Wednesday, March 30, 2016

6 months today!

March Madness? PSYCH! LESS-ACTIVE MADNESS! We have been seeing blessings from this less active push from the South Carolina Initiative. (See below)


So step four of the SCI is when the missionaries come in. However, most of the wards are slow in putting this into place down here (Greenville Stake was starting to do it before I left). So what has happened is that President Turner has told us to start it, since it needs to be going. The plan is, once the wards get to doing it, it will already be at full speed, thus making it even more effective. 


During weekly planning we hold our own so-to-say "ward council" to see who from our lists we had made, need to be seen this week. Then we go make first contact, and afterwards, seek which members would be the best to come see them with us. Then we put them on date for receiving priesthood down the road, temple endowment,temple baptisms, sealing etc...or put their non-member family members on date for baptism depending on who we are teaching. Anyway, it is a sick system! Once the wards get into it, there will be so many blessings. The benefits of this initiative are: 
  • Member missionaries work stronger 
  • Work will hasten
  • Easier to work with leaders
  • Ward will be unified 
  • We can baptize, but when we work together we are stronger 
  • Members testimonies will grow
  • More referrals for us if we do what we are supposed to do...endless cycle
  • Members more likely to magnify their callings
  • The members would have more joy
  • More baptisms: Boise Idaho, 60% of baptisms came from this (Boise mission tried this first)
  • Missionaries will be teaching more: busy missionaries are better and happier
  • Gives ward councils opportunity to learn how to work
  • Supposed to be focused on people and not events. 
With that being said, as we focus on less-actives we will see blessings, and this week we have. So on Monday, we were looking for some couple named Alex and Jackie. They were not in any church records that we had obtained. We only knew them from records of previous missionaries in the junior book. Anyway, we went searching for them at a few possible addresses and actually found them! They said that missionaries had not come by for a long time! They were baptized between 8 and 10 years ago in this area. We are still trying to figure out what happened. Anyway, we asked if they had any other family in the Charleston area and they did. Jackie has a mom, and 2 siblings here as well. We got kind of terrible directions as to where her mom's house was, but we knew the neighborhood. She said her mom had a white honda. We walked up and down the street and did not see a white honda. As we were turning around to go back to the beginning of the street to start knocking, a white honda comes around the corner. We went to that house and we come to find out that it was the mom! The mom and brother of Jackie are members as well! The other sister is not. Jackie's mom, Maria, said that her mom and sister live in the area too. We are not sure if they are members or not, but we will be finding out this week! So basically we are uncovering a whole family tree of less-actives. 

Other than finding less-actives, we have less-actives finding us. A couple of weeks ago, we went out looking for a man named Francisco Currchich. He no longer lived at the address we had for him and after knocking around his trailer, we found out that nobody knew who he was, so we forgot about him. Tuesday night, we got a call from a contact in our phone named "Hermano Pusul". He said he was a member, but has not been to church in centuries. He said he wanted to come out and teach lessons with us. We were so amazed! We went and tried to visit him three times and he was not there. On the fourth try, we called him and his voicemail said "Francisco Pusul Currchich". I was shocked! We had prayed for guidance on who to see and a few weeks later it paid off! We had a lesson with him later on this week and he wants to start new again. He does not have the priesthood, and has not been to the temple (obviously), so that is our goal! He also has a 17 year old son! We see so much potential with these less-active families. So far the last three weeks, we have 4 non-members living with less actives! Can't wait to teach them, help them grow a testimony of the atonement and baptize them eventually! 

Yesterday was a bomb sacrament meeting! All it was was an Easter program. There were really good musical numbers and even the Spanish group (and Spanish missionaries) went up to sing "Creo en Cristo" (I believe in Christ). It may have been off tune because you know, hispanic culture, but it was still cool! We had 3 less-actives at church as well! Aside from that, so many families showed up for church! It was sick!

News: our former District Leader, Elder DeGraffenried was made the new Assistant to the President! Wohoo go Spanish Elders! Spanish elders have a bad rep in the mission for some reason, but we are moving up in the world! Hahaha just kidding. We also got the former AP as our new zone leader as well! I am so stoked to get to learn from him! (Elder Daynes). Elder Daynes is a huge baller, so we have been balling every morning from 6-7. Its tiring haha.

We knocked into a lot of drunk people this week. They are the funniest to talk to because they just don't know what is going on. This one guy gave us a handshake and when he shook my hand he kept moving it up and down and wouldn't let go, and then he just laughed...it was kinda funny.

We found another less-active last night. His name is Carlos and his girlfriend is Yahira. Yahira was taught all of the lessons, in 
Orlando, and had a date to be baptized, but then moved here. We have been trying to see them this whole last transfer and they never answered the door. They are sooo cool and can't wait to see them again!

We also taught a lesson to a guy named Chewey! He answered his door and he had one of our pass along cards, with a picture of Christ on it! We were like what?! So he let us in and we taught him! We are going to teach him tonight as well, so pray for us!

Happy Easter! Cannot wait for general conference!

Elder McLaughlin- envió desde mi iPad
Jorge & an English class student with Elder Degraff on the far left #AP)

Love this guy a lot! Gonna miss him!

Sister Acuna left the district too. We have 6 Spanish sisters in the mission and she has trained 4 of them!

Some goodies from mommy this week:)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Staying in Charleston


So first off I had 2 exchanges this week! One with Elder DeGraffenreid and the other with elder Astorga. On Tuesday with Elder DeGraff, We went 0-11 in contacting Less-Actives from our lists. They had all moved! We did though throughout the week find 3 new less-actives from going through other missionaries records and stuff from years past!! Last night, we tried to see one of the new less-actives we found and she lives there! We have an appointment with her tonight. so now 1 for 12 haha.
Good news! We finally found the missing member Miguel! He showed up at church! Apparently he was staying with an "amiga'' for like 2 1/2 weeks. Not sure why, and he won't tell us still! Anyway, we were finally able to get him his food! Woo!

Crunched for time today! Zone Conference was on Friday! It was great! President talked more about the South Carolina Initiative and Less-Actives. I am going to send what exactly this is to you after the letter.

We had a sick lesson with Adrian, Raul and Alex (12, 11 and 8 years old). We knocked on their door and they really listened to us! They were so in awe of what we were saying and they were very in tune with the message! it was so weird, but awesome! Adrian said he felt bad that Jesus was crucified, so we talked about that a little bit and shared what the atonement is:

(Atonement is the suffering that Christ went through in the garden of Gethsemane. He suffered pains, afflictions and temptations of all kinds so that he could take upon himself the pains and the sicknesses of the world. He took upon himself death, so that he could loose the bands of death. He took upon himself our infirmities, so that he could be filled with mercy towards us, and know how to support us during time of distress. ultimately, he suffered for our sins, so that through him, our sins could be taken away.) 

We let them know that because of his death, we can all live again with our families. We talked about the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and invited them to read from the Book of Mormon! We saw them again last night and they had read a little bit! We set another lesson with them for tonight and we will talk about the first chapter of Nephi! So excited!

We had a great day of church yesterday! It was ward conference and the area authority, Elder McCarther, was here and it was powerful! The importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy was hit hard! The last hour of church, the stake high council talked about addiction recovery. Most all of us have addictions, whether they be big or small, but I know that through the Atonement of Christ and with help from family, friends and professionals, anybody can feel peace and leave the past behind! So, use the Atonement of Jesus Christ!
A sad story- After church, one of our members was found passed out in his car. After taking him to the hospital, news got out that he had gone through cardiac arrest and did not make it. He had been sitting out there for over an hour. That is so sad. My heart goes out to the family.

Two more things- we were driving past the mall and there were dozens of cops! They had evacuated the mall and I am not sure what was going on! A cop was also shot last week in our area. Did not know that until 2 days ago. 

I totally forgot it was Saint Patrick's Day this week and so I did not wear any green, whoops... but we were on exchanges and had a diner that night... Dinner was CORNED BEEF and CABBAGE! Still keeping tradition going out here in the south!

Transfer calls came in and I am staying with Elder Douglas for at least six more weeks!

And just for fun, we made a fort out of mattresses the APs had brought over to the zone leader apartments...it was very fun. Brought back memories of making forts with Monson haha!



Monday, March 14, 2016

#FindingLostSheep

Okay so I have a few things that I want to talk about. First off, a few months ago, Elder Douglas and his comp ran into a lady named Esperanza. She was raking leaves in someones yard. Apparently she was really cool and seemed really interested in the Gospel. They had tried to find her again and for a while knocked a few areas to try and find her, but had no success in doing so. The English sisters in North Chuck are Sisters Hyde and Brewer. They gave us a referral to go see a girl named Jasmine. On Tuesday night, we went to the house of whom we thought they were talking about, and lo and behold we find Esperanza. Elder Douglas freaked out! Jasmine was not there but we found Esperanza, so wohoo! That is not all though. Last night, we went over to go and teach jasmine and Esperanza (third try to contact them), but they were not home.
(Backstory) 
So the sisters were in the same area as us a few days ago when we tried for our second time to contact Esperanza and Jasmine. Apparently the referral was for a different house down the street. In  this house down the street they have an investigator as well. We knocked and talked with their investigator (Jackie). She said that three other Hispanics live with her (she is white and doesn't speak Spanish). Their names are Naomi, Jose and Jose. She told us we could come by in the night when they are home. We were pretty excited! #Goldmine. 

We went by last night as a back up plan for Esperanza and Jasmine. We met the Jose guy playing soccer outside with two kids. The kids were Christopher and Angeline. We asked for a Naomi and she came outside as well! We talked about the Book of Mormon, and the sisters had given Christopher (Naomi's 10 Yr old son) a Book of Mormon. He told us what he had read, and he is at Chapter 5 of First Nephi right now! He is retaining the stories as well! We said we would come by next Friday. Afterwards, we had another lesson 

(side note: We cannot seem to teach the last part of the restoration without phone calls, dogs, cats, etc. interrupting the message... Satan is LAMEEEE!) and then went home. We planned for tonight and then sent in key indicators and had call-ins with our DL Elder DeGraffenried. We talked about not really having investigators and since we have a push on less- actives in the mission right now, we talked about that. A while back we shredded the old paper area book, but Elder DeGraffenried asked us about the "JR Book" which I guess is the key for the old paper area books. We looked through it and there was some pretty good stuff! We looked through some of the names, and we found a name "Naomi". We looked at the info and it had her same address and the name of her then 8 yr old son Christopher!! SHE IS A LESS ACTIVE!

She is not even on the church records!!! She is like 30 or so and was baptized in Mexico at age 16!! This is so exciting! #FindingLostSheep. I have come to the conclusion that we found Esperanza as a means to find Naomi and her solid, Book of Mormon reading son! So we are now of course focusing on less- actives. Referrals through less actives have proven to have as a result, a higher baptism rate. We are going to be finding through the less actives (otherwise called "Former Golden Investigators") and at the same time reactivating them. In my area we have like 50 now, since we narrowed it down some more! I hope to keep running into these people not on the records and bring them back! This Naomi experience is a testimony to me that the Lord wants us to help the less-actives out!

We did service for a less-active sister on Friday. We took apart her patio for her trailer since it had water damage and termites and it just was not safe. We started to build a new one, but we had to go. Her sons finished building it. I also gave her a blessing! It was cool, and in Spanish. We had a really good doorstep lesson with a girl named Melissa. I will send my journal entry about that one since it is long and detailed (Next week). 

Remember Rob? The guy who we contacted a few weeks ago? Yeah so we visited some investigators near his trailer and we saw him sitting out front with his dog (He is a veteran, blind, and has no legs and is going through dialysis). The North Chuck English sisters put him on date! They told us that when we came over the first time, Rob said he knew it was a sign from God. I'm grateful for the direction of the spirit I had a few weeks ago, when we contacted him for the first time.

So our investigators are really going down right now (thank goodness for LAs). Julio was golden and now has stopped responding to our texts, calls and our knocks on his door. He said he was having some problems, but hey, we are here to help! We care for you and want to make sure you're okay! Dez and Oscar wont meet with us either. There is stuff going south in their family right now. We know their concerns, but I'm not gonna share since its confidential. But they haven't met with us for like 2 weeks or so. Last week we got offered beer and liquor by an investigator we set up a lesson with. We explained to him why we wouldn't have some. We were going to teach the Plan of Salvation, but he said no. We were like, uhhh what... and so we asked if we could at least read with them a short chapter in the Book of Mormon, and he said he was tired. So we decided to share one scripture from the bible (James 1:5) and then talked more about Joseph Smith...While his kids were riding Piñatas and screaming. Hand to the face please! That was a rough one. We left after like 15 minutes.

So we have a missing Spanish member right now. We have not seen him for like 15 days. The people who he lives with have not seen him and his stuff including his bike (only mode of transportation) are still at his trailer he lives in. A member contacted every hospital and jail in the area and he is not in any of them. The thing is, we have been working to get him some help with food, since he has no job anymore and needed food. He went fasting for three days one week because he had no food. We still do not know where he is but we have been praying and fasting to find him! We hope he is not illegal and therefore sent to another country. That would suck!

Me cooking carne asada with Jorge!
Saturday night we had dinner with Jorge and an investigator. Little
background on Jorgy Boy. He is a convert of three years and went from being drunk all the time and taking drugs to being temple worthy! He is THE BEST MEMBER MISSIONARY! He consecrates himself for the church. He works long hours, goes to the temple every Saturday and still goes to like 10 lessons between the three Spanish companionships every single week! He even has a media box in the back of his car! Anyway, we were at his house and we had the best carne asada tacos ever! I actually cooked the carne asada! I chocked on one long piece...I thought I was fine. Elder Douglas saw my face turn purple and ran to the other side of the table. Before this I started gagging and grabbing my throat.... I was able to pull it out though...Gross, but hey at least I didn't pass out. That would be an awkward phone call to president.

One last thing, there is so much pollen here! Our cars are like light green! Every single car has pollen on it! Aaand South Carolinians suck at driving. Everyone honks at everyone for no reason, and everyday there is a crash on Rivers Ave (the main street we drive to get everywhere).

Es todo!
Naomi's street 
The District: Top left to bottom right: Hyde, Acuña, Brewer, Shaw, DeGraffenried, Blackham, Me, Astorga, Douglas, Aldous 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Speaking with boldness

So first off, I talked about Lisa in my newsletter last week... we had called, texted and left messages and knocked on her door, and finally she texted us. She said she had problems right now and did not want to meet with us anymore. We were caught so off guard. She was solid! We went over (made 2 cakes earlier in the week and decided to give her one) and brought the cake as a way to get in. We knocked and she said "WHO?!" I replied "No es importante, tenemos pastel para usted!" 

She opened up with a big smile on her face, and her kids all ran out screaming "pastel" haha. We talked with her to see what's up, and she started talking about how she is having problems with not being able to have a pitbull. I wanted to laugh because I was thinking something like, "are you serious, you don't want to meet because you can't keep a pitbull in your apartment". 

Then she got deeper after a couple of our questions, and she is having financial problems. She is working a lot, wants to rest, and needs money still to pay for rent. The apartment management is prejudice against those who don't speak English and so she is frustrated. We talked with her less-active husband as well. Ultimately we testified that the Book of Mormon could help them and that we could help them in whatever way possible for us. We invited them to church as well. They kept making excuses why they couldn't come. We resolved those excuses, but then they came up with another and another and another. They had not read, and John started to get a little frustrated. He said he would come back when he wants to, so we asked well then why did not you come back before we came here? We were pretty bold. We decided to leave, but we made sure they knew we cared for them. Now what? Well, we won't be seeing them for a while. When they are ready, they know where to find us (the church is literally down the street from their apartment) 

Same thing is happening with Julio. He is a guy we had a lesson with a few weeks ago. He is ripped out of his mind, and has sooo many questions about the gospel. We had a lesson with him last Monday and scheduled one for Saturday. He realized for himself that the Book of Mormon is key for his conversion. We called him Saturday, and he said that he was having problems and that he couldn't meet with him. We are praying that this same guy won't turn out like Lisa! We will try to see him tonight!

Tonight we have noche de hogar (family home evening) and hope to have investigators there! We are officially done with soccer nights since they proved to be ineffective for us as well.

President Turner announced that in the South Carolina Columbia mission that no longer can we knock!! It is ineffective, and with the South Carolina initiative, our work will be finding through less-actives, as well as reactivation of those less-actives. We have our lists already and Elder Douglas and I have 7 families we will be seeing this week! (56 hispanic less-actives in our area).

Well that's all for now...exciting at least!

vaya con Dios!

ya know, just strolling through the trailer park