Monday, June 29, 2015

Update! (yep. same title. I forgot to tell her to mix it up.)


Well this week was honestly not very eventful, but it was good!

It has been BLAZINGLY hot here the past week. Apparently we are in this 15-or-so-day period where it doesn't rain very much before the "winter" here, where it rains like crazy until November. It's been very sweaty, but definitely a conversation starter to everyone on the streets who are dying from the heat too! So that's nice.

This week just involved going around the areas and finding new people to talk to and teach. It's becoming easier and easier to open up and have confidence to talk to them as I go and that's been really nice. It's interesting to see the spectrum of reactions to us when we talk to people. Some are extremely nice people, but very aware that we're missionaries and, at some point, are going to talk to them about the gospel so they try to avoid us after that haha. Some people don't make eye contact at all. It's interesting. Then we get to the people who, maybe aren't interested at all in the beginning, but after talking for a bit, have lots of questions and are interested in learning more. And then realize that this message rings true in their hearts. It's pretty incredible.

All we do is just invite people to listen and to read and pray about our message. It is not the eloquence of our teaching or our skills as missionaries that teaches them. It is definitely the Spirit. All we try to do is create the opportunities for the Spirit to touch their hearts and to help them act upon it. It's very hard at times, but very rewarding at other times.

So yeah this week has just been about keeping one foot in front of the other and taking each step with faith. I have the words to one of my favorite hymns "Lead Kindly Light" above my desk and it helps a lot. 
"Keep thou my feet, I do not ask to see the distant scene, one step enough for me."

Love you all!!

-Hermana Layton

Hermana Layton, Hermana Mendoza, and that demon rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Or at least, that's what I assume it is.  She didn't send a caption with this pic.
Steph, er, I mean, Hermana Layton... and a pony.  I assume she got me this pony for my birthday!

"With corn and eating ah-mazing tamales!"
Update - they took that first picture because Hermana Mendoza found that rabbit and wanted to take a picture because her sister loves rabbits.  Whatever, I'm keeping my caption!  

Monday, June 22, 2015

Update! (I'm gonna need to tell her to get more creative with her email titles...)

Hello family!!!!

Well this week has been pretty good. Not much to report, honestly, just staying busy everyday. We spend lots of our time just visiting the different people who want to listen to us and traveling to and from their houses. Lots of buses and lots of tuc-tucs.

This past Wednesday, we actually got to go to the temple!! We went to the one in Quetzaltenango. WHY did I not get called THERE?? It's perfect weather up there in the mountains. But anyway, temple. It was so amazing. And very needed. I'm still blown away by the same spirit that is in the temple, no matter where you are. It, without fail, fills me to the brim with peace and Spirit so strongly and it was a very needed recharge day.

It was a sort of reward for our zone because apparently we broke a record for the most baptisms in May - I got there May 27 so I didn't really contribute much...but I'll take it! And it's not about numbers. Seriously, that really bugs me sometimes. Some missionaries really focus on the numbers and don't focus on the people themselves and how they can actually help them and how this can change their lives and such. They only care about the numbers they can report at the end of the month. Ok, I'm done ranting. And it's not all the missionaries! Just some. Ok I'm done.

We also spent the week inviting people to a movie they were premiering here in the center of Reu in the theater - Meet the Mormons. It's a really nice movie about different families across the world who are members and how the gospel blesses their lives and families. It's really well done and fun to watch. Lots of people went and they really liked it! It was fun.

I want to mention how impressed I am with the members of the church here. They blow me away with their strength and testimonies. For example - Hermana Felipa. She lives in Boxoma, which is an hour bus ride away from the church building. She is probably in her 70's and has trouble walking because she gets tired easily and her feet give her problems. But she not only makes it to church every single Sunday, but she picks up everyone in the area to come with her. She is such a help to us as missionaries up there and she really looks out for them. She's amazing.

Another example is Hermano Angel who is in our ward. He's probably in his 50's. He spent a good 30 years of his life drunk and really struggling and moving from place to place. He said the gospel changed his life and he now is an active member and is sober. He's never been married and has no kids, and he lives alone in a very small house - more like a room with a tin roof - with his two cats and works most days. But he is the nicest, most positive man I've ever met. He has come with us to teach some people and always offers to buy us a soda or some bread and, even though we politely say no, he still gets it for us. He just says he tries to share what little he has with everyone. He is also amazing.

It just warms my heart to see people whose lives have really changed because of this gospel. It truly works miracles in people's lives. And it makes me appreciate it more and makes me want to work harder, because there are people out there who, truly, need this.

Anyway, I have just felt extra blessed this week. I have felt a strange peace and calmness all week and have been able to focus really well. I recognize that's an answer to my prayers and I'm just trying to keep moving forward.

I love you all!!!!!

-Hermana Layton

Meet the Mormons

Quetzaltenango temple


Temple with companion

Me and a super cute parrot

Me and a kind of less cute chicken.
I swear I'm doing more than just playing with animals at people's houses.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Hello everyone!

Well this week - or at least since last Wednesday - has been pretty good. Just getting then hang of walking around talking to people and feeling confident. It definitely takes time to get up the courage. But my companion is an awesome trainer and has been helping me a lot.

One of the highlights of this week was - I. Drank. Mate.

I was at a member´s house for lunch and he served his mission in Chile and he made some!! See pictures - if I can upload them in time...

Anyway, it was amazing and I was pretty much on fire for the rest of that day. Hopefully that can continue the next time we go over there...

Also I´ve discovered a good way to not offend people when my bariatric stomach can´t finish their food! I tried sneaking it to my companion, asking to take it home (they gave me really weird looks when I did that), but I figured if I just say: "Perdon hermana, creo que ya me llene!" and then say sorry like 12 times, they´re always really nice about it. Finally!

So yeah, not too much to report this week. But just going to try to upload all the photos.

Love you all!!!!!
-Hermana Layton

Washing clothes!

Me at the river in Boxolma

Me and Hermana Mendoza in the center of Reu

Awesome green fields in La Bendicion

Me feeding a cow in those green fields

Me and my companion, Hermana Mendoza, and the mission president's wife - Hermana Ruiz

Pay no attention to my blood-red eyes....I had a pretty nasty eye infection.  But it's all better now. 

Us at the beach in Champerico this morning

Thursday, June 11, 2015


I've honestly lost count because of all the ridiculous delays in my P-days so far haha. 

But hello again!!

I have been on my mission officially for 4 weeks!  It'll be a month on the 13th.  I have lost all concept of time and it feels like the longest and maybe shortest 4 weeks of my life.  It's funny how the mission does that to you. 

But this week was pretty good!  I've had many adventures including still riding lots of Tuc-Tuc's every day, going to different areas to talk to investigators and trying to not get eaten alive by mosquitos.  It's only working like 1% of the time.  But I'm working on that part. 

So basically because our area is in the center of the city of Reu, we travel to other areas by bus a lot to visit members and investigators there.  There's an area called Boxolma, which is an hour by bus away from the city and it's pretty much like farm country.  There are members who take the bus early every Sunday to get to church at 8:30am.  And I used to complain about the 15 min car ride for church at noon!  Humbled slap to the face on that one. 

Then we also go to this place called La Guitarra a lot.  It's basically a bunch of homes in the middle of the jungle that looks like a guitar from the air.  We visit people there a lot and it's about a 25 min bus ride.  And COVERED in mosquitos.  I'm pretty sure I've cuddled with every one of them that lives out there.  I will spare you photos of my legs.  You're welcome. :)

And then the other area is just like 10 minutes in Tuc Tuc away, but it's called La Bendicion.  It's a small group of homes surrounded by green farm land and cows.  Did you hear that?  GREEN.  FIELDS.  AND.  COWS.  It reminds me of Scotland.  I might die every time I go there.  It's gorgeous.  Pics to follow. 

But anyway this has been a very difficult but rewarding transition.  I know that no life-changing experience comes without hardship, because that's what makes you a better person.  And I feel like that is what is happening.  It's painful, but worth it.  And the biggest help is just to focus outward to others.  I've found that when I focus on how I can help my companion, my investigators, the ward, the other missionaries, etc - it is easier and I feel that happiness that comes from charity - the true love of Christ.  

I am very grateful to be here and I know that we are doing good work here and are representatives of Christ.  That has been something that has helped me a lot.  To think that I am set apart as a missionary to act as Christ would if He were on the Earth.  I'm just trying to love and serve as He would. 

I miss you all and keep praying for me and my other missionaries here!  I pray for you all every day and hope you can feel the blessings of this work we are doing. 

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

-Hermana Layton

Ok just kidding about the photos - it's not working on this computer right now....

But next week!!  More photos. 

Also I killed a cockroach in my room this past week.  I felt very proud.  Forgot to say that. 

-Hermana Layton

Oh yeah ALSO forgot to say haha - I'm now playing the piano for my ward in sacrament meeting!  Didn't take them long to figure out that I could play.  And by "piano", I mean small keyboard with no pedal......but it still sounds ok. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

More pics!

Here are some pictures of Hermana Layton from her mission president's page:

We hope to hear from her today!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Week 2! Sort of.

(editor's note: Stephanie was transferred last Tuesday, and apparently the Retalhuleu P-day is on Monday, while the CCM is on Wednesday.  So she skipped a week in emailing, which may have caused her family members to have severe emotional reactions including disbelief, anger, sadness, bloating, strange rashes, and other difficult maladies.  We appreciate your support.)

Finally writing! Today is my first P-day in the field.

I am in zona Retalhuleu in Area Reu 1, right in the city! It's very hot, but populated. My trainer/companion is Hermana Mendoza! She's been here for 6 months. She's pretty great and super motivated and is a good trainer.

I have gotten accustomed to cold showers, putting on bug spray every day and I even washed my clothes by hand today! And I got eaten alive by mosquitos so far, so I don't know how effective it is...

It's been an interesting transition. And the roughing-it stuff is not even the hardest part! Although the cold shower in the morning is quite the way to wake you up. The hardest part has been being able to talk to people and feeling confident and everything! But I'm getting better. We've met with some investigators and I've been able to teach the lessons with her and everything, so it's coming along.

We had 3 baptisms this weekend! They were already planned to be baptized when I got here, but they were 3 little boys from areas around here. Mario, Federico, and Israel. These boys were super excited to get baptized and were so happy afterwards. And when they were baptizing them, it was really powerful and my companion, when she was talking to the boys, was just emphasizing how this will help them be better people and examples to their parents and everything. It was pretty powerful. I might have teared up.

But yeah, I'm probably forgetting all sorts of stuff but I don't have too much time, but I love you all and I think and pray about you guys all the time.

Also I finally attached pictures. Probably in many installments. Let's see how this goes.

-Hermana Layton

(editor's note - I'm in Africa on shady wi-fi, so I can't get the pictures to download so that I can put them on her blog.  I'll see if Hermana Layton's mom can get them up on Facebook, and I'll put them up whenever I have better internet access.  Sorry!)