Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Lord Has His Hand In All Things

Well, it wasn't easy but we got Gladys´ baptism to go through! This whole week they have been doing construction around the church building, and when we tried filling up the font on Saturday before the baptism, the water started coming out all dirty, so we had to cancel the baptism and get things figured out. some people had to come fix the pipes and all, and so we changed it to Sunday morning before church. Luckily, Gladys took it well, and didnt have any problems. In fact, when we swung by her house Saturday afternoon to tell her we would need to reschedule it for the next morning, she told us it was ok, because she had had a dream the night before where something had happened with the water and she couldn't get baptized. So she was happy when she found out we could still do it the next morning, because she was worried about not making the temple trip this week with the ward. I felt bad though because one of our investigators had actually changed her work schedule to be able to make it to the baptism, because she wanted to see it. Bummer. But the most important thing is that Gladys was baptized, and it was really amazing. Elder Peterson got to baptize her and I got to confirm her that same day, which was cool, because it was the first time I had ever done so.

We had division with the zone leaders this week, and it was really great. Elder Honorato went with Elder Peterson to our area, and I went to Barrio 5. They got [...] with a baptismal date for January 6th too. Afterwards, Elder Honorato told me, ´Well, her parents may not bring her to church, but she will sure bring them to church´ haha. She is a really special little nine year old. She came with her great-grandma on Sunday, and apparently really loves church. Man, I sure  can´t remember sitting very reverently when I was nine :). 

Today for P-day, we went to talk to Gladys a little about the temple trip, and wanted to see if her granddaughter Belen could give us a haircut, since that is what she does for work. Well right when we got there and asked, Belen said ´ Perfect, we were actually just about to start a teaching class, and we need someone to practice on!´ Haha, so we just went with it. She had like 15 people crammed in this room haha. BUT- it was awesome! First off, she said it was free, since it was for a class. Next, we got our heads washed and massaged three times each. Then, when I got my haircut, two people were cutting it at the same time. Haha wierd, but it turned out solid :)

Also, it was really awesome because just yesterday, Gladys was at another granddaughter´s house in Barrio Torres, when the missionaries over there, Elder Parsons and Elder Tholstrom came over for a charla! Her name was [...] but apparently Gladys helped a lot in the lesson and now she wants to get married and baptized too!! And on top of that, I guess in Ferro Carrill the missionaries just contacted her boyfriend (without receiving a reference or anything), who said he would accept the charlas! So everything is coming together in T-Bo :) To me, it is amazing how the Lord guides his servants to where the should be and when, to fulfill his eternal purposes!! I love this work. I am so grateful to have seen Gladys get baptized this week! Anyways, thanks for all of your letters. Have an awesome week everyone!

Elder Layton

Baptisms of Facundo and Lucia

Hola mis queridos familiarers y amigos!

Well, we were able to have two baptisms on Saturday! Wooooh! Facundo and Lucia both got baptized, and it was such a neat experience! And the ward was so supportive! The baptismal service seriously looked just like a normal sacrament meeting, and then everyone had to squeeze in the Priesthood room for the actual baptisms haha. 

[...] is doing well too. We only saw her once this week, but she has been reading the BOM and already told us she feels it is true. We talked a little about marriage, and she actually took it really well! She said she would talk to her partner and that she doesn´t think he will have any problems with it, which is really awesome because they already have a few kids together. The only downside though is apparently the marriage could take a while because I guess the judge who would have to legally sign off on it is going on vacation until mid-January. I don´t really know how all of that works, but a few people have told us that, so that is lame haha.

Anyways, [...] is doing AMAZING! She is sooooo prepared, and seriously such a miracle. We had our first charla this week, and when we got there, she showed us that she already started reading the BOM we left her with on Sunday from the start, had prayed about it and that she knows it is true! And on top of that, she read both pamphlets we gave her, and 13 chapters of the Gospel Principles book from Sunday! She is suuuuper awesome. She wanted to know the absolute soonest that she could be baptized, and so she accepted a baptismal date for December 9th. And on top of that, she has been totally showing us up on missionary work haha. She apparently has been talking to a lot of her family and friends about the Gospel already, and gave us a few references after the first visit. She even went to go clean the church on Wednesday with the Relief Society, came to the baptisms on Saturday, and to church on Sunday, again with her little great granddaughter. She is already so excited about baptism!!

We have changes this week, and sadly, the whole district is getting torn apart :( Only Elder Peterson and I are staying. Elder Heaton and hermana Hibbert are both finishing their missions and Elder Ribeiro is going to be the new AP. It was a super awesome district :) Lots of fun. Gonna miss these guys!

Elder Layton

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Baptisms on the Horizon

Well, it has been a super solid week here in Tacuarembó Barrio 6! We are starting to see a lot of progress and potential here and Heavenly Father has been putting a lot of great opportunities in our path! 

First off, [...] is doing really well. He is a stud and this morning he committed to being baptized on December 9th! Elder Peterson has been teaching him guitar too, because [...] got one for his B-day but doesn't know how to play. Also, this week, a guy named [...] called us over (right when a charla fell through too) and said he wanted to receive the charlas again. 

Apparently he listened to the missionaries a few years ago but just a few months ago, he began to really clean a lot of things up in his life. We had a wonderful lesson and he almost committed to be baptized, but said he needs to read the BOM first. We also found an old lady upon the first door we knocked on Saturday morning, who was apparently one of the first converts in T-Bo many years ago. She was with her great granddaughter [...], who is nine, not baptized, and wants to go to church. Now we just need to coordinate with the parents. We also found a lady named [...] from a reference this week who has her parents and a lot of extended family who are members, but she never went since a little girl. She isn't married to her partner but was so incredible and even had the BOM and missionary lessons already from her parents which she has been reading before we came. She has never listened to the missionaries before but said baptism was something she would like to get to, because so many of her family are members of the church! And on top of that. there is a girl who has gone to church a few times in Barrio 5 with her friend, but lives in our area, so we are going tomorrow. I guess she wants to baptized tambien... Wow, how has so much happened in one week.....

And here is the best part... We had a real miracle on Sunday! So, we were a little bummed out at first because on two investigators came, when a lot more had committed for this Sunday. But then, 10 minutes to Sacrament meeting, a lady named [...] walked in with her little great granddaughter. We got to know her more in Gospel Principles, but she is SO amazing. She told us that she has gone to many churches in her lifetime, but has always felt that she couldn't ever find the true church of Jesus Christ. She told us that she has been praying all week that the Lord would guide her to His church, and that on Sunday morning before leaving the house, she specifically asked in prayer that she would be led to His church as she walked around. Well, she said she saw this one and felt to go in. Then after Gospel Principles, she told us that she knew this was the true church of Jesus Christ and that she wanted to be baptized!!! She told us that this is what she has been looking for all her life. WOW! How incredible!! Also, apparently in Relief Society, the President afterwards told me that Gladys had volunteered to come clean the church this week! We have a lesson with her tomorrow. So excited :). She is a miracle.

I am so grateful to my Padre Celestial for hastening His work! He truly has been blessing us with many opportunities recently. I love being a missionary. There is no greater work than this! And it brings so much happiness seeing God´s children progress in His Gospel!! I love you guys. Have a wonderful week! We sure will :)

Elder Layton

Update on Investigators

Hey everyone! Como estan??

I hope that all is well back at home. Things here are heating up, but Elder Peterson and I are starting to get so real solid tan lines :) Anyways, we have been working with a couple named [...] and [...], but this week they told us they weren't interested anymore. Well we asked if we could continue teaching their 12-year old son [...], who had sat down in the last lesson and seemed really interested. Luckily they gave us permission. 

We came back this week to see him, and he is doing really great. We left him with Alma 37:35-37, but he ended up reading the whole chapter, as well as various others! He said he prayed about it too! And then we came by on Sunday and brought him to three hours of church with us. And despite not having any jovenes his age, he seemed to like it so that was pretty awesome! 

Also, while we were walking him to church, we came across some guy named [...] who we met last week at a community service project we went to. He told us he was baptized as a little boy. but hasn't gone since. We hadn't been able to find him for a charla yet, but upon running into him again in the street, we invited him to church, and he actually ended up coming! 

On Wednesday, the two missions in Uruguay went to Montevideo for a big conference with Bishop Dean Davies from the General Bishopric of the church. He is a really amazing and humble guy. After his talk, it was super cool because he and his wife sand a duet of ´Amad a otros´ and the the two missions joined in to sing a second verse. The Spirit there was really strong.

After the conference, the new missionaries (Elder Peterson) and the finishing missionaries all got to go to the temple and so returned to their areas a day later. Meanwhile, I was on divisions here in T-Bo with Elder Ribeiro and Elder Bowler. I was a fun day. We went to a recent convert in Barrio 5 for a lesson but he wasn´t home, so we instead ended up teaching this convert´s great-grandma who was aactually super cool. She accepted fecha in the first lesson, and came to church on Sunday (for Barrio 5). We also visited another one of their investigators named Gladys who has fecha for this week as well. And she is SO funny! She kept shouting ´HALLELUIAH´ in the middle of the lesson because she couldn´t contain her excitment to get baptized hahaha. I love Uruguayans, they are the funniest people.

Les quiero a todos tambien. Gracias por ayudarme estar aqui. La mision es una gran bendicion la verdad! Siento muy agredecido por tener un Padre Celestial que me conoce y tambien una familia tan especial. Yo amo el Evangelio de Jesucristo!! Sé que esta es su iglesia! Es una bendicion ser parte de ella. Espero que todos estan leyendo el Libro de Mormón!! Just do it! Que tengan una buena semana!! Chau chau!

Elder Layton

Monday, November 6, 2017

Crazy Weather in Uruguay

The Rambla´
Hey everyone! It sounds like it has been a solid week back at home for everyone! Thanks to everyone who has written to me! Anyway
, we have had some overly rainy days this week- nothing new. On Tuesday a little before we left the apartment it started to rain and the river behind our house or ´la rambla´ as it is called filled up in about 10-15 minutes. Then we left, and about five minutes later due to to the strong winds with the rain, my fourth umbrella on the mission got destroyed hahaha. And then I couldn't stop laughing because Elder Peterson was having the same battle with his umbrella and it is just really funny to watch as we walk around. 

So what happens here is when it is raining, there is usually a lot of wind involved, so if you try holding it above you body to protect against the rain, the wind immediately catches it, either turning it inside out, or causing it to catch like a sail. So what you kind of have to do is position the umbrella more downwards to prevent catching the wind. Well that makes the umbrella sorta useless because then most your body gets soaked since the umbrella isn't positioned directly above.

Umbrella Fail
Anyways, this week we saw our nine year old investigator [...] who we have fecha for this month (he's on schedule for baptism) and we came to the charla planning to give him a Libro de Mormon. Well when we got there he already had a ´O Livro de Mormon´ (Portugese). Haha interesting. Apprarently he had gone to Brazil this week with his parents and the missionaries there happened to come upon them. They gave him a Potugese BOM, so that was pretty cool :) Anyways, he is a real stud. He sometimes gets shy with us, but reads suuuper well, like better than me haha. We have been trying to incorporate some fun, creative lessons too to help him enjoy them.

We also found another english professor this week named [...]. She was really nice and wants us to come help her teach English this week. But it was awesome because she allowed us to have a charla as well, even though it was really late when we contacted her. She first off told us that she believed in God, but not in churches. After teaching the Restoration, we asked her what it would mean to her if God answered her and she came to know that Joseph Smith really saw God and Jesus Christ. Well, luckily she answered perfectly, and said it would mean that our church is actually true, and that one should follow the guidance that was given to Joseph Smith. Awesome! Her husabnd seemed really nice too, but he was too busy watching fútbol... Uruguayans :) Gotta love ´em. They sure love their Maté. fútbol, greasy food and overly loud motorcycles hahaha. Love you guys. Have a great week!!

Elder Layton

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Welcome Elder Peterson!

Elders Peterson and Layton - Not the Ordinary
Hey everyone!

So we had a solid final week to our change. Elder Claros and I found an awesome couple named [...] and [...], who both had some family members baptized in the church many years ago. We also went back to the family Machado, and they are doing really well! They actually ready all of 3 Nephi 11 as a family from when we first saw them. They seem to enjoy the lessons, but still are hesitant to pray when we are with them. We also taught [...] the Word of wisdom, which she accepted, and the law of chastity, which she is thinking about. She lives with a guy right now so we are going to try to help her develop the faith necessary to follow all of the commandments!

Anyways, we got our changes on Saturday, and I am training now! So I am very excited for this learning experience. My new ´oro´ is called Elder Peterson and he is from Idaho. He is a total stud. It was awesome because when we were waiting in the Montevideo terminal, we contacted some lady. I handed Elder Peterson over a folleto to give it to the lady. We started talking to her and she was nice, but then when Elder Peterson tried giving her the folleto, she rejected it! The cool thing though was that afterwards, Elder Peterson said´Hey lets go do that again!´ So he has got a good attitude and we are going to have fun together :)

Today, for P-day, we played dodgeball and ate tacos. It was great :) Also, it is funny, because now, our whole district is gringos, and so we just had the district meeting in english haha. Wierd! Best district ever though!!

The mission is suuuuper awesome. Elder Peterson and I are gonna see miracles this change, I am sure!! Love you guys!!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Following the Example of the Good Shepherd

A Grateful Lamb
Hey everyone!

This week, overall was a little pesado, but we had the day yesterday! We found two suuuuper awesome families- one a family of five and one a family of six! Seriously miracles always happen after a good day of fasting on the mission. 

The second of those is the [...] family. And wow, when they opened their door, they immediately invited us in, put us in a room to talk with of few of their kids for a good while, while they were preparing food for us (I had hardly shook the parents hands coming in and didn't even know their names yet while they were preparing food for us). I totally thought they already knew the missionaries or something, but the wierd thing is that this family had NEVER even talked with missionaries before. So when I found that out, I was absolutely shocked how open and friendly they were to us before hardly even presenting ourselves haha. 

Another Good Shepherd?
The funny coincidence though is that their ten-year old nephew was there too and was apparently baptized in another ward just a few months ago! So, before we started teaching, we were getting to know him and the other few kids there. [...] was saying ´Hey, I have that Mormon book!´ haha. Also, he made some good little comments as we taught the Restoration to the family. It was incredible though, during the lesson, there were eight of us squeezed in a little room, and while we were teaching, they all listened quietly and reverently. 

The dad, named [...], seemed very fascinated when we introduced the Book of Mormon, and committed to reading it. It was cool because yesterday, when we came was also his birthday! I hope we were able to give him a good birthday gift :) Not sure how you can beat the BOM!!

A Rainbow Tacuarembó
Also, yesterday after the familia [...], out of nowhere came seriously the HUGGEST lightning storm I have ever witnessed in my life. Man, it was actually so incredible. The first strike of lightning lit up the whole sky, and literally stretched all the way across. In fact, the crazy thing is it lasted for like two seconds, rather than just being super quick, so it was like blinding! Wow, I wish you all could have seen it. It was sure something. That was followed by many more huge stormy bolts of lightning. but it was just so insane how long they were lasting, so we could just stare at them haha. Then came the flash flood... Yeah that one wasn't so nice, because we weren't too prepared...

Anyways, yesterday was really the only eventful day of the week. It seemed like a lot of other wierd stuff happened yesterday too haha, but I´ll just leave it at that.

Love you guys so much. Thanks for all of your support. Have a wonderful week!!

Elder Layton

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Special Conference

WHAT. A. GENERAL. CONFERENCE!!!!!!! I just loooooooved this weekend, we are so blessed to have modern day prophets and other inspired leaders on the earth today. I would like to write what I wrote down directly after conference ended:

´This conference was very special to me. I had various personal witnesses from the spirit testify to me of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today. This was a very special couple of days for me, and the Spirit that I felt, I pray that I may never forget. I love my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and am so grateful for their love and mercy for me, being so imperfect. I want to dedicate my life to them. My solitary goal is to return to live with them with my family, and as many others as I can help bring along.

Now for some brief thoughts and favorites from the talks this weekend. First off, Elder Anderson´s talk was so incredible. It is amazing how close to the spirit these men are- That President Nelson felt inspired to skip his lunch between the sessions and go see Elder Hales right before he passed away. Wow. What a testimony and example to us. Anyways, I also absolutely LOVED Tad R Callister´s take on the BOM. Haha, it is insane the evidence that the BOM is true and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. But more that that, it is so amazing how God himself can convince us of that through his spirit each time we read. I guess Joseph Smith just got lucky and is a really good guesser on things. 

Elder Cook's talk was super good too, on humility. Elder Nelson´s was too. Such a capo. A couple more things I liked were by Stephen W. Owen who talked a little about testimony and how it is like a bike. After gaining it, we must maintain it, because he we stop pedalling, the bike will fall, as will our testimony. Elder Uchtdorf also mentioned that the absence of light causes darkness. If we are not diligently doing things to uplift us spiritually every single day darkness will begin to enter. It is so important to be ´anxiously engaged´ in the Gospel.

Those are a few of the things I liked :)

Other than that, this week has been pretty down low. I went on divisions with Elder Heaton, which was super awesome. And get this- we taught and investigator named Helaman-Nefi!!! Pretty cool isn't it?? Definitely un lamanita haha.

On divisions, Elder Ribeiro, who was with Elder Claros in Barrio 6 also decided to contact a door and they found someone named [...]. She told them to come back they next day, which we did when I was back in our area. When Elder Claros brought me to the house, I thought he was contacting it so I was confused, because literally that same house we had contacted the day before divisions, and some guy told us they weren't interested. But luckily, the Lord inspired Elder Ribeiro, who didn't know we just contacted it, to find [...], who came out that time. She was really acceptive and we had a great charla. Afterwards she gave us a kilo of honey! Haha awesome!!!

The zone leaders played a prank on me today on P-Day. They got a hold of our phone, and changed their contact to say ´President Olsen´. Then they called me from their phone, so I thought it was President haha. Suprisingly I didn´t really notice their voice difference, so I totally fell for it and thought I was talking to President haha. ´President´ started drilling me with questions about the area and I haha. Those zone leaders sure got me. Punks :)

I am really lucky to be on a mission. I miss all you guys, but it will all be worth it! I hope you guys have a wonderful week! See ya :)

Elder Layton

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Restoration Taught in the Bible

Elders Layton and Claros
¡Comó están todos allá en casa? Les extraño a todos!!

It seems like bastante has happened this week. I´ll try to keep it short. First off, the hermanas in my district apparently had a really scary experience happen to them this week at night, so we went over to their house with the zone leaders late at night to give them a blessing. We also all had to wake up the next morning at like 4 for a multizona conferencia in Rivera so, none of us slept haha. But it was actually a suuuuuper good conference. 

Man, President Olsen is such a stud. You can just feel that guy's light when he teaches us. Jaja he also always tells us that we are ´los mejores misioneros en el mundo´... Y claaaaaaro! :) After the conference, our zone sang hymns in the van for two straight hours until we got back to T-Bo. It was so awesome. There were some harmonies, some jazz mixups, and some beatboxing included in our hymns haha. It was actually super cool, we got a good group of singers :)

We went back to [...] this week, and had a great lesson. She refused to read anything from the Book of Mormon or the Restoration pamphlet, and told us the Bible was the only true scripture, so we taught here the Restoration straight from the Bible! It actually went really awesome, I have never taught it just using the Bible before. to finish, when we read in Isaiah 29:10-14, 18, she seems really surprised... She was like, ´Wow you guys are right!! It talks about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith in the Bible!!´ Haha she said in the next lesson she may be more open to the BOM in the next lesson.

[...] is doing really well! She came to church this Sunday, and each lesson has been going well. She has been praying, reading the BOM, marking it up and coming to each lesson with a list of questions for us! She still seems hesitant to accept a baptismal date, because she wants to receive an answer to her prayers before she commits, but anyways she is doing great, and has quite a few member friends already too!

P-Day was super fun today! We celebrated Elder Heaton´s birthday, and also had a big zone activity ´Los Olimpicos´. We also ate some killer Lasagna despues. Sadly my group only came in second place out of four haha. Next time!! Although, I did beat my good University of Utah buddy Elder Rawson in each activity we had together :) I think he has some regrets for what team he supports!

Anyways, I am so grateful for the blessings of the gospel. Being a missionary is really really hard, but I know I am here for a great and marvelous work and that nothing could stop it from progressing. I am also grateful because I know it is preparing me a ton for the rest of my life. But really I am grateful for the growth that I have been gaining in my personal testimony each and every day. We are so lucky to be members of the restored gospel!

Holy cow, I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO excited for conference next week. although I am not 100% sure they will let us gringos watch it in english in a ´gringo room´ because of some past problems that have apparently occurred here.... That would be a huge bummer because it seriously would not be the same in spanish, but I am hoping we get a way to see it in english. 

Love you guys! Have a great week!

Elder Layton

Sunday, September 24, 2017

On to Tacuarembó

Wow, what a week it has been! It seems like a lot has happened since last P-Day.

Saying Goodbye to Elder Vergara
I´ll start with the last couple of days in Rosario. We were able to make visits before I left with some of the investigators we have been teaching these past couple of changes. [...] is starting to feel really well about the BOM, and started it from the beginning, he just still lacks that step of coming to church. We also swung by the hospital to visit [...] one last time. And hear this.... Her dad read the ENTIRE Book of Mormon in under two weeks!!!! Wow! He said that he wanted to come to church too, to see how it was,and we emphasized to the family the importance of asking God as it says in Moroni 10. Really amazing people!! 

Elders with Jesus (pronounced Hey - Zeus)

Saying Goodbye to the Familia Santucco

Saying Goodbye to Gustavo, Maria, Augustino and Florencia
I got to Tacuarembó on Wednesday, and it is super awesome here! Our area contains the majority of the inner city, and we have got a solid ward of over 50 members. The first night, we went to go play basketball with the zone leaders, and the sister training leaders, which makes up my district, as well as a bunch of jovenes. It is really cool because we play basketball every Wednesday and fútbol every Thursday with jovenes, and so it is a really good source in finding new youth. We all share the stake center, and it is huge. Totally rocks haha. Also, there is a member in our ward who lets us use his gym to workout some mornings. He also gave us lunch on Friday, and had his maid cook for us :O! That was a first!

Spectacular Skies on His Way to Tacuarembó
My first Sunday here was really awesome too. It was funny because some of the first people I saw as I walked in were Gonzalo and Melina, who are members in my first area, Las Acacias. They happened to be visiting Gonzalo´s mom Teresa, who is in our ward. It was really cool to see them, and also nice to see some familiar faces as I gave a talk during sacrament meeting. It is funny though because they knew me when I still didn't speak a lick of Spanish :). 

On Sunday night, we found a suuuuper capito (stud). He was actually a reference from a joven in another ward. He is only 11 and his mom immediately told us we were free to talk with him, but she wasn't interested at all in hearing from us. Anyways, we had a super great lesson with [...], and he accepted a baptismal date for October 7th! He called his mom into the room for permission, and she said she didn't have a problem with it if it was something [...] wanted to do. She then started to bombard us with questions about the church, and now I think she is really interested haha. It ended with her planning on what days we could come back, and also how they would be able to get the whole family at church next Sunday. She then proceeded to volunteer for the closing prayer hahaha.

So yeah, the people here are super awesome, from what I have seen so far. The weather has honestly been kind of feo since I have been here, but today it is starting to clear up, so that is good! I am super excited for the many things that I yet have to learn from this area, my companion Elder Claros, as well as the awesome people in my district! I love and miss you guys all! The mission is pretty stinkin great. I am grateful for the things to learn and the people to help and meet! ¡Que tengan una semana buena!

Elder Layton

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