Monday, July 17, 2017

The Lessons I've Learned This Past Year Have Changed My Life

Hey everyone!

I´m OLD now!!! I reached a year on Wednesday here on the mission... Weird to think. We made pancakes to celebrate in the morning, y salieron muuuuuy buenos! 

One Year Pancakes
The personal lessons I have learned this past year have already changed my life. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here serving the Lord. I can feel His love each and every day as I try to reach out to some of His other spirit children. Being a missionary isn't easy, but it is WORTH IT! 

I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who guides us at all times and has given us of the opportunity to return to Him through His son Jesus Christ. We are so very lucky to have such a perfect plan laid out for us, and I know that God does everything in His power for us to be happy like Him. The mission has been so far the most humbling year of my life, and I don´t have any doubt that Jesus Christ is at the head of this church that I have the amazing opportunity to spread the teachings He has given us!

The sun came out on Tuesday, which has been pretty good for us because people have at least been willing to open their front doors to talk to :) We found a couple of new people who we found and taught this week, one named [...] and another named [...]. They were both really receptive and we have return dates set :) 

We also found a CAPO this week named [...]. We were out in the middle of nowhere searching for an investigator we had taught before, but he wasn't there, so we contacted a couple houses that were in the area. We then found [...], a young man a couple years older than us who was in the middle of smoking a tobacco cigarette. He decided to let us in and we went to the backyard where we met his wife [...] and their little newborn baby :) We got to know them a little and they are both from Fray Bentos, another department here in Uruguay. [...] told us she was actually baptized in the church when she was nine years old, and went to the temple to do baptisms when she was 12, but then she and her whole family inactivated, so she said she didn't remember a whole lot. They are a super nice young couple and the Restoration went super well! The spirit was really strong and I guess [...] remembered something from church because when Elder Vergara was reciting the first vision, she joined in too and recited it with him!! Wow, it was amazing. And afterwards [...] was so happy when we left them a Book of Mormon, and promised us he would read it. We are so excited to follow up this week!

We went to our other area, Cardona early Saturday morning to work, and got to the church before Juan opened it up so took advantage of taking some model shots on a cool tree in front

We also found [...] again this week, and had a great lesson! After reading Moroni´s sweet promise, I asked him who should really ´convince´ us of the truth. He understood that that testimony shouldn´t come from us or any other person, but from God. He looked at us and said that he had never heard another religion acknowledge that it is God himself who must personally convince us of the truth. After we finished, his wife [...] came home and was super nice, so we are hoping on teaching the both of them the next time we swing by!

[...] passed his baptismal interview a couple of days ago! So we should be going through with it on Saturday! We were planning on going to Nueva Helvecia since our pool is broken, but now we can do it here in Rosario because people with be coming here to fix it. So we are excited!! Hope you guys all have a great week!

Elder Layton

Monday, July 10, 2017

One Year Anniversary

Hey everyone!

Well I am glad you guys all seem to be enjoying a nice warm summer in Bend because here has been the wettest week of my life hahaha. In fact, I haven't seen an inch of sky since Wednesday, as we have been completely fogged out for five straight days now! I´m not too sure when it is gonna clear up, but hey the work of the Lord goes on :). It is apparently like this in all of Uruguay right now. 

The good news though is we have been offered various ´tortas fritas´ (which are like scones) from different people haha. Uruguay has a tradition of making them whenever it rains. We also visited a less active family this week and they gave us milk that had come straight from the cow just a few minutes earlier. Haha, I actually thought it was pretty good.

It has been a pretty tough week, but we found a couple of great new investigators on Saturday! We found the parents of our investigator [...] while we were contacting. They let us in and are super nice. And before we had started the lesson, their other son, who is [...]´s younger brother came by for a visit. His name is [...]. Anyways, we had a feeling we needed to talk about the Book of Mormon with them. 

[...] and his wife are really religious, but [...] who was sitting on the couch in the background said he had doubts about the Bible because everyone seemed to understand it so differently. We started talking about the BOM, and in the middle of the lesson [...]´s wife had to leave, so [...] decided to take her spot at the table. He took a Book of Mormon and a Bible sitting on the table and started to analyze them while we were talking. I noticed that he found the cross references in the Book of Mormon and started flipping through the Bible to compare. 

Well it was really awesome because after [...] said the last prayer in the lesson, Elder Vergara got talking to Angel to see when we could come back, and so I turned to [...] and offered him his own BOM. He asked me to leave him with something to read and when I gave him a chapter, he said he wanted me to mark more! Haha, so we gave him to chapters to read. He gave us his address and said he was only available on the weekends, so we are going to visit him this Saturday! Pretty amazing experience!!

We have visited [...] a couple of times this week and we are planning his baptism for July 22nd! Our baptismal pool is broken, so we will actually be planning a double baptism with the Elders in Nueva Helvecia!! We have been going over some of the missionary lessons with him again and this week went to his house to make burritos as we reviewed the Word of Wisdom. Estuvieron muuuuuuy rico (they were really good) :).

But that´s about it for the week. So weird to think that I hit a year on the mission in just a couple of days!! It is going by super fast. I love you guys all so much! See ya next week!

Elder Layton

Monday, July 3, 2017

So Sensitive to Hear Even the Smallest, Most Fervent Prayer

Hey everyone!

Overall, it has been a pretty chill week. We had our zone conference on Tuesday, and it was super awesome. I learned a lot from President and Sister Olsen, including ways to avoid falling into the `pride circle` that we so often find in the Book of Mormon. 

Personally one of my favorite scriptures that explains why becoming prideful is so foolish is found in Helaman 4:13, which tells us when we boast in our own strength and abilities, the Lord truly can leave us in our own strength (which is nothing). We must recognize this if we desire the divine guidance that the Lord makes available to us when we are humble. 

Anyways, we had a super awesome lunch as well with our zone and with the zone of Mercedes. We had `all the chicken you can eat`. I also sat by President's youngest son Luke who was there and he filled me in about all the sports in basketball and football that has happened in the past year haha.

Elder Layton was RAVING about this chocolate
[...] and his family invited us over for dinner this week, which was super awesome. He used to be a chef in fact. Anyways, he made all of this really good gourmet pizza, which was actually really funny because Elder Vergara and I happened to make pizza for lunch that day :) But anyways, they are a super awesome family. They go to the Evangelical church, but have been reading a little of the Book of Mormon, and even asked for some Liahona magazines, which we brought them. They are pretty fun to teach as well :)

We had a funny dog experience this week. We were walking to a lesson down a street I have been on various times before. We were walking along the side of a building and when it cut off at the corner, it was continued by a gate. Well we make it to the gate, and this MASSIVE dog like halfway lunged over the gate at us. Elder Vergara was on the nearer side so he got the bigger scare as the dogs face came right in front of his. I have actually never seen it before but seriously, this thing was like a bear. I`m not to sure what the owner`s feed it, but it was cuadraro. It was pretty stinkin` vicious looking haha.

President Atanasoff and Elder Layton

We went to the other area in Florencia Sanchez this week with President Atanasoff, and it was cool. We visited a whole ton of less actives, and Juan, who I met last change when we went is a total stud and helped us out the whole day. 

I also finished reading `Our Heritage` for the first time this week. And man, the history of the church is so amazing! It blows my mind how much faith the pioneers of the church had and what they were willing to sacrifice. It also is such a testimony to me how the church was able to blossom under such heavy persecution and opposition, to bring to us the full blessings of the everlasting Gospel! I know that only the divine guidance of Heavenly Father, through his true prophets in these times could help the saints overcome the incredible efforts of the adversary to stop this work from progressing. We are so very blessed today as members of the church of Jesus Christ. I know that President Monson is a true prophet on the earth today.

Something I have seen in my mission- it is crazy how the most powerful being in the universe who has control and conscience over all things, is so sensitive to hear even the smallest, most fervent prayer. I have really seen that. I offer these little desperate pleas all the time in my head to Heavenly Father and I truly know that he directs me for my good. 

It is super awesome about Eric! Super exciting and cool to say that my bro is a pilot :) 

Love you guys so much!!! Couldn´t even describe it with words! Thanks for you wonderful example to me. Sorry, don't have a ton of time so I gotta go, but I hope you have a good week :) Chau

Love you guys! 

Elder Layton

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Lord Will Bless Us Beyond All Understanding

Hey guys!

An aaaaaawesome week we have had. We have been finding quite a few new people to teach recently. First off, the other night, we found a super nice older couple named [...] and [...]. They invited us in, which was the best thing ever as we were practically proselyting in Antarctica (the nights here get coooooold, due to so much humidity). Anyways, they are very kind people and were so interested in getting to know who we are and what we do. Anyways, we shared the Restoration with them and it was so awesome! They were full of questions, and the spirit was really strong. Afterwards, they were repeatedly thanking us for coming over, which isn't too common around here :). We have another lesson with them scheduled for tonight, so I am excited!

We had a lesson with [...] this week as well. She has been keeping her reading commitments, but hasn't been able to make it to church because she is always out of town during the weekend. Anyways, her partner [...] goes hunting all of the time, and apparently they have an overabundance of meat, and so she sent us packing with like 10 pounds of steak and chorizo. Haha super awesome- so our lunches this week have been good.

We contacted someone this week named [...]. He is a stud! He actually had listened a lot to missionaries about twenty years ago, and later showed us pictures of him and a few Elders eating lunch together. When we contacted him, he was getting his daughter's birthday party all ready, but told us to come back the next day for a charla. So we did, and first thing, he started bombarding us with all this leftover food from the party haha. He is super missionary friendly :) We had a great lesson with him and his daughter, and we went back on Saturday and taught him and his mother-in-law who was there as well. We found another stud this week named [...], who is our same age. He was really interested in the Plan of Salvation, which we taught him and wanted to know more about religion, as he has never been to a church before. But he actually lives in Colonia, so we had to share with the other missionaries haha.

[...] made a big step yesterday as well! He has been going to church for three years now, but never has been baptized because he always had a big problem with the law of tithing and won´t accept it. We have tried teaching him about it quite a few times, but that is the one subject he really doesn't like touching. Anyways, this past lesson, he told us he was willing to follow this commandment! We watched a video about the young, rich man, and then read some scriptures in 2 Nephi 31, and I think it really touched him. I have never seen him ponder so deeply in a lesson, it was awesome!! 

So yeah, it has been a good, productive week. I enjoy Rosario, and even though it´s like -200 degrees, it is all so worth it. I am grateful to have an opportunity to help build the kingdom of God here on earth and to be a missionary. I know that there are sacrifices, but the Lord will bless us beyond all understanding if we store up are treasures in heaven! I love you guys all so much. I hope you all can recognize the incredible love our Heavenly Father has for each one of us as well. Have a great week!

Elder Layton

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Expecting Miracles

Hey guys, I hope you have all had a fantastic week. Well changes all went well, and Elder Limachi went off excited for Montevideo. A couple people from my group, Elder Passey and Elder Houston came here to Colonia, although we got a lot smaller- just 12 of us in the zone. 

Elder Layton's Rosario Home
I spent a couple days in Colonia with the zone leaders since my companion left on Monday and Elder Vergara came on Wednesday. It was awesome. We had a couple of lessons on Tuesday- one with someone named [...] who was pregnant and due the next day (already passed) and the other with someone named [...] who is also pregnant and due in a week. Haha, funny coincidence. Both lessons were honestly super great though :)

My new companion, Elder Vergara from Colombia is pretty cool. He played on the selection team for fútbol in Colombia and also knows how to dance Salsa. Haha pretty sweet. He also loves to cook and so hopefully I can learn a thing or two from him this change, as we cook every day :).

We visited a couple of less actives on Saturday who after the lessons gave us three references! They also made it to church on Sunday, which was super great. Now, we are hoping that they will get married :) 

Anyways, I am very excited for this change, and we are expecting miracles!!! I love you guys. Talk to you next week!

Elder Layton

Monday, June 12, 2017

Welcome to Elder Vergara

Hey guys!

Well first off, we received changes last night. And sadly, Elder Limachi is going to be heading out. But it`s pretty cool because he is going to be the new secretary in Montevideo :) Right now I am with the Elders of Juan Lacaze and I will get my new companion, Elder Vergara on Wednesday. I'm pretty sure there are actually three Elder Vergaras in this mission, but I believe my companion is from Colombia. I think he has 8 months or so on the mission. 

We went to Montevideo on Wednesday for the final step in the cedula process. So I finally got it, and now I won't have to worry about any legal problems like I had in Argentina haha. There was actually a funny experience that we witnessed while we were waiting outside to take out our cedulas. There was some slim parking spot on the side of the road and one of the Oweste zone leaders said to us `Yeeeah they like to play push here... ` which btw I never saw in Flores. But after he said so, this car literally started pushing other two cars back and forth with his for like five minutes until he finally fit into the slot on the side of the road haha. It reminded me of that famous scene in `Despicable Me` when Gru makes a little room :)

But idk its pretty tranquilo here. There are almost all paved roads here in Colonia. We don't get food here from members so we eat- what we want haha. But yeah Elder Limachi knew a little about cooking and so I usually followed his lead. We usually eat eggs and oatmeal for breakfast and dinner and for lunch it depends, but usually something with meat and often times rice to go with. We also buy a lot of fruit in little tiendas in the street. it is super cold here right now. also, basically all of Colonia is super safe.

Let Grandma and Grandpa know that i am very grateful! They are always so supportive and am am grateful to have such a loving family. also thanks for the flash drive dad :) I've been going through it little by little. I love the song `Strength beyond my own`. Super pretty. 

Anyways, it's been a little tough to follow up with a few of our investigators this week, but we did swing by [...] a couple of times and he is making really good progress on his BOM reading. He is in Alma, which is pretty awesome for an investigator! 

Pressing Forward

Hey everyone!

Pretty crazy that we are already on our last week of this change. The mission at this point seems to by flying by. 

On Tuesday, we had another lesson with our new investigator from last week and it was really awesome. We had left her to read Moroni 10:3-5 in our first visit but when we came back on Tuesday, she had read the whole chapter! So that was really great. She told us that she would like to start reading it from the beginning, and so we left her with 1 Nephi 1 to start. Anyways, we just got a call from her saying she is in the Montevideo hospital due to all the pain she has been having from her back injury that I mentioned last week. So I would ask that you could all keep her in her prayers!

I went on divisions with Elder Barón on Friday over in Juan Lacaze. That night they had a ping pong activity in the church, and a good number of people came, it was fun. When I got back to Rosario, Elder Limachi totally pulled my leg and told me they lost like 3 of our most interested investigators during divisions. I didn't believe him for a while but then I started to accept what I believed was the sad reality haha. 

Well luckily he was joking. They weren't able to get the planned lesson with Wilson and Diego, but they got in contact with the Diego´s mom, Nancy, who wasn't there during the first lesson, and set up a lesson for the following day, when I got back. We went over and when we taught her the restoration, it was so awesome! I really felt the spirit as strong as I did with Diego and Wilson. She seems really interested as well, and we are looking forward to continuing with this great family! The only challenge is that the three of them all have very different schedules and so we may have to teach them separately. But anyways, I am so grateful the Lord led us to find them, I think they are going to progress :)

On Sunday night (man that has sure been our lucky night this whole change!) we went to the bottom of our area to contact where there are tons of apartment buildings. We ended up contacting a man named [...], who is a 27 year old firefighter with a few little kids. He invited us in and told us he was never raised with religion, so doesn´t really know anything about it, although he believes in God. We taught him the message of the restoration as well, and he seemed to understand very clearly. And even though his little kids were being kind of disruptive as they played, the spirit was definitely there. After we taught him our message, he started asking us all sorts of questions regarding the Plan of Salvation. He wanted to know what happens to us after we die because he said he didn't have any idea. We left him a Plan of Salvation folleto and told him we could teach him more about it the next time we came over. He told us we are welcome whenever, and is a really awesome new investigator!

I am so grateful to be serving the Lord here in Uruguay. I know that the message of the Gospel we all have to share really does bring us peace and happiness not only for this life but for all eternity. I am so grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ who strengthens me and helps me become better each day. I can always feel his love that he generously gives us. I love all of you guys back at home! Have a wonderful week!

Elder Layton