Monday, September 26, 2016

Will Eat Tacos for Service

after our service
We had a ton of service this week! We went to a food bank to do service cleaning up the warehouse, and sorting cans- we have been going there a lot! It had been so much fun! We also raked up a bunch of pine straw at an older guys house who lives across the
street from the church! He is 93 years old, and he is a WW II Vet! He was in the Pacific and in North Africa! It was cool! I may have met a WW II vet, but not that I remember <insert by mom.... um his great grandpas were all vets & he knew 2 of them>. The Spanish Elders have a less-active with an acre of land. 
They have fences along the border and we cleared out vines, and brush, and some small trees from these fences. Apparently they were having a problem with snakes camping out near the fence, and they wanted to stop that from happening! We did not finish, but they cooked up some good mess!

We had a taco eating contest- chorizo, tinga, asada, and carnitas. Sooo dang good! I only had 9 tacos, and the record set by previous missionaries was 21. Elder Skirvin had 26 tacos and crushed that record! Also we took down a members fence! It was fun. I love service!
MEAT on Meat on MeAt on meat
Other than that, we visited many less-actives this week. We have been going super hard at trying to bring less-actives back. We visited a guy yesterday that went less-active right after his mission (11 years ago) and it went really well. He wants to get back into things again, and he is willing to do whatever it takes! Also, I gave a talk yesterday in church! I talked about how when we are converted we desire to share the gospel. I based my talk from Alma 36:12-24. It went well. I am so grateful for the gospel and the many blessings it has brought to my short life. The atonement is so real and we are helpless without.
Preaching in a 1700's church in Georgetown Harbor, SC
Cyprus wood seating divided in sections by family
Outside of the 1700's church
Georgetown Harbor- Some historians claim that American history began here in 1526 with the earliest
settlement in North America by Europeans with African slaves

In Georgetown Harbor- same street as the ward building

Charleston from the freeway 
bowling last week for p-day

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Monday, September 19, 2016

"The Trap"

This week I did another baptismal interview! It was very good! The guy is pretty solid- He was baptized on Saturday! We had zone conference on Friday, and that was a really good one! President talked about how each and every diligent, obedient missionary, plays a part in every baptism in the mission. It is 100% true. It may sound weird at first, but it's true. For this last baptism I played a direct part in it! The zone had 2 baptisms this weekend, putting us at 7 for the month here in the Charleston zone! We have 14 on date in the zone right now, all in October! We will be seeing some more baptisms soon! The Assistants conduct zone conference, and we don't do anything but get members to bring food, and assign musical numbers and prayers. 

Anyway, the AP's were late to conference. It was because on Friday morning, while in their apartment, a lady drove her car through their front wall!!! They said it sounded like a nuclear bomb. They were fine, and the lady was high on something. They found pills in her purse too! However, they did make it to conference, and all is well! 

President talked a lot about preparing solid ground for our investigators, less-actives and even us. We have got to be applying the gospel to our lives daily. For investigators that would be us helping them to have faith, repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. For members it is having faith, repenting, remembering baptismal covenants, living do that we can have the spirit to be with us always, and repeat! I like the little twist on the gospel for members! As always I bring a question to zone conference, and I got answers! Missionary meetings are always so uplifting! 

We have been busy with gathering stake coordination information. We had stake coordination last night with the stake president, high councilman over missionary work, President Turner, his wife, the sister training leaders and a councilor in the mission presidency. It was pretty cool being a part of it all. We talked about the South Carolina initiative and the missionary work in the zone! It is cool seeing how the church functions from an insider point of view! 

We got led into a "trap" the other day. There was a guy and his daughter who came to church last week, and we set up a time to see him. We went in and taught the restoration. He had studied up on us, and asked very deep questions. I thought he was pretty interested at first. He said at one point something like, "Now, I'm going to challenge you, and don't take that the wrong way. Know that it is because I love you guys." I found that to be very odd. He pulled out a notebook and took notes as well. I have never seen anybody take notes. He denied Joseph Smith, he denied the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, he denied our testimonies saying "you seem sincere, but sincerity is different from truth." He denied that there was ever a great apostasy. If there was no apostasy, there was no need for Restoration. He brought up sermons that Joseph Smith gave, and many different things from Doctrine and Covenants (a book of scripture that includes revelations given to Joseph Smith). His questions were formed so well as if to try and make us doubt what we believe in. We tried answering his questions, but he would just ask more questions based off our answers. We had our ward mission leader with us, and at one point he just stopped talking. I did not catch on to what was happening until later on. I made the same point three times that all we do is invite others to read this Book of Mormon and to ask God if it is true. Nobody needs to take our word for anything. Ask your creator who knows everything! He will answer you! 

He would not listen. It never got contentious, but he just contested what we said over and over again. In the end we spent 2 hours there, and ultimately wasted at least an hour of our time. We are here to teach the gospel, not to be taught the gospel. He gave us a card to his church group. On the back one of the questions said "How should I teach the gospel to Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses', and Mormons?" He does not think we teach the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

Yes, Mormons are peculiar, yes we do have some crazy history, and yes we have boldly claimed that our church is the only true and living church of Jesus Christ on earth today. All we do is share various messages about Christ's restored gospel and ask those we teach to find out for themselves if what we say is truth or all false. All anybody needs to do is read the Book of Mormon sincerely, and later ask God if it is true. Those who ask with a sincere heart, with real intent to act upon the answer they receive, and if they ask in faith, the Holy Spirit will manifest the truthfulness of it unto you. I know that to be true and so do millions of people living on the earth do as well.
Charleston Southern University 

Brayden's apartment

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Back to My Holy City- Charleston Round 2!

Well y'all, I am back in Chuck Town, The Holy City, my home away from home! CHARLESTON (well, technically North Charleston). I live in an apartment downstairs from my old one too! The area is the same area I was in before, but I'm now teaching the English-speaking population. 

Elder Dillree & me
My companion is Elder Dillree! He was my zone leader for a transfer, before I left to West Columbia to be a district leader. He is from Corinne, Utah. He is a huge outdoors guy (hunting fishing farming etc.) He is pretty cool! He goes home in November, which means I may be taking over the area pretty soon here! We get along pretty well, and we have taught pretty well together thus far! A little more about the zone, first off we have 42 missionaries including a senior couple, which is the biggest in the mission! Right now 8 missionaries are being trained. We also have 4 districts! The zone has always been a pretty good zone. When Elder Daynes and Astorga were ZL's the zone was doing super well! I hope Elder Dillree and I can lead the zone back to where it has been previously! 

I feel like I am being trained again. There are a lot of things the zone leaders do on a daily basis. I'll pick it up fast though. So in the mission we have 6 stakes, and each one of the stakes is a zone. There's Charleston, Columbia, West Columbia, Florence, Greenville, and Greenville East! There are 12 zone leaders, and 4 of those zone leaders were former Spanish Elders (Me, Elder Douglas, Elder Volmar, and Elder Degraffenreid-- I have served in the same district here in North Charleston with them) and 2 are currently Spanish Elders (Fife and Hemiuli-Fife being my trainer, and Hemiuli being Elder Douglas's trainer! Crazy huh?)

It is weird being here though. I looked up to Elder Aldous, Astorga and Daynes, and now I replace them! It will be kind of weird that I will be a role model for some missionaries, like the ones mentioned above were to me! I feel a lot of pressure. I have to remember though to just be myself. The only thing changing is where I'm serving, and my amount of responsibility.

This North Charleston ward is so great! We had ward council on Sunday, and they really know what is up! Super effective, and the members are dang cool! Instead of Elders Quorum on Sunday we went to Primary! We sang during singing time, and it brought back a lot of memories! We only went since the relief society did some get together thing, and they needed the whole Elders Quorum to sub for the Primary.

Last week Elder Dillree and Astorga baptized three!! They are really cool, and I will be seeing them this week to teach the new member lessons! There is another family who the zone leaders have been teaching since November (when I got to the field). Their kids got baptized, and its now been 10 months since missionaries first met them. They have some word of wisdom issues and that is the only thing holding them back! They read, pray and go to church, and are pretty active too. We hope we get to baptize them this transfer! I met them when I got to the area and we clicked pretty easily! Super great fam. More on them in coming weeks!

On Saturday we had a stake-wide church tour. It has been in the plans for 2 months. All the church buildings were hosting open houses! Not much success was found overall, but we did have 12 people show up to tour the church at our building! It was pretty cool! Those who came loved it!

Anyway, not too eventful this week, and not many experiences, but next week for sure there will be some good stuff!

Elder Finch, & Seamons

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

My mission call changed... AND, we are all here to walk each other home.

***UPDATE from today at the end of this post

First off, Hurricane Hermine didn't hurt us! Just lots of rain!
I have been super blessed to learn Spanish and to share the gospel and my testimony of this gospel to those from Spanish speaking countries. I love the Hispanic people, although it can get frustrating with how much they work, not being able to teach many on a continual basis. But still, I feel super blessed. It is crazy to see how far I have come with my ability to speak, read and write in Spanish. I have still a lot of work to do with speaking, but understanding, reading and writing are pretty good. 
Mahonry-- branch Pres son... He is 13. Hispanic version of Monson, no joke!

Gerardo- baptized 9 months ago in Oklahoma!
Going on a mission in Jan we hope!
In my missionary call letter it states that my call can be changed according to the needs of the mission. I received a phone call from President Turner on Friday morning during personal study. He said that I would be teaching the gospel in the English language now. He also called me to be a Zone Leader this upcoming transfer!! I am super excited to be in this position of leadership to influence so many missionaries. I asked president about Spanish studies. He does not want me to lose what I have worked so hard to attain, and therefore I will be able to still have language study for an hour every day! Looks like I will be having a lot of conversations with myself in Spanish! I have been saying all my prayers in Spanish,
so I will continue to do that! What is cool is that at the end of my mission I can say I worked with all the cultures available in South Carolina! I also tried getting him to spill the beans to where I would be serving, and he said "haha nice try. you'll find out at transfers." Soooo next week I'll let y'all know!!

This week we had a cool experience. We had exchanges on Friday, and on Friday night that meant I was planning by myself since the other Elder does not know my area. Anyway, after planning I felt really good about our plans. We exchanged back and then went out to work. Before dinner we had some good success! After dinner, not so much though. We were in an area where there are trailers spread out across a huge field. 

We tried contacting 6 different households of potentials, but nobody answered. After the last house we got into the car and I immediately saw a guy wheel himself in his wheelchair behind a shed at the back of his trailer. I watched for a few seconds, and he immediately drooped his head. I felt a strong prompting to get out and walk over to talk to him. I put the car in park and we approached him. I did not know if he was a white guy, or Hispanic. Either way, I was still headed over there. I called out in English, but no response, so I called out in Spanish. He put his head up slowly, back still towards us. Our eyes met his, and he had been sobbing. I scanned his body, and his arms were damaged and his legs had some medical things on these medical white socks or something. We got to talking to him and he had been in the hospital for 6 months after some accident that paralyzed him from the chest down. I fought back crying out loud, but I did cry with him. He talked about how it is so hard to live. He said he wanted
to take his own life. He said he was kept alive thanks to a machine. He knows that for some reason God still needed him down here. My mind turned to Alma 7 and I shared verses 11-13 and then testified of the atonement. I really felt for him, and I felt the spirit super strong.

When he is lonely, thoughts of being incapable come to him, but when he is with others he feels uplifted, and that someone cares. As we talked with him, a very strong prompting to give him a priesthood blessing came to my mind. I wanted to fight it back because another thought told me that giving a blessing outside would be weird. I knew the adversary was trying to stop me from exercising my priesthood. I offered to him a blessing, and explained what it is. He accepted and we gave him a blessing. I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost, and for his guidance in this work, and in my life. That is one thing I lacked before my mission, and yes, I regret it. I know that we can be great instruments in the Lord's hands, to bless his children. We are all here to walk each other home. From this experience, I thought about it a little more after it occurred, and I am starting to understand what the Savior meant when he said, "to mourn with those that mourn, to comfort those that stand in need of comfort." On Tuesday we knocked 38 doors and only 2 listened to us. Feeling rejection like this really made this experience with this man that much sweeter. I wish I could better describe the experience, but I don't know how to.

We talked with the little 10 year old brother of an investigator we
have. I asked him what he likes. He said treasure! He went on to explain why, and he talked about the movie "National Treasure"- which by the way, I love. I told him about a treasure. It was a book made of all gold. I tried applying the Joseph Smith story to him,, and he was super interested! That is one thing I am excited for. Being able to apply things to people easier in my native language!

I have been studying humility a lot lately, and prayer as well. Every day we can humble ourselves a little more. Humility shows our dependency on God. As we humble ourselves we can sincerely repent. That is something special I think. Always strive to be more humble. You can never be too humble. I have grown to appreciate prayer on my mission as well. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "Pray to the Lord with the expectation of answers. … The trouble with most of our prayers is that we give them as if we were picking up the telephone and ordering <pizza>--we place our order and hang up. We need to meditate, contemplate, think of what we are praying about and for and then speak to the Lord as one man speaketh to another." Praying with faith means praying with confidence, an expectation that you will receive an answer. Being that many are of different religions, we worship the same God in different ways, but one of the same things we should all be doing as Christians is praying on the daily. I know God answers prayers. I know He is eager to bless us! That is because I have seen his hand in my life so much this past year.

Love you all. Thank you for your prayers on my behalf!
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UPDATE from Shayla-- Well, because I'm a ninja, I have used my skills to find out where Brayden was transferred to this morning and now serving as a Zone Leader. I teared up when I found out from my most amazing friend, Jessica.... he's going back to his home away from home! He is in Charleston as the ZL and can now experience the southern culture I was dying for him to see, instead of the trailer parks, since his mission call was changed to English speaking.  This was the desire of his heart- we are so grateful!

Monday, September 5, 2016

We should have back up singers in church

August 29, 2016

This week felt really long, and well, transfers are next week though!
Fast transfer! On Tuesday I got to do my first baptismal interview for the sisters investigator Nicho! It was kind of cool being on the other side of the interview. It has always been a little intimidating being interviewed by church leaders... Interviewing is fun though! Nicho passed and was baptized on Saturday! I got to be in his circle on Sunday at church to confirm him a member of the church! 

Funny thing, during the baptism service, one of the Hispanic members was doing a musical number. She put her iPhone next to a microphone, and started playing some Spanish Christian song. It was super funny! Our ward mission leader (he is like in his 60's) he was sitting on the stand, with his eyes shut, singing along. Apparently it is like a popular Hispanic Christian song! The lady was basically back- up singing to the recording and it was totally not appropriate for the chapel. She was moving around like she was a back up singer too! All of the missionaries were trying not to die laughing! Good memories!
This week I had a tough time with my companion. He did not take correction very well, and got mad at me. He did not tell me he was angry, he just got quiet and I felt the tension. I brought it up, and we figured it all out. Bottom line is that he says he has never been able to be open with people. We talked it out a little more, and we came to the conclusion that having confidence in oneself can positively effect many aspects of life. I went upstairs that night and wrote in my journal. I too had little self-confidence in my life. I reflected on how I have gained confidence in myself. My parents put me into many different activities. I was in drama, and I gave talks in church. I had to get outside my comfort zone to sing dance and act in front of many people. I was put into football, I tried out
(unsuccessfully) for water polo, I did swim, I got into playing a new
instrument. I was super involved with student government, planning
homecomings, and rallies. I was given a lot of freedom, and my parents had a lot of trust in me. I went to college and was forced to break out of my shell a little bit. All of these things, and many more, were necessary experiences and stepping stones to gaining my own confidence. As I have been out here on my mission, though I have realized that the true source of confidence comes from the companionship of the holy ghost. As we humble ourselves more everyday, it is way easier to feel the spirit, and feel God's love for us. For me, feeling His love has helped me become confident.
This week we had a really powerful lesson with Asalia. She has been reading the scripture passages we give her, and she has been reading the lessons from the gospel principles manual! We taught the plan of salvation and she really understood it. It rang true to her, and she knew it had to be true. She has a huge question right now. She wants to know how she can feel like she has been forgiven for her sins. She does not feel like an evil person, but she wants to know how she can feel like she is living a good life. We invited her to read 2 Nephi 31 and 32. We have another lesson with them on Wednesday!
We got a senior couple added to the district who speaks Spanish! They are from Payson, Utah. They are super nice and we will be working with them! This week we did not have many at church, due to sicknesses and some cars breaking down! It's alright though! Next week will be good! We have Maximo on date! He has been coming to church every week for a looooong time. He can't be baptized because he is not married. He asks lots of questions in church and is super ready!!! We are praying that he can get married sooon!!!

Well, that is what I got!!!

My family sent me a HUGE birthday card, party supplies & a Pats jersey

Mom sent me my favorite... all the ingredients to make cheesecake (no-bake kind)