Monday, October 9, 2017

Following the Example of the Good Shepherd

A Grateful Lamb
Hey everyone!

This week, overall was a little pesado, but we had the day yesterday! We found two suuuuper awesome families- one a family of five and one a family of six! Seriously miracles always happen after a good day of fasting on the mission. 

The second of those is the [...] family. And wow, when they opened their door, they immediately invited us in, put us in a room to talk with of few of their kids for a good while, while they were preparing food for us (I had hardly shook the parents hands coming in and didn't even know their names yet while they were preparing food for us). I totally thought they already knew the missionaries or something, but the wierd thing is that this family had NEVER even talked with missionaries before. So when I found that out, I was absolutely shocked how open and friendly they were to us before hardly even presenting ourselves haha. 

Another Good Shepherd?
The funny coincidence though is that their ten-year old nephew was there too and was apparently baptized in another ward just a few months ago! So, before we started teaching, we were getting to know him and the other few kids there. [...] was saying ´Hey, I have that Mormon book!´ haha. Also, he made some good little comments as we taught the Restoration to the family. It was incredible though, during the lesson, there were eight of us squeezed in a little room, and while we were teaching, they all listened quietly and reverently. 

The dad, named [...], seemed very fascinated when we introduced the Book of Mormon, and committed to reading it. It was cool because yesterday, when we came was also his birthday! I hope we were able to give him a good birthday gift :) Not sure how you can beat the BOM!!

A Rainbow Tacuarembó
Also, yesterday after the familia [...], out of nowhere came seriously the HUGGEST lightning storm I have ever witnessed in my life. Man, it was actually so incredible. The first strike of lightning lit up the whole sky, and literally stretched all the way across. In fact, the crazy thing is it lasted for like two seconds, rather than just being super quick, so it was like blinding! Wow, I wish you all could have seen it. It was sure something. That was followed by many more huge stormy bolts of lightning. but it was just so insane how long they were lasting, so we could just stare at them haha. Then came the flash flood... Yeah that one wasn't so nice, because we weren't too prepared...

Anyways, yesterday was really the only eventful day of the week. It seemed like a lot of other wierd stuff happened yesterday too haha, but I´ll just leave it at that.

Love you guys so much. Thanks for all of your support. Have a wonderful week!!

Elder Layton

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Special Conference

WHAT. A. GENERAL. CONFERENCE!!!!!!! I just loooooooved this weekend, we are so blessed to have modern day prophets and other inspired leaders on the earth today. I would like to write what I wrote down directly after conference ended:

´This conference was very special to me. I had various personal witnesses from the spirit testify to me of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today. This was a very special couple of days for me, and the Spirit that I felt, I pray that I may never forget. I love my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and am so grateful for their love and mercy for me, being so imperfect. I want to dedicate my life to them. My solitary goal is to return to live with them with my family, and as many others as I can help bring along.

Now for some brief thoughts and favorites from the talks this weekend. First off, Elder Anderson´s talk was so incredible. It is amazing how close to the spirit these men are- That President Nelson felt inspired to skip his lunch between the sessions and go see Elder Hales right before he passed away. Wow. What a testimony and example to us. Anyways, I also absolutely LOVED Tad R Callister´s take on the BOM. Haha, it is insane the evidence that the BOM is true and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. But more that that, it is so amazing how God himself can convince us of that through his spirit each time we read. I guess Joseph Smith just got lucky and is a really good guesser on things. 

Elder Cook's talk was super good too, on humility. Elder Nelson´s was too. Such a capo. A couple more things I liked were by Stephen W. Owen who talked a little about testimony and how it is like a bike. After gaining it, we must maintain it, because he we stop pedalling, the bike will fall, as will our testimony. Elder Uchtdorf also mentioned that the absence of light causes darkness. If we are not diligently doing things to uplift us spiritually every single day darkness will begin to enter. It is so important to be ´anxiously engaged´ in the Gospel.

Those are a few of the things I liked :)

Other than that, this week has been pretty down low. I went on divisions with Elder Heaton, which was super awesome. And get this- we taught and investigator named Helaman-Nefi!!! Pretty cool isn't it?? Definitely un lamanita haha.

On divisions, Elder Ribeiro, who was with Elder Claros in Barrio 6 also decided to contact a door and they found someone named [...]. She told them to come back they next day, which we did when I was back in our area. When Elder Claros brought me to the house, I thought he was contacting it so I was confused, because literally that same house we had contacted the day before divisions, and some guy told us they weren't interested. But luckily, the Lord inspired Elder Ribeiro, who didn't know we just contacted it, to find [...], who came out that time. She was really acceptive and we had a great charla. Afterwards she gave us a kilo of honey! Haha awesome!!!

The zone leaders played a prank on me today on P-Day. They got a hold of our phone, and changed their contact to say ´President Olsen´. Then they called me from their phone, so I thought it was President haha. Suprisingly I didn´t really notice their voice difference, so I totally fell for it and thought I was talking to President haha. ´President´ started drilling me with questions about the area and I haha. Those zone leaders sure got me. Punks :)

I am really lucky to be on a mission. I miss all you guys, but it will all be worth it! I hope you guys have a wonderful week! See ya :)

Elder Layton

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Restoration Taught in the Bible

Elders Layton and Claros
¡Comó están todos allá en casa? Les extraño a todos!!

It seems like bastante has happened this week. I´ll try to keep it short. First off, the hermanas in my district apparently had a really scary experience happen to them this week at night, so we went over to their house with the zone leaders late at night to give them a blessing. We also all had to wake up the next morning at like 4 for a multizona conferencia in Rivera so, none of us slept haha. But it was actually a suuuuuper good conference. 

Man, President Olsen is such a stud. You can just feel that guy's light when he teaches us. Jaja he also always tells us that we are ´los mejores misioneros en el mundo´... Y claaaaaaro! :) After the conference, our zone sang hymns in the van for two straight hours until we got back to T-Bo. It was so awesome. There were some harmonies, some jazz mixups, and some beatboxing included in our hymns haha. It was actually super cool, we got a good group of singers :)

We went back to [...] this week, and had a great lesson. She refused to read anything from the Book of Mormon or the Restoration pamphlet, and told us the Bible was the only true scripture, so we taught here the Restoration straight from the Bible! It actually went really awesome, I have never taught it just using the Bible before. to finish, when we read in Isaiah 29:10-14, 18, she seems really surprised... She was like, ´Wow you guys are right!! It talks about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith in the Bible!!´ Haha she said in the next lesson she may be more open to the BOM in the next lesson.

[...] is doing really well! She came to church this Sunday, and each lesson has been going well. She has been praying, reading the BOM, marking it up and coming to each lesson with a list of questions for us! She still seems hesitant to accept a baptismal date, because she wants to receive an answer to her prayers before she commits, but anyways she is doing great, and has quite a few member friends already too!

P-Day was super fun today! We celebrated Elder Heaton´s birthday, and also had a big zone activity ´Los Olimpicos´. We also ate some killer Lasagna despues. Sadly my group only came in second place out of four haha. Next time!! Although, I did beat my good University of Utah buddy Elder Rawson in each activity we had together :) I think he has some regrets for what team he supports!

Anyways, I am so grateful for the blessings of the gospel. Being a missionary is really really hard, but I know I am here for a great and marvelous work and that nothing could stop it from progressing. I am also grateful because I know it is preparing me a ton for the rest of my life. But really I am grateful for the growth that I have been gaining in my personal testimony each and every day. We are so lucky to be members of the restored gospel!

Holy cow, I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO excited for conference next week. although I am not 100% sure they will let us gringos watch it in english in a ´gringo room´ because of some past problems that have apparently occurred here.... That would be a huge bummer because it seriously would not be the same in spanish, but I am hoping we get a way to see it in english. 

Love you guys! Have a great week!

Elder Layton

Sunday, September 24, 2017

On to Tacuarembó

Wow, what a week it has been! It seems like a lot has happened since last P-Day.

Saying Goodbye to Elder Vergara
I´ll start with the last couple of days in Rosario. We were able to make visits before I left with some of the investigators we have been teaching these past couple of changes. [...] is starting to feel really well about the BOM, and started it from the beginning, he just still lacks that step of coming to church. We also swung by the hospital to visit [...] one last time. And hear this.... Her dad read the ENTIRE Book of Mormon in under two weeks!!!! Wow! He said that he wanted to come to church too, to see how it was,and we emphasized to the family the importance of asking God as it says in Moroni 10. Really amazing people!! 

Elders with Jesus (pronounced Hey - Zeus)

Saying Goodbye to the Familia Santucco

Saying Goodbye to Gustavo, Maria, Augustino and Florencia
I got to Tacuarembó on Wednesday, and it is super awesome here! Our area contains the majority of the inner city, and we have got a solid ward of over 50 members. The first night, we went to go play basketball with the zone leaders, and the sister training leaders, which makes up my district, as well as a bunch of jovenes. It is really cool because we play basketball every Wednesday and fútbol every Thursday with jovenes, and so it is a really good source in finding new youth. We all share the stake center, and it is huge. Totally rocks haha. Also, there is a member in our ward who lets us use his gym to workout some mornings. He also gave us lunch on Friday, and had his maid cook for us :O! That was a first!

Spectacular Skies on His Way to Tacuarembó
My first Sunday here was really awesome too. It was funny because some of the first people I saw as I walked in were Gonzalo and Melina, who are members in my first area, Las Acacias. They happened to be visiting Gonzalo´s mom Teresa, who is in our ward. It was really cool to see them, and also nice to see some familiar faces as I gave a talk during sacrament meeting. It is funny though because they knew me when I still didn't speak a lick of Spanish :). 

On Sunday night, we found a suuuuper capito (stud). He was actually a reference from a joven in another ward. He is only 11 and his mom immediately told us we were free to talk with him, but she wasn't interested at all in hearing from us. Anyways, we had a super great lesson with [...], and he accepted a baptismal date for October 7th! He called his mom into the room for permission, and she said she didn't have a problem with it if it was something [...] wanted to do. She then started to bombard us with questions about the church, and now I think she is really interested haha. It ended with her planning on what days we could come back, and also how they would be able to get the whole family at church next Sunday. She then proceeded to volunteer for the closing prayer hahaha.

So yeah, the people here are super awesome, from what I have seen so far. The weather has honestly been kind of feo since I have been here, but today it is starting to clear up, so that is good! I am super excited for the many things that I yet have to learn from this area, my companion Elder Claros, as well as the awesome people in my district! I love and miss you guys all! The mission is pretty stinkin great. I am grateful for the things to learn and the people to help and meet! ¡Que tengan una semana buena!

Elder Layton

Monday, September 4, 2017

Transferred to Tacuarembo

Hey guys!

Well we got changes late the other night, and I will be shipped over to Barrio 6 in a zone called Tacuarembo! This might be kind of a change because I am currently in a branch of 7-8 people and am pretty sure my next area has at least a hundred active members.... Haha but honestly, I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to have come here to Rosario. Preparing talks and classes each week has been good for me, and I have learned so much about being a missionary. I am also grateful for the example of the few faithful members here who show what enduring to the end really means!! It is also exciting because since the missionaries have come back, there have been a few less active members coming back regularly! [...] also made it to church yesterday!

Anyways, in Tacuarembo (also called T-Bo) I am going to be with someone from my my same group again! His name is Elder Claros, and like Elder Limachi, is from Bolivia. It´s funny because he actually replaced me in Colon, Argentina a few changes back and was with Elder Opazo there too. But, yeah I am super excited, and have heard really great things about T-Bo!

This last week here in Rosario has been really great actually. We have been able to follow up with many of our new investigators from the past couple of weeks , which is cool, because sometimes it is a challenge getting into a second lesson. 

We also found someone named [...] who was apparently baptized in the church when she was little, but hasn't been to church for about 40 years. She is really awesome though and as she finished the charla with a prayer, she committed to reading the Book of Mormon every single day. 

We also had a super awesome day in Cardona on Friday. We came across an old investigator named [...] who was with her granddaughter [...]. They were both really awesome and in fact [...] came to the ´Noche de Rama´ that we had later that night. It was such a great activity and there was a ton of support! In fact, six non-members as well as well as some less active members there made it.

A few of those were people we invited and a few were friends the members had brought with them, so- Bien hecho to the members in Cardona :) To put that in a little perspective, Cardona usually has 5-6 people at church on Sunday, so it was a good turnout and a super fun activity!

 Anyways, I am so grateful for the opportunity to be on the mission. Our Heavenly Father blesses us so much every day, and I know that the Gospel that he has entrusted us with is for our benefit. 

One of my favorite scriptures is in 2 Nephi 26:24- He truly does not do anything that isn't for our benefit. (It reads: "He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.")

We are very very lucky and blessed to have the Gospel of Jesus Christ and such a perfect Plan prepared for us!!! I love all of you so much!!! Have an amazing week!

Elder Layton

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

So Many Blessings Through the Gospel!!

It has been a great week, although the weather has been AWFUL! Haha, even though it is still winter here, is was suuuuuper humid and hot for a few days. Then, we had a pretty nasty thunderstorm for a couple of days, and finally it was suuuuuper foggy. Haha Uruguay weather is weird. Lots of changes.

That is SOO AWESOME about Briana!! I am so glad that it is a healthy baby and there weren't any problems! Btw, did mom make it to Briana before or after she had the baby? Because according to the time you sent me this letter, it seems like mom may have just missed it. You´ll have to let me know the baby's name next week if they decide.

That makes me so happy that you have had an incredible week. You know, there are so many blessings that Heavenly Father bestows upon us through the Gospel!! We are so very blessed. Sometimes in the mission, as I read the Book of Mormon, or simply walking in the street, I have these huge feelings of happiness and gratitude to have the Gospel. And boy, I am sure eager to go to the temple with you guys again after the mission :) 

Wow, that sounds really amazing about that eclipse. I feel so happy that all of you guys seem to be doing well while I am here on the mission!

Anyways, we had a really awesome experience on Wednesday. We had a couple plans fall through, so went to a plaza to contact. Well while we were there, a lady named Vanessa calls us over. and said she was really surprised we came by because she was just about to call missionaries she had met the other week in Montevideo and see if there were missionaries here in Rosario. She told us that her younger brother Ignacio had a really scary accident and was transferred from Montevideo to a hospital we have here in Rosario called Camec. Apparently he was in a coma and was bleeding internally in his brain. She asked us if we could come by the hospital a little later and give her brother a blessing, so we did. We were also able to meet Vanessa´s parents and some other relatives who were there, and they were SO incredible! They have never gotten to know missionaries, so we talked to them a lot about the Gospel as we were waiting to go in and see Ignacio. Vanessa had a Book of Mormon the missionaries left her with in Montevideo and we left her parents with one as well. We swung back by the hospital on Sunday to see how they were doing. Vanessa´s dad had gone back to Colonia for a couple of days and had the Book of Mormon (which he has already read all of first Nephi in a couple days). Vanessa had to go back to Montevideo for a couple of days as well, and had been reading the BOM that she had. So anyways, her mom, Alicia was kind of sad because she wanted to read it more but they took the only two copies haha. We left her with another and she told us that she felt a completely different sense of peace when she read it. Anyways, we are hoping that Ignacio continues to recover, and also feel blessed that Vanessa found us in a perfect time!!

We had a great district conference over video in Nueva Helvecia on Sunday, where we had the oppurtunity to hear from Elder Teixeira (again haha), Elder Christensen, Elder Rasband, and a few other leaders. It was aweeeesome!

We are also seeing a lot of potential and progress in Cardona. We continue meeting new family members every time we go to Corina´so the lessons have been a bit of review haha, but she is doing really well. 

Love you guys. I hope everyone has a fantastic week! And congratulations to Briana and Glade who had their newborn baby this morning!! I am an uncle now! Woooooo!

Elder Layton

Monday, August 21, 2017

I Am So Grateful to Have These Wonderful Truths In My Life

Hey everyone!!

It has been a cool week. [...] is doing pretty well, but has been so swamped with work that he
hasn´t been having time to read the BOM and felt kind of bad. So we figured out he takes the bus everyday to work for 45 minutes, and got him the lds application so he can use that time to read or listen to the BOM. He seemed really excited because he likes learning, and hopefully this will help him read more and receive and answer about the message of the Gospel.

Argentina District Reunion w Elder Opazo and Two Sisters

We also had a super great day in Cardona on Friday. It was crazy because last week Juan told us that we should visit someone named [...] was was baptized last year, but he forgot to send us his number to see where he lives and to set up a lesson. Well when we went on Friday, we started to contact, and the very first door of the day we clapped, some tall kid named [...] came out haha. Yeah, funny it was him. He was getting ready for work when we found him, so we set up a lesson for this week instead. We also found a few other people that day who had met with the last missionaries there before the area was closed, so that was pretty awesome, and we should be busy next week when we go. 

That afternoon, we went to [...]. When she opened the door, she nearly bear hugged me, but quickly thought about it and shook our hands haha. Apparently she was getting ready to leave to go and sign for her release papers. She  was previously on parole when we found her due to some incident at work and hadn´t been able to leave her house for some few weeks, but she is honestly super awesome! Apparently since last week, she read the entire Liahona magazine that Elder Vergara had left her with, the restoration/ plan of salvation pamphlets again, and a lot of the Book or Mormon! She said she had all the time in the world since she was just in the house haha. She excitedly told us she would be able to come to church now, so we are excited to continue teaching her!

Colonia Zone

Sunday was great as well. We had a conferencia de rama, in which the district presidency and leaders came over to Rosario, as well as the group in Cardona, since they officially pertain to our branch. There were also three less active members here who came :) That afternoon, we found a super awesome family too. [...], who was actually a reference from our investigator [...], and her two sons [...] and [...], who are just a couple of years older than us. They are all really cool. [...] has apparently had a ton of trials in her life and had a mountain of questions for us, and it was great! Afterwards, she told us that she wanted to have us over for an Asado haha! The three of them seemed pretty committed to reading the BOM as well, and praying concerning it. 

We went to a baptism in Nueva Helvecia on Saturday. It was for a 14 year old girl who is sooooo prepared. She already has a really strong testimony of the church, and the whole program that the Elder´s there planned was really amazing. I felt the Spirit strongly. I know that this is the work of the Lord.

I am very grateful for President Monson who turns 90 today!! I have no doubt that he is an inspired prophet of God, and that he has the authority to recieve revelation for us as a whole, for our benefit and protection in this world. I am so grateful to have these wonderful truths in my life!! Love you all. Have a wonderful week!

Elder Layton