Monday, May 25, 2009

Life Decisions

Hey Mom, Dad, Nana, Eric, and Curtis and anyone reading this...

This Week was fun! We worked hard. We've been having a hard time getting people to church. We literally have to drag them out of their houses…. But the investigators are doing well. We have a family that will get married on the 20th of June. A new family came to church yesterday Dante, Aide, and their daughter. The great thing is they're already married. They went to church one time before but their schedule is crazy and we got permission to teach them at 9 at night because it's the only time they have, so we'll see what happens!

Earlier this week we had interviews with President Perez. He's a great president. He always gives me scriptures to memorize or read. He gave me a scripture way different than normal this week. It's Doctrina y Convenios 128:15...I learned a lot.

So before I talk about the mission something kind of funny happened this week. I have a stalker. We were teaching a girl named Jenela a lesson three days ago and when we left, her dog Shadow followed us. We went to dinner 20 minutes away, and the dog was still with us. At our Pension's house there's a girl dog named Buddy and I jokingly told my companion that Shadow and Buddy could be novios. After dinner we walked to our room and Shadow followed. The next morning we were eating in our pension again and I looked out the door. You can probably guess…. He was outside, with his friend Buddy. Then this morning I went to our fourth story window and looked down…. Shadow was standing by the door. What's his problem! I never gave him any food or anything he just started stalking us. Weird.

I think I told you a little about this area… Ermitano is cold, like all of Lima. Not much sun, but a lot of sunburn. Our area is full of Labyrinth and is just like the stairs on Lord of the Rings! It's almost straight up in some parts and the houses are all put together so it feels exactly like a maze most of the time.

This week we've been teaching a girl named Alexandra. We have permission to teach from her mom but her dad is VERY Catholic and believes his daughter has to be Catholic too. He locked away her Book of Mormon, but luckily her Uncle that lives right above her is the Bishop. We left a Book of Mormon in the bishops house so she can read. She's really the best. Alexandra's only 12 but has one of the strongest testimonies I know. Her mom and dad split up because Alexandra wanted to be baptized and the mom was giving her permission. Her parents weren't married in the first place so it was a good thing as far as I'm concerned but what we really want to do is talk with the dad, something we've never done. I guess he leaves really early and gets back at around 11. If it weren't for Bishop, Alexandra and her little brothers would be alone all day! We've been talking to her mom and I have high hopes for her making some life decisions that will help her family. As for Alexandra, she says "The only thing I want right now is to be baptized in the true Church of Jesus Christ".

Well, Independencia has turned out to be a tough little area but we're holding out. I love being close to the offices. It only means I get my letters and little packages with candy every week! YES! And my Zone Leader Elder Barba sitting next to me right now just reminded me it's my 11 months! Kind of sad….. Missionaries run out of time so fast.

Grandma Chiechi!!!!! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH good luck with everything and I'll be praying for you and Grandpa. I know everything will be all right. I wish I could be there but just keep being strong.


Elder Layton

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Living Apostle Teaches How Happiness is Found

For reasons, some personal and others obvious, I love Elder Richard G. Scott. He is a living apostle of Jesus Christ and a very loving man. This short message is beautiful and has application for me, Elder Layton, his family and friends, those he is teaching, and every person reading this blog. Watch it with an open heart and see if you don't feel a certain confirmation inside you that tells you that he is speaking the truth. Before viewing, make sure you turn off the music on the sidebar.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I Do Miss You All But In a Good Way

Buenos Dias!

The investigators are doing great!!! We only had 4 people come to church….BUT, there is a possibility of baptizing up to 8 people on the 30th of May. Well see. We found several young men that flat out said they want to get baptized, but they didn't go to church, nor do they have past attendances so they’ll be for June. 505 for the mission in May though. We have to do it.

One of the youth we found is named Josmel. He was a reference, 18 years old, and has the craziest questions. He asked us what we thought about aliens and phantoms. He asked how Noah could fit all those animals on his boat. I told him the most important thing is to first ponder the questions of life. Why are we here? Why do we need to live the gospel? Questions like that. I showed him a few scriptures. After explaining all that, he asked, what do guys believe about cloning? Ugh... he's great though. He listens, reads, and is progressing.

So far we've kind of gotten to know the members. The thing is we haven't received much help. It's the most important thing for the members of the ward to work closely with the missionaries and vice versa. We're working on it. Before we came in there wasn't really any plan for the missionary work in the ward. I'd love to start our just getting references and having members accompany us. But of course the work goes on, no matter what. We have 5 baptism dates for the 30th. This week were already working for June!

Everyone, thanks for reading the blog if you do. Every Monday morning I feel overwhelmed with thanks just from what my parents tell me and how well everyone's doing. I do miss you all, but in a good way. It keeps me working hard.

Actually since I'm on that topic I'd just like to say something about hard work. Christ told us that we must take up our own cross. Elder Holland proclaimed that salvation is NOT a cheap experience. The Prophets and saints in every period of time have made huge sacrifices for the work of the Lord, and for battle of good verses evil. Elder Talmage wrote in Jesus the Christ that the Lord requires our ALL! Why do we even give thanks? Do we realize that God has given us everything? And that it is His whole work to give us more? Don’t waste time. Do all that you can.
I was thinking the other day about what a returned missionary once taught. The stake council asked him something like this: "What's the one thing missionaries in the field lack the most?" He told them it was a good work ethic. For the most part its true. There are some missionaries who have the desires and the testimony to preach the gospel, but aren't willing to give it everything. I've been through it. I wish I knew how to work hard before my mission, and didn't have to learn it ON the mission. (Mom and Dad think he's being just a bit too hard on himself.)

Well….that's about it I think. Nothing crazy happened. I'm happy. Keep Writing!

In a separate quick note to mom, Elder Layton responded to our question about any lingering effects of Dengue. He wrote:

" get Dengue from the mosquitos in the jungle. Hermana Perez sent me straight to Lima because the second time you get it, it's a lot worse I guess. There's really barely any risk of anything serious happening but it's a rule. People have died from Dengue in the past. I hope that answers your question. I'm not bummed at all. Lima's the best."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Unofficial Comprehensive Missionary Handbook

We received a CD with several dozen pictures today. You can view them all by clicking the link at the sidebar on the right. We've taken the liberty to create our own unofficial missionary handbook for current and future missionaries. But we're fairly sure these guidelines are all in the official one somewhere.

As soon as you fly into (or drive into) your area, perform an intial assessment of your new assignment.

If you don't fly in, it helps to find a high vantage point with a great view of your surroundings.

Visit people in their public places.

Visit them in their homes

You've been sent to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to every creature. Sometimes those who have been prepared will live in homes in unusual settings. Don't let that stop you.

If you happen to be assigned to an area with high density housing, you should be able to contact at least twenty people per hour...

...especially if you have good transportation.

...unless you happen to encounter natural barriers from time to time.

You can get to know the locals.

They will come in all shapes, colors and sizes.

Just don't get too close. There will come a time when you are called to go to a new area. Encourage the local members to participate in the process through friendshipping. Missionaries should never allow investigators to become permanantly attached.

No Elder! That's way too close!

Of course, it goes without saying. Don't ever get into a fight. But if you just must, make sure you have the reach advantage. A missionary with a broken jaw will have a hard time teaching.
Eat lots of good healthy food. You'll need the energy.

Here's a little known fact. Missionaries around the world are now encouraged to have pets. Only adopt a pet monkey if it has extremely adorable eyes.

Love all of your companions.

Since you'll be spending lots of time together, you'll want to have bonding time.

You will end up doing just about everything together.

But c'mon...that's just a little weird.

That's better.

Appreciate those who are willing to feed you. Otherwise, you might end up getting on their nerves a little.

Attend all of your zone conferences and other meetings.

Serve the people often and you will grow to love them more deeply.

Some of them will be people you never forget.

If you do these things, the Lord will bless you with lots of success. That's great, but I said, "lots of success".

That's incredible...but I'm talking about A LOT of success.

There you go!

You'll come away with the best feeling in the world.

And there will always be time for relaxing later.

Once a week you'll have a day to relax and take care of personal business. Sometimes you'll just hang out with the other missionaries in your area. They'll always be great friends, even if some of them have questionable taste. (A LONGHORN FAN IN PERU!?!?! GO DUCKS!!!!)

You'll get an occasional chance to keep fit with local sports...

...and try the local cusine.

Even a rare game is allowed.

But of course, after your breather, there's much more work to be done. When all is said and done, you'll look back at the time on your mission and be grateful for the people you've known, the lives you've been a part of, the work that has been accomplished and for the blessings that you have experienced and helped others to experience.

And when the time does come when it's your turn to return home, your life will be forever blessed because you served the Lord with all of your heart, might, mind and strength. It will be time to return to college, career choices and lots of good friends.

In anticipation of that time, the Church has provided parents of current missionaries with the following form. It will quite useful for returned missionaries - especially those who have intentions to return to the "Y". Click to enlarge and if you feel you qualify, print it out and keep it in a secure location until AFTER the return of your favorite missionary.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Physicians in the Name of the Great Physician


Yesterday was the best. I love talking to you guys but it only made me miss you more. I'm doing excellent. All I can think about though right now is how hard we need to work this week. We only have this week to help people get baptized in May. They have to have 2 attendances in church before the actual baptism.

We found an 18 year old young man yesterday named Josmel. It was a reference we recieved the other day. When we went we found out a guy that lives with him is a member and he has old friends that went on missions but lost contact with them. Basically he is GOLDEN. Accepted everything and wants to be baptized. We have several more referencias that seem like sure baptisms.

Theres no way to describe the experience of helping somebody change. It's kind of crazy - we walk into the homes of people three or four times our age and help them come to Christ. Of course they are almost always wiser, smarter, more experienced than us. The difference is that we are the physicians elder Holland spoke about, coming in the name of the Great Physician. I've been out 10 months and I'm definetly NOT a seasoned physician yet, but it feels good to help in every way I can. We HAVE to forget EVERTHING the world's ever taught us. We have to give 24/7 365 twice.

I envy Elder Pullan for being able to be at the MTC when Elder Holland came actually…. But everything Ricky my awesome cousin said is true. So Dad, thank you for telling me about Jordan Hollowell. If I could give him advice I would say that there's nothing more important for him at this time in his life than his mission. Prepare now. Dont wait until the MTC. And have fun too. If I'm not mistaken Jordan and I have the same birthday March 6th? Im not sure. I respect the fact that hes decided to serve. Thank you Jordan.

Ummm….. what more? I LOVE WORKING HARD!!! I was such a lazy kid before my mission. Seriously. We have to work like burros out here, so the sooner a missionary learns to love to work is when the missionary can really enjoy every single experience. The thing is, if you don't work hard you won't be able to enjoy every experience because you most likely won't have them. I love in the Book of Mormon how much it talks about diligence. A lot!

My companion Elder Chan, also known as Jackie Chan is just great. Were on the same page here. He has 16 months in the mission. I really loved President Rau's thought about “Dew from Heaven.” How we can feel the rain on our faces and we know when it is raining, but dew often times comes without our knowing. It's true.

If I didn't answer other questions sorry…. Elder Gomez, my companion from Puente Piedra is from California USA. A gringo bamba. My Mission President's great. Kelsey Costello, Grandma and Grandpa Layton, and my Parents are winning in respect to letters. I LOVE LETTERS! GABE!!!! I'm sending you a letter out soon man. Congrats on getting your mission call. You're an example to me. Don't go on (double) dates with adults.


Elder Sean Ryan Layton

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Mother's Day Call

Mother's Day and Christmas. Those are the 2 highlights every year for every missionary family. Sean called from Peru at 5:00 P.M. tonight and we were able to speak with him for about one hour. It seemed more like 10 minutes. Here are some of the highlights.

Mom - Why did you get an emergency change from Iquitos?

Elder Layton - I got dengue 4 weeks into Iquitos. I was in the hospital for 4 days -I was really sick, had a fever and was throwing up. I won't be going back to the jungle. Sister Perez (Mission President's wife) feels pretty strongly about that kind of stuff. It's all right though. It's all the same work. That's all that matters, it doesn't matter where. (Mom kind of speechless at this point. Dengue is a potentially fatal disease spread by mosquitoes.)

Mom - The explosion - was it a bomb or a propane tank that blew up?

Elder Layton - It was like a bomb, but it was a propane tank.

Mom - Do you like your new area?

Elder Layton - Yes, I love it.

Mom - You have a little bit of a Spanish accent.

Elder Layton - Do I?

Mom - Are you doing really well with the language?

Elder Layton - Yes, they compliment me on my language. Everyone understands me now.

Elder Layton - The mission's great. I'm doing really well. Me and my companion came here together, we didn't really know anybody. We didn't have any investigators. We've found several now. Today we sacamos una fecha (set a date or appointment) with one young man and he's going to get baptized on the 30th. Lot's of others are progressing.

Dad - You're pretty close to the mission home now, right?

Elder Layton - Yeah, we're really close. About the jungle, everyone says "you're not coming back", but that's not what my mission's all about (referring to the fact that it is pretty unlikely that he will be heading back into the jungle as a missionary).

Mom - Was Iquitos the same or different than Pucallpa?

Elder Layton - Iquitos is like Pucallpa.

Mom - Do you like your companion?

Elder Layton - Yeah, he's awesome. We call him Jackie Chan. He's a good teacher, always gets up on time.

Mom - What's your apartment like?

Elder Layton - Our apartment is great. There's only 2 things. We have a cement floor and there's no hot water. In the jungle that doesn't matter, but in Lima, it's cold in the mornings. There is no hot or cold water. There's only water. You have to buy it.

Dad - What's the culture like there? I mean, what is the food like, what are the people like...

Elder Layton - In Puente this lady told us we were eating seal, but it was dolphin. It's illegal to fish for dolphin - that's why she told us we were eating seal.

Mom - Are you having a hard time speaking English?

Elder Layton - Yes

Mom - Did you really eat slugs?

Elder Layton - Yes, I didn't really like them - it took me almost an hour to eat 6 of them. They were pretty gross. I chewed on them a lot.

Dad - How do you think you've changed the most?

Elder Layton - Like right now, I really miss you guys. In college I didn't really care (laugh). I miss you guys a lot. It's not like I think about it a lot. I just feel different.

Curtis (Sean's 9 year old brother) - What has been the best experience on your mission?

Elder Layton - Your voice has changed. When we married 6 couples, baptized 1 and set dates with the Pucallpa. Everyone wants to get married but it costs money - it's part of repentance so when we help them get married , it helps them progress. If we find families with those desires, we just teach them like normal.

Curtis - What is your favorite food?

Elder Layton French Fries - they're just fried potatoes in grease. They bring me closer to home. We eat rice every day. It's what people have.

Curtis - What have you learned on your mission?

Elder Layton - (Laugh) Tons of things. Mostly about the attributes of Jesus Christ. You can't be a good missionary and not live all of them. I try to live them all, but I don't live always. You have to have patience, charity, be obedient and diligent. All those attributes I've learned.

Curtis - Are you fluent in Spanish?

Elder Layton - Yes. I want to learn more languages when I get back. Maybe do an exchange program when I get back for 6 months. I'd like to learn Italian and go see my cousins in Italy.

Elder Layton (someone told him that Eric was getting pretty tall - maybe it was Eric) - I was looking at a picture of our family. He didn't look as tall as me. You're taller than me now?

Eric - Yes

Elder Layton - I have to beat you up when I get back then. Are you getting straight A's?

Eric - Yes, I got straight A's last quarter.

Elder Layton - What about this quarter?

Eric - Yeah, I think I'm getting straight A's this quarter too. I'm trying.

Elder Layton - Don't talk about it, be about it. That's the thing. Always do your very best in whatever you're doing.

Eric - What's the funniest thing that's happened to you?

Elder Layton - Well, it's probably not appropriate but one time there was a drunk guy walking naked down the street. Lots of funny things...I don't know. One time we were teaching a lesson and a monkey jumped on my arm.

Dad - Are you able to use your music very much?

Elder Layton - "Yeah, I played piano today for Church. They were happy. They don't usually get an Elder who plays."

Mom - Does it seem like you've been out for nearly one year?

Elder Layton - Time isn't the same. You just work really hard.

Elder Layton - (responding to another question about the food) Rice...they do it. I'll do it. For breakfast we just usually have this really hard bread - like rocks. That and Hace (pronounced ah-say) Tuna. We had this tamale and it had this really hot olive in the middle. They put olives in the middle of things. They hide them there.

Elder Layton - There's dogs everywhere. A lot of them have diseases and stuff. The cats here have personalities. If you scratch a cats head, they'll go crazy. Nobody pets them here.

Dad - What advice would you give Eric, Curtis and Briana as they prepare to serve missions?

Elder Layton - Honestly I should have done better. I knew the scriptures but not as well as I should have. You guys should be kind to your parents, be obedient, be grateful for what you have. People here have a really hard time. I want to help them out a lot of times, but I can't. My pension in Iquitos and her husband really ran the ward. The Bishop went inactive, the ward started was supposed to start at 8:00 but we never started until 9:00. A lot of things they say aren't really right or they start late. You do your best. Lima's a little more how it's supposed to be. You have to have a lot of patience though. You want to just take over but you can't do that. You have to help them on the side. You should learn to love the scriptures. I've learned you don't need to read an entire book every time you sit down to read. But read every day. Pray morning and night.

Elder Layton - The family we stayed with in Iquitos (the Pension)...he didn't have a job. He was always doing paperwork and was at home. He just couldn't find anything. Lots of men just leave their families for 6-12 months at a time and go somewhere where they can find work. He wouldn't do that. He didn't want to leave them alone. Sometimes he would just say, "Elders, we don't have food to give to you today.

Elder Layton to Briana - I'm working really hard and trying to be a good example to you guys.

Dad - Gabe West got called on a 2 year temple mission today. He'll be working in the Portland, Oregon temple with his parents." (Gabe is a good friend of Sean's - 20 years old - confined to a wheelchair. He has spina bifida.)

Elder Layton - That's so great. I'm going to write him a letter tomorrow.

Mom - Is there anything you need?

Elder Layton - No, not really. We can buy pretty much anything we need here. Well, maybe some kind of anti-bacterial or anti-fungal spray. I have some mold or bacteria or something growing on me." (Mom semi-speechless again) I'm going to be in Lima forever. That's good though. There's some really cool things about being in Lima. Like now, I get to go to the temple every month. When I was here before, I couldn't go. I was sick then too. I was sick a lot at the beginning of my mission. I'm healthy now (except for the mold).

Dad - As you look forward to the second half of your mission, what would you like to accomplish that you haven't in the first half?

Elder Layton - Yeah, I want to memorize one scripture every day. I did it for awhile, but stopped. I started again yesterday. Really there's nothing new. I just want to continue to progress and do better in everything.

(At this point, he gave us a part of his first lesson in Spanish. He speaks it pretty well and fast. He said that they challenge people to baptism early, and let them set their own dates. They use their own agency.)

Dad - What are some of your favorite scriptures?

Elder Layton - I love the D&C and the Book of Mormon, especially where Christ appears to the Nephites. I love D&C 121.

Elder Layton - The hardest thing is to get people to come to Church.

Mom - How are the kids? Are the kids neat?

Elder Layton - Yeah

Mom - Do you ever play in primary anymore (early in his mission he played the piano in primary)?

Elder Layton - No

Mom - Is there any more bad stuff that you haven't told us?

Elder Layton - Like mold growing on your skin? No. I talk to hundreds of people every day. A lot of them shout "Gringo!" It's funny. I'm the only white person here. Everyone just stares at me like I'm some kind of freak.

We all had some personal moments, expressions of love were shared, feelings of appreciation and thanks were offered. He then said this to the kids primarily but to all of us.

Elder Layton - Work really, really hard in everything. If you're going to do something, do it all the way. Don't do it halfway.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Plates of Laban

I was nosing around the Landon Rich Blog and found that Sr. Rich had posted these videos linked to YouTube. The video is of a skit that the missionaries performed while in Pucallpa. It's about Nephi and his brothers getting the Plates of Brass from Laban. There is no sound but if you're familiar with the story, you can see what's going on. And if you're not, you can always read up! Although there's no sound, you still might want to turn off the playlist music found on the toolbar at the right before watching.

(Part 1)

(Part 2)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Missionaries + Members + Mushroom Cloud = Service Opportunity

(At left, about one month ago, the missionaries from Pucallpa staged a skit based on the Plates of Laban. Everything was authentic, down to the cotton T-Shirts and the tie-headbands. We "borrowed" this and other pictures of the event from Sister Rich (thanks!), whose son is also serving in Peru.)

Hola, This was one of the best changes ever! Well…. 2 weeks of a change. Don't worry about anything. An emergency change just means you get changed in the middle of the change. I'll tell you about it on Mother's Day.

I'm happy everyone's doing so well. Nana, congrats on getting your braces off. I'm sure you have a fabulous smile. Eric and Curtis, good luck on scouts and school and stuff. Yes Nana, I did get your letter.

The last couple weeks with Elder Gomez has been a good experience. He has a lot of time and was in the offices as personal secretary before Elder Rich, so he knows a lot about the mission and I've learned a lot from him. I found out my new change just 10 minutes ago. I'm going to Independencia with an Elder in my Zone named Elder Chan from Guatemala and he has 15 months in the mission or something. I'm stoked to get working in the new area.

I was glad to get all your letters and packages. Thanks for the easter candy.

I thought that was awesome Ricky's teacher is Dane Brock. He was always my example growing up. I even went and listened to his band several times while I was at BYU and it rocked btw. Elder Pullan should be doing good by the way so don't worry about not being able to talk to him Uncle Rick and Aunt Michelle. I miss him and sure he's going to be one of the best.

I had a kind of scary experience this week. Yesterday actually. I was in church finishing up some paperwork with my companion when there was a huge explosion. I literally felt air and I could see the plastic windows bend in. We ran outside and I saw a mushroom cloud. The hospital's right next to the church. The ambulances left, and we followed because one of the hermanas jokingly said that Doctor Espichan's house was probably part of the explosion cause there was a Propane gas station right across from his office and house.

We were only 3 or 4 blocks away. As we were getting closer I could see all of the windows of every house were broken. Even some doors were thrown in and broken down. Honestly I was just scared for Brother Espichan cause he's an old friend of mine and he'd already left church. Nothing happened to him or his family thankfully. 13 people were injured from the bomb's explosion. We changed into our street clothes and called all our appointments to reschedule and just helped them all yesterday clean up. Doctor Espichan's office and house was full of huge glass windows, and glass containers for the medicine. Because of the bomb it was broken all over the floor and counters.
The greatest thing I saw though was that more than 20 members all helping out yesterday. The inspectors and city cleaning crew asked me who everybody was helping out. I told him our religion helps, serves, and blesses the people. I know it's true. I saw so much love from all the members yesterday. These people were really just serving God. Someone told me they saw us on tv so that's cool, and I saw BOMBA (bomb or explosion) on the front cover of the newspapers this morning on the bus. The craziest thing though is most the missionaries in my Zone all heard it from their areas.

I love you all. Keep writing and everything. I'm excited for our goal of 505 this month of may. That's 505 baptisms in the month of may for our mission. 505 baby! Work's hard. Love, Elder Layton