Monday, August 31, 2015

Exciting News!

Dear Everyone,

The mission of Sister Layton is about to experience a plot twist!! The craziness keeps on happening. 
I thought everything was dying down as I approached the end, I didn't expect anything totally unexpected to happen... That all changed on Friday when I looked at the phone and saw we had missed a call from President Reynolds. My stomach lurched. I knew exactly why he had called- training calls! Sure enough, I called him back and he asked me to train one of the new ASL sisters. I said, "YES!" obviously. 
Crazy right? Never in my life did I expect to "die" training! Woohoo!

Saturday I attended new trainer meeting with the trainers.. It was really cool. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to train again. The first of my mission changed my course of eternity, and I hope I can help this sister change her course of eternity as well.

So I thought that was the end of the surprises... And then I learned we will be in a TRIO. HAHAH  5th trio of my mission. Gotta love that trio life. Sister Deuel (a new ASL sister will be joining my trainee and I) so I'll be finishing up Sister Deuel's training as well as training the sister arriving from the MTC.
THE HYPE IS SO REAL. I'm terrified, but excited. pray for me. :))

It's pretty weird to think that I'm at the start of my last transfer as a full time missionary... They say the last transfer flies by in a flash. Aaahhhhh SO WEIRD. I just want to wear my little black tag forever.

Ok anyways lets get down to the good stuff before I get all emotional about that...

It's been a WONDERFUL WEEK. We took a few trips to the office for Sister Passey's departing missionary stuff. Her dying wish was to eat at Dera before going home, so we did that. It was HEAVENLY. We were dying. Indian/Bengali food is where it's at! One thing I plan to do when I get home: find recipes on Google and cook a feast to let you all experience the goodness.

Hmm what else. Oh, on Tuesday I was able to exchange with Sister Barker and Sister Nash. My ASL Astoria sisters! They are such joys! Astoria is in good hands :) I got to see some of to favorite members in Manhattan with them- S, B, and B's daughters! Made me miss the union square branch, despite all the drama that goes on there. 

Thursday I went on yet another exchange, this time with Sister Larsen in Terryville! I don't think I've mentioned her much over email throughout my mission, but she's one of my fav. sisters and she's SO COOL. I love her to death. She was on the same drill team as my bfffff roommate Madison in high school :)) it was just a good time. We helped a recent convert pack her house up for a good chunk of the day.
As far as our investigators go, they're all doing pretty well. No time to give a full update now, but stay tuned til next week 

Well, I gotta go. We have lots going on today!!!
Lots of love!
-Sister Layton
The Astoria Sisters
Amy, this one's for you, Sista!
Sister B. She's a less active we've been working with. We've started to teach her son!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Read the Book of Mormon EVERY DAY!

Hey Family & Friends,
Guess what. This upcoming week is Sister Passeys last :(((( ughhhhhh I just want her to stay! She's freakin out a little bit lol. It finally hit her that she's going home this week and it was the saddest thing EVER. I can feel this week is gonna be a good one. Gotta wrap up her mission with a bang, am I right?!

This week was so busy. Oh my lands, it's just been a sprint to the end for both of us! Work, work, work, with lots of meetings to attend. 

Oh, something funny I wanted to tell you all. As missionaries with iPads, we don't use paper too often, cuz everything is on technology!πŸ“² It's so convenient. Well, Sister Passey's mom mailed her a copy of the church newspaper and I was reading an article. I was looking at the picture and wanted to see it more clearly, so I tried to use my fingers to zoom in! Sister Passey was dying.πŸ˜‚ proof I've been using technology for too long. 

Ok ANYWAYS. I learned something valuable this week... Let me explain. 
Friday we had "Sisters Conference." It's where all the Sisters in the mission get together for a grand meeting and lunch.πŸ‘­πŸ‘­πŸ‘­ Since we are in the boonies, we had to leave before studies to make it there on time. Right when we got home at 6:00 pm we had appointments to rush off to. The day was filled with uplifting workshops and loads of fun, like it was a pretty good day! As Sister Passey and I were driving home that evening she said, "I feel guilty." I'd been feeling the same way myself, but couldn't figure out why! I tried to thing of anything we might have done wrong or ways we might have been disobedient... But there was nothing! So I just said "I don't know why, you've done nothing wrong!" And tried to shrug off the feeling. As 10:25 rolled around and I started praying I noticed I still felt weird and expressed to Heavenly Father that I wasn't sure why I was feeling this way and asked him to help me feel the spirit again. As I prayed a thought came to my head clear as day saying, "you feel this way because you forgot to read the Book of Mormon." 
I was like OHHHHH my goodness! I couldn't remember the last time I hadn't read the Book of Mormon. Since we normally have morning studies I read the Book of Mormon during that time, and plenty of other times during the day during appointments and whatnot. But on Friday we hadn't read from the Book of Mormon once. Not once! It wasn't used in the workshops at sisters conference nor did we use it in our lessons at night. It was crazy for me to see the difference in the way I felt, simply because I hadn't read the Book of Mormon! I hadn't realized how much power it has given me on my mission as I've studied it. So moral of the story is, study the Book of Mormon- EVERYDAY. Stay by the tree!🌳 Hold to the rod!!! Embrace it!
it's very very important.⬅️⬅️⬅️ I can testify of that.

K WE SAW MIRACLES THIS WEEK AAAHHH.I love being a missionary. I don't know what highlights to write about. Every moment was a highlight!

So C is V's (a members) girlfriend. She's SO COOL. She's considers herself Wiccan! I don't think she really gets what Wiccans are though..... Hahahah. Anyways. She came to church three weeks ago. I asked her boyfriend and others who know her if she was interested and they were all like "she's really not interested, at all." But then the next week she showed up at church AGAIN and I thought to myself "there's NO WAY she's not interested if she came back!" So I fellowshipped with her, and invited her to meet with us! She accepted! Yayyy.
Tuesday night we met C, V, and V's roommate, K at the park for their first lesson! Well, when we arrived at the park we saw a little girl and her mother sitting at the picnic table with them. The little girl told her mom she wanted to play with the people at the picnic table just a few moments before we got there! And because she did that, her mom was able to join us for the lesson!!! We had a cool lesson and C, K, and B(the little girls mom) all want to meet with us again! Thank goodness for the spiritual sensitivity of young children :))
C and K both came to church and said they'll be back! 
Church was crazyyyyyy on SundaySunday's are anything but the sabbath for missionaries. They're the busiest day of the week! 
Oh, I got to teach RS, solo! I need more practice.... But I don't think it was thaaaaat bad for my first time teaching alone! Our RS is great. Best one I've ever been in.

Other highlight of the week: F.❤❤️ F is a highlight every week hahah. We decided to try something new and took her teaching with us. Since she goes to school with them, she seems to know the whole deaf youth community of LI. The original plan was for her to introduce us to her friend J. But he was on vacation.πŸ˜” His family really wants us to come back and see him next week! Sister Passey and I got back in the car with her kinda sad and she is all "no worries I have other friends!" And directed us to her friend S house. WE HAD A LESSON WITH S AND HE WANTS US TO COME BACK. yay. Also he already has an ASL Book of Mormon and watches it because his grandma is Mormon in El Salvador.... What on earth??? Miracles.
We thought that was it so I said "want some ice cream?!" And F goes "ummmm, I have more friends....." So she took us to yet another friends house! He was the cutest little thing and had a cochlear implant like me!
I love F!!! She may not understand the gospel, but she knows she needs to share it anyways! When we met S she was like "will you join the church?" Hahahah, champ!

Okay well that's all. Won't bore you any longer.
Don't ever forget how blessed we are to be members of CHRIST'S CHURCH. This is the ONLY way! The only place we can find full truth and happiness, the only way we can be with our family forever, and so much MORE. I could go on for ages. 

Xoxoxo love you.
-Sister Layton

Last pday! These are probably the last pics you'll ever see of Sister Layton on the bridge :((( sadddd!
We were teaching P on the video phone.. Talking about baptism, and then it FROZE. she had the most P-like face look on her face and I couldn't stop laughing. 
SISTERS CONFERENCE. my peeps and bffs sisters Barker and Peterson.

Sent from my iPad

Monday, August 17, 2015

Planting & Harvest


I felt like I'd share an experience to help you get feel of what it's like to be Sister Layton.
On Monday evening we were driving down the street when we looked out the window and saw a daughter of God strolling down the sidewalk. I thought to myself "maybe we should talk to her." But I brushed it off thinking she stuck out to me only because she had the most colorful hair I'd ever seen- every color of the rainbow and MORE. It looked like a bowl of skittles. So I didn't say anything except for "wow check out that hair!"

All of a sudden it was as if the Spirit said unto Sister Layton, "I hath delivered her into your hands, talk to her!" So Sister Layton said unto Sister Passey, "Sister we gotta talk to her!" Sister Passey said "ummm, sister....." And Sister Layton said "we have to! Drive a bit further down the street and pull into a parking lot. We will get out, walk in her direction, and approach her." So here come two sister missionaries "casually" strolling down the sidewalk trying to hide their smiles, knowing something AWESOME is about to happen! As we got near, Sister Layton said "Hey, sweet hair! Where'd you get that done?" Which led to a great conversation. We were able to explain our purpose as missionaries, testify of the blessings that the gospel can bring to people's lives, and ask S if she or anyone else she knew would be interested in drawing closer to Christ through hearing our message. S immediately lit up and said "I would be! I'm very interested actually!" So we got her number and texted her the next day to set up an appointment.  We found a spot on member to come with us to the appointment and everything was going PERFECT. 
And then S canceled the appointment.

We haven't been able to set up another appointment, yet :( (sorry not sure why)

So this is what happens all. the. time. We have cool experiences where we feel the Spirit lead us to someone pure in heart. We think that person is just READY for the gospel and are sooo excited to teach them! But then the person becomes impossible to contact or something else happens.
Or we have a perfect day planned- lessons all day with solid lesson plans, specific finding activities, member presents planned, etc. and then everything falls apart hahahah. Sometimes we come home and just lay on the floor staring at the ceiling wondering what we're doing with our lives. Sister Calderwood once said the best feeling ever is lying on the field of victory... And the second best feeling is lying on the field of defeat- exhausted&broken, but satisfied knowing you gave it your all! I agree with her! As much as I want everything to go perfectly everyday, there's nothing better than coming home after a crazy day feeling completely exhausted, knowing I tried my best.

Something I've learned time and time again on my mission is to trust in the Lord's timing. to realize His ways are higher than my ways. Before my mission I surely trusted God, but I definitely knew exactly how I wanted everything to work out. I thought I knew the best plan for me. I've since learned that God has specific plans for each of his children (myself included.) life goes a lot easier when I sit back and try to see the eternal perspective, try to see His plan and seek to do His will. A lot of my mission has been seed planting, just trusting and praying that the little seeds will bloom!

So far on my mission I've been blinded out of every area I've served in when the area was doing great! (That means both companions were transferred.) So I haven't had the opportunity to see a lot of the fruits. But one of the BEST THINGS EVER is hearing from missionaries now serving in my past areas that they started teaching someone my companion and I found or that people we were teaching are still progressing!

This week I received blessed news that some of those seeds I was talking about are blooming! 
Remember the T family? I told a story about them probably exactly a year ago. They're from Astoria English Ward. One day we were walking down the street in our neighborhood, saw them moving furniture, and said "Hey, need some help?!" After that we became their Angels lol. We literally ran into them ALL THE TIME out and about the town. They wanted their daughter O to be just like us, so we started teaching them. After a while we dropped them because things just didn't feel right.... Yet. I don't know if I've mentioned this, but Sister Board was sent back to Astoria for the end of her mission andddddddddddd she's teaching them again... they're GETTING BAPTIZED. I'm so happy hahaha. Tears of joy all over the place.

X is also getting baptized this week in the Union Square deaf branch! Sister Passey and I found her with the help of the Spirit in Manhattan one day and started teaching her and her husband. Now our dear friends Sisters Barker and Nash are preparing her for her baptism this week! Sisters B and N are teaching a lot of the deaf people that Sister Passey and I found but were never able to teach. It brings me so much joyyyyy yayayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

Hearing news like this gives me hope for this new little deaf group here in South Shore. Hope is SO vital as a missionary. Especially for this small, fragile deaf group we've been starting here on the island. Sister Passey and I worked tirelessly to find deaf people this week, and it just wasn't happening! We did find a few, but they weren't interested. Nonetheless, I have faith that this area will grow! It may not be the Lord's timing right now, but if we can just find the deaf people here on Long Island and plant the seeds, others WILL be able to teach them someday! 

Okay sorry that turned into a journal. Classic Sister Layton, am I right? Okay, story over. Hope you enjoyed it. This email is almost over I promise!

We actually had a lot of opportunities to teach this week! One of the highlights is F. awwww man I love her to bits. She's a 16 year old member in a solid family, but because she is deaf she doesn't know ANYTHING ABOUT THE GOSPEL. Her spanish ward doesn't have an interpreter and none of her family or church mates know sign language. Her family isn't willing to drive her to south shore for church either :( So she literally goes to church and sits there. Yet, she can feel the Spirit and knows it's good. I admire her so much for that. She knows it's true with all her heart, but doesn't know WHY.

We introduced her to the Atonement this week. WHOLE NEW CONCEPT. It was mind blowing, really. we had to explain everything from the bottom. Before the lesson she didn't even know it was possible to sin! After a lot of relying on the Spirit to teach her she was able to understand that Christ took upon himself her sins and she can repent. Oh haaaaaa and you should've seen her face when we explained that Jesus lived again after He died. All I can say is her jaw dropped right open. Another funny thing: we were explaining that you can only be baptized one time, but can renew our covenants by partaking the sacrament. She said "you can be baptized again! I was baptized 10 times in the temple!" Face palm. No one explained that she was being baptized for someone who was dead -__- 
I'm so grateful Sister Passey and I can teach F! I just can't believe no one has cared about her all this time. 
Oh, update: we aren't going on trek with F. We found an even better solution. B FROM THE UNION SQUARE ASL BRANCH IS GOING WITH HER. (She's a recent convert whose parents are deaf.) aaaahhhhh! Miracles!!!

Ok I have to gooooo we are in Brooklyn!
All my love!
-Sister Layton
P and J. Deaf investigators.
Yet another car selfie. Thought my cousins would enjoy this... "Designer shades🎢"πŸ˜‰

Monday, August 10, 2015

It's a Miracle - I'm Cured!

Hello Everyone!

The miracle of the week is.... I am cured! 

This week was a bit miserable to start off with. I mentioned last week that I had a terrible rash that looked like poison ivy or something of that sort? Some of you may not have even gotten that far into the email before getting bored and stopped reading.... Buttttttt i had a TERRIBLE rash on my face, neck, legs, left arm, and chest. It was so bad hahah. I called the mission nurse and she was like "put some anti itch cream on it and I'll talk to you tomorrow..."

Anyways, on Tuesday we had Mega-zone conference, which is one of the meetings you have he privilege of attending as a missionary! That morning I woke up and my face was s w o l l e n. My ear was pretty big too. But I couldn't just hunker down and stay inside because MEGA ZONE CONFERENCE. it's not something to miss. So I grabbed my ice-pack, threw my hair in a bun, dressed in long sleeves and a maxi skirt, and showed up at the meeting. When I got there everyone was like ".......sister. What happened to you?" I was asking the same question! The rash just came out of no where and was spreading as fast as a cheetah! The mission nurse instructed Sister Passey to take me to Urgent care as soon as the conference was over.

So the meeting was great and all. Filled with the spirit and great workshops. Loved it. It was definitely a different feel having President and Sister Reynolds there instead of the Calderwoods, but still a great meeting.... That is until Elder Odd says, "we will now hear the testimonies of departing missionaries." 
I'd forgotten about that. It seems like yesterday I was sitting in my first mega-zone conference listening to departing missionaries testimonies thinking "I will a NEVER make it to where they're at." And all of a sudden it was my turn. No clue how that happened so fast, but it did. 
It was pretty weird. But pretty great. I wasn't sure what to say, because for some reason it's extremely difficult to put how I feel about my mission into words. So I just testified and talked about how missions are the best thing that's ever happened to any of us- the opportunity to FIGHT, on the front lines of battle for the kingdom of God with Christ as our leader!!! It's an amazing opportunity that leaves us forever changed! 
Okay anyways, that happened. 

Then I was taken to urgent care where "PA Christina" told me I had a chronic condition and would look like this for A VERY LONG TIME. Obviously, I cried and said, "you mean I'm going to get off the plane looking like this?" It was a traumatic experience for sure. I was not a fan of PA Christina. She prescribed me some cream which was NOT HELPING and seemed to be making the rash worse. But all the dermatologists within 20 miles were booked to August 20th, so I didn't know what else to do hahah.

On Thursday I was finallllyyyyyyyyy able to see a dermatologist thanks to my mother calling every dermatologist in NY. Dr. Klein kindly accepted me, told me I'd had an allergic reaction to who knows what, and saved the day by putting me on real meds!!! 
Oh and GUESS WHAT. Dr. Klein totally knew all about Mormon missionaries, thanks to "the Book of Mormon," the musical. Seeing the play led him to do some research himself where he learned how we got the Book of Mormon, about the prophet and apostles, and other random things. In fact, he asked, "didn't your prophet pass away a few weeks ago?" I kind of laughed out of surprise that he knew about that and said "well, two of the apostles recently passed away if that's what you mean." He was very curious as to how two new apostles would be chosen! 

So now I'm alive, happy, doing well, sleeping, and not itching! Life is good, and I can preach the gospel in peace again :)

We had another miracle happen this week...... So we went to see a deaf LA member and his deaf fiancΓ©e. M and Y. Ohh myyy cutest deaf couple I ever did see. They're getting married this week! We had never even met Y before, but felt like we should talk to them about how the gospel blesses families/eternal marriage. They loved it!!! Before we know it Y says "I feel like after we get married I need to join the Mormon church because we need to go to church together as a family. We must have God in our lives in order to stay strong." Sister Passey and I were like "uhhhhhhhhhh OKAY, we are more than happy to teach you everything you need to know to get baptized!" Aaaaand what makes it even better is they're willing to drive our deaf member F to church every week!!! We've been trying to find a way to get her to the deaf group for ages! Miracles.

One more interesting thing: Sister Passey and I might be going on trek with F. HAHAH wouldn't that be the best thing ever? TREK! as a missionary! I hope we can go, it would be so good for F. The stake is seriously considering it.

K that's alllllll. thanks for reading, friends! 
Keep these people in your prayers this week: P, J, C, Y, M, and F!

Love, Sister Layton
1. Cuz you're not a sister missionary if you don't take car selfies.
2. A member had a costume birthday party this week... We were invited.... I became Mulan and Sister Passey became Princess Leia.
Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tracting & Other Advertures

So, Monday again, huh?

We had a wonderful week. It was pretty crazy, actually.
Sister Moore is no longer with us... She got emergency transferred because a sister in a neighboring area went home early due to back problems. The trio is no longer in existence :(( butttttttt that doesn't mean Sister Passey and I aren't having a grand old time together. Yesterday in sacrament meeting Sister Passey bore her testimony since it was her last fast and testimony meeting as a missionary and I just cried hahah... Not only because I felt the spirit, but because I was so sad! I'm going to miss her so much.πŸ’”

Being her companion at this time is one of the biggest blessings of my mission. We were talking the other day about how we have changed! Sometimes it's hard to measure your growth in the mission.... But now that we're back together we can measure ourselves against when we were companions the last time. You can see the change in ourselves simply by the way we interact with each other, the words we use, the way we work together, and even better-we can FEEL the change. The spirit is so present!! #foreverchanged

Some highlights of the week:
On Monday we went to the Fire Island Lighthouse with my favorite Hermanas and J. It was SO FUN. I've missed my Bayshore peeps. It's a pretty tall lighthouse, and if you make it to the top you actually get to step outside and walk around this little deck that wraps around the top, enjoying the view and the nice cool breeze. It was grand.

Our AMAZING deaf members, the S'es held a BBQ for our deaf investigators and some other deaf friends. It was pretttyyyy nice. I love our investigators. C accepted a baptismal date this week FINALLY. P and J are the cutest old deaf couple... They come to church every week, but they don't want to get baptized! I guess we just have to keep working on developing their testimonies. :)

Hmmm what else... Well it was the end of the month, so you know what that means- NO MILES. Also no money. Ughhh. We got to do lots of tracting, which I actually love. There's nothing better than talking to and connecting with people. The longer you're on your mission, the better you get at tracting.. At the first of my mission I hated it. But now the conversations just FLOW and it gets exciting. People actually want to talk to us! I think it's because we actually CARE about them and their salvation, where as before I felt like I was just knocking on doors. I know tracting isn't very effective, I KNOW, but I believe Heavenly Father blessed us for being obedient... Cuz we had some pretty cool experiences. 

One of those cool experiences included meeting a woman named C! We knocked on her door and she was not about to let us in. she was closing the door more and more as I kept talking, then I mentioned something about the Plan of Salvation and she goes "ohhh, uh okay come in!" We had an amazing, beautiful discussion about the plan of salvation and she wants us to come back YAY. She had some really good, sincere questions about the plan of salvation. I love feeling the spirit answer questions through me... I have been reminded again and again that the spirit is the REAL teacher here.

This is definitely not a highlight..... BUT I NEED ALL OF YOUR PRAYERS very badly because I seem to have developed a terrible rash over the span of the past two days all over my face and neck, and a little bit on my arms and legs. It's pretty painful, so yes, prayers would be wonderful.  We don't know what it's from, but it looks a little bit like poison ivy? IDK. πŸ˜‘πŸ˜·πŸ˜’ all I know is everyone's giving me weird looks at the laundromat! 

Okay I'm going to go put ice all over my face now. Sorry this email was more of a boring one.

Love you ALLLLLL.
-Sister Layton
J and I at the top of the lighthouse.πŸ’‘
They gave us certificates for climbing to the top!
The district right before Sister Moore left.
#sisterpower I love my island sisters :))