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