Monday, December 26, 2016

Argentina Transfer and the Christmas Call

Elders Layton and Good with the Bellotti Family
Hey everyone!

What a week!! To start, I haven´t received my changes yet, so I don't know where I will be or who with next change, so you guys will all have to wait until next week to find out. We should be getting a call tonight about it. 

Anyways, we had a super awesome week! To start, I went on divisions this week to Barrio 6 with Elder Carducci, a B
razilian who has the same time as me. We got a bunch of lessons, and it was really fun. We also got fed so much in just one day haha. We also found a huge spider in their house that night. Elder Carducci freaked out and sprayed it with bug spray for like 15 seconds haha.

Anyways, Thursday was the best day ever. We had a fun Christmas mission conference for most of the day with half of the mission, because it was split into two conferences. I barely missed out on a Michael Jordan jersey. Total bummer haha. But it was still a great conference. Lunch was incredible too. It was funny because after the conference, everyone who was there and had served in the offices got together for a picture. And everyone was in our conference that had been in the offices for the last 5 or 6 changes except for one person- another Elder Layton who is serving up in Artigas. So some people came and got me and had me sub in for the other Elder Layton and we took a big offices picture haha. 

UPDATE: President Olsen just called Elder Good and told him that he is training next change. So that means I am leaving which is kind of a bummer because I really love this area, but I am excited because.... I´M GOING TO ARGENTINA!! Woooooooh! The zone leaders are going to call me later and give me more information like who is my companion and what area I will be in, but I am actually super excited!! There is only one zone in our mission that is in Argentina, and I think it will be so much fun to go there!! Can´t wait. And I know Elder Good will take good care of Las Acacias, so I am really happy for the people here. 

Christmas Call via Skype
Well, anyways the rest of our day on Thursday was sweet. There is a lady named [...], who Elder Rosenhan and I found last week on divisions. I remember we were walking home and I had a feeling to stop and knock on one more door, which was hers. She is super nice and Elder Good and I went there and had such an awesome lesson with her!! She was very accepting of us, believes in Christ, and doesn't belong to any particular religion. She dug out a Book of Mormon that a friend apparently gave her ten years ago and said now that we came by she wanted to read it. She has never spoken to the missionaries before, but the spirit was strong as we taught the restoration, and she understood well. 

Anyways, after that bomb lesson, we were contacting and saw some people playing basketball so went and talked with them. They wanted us to play, so we did some two on two in our church clothes haha. And then a couple more people came over and they were all so interested in who we were. We have ran into one of the kids, [...] the past two days, and gave us his address because he wants us to come over! We are going to head over tonight, and I have a good feeling :)

Elder Layton via Skype - The Christmas Call
We got to stay up really late on Christmas eve to watch all of the fireworks, because Uruguay does NOT disappoint!! It was the most absurd firework show I have ever seen. People on every street around our apartment were shooting them of and it was so incredible. Elder Good and I had a super great view because our house has a nice roof we can get on :)

I think the most amazing part of this week though was talking to the family though! It was amazing seeing everyone, and I am lucky to have the best family ever! The mission rocks and the church is true!! 

Honestly, there is nothing more that I would want than such an amazing and loving family. I love you guys so much. I am so grateful that we are blessed with the gospel which is so focused on the happiness of families and being together forever. It was just so amazing hearing from you all and it seems like you are all doing so well. Thanks for all of your support and love. You guys make the mission easier for me :) I am so grateful to be here on a mission. I really think I have grown a lot this past change. I finished the BOM this morning and I am so grateful to have it.

Elder Layton

Monday, December 19, 2016


Hey everyone!

It has been a good week and also an interesting week...

We went on divisions on Tuesday and Elder Rosenhan came to our area with me for the day. We had one retention lesson with [...] about the restoration, and one youth member in the ward said he could come to the lesson with us. We taught them in the church building, and when we got there, there were actually four youth, one named [...] who is not a member. he is really cool, and it was neat because we got to teach him and [...] at once, with some member help.

This Guy Can Cook!

Anyways, was an interesting day. We had a super good zone conference with president Olsen, and he talked a lot about responsibility. We have a really incredible mission president! We had interviews with him too, and he talked to us about our release dates. Mine will be in August, and I didnt even realize this until after when Elder Good talked to me about it, and he extended the both of us an extra change on our missions! Haha, I am totally cool with it and that means I will serve for a change over the two year mark. :) (Mom and dad are not sure if they are cool with it or not.)

Anyways something funny happened on Wednesday- Elder Good and I were on one side of our area booking it to the other side because we had another lesson to get to and were a few minutes late. Then some guy named [...] who we always see in the computer cyber stopped us and told us to come in for a charla. We told him we had another lesson to get to but took out our agendas and told him we could come back the next day.

Apparently he was mad that we couldn't come in at that minute so when we were looking at our agendas, he just grabbed Elder Good´s name tag and ran back into his house, slamming the gate and door behind him. Hahaha. Elder Good and I just kind of stood there, wondering if that really just happened.

His mom came out and said that he threw it somewhere, and so we really don't think we are getting that back. Anyways, as we were walking away, this huge dog they have came from behind me and bit me in the leg. It really caught me off guard, and when i turned around it got me in the hand too... So it tried lunging at me a third time and I just kicked it in the face because it was going crazy. Luckily, it backed off after that though. And I am also glad it didnt break any skin of anything, so i think I´m good :)

The Guerrero Family

It was Elder Good´s birthday on Friday. We threw him a little party in the house that night, made a cake, and bought tons of ice cream :) Also, on Sunday we went over to family Guerrero´s house and they gave us the BEST FOOD I HAVE HAD IN URUGUAY! Fernando made the most incredible asado grill and afterwards, they had a cake for Elder Good too. They are such an awesome family.

Happy Birthday Elder Good!

A couple other things that happened this week- [...] is progressing super well and she is definitely on track to be baptized on January 7th. She is already so excited!

The Zone in Their New T Shirts

Also, we had a weekly correlation with our ward mission leader, Hermano Runco this week and I got a picture with him, because he had on a Los Angeles Lakers shirt haha. The worst team ever! Also, today we had a zone  forP-Day. We did a white elephant exchange, and also got some cool zone shirts we paid for a few weeks ago. I am having a lot of fun here in Flores, and I am so grateful to be a missionary.

Hermano Runco, Great Guy, Poor Taste in Teams

I hope you al have a Merry Christmas!!

Elder Layton

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Prepared People

We had a great past week! To start, we were able to start teaching [...] who we found last week at stake conference. And she is soooo prepared and ready to accept the gospel in her life. 

We went over to her tiny little one-room house and taught her the restoration and it was probably one of the best lessons I have had in my whole mission so far! She has been through a lot in her life, and it sounds like she was mistreated a lot by her husband and some of her family growing up. She has some health problems that is is working through too, but she is just the sweetest lady! And she actually understood what we were teaching really well. Anyway, we had another lesson with her on Friday, and gave her a baptismal date for Janurary 7th!! She is super excited and is so grateful to be learning from us. She is truly a miracle and we have been praying a lot to find more people to teach. She also came to [...]´s baptism on Saturday! And now on to the baptism-

So despite a few complications, [...] did in fact get baptized!! To start, no one from our bishopric ever came, and so we were kind of worried, especially because we had talked to them a couple times about it to make sure someone would be there. So we had to postpone the baptism about 45 minutes while we tried to get a hold of the bishopric and get everything figured out, but apparently they were all at work so no one answered. We ended up calling the zone leaders and they gave us permission to go through with the baptism and have our ward mission leader, Hermano Runco preside. So luckily he was there, because otherwise we would have to postpone the baptism to another day. And actually, sadly the same thing happened to the Elders we live with in Barrio 12 who had a baptism too the same day- no one from their bishopric came and since they don´t even have a ward mission leader, they couldn´t have their baptism :/ Hopefully they can get that figured out.

Anyways, we we were very glad he was able to be baptized. It was funny because there was actually a big struggle in the baptismal font. He is a little afraid of water and so the ordinace had to be done six times, because he was doing everything possible not to go under completely... I think he also didnt like the idea of going backwards and trusting Elder Good to support him. After quite the experience, [...] sat down so his head was just above the water and Elder Good just pushed him under a little haha. But anyways, he finally did it even though he doesnt like water, and he was so happy afterwards!! It was an amazing experience and I feel so happy for him. 

Yesterday was fast and testimony meeting since we had stake conference last week. We sat next to our investigators [...] and [...], and after a few people got up, [...] leaned over and asked me if I was going to say anything. So I told him I would be happy to bear my testimony and got up. And of course, as I was making my way up to the stand I hear something come from where we were sitting- ¨Wooooooo, Laytooooooon! Bien!¨ Haha, we tried explaing to him a little bit about reverence in the church afterwards. 

Anyways, it has been an eventful week and some funny stuff has happened, but we also some really amazing experiences. It is so much fun to be here serving with Elder Good. and it is also a blast living with Elder Pettit and Elder Chudleigh. I have been learning so much everyday and I am so very grateful for this incredible oppurtunity I have to be a missionary. The church is true! I hope you guys are all having an awesome holiday season! Love you all :)

Elder Layton

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Really Great Week

Hey everyone!!

Well I am sure you guys will all be enjoying a white Christmas, but here it is HOT. We still got the Christmas spirit going though as we bought a small tree for the house haha. Also, the four of us Elders who live together bought Rubix cubes because we can all solve them. Haha we're all a bunch of nerds. Anyways, it was a really great past week! To start, we had a lesson with [...] on Tuesday and afterwards he took us out and bought us some food- that was super nice and he was really insisting! And just the other day, he had his baptismal interview with our district leader Elder Rosenhan, and.....passed!! Woooooooh!! So we each are going to have our first baptism this Saturday! We are both super excited, as is [...].

Sunrise in Flores
Elder Good hit his 6 month mark this week and so we went out to get ice cream. It was awesome, and I am so grateful they have really good ice cream here because I loooooove ice cream haha. 

Elder Good
We had a great day on Thursday. We got a lesson that morning with someone we contacted on the street named [...]. Her son isn't interested and she is very catholic but she enjoyed our message and wants us to come back another day. We also had a lesson with a less active named [...], and we were hoping to get the lesson to be with her husband too, but he hadn't gotten back from work yet. So we had a lesson anyways and it was really awesome! And even better, her husband [...] got back from work near the end of our lesson and sat in. He is really nice and afterwards he said he had to go back out again so he could take us where we needed to go. So he drove us to our house and we got ready to go to a mutual activity that we were invited to. We got there like ten minutes late and only one person was there. So we waited a couple minutes and all of the sudden someone in the ward named [...] (who just got off off a mission) pulled up in a van and like a dozen jovenes piled out. Four of them were non members and two were less actives. We played soccer in the gym for like two hours (we had to leave after two hours, but they were still playing haha) and it was super fun. And we even set up a lesson with one of them this weekend, so we are hoping to get to know some of the others better if they keep coming to activities!

We had stake conference this weekend and we heard from President Olsen, some local authorities, and members of the stake presidency. Also, our investigators came both to the adult session on Saturday and to the conference on Sunday!! 

Flores Cathedral
I read JSH 1:1-35 in my personal study this morning and the spirit bore witness unto me again about the truthfulness of that history. And we talked a lot about the restoration in our zone conference today. We also watched a video about Joseph Smith and the first vision which I have seen a few times but I can always feel the spirit when that first vision music starts and watch the experience. The spirit is clearly a witness unto me of the truthfulness of the BOM and Joseph Smith, but even more is that so many people went through so much just to disprove a boy who they thought was crazy anyways. Satan worked hard. I also think of the scripture that basically says if we build our foundation on Christ we cannot and will not fall even if the mouth of hell gapes open after us. 

I love being a missionary. It sure is hard work, but we really do see miracles and I am so grateful to be able to feel the spirit so often. Although I have read them before, a few vesus really stuck out to me in my studies this week- Moroni 7:45-48. They speak of charity and as I read them slowly and thought about them, they taught me a lot. Amazing verses. 

Anyways, happy holidays to everyone, and I love you all!!

Elder Layton

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

His Grace is Sufficient

Service Project
Well Uruguay may not celebrate Thanksgiving but that doesn't mean we didn´t! We didnt have a traditional thanksgiving meal either, but it was still really solid. 

First, we had an a ward activity Thursday night where we ate something called choripan (SO good!) and we also brought [...] and [...]. [...] also came as well as a less active we invited, so that was all awesome! 

Anyways, right after the activity we went home and ate more food. The four of us Elders ordered pizza and  got toddy chocolate chip cookies (which everyone in our house loves) and vanilla ice cream, which we blended up into shakes. It was incredible :). Obviously no thanksgiving turkey or anything but it was still pretty satisfying.

We have continued to work with [...] and are really shooting for his December 10th baptismal date. He is still having some issues, but we have been making goals with him. [...], [...] and [...], are still all super fun to teach. I am not sure how well they actually seem to understand what we are teaching at times, but they suuuure love to learn. They do really funny things sometimes like once after Elder Good gave the closing prayer of a lesson, they all stood up and started clapping. They do funny stuff like that :). Anyways, we were actually able to invite them to be baptized. [...] and [...] didnt want to commit just yet but really want to. We will definitely keep working with them though. And [...] actually said he would be baptized! We are going to work a lot to help them understand our messages very clearly, but they sure are fun to teach. [...] also came to church this week with us and stayed for all three hours! 

We have dont a TON of walking this week. We have been really searching for more investigators and a lot of our plans have canceled so we have spent quite a bit of time outside contacting and knocking on doors. We actually had a funny experience contacting this week with a lady named [...]. We talked to her one day, left her with a pamphlet to read and she said we could come back to teach her about it the next day. When we returned however, she had no clue who we were. Elder Good said, ´Yeah your name is [...] right?´ and she got super confused and had no idea how we knew that haha. I guess she can´t remember very well.

It rained all day on Saturday so we got super soaked. But this is all worth it. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be a missionary. I feel so blessed to be able to feel the spirit every day, especially when I read the scriptures. I have no doubt that the Book of Mormon is true. This work is all so worth it and I am grateful for the grace of my Savior Jesus Christ. I read a really awesome talk this week called His Grace is Sufficient. You should all go read it if you haven't already. 

This Gospel is true. 

Love you all.

Elder Layton

Monday, November 21, 2016

Zee Four Gringos

Elders Good and Layton

Hey everyone!!

It has been a great week and I am really looking forward to all that we are going to do this change. To start, we are living in a house of four gringos again! Yeah, Elder Pettit got his ´kid´ on Wednesday and he is a gringo too. His name is Elder Chudleigh and he is one of the funniest people I have ever met. And I got my new companion, Elder Good ant the mission conference! He is really cool and we get along super well. I still think it is funny that he has 5 1/2 months in the mission and he has been out the longest in a house of four gringos. So we are all figuring out the language together. But it has been really fun and I really love the group of guys that we live with. 

So I met Elder Good at the mission conference with Elder Rasband. There were so many missionaries there and we all got to shake his hand. It was pretty stinkin´ cool to see an Apostle of the Lord!! I learned a lot from him and one thing that I thought was cool was that we are in our exact missions, in our exact areas, and with our exact companions for a very specific reason, and that it has all been assigned by revelation from the Lord. We should always ask ourselves in each of our situations, what we are to learn from our current experiences, because there is always something to learn. It was an incredible conference and it was amazing to hear from him. 

Anyways, do you guys remember [...] that I mentioned a while ago? We ran into him again this past week on the street with Elder Nielsen, and this time we were able to get his address. We hadn't had time in the last few days before Elder Nielsen went home because he had a lot of members he wanted to say goodbye to, but we went over to his house on Thursday, my first day with Elder Good. 

Saying Goodbye to Elder Nielsen
Sebastian was super happy to see us and he let us in. It turns out that he lives with eight people and a couple of them wanted to join in our message. The others are named [...and...] and they are a little older but are really awesome. We taught the three of them the Restoration, and they kept getting off track, but it still turned out to be a pretty good lesson! All three of them always tell us how much of a blessing we are to them haha. We went over again yesterday, and followed up some on the restoration and talked some more about modern day prophets and prayer and this time [...] agreed to say the closing prayer, which he did a really good job at. We invited them all to an activity on Thursday at the church to eat Chorizo, and they flooded us with gratitude. They said they didnt want to come just to eat the food, but that they wanted to be with us. Then then all gave us really big hugs after the lesson haha. They are so awesome.

On Saturday, we went over to a baptism in Barrio 12, which is Elder Pettit and Elder Chudleigh´s ward. It was kind of cool that Elder Chudleigh got to have a baptism on just his fourth day! Elder Pettit did the ordinance, and the baptismal service was really special.

I said goodbye to Elder Nielsen Wednesday morning and spent the day as companions with Elder Maxfield since his companion, Elder Pettit was receiving his new missionary at the mission home. Elder Maxfield was able to teach me a lot of good missionary skills his last day here in Flores.

Elder Good and I have been making some plans to find more investigators, and also work more with members. I am super excited for this change. The two of us have a lot in common and I am really excited because he wants to work really hard. He is a stud and together we have been trying to be as obedient as possible. 

Command Central
He is really excited to come to Montevideo because his old area in Salto was apparently really hard. He also loves the food here. His first member meal was at a really awesome family named Palavez and they gave us Asado, which is where they cook a bunch of different meats over a big grill. Elder Good said it was the best thing he has eaten in all of his time in Uruguay. I guess I have been pretty spoiled here in Montevideo :) But yeah, I am loving it here with Elder Good. It is funny because he gets a lot of Elder Bueno jokes from everyone. 

I am so very grateful to be serving a missionary of the Lord! I love and miss you all!

Elder Layton

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Greenie No More

Elder Nielsen's Farewell Party
Hey everyone!!

Wow, the last couple days have been pretty crazy, and there is going to be quite a few changes coming. To start, I received a call today about my new companion for next change! His name is Elder Good- a gringo! My zone leaders told me he only has 5 months on the mission (and I have just 4)! So this is going to be very interesting haha. Elder Moss, another Elder in my zone, came over to our appartment today with some other missionaries and apparently Elder Moss was CCM companions with Elder Good, so he told me about him and I am really excited. They are the group of missionaries who came in right before my group. But I have heard only good things about Elder Good. Elder Moss said he is obedient and really likes to work. He is from Ephraim, Utah and really likes sports. Elder Moss and Elder Chatwin (who was also in his CCM group) told me that we are actually pretty similar and will get along really great so I am super excited! Elder Good is serving way up in the zone Salto right now and is coming to Flores, while Elder Moss is going up to his area in Salto. Anyways... we also recieved some crazy news concerning the changes of the other missionaries we live with last night. First, Elder Maxfield is going near the top of Uruguay to be a zone leader in Salto. And, Elder Pettit who is in my group, currently being trained by Elder Maxfield..... is going to be a trainer next change!!! So that is absolutely crazy. I also heard that Elder Wright from my CCM group will be a trainer next change too! Apprarently President Olsen is making a lot of changes and we have a super young mission, so now some fairly new missionaries will already be training. 

Anyways this week has been great. We taught [...] the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity this week and he is keeping them both! He even gave up alcohol and coffee, so that is fantastic. We were actually just informed that we are having stake conference the weekend of his baptism, so we are probably going to have to push his date to December 10th instead.

Yes, I have heard about Donald Trump winning the election haha. I will admit it was a big surprise for me. Our ward mission leader told us the results on Wednesday morning, and since then we hear about Trump from everyone! It is all over the news here and everyone asks us about it haha. The states are a really big deal in Uruguay. Anyways, Wednesday was really cool because we went to sign residency for those of us ´oros´ and so I was able to see my whole CCM group again. It was super awesome to see and hear from them again. They are all doing awesome. 

Some more big news is that Elder Rasband from the quorom of the 12 Apostles is coming this week on Thursday!!! I am so excited. It is kind of a bummer for Elder Neilsen though as he leaves Wednesday afternoon and is going to miss it. I think that I will be in a trio with Elders Maxfield and Pettit for part of Wednesday and Thursday. The conference with Elder Rasband will be for both missions in Uruguay so I believe over 400 missionaries will be there! Afterwards, we will go to our stakecenter and split off with our new comanionships there. But I am STOKED to here from an Apostle! And am am also really excited to meet Elder Good!

Today our ward mission leader, Runco, took us over to Ciudad Viega in Montevideo, about 30 minutes from here, because Elder Neilsen wanted to get some souveniers before he left. It was really cool. We drove by the ocean (which is actually kind of dull) and also a US embassy. I got a couple of  little souveniers as well so it was fun.

So yeah, it has been an eventful week. We have visited a bunch of members for Elder Neilsen to say goodbye, and it is wierd to think I will be out of training in a couple of days. I still cannot believe that my next comanion only has 5 months and that Elder Pettit is training! Our zone is going to look a lot different next change from what I have heard. But only good things are ahead! I miss and love you all! Until next week :)

Elder Layton

Monday, October 31, 2016

Inspired by Righteous Causes

Hey everyone!

So to start, we talked with our district leader Elder Silva about [...] and his situation and he said that if he comes to church every week, desires to be baptized, and keeps the commitments we leave with him, that we should be allowed to give him a baptismal date even if he has a hard time understanding the things we teach. He is doing the best he can. So, we had a lesson with him on Tuesday, and he read what we left him with, and even told us what he learned. So, Elder Nielsen and I were able to extend to him a baptismal invitation for December 3rd and he accepted! So, that is really exciting. The lesson with him went well and we are just trying to keep in mind we need to teach him as simply as possible in order to help him understand better. But anyways that is super exciting, and hopefully we can prepare him for that date!

We also were able to help [...] with a service on Tuesday. He was mixing and laying concrete in his front yard (I suppose our front yard too since we live above him) with his son. He is a little older, and we had two lessons get canceled last minute, so we helped them instead. It was a cool service project. They had the different substances that we would pour in a big mixer and mix until it was concrete. It rained that night after we had to go and so they had to cover everything up and couldn't finish it. But we may help them again this week lay the rest of the concrete and then put tile on top of that. I think it will be nice when it is done.

I had a really cool opportunity on Wednesday night. We had a ward cleaning that day before ward counsel. We help out sometimes with that because hardly anyone ever comes. As we were walking into the church building, some guy got out of his car and starting speaking to us in English. He was looking for family history consultants, and asked us if we knew when they would get to the church. They are usually late so we told them they should be coming in a bit. So he came into the church and waited while we were waiting for people to come unlock to cleaning supply closet. Elder Nielsen thought he was a member so started playing the piano in the chapel while I got talking to him in the hall. His name was [...] and it turns out he is actually not a member. He learned English because he went to Michigan for one year of college, so I jumped on the opportunity haha. He is older and had some really cool stories that he told me about. He is a big history buff, and is really into family history work. He said he loves working with our church because we have such good resources for ancestry. I talked to him about a lot of stuff, but I also had the chance to give him a Book of Mormon and bear my testimony about it. He knows a lot about the church but has never gotten one and he seemed really excited. He told me he loves to read and would read it! If I remember right, he said that he didnt live in Montevideo and was only there temporarily visiting family, but I left him with our information anyways. It is actually pretty crazy because I remember when President Rau was setting me apart as a missionary, he said that I would have opportunities to teach people in English on my mission! From what I have experienced so far, everyone loves to try saying things to us in english. Everyone´s clothes say things in english, a lot of advertising is in english, and I have met a few people who speak it fluently. So funny.

There was one day this week that as we passed by some workers unloading a big truck, we heard one of them say, "Saben que ellos son de la cia?" which means "Do you know that they are from the CIA?" haha. Elder Nielsen said that a lot of people here think that we are spies from the states. I thought that was pretty funny.

This week I read a lot in Alma about the wars between the Nephites and the Lamanites. I really liked Alma 43:45 which shows how we need to be inspired by righteous causes in the Gospel. The Nephites are inspired by love and the protection of their families, while the Lamanites are seeking vain things of the world. Going back a little, I also love in Alma 39:14, which says we shouldn't seek after worldly things, for we cannot take those with us in eternity. We should seek to increase our knowledge and build happy families. Those things will stay with us forever.

I got to go, but the work is good, and I am loving Uruguay. Thanks for all the love and support! Also Happy Halloween to everyone!

Elder Layton

Monday, October 24, 2016

We Owe God Everything We Have

It is really hard to believe how fast each week goes. Last week was really fun on P-Day because we went over to zona Oeste and played a bunch of sports with all three montevideo zones. It was really cool because I got to see a lot of the people there from my CCM district. It was at the stake center with the mission offices in the same building, and President Olsen happened to be there. He popped in on us when we were playing basketball and said if he made the shot we don´t get P-Day this week, and we said if he missed it we got another P-Day the next day. Luckily we were kidding because he drained the shot all the way from the door haha!

We still teach English Class every week, but for the past two weeks it has rained so not very many people have come. We are teaching it again tomorrow, but if no one invites friends, then I am not sure we will continue doing it. It rained quite a bit this week, especially on Wednesday. There was a huge tree a few minutes from our house that got ripped out from the wind and blocked the entire road! We probably would've gotten a picture if it hadnt been raining so hard. 

This week we had a lesson with a man named Daniel. Every week, Daniel comes to church and comes to me asking to be baptized. Elder Nielsen said he has tried teaching him before, but that he doesn't really understand anything very well. Daniel is a little older and is pretty poor, so we taught him in the church building. The lesson with him was pretty tough because he didnt understand even the simple things we tried teaching, but he wants to keep learning from us, so I think that is what we will do. He is a really nice man, but we will see if he keeps our commitments. We are going to meet with him again tomorrow. If we could teach in more simple terms and be patient with him, I think we could maybe prepare him for baptism. Even though his understanding isn't perfect, he comes to church every single week and has those good desires. 

I hate to disappoint, bt we actually never ate that "interesting" thing I mentioned in my last weeks letter. Haha pretty bizarre, but Fernando was going to feed us cat! But he was pretty sick yesterday, so he couldn't have us over. How many missionaries have you guys heard eating cat though?? I wonder if we still might have that this week :·0

We had a service on Saturday morning and cleaned a ton of mold off of the walls of someone´s house! It was filthy, but we got a lot done. Elders Maxfield and Pettit were there too. It is so humid here in Uruguay though that mold just grows like weeds. Nearly every house you would go to has it. 

I read in Alma 32 this week, and that is such an incredible chapter! I really liked verses 10 and 11 that say we should not only worship God one day of the week. The truth is, we owe God everything we have because after all, it is only what he has already given us (I think we can also learn this from King Benjamin´s humbling discourse). But really, how can we be sincere and repent on the Sabbath, while just wandering back into worldly things during our everyday lives, forgetting our commitment to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. It is important for us to remember the comparision of faith to a seed in Alma 32 because we must continue to deepen our roots in the Gospel. We need to diligently be adding to our testimonies each day, or else our roots with wither and we will not have power to withstand temptation. I learn so much from the Book of Mormon every single day. I love it, and I know it is true. We are so blessed to have it. 

I love and miss you all. Thanks for all your letters! I am so blessed right now to be working in a part of the Lord´s vineyard. Life is good, and we are so lucky to have this Gospel in our lives. Until next week!

Elder Layton

Monday, October 17, 2016

Greetings From the Celestial Mission

Elders Nielsen and Layton (credit Hma Teresa for this photo)
Hey everyone!

Uruguay is super awesome, and I am sure lucky to be serving in the celestial mission (we have a sun on our flag). We have been working with [...] recently, who was a less active that has started coming to church again. We are working to get him the Priesthood, and we want to eventually have him to be able to go to the temple. We had a lesson with him this week during halftime of a Uruguay soccer game, and when we finished the lesson he turned it off mute, and Uruguay scored while we were there haha. He got so excited, it kind of reminded me of when my Dad and I would watch Duck or Blazer games :) We also had a super great lesson with Paola and Romina this week, and they said they would try to come to church, but never showed :/ So we will see what is up this week. 

My reading of the spanish book of mormon during language study has been really great so far. Right now I am just reading it side by side by english, and even though it is a little slower, I feel it is more effective as I can compare words and sentence structure. I actually feel like my understanding is growing quite a bit, but it is still really hard to say what I want correctly. 

We recently learned that Hermano Runco, our ward mission leader living under us has kidney stones. Ouch! But we had the opportunity to give him a Priesthood blessing so that was a neat opportunity.

We have three people we are teaching (one investigator and two less actives) that all live right next to each other. So each week, we get done teaching one and just walk right next door haha. That has been pretty convenient. 

We had a bunch of walking of Saturday. It rained most the day, and so our plans were all cancelled, as everyone stays home and sleeps those days. We had a bunch of references we recently got and that we tried out, but everyone was either gone or asleep. But hey, at least it is good exercise. And I really need it because we eat a TON here. We usually have really big lunches with members, and then people always feed us in lessons and stuff. On Sunday, we went to Fernando's for lunch and he had just about everything you could imagine, from chorizos to ribs to intestines. And, yeah the intestines (pig, cow, and goat mixed in one) were the first kinda weird food that i have eaten here. BUT, just wait until next week because Fernando wants to feed us something very interesting this Sunday. Haha, I am not going to ruin the surprise though, you will all have to find out next week.

We also had the primary program yesterday... There was only 7 kids there and about 3 of them even opened their mouths, so that was something funny to watch :) Also, the Bishopric was involved in one song with them, and it was really funny because none of them could sing a right note to save their lives. 

It is starting to heat up here a lot actually. I heard Summer's are pretty brutal, and it hasn't even quite started... So with the humidity, I think it is going to get preeeety hot! I can already feel it haha. I love you and miss you all. Thanks for all of your prayers and support. 

The Book of Mormon is awesome. I never knew how much of a joy the scriptures truly could be to read. I love reading every day. But when I look at Ether 12:27, I see my love and understanding for the scriptures growing all the time and I recognize that the Lord has made them something I yearn to read every day. I read the BOM once before my mission, but not that closely. I am currently reading it again and am in Alma 18 now. I seriously love them. What a great blessing we have been given!

See ya!

Elder Layton

Monday, October 10, 2016

If I Trust In the Lord and Seek Improvement My Father in Heaven Will Guide Me

Hey friends and family!!

I learned of a promise a couple days ago that was from Gordon B Hinckley. He said that if we read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover in the language we are trying to learn, and have a desire to learn, that we will be able to speak the language by the time we finish! So that is a pretty cool promise so I decided to read it in Spanish during my language studies. 

I can't believe that I am in my second change here! It is pretty crazy because each week seems to go by faster and faster. 

We had two big service projects this week; on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, we met up with some Elders in our zone and everyone brought machetes that they had borrowed from members because we were cutting down bamboo trees. Elder Nielsen and I couldn't find anyone with them in our ward, so he decided to go buy two of them at a supermarket. They were for the service project, but he said he really just wanted to take them home in a month when he goes home haha. But that was a super fun morning on Friday as we just got to chop away with giant machetes for a long time :) Our project on Saturday was a stake project and our entire zone was there, as well as a bunch of other members. We cleaned up a school and also met the new missionaries in our zone this change. I got to use a leaf blower for a while too and so that was fun!

To be honest, this week has been really tough to actually get into lessons. Our investigators all seem to have very specific schedules and a lot have been cancelling so we have to wait a whole week. We have had some more success with reactivating members though, and had 5 less actives come to church this week! So that was really neat. 

It was interesting because it actually hadn't rained in a few weeks after the crazy first few here in Uruguay, but we had a flash flood Friday night as we were walking home. So luckily I had gotten my umbrella back that was stolen last week! I still got pretty wet though :).

I have really gotten a lot from my studies in the scriptures this week. I am sorry I dont have my notes with me, but I do remember D&C 64 was a really great chapter that I was led to when studying in Alma. You should all go and read it! I love the scriptures so much and am so very grateful to have them in my life! What incredible resources the Lord has given us to learn and progress. I am so grateful to be a missionary and that I have the opportunity to be on the Lord's errand. I have a lot to learn, but I know if I trust in the Lord and continue to diligently seek improvement each day, my Father in Heaven will guide me! 

don't know what I would do without a testimony of the Gospel in my life. I really really love this gospel and am sooooo grateful for the scriptures. I have really been coming to love them more each time I read, and something I desire in my life is to become very acquainted with them so that I can point to a scripture in any circumstance that I or others are in. They are so bomb!

I love and miss you all!

Elder Layton

Monday, October 3, 2016

A Two Day Spiritual High

Yep, on Thursday night while we were all sleeping someone snuck in our house and stole a ton of stuff. I was the first one out of our bedroom and realized a light had been left on, but I didnt think much about it and turned it off. But a couple minutes later a realized my backpack was missing from next to my desk, and i was really confused. Then Elder Maxfield said 'I think we got robbed!' And then we started looking around for everything that was stolen. Our backpacks were all taken, except for Elder Nielsen´s ripped up one, and all the valuables on our desks were taken.

I got reeeeally lucky. My stuff was mostly in our bedroom, expect for all of the books and study material on my desk, so the only thing taken of mine was my backpack.EIder Nielsen and Elder Maxfield both lost there mission cards, money, watches, and stuff like that, and Elder Pettit also just lost his backpack. It turns out that someone snuck in from the back window of the house because it was wide open by the time we woke up! To be honest, I felt very lucky that I didnt have more taken, probably because I was more fortunate than the other two, and even though it was a new backpack, new umbrella and some other little things I had inside,

I realized it didnt matter that much because it is just stuff. I started feeling more grateful for everything that I did have, and I was also very relieved that for some reason I decided to take out my nice set of spanish scriptures out of my backpack the night before. BUT, I got even luckier. We had service that morning down with Runco, and a lady walked by asking us if we were missing three backpacks! A lot of roofs connect to the back of our apartment since we live on a second floor (which is how they got through our back window), and all our backpacks had been ruffled through and dumped in the alley next door. So we got those back and since I don't keep any money or valuables in there, I didnt lose a single thing from the robbery! I was surprised they didnt take any Book of Mormons or pass along cards! Haha, but I was actually surprised my new umbrella was still in there. Elder Nielsen and Elder Maxfield still never got back there other valuables though.

The rest of that day actually ended up being so great though! We taught the restoration lesson twice. Once to an 86 year old woman who was a contact in the street we gave a Book of Mormon to. I am not sure how well she understood, but she said she read both pamphlets we had put in the book and she said she would start reading the Book of Mormon for next time. We also got to teach [...] and her daughter [...]. This time was so awesome with them! They read the invitation we gave them last time, and both even decided to read more! [...] is only 11 but she is so excited about the scriptures, and wants to go back to church. The lesson with them also went super awesome, and they are happy to have us come back this week!

Oh man, isn't conference just so stinkin awesome!?!?!?! We got to watch conference in English in a gringo room upstairs in the stake center. It was so incredible and I took a lot of notes. I don't have those with me but a few things that stuck out to me were that anything we endure in this life will be eternally compensated for in the next. I also really loved Elder Rasband's testimony where he was talking about not forgetting those special spiritual experiences you have. I always write down my testimony and experiences in my journal, because I never want to forget. Finally I thought that one guy who talked about his mother reading the scriptures to him everyday during breakfast was really powerful.

I love our beloved prophet and apostles so much and I truly know that they are called of God. I just felt on a spiritual high for both days. We even got to stay up late on Saturday night for Priesthood session (since we are four hours ahead of home). Everyone in the zone also made a TON of food for both days, so we were quite comfortable with ourselves :)

Mate and the "Bombisha"
Anyways, our first changes are happening in two days! Nothing with change for us because we are still in training and that is for two changes. But here are some things about the Uruguayan culture that I have learned in these 6 weeks. They all drink something called Maté, and carry there giant thermoses around with them everywhere so they can keep refilling. They always pass it around and drink from one bombisha ( a special straw) although missionaries aren't aloud to drink it. It's is not against the WOW though. We usually drink Coca Cola or fizzy water with members.

It rains a lot, and when it does, everyone stays inside and makes Tortas Fritas, which are like scones. They all root for one of two national Uruguay soccer teams: Nacional and Peñerol, and that is huge here. Basketball is also common. All of the kids here always play Pokemon Go as well. Yes that is not just in the states haha.

But yeah I am still loving it here. It is hard work but so worth it!!! Love you and miss you all!

Elder Layton

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Being a Missionary Totally Rocks!

Delicious Food in Uruguay (Photo courtesy of Franklin Fernandez)
Hey everybody!

It has sure been fun to here about what has been going on at home recently! With Brother Stevens being made the new stake president to my friends getting mission calls, it has all been super exciting to hear! 

Near the beginning of this week, we had a lesson with a lady. She was someone who actually contacted us on the street a few days prior, and is a less active lady. She said she wants to start listening to the missionaries again! She was really nice and she even made us a bunch of food when we went over. We taught her a lesson of diligence and just doing a little bit each day, in order to reach something like coming back, which can seem like a daunting task. 

The lesson went well, and at the end she asked if we could give her two kids a priesthood blessing, as they had been sick. So, I had the opportunity to anoint the consecrated oil on each one, and then Elder Nielsen sealed and blessed them. It was a really neat experience, and I was just glad I could read the anointing part from the white handbook, since it was in spanish! We set up another lesson with her on Friday, but that fell through so we are going to see her this week instead. 

Wednesday morning was super cool- right outside of our apartment, they had something called a Ferriea all the way down our street. They usually do it every Wednesday, but every Wednesday that I have been here until this past week it has rained and people never came. But they sell TONS of fruits and vegetables, and they are all super cheap. So I really stocked up and I am hoping it doesn't rain this wednesday! 

On thursday, we had cancellations all day and ending up walking all over our area trying to find backups and check references. One investigator that we had scheduled wasn't there and when we called him, he set his wife had an emergency motorcycle accident. Scary. 

On Friday, our apartment door broke, even more so than it had been before. So Runco, whom we are renting from helped us come fix it. He actually got a brand new handle, and had some professionals came over to do it. So that was cool to get that taken care of. That same day, one of our zone leaders, Elder Macias came over on divisions. He swapped with Elder Maxfield, and came here with Elder Pettit for a day. He is on his last change now. But he is a super great missionary and he gave me a lot of good advice for the work! 

On Friday night, we went to a priesthood activity at the the church and they made up something called Chorizos, which was the first time I have tried them. They are kind of like big juicy sausages with seasonings stuffed in, that we cut in half and ate in a hamberger fashion. They were sooooo good! I am definitely looking forward to the next time I can eat them! 

On Sunday, we had one of the less actives we occasionally visit come! She is older and had a lot of troubles earlier in her life with some relationship problems that still seem to dwell with her. But afterwards, she said she felt a lot better because of church, and told us she would try to watch conference this next week. 

I am soooo excited for conference next week! My whole zone is going to cook up and bring different food, and we got permission to watch it in english! I am really happy about that :) Anyways, being a missionary totally rocks!

Elder Layton

Monday, September 19, 2016

All Things Have Been Done in the Wisdom of Him Who Knoweth All Things

A Recent Montevideo Windstorm
Hola todos!

I am sure enjoying the mission here in Uruguay. It is absolutely insane to me how fast each week flies by now. Last P-Day, which practically seems like yesterday to me, was really fun. We took a bus over to Elder Bowen and Elder Chatwin´s apartment, along with some other Elders in our zone. They are serving over in Rama Municipal, and we spent a lot of the day over there. For lunch, Elder Bowen cooked up some incredible hamburgers, and we each got three of them, it was awesome. Their apartment is actually pretty cool, and it turns out they have a bidet, which are actually pretty common here in Uruguay. I personally think they seem a little gross, but I am sure I will try one sometime on my mission haha. 

Tuesday was bizarre. We had an insane windstorm all day long.  It was difficult to walk against the wind, and when it was blowing from behind us, we had to lean back as it pushed us a ton. We even saw a big tree fall over because of it! It was pretty crazy. Branches were also breaking off all over the place, and one almost landed on Elder Nielsen and I. 

Later that day, it started to rain some to go with the wind, so I took out my umbrella. After a little while, my umbrella totally snapped!!! Just from the wind. So I still need to get a new one of those... 

The wind slowed down considerably on Wednesday. We tried going to see one of our investigators at the edge of our area, and there was an ambulance in front of his house. His wife said he was sick, and I am not sure if it is serious or not because Elder Nielsen said healthcare is free here and a lot of people will call the ambulance for a cold even. 

In the evening, we had ward council, and in the middle of it we heard a kid screaming really loud. A little girl got her finger slammed in a door pretty badly (that totally happened to me as a kid). But that was kind of sad...

Thursday was really awesome. We had the opportunity to have Hermano Fonseca from our ward drive us around to a bunch of less active people, and we had a few lessons with him. When we were waiting on one lady, who didnt answer, we saw something pretty crazy- some teenager was sitting on the shoulders of another kid who was riding a bike. They were zooming down the street pretty fast and went straight into an intersection, nearly hitting a car that had to slam on its brakes and swerve out of the way. I thought for sure they were going to get hit. 

Friday was good and we had an opportunity to do more service (which we did on Saturday as well). We painted some guys house who is moving in our ward named Ignacio Ruiz, and he is really cool. We also enjoyed the company of Elder Moss during Friday as he went on divisions with Elder Maxfield. 

Saturday was really fun too and I had the opportunity to go on splits for just a few hours with some members of the ward. I went off with Hermano Belotti and Amilliano, and Elder Nielsen went with a couple other members. We weren't able to have any success visiting any less actives with the people I was with, but it was actually super fun because I got to talk to them for over two hours, and we were trading English for Spanish. Everyone here loves learning English. We are actually planning on having an English class this upcoming week so that will be fun! 

On Sunday, Elder Nielsen and I had the opportunity to take over the Sacrament to a member who was sick. It was awesome because it was the first time I got to bless the sacrament in Spanish. 

Montevideo Barrios
Today has been pretty nice too. We helped someone in Barrio 12 with a move this morning for about 3 hours, even though it is our P-Day because they needed our help. But it was good, and they got a lot done. We did a lot of shopping and chilled in the house for the rest of today. 

This past week I have also had the opportunity to read ¨The Fourth Missionary¨ since Elder Pettit had a copy. It was so incredible! It helped me understand the importance of not only serving obediently, but doing so with a willing heart and mind. I am learning to love my studies of the gospel more and more each day. I am so grateful to be here on my mission and to have the experiences I have. One scripture that I always like to keep in my mind is 2 Nephi 2:24 (But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things), which helps me remember why times may be hard at times and why we need to always trust in the Lord! 

I love you all!

Elder Layton

Monday, September 12, 2016

Mosiah Chapter Four is SO BOMB!

Uruguay Montevideo LDS Temple
Hey guys!

I was reading in Mosiah 4 this morning and the last two verses of the chapter seem to go along with what you were saying. Mosiah chapter four is SO BOMB! It is actually probably my favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon, and there is sooooo much good stuff in there. 

But anyways, you taught me before my mission, ¨When we act according to the light and truth we are given, we will be given even more guidance¨. I think that when we are obedient to the commandments and revelation that has been given to us, we slowly turn from the natural man and our character becomes more Christlike in each decision we make. I love the scripture (I think D&C 50:24) that talks about us receiving more and more light even until the perfect day. I keep a little notebook on things that I can improve on as a missionary,so that it can help me quickly realize the things I need to do better,and put into action the things I learn from the scriptures. My testimony of the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon has been increasing so much. I love reading each day and learning from the many teachings!! 

(In response to our email this week referencing the talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks found here)

Anyways to go with your good, better best thingy- that is really funny because we are trying to plan an English class haha. Everyone here loves trying to learn English, and always tries speaking it to us. It is great! Also, we have been trying to use the members a lot by asking for references and get them into lessons with us. Maybe we will give spiritual thoughts about missionary work! 

This past week has been split into two very different parts. Last Saturday through Tuesday,it was really cold and rained nonstop. But Wednesday through today, it has been hot and sunny. The first have off the week was also pretty tough because we had almost everything cancelled, but the last few days, Elder Nielsen and I have seen some really great promise in the work! 

But to start, Tuesday was loooong. Our whole plans for the day got cancelled so we instead went through the area book, and tried visiting some references. There was only one person that opened up the door that day- someone we found Area Book. But the guy that opened up said the lady we were looking for died a year ago, and he wasn't interested in anything since he didnt believe in God... So wow. But I read something from Preach My Gospel recently that says ´No effort goes wasted´. So I know even in hard days like that, it is important to stay positive, and work hard. If we lower our expectations, out effectiveness will decrease. Also, I try to remember that when we work hard and push through the hard times, we will be blessed from the Lord. 

On Wednesday, we went on splits, and I went off with Elder Maxfield, in Barrio 12. It was a super awesome experience. Elder Maxfield taught me a ton about missionary work, and about the language. We talked about contacting too, because he is an incredible street contactor and right when I asked for suggestions, he went to the first person we saw, a man sitting down at a bus station. It was sweet! He ended up accepting a Book of Mormon, and seemed to have some real interest in our message. Elder Maxfield promised him that if he could read at least 5 minutes a day, it could change his life, and I was able to share my testimony to him about the book. We also had some success in setting up lessons for later, although I won't get to be in those, since it was in his area. The day was fun and I actually really learned a lot. 

Thursday was really awesome too. We found a small shop that sold 30 eggs for a hundred pesos (like 3 bucks) so I got some. Those will last a while :) That afternoon, we met up with a man who has been inactive for many years now. He let us in, and was super friendly. We got to know him for a while, and then talked about the Book of Mormon. He said he believed it was true and said he would read the introduction like we asked. We set up a lesson with him for this coming week and he seems like he has a lot of potential. He works a ton throughout the week, and I think that might be why he went inactive, but I have high hopes, because he is super cool. 

After that we got a call from [....] from the ward and asked if we could plan for the Noche de Hogar that night, because his wife fainted and he couldn't make it. We just had something get cancelled too, so luckily we had a little time to plan for it. But it was a fun Noche de Hogar. [....] was there, as well as her friend [....], who was involved. We talked about receiving light in our lives. We also got dinner from [....], Roveolis and ice cream. 

On Friday, we taught the Restoration to a couple named [....] and [....]. They are awesome as well, and happily invited us to come back.But I don't think they are married, so that is something we will need to work on. On Saturday, when we were coming home from lunch, a man named [....] contacted us and said that he wanted to hear from the missionaries. I have to go now, but the work is going super awesome, and I am so excited for this coming week!!

Elder Layton

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Much to Love in Flores

Wow! This week has flown!

The mission experience has been incredible so far. Our ward is so awesome and all of the members are incredibly friendly and loving. We had a big mission conference on Wednesday, with the three zones in Montevideo and one in Colonia. 

Flores Missionaries
It was at the stake center that we attend, which is only about a 10 minute walk from our apartment, so we didnt have to do any travelling. I saw some of the people from my CCM district, and it was awesome to see how they were all doing. At the mission conference, we were joined by the mission president, Elder Bragg of the south american area presidency (dad note - Elder Bragg was in my MTC district back in the day - so that's neat), and Elder Packer of the first quorum of the seventy, who is also the son of Boyd K Packer,as well as all of their wives. It was super awesome to hear from them all, and even though most of it was conducted in spanish, I got some good stuff out of it. 

President Olsen also challenged us to read from Preach my Gospel "todos los dias!". So I have made it a goal of mine to read from PMG for a minimum of 20 minutes every single day, and I have been really getting a lot out of it. PMG is amazing and everyone, even those who are not serving full time missions should read it often. 

On Thursday, we had a lot of people unexpectedly feed us during lessons, which was super sweet. I love the food here! We have actually gotten it in really great variety, and nothing has been weird yet. Everything I have had has been so good! My favorite thing that I have had so far would probably be Arroz con Leche, a rice pudding that they make amazingly. 

We have had quite a few services this week. One morning, we repainted a big fence for Runco. Runco is our ward mission leader and he actually lives right underneath out apartment, so we work with him quite a bit. Our other service was actually helping a guy named Andreas fix up a house that he is moving into. We went with Elder Maxfield and Elder Pettit because it was in their area, on both Friday and Saturday morning. The house was in pretty bad condition, so we did a ton of work to it. 

On Saturday, we also had something called a capilla abierta, which is a chapel open house, for people to go and learn about our church. So Elder Maxfield/Pettit/Nielsen and I all spread out outside the church to contact people and try to invite them inside for the capilla abierta. It was a super cool experience because I got to contact and talk to people for 3 hours outside by myself! 

Church yesterday was really great again! It was fast and testimony meeting and since we only have about 40-50 members in our ward, most people bore there testimonies. I bore mine again, even though I did last week, because the ward is small. During second hour, Elder Nielsen and I taught the Gospel Principles class, which was really cool. 

The rest of our day Sunday was pretty hard, because most people cancelled on us and most of the references we had weren't there. We said a prayer that we could find someone, and shortly after we ran across a man who actually spoke English! He was an older man who was actually a magician, and it was really cool to talk to him, especially because I could say the things I wanted in English. He seemed kind of interested but because he recently had a death in the family and some sicknesses of people he knew, he said now wasn't the best time to meet with the missionaries. I gave him a plan of Salvation pamphlet and he excepted it, so hopefully that plants a seed! 

Anyways, I love my mission! I have been doing my best to work hard each day, and my love for the scriptures has already grown so much. I love this gospel, I love this work, I love the people here, and I know that this is the true church of Jesus Christ on the earth! Love you all! 

Elder Layton

Monday, August 29, 2016

Serious Moves in Flores

Elder Nielson, Elder Layton, President and Sr Olsen
Wow, it is crazy that I am actually in Uruguay right now, on the complete opposite side of the world from where I live! My last couple days of the CCM were nice, and I, as well as everyone else, was just eager to get to the field. 

So we left for the airport on Monday afternoon and then flew out that night. The long plane ride was from Mexico to Chile, almost 9 hours. I was only able to sleep about two or three hours because it was kind of uncomfortable, but the view was amazing. I couldn't stop looking out the window because the stars were out, and I could still faintly see the ocean. It was truly incredible to see at around 40000 feet. 

But what was even more amazing was the flight from Chile to Uruguay. Luckily, I got a window seat in both planes :). But in Chile, there was heavy fog, so much that I could barely even see the plane´s wing from out of my window. But when we broke out of the fog and over the clouds, the sun was coming out and it was all probably the most amazing view I have seen in my life. It was like an endless ocean of pure cotton that went on as far as I could see. I could even see the curvature of the earth in the clouds, the way you see on the ocean. After a little while, some mountains started peaking up over the clouds, and it really just looked fake. It was all such an incredible plane ride. 

Also on that plane, I got to talk to a lady next to me, and she didnt really know anything about the gospel but she seemed uninterested. But anyways, we got to Montevideo and met the Mission President and his wife, as well as the APs and some other missionaries. They were all super cool, and I really like our President! 

We had some time that day to rest up in the mission home since we traveled all night, and then we had some classes with the President. The next day, on Wednesday, we had some testing done in the morning, and then went back to the temple, which is right next to the mission home. They lined us up and we all closed our eyes while our trainers walked behind us. We sang called to serve, and when we finished, we turned around to meet our trainers. It was all so cool! I think Hermana Olsen posted the video of it on the Uruguay facebook page. 

But I turned around and met Elder Nielsen, my companion for the next 3 months! He is from Centerville, Utah and has 21 months on the mission, so I will be his last companion. He is awesome and has been teaching me a lot! 

My first area is in Montevideo. I am serving in a zone called Flores, more specifically in the area of Las Acacias. I love it here too! We are sharing an apartment with Elder Maxfield, whos been out 8 months and his companion who he is also training, Elder Pettit. They are all super sweet, and really easy to get along. 

Our apartment is ok, but what really gets me is the bathroom. It is sooooo tiny and the shower is so small that i have to basically stand sideways, or else I am pressed against the cold sides. But it's all good :). 

My first night, we went to a ward dance to drop off some refreshments and meet some of the members. It wasn't like what we are used to in the states though with the youth, but it was instead the whole ward! So it was really funny seeing all of these middle aged people dancing as hard as they could go. They dance CRAZY here and they got some serious moves! Haha. 

But the next day was my first full day in my area. Both Thursday and Friday were super hot, even though it is just coming out of winter here! 

On Thursday, I had my first member meal with an awesome lady named Teresa. She made some incredible food and she knows how to do it right! Actually I have really enjoyed all of the food that I have had here so far, and it has actually come in great variety. We usually have lunches with members, and that is there big meal of the day. Also, they don't even eat dinner until like 9 at night so we don't get to eat anything until we get home around that time. 

One thing here that really grosses me out is that there are dumpsters on every street, and usually there are people in them too, digging around for things they could sell or use. Sometimes, we just see two legs sticking out of the top of a dumpster. it makes me sad that so many people have to live like that.

On Saturday, the weather totally flipped on us. It rained from start to finish during the whole day and it even flooded some areas. Apparently in Uruguay, when it rains, everyone cancels everything, and even skip work. That was exactly what happened. We had our whole plans for the day get wiped out. We tried visiting some less actives and contacting some others, but we had no luck on that day, and pretty much just got soaked. 

But Sunday was a lot better! We went to church and I met the whole ward. The bishop invited me to come up and bear my testimony in Sacrament meeting, so that was fun :). And it was good meeting everyone afterwards too. They are all so nice and I love how I can feel the same friendship and love from people I don't even know on the totally opposite side of the world. It is really difficult learning everyone's names though because I have been meeting so many people. 

Sunday night was awesome. We had a Noche de Hogar (family night) over at Gonzalo and Marina´s apartment, who are a super nice newly wed couple. Also, [....], who is a less active, currently being reactivated came. We taught a lesson about the light of Christ and watched some videos by Elder Bednar. It went well and I think [....] really enjoyed it. 

Anyways, I am loving it here in Montevideo. The people are all really nice, the food is awesome, and I enjoy working with my companion, Elder Nielsen. I am so excited for my time ahead! Chau!!

Elder Layton