Monday, January 30, 2017

I Feel Really Guided by the Lord

Hey everyone!

So last week, we got a call from the zone leaders saying there was some last minute conference with Elder Stevenson in Montevideo for all of the district and zone leaders. And they had like none of the details, so we were kind of scrambling, figuring out what we needed to do. We were trying to find someone who could go on a ´corto plazo´ with me for a few days which is kind of like a mini-mission here, but that didnt work out, and so I ended up going on divisions for a few days with Elder Baron and Elder Castro in Concepcion. I went to Concepcion and Elder Raimundo went with the zone leaders to Montevideo. I kind of put a huge whole in our plans because it was super last minute and we had a lot of lessons planned here in Colon, but oh well. Anyways it was pretty fun and I was there Monday- Wednesday. 

On Tuesday, we had a lesson in the park with a recent convert. He is incredible. He was baptized about a month and a half ago but has already read the Book of Mormon 3 times! And as we were teaching him, I could tell he wasn't kidding, because he had a really good knowledge of the scriptures. Great guy. As we were teaching him, I saw a homeless looking guy laying in the park who kept watching us. So I decided to go contact him afterwards and give him a pamphlet to read. He had a small suitcase with him and he looked really poor and lonely but it turns out he was a magician... And a really good one too. He showed us a few tricks and absolutely blew my mind right in front of us. That was super awesome, and when he started doing some of those tricks people began to be interested and wander over. When about 5-6 people had come over behind us to watch, we started testifying of our message, and it was a really neat experience. Everyone started asking us all these questions and we ended up getting a few contacts. And we gave a Book of Mormon to the magician because he was showing us his Bible, and said he loves to read!

I met back up with Elder Raimundo Wednesday and we had a zone conference where we watched a video meeting with Elder Oaks, Elder Bednar, Elder Anderson, and some other authorities. It was a great conference, and they actually made quite a few changes, including goals, planning, and the schedule. 

On Thursday, we met someone named [...]. He is a 96 year old man, and has lived in the same house for 75 years, alone for 20. He is a really neat man. It turns out he played Rugby when he was younger, so that was a cool connection to talk about. We taught him the restoration, but it was a little difficult because he just wanted to talk to us the whole time. Poor guy, I can understand. He has lived alone for so long, and probably doesn't have much to do. 

Anyways, we went back the very next morning to clean his house, because he can't see too well and it was pretty dirty. We cleaned for a few hours and then went back to the house to get changed into our missionary clothes and get ready to go to lunch. And a few minutes later Olga, the lady who lives in front of us was tapping on our window, saying there was some man in front looking for us. We came out, and to our surprise there was 96 year old [...]! Let me just say, I have NO IDEA how he knew where we live hahaha. He said that he just had a feeling where we were. Anyways, he was all worried that we accidentally threw away some medicine he had. So we told him we would be right out, because we just had to get our ties on. And, a minute later when we came out, he was already gone again. It is about a five minute walk to his house,(for us) so I don´t have any idea how this guy gets around so fast. Yeah he was already there when we arrived. We looked around, and it turned out Elder Raimundo accidentally moved a few things off the table when he was cleaning it and forgot to put them back. But yeah, that was a very interesting story. 

This weekend was pretty long and a lot of stuff fell through so we did a lot of walking and contacting, but there is nothing less that I am willing to do for the Lord. He has given me so much, and I have been very blessed. I love the scriptures so much and I know that they are true, and I know that the Plan of Salvation is real. I love my Heavenly Father, and that is why I am here, hoping to do the most good I can with the opportunities I am given! I love you and miss you all!!!

(The following is an excerpt from a second letter, referencing his grandpa Chiechi's death.)

I am glad that Mom and Grandma are taking it pretty well. When I first saw moms letter, I mostly felt bad for her and grandma because obviously they are much closer to him. But it is comforting to hear they are doing ok. Also, I can't imagine what it would be like to lose a loved one without the Plan of Happiness. I am so grateful for the gospel, and the knowledge, peace, and comfort it brings into our lives. That is really special that you got to talk with him before he passed. I hope he was at peace and comfortable. And luckily now he is so happy :)

Anyways, the BOM promise is pretty awesome isn't it? I seriously love the scriptures so much. I don't know if this is a bad thing or not but sometimes I just want to sit at my desk all day and study hahaha. But I know part of faith and repentance is action, and missionary work is how we can find the most happiness- by actually going out and doing. At times, I just want to learn and read constantly. But I am grateful because I actually feel it gives me more desires to do so and improve each day. The BOM is pretty stinkin awesome. 

It is cool because I feel really guided by the Lord here on my mission- like He is shaping me how he wants me to be. Kind of like that current bush video by Christofferson. I love that one.

Elder Layton

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Promise Fulfilled

Hey guys!

Wow, it has been a great week. To start, we were planning on having a Noche de Hogar (family home evening) with the Cacosso family and an investigator last Monday, but she was pretty sick when we went over. So that was a big bummer and I felt bad because the Cacosso family prepared a bunch of snacks, but then we decided to go try invited another investigator last minute, and he was able to come! And it was really awesome too, he enjoyed the video we watched and even bore his testimony to us about what he learned.

We went on divisions over in Concepcion on Tuesday. I was with Elder Baròn for the day, a tiny little Colombian. He is really cool, but super hard to understand haha. We did a lot of walking that day and it was insanely hot, but we ended up have some really incredible lessons that night. Oh yeah, and something funny about Argentina is for some reason everyone always tries guessing our age. And they always think I am way older than I am - everyone is always super surprised to hear I am 18. I don't know if it is because I have a little companion or what, but no one really thought much of it in Montevideo haha. People here are funny. Everyone all have these special handshakes here too. To be ´in´ with the youth you gotta learn all these different handshakes.

After coming back from Concepcion on Wednesday, we had to go back on Thursday for a zone conference and interviews with President Olsen. It was a really great conference, and it was funny because in my interview I prayed out loud in english for the first time in a while, and it was so hard! I kept tripping up on words and slipping in a few spanish words on accident and everything haha. It was the weirdest thing ever. 

Anyways, we had the greatest day on Saturday! In the morning, we had a really good lesson with two investigators named [...] and [...]. They are brothers and were old investigators that we decided to start teaching again. They are super cool, and really acceptive of us. We had a really great lesson that morning and they said they would think about being baptized on february 25th! 

We also had a cool experience that afternoon. We went to visit [...]. For a little background, we had a lesson with him earlier this week, and he expressed a lot of concerns to us. He is 20 years old and has two younger brothers he takes care of, but he needs a job and has been looking for a couple of months now. We were teaching a story in the Book of Mormon, and after he told us that, I had a strong impression to make him a promise. I told him that if he read the Book of Mormon every day, that the Lord would help him find a job. And so we came back to visit him this Saturday afternoon, and caught him just as he was getting ready to leave for his first day- at his new job! So awesome. The rest of that day, we ended up being packed with lessons and great contacts. It was such a great day! 

I really feel that I am being so blessed here on my mission, and I am so very grateful for all of the opportunities and experiences I am having. We have been seeing miracles each day, and I am grateful for the guidance of the the Spirit. It is so very real. And this church is so very true. I love you all. Thanks for all the support!

Elder Layton

Monday, January 16, 2017

God Only Gives Us Commandments Because He Loves Us

Wow, I seriously cannot believe I have been out 6 months already! I hit 6 months on Thursday, and we were in San Jose that day. Elder Raimundo bought me ice cream at a place called Grido helado, which is my favorite! And it is actually pretty cheap compared to everything else in Uruguay and Argentina, which is pretty expensive. We also had lunch that day with the Etcheveste family, as they live in San Jose. I brought taco seasoning (thanks for sending that mom :)), and while we were teaching a retention lesson to Carlos, Hermana Etcheveste made up soooooo much stuff for tacos. They we so incredible.

Elders with Cacosso Family
We had a super great lesson this week with an investigator named [...]. We taught her the restoration two weeks ago, but have been having trouble finding her again when she is home. But we finally got another lesson with her and taught about the Book of Mormon. The Spirit was so strong, and she seemed really excited about reading it. It was pretty crazy because a couple times right when I was thinking something, Elder Raimundo said the exact same thing I was thinking. And after the lesson, he said the same thing happened to him when I was talking haha. Pretty crazy how the spirit works! 

We also had a similar lesson with someone named [...] yesterday. We taught the Book or Mormon, and left her with a chapter which she said she was going to read that night! We are also going to have a family home evening with [...] tonight in the Cacosso family{s house :) Both [...] and [...] have baptismal dates for February 11th, and I really hope we can make that goal! Also, Gabriela from my last area in Montevideo got baptized this past Saturday! I am so happy for her, and she is awesome. I think Elder Good is doing well over there in Las Acacias

Today for P-Day, we went to a cool place with the Cacosso family that has a big sign of Colon. I will send some pictures. Marcos and Vivianna (Cacosso) are so cool. They always like doing stuff with us, like family home evenings with investigators. Vivianna was just reactivated to the church a year ago and studies the gospel more than anyone I have ever seen! She is always collecting different books, videos, magazines, etc to study and she is super strong in the church. Marcos, was a convert of just a year ago and helps us visit people all the time. He is also just the coolest dude. We always sing hymns when we go over for lunch and he also plays the guitar (he is super talented). He also makes just about everything with wood in his backyard, including mostly these sweet wooden mate cups. Anyways, just the coolest family.
Sweet Wooden Cups!

I have come to see commandments not as restrictions or limitations, but counsel that helps us be more free and find more happiness. I know that God only gives us commandments because he loves us and wants to protect us. It is kind of sad that some people don't understand that and think that the Mormons can't do this or can't do that. The truth is we can, but we just choose not to. And I am so grateful to be a member of this church, because I don't even have the desires to do all of those things that Heavenly Father has told us to avoid. I trust Him. 

I feel that I really have been blessed a lot with greater desires on my mission to study and learn more about the gospel. whenever I have down time, it is like that is all I want to do haha and even though I like to take my time when I study, I'm grateful for my weaknesses because they have given me a greater desire for improvement. I am so grateful for Heavenly Father´s plan for me!

Yeah, it has been a good week. Less stormy than last week which has been nice :) But soooo hot. I seriously can't even believe the pictures of Bend that I was sent! So snowy haha. Despite the heat, I love being a missionary. I feel so blessed everyday, and I am so grateful for this great opportunity to grow myself and also help others. The Book of Mormon really is so amazing, and we are so blessed to have it in our day. I know it is true, and I know that the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints is true! Love you all!

Elder Layton

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Stormy in Argentina Too!

Hey guys!

Wow, it has been a really stormy week. Tons of rain and booming lightning and thunder. All of the power in Colôn has been shut off twice, including yesterday, right when we started to write in the ciber haha. So the zone leaders gave us permission to write today, on Tuesday. 

It was super stormy last tuesday, but it cleared up that afternoon, so we ended up taking a bus over to San Jose, which is another town we have in our area. We visited a recent convert to start teaching him the retention lessons. He is so awesome. He is already really strong in the church, and despite living far away from our church building, he comes ever week. He gave us a ton of food to, and said he would start thinking of references he could give to us because he knows a lot of people. Super cool guy! 

We are working with a less active. He is 20 years old, and is really awesome. Right now, he is trying to overcome some bad habits. He is looking for a job right now, especially because he needs to support his two younger brothers. He has a ton of friends come over to his house all the time that are a really bad influence on him, so it is a little hard, but we have had a couple really good lessons with him. He wants to get his life cleaned up and even says he hopes to be able to serve a mission! I have a lot of high hopes for him to start making some changes :).

We were contacting one day this week and got talking to some lady at her door. When I introduced myself as Elder Layton, she was really surprised because her son was named Layton (although spelled differently) haha. She said she didn't have time at the moment but said we could try another day, so we may go visit her this week. I thought that was pretty funny.

We had an awesome experince with an investigator this week. We found her and taught her the restoration on my second or third day here, and even gave her a baptismal date for February 11th! She is super awesome. She actually was taught a little bit by the missionaries 20ish years ago when she was a kid. Anyways, we were going to go back this past week, but then she texted us saying not to waste time on her because she prayed about our message and everything and didn't feel like she recieved an answer. I was pretty bummed about that, because she is a really solid investigator. We decided we would go back a few days later anyways, and she let us come in and talk. We had another really great lesson with her, and focused specifically on the Book of Mormon, and also helped her to understand that sometimes answers take time. She told us she was feeling better after that, and wants to keep taking the lessons!

One other funny thing that I have discovered here in Argentina is big toads called zapos. I have heard they are in many other the interior zones of Uruguay, but I never saw them in Montevideo. It is super funny because they make these loud crying sounds like ¨WAAAAAAAAAAAA¨. We have heard them a lot lately since there has been so much rain and water everywhere. 

Love ya guys! The church is true! ´Till next week!

Elder Layton

Monday, January 2, 2017

Now Coming to You From Argentina

The Olsen Family, Elders Layton & Good While Still in Uruguay
Hey guys,

Let me just say, Argentina is so awesome and my new companion Elder Raimundo and I are having a ton of fun together! He is from Lima Peru and he has about a year in the mission. He is the district leader here in Argentina, and there is only one district in our whole zone, since there are just 8 or us.

This is his third change here and we are serving in an area called Colón. There used to be another set of hermanas whose area was the other part of Colón, but they were taken out a few months ago and so now we have a huge area.

Anyways, Elder Raimundo and I are having so much fun together. We have kept really busy because he had a bunch of future investigators when I arrived, and we have luckily found and had lessons with many of them. We have gotten a few people with baptismal dates in just the last couple days too! Two of the most promising investigators we have with a date are named [...] and [...]. They were each contacts on the street that Elder Raimundo made before I came and they are both super interested. We have just taught the restoration to both of them so far, but they already seem really prepared, and both said they would be baptized February 11th if they come to know these things are true!

It is really easy to just contact someone on the street and get a lesson with them. We have taught the restoration a ton. We have gotten 5 new fechas in just 3 days and 8 new investigators! Elder Raimundo is a really good contactor and teacher, and he has been teaching me a lot. We also have a lot bigger of an area than I had before. We have our big area as well as the big area the hermanas used to have. A lot of dirt roads too, and most people live in older, poorer houses than Montevideo.

Argentina is really beautiful. It is also quite a bit different than Montevideo. First off, it is soooo hot, even more than was in Montevideo. Second off, our area mostly consists of dirt roads and there are more humble circumstances. Also, the people here are just SO receptive of us. We have already found 8 new investigators in the past 3 days mostly due to street contacting. Another thing I enjoy is the air is fresher. In Montevideo, there was always someone smoking everywhere you could look haha.

But speaking of Montevideo, I really miss Las Acacias too. There were some super awesome members there and a couple progressing investigators I will really miss. It is funny because I didn't fully realize how connected to some of the people I am. It was pretty hard saying bye to everyone. We had lessons with [...] and [...] the day before I left, and they both started crying :/

But the branch here is super awesome as well. I really love it here. One family in particular, family [...] is super awesome. They were converted a year ago, but are super strong in the church. They give us lunch a lot and Marcos, the dad is such an incredible cook! He hooks us up haha. We also sing a lot when we go over there. He is an awesome singer and guitar player, and we always harmonize and stuff haha. The mission is pretty stinkin great :) Love you all.