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!