Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thoughts As We Set Out For Peru

Brenda and I just finished packing for our trip to Peru. It's late, but I felt to add something to the Blog.

This experience has been an incredible blessing for our family. We've definitely seen Sean change - grown up and up and up. He is coming home as a man of God. He has been a devoted missionary who loves the people and His Heavenly Father.

We realize that this is no different from the thousands of other missionaries who complete their missions each year, but for us it is. For us, this has been such an incredible and personal thing.

I would strongly encourage any LDS young man or woman to serve a mission. If you serve for the right reasons, you will never be the same. The people whose lives you bless will never be the same either.

For those who are not members of the Church (and I know you're out there because several of you have written to us), please consider the potential blessings the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ would have for you and your family. We cordially invite you to come unto the blessings that Jesus Christ has for you. Contact the missionaries, your LDS neighbor, or Brenda or I, and let us show you how the truth of all things can be made plainly manifest to you.

Finally, I came across a passage of scripture tonight - it just so happened - that fit so perfectly for the conclusion of Sean's mission.

"And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be." (1 Nephi 13:37)

I am confident that Sean has served his mission faithfully, that lives have been altered for all eternity, and that many descendants of Lehi will rise up and call him blessed for his service.

In about 2 hours, Brenda and I will head to our home ward in Bend. Sean's good friend, Nate Rau, is speaking. He returned from his mission in Rosario, Argentina last Wednesday. After Sacrament Meeting, Curtis will have the Aaronic Priesthood conferred and he will be ordained as a Deacon. We will then head to Portland for a stay overnight and then off to Peru - leaving very early.

Monday, June 21, 2010

To Me, God Is a God of Miracles

Like Father...

Like Son...
Good Morning!!! Buenos Dias!!!

It's getting way to close for comfort.  I hope that my small experiences I've had have somehow helped some of you, because I`ve been blessed personally by them.  For those who really know me know I'm not exactly the best storyteller in the world so I know my letters haven't done justice to what I've really experienced here in Peru.  I would like to testify of the miracles I've seen throughout these two years.  One time I heard that for God, there are no miracles because he comprehends all things.  He's brought to pass all these things.  He's given me the strength to open my mouth, to work, to understand, to baptize.  So to me, God is a God of miracles.   I don't understand how the people I've known have changed, I don't understand why I’ve been blessed with faithful parents and a beautiful family, I don't understand why I have to leave the mission, and I definitely don't understand how God has brought to pass so many miracles in my life and the lives of others. 
Our testimony is so important for each one of us, because it can help us serve diligently our Heavenly Father. 
“yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us, and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, as in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually
We had the baptism of Mabel Oviedo this week.  In the baptism service Lupe, the mother of Mabel, gave her testimony of how happy she is to see her entire family entire the waters of baptism.  Last week Valentina had to reschedule her baptism for Tuesday.  She knows Thursday`s my last day in Barranca and I’m glad she chose Tuesday!  Last night we had a family night with the Oviedo Cornelio family.  We watched the testaments.  Lupe had invited her mom to come and also a niece that lives in another part of Peru.  They were all crying at the end of the movie and then we taught them about the Book of Mormon.  It was very spiritual for all of us… maybe cause I was just about to cry, or maybe because I just felt happy to be there and not anywhere else. 
This is off topic-
What am I going to do what I go home?  I'm not ready for this…. Work, hang out with Nate, go on visits with the missionaries, ahhh!  I wonder if I'm tan relatively speaking?  Of course when I go back to Oregon I might turn completely pale again… what else.  The food!  I want to eat a Wendy's Big BaconClassic and dip the fries in the frosty!!!Honestly I'll miss the Peruvian food here a ton- more the love put into the food than the food itself...
Things I won't miss:  ticks, drunks chasing after me, and public urination
Things I WILL miss:  THE PERUVIANS!!!, being “elder”, teaching the gospel to everybody, being in a place where things are simpler, having experiences in the mission, paying almost nothing for something, not having to choose what clothes to wear, the jungle, my monkey!!
So President Gonzalez is now the 1st counselor in our branch and yesterday he asked me to give my testimony in Sacrament meeting because it was my last Sunday in Barranca.  I talked about fathers, and the mission work.  It made me remember the talk before the mission but this time I actually knew what I was talking about more or less. 
Well, I love you all very much I'm still working like normal, pray for the Peruvians, see you soon,
Elder Layton

Monday, June 14, 2010

Something They Had Been Looking For

Dear Family and Friends

I'd just like to start out by saying that if you're reading this just know that I`m writing this to you, since it'd be kind of frustrating to write everyone….just know I haven't completely forgotten about you…, but honestly let's hang out when I get back! Right now I'm still a missionary. I've been having a ton of experiences lately, and I don't really know where to start.

(At left: The Barranca Zone at Fortaleza...Elder Layton crouching in the lower middle with Elder Ortiz, his companion, directly behind him)

There are 5 assistants APs right now because the mission's dividing. 3 of them came to visit us on Thursday. I went with one of them, my companion with another, and another went with our district leader.

We baptized Sabino Montes on Saturday and he was confirmed yesterday. We taught him in an extremely short time period because he was so eager to be baptized…I've never really had an investigator exactly like him. We visited him every day last week and he was just anxious for it to be Saturday. He read everything we gave him and he didn't want to wait for the 2nd assistance (attendance) at church. Who am I to tell a fully grown adult no to such a desire? Or who am I to deny the blessing of the eternal gospel to someone so prepared to be clean of sin? The greatest thing is that yesterday we officially have a mission leader and an assistant mission leader. The assistant Gerson (son of Lupe and Walter) is friends with Sabino. He also has some other friends in the church.

We found a gold family this week, mom, dad, and two daughters. They've been going to different churches, God is Love, Evangelical, Adventist, looking for a church where the pastor doesn't yell. They were surprised to hear our description of the feelings of the spirit when we read Galatas 5:22-23. It was something they had been looking for. They didn't go to church because of a commitment already planned out before we knew them but I'm sure this week they'll go!

Here in Peru the Soccer World Cup is huge. I don't know how many little flyers I have of the world cup phases, who's playing who….and everyone just yelled right now as I'm writing this that Japan just won their game. Yesterday all the people were telling me that my country tied England. Hmm…. You better be watching it back at home I'm pretty sure we're going to make it to the finals!!

Please pray for all the investigators. Elder Ortiz and I will be visiting them constantly this week. Valentina (the niece of Walter and Lupe) is preparing for her baptism this Saturday! Also we set a baptism date with Mabel Oviedo the sister of Gerson (daughter of Walter and Lupe) which is a MIRACLE!!! She had a baptism date with the evangelic church she`s been going to for June 21st, but she's been going to the church of Jesus Christ with her family and we set a baptism date for the 19th!!

I'm sorry I can't right more……I always don't have enough time to write.

Adios Amigos!!!!

Elder Layton

Monday, June 7, 2010

Just an Average Contact

Dearest Family,

What's up? I'm happy to be able to write you all today! We're going to the FORTALEZA today to play futbol - I mean soccer and to eat food and stuff. Hmmm…. This has been a good week. The Sifuentes family went to church but still don't all have baptism dates. We found a guy named Sobino Montes on Saturday just an average contact, but he asked if he could get baptized the same day!!! We told him he had to go to church first haha. My companion and I live right next to the church. We were busy visiting some investigators before 9:00 to help them get to church and it surprised us when we got there just on time and Sobino was waiting outside the doors of the church.

Last night we were contacting and found two young men, Carliño and his cousin Jose. I told Carliño that I'd never heard his name before and he told me it was Portugese….hmmm, I wonder if Elder Briggs knows any Carliño's. They both committed to baptism and Carliño's dad walked in as we were finishing so we have his baptism permission slip signed and everything but another appt. to teach the dad and the whole family too. They have family that are members in another branch here in Barranca which is cool because they knew a tiny bit about the church already. Carliño honestly was so prepared I couldn't believe it. He's been baptized in a Evangelical church and everything but he soaked in the restoration and told his dad, “please sign my permission form.” The funny part was that in his house there was a ton of chili pepper in the air from their farm. Everybody was coughing the whole time and my companion couldn't finish talking so I had to finish talking for him. He was like: Prophets are called of our Heavenly Father in every….caaaaaaa….every dispencccccccaaaaa............. the lesson was great.

Actually we've known a ton of Peruvians with weird names lately…. Sobino, Carliño, Valentina Valetin, Frenesis, etc..

Yesterday I gave my testimony in sacrament meeting…. And it was sad because I realized it was the last time I'd do that in my mission. I'm talking about sacrament meeting. Honestly we're having too many experiences I`m just not ready to give up. From here on out all this month we're doing missionary nights all Thursday s to help the members invite friends and family to get to know the church so I'll let you know how that goes.

So I'm out of time, have a GREAT DAY!

Elder Layton