Monday, June 29, 2009

One Year Anniversary

Just a comment from dad...Elder Layton reached his one year mark in the mission last Thursday. I thought he might comment on it in his letter today, but didn't. Maybe he burned a tie or shirt or kept some other missionary tradition alive for his anniversary. I'll try to pry it out of him for next week's letter.

I Have Been Called of Him to Declare His Word

Buenos Dias,

How's everything going? Thank you mom for letting me know what's going on. Things have changed a lot by the sound of things. It's just weird that almost everybody's moving on to bigger and better things. Enjoy it now.

I'm doing great mom. Everything is going amazingly. If you want to know a little more about me, let me tell you. I've gained a lot of weight. I'm just about 200 pounds now but as skinny as ever. Hopefully I don't keep up the same rate our I'll come home fat.

What else… I'm learning to be more diligent every day. President gave me a good scripture to study in the interviews this week... 3 Nephi 5:13 . I looked up all the scriptures pertaining to "disciple" and "called" to understand the scripture better. I realized that a major problem in the mission is fear. Fear to give up our lives for the work of the Lord. Fear to follow the word that we've received. I've found that the only way to get rid of fear is to get rid of yourself…or lose yourself. Become a disciple of Christ, just like Jesus was a disciple of His Father.

I baptized Juan Carlos this weekend. He was seriously happy to be baptized, but he's even more excited to go on a mission. Juan Carlos' family is still progressing but have a couple challenges that we'll help them overcome to receive baptism. Baptisms are the greatest.

Also the mission asked us to find a new family this week. We found one! Tomas, Juana, Evelyn, and Kimberly. It's kind of an odd family. Thomas and his wife are well along in years. Thomas is 95. Their daughter Evelyn has a daughter named Kimberly. We invited them to church. They came! We visited them after church and they accepted to be baptized in July. Hopefully everything goes perfectly. We have to SHOUT THE LESSONS BECAUSE THOMAS CAN'T HEAR ALMOST ANYTHING. But it's cool.

Last week we made a title of liberty as a zone and the sisters in our zone took it home. Of course when it came back it was completely changed and pretty looking but that`s what you'd expect from sisters. Today for pday we're going to climb the highest mountain/hill nearby (which is really high) and take a picture with it. All the Zones are doing it for a surprise for President Perez.

Well, I'm still being happy. My friends send me candy. Like chocolate, and gummy worms, and the most creative things. I know I haven't been that good about sending things to you guys…but I'm busy. Just know I know who loves me…haha.

Gracias amigos, les amo,

Elder Layton

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Gospel Really Changes Lives

(This picture of Elder Soto was kindly sent to us by Sister Rich.)

Hola De Peru Lima Norte,

Another great week. Elder Soto's crazy, I'll just put it that way. Well, he's just a funny guy. I've learned fast to have a ton of patience with him. He has 16 months in the mission. We're doing just great.

On Saturday we had the baptism of Milagros and Alexandra. Everything went as planned, and it was a baptism service I'll never forget. Bishop Marcos Polo (I say Marcos, my companion says Polo) baptized Alexandra because she's his niece. Both of Alexandra's nonmember parents came to the baptism too! After that, I baptized Milagros. We had the welcomes and testimonies and then the closing hymn, but before we could say the closing hymn Alexandra's dad Sebastian, who isn't a member of the church, who's never been inside the church before, asked me if he could say a few words.

Just to back up a little bit. Sebastian was very Catholic. Part of the reason for splitting up with his wife was because his daughter Alexandra wanted to be baptized. Her mother said it was the decision of Alexandra, but Sebastian said she was to be Catholic just like her dad, her dad's dad, etc. This whole thing happened a long time ago, but we taught Sebastian lesson 1 and he opened up. The second time we visited him we asked him to sign the permission slip for Alexandra to be baptized. He signed it.

Now a month later, Sebastian was bearing his testimony at the end of our baptism service in front of the members, about how the gospel really changes lives and how he is grateful that his daughter made the decision to be baptized. He asked Alexandra more than one time if she really wanted to do it. Of course she made very clear her position to her father and now Alexandra is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. We're going to visit Sebastian this week.

Other than that Lima's the best! I'll be able to go to the temple all of my mission! I can't think of anything better than that. Voy a jugar futbol. (I'm going to play soccer.)


Elder Layton

Monday, June 15, 2009

It Was Another Amazing Experience

Dear Familia,

Okay… I have to get into my English writing mode. Man, I'm so glad to hear Gabe's doing good. And… let's just say I'm grateful my apartment is on the 4th floor and is relatively safe from getting robbed. Nathan, if you find out who stole your stuff give them a punch in the face for me. Good luck with everything. (Elder Layton's friend, serving a mission in Argentina, was robbed twice recently.)

Honestly it's the weirdest thing for me that Lauren got married… I'm still a kid! My seminary class can't be getting married already… I'm not back yet to eat the food at the receptions!

There's really not much news this week. It was a little discouraging not finding many new people this week. I baptized Mabel on Saturday. It was a another amazing experience. She got up to give her testimony and started bawling. She has a firm testimony that the Gospel is true. Milagros didn't show up to her baptism… ikes!... but it was because her mom didn't want her going out at night. She came to Church yesterday and brought her Cousin Gino who also has a baptism date and was sorry for not being able to go to her baptism. She's preparing for this next Saturday, along with Alexandra and Juan Carlos.

Gainela's (the girl we baptized a week ago) parents are getting married this week on Saturday. They didn't come to Church but we're going to visit them to see how everything's going. Back to Juan Carlos…. He's a gold investigator. He always comes to church. The Jehovah Witnesses have been teaching him for a few months but we challenged him to baptism on our first visit and he accepted. He knows that it is true and is helping all his older brothers, sisters, and cousins come to Church. Cool.

Oh yeah, we found out our changes 20 minutes ago. I'm staying here, in good old Independencia! Elder Chan is going to my same area in Iquitos (9 de Octubre). My new companion´s named Elder Soto! He was in my same Zone in Pucallpa so I already know him good. He's a big round Costa Riccan haha!! (probably the Elder at the far left, and incorrectly labled as "Elder Soio") President Rau probably baptized his family ;), I'll ask him about it. He knows English and Portugese too, so I'll have him teach me a little Brazilero so I can talk with Bryan when he comes back.

Well, I'm making a plan already in my head how we can overcome the challenges of the area for this change. I plan on having big results going into my one year mark. It only makes me feel a little sad, a little old, and a little like I'm running out of time.

Nana, congrats on graduating. Hope it was fun with the girls at our house. I know you'll miss them.

Eric, have fun at EFY.

Curtis, be an Eagle Scout.

Sincerely - Your Missionary,

Elder Layton

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Wild Wild West (Gabe, that is)

Here's the latest on Gabe West's progress...

Gabe continues to progress nicely. Friday the feeding tube and abdominal drain were removed. He sat up in his wheelchair for over an hour and wheeled around the hallway. He was exhausted at the end of his little trip but he did it. Urinary things look good and the pneumonia is diminishing.

Thank you to those of you who have made visits. They seem to help his morale. Now if we can just get him to eat and drink more he will gain strength and beable to come home next week. He has grown quite a beard...I think he is trying to compete with Scott Lund. :)

When Gabe is stable enough, he needs to be seen by the urologist team at OHSU in Portland to make sure there has been no damage to the surgeries he had one year ago today.

Once again, THANK YOU for your constant support and love. Our blessings and love to each of you, JoEllyn

Monday, June 8, 2009

I'm Just Really Happy

HEYYY!!!Buenos Dias!!!

I'm happier than ever! We finally were able to help our investigators get into the church yesterday. 12 of them came. Most were youth but we also had a couple families.

Honestly I don't have that much to say this week other than I'm just really happy. We're having the baptism of Milagros (18 anos) and Mabel, who I mentioned last week - she is being baptized this Saturday. Hopefully everything goes well. We're encouraging Milagros the best we can because she just got baptized in another Church right before we found her. She feels like she can't take things like baptism lightly but knows what we've taught her is true so she has mixed feelings right now. She came to church again, and she's doing great.

We visited the Mitma Family and they're going through some crazy stuff. Hermano Mitma had a drinking problem and it was really affecting everything in his family. We taught him the Word of Wisdom and he stopped but then he started getting huge pains in his lower stomach that he's never experienced. He was on the ground for a day almost I guess and had to go to the hospital. With this and their daughter falling from a second story window they're suffering financially, and plus they're trying to get the papers all ready for the wedding. All they need is DNI, birth certificate, and 50 soles. It seems to them impossible but we've assured them it's not. Sister Carmen (the Wife of Brother Mitma) is working like crazy and the kids all help too. The wedding's on the 20th and we need everything in a week so I'm kind of getting nervous a little, especially with all the crazy stuff that's happened. I know it´s only a test for them. It's crazy how all of this happens right before they make a life decision to change. I know if they trust the Lord they can do it. Brother Mitma has to travel to another city to get his birth certificate. Please pray for them.

Umm… what else. Today we're playing soccer at the Church. Elder Chan's doing great as my companion. The more time I have in the mission, the easier it is to work alongside companions and work together. I've never had problem companions, but you know what I mean.

The majority of the missionaries out here all want to work hard. If you just keep helping each other its just a constant work…never stops, but it's the best.

I knew Gabe would pull through, he's the greatest. Keep it up Gabers.

NANA!!! You graduated?! Holy moly pacholy I remember when you were a baby and mom and dad bought me a (toy) truck. Congrats. You're amazing and keep up the good work. You can definitely give me the PSP (Briana won a PSP and some cash at her graduation party) for a present when I return, but only if you want to. I told Elder Hudson sitting next to me (he's from Utah) and he said he won a car for his grad party. That's a little better but good job.

There's nothing better than the mission. Always help others. It will make you happy.


Elder Layton

Friday, June 5, 2009

Another Gabe Update

Elder Layton's friend, Gabe, continues to make amazing progress. Please continue to keep him in your prayers.

Friday, June 5, 2009 12:04 PM, PDT

We met with the doctor this morning for an update on Gabe's condition, so here's what we have to tell you. Gabe's mental capacity is totally normal. (Major miracle!) His blood pressure is maintaining on its own and he's off a lot of medications. They've been able to remove most of the IV lines and make him a little more comfortable. However, there are still some serious medical problems that the doctors have been unable to identify the cause of and he's still in pain from the CPR and now he's unable to sleep. Your continued prayers on Gabe's behalf would be greatly appreciated as he continues to fight valiantly.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

More Miracles

Here are the latest two updates on Gabe West from the website found at Miracles continue to take place in a situation where the doctors gave little to no hope for any recovery. Even though he is not out of the woods yet, it is clear to his family and friends that this extended time has been a miracle of Biblical proportions. We are grateful beyond words and can't imagine what the family is feeling.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009 10:40 PM, PDT

Today was a GREAT day. We left Gabe this evening about 10 pm resting so peacefully. We are still in awe of the power of prayer, fasting, faith and love. Gabe is continuing to improve so quickly from such a horrible illness that he has the doctors baffled. They are so happy he is pulling through something they have not seen and had little hope that he would survive. I'm sure they can see the power of God in this as well as the rest of us. He has had EXCELLENT care at SCMC and the nurses are like an army of angels in the ICU. All of the doctors have been thorough, caring, and very compassionate. One doctor told us he cannot sleep when he has a patient in the ICU- especially when it is Gabe. We are hoping they will take out the breathing tube tomorrow or Friday- he went for 6 and a half hours today, breathing on his own - tube intact, but ventilator turned off. We only hope tomorrow will be a day as good as this one and that he will continue to thrive.Thank you once again for every prayer and thought for our family and especially for Gabe. We are strengthened by them.With grateful hearts,Rick, JoEllyn, Gabe and family

Thursday, June 4, 2009 12:25 PM, PDT

Another hurdle jumped. Breathing tube was taken out this morning and Gabe is resting peacefully. He has been very vocal and told us that he thought he was in a hospital in Portland. Then his very first concern was about his job. "I've missed two days of work!" The docs and nurses just laughed and told him he has all of his life to work!! They said only if everyone were that conscientious. I made sure he knew of his coworkers' concern and all of their emails to him. Dad and Scott Lund gave him another blessing at Gabe's request. He is having alot of chest pain due to the CPR. Doctors are concerned about elevated liver markers in his blood work so they are watching this closely. Other than that, we are pressing onward and upward.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Update on Gabe West

Gabe West, the young man mentioned in the last post, has made a turn for the better. Although definitely not out of the woods yet, the signs are becoming more encouraging. The family has a website found at where the latest updates are posted on a fairly regular basis. This is from the last post.

"Once again, Gabe has shown us how much he loves life by his will to fight to live. Tuesday evening he started trying to communicate with us and the staff. This morning there were signs of much improved awareness as he began mouthing words and wanted to have answers to questions like "What happened to me?, When can the tube be removed from my throat?, and When can I go home?" He is able to express his wishes through nods of the head and hand signals. He tells us when he wants to be turned, when he's uncomfortable or when he is tired.
His obvious improvement has eliminated the need for another EEG test. The neurologist is pleased with the progress he sees. His exact words were "I'm so happy I was wrong."

Gabe's personality is shining through with gusto. He is definitely still here. We have explained to him how many people have visited him and prayed, fasted, and expressed love to him and our family. We have no doubt that you all have been instrumental in this miracle that we are witnessing.

We have to be honest with you that Gabe is still a very sick young man, but we are enjoying this triumphant moment. At this point in the game, the doctors have told us that anything can happen, but we are so happy to have this time with him.

The ICU staff has advised us that because now his body is fighting this infection and trying to get well on its own, we have to limit his visits to family only because the most important thing for him at this time is rest, so he can heal. Now that his body is able to do some of the work of healing, he is less dependent on the machines. We know that being unable to visit now that he is responding is difficult for all of you who want to see him, but we hope you'll understand that this is only for his best interest.

There have been many acts of service and kindness that you have performed on our family's behalf. Many more of you have expressed a desire to do SOMETHING. The greatest "something" that you can do is to keep praying. We understand the feeling of helplessness at times like these when we want to do something, but don't know what to do. Tracey Bryan is coordinating efforts on our behalf. She can guide as to our needs. You can reach her at 633-7558.
There are not adequate words to express how much we appreciate all the many ways you have served and supported us through yet another difficult challenge in Gabriel's life. We love all of you and will try to keep you updated as often as we can on Gabe's condition. We have heard there are lots of rumors out there as everyone discusses their concerns for Gabe. Please share this web site with anyone who would like to keep abreast of Gabe's progress."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Long Distance Prompting

(To preface this week's post, Elder Layton has a good friend in the hospital right now. Gabe West, shown at left a couple of years ago with Elder Layton's sister, Briana, has been confined to a wheelchair since birth. He was recently called to serve a mission in the Portland, Oregon temple along with his parents. Over the weekend he developed an infection. Things do not look promising. We informed Elder Layton by email last night, and he received it a short time ago.)

Hi Everyone,

Hi Mom and Dad... I'm really sad to hear about Gabe. I didn't email yesterday because today is our pday. When the missionaries go to the temple once a change in Lima the pday changes to the same day. So yes, I just got out of the temple.... and now I just read the email about Gabe.

Interesting enough about 30 minutes ago I felt prompted to put his name in the prayer list at the temple. I knew that he was doing his best on his mission. I wanted the Lord to help him out....but now I understand a little better. I have a letter to him too that I wrote a week ago and I'm waiting to send home with some others.

For anyone reading this and doesn't know Gabe West, let me give you a little background info. Gabe is one of the most loving sincere people I know and one of my best friends. He's been in a wheel chair his whole life and always has a good attitude about it. He's always doing great things. If I can just say one thing to Gabers, I'd like to tell him I love him and to keep serving God.

Well, yeah.... I'm happy Grandma Chiechi's doing better. I prayed hard for that one.

I can't really think of anything cool that happened this week... OTHER than the baptism! I got to baptize a girl named Gianela (I think I spelled Ganela last week). It was great. One of the best things that bappened was that her parents who aren´t members came. We have a cita with them. The mission's cool. We didn't have a great turnout in the Church again so I was sad all Sunday but hey, we commited several people to baptism yesterday.

One girl that's getting baptized is named Mabel. She's awesome. It's almost the same situaton of Gianela. Her parents aren't members but the difference is that they don't want anything to do with the Church. I was extremely impressed by her testimony though. Elder Chan, my Guatamalan companion asked her "what do you want most for you family?" She responded "All I want is that my family goes to Church and reads the scriptures." Haha. I love it. I felt extremely grateful to have a family that always went to Church, and helped me get out of bed on Sundays (thank you mom)... and very ungrateful that I had taken it for granted.

I think we might take a trip to McDonalds today. Maybe. American food how I love you! Rice is great, but not everyday. I'm used to it though, and thankful for all the food my mom ever made me. I would even eat your meatloaf everynight mom...even though I hate it. Gringos don't have the right to be picky!!!

Well....I'm sorry I have to leave early from writing.... my whole zone has officially determined McDonalds and got excited so we have to go....hahaha. Well I love you all. Keep working hard. I know the Church of Jesus Christ is the only true and living church on the earth led by the Lord and living profets.


Elder Layton