Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Jesus Is a Friend of Mine

Here are some points that happened this week:
  • Today we were at the park playing disc golf. There was a cool sherman tank there too. A few elders were on the course and this guy was following them. He talked to the set of elders and then punched Elder Sheen in the face. He did the same with another elder! We called the cops and they came down to see what was up. The guy was not all there. He was pretty buff too. Nobody was seriously injured, but thank goodness we were in a group. I don't know what could have happened if it was just one set of elders. He was carted away. 
  • Found out a few weeks ago that a lady in the ward who we have been giving sacrament to passed away. We were the last ones to give her the sacrament. Glad we could do that.
  • We taught Eddie and Ricardo this week. Eddie is this pentecostal guy who is trying to become a pastor. Super humble. We taught him the restoration and he said that he feels the book of mormon is true. He has a strong testimony and loves talking with us. 
  • Ricardo we met last week. We taught him the restoration, went by on Thursday, read the book of mormon with him, then taught him yesterday afternoon. We talked about the plan of salvation, and he had many good questions! He was very interested in what we term "the spirit world." He is on chapter 11 of 1Nephi now! woop woop! He is very honest and very good with keeping appointments.
  • During priesthood hour, I have been translating for Hispanics that don't know English. I did not want to translate at first, because it is hard, and I am not too good at it, but the thought came to my mind that God will magnify my abilities. So the last few weeks as I have been translating, it has been easy to me. Words just flow. It is a blessing.
  • We had a lesson Wednesday with a lady, and we showed up with Brother Ramirez. She was not there, and we had only asked him to come to that one lesson in Spartanburg. He asked what else we had, so he drove us up to Cowpens like 10 miles away to go visit a less active. He is awesome. This member had a need and he made calls and got the ball rolling to help him right away!  
Can't remember much else, but till next week... enjoy my pictures & videos!

When I get a chance... I strap up!!!!

ZL bumper sticker. Elder Holmstead drew everyone in the zone. haha 😂 I'm 6th from left.

Jesus is a Friend of Mine REMIX from Shayla McLaughlin on Vimeo.

Jesus is a Friend of Mine original. We do it better. from Shayla McLaughlin on Vimeo.

Cool Videos you can do with the iPad! from Shayla McLaughlin on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Success is Sometimes Measured in Commitment

So...the beginning of this week was a little rough for me. I got a
little bit discouraged. We have not taught people as frequently as I
have in my other areas, and although we have found new people to
teach... 13 in the last 8 weeks, only one of them is meeting with us-
once a week. I am putting much effort into my work, but one thing is for sure truth: God will give unto you success. You can do every big and little thing to try and be successful, but if it is not the right time or place, you won't be given success. That is why success most of the time is measured in our level of commitment, although is is hard to understand that sometimes. 

A few nights ago, Elder Willardson read a quote by John Pontious from one of his books. It basically said that while on his mission he had moments where he did not feel the spirit much, but still chugged along doing all he could. After a period of a few months with little results, he began to feel the spirit more abundantly, and new spiritual gifts came along with it. They found more people to teach. He said that stuff like this happens. The real test if we are willing to continue doing the little things, "if [we] are willing to serve God at all hazards". That will determine if we establish the church or not. Those few paragraphs that were read to me really lifted me up. The next morning I woke up and felt super motivated to be better. I felt the spirit strongly snd I felt enthusiastic. We had a miracle take place.

The back-story started last week when we visited the Flores family after they returned from their road trip to California. We shared a message and asked about their friends. They immediately thought of someone, but did not know exactly where he lived, but did know the street. So Thursday, we planned in to go find this hispanic on said street. We visited sister Flores again real quick to clarify the details, and she told us to let her know if anything happened. So we decided to first drive down the street and scout out which houses looked hispanic. Yes, we use stereotypes and we are usually on point when looking for hispanics haha. So we decided on a few of them. We parked at the entrance of the street and knocked on the fourth house from the left side. We knocked a few times, and nobody answered. As Elder Willardson placed one of our English class cards in the door, I turned around and saw a hispanic guy driving a small golden car past us and down the street. I hurried to the end of the driveway to spot which house he went to, and turns out he lived in a duplex. As we were scouting, we saw many duplexes and I commented to Elder Willardson that none were hispanic. Me equivoqué. We knocked and he did not answer. Dang it. I looked to my right at the next duplex door over and noticed in the parked car's rearview mirror a rosary. They had got to be hispanic. So we knocked. Almost immediately, this little girl swung open the door. Her mom yelled at her in Spanish and hurried to the door. She was so easy to talk to and so friendly from the get go. We told her who we were and she said she knew. She told us the Elders came to her house all the time in Argentina. I asked her if she was baptized into our church and she said that she was in 1998! Then she moved with her mom and brother to Miami, where they stopped going to church. She did not feel cómodo, because the people never reached out and she felt like an outcast. So sad. We apologized on behalf of the church that this happened, and set something up with her for Tuesday. Her husband is Cuban and is not a member. The Lord for sure put her in our path!

Luke 15 says:
3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and
neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

And Jesus while talking to the people in bountiful in 3rd Nephi:
"...ye are my sheep, and ye are numbered among those whom the Father hath given me."

I know for sure that this is the Lord's work. There is no way we could have found her if we were not inspired to go visit the Flores; if they were not inspired to direct us to their friend on that street; if we were not inspired to plan in the day and hour we would go visit the friend; if we were not inspired to follow the hispanic to his house; and if we were not inspired to knock the house next door. She has not come to church since 2001. The Lord knows who his sheep are and will use us as instruments bring them back when the time is right! By the way her name is SHEILA (but pronounced shayla- shout out to mom!)

We went back to Sister Flores to share with her what happened and she was stoked! She told us she wants to be going to the temple every week and needs to be better at scripture study. She set goals with us right then. It is cool how an experience like that can strengthen many people.

Other than that, we have been working hard and we even played soccer with some kids in a trailer park on Saturday! Shared a spiritual thought with them too. They adored us it seemed haha.

On another note, we visited Sandra in Simpsonville and after teaching her, she showed me how to hand sew a tie. Hopefully I will have time to make it this week and show y'all! I also made sausage and cheese biscuits from scratch... soooo good!

Love yall!

Mom'in in the mini-van from Shayla McLaughlin on Vimeo.

P-Day Fun from Shayla McLaughlin on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

There is No Comfort in the Growth Zone

We had a pretty good week this week! Fourth of July was fun. We started off in the morning at our ward and Spartanburg 2nd ward's combined breakfast. I talked with President Parry a bunch. He is in the mission presidency and was in the Greenville East Stake Presidency. We talked sports, and I have not done that in a while! We threw the baseball around with a bunch of people, and then a game of softball ensued! My first up to bat, and on the first pitch I SMACKED that ball far over Elder Peck in left field. Never has that happened on all my years of baseball. Maybe I should've played softball? Later that afternoon, we had our first Zone Conference with President and Sister Innes. They are AMAZING. Very open, and they are very personable. They were actually church hosts in SLC for many famous people and princes and stuff from all around the world. They shared some cool stories too. 

President has like a greenie fire within him. It is so motivating. He talked about changing our trajectory and aiming higher and further. He said that the Lord expects us to quicken our pace and to use everything we have been provided with- including creativity, to make things happen. He read us a cool quote that says, "the Lord provides the men and the means whereby he can best work at any given time, for the carrying out of his wise and sublime purposes.
The man for the hour will be ready whenever the hour strikes." Let us be the men of which hour we are called to serve. I am in Spartanburg at this time, and so I am the man of the hour right now, in this place. I am doing what I can to make things happen with what the Lord has provided! He shared with us a training Elder Holland gave at the mission presidents seminar. One thing that stood out was this: "to be spiritually efficacious, [you] have to be spiritually genuine." Think about that one. That night we went to a cook out where we had a few investigators, hispanic members and less actives too. It was fun. Lots of food and some volleyball.
My shoes came apart that day and a member called me that night. He told me to meet him at Burlington the next morning. I knew what he was going to do, and I tried to tell him that I would be fine. In anticipation for what was going to happen, the least I could do was make him and his family cookies. So I did, and he bought me some new shoes. Let me tell you, it is so hard to receive service from someone else. You feel like you do not deserve it. This brother told me to not deny him blessings of serving me...half jokingly with a chuckle of course. I felt so grateful for this act of kindness.

Service activities this week consisted of finishing staining a overlook porch at hatcher garden, and mowing a HUGE lawn for one of the other elders investigators. It was all pretty fun. Doing service in the yard or with hands on things is so much more fun... and we get a lot done too.

On exchanges with Elder Peck, we taught two guys named Eduardo and Luis, who we found walking around. They really did not seem super interested and after talking for a few minutes, they told us they work every day so we could not set up a return appointment.  They were not very religious they admitted, but claimed to believe  in Catholicism. I felt like I needed to be bold with them. I could see their potential! I asked them something like, "so, brother, what do you feel like your purpose is here in this life, on this earth? You work so much, but to what end? When we die, we are not going to have all of these riches with us in heaven. No money. It is important that we grow some sort of spiritual side. If all you do is work to eat food and pay the bills, why then do you think we are here." I didn't just rant as it may have sounded, but he answered a tid bit. His buddy asked how we knew what happened to us after we die, and so we expounded upon the scriptures. Elder Peck went into talking about judgement and overall it was really good. We got a return appointment. I believe it is so important for us to understand who we are and our purpose on earth. If we do not understand our purpose, if we do not apply scripture, we are merely SURVIVING life and its fun trials and challenges, rather than LIVING life the way our Heavenly father intended. We are to be things that ACT, rather than being things that are ACTED UPON. 
It is sad to me that many don't see this, but that is what my calling is. To establish His word, so others can make a clear choice to accept or reject it.

So, we found a lady named Teresa and A guy named Alejandro while proselyting a few weeks back. We found out this week that Teresa and Alejandro (they do not know eachother) were both baptized in Idaho many years ago! We got their records moved over. I have found now 11 people on my mission who were  baptized many years back, but whose records were not known in the area. It is really cool. We taught Teresa last night reading together from 1 Nephi 1. She understood it and loved it! She closed with a prayer and thanked God for directing us to find her (we were going to leave an area when I saw people on a porch and decided to go up and talk to them and that is how we found her) and also thanked God and asked that we would be able to help her back on the correct path. She is the one who believes her mom sent us to find her.

Now, Alejandro invited us to a party on Saturday evening, and this this is what happened: 

Arriving more than an hour late, and feeling a but timid at what we were about to do, we put on our big boy pants and took courage as we sort of crashed the party being thrown for a little boy and his twin sister whom we knew not. Our arrival seemed to make the clock slow down. As I scanned the vicinity, my eyes met those of dozens of my Latino brothers and sisters. All conversations seemed to pause, and their stares penetrated and drained what confidence we had just mustered up. I would like to say our appearance was breathtaking, and I am sure it was- four young elders, sporting an array of rain coats, handmaid ties, slacks and muddied shoes from walking in the rain that beat upon the tarp covered tent and rolled off into the dirt. However, we were taller than everyone else, American and we were not friends with anyone inside. You could say that we stuck out like a sore thumb. Alejandro, who invited us, greeted us warmly when he saw us and that took a lot of the pressure away. Our goal in all of this was to talk to everyone and find someone to teach. There were a couple dozen people there, so we thought it would be easy. We were seated like the other families were, except they had already chowed down their plates of food and were waiting for the real party to begin. One by one, Alejandro's daughter brought us each a plate of chicken and mole served with rice. Store-bought corn tortillas soon followed. We were asked what we wanted to drink, and after having all declared our desire for water, sprite was brought out instead. Close enough, right? Haha! With Spanish music ablaze, and my mouth too, I seemed to forget the stares and the awkwardness. We did our best to smile and be friendly. We tried conversing with many, but they seemed reluctant and could not carry on a conversation. Nobody would give in to talk to us!

Elder Peck decided to be bold. He looked around, stood up and approached someone to talk with them. Unfortunately, that soon died off and he came back to the table. More families filed in, but the same results followed. Having finished our food, and seeing that there was no imminent success, we thanked Alejandro and then left. Feelings of relief then humiliation soon came. We went out of our comfort zone, but sort of failed as missionaries and then retreated. We let fear and awkwardness eat at us, as if we were the chicken and mole- which by the way was fantastic! We tried to talk with people, but we for sure could have done better. We learned a valuable lesson through this. 

There is no comfort in the growth zone. When we want to get something done, we will face challenges, but we have to set aside our fears to accomplish what we intended. We can only move on. But hey, it made a good journal entry, am I wrong?

Dios Te Ama

spoon prank video from Shayla McLaughlin on Vimeo.

Me & Willy in a lesson... love the smile
Aftermath of 4th of July softball- me, Peck, Blackham, Holmstead, Sheen, Willardson, Hamilton, Jensen 
First Zone Picture with President & Sister Innes
Funny pic during Pres. Innes's awesome training

South Carolina is full of this
Peck & me on exchanges
Visited Sandra & Ashley. Taught them new member lessons while in training forever ago-- Ashley grew like a foot.

4th of July coconuts
Brother Ramirez
Professional Killers 😂 
Spartanburg or Charlotte? 😐 
small fireworks
Elder Jamon Negro
Voleibol with investigators and members
Talking to everybody
hot dogs & hamburgers- no Mexican food!
thought he looked cool on his bike. zoom in.

Wofford College Field

Waiting for an investigator:)

IMG_0027 from Shayla McLaughlin on Vimeo.

Abril dribbling a ball video

IMG_0026 from Shayla McLaughlin on Vimeo.

Crazy sitting cat video

Crazy cat video from Shayla McLaughlin on Vimeo.

Friday, July 7, 2017

2 Mormon Missionaries, a Jehovah's Witness and a Catholic...

The Bachelors of Boiling Springs: Our district posing for our English class picture on our Facebook page
L to R: Sheen, Blackham, Holmstead, Peck, me, Willardson

2 Mormon missionaries, a Jehovah's Witness and a Catholic met together in a double wide. Sounds like the begining of a bad joke, but I promise it actually happened Saturday morning! We met one of our active member's dad while street contacting in a trailer park.
He is bien chistoso! We talked for a few minutes and then the JW came inside. We all sat down and he asked us what our topic of teaching is. What we teach people. He proceded to ask us to look up certain bible scriptures. Elder Willardson wanted to go because he was afraid it would turn into a bash. I just sat there and listened to him. I was able to explain the restoration a little bit, and find some common ground. He was a really nice guy. The dad of the member- the Catholic, he just was sitting there listening intently.

We do a thing we term "conTACOtando" where every Saturday around 11 or 12, we hit up a tienda and buy some food. I got a torta, claro. We talked to lots of hispanics, and that is the whole point. We did not teach anybody, but we handed out English class tarjetas and stayed visable. A guy actually told us that he used to meet with missionaries! In the parking lot we were spotted by a member of another ward and we chatted for a few minutes. The son that was with her is actually the grandson of that Catholic I just mentioned. So, within a few hours, we met more of the member's family!

Speaking of members, we REALLY need their help. Especially now more than ever. We are struggling with investigators and so, we have doubled our efforts to visit the active members recently. Our members love us! We go in, chat for a few minutes, and then share some sort of message. What we have been doing is inviting them to write their testimony in the front of the Book of Mormon and invite them to give it to one of their friends. Two of the members have told us they know exactly who to give it to. We visited the Ramirez family the other day, and when we showed up, Hermana Ramirez had just pulled up, and her friend Maclovia who we met a few weeks ago was standing outside! We were invited in, and talked to them. I shared scriptures in Mosiah 5 talking about having Christ engraved on our hearts. I asked them both what they have done this week to serve somebody else, and Maclovia that morning had picked up a lady on the side of the road and drove her home. Hermana Ramirez told me "buena pregunta Elder" and commited to pray for opportunities to serve. Service wins hearts. So go win some hearts! It is fun, free and rewarding!

We collected a couple dozen free water bottles while proselyting this week. We were in a lesson yesterday, and a guy brought us out plastic cups and a full 2 liter bottle of mountain dew haha.

We hiked table rock last Monday. 7.2 miles made us a bunch of tired missionaries. It was so worth it though. The view and being able to say we did it was sweet. This is the tallest place in South Carolina, I believe. It was nice to finally not be surrounded by trees.

All week we struggled. Not many people found and not many people taught. But somehow, God was like "you know, just show me your diligence, and on Sunday I'll make it pay off." That is how its been the last two weeks! Yesterday we talked to a guy named Miguel Angel. It was really cool. Like I don't know how it is when you are not a missionary, but it seems that you can tell if someone is prepared to recieve you by the way their countenance is. I guess it is the gift of discernement. We have a return lesson on Wednesday. We also taught Ricardo Javier. He has lived here for 15 years, has never read the bible, and has never gone to church while in the US. He wants to come close to Christ, and started to open up a little bit more. We go back on Wednesday as well. We ended last night by teaching Alvaro and Teresa. Teresa is fluent in Spanish, but is American and Alvaro is her boyfriend of 5 years. They are so prepared. They both listen really well, and give good comments. Teresa is special I feel like- I mean we all are, but I hope you get what I am saying. Before her mom passed away, her mom was baptized into our church. She remembers having missionaries come and teach them. This was in Idaho. After sharing the restoration, she committed to ask God if what we had shared with her is true. She was just SO sincere about it all. She told us after the closing prayer that she feels like her mom sent us to her. We met them last Sunday. We were about to get into the car to leave, but I saw her and some others on a porch and thought to go and talk to them. So glad I did.

This morning, we walked into Walmart and right off the bat, this guy named Nick comes up to us and asks if we are the Mormons. He explained that sister missionaries came to their house two years ago, but they lost contact with them. He was so excited to see us and wanted the missionaries to come teach him today! So we got in contact with the sisters who cover his area, and hopefully this goes somewhere!

New mission president is finally here! We meet him at zone conference tomorrow. Super stoked!

I can now, along with cut my own hair, make ties too!

I am currently in the book of Luke and I wanted to share one cool thing I learned thss week:

Luke 14:23
In this part, a man had made a great supper an invited various people to dine with him, but they did not and made excuses as to why. Then the man told his servent to basically bring in people form the streets to eat with him, since there was room.

22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

The Lord has invited all to come unto him, through saving ordinances. Sometimes we make excuses and choose to reamain in sin. Sometimes we don't feel worthy, but that is why he has sent his servants whether that be prophets or missionaries, to go and bring people in to fill the feast. I guess you could call us feast fillers!

I am grateful to be a missionary. I am grateful for the many cultures I have come to love. I am grateful for the Gospel and this country!

Service this week

Resident Missionary Barber
Epic FAIL in spelling 'HABLAMOS'

Top of Table Rock

Elder Winn doing a handstand

Holmstead, Peck, & me

Me, Staley, Beck, Holmstead, Peck, Winn, & an investigator:)

Related to Elder Peck-- we are 9th cousins on mom's side
waterfall at the base of Table Rock
Why not pretend to be on the Titanic? Me & Elder Winn

Costco Lunch es muy bueno

Carpool Karaoke Lip-Synching

Carpool Karaoke Lip-Synching from Shayla McLaughlin on Vimeo.

Traced my family history back to Adam

Traced my family history back to Adam from Shayla McLaughlin on Vimeo.