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

Monday, August 14, 2017

We Are Effective ONLY As We Follow the Promptings of the Holy Ghost

Hey everyone :)

A good week. [...] is starting to really progress. He is reading the BOM a lot and is still searching for an answer, but told us he feels like it is definitely inspired of God. He still hasn't accepted the invitation to church and says `todavia no` with a little smile on his face but he is a stud, and our lessons with him have gone really well so far. 

Elders Layton and Vergara

We found a new investigator this week named [...]. It was pretty crazy because after the lesson, we went over to his work bag, and pulled out this old missionary name tag of someone named Elder Ferrin. Apparently, he found it 16 years ago on a bus, and told us he had kept it in his work bag for all that time, because he thought he might find the guy some day! Haha, I told him he was likely from Utah, but it was something pretty funny :)

On Friday, we all went to Montevideo for a mission conference with Elder Teixeira from the Presidency of the Quorum of the Seventy. Half the mission was there so I saw some old companions :). The conference was seriously soooooo awesome and Elder Teixeira talked a lot about increasing our unseen potential. He is an incredible speaker, and it was actually kind of funny because he had a huge mixture of accents as he speaks like 6 languages. Anyways, afterwards, I just felt super stoked and pumped up to get back to missionary work. I suppose he gave us a good spiritual ´pep talk´ haha. 

Mission Conference with Elder Teixeira

Mission Conference in Front of the Temple
Coming back to our areas, the missionary bus dropped us off at the Rosario radial, which is a bus stop in which we have to catch another bus to go into Rosario (The bus system is weird here). The next bus   wasn't supposed to pass by for another half an hour and we were about an hour walking from Rosario, so we just decided to walk and try to contact a few of the house way out there we had never made it out to. We actually made a few really great contacts, and then it started to rain HARD. Of course we still had half and hour of walking to the city, were in our suits from the conference, and hadn´t brought umbrellas, but that didn't matter. I am grateful for the reality and divinity of my Heavenly Father who loves us and helps us feel of his joy when we serve him. There is no reason two soaked and cold missionaries could truly feel happy unless our Heavenly Father comforted and guided us through the Spirit that he promises us as we worthily partake of the Sacrament each week!

Sometimes, as I read the scriptures, my mind is blown on how many incredible blessings the Lord has promised us!! I love the scriptures and the Gospel so much! I just always want more time on the mission to read the scriptures haha. 

Elders Vergara and Layton
I feel like my testimony of prayer has grown a lot on the mission, because I have come to realize how much I truly need the Lord in all things. It has definitely been a humbling experience so far. I am grateful that Heavenly Father always pushes us but never gives us something above our ability to overcome. I recognize that without humbling myself and relying on him in all things, and without a sincere desire to follow consistently the promptings he gives to us, we cannot be very effective in anything we do :)

I am grateful to be a part of the great and marvellous work. I promise it is the work of the Lord, and that this is His church. I know that God has given us a perfect plan and that Jesus Christ has paved the way for us to simply follow. I am grateful for the Book of Mormon and know that it is true. I love each one of you guys! And remember- ´Hurrah for Israel!!´ :)

Elder Layton

Monday, August 7, 2017

Double Digits

Hey everyone!

This week has flown by. We had our interviews with President Olsen this week, and afterwards he took us all out to the store and said to get what we wanted. Haha he is the best. After interviews, I went on divisions in Nueva Helvecia with Elder Passey from my group. He is a zone leader and it is really weird because he is training, so the other zone leader isn't even his companion haha. Anyways, it was a super awesome day, and I learned a lot from him. 

We visited some really awesome investigators they have and in fact two of them asked in the the last prayer that they could please be baptized. A good thing to ask for! We also came across a couple of new investigators, who are Evangelicals (a lot of those in Colonia). We left them with a hymn because they wanted to hear us sing, so we sang the classic ´Más cerca, Dios, de Ti' (Nearer My God to Thee). And man, I don't know how we even made it through that song... It was SO funny because the wife was closing her eyes and was waving her hands all over the place. I'm not sure if other churches do that when they feel the Spirit, but I guess she liked it haha. 

We went to Cardona on Friday and had a good lesson with [...]. He apparently went to church again yesterday, along with our investigator [...]. We also found a super awesome investigator named [...] over there while contacting. She told us she was really confused about how to follow God if all churches teach differently, and so the Restoration went really well. She also said we are free to come back next week when we are in Cardona again. Here in Rosario, a few less actives made it to church yesterday, so we made it into double digits haha :)

We found a super nice couple here in Rosario named [...] and [...]. [...] listened to the missionaries a lot when she was a little girl, so already knew a little bit about the church. 

That´s about it for this week. Nothing too crazy. I love you all and I hope you know that I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ!! Nos vemos!

Elder Layton

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Open House

Elders Vergara, Passey, Huish, Layton and ?? in an Unknown Order
Hey everyone,

It was a loooong week, and we contacted like crazy. It was funny because even though we hear similar stuff all the time, some lady practically quoted 2 Nephi 29 word for word haha. She said, ´¡Tenemos una Biblia y no necesitamos mas Biblia!´ (We have a Bible and we don't need any more Bible!) Haha I was pretty convinced she had read that chapter before, and maybe it was her favorite scripture :) Anyways, like I said, it was a pretty tough week, but we had a BOMB weekend!!

First off, on Saturday, we did a big ´capilla abierta´ (Open House) where we got these big banners about the church and had some other missionaries from the zone come. We invited a bunch of people we knew and had missionaries outside, inviting people in while others helped explain the banners and our beliefs inside. It went on for a few hours, and was great! Also, each one of the active members here came to help as well, and explained more, in their respective rooms, about each organization of the church. They were a great help. 

There was actually a pretty good number of people who came through the orientation as well, and we got the names of some people to visit this week :) In fact, right when we started, a young man named [...] came in and appeared very interested. Elder Passey and Elder Huish helped him through the presentation, and meanwhile, he was asking a ton of questions! Afterwards, he apparently told Elder Passey that he had a really spiritual experience and would love to learn more! Anyways, all the missionaries helped a ton, and it was a really awesome day.
Set up For the Open House

We also had like the best day of church EVER! Elder Vergara and I went over to Cardona to speak and help out since there was only one other Priesthood holder there. Also, we wanted to meet that young man who has come a couple of times to church. We got to church early, and it was super foggy outside, and raining. And a couple minutes before church had started only a few people had come. 

I was honestly kind of having doubts that this young man would come since he was apparently 20 minutes early to church last week, and since the weather was pretty bad. I then leaned forward a little in my chair and said a little prayer in my head that by some miracle he could make it at the last minute, as we wanted to meet him. And the second that I finished that prayer, I looked up and saw a young man walking through the doors! Wow! I guess some prayers are answered quicker than others! It was [...], and he came over to meet us. He said that he had a special feeling he needed to come that morning, and rode over on his bike despite the ugly weather. 

Right after he came, a few more people showed up behind him, including a less active lady we had invited, and her boyfriend, who isn't a member! After Sacrament meeting, another less active lady pulled us aside and told us why she came. We had been calling earlier in the week to invite everyone to church, but this lady said she couldn't come because she had an injured knee. Elder Vergara asked if he could say a prayer for her over the phone and did so. She gave him a huge thanks and said after he had said that prayer, the pain from her knee completely went away and she could walk without the slightest problem! Miracles!! 

Pizza "Chivito" 
Gospel Principles was super great as well with [...], [...], and his girlfriend, [...], who is a member. [...] is already getting over his drug addiction and [...] is apparently trying to quit, so [...] was a huge help and support! They seemed to make great friends, and are both in their early 20s. In the class we talked about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. They all participated, and at one point [...] began to cry! 

It was all such a great day of church. Afterwards, we set up a date to have a lesson with the both of them together when we come back on Friday, and they both were so excited to learn more. Yesterday was honestly a day of miracles, and I am so very grateful that Heavenly Father is giving us more opportunities to teach!

That is about it for the week. It was a bomb weekend. Love you guys! Have a great week!

Elder Layton

Monday, July 24, 2017

Reaping the Harvest

Hey guys!

I hope everything is well back at home! It has been a good week- a lot of contacting but we have had some good lessons with the investigators we are currently teaching including [...], [...], and [...]. 

Also, we received our changes this week (the zone leader called us in like the middle of the night on Saturday haha) and I will be staying in Rosario with Elder Vergara for another change and so I am excited! I have been learning a lot here. Also, I got called to be a district leader, so that will be a good learning experience!

Sadly, [...] wasn't able to get baptized on Saturday due to some last minute complications, but we are going to keep on moving forward, and hopefully we can make that goal at a later time.

We have been going to Florencia Sanchez/ Cardona once a week now to work, and invite lots of less actives to church. Also, an investigator apparently came again to church yesterday and asked for the missionaries. His name is [...], and we don't even know him, but we heard that he is really interested in the church, participated in the classes, and even bore his testimony!! Pretty cool. This is apparently the second time he has gone to church this month. Also, we are planning on going next Sunday to speak, so hopefully he comes and we can start teaching him!

We went to a cool park and broken down river at the edge of our area last P- day to take some pictures and it was pretty sweet. Also, we woke up one morning this week and found a baby calf in front of our house!! We still aren't really sure who´s it is, but it is still there and is really sweet :)

That´s about it for this week. I miss you guys all so much. But the mission is really worth it! Talk to you next week.

Elder Layton

P.S. Forgot to mention- [...], an investigator Elder Opazo and I were teaching in Argentina is getting married tomorrow and baptized next week! Awesome!!