Monday, November 17, 2014

All Flown Out

November 17, 2014

"Well my party people," I'm back!!

That's right, I'm back from Trinidad. From Monday to Friday we flew all over the West Indies, just to get to a conference in Trinidad. I think I hit a total of 8 islands during my trip. Then we flew back. We traveled for a total of 4 days, and we had our conference for a total of one day. (We missed day 1 because of a missed connecting flight and layover in Barbados.) My shoes and belt are getting worn out from taking them off and putting them back on so much. But I can say that I'm a pro now at going through airport security! :)

It was a great trip! I got to spend time with lots of my past companions, because they were all at the conference too. Elder Belnap and I have both served with Elder Galati and Elder Wade, so we had some good times with them in Guadeloupe on Thursday night.


Elders Dayton, Galati, Wade and Belnap in Guadeloupe

ACHIEVING REAL GROWTH

Real growth is defined as baptism, retention, and reactivation. We received much inspired instruction from President Mehr and Sister Mehr in Trinidad, as well as the assistants, Elder Telga from Martinique, and Elder Ferrin from Kaysville. Now Elder Belnap and I are going to transmit the message to our missionaries here in French Guiana.

We're going to be teaching missionaries how to correct and train members so that they can better fulfill their callings. We're going to be using Manual 2 of the Church to do it. Now all the missionaries have a copy in their apartment. We are also going to work on our teaching skills and sharpening our doctrinal statements.

INVESTIGATORS

Sadly, this last week we didn't have a ton of time to work in our area, but we did find some new investigators. Yvelson, a new 25 y.o. Haitian investigator that speaks English came to church yesterday. He's awesome. We found him on Saturday and invited him to church on Sunday and he came! He also integrated well with the convert that got baptized 2 weeks ago named Smith.

Our other investigators have kind of hit road blocks, and none of them came to church on Sunday. Renato, our Brazilian friend had to work all weekend. Romario is still being slow, but we see his little siblings often, so he's never going to be able to get rid of us! Meïlynda wasn't able to come again because she was sick.

On Sunday night we had a miracle! We went back to see a Brazilian woman we had contacted the week before, and we met her mother and sister, Darlene and Brenda, instead and taught them. They were great! They've both been in other churches and recently stopped attending all churches, and they don't know why. They don't understand why there are so many churches today. We gave them the Book of Mormon and promised them that they can find answers to all their questions through it. It was really cool. They were asking US the questions. After teaching a little bit about the Book of Mormon, Brenda turned to us one by one and asked "How has this book changed your life?" So each of us, including Mike Mastey, a future missionary here, got to take turns bearing testimony about the Book of Mormon. It was a great lesson and they committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon!

Love you,

Elder Dayton


Elder Belnap

Lunch. Nutritious?

Elder Christensen and Lewis

I got Gatorade, a doughnut, a cinnamon roll, a Nature Valley bar, and a Snickers almond in the airport with the money voucher they gave me for delaying us. Best thing I've bought in a long time! I could have gotten real food, but I couldn't resist... We don't have this stuff here in the French side!
We got Whoppers in the Guadeloupe airport. More American food!!


Group pic with all the French side ZLs and Sister Training Leaders! They're the coolest!


Elder Lever and Savage


Today is Elder Belnap's birthday, so we smashed this plate full of shaving cream in his face. He thought we were giving him some dessert, so we sang to him and then when we finished, Elder Savage smashed him!


We had another baptism on Saturday! Two more! Nelma and Esteffany got baptized by Elder Smith and Elder Sackley. They're stud missionaries. Their 3rd this month! Elder Belnap and I are going to get a few more in November I think...




We went out at night with 12 y.o. recent convert Ronald to visit another recent convert Jenny to have a combined lesson. He's a funny kid! :)


Hello from Martinique!

November 10, 2014

Oi!


That's right! I'm back in Martinique. Here's picture proof of me in front of Burger King at the airport. 


Now, why am I here? Because I'm going to Trinidad for a Zone Leader conference about how the Church in the West Indies can achieve "Real Growth" on Tuesday and Wednesday. And because Elder Belnap and I live clear down in French Guiana, we have to take a bunch of flights to get there and back. But it's okay, because we get to fly Air France, which is pretty sweet. So we're in Martinique for the night. And then Trinidad on Tuesday and Wednesday night. And then Guadeloupe on Thursday night. And then we'll finally get back home to French Guiana on Friday night. It's a ridiculous amount of flights we have to take for a distance that isn't very far. But I'm not complaining.

Because I haven't done very good at explaining what's going on in French Guiana, I'm just going to answer some general questions.

1. The French Guiana Zone is 9 missionaries. 3 sisters, and 6 elders. We are the only Zone in the country.

2. The Cayenne branch is the only active branch of the LDS church in French Guiana. All of us missionaries are a part of this branch. There formerly were two other branches in the country, in different cities. But the other two branches died out for reasons that are unknown to me.

3. The other missionaries and areas. There are 4 areas, and they are all located in Cayenne, within 10 minutes drive of each other on the same main road of the city. So we are all very close.
Elder Lever and Savage are on bikes in Montjoly.
The 3 sisters are in a truck in the area of Matoury.
Elder Smith and Sackley are in the main dowtown area of Cayenne.
And Elder Belnap and I live and work in an area called Remire.

4. What does it look like here? I'll have to take some pictures and videos for you all... It's much different than Fort-de-France is on Martinique. There aren't houses stacked on houses and tiny little roads. The city is much more spread out and flat. The people don't live on the hills, but they just live in pockets of areas. It's hard to explain. I guess you would just have to experience it to understand what it's like. Maybe you could look it up on Google Street View.

5. What are the people like here? There are a lot more French white people, a lot more Chinese people, a TON of Brazilians, and a fair amount of Peruvians and Haitians. It's much more diverse. Lots of different cultures makes it a lot of fun! The people are much more calm and settled-down. They don't close themselves in their houses after 6:30 PM. I think the island life was just something different from anything else. It's more crowded and seems to make everything a little bit more intense. On the other hand, people in French Guiana are quite open to new ideas and change. Also, a lot more of them have methods of transportation.

RENATO, KIMBERLY, and JOHLBERT

Renato and his 9 y.o. daughter and 11ish y.o. son are doing great! They came to sacrament meeting and loved it! Kimberly translates us for us most of the time so that we can communicate with Renato. They went to the wrong church at first, but then they figured it out with the help of little Kimberly. She's so smart and so cute! It sounds like things are going much better for Renato now with work, so he'll probably be able to come to church more often. We have a recent convert named Jose that lives close by that we've started to integrate into our teaching and he loves it! Things are definitely moving in the right direction. The elders back in French Guiana are going to see them this week while we're "on vacation."

YOUTH IN THE BRANCH

The branch is doing great!! There were two more baptisms this last weekend for a 14 y.o. boy named Loïc (Elder Lever and Elder Savage) and a man in his 20s named Smith (Elder Sackley and Elder Smith.) 




The branch is very young and lively. We have soccer activities every Wednesday and volleyball on Friday. Jefferson is integrating well with the other youth. The branch just started up an early-morning seminary program which is going GREAT! We are on our way to achieving great things in the branch!




Meïlynda (new spelling) didn't come to church sadly. She was at her mom's house over the weekend, so we couldn't get hold of her. We have to bring her back in!

Romario is moving slowly. He's an average 18 y.o. kid. We hit some road blocks as we have found that he doesn't really like the feeling of "being taught." So we're working around that and just being his friends. We're also using other members that are his age to help us teach him.

That's about it! I love you all! I gotta go! 
Love,
Elder Dayton



Holding a cool lizard in our sweet kidnapper van. The lizards are bigger in French Guiana!

Eating water apples or love apples with Elder Belnap. They're super good. And there's a tree behind the church!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Jefferson's Baptism

November 3, 2014

A shorter e-mail than most today. Elder Dayton was short on time, so he just hit the highlights. We hope to hear more about the country in the future.

JEFFERSON



Jefferson Faustine got baptized and confirmed this weekend. It was great! An 18-year old member that teaches often baptized him. He's preparing for a mission right now. Jefferson was super happy! He's so humble and kind. He's going to make a great missionary one day.






MELINDA

A 17 year old girl that we found. She has a baptismal date for the 15th of November. She spent the whole weekend with the young women baking cakes for a bake sale they had to raise money to go to the temple. She loves the church and didn't believe in God before we gave her the Book of Mormon. Sadly she couldn't come to church because her dad wouldn't let her. But we'll try to soften his heart.

RENATO

He's also a new investigator with a baptismal date for the 15th. He and his two young kids Johlbert and Kimberly want to get baptized. We're working with him on quitting drinking and coming to church on Sundays. They're great! Yesterday we made a baptismal plan with him and we had them put it up on their fridge. Then they all put their hands in the circle and we all said "Baptismo" (Portuguese) together. It was a sort of cheesy thing to do, but they liked it. They love us and they really want to change.

ROMARIO

The older 18 year-old brother of some recent converts. He also will be getting baptized this month on the 29th. We also posted a plan on his fridge. He's progressing well and going to seminary in the mornings with his little sister. We just are going to have to see what his needs really are and work with him towards it. Sadly, he works on some Sundays.

I love you, but I gotta go! That's all I can think of right now... I'll send you some pictures of the baptism.

Elder Dayton

Elder Belnap, Lever and Savage


Elder Savage and Elder Lever also had some baptisms


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hello, French Guiana!

October 27, 2014

Hello everyone!

I made it down here safe and sound. It's weird. The roads are so much wider. The heat isn't unbearable though, probably because I now have a car and we have an apartment with air-conditioning! Hallelujah! The missionaries down here are awesome and are baptizing machines. Since Elder Lever has come down, he's baptized so many times that I keep discovering more of his recent converts.

It's nice down here. Imagine the feeling of going from Northern Utah to St. George. It's hotter, there's a lot of red dirt everywhere. But there are a lot more Brazilians here and the jungle is crazy. The trees here are so thick. But I live in a pretty suburban area. I'll have to take some more pictures another time.

I still am lost down here. Elder Belnap drives, and I just look at all the cool scenery. It's hard because it's flat and you can't see over anything because of all the trees, so I still couldn't even get myself home if my life depended on it. I've met most of our good investigators now, and we have been working with a lot of members already. The branch has a ton of youth and many young men preparing to serve missions. So we have a regular rotation of three 19 and 20 year-olds that actually call us to come and work. It's pretty awesome!

Here's a quick rundown of investigators and what I know so far:

JEFFERSON

He's getting baptized this Saturday! His little sister Jenny just got baptized, and now he's ready to get there. He's Brazilian, 14 years-old, and awesome. He loves soccer and he's going to be an awesome missionary someday. We're having a Family Home Evening at the branch president's house with him tonight. The branch president here is awesome and he loves the youth! The branch has so much life!

ROMARIO

He's 18 years-old. Also Brazilian. He's the older brother of 2 recent converts and he wants to get baptized, but his problem is that he works for the French Gendarmes right now and works a lot of Sundays. He has a baptismal date for November 15th though, so we're working to get him there. He's very good friends now with the youth and comes to the soccer activity every Wednesday afternoon.

BRAZILIANS

Basically everyone down here is Brazilian, and they are the BEST!! Man, they have so much love and they're so faithful! I love teaching them. We got fed lunch yesterday by our investigator Jose-Carlos. It was my first time eating a real Brazilian meal (beans and rice of course) and some really good Brazilian barbecue.

The problem is... I don't speak Portuguese! I need cousin Parker Landgren to come down here from Toronto so he can translate for me! We'd baptize everyone together! Some of them only speak broken French, and when they talk to us in lessons we have to really strain ourselves to understand. Luckily, the branch president is Brazilian though.

Anyway, that's just about all the updates I have for you this week.

SUMMARY

I love it down here! And I EXPECT to baptize A LOT! #salvationsplash

Love,
Elder Dayton




I had to say goodbye to my companion and good friend, Elder Lewis. He's going to keep the work moving in Martinique!


I flew AirFrance to get down here! It was nice.





We ate lunch at Jose Carlos' house on Sunday. The shirtless drunk guy in the corner made our food for us. It was so funny! He didn't speak a lick of French, but he kept talking to us. I would just nod my head and keep eating. Elder Belnap is so awesome! He makes me laugh harder than I have in a long time. Plus, he's an amazing leader. He's teaching and inspiring me a lot.

Jose-Carlos' daughter Jennifer is so cute! (PS, Brazilian women are very beautiful!! I'm glad I'm not actually serving in Brazil! Jennifer asked us if we could give her our number for a woman at lunch that was eyeing us. We didn't. We'll teach her though if she's willing to commit herself.)