Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I'm getting there...

July 29, 2013

Dear friends,

Guadeloupe has been great! Last week, for P-Day we went to hike Chute de Moreau. It's a waterfall here. It was so beautiful! It took about 6 hours out of our day, so we had to wake up at 5 AM! It was fun! Today we played futbol with the district (soccer).

Some things I should talk about:

HOW I GOT HERE. The airline that flies through the West Indies is basically like a flying bus system. They stop at each island, drop off some passengers, pick up some passengers, then fly off to the next island. We took a little plane from Trinidad to St. Vincent. Then St. Vincent to Barbados. Then Barbados to Antigua maybe? Then sooner or later we ended up on Guadeloupe! Haha I don't really even remember anymore. All the islands here are so beautiful! They're all quite different, but they're all awesome. I hope I get to see as many of them as possible.

The FOOD! The food here is so weird! It's good, but weird. The grocery store is nothing like the ones in America. All of the packages are different, and the foods inside them are different too. And what makes it even harder is the French labels. I don't really know what I'm looking at most of the time! haha The milk comes in a big juice box-type carton, and doesn't expire until November. So that's good! haha The fresh French baguettes are so good!! I had some this weekend... mmmm! I've been trying to get different foods when we go to the grocery store. Elder Galati is used to just grabbing the same old things every time, but I've been making some suggestions of new things we can eat. This week I've been making crazy new things, like grilled cheese sandwiches! haha

The APARTMENT. It's nice, but nothing special. I hated it at first, but now it's good! I got used to it pretty fast. After doing a TON of cleaning last Monday, I felt a lot more comfortable. Elder Galati and I are the only ones that live there, so we have our space. There are just two main rooms: the kitchen, and our bedroom. Our bedroom has two stall things that have the toilet in one, and the shower and sink in the other. I don't really like it because the toilet is basically in the middle of our room, and there isn't much privacy because it's just a thin wall and a door. Luckily, our bedroom has air-conditioning. So it's pretty comfortable at night time and in the morning when we use it. Now that I think of it... I actually like our apartment a lot! 

The AREA/BRANCH. We're in an area called Baie-Mahault, which covers half of the Lamentin Branch. The other half is covered by two sister missionaries. We have 4 sister missionaries on the island, and they're the first ones ever! There have only been sister missionaries here a transfer longer than I've been here. But our branch is amazing! There are some members that speak English, so they help me a lot with my French. Our branch had a baptism about 9 days ago on that Saturday! It was the Sisters' though. We have baptisms scheduled for a mom and her 3 kids on August 10th though! So hopefully everything works out there. The mom is amazing! She really wants the gospel in her family. The island hadn't had a baptism in months, but since I've been here we've already had one in our branch, and several others (like 4) in the other 2 branches! The Lord really is hastening the work! I'm fortunate to have come at such an amazing time.

I did have to introduce myself to the branch on the first Sunday I was here. It was so hard! haha I just said simple sentences like, "I have 3 sisters. I like to play baseball and golf. I'm from Utah." And then I bore a simple testimony. In my introduction I also said that I would like to learn how to play cricket. Then after the meeting a woman came up to me and said something to me in French. After making her repeat it 3 or 4 times, someone told me that what she was saying is, "We don't play cricket here on Guadeloupe." Oops! That's embarrassing for me! Haha I guess I should've known... I told the whole ward I wanted to learn how to play cricket, but none of them have probably ever even played it either! Hahaha Oh well, I'm "le nouveau" (the new person) here.

It's way hard for people to say my name. And I never know whether I should say Dayton with a French-like accent or not. Either way I say it, they don't understand me, and just look at me confused. One of my new friends in the branch is Diemji. He calls me Elder Détant, which in French basically means like a detonator-button for something to explode. I don't really know... He always says, "Détant," then pokes me in the stomach like he's pressing a button. Hahaha

GUADELOUPE. It's so beautiful here! The island is so green, and the homes are all painted so colorfully. We're considered to be a part of France, so all the signs and roads are European looking. So I feel like I'm in Europe, but I'm on an island. It's kind of like being in Hawaii, but saying you're in the United States. The people are all black. They're all French though too, so they're style is much less like the stereotypical American gangster style, and more like... French! There are some Rastafarians here too, and they all speak Creole. They're pretty sweet. They all ride around on little motor-scooters. They all can do wheelies! It's insane! 

Well, I'm out of time. Next week I'll have to tell you more about my investigators and some other stuff I think of.

Love you guys,

Elder Taylor Dayton

And suddenly...I'm in Guadeloupe!

July 24, 2013

Hello everyone!

Sorry it's been so long! And sorry I didn't email on Monday. We went hiking and we didn't time until today to do email. But I made it to Guadeloupe!! I'm safe and sound... and somewhat comfortable. I'm not in Lementin, I'm in Baie-Mahault (pronounced "Bay-Mow"). I don't know what that means yet, but I'll probably find out someday.

I don't even know where to start! Louisiana was amazing! I miss it a lot. I knew I would! That's how it's worked every time I've left an area/companion/district!

One of my favorite people in Louisiana! He's basically blind. His names is Brother Watkins. He's less-active, but he loves the missionaries (mostly me). Haha I asked him if I could put my arm around him and he replied, "Keep your hands off of me."

Then he grabbed my hand. I told him, "Alright, now look at the camera." He's definitely blind! hahahaha

My cool hat I got in LaPlace. It's the New Orleans Pelicans.

My companion in Guadeloupe is Elder Russell Galati. Things are going great! He just barely got done with his training, and now he's training me! He speaks the language quite well for how long he's been out. He was fortunate enough to have a French trainer. I, on the other hand, do not speak the language very well at all! I can only speak very simply and slowly. But the biggest problem I have is that I cannot understand anything the people are saying! They talk so fast and it just sounds like they're mumbling to me! Hopefully I can catch on quickly. It's extremely frustrating at times. It's so exhausting to try and understand what they're saying, and my brain is working at a million miles and hour. A lot of the time my mind just wanders off and I zone out because I don't know what's going on.

Elder Dayton and Elder Galati

I am also so exhausted all the time! I think my "chronic fatigue syndrome" gets worse with humidity. Even though I'm getting a full 8 hours of sleep per night, throughout the day, all my body wants to do is sleep. I have to focus all my attention just on keeping my eyes open while in lessons and church. I feel so bad sometimes because it probably looks like I don't care, when I really just don't have a clue what's going on!

My first week in the mission has been hard. Talk about culture shock!! I'm still getting over the first time I set foot in a French grocery store. All the food here is so weird! I can't find anything that I'm used to eating! But Elder Galati has been helpful, and we've been able to get some food that isn't too bad... We've eaten plain noodles with magic sauce and a hamburger patty every day for lunch! I love it more and more every time I eat it! :/ haha

This week in my personal study I have been focusing on how to teach the lessons in French, as well as how to get investigators to church. I also decided to jump on board the mission goal of reading the Book of Mormon once every 2 transfers (12 weeks). So I just started to read where the rest of the mission was, in the middle of Alma. I love the chapters when Alma is counseling his sons. He gives them great advice that is very applicable to me, and he always finishes with an empowering message about missionary work. I love it! One of my goals is to gain a knowledge of the scriptures and know my references better. I feel like I'm improving a little bit!

I have been meeting a lot of investigators and members, and I'm doing my best to learn their names and get to know them better. The branch here is amazing! I just wish I was better at the language so that I could utilize all the tools we have here. This would have been a great area to come to near the end of my mission. I've heard that it's the best branch in the mission. Apparently we have the most worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holders and the most endowed adults! It's great! We also have the only General Authority in the mission in our branch! His name is Elder Gamiette. He's the former mission president here in the West Indies. His daughters are also serving mini-missions with the sisters here. One is 17 and the other is 18, and they're amazing missionaries! They're basically like full-time missionaries here, tags and all, but they just haven't been officially assigned to this area.

I have loved it so far though. Missionary work is one of the hardest things I have ever done, especially in a foreign country and a foreign language. But I know the Lord will bless me as I continue to work hard.

Love you all,

Elder Dayton

Hello from Trinidad!

July 16, 2013

Dearest loved ones,

I'm here! I'm safe! The island is BEAUTIFUL!! We got in late last night, so I couldn't see very much. I woke up this morning and went out on the balcony (we have a balcony!!), and I took some awesome pictures! I'll have to send them to you some other time when I have my memory card. Right now I'm in the mission home with the rest of the new missionaries. Where we slept last night wasn't the mission home though, it was just a vacation rental somewhere here in Valsayn. It's gorgeous! There's a pool out in the backyard, and it kills me every time I see it! We're going through a bunch of orientation stuff, but I already feel like a pro because I've already been on a mission! :) haha

I'm NOT going to Martinique! Kind of a bummer... Elder Russell and I won't get to see each other for a little bit. The reason I got a flight itinerary for Martinique is because they needed some type of "proof" that I would only be in Trinidad as a visitor. So I won't be serving on that island... Or on Saint Martin... Or on French Guiana... I'll be serving on Guadeloupe!! I'll be in the Lamentin area! My trainer is named Elder Galati. He's American and he hasn't been out very long. I'm pretty sure he's been out for less than a year. That's pretty much all I know about him! And I don't really know anything about the area either, but I'm sure it'll be great!

There's one more French elder here that none of us knew in the MTC. He was in the Advanced Language Zone, like me, but he got his visa in time because he went to San Francisco BEFORE he came into the MTC (they must have learned from their mistakes with me... haha). It's all good though. I had AMAZING experiences in Louisiana! I wouldn't have had it any other way! But the other elder here is Elder Glover from New Mexico. He's super sick! He loves baseball!! He might know more about it than I do! He was updating me on some of the stuff going on with the Dodgers rookie, Yasiel Puig. He sounds like the real deal!! Anyway, I'm getting off topic... Elder Glover and all the rest of the new French missionaries are going to Guadeloupe except for one, Elder Johnston... Super weird. I've heard from multiple sources (mom + the assistants down here) that there were going to be 4 new elders going to Martinique, but there is only one! Oh well, I guess that's just another unexpected change in plans. Haha it must be some type of curse I have or something! Nothing ever works out the way I expect it to! It's fine though. I have no bitter feelings toward anything that has come my way yet.

I love you all! I hope you're having as much fun in the United States as I am in the West Indies!

Elder Dayton
The new West Indies missionaries that arrived July 13, 2003

Friday, July 19, 2013

P-Day in New Orleans!

We got to spend our last P-Day in New Orleans. It was really cool! I'm glad I got to experience it, but if I never ever get the chance to go back, I won't be too sad. It's a fun place, but it's just so evil! We weren't allowed to go into the French Quarter (the nastiest part of the city), but from outside, I was still a little freaked out!
On the way to New Orleans for P-Day on July 1st.

The famous Superdome! (I might be a Saints fan now, just because I've never had an NFL team. And I know Jimmy Graham and Drew Brees are sick!)

In the city.
Canal Street is famous, right? I don't really know...but it's right downtown.
Mardi Gras beads litter the whole city!

The people in NOLA love Cafe Du Monde! I was glad to see it because it's a French name ("Cafe/Coffee of the World") and they serve French food (sort of)! I got a "meal" there...the only meal they serve, along with coffee. Three beignets for about $3. "Beignet" is French for doughnuts. They were COVERED in powdered sugar!

This "Great and Abominable Church" guards the French Quarter--one of the most wicked places on Earth! Kind of a weird thing to want to associate your religion with if you ask me...
The St. Louis Cathedral that overlooks Jackson Square

Elder Knowlton and I! I love him!
(Elder Knowlton is 6'4")

We got to go to the Pepper Palace while in New Orleans. I tried the world's hottest natural hot sauce! You have to be 18 to try it, and you have to sign a waiver first. Yikes!!

Elder Dayton looks a little nervous, signing the waiver!!

It was SO hot! I just dipped a little corner of chip in it, and my mouth burned for over an hour!!

I'm so glad I did it though! :) It was worth it! I have a pretty funny video of it, but I can't send it via email, so I guess I'll just have to show you when I get home in two years.

After a long day of partying, aka proselyting. Mardi gras beads and all.

This is LaPlace!

I love the people of LaPlace, Louisiana! 
They don't speak French but they might as well be speaking it sometimes! haha 

The Fourth of July was pretty crazy! We couldn't officially go to any parties. But we were fed 3 times from lunch to dinner, and every meal was delicious!! Jambalaya and red beans & rice are some of the most popular foods from Louisiana, and they are sooo good!! Now all I need to try is gumbo...

We're still trying to find more people to teach. We've found a few more potential investigators, but it's just hard to get a lot of them to keep commitments. Whenever we ask them to read for us, they tell us they "need glasses." But I honestly think that some of them can't read... It's really sad to see the living conditions of some of the people down here! There are some nice neighborhoods, but it's mostly mobile homes and trailer parks.

This is how Elder Dayton stays awake during personal study time.
Yesterday we went and visited a long-time less active member named Brother Watkins. He's 81, but he looks 65. But he's pretty much blind! He's a pretty crazy guy! He got baptized when he was a little older, but he never got to go to the temple or become an Elder because he wouldn't quit smoking. He's not afraid to admit that either! He tells us that he likes "to puff one every now and then." haha Yesterday I found out he likes golf and that was the greatest thing ever!! I think he's really warming up to me. It's good that we found something in common. I love becoming friends with people! We're still trying to get him back to church, but it's hard because we can't give him a ride, and he doesn't think any of the members will want to drive him. He's just stubborn and he's afraid of being a burden on anyone.
"I've seen more rain in Louisiana than I've ever seen in Utah!"

One of the tender mercies of this week was a baptism on the Fourth. It was a member family, so it sadly wasn't a convert baptism. It was for a special little 9 year-old boy, named Kai Brown, who has Down's Syndrome. His parents were somewhat hesitant to baptize him, because they knew it wasn't absolutely necessary. But they felt like it would be a good experience for the family as well as Kai. Because of the his behavior tendencies, the family did not invite anyone except for close family and us, the missionaries. It was really cool to receive that special invitation to attend such a special event. As the baptism took place, Kai's behavior was completely calm. He didn't writhe or disrupt at all during the baptism or the confirmation. As we stood around him in the confirmation circle, he was quiet the whole time. It was the most calm I have ever seen him act! It was so cool and the Spirit was so strong there! It was a very special moment for the family and I'm so glad that I could be a part of it. Sadly for the ward here, the family is moving next Wednesday. But they're moving to Utah! So I'm happy about that! :) They'll be in Herriman. They really are one of the greatest families I've ever met! Their names are Kerry and Staci Brown.

They're filming Hot Tub Time Machine 2 right here in LaPlace. Too bad it's rated R! And this is me, blowing bubbles in the park after we played volleyball.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

First letter from Louisiana!

July 1, 2013

Dear friends and family,

My first week out here in Louisiana has been great! I'm in LaPlace (pronounced "La-Ploss.") I can't believe it's only been 5 days. I feel like I've been here forever. President and Sister Wall are amazing! They're so nice! I love them! My companion, Elder Knowlton, is great! He's an awesome trainer and he helps me a lot. He never makes me feel bad about myself, even when I do something wrong. He is very obedient as well. He's from Sacramento and he's been out here for 15 or 16 months.

The other Elders here in LaPlace (E. Hansen and E. Gosch) are good too! There were Spanish Elders here before, but since Elder Gosch and I came in knowing Portuguese and French, they decided to double-work the English investigators. After splitting the area between two English-speaking companionships, it's harder at times to get lessons scheduled. We are working a lot on contacting and finding new investigators. People aren't very good at keeping commitments down here, and it really stinks! Everyone's Christian, and they don't think that it matters what church they go to, as long as they worship Jesus. It's really hard to teach people... They all talk so much and it's hard to get your own word in! But they're all very polite and very friendly. Probably 80% of the investigators or people I've contacted have been black. I love it! Haha white people are mean!

I met the ward for the first time yesterday and they are awesome! It's a very small ward, but everyone that attends is so strong! There are about 200 members in our area, but only about 60 are active (the exact same numbers I heard about Martinique!) Since it was the fifth Sunday of the month, we had a combined meeting for the third hour where we talked about the broadcast from last week. It was great! The whole meeting was focused on missionary work! I think the ward is really excited and ready to help out the missionaries here in LaPlace. Lots of them are scheduling appointments to meet with us so that they can see how they can help us. It seems like I got here at the perfect time! haha I'll probably be well-fed this week!

We have been meeting with some investigators more often, trying to get them to progress. Because of their schedules, sometimes we can only leave a spiritual thought with them. We're trying to get the Williams family specifically to progress. They're all girls, but luckily, every time we've gone over to teach them there has been a man in the house! The missionaries have been teaching them for a long time, but they haven't budged. But they keep accepting us back, and they keep asking us questions, so I think they can sort of tell how important our message is. At least one or two of them gets involved each time we visit.

Last night was full of tender mercies for me! I wasn't feeling very motivated, and I didn't really want to go out and search for people to teach lessons. The first two houses we went to didn't have time to let us share anything with them. So we walked through the trailer park and a man in his mid-20's saw us and asked, "What, you're not going to stop and talk to me because I have a beer?" So we took his challenge and went and talked to him. We found out that he had recently gotten out of jail and that he was looking for some direction in his life. While in jail, he found himself closer to God than he had ever been. We kept talking to him and we met two younger boys and their mother. They all lived in the same trailer. The mother explained to us that she has been looking for a church, so she asked us for a handout before we could even offer her one! It was really cool to finally find some people that were looking for us! We continued to talk with them and scheduled an appointment for later this week so that we could come back and teach a lesson. I'm excited to go back and see how it turns out!

After we went to the trailer park, we went and did some home teaching at a less active member's house. When we got there he said he was sick, and he didn't want us to come in. But after a little bit, he let us come in. He told us that he was just barely thinking about us and that he thought he might call us to come give him a blessing. So, we gave him a blessing. I got to seal the anointing, and it was only the second time in my life. I'll admit that I was a little scared, but it was amazing for me to be able to do it! I'm grateful that Elder Knowlton and I were able to visit him. I don't think he would have ended up calling us, so I'm grateful that we were the ones that went to him so that he could receive a blessing.

Much love,

Elder Taylor Dayton

Here are some pictures of our apartment. It smelled like cigarette smoke when I moved in, but I'm used to it now! haha It's two stories, and Elder Knowlton and I are the only ones that live there. The next door neighbor lady yells and swears at her kids every night at about 10:30, so that's kind of fun! :) haha I love our home though!

Elder Knowlton in our Corolla! The other ones in LaPlace are on bikes. It's really nice having a car here. It's SO hot!! Probably hotter than the West Indies will be!

My bike that a departing Elder gave me to use just in case I ever need it. Haha it's so beat up! The brakes are terrible. But it does have a sweet basket! :)

Au revoir MTC...bonjour Baton Rouge!

Monday, June 24, 2013

So, today is my last day here in the MTC. Super weird! It was supposed to be here a while ago, but it didn't come. Then it just snuck up on me all of the sudden! I'm really excited and really ready to leave here though! I'm gonna miss having such amazing teachers here. The MTC really is awesome! The food is really good! I weighed myself for the first time a week or two ago, and I was surprised by how much weight I've gained! I can't really see it or feel it anywhere on me, but I've gained over 10 pounds! I'm at about 157ish. I'm probably just going to gain more once I get to Louisiana! I was super happy this morning when I realized that I was still going to be in the United States for the 4th of July! :) I sure hope they do it well down south! I bet there'll be plenty of good food.

My French is improving! Hopefully I can continue to get better in Louisiana! Whether or not I teach in French, I'll have to study a ton before I go to the West Indies. The lessons we're teaching are pretty good! I can mostly understand what the investigators are saying, they just have to talk a little slower.

Here is an excerpt from a letter Elder Dayton received from the Missionary Department:

While you are waiting, your mission experience in the United States will prove to be a great blessing in your preparation to serve in Guadeloupe (FR). We encourage you to work hard, remain focused, and be involved in all aspects of missionary work. As you serve the people in the Louisiana Baton Rouge mission, your testimony and ability to teach will increase, you will set the pattern of study and hard work for the rest of your mission, and you will come to love the people. May the Lord continue to bless you and your family as you dedicate yourself to preaching the gospel to those who are seeking and ready to accept your invitation to come unto Christ.

 This same day, Elder Dayton saw Elder Brown as he was getting on the bus to head to the airport.

Later, he found Elder Woodfield and Elder Adams and was able to say one final goodbye to them.

Elder Dayton wrote, "The sunrise out the airplane window in SLC, marking the beginning of the next two years of my life!"

Another new district, more new companions

Monday, June 17, 2013

My new P-Day is today (Monday) because I'm now in a French district! Elder Brown is in a different zone/branch than me technically, but his room and classroom are both just down the hall from me! I get to see him all the time! :) I went over to his room before bed and we did pushups together (62). Good times... Reminded me of BYU.
My new district is fun! I got put with a companionship, so now we're a trio. At first I kind of felt like a burden when it came to teaching and stuff, and I still sorta do, but I'm getting better! My French is better than my companions', especially in terms of grammar, but it's so hard for me to talk during lessons because I don't know how to talk about the gospel in French! And it's also just hard because it's been so long for me since I've done a lot of French, and I think too hard about what I'm going to say before I talk. I just need to get better at not caring what others think about my grammar.

The new French District-
Elders Christensen and Drennan; Sisters Thomas and Beagles (going to New Caledonia);
Elders Wade, Johnston and Dayton
I think my district likes me though... We're all way different, and I don't think any of us would ever hang out outside of the MTC. But it makes it so fun because everyone is so unique! We laugh a lot! I do miss all my old companions though, my old districts, my old zone... You never realize what you have until it's gone. I'm sure it will be the same way next time I get transferred!


Taylor misses his buddies! Here he is with Elder Adams, Elder Hill and Elder Brown. He and Elder Brown were doing laundry together on their P-day, not long before Elder Brown left for Paris.