Monday, December 29, 2008

He Answered Our Prayers

Queridos Familias y Amigos Mios,

It was so great to hear from my family!!!!! I hope you know I was sick when I called so that's maybe why I didn't sound my best. Actually my companion was sick all Christmas day. Pretty much Christmas was just great though!

Thanks for everything!!!
Right now we're getting close to some new baptisms which I'm very excited about. We had 6 investigators come to church again and 3 of our investigators have dates set for January. It shouldn't be very hard if we just keep doing what we're supposed to be doing.

President mildy rebuked us in his Christmas letter and really told us that the lack of baptisms in the month of December (honestly I don't know how they went, but we didn't have any) was because of the small things we need to overcome like obedience with exactness, trusting the Lord, teaching effectively. We can always do better as missionaries every day.

One of the kids we're baptizing is named Cesar Jr. He's ten. His sister is a member and his parents can't be baptized yet because we're helping them get married. We just got a permission slip from him on Saturday and he has more than 6 asistencias
(he's attended Church more than 6 times) so he's set. I was so grateful on Saturday when we taught him. Always when we tried to teach him before he honestly couldn't concentrate, and told his parents he didn't want to be baptized. But then for some reason he completely changed. He sat there, understood, listened, and told us that he was ready to be baptized. YES! Really, the Lord answered our prayers. It´s been hard for me to go through this entire month without helping someone make their first covenant.

The monkey's doing good. A rat bit it's tail while he was sleeping so he has rabies but no worries, our pensions daughter is its mom and she took Andy in right away to get all its vaccs. Haha. It has an official vaccination tag with his name on it and everything.

Today we're playing futbol. Too bad I waste all the Natives. No, just kidding. They're all way good cause it's the thing to do down here. My companion's really awesome. He's quiet and doesn't like to pay for stuff but hey, I'm sure it´s hard to live with a gringo. I'm his first gringo companion so he's holding out really well. When he bears his testimony I can feel the spirit. That's what's most important to me. He has a great conversion story too from a strong Catholic family so that definitely helps out cause I'd say 50% of our investigators are Catholic.

Honestly I don't want to leave this area. Just saying that is probably going to get me sent off somewhere different, but whatever. We find out next Monday our change. There's nothing better than the mission. Thanks for all the love this Christmas, really, from everyone. It felt like home. Man... I really need to write everyone. I think I'm going to wait until I'm out of the jungle because it's so expensive.

(It costs a significant portion of his entire monthly budget just to get one letter out of the jungle. He's mentioned several times how he feels terrible about ignoring everyone. So if you've written him and haven't heard back - that's why. He'll get to you - thanks for the letters and understanding.)

Padre, usted puede enviar sus cartas a mi en espanol, debido a porque estoy fluido en esta idioma. Yo quiero ver como esta su espanol, para que puedo ver quien es major en en el espanol. No se precupe. No voy a rub it in your face. Probalamente usted es major. Gracias padre por todas sus cartas espirituales. Me encantan esas mas que todas. Estoy leyendo del Libro de Mormon en Espanol en voz alta.

Funny - I knew this day would come. I just didn't think it would be this soon. He's basically challenging me to write to him in Spanish so he can see who's Spanish is better - his or mine. I don't think he'll have too much difficulty winning that battle six months from now, but I think I've still got him. He does say (in half English, half Spanish) not to worry - he's not going to rub it in my face. He also says that he's been reading the Book of Mormon out loud.

Your Missionary,

Elder Layton

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Christmas Day Highlight

Elders Layton and Little. Elder Little was a Zone Leader in Puente Piedra.

On Christmas day, missionaries all over the world are busy calling their families. We got to speak with Elder Layton for nearly one hour, although we were disconnected three times...but we got to have a good chat anyway. We asked a lot of questions. I don't remember who asked which questions, so I just show most of them as "family". Here are some of the highlights...

Elder Layton; "It's hard to talk English (He kept slipping back into Spanish throughout the call. He didn't have much of an accent though.). I don't think I've ever been happier. We have a ton of really good families to visit. It's hard because so many people aren't married - it's different from Lima. Most people don't have the papers they need to get married. We have to wait on papers from other areas. Right now we are waiting on papers for a guy who's from Iquitos. So we have to contact the other missionaries and wait.

The mission is probably the hardest thing I've ever done but it's so much fun. I think I'll be in Pucallpa for a long time. My companion's already been here for 4 months - everyone says they will just leave us here for a while. If I'm here in February and March, I'll be here for the rainy season. Everything floods. All the homes are built up on stilts. Every house has a boat and people just use their boats to get around. The missionaries have to use the bridges.

Our apartment is really nice. It's one of the nicest buildings in Pucallpa." Above is a picture of Avenida Saenz Pena, very close to where the Elder's apartment is.

Don: "What's been the hardest part of your mission so far?"

Elder Layton: "Finding the right people to teach. Lots of people will listen, but only a few will follow through with commitments. They'll listen, but they won't always come to Church or read. Also, I miss my family."

Don: "What's been the best part of your mission?"

Elder Layton: "That's hard, but the best part is when we're able to teach someone from the very start and watching them grow, keep commitments and gain Rosalina Pizarro, Liliana and Ibis Alessandra Moron Troncos. Liliana was the best investigator so far."

Elders Zepeda and Layton with Hermana Angelica & Friends While in Puente Piedra

Don: "What are your favorite parts of the culture?"

Elder Layton: "I don't know - everyone has parties all the time...they have lots of fireworks every weekend, like way more than the fourth of July. The parties go really late sometimes. Last weekend they had one from about 11:00 until 2:00. Our apartment has openings for windows with curtains on keeps us up sometimes. Dancing...everyone's really good at dancing."

Don: "Do you ever run into people who don't speak Spanish - who only speak Quechua or Aymara?"

Elder Layton: "Yeah, no one really understands them, they're usually really old people. Lots of times their own families don't even understand them. It's hard to learn - it's not a written language."

Curtis: "That's so cool about your monkey".

Elder Layton: "Yeah, the monkey lives with the pension. He's still a baby. He's so cute. There's a girl - a daughter of the pension - about 23. She makes it clothes and it has it's own little hammock to sleep in. I always play with it when we come to eat. As soon as I get there, it knows me and comes and sits on my arm when I eat. It knows me. The girl reminds me of how Briana would treat the monkey."

Curtis: "Are you going to take it with you when you leave?"

Elder Layton: "No, it will stay here - it will bring joy for some other missionaries."

Family: "Do you think your mission will make their goal of 500 baptisms in December?"
Elder Layton: "No, I don't think we're going to make it. President kind of wrote us a letter - kind of called us to repentance."

Brenda: "Do you like your Mission President? What's he like?"

Elder Layton: "Our Mission President is the best, he's a great guy - the "best ever". He even lets us watch a movie once in a while. The last movie we saw was "Night At the Museum". They show it in Spanish, sometimes with English subtitles."
Briana: "Is the Church the same in Peru as it is here?"

Elder Layton: "Yes. It's the same. Our buildings are a little different, but really nice."

Family: "What's the strangest thing you've seen so far?"

Elder Layton: "Every day there are naked people (Curtis at this point said, "okay, I do NOT want to go to Peru on my mission!!" Briana said, "Gross"). I saw a guy kill like 20 chickens. He held them upside down by the feet and just kind of pulled on their necks until they popped. There are all kinds of weird bugs, parrots all over in the trees, all kinds of weird noises. The people wear a lot of the same clothes we do, but sometimes they just wear loin cloths". A loin cloth is at least better than going completely naked."

Family: "What do you normally do on your p-days?"

Elder Layton: "We plan weird things. We have to be with the zone until about 1:00 or 2:00. We play soccer all the time. Our pension does the laundry. We eat breakfasts and dinners with the pension. We have lunch with members and we get referrals."

Family: "What's your favorite food so far and what's the weirdest things you've eaten?

Elder Layton: "I love a lot of the food but in Ventanilla and Puente Piedra we ate a lot of Arroz con Pollo (chicken and rice). We had it all the time but there's some really good food. We have all kinds of fresh fruit and drinks made from fruit. There's a lady in our ward who let's us get fresh coconuts whenever we want.

We were supposed to have turtle day-before-yesterday, but she wasn't there and so we had fish instead. We've eaten a lot of alligator - it tastes kind of like chicken. We eat a lot of venison - there are a lot of deer in the jungle. The weirdest was pig stomach. It's so gross. Oh, and they always put chicken feet in soup. They're mostly cartilage - nasty."

Don: "What advice would you give Eric, Curtis and maybe Briana as they prepare for their missions?"

Elder Layton: "Study the scriptures."

Don: "That sounds good - anything else?"

Elder Layton: "Yeah, study the scriptures - memorize scriptures. Have good experiences you can share with other people - become good teachers."

Brenda: "Do you play the piano for your ward?"

Elder Layton: "I play all the hymns now. I played in Puente Piedra and Ventanilla, but they don't have a piano here. They have a keyboard, but it's broken. Two nights ago, we went to the Plaza and sang with the choir. It's funny...all the Churches had time to sing or whatever. The Catholic Church took about an hour right before us and just banged and whistled. We sang hymns. Everyone loved it. Most of the Churches just blasted rock music and rap. Christmas is different here. Everyone works."

Brenda: "Is it hot there?"

Elder Layton: "Yeah, it's hot every day. We take cold showers - we don't have hot water. It's really, really cold water."

Don: "What are some of the best things you've learned so far?"

Elder Layton: "Before I didn't really know how to learn. I learn a lot here."
Family: "Is there anything you need?"

Elder Layton: "Not really - I had to leave one of my suitcases in Lima when I came to the jungle - they only allow one suitcase on the plane. I'm going to have to leave a couple of things here when I leave. My suitcase is already overweight.

People send me letters and I really feel bad. I can't write back. It's really expensive here to send letters. We only get about 90 soles per month (Peru currency) and it costs about 10 soles just to send out one letter. Tell everyone that I love them. We have to take mototaxis to church - it's pretty far away. That costs money too."

Brenda: "Grandma and Grandpa told me to tell you that they love you."

Elder Layton: "I love them too. I love all of my family and friends."

Family: We love you, we miss you, we pray for you all the time and are very proud of you.
Elder Layton: "I miss you guys too.

Monday, December 22, 2008


HEYYYYY!!!!! Merry Christmas!!!

So before I forget dad, I live on the street Saenz Pena and my wards name is Saenz Pena tambien (also). I´ll be calling you on the 24th to set up a time to talk on the 25th. I can only talk for 3 minutes on the 24th.

(Saenz Pena Street, Pucallpa, Peru)

Soooo, before I tell about my week I just have to say THANK YOU!!!! I love my family. On the 19th, President came with all our letters and packages. All I know is that I definitely received the most love in my zone.... which isn't something I was proud of. (Sean has a few overzealous uncles and aunts - sorry guys, you know it's true.) Actually it just made me feel bad, but I split everything with my compi. He was excited about that. Oh yeah.... so mom, you'll probably be mad but I opened the plan of salvation thing. (A very cool missionary gift from a good family friend, John Lewandowski) I left the others don't worry I couldn't help it. It's not the same. I should have more patience yeah? Haha.

We don't really have anything special to do on Christmas other than share the gospel, but we do have permission to be out until 10. I loved the packages from my family and my extended family those were the BEST!!! Thanks you guys. Hahaha, in particular the story of Brea eating those hotdogs with her sharp teeth made me laugh. Me gusta.

Also, just to let you know I bought a monkey (try to picture my expression right now - just try). It lives at my pension's house so Elder Hyde has fun with it too. Don´t worry you'd probably freak if you knew how little I bought it for. Almost nothing. We had an extra hour on pday! Don't worry it's not being disobedient either. (Which I interpret to mean that he checked in the "White Bible", "Preach My Gospel", AND the scriptures and he couldn't find any clear directions against a missionary purchasing a pet monkey if said monkey doesn't cost too much and lives with the pension. Curtis, our 10 year old, upon hearing of the missionary monkey, said, "A pet monkey??? That's AWESOME!! I wish he could send it home!! Dad, can I have a pet monkey?)
It hangs out with us at breakfast and dinner and that´s all we see of it but whatever. I named it Andy of course.

We didn't have a baptism this week...... I'm really bummed about that. Really we had an okay week. (Of course he had an okay week even without baptisms - he has a pet monkey.) We got the members to have a fast for the missionary work on Saturday and we had 4 investigators in the Church. So many are waiting for a wedding and want to be baptized but there are barely ever weddings and the government here makes it almost impossible for the people if they don't have the right papers, and money.

I've really found though that working with the less active and recent converts is key. Really. As soon as we started doing that we had new investigators open up. Last night we gave a blessing to a man se llama Agosto. Todo su familia are members. Hopefully his health gets better so we can teach him.. (I think it's great to see him write when he's in a hurry - how he gets his English and Spanish all mixed up together. He said they gave a blessing to a man named Agosto. All of his family are members.)

Since I've been reading in the Book of Mormon in Spanish I've learned a lot since I have to read a lot slower and take my time to translate words I don't know.

Basically the mission is all about making a plan and trusting the Lord. Seriously sometimes I think our lesson went so well, and for sure our investigators will come to Church. But then they don't and I wonder why? Really there are two options. Either they rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ, or I failed. That's why it's so important to follow the Lord. We have to do EVERYTHING we can. Then we pray and hope for the best. I have so much to learn....

Well, today we brought all our mattresses to the Church. We're going to fight on them, and then I think we're watching a movie. President gives us permission to watch one movie as a Zone once every change that is approved by the offices. I think we´re going to watch Narnia 2!!!! YEAH!

Christmas in Pucallpa is about the same. Everyone has little Christmas trees. The houses don't really have lights but everyone's in the same spirit so that's cool. We really just have a normal day on Christmas, but that's good for me. I love it here.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Still Looking for That Christmas Spirit? Watch This!

"If we are to have the very best Christmas ever, we must listen for the sound of sandaled feet. We must reach out for the Carpenter’s hand. With every step we take in His footsteps, we abandon a doubt and gain a truth." (Thomas S. Monson, Ensign Magazine, December, 2008)

Monday, December 15, 2008

We're Here to Help People Have Spiritual Experiences

I spent a day and a night earlier this week with my zone leader Elder Brock because they were doing visits with my companion Elder Paz. I learned a lot. Really about how to teach. We're not here to give the people information. We're not here to tell people how they need to live their lives. We're here to help people have spiritual experiences, and to accept the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know Christ lives and that this is his gospel. I'm more sure of that than anything else I know.

This week was great after that really clicked in my mind. Every principle in our lessons I really tried to relate to living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I noticed a huge change in how people responded to how we taught. First of all I felt the spirit. Second of all, I knew that our investigators could feel the spirit. Saturday night we had a lesson to follow up on the commitments of our investigators. Their names are Lois and Teresa, middle aged, and married! We felt the spirit so strong when they said that they had done what we asked them. Read, prayed, pondered. They still didn't know everything for sure, but our testimonies helped.

Yesterday they came to church. We had six investigators at church yesterday which was our goal. All of them are progressing, and all of them can have baptism dates. This week we're going to focus on setting those dates so they can be baptized this month.

Other than that, we're playing dodgeball today with the zone. So far in my mission I've been bitten by a dog, a cat, a parrot, stung by a bee, and had fleas. You would think I was trying to touch em.... yeah, no. They come out of nowhere. Oh yeah... that beetle was pretty dang big... probably an inch and a half?

(This picture was posted last time and a young man in our ward wanted to know how big it was - see the comments from last post.)

Since I've been here in Peru during the Christmas season I've found that it's really the same as anywhere else. Presents... Santa Claus..... Christ. But there's one obvious difference. There were definitely llamas in the first nativity.

He's right you know. Here's the proof.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Lots of Pictures!!!

We received a CD full of pictures a few days ago. It was like getting Christmas three weeks early. Really it was. We had to do some detective work to determine which ones happened where, and who was who, and so on. Hopefully we got most, or all of them right.

Below is a picture of the plane that Elder Layton took to fly from Lima to Pucallpa, his current area.

This one would be of Elders Layton and Paz (current companion) getting a ride in Pucallpa. Everything looks very colorful, don't you think?

That is a very cool taxi system they have there...

We know of problems he had in Ventanilla with the fleas. The jungle is full of crawling, multi-legged things. Many of them are very different than anything he has seen in the States.

At least he's eating good. This was a meal of potatoes and fried monkey brains.

Gotcha, didn't we? As far as we know, there were no monkeys harmed in the preparation of this meal.
These are a few of the pictures we received. I'll be posting others occasionally ,but you can view them now if you want. Most of them are labled. Simply click on the "Mission Pictures" link towards the top of the right sidebar to access them.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Nothing Makes You Happier Than Living the Gospel

This week has been great. We didn't have any baptisms this Saturday but we've set up several more for the month of December! Also we have a golden family that's just waiting to get married. So basically we're waiting for a matrimonio and the dad, Alberto, needs his papers, so we've been communicating with other missionaries to get his papers from Iquitos. The missionary work is so amazing. Really there´s nothing that makes you happier than living the Gospel, being obedient, and serving the Lord.

Pucallpa rocks. I'm glad Curtis thinks it's cool there are monkeys here. Because it IS cool. We have a big river in part of our area and there are a bunch of little boats and canoes all over the place. Also I learned that in February and march everything floods and that´s why all the houses are raised up. A ton of our area will be under water so we have to use bridges, and the people use canoes.

The people here are so tight. Everyone's always like GRINGO!!! So it´s a good conversation starter to begin sharing the gospel. Yeah I did English lessons on Saturday. It was great, cause we had two investigators there, and I hear we might have more this Saturday. It´s perfect because they come with members and then we can set up times to meet with them.

I don´t know how much I told you about Gustavo, but he´s a gringo that lives right above us. He teaches English lessons here in Pucallpa. We've only met with him once because of his tight schedule but after the first lesson he was really set. He wants to prepare for baptism, and he knows he needs to change a lot of things in his life. He told us all about his past life, and decisions that have led him to where he is now. Really though, I know when he accepts the gospel in his life his life will only get better.

Here's some info I found on wikipedia about Pucallpa. It provides a technical snapshot on where Elder Layton is serving.

Pucallpa (Quechua: puka hallpa, "red earth") is a city in eastern Peru located on the banks of the Ucayali River, a major tributary of the Amazon River. It is the capital of the Ucayali region, the Coronel Portillo Province and the Calleria District.

Pucallpa was founded in the 1840s by Franciscan missionaries who settled several families of the Shipibo-Conibo ethnic group. For several decades it remained a small settlement as it was isolated from the rest of the country by the Amazon Rainforest and the Andes mountain range. From the 1880s through the 1920s a railway project to connect Pucallpa with the rest of the country via the Ferrocarril Central Andino was started and dropped several time until it was finally abandoned. Pucallpa's isolation finally ended in 1945 with the completion of a highway to Lima through Tingo Maria. The highway allowed the commercialization of regional products to the rest of the country, thus improving the economic outlook of the region and its capital, Pucallpa. However, the heavy rainfalls of the Amazon Rainforest remain a problem as they erode the highway and can even cut it by causing flash floods.

Pucallpa is served by air through the Captain Rolden International Airport and by river through its port Pucallpillo near the center of the city. During the high water season, the floating ports of La Hoyada and Puerto Italia are used for riverine communications. Pucallpa is connected by road to Lima via the cities Huánuco and Cerro de Pasco.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Liliana's Baptism

This week has been so busy. My mind is racing right now actually because there's so much to say but I can´t really say it all. Yeah the jungle is really great. There are monkey's, which are the coolest things ever by the way, but since we're in Pucallpa they´re only pets.

The first night here our pension made us alligator which is so good....I think I told you that.

(For some reason, I would love to try alligator...maybe it's just the idea of eating something before it eats you, I dont' know. But I'll bet he's right. It's probably very good.)

We're going to go play soccer in a big stadium today. We invited members and investigators to play with us. This Saturday I'm teaching English lessons again like my Puente Piedra days. If they want to come they have to bring an investigator. We already have 3 confirmed investigators coming so that's great to hear!

Like I said this week was too short. We didn't have a good turnout yesterday in the church... so maybe that's why. It seems likes that's always hard for people to commit to hear. The only thing we can do is work harder, study harder, and work more effectively.

We baptized a lady named Liliana on Saturday so that was great. Elder Paz baptized her and she already has tons of family in the church so they were all there and supported her the whole way.

We have about 7 families right now which is kind've low, but really every other family we come across isn't married. We're hopefully going to marry a family on the 13th. They are progressing but still have that barrier. The daughter's a member and they also have a 10 year old son named Cesar. We're going to sacar una fecha proxima visita (set a baptismal date on our next visit).

Yeah, this change has been really good for me as well. My companion's really shy so I get a lot more opportunities to mejor mi idioma (improve my language). He's way cool, Elder Paz. He's obedient, works hard, and has a great testimony.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's the Other "Other Side of Heaven"

Elder Layton with Elder Zepeda and Ibis Alessandra Moron Troncos (see post of Monday, November 3, 2008) at his recent area at the time of her baptism.

The picture behind Elder Zepeda is similar to the one that hangs in my parent's home. There's a great story behind that picture in the Layton family, but I digress.

Elder Layton wrote this on the back of this picture to the left:

Pizza party con (with) Elders Layton and Zepeda. It really doesn't taste the same and it's way more expensive than other food, but it's so worth it. Don't take food for granted American Glory...OH American- How I MISS THEE!

Andrea, who sent these pictures wrote a note, "Yes, he's still goofy." I don't know why she would think that. He seems perfectly normal to me.

Here's the letter we received today.

Yeah…it´s going to be kind've hard to type because I just smashed my pointer finger in the door on the way over here…. There was blood everywhere but don´t worry. I had my first aid kit right there.

So check it! The selva (jungle) is great. My companion's awesome too. His name's Elder Paz. He's from Bolivia. A little shy but hardworking so it's good. Man I don´t even know where to start…. We have a lot of good investigators.

The jungle is better than I thought. Just imagine the sound of frogs, crickets, and a bunch of other bugs that I have no idea what to call singing in unison the whole night. And there's mango trees everywhere...and green everywhere. And we hit coconuts down from the trees at lunch and get to the inside using a machete. It's true. There aren't that many cars either just a bunch of mototaxis and motorcycles. There's a lot of streams, canals, and little bridges everywhere, and the houses are raised up because when it rains everything floods. Right now there's no connection to internet so hopefully I can send this.

We started teaching a older man here named Fructuoso. He's single and lives with his kids, and he is one of the greatest investigators I've ever had. Just for a start we didn't even have to worry Sunday morning if he was going to attend church or not. We already knew he would. He's been studying to be a pastor for 6 years and he said that he's been to most of the Evangelist and Christian churches here in Pucallpa throughout his whole life and it wasn't until we started teaching him about the Restored Church of Jesus Christ that he knew it was right. Every visit we ask how his reading went and usually he teaches us more than we teach him. He's so awesome and we're baptizing him on the 6th. Things like this strengthen my testimony so much it's not even funny!

Monday, November 17, 2008

I Felt the Spirit Testify That I Was Here to Serve and Stay Worthy

VOY A SELVA (I'm going to the jungle)!!! Yeah yeah. I'm so stoked you have no idea. I´m going to Pucallpa and my new companion is Elder Paz. I asked everyone about him and they say he´s even shorter than my companion now but he´s a great missionary! I was glad to hear that. My companion Elder Zepeda who was a District leader is now going to be Zone Leader with Elder Little.

It was so good to be companions with Elder Zepeda. He taught me so much, mostly just by his example. It was really a huge growing experience for me this change because he often left for “amonitas” and spent the day with another missionary in our district, so I had to take control and know exactly where to go and what to teach. I love him though, and I'll miss him.

Last week the playa… beach… was so great!!! I took some pics and I´m going to try and make the cd today or tomorrow to send. Paciencia father!!! (Patience father - I have been bugging him about sending pictures, so I consider myself properly rebuked) I'm busy!!! I wanted to do it last week but it took more than an hour to walk there and then walk back. Plus we went caving. The only thing I didn't really care for was all the trash. We were the only people there though. The waves were huge.

Oh yeah, yesterday we saw the old man that beat me with his cane. (see original post of Monday, October 27, 2008) We were visiting our investigators before church and I saw him on the street so I said Buenos Dias and he was way friendly, and I invited him to church. His name´s Segundo. He didn't come but after church I saw him again (I swear he's everywhere) and this time he chucked a water bottle at me. Luckily I'm leaving the area so hopefully the persecution will cease.

(photo taken just after the water bottle event - jk)

So yeah... the investigators are doing great...but I'm leaving now so I pray the next missionaries will pick it right up.

Rosa Pizarro the lady we just baptized last week is awesome. She has a little boy, and maybe I already talked about this I don't know but we went and gave her son a blessing because he´s been having some major health issues. He´s only 2 or 3 years old and when we started giving him the blessing I honestly felt the biggest sense of responsibility to have faith in what I was doing. Really, having the priesthood or the power of God given to man to act in His name really sunk in when we were able to perform the blessing. I felt the spirit testify so strongly that I was here to serve, and to stay worthy to use that power. (Does it really get any better than that? A father's heart is very full right now.)

I want to take this time to thank Elder Brown, wherever he is now, for talking with Rosa Pizarro about the gospel. Rosa said it was just a short conversation a long time ago. It was only a seed then, and we were able to partake in the fruits (lucky us) but really. Thanks. Anyway, thank you everyone for the letters. I have a list of people to write letters to, so yeah.... I'm trying to keep in touch.

Love, Elder Layton

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Mission is Easy When You Stop Caring About How Hard It Is

Buenos Dias!

Oh man this week was full of a lot of ups and downs.... I was able to baptize another lady on Saturday. She was golden. Just like Ibis, she flew through the lessons and everything. She has a personality that reminds me of Sister Rau, and she has two little kids (she doesn't have a husband) so of course everyone in the ward loves her. We had a good turnout at the baptism which was really good to see. At the baptism she bore her testimony and said that when we started teaching the lessons she felt so good inside, and that was the Lord telling her that this was right. That´s why we didn't have to do anything.

We had some baptism dates drop this week again which was sad to see. The biggest problem still is people needing to get married. We have so many people that believe what we say but aren't willing to change that part of their life. We´re hoping that we can help them get married on the sixth.

Sorry I can't write that much today. I love you all. I'll try to send letters as soon as I can. Eric I'm proud of you, that you're keeping busy with band. Tell Judd I say hi and work harder. Briana I love you. What college are you aplying for? Curtis... your fort sounds cool. Yeah, every Peruvian here came up to me and told me the next president was Barack Obama. I asked them why everyone was concerned about that, and it´s cause USA is powerful and stuff. It was just an eyeopener because I never worried about who would be the next Peruvian president. The United States is a big deal.

The mission is easy when you stop caring about how hard it is, and how much you have to give. I love it. The mission means everything to me....I'll probably say that a thousand times. I love you guys!


Elder Layton

PS I found if you just pretend like you're picking up a rock, all the dogs will run away. It´s the best strategy.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Worth of Souls Is Great In the Sight of God

(In the last post I referenced a letter about two Elders in Brazil - one was Jacob (Elder Simpson) and the other was Elder Layton's friend and Home Teaching companion at BYU. The reference below has to do with that letter.)

Hola!!!!Coma Esta!? I loved the emails from you guys including papa Rau´s (Elder Nate Rau's father) and the letter from Jacob. Me and Elder Davidson were Home Teaching companions at BYU together and we home taught Andrea, plus we hung out a bunch in the summer.

This week has been very good and not so good at the same time.

I baptized my very first person Saturday. I don't know if I told you, but there's this lady in our ward that´s amazing. She truly knows the purpose of life. She tells everyone about the church and introduces all of her friends to the missionaries. Because of her we are teaching seven different people and four of them have baptismal dates. One of them was the girl I baptized. Her name's Ibis Alessandra Moron Troncos... that was fun to say in the baptismal font. She's great. She has friends in young women's, and reads the scriptures everyday. We always have such a difficult time here helping people keep their commitments, but Ibis went through everything she needed to do to prepare for baptism in two weeks easy. I felt the spirit so strong during the baptism. We were kind've stressed out because we had to wait a while until a priesthood holder come be there to be a witness, but everything turned out great.

Elder Rich was right, one of the hardest things in this mission is the problem with the law of chastity. One of the first things we find out from people is if they're married or not. We've found that mostly people don´t get married because of inconvenience and money, but we found a free marriage on the 6th of December so we tell everyone about it and commit them to get married. There are so many people that believe what we say and the only thing that holds them back is that they don´t want to get married.... dumb.

Last Wednesday Elder Evangelista left to Bolivia, which was his actual mission, he was just waiting to be able to get into the country. So it´s just Elder Zepeda y yo. He´s a hard worker and I love him. It's nice to have a little extra time in the morning for showers.

The not so good part of this week was yesterday. Every week we basically work up until Sunday, because we kind've base if a person is progressing or not if they come to Church, keeping commitment, etc. Sunday morning is the craziest. We get up a half hour earlier and visit as many people as we can that have baptismal dates to try and get them out of bed, and to the capilla (chapel). Yesterday was so discouraging... So many people committed to attend church, our investigators and less actives, but we only had 2 investigators in the Church. I mean, that´s great, it´s just sad when people don´t keep their commitments.

Anyway, it was so good to hear from you. Dad, Mom, Briana, Eric, Curtis....Andrea, I love you guys!

Love, Elder Layton Oh yeah, I got the Halloween package on Wednesday so just in time for Halloween. Oh my freak!!! I didn't know what I was missing. I suddenly realized that I have a huge craving for candy bars, ginger snaps, and parental care.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Elder Layton's Brazilian Home Teaching/Missionary Connection

Tonight I received an email from the family of a close friend of Elder Layton's (another one of the aforementioned C-5). Elder Jacob Simpson has a blog, which can be viewed by clicking the appropriate link on the sidebar, but here is a portion of his letter.

"We got a new american in our District, its actually really cool, he asked where I was from, and of course I said Alaska, no really I said Oregon, then Bend. Then he thought for a moment, and asked "wait, do you know Sean Layton or Nathan Rau?" On the back of my triple combination in portugese I have a picture of all the nieces and Nephews, a picture of Felicia and Savanna and a picture of the five of us. So I didnt say anything to his question just pulled out my scriptures and gave it to him. As it turns out he was the home teaching companion of Sean back at BYU. Elder Davidson. I look forward to when we go on divisions together."

The really interesting thing is that we have had quite a few connections like this. With over 60,000 missionaries out in the world, you'd think there would be just a little insulation from random encounters like this, but that's not the case.

If you have a moment, check out the latest video on the right sidebar. If you double click the video, it will open up a new window and take you to the website where you can watch it in full screen if you wish. The video relates the story of Elder Heber C. Kimball and the sacrifices that he and others made as they accepted calls to serve missions. What an amazing man of God!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Elder Layton's Australian Missionary Attack/Miracle Connection

Elder Layton has a good friend serving in the Sydney Australia North Mission right now. Logan Grow is one of the C-5 kids that hung out together from the time they were young. A couple of weeks ago, two missionaries in Elder Grow's mission, one a 6'9" BYU basketball player, were viciously attacked. They were stabbed and slashed, beaten and kicked. Yet they were watched over by angels and by a good Samaritan here on earth.

Just after the brutal attack, the mission President sent out a letter to all parents in the mission. I believe it is uplifting and of value to read. I don't believe there are any portions that are meant to be confidential or that are sensitive to a limited readership. In fact, it has been distributed via email, and I have the permission of Elder Grow's mother to post this. It is relevant to this blog because Elder Grow and Elder Layton are close friends and a number of our readers know him as well. It is also relevant because of the nature of the work they are both involved in. This is a portion of the President's letter.

On Tuesday night around 9 PM, I was working at the mission home when my mobile rang and Elder Collinsworth -- not sounding good -- said, "President, Elder Ferguson and I are at Westmead hospital. We have been stabbed. Gotta go." I took the assistants with me and drove 30 minutes to the hospital. A woman at ER admissions, seeing my name tag, said, "You here to check on your lads? I can't let you in right now they are surrounded by doctors."

At about 8:45 PM, Elders Collinsworth (out about 6 months from Mapleton, UT; BYU basketball player, 6'9", 220 lbs) and Elder Ferguson (out about 18 months from Great Falls, Montana; BYU major in Ancient Near Eastern Studies, 6'1" -- very slender), were walking on the sidewalk about 1/2 a block from their apartment. The area, Auburn, is our most urban. The missionaries refer to it as "all manner of 'ese: Chinese, Sudanese, Lebanese, etc." The Elders saw two Lebanese men, over six feet tall with mullets, walking towards them. As they approached, the Elders stepped off the sidewalk to let them pass. As soon as the men were in striking distance, they struck. Elder Collinsworth grabbed his attacker and threw him down into the street and held him to the ground. Elder Ferguson exchanged punches with his attacker with enough ferocity that the coward fled. By this time a third attacker jumped on Elder Collinsworth pulling his shirt over his head. He was knocked to the ground and kicked. He said the last thing he saw as he hit the street was Elder Ferguson running towards him. Elder Ferguson knocked the third attacker off of Elder Collinsworth. The second attacker who had run away earlier returned to join the attack.

At this time a passing Sudanese motorist stopped and honked his horn, flashed his lights and yelled. The three attackers ran away. The motorist got out and checked on the Elders -- now both on the street -- and then went to get a nearby policeman. At this point the Elders realized they had both been stabbed. Elder Collinsworth, once in the back; Elder Ferguson, thrice -- in the thigh, the upper left arm, and the left wrist. Blood was especially pouring out of the wrist wound, so Elder Collinsworth took off his tie and bound the wound. An ambulance quickly arrived and transported them two Westmead which is a very good hospital.

When they arrived at the hospital, a paramedic helped them out of the ambulance and handed them his mobile phone saying, "Elders, better call your mission president." The Lord had positioned a returned missionary who lives over an hour up the coast to be at the hospital that night. He watched over the missionaries until I arrived.

Elder Collinsworth had been stabbed on the right side of the mid-to-lower back, right by the kidney. He was the one the trauma team was most concerned about, but a ct scan and various other tests quickly relieved concern of kidney damage. He was patched up and released the next day.

Elder Ferguson required surgery so they could probe for tendon damage (there was none) and have a plastic surgeon close the wounds on the arm and wrist. The doctors did a remarkable job. The remaining scars will only be the size of the knife blade. Elder Ferguson was released Thursday morning. He went to his flat, got into his suit and he and Elder Collinsworth came to the regularly scheduled zone meeting, sore, but very happy to be there.

It is a slight exaggeration to say they are "back to work," but they are getting out as much as they can without overdoing it. Elder Collinsworth is in good condition, Elder Ferguson is still in pain and finds it difficult to climb stairs or walk very far due to the leg wound. The Elders insist they want to stay in their areas. Given the proximity of the attack to their apartment, we are closing the flat and looking for a place on the other side of the area.

Yesterday, Saturday, Sister Scruggs and I took Elder Collinsworth and Elder Ferguson, along with their companions, the other companionship in the district, the zone leaders and the assistants (10 missionaries) over to visit the site of the attack. The sidewalk was covered with still glistening blood. You could follow the drops out to the street. The Elders gave us a narrated re-enaction, we took some pictures and then gathered around the bloody sidewalk. I told them that the blood cried out not for vengeance, but for faithfulness. I bore testimony to them that as I had administered to both of them in the hospital that the Spirit had spoken very clearly to me that because they had been in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing, that even though they had encountered the wrong guys, they were worthy of and had received the protection of Angels. I said, "we are standing on hallowed ground. Not just because it is stained with the blood of the servants of the Lord, but because this is the one place outside of the Temple that each of you can say with certainty that you know you are standing where Angels of the Lord have stood." The Spirit was thick and our hearts swollen in gratitude.

We took the group for pizza at a nearby restaurant -- run by a Turkish family generous to the missionaries, who are regular customers. The conversation turned to more general missionary topics, though Elder Collinsworth made an amusing observation, "When you get home and tell people you got hurt in a bike wreck, they think you're a dork; but when you tell them you got jumped and stabbed, we'll get some respect."

We enjoyed our pizza and dropped the Elders off at their baptism.

I told the Elders, that while Sister Scruggs and I would be real happy if we didn't have any more "hallowed ground" while we were here, it's been a good week in the Australia Sydney North Mission.

So, let's discuss the question that has to be on your mind -- is your missionary safe?

No area is without risks. That is why we beg the Lord to protect our missionaries every day, in every prayer. Some live and walk in poor, urban areas. Others bike or drive in suburbs with busy highways. Far more missionaries are hurt in car and bike accidents every year than from violent assualts. If I believed the area where the Elders were attacked was not safe, they would not have been allowed to reside or work there. If either of the mothers of the Elders who were stabbed would have emailed me the night before the incident asking if their sons were safe, I would have replied, "yes, if they are obedient and careful." We remind them often to be both. This incident has prompted us to refresh and amplify the need for wisdom, caution and inspiration.

We will continue to train our missionaries to be careful and obedient. The fact that they are in their apartments by 9 PM every night protects them from most mischief, but not all. We have no idea why these three men attacked our Elders. So far as we know it was random. It's hard to safeguard against crazy, drunk or stupid. We have not had any incident remotely like this since we have been here -- and we will do all we can to prevent another.

The most productive missionary areas are those in humble, diverse neighborhoods. It has always been so. While most parents want their missionaries to serve in the quiet suburbs, the missionaries themselves long to be "where the action is" but where greater care is called for.

We teach the importance of health and safety at every zone conference. We meet with each missionary privately every six weeks to check on their health and happiness -- and to make sure they are writing home. The Church has made arrangements for excellent health care for the missionaries. We even have our own doctor, Elder Oldroyd, who makes himself available around the clock for everything from diahrea to, well, stab wounds. If there is something more you think we ought to be doing, we are anxious to improve.

We love your missionary and watch after them as if they were our own.

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have questions or concerns -- and keep us in your prayers.

President and Sister Scruggs

Two weeks ago, Elder Grow was transferred to the very zone where this attack took place. I forwarded this email to Elder Layton earlier today.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Just Another Amazing Week in Peru

This week has been amazing. To start off all the missionaries in Lima were shipped off to the ccm (that's the missionary training center in Lima) on Wednesday and we got to hear from Elder Christofferson and Elder Acosta of the Seventy. He talked about the differences between people in this world. Those who get baptized, and those who don´t. He talked about exactly how they chose missionaries. My favorite though was when he talked about us being his companions. He said the seventy were companions to the twelve, and we were also their companions... I don´t know... you had to be there. He spoke perfect Spanish, and after we all got to shake their hands!

The missionary work´s been tough since we've been in this area because we didn't have much to work with coming in. Finally we started seeing things happen this week. We committed lots of people to baptism, and had a good turnout on Sunday. I was so happy. The best though was one appointment we had with a contact. We taught him about the restoration, and asked him to pray and receive a witness for himself, and if he did, commit to be baptized... he said he already knew it was true so he needed to be baptized. That happened on more than one occasion this week. Of course we stressed the importance of prayer to obtain a sure witness...

We were just walking down the street a couple days ago and an old man was standing next to the sidewalk with his cane in the air. As we passed by we greeted him, but then he greeted me back by hitting me – HARD- with his cane! It was interesting because we saw him at least five times in different places that day. I swear he was stalking me...waiting for the opportune moment.

I started the Book of Mormon again under the direct orders of President, even though it´s the third time I will have read it since being out. Elder Christofferson talked a lot about the importance of the Book of Mormon. Now my companions and I always carry a book of Mormon in our hands everywhere we go. I've found it´s one of the most powerful contacting tools. At the start of my mission I kind've liked to tell people how our message blesses families, the church is restored....but most people here react differently to the Book of Mormon than anything else.

Anyway, I was sick all last night off something so we´ll see how today goes. We get to go to the temple tomorrow I´m so excited. The Spanish is coming along just great, with lots of study of course so I think I´ll go through the Spanish session tomorrow.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

And This Gospel of the Kingdom Shall be Preached in All the World for a Witness Unto All Nations

For family and friends who know Ricky Pullan (Elder Layton's cousin in Las Vegas), he just announced that he has received his call to serve.

He has been called to serve in the Denmark, Copenhagen Mission. He will report to the Provo, Utah MTC on March 11th, 2009. This call was received on the four month anniversary of Elder Sean Layton's report to the MTC.

Congratulations to Ricky and the entire Pullan family. We love you and know that Elder Pullan (doesn't that have a great sound to it?) is going to be a great missionary.

Elder Pullan will join Elder Chris Layton (serving in the San Diego, California Mission) and Elder Sean Layton as missionaries serving across the globe from our family. We mentioned Elder Chris Layton's call in a previous post, and he has been serving for a little over one month now.

It's interesting that all three of these young men are serving in three separate continents, learning three different languages and experiencing completely different cultures. Yet all three are doing exactly the same work, commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Ricky, congratulations again!

By the way, today marks the four month anniversary for Elder Layton as a missionary. It has been a wonderful experience so far.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Peru Lima North Mission

This was sent to us through an independent and nameless source (thanks Andrea). We're fairly sure it is the Puente Piedra zone.

And this one is of two of the Elders in Elder Layton's zone who did not get the memo to NOT LOOK THE DOGS IN THE EYES (see previous post of October 14th)! Read the memo Elders, read the memo!

Finally, those of you who know Ricky Pullan probably already know this, but he will be receiving his call anyday. It's customary for friends and family to take wild stabs at where missionaries are going to go to, so here's my guess. It's either going to be to the Southern US (or some other place in the States - or Canada), Asia somewhere, Europe or South America. I'm also leaving open the possibility of either Africa or somewhere else. I will definitely go on the record that he will NOT be going to Antarctica, Communist China, Iran or the moon. I'm willing to go out on the limb like this. That's just how I am. Feel free to leave your guesses here in the comments section, but you cannot take any of the areas I have already covered.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Be of Good Cheer and Do Not Fear

Hola!!! How is everyone? The misión is great!!!! Last night we finally committed someone to be baptized here in Ventanilla. It was slow up to this point because there wasn't that much to work with when we got here so we've been contacting like crazy and getting to know all the members.

Oh yeah, before I forget.... my favorite scripture is Doctrine and Covenants 68: 6 (Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.) Since I've been out I think D&C 84 is my favorite but that one is the best. And my all time favorite song is Abide With Me, Tis Eventide. I played that in Sacrament yesterday.

One of my companions, Elder Zepeda is from Guatemala, and my other companion Elder Evangelista is from Peru. (Note from dad - I just realized that this brings the mission companions up to 7, which equals the total that I had for my entire mission.)

I know I shouldn´t be all worried about my extended family but i just love them. Its hard to do anything on pdays like writing because I'm with my zone all day.

I've finally started eating some really weird foods. Of course I have rice, chicken and potataoes every day.... but we went to a members house that fed us this stuff called pataska.... inside it has mondongo and mote.... which is something like stomach lining. I had stomach in Arizona...but this was weird...and it tasted weird. We also had pachamanka which is a dish with chicken and orange potatoes with a weird taste. They told me that the way they get the orange color is that they put a special rock over the ground the potatoes are growing on. Cool huh? Oh yeah i also like the yuka thing...its like a long potato.

My testimony´s growing a lot. This week has been the hardest week of the mission so far, but that only makes me have to trust the Lord and pray for the people so much more. I feel like I'm finally beginning to understand the Spirit. It was so hard for me before to pinpoint when I was, when I wasn´t. Sometimes I'll get little promptings or thoughts to do something and it turns out thats exactly what I needed to do.

I played piano for the primary yesterday and Sacrament of course. I´m helping another lady here learn music. She conducts in Sacrament and she didn't really know how to lead haha.... but she´s a leading fiend now.

The girl that is getting baptized came over to her house last night and that's where we taught the message of the Restoration. She said she believed everything. My companions almost always let me do the Joseph Smith story which I love. I feel the truth of the restoration evry time I start saying the first vision.


Elder Layton

Ps I´m good friends with my Zone leader Elder Andrew Little. I think he may have a blog. (which can be seen here - ) We´re going to hang after the mission.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Transferred to a sandy, "Small Window" (Ventanilla)

We didn't receive our regular Monday email, and suspected that Elder Layton had been transferred. This morning we did have one, confirming our suspicions. However, I checked "Google Earth" and it appears he's only a few miles from Puente Piedra. He's also only a few miles North of the mission home (which can also be seen in this image, about 2/3 the way down).

I guess I'll start about talking about my new area. Its called Ventanilla and it´s different than Puente Piedra. It´s full of enormous sandy hills... sortve like sand dunes but buttes and the houses are built up to the tops. The only way i can describe it is San Fransisco with sandy roads ( that are impossible to walk up by the way). A few days in we hiked to the top to find some refrences, and I turned around to see the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean! Nobody told me I was going to the beach. I think were going to check it out in an upcoming pday.

In Ventanilla I got my first real taste of open meat markets. I know what the insides of animals look like now.

Something missionaries might want to know before coming to Peru is that you shouldn´t look into the dogs eyes. I don´t know. Maybe that´s crazy but I´ve learned from personal experience if you just ignore them they leave you alone, but when your eyes meet theirs they start growling and get all territorial on you.... and you might have to end up kicking a dog in the face.

What else.... there´s english music everywhere and nobody but me knows what it´s saying! Most of the time they´re songs i know so it helps with homesickness. I´m not that homesick.

Okay enough about the area... it takes about 1 to 2 weeks for me to get a Dear Elder, 3 to 4 to get most letters. And 2 and a half months to get some letters, like I found out with a letter from Andrea that she wrote on July 23rd. I just got my first bunch of letters on Saturday. I got a few before but that´s when I got most of them. I feel so bad for not being able to write everyone. I will try to write everyone back eventually...but it might take a long time. It´s really expensive. If i wrote everyone back today it would take half my personal money for the month sooo.... I'll say a few words for the extended family:

Grandparents... I love you. I'm sorry I haven´t written, I hope you understand. But you guys rock.

I hope Luke and Kara are okay!!! I prayed for them...even though i already knew they made it out of the crash safely.

Christie... good for you, holding in there during those storms i love the sticky notes. I haven´t eaten little pigs not yet anyway.

Ricky... You´ll be the best missionary. I sent a letter for you in one of Andrea´s letters, so yeah.

Kelsey.... you rock.

To the rest of my awesome cousins – uncles – aunts ... I love you all and I loved everything you´ve sent me. Check my blog to see what´s going on and I´ll try to write you when I can.

It´s so busy here.

If I forgot anyone, lo siento (I'm sorry)!!!!

My companions are the best! I´m in another trio again but I´m kind´ve a papa cause my Companion Elder Zepeda is a district leader. We help him out a lot. He´s amazing because he knows how to listen to the Spirit. If there´s one thing I've learned from being here its that you shouldn't have a strategy of exactly how things need to be done. The most powerful thing is your testimony. Everything else comes after that. If anything, i would say just have a strategy of learning the gospel.

Okay I'm running out of time. I love you all and hope to hear from you. I´m working harder and learning more here than ever before. We taught a family last night that had 7 kids. The mom was a member but she´s been living with a boyfriend and hasn´t been to church in years. We don´t even know if they have the records in the ward. We´ll see. They were very receptive. The kids knew the gospel already, and knew more than the adults. I absolutely love the kids here. They pretty much just laugh at me because i´m white. Anyway... chao!

(Thanks to Andrea for sending this picture of Elder Layton, taken in our home just before he left for the MTC.)

By the way, if anyone wants to be notified of these posts as they are made, if you don't subsribe to the posts, simply let me know (include name and email address), and I'll add you to the mailing list.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Experiencing Conference Talks First Hand!!!

How is everything. I´m missing you a lot but I finally feel like I´m getting lost in the work. Really though... for a long time everything was so stressful and busy and new that I went through withdrawls pretty much more or less. I can´t explain it now but I´m having the best time of my life.

The people are amazing. Yesterday was one of the best days ever. We baptized Hermana Angelica. She was the last in her family to be baptized. She´s my age and she´s great. It was the first chance I had to help someone from the very beginning to hear our message all the way through, make commitments, and be baptized. It was my second baptism here, and we have more dates too. That´s exciting. I didn´t do the baptism prayer but I was able to bear my testimony and it felt great. We did the baptism and confirmation yesterday during conference because of the saturday sessions. President Perez gave us all permission to watch all the sessions, cool beans.

I play the piano in Sacrament, and I direct a lot because nobody knows music here. I´m teaching my pension, Hermana Silvia, to play piano, so we´ve been doing a little theory during meals and stuff. Hermana Silvia´s the best ever. She´s very involved in the ward so I love her for that.

Oh…about conference. That was sweet. In the Sunday afternoon session that Area Seventy (Elder Eduardo Gavarret) that talked spoke about my exact area! Puente Piedra. I just talked with the Stake President he talked about just yesterday. Also the man that spoke right after him was in our area two weeks before, and the closing prayer was given by President Nash who just came and talked with us because he´s over our mission. He told me that he came to Bend when he was an Area Authority there several years ago. (And that answers the question that I posed in the last post.)

Anyway, I´m talking a lot about me. The people here are so chill. Most of the time they just stare at me after I go off in Spanish because of how gringo I am. They have a good sense of humor though. Some are humble… others aren´t. People are basically the same everywhere… except for the crazy people we saw last night. We were just leaving our apartment and this chic was beating up her boyfriend and he just took it…crazy….I probably shouldn´t have told you that but it was pretty bad. (more on this below). They´re normal for the most part. I love you all. Let me know what´s going on. I´m glad eric and briana went to Prom. Hopefully they had a fun time.

Nothing Elder Layton has brought up has really concerned us. But his first companion, Elder Griffin, who is also serving in the Lima Peru North Mission, ( he has a blog found at recently had an interesting post . (This is a picture of Elder Griffin at the right.)

I actually had a gun experience this week. DONT FREAK OUT I AM STILL ALIVE...but it scared the .... out of me. All 4 of us were on the bus, I was in the back and this guy sat next to me a normal looking guy. I started talking to him about the church, when he started saying stuff that I didn’t understand. I said NO entiende -I don’t understand. He pulled out a hand gun out of his jacket secretly and said entiende esto- understand this...I said ya. He put his finger over his mouth not to say anything...I thought I was going to get robbed and shot. Once more he asked me if I understood what it was but this time he did the action of death the finger and the neck thing....I honestly thought I was dead. He asked who I was with and I said the two other gringos and my companion. He said yo su amigo-I am your friend. I didn’t understand because one second he had a gun pointed at me and the next he is saying he is my friend he pulled out a badge (secret police) and smiled..

I still don’t know if he was an actual police man or what but I know that the lord protects us every single day and that every single day is a blessing because I did not know if I had another day. I pray for protection every single prayer and I am alive. That was a good testimony builder. AGAIN I AM ALIVE DONT FREAK.

So, Peru looks like it will hold a few challenges along the way. But he's doing the work of the Lord and we are not really very worried.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

General Conference Speaker Mentions Puente Piedra

Elder Eduardo Gavarret of the Seventy spoke at conference today. He mentioned Puente Piedra, Peru, where Elder Layton is serving right now. Here is an excerpt of his talk.

President Angelo Aracon' from Puente Piedra Stake in Lima Peru', shared the following experience with me. "Each Saturday, the missionaries, the Bishop, some leaders from our city organization and I, visit the less-active members, some non-members and new converts from 8:30 A.M. til noon". At this point of his story,the words of a hymn came to my mind. Dear to the heart of the Shepherd, dear are the lambs of his fold. Some from the pastures are straying, hungry and helpless and cold. See the Good Shepherd is seeking, seeking the lambs that are lost. Bringing them in rejoicing, safe from such infinite cost.

Brother Vargas, whose home was located in an area of limited access, received a call on Saturday morning. It was President Aracon', calling from his mobile phone announcing his arrival. Brother Vargas then said, "I'm surprised, it's very hard to reach my house." To which came the reply, "Well, I am at your door right now, and I wish to speak to you. We need you. And we invite you to come to our church meetings tomorrow." Then, the man who had stopped attending church for many years replied, "I will be there". Thus, he started his journey back home.

I don't know if Elder Layton knows either this Stake President or Brother Vargas, but I'm going to ask.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

This Field is Ready to Harvest in Puente Piedra

This letter was the first traditional snail mail letter we have receieved from Elder Layton while in Peru. It is not as current as a couple of the older posts, which were received as email. But it has good information that we didn't really receive before. By the way, it appears that snail mail takes about 1-1/2 weeks from Peru to the States...or at least, that's what this one took.

My mission is great. It's good to finally get started in Peru. My first interview with Presidente Perez was today. He's really cool. I have two companions, Elders Acevedo and Cairampoma, although Cariampoma may be leaving soon due to health reasons.

My first day here I hung out at the office with Elder Rich, Vargas, the AP's, etc. and they showed me around. I went and visited a family with Elder Rich and Vargas and we had dinner there. I love the Peruvian food; haven't gotten sick yet (although from what I hear I'm sure it's coming). My first day I slept to catch up from the traveling, and the second day we met up with my companions, went to a Zone conference, and then I went to a baptism with my companions that night. They said I'll be getting a little aware from the Zone even though I didn't do NADA! :) It was a good experience for me though.

My comps are really good. The mission is 10x more strict than the USA mission...well they're all the same for the most part, but it's enforced here, which I find to be a good thing. I'm so lucky to be here.

All the Elders I've met are so tight. There are dogs everywhere, dirt floors. We're lucky to have cement. Part of our ceiling is cardboard. It's cold. WE don't have running water in the morning or night(which I've found is just about the time we use it), it's dirty all the time, the trees are covered with dirt, there aren't llamas in Puente Piedra (the name of my town, district & zone), BUT the work goes on! It's so cool. Compared to Arizona the people are so ready. We really do nothing for them except introduce the Gospel and let the Spirit do the rest. If you want, you can commit someone to baptism every day, the people are very ready. The people give us so much food! We eat dinner with the members and Breakfast and Almuerzo with the family we stay with The Angel (pronounced "On - hel") Family. They're the best. I'm truly blessed to be in this mission. Even the Zone I'm in, Puente Piedra, is normally the highest baptizing mission by far, not that baptisms are what we care about, it's our whole purposed but it is a blessing to see this many people change their lives.

Everyone stares at me like I'm a freak, which I am. Truly though, I feel like a giant when I get on a Combi (they're small buses).

I love the Gospel. I got to bear my testimony again at Church, and of course I bear it everyday. I'm so grateful to have everything I have. You guys, be grateful for carpet and water that's absent of parasitical substances. I love you mi familia.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Jacob Shall Flourish in the Wilderness

Oh man, I'm loving Peru. I'm not really suppossed to tell you because you might worry, but I've been really sick this past week but I'm better now. It only lasted a couple days but they say it's normal and I might get sick another time - that's it.

It's good to be moving again though you have no idea. We do so much here - its the best. We committed another family to baptism this week, a golden family. They have kids and grandchildren all living with them. Awesome. People here ask us to visit them when we're walking, so we've just got in the habit to talking to pretty much every person we pass.

Hmmm... oh yeah, kind´ve a funny story... I'm really tall here no doubt, and the showers are heated by electricity. I accidently touched my head on the shower and got shocked. The same day I hit my head on a covering over the sidewalk. It came out of nowhere and of course I felt like an idiot.
(I borrowed the picture of the shower heater at the right from Elder Rau's (a friend of Elder Layton) blog. We still don't have actual pictures from Peru yet. I'm assuming that Elder Layton's shower heater is fairly similar to this one. Knowing President Rau, he's probably going to want some kind of royalties now.)

Peru is fun, but different than I thought. Of course I'm not in the jungle right now but I never see the sun and its dusty all the time, so we come home and fall asleep all dirty. They said we'll get used to it. It's really a great place. '

My studies are going good. Elder Kay moved in, another boy representing the states and he's been helping me out with the lessons in Spanish.
I gave my first first lesson to the family we're baptising on the 11th. Were also baptising a lady this Sunday after conference, normally we´d do it Saturday but that's when the priesthood session is. If I have to do it I'm going to have to get moving on learning the prayer. freak! Anyway, how are things going with everyone? Well, the missionary work is great. I know the church is true everyone! Love, Elder Layton

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Mission is So Much Fun - I Love Every Minute!

Okay I have a lot to tell you and not that much time. I'll make this fast. HOLA!!! how is everything. Peru is so amazing. The reason I didn't email yesterday was because I was at the offices. I'm in a trio with Elder Acevedo and Cairampoma. Elder Acevedo is from Nicaragua and Elder Cai is from here, Peru.

When I flew in we were above the clouds and it was like a carpet of clouds everywhere you looked. When we went below the clouds everything fogged up and stayed that way until we touched the ground. In the Miami airport I met up with all the missionaries heading to the MTC here. I was the only one going into the campo (field). I talked with two Peruvians and left a Book of Mormon with one and I gave another lady some Sunchips I had. It turned out when we got on the plane the lady I gave the Book of Mormon to was right in front of me and the lady I gave the Sunchips to was right next to was a big plane - go figure.

So I talked to them, and found out that the lady who I had given Sunchips to was a Jehovah's Witness, that she lived in both the United States and Peru (she spoke some English) and had been starving from her long trip so she thanked me very much for the food. The other lady I talked to mostly in the airport. She didn't speak English but I gave her the first lesson, and I think the Spirit touched her enough because it made me feel good - she wants to come to church. I got both their addresses. Tight huh? thats just proof to me that God is leading me, even when i don´t know it.

Peru is so awesome. The second day here I saw Elder Griffin (Elder Griffin was Elder Layton's first companion in the MTC - shown here on the right) at his zone conference (the office Elders took me to meet the President - I'm not in his zone) and he told me that right before he came there some guy on a bus pulled out a gun on him (Wow! Elder Griffin must really be preachin' with power if he got someone that upset - and his first week too!).... crazy stuff... haha, we played piano together just like old times. I've missed that Elder. Also there I saw my friend, Elder Nathan Stewart from BYU. He's a Bolivian Elder, but of course they're all coming here. It was random...but so good to see another familiar face. He actually looks a lot different. Way skinnier haha. He'll get more food here. We eat a lot here. Too much honestly. I always have to fight the food down. Don't get me wrong, it's all amazing. Mucho rice...corn, soup, chicken, you know, all the good stuff. The drinks are really good. We usually don't just have water. We have hot chocolate milk...herbal teas, a drink that tastes like black licorice, a lot of Inca Cola, and other stuff.

There are dogs everywhere. I'm bent at the waist in buses usually, they all drive like crazy people. Lanes dont mean nada (nothing). Freak. Everyone honks. There's party music all night too... it's not the best atmosphere to teach people, but we do what we can. I love the people. My very first night with my companions after the zone conference we had a baptism for familia Coral. Husband and wife. They're really great people. I have pictures so I'll have to send them. We're not allowed to send them over email, but maybe I'll be able to slip in an sd card.

Hmm, what else? We have several people with dates... the people are so receptive. I love it. My companions work very hard. I love it. The Mission President's my favorite. This missions my favorite. Its so great. I'm already great friends with the whole district. We have a lot more unity here with zones and districts for some reason than we did in Arizona. I like it.

It's way expensive to send one letter.... 2 bucks each. Also... you CAN'T send beef, cheese (pretty much food), clothing, anything expensive like cameras, ipods, money, basically nothing of value, ties, etc.... I guess the airport here opens everything thats sent and if its any of these things will either take it or make the recipient pay a tax on it which can be up to $200... and the Church won't pay for basically dont send those things.

The work is good. I'll probably email mostly because I only have $25 a week, but don't worry. I'll try to send letters when i can. I love you guys. The mission is so much fun - I love every minute. I just hope I can do my best.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Peru Is Awesome

Since missionaries are only allowed limited time to send and receive emails to and from their immediate families only, we very much appreciate the time that both Elder and Sister Rich took to provide us with this information about Elder Layton.

Yesterday we picked up Elder Layton at the airport in the morning. Elder Layton just chilled with us all day, slept with us here in the offices, and it was so interesting to see someone right out of the states come to Peru and just be AWWWed at Peru. He was tired though, he slept from 10 in the morning until like 6 in the afternoon. A good little nap. Then we went to dinner, it was good, his first Peruvian meal!!! I will tell you one thing, I’m sooooooo glad I’m not new anymore… I would like to be in his shoes again, BUT with the things I know now and being able to speak Spanish. He is in the field with his comp, and I bet just lovin’ life…. He will be a good missionary.

The green text is in recognition of the greenest missionary in Peru. Elder Layton had been traveling from early Wednesday morning through Thursday morning. We expect to hear more from him on Monday.

(Update: I had a question about Elder Rich. He is a missionary, currently serving as secretary in the Peru Lima North Mission. Brenda corresponds with a few of the missionary moms of Elders in that mission through an email group.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chilly Lima

Hi People,

Im in lima!!!!!!! finally. i just came from the airport, saw a bunch of, well, things Ive never seen before, almost died in a taxi the entire ride to the mission office, and now im here just waiting for president to show up. hes going to be here at 830,oh man!

im right here with a bunch of cool missionaries...landon rich included (hes a big deal everybody) and i have no idea whats going to happen next. i think theyre going to let me sleep a little tonight since ive been up for who knows how long. i have a bunch of really cool missionary stories from the airport too ill spill em all out later. i dont know how much time i have. yeah.... thats basically it. its kindve foggy here which i wasnt really expecting. not very hot. anyway, i love you all and will be praying for you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Heading South For the Winter

It's finally time...
We got the phone call tonight. Elder Layton called to inform us that he had received his notice that he leaves for Peru tomorrow morning. His plane departs at 10:40 A.M. He wasn't even sure yet where his connecting flight would be.
It was so SWEET to be able to speak with him. Our love has grown for him, and we can tell that his has for us. A mission is, without a doubt, the best thing that can happen in the life of a young man. He was a great kid before. We're already seeing him develop into a man of God.

But the time has finally arrived. Elder Layton will be in Lima, Peru tomorrow. He's definitely excited and so are we. It feels like now he will finally be doing what he was called to do.