Monday, February 27, 2017

I'm sorry for the long email... well, not really lol

Elder Braden Brian is my new companion! He was a zone leader in West Columbia before this! He is a rancher from Loa, Utah-- middle of nowhere! He is a hard worker! I am excited to be with him.
We were walking the other day and this guy yells out from his porch, "Hey Elders!" That is either a good thing or a bad thing... we walked over, and this guy was missing two teeth, he was smoking and high out of his mind!! He said he is part Mormon---- we asked how. He said because he goes to all churches....haha.
While pondering during the sacrament yesterday, a few scriptures came to my mind. 

3 Nephi 8:25 "…all such as should come unto them should be baptized with water, and this as a witness and a testimony before God, and unto the people, that they had repented and received a remission of their sins."

The sacrament is a symbol of Baptism. So…just like you cannot be baptized if you had not repented of your sins, you have to come to sacrament meeting, having already repented and received forgiveness of your sins. The physical act of partaking of the bread and water is a symbol, and does not clean us of our sins, rather like the scripture says above, it is a witness before God and others in that congregation that you have repented of your sins.

Now, from that point it is important to retain that remission of sins through daily exercising of faith, repenting, giving service and basically living the Gospel…  anyway, that is what I was thinking about yesterday a little bit.

In gospel principles we were taught about prayer. Something that I need to be better at is putting more effort into my prayers. It is so easy when praying to get distracted by other thoughts. Something I am going to do more of, is praying aloud- in a quiet voice of course. That will help me focus better I think.

Another thing I was thinking about this week… with all who investigate the church, we ask them to read from the Book of Mormon, pray about it, and come to church! Why do we ask them, rather invite them to to these things? Because that is how revelation will come. 

Revelation as I have studied and received on my mission, most of the time, requires effort. Therefore, our investigators and all of us need to put more effort into prayer, church attendance and scripture study. All of those require great effort. It requires effort to prepare for church by looking at the lessons, by listening intently through the distractions of little kids, and by participating. It requires effort to as you pray, listen for promptings, stand accountable to the Lord for your day, and to know what to repent for…and to know what to pray for. It requires effort while studying the scriptures to be patient in understanding what is hard to understand, in listening for the prompitngs of the spirit, in looking for ways to apply what you read, in cross-referencing, in pondering and critical thinking. Now if we can learn to better do these three simple things, we will put ourselves in the position to recognize better answers to prayer, and we will be more intune with God. If investigators will do this, they will recive the answer that yes, these things are good and true.

This week has been tough. I felt confounded at many doorsteps, not knowing what to say. I testified of Christ a lot, and we did our best to introduce the Book of Mormon. I have been thinking a lot of how I can be more direct, but creative in our approaches to everybody. Many people did not want to talk with us. Our invitation is simple, but it seems that so many are comfortable with where they are at. We must all learn to have open minds and hearts, because when we do, the spirit of the Lord can help us know what is and is not truth… And man, every church has many great truths, but many fail to see ours too.

Just as I am writing this, our investigator, Susan, left a voice message and dropped us. We had a lesson with her yesterday. She does not want to live on earth any longer. She says she will never do anything to heart her body because it is a temple, but she is sick and tired of her trials and afflictions. She expressed many other concerns, and she ultimately does not feel that anybody else can truly love her, only God. Many of her concerns stem from the lack of understanding she has about God's plan of happiness. She does not understand what will happen to her after this life, although we have explained it using scriptures, and testimony, and analogies, etc. Yesterday we read together from 3 Nephi 27 and invited her to be baptized again. We explained that this is the kingdom of heaven on Earth. God has used her to bless so many lives, as she has worked in AA for 38 yrs. We told her that God is giving you this blessing and opportunity to learn of, and accept His restored Gospel. No blessing can be greater. She responded with many reasons why she did not want to be baptized and become a member. We testified, invited her to read from the Book of Mormon, and then we had to leave. One day, I hope she will see what she has been missing her entire life. I prayed for her last night again to see how we could help her... I guess setting her aside right now is what needed to happen.

Moses called us yesterday- the super solid one- and he said that he will not be able to meet for 2 months. He had a death in the family, and so they went out to Georgia yesterday. That was tough for us to hear, but I know that his family really needs him. He is such spiritually strong man, and he is searching of more knowledge. He is trying got become a better husband, and man I wish all y'all could meet him!

Kristan cancelled her appointment this week because she is sooo dang busy!!! haha man I hope we can get to teach her again soon. Keep praying that we will be able to this week! She is such a stud!

This week before he went home, Elder Fife and I went street contacting at Fall's park in downtown..look it up! it is so pretty cool! One guy was sitting on a bench, painting the cool bridge and scenery righ there. We went down and talked with him. You talk about someone else, and take 100% sincere interest in them and what they are doing, they will turn and ask about you! (this was my only piece of dating advice to Elder Fife before he went home- other than the "don't get married before I get back" advice) Any way we got on the topic of the last days, and he started talking about the Anit-Christ. I wanted to tie it back to the restoration, and did not know what to say. An interesting thought poppped into my head. This is what I told the guy: In Revelation it talks bout 2 prophets or apostles (I don't remeber which) will lie dead in the streets of Jerusalem for 3.5 days. If that will happen, well, we have got to have at least two apostles first, right? He said yeah that makes sense. I then testified that we do have living prophets and apostles, and that we do because the Church of Christ has been restored in it's fullness upon the earth. The spirit no doubt put that thought process in my mind, because I had never thougth of that.

Elder Anderson of the Q
uorum of the Twelve said in the Jan 25th missionary broadcast, that you know when you have taught with the spirit when you leave having learned something from what you had said...that is so true. 

One last experience: Martha has been super flakey. She won't keep commitments or appointments. Elder Fife and I prayed to know exactly what her concerns and needs were, because we were just so lost with how to help her. We got into that lesson, and she just spewed out all of her feelings and concerns. I was amazed- God answered that prayer right quick! Elder Fife felt prompted to share some experience, and as he was sharing it, I felt inspired to read together from 1 nephi 8- the vison that Lehi had. We did so, and we did all we could to explain it very clearly and simply to her... because it is basically a huge analogy for this life. She has been feeling discouraged, hopeless, bogged down and feels the pressures from the world getting got her. We were able to re-teach the power and importance of prayer in our lives. We re-commited her to pray as she feel discouraged and unmotivated. We recommited her to study the scriptures-- this story was just so perfect. Heavenly Father knows us and our concerns perfectly. That is why for us misionaries, putting more effort to receive revelation through prayer, scripture study and church is so vital to this work. For parents, these three things are so vital to know how to handle kids and to teach them. He loves us, and I feel of his love for others every day. I'm grateful to be his servant.

Sorry for the long email...well, not really lol

Elder McLaughlin- envió desde mi iPad

Brayden & Braden

Monday, February 20, 2017

Short & Sweet

Soo...I did not space my time out so well! Oops! This will be a short one!
  • Our investigator Martha is kinda hot and then cold in terms of desire to be a member of the church. We had a great lesson on the keeping the sabbath day holy, and she understood it is a commandment. We read with her from the Book of Mormon too. She cancelled a few appointemtns, and never showed up to church. Not sure what is going on. :(
  • Tuesday we had planned to knock around a new-move in, and we were in the right place at the right time. A guy named Donny, who used to live in travelers rest (part of the hunger games filmed there btw) showed up in his work van to do some apartment maintenance. He had ordered a Book of Mormon months ago, but never had received one! We gave him a Book of Mormon and talked about it a bit.
  • We have been doing more on our part to get into member homes. We have scheduled some FHE with families in the ward. 
  • We are getting media referrals up the wall! Everyone seems to have a bible app and there are ads the church puts onto the application. They are for free bibles and copies of the Book of Mormon. We are finding some solid people through it. Little does anyone know that whoever made those bible apps are helping us missionaries share the Gospel!
  • We need solid, strong black ladies in all our congregations! Oh my goodness I have met so many who have such a strong faith in Christ. They are freaking hilarious also, and just make you smile! We talked with one the other day- and we told her that we testify of Christ and help others come unto him... she replied "You means to tell me, dat same guy who walked on water, dat same guy who rose from the grave? Yeah I knows everythin' 'bout dat man"
  • Last night we had a dinner and a lesson with Kristen! Finally! It was sick, because it was not a formal lesson, but the entire dinner, she asked such great questions about doctrine, history of the church and what not. The Albrechts were perfect! They shared experiences, and explained so simply and clearly to answer her questions. We shared our testimonies and taught a few principles, but I am so grateful for members who understand missionary work! Wohoo! 
  • Elder Fife is leaving this week... but he will be back to visit in 3 weeks. It has been a great 7 weeks with him, and I'm glad to call him a friend for life!! 
Elder McLaughlin- envió desde mi iPad

Jessica Albrecht giving Brayden an air hug:) I told her just to give him a mom hug from me, but.... mission rules...

Dinner with Kristen, one of the newer investigators 

Family Rodriguez. We were the first
misisonaries to meet tthem when they moved to the states back when we were firsts comps in Simpsonville! They are from Monterrey, Mexico! Now they have been in our ward in Greenville for a few months!
The Albrechts!!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Back to Square One

Elder McLaughlin & Elder Fife chatting about their week 2/8/17 from Shayla McLaughlin on Vimeo.

So...We sang in church yesterday! It was us and a priest who comes out with us every week. It was good! Fife messed up over the pulpit as you can hear in the recording haha, but the practice video I took sounded better! Overall, we got it figured out! (Here's the practice one, which sounded way better)

We had our investigator named Susan at church yesterday. We did not see her sneak in, but a member came up afterwards to us and told us that she had sat down next to her. The member said Susan was very bothered by the irreverence during the meeting and had got up and walked out through it. We had no idea! It was pretty loud and people were getting up all over the place. We called her last night, and she said she was appalled. She came to church 2 weeks ago as well, but we just felt so bad. She has been acting weird towards us lately, and last night I asked if we could stop by at 4 on Tuesday. She said "No, got to go. Bye." I hope we can get things figured out! Everyone has now fallen off baptismal dates officially. Two fell off this week. We are back to square one. The good thing is that we are finding out really easily who is committed and who isn't. We are finding like crazy and indeed we are finding some good potential. We just have to see them now. People keep canceling on us! We had like 4 investigators cancel because they were sick! I mean, you cannot control that, so yeah.

Monday night was sick! We had invited Jacob to prayerfully select one of his friends to hear a message from us. He chose his friend Lydia and we taught her the Restoration. They go to this boarding school downtown called the governors school of the arts...its a pretty big deal, and you have got to be musically or artistically talented. Anyway, it went well, and apparently his other friends want to meet with us now too! did we hit a gold mine? Who knows?! Haha

We also went to contact a referral named Roshanda. She was there with her family, and we shared the "because of him" video and talked about the Restoration a little bit. Her daughter named Kim had met with missionaries in Tampa for like 3 years or so. She has been living here for the last year and she said it was no coincidence that we (the missionaries) showed up again into her life! The last missionaries she talked with both were transferred out and then she moved to Greenville. I hope we can meet with her again! (She canceled our appointment on Friday).

On Wednesday, Fife and I both agree that we were involved in teaching the most powerful Restoration lesson on our missions. It was with Moses (IDK if I mentioned him before). Anyway, he was so focused, engaged, asked many questions to help him understand and man it was so amazing. I wish you were all there to see and feel this special moment. We somehow taught the restoration using what he had read from 2 Nephi 31. He actually read AND understood that chapter. He told us that he learned the importance of keeping commandments after baptism. I shared the first Vision with him, and after I finished I paused, and he said something like "wow! You could be an actor! That was great! I know you aren't acting, because I know you know that was truth!" Then he jokingly asked if Elder Fife could say the first vision. He told us that he understood he needs to be baptized by one who holds that proper authority given to him of God....he is super elect! He wants his wife to learn too. Tonight we have another lesson with him, and we hope to put him on date for baptism. 

We met many people this week who want us to come back, including a professor at Clemson! She has an LDS student and we gave her a Book of Mormon.

We talked to a lady at Cleveland the way on Saturdays this park is PACKED! It is behind the zoo. We talked about recieving calls, and then got into a converation about salvation, and faith and works. She is non denominational Christian, and beleives that she does not have to work for her salvation. It is a gift from God and therefore has no contingencies. She kinda go hung up on the word "Gift". She was saying how it was unnerving to her that we stress and labor for our salvation. She doesn't think it is right that once we are saved, we can lose salvation. We brought up many things, and ultimatley where the difference was in our beleifs was that by grace we are saved- after all we can do. She noted that we beleive the "After all we can do" part and she doesn't. This caused me to study more about grace (which is the strengthening and enabling power of the atonement) and faith/ works. 

Phillipians 2: 12 "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
James says that faith without works is dead... we asked her why she repents then if she beleives that once she is saved she is good to go. She said that it was because she has to repay christ back for what he did.

This conversation did not go anywhere, but it helped me see more what many people no way was it contentious, but it helped me study in depth this topic....maybe in the future I'll attach my notes.

Something I read this morning was this:

John 10:37, 38 (in specific)
31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.
38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

If Christ had a hard time in convincing others of his divine sonship, there is no surprise to me that we are having a tough time convincing others that the Book of Mormon is His word.

2 Nephi 33:10
10 And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.
11 And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye--for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.

Three main concerns we get every day are these:
1. I'm already saved
2. I don't need no more Bible
3. I'm fine with where I am at because God is in my heart.

There are so many great church going people down here. Great hearts. But it is so hard to show them that this Book of Mormon and this Church can bring them to such a greater knowledege and understanding of Christ and our Heavenly Father. I am having the time of my life doing the Lord's work.

Love you!

JOHN 3: 16 Valentine

For God so loved
  the world, that he gave his
                   only begotten Son, that whosoever
                      in him should
                   perish, but have

Fife sent me this... not sure what it was from, 
but he's all tuckered out.

Elder McLaughlin- envió desde mi iPad

Monday, February 6, 2017

Wheat & Tares

Hey! This week was a little tough on us. We have a goal to baptize 4 in the month of February, and we have had 5 on date for baptism the last month or so, and this week 3 fell off. This week, we get a phone call from a member named Miguel. He is the husband of Rosa and the dad of Rolando- who were both on date for the 11th. To make a long phone call a short story- We got dropped. Rosa does not want to be baptized again, and they both do not want to be married. They are afraid to commit to each other- which is hard for me to understand because they have ben together for 10 years already. Anyway, they said they would still come to church...but they did not. 

Victor has been to church once, and we have taught him three times, but he does not want to continue on with baptism. He feels like God put him in this certain path and he feels good about it. I told him after we had taught the Plan of Salvation this week that it was no coincidence that God led him here, to this church, to be taught by us. God will use different means, and put people in different paths, that will eventually come to one single path leading to him. There is not one way to be led to the Gospel, but their is only one gospel to lead us to our Heavenly Father.

Martha and her two kids did not come to church again, although they keep promising us they would- since before I even got here. Saturday night we went over to her house, and there was some contention you could feel between her and her daughter…We found out why! Martha crashed her daughter's car into someone else this week, and her daughter was super salty about it. Martha had felt super not happy, and she described "hopeless" and "discouraged" and "depressed." She did not feel like doing anything. We really felt for her, and when we talked to her on sunday, we testified of the atonement, and really helped her realize that by praying, reading the scriptures and coming to church that she wouldn't have to feel that way. I shared what Jacob in the Book of Mormon taught about the word of God: "…the pleasing word of God…health the wounded soul." (Jacob 2:8). We prayed with her and she mentioned how much better she feels when we come over to teach and help her. That is the spirit of God. When we teach somebody, they can feel a portion of that. If they really have a desire to learn, they will want to feel that Spirit more, and that will lead to conversion. 

We were going through some former investigators the other day ,so we decided to visit a former named Moses! He is super cool! He explained what the other missionaries had taught him, and he really wanted us to start up visiting him and his wife! side note- this guy is 60 years old, has 34 grandkids and some great grandkids and looks 35!! We met an 82 yr. old black guy named John on exchanges, and he looked like he was 50!! These guys don't age! It is awesome!!!!!!--Anyway we explained the importance of a temple sealing. Family is huge to them so it seemed natural. We taught that baptism by proper priesthood authority is the first step towards that temple sealing! He was so stoked to talk with us, and said he couldn't wait to talk more about baptism next time! We have a lesson with him this week, so next week I'll let y'all know what went down! 

These last 2 weeks there have been several mornings where we were looking for keys to the car. Every time, we find them in the door still. I KEEP LEAVING THE KEYS IN THE DOOR AT NIGHT! GEE WIZ! glad that nobody has stolen us yet…

Every french fry down south must be cajun seasoned. It is a southern thing, and it is good. all y'all should go get yourselves some cajun fries.

This morning we went ice skating! We went to the ice rink where the Greenville Swamp Rabbits play! They are a farm team for I think the Rangers??? Not sure… anyway- hockey skates are way easier than the other kind, I forget what they are. I fell so many times…it hurts!!! Mad respect for hockey players now. Ice skating at high speeds, while being checked into walls and slashed by other players hockey sticks would be horrifying. 

We had dinner with an investigator Monday night named Chris. It was dang good!! The food, and as he termed it "the fellowship". He is on a paleo way of eating, so we had pork chop, and some dang good other foods which were super healthy… We are trying to eat healthy, but neither of us are cooks! Any tips? haha

On Sunday we had such a good church service. We both bore our testimonies in sacrament meeting and two other member bore theirs about missionary work, and one brother told the whole congregation that if they want to see pros in action, then go out and teach with elder fife and his new companion. I thought that was pretty cool. I really hope that we can make a difference in this ward, and that we can unify it through missionary work. We have great leaders, and our ward mission leader magnifies his calling well. The work is picking up and it is exciting!

Some scriptures that stuck out to me this week in studies:
Alma 37:44 "For behold, it is…easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point you a straight course to eternal bliss"

Helaman 3:29-30-- look it up

Helaman 5:6-7---
 Behold, my sons, I desire that ye should remember to keep the commandments of God; and I would that ye should declare unto the people these words. Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good.
 Therefore, my sons, I would that ye should do that which is good, that it may be said of you, and also written, even as it has been said and written of them.

In this chapter, Nephi and his brother Lehi wo are sons of Helaman are remembering the words that he spake unto them. We see much fatherly counsel in the book of mormon, and I love this counsel he gives.  I love this because our names have so much power. This week a girl asked us we are Christian. She asked if we had ever thought about not being a Christian. Just as in this verse, we have taken a name upon us. the name of Jesus Christ, through baptism. It is so important for us to represent him in all we do. I have received so many blessings, and have had so many spiritual experiences that I cannot deny that God lives. I will always be a Christian. As I was writing this a scripture from the new testament topped in my head: 1 John 2:6 "He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also to walk, even as he walked."

Be an example. Don't be a hypocrite. Remember who you represent, whether it be in work or at school, or in church.

AND...Go Pats!! love y'all

how many bikes can you strap to the back of your car???

As Zone Leaders, we attend all the District Meetings. This is the Simpsonville District:
left to right, back to front:
Sisters Wilmott, Janke, Baxter, Elder Wolfley, Black, me, to my right: Elder Ewell, to my left: Elder Wilkes, then Parkinson, Griffiths, then below is Dawbarn who is on top of Elder Smith. Elder Smith is 6'8'' and was state champ in basketball at Bountiful HS.