Monday, February 29, 2016

Clemson saved me.

So remember when I talked about hitting the wall doing a front flip? Then getting a bloody nose? Yeah so my California flag was covering that part of the wall and I found two holes one night....uh oh! This guy came into the apartment and fixed a huge hole in the dry wall which one of the zone leaders made by falling into it. It was like $115! That sucks! When the guy came in, I told him about the two holes I made as well. He is a Clemson fan and saw my Clemson blanket, so he fixed what I did for FREE! Wohoo haha!

Funny North Charleston joke: How many Portuguese speakers are there? A Brazilian of them! Right now, we have more Brazilians coming to English class, than Hispanics. The Goose Creek Spanish elders are only teaching Portuguese right now too!

Douglas, Aldous, Astorga
We moved on Friday! For those who did not know, we were living with the zone leaders in a 4 pack apartment. Now we have our own and it is so nice! Its clean as well! I do feel kind of bad though, because all of our investigators live in trailers, and we have better. Moving took forever. Elder Aldous (one of the ZLs) is still injured from basketball a few P-Days ago. Moving four people and cleaning a missionary apartment (not just any ordinary apartment... those who have served will understand) took so long. We did not get any real missionary work done on Friday and barely any on Saturday.
Notice our beds piled in the back
Cool experience of the week: on Wednesday we were in one of our many trailer parks going through names from the area book. After going through a few, Elder Douglas suggested to go back home to have dinner. I saw a name on the area book and we decided to hit this last person up named Vincent. We went to his trailer, but the patio door was locked from the inside. I knocked on the trailer door and this guy opened the door as he was yelling at his dog. I was freaked out at first, but come to find out, his dog had tripped him. His name is Rob, (English) and he is a veteran, has no legs, legally blind, and he is currently on dialysis. We got to know him a little bit and he was so cool! We talked about his life a little bit as well. He is really interested in religion and he has frequent religious conversations with people at dialysis. He talked about being raised as a Roman Catholic, but is not comfortable with the whole praying to Mary thing. He talked about how a Jehovah's Witness tried converting him. He said he likes to read a lot. I told him we have a book that would bring him joy. We introduced the Book of Mormon and testified of its truth. I asked him if he has ever asked God sincerely which of these church's are true. He said he has. I asked what his answer was. He said his answer was to keep looking. I told him this was his answer and If he would pray about the Book of Mormon, he will know it is true. He said he was and the spirit was super strong. The spirit led us to him! We can't teach him because he is not Hispanic, but he will be baptized- I know it!

One more are a girlfriend and boyfriend couple. Dez and Oscar. They are Latino, but speak English primarily. We can teach them because they speak Spanish too. Dez is 21 and oscar is 23. They are from Fresno and are what you call 'thug' for lack of a better word. The have been meeting with missionaries the last 2 years and they want to change. I feel a sincere love for them and their family. They have not been keeping commitments, and so we had a lesson with them to talk about some commitments. We had the spirit on our side that lesson. It was so strong. We were so straight up with them that the spirit touched their hearts. We were able to find out their concerns and we have a good lesson plan for this week for them to address their concern. These two need to be married as well, but they WILL be baptized.

We have some young investigators! Rocento (he is on date, but we are moving it back) and Yenifer are 20 and 16 respectively. Soooo young! And they have a kid too. I am excited for this next week because we are at the point where many investigators of ours will be put on baptismal dates!

That's all I got!
We make do with what we have.. tortillas & baskets.

Monday, February 22, 2016

One week from 5 months!

This week was another toughie! So much happened, and it has been super stressful. We are trying harder to make our purpose known. PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND! It is crazy to me how we do our best to lay everything out for them very simply, and we do it with boldness and love, yet they commit and never follow through! Nobody is coming to church! We call the day before,text as well, and the morning of, we call and go knock on the door, but they don't budge. It gets really frustrating. We are getting more creative with our lessons though! So hopefully we see a change here soon.

I have realized how much we need the members. Often times it seems like there is the missionary church, and the evangelical church (within LDS culture). And they don't usually work together. We are one church, with one message, one Lord. We need to be knit together. It's crazy to see how ward councils are so vital, and how the members need to work better with missionaries! As a missionary, I can promise blessings.

The step dad of one of our investigators died of leukemia Friday night. We actually went to go see him in the VA hospital the night of his death. The family was there and it was hard because we did not know what to say. He looked like Kelly (step-gpa) before his death. It was sad. It is the perfect time for the knowledge of the plan of happiness for their family. I hope they will accept since their hearts are soft right now!

We went to the Coastal Carolina flea market on Saturday from like 7 to 12. We set up a booth and went around talking to people. We had some good success. There were 5 solid people who really sincerely wanted to learn more, and we passed out 400 English class/ soccer night fliers to Latinos we saw as we walked around! Flea markets are so cool! Of course the Jehovah Witnesses were there too...their booth had some sick television stuff and whatnot!

Some fun facts: We have 264 investigators in like a 6 mile radius from our apartment. There are so many trailer parks and apartments with only Latinos living there. Like I said last week, Charleston is a gold mine. This week we also got 11 New investigators, included in that is a family of 5! 

We went to a tienda to eat lunch after the flea market, and that is where I tasted the best horchata in my life!!!! Favorite stuff down here I like to eat are sopas as well! I love tres leches too! So there are so many different places to eat chicken down here. I have been keeping a list, but it is not with me. 

Latinos are super humble. I complemented one of the members on his tie clip on Sunday, and he said, "Really?" And I reaffirmed with a "yes", and he said, "you are my friend, so I want you to have it". I felt bad because this Latino member wears it every week, but it's cool how humble and giving they are. 

Cool experience: Last night we went and visited Dez and Oscar (they did not show up again at church so we went to follow up). Dez had her BFF over and she wanted us to educate her on the Mormons. She asked us about beer and we talked about the word of wisdom. We introduced the Book of Mormon as well. This is the cool part:  she had mentioned something about a god-father, and so i asked how the whole god-father thing worked. This led into her talking about infant baptism because it has to do with that somehow. She then asked us about baptism in our church, asking if we do infant baptism. I quickly pulled out Moroni 8 and had her read a few verses. We explained why infants shouldn't be baptized. She said she liked how we baptize way better. After testifying of the Book of Mormon and the church, she asked why we claim to be the only true church. All of these questions led perfectly into a quick 5 minute restoration lesson. I realized that the spirit led me to ask about god fathers, and ultimately it led to the whole restoration lesson! Cool experience for me!

Well I am almost at 5 months, and the mission is too fast!!!
Have a great week!

Elder McLaughlin

Monday, February 15, 2016

So I Went to Jail...

Hey guys!This week was the TOUGHEST week of my mission-hands down. I could go on a whole tangent on how I have come to this but I don't have that much time. Bottom line is that I have come to realize that I need consecrate myself 100% right now, or I will not experience the change every missionary wants to experience. I need to be ALL in or I won't be baptizing. My Spanish has gotten so good and I am teaching more by the spirit, and I am recognizing the Spirit even more as well.

So first of all... I went to jail... But with permission from President-- hahaha. Our investigator is in jail, and his mom is LDS. She and their family have been so distraught over his whole situation. We just gave some nice Christian service and tried to comfort him and their family. We had to sign in and I wish it was like it is on TV. We got to talk with him through a TV monitor, so it was perfectly safe.

So Monday I had a cool experience! We had a Spanish group FHE. I was in charge of a game with Elder Douglas. We were down to the last five minutes before it started and could not for the life of us think of a game relating to the Plan of Salvation. We prayed about it and right as we passed the Kmart near the church, a game we did in seminary my sophomore year, popped into my head! This was 100% the spirit. It was so cool! The game included taking twizzlers and drawing out the plan of salvation... And then eating it! It was a huge success! God answers prayers, even the simple ones.
Family Home Evening with the Spanish group
We put a guy on date! March 12th is his planned baptism. But, we have a problem. He is 20, his girlfriend is 16, and they have a kid. We need her parents permission to have them married, but her parents are living in Mexico, and she might be illegal. So if they get baptized, there could be some legal complications... It will all work out- I hope!

On Saturday night, we had 4 member present lessons set up. On Sunday we had 2. Saturday morning we had a few lessons set up as well-all of those set lessons fell through. We even had the members with us! That was the end to a hard week, but we cant control peoples agency.

I thought I broke my nose on Saturday as well. I thought it would be cool to do a front flip onto my bed, and when I did, my feet hit the wall and my knees slammed my nose. It was like 2 hours of bleeding after that. It's still a little sore, but that's okay!

This Charleston zone is amazing! They got a huge face lift. Every District Leader is new (as a DL, not to the mission). The Charleston area is a gold mine for Latinos. So many possible people to teach who speak Spanish! We will have so much success in the coming weeks.

We see C-130s every day since there is both a navy base and air force base. It's pretty cool. Last Monday in downtown I saw the church where the white guy shot everybody up.
Mother Emmanuel AME Church (the one that got shot up a while back)
~Elder McLaughlin

One of many Civil War cannons in this downtown park
Fort Sumter in the distant background on the left-- easier to see when not using a camera:)

The closest yet that I have been to the beach!!!! 

We see trailers of uh...different...uh personalities

Monday, February 8, 2016


Last Goodbye to Simpsonville
Not just my luggage, hahahaha

I am now in Charleston!
This poster was made after the Charleston church shooting a few months ago that was all over the news! #charlestonstrong
  • We live near Charleston Southern University....go BUCS!
  • Here in SC we have 6 stakes. 1 Zone per stake. So all the Spanish in this stake go to our ward. I live in North Charleston.
  • I live with my companion and the Zone Leaders! My companion is Elder Douglas from Nephi, Utah! He has been here one transfer more than me.
  • I feel more confident in my Spanish here and I am actually able to communicate better in Spanish! 
  • Here we have 2 sets of Spanish elders and 1 set of Spanish sisters, and we are in the same ward. In our ward there are one set of English sisters as well, and we will be getting a senior couple for the military base soon! 
  • We are set up in a way that there are no times where we have nothing to do!
  • I feel I am here to help clean this area up! It's a lot of work, but it is getting there! We started by deep cleaning the study room which had 4 trash bags of crap in it! Way to go me inviting the spirit back into that room! Whoop whoop
  • Our area book is so dis-organized, so what we first did was try to organize it and basically start fresh again!
  • There are soooo many Hispanics here! There is never not something to do! We have located 15 trailer parks/Latino areas to proselyte in!
  • Our area is not that big, and we are going to be focusing in on like a 6 mile stretch of land (north to south).
  • The Spanish members are close-knit here which is so cool! 
  • We have a Spanish group in our ward. The group consists of all the Hispanics in the stake. So basically a branch, I guess.
  • We have a soccer night every Friday! Lots of Latinos usually come (30 or so)! We are trying to visit these people that come as well!

  • 3 English classes and so many people come!
  • Oh yeah, and I had to translate for a Latino guy in Elders Quorum. That was freaking hard!
Interesting fact: SO MANY PORTUGUESE SPEAKERS! There are 3 pairs of Spanish missionaries in my ward here and one of the companionships are teaching 4 Portuguese peeps! So when I get home I can talk with Uncle Mark in Portuguese. 
  • President usually keeps people in their second area the longest, so expect me to be here for 6-9 months! Haha {LUCKY}!
  • I am going to downtown Charleston today so hopefully I get some cool pics!
One cool experience real quick: Last night we were visiting a house of a Danny Velasquez. We showed up and nobody was home. We walked back down the steps and I heard the screen door slam. That was freaky! So we went back up to knock and again no answer. I thought to put an English class flyer in the door, and so we quickly went to go get it, and after we placed it, some guy pulled up. Turns out he wasn't Latino and the guy who we were looking for moved! This guy was so sick! He is 25 and is in the national guard and is studying to be a nurse! He is huge too! He was super chill with us and said he would start reading the BoM! We got along really well! Too bad we have to give him to the zone leaders because he is English! #miracles
1/2 the mission for the conference with visiting GA. Greenville, Greenville East, & West Columbia Zones. I am bottom, 5th from left.

Saying goodbye to recent convert Yaneth & Miguel. He is the funniest Mexican alive!

Elder McLaughlin- envió desde mi iPad

Monday, February 1, 2016

Onward & Upward!

Hey guys! Wow lots going on! First of all, mom found out that Fife and I are both being transferred before our Zone Leaders found out tsk tsk tsk! Elder Fife is going to be a Spanish zone leader! That is a lot of responsibility and I cannot wait to see how it all ends up for him! It was crazy when we found out they were taking both of us out. I thought for sure I was going to stay. The Lord works in mysterious ways, so I am excited to see what happens! I really want to speculate as to where I am going, but at this point I really have no clue!

Elder Brent H. Neilson from the Quorum of the Seventy visited our mission this week! Half of the mission met with him on Thursday and the other half on Friday. We all got in line to shake his and his wife's hand. I talked with them and told them that I was in the Mexico MTC when I first met them like 13 weeks ago! They thought that was pretty cool! They are so friendly! It's so cool to see how his countenance is so bright! #futureapostle. His training was very good and helped me out a lot! We focused in on the Atonement being an enabling power. Man without the atonement, I could not be doing a Spanish mission. 

This week, on Tuesday, we did exchanges, and I led the area again! We had 3 lessons that day and let me remind you that our exchanges are with English elders. With that being said, We had a lesson with a Spanish family. Man that was tough. All I could do was rely on the Lord to help me at that point. I powered through it and it went well. We (the spirit and I hahaha) taught some points of the Restoration and we read the introduction to the Book of Mormon. I found out that the guy (we were teaching a man and his wife, his name is Faustino) can not read... like at all. That was interesting! We need our investigators to read or at least listen to the Book of Mormon, and so I asked if he had a phone. He said no, so that makes it hard since he cant get the BoM app and listen to it instead. I asked if he had a computer... "Yo no tengo una compu". So now the only choice he has is to listen to his wife read to him. I committed her to read to him in alta voz and she said she would! So that's good! Other than that, they kept talking about Jehovah's Witnesses, and I still do not know why hahaha! But anyway, I can use the atonement as I proselyte.

The enabling power of the atonement is essentially grace. As I work my hardest in teaching the gospel, and In studying Spanish, the Lord will add his power to mine, allowing me to do all things through Christ. I have been telling investigators, "yeah, we have trials because God wants to test or faith! A witness will not come to us until we have a trial of our faith", but I realize now, this is not all. We have trials in our life because we need spiritual traction. God gives us trials to test our faith yes, but to allow us the great opportunity to use the atonement in our lives. We cannot get through life without this precious gift of the atonement. The Plan of Salvation is centered on Christ's atonement; therefore, without using it, we really cannot go anywhere, and we make Christ's suffering vain. Elder Bednar in a talk said that yes, the Atonement is for sinners, but also for saints. It is here (in the gospel) to make bad men good and good men better. It's so cool that by using the redeeming and cleansing power de la expiación, podemos llegar a ser mejor personas y miembros de esta iglesia y este mundo.

I came to this mission conference with multiple questions. My first question was how can I make the sacrament more meaningful. The
second person to speak was Sister Turner ( the president's wife) and
she answered my question right off the bat! Man, it is still so cool how God answers our questions if we pray about them! On Sunday I taught gospel principles in Spanish by myself for the first time! Elder Fife and usually do it together. That was fun!

On our Tuesday exchanges, we stopped by and met with this guy Ronnie Wilson again. He said we could come by whenever, so we did. He said he was not interested. He has been reading the Book of Mormon apparently, but was not interested in changing religions. He then put on a smirk and said something like "well you guys don't get reception out here (he lives in the woods), so I'd be careful next time you come up to my house. I might come out with a shotgun next time"...he basically threatened us! First time for everything whoop! 

Elder Fife and I had the opportunity to sit in on Sandra's patriarchal blessing yesterday. She is one of Fife's recent converts (Spanish). It was so beautiful and its so cool how everybody has different specific promises for their lives! The patriarch who gave it is truly inspired. He speaks no Spanish and could not even pronounce her names, but when he said her tribe, he said it as it is spelled in Spanish! So amazing! Well, lots of the members were sad that we were going! I will miss some families here and I know Elder Fife will for sure. He is basically a part of the ward here, being that he has been here 101/2 months! Bishop Powell thanked us last night for our service in the ward and it was humbling to here him say we were the best companionship he has had in his ward since being called as a bishop 4 years ago! (Aside from one companionship of sisters though haha)

Onward and upward! I'm excited to see what is in store!

The Simpsonville District: Brayden, Fife, Malo, Bissell, Browne, Hatch.
Fife, Bissell & I are all leaving this week.
Elders Hatch & Browne on their way back to the apartment-this is what missionary work looks like!

Elder McLaughlin- envió desde mi iPad