Friday, June 29, 2012

Our Sacrament Meeting Report...July 29, 2012 at 9:00 AM

President and Sister Laycock would love to see you and give you a big hug. They report in Sacrament Meeting on July 29, 2012 at 9:00 AM in the Alpine 3rd Ward in Alpine, Utah. The chapel is located on Matterhorn Drive in Alpine, Utah.

...As the Sun Sets...

June 29, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

As the Santiago sun softly sets on our three-year service as Mission President and Companion of the Chile, Santiago East Mission, we stand hand in hand, gazing with awe and wonder at the breath-taking beauty that Heavenly Father’s love for His children is creating in this spectacular country of Chile (John 3:16-17).

We offer our sure witness of the remarkable miracles that have taken place in the Chile, Santiago East Mission during the past three years. We testify that the Lord has loved, inspired, and protected his Chilean children (including his missionaries) in miraculous ways, and we will always cherish the warmth and the sweetness of this country. We testify that the Lord has sent his chosen leaders, missionaries, and angels to minister to and guide his Chilean children, and we will never forget the miraculous love that we have felt for and from the people of Chile. We will treasure the relationships we have formed. And we will pray fervently for all who will serve here to be able to “establish the Church” and to help the Lord achieve the “real growth” that Chile so desperately needs.

Before our mission service began, we prayed fervently to know what the Lord would have us do. We attended the Temple. We fasted. We prayed. And we prayed some more. Each time, the answer we received was very simple: “Teach them that I love them.” “Teach them to love me.” We continually received the inspiration that Godly love should be our focus: “If you love me, keep my commandments,” always echoed in our hearts and minds. And the Savior’s words, “Lovest thou me?” and “Feed my sheep” were a continuous subject of ongoing revelation for us. We tirelessly invited others to demonstrate their love for God by keeping his commandments and feeding his sheep. 

When we first started our mission, we were extremely excited, and we wanted our mission to have the highest number of baptisms in all of Chile; we are competitive by nature. But the Lord had other plans, and we quickly learned that obeying his commandments means doing his work in his way. Real obedience creates so much more than mere numbers can ever show. With our limited view, we thought it was all about baptisms. Instead, the Lord had a better way, and we learned that it was not about numbers of baptisms alone. Instead, it was about ministering one by one and sharing his love by doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way so that he could provide the blessings that he desired to provide for our mission.

We soon discovered that our mission actually needed more worthy priesthood holders to love and care for the members we already had. We wanted every single member to be able to remain active, so we prayed fervently to know the Lord’s will, and he answered our prayers through His chosen servants.

Elder Holland has said, speaking of Preach My Gospel and the Lord’s plan for mission work: “You may think you have a better way. You really don’t.” We have come to know that this is true, and we found answers in Elder Holland’s wise counsel. We asked the Lord what we needed to do in order to better be able to do his work in his way.

We began to invite men (priest age and older) to eat with the missionaries in order to comply with the rule in the handbooks that states that missionaries should never be alone with a member of the opposite sex unless another responsible adult of his or her own sex is present. Immediately, our missionaries began teaching more men. Because of this, and other seemingly small acts of obedience coupled with the good efforts of many people, we saw our numbers of full-time missionaries leaving from our wards increase. We saw the miracle of many families becoming complete as we found men and families that we could teach and baptize. We saw the activity in our stakes begin to increase as we worked diligently to involve men in our teaching and in the time our missionaries spent in our members’ homes. We saw miracles because we did the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way. The Lord’s ways were not our ways. His ways were, of course, much better. We did his work in his way, and we receive the blessings that he wanted to give his mission. We are so thankful that the Lord helped us to know and understand his will. We are thankful that he taught us that it was not about us, nor was it about our limited understanding. Instead, it was (and always will be) all about his plan, his will, and his love.

It has become crystal clear to us that our assignment here has been to teach our missionaries and those within the boundaries of our mission, that there is no better way to do missionary work than to do it according to the Lord’s will, through the Lord’s love and in the Lord’s way, always obeying his guidelines.

Every time we taught the Plan of Salvation, we were reminded of how Satan heard Heavenly Father’s plan just as Jesus did, but that Satan wanted to do it in his own way. Satan thought he had a better way. He did not desire to do the Father’s work in the Father’s way. He was cast out, and he became miserable and bitter.

In contrast, our Savior did his Father’s work in his Father’s way, and he found true joy, satisfaction, and completion. He accomplished the Atonement and made it possible for all of us to gain eternal life and exaltation.

We have painstakingly and earnestly tried to do all that we have done here in the Lord’s way, following his guidelines, and using his tools. This endeavor, based upon our personal study and the Lord’s inspiration, has blessed our mission in remarkable and unusual ways. We have seen the miracle of his love and how it transforms his children. We know that he is the way, the truth, and the light.

This is his work. We know that we have been privileged to be his mouth and his hands during our mission service. We expect that we will experience a huge void in our hearts as we remove our missionary name tags on Friday, and our full-time mission service as President and companion ends, but through this remarkable experience, we have come to better know and understand our Heavenly Father’s love and his plan, and we promise to continue to share that love and that plan forever more.

We are eternally grateful for the blessings that have come because of our Santiago service. God’s love has colored our own lives with even more heartfelt devotion to our Savior.  God’s love has shone with brilliance upon our own family members, and we are thankful to each one of you for your support, your prayers, and your encouragement. We love you! God’s love has warmed and transformed our missionaries’ hearts. God’s love has showered glowing particles of faith in Jesus Christ over the lives of his Chilean sons and daughters. And it has been a privilege far beyond our greatest expectations for us to be a small part of the spectacular manifestation of Godly love that we have discovered in our missionary service. Every single day of our mission has been a sweet, personal tutorial in Godly love and the miraculous, transforming power that it offers the world through the eternal gift and power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

We understand that the majesty of the sunset that we are now experiencing immediately precedes the dawn of a new day for our missionaries, under the divine direction of the Lord through President and Sister Wright who are our successors. We offer our promise that during our three years here, we have done everything within our power to bring our mission into complete conformity with the inspired guide lines that we have found in Preach My Gospel, the Mission President’s Handbook, the Missionary Handbook, the scriptures, and the direction of our living prophets. We find great joy and satisfaction in knowing that we have done our very best to do our Father’s work in his way. We understand that he blesses us, his children, with what he wants to give us when we obediently and diligently strive to do his work in his way. His way is much more glorious and wonderful than we can ever imagine!

Con mucho amor y gratitud,
Presidente Larry R. Laycock y Hermana Lisa D. Laycock
La misiĆ³n, Chile Santiago Este

We Love Our Juanita!

We will always love our Juanita. She has made our Chile home clean and happy and full of all the good things in life. Today I asked her if she could just come home to Utah with us...she just laughed! We will always have a special place for her in our hearts.

Our Final Interview with Our Area Presidency!

Today was a wonderful day! We were invited to have our final interview with our Area Presidency. They and their wives shared a delicious and beautiful lunch with us. We feel so blessed to have served with such wonderful people. We love them all so very much!

Amazing Mission Experiences!

Our Final Mission Activity!

We want to share with you the sweet details of the final mission activity in which we were privileged to participate on Tuesday night, June 26, 2012 in the Lynch North Chapel.

Our Assistants, Office Missionaries, and other sweet missionaries planned most of the activity as a surprise to us, and they made it very beautiful and so very memorable. It was such a bittersweet feeling as we met together with our angel missionaries for the very last time as their Mission President and Companion.

We started out with a greeting, opening song and opening prayer. Then we took the time to greet each missionary individually and express our love and take a picture with them.

After we greeted them, we went to the cultural hall and ate Chilean completos, prepared by Bishop and Sister Arraya whom we have grown to love very much. We enjoyed every single minute of the entire evening. We had a huge Book of Mormon map (that we had made out of fabric) for each missionary to sign so that we can present it to President and Sister Wright when they arrive on Friday, June 29 and welcome them warmly to the best mission in the world. With each signature, each missionary committed to do his or her very best to flood our mission with the Book of Mormon, and to really seek to find himself or herself in the Book of Mormon. 

Next, we all went back into the chapel where our Missionaries took all of President Laycock's favorite "sayings" and gave beautiful talks about these sayings and what they mean to them...for example, President Laycock always says "al proximo nivel," meaning always climb to your next spiritual level in life. Don't be satisfied to sit still. He always says, "The mission is the Lord's University of Life" meaning, you learn all the important, eternal life lessons during your mission service. Be sure to study hard and then maintain forever the good habits you develop in the mission. He often says, "Out of small things, proceedeth that which is great" meaning, don't ever overlook the small things. Do the small things, and the big things will take care of themselves. He says, "con amor" all the time, meaning every single thing we do in this life should be done with absolute, true Christ-like love. He likes to say, "una puerta mas." It means, go one more door...even if you are tired, even if you are discouraged, and especially if you don't really feel like it. If you will go one more door, literally and figuratively, you will experience miracles. He says, "Do the Lord's work in the Lord's way" meaning, be obedient in all things and follow the guidelines you have been given. The spirit is the oil that you can only purchase in the market place of obedience…and on and on. It was very special for us to sit and listen to what they have learned and how they feel about what they have learned. They even talked about one of my favorite sayings..."Are you writing in your journal...every single day?" It was sooo sweet and sooo beautiful that we did not want it to ever end.

They had prepared two incredibly beautiful musical numbers of our favorite hymns, and our musically gifted Elders and Sisters performed them for us.

They had also made a video of amazing mission activities and baptisms. It had the music, "God Be With You 'til We Meet Again" playing on it as it showed so many happy and    uplifting mission events. Our tears just would not stop. Then they showed a slide/picture of a mission quilt that Elder Firth’s mother is making for us out of our missionaries’ ties. What a blessing it will be to have that momento of our missionaries! They had also prepared a moleskin notebook with a page written by each missionary to us about what they have learned in the mission, and how their missions have touched and blessed them and helped them and strengthened them. We stayed up all night and read every page as we shed still more tears.

They gave us each a white hankie with our name, the Santiago Temple, and our mission logo embroidered on it. They gave us two aprons with our mission logo, signed by every missionary. And they gave us some gorgeous flowers.

Finally, they gave us a huge picture of Christ, which is made out of small pictures of missionaries and baptisms. It is absolutely UNBELIEVABLE. It was framed and behind glass. We, of course, cried some more when we saw what a treasure it is. When we saw how big it was, we worried that we would not be able to get it home. Then our smart missionaries took it out, rolled it up, and put it in a tube for us to take on the plane with us. They thought of everything!

Next, Sister Laycock spoke and shared with them 5 things I have learned from my Great, Great Grandfather, the Prophet John Taylor that will help them to be more faithful missionaries and more faithful members of the Church. I expressed my belief in them as true representatives of Jesus Christ. I told them of the many reasons why I believe in them, and I reminded them to always believe in themselves because they are sons and daughters of God and have inherited divine qualities.

Then President Laycock spoke about the true love of God. He reminded them that if we love God, we will keep his commandments. And if we love God, we will feed his sheep. He reminded them that God is love, and that if we want to become like God is, we must develop our capacity to love and be loved. Needless to the end of the evening, we were all in tears. 

We allowed ourselves to cry for a just a few minutes together. But then we reminded everyone that the tears had to stop, and that true joy would come as they welcome their new President and wife to their mission. We promised them that we will always keep a very special place in our hearts for them, and we asked them to keep a place in their hearts for us. Then we invited them to grow their hearts bigger and make a special place for President and Sister Wright. All in all, it was an overwhelming and sweet experience... one that we will always treasure.

As we prepare for our departure from this beautiful place, we continue to be surrounded with the love and the outpouring of the Spirit that we felt Tuesday night. Our eyes are red from all the crying, but we can honestly testify that when you get to the end of your mission experience, you completely forget any pains or heartaches or struggles. Honestly, all we can remember now are the beauties of the mission. We are so thankful for this experience. Our lives will never be the same because of all that has happened over the past three years. Our family has been so blessed. We don't know if we are deserving of all of the blessings we have received, but we are very, very grateful for each one of them. We know and testify that the Lord always keeps his promises!

Our capacity to enjoy every single day of our mission has increased in miraculous ways with every passing day. Looking back on our three years in Santiago, it seems like a very short time. We will miss the wonderful people of Chile, and we will always treasure the opportunity we have had to serve with our remarkable young angel missionaries.