Monday, May 30, 2016

8 months!!!

This week, we have seen some crazy blessings!! Such a turn around in our area. We finished the week with 11 new investigators and we taught 9 less-active/ recent convert lessons this week as well. We hunkered down even more and worked super hard. On Wednesday we put three people on date for baptism! We decided that day to go visit some potentials in the S&K apartments. It is all Hispanics and basically we have talked to everybody in that complex. We visited a house of a potential and turns out they did not live there. We did find 2 boys- Jesus and Bido. Jesus is 16 and Bido is 12. We taught them the restoration, and they really were excited to be baptized. Jesus is worried for the second coming of Christ (Ironic huh?) and was so stoked! We taught Jesus again on Friday with jorge. We read from Alma 32:26-37. He understood it perfectly! He also told us about a really cool spiritual experience he had on Thursday night. He shared a dream he had with us, and it was so crazy awesome! He has been prepared for sure!

After this lesson we went over to Mauricio Sanchez. He is the son of our recent convert Rocio Sanchez. A few months ago he did not have a belief in God. We taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He understood it well, and the spirit was definitely present. He gave the opening prayer and afterwards he said he felt anxious. We asked if it felt good, and he said it did. We invited him to be baptized at the end of the lesson, and he put his head down, paused for a few seconds and said yes. We originally put him on date for June 11, but last night we put him on date for June 25. Last night we taught him the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity. For those who are not familiar with these two things, the word of wisdom is a health code given to us by revelation from Joseph Smith. In this, we are to abstain from alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, coffee & tea and any addictive substance. We are to eat grains, fruits and vegetables, get good excursive and enough sleep. By following these things, we are blessed with enough energy, clarity of mind and we are blessed with the Spirit of the Lord. The Law of chasitity simply is remaining sexually pure, meaning leaving those things to be done within the bounds of marriage, for marriage, and not before. It also includes strict abhorrence from pornography, or any media that includes any form of pornography, or causes impure thoughts, like in movies, books, music etc. We can live the law of chasity as we keep our thoughts clean and keep out vulgar or explicit language.

Living this law will give us more confidence, we will have greater love for others, greater self-respect and we will have greater respect for others as well. Anyway, Mauricio is such a solid guy. He is 19, and we have been teaching him in English. We are so excited for him and it is cool seeing him change!!

On Saturday, we put 2 more people on date for baptism, so a total of 5 this week! The first was Veronica Cruz. She is the 16 yr old daughter of a less active lady we have been working with. I mentioned Maria Cruz, her mom a few weeks ago, she was drunk out of her mind and so we got out of there, but this week we taught her family twice. We got 4 of our new investigators this week from that household. Anyway on Tuesday, we taught them the restoration and Saturday we taught from Alma. Veronica asked us--this is all Spanish by the way; Nobody in the family knows English-- what do I have to do to be baptized? We were like super stoked...My mouth almost dropped! We talked to her about it for a second, but we will be teaching her family about baptism tonight at 6. We asked Veronica if she would be baptized on June 25 and she said yes! She also asked about temples!! That was so cool!

After this lesson, We had the senior couple (they dont know any
spanish) pick up our investigator Gloria, to go see a baptismal
service. They followed us there, and may I mention, she has two crazy little boys, ages 2 and 6. We wnt into the relief society room. We were the last ones there, and someone was giving a talk on baptism. Jonathan, the 2 yr old starts screaming and running around in front of everybody! Gloria is REALLY pregnant, and so she couldn't get up fast enough to get him. So I grabbed him as fast as I could and then took him out of the room. This boy was the master at the wet noodle! When it came time to walk over to the baptismal font for the baptism, we lost track of jonathan. Jeffrey saw the water and started yelling, "Agua! Agua!" It was kinda funny.

Gloria said she felt like crying when she saw the baptism, and said she felt really good. Afterwards, during the musical number she said she felt like crying again! Crying does not nersecarily mean you feel the spirit, but she definitely was feeling it. During all of this, Elder Douglas was with Gloria, and Elder Costello (senior missionary) and I had corraled the kids in the cultural hall. They kept trying to escape, but we placed trashcans in front of the doors....What an experience huh? So glad I do not have kids yet hahah. Afterwards we went to eat with her at a members house, named the Riveras. It was us, the Riveras and thier daughter, Jorge, Gloria, and her 2 boys and The Costellos (senior missionaries). Packed house! After eating we taught the gospel of jesus Christ and put her on date for June 17!! We have some work to do with her, but she will be ready!

So there was a "tropical storm" that hit us here in North Charleston.
It was just pooring all day saturday and then sunday morning. It
warmed up to 78 and everything dried out. But, the hispanics thought church was cancelled I guess, and we had hardly any members at church, and no investigators, although we did have rides for them. As of right now, we took Jesus and Bido on date, because they needed to come to church this week, but they did not. We have 3 on date though!

So this week I have seen so many blessings and it is because of this
promise in preach my gospel, "Through the Holy Ghost [the Lord] will guide you in your finding efforts, as you teach the restored gospel, and as you strengthen less-active members and new converts."

One scripture I'd like to share from the Book of Mormon: 1 Nephi 15:24 "...whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction." Study your scriptures, and you will not fall into temptation! If you study diligently, you will be able to resist temptation. It is a promise from the Lord through a prophet.

Elder McLaughlin- envió desde mi iPad


Tropical Storm aftermath
Maribel and her awesome cake
tried making rice krispies in the microwave... whoops

Alex with us yesterday to teach Mauricio!
Ravenao Bridge in Charleston
no comment:) 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Disappearing Act


Charleston Zone
Hola otra vez!
First off, we had interviews with President Turner on Friday! He is so cool, and I wish I knew him better! He seriously looks like a General Authority too. We talked about Christlike attributes during the interview and we were supposed to have finished the attribute test in preach my gospel before coming in. It was very helpful. I need to work on charity and love, and that will take a whole life time to develop. He mentioned in the interview that he is pleased that he has many really good, young Spanish missionaries, me included! Right now we have 20 Spanish missionaries, with either 9 or 10 in the mission field under a year.

This week I met another native, but from Mexico! She looked sooo
indigenous it was crazy! She was super old too. She was in a grassy
field with her daughter and grandchildren, but did not speak Spanish. She speaks a dialect called Mistec. I learned "Bye" in this dialect- "Cayo." Still want to meet someone who speaks Cechua.

We visited a less-active family this week named the Jimenez. We were eating pizza and then the mom brings out some weird looking
stuff...MENUDO.  Menudo was super chewy and fat. I think it is
basically cow stomach.

This week was super tough. We have almost hit rock bottom in terms of investigators. We have been dropping people left and right. It is kinda funny though, we find someone to teach and they seem super down to listen and come to church, and then we loose complete contact! We are averaging like 6 new investigators a week, but those all seem to disappear. Like last month we had a guy on date for baptism, and two days later he had disappeared to Florida! It is weird! Sandra and Iveth have stopped answering texts, calls and their door as well. We have not taught them in 3 weeks, and have seen Sandra once in these three weeks. Seems like the Lord is telling us to go to the less-actives more. We teach 7 less actives a week, and I guess we need to up that. We will be focusing on less-actives even more so that we can find success somewhere. 


Being a Spanish missionary in the southern states is tough, and I'm sure you've figured that out. We had a lady tell us this week that she can't come to church here. She said maybe in Mexico, because she was here to purely work. That's what these Latinos are here for. I have not lost faith though, and we will find success here soon! Pray for us!

Two more things: We were talking to some guy from Guatemala and he asked about missionaries. We talked about what we did. We leave behind family, friends, school, and work to come out here and teach about Jesus Christ. We told him we don't have girlfriends either, but I messed up in Spanish and said "novio" (boyfriend) instead of "novia" (girlfriend)... whoops, so he freaked out a little and I thought he was joking the way he reacted. Apparently not, because he wouldn't shake my hand and stood back, and then told my companion, Elder Douglas, to be careful haha.  He was a homophobe. LAME!

We also asked for a refferal from the Fernandez family after sharing a message with them. I asked, "who do you know who could benefit from this message?" I am working on question asking, and apparently that was a terrible question. The answer I got was "well, the whole world needs to hear this message. Everyone deserves to hear about Jesus Christ." So I guess everyone we teach will now be marked as a refferal from brother Fernandez. Hahaha


The before pic
Yeah... first haircut I gave... #fail

baking mom's cookies

almost hit this cute little guy

Reppin' down here in the south!
Jorge air dropped this to me.. hahaha

last week's weird bite- that one itched like nothing else.
Elder McLaughlin- envió desde mi iPad

Monday, May 16, 2016

"No-see-ems"

Okay so today we are having a district Nerf war!! We got guns, bullets and we are ready to roll. I guess Nerf wars in the mission are pretty sick! We have the whole church to ourselves. It's capture the flag nerf war. Yes we are dignified missionaries, with a 10 year old sense of fun though! Pictures to come next week!

Some more interesting things about the south in general... When I first got here, I saw everybody parking on grass. It was weird! Why ruin your grass with your car! Turns out we even do it too now. I remember McKenzie telling me that uncle Matt parked on their grass while she was visiting them in Florida. You don't see that out west. It is such a thing out here that one of our trailer parks asks people to specifically not park on the grass they put in. hahaha (we don't do that, of course)

I love being near the Charleston airport! It is so cool to see new military planes and commercial planes everyday. It sometimes gets annoying during lessons because the sound of these planes shake the trailers and interrupts us a lot. We have been seeing tons of jets too as of late.

Mosquitoes are coming out more and more! Sometimes wearing bug spray doesn't help. We have
"No-see-ems'" which are mosquitoes we literally cannot see- they are so small! They leave these red dots all over your skin. I got bit on my thigh the other day (I was wearing pants, so that was kind of misfortunate). Last night I got bit on the inside of my wrist by a nasty looking mosquito and on my thumb! What the heck! It is super weird.

We have 4 investigators right now who have been placed in our path amidst their trials in their life. Sandra and her family are going through a hard time. Her husband is a barracho and she is trying to keep the marriage together for her two daughters. Marcelo is currently having health problems, which is humbling him a lot. 
 
A man named Uriel called us on Saturday. He said he talked with us in the street a few weeks ago. He was drunk when we talked with him and he did not seem interested. When he called us he said he wanted to get back on the right path. He had questions about the bible as well. We invited him to church and he did not show, so after church we spent a  little over an hour at his house. We taught the restoration, and talked a long time about prophets. He kept pulling out bible scriptures out, to contest us a little bit and it was funny because he actually gave us some good scriptures about prophets! Hebreros 1:1 was one of them. He was very sincere and we talked about the introduction and about the current church leadership. He kept asking who the prophet today is, and where he lives. The prophet today is Thomas S. Monson and he lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He kept repeating his name over and over again. He asked many questions which we were able to answer well. He was thinking super hard and I am so happy for his desire to change his life. We did get a text from him last night, early in the morning. He talked about how he was afraid God was going to let him die. His lungs from smoking are not in too great shape. Pray for him! 
 
Finally we have Carma. She is the full-blood Native from south Dakota. In the last two weeks, this is what she has gone through: Her husband got deported to either Mexico or Guatemala, and for a few days she didn't know which country he got shipped off to. Her friends' son died in the trailer park (the one who choked on jello) and she took off work for one week to help them out. She was the only one who helped set up the viewing, and funeral. She was also evicted from her house, so last Monday we went to go help her and her family move out of their trailer. it was pretty chaotic. On top of all of that, she does not have much money so taking a week off from work was such a sacrifice, and she got beat up by a guy this last week. Her hand broke and surgery will be expensive. However, through all this stress, and just craziness, she has so much faith and hope. She is so strong and it is so admirable. It is no coincidence that the Lord has placed her in our path. 
 
I translated from English to Spanish for sacrament meeting on Sunday and it was so hard! English people speak too fast oh my gosh. I have been listening to podcasts from Jack R Christensen and he is so cool. Like him, I want to be able to have the Lord's trust so much that I will be the answer to someone's prayer. I want to feel the spirit so strong in my life, that I am just glowing. I want to be able to recognize promptings better. I have learned the most about the spirit on my mission, and I feel stupid that I did not appreciate that gift. Man, if I would have had the spirit more in high school, I would have been so much better in classes and I would have been better with my friends and I would have been able to fight off satan...

The future is looking good, but the present is still a bit of a struggle. We have had so much rejection these last few weeks. I know the field is white, and ready to be harvested, but sometimes it just does not feel that way. I want to baptize so bad, and we are working pretty hard. It feels like so many people are hard-hearted. However, don't get me wrong. I'm not discouraged or anything, just really frustrated. Discouragement is a temptation, and will decrease a missionaries effectiveness to teach by the spirit. From the time Alec first heard the restoration, to the time of his baptism, it was like 3 months or so. I really want a golden investigator like he was. Somebody who I know without a doubt will become a member of this church. I hope to see that in one of the above mentioned people pretty soon! One thing I am working on is being bold and loving. Elder Douglas and I are pretty bold, and it has gone well, but working on how to intermingle the love in there a bit better will help us more if that makes any sense. 

We have interviews with President Turner again, this time it is individual interviews! I am excited! I accidentally butt-dialed him today too...LoL -- Don't do that.

Love of Christ; Love from Christ; Love for Christ; Love like Christ

con mucho amor

Elder McLaughlin
 
Yes... gave myself a haircut

My initials for a run-down recording studio... guess I'm talented.

Still Christmas in this household!

Daily fish off the balcony... it's how we eat in North Chuck! #MSFprobs

Hook got stuck in my hand. whooops.
 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Christmas #4

So, missionaries have many different "Christmas- like days". Of course the actual day of Christmas is Christmas, but so is Mother's Day and LDS General Conferences. All of those are just like chocolate for the soul....that sounds weird lol. Man it was so great talking to the family!! I did not want to hang up. 40 minutes went by wayyyyy too fast. 

Mom was worried that Bray was looking too skinny, so he proved that he still has meat on those bones.
family picture fail
In disbelief that Monson is taller than Dad = Brayden is way shorter than both.
So here are some quick points. First off, I am so sad for the lack of respect in the Latino families. Many of the stories I have heard are sad. Lots of domestic violence. There is a family living in one of the trailer parks we work in, and their son passed away because he choked on jello. That was very strange, and so there were some cops investigating the step-dad. We are trying to help the mom, and apparently a few days ago, the step-dad hit her on the head because she was going through lots of grief. That was so sad to hear. We visited Rocio (Recent convert) and she shared stories about her mom, and the abuse her mom faced from her dad. It was so sad. Respect your moms! They do so much, and I don't think we give back to them enough.

So we have been getting some weird questions lately from many people we talk to. A few days ago I got this question again: "What color is Jesus?" I was like are you serious, not again. I asked the guy, why it was important what color he is. He ignored and kept asking it. I told him that I do not know for sure, because I have never seen Jesus with mine own eyes. He said, I'll tell you. He's black. I replied with something like: cool! It doesn't matter to me what he looks like, the only thing that matters is that He died for us and suffered for our pains, afflictions and our sins. Interesting haha

We taught a man named Marco a few days ago. We found him walking in the street. We taught him real quick. Saturday, we got a phone call, from an out of the country number. It was a lady from Guatemala. She is the wife of Marco! She was super excited (and hard to understand). Marco was impressed with us or something and gave his wife our number! Apparently she is being taught by Mormon missionaries in Guatemala! We hope to see him in the next few days!!

Interesting things: There are lots of blue jays! They are definitely
my new favorite bird. They are so fast and really beautiful! They have like a static blue color. I'll try to take a pic of one! We have here in North Chuck what I term "pac-man police". The sirens on the police cars sound like pacman! It is so funny!

We also sang in church yesterday! We are in an English ward, but have a Spanish group, so Elder Douglas and I sang a Spanish hymn with Hermana Perez! It was in acapella and everybody loved it! That's twice now I have sung with a group in front of a big group of people on my mish! My violin talent has been put on hold, but I actually am getting better at singing!

Sandra is almost progressing! She came an 1hr 53 mins late to church, but she still came at least! She is soaking the gospel up and just really wants to get baptized super bad! She gets so excited during lessons, and it is so funny! We are teaching her two daughters as well, and they are very solid. Possible three baptisms here pretty soon! We tried setting a baptism date for June 4th with them, and they said they would really pray to see if this is the path they should take! That's exactly what we want them to do, so I cannot wait to see what will happen! Wohoo! This area has not baptized since Jan.16.

Well, till next week!!!



Hermana Campbell was transferred this week

check out this miniature door at the trailer park
See you again in 7 months at Christmas time!


Elder McLaughlin- envió desde mi iPad

Monday, May 2, 2016

7 Months Out & Staying in North Chuck

Playing Dress-Up haha
We got transfer calls this morning, and Elder Douglas and I are staying together for another transfer! This will be transfer #3 together. We are really unified right now, and the companionship is going great. I can admit, in February, when we were first put together, it was kind of rough. We did not agree on anything, and I was kind of judgmental. But, we have had some very good companion inventories and we are better than ever! We were put together when he was at 4.5 months and when I was fresh out of training at 3 months.

The Lord knows what he is doing, because our Spanish was not the best, and we still were not very sure how to really be a missionary. We have dived into preach my gospel, and our lessons are way better and we are more bold and confident with people than ever before! This last month we got 23 new investigators and man there is some good potential! The gift of tongues is coming back for me which is a relief haha! This week was a great week! We had some pretty cool experiences! 

The first was with a guy named Reher. He is a 7th Day Adventist. We talked about his beliefs and then religion in general. He seems pretty cool, and his religion has some similarities with ours. We went into the Book of Mormon, and introduced it. Just like everybody else, he had hold ups. The first thing he did was quote a scripture from the bible about being aware of false prophets. We testified of the Book of Mormon, shared the promise of Moroni, and again he started quoting scriptures from Isaiah... I was so lost at this point. So I paraphrased when Jesus said something like "other sheep I have that are not of this fold" and said that his other fold he was talking about were the peoples of the Americas.
He talked about how he only needed the bible to have salvation. I
admire his faith and his determination, but we will be judged out of
all of the books, is what I said to him. He went on again talking about how this book could not be true. I got bold and testified and the spirit was so strong. He said he would have to study it and I said that is all we ask him to do. I felt good because the spirit was strong, and I did all that I could do.

I felt super sad for one guy named Jose Luis this week as well.
We were teaching his family, and he asked what our intentions were with his family. We shared our purpose, and he went off on a tangent of respecting other religions. I understand that we must respect other religions, but we do need to invite others to listen to ours. I have strong witness that this church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true church on the face of the earth. That is why I am out here for 2 years, eating, breathing and living missionary work. It is so important to proclaim our unique message that the Church of Jesus Christ, which God established on the earth, is here again after being lost for many centuries. He was super hard-hearted and did not want to listen.
We had a miracle yesterday! We had nobody show up to church, or so we thought. Marcelo Garcia (off date for baptism now) and Sandra (new golden investigator) did not show. After sacrament a guy walked in with his Bible and a Book of Mormon. It took me a second to figure out who he was! It was Rodolfo! We taught him a few weeks ago and after the lesson we had, he gave us a hug! We did not think he was interested, but he came! I was soo surprised! He liked church, and said that he has been praying to see what church he needs to be a part of. We have a lesson with him on Thursday, so wish us luck! We talked with Julio this week, and we saw a whole different side of him. We found out he has "studied" with tons of different religions, and now it was our turn. He has so many hold ups with the validity of the Book of Mormon. He wants tangible evidence, but where is the faith in that? He asked so many what if questions that we answered with points in the restoration and plan of salvation. He tried to confound us in our words, but he was like frustrated when he couldn't lead us into his "traps" so to say. I was sad, and he does not really have real interest. He said he wanted to read the Book of Mormon, but has not kept any of his commitments to do so. Unless he calls us up, we are not going back. 

So, we had a fiesta on Friday for the Spanish group! It was so fun! We made it happen, and we invited investigators and less actives. Two of our less actives showed up and we had Sandra (investigator) show up as well! They got some good fellowshippers! A guy named Matthew Dimbinski showed up with another guy, Nick Franco. They were missionaries (Spanish) here like a year and a half ago. They were studs! We are ballin it up with them today at our zone sports day, in West Ashley. So Dimbinski trained elder Seiger, who trained Elder Fife, who trained me. That makes Dimbinski my mission Great-Grand dad. It was sick seeing him!
Matthew Dimbinski - my mission 'Great Grand-Dad' 
The Fiesta
Last night we went to visit a less-active, Maria Cruz. She was baptized in New York 10 years ago and hasn't been to church in over a year. She let us in, fed us on her porch (some dang good Honduranian food) and we taught her! We got out of there quick though, cause turns out she was super drunk....she invited us back next Sunday, so we will teach her some more, to try and get her back to church!

Southern culture: Okay, so many people ask me, "what is it like being in the south?" So, I have no clue as to what southern culture really is. Wikipedia has better idea than me lol. It is because we work in apartments and trailer parks where every Hispanic is, since I'm a Spanish-speaking missionary. However, it is cool teaching and getting to know Latinos from all over Latin America, and seeing their cultures. There are in order of most population: Mexico, Honduras, Brazil, Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru and Bolivia. I did meet a lady from the Dominican Republic this week.

Last night I fell asleep during a companion prayer, before heading out of the house. We knelt down and folded our arms on our study chairs and it was a loooong prayer he gave. I dozed off and then regained consciousness, and did not hear any words. He was waiting for me for two minutes! Hahahaha! I felt so bad, but it was funny. I tried playing it off like nothing happened.

Okay. Its all! WE GOT MOTHERS DAY FACE TIME THIS WEEK!!!! WOOOO

Elder McLaughlin- envió desde mi iPad