Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hungry Anyone???

Things are going well here in the Provo MTC. The travel office told us a couple days ago that everything had been resolved and that the visa's were on their way. (Note: We have information more recent than Elder Layton did...he is still on hold)

I'm eager to go to Peru of course so that was exciting to hear. Elder Ridge and I have been doing awesome. We're learning how to teach to the needs of investigators and not just teach lessons. Tonight we give the first lesson in Spanish for the second or third time. We're prepared I think.

Other than that, no crazy stories about monkey's yet. (Since we are still holding our collective breath for the crazy monkey stories, I thought I'd include a couple of pictures of a Peruvian Guinea Pig dish that we understand is served about everywhere down there.) Anyway, back to the letter.

I love the gospel. I want to get out so bad and just tell everyone I see about it, but honestly the Spanish could use a little brushing up on... The temple was really good today, except that I've been sick for the past 2 weeks and it was kind've hard to get through since my voice was almost completely gone. Everyone in my district has been sick I think. That's what happens I guess when Elder's and Sister's from all over the world come into one place. I want to hear from everyone about everything. The transition of not being able to really talk with anybody from home and school has been the toughest thing for me so far... along with other things. I miss you and love you all.

As far as the crazy monkeys are concerned, since the visa is still in limbo status, I suppose we're going to have to wait just a little bit longer to see anything like that.

When he does get his visa, I just hope we don't see the monkeys on the dinner platter anytime soon.

Okay, I admit it. The blog is starting to take a serious downturn while we're waiting for Elder Layton's visa to come in. My apologies.

Visas Are Being Held Up

This morning I contacted the Provo MTC travel office. I was informed that Elder Layton's visa to Peru is on hold due to recent changes in Peruvian visa requirements. The plan right now seems to be to keep them in Provo for up to a total of 8 weeks. If the visa can be obtained by then, he will be sent to Peru. If not, he will receive another, temporary assignment. I expect to get an email from Elder Layton later today. Hopefully he will have more information.

Monday, July 28, 2008

...On the Bright Side of Things...

I just got back from the temple. The MTC has been great even though we were delayed. It's happened to a ton of Peruvian Elders.

I'm still learning so much. Dad, you're right. The teachers here are amazing. We have 2 teachers for our district which is down to 7 people. We get more Elders today that are a little more advanced in Spanish to begin with, so we'll see how that goes. I've gotten really close with one of my teachers, Brother Hardy #2 (They're both named Brother Hardy, no relation). He's only been home 3 months and he loves our district so much. I'm doing great. It's so hard, but I'm having a ton of fun.

Note: Elders shown from left to right are: Elder Bradin (sp?), Elder Griffin (1st companion), Elder Munk, (unknown - writing was blurred -and if any of you missionary moms can identify, that would be great!), Elder Layton, Elder Briggs, Elder Harris, Elder Ridge (current companion).

Picture at right shows Elder Layton with his close friend, Elder Nathan Rau. Elder Rau is in the MTC right now, and is preparing to leave for Argentina in a few weeks.
Recently Elder Rau wrote to us and said this: I did not really get to see him much while he was here (Elder Rau thinks Elder Layton has already left for Peru), but I did see him enough to know that he is enjoying himself and his Spanish is coming along well, and that he loves the Gospel and this work.

As for me, I love it too. For some reason, I am just beginning to realize how much sense the Gospel makes! I'm so excited to take it to the people of Argentina.

We love Elder Rau! He's our adopted son. Argentina is about to get a great missionary.

Note that several more pictures have been posted, including the ones at the right. Click the link at the far right to access them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Patiently Waiting, Growing in the Gospel and Having Fun

Hi Everyone!

I'm still at the provo mtc, and we have no idea when we're leaving. They'll probably tell us the night before we leave and they said it would be 1-3 weeks 1 week ago. Elder Sheets, my District leader, says it's because he's praying for continuing support from the Peruvian missionaries (Elder Ridge and I).

MTC life is as busy as ever. I love being here. We think of it as a bubble. We're in Provo Utah but we're completely cut off from the rest of the world which is nice. I often see the SWKT and my old heritage hall at BYU from our 3rd floor classroom so that's nice.

Today we recieved new missionaries! We totally mess with the new Spanish speaking Elders as we walk around the MTC, Elder Ridge and I, by talking really fast spanish to them, and so they have no idea what we're saying. In fact, we barely do. I think we're getting some new members in our district too. After Elder Griffin (my first companion) and Elder Briggs left we were left with 7 Elders which is a way small district. Hopefully we get some more today. I love my district. We're all super close and they're way awesome Elders that like to work hard and help each other.

Please send letters I would love to hear from you.

I heard Elder Ridge's (My Current Companion), and Elder Hyde's parents get to go to Landon Rich's house for a BBQ or something. That's just wrong. I'm sure I'll be companions with Elder Landon Rich (He's a big deal everybody) before Elder Ridge is.

The Church is True. I love it with all my heart!

Elder Layton

Monday, July 21, 2008

Early Perspective of the Family

I want to add something here strictly from the perspective of a missionary's family. I've always heard that the Lord blesses the missionary AND his/her family. Recently, I had a friend of mine (who's son just returned) that during the time his son was gone, their family received more blessings than at any other time in their lives.

Now I'm not advocating that we send our sons and daughters out into the field and turn our gaze to heaven to watch the blessings fall. Rather, I just want to add my witness that the Lord blesses us when we do what we should be doing. That's even more true when it requires a certain level of personal sacrifice. Our God is very, very good to us in spite of ourselves.

Even though it's been less than one month since Elder Layton entered the field, I have personally seen very specific things come to our family. In fact, I recognize three specific and somewhat personal blessings that I believe have come to us as a result of Elder Layton's missionary service.

The MTC Experience and the Big Deal

Excerpt from a letter from Elder Layton to Eric (younger brother)...

And no, I'm not mad that I'm not going down to Peru. (He was delayed at least one week - see previous post.) I get a companion that knows how to work hard so that's a blessing and plus I would be in the MTC down there anyway, it's no biggie. Prepare for your mission now. It's hard. (...great advice for anyone preparing for a mission!) thoughts of the MTC some 25 years ago were very similar and two-fold. One, that it was hard. Two, that it was incredible. I'm very happy that he enjoys being there, and that he recognizes that it's a challenge (it means he's doing what he's supposed to be doing).

Excerpts from the family letter...

The whole thing with Jose was awesome. I'll look for him.

Also, my new companion Elder Ridge totally looked at Landon Rich's blog all the time so we talk about him all the time. His mom already talked with Landon's mom, so of course Elder Ridge has a huge bottle of garlic pills. We both want to be companions with Landon Rich. He's a big deal.

It looks like Elder Rich may have a fan club. You can find the blog of Elder Rich here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Update on Visa Status, Change of Companions

This morning (Wednesday July 16, 2008) we did a companion exchange. My companion, Elder Griffin, left this morning and Elder Ridge's companion, Elder Briggs, left with Elder Griffin to Peru as well, so we were left with each other. Elder Ridge is way cool and outgoing so that's going to be good for me. We are both about on the same spanish speaking level, so I'm excited to start teaching lessons with him. He's from Utah but he grew up in Rocklin California, Elder Talyor Griffin was from South Jordan Utah (I can't remember if I already said that or not in my last email)

Just so everybody knows, the chica in the travel office said that our Visa's are in Salt Lake, so it's an in-country problem. We're not the first Peruvian missionaries to have this problem. Several missionaries just left last week to Trujillo, Peru after they had been delayed a week. It looks like it's just a spur-of-the-moment thing. Basically we'll get called down to the travel office the night before we leave so we won't really know when that is, but we have high hopes for next Wednesday! In the meantime we're here, still working hard.

It's way hard to write while I'm in the MTC because our days are so set, we do the same things pretty much every day so it's not like I have a bunch of new stories. I'm learning tons of new things of course about the gospel, and I love it. The church is true.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Friends From Nearby and Across the Globe

It's been an interesting couple of days. First, I received notice that someone had (FINALLY) signed our lonely guestbook. I went to check it out and found that it was Sister Rich, the mother of Elder Rich (also serving in the Peru Lima North Mission). You can view their terrific blog here. Rich Mission Blog

In fact, it was their blog that gave me the idea for this one. We've communicated via email a couple of times now, and she has been full of ideas and tips that will assist us in our small support role as Elder Layton serves. For example, she forwarded a listserv that she belongs to (and Brenda soon will) called missionary moms. From that we learned that some of the Elders take an oderless garlic pill to keep the bugs and parasites away. It's been very good for us to receive experienced suggestions from her.

Then, today I heard from a young man named Jose Arevalo (has a comment under the previous post), who lives in the Peru Lima North Mission - and is actually in the branch where Elder Rich is serving right now. He was baptized nearly one year ago, is about to turn 19, and has already submitted his papers to serve a mission. He was excited to meet Elder Layton (may not happen since Elder Layton won't even get to the field for another 6 weeks) and is an exceptional young man. (I have the word of Sr. Rich on that.)

For those of you who have not served in Central/South America - simply put - at least from my perspective they are the greatest missions in the world! I know, I know, that's what they all say, right? Well, Jose is an example of why they really are. The people are so kind and full of love and humility. They are without question the children of promise (see video in the last post). I love them and wish I were more like them.

The point is this...for the next two years Elder Layton will be serving the people of Peru. What will probably happen is that he will discover that he will have a very, very difficult time keeping up with their kindness, and the servant will oft times become the recipient of service. One of the many reasons we're so excited for Elder Layton is simply how incredible the people are going to be. They will be one of the biggest and most enjoyable parts of his mission experience. That's my prediction and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Touching and Informative Video on the Church in South America

The Phone Call

Tonight the phone rang. I picked it up, checked caller ID to make sure it wasn't the DNC or something, and it read "Pay Phone" and had an 801 area code. That was just intriguing enough to make me want to answer it.

The voice said something to me like, "Buenas Noches...?como esta? I thought someone from the MTC was calling with an update. I answered in Spanish - don't even remember what I said. But then the voice said, "Dad, it's Sean". He sounded different speaking in Spanish. But it was great! He had been allowed to inform us that his departure date to Peru had been delayed...probably by one week, but it is still uncertain. The funny thing is that I had just commented (earlier today) to President Rau earlier how nice it would have been if he could have had another week or two Provo MTC experience. I'm sure Elder Layton's dissapointed, but the Provo MTC is a once in a lifetime experience. Other comments he made in the five minutes.

"I love getting everyone's letters."

"Five of us are leaving on time and the other five are delayed. My companion, Elder Griffin is going, so I'll be getting a new companion."

"I really like when I get letters from ." (Note: if you haven't tried it, give it a shot. It works very well, and it's a free service while in the Provo MTC. The Elders like it because they usually get the letters the very next day.)

"I'm working harder here than I have ever worked in my life."

He also mentioned that I have always been his favorite parent (okay, I admit - I just made that one up).

Great to talk to him, great to hear that he is doing very well. We don't sense at all that Elder Layton will be one of those Elders who struggles with homesickness (I suppose that's a good thing), but the truth is that he is just entirely wrapped up in doing what he is suppposed to be doing.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

MTC Provo Week 2


The MTC is amazing. I'm growing so much. It's good to be here, and I really don't feel ready to fly to Lima next week. We already have our flight plans and our room check-outs so that's exciting. We don't find out whether we have our visa's until later this week. A ton of Elders/Sisters going to Mexico are still delayed because of them, but I heard Peru is good with them. If all goes well we'll be in Lima next week by Thursday. I think we get in over there at 4:15 am so we'll probably be a little weary from our flight :)

If I could email longer I'd tell all about everything that I'm doing here. It feels like I'm learning something new even when I sleep.

Remember, if you send me a letter I'll send one back, if time permits. I miss all of you very much.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hanging on Every Word...

We received a letter from Elder Layton today. Here's some of what he had to say:

Do you remember that first family we met when you dropped me off? Well, that Elder turned out to be my companion. His name's Elder Griffin. He's...strong in the Church, and he likes to talk with everyone. (Note that this is the Elder who's family is in the picture under the post, "Greenest Greenies in the Field".) The letter continues detailing things that he and his companion have in common (both love to play the piano and write songs).

The second missionary I met was named Elder Leonard and he's from England, but six months ago he moved to Mesa, Arizona (another favorable Mesa connection!!!).

I see Elder Rau every once in awhile but not often, he seems to be doing great.

The MTC is tough but I enjoy it. I don't think I've wasted a single minute since I've been here. We're always working. Basiccally it's like finals week at BYU, all the time.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

First Letter

This was an exciting day. We received the first letter from Elder Layton since he began his missionary service. Here is an extract. Generally speaking, from now on his comments will be italicized.

Basically the MTC is just GREAT. When Elder Simspon said he studied 10 hours a day it was probably an understatement. We do a lot of it here. We figured it out that we study an average of 52 1/2 hours (not including meetings). I miss everyone but it doesn't really sink in until I'm staring at my ceiling at night. I love the gospel, and I'm still figuring lots of things out but I've worked way hard to be as obedient as possible. My companion's a handful :) He's way strong in the gospel, and has a huge testimony. La Iglesia de Los Jesucristo de Los Santos de Los Ultimos Dias es verdadera. Creo en el espiritu y la restoracion del evengelio. (I'm not sure if any of that was right) Spanish seems to be coming way fast though.

Email time is limited and he had to take time to set up his email this week. So this first letter was short, but believe it...the letter was very, very sweet.