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.

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