Monday, March 23, 2015

Wedding Week!!

March 23, 2015

I ate a live sea urchin today! That was daring.

So, yesterday was a lot better than the Sunday before! We had THREE investigators at church yesterday!!

MONICA AND ROBERT JAMES

So the kids didn't come to church, but the parents did!! They stayed all three hours. They seemed to like it too! In Gospel Principles we had a ton of investigators and new members, so we talked about the importance of the sacrament. Afterwards, I asked Robert (Brother James) how he liked the lesson and he said, "When they tried to give me the sacrament earlier, I was like 'Whoa! I don't know if I should take it,' so I didn't take it. And now I know what it's for. I'm not going to take it until I'm a full member of the church." Then I was like, "YES!!"

So they're pretty much awesome. They're getting married in two days. We're invited to their wedding party on Sunday, so that's going to be cool! But because of that.. I don't know if they'll be coming to church this Sunday. Plus, this week they're going to be in a hotel with the whole family until Friday, so we won't be able to teach them much. But things are rolling in the right direction!!

RONALD

A new investigator (for us) that was given to us by the sisters! He is super awesome! He's 47. He lives alone. He's from Haiti, and his English isn't that great, so we started teaching him last week in French. They sisters did some awesome work with him and helped him to accept a baptismal date for April 11th. So we're just taking over now. He's awesome! He came to church yesterday. He loves church. He has a Jehovah's Witness background, but hasn't been active. He reads the Book of Mormon a ton and he is just loving everything we teach. So he's awesome!!

We had Zone Conference yesterday with Elder Cornish. It was great! But sadly, it was over Skype, and it was really short. But we talked a lot about member work and planning out our investigators' conversion. We also talked a lot about the Atonement and I just loved it! I'm reading the Infinite Atonement right now. It's probably one of my favorite books of all time. Elder Cornish loves it too and he talked about it a lot.


Elder Broadbent has been deathly ill these past few days! We were stuck in the apartment a bit, but we still had a productive week anyway. He's a tough guy. He either has a flu or the Chikungunya... I hope he gets better soon!

Love,
Elder Dayton

A couple photos of our apartment when Elder Broadbent was lying in bed. He looks like a zombie when he's sick... haha



We went to a cool place for P-day today called Coralita. There are a ton of sea urchins and cool little islands made of seashells and coral that you can walk out to. It's so beautiful!








Nine Weeks Left?!?

March 16, 2015

Hello family,

I only have 9 weeks left. This is weird. It's crunch time now. That's all I really have to say about that... back to the email.

This week was good. We're teaching more lessons and finding more and more awesome people! We're just sort of at the beginning stages of a great work here in our area. We have a ton of people that we've had awesome lessons with that tell us that they will be baptized if they receive an answer, we just need to follow up, so we should be nourishing the seeds we planted this week, and then harvesting fruit in the weeks to come.

Speaking of the harvest... we did some service this last week. It was a lot of fun! We helped the Dutch Elders serve someone they contacted doing door-to-door. When they initially met her she was completely closed and didn't want to hear anything they had to say. But then they mentioned that they would serve her and she realized that she had a lot of work to do around her yard, cleaning up from Hurricane Gonzalo in October, so she accepted a service appointment. We went on Friday and gathered tree limbs, cut down a tree, some other stuff, and raked up leaves. By the end of the service project she was very open with us, and the other elders ended up actually teaching her a lesson! It was a really cool and fun experience.




THE JAMES FAMILY

They're super awesome, but again, we were disappointed on Monday when they didn't come to the FHE we planned for them. Then on Sunday, they promised us that they were coming to church, but they didn't. It was honestly one of the most sad and disappointing days in my mission. I don't know exactly the real reason why they didn't come. But apparently, Josue (formerly known as Sarial) and Robert fell sick and so Monica had to take care of them... But we're still working with them to help them understand the importance of this restored gospel.

Other than the fact that they didn't come to church on Sunday. We had some awesome lessons with them last week! We taught Robert and Monica the Plan of Salvation and they were just amazed at how perfect the plan is! Robert marvelled at the fact that God has a plan for even the mentally handicapped and those who do not hear the Gospel during their lives. It was so cool to see how the Spirit taught them during the lesson. We also taught the entire family the Word of Wisdom, and they committed to live by it, but they know that it will take time to quit old habits. We're going to be following up frequently on that and praying for them constantly.

We had some other cool lessons with other awesome people last week!

Abdul - a 32 year-old guy from Haiti. He's a chef in a restaurant, and loves making music in a studio in his house. He's an old investigator of the missionaries before, but we finally met him last week. He's super busy with work every Sunday, but he said that starting in April he will no longer have a morning shift on Sundays.

Ralph - a 60 year-old man from Curacao that works at the airport. He got divorced a few years ago and is trying to bounce back spiritually and emotionally while trying to quit old smoking and drinking habits. He thinks Joseph Smith's story is really cool. He's extremely humble.

My barber shop's back in business for Elder Glover and Elder Fraley. That's about it from my side of paradise! Have a great week! :)

Love,

Elder Dayton


Elder Dayton cutting Elder Glover's hair

Elder Fraley's new haircut



Mullet Bay

March 9, 2015

Hello!

This morning was great! We played volleyball at Mullet Bay this morning, and it was the most beautiful beach I've been on in my entire mission. It might actually be the most beautiful beach I've ever been on, period! After, we ate some French pastries and some fruit smoothies. A pretty good activity for a p-day, I'd say.





The language change is still hard, but I'm getting better. I'm starting to find it easier to communicate with people on the phone, but I'm still awkward in person. Especially if it's an American! I don't know if I'll ever get the hang of the English language...

This last week was... good. Not great, but good. We're still finding people and having a blast, but we didn't quite break ground on any new investigators this past week. We still don't know a lot of the members, so we're not yet good at working with them. But we're figuring it out!

The James family is still on track though! We had an awesome lesson with just Monica and Robert last week. They are both committed and want to have this change in their lives. Monica told us that she was actually baptized into our church in Santo Domingo when she was young! We were like, you have to be kidding!! (We haven't yet received her membership record yet, but we've requested it.) We don't know if she'll get re-baptized or not. Then Robert told us a crazy story about how he was on the job one time and he watched a man die in his arms as he tried to comfort him. He said that he wanted to tell him that there was something good in the life after this, but he just didn't know for sure. So he was stuck. He couldn't comfort the man. So he has a lot of questions about the afterlife, and we're really excited to answer them. THIS FAMILY IS SO PREPARED!!

Sadly, the James family didn't come to church on Sunday. Robert was on duty, so he couldn't come, but the rest of the family said that they would. We checked on Saturday to confirm, and then passed by on Sunday morning to make sure they were getting ready, but they weren't even awake! We knocked and knocked, and yelled into the upstairs windows, and finally got Alexa's attention. She came downstairs and said that her mom wouldn't wake up. But we made her wake up the older two kids and start getting ready, then we took off to church.

Then at church, we waited, and waited... We kept calling them, but they never ended up coming! After church we talked to Sarial, the son, and he said that his mom was tired and didn't want to get up. We talked to Monica, and she said that her daughters didn't have the right shoes, so they didn't come... I think the real reason was that they were tired, but we're going to make sure that they come this Sunday!! We have an FHE set up for tonight with an awesome member that lives in the neighborhood! :) Hopefully everything goes according to plan!

We helped a member move a fridge last week. His name is Brother Reid. He's from Jamaica. He's our Branch Mission Leader and First Counselor in the Branch Presidency.










Elder Broadbent is from Ontario, Cali. He's been out a year and a few months. He's an awesome missionary! He's so focused on the work! He's honestly the perfect companion for me right now.

Love,
Elder Dayton

P.S. I got my release date. It's for May 21st, the same day that I got set apart!! Is there any way that I could get released at the exact same time that I got set apart? That would be cool.

I'm in St. Martin!!

March 2, 2105

Wow!!

So much change, so fast! I still can't believe I'm here! I just got back from Costco (actually called Cost U Less, but it's the same thing basically.) All my Euros have turned into American dollars! I can't remember if a quarter is worth 20 cents or 10 cents. You guys have a lot of questions you just asked me, and I'll do my best to answer them.

I flew up to Martinique first. Then up to Guadeloupe, and then on to St. Martin. No long layovers, just short stops of about an hour. So in one day, I went to all major areas that I have served in during my mission. It was really cool and brought back a lot of memories! I love my mission so much. It's been perfect so far.

Elder Dayton saying goodbye to Elder Belnap at the airport.




ELDER BELNAP

He's back in French Guiana still with Elder Smith now. They're probably kicking butt. I hope our investigators are still on track to baptized this Saturday. I don't really know. I miss that place a lot!

ELDER BROADBENT

He's a sick wizard from Cali! I love him a lot! We're blanking our area, so neither of us have any idea what's going on. I like him a lot though. He's keeping me from getting too trunky and too fat. He's on a diet right now. He's lost 70 lbs on his mission!

We live in an area called Belvedere (map it) on the Dutch side, but we work everything from Belvedere up North, which is all French side. There is no customs or anything to differentiate the two sides, just a small sign that say's "Welcome to the French Side." Most of the people on the French side speak English, and everybody on the Dutch side speaks English. You can hardly call it Dutch side, it's basically Las Vegas in the Caribbean.

Elder Fraley, one of the St. Maarten Zone Leaders

There is one branch, and all meetings are in English. There are 4 French elders, 
two Dutch Elders, and two Dutch sisters, and our senior couple, the Thompsons! It's a blast here! The missionaries are so fun! Elder Fraley, my fourth companion, is my Zone Leader with Elder Glover.



We've been working 90% of our time in Belvedere, so we've been speaking all English. We have just been walking around talking to everyone. The missionaries are new here, so people still don't really know us. We meet people from Sint Eustatius, St. Kitts, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and pretty much all over the Caribbean. Most of the kids are born in St. Martin, but most of the parents are from other islands.

The apartment in Belvedere.

MONICA and JAMES

They're our miracle! We found Monica just while walking around and we taught her and her friend. She's from the DR and is way cool. James is from here and we contacted into him at his house. It turns out they live together! And they're getting married this month!!! Monica has 4 kids, 3 of which are old enough to be baptized (Sarial, Shantal, and Alexa). And the kicker is, they live three houses down the street!! 

We had taught Monica and the kids 2 times, and Monica was on board for baptism, but after marriage of course. So we were nervous to talk to James because we hadn't yet officially taught him. He's a police officer, so we weren't sure what to expect. But last night Elder Broadbent and Elder Glover went and taught James and set a baptismal date for April 4th!! They said he's even more serious than Monica about it!! It's an amazing miracle from only our 4th day in our area. We're so blessed. We'll have to address some of the health commandments soon, but they'll be good!

We're constantly finding new people to teach! We're having a blast! Our area is blowing up!!

Love,
Elder Dayton





Hard to Say Goodbye

February 23, 2015

Can a cheese sandwich? No, but a tuna can. :)

Hi! I'm alive another week. I hit my 21-month mark the other day. Pretty weird!



Unfortunately, we weren't able to see John enough during the week to get him ready for baptism on Saturday. He's a really busy mechanic. 


Elder Dayton with John, the mechanic. 



We had an awesome week, and Jerome, Maria, and John are still doing great!! They all have baptismal dates for the 7th of March, and they are all pretty set on it! Jerome and Maria were both at church yesterday, and Jerome was answering questions about the Plan of Salvation in Elder's Quorum. He's sweet. He's 28 years-old and he's kind of like a bus driver for handicapped children. I'm really excited for him to become a member of the church.

Maria told us last week that she loves the Book of Mormon. We went over for a lesson, and when we got there her daughter said that she had gone out for a walk because we were late. So we went down the street to find her to set up a new appointment. When she saw us, she walked back to us with a smile on her face and said it was fine, and we went to her house and had a sweet lesson! She said that she doesn't know what it is, but she feels good when she reads it. She said she feels like it's changing her. She doesn't know how or why, but she knows that it's happening. She had a great day at church and the Relief Society is in love with her. They asked her if she had a baptismal date, and she proudly said that she's getting baptized on the 7th of March. :) She got invited over to a big FHE tonight, so we're going to that.


Elder Dayton with Maria

I got that dreaded transfer call on Friday night. I'm leaving French Guiana! It was not what I expected at all! I'm no longer going to be a zone leader or district leader. I'm going to St. Maarten to be with Elder Broadbent. We're going to an area that's only been open for 12 weeks, and we're white washing it! We'll both be arriving there at the same time with no idea where we are, who our investigators are, or who the members are. Luckily, my former companion will be one of my zone leaders there - Elder Fraley. He'll help me find my way around! :)

Overall, I'm pretty dang excited!!! I get to make the full tour of all the French Islands! That's a pretty rare feat for missionaries. I'm going to miss French Guiana a ton. I hope that someday I'll be able to come back here and visit. Elder Belnap was a great companion too. I learned so much from him that I'll be able to take with me through the rest of my life.

No more church in French for the rest of my mission. I gave my last talk in French that I'll maybe ever give yesterday. (There are both Dutch and French speakers in St. Maarten, but everybody speaks English too, so that's what they speak in the Branch there.)

See you on the other side!

Love,
Elder Dayton



Branch members in French Guiana





 RĂ©mire-Montjoly Town Hall

No Baptism....yet....

February 16, 2015

Happy Anniversary!!

Thanks for being married for so long. It's been the best 20 years of your lives. And 20 out of 24 isn't that bad! :) I love you! Have a great day!!

JOHN

This last week was disappointing as we didn't see John get baptized. He is currently trying to quit drinking coffee, make restitution with others, and leave his former church. It seems a little overwhelming to think about all these setbacks that came up all at once, when the finish line seemed so close. But I feel comfort in knowing that he truly seems to recognize the gravity of the covenant of baptism and the necessity of repentance. He told us that he would be baptized this Saturday instead, but yesterday at church he had an interview with the branch president and told him that he wanted to wait until the 7th. We're not completely sure what to do at this point, because we're afraid that he might continue to procrastinate the day of his baptism. We're going to try and get him baptized this week though.

MARIA

Maria is doing great! She understands scriptures so well (if she reads them in Portuguese) and we set a solid baptismal date with her for the 7th of March. A sister in the church that lives nearby has been a key tool in helping her. Now we just need to get Maria's husband, Valdir, more on board... with both legs in the boat. He enjoys our visits, he's just more timid and not so quick to commit. He's hilarious though.

JEROME

Jerome is a newer investigator that's pretty sweet. He's about 28 and single. His parents are from Guyana, one of them is Jehovah's Witness, the other is Muslim, and his aunt is trying to get him to join the 7th Day Adventist Church. So he is right in the middle of a war of words of religion, not knowing what to do. He's super smart and he accepted a baptismal date as well for the 7th of March. He loves learning and wants to come to church, but wasn't able to yesterday because of work.

SPIRITUAL THOUGHT

This week I had a great revelation from Mosiah 26:37--"And it came to pass that Alma did regulate all the affairs of the church; and they began again to have peace and to prosper exceedingly... receiving many, and baptizing many." Alma was an incredible leader and a great example in establishing the church. As missionaries, we are supposed to follow his example in establishing the church in the units where we serve. I find so much pleasure in helping branches "regulate the affairs" through helping organize Sunday school classes, suggesting people for callings, helping advance members to the Melchizedek Priesthood, and organizing branch councils, etc. And the blessing from doing that is that it gives the branch the capacity to "receive many, and baptize many." It's something of which I wish I would have understood the importance at the beginning of my mission.

Some of the greatest happiness I have on my mission is outside of the normal things that I tell you in these emails. It's the work we do with the members, less active members, and recent converts. That's going to be one of the things I'll miss most about my mission. Living in Utah just won't be fun. There's not as much gratification because there honestly just isn't as much that can be done. But working in small units (in the only branch in an entire country) you begin to realize how much there still is to do and what you can do to help out. Back in Utah you're truly missing out.

Love,
Elder Dayton

P.S. There are a lot of photos. But I don't have time to explain them. We went to the zoo today for our activity!! It was fun!  :)


Elder Belnap and Dayton in their office. 








 Kind of a sad little umbrella...
The French Guiana Zone, a little wet after their zoo adventure!