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