Monday, September 4, 2017

Transferred to Tacuarembo

Hey guys!

Well we got changes late the other night, and I will be shipped over to Barrio 6 in a zone called Tacuarembo! This might be kind of a change because I am currently in a branch of 7-8 people and am pretty sure my next area has at least a hundred active members.... Haha but honestly, I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to have come here to Rosario. Preparing talks and classes each week has been good for me, and I have learned so much about being a missionary. I am also grateful for the example of the few faithful members here who show what enduring to the end really means!! It is also exciting because since the missionaries have come back, there have been a few less active members coming back regularly! [...] also made it to church yesterday!

Anyways, in Tacuarembo (also called T-Bo) I am going to be with someone from my my same group again! His name is Elder Claros, and like Elder Limachi, is from Bolivia. It´s funny because he actually replaced me in Colon, Argentina a few changes back and was with Elder Opazo there too. But, yeah I am super excited, and have heard really great things about T-Bo!

This last week here in Rosario has been really great actually. We have been able to follow up with many of our new investigators from the past couple of weeks , which is cool, because sometimes it is a challenge getting into a second lesson. 

We also found someone named [...] who was apparently baptized in the church when she was little, but hasn't been to church for about 40 years. She is really awesome though and as she finished the charla with a prayer, she committed to reading the Book of Mormon every single day. 

We also had a super awesome day in Cardona on Friday. We came across an old investigator named [...] who was with her granddaughter [...]. They were both really awesome and in fact [...] came to the ´Noche de Rama´ that we had later that night. It was such a great activity and there was a ton of support! In fact, six non-members as well as well as some less active members there made it.

A few of those were people we invited and a few were friends the members had brought with them, so- Bien hecho to the members in Cardona :) To put that in a little perspective, Cardona usually has 5-6 people at church on Sunday, so it was a good turnout and a super fun activity!

 Anyways, I am so grateful for the opportunity to be on the mission. Our Heavenly Father blesses us so much every day, and I know that the Gospel that he has entrusted us with is for our benefit. 

One of my favorite scriptures is in 2 Nephi 26:24- He truly does not do anything that isn't for our benefit. (It reads: "He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.")

We are very very lucky and blessed to have the Gospel of Jesus Christ and such a perfect Plan prepared for us!!! I love all of you so much!!! Have an amazing week!

Elder Layton

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

So Many Blessings Through the Gospel!!

It has been a great week, although the weather has been AWFUL! Haha, even though it is still winter here, is was suuuuuper humid and hot for a few days. Then, we had a pretty nasty thunderstorm for a couple of days, and finally it was suuuuuper foggy. Haha Uruguay weather is weird. Lots of changes.

That is SOO AWESOME about Briana!! I am so glad that it is a healthy baby and there weren't any problems! Btw, did mom make it to Briana before or after she had the baby? Because according to the time you sent me this letter, it seems like mom may have just missed it. You´ll have to let me know the baby's name next week if they decide.

That makes me so happy that you have had an incredible week. You know, there are so many blessings that Heavenly Father bestows upon us through the Gospel!! We are so very blessed. Sometimes in the mission, as I read the Book of Mormon, or simply walking in the street, I have these huge feelings of happiness and gratitude to have the Gospel. And boy, I am sure eager to go to the temple with you guys again after the mission :) 

Wow, that sounds really amazing about that eclipse. I feel so happy that all of you guys seem to be doing well while I am here on the mission!

Anyways, we had a really awesome experience on Wednesday. We had a couple plans fall through, so went to a plaza to contact. Well while we were there, a lady named Vanessa calls us over. and said she was really surprised we came by because she was just about to call missionaries she had met the other week in Montevideo and see if there were missionaries here in Rosario. She told us that her younger brother Ignacio had a really scary accident and was transferred from Montevideo to a hospital we have here in Rosario called Camec. Apparently he was in a coma and was bleeding internally in his brain. She asked us if we could come by the hospital a little later and give her brother a blessing, so we did. We were also able to meet Vanessa´s parents and some other relatives who were there, and they were SO incredible! They have never gotten to know missionaries, so we talked to them a lot about the Gospel as we were waiting to go in and see Ignacio. Vanessa had a Book of Mormon the missionaries left her with in Montevideo and we left her parents with one as well. We swung back by the hospital on Sunday to see how they were doing. Vanessa´s dad had gone back to Colonia for a couple of days and had the Book of Mormon (which he has already read all of first Nephi in a couple days). Vanessa had to go back to Montevideo for a couple of days as well, and had been reading the BOM that she had. So anyways, her mom, Alicia was kind of sad because she wanted to read it more but they took the only two copies haha. We left her with another and she told us that she felt a completely different sense of peace when she read it. Anyways, we are hoping that Ignacio continues to recover, and also feel blessed that Vanessa found us in a perfect time!!

We had a great district conference over video in Nueva Helvecia on Sunday, where we had the oppurtunity to hear from Elder Teixeira (again haha), Elder Christensen, Elder Rasband, and a few other leaders. It was aweeeesome!

We are also seeing a lot of potential and progress in Cardona. We continue meeting new family members every time we go to Corina´so the lessons have been a bit of review haha, but she is doing really well. 

Love you guys. I hope everyone has a fantastic week! And congratulations to Briana and Glade who had their newborn baby this morning!! I am an uncle now! Woooooo!

Elder Layton

Monday, August 21, 2017

I Am So Grateful to Have These Wonderful Truths In My Life

Hey everyone!!

It has been a cool week. [...] is doing pretty well, but has been so swamped with work that he
hasn´t been having time to read the BOM and felt kind of bad. So we figured out he takes the bus everyday to work for 45 minutes, and got him the lds application so he can use that time to read or listen to the BOM. He seemed really excited because he likes learning, and hopefully this will help him read more and receive and answer about the message of the Gospel.

Argentina District Reunion w Elder Opazo and Two Sisters

We also had a super great day in Cardona on Friday. It was crazy because last week Juan told us that we should visit someone named [...] was was baptized last year, but he forgot to send us his number to see where he lives and to set up a lesson. Well when we went on Friday, we started to contact, and the very first door of the day we clapped, some tall kid named [...] came out haha. Yeah, funny it was him. He was getting ready for work when we found him, so we set up a lesson for this week instead. We also found a few other people that day who had met with the last missionaries there before the area was closed, so that was pretty awesome, and we should be busy next week when we go. 

That afternoon, we went to [...]. When she opened the door, she nearly bear hugged me, but quickly thought about it and shook our hands haha. Apparently she was getting ready to leave to go and sign for her release papers. She  was previously on parole when we found her due to some incident at work and hadn´t been able to leave her house for some few weeks, but she is honestly super awesome! Apparently since last week, she read the entire Liahona magazine that Elder Vergara had left her with, the restoration/ plan of salvation pamphlets again, and a lot of the Book or Mormon! She said she had all the time in the world since she was just in the house haha. She excitedly told us she would be able to come to church now, so we are excited to continue teaching her!

Colonia Zone

Sunday was great as well. We had a conferencia de rama, in which the district presidency and leaders came over to Rosario, as well as the group in Cardona, since they officially pertain to our branch. There were also three less active members here who came :) That afternoon, we found a super awesome family too. [...], who was actually a reference from our investigator [...], and her two sons [...] and [...], who are just a couple of years older than us. They are all really cool. [...] has apparently had a ton of trials in her life and had a mountain of questions for us, and it was great! Afterwards, she told us that she wanted to have us over for an Asado haha! The three of them seemed pretty committed to reading the BOM as well, and praying concerning it. 

We went to a baptism in Nueva Helvecia on Saturday. It was for a 14 year old girl who is sooooo prepared. She already has a really strong testimony of the church, and the whole program that the Elder´s there planned was really amazing. I felt the Spirit strongly. I know that this is the work of the Lord.

I am very grateful for President Monson who turns 90 today!! I have no doubt that he is an inspired prophet of God, and that he has the authority to recieve revelation for us as a whole, for our benefit and protection in this world. I am so grateful to have these wonderful truths in my life!! Love you all. Have a wonderful week!

Elder Layton

Monday, August 14, 2017

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

Hey everyone :)

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

Elders Layton and Vergara

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

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

Mission Conference with Elder Teixeira

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

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

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

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

Elder Layton

Monday, August 7, 2017

Double Digits

Hey everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Layton

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Open House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Layton

Monday, July 24, 2017

Reaping the Harvest

Hey guys!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Layton

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

Monday, July 17, 2017

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

Hey everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Layton

Monday, July 10, 2017

One Year Anniversary

Hey everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Layton

Monday, July 3, 2017

So Sensitive to Hear Even the Smallest, Most Fervent Prayer

Hey everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

President Atanasoff and Elder Layton

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

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

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

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

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

Love you guys! 

Elder Layton

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Lord Will Bless Us Beyond All Understanding

Hey guys!

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Layton

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Expecting Miracles

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Layton

Monday, June 12, 2017

Welcome to Elder Vergara

Hey guys!

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

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

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

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

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

Pressing Forward

Hey everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Layton

Monday, May 29, 2017

The "Super Awesome New Investigators"

Hey everyone! It has been a great week, and we haven't had quite as many lessons fall through this week than last haha. And we have been blessed with some super awesome new investigators!

First off, we found someone named [...] on Friday morning, and she was super receptive. She is a nurse, but just a couple of months ago had an accident where she tried helping an 80 kilo patient who needed to get out of a truck. Well apparently her spine totally gave out in doing so, and so she is just recently starting to walk again, but still has difficulty. But anyways, she invited us in her house and we had a wonderful lesson of the Restoration. She is Catholic, but stopped going because she had a lot of doubts about the church. Anyways, she understood our message well, and said we could come by anytime as she can´t work right now and has a free schedule. She has two little kids as well.

Also last night, we found the most golden investigators, a small family. We taught the message of the Restoration to [...], and his 17 year old son, [...]. [...] is married as well, but his wife wasn't there. But anyway, we had the best lesson with them! The just moved to Rosario from the country and were very happy to meet with us. 

They have never talked with missionaries before but they both were very attentive and both agreed that the message we share really makes sense. They made great comments, and overall, the spirit was very strong!! They told us to come back this week, and I am so excited to work more with them!

 We had a ping pong activity on Saturday with a few youth that we are trying to teach. We also had a couple lessons with our investigators [...], [...], and [...] this week. I feel that Heavenly Father has blessed us a lot recently with more people to teach.

Church was good this week. [...] wasn't able to come since he has been on vacation for the past week, but we'll get him next week :). Elder Limachi gave a talk in sacrament meeting, and I taught the class during 3rd hour, which was Priesthood and Relief society combined. I talked about the Book of Mormon and the talk that our wonderful prophet gave to us during the last general conference. 

I am so grateful to have the Book of Mormon in my life. I have a testimony that it is true, and helps us come closer to our Savior Jesus Christ; and don't forget- all of you- to read it TODOS LOS DIAS like our prophet challenged us! I love you guys. I hope all is well back at home. 

Elder Layton 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Fasting For Miracles

Wow what a week. It sure was amazing talking to my family! Also, on Tuesday we had a really amazing zone conference with President, where I learned a whole lot and really felt the spirit.

President talked a lot about the challenges that there are in Colonia but how we should expect miracles. Let's just say that after Tuesday, this has been the longest week ever. Up until Sunday, we had only had one lesson as literally everything fell through. Elder Limachi and I kinda got stuck to contacting for like 8 hours every day this whole week, and we were not getting into houses.

Anyway, on Saturday we did what President had challenged us to do and had a companionship fast to find a family. Saturday was a lot more walking and the first three hours Sunday afternoon, everything fell through again. But then we clapped a house- some guy swung the door open and basically shouted at us to come in haha. We were laughing after the lesson because of the promise ´my sheep hear my voice´ because I had said ´Hola´ and he yelled ´DÁLE´. At first we thought he wanted us to get lost, but then we realized he was waving us in. We had a lesson with [...] and his wife, [...], who are a really interesting couple. Apparently they talked with missionaries a long time ago, but were excited to see us and were so fascinated that I was from the states haha.

Directly after that, we decided to go to another old contact named [...]. We got there and he too invited us in. We sat down in his living room, and a minute later, his wife [...] as well as their granddaughter and her husband all came in to meet us. They were all so awesome!! We had a great lesson of the restoration and they said we could come back another day! 

I feel like my testimony of fasting has really been strengthened from this experience. It has sure been a long week, but I now we are strengthened through trials. I am grateful our Heavenly Father loves us so much to challenge us.

We have a big mold problem in our house. we spent all of last p day cleaning part of the house, but didnt get to the room we sleep in. apparently because it is so humid a ton of mold has been growing around our dressers. so the other day i discovered my older suit and some of my ties covered in mold. most of the ties smelled a little like mold but i left them outside to air out and now i think they are ok. but my suit and a couple ties i am probably going to go get dry cleaned... Yuck :P 

Well, I don't have a ton of time as we had a long travel today for our district meeting, but I want all of you to know that I know this church is true and I am so grateful to have an inspired prophet of God on the earth today who I know is called of God. 

Thanks for all of your prayers and support while I am serving. The mission is amazing, and really worth every sacrifice!!

Elder Layton

Monday, May 15, 2017

Pioneers in Colonia

Hey everyone! And happy Mother's Day!!

Working the Streets of Rosario, Colonia, Uruguay
Elder Limachi and I have been having a lot of fun here in Colonia. I don't think I mentioned too much about my companion in my last letter, but he is from Bolivia, and we are from the same group in the CCM. He is really funny and we always joke around with each other and so even on the hard days when everything falls through, I never really feel discouraged or anything, because it´s just been fun. He is a great missionary and I think we are both learning things from each other.

Anyway, we found a new investigator named [...] this week. She is really receptive, and the restoration lesson went well. We came back for a second visit and she had read a few chapters already in the Book of Mormon! Pretty awesome. We are also working with a 13 year old kid named [...]. We played soccer with him and a few of his friends on Saturday, and he came over to tell us that he read the introduction to the Book of Mormon and was interested to keep learning from us and reading. He also came with us to church on Sunday, so that was really awesome! [...] came again as well :) 

Elder Limachi and I gave talks in sacrament meeting for Mother's Day. We had a special music number prepared too- we were going to sing love is spoken here. But our branch president forgot to announce it haha.

Service Project
We had a funny experience contacting this week. We clapped (knocked on) a door and a Jehovah Witness lady opens up and shouts at us, ´DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE DIE PER SECOND?!?´ We were just like ´uhhhhh no se´ (uh, we don't know) and then she shot her hand out at us and said ´DOS´ and just kind of stood there like that. 

I also have discovered something very funny about my companion- he talks in his sleep. Last Monday, I woke up in the middle of the night and heard him saying something. I was confused because at first I thought he was reciting scriptures, but then I heard something like, ´...porque se que su Padre Celestial le entiende y quiere lo mejor... (I know that your Heavenly Father understands you and wants the best for you)´ After a minute or so he stopped and I said, ´Elder Limachi?... Elder Limachi?´ Then he woke up and asked me what in the world I was talking about haha. My great companion has such a powerful testimony he practices it in his sleep. Now we always say ´Nunca deja de testificar!! (Never stop testifying)´ Haha, now I always catch him bearing his testimony in the middle of the night :) Such a stud.

Elder Limachi
I am so excited to talk to my family tonight!! Wooooh! Love you guys all, and I hope you have a wonderful week!

Elder Layton

(Note from dad: Our phone call allowed us to learn quite a bit more about his area, companion and the work in this area. The area has been closed for two months and Elders Limachi and Layton are just trying to re-establish it. There are only a small handful of members in the area and so the missionaries are probably going to speaking in church - a lot. They DO have a member who was called to be the Branch President, but beyond that, not much structure exists. 

We were also able to find out where he lives and of course, I ended up stalking his house out on Google Earth. It's a very modest place but it's clean and they have hot water -- so he's in great shape there.

He forcefully told us how much he loves the mission and particularly the Book of Mormon. He bore testimony of it. He said the only thing he doesn't like about his mission is the limited time he gets to study the scriptures.)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Where Two or Eight Are Gathered Together in My Name

Hey guys!!! Wow, it seems like a lot has happened this week. It has actually been a big change from Argentina back here to Uruguay for me. But anyways, before I left Colon, Federico Godoy made us a BOMB asado. It was definitely a good way to go haha. I also bought a maté cup from Marcos Cacosso, which is super cool- I´ll send a picture. It was sad saying bye to everyone. Colón definitely has been good to me :)

Dinner with the Godoy Family
The Hasta Luego Dinner
A Bomb Asado


The Mate Cup

I left early wednesday morning and had to wait in the Paysandu terminal all day with some other missionaries, as a ton of people were making changes. I took a bus late in the afternoon, and got to Colonia at around 1 in the morning. Elder Limachi, my new companion was waiting for me with the zone leaders at some side stop. I got off, and we split off as I had a ticket to our area in Rosario for 3:30. We took a local bus over to the terminal, but when we got off, it was closed. Even though I had a ticket, some night watch said it didnt open up until the morning. To make things better, we didnt have a phone to call the zone leaders, because apparently Elder Limachi´s last companion lost it. So yeah, we had a long night until we finally found our way back to the zone leaders house to sleep a couple of hours haha.

Elders Layton & Limachi Stranded at 1:00 AM
 I met the entire branch on Thursday- the whole 8 of them! Haha. Yeah it is crazy small. Elder Limachi just opened up this area after it has been closed for over 2 years! So we definitely have a lot to do :) the few members that we have are pretty cool. One is named hermano Bonilla, and it is crazy because he has been a branch president here 7 different times! I also met a small family called familia Santucho. Hermano Santucho is an insane artist. I will have to send pictures another time of the giant sculptures he makes. Super cool!

On Saturday, we went to another area that we are in charge of as well called Florencia Sanchez. And man, do I feel humbled. Lets just say I now feel grateful we had 10 of us at church on sunday here in Rosario. Apparently Florencia Sanchez only has like 3-4 actives members and they are a group. We spent the whole day there with a returned missionary called Juan. He is really incredible. He was so grateful to have us for the day and had a whole list of people he was dying to visit. We had a lot of lessons with less actives. Juan has been one of the only active members there for a long time now and never once did I see him complain that he talks every week at church or anything. Spending the day with him made me a lot more grateful for what I have. We also got another big asado for lunch :D

We did have one investigator at church, someone named [...]! He is 80 years old and reminds me so much of Max Williams back at home. Haha super funny awesome. Like I said, there were 10 of us there, so every person bore their testimony haha. It´s been fun, and I am really looking forward for all the opportunities to learn this change. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

First the Baptism, Then Back to Uruguay

I have had a wonderful 3 changes here in Argentina, and have learned so much in Colon!!! I will be headed back to Uruguay, to a zone called Colonia. The city is called Rosario, and honestly I don't know much about it, because although hna Ortiz, Elder Bowler, and the zone leaders have all served in Colonia, apparently Rosario wasn't opened up when they were there. I have heard that Colonia is really beautiful though! My companion is going to be Elder Limachi, who is actually from my group haha. I think he is from Bolivia or something, but I haven't really seen him much on the mission, so don't know him too much yet :) I am really excited though.

I went to Monetvideo this week to do another part in the cedula process, but I still didnt get it so I should go back in a few weeks. The good news though is Colonia is just a couple of hours from Montevideo. It was a long trip on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I didnt get to much sleep as we had to travel all night. I did get to spend half a day in a place called Paysandu though and went on divisions with Elder Espinosa from my group. It was super fun. I also saw almost my whole group in Montevideo as they were all there for their cedulas. It was great to catch up with everyone and see what they have been up to! The bus on the way back to Argentina broke down for a while so we had to wait until another passing bus could pick us up haha. 

The Colon "Baptismal Font"
The process this week in preparing for the baptism had its fair share of complications but we got it through! The baptismal pool.actually started leaking all around but we got it patched up. That was a little sketchy because the new church we have has dry wall, and apparently the water would completely destroy that if the pook broke. But, even though the plastic connector parts started coming undone as the pool filled up, we made arrangements :). We also had issues with filling the thing because our source of water didnt work. We actually worked on it all day Friday, and thank you all for your prayers because after a couple of hours, the water started working a little bit. It took ALL day, but we were able to fill it. It was also a process as we had to use buckets as the hose was broken haha. BUT the important thing is in the end it all worked out and Zoe was baptized!!! Wooooooooh! It was such a great experience, and the branch was so supportive!

Zoe's Baptism

Ward Support at the Baptism

We played soccer with a lot of youth again this week and [...], our investigator came. He is pretty good! He is also making a ton of progress. He has been keeping commitments, and reading the Book or Mormon. The other day when we went, he had read way more than we left him with, and said it was starting to make more sense. I love seeing people starting to develop their testimonies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! It really makes any sacrifice here on the mission so worth it!

I will miss this area so much. The members have been really awesome, as well as all of the other people I have met. I am so grateful to have had a baptism my last week here :) I leave for Colonia early tomorrow. I hope you all have a wonderful week!!

Elder Layton

Monday, April 24, 2017

So Excited For This Baptism!

Well first off, the zone leaders came this week for an interview with [...] and she passed!! So she will be baptized this week on Saturday! So excited!! We feel really blessed to be able to finish this change with a baptism, and please pray that everything can go well. We don't have a baptismal font so we're going to have to use a little set up pool haha. We are really excited too because this will be the first baptism our area has had in a year! 

The Gringo gets the record. But holding his own in soccer is another matter.

This week we found an old investigator named [...]. She is super awesome and enthusiastic when we come by. She is a single mom with 6 kids, and works a ton every day, so I am sure that it really hard. We have introduced her to a couple members of the relief society and they are already giving her some visits! She was married to a return missionary a couple years ago but now lives alone with her kids. She has been reading the Book of Mormon too in what little time she has! The hardest thing for now will be getting her to the church as she works all day Sunday. But we have faith that the Lord can prepare a way for those who desire to keep the commandments!

Colon Missionaries

Elder Opazo had to get an ingrown toenail removed this week (ouch!!) and so he stayed with Marcos Cacosso, while I left for a couple hours with a youth named Pinu. It was fun and he also wants to go on a mission. We were able to have a good lesson with [...] and make a couple of contacts. And speaking of [...], Elder Opazo and I had a really great lesson with him and his partner, [...] the other day. She had a few doubts about the Book of Mormon, and then [...], who has been searching his own testimony turned to her and started telling her he knew it was true! He told her that there was no way Joseph Smith could have known about some of the prophecies made in Helaman 8 that he read, and how ´the book wasn't written yesterday or something´ haha. Super sweet! Now, just if we can get them to church!

We have had to spend a lot of time looking for houses this week, and finally we found a brand new apartment at a really great price! The apartment building is going to be finishing up in a couple of days and if we move there we would be the only ones in the whole building haha. We have like no options though haha, but it is really nice. Now we are just waiting on the financers to get some arrangements made. 

We had a ward mission leader called this week, someone named Freddy, which has been really awesome! He is getting really involved and is a return missionary, so that has been good.

This week, we were contacting and found the grandma of someone who was just murdered this week in another city! :( We have seen the posters all over the city and the news and stuff. as it is a huge deal here, so it was pretty crazy to find a relative. We testified to her about the Plan of Salvation and she said it was really hard on her, but we could pass by another day if we wanted. Pretty crazy experience.

P Day today has been super awesome. We found this rec room place in a mall and got permission from the zone leaders to go play! It was really fun and they had air hockey and basketball games and stuff like that. Oh yeah... and I totally got the record on the basketball game haha. 

Afterwards, Elder Opazo and I went and played soccer with a bunch of jovenes in the branch. It was fun. I was totally blowing it against all of these little latinos, but I as least made a header goal haha. So that was fun. 

Colon is really awesome. We have changes in a week, and I am honestly really hoping I can stay another change here, but we will see. Also, tomorrow I have to go to Montevideo for my cedula, or residency, which will ensure I won't have any more illegal problems haha. I love you all! Thanks for all the great letters and support.

Elder Layton