Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Going Home

May 18, 2015

Dear friends and family,

Boy, this is it...

I don't have much to say, really. I'm just full of gratitude right now. It's been two years full of struggles and pain. My body is tired and ready for some rest. But my spirit has grown and developed more in the West Indies and wants to stay here. As it says in Helaman 6:3, "The people of the church did have great joy because of the conversion of the Lamanites, yea, because of the church of God, which had been established among them." 



The fruit of my labors have brought me more happiness than I thought could be possible.



Yesterday as I was reading in the Book of Mormon, I was in Alma chapter 15 and I read in verse 15, "the people that were in the land of Ammonihah, they yet remained a hard-hearted and a stiffnecked people; and they repented not of their sins." I thought to myself, "Why?.. Why did Alma chapters 8-15 consist of the preaching of Alma in this city?" In Alma 8, he got rejected in Ammonihah and left, but the Lord sent an angel and commanded him to go back. So he "returned speedily to the land." Why did he spend so much time, persecution, and efforts in writing about it all if the people remained so hard? He could have been in Sidom all along where people were humble and converted easily to the gospel! The answer I came up with is this...

It's not about the masses. It's about the individuals. He was able to convert two people during this time that ended up becoming some of his greatest friends and fellow-laborers: Amulek and Zeezrom. It took a lot of pain, a few visits from angels, the grace of the Lord, the influence of the Holy Ghost, and some serious repentance, but these men changed.

I'm so grateful to have been able to serve the last two years of my life in Louisiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, and St. Maarten. I'm so grateful for all the people I've been able to meet and the lives that I have seen changed. I received wonderful news this morning as I was told that down in French Guiana, Maria (who was baptized a few months ago) was able to see her husband, Valdir, get baptized as well. And this Saturday in Martinique, Pierre-Louis and his wife Wilta are getting baptized. What a wonderful way to finish off my mission!

The baptism for Ronald this past Saturday was amazing. I had the privilege to baptize him, and Elder Broadbent got to confirm him a member of the Church. I wish you could have been there as he bore his testimony after the baptism. It was so simple, yet so sincere, and so special. He was glowing.




I speak for myself, Ronald, and all of my friends here in the West Indies when I say that WE know that Christ lives. WE know that He has restored his Church upon the Earth today through a prophet. WE know that through the Gospel we can find eternal happiness. There is no other way. The Spirit has touched us and WE know that God loves us. These things are true and "WE know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually" (Mosiah 5:2).

I love you all so much. I can't wait to see you all and continue to tell you about the things I've learned and the testimony I have gained. I'm so excited to come home and tell you how much I love you, in person. Soon we will be as the people of Nephi, "gathered together... round about the temple... in the land of Bountiful; and they were marveling and wondering one with another, and were showing one to another the great and marvelous change which had taken place" (3 Nephi 11:1).

I love you all. See you soon!

Signing off in St. Maarten,
Hurrah for the West Indies,
Hurrah for the Gospel,
Elder Dayton





Listen to the Spirit

May 11, 2015

Hi.

Mother's Day was great! It was so good to talk to you again!

This last week is going to be hard for me. I have to work as hard as I can, but I have to prepare to leave at the same time. There are so many people here that I have to say goodbye to and so many things I'm going to miss. I'm going to miss our neighborhood. I love all the people that we live around. I know them all by name. I'm going to miss this branch and all the members here. I'm going to miss our investigators that we've been able to meet and teach.

LISTEN TO THE STILL SMALL VOICE

On Thursday during planning I was thinking about how little time I have left, and I was thinking about Ronald, and the idea came to my head: "Invite Ronald to be baptized next Saturday." So Elder Broadbent and I prayed about it and planned for it. On Saturday  we were going to teach the Law of chastity and commit him for May 16th, but on the drive over I felt like it wasn't the lesson we were supposed to teach.

Suddenly, the idea popped into my head to go through D&C 20:37 (the qualifications for baptism) with him and then review the baptismal interview questions. He passes with flying colors and we explained to him that he was ready.

Then I said to him, "We've prayed about this and we don't see anything that can prevent you from being baptized next Saturday, May 16th."

He sat there quietly, got up, looked at the calendar on the wall and his work schedule, flipping through files of papers. All the while, I was praying for him to accept. Then he looked at us and asked, "Why did you pick this date?"

Elder Broadbent explained that he was ready and that there was no point in waiting and that we had felt inspired that he should be baptized the next week. Then Ronald turned to me and asked, "What are your thoughts?" I explained to him that God needs him on His team, and needs him to serve.

Then Ronald said to us, full of emotion and clearly being worked on by the Spirit, "This is the third time I've been given a date. I'm not going to rebel any more. I can't go to war against God. I accept to be baptized on May 16th." He then went on to express his gratitude for us and our friendship as tears welled up in his eyes. I stood up and gave him a hug and thanked him, then Elder Broadbent did the same.

Ronald finished the lesson with a long prayer of thanksgiving and asking for God's help to be baptized on Saturday. Then Ronald went to his bedroom and pulled out his last 3 bottles of alcohol and threw them in a sack and handed them to us. As we walked down the hill, away from his house, my heart was full. We threw the bottles in the dumpster, drove away, and then found a nice quiet spot to offer a prayer of gratitude.

Please pray for us and Ronald so that everything will go well for his baptism this Saturday.

I can't believe it's really time. After today, I will only get to email you all one more time before my mission's over. I honestly don't know how to describe my feelings. I have butterflies in my stomach. I don't know if it's from sadness, excitement, anxiety, or what. It's been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I am so grateful for it.

Talk to you just now!

Love,
Elder Dayton

pics:
Penny pitching and s'mores for family night with the James Family. They hadn't ever eaten s'mores before, but they sure loved 'em!




Some investigators: Victoria and her granddaughters Flora and Cherice.

Ronald giving us his alcohol. He's still a little teary-eyed. We were all pretty emotional.





A centipede in my sandal! I think it was a message for me to start wearing my shoes again...




Our street: Delight Estate.




A Great Week

May 4, 2015

We're sitting at the Clawsons' apartment (the senior couple) right now doing our emails. Check out the sweet view from their patio. 

Right now the AP's are here in St. Martin doing tradeoffs. It's Elder Hatch and Elder Larson, both from Utah. They're both really cool. For the first time in my whole mission I've been able to finally work with an AP. For some reason, until now, things never worked out for me to be able to work with one.

On Monday night when we got home we found a special little surprise waiting in the middle of our kitchen floor, ready to sting us. I'd never see a live scorpion before in my life!



We had a cool week and we've been able to start teaching a lot of families and younger couples. Last night as we were reviewing our week Elder Broadbent realized that this last week we started teaching and bunch of S&B's. 

Sherrie & Bobby (and family): They're Guyanese and they all promised that they would come to church this week. They have some potential. Teaching is a little bit slow for now though.

Shantal & Bryson: I'm really excited about these two! They're younger, have two kids, and they're both super intellectual and successful. We felt prompted to go and recontact Shantal late one night, and we ended up having a cool lesson with the two of them.

Steven & Barbara: A couple from the DR. They're really humble and nice. Steven doesn't go to church, but Barbara does. They both want to find out if this Church is the true church of Christ. We were able to teach them with a med student member who is an RM.

We also had another new investigator last week. His name is KEVIN RUDOLF!! (I don't know if you all know who that is.) I thought it was pretty funny though when he told us his name. Apparently, he got baptized by the 7th Day Adventists last month, but he's still willing to find out if the BoM is true. We're just gonna let it rock until he receives an answer. Then he'll come to the true church and we'll say, "Welcome to the world!" Then he'll say, "I made it!"

Yesterday was fast and testimony meeting--the last one of my mission. So I decided to take the opportunity to bear my testimony one last time with a missionary name-tag on. I'll give you a resume (summary) of what I said:

I know that the Book of Mormon is true. It really does answer the questions of the soul. One of my favorite things to do with people we find is teach them this concept. I often ask, "What is one thing you would like to know about... (God, religion, life, etc.)?" We meet a lot of people, and one of the most common questions I hear is: "Does hell really exist?" As I look into their eyes when they ask this question, I can sense an honest concern and a worry about their life after death. I like to explain to people that the "hell" that they picture in their head usually isn't what it's going to be like. This last week in Mosiah 2:38, Elder Broadbent helped me learn more about what hell really feels like:

"Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever."

This is what hell really is. It's not so much of a place as it is a feeling. The flames and fire that people often use to describe "hell" is an accurate description of how it feels spiritually to have the pain, guilt, and anguish that comes from sin. This spiritual death that we all experience at times in our life is what "hell" really is. We all have gone through it at some point or another, and there is really only one way out. In Mosiah chapter 3, King Benjamin continues to talk about the Atonement and how Christ came to suffer that same pain: "so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people." The only way out of these feelings is through repentance. In verse 19, Benjamin explains this hell-like feeling will not go away, "unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord." These last 2 months here in St. Martin have been a time of great spiritual growth for me as I have really learned to recognize and understand the "enticings" that I feel.

I know that if we all listen to the Spirit and follow what we are being enticed to do then we CAN escape from the spiritual hell that we all go through in life. Through sincere repentance and faith in the Atonement we can be freed from the sense of guilt, pain, anguish, disappointment, discouragement, and embarrassment. This gospel that we're striving to live is not a Gospel of sadness. We're meant to have joy. (2 Nephi 2:25)

I love you all! Have a great week! I'll have to get you more details on the Skype later. See you on Sunday!

Love,
Elder Dayton

P.S. Congrats for dad, who's be makin' birt-day dis Tursday! I love you! Happy 54t!

Pic: Me throwing away a bag of garbage for Ronald. It had a bunch of left over coffee and teabags that he had us throw out for him. :)

Editor's Note: The previous Friday, some of Elder Dayton's ward members--Brent and Kris Ford, and Dan and Kristina Baird--from Kaysville stopped in St. Martin on a cruise. They got permission to meet the missionaries at the Sunset Grill, and watch the airplanes come in and land at the airport. They also brought Elder Dayton his suit that he'd previously mailed home, because they never wear them in the West Indies. It's just too hot. But he needs to wear it to travel home. They had a wonderful visit!