January 18, 2016

It's All Good in the Hood

Okay so I only have a few minutes, sooooo here we go again! Some quick points!
  • South Carolina was not devastated (in my area) for Clemson's loss. 
  • The kids here both Latino and white, love soccer! Everybody is obsessed! 
  • Talked with a lady in a store from Ghana (she is American) and speaks Spanish, English, French and is learning Arabic. She said she was doing a "corporate farming project" #CIA 
  • It literally rains once or twice a week...even if the weather says it won't. 
  • As Clemson got further into the season we began to see more and more stickers pop up on cars...and after Monday's loss we haven't seen so many hahaha 
  • 15 days left of training! It has gone by so fast! In 12 days I will be hitting my 4 month mark! 
  • On track to finishing Book of Mormon on February 2nd (one day before I end training). The Book of Mormon is just so amazing. We take this book, along with the Bible, for granted. We should not! It is a commandment to read these holy scriptures, so do it! We have been hammering once again this last week, the importance of scripture study to all of our investigators. It is going so well! 
  • We did service at this guy's pig farm. We helped him and also brother cook out with cutting up a few fallen trees and loading them into two pickups! Hard work! (We aren't permitted to use chain saws though as missionaries, so yeah) 
  • Remember our investigator Manuel and Carmen? Yeah, we found out she was baptized into our church 20 years ago and has been inactive ever since. We had a lesson with them last night and got her full name and date of birth to transfer her records from California! 
  • We have been helping out a recent convert with getting her patriarchal blessing! It is super awesome! She is super funny and likes to make fun of good ole Brayden haha! Her daughter would get along really well with Lexie and Izzie! 
  • Missionary work in the Simpsonville Third Ward is going great! That is where the majority of our investigators are! 
  • We had a lesson with Gio again! He read 1 Nephi, but had so many questions. He was so confused because it jumped from event to event. We sat down and re-read that first chapter and also chapters 2 and 3! He really understood after that! I love helping people understand the Book of Mormon! 
  • We had a southern regional broadcast as a special stake conference on Sunday. Elder Hales and Rasband of the 12 apostles spoke, as well as Elder Clayton and Sister Reeves. Sister Reeve's talk was great and quoted a few other talks including one from Elder Holland from April 2002 called "The Other Prodigal". Read the talk and read the parable in the Bible! You will learn so much! 
  • Jose Louis, one of our investigators, is having a struggle! He is reading the Book of Mormon, knows it's true but cant let go of worshipping the Virgin Mary! Its so hard to handle this! We have a lesson with them tonight and hopefully we can address this again! 
  • Our Facetime investigators--We had to push back their baptism. They have been avoiding us, but we have finally made contact! Turns out they are not illegal after all! We hope to have at least 3 more lessons in the coming weeks, in preparing them for another date. 
Elder McLaughlin- envió desde mi iPad

Monday, January 11, 2016

Timing

So this week has been, well, a little long, and this email is going to be a little short! But some cool things happened this week. First off, I lead the area again for my second time on exchanges. It started pouring on us and well, I almost hit an oncoming car! Other than that, I was driving in Gray Court down one of the highways, and looked to my left and saw a latino couple and their kid working in a field. I thought nothing of it and kept driving. After like a minute I felt strongly to turn around. I did that and went to go talk to them. I parked the car and shouted to the man if he needed any help. He said no, so I ran up to him and introduced who we were (this is exchanges with Elder Hatch so only I know Spanish) and I got his number and he said we could give him a call. He wouldn't give me his address though, but hey that is okay! I have more respect now for Elder Fife because now I realize that leading an area is sooo hard! And takes a lot of patience and diligence to get things done!

Friday was a special day! So we had 2 set appointments with members in the afternoon. We showed up with the member at the appointment and the lady was not there. We went to all three of our back ups with this member as well and nobody was home! Crazy! So we parted ways and we went to our dinner appointment. The member we ate with speaks Spanish and we brought him to a lesson we had set up with one of our investigators, Gustavo. Turns out they live close to each other which was cool! We showed up and his wife said he was just leaving work and was in traffic. We were like, DANG SON! It was like 7:15pm and we had nobody else planned in really. We both thought it was a good idea to try to see Gio. We went to his house and he was home playing fifa. Quick background... Gio goes to college, he is in his early 20s, divorced, re-married, having more marriage issues, in debt, no car and is having a custody battle with his x-wife for his daughter. He took off work this last week just to spend all of his time with his daughter. When we came, his daughter had just left and he broke down a little bit. Elder Fife and I connect with Gio very well. He was so open about his feelings. We consoled him a little bit, and talked about the book of mormon and prayer. I was praying to somehow talk about what our purpose as missionaries is, and after I said that prayer in my heart, he asked, "so what do you guys do exactly?" That was so awesome and an answer to prayer. We told him everything from when we first started our mission papers until getting here in South Carolina. It's cool how the Lord gives people trials to humble and prepare people to hear and accept the restored Gospel. He really felt we care for him and we blessed him in his situation in the closing prayer we had. He was touched by this. Such a great experience. We ended at 8:00pm, and now we were late for English class which starts at 8:00. We showed up 8:10 and one spanish lady was about to leave! We caught her and gave her some stuff to study! The Lord was watching out for us because without that perfect timing, she probably wouldn't have come back to the class again!


Also, I have made a friend here! Justin terry is an RM and served in England! He has been going to lessons with us and he is sooo awesome! He told me that I always have a place to stay when I am in South Carolina! Heres a pic we took! He's going off to college and I may or may not see him again the rest of the mission... Lol

Well now I'm out of time! Adios!
~Elder McLaughlin

Monday, January 4, 2016

Three Month A-Versary

Okay, well where do I start?! 


How about with this! This was going to be our Christmas card hahaha... We decided not to waste time doing them.

Well it is approaching the year anniversary of me baptizing Alec! Still to date my only baptism! But that's okay! This week marked my three month a-versary of being on a mission! Time is flying by really fast! I have grown so much though, in this little amount of time. Being able to testify of our Savior and also of the Book of Mormon every single day has really strengthened my testimony. I love this work so much. 

This week had its up and downs. We had a great start of the week on Monday night, but Tuesday we had no success. Our appointments all fell through, and our back-up plans did as well, so we knocked in a Latino neighborhood. Nobody would talk to us. The person who actually talked with us the longest was a Russian guy who could only say hello, thank you, dog, and bye. That was funny though! Elder Fife was also sick the next day, and I felt bad, because there was not much I could do for him. 

We didn't go proselyte that day, but I got some quality Book of Mormon study in and I am so grateful for that. Guys, read this book. You will be surprised of what will come of it and what you change because of it. This week alone, there were two experiences in regards to the Book of Mormon. This family that we have been teaching hasn't really opened up to us until this week. The dad is reading the BOM every day. The kids are all coming to church! We had a lesson with them on Tuesday and last night. The Tuesday lesson we had, we asked Silvia to pray at the end. She is their mom, and has been really stubborn with us. She was touched by this book and the spirit though, and she broke down in tears during her prayer. It was super powerful! Last night, after our lesson with them, we had their dad Jose Louis say the closing prayer. He basically testified to us on how this book has helped him and told us he feels something indescribable. this feeling is the spirit telling his heart of the truthfulness of the book of Mormon. When he prayed, he broke down in tears as well! Such a powerful experince once again! I know this book is true and these experiences this week have strengthened my testimony of the Book of Mormon. It truly softens hearts and changes people.

Adios!!