Monday, December 28, 2009

He Felt a Huge Peace Inside Him

Happy New Years!!!! 2010 Only two years until the end of the World!!! Yay!

It was a privilege to able to talk with you Mom Dad Eric Curtis Nana. I miss you lots! Honestly I felt so nervous and happy I didn't really know what to say ahhaha, but it was my Christmas present and I hope you know it meant a lot to me.

This week was ALMOST normal for us. Yesterday we went on splits with a couple youth that are preparing to go on missions. I went with a kid named Michael in our ward Los Pinos. Elder Acevedo went to the cita (appointment) we had and everything. I went to find new people! We were rejected almost all day. Then, the last visit we had of the day was a man named Jose Valverde. This guy is one of the best new investigators I've ever had. He studied with the Jehova Witnesses for 3 years and was at the point of baptism... but then he felt it wasn't right. He also has gone to the Seventh Day Adventists a lot... he knows a little about a lot of churches, but he knew nothing about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We taught the restoration with Michael and gave him a Book of Mormon. He told me that while we were there he felt a huge peace inside him, like he feels when he reads the Bible. I had him read Galatas 5:22-23 and it made even more sense to him. He said he`s going to read and pray and when he receives his answer he wants to be baptized!!!

Today we're going to play soccer in the church with the zone. I'm not writing that much today cause I need to prepare my presentation for tomorrow in the interviews. I just want to let you know that I love you very much and I'm working hard.

Love,

Elder Layton

Monday, December 21, 2009

Unto Us a Child is Born, Unto Us a Son is Given

Hello Happy Family

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

I miss you all and everything especially during this time of year. We're still working hard. Lots of things happened this week.

Before I came here as zone leader the sister missionaries had to leave their area. This week a missionary couple, Elder and Hermana Earl entered in our zone. We had district meeting on Tuesday like normal and they came....neither of them speak ANY Spanish so they didn't understand anything. I heard a rumor that President is working on sending them to CCM (mtc in Peru). They were only in the mtc 5 days before they got sent here. They have six kids. 3 married, 3 in missions in Guatemala, Chili, and Philippines. This week Elder Acevedo and I went to their small room to teach them Spanish!!!!hahha, I took pictures with them it's so funny. I haven't seen Gringo adults for a long time..... They're visiting all the members and everything because they really can`t understand anything yet.

Thanks for the packages. I got em from everyone thanks!!!!!! I loved the candy, hot chocolate, the yoyo, pajamas! Today we have the Christmas lunch with President Perez in Chilies.

Soooo, I'll be calling you this Thursday. (WOOHOO, Thursday for 5 minutes and Friday for one hour!)

I was looking at the pictures and everyone's changed a ton. It's kind've weird actually. I'm glad my picture scares everyone.

In almost all my contacts I talk about Christmas. Usually here the most effective contacts are knocking on doors, sincere short contacts asking if we can offer a prayer in their houses and share a short message with them. Yesterday we did a lot of Christmas contacting like this in this time of year we should remember the birth of our Savior and we're sharing a message about Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His Gospel... Just talking about that made several people angry. I contacted 5 members of another Church yesterday I think. One couple told me that Christmas was the Devil and that the God's Kingdom was here or something like that.....

Honestly in those types of contacts it always makes me ponder what Jesus Christ told the young boy Joseph: that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof. I testified that Christmas was of God and then we left. Since I was a little boy I've never felt happier than on Christmas day. Maybe the presents had part to do with that, at first....but after time and especially right now none of that could even matter.

Our modern day prophet every year has to remind all of us to not get too caught up in the worldly things during this time of year. I've never felt more love for my Savior. My favorite Christmas scripture describes this time of year perfectly: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God JEHOVA, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. I think President Eyring quoted that this year....

I solemnly testify that Christ is our Savior and Redeemer.

Well, have a happy Christmas. Eric I love you. Curtis I love you. Nana, I love you. Mom and Dad I love you talk to you soon.

BYE BYE,
Elder Layton

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Best White Christmas

Mi Querido Familia,

How are you? This week was full of happy experiences, getting to know new people, and work. Elder Acevedo and I are still working hard. We're are concerned about the Zone here in Independencia. The numbers were low this week but we are trying to think of everything we can do to help them. It's an especially exciting time here in the mission because we're getting close to Christmas, my favorite day ever!!!

We had 4 baptisms this week. We baptized Tania Delcarpio, Ayde Barrera, Josep Pizarro, Gina Alarcon. Josep and Gina are boyfriend girlfriend. He's 22 and she`s 19. It was a spiritual baptism.... kind of. Brisa was going to get baptized...a 9 year old girl, but she freaked out when she got in the water and after 20 minutes she didn't go through with it. It's okay. She needs more time. We have 6 more baptism dates and a lot more people to talk to.

And dad was right. They only gave me a salt shaker. Normally here in Peru they just use salt. Pepper....who wants pepper anyway? I'm sorry to hear that dad's mug died....you can use mine dad. The family of one of my converts made them! And something else..... my package might come back. If it does don't worry and don't feel bad - I won't. It's just that I heard a ton of packages got sent back because the signatures were bad.....but..... who knows maybe mine was good. (We had to sign a paper for our packages). I'll let you know when I get it!!!

And Briana I'm proud of you. I love you. Eric and Curtis, don't be disappointed if you get all clothes for Christmas.

It was funny. Yesterday a man came up to us in the street and asked us. In what year did God create the world? I answered.....year one haha!... then I said I didn't know. Then he changed the subject In what date was Jesus Christ born? I said...hmmm... well, I'm pretty sure it was around April, but traditionally we celebrate it in December! Then he asked me the same question again....like I didn't even answer him the first time. I answered him about the same way, and he asked me again.... but do you know exactly when Jesus Christ was born? I said Look, hermano... it's a good thing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ? He said... yes. I said, well, it doesn't really matter when and where, if it makes us happy and it's something good. Then he just got mad a little I think and left. Kind of a random experience I think.

Also my companion and I gave talks in Sacrament yesterday. I talked about Zion in the ward and home, and my companion talked about references.

I just looked right now....10 days until I get to talk with you!!!! I'll be calling on the 24th for 5 minutes to figure out everything and we'll talk on the 25th for mucho tiempo! On Christmas Eve we have permission to stay out until 11. We're going to the Bishop's house....

Christmas is a little different than the states here.... it's more like new years. Bishop's going to have a ton of fireworks!! Yes!!! Then Bishop`s going to take us back to our room and we're going to go up on the roof (we live in the 3rd story) and we're going to watch the huge firework show at 12. It's a lot bigger than the stuff in the states because there's not really any rules....hahahaha.

We've been teaching Jordan....the boyfriend of Sonia a recent convert from Ermitao when I was there. Sonia is the daughter of Consuelo. Consuelo is the sister in law of Bishop here in Pinos. Basically I told you that because I was really close with the family of Consuelo back in Ermitao! I ate lunch in their house every Saturday. Now I've gotten to know ALL their family. Jordan has to travel for 1 or 2 weeks but when he gets back he wants to get baptized. He assisted Ermitao several times when I was there but lives here in Los Pinos. The challenge is that all his family doesn't want him to get baptized. They're Catholic. He's 19 so he's doesn`t exactly need permission...but he wants their consent at least. Last night we shared with him the story of the tree of life.... we related the people in the grand and spacious building to people that would impede us to make a decision extremely important in our lives. He knows the church is true. I know he'll make the right choice.


That's about it.

I love you very much.....MMMMERRRYYY CHRISTMASSSS!!!!!

LOVE,


ELDER LAYTON

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Conviction That Leads Us to Love Our Heavenly Father and Others

Hahaha, thanks mom and dad for the letters. My aunts are so funny.... sending you a life size Elder Layton haha. It'd be cool to have a life size cardboard cutout of my family!!! I miss you all lots.

This morning we had to send reports to the offices with the numbers of the zone and about how the zone's doing. We do that every week, as with other things, but nothing really hard. Just work. Also this week we went to a Zone Leader conference where President and the Assistants taught us about our responsibilites, and after we ate pizza. Mmmm pizza.

This week has been crazy. I saw a ton of members from Ermitao. Several times in the street and also last night in the Christmas devotional, which was AMAZING by the way. My ward's a lot bigger now in Los Pinos. More people come than in Mt. Bachelor... well, I haven't been there for a while, but more than when I was there. We have several baptism dates for this Saturday.

I finally sent out my clothes.... I don't think I told you, but recently the people in the mission that washed our clothes was layed off so there was a ton of confusion in the changes and I just ended up washing by hand last week. The thing is... my companion helped me put em all out on the lines outside to dry and it turned out that that line wasn't clean.... so basically everything was dirty again. I'm good now I didn't die. Tomorrow I get clean clothes again.

The zone is doing good. We don't have very many baptism dates as a zone but they've put goals and we're going to have success. Elder Acevedo`s helping me a ton. He's been Zone Leader for a while now and he's been here in this area for a couple transfers so he knows what we have to do. I'm learning a ton from him, and trying to help as much as I can. Today we went and flew kites on top of a huge butte with the zone. YES!!!! It was so fun I just have to say. Also, an abandoned puppy on top of the butte pooped on one of the missionaries in the zone.....

I'd like to share with you something I've learned from my mission. It's conviction. When we believe in something or we want to acheive something before we can do anything....we have to believe we can do it. It's doesn't matter what it is. It's something I've learned from the Gospel too. Especially in repentance. During all the time in my mission I've had to change tons of things but what was the most important to me was that I had conviction to do it. I know the Lord doesn't only want us doing the motions for commitment. We have to have a conviction that leads us to love our Heavenly Father and others. Especially in Christmas, just like the brethren talked about last night, we should remember the pure love of Christ in every thing we do.

Mom, Dad, Nana, Eric, Curtis, hopefully you like the presents I sent home for you. It's extremely creative watch out.
I still haven't met the Bishop. They introduced my on Sunday and I went up and bore my testimony like normal. Bishop is traveling I guess. I did eat lunch in his house today. I've actually eaten there before about 5 months ago.

I'll tell you more about the experiences I'm having in sharing the gospel this week. I really still haven't gotten to know that much yet. All I know is that we have really awesome investigators and it's way to close to Christmas....not really let it snow let it snow let it snow. I think I saw it snow.... oh no, that's dust. Cool. Family, friends I love you soo much. Write me and I'll really try to write you back.

Love,

Elder Layton
(Brenda and I had lunch today with Seth Hurd today. Seth was just released from the Peru Lima North Mission and lives about 30 minutes away from us. He knows Sean very well. He related several amazing experiences and comments about the kind of missionary Sean is. I'll share one of those.
Elder Hurd was in Sean's first area when Sean arrived. Some of the Elders were getting fleas and flea bites. So they were given a spray that would take care of the problem. The thing was, it never made it to Elder Layton, who had been sleeping on the floor. He didn't complain too much and the spray didn't make it his way for 2 weeks.
By the time the Mission President's wife realized that something was wrong, Sean had over 700 flea bites on his body (I'm not sure how they knew that unless someone actually counted).
Seth shared a few other things with us that helped us to understand that Elder Layton is serving an honorable mission for the Lord.

It was good to be able to meet with Seth and to talk with someone who had just come back from Sean's mission and who had just been with him on Monday. Between that and the life-sized Sean cutout sent by his crazy aunts, we almost feel that he's home for Christmas this year. And we get the December 25th phone call too!)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas in Peru

I found this site here describing...

Christmas in Peru

by Bill Egan, Christmas Historian

PERU is on the west coast of South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, with Ecuador to the north and Chile to the south. Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia are to the east.

Christmas celebrations in Peru are a combination of traditions brought over from Spain and the traditions of the native American experience. There are parties and fiestas everywhere and homes are overflowing with hospitality. Homes and churches are decorated with Christmas colors, bows, and wreaths and the open air Christmas markets are bustling with venders and customers shopping for bargins in the summer sunshine.

Manger scenes in Peru are often carved from wood or soapstone by the Quechua Indians. The figures are usually wearing clothing styles from the time of the conquistadores and the carving techniques date to the sixteenth century. Additional figures are added to the scene each year until they become large displays complete with landscapes and backgrounds. The three kings arrive with a train of llamas and you will also find local characters such as the jasmine vender, the tamale vender, the baker, the ice-cream man, the ironer of the Child's diapers...and many, many more. Some homes with elaborite nativities have an open house so that neighbors can visit.

There are other smaller nativity scenes of baked clay (see photo) while some mini scenes are fitted into matchbox size displays.

Noche Buena is the "Good Night" when Santa comes to fill the stockings that have been placed near the manger scene. When the family returns from Midnight Mass, the figure of Baby Jesus is placed in the manger and then the children open their gifts while fireworks boom in the night sky.

The Christmas dinner in most Peruvian households features turkey as the main dish with a variety of salads along with the ever-popular tamales. Fruit cake is served for dessert.

Christmas Day festivities in Lima (where Christmas was first celebrated in 1535) are highlighted by a bullfight and a procession with the statue of the Virgin Mary. The parties, dances, and processions continue throughout Peru until January 6 when they celebrate the Epiphany with Rosca de Reyes, or the King's Ring - a round sweet bread decorated with candied fruit to look like the crown of a king.

This is Elder Layton's last Christmas in Peru.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Back to Independencia

Dearest Family,

I just wanted to express my gratitude for every one of you. I feel extremely blessed here in the mission. Jesse looks the same as he left. So does Jacob. Haha man I miss those guys. I'm happy I'm here in the mission still but since I'm the last Elder to end It will be crazy to be able to see everyone in one time.

I'm growing ever more preoccupied with Brianas college life. I think maybe she could go to COCC or something better than her current situation...

Also I just have to say mom I watched the movie UP before you did so I dont have to wait. Remember, every change we watch one Disney movie as a Zone? Thank you President! I loved the movie ahahhaha. Especially the bird thing I would love one of those.

Also I already sent you your Christmas Package so you could just say I'm a little ahead of the game with the movie and now this. Hopefully you like it. Sometime before Christmas you can go pick it up in the house of Elder Hurd who is leaving Peru tomorrow or the next day I think. Here's the directions:

The Hurd Family
#### ## ######## ###.
Redmond, OR
Phone #: 541-###-####


Okay I JUST found out my change how exciting!!!!! Okay. Im going back to Independencia!!! Ill be Zone Leader with my daddy in the mission Elder Acevedo. New responsibilities and everything but being District Leaders helped me a lot.

Im going to miss these people more than I can even describe. The converts I've had here are the best. I said goodbye to the Zorrilla Family last night. Theyre the best. My hijo (kid) Elder Yaez is going to Pucallpa. Im so proud of him for going there. ? Hmmmm. What else?


We have a lot of really good investigators again. A sister named Marcela thats been coming to church and loving it. Another family that just came yesterday. I had invited her to the church outside a high school about a month ago and she remembered the invitation! That's a miracle. Bueno, we have appointments with them. The mom went to all three hours and even went to the conference for parents yesterday at 4 in the afternoon. Shes someone I recognize definitely prepared by the Lord. Theres also a girl named Maria that has been going to church shes the best friend of Paula a recent convert. Also theres a man named Felipe Reyes that is separated from his wife right now and is having family problems. We taught him the law of chastity yesterday and accepted a baptism date. Hes gone to church 3 times and he's progressing. His plan is to forgive his wife, get married, and move in with his family again.

I know the members in the Independencia. I'm going to the ward Pinos and when I was in Ermitao I shared churches with them so its not completely new to me. Hmm tomorrow I'm planning an awesome District Meeting. Of course the last meeting of the change the Elderes leaving give their testimonies. I've also asked the missionaries to bring a picture of their family to the meeting so that tomorrow one by one we can talk about the reasons we came to the mission and how our families are being blessed by the mission service.
I honestly feel like I'm being blessed more than my family. The mission is full of spiritual experiences. But I do know you guys are also having experiences in the church. That's my thought for today. Have experiences.

Merry Christmas.

Love,

Elder Layton

Monday, November 23, 2009

The People That Read It Believe It

Dearest Family,

Briana, what are you doing at BYUI? Why do you have a picture with you and an RM? That's definitely breaking big brother rules!!!!! I'm the first RM you get to know. GRACIAS. That's not a joke.

This week was a good one. We left a lot of investigators that just weren't progressing. There's one important rule in the mission. If you can't feel the spirit in the lesson, the investigator probably isn't feeling it... Sometimes, investigators simply don't want to keep commitments and we never force them. It's something hard you have to learn here in the mission... sometimes you have to leave an investigator because they're just not prepared right in that moment. We had 10 investigators come to church!!! 10 INCAS.

Earlier in the week we contacted a lady named Marcela Primomatos. VACAN!!!! She's oro! Yesterday she came like she said she would and enjoyed every part. She sincerely told the sisters that she wants to come every week. She told us when we were at her house with her family that the Lord must have sent us to her house. I believe that. One day this week we were running short on time and the thought came through my head that we shouldn't visit her. It was only a contact and a quick appointment and we were completely across our area.... but.... then the thought came to my mind that we should go. So we went and she accepted to be baptized with her daughter Yesea. I'm happy about that. We're going to visit her again tomorrow and try to talk with her husband.

Thanks for the package!!! I'm actually wearing the sweatshirt you sent me right now. We're at an Internet by the beach. Today we're going to the beach again to BBQ and play soccer, and who knows what else. Eating hamsters..... I don't know. The mission's amazing.

I ended Doctrine and Covenants and I started to read the Bible....but then I felt like I really should just read the Book of Mormon again. That book here in Peru is more important to know than anything else. If you read the cover page of the Book of Mormon carefully you'll understand why. It was literally written FOR THE LAMANITES (Peruvians...) and then it explains AND ALSO for the Jews and also for the Gentiles. It's for everyone....... but firstly, for my people. It amazes me the promise that it has. The people that read it believe it. Even the people here that don't believe in the Bible (yes, there are some of those) find it easier to believe in the Bible when they have read the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is more my companion than Elder Yaez I think. Elder Yaez, my kid's, doing great btw. He's learning.

I'm sleeping very well know, thank you mom. This week I also did my first work visit. I visited Elder Andica. I interviewed investigators pretty much all Thursday haha. That's my life now as District Leader. Interviews, work visits, etc. And of course we still are working with a bunch of awesome investigators.

THE MISSION'S FLYING BY SO FAST!!!!! I feel old....not trying to know how much time I have....okay, I have 17 months. Jesse's ending this week no?! I love you very much!

Love, Elder Layton
(Note from Don: Yesterday Brenda attended a ward in Tigard, Oregon...a suburb of Portland, and the town where the temple is located. A returning missionary named Michael Tapete Tanuvasa (Polynesian) spoke. He had just come home from the Lima, Peru South Mission. It was exciting to hear him describe the people in Peru as "the most loving people I've met in my life". He said that through them he had learned to be more like Christ. His talk was on "Love Thy Neighbor".)

P.S. Christie your baby is beautiful, even if he's blowing spit bubbles in the picture. He's my nephew!!!!!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Love Being a Missionary

Amados Hermanos Mios,

Me siento muy alegre poder compartir algunas experiencias con ustedes.


This week turned out ... hmmm.... worse than I thought!!!! At first that might sound extremely un-optimistic to everyone but what I`m trying to say is we had really high goals and low results.

We did have one baptism hallelujah. Nao made it. His mom decided to work, Jefferson’s god-father died, Sandy wants to get baptized in the Catholic Church, Michael wants more time to prepare, and Guian Carlos is studying in his university from 6 in the morning until 10 at night. Basically I probably feel something like Alma felt in Alma 8: 9-11.

9 Now Satan had gotten great ahold upon the hearts of the people of the city of Ammonihah (Zapallal); therefore they would not hearken unto the words of Alma (Los Misioneros.)
10 Nevertheless Alma labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer, that he would pour out his Spirit upon the people who were in the city; that he would also grant that he might baptize them unto repentance.
11 Nevertheless, they hardened their hearts
Of course we know what happened after this. Amulek helped Alma find tons of people that would listen. I know we need to work better with the members!!!! We’re receiving tons of blessing... we just have to be patient.

PERU:
The People: The people here are wonderful. Humble, simple, hard-working. Well, many of them are very hard working. But sometimes they come to really fast conclusions.

Example. Yesterday, I left the keys in the pension. We got done eating and left to our house up the hill. We had to knock on the door so our land-lord would let us in. We studied until we had to leave but when we tried to leave, we found the door dead-bolted. The landlord had left and locked the door. I had locked the door to our room already, so we were basically prisoners inside our own house. I got up on the wall to call for the neighbors help but he thought I was trying to break into his house or something. Freak. So he started FREAKing out. Yelling shouting, and saying some words missionaries don’t understand. Oh man. We were late for church too. Talk about crazy Peruvians! Luckily our pension passed by the house randomly and threw up the keys.

The Food:
We eat 2 hard breads every morning with American cheese, a thick drink called quacker, and sometimes juice. I miss pancakes and French toast. For Lunch we eat spaghetti sometimes, different soups (delicious), chicken, French fries, etc. and for dinner that’s where we get the surprises because we eat dinner here with the members but it’s normal enough.
I’m sad to say the hamster I was holding in that picture lived only 5 minutes longer. Nooo less. They used a kitchen knife to cut off his head while most of the missionaries took video. I’m proud to say I’ve never eaten cuy (hamster) nor did I watch the horrible scene. I’m not sure if Dad would like the food here. It’s a LOT different than Mexican food.

My life in Peru: Very few people here in Zapallal have a car. Everyone rides in buses. Luckily the bus system is fairly advanced and so it makes it relatively easy to get to wherever you want. It’s almost all sand dunes because we’re so close to the beach, but our area is all paved luckily where the houses are. You can look on google earth to get an idea, but all the houses are stuck together. Almost all the houses are brick. Hmmm what else. I love being a missionary!!!

HAVE A GREAT WEEK!!! See you next week. Send letters. Thank you for everything.

Love,

Elder Layton

Monday, November 9, 2009

When I Looked at That Picture I Felt It Was True

Hellllo!!!

How's everyone doing? This week has been GREAT!!! Well, we had the interviews on Friday with president.

We're still working hard Jose Louis and Italo were baptized. Jefferson went to the church with his mom and someone told them there wasn't a baptismso they left. I called them after they had gotten home and by that time it was a little late, but Jefferson's excited about this Saturday.

We went to his house yesterday and watched the 20 minute Restauracion video. Also we have set for this Saturday Maycol Viegas, Guian Carlos, Isabel Ulloa (the mother of Jose Louis) and Nao (the brother of Jose Louis) and Sandy Rojas Garcia. Sandy's mom Paula has a baptism date for the 21st too. What I really want to do is talk to Sandy's dad, but he's always working. Jose Louis's dad is a recent convert so we'll be completing the family this upcoming Saturday which I'm really excited for!!!



I don't know people.there's not much new happening. Everything's going really well. Right now if the district confirms all the investigators with dates we have we'll have 42. Our goal is 50 or more. Honestly it would be a piece of cake if every one of us works hard and is obedient.

I gave another surprise talk in sacrament meeting. I talked about Jesus Christ and His preordained calling to be our Savior and His atonement. Of course I also reminded them to find people we could teach.

Hmmm. What else? I was looking at a picture yesterday in the church. It's the one where Moroni is kneeling to pray right before he covered up his fathers book. I remember when I looked at that exact same picture when I was 4 or 5 years old in the hallway in Grandma and Grandpa Layton's house, next to Danny's room.

I don't even think I understood who he was or what he was doing, but I remember when I looked at that picture I felt it was true and I felt such a powerful feeling then only as a child. Now when I look at that picture I feel the exact same feeling. I think I could say that's my favorite painting. The book of Mormon is so true.

NANA YOU ROCK AT FUTBOL!!!

Eric, Curtis, read your scriptures.

Love,

Elder Layton

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Feel Very Blessed to Be Here in the Work of the Lord

I don't have much to write today. Everything is going just great. I taught the District yesterday in District Meeting. Today we went to the temple and it was amazing like always although I did get close to falling asleep. We woke up at 4:00. Bueno, from the letters it sounds like everyone's doing really well.

As for the investigators go, we have many. Right now we have 9 baptism dates but there's a lot more to set, especially because we have muchas families to complete. I'm excited for this month especially now that I'm learning about being a district leader and being a papa at the same time. My district is doing really well again. The investigators that had baptism dates came to church.

THANKS!!!! For the Halloween package. It came just in time. Perfecto. I shared with my companion and my Zone leaders and I took pics with my spider man mask. That's about it for my Halloween. Better than last year.

Tell Landon to get married already.

I have a lot of friends in the mission that are getting ready to end. I feel old. Luckily I have a lot of time left to work.

All that I know is that the Lord is blessing us. Were able to have a ton of success because the members are on top of it. Seriously, I ask for references from the members and they spill them out to us. Bishop is seriously talking about splitting the ward almost every week which is kind of funny because we just split last change, so we need some more Priesthood holders. We have a complete family but the dad's in the hospital...but give him 2 weeks. He was set in convincing his whole family to get baptized. This Saturday if everything goes perfect well be baptizing Jose Louis, Italo, Guian Carlos, and Jefferson the next week we have several more.

Bueno, muchas gracias por todas las oraciones de verdad. Me siento muy bendecido poder estar aqui en la obra del Senor. Les quiero a ustedes bastante y estn en mis oraciones cada dia. Se que el Evangelio de Cristo bendice a las familias en todas partes del mundo. Me siento un poco orgulloso a poder compartir el Libro de Mormon cada dia con los lamanitas especialmente cuando veo que realmente eso libro los hacen sentir un espritu familiar como profetiza la misma escritura.

(Well, thank you for all of the prayers, really. I feel very blessed to be here in the work of the Lord. I love you all a lot and you are in my prayers every day. I know that the Gospel of Christ blesses families in all over the world. I feel a little proud to be able to share the Book of Mormon each day with the Lamanites, especially when I see that truthfully this book makes them feel a familiar spirit as prophesied in scripture.)

I love yas bye bye,

Elder Layton

Monday, October 26, 2009

I'm Being Very Blessed in Peru

I'm being very blessed down here in Peru. My kid Elder Yaez is doing great. He's from Arequipa Peru MY FIRST PERUVIAN!!! I teach a little more than normal but he helps a lot. I need the help, because I feel a little stressed with having a district and everything. Before our zone was two districts but with the division and the new stakes now Puente Piedra has one zone, one district, and 5 companionships.

I was able to interview about seven different investigators on Thursday and Friday. It was an experience I'll never forget. In an interview the people spill out everything. Some of them told me things I could help them with, others, well, let's just say some things they mentioned were things I really didn't want to hear. One girl I didn't pass for confidential reasons but it comes down to one thing. She didn't want to obey all the commandments. I assured her that she could be baptized later on when she was better prepared and willing to live the normas (standards) of the Gospel.

We were again blessed this weekend to have a baptism. Finally!!! Sister Yesica was baptized. Her kids were very happy Alizon and Jhair. Nelly and Miguel, her friends, came to the baptism too. We also baptized Darlin and her cousin Xiomara. Darlin's uncle and aunt are basically her parents, so her and Xiomara are sisters basically The dad Guillermo didn't want to give Xiomara permission. We taught everything to them the past couple weeks, and xiomara was at the interview for Darlin, so I told the mom of xiomara (Maria) that Xiomara should have her interview just in case Guillermo changed his mind. Saturday in the morning we visited them and changed his mind. They gave us breakfast and when we left the girls were smiling. DURING the baptism service Guillermo left the service to talk with a leader in the church. A sister told me that she heard Guillermo ask what do I need to do to be a member of this church? Guillermo and Maria aren't married but we`re going to help them get married this 14th of November. AWESOME!!!

I'm tired. I was up kind of later than normal learning how to call everyone for the informes (reports), Pday, and helping the district with questions. Today we're going to go play soccer. I'm probably better than Nana now since I play almost every week with the Latins. We'll have a futbol duo when I get back. Well, that's about it. We have 9 more baptism dates set, and 9 INCAs (I have no idea what an INCA is...baptismal challenge and date set? It's some kind of acronym) yesterday. We have to keep working harder like Elder Rich always told me.

That's kind of weird. I guess it's not Elder Rich anymore, it's Landon. I heard his Flaca waited so Landon might change to Mr. Landon here pretty soon too. Bueno. THANKS FOR ALL THE LETTERS!!!!

I'm praying for all of you. Please pray for the investigators. Jose Louis, Anderson, Italo, Guian Carlos, Jefferson, Sandy, Javier, Isabel, and Maycol!

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Heavenly Father Saved Her and She Made It Through

Dear Home,

We've been working hard. I'm excited cause I'm staying here in Puente Piedra for my third change in a row. Now I'm District Leader and have another kid. His name's Yaez and I don't know where he's from. Well.... he's from the CCM (MTC in Peru). Of course I'll be doing baptism interviews, a little more paperwork, and I'll have a district, but we'll still keep up the area and help all these people.

I'm excited too cause with Elder Martelo we found an awesome house far from the hill, still close to the pension, bigger and less money. The place we're in doesn't even have a real door...haha. At least now I won't be cold at night.

This change has been the best. With Elder Martelo we didn't complete our goal for this change, but with did complete the goal I had with Elder Moreira last change. This week we had the baptism of Oscar, Kevin, and Jazmin. They were excited to finally get baptized. The baptism was good.

Everything's been going more smoothly lately. Javier Zorrilla (Husband of Beatriz, father of John, Dalma, and Angel) came to church yesterday. We visited him in the night and he accepted a baptism date for the 14th of November... haha. Kind've far, but he's going out of town this week. He's the only one that needs to be baptized to complete the family. I'm grateful for the blessings of having families in this time.

I was studying the scriptures this week. I'm almost done with Doctrine and Covenants in Spanish (I've never read all of it in English haha) but I was also reading in the Book of Mormon. I'd like to share something I read in Moroni 6:8 But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven. God can save us if only we repent. But the most important, we must seek it. They sought forgiveness. It won't just come to us if we go to church, or read the scriptures to read. We actually have to be diligent in living the gospel, and actually searching forgiveness. It`s hard because it`s easier to not search. It`s easier to be passive than aggressive, but I know the Lord will bless us as we sacrifice what we have. If we sacrifice a little bit of TV time in the night to search the scriptures, sacrifice a little bit of energy saying fervent prayers always, and sacrificing our own pride to follow the Lord. This is what you must do. yeah

Two nights ago after the baptism we went to an appointment but the people weren't there. We left back in the direction of the church when we heard screaming. Not just any scream....it was screams like someone was dying. We went up to the house where we could here several voices yelling and everything. I knocked on the door. Someone answered it and let us in. Right in front of us there was a girl about my age having a heart attack on the ground on her back. I didn't even ask or anything I just knew that nothing else mattered. I opened up my consecrated oil and anointed her head and Elder Martelo gave the blessing. My Heavenly Father saved her and she made it through. After the blessing Elder Martelo fanned her with air and I just kept my fingers on her pulse until she got better. Her family was very thankful that we heard their cries I'm just grateful to the Lord we were there. I know the Lord works miracles.

Nana: At BYU I lost several papers like that.... SAVE AS!

Love,

Elder Layton

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sister Martina: A Powerful Member-Missionary

This week has been just great! Thanks for sending me pictures. Christie, my nephew is beautiful.
It's hard to believe I'm coming up to 16 months. It feels like I was just at home hanging out with everyone before they had to go off and get married.

I thought I'd share something that I wrote a few days back in my journal with all of you. It's about Martina:

The Peruvian members of the church here are humble, sincere, and for many of them you could say that there could not be a happier people among all the people who [have] been created by the hand of God (see 4 Nephi 1:16). That`s true for one happy sister that has come to be one of my closet friends Sister Martina Castro.

In 1991, Sister Martina was baptized with her husband in Suyana, Peru. 5 Years later, after the baptism her husband passed away, leaving a widowed mother with hungry children to feed. Tears began to soak her eyes from the memories as she told me, "When my husband died, we lost everything. I had to sell the house. We built a small brick home four meters wide. We sold rice, and didn`t have enough to go on but I kept enthusiastic and my Heavenly Father does His part. Thanks to Him, we had enough to keep going."

Finally sister Martina and her family were able to leave Suyana. They moved into a house here in Ventanilla, Peru (Where I`m currently serving). For several years, she lost in touch with the church and became inactive. She learned how to bake cakes and cook tamales to help her family. She sells to all the neighbors here and it seems like she knows everybody. Several months ago she returned to the church, and has been a member firm in the faith ever since.

"I knew I needed to be part of the Lord`s church, and I always felt the Lord was calling me back", Sister Martina told me.

Now sister Martina Castro is making up for lost time, talking with literally everyone about the gospel. It seems like every time we visit, there's somebody else sister Martina knows that wants to make covenants with their Heavenly Father. Thanks to Sister Martina's love for the gospel, in two months my companions and I have baptized eight members of her family. Even her mother Elva who just turned 80 (I think I told you the wrong age before) years old! The blessings don't stop there, because she didn`t stop. She continues sharing the gospel and now four more family members have baptism dates.

The Lord is so powerful, Sister Martina says. "When I give more, God gives me more."

I give thanks to the Lord, and I give thanks to Sister Martina Castro for simply sharing the gospel with others. As a missionary, I have experienced first-hand through all this that the members are so incredibly important to the missionary work. The prophecy of Joseph Smith is being fulfilled as these modern day lamanites flourish as the rose. But Peru or not, the blessings from the Gospel of Jesus Christ will come to ALL Saints as they share it.

Before I left in my last visit she added, I want my family and grandchildren to grow and be happy and put faith in Jesus Christ. I tell them that this Church is true.

This week was a good one too. We baptized Rosalbina, the mother of Paula and Martin, and also Beatriz, the mother of John, Dalma, and Angel. It was a really special baptism. The husband of Rosalbina even came to the baptism even though he usually doesn't want to know anything. We have so many families to help complete. We have eleven baptism dates, partly thanks to a reference yesterday in Church. We always go around to every organization and ask references and sister Nelly said she knew of a familily that want to learn about the gospel. We went in the night with sister Nelly and they all accepted baptism dates. The only problem is that the parents aren't married. He has to go in for surgery any day too, but the good part is that he accepted to get married. Hopefully before this Halloween so he can get baptized with the kids.

That's about it. I love you so very much.

Elder Layton

Monday, October 5, 2009

What Are You Talking About, I'm Latin!

Dearest Family and Friends,

The General Conference was amazing, as usual!!! The entire time I think there was a definite theme: Love. Of course all of us, the white missionaries watched conference in English because it's a load better than the translated version. I'm sure you loved all the talks. Elder Holland is a beast. (And I'm sure he means that in the best way, not at all in the Book of Revelation way...Elder Holland's talk was one of my top two favorites as well.) I couldn't even concentrate on writing notes while he was talking.

Even with the conference and everything (we watched all the sessions) we made time to have the baptism on Saturday and the confirmation on Sunday. Giset and Carlos, two youth that ALWAYS attend church were baptized. The best! Carlos has been going to church for about a year and a half. My district leader who interviewed him recognized him from when he was here in this area a year and a half ago! Finally he got permission from his parents and is happier than ever. He's almost 18 and he's extremely eager to leave to the missionary life in about a year. Awesome. Also Oliver who didn't come to his confirmation on Sunday came yesterday and was confirmed. We have a lot of baptism dates for this month.

In the mission we have a goal to include the members in the work. You know the story of Alma and Amulek right? Well, you should. Alma was a missionary just like me that went and preached unto the people for a while but everyone hardened their hearts against him. He preached with power and authority but they still didn't listen. Then he found Amulek. Alma ate in his house (just like we eat in the members houses) and after they went and preached unto the people together. Amulek was a well-known man, and so it was easy for the people to accept the message with someone they knew. With the help of Amulek, they had a ton of success. That's the story mas o menos. The thing is, this month we're IN THE SEARCH OF OUR AMULEK. We read the story in Alma 8-15 every day with a different member and then ask them, will you be our Amulek? They accept and we're receiving more help because of it.

Up to this point in the change we have 17 confirmations in the change so we still have a long way to go to reach our goal. There's a few people that came to church yesterday we didn't know before that we'll be visiting, so that will definitely help! Keep praying for all of them. Oh, you wouldn't believe it! Yessica accepted to be baptized this 10th of October. She always goes to church with her kids, but never wanted to accept. She was scared of the water. I read Alma 7:14-15 and that helped! Also her sisters Rosalvina and Beatriz are getting baptized on the same day. The mom's of all the youth we've been baptizing! I love that entire family so much. They are so prepared for the Gospel.

I think they mention Peru at least one time in every Conference. Peru's the best. I haven't seen any guys with wood strapped to their heads since Pucallpa, but I do see a little Quechua lady walking up the hill we live on, every morning carrying a football field worth of corn stalks! Haha. She always has a huge dress, braids in her hair, and what appears to me a giant cowboy hat. Awesome.

After we went to the beach on Monday I was finding sand in my eyes for the longest time. I thought I was going to go blind. Haha. Playing soccer next to the ocean was the best especially when Elder Rojas (my old compi) and I ganged up on the rest of the Zone in a huge melee in the damp sand. The member that lived there killed a guinea pig to eat. I didn't watch I still haven't eaten guinea pig. They call it Cui here. I don't know it just doesn't seem right. Last night a ton of the ward members were over at Hermana Martina`s house. We went over and watched part of Joseph Smith and then sang hymns. I played guitar for some of the hymns and did a solo in English. The kids BEG me to talk in English sometimes. Sometimes I just tell them what are you talking about, I'm Latin?

Well, that's about it. Hermana Martina introduced us this week to two more youth. Her grandson and her nephew. They went to church and want to be baptized this 17th. Vacan!

I love you so much. Mom and Dad you mean more to me than you know. Thanks for everything! Nana, you're growing up. Just don't grow up too fast. Remember, you're prohibited to get married until I get home. Thank you.

LOVE,

Elder Layton

Monday, September 28, 2009

We Have to Keep Pushing Forward

Buenos Dias,

Vamos a la playa!!! Oh oh ohhh oh You've probably never heard that song before. We're going to the beach to bbq and play soccer. I finally got the package!! THANK YOU! It was the best ever. I felt loved. I haven't had the time to play any of the songs you sent me though...but one day.

This week was a hard one.

Yesterday a lot of the investigators didn't come to church. We challenged some of them that fell for the 17th of Oct. I was kind of bummed yesterday too when Oliver didn't come to his confirmation. There's a first time for everything. John, Dalma, and Angel who are all siblings and their cousin Paula were all confirmed. So 15 Baptisms for September but only 14 confirmations. I feel blessed but I know that we need to work even harder than we did this week for October!

We had interviews with President this week. He gave me Mosiah 23:15-22 to read. He talks to me using the scriptures I think. I studied it and everything and I'm trying to apply it. It describes that Alma had success when he put his trust in the Lord. I only hope that I can continue trusting in my Heavenly Father.

I learned this week that maybe our commitments need work. It feels so overwhelming to commit so many people at the same time and visit each one every day but I know we have to just keep pushing forward. President was really happy about the success were having and told me to keep growing.

It looks like my usb lost the pictures it had. Luckily I have backups. But I need to make more now. Ill try sending pictures soon.


Thanks so much for everything!!!! Oh yeah! Christie! Congrats on being a mommy. That's crazy. I guess that makes me an Uncle! I think that's a tear in my eye. Bueno, I love you very much.

I'd just like to share a little bit of my testimony.

I love the gospel and I know it's true. The mission has been the best part of my life. Better than video games, better than American food, better than girls. Of course I miss those things but not really. I want to serve the mission for another 12 years like Ammon did in the Book of Mormon, but they might send me home before then.

I know the profet Thomas Monson is called of God just like his counselors, the twelve apostle, and other leaders in the church. I know that Jesus Christ is the Key cornerstone of The Church of ]esus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Book of Mormon is true si o si. There's not even room to doubt from the physical evidence, and the spiritual confirmation and the promise of that book is something hard to explain but I know by the power of the Holy Spirit that the Book of Mormon is true.

Joseph Smith was a true profet with more fruits than almost any other profet I know of.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

ps.

I know that going to the beach today will bring joy to my heart, as well as the BBQ. I know that playing soccer on the beach is true. And.... nos vemos hasta pronto... bueno, proximo lunes. Send pics if you can. I love getting them.

Chow,

Elder Layton

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Who is This Man and What Happened to the Kid We Sent Out?

Dearest People I Love so much,

Mother, I haven't received the package yet. We've been at the Temple and at Papa Johns. I'm sure I'll get it tomorrow.

14 Million members in the church. I wouldn't be surprised if the profets (Spanish for prophets is profetas) know something about huge growth in the Church. It's kind of obvious when in two years the Church Grew a million. We had a stake conference and President Uchtdorf and Elder Holland spoke to us live on satellite. Instead of two stakes in this area, the area split into FOUR!

First of all, a Seventy spoke about sending missionaries to China, Israel, and all the Hindu countries. After that Elder Holland starting out speaking in horrible Spanish for about three or four minutes. It made me want to laugh until he said it would be better if someone translated and somebody then began translating. He told us he loved us five times in Spanish. He thanked the members for the love, for every commandment kept, for every tear, and every smile. He talked about how love in the home was found less in the world and would get worse, but the love in the homes of church members would get stronger.

President Uckdorf talked about how his mission blessed his life. In his ward as a boy, a new girl came to his church with dark eyes and long hair. He said that the missionaries there in his ward were doing a great job. He said we need to focus on two questions.

What can I do to increase my faith?

What can I do to help my family and marriage?

Since I'm not married yet I would take out the latter, but then again President Snow of the presidencia of the Seventy spoke a while ago and promised us that the harder we work here in the mission the more beautiful my wife will be. I believe in the words of President Snow and intend to keep on working hard.

This week has been crazy. I really don't know what to say. Were having success. The nine didn't get baptized all of them. Only six. I baptized Alizon, Jhair, Deibi, Martin, Miguel and Bishop baptized Nelly. Six baptisms and confirmations! The three that didn't get baptized are the Zorrilla Family. Three GREAT youth that have huge desires to be baptized. The day of the baptism on Saturday the dad came back from more than a month of travel in Pucallpa and told his kids no to the baptism. We tried to convince him Saturday night but yeah nada. Then we visited the Zorrilla Family the next day and now the dad, his wife, and the three kids of baptism dates! The Lord is so big, and the blessings were receiving are enormous.

Our baptism dates are these:

26 de Sept.
Paola Andrade
Javier Zorrilla
Jhon Zorrilla
Dalma Zorrilla
Oliver Apaza

3 Oct.
Carlos Acosta
Lesli Segura
Edwin Pablo

10 Oct.
Sheyla Javier
Joyce Rubio
Diana Rubio
Soledad Abarca
Peter Neda
Beatriz Gomez
Javier Zorrilla
Ugenia Teran
Narcisa Vasquez
Jazmin Pardo
Raul Caballero
Maria
Katy Bances

Ive never had so many baptism dates in my whole life and right now encouraging all of them at the same time seems impossible but I know the Lord will help us. Please pray for them all, we're working hard. Being a dad in the mission's hard and everything but that's the least of my worries right now. Elder Martelo's great. He learns fast and everything.

I love very much. Hopefully you could get something out of what the apostles taught me.

Love,

Your Elder, Elder Layton
Note from dad...Friday marks Elder Layton's 15th month of missionary service. It's genuinely hard to believe that there are only 9 months left until he is done with his service in Peru. It's incredible to see how fast time has flown by and how much he has changed. Before we know it, he'll be coming home and getting on with his life. It's really crazy how fast it's going.

Monday, September 14, 2009

It's What the Lord is Asking of Us

Wait. Curtis is 6th grade? I'm confused I thought he was in kindergarten still..

Okay, good morning. Elder Martelo my kid is doing great. (In Peru, trainers are called "fathers". There's a whole patriarchal thing going on with fathers, grandfathers and so on.) Actually he knows more than I do. He's almost 26! He looks young though, so nobody knows his secret haha, his birthday's this transfer so I'll give him a surprise birthday hopefully.

We had 4 baptisms and confirmations this week. Carmen, Brayan, and Angel Apaza, and Elva Barragan. Elva is in her 70's and the great grandma of Astrid, who we baptized a couple weeks back.

Just to tell you a little about the baptism it was hard to baptize a great grandmother. But she was the easiest of the four! Angel was first, but we know the promise of the Lord. The last shall be first and the first shall be last. Angel stood in the water for 20 minutes, then watched his brother and sister and Elva get baptized and still didn't want to go through with it. Hahaha. But, I told him that it was shameful that his brother and sister and an old lady would beat him, so he went through with it. He has a fear of water cause he almost drowned in a pool before I'm thankful he could get over his fear.

Today were going to watch The Pursuit of Happiness with Will Smith (not to be confused with "Man's Search for Happiness" - GRIN).

Elder Rojas, my old companion, is my Zone Leader now!!! It's awesome because we're best friends and I haven't seen him forever.

This transfer I was talking with my new companion. We put the goal to have 30 baptisms this transfer. You can call me crazy but I know we'll do it. It's what the Lord is asking of us. We started out on a good note...4. If we work harder than ever I think we can have 9 next week. For the whole mission, our goal is uno mas!! or one more!!! One more than yesterday, to work a little harder than last week. Please pray that we can complete our goals. More importantly pray for the people to keep commitments, and to come to church, and to get baptized.

We're extremely blessed in this area. We're working hard and being happy.

Love,

Elder Layton

Monday, September 7, 2009

It's Amazing How the Lord Leads Us to Those Who Are Prepared

If somebody wanted to know how I was doing, I'd tell them I'm doing FANTASTIC!!!

Yeahh. We found out the changes right now. I stay here with a new Elder named Elder Martelo. I have no idea how much time he has but Ill keep you updated.

We've been working hard, Elder Moreira and I. We challenged a bunch of new people to baptism. Now we have 15 dates for this month.

Okay, an Elder just came over and told me. Elder Martelo has 2 months in the mission and he's from Columbia. Lo Maximo - I'm a daddy (trainer)!

15 baptism dates feels a little stressful to have under our belt right now. We have to visit these people every day, encourage them, pray for them, teach them all they need to know, and find new people at the same time, but, I'm sure everything's going to be great. I'll miss Elder Moreira.

We had 17 baptism dates on Saturday but 3 fell, and we challenged another to baptism on Sunday. Two of the investigators fell because they didn't come to church. They were excited and everything and wanted to prepare for this Sept 19th but we went to visit them yesterday and the mom said that they were discouraged and didn't want to listen to us. Sad but that's their choice. We found a guy named Jaime yesterday. He has 21 years. (He's 21 years old.) I committed him to be baptized in the contact, and we have an appointment to go back. He wants to be baptized on the 26th of Sept.
This week was cool. We went to lunch with President and his wife!!! It was a buffet restaurant, so I ate 4 heaping plates of everything. After we had to work, so I felt like I was going to throw up, heehee.

After we taught Jahir, Alizon, Martin the family that lives by the church, we started talking to the mother Jessica (she loves the church but her and her "husband" aren't married) and as we left I felt like I should ask her if she had family nearby or friends we could visit. The door closed and I didn't knock again. But we started walking down the road. After passing a few houses, one house caught my eye, but there was a huge dog (which I later found our was named Gordita, Fatty) My companion stopped because he's scared of dogs - so am I, in Peru. Bueno we knocked. A boy came to the door. He left and called his mom. She let us in and we started teaching until we saw a Book of Mormon. It turns out that my old companion Elder Chan had taught them. Also they are family with sister Jessica. Now all of them have baptism dates! I think it's amazing how the Lord leads us to those who are prepared.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ERIC!!! I didn't forget your birthday yesterday, but I'd being lying if I told you I did anything for you. Ha. Good luck driving. Take care of my car please.

(Eric just turned 16 yesterday (Sunday) and will be taking the test for his driver's license on Thursday...for those of you in Central Oregon, consider yourselves warned.)

Love you all,

Elder Sean Ryan Layton

Monday, August 31, 2009

Recent Converts in the Temple

Something I learned this week is numbers don't matter. Because Peru grows so dramatically fast sometimes it´s easy for us as missionaries to get caught up in the excitement of numbers… but…. We WON! Hahahahahhaha. This month the offices tried something new. They put out in our weekly mission news letter that the Zone with the most confirmations gets to go to lunch with President and his wife. I don't know HOW we did it but we had more than the jungle, here in good old Puente Piedra!!!!!

That's not very important though. Almost all of our converts are going to the temple this Saturday. We even have a couple investigators that are going up with the group to be able to see the temple. It's exciting to see the people we baptized on Saturday be able to go. Edith, Shirley, Geosselyn, and Junior were all confirmed on Sunday and had their temple interview after church.

I was able to baptize them all again… which I feel little bad about. The people in their baptism interviews almost always choose the Gringo….and honestly I would LOVE to give my companion more opportunities….but I guess it doesn't really matter that much.

15 Investigators came to church. The ward is growing dramatically because of how much the ward is working. We've done almost nothing! We helped the Mission Leader make up a ward mission plan a few weeks back, and we've been sharing it with all the members.

I still play the organ in church. The mission leader asked Elder Moreira and I to give the gospel doctrine class (Which is overflowing btw) so we taught about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and then after that I was able to present the mission plan to the adult members of the ward (on the 5th Sunday we teach about the missionary work). I feel thankful to be able to be in this ward. Our Bishop, Bishop Cabellos is inspired and loves the members. We finds time for everyone.

I just wanted to express my love for all of you. If you're reading this go to DearElder.com and write me a letter and tell me what's up, okay? I love hearing from you.

This week I had the experience of being attacked by fleas again. I love Peru and all the fleas….. just to describe the experience, it's worse than a mosquito bite and there are more of em. I'm on garlic pills again so hopefully that helps. The Lord will bless me according to my obedience to the laws of health….AHHH it itches!!! Hahahaha.

Bueno, perdon for the short letter.

Love,

Elder Layton

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Word From President Perez

This evening, we received an email from President Perez. It was sent via the assistants to the President, one of whom is Elder Landon Rich, now an Assistant to the President. It was sent to all parents of missionaries in the Peru Lima North Mission. The following are a few excerpts from that letter.

Dear Families of Missionaries in the Peru Lima North Mission,

It is an honor to be able to write you and express our thanks for the service that your sons and daughters are carrying out here in the mission. My wife and I are happy to have so many valiant young men and women that are giving all they’ve got, and even more.

Every six weeks we have the blessing of being with them, to interview them, train them, and visit their houses. It is in this way that we see the sacrifice they make every day with glad hearts, and we know that they are living many spiritual experiences.

Your missionaries know that if they work well and plan intelligently, the Lord will be with them. (D & C 84:88)

We want to again express to you our deepest gratitude; and please know that your missionaries are giving all for you. (D & C 118:3)

With much love,

President and Sister Pérez
President and Wife

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Thanks to Heavenly Father We've Been Blessed With Success

Hey what's up?

Things out here in Zapallal 1 of Puente Piedra are doing amazingly. I just got out of the temple. We woke up at 4:30 in the morning.... so of course I feel a little exhausted right now. I think we'll go home and sleep an hour or two before 6pm. We've been busy here working hard.

Thanks to my Heavenly Father we've been blessed with success beyond anything I could have ever hoped for.

13 INCAS! (Investigators in the Church) I was privileged again to be John the Baptist on Saturday! We baptized five people. William, a young man who has a brother in the ward but their parents aren't members. Leidy a young women and reference from the grandmother of Astrid (Astrid the girl we baptized two weeks ago). Claudia, a girl whose mother is less active. Rosa, the best friend of a women in the ward named Adela. Rosa has two little children and a husband but her husband is never home so we haven't had the opportunity to talk with him yet. Rosa had been taught by missionaries for a long time but they never challenged her to baptism. She accepted right away! Also we baptized Rosa's younger brother who's 19 years old!!! (I thought he was 16 before). All of them were confirmed on Sunday and are doing great!!!

I ate chicken feet this week. I would have to lie if I said they were delicious.

We contacted 202 people.

The girl that was baptized on Saturday named Leidy has two sisters Shirley and Giosselyn and a friend that lives with them named Edith. Leidy introduced us to them a while back and they're stoked for their baptism this week. Also a young man named Junior will be getting baptized this week. We've taught him all of the discussions as of last Thursday and a little in Church because it's impossible to find him because of work, but he's committed to come to his interview this week and be baptized on Saturday. Junior's great! He's fifteen years old and he has family that lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

On the 5th of September we'll be baptizing a man named Jesus (he'll really feel like John the Baptist on the 5th) who has been going to church forever but finally made the decision to get baptized. He told me a story about a while back his life was really messed up and he was about to join the Neo Nazis or something, but he has a changed spirit and I feel he's prepared for the 5th. Also a girl named Paola will be getting baptized on the 5th.

The cousins and brothers of Paola need a little more time to prepare. Jhair and Alizon her cousins and Martin her brother have baptism dates for September 19th. The mother would be getting baptized but she's not married. We taught her the law of chastity and we have to verify but I think she'll decide to split up from her boyfriend. The mom's been living with this guy for 20 years or something but he abuses her and I encouraged her that to live the law of chastity one of her options was to split up. She said that she wants to.

We also found a family that have 8 kids, the parents are married. We have an appointment to go back and the mom and 3 of the kids have baptism dates for September 12th. We have permission slips signed and everything so it should all go pretty smoothly.

Also a mom and her daughter came to church. The mom didn't have desires to get baptized but she signed the permission slip of her daughter Merlit and she wants to prepare for September 19th.

All I know is I haven't really done anything but be obedient and work hard. It's been hard being Senior companion but my companion is one of the best examples to me. I feel blessed more than I can explain.

Saturday was so funny. I got to the last baptism and Claudia didn't want to get into the water. She was screaming because the water was freezing cold... hahaha. After about 15 minutes with the help of her aunt and uncle she got into the water, step by step. Also when Rosa (Women with two kids) came up out of the water she made the loudest gasp of air of any baptism I've ever had. Funny stuff. She sounded like an injured animal or something.

That's about it. Hasta luego. The Gospel blesses lives.

I love you all, keep writing people!

Your Elder,

Elder Layton

Monday, August 17, 2009

Elder Layton Nearly Gets Baptized

Buenos Dias,

(Shown at left are Salym and Kelsey Costello. Kelsey is Elder Layton's cousin. I believe this was taken while they were on a Church History trip.)

Yes I received the packages! Thank you Aunt Karen and Kelsey, you guys are the best. Tell Austin thanks for the paper airplanes, I loved the tie. Kelsey I have to hide all the pictures of you and Salym because my companion kept looking at 'em…hmmm. I remember when I went back East. We went to Niagara Falls too! Those were good days. Anyway, after all the packages I know who loves me. Jaja.

I have a lot to talk about and very little time.

Our Zone wanted to make shirts like always and I was the only one who knew where the guy that makes them lives, so I went on a work visit with Elder Zuniga my district leader to my old area, Puente Piedra. The family that makes them was my very first baptism. Victoriano, his wife Elsa, and the kids Rocio and Christian (I call Christian Chino because he looks Chinese) It was an honor to say goodbye to them for the third time!

When I was over their we went to an activity at night. Ten minutes before we got there the Mitma family (my family that wants to get married and baptized) from Independencia passed by the church!!!! They asked a youth if she knew Elder Layton (Their house is in Puente and they moved back there. I told them I was coming to Puente at the same time too). She said that Elder Layton was here before in Puente but heard that I was in Zapallal. The Mitma family said they'd go look for me there…..ahhh. I missed them by 10 minutes. I gave the reference to my district leader so he'll be visiting them.

We had a baptism! We baptized Astrid (10 Years old), Flor de Maria (16 years with a baby boy), and Gisela (20 years old, she wants to serve a mission)! I finally got to use my new white clothes.
The baptisms really are the best times in the mission. Even though the water's freezing cold, I felt so much calmness and love from the people being baptized, their families, and friends. I heard Gisela went to a party after with the Young Adults and had a blast. Good stuff.

I don't have that many little missionary experiences to share…hmmm. We're working harder than ever. Twelve People came to church. Nine have baptism dates, and we have a few different families we're visiting. Also, we had interviews with President this week.

President talked about how every family should have a Preach My Gospel and that we should encourage families in the ward to use PMG for family home evening, and that it was one of President Hinckley's last wishes. He also talked about how we have to all go to Gethsemane in our lives and trust Jesus Christ.

Well, it was a pretty seriously hard week. The funniest part happened last night. I didn't sleep at all last night!!! I had the worst stomach ache of my life and I had to be walking around the room last night cause it was only a million times worse when I laid down. At about three, I woke up my companion to give me a blessing. He started out…. "Having been commissioned by…." When I realized he was trying to baptize me, I stopped him and told him he needed to wake up. After he got to his senses I was able to sleep, after six hours excruciating pain. It was a spiritual experience for me, and I know the priesthood is a real power. I'm thankful for every experience that I'm having and for the testimony I'm receiving.

Well…that's just about it. I love you and miss you much. I'm glad Eric's voice sounds like mine.

Elder Layton

Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm Learning More About Life From the Mission

(I had decided against using this picture in last week's post. Elder Layton has one of those awkward moment looks on his face. But I looked at it again this morning. Can you see why I decided to include it here?

I served my mission in the Mexico City South Mission. I miss the children more than anything else. They latch onto the missionaries and are so full of love and purity. Those who have served South and Central American missions know exactly what I'm talking about. And even if you didn't serve one of the Celestial missions, just look at the little boy for a minute. You'll get it.

I hope the he got some Cap'n Crunch with what looks to be chocolate milk! That's some genuine Peruvian cuisine right there. We used to eat our cereal out of cups just like those...but I don't ever remember getting the Cap'n. The milk cartons bring back some memories too.)

HOLA!!!

Every day I'm learning more about life from the misión. You have to make it through life. The thing is, we shouldn't focus on getting through it. Only in making it. I'm so happy right now.

Until this point in the change we haven't had a single baptism but it's only been one and one half weeks here in Puente and I stick to what I said in my last letter.

Elder Moreira's from Ecuador. He's an energetic little guy that likes to joke around a lot. We're working hard and finding lots of good people. His goal in life is to learn English so he can marry a gringa (a white girl) so that's kind of funny.

I won't be writing a ton today because we had an emergency this morning. A recent convert in our ward had an accident a couple days ago. Scalding hot water fell on her lap and her upper legs were burned really bad. We went right after church yesterday so see how she was. The family said they didn't have enough money to go to the hospital so this morning Elder Moreira and I hiked up the mountain to give her my Neosporin. Yes, mom, I'll be needing more. Thanks!

We have some great new investigators. We challenged 3 people to baptism yesterday (well, more, but 3 accepted baptism dates). We visited the house of a member where the member's the only member of the church in his house. His brother William accepted to be baptized on the 22nd, his mom signed the permission slip (she's Evangelical, yes, we've talked with her too), and he's excited about going shopping this week for a white shirt and tie!

We challenged a man 24 years old that lives close to William that we contacted about a week ago named Elvis. His hair looks exactly like Elvis Presley. He accepted to be baptized on the 29th. He'll need a lot of help.

We also challenged the mom of Gisela. Gisela's mom just returned from travel and accepted a baptism date for the 29th too. Sunday's are always great days!

That's cool about Nana giving a talk yesterday. I gave one too. But unlike her, I found out 5 minutes beforehand when they announced it to the ward. I always love surprise talks in the mission. That's what our daily study's for.

(From a talk of Daniel Judd)

Examples of the Sons of Mosiah. Mormon describes how they had become valuable instruments in bringing the Lamanites unto repentance. He recorded that the sons of Mosiah:

“Confess[ed] all their sins” (Mosiah 27:35).

“Searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God” (Alma 17:2).

“Had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting” (Alma 17:3).

“Had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation” (Alma 17:3).

Sought for “a portion of [the] Spirit to go with them” (Alma 17:9).

“Taught with power and authority of God” (Alma 17:3).

LOVE,

Elder Layton

Monday, August 3, 2009

We Must Come Unto Him With a Broken Heart

Dearest Family and Friends,

But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose.

(At left, Elders Soto and Layton during a recent preparation day in Indpendencia)

In this day is this profecy coming to pass. I testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I'm in an area called Zapallal 1, where we're in the middle of nowhere, and there are hills that top the hills in all my other areas combined. This area's huge... and this ward is functioning better than many wards I've seen in the states.

We had a couple of baptism dates when I entered and we ended yesterday with 8 baptism dates. Mostly youth and kids but we're focusing on finding families. It's difficult because there aren't that many people married, and out here in Zapallal mass weddings don't exist, God has blessed us and I know we'll find them. These Lamanites are blossoming as the rose.

Right now I have 10 rocks in my pockets. My companion does also. We have to carry around these rocks until someone is confirmed. Every rock symbolizes someone, so, as you can imagine.... we have the goal to baptize 20 people this change. I know looking back at my mission it would seem impossible, but we prayed and the Lord wants us to do it. I know that we can help 20 people into the waters of baptism. As of yet we have 0 so we have a lot of work left to do.

I'm grateful for you Papa, Mama, Nana, Eric, and Curtis. Keep working hard.

This week was new. I got here Wednesday in the afternoon and found out where we live! We live on a 45 degree hill. We open the door to walk into a small open area. On the right there are wooden stairs that lead up to a couple of different, small castle looking places, and then we get to our room. We don't actually have a door. It's a metal fence thing that we keep safe with a chain and padlock. It's extremely cold here, but finally we have warm water to shower. Hallelujah!

Elder Pontius in Indy gave me his snow hat because he finished up his mission, so now my ears won't be cold at night. Yes! Honestly Independencia's way behind me now.... I absolutely love this place.

Sometimes I think about all the commandments we have. There's so many. They seem so strict. Even Jesus taught that "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone..." But to say that we must obey every law that God gives us isn't like the Pharisees!!! Jesus taught something very important. Look at this:

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
 
Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.


I know that we must come unto Him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

Love,

Elder Layton

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back to Puente Piedra

Dearest Familia,

It was an amazing week. We had the baptism of Maryorie (That's Marjury in English) and a great on at that. Her entire family is inactive but her mother and grandmother and uncle came to the baptism service, and then came to church yesterday. Maryrie's great! A little girl 8 years old…. But she always comes to church and is an example to her family.

You Wont Believe It! Guess where I'm going again? For the third time?! PUEEENNNNTE PIEDDDRAAAA!!!! Que loco. I'm actually really excited. It's a great area, and I'll have a good companion, Elder Moreira (shown at left). He was in one of my anterior (previous) zones before so I know him a little. It`ll be my best change I can already feel it.

This week was a tough one actually in terms of finding new people to teach, or that want to progress. Apart from the investigators we are teaching there aren't tons of people in our minds because we had to leave several that really just weren`t putting in their parts. Alberto is still preparing for his baptism and everything. We`re also teaching his son. Although he didn't come to church I know he'll make it to the waters of baptism soon enough. He's really suffering with his amputated big toe…. It's getting better kind of. Give him another week and he'll be up and walking around.

I'd like to share with you something that the Lord has spoken in this dispensation for all of us through the prophet Joseph Smith:

For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and recievth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.
(D&C 58:26-29)

The word damned is like a dam on a river. These people can't progress or have something slowing them down.

Obedience isn’t just to complete with the minimum and the written rules. God wants us to follow His example and learn to create, work, experience life, love, do things without be told, avoiding laziness.

Bueno, realmente estoy muy agradecido por todos las cartas. (Well, I really am very grateful for all of the letters.) I even got on from Uncle Danny! That was cool. Also I'd like to give a shout out to Kelsey Costello. You rock.

Please keep praying for the mission and the people here that are able to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm so thankful for every one of you. Thanks for everything. The mission is amazing.
 
Love,

Elder Layton

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Missionary's Family

One concern in creating this Blog was that we DO NOT want to create the impression that we somehow feel that our missionary is so unique and special that he needed to have this venue for his experiences to be published for the world to see. We think the world of our son, but realize that he's not any more important to us than another son or daughter is to his/her parents and family. Hopefully this Blog has served a better purpose and will continue to provide a setting where family and friends, who want to do so, can easily follow how things are going for Elder Layton.


That said, we admit...every time we get an email or a letter or pictures or just about anything, we feel just like a kid at Christmas. There is something uniquely peculiar about the way a missionary parent feels on mail day. You have to keep reminding yourself that this isn't the first time that people have sent their son or daughter on a mission. In fact, it's happened hundreds of thousands of times before and the truth is that your son or daughter is a spec in a huge army for the Lord...a spec, but one that is known by the Lord individually. And of course, one that is treasured by his or her family as well.


So when we received a small package with letters and pictures this weekend, it just completely filled us with joy. I'll post some excerpts below and I'll also be updating the pictures link with some of the photos we've received - that haven't been included yet. Much of the letters were personal and won't be posted.


(To Mom) How's it going? I miss you guys lots.I have all the emails I get from you every week. They're the greatest. It's something I look forward to every Monday. Bueno, I'm tired. We have long days and never enough time to sleep - but that's the life of a missionary. It's harder than I ever thought but also better than I thought. I've grown so much - it's more than I can give thanks to Heavenly Father for but I know that I still have mucho more to learn and more importantly people to teach and baptize.


Truthfully, I love the mission. I miss you but I think I'll stay here, perhaps even until the day I die - like Ammon. We'll see if I get permission.


(To Eric and Curtis) There's lots of stories about brothers in the scriptures extremely cool like Nefi and Lehi in the Book of Mormon, Peter and Andrew in the Bible and others, but I'd like to talk a little bit about two brothers that were really good brothers.

Joseph and Hyrum were some of the best brothers. Joseph Smith was called of God and prepared by God and Angels in all the things he needed to know about...the Gospel and the Church, but once the Church was restored, well, actually all his life he was faced with challenges, but especially after. When many people rejected Joseph and the Saints, his brother Hyrum was always right by his side.


Before the Church was organized Hyrum was actually far away but wanted to help out his brother because of the strong testimony he had of the truth of the restoration. Hyrum travelled all the way to Pennsylvania to find his brother and ask what he could do to help...Joseph and Hyrum were best friends. In fact, I don't think there was anyone in Joseph's life than Hyrum...

I'm loving Peru. It's absolutely GREAT out here. There's nothing better than the mission...This weekend we're baptizing 3 people. I'll let you know in my email if it all goes well.


(To Briana) You appear like a princess in your graduation pictures. You are beautiful and have changed a TON! I won't be showing them to any more missionaries. Elder **** from *** already saw them when I was opening your letter and he started drooling. That's not appropriate, is it?

Honestly, I can't believe you graduated. It's weird. Listen - I know you're going to BYU - I (by the way, the "I" stands for illiterate (Briana says it stands for intellectual) - no, I think it's a good school) BUT you are hereby restricted from having a boyfriend until I come home and until I release the suspension.

PSS - Kelsey Costello writes me a ton. We're BFFs for sure.


(To Dad) You know - sooner than you think, you'll be a grandpa. (Not if Briana believes him about the boyfriend restriction.) Weird. Sorry to make you feel older than you really are. So rumor has it that I'm leaving Independencia - but who knows, it's what the hermanas told my zone today. They were at the office and I think they saw the changes. Whatever, not important. I've really learned to follow the advice of President Uchtdorf to Lift Where You Stand. It doesn't matter the calling - the area - the situation - we lift where we are.


(The following was written in Spanish - and is the English translation)

I don't know why I'm writing in English. Dad, I'm working the best that I can. There's no way I can express my love and appreciation for the Lord and you and my President...

Well - you told me that I should find recipes of the food that I like...well - truthfully, after two years I don't really want to eat this food again, but I'll look. Tell mom that everything's good. I don't need anything. Only candy and toothpaste. I truly love you and miss you.