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.