Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Going home.

Hellooooo everyone!

So...............this is my last update from the mission. I am going home this coming week.

Just about 2 weeks after I got to my area in Reu, I found out that my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. It was a huge shock and it was really hard to handle - I was just getting used to the mission and adjusting, and then dealing with that news at the same time! It was pretty rough and pretty overwhelming at times. I was seriously thinking about going home after I got that news, but decided that I would stay, at least for another change, and keep moving forward on my mission. It was great after that! I felt like I could really focus and dive into missionary work, and we saw some pretty amazing miracles there in July.

Then, just a few weeks ago, I got another update that my Dad's condition was much more serious than previously thought and, long story short - I'm coming home this week.

This decision did not come easily and without many desperate, tear-filled prayers and a very inspired trip to the temple in the middle of it. I had the feeling that I needed to be home with my family, but that conflicted with the calling I had as a missionary, to put aside all personal affairs and lose oneself in the service of the Lord. But after lots and lots of tears and prayer, I made the decision to come home, and I feel at peace with it.

I am beyond words with how grateful I am for this experience I have had as a missionary. It's only been 3 months, but I have learned and grown so much. Most of all - I gained my testimony here on the mission.

My testimony was decent before I came on the mission - I knew I loved the Lord and I loved the church, but there were parts where I wanted it to be strengthened and solidified, and my prayers were definitely answered. I have a testimony that Joseph Smith really was a true prophet. That he was chosen to bring forth the restored gospel to the Earth again - the same that was on the Earth when Christ was here. That the blessings available for the people who come to a knowledge of this truth are amazing and because of this truth, we have the guidance of a living prophet to help us on this journey back to our loving Heavenly Father.

I know that He lives, I know that He loves us and I know that His love extends to every single one of his children, no matter where they are. I am so incredibly grateful for the people I have met and the miracles I witnessed here in Retalhuleu. I just hope I was able to make some sort of difference in the lives of the people we taught. I certainly tried and testified with my whole heart.

I am very anxious to be home to go through this challenge together as family and I know that our loving Heavenly Father is watching over us.

Sorry that this mission blog was pretty short! But I am very grateful for my mission - and I will never forget it.

LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-Hermana Layton

p.s. no pictures this week. But I had one of the Elders recover almost all of my photos!! But at the risk of them being erased again...I'm just going to wait until I get home to post them haha.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Skipped a week...

Helloooooo everyone!

Sorry I didn't update last week! It's been an interesting couple of weeks!

Well these weeks have been good! Just working hard, same old stuff. We had an investigator get baptized this past weekend - Victor. He had been coming to church with his friend and that family who are members in the ward and really wanted to get baptized. He had investigated the church before, maybe 5 years ago, and now just started to check it out again and he felt that desire to be baptized.

He is really an example of people who are prepared and ready to accept the gospel. Sometimes I think missionaries get too discouraged or pushy when people do not want to listen or don't want to come to church - but the conclusion is that it's just not their time and that's ok. There really are people out there who are ready and prepared to hear the gospel and have it in their lives, and it's just our job to find them. Not force our religion on every person we meet. It was really nice to see him and his genuine desire to just be better in his life and receive that answer that this really is true. It was great.

I had a ton of photos to upload from the past few weeks, since my connector cord wasn't working, but guess what. All of them are now ERASED. I tried uploading them and they were erased. So...hopefully I can get them back somehow. But in your heads just imagine us at a baptism, doing this presentation of the Restoration for the stake with little kids and a big Goliath, me chopping wood for a member and more green fields. Use your imagination.

Love you all!!!!!

-Hermana Layton

Monday, August 3, 2015

WE WENT TO TACO BELL GUYS!! ...Oh yeah and mission stuff too

Hello!!

Another week has passed and we're in August. Don't know how that happened! But yeah it was a pretty good week!

We had a multi-zone conference on Thursday with different messages and speakers and it was really uplifting and nice. We also, in the middle of the conference, Skyped with a former missionary from that area who, in the past couple months, had been in the hospital for about 10 or so different surgeries on his abdomen for some problem. It was really touch and go with him for a while and we fasted as a whole mission a couple times for him - Elder Kevin Portillo. But he is out of the hospital now and recovering and he's going to be just fine and we all Skyped with him at the conference! He gave a really powerful testimony about how the mission changed his life and how he relied on the Savior and His Atonement during his hospital stays and thanked us for the support. I think everyone was in tears. I did not get to know him since he left the mission before I got there, but it was pretty amazing and I'm so glad he's doing better.

Today for P-day, we went to Mazate, which is another area just about an hour from Reu and we went to TACO BELL OH MY GOSH IT WAS SO GREAT AND IT DIDN'T TASTE ANY DIFFERENT AND I HOPE I DON'T DIE OF PARASITES OR SOMETHING BUT IT WAS SO GREAT.

Yeah Mazate has a bunch of the fast food chains there like Taco Bell, Wendy's, Pizza Hut, Dominos and a Burger King. And of course McDonald's. But that's nothing new.

All in all, it was a good week! Just moving forward and learning new things every day. I really appreciate all the letters and support from everyone. They really mean a lot. :)

LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!

-Hermana Layton

Super scary bridge that we couldn't end up crossing because it broke on the other end

Me and Hermana Mendoza at the conference in the super huge new church building in the area San Felipe

More green fields of La Bendicion

Offering our peaches to Ronald McDonald.  He didn't accept them.  Jerk. 

Playing pool with Hermana Mendoza and Hermana Saenz
Aww man I had a picture of the Taco Bell, but my stupid piece of crap camera cord isn't being read by the computer at the moment.  It's temperamental like that.  But maybe next week. 

LOVE YOU ALL!!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Another video!

video
We're in a Tuc-tuc. :)

Another Week!

Hello!!

Well this week has been good! Not tooooooo much to update, just same old missionary stuff.

We had a baptism this weekend of a girl named Marializ who is 9. Her family is starting to come back to church after visiting with them and they all came to her baptism on Saturday. It was really, really nice because her Mom is often just stressed and kind of cold when we come to visit. But she was smiling almost the whole time at the baptism and she gave both of us huge hugs out of nowhere and just seemed way happier than we had seen her. It was nice to see the whole family come together like that for their daughter.

We also had another sweet, little experience this week. The bishop's wife is currently sick in the hospital. They don't know exactly what the problem is, but she was in there for the whole weekend, so my companion and I went to the hospital to visit her on Sunday. We went into her room, which consisted of 6 people in beds to a room and visited with her for a bit with some other members of the ward who came. Then we decided to sing a hymn with her and say a prayer so we sang "I am a Child of God". The Spirit hit me like a ton of bricks. It was very strong. We then went and gave a hug to the other patients in the room and their families and they all thanked us so much for coming. It was a really special moment and I hope it gave them some peace.

Other than that, not much else is going on! I'm slowly but surely getting the hang of this whole missionary thing. Probably just in time for transfers in 3 weeks when everything will change again. Maybe. Who knows! Until then, I'm just trying to keep going forward and try to be a better missionary every day. I really, genuinely, am trying to teach the best way I can and try to have the Spirit with me and just teach as if Christ himself were teaching them. It's definitely a skill, but it all just boils down to loving every person you come in contact with because you know you're all children of the same loving Heavenly Father. So......yeah trying to do that. :)

Love you all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-Hermana Layton

SPONGEBOB!

MariaLiz

In a tuc-tuc


Note from Hermana Layton: "Also i just watched this from lds.org - can you link it to my blog post too? It's kind of extremely relevant and gave me all sorts of warm fuzzies."

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Video from Hermana Layton

video
LIZ!!  I couldn't send this video so I uploaded it here - hopefully it shows up??  It's us on a bus coming back from a place called Boxoma and this song came on that I LOVEEEEE and I don't know what it's called and I didn't know the lyrics so I couldn't sing them in the video haha.  But they play it ALL THE TIME here.  It goes, "Y tu sin mi, y yo sin ti, dime quien puede ser feliz?" and something else.  AH.  I love it.  So yeah there ya go!


Mmmmyellloowwsssss from Guatemalaz!

Ok, maybe I should be more formal with my blog post titles.......or maybe not.

But hello! Another week has passed and it was QUICK. These weeks go by really fast, I'm not going to lie. I guess that's what happens when basically every second of your day is planned out.

But yes this week was good. The highlight was the baptism of Hermano Salomon on Saturday. He and his family came, as well as the mission president and tons of people from the ward. Hermano Salomon also made AHMAHZING corn bread and tamales for it, so that was pretty great also.

I feel like I should add/edit my explanation of Salomon's baptism from last post. I feel like I literally have zero time to write, so I went back and read it and I was like - hmm, I should explain that better.

I made it seem like he had weird reasons to wait to get baptized and didn't really understand the importance of it - no he did. He waited because he is 76 years old and will not be told what to do, of course! And because he knows it is an important step in his life and there was definitely some fear of him feeling like he's going to screw up after his baptism. But his faith kept growing, week after week, and, with the support of his family, he was baptized this Saturday. His wife, Luisa, gave the closing prayer and this woman - who is normally pretty rough and very direct - was in tears sobbing for how grateful she was now that her husband was baptized. She also told me how she hopes that they both make it to a year from now so they can be sealed together for eternity in the temple. I might have sobbed.

This mission has definitely increased my faith and testimony in baptism. As missionaries, we invite people to be baptized from the first or second lesson. And that seemed extremely early for me when I first came here and it made me uncomfortable. But as I kept going and learning, I just learned more about how important it is in the gospel of Christ. When He came to earth, He was baptized. And He walked miles and miles to find the person who had the proper authority to do it - John the Baptist. And in almost every teaching that is recorded in the Bible and Book of Mormon, He invites people to come unto Him, be cleansed of their sins and to be baptized. It is an essential step for everyone and the first step on the journey back to our loving Heavenly Father. That is His ultimate goal for all of us - to return back to Him, happy with our families.

So yeah this week was good. I'm very proud of the zone I am in - all of the missionaries and the zone leaders we have work really hard and we feel like a family. We all fasted as a zone this past Friday to support all of the people planning to be baptized this weekend. It was pretty powerful.

So anyway - again, feeling like I have zero time - I hope that clarified a little bit of the sanctity that is baptism. It was a very spiritual day and one I will not forget.

Thank you for all of your letters!!! Love you all!!!!!!!!

-Hermana Layton

Hermano Salomon baptism 1

Hermano Salomon baptism 2

Ermahgerd I'm in love with the bread

Driving back in a covered pickup with Hermana Eaton from Wyoming!  It's her first change.