Monday, May 29, 2017

Buffest Pitbulls, Fiestas, & Importance of Family

So, I feel like this week was awesome! I'm finally getting into the swing of all the Spanish stuff. I'm glad I am a Spanish missionary. We have been to three fiestas in the last 9 days... yesterday was Daniel's birthday party (Daniel is getting baptized this Saturday at 5:30!) and lots of the Hispanic members came and family friends came as well! It was sweet! We were biking along and someone honked at us, and pulled over to the side of the street. It was one of the members, and she invited us over to her father in laws house for a dinner they were having. She said her father in law and sister in law are not members, and have been taught by the missionaries before. We went, ate some good food, and established relationships! It was sweet!

The ward is really strong! We have lots of member help in whatever we do. We are starting English classes here and we hope to get it as big as it was in Charleston! When I first got to Charleston in February of 2016, we had like 3 or 4 people showing up every class. By the time I left, in July, we had 30-35 every week and had 2 separate classes! We found some really solid people from it, and many of those people who came to class, also were curious about the church and came. It was a great opportunity to make friendships, and one of the students came and visited me one Sunday in the Spanish branch in West Columbia! It was cool! We will see what happens. The spanish group is pretty strong. They love to help out with la obra misional.

We did service at a botanical garden, sang at a senior home, (learned some baptist hymns) and served at a soup kitchen! The soup kitchen got hundreds of free pizza from Little Caesars, and they were going bad, so they told us to take a, while running out of food, pizza was what sustained us! Haha. We moved our next door neighbors, and they gave us a nice dresser and some other stuff for our apartment! We needed a dresser and for sure that was a tender mercy! 

I don't recall ever being chased by dogs on my mission until this week. We biked a lot and talked to a ton of people, and while doing so, were were chased by two pitbulls. We had been riding casually down the street and out of the corner of my eye I saw two things running towards me. I glanced and then turned on my nitro and out biked those pits. Scariest thing ever! Elder Willardson almost had a heart attack- he is afraid of dogs. We were knocking around a former investigator and htis wild pitbull- buffest dog I have ever seen- comes out from under a trailer, and stares us down in some power stance. When I knocked on the door I was at that thing became vicious... Elder Willardson was pinned against the wall of the trailer. I said a silent prayer, then walked towards it to go to the car and it ran off...oh man!

In Elders Quorum in Sunday, we realized that the only two people who couldn't speak Spanish were the zone leaders. We had some Hispanic members and some former Spanish missionaries... so we decided to have the lesson taught in Spanish, and the zone leaders got salty and left to go with the young was pretty funny. That shows how many people know Spanish... and all of them are willing to help us out!

Sunday afternoon we went to another senior center to give the sacrament to a lady in the ward. We blessed the bread, and then gave it to her. She held it in her hand and forgot she had it, and why we were there. She began to talk to us about the most random things like types of foods, and asked us what we were doing. It was pretty funny. We had to coach her how to take the sacrament. We then blessed the water 10 minutes later.

We found three people who want to investigate the church this week. Sergio, Freddie, and Gabriel. We also met a former investigator named Nancy who was so stoked that we came by. She told us that she and her son want to work towards baptism. I cannot wait to help them on this path! We knocked around a former investigator and that is how we found Sergio's wife. They have 3 small kids. We asked her if we could share more of a message about families with them, after sharing a brief thing. She said her husband would be home in 40 minutes from the time we talked with her. After leaving, we didn't know where we could go for 40 minutes and within a few seconds, I'm not kidding, a teenage kid ran up to us and asked us to watch his car. He had locked his keys in the trunk and needed to run home to get a spare. So we sat there and car-sat for a while, and when he came back we taught him. 

After we shared the restoration with him, Sergio showed up top the house. Perfect timing! We met him and taught the restoration as well! He is friends with a lot of the members in the group apparently! We have a return appointment this week! We found Freddie by street contacting in a trailer park. He seemed very interested in learning about prophets when we taught him last night. He wants to learn more, and so we will go back next week, which will be our third time seeing him. We met Gabriel last Sunday and had a lesson last night with him. We were on splits, so I taught him with a recently returned missionary in the group! It was a great restoration lesson, and the guy legit taught us about prophets and there being an apostasy. We invited him to church and will see him again this week!

Last Sunday the 21st of May, we got a call from a young lady who was in the psych ward of the hospital. She had tried to commit suicude and wanted someone to talk to. We took a member with us and found out her story a little. She is a member of the church, and she was less-active because she felt pushed away by her ward. She made some bad choices and was judged because of them. She lost her kids in a court case, and has just gone down hill. She was so depressed and decided to slice her wrists. You could see the terrible scars on her left was so sad. I couldn't imagine how heavenly father must feel when we struggle like this to the point of wanting to leave our bodies and all of the pain and trials we have. I imagined the devil mocking and laughing at all of this. This is what he wants. We did our best to comfort her, and we gave her a blessing. 

A few days ago, we went looking for a potential investigator and talked to another lady who just the night before, was talked out of committing suicide. No doubt in my mind that we were at the right place at the right time. This lady had a nasty divorce, is an alcoholic, and involved with drugs and prostitution. She said that she lost all her faith and all hope. She lost her kids in the divorce, and people see her as a piece of junk. She feels that every time she tries to change, crap just happens to her. She told us that someone said that God eventually gives up on people. She said she has gone too far and there is no way back. Because she lost her kids, there was no point in life anymore. She told us that she continues to drink and do drugs because it dulls all the pain she has. I felt love for her. We testified of the Savior and the power of his atoning sacrifice. Satan wants us to feel like we have gone too far, and cannot make it back. We testified that the only way to relieve these feelings of sadness and of lost hope, and of darkensss is through the Savior. I know Jesus Christ died for us. I know he knows us perfectly. I know that through him we can have lasting peace, not just temporary peace. I know this because I have sinned and felt the burden of guilt, and have felt the joy that comes from true repentance. I also know this because when I struggle, Heavenly Father comforts me through verses of scripture. One thing I noticed in all of this, is the importance of family. Neither woman had any contact with their family, and their only family were there kids. Since there kids were gone, it was like the straw that broke the camels back. Family is so important. Love each other and get rid of any influence that will destroy your families. I'm grateful for my family and for the principles they have taught me and for the love they have shown to me.

Poop from Shayla McLaughlin on Vimeo.

Monday, May 22, 2017

White-Washing in Spartanburg

Monday night we crashed the Miller and Albrecht's FHE and had some s'mores, and said goodbyes (we were actually invited later on). Sooo, I have now been in Spartanburg for 4 days. It is super weird being in a new area, especially since this is probably my last area! White-washing has been an interesting ride so far (that means that both of us are new to the area). The area just had 2 baptisms (the Colecio family) and their son Danny is on date for June 3rd! So we have a baptism in two weeks! We don't have many investigators, and we have been doing A LOT of finding. We met some really cool people, but didn't have any sit down lessons yet- other than with the Colecio family. They are SICK! We also visited lots of members to introduce oursleves. We made some good first impressions I hope!

 In the ward many Hispanics have callings, which I have never seen before in a group. We cover half of the Greenville East Stake in Spanish. A lot of ground to cover. We are trying to work in a smaller area since we don't have an infinite amount of car miles to spend. The Spanish group is in the Boiling Springs Ward, but the stake president has said that if the Hispanics want to go to the group they can, or they can stay in their home wards. The thing is, the only Spanish translation stuff is in the Boiling Springs Ward. Sounds complicated.

While we were talking to people and knocking around potentials and former investigators, we found two places where people had placed one of our Jesus in a truck and the other on a trailer door! (Pic attached)

A few weeks ago I saw a poster of a Hispanic apostle, and this week I found a black apostle! (Pic attached)

This weekend was stake conference. We went to the adult session Saturday night, and President and Sister Turner, Elder Jones of the seventy (recently called) and Elder Richard J. Maynes, one of the presidents of the seventy were in attendance! Elder Maynes gave a powerful message about choices, and the plan of salvation! He said,

"At the moment you make a choice, you become an advocate at that position, or the choice you made. And we are doing that all day long."

Choice becomes a habit, habits become tradition, tradition becomes culture. In the world there are false traditions and true or celestial traditions. It is our responsibility to eliminate false traditions from our lives and stay on the path leading us home with our heavenly father. He went deeper into this topic, but this stood out to me the most.

In the Sunday session he shared a conversion story of a man in Mexico when he was a misison president there. This man had gotten a Book of Mormon and taught his family from it. One day he lost the book somehow and for 27 years, he did not have one. Every missionary that came by his home (from various churches) in remote la paz Mexico, he asked if they had a book that talked about Christ coming to an ancient people. 

President Maynes had enough missionaries to finally put some in La Paz and they knocked that door, found him and baptized 3 generations of his family! He talked alot about pieces to a big puzzle. Little things happen that all come together eventually. We don't want to be a missing piece. Especially in missionary work, we never really know if a prompting to go somewhere or talk to someone is a prompting until we see the results of it. That's why it's important to follow the spirit.

Also at stake conference I saw and talked with Sandra Escobar! She was baptized by Elder Fife and Stapley and Elder Fife and I when I was in training taught her the new member lessons. We were present for when she received her patriarchal blessing. She went through the temple for endowments last year too! It was good to catch up with her. She was surprised at my Spanish. In training I couldn't understand her for my life! It was cool being able to understand! 
Spanish is going well! Pray for me!

Saying goodbye to the Albrechts
Saying goodbye to the Rodriguez Family

found our pass along card on their door:)

Holy Ghost global Black Apostle 
Jesus pass along car on inside of car - at least they didn't throw it away:)

New comp Elder Willardson

Monday, May 15, 2017

Dream Come True & Changes in the Hood!

Happy Mother's Day! from Shayla McLaughlin on Vimeo.

I'm getting transferred this Wednesday! I got a call from President and he thanked me for my service as a Zone Leader, and released me from that assignment. I have been an English Zone Leader for 81/2 months now, and oh boy what an experience it has been! I'm so grateful for the chance I had to teach those who speak English- I've worked amongst many great southern born peoples. I have been able to see and begin to understand the beliefs of other religions here in the south. I think I have become more tolerant and have grown to love the southern people like never before! I will be finishing my last 4 months of my mission speaking Spanish. I'm grateful to go back and strengthen the wonderful Hispanic population of Carolina. It's going to be a fun 3 transfers! My new companion and I will be "white-washing" meaning that the two elders there before are both being moved, and the two new ones come in with no previous knowledge of the area! I think I'll be in Boiling Springs- that is where Elder Douglas was for a while! I'm stoked! 

We did a lot of finding this week, but not a whole ton of success in teaching a sit-down lesson, which is alright! We got in contact with that Clemson Psychology Professor again, and we have a lesson with her tomorrow at 3! She seems like she could be golden!

On Monday evening we were in Anderson, and I was with Elder Lund (he is from Ephraim) on an evening exchange. We visited one of their less-active members and they gave me a referral for a friend that lives here in Greenville, in the Berea area near the church! We contacted that referral and two ladies when we pulled up were sitting on their porch. Their house is surrounded with a small fence, to keep their 5 dogs in the yard. They both came up and we talked for a while. They have both read the entire Book of Mormon, and believe it is a good book! They are SO educated on religion. That is what interests them. They have both read all of the Bible, Kuran, Book of Mormon, Torah (and the other Jewish book of scripture- forgot what it is called), Dead Sea Scrolls and something else. I told them about the Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price…they want to read those. But seriously though, they have such a vast knowledge of so many religions- obviously backed up by a knowledge of world history, specifically European History. They aren't too interested, but like to learn new stuff.

I knocked a door open this week on somebody's trailer…and then they shut it! Sooo embarrassing! We were talking to this old guy who can't read or hear very well. He asked us questions and we talked for a while, and Elder Brian couldn't hear him so he kept on replying "huh?" or "what?" This guy took out one of his hearing aids, and and asked for $1500 to give it to him…funniest thing ever!

I cleaned out two chicken pens this week, played with goats, (tried to catch a goat or two but failed miserably-- as well with chickens).

We saw the national championship trophy at Clemson last Monday and we walked on the football field and in the stands! It was sweet!

When I get older Imma build a porch and chill on it. Every house has a decent sized porch where people just chill! It's cool!!

I'm excited for a new change and can't wait!!

Dream Come True!!! Clemson Tigers!


National Champs!

cleaned some goat & chicken pens

Angel Moroni on someone's mailbox 😂 
Painting of the first 55 temples

Monday, May 8, 2017

"Charge Hell Wielding Two Water pistols!"

This weekend, I felt super great! the Spirit was strong and I felt like I could "charge hell wielding two water pistols!" Put that on a t-shirt! hahaha Great imagery, right? 

We talked with a guy yesterday out front of his church and he was asking us about Mormons and what made us different. We taught him the Restoration, and he shared some stories with us. He looked us in the eyes and told us that he was proud of us. Wow. Having someone tell you they are proud of you isn't as powerful as your dad telling you that, but it still feels really good. This man's father was a marine drill sergeant and he said that he could pump you up so much that you'd want to charge hell wielding two water pistols. That is the funniest thing I have heard in a while! We started talking about Hispanic food and told us he loved his "Baptist belly". Good ole Mr. Rickie. Now when someone brings up Mormons, he can say he met two fine young missionaries the other day!

The beginning of the week was kinda slow…the highlight was definitely Mission Leadership Council. Elder Overson trained on humility and related it back to vision. I was intrigued. He referenced captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon. He had a vision of liberty for his people, and broadcast that to everyone on piece of clothing tied to a pole. He was unwavering in achieving his vision. He let nobody get in the way of what he wanted to accomplish. He was humble and submitted to the Lord's will. If eternal life in God's presence is our goal, our vision, everything we do will go towards that, and nobody will be able to stop us. Not even the devil.

Saturday night we felt prompted to go into an apartment complex to see some potentials. We decided to walk around to them so we could talk to whomever we saw. We have been struggling with our door approaches recently, but that night, everything flowed. We were both very enthusiastic, we taught, asked questions, and testified. We talked to 6 people that night in that complex. We had great conversations, and the last guy we saw noticed our countenances. He wanted us to come back this Tuesday. He knows his bible very well, and said he will be all ears to us. When we have the spirit with us, nothing can stop us from sharing what we believe! A desire to share will come and things just seem to click.
wish I had more time. oops!

Here are those scriptures talking about Moroni
Alma 60:36 Behold, I am Moroni, your chief captain. I seek not for power, but to pull it down. I seek not for honor of the world, but for the glory of my God, and the freedom and welfare of my country.

Alma 46:12 And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.

13 And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land—

Alma 48:17 Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.

Time Lapse of our floor project:

Raise the roof!

We helped the Dabels put in 500 square feet of wood vinyl flooring. None of us have done it before so we figured it out on the spot!

Last night eating with the Dillards. JJ was baptized last October. He is 9. His mom, Linda, is going to be baptized soon. Just waiting on her fiance's divorce papers to all go through. Solid family!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Service Doesn't Have A Color

We do a lot of service around here! We serve at Harvest Hope Food Bank packing boxes of food, sorting foods, and weighing boxes; Habitat for Humanity taking items from the truckloads that come in and then pricing and moving them to the floor to be sold; Miracle Hill Ministries doing the same with truck loads, as well as sweeping and helping customers load their cars with bigger items they purchase (it is basically a bigger Goodwill), and a place called Annie's House where we help garden, and do all sorts of yard work. Along with that we serve members, and investigators, and while we are out proselyting, we always find opportunites to help out somebody else.

Two weeks ago, Elder Brian and I were at Bojangles (best chicken and buttermilk biscuit place in the south, from what I have tasted) getting some breakfast after helping the elders quorum move a family out of the ward. As we were finishing up eating, I saw a kid who looked to be our age, talking on the phone and uncontrollably crying on the other side of the dining room. I went to go see what was up, and I thought it was something terrible. Turns out he met this homeless lady, and wanted to help her out with some food, and asked his mom if he could buy her some chicken, but she wouldn't let him because she was afraid he would get hurt. We ended up buying the chicken and walked across the street under a tree where this lady was. We had him give her the chicken and she was so grateful1 she lit up! I was touched that this kid was so distraught about not being able to help this lady out, and I'm glad we were able to help them both!

On Friday, we went to go visit a less-active member, but they were busy, so we decided to go walk up the street (in this trailer park). We passed an older black guy needing help with a door he was replacing in a trailer. The new knob was not fitting, so Elder Brian let him use his knife and we got that to work, and then we hung the door. He would not stop telling us how grateful he was that we came by at the perfect time, because he couldn't hold the door in place and drill a screw into the hinges alone. After we left him, we continued to walk and this older black lady was stressing out, and crying outside her place. We went up to her and talked for like 30 minutes. We shared some scriptures, our testimonies and tried to give words of comfort. She is a single mom of 3 boys (15, 13, 11) and she had little food for these growing boys. She had a light bill on her trailer for $800 (she showed us) and works part time, and cannot pay insurancance on her car, so she doesn't drive it anymore. Just a lot of stuff going on! She told us that she doesn't feel like her prayers are being heard, but I told her that maybe we were an answer to her prayer...I knew we were for sure! It was like 9:00, and we felt like we needed to help her out with some food-- we don't usually do that as missionaries, but it was a pressing need, so we went to Rite Aid down the street and got her family some essentials like milk, eggs, bread, meat, cheese...she was grateful for it! The story gets crazier here- She said she would be at church on Sunday, and that she would be ready at 11:45am with her kids. We were working to find her a ride, and when we finally did, like 3 minutes later her daughter called us telling us that this lady, Sonya is her name, was admitted into the hospital. She had fainted in her house...she got out Sunday night, and we went by this morning to give her a priesthood blessing. Another one of our investigators (Buddy, the RLDS guy) owns a ministry organization and he gave us some contact info to get her some help, so we did. She really wants us to start teaching them, and so we will this week! The reason why I mentioned "Hispanic" and "black" is because we help out anybody, and teach the word of God to all races. People down here can be pretty racist, and to me it is important to make known that we don't see color, and shouldn't see color as a way to treat someone any different.

I was reading in 3 Nephi 28:4-7 one morning. This is when Chirst asks his apostles in the Americas "what is it that ye desire of me, after that I am gone to the father?" 9 of them desired to be taken up after their ministry is done basically, and then Christ turned to thee other three apostles, but they didn't reply to his question. Christ knew their thoughts though, and they wanted to tarry until his second coming (Read the passage for more details). What stood out to me was interesting. We learn from scripture that God knows what we stand in need of before we ask it. That is why it is important for us not to "ask amiss" (James 4:3). When we pray, it is to the father in the name of Christ. The Holy Ghost can give you the words to pray, or in other terms, what to ask for. Then, when you do pray you will not ask amiss. sometimes though, we are afraid to ask for specific blessings for whatever reason. In this case, maybe these three apostles felt shame because the majority wanted to leave and the three wanted to stay? Who knows. Nevertheless, what I saw from these vereses is that God truly knows what we want, and what blessings we need, and he will give them to us, but how much more blessed are we if we know what we blessings we need through the spirit, and then ask for them? Our testimony of prayer will increase. This is motivation for me to always have the spirit with me. I know prayer is a power, for our benefit. Everything God can do, is for our benefit. He wants us to find peace. He wants us to feel joy!

Millenial Moses! (read about him in the last newsletter)
Service Aftermath...
Anderson, Brian, Roundy, Goertzen, Elmer, me
Anderson, Brian, Roundy, Goertzen, Elmer, me
random forest...
Annie's House
Annie's House
Annie's House with Caleb
Found a Hispanic Apostle