Monday, March 30, 2009

We Have to Know That He Really Suffered and Lived For Us

Dearest Everyone,

Iquitos is the place to be. Right now I'm sitting next to Elder Ridge. Tambien my papa (trainer), Elder Acevedo's here and I here Elder Griffin's in my Zone. The airplane ride to Iquitos wasn't too exciting. We had some unexpected turbulence and Elder Hyde and I were victims of the scalding hot coffee behind us. Elder Hyde got the worst of it I think.

Iquitos is great. It's sand instead of the dirt in Pucallpa so no more dust in our eyes. I think that was the only real downside of my last change.
Our ward mission leader's the best. His wife's our pension and he has a particularly big interest in the work of the Lord.
I'm way excited to get this place moving. It's kind've been hard to start out cause my compi, Elder Hernandez and I (He's Columbian) are opening an area. Basically we do a lot more contacting and working with all the members… not just the less actives. It's great though!! We have two wards so little time on Sunday to work a lot but it's good.

Iquitos is very clean. Compared to Pucallpa the people here are more accepting to the missionaries. I think if we just keep being obedient and diligent we'll be able to have success. It's amazing to be here. I don't miss Pucallpa that much cause I know I'm supposed to be here, but I do miss the people. They were my family. In April Elder Rojas is going to baptize our family of 8…we baptized two already. Yeah, that's about it for the news.
There's more jungle here and we're next to a big river. Oh yeah….my area is 9 de Octubre and Internacional.
I'm reading Jesus the Christ right now. It's an amazing book, like everyone says. Everyone, I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I don't know why in the world we lose sight of that sometimes. We have to know that he really suffered and lived for us. His example was amazing! Every single temptation he overcame. He completed everything his Father sent him to accomplish. We can do the same.
Something I learned in the mission is that we can't do the work of the Lord if we aren't obedient. Maybe it seems impossible to be 100% obedient? It's not. It's hard no mas (It's not hard now). If you want spiritual experiences go out and get them. The Lord wants us to see miracles. The Lord wants us to be closer to his presence. I think that if we completely understood that and only had faith more of us would be progressing a lot faster.

Happy Birthday to Andrea, Nathan, Gabe, ….and all the other March birthdays I can't remember right now! (Elder Layton's birthday was on March 6th)

I love you guys and pray for all of you. Pray for my investigators!

Elder Layton

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Iquitos Video

Elder Layton is probably on his way to Iquitos right now. I found this video online that appears to give us a fairly good idea of what it is like there. Make sure you pause the music on the right sidebar (under Blog Playlist) before playing the video. Also, if you hit the little rectangle at the bottom part of the video, it will increase the size to full screen.

Monday, March 23, 2009

They're All My Family and Everything


Iquitos is located in the Northern part of Peru in the Amazon Basin. It is the largest city in the world (about 400,000 people) not accessible by roads. Access is limited by plane or boat. Three rivers, including the Amazon, surround the City.

Click Here for some great information on Iquitos or Here to learn more about the Amazon River.

Left - to give a bit of perspective, the Amazon River is well over 1 mile wide at this point. The Amazon is the largest river in the world in terms of flow, and with some controversy(according to Guinness Book of World Records), it is also the longest, even surpassing the Nile.

Iquitos, like Pucallpa, is subject to flooding during the rainy season. Many of the local homes are built on stilts.

Padres!!! Amigos!!!

VOY A IQUITOS!!! I'm excited obviously, but I'm kind've bummed at the same time to leave everything and everyone in Pucallpa. It's my favorite. It's time though, I've been here 4 and a half months.

This week's been the hardest and the best week I've ever had. We ended up marrying 6 couples. Leyder and Romi were baptized right after the wedding. We helped marry Leyder y Romi, Americo y Nilma, Isaac y Aurora, Eduardo y Stephanie, Cesar y Betty Luz, and Sarita y Jose. On Saturday we baptized Prisila y Antoni, the kids of Cesar y Betty. They actually have a family of 9 so the rest of their family will be baptized on 11th of April. It was actually really amazing to meet the goals of the mission. I know I can take what I learned here to Iquitos.

The changes are crazy. Elder Rojas is staying here in our area. I'm grateful for that because he knows everyone. I'm going to miss everyone here a ton. They're all my family and everything.

Elder Hyde is going to Iquitos, but a different Zone than me. Elder Stewart is going to Bolivia. And of course Elder Rich is staying here, holding down Pucallpa.

Everyone, the mission's the best!!!

Elder Layton

(Thanks to Sr. Rich for forwarding us the pictures at the left. They were taken in Pucallpa and sent by her son, standing to the right of Sean in the both pictures, Elder Landon Rich.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fishers of Men

Sean and Briana (left) were conquering local fishing spots as soon as we moved to Oregon. Sean was seven years old. Now at twenty, he's still fishing both literally (see last post) and figuratively.

Locos! I never said pday was on Monday. We had to change that one day no mas when President came. haha. Well, I have a ton to tell you and barely any time.

I love the mission. I'm learning so much, and serving the people only gets easier. Everyday I feel more love for them.
Well, I want to tell you about Friday. On Friday Elder Rojas and I both prayed before we left the house to help our couples get married. Finally thanks to our great new Zone Leaders we have a wedding. For real. They were rejected by a couple municipalidades and some other places but we kept trusting in the Lord. Somehow they gave us the best deal ever.
Only DNI (that's like a drivers license) , a birth certificate, and sixty soles (Peruvian currency). If they don't have the birth certificate they can pay and additional 10 soles. THANK U!!! So it turns out we're marrying 4 couples, maybe 5. We are still trying to get all the paper work from the 5th. two of the couples are getting baptized the day after the marriage, and one of the couples are members. Eduardo, the member getting married is one of my best friends in the ward. He always takes us everywhere in his moto taxi.

Remember the funeral/ viewing we spoke at? Three of the non member couples are from there. Leder and Romi were investigators we've been teaching for a while. Isaac and Aurora were a surprise on Friday morning. They had all the papers and money ready for us, we had no clue they wanted to get married, and then they accepted a baptism date. Isaac was a man that basically bashed us in front of all the people in the funeral.....haha, well he announced that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost were one person. Somehow he had a change of heart and that was an easy obstacle to get over. I feel so blessed... Americo and Nilma, nonmembers, were also at the funeral. Americo's travelling right now but we're sure they will accept baptism as soon as he returns. The 5th couple we're still working on was a reference of Hermana Zulma. They are a family of 6 and we've been teaching the kids. We have baptismal permission from the parents but the kids decided they didn't want to get baptized unless they were baptized with their parents Cesar and Betty luz. we have to marry them, and I think we can pull it off even though the deadline passed a while ago.

Last night I had the privilege to baptize Carlos and Antonino!!! Carlos is 19 and has the hugest desire to serve a mission. I'm pretty sure he has other motives, like the girl he loves is LDS...haha, but he's great. Accepted everything we taught him because he received an answer that the Book of Mormon is true. He's preparing to receive the Priesthood next week.
Other than that we have other various baptism dates for this month. Homero, Leah, and Christian. They're all young men and women with desires.

This really is the work of the Lord. These people were prepared not by us, but by the Lord.


Elder Layton

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I Know Through Faith, Repentance and Keeping Covenants We Can Be Blessed

(Note: It looks like our letters may be coming on Tuesdays for now instead of Mondays. The first paragraph below was actually a quick follow up note he sent after his email.)

Oh yeah rained a lot. We walk on small little puentes (bridges) to get to our citas (appointments). The bridges consist of a board, and two other small pieces of wood for legs. All the kids jump out their doors and go swimming in the brown water, and no I haven't fallen in. hopefully that never happens. oh yeah.... one lunch while we ate I went fishing with a stick, a hook, and a piece of bread, and I caught a catfish. I wish I had my camera then. (I should have used the title, "Gone Fishing" for this post.)

Buenos Dias, I couldn't write you yesterday because we had interviews with president, so of course I got all of your letters!!! Loved 'em. Thank you for the package Grandparents in Vegas!!! The chocolate will last me a long time. No worries though, our pday changed to today. We just got done playing, in a stadium with the whole zone. Vacan. This week was a big week for us. I was a little bummed earlier this week cause all the photos I had on my camera were erased somehow. Luckily I got the pics my comp had and I made a couple cds before that happened so it's not that bad. I'll be sending em asap.

Everyone, this is the best time in my mission. There's nothing better than serving in the work of the Lord. Really I'm grateful for every one of you... my family, girlfriend, cousins, other leaders. Really, you've all helped me grow in so many ways. I got a letter from Elder Rau yesterday. He's doing so well. I can tell from his letters that he's striving to be exactly obedient and he's working hard. Same to all the other guys out in the field.

My Zone's doing great. President's happy with the results, but of course, being President, he wants more. It's so hard but I've never felt better. It's something you can't explain unless you've served a full time mission.... I love the work. It only feels right now like we´re straining to get over the next hill. I don't know if I'll be here another change, so of course we have to do everything here we can.

Yeah, my birthday was awesome. My comp invited tons of members and investigators and we watched Joepsh Smith profet of the restauracion. Hermana Lilia Reatagui (We baptized one of her grandkids Cesar, and next week I'm baptizing Antonino, a different one of her grandkids) gave me a hammock for my birthday........yeah. She knew exactly what I wanted haha. After that my comp caked me in the face and we went home happy.

I was thinking a lot about Alma this week. I'm in Helaman now, but it's so so so important. The first time in my mission when I read the BOM in the MTC I cruised through Alma 45 until Helaman....cause it's just war, war, war. But something that's so important is to look at what Moroni did. If everyone were like Capitan Moroni even the gates of hell would shake. We can be like him. These chapters teach us that he fortified his cities, prepared to defend against the Lamanites, and did everything possible to live righteously. But something that really hit me is that it explains his entire life... preparing to defend, until the end of his days. It's not just a few chapters and so what's the point? We have to do it. We can't just sit and do nothing, even if we think nothing bad's coming, or the enemy isn't even close. There was a time when the Lamanites attacked the City of Zarahemla in the middle of all the cities of the Nephites. The Nephites of course didn't expect an attack on the strongest part of their defenses. Because they weren't prepared, they fell. It's the same in our lives. We have to defend, fortify, and prepare always, like Moroni. I know these things are true, and I know through faith, repentance, keeping covenants, and living the commandments, we can be blessed and find more happiness and peace. Our families are so important.

Love you all,

Elder Layton

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Story (And Baptism) of Zulma Llerena Llerena

(Briana just showed us this picture that Andrea had posted on facebook. What we can't get over is...well, is this really the same kid that went to the Doctor's office and the Nurse asked, "Is he always this pale?")

This week went great. We had one baptism. Remember Zulma? We baptized her son a while back. Well, she finally committed to having an interview on Friday, and I had the chance to baptize her on Saturday and Sunday. (So does that count as two baptisms? We're thinking he baptized her Saturday and confirmed her on Sunday.)

The first time I visited Zulma was with Elder Paz. We visited her because she was in the old investigators section and her daughter was inactive. Ever since then we've been working with them.

The missionaries have visited her for about a year now, so she knows her stuff. She has a huge testimony, but when we committed her to be baptized she turned it down every time, even though she told us she knew the church was true. About a month ago we had a interview with her and she didn't we set a goal for 28 de Feb and didn't visit her for almost a month. After that we came back, asked if she was ready to get baptized, and there we go. The story of Zulma Llerena Llerena. She's a super mom cause she has two kids and her husband left, and she's going to make a great member.

Her baptism was funny..... we had it with another ward that had four baptisms. We were just about to start and the lights went out. YEAH! So I had a flashlight handy and we found a couple candles. Luckily for us we continued with the baptism by candlelight, and everything was perfect and of course right after the closing prayer the lights went back on....

Yeah, I knew Chelsea was getting married! I received a normal letter from her but she signed it – Chelsea Brynn or something like that. Haha, I was like- is that her middle name or is she engaged? Most the BYU girls fall fast haha, congrats Chels! ;) I have letters from Nathan and Jacob, and I've written one but I'm waiting to write more so I can send them home in one big package cause I have so many people to write.

Everyone, I want to leave a thought with you. I think I've talked about this before but it's something I've been working on for my investigators. Every great person in history started with one thing super important...their thoughts. If we think we can do something, good or bad, we can do it. The Lord wants His children to put all of their mind into his work. Even if we have distractions in our lives. Of course there aren't many distractions in the mission, but outside there are tons. I would invite everyone to put their thoughts in our real purpose. In finding happiness and in what we can accomplish. Like my AP Elder Herschi always says, "Impossible is nothing".

I love you alls!!!

Elder Layton