"Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah."

Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2:8

Monday, October 25, 2010

I Know the Lord is Working in My Life

Sa inch'ool arin sa' Tucurù ut Guatemala! (There is happiness in my heart here in Tucurù and Guate!)

First of all, I love all of you. I really can't thank you enough for your emails and your support and your love. I don't know what I'd do without all of you. You are all the best! Mas chab'iil lin hunkab'aal! (my family is awesome!)

Ok so let me answer some of your questions a bit before I forget.

About the food, we have little tiendas all over in Tucuru where we can get just about anything we could want. Our menu consists mostly of hot dogs, eggs, grilled cheese, peanut butter and honey sandwhiches (until I ran out of peanut butter..), beans. tortillas, and sometimes chicken sandwhiches with little pieces of breaded chicken. So yeah we eat really well and are really blessed in Tucuru. We really have everything we could want. We get chips and soda and ice cream sometimes so it's really great and we really are blessed in our area. And everything's really cheap! I can get a snack sized bag of chips for about..20 or 25 cents. So it's great. Also I figured out that the builñding with the big blue roof is the market building that we have. And there's a big yellow Catholic church next to it. And we live further...west I think? More towards the main city. And yea we cook all of our meals. But in the Polochic, there's no rule about eating with members. If they give us food, we have to eat it cause if we don't the members will go inactive a lot of the times. So that's always fun. This past week we went up to Vinaroz again and we got fed two bowls of caldo (q'eqchi' soup) which actually weren't all that bad I didn't think. They tasted ok. Not good, but not bad. But in the soup they always have some kind of meat or something in it. The first bowl had meat that was really fatty and kind of crunchy that was hard to eat...and the second bowl had cow intestines in it. They were split in half and cooked somehow or another at least. They didn't actually have a bad taste or anything, but it was simililar to trying to eat a giant rubber band I imagine. But I'm proud to say that I finished all of mine. Elder Wixom was given a lot more than me somehow haha and had to ask if he could take the rest home in a bag to eat for dinner (which he did NOT end up doing obviously haha.) So that was the food story of the week.

Zone conference was great, but I did not, however, get my package. I've heard that it usually doesn't take too long for packages to get here, but in the Polochic it takes a while before we get packages. They are working on trying to get a new system so that we can get them more often. So hopefully I'll get it soon. While we're on the subject of packages, there's a different address that you are supposed to send packages to because it's more safe. I don't have it with me but I'll email it to you next week. But anyways there's not a whole lot that I can think of that I need except for more peanut butter maybe haha. I went through that first jar really fast here. I also need to figure out what to do about a camera. Elder Wixom has let me use his until he leaves but once he's gone I won't have one. So. When Elder Wixom goes to his last change conference, I'm actually going to go with him to the capital. I'm going to go through the temple (really lucky for a Polochic elder!) two weeks from tomorrow and then I'll be at change conference the next day. But I think that what we should do is I'll just buy a new camera when we go to the Cap. It wouldn't be safe to send it I don't think, so I think that we need to just have me buy one when I'm in the capital. So I don't know how much you think is is the right price for a camera, but whatever you think you can just put that into my account and I'll get out the money and go buy a camera in the Capital in a couple weeks. And that's really the only thing I can think of that I want. Oh! And there are some songs that I don't have that I was hoping you could put onto a cd and send me. I want "Come Thou Fount" from Reflections of Christ, all of the BYU men's chorus stuff (especially the last conference songs, I Love the Lord, and The morning Trump.) and the 2 vocal point songs we have, Praise to the Man and Nearer My God to Thee.   And anything else like that.

Alright so anyways, Zone conference was good. We talked about working better with the members and about using questions to be able to really understand and know the needs of investigators and being able to show our love better to them. We talked a lot about Aaron and King Lamoni's father and how that is a good model for our missionary work, so that was good. In my interview, President Torres was really nice. We just talked for a bit and he told me that it was a blessing to have me here in the Polochic, and how blessed I am to be able to be trained here and to learn Q'eqchi'. He told me to always keep up my scripture study and to keep learning from Elder Wixom. (just a side note to explain a little about him--he really isn't baggy hardly at all. We still work really hard and I don't have to do anything to get him to work or anything like that. He's a great elder and is helping me out a lot.) Then he basically told me that I'll be staying in Tucuru and that I will be the one who has to show my new companion the area so I'm thinking my companion won't be familiar with my area at all. So we'll find out in a couple weeks I guess!

Jack- Great job in your last couple of games buddy! I'm really proud that you are working hard with football and mom and dad tell me that you are doing great! So I'm proud of you for that. Also I'm really happy that your first musical is the one that I did first! Although you are a lot older than I was and you are already doing better than I did. I know you'll be a really great singer/actor if you want. Keep up the good work buddy. Make sure that you are nice to everybody no matter what and that you make sure to be friends with people who have good standards ok? That's really important. And make sure you are an example to them for sure! I love you and miss you a lot buddy.

Kinzie- hey miss high schooler! It's really weird for me when I tell people that my sister is 14 and in high school! I can't hardly believe it! But I've been thinking a lot about you lately. The girls here have many problems a lot of times. A LOT of the girls here get pregnant when they are 13, 14, or 15 years old and it just makes me sick because that's not how it's supposed to be you know? And I have just thought about how lucky we are in our family to have you because you won't ever let anything like that happen. So it just made me thankful to have a great sister like you. I heard you did a great job playing piano for something or other at school so god job sis! :) you have so much talent. Be sure to use it, but don't let it puff you up! Learn how to just be thankful to your Heavenly Father for the things he has given you, and you will be even better off! Make sure you are a good example to your friends and that you keep trying to do what's right always. I love and miss you tons.

Grandma- thanks for your email! I miss talking to you too, but I'll be able to call in a couple of months! I hope that you are recovering well from your surgery! Sorry that I never asked you about that before. Thanks for your prayers and your support for me. I love you and I'll talk to you at Christmas! Have fun with the kids and be sure to give them a good grandma hug with the chin tickling thing that you do for me. Love you Grandma!

Mom- ok I guess I don't even have to forgive you =P But I was super sad that I didn't have an email from you last week! (I emailed him Monday morning, but it must have gotten lost in cyberspace, and he didn't get it until this week) But I had 2 today so that was good. And yeah we hitchike everywhere we go. We just ride in the back of pickup trucks with big rails that you hold onto, or we ride in big vans. We usually have to pay and stuff but they are so fun. I love riding in the back of trucks. I could do it for hours! Except that it's really dusty and the dust gets in your eyes a lot. It is still really green and lush here but especially around the roads everything is just a dusty brown color because there's so much dust. I was surprised too by how much dust there is! My shirts are taking a beating for sure. We'll see how they are in 2 years haha. We have a great laundry lady who does a great job with our clothes too. Good job on the bench! That sounds like hard work! And that's insane to hear about Mark! I'm sure that's hard not to be able to work and stuff! I sent him a letter last week so I hoep he gets that soon. Thanks for being a great mom :) I love you and miss you too!

Dad- Thanks for your advice about pride. I always like getting little tidbits of advice from you. Thanks for being such a great dad. I really love you. I hope work is going well for you and that you are (as always) dominating the courts. Have fun picking Matt up soon! That will be so fun! I can't wait to see him, that big goon. Well I love you tons dad!

Ok. Well this week was fairly normal until the past couple of days. We lost a couple of days of work because of the conference, but we still had a pretty good week. Then last night we went up to Teleman where the ZLs live to stay the night there because we had a zone activity today in Chulac. Chulac is a really pretty place way up in the mountains in our zones. It's a neat place  because there are about 700 members in that area alone with 5 branches. Because of that there are 2 HUGE church buildings up there and they are so cool because they're just in the mountains! They're really cool though. But the night before last we had two of our members get shot with a shotgun which was really upsetting and kind of scary. This family is the family of the 2nd counselor in our branch and they are pretty less active. So we've been working a lot with them for the past couple of weeks to activate them and gain their trust and we have really truly come to love them. We had an appointment with them 2 nights ago and I taught the lesson that time (they only speak  Q'eqchi' so it was a short lesson) and then we left. We were kind of trying to hurry because we wanted to have another appointment back up in the center which is about a 20 or 25 minute walk. Apparently about 5 minutes after we left, someone came to their house and just shot through the bamboo wall with a shotgun. Two of the daughters were hit, one just in the legs and the other in her ribs and one leg. They had to go to the hospital in Coban and had to have an operation either last night or today. So that was really hard, but I think that they are going to be ok. They're in pretty bad shape right now from what I hear though, and that hospital is really bad apparently. But we sent up some members in Coban to give them a blessing and we've been praying for them, so we're hoping that everything will be ok.  But I know that the Lord protected us because I was sitting right where the first were shot. So I know that the Lord made it so that I wouldn't be there so that I wouldn't get hurt and I'm so thankful for that. I know the Lord is working in my life and I can see his hand helping me to learn Q'eqchi' and helping me with everything. Thanks for all that you do for me and I love you all tons. Can't wait for Matt to be home so I can find out about those packages he sent home haha. Make sure to take a family picture with Matt when he gets back and send it to me so I can see what he looks like and so I can have a more updated picture of all of you. I miss you all and I'm working as hard as I can for you. Keep doing what you're doing and stay strong!

Love you all!

Elder Norton

Monday, October 18, 2010

They Call Me "Red Man"

¿Ma sa lee ch'ool lin junk'abal? (¿Como está familia mia?/ How are you my family?!)

How is everyone doing lately?? I hope that everything is going well back home in the good old land of Kansas. How was the temple trip? I'm sure that it was really fun, those trips to Nauvoo always are. Jack will be able to actually go into the temple the next time! That's really exciting but also really weird...I hope everything is going well in the ward with everyone. How is Brother Stevenson doing lately? I really hope he's ok. Send him my love and tell him I'm thinking about him for sure. I'm really glad to hear that seminary is going well! Sounds like you've got an awesome class, Dad. Be sure and tell them from me that seminary has been the most influential thing for me on my mission and that seminary can really teach you so much if you put forth the effort. Always read your scriptures and pay attention in class and you can learn so much! Also when you have such a good teacher for a class it's easy to learn and to enjoy seminary. Thanks for being such a great seminary teacher Dad. I'll always remember the lessons you taught me there and everything I learned from seminary. Sorry that you had to miss out on the Nauvoo trip dad, but hey me and you both.

The weather here in Guate has been really fresco lately. I haven't really experienced a truly hot day yet in the mission. But it's winter here I guess so I'm sure that I will soon. They only have two seasons here in Guate. Winter and Summer. Summer starts in January I think and then the hottest part of the year is supposed to be about april. But my area especially has been really nice and we've had really great weather pretty much the whole time I've been there. Although it's REALLY dusty all the time. But we don't have fall here and the colors don't change. But that's ok because the colors are beautiful here and the forests and mountains wouldn't look the same if they changed colors. It really is beautiful here. Right now I'm in a place called Senahu way up the the mountains. We are having interviews with Presidente Torres today and zone conference tomorrow. Zona polochic and zona senahu both meet together though since we're both fairly close and everything. So we went up to Teleman last night where our ZL's live and then drove up to Senahu this morning. The other gringo elder that was born in Senahu is here, Elder Dilworth, and it was good to see him. He is doing really well I think and is learning Spanish and Q'eqchi'. So anyways, I haven't seen too much of Senahu. but from what I have seen it's really beautiful. We're staying at a hotel that's really nice (for a Guat hotel at least) and they have mildly warm showers! I thought that I had cold showers at home, but I didn't even know what a cold shower was until I got here. 

So. To answer some of your questions. The big blue building that you see (on google earth)  is the market building we're pretty sure. I don't really know my directions all that well but I think that the buiñding is...north of our apartment? Anyways our apartment is right off of the road that comes in from where you come from coban and it's right next to a pretty big yellow church. There are also some REALLY big stairs that are right next to our apartment. Yeah we are in Alta Verapaz so I'm not sure where that other place is. And I don't actually know too much about Coban, but it's fairly far away from Tucuru, I think to the south. It's a pretty big place though so it's probably the bigger place. Also the word "wink" means man in q'eqchi'. It's pronounced "kweenk" though. So yeah, they call me "red man". I also ALWAYS hear "mas nim li roq" which means literally "his foot is really big", or in other words, he is really tall. So I've learned how to say "mas nim lin koq" which means "I'm really tall!" Q'eqchi' is coming along really slowly, but I feel like I'm starting to understand at least just a tiny bit, so that's good. What Elder Hexom said is absolutely right, the Q'eqchi' are basically like little kids. They live very simply, do simple things, and have really simple conversations. For example, a lot of times Elder Wixom will have conversations with people and just say "where are you going?" or "don't drop your food!" or my favorite "you're awesome" to which the response is usually "we are." Its pretty great. So yeah that's good advice to just try and do the simple things that I can t oexpress my love and God's love for the people here. And that's what I've been trying to do. I just try to always be friendly and smile. I've written out some simple things like a prayer, my testimony, and a few things to say to contact people on notecards that I pull out and use. I can also sing in Q'eqchi' ok, haha so that helps. Mostly I just try to be kind like the Savior would be and be a good example. So anyways, everything is going well!

We had a baptism on Saturday that went well but was also pretty stressful. I went on divisions with Elder Burden on Friday so that the other ZL could interview Hermano Genaro who was getting baptized. So I went up to Teleman with him on friday and spent the night there. Teleman is also a really cool place and I liked it a lot. It's in a valley so most of it is pretty flat. It's even more dusty than Tucuru which is saying a lot. It's REALLY dusty there. It almost feels like a different country there because it's dusty and there are palm trees and things like that. But it's a pretty cool place so we'll have to go there when you come out! The thing I love about the Polochic is that it's really safe and you don't have to worry about anything really, so we'll definitely come and visit here. Elder Burden is really cool. He's from Las Vegas and has 19 months in the mission. He has been in the Polochic for a little over a year now so he knows a lot of Q'eqchi' and was able to teach really easily. We had a couple of really powerful lessons in Spanish while I was there and I could definitely feel the Spirit strongly. So the next day we both came back to Tucuru for the baptism. The thing you need to know about Hermano Genaro is that he is a really really old frail old man! We were seriously a little bit concerned for his life while he was getting baptized. The water was pretty cold, so we got a lot of pots and boiled water and dumped it in to try to get it warmed up more. We eventually got it luke warm so that was good. Then we had to baptize him sitting down in a primary chair so that he could just lean back and be baptized. It took three times because he kept lifting his feet up, but we got him baptized in the end. Hermano Daniel (our branch mission leader) baptized him. Yesterday was kind of disappointing because we were hoping to get a lot of our investigators to church with us. We had a few families in particular that we especially wanted to get to church. Famalia Xol is a really great family of 6 that we are pretty sure are going to get baptized. We've been working a lot with them and have been trying to help them a lot. We were expecting them to be at church because they've been telling us all week that they would come, but they didn't end up coming. We even called them that morning to remind them and they said they'd go, but they didn't come. Only their son, Rodolfo came. Then we found a family of 14 this week that seemed kind of promising so we went up Sunday morning to invite them to church, but they didn't come either. So that was a bit disappointing. But we had pretty good results this week and our %animo (a way of standardizing and measuring to see how well missionaries are using their time during the week) was 111%, so that was really good.

So anyways it was a pretty good week this week and I am learning a lot about myself and can feel myself changing a lot. I'm trying to honor you all that are supporting me by putting forth my best effort to serve the people here and make you proud. Thanks for being the best family ever and for being so supportive. Im sad that I missed an email from you Mom =/ but I forgive you and I still love you. :) Hopefully I'll get my package today! You're the best, Mom. Thanks for all that you do. I miss you all a lot and it's hard having to miss out on time for 2 years, but I'm missing two years with my family so that other families can be together forever, so it's all worth it. Thanks for your prayers and your support. Hope everyone is doing well back home! I love you all tons! I'll write you again in a week! :)

Con mucho amor,

Elder Jace Norton

Monday, October 11, 2010

Giving My Heart to the Lord, Walking A Lot, and Eating Roasted Jalapenos

¿Ma sa laa cho'ol? I hope there is happiness in all of your hearts!

First of all I just want to say thanks for all of your support! I'm really grateful for all of the emails that people have sent me, they really mean a lot and help me out a lot. So thanks to everyone that has written me. Unfortunately I didn't have time to read a lot of emails and I had to print them out so I will read them a bit later and then hopefully respond a bit to some of them in my next email.  Thanks mom and dad for your love and support each week. I can't tell you how much I love and appreciate you. I know that you are sacrificing a lot for me to be here and I can't tell you enough how much I love getting emails from you with your love and support. In all honesty I have the best parents in the world. I love you guys and pray for you all the time. Thanks for your prayers in my behalf and for your encouragement. :)

Ok so let me give you a quick run down of things I want to tell you and things that happened this week and then I'll answer some questions a little bit.

In all honesty it has been a hard week this week. So far I hadn't really experienced real problems with language. I'd always been able to at least understand some things and be able to say a lot of what I wanted even in the beginning with Spanish. With Q'eqchi', it's completely different. It's been really hard for me to understand and is hard to learn with only a few resources to use. A lot of the time I feel very useless in lessons and talking with the people and it has been one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. But in this I have come to understand something extremely important. First of all I've really come to understand that without the Lord's help, I truly am completely useless. Without his help and the guidance and help of his Holy Spirit, I would spend 2 years down here wasting my time and not doing any good. I've really come to realize more fully what the Lord meant when he said to "Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of God" because I've felt like a little child more than ever this past week. I can't even speak or really do anything, and because of that I have to rely on the Lord more than I've ever had to in my life. I know that the Lord is teaching me to rely on Him and I know that He is humbling me so that I can truly feel his intimate love for me, and then share that love with his children here. The other thing that I have really been thinking about has to do with the talk about being the 4th missionary by Lawrence E. Corbrige (I think that's his name..) He talks about how I can be a good missionary and help a lot of people and do a lot of good, but if I don't give my heart completely to the Lord I won't benefit from this work. I read his description of the 3rd missionary who does what the Lord wants to do, but really wants to do what he wants to do. This week I've realized that I have been a 3rd kind of missionary. I've been doing what the Lord wants me to do, but I don't think that my whole heart has been in it. So I've focused a lot on trying to give my whole heart to the Lord; to give up all of my dreams and hopes and aspirations of life after my mission as well as my thoughts of what life would be like back at home or things I could be doing or places back home that I miss or wish I could go to. I'm sacrificing all of that for now and packing those things all away for the next 2 years because I want to give the Lord the most that I can give Him. The only thing that He doesn't already have that I can give to Him is my will. So I have been trying really hard to truly sacrifice my will for the Lord's will and I know that I have been blessed because of that. I have felt a lot of love and have felt so much happier once I started to do that. So I just wanted to let you know that. That even though this will be the hardest thing I've ever done in my life that I'm surrendering myself completely to the Lord and I know that if I do that, that this will be one of the best and most memorable times of my entire life.

Ok! So now that I got that all out let me share with you some things I did this week! :)
Tuesday we went up to a place called Vinaroz which is WAY up in the mountains of our area. Its about 45 minutes in a microbus and then we have to walk another hour to get to the top. It's a purely Q'eqchi area and they don't speak any Spanish at all. When we got there, there was some kind of activity going on so there were a TON of people outside. So when we walked up to the entrance of the little aldea, about 60 or 70 kids came running up to greet us and they all surrounded us and everything and it was really cool! We got some good pictures with all of the little kids, so that will be cool to see. (By the way I'm glad you liked the pictures!!) Ok, so anyways it was really funny because all of these kids were really easily amused and loved us. So Elder Wixom would spin his big book of mormon on his fingers and I would make a snake with my hands and they laughed and thought it was funny. They would all give me high fives and I would pretend that it hurt and they thought that was hilarious. Then they started to arm wrestle me in mid air and I let them all win and they loved it haha, so it was really great. So we have a member that lives up there named Josè who is super faithful and comes to church every week. We went to go teach him and about 40 of the kids followed us to his house! Jose let them all in and then Jose and Elder Wixom taught them all a lesson and it was really, really cool! I got a little bit emotional thinking about how these children were probably a lot like the children that Jesus Christ appeared to in the Book of Mormon and I just thought about how much he loved them and what he did for them. I could really feel His love for them and was just very touched by how special they are. The Q'eqchi people there are so amazing. Jose fed us some lunch while we were there and gave us tortillas with some sardines I think in some kind of sauce. It smelled pretty much exactly like a fresh can of cat food, but it actually didn't taste too bad with the chile and the tortillas. It was just so neat because these people don't have hardly anything at all and can barely provide for their families, and yet they gave us their very best and gave us everything they had. They are such a special people.

Something funny that happened recently was Elder Wixom and I went up to this one house to teach and there were 3 Q'eqchi women that we were trying to teach. Well, all of them kept giggling and looking at me and smiling and pointing at my hair and face and then talking to each other. Well apparently they were all talking about how beautiful my face was and my hair and everything haha so that was pretty funny. Also, I have been given the Q'eqchi name "Kaqi wink" (kahkey kweenk)

We had one family feed us and they gave us a roasted jalapeño to eat. I (being stupid) didn't know that a roasted jalapeño was probably about a billion times more hot than a regular one, so I ate the whole thing. My mouth and throat felt like they had 3rd degree burns for about 10 minutes and that was extremely painful. That night was much worse though. I woke up with really bad stomach cramps.   It was pretty bad haha.

And! I'm going to have my first baptism this Saturday! Theres an old guy that has been coming to church forever and has had all of the lessons, but he couldn't get baptized because he wasn't married to his wife. Well just a couple of days ago his wife died, so now he can get baptized! So I guess that's kind of the Lord's way of comforting his loss. We are seriosuly a little worried about him dying soon too. He's ancient! But he's great, so we're looking forward to that.

Ok questions!

I copied them but it won't let me paste them, so I'll try and base the answers off my memory real quick

I have no idea what the building with the blue roof is. but our apartment is a little green house next to a big church building. It's nice but we have to take cold showers! Yikes!

Elder Wixom is great. He was AP 2 changes ago and speaks Q'eqchi really well for only having 1 change with it. He is Elder Rasband's nephew so that's kind of cool. He's also pretty much the same age as Matt (Sept 15) and entered and will be released the same day as Matt. So that's kind of cool.

Worst food was probably the sardines and that wasn't even that bad. Stil pretty lucky, but I'm sure I'll get some nasties soon.

We take a truck usually to La Tinta and hitchike to get there.

We walk A LOT in our area because it's a pretty big area. Elder Wixom told me that there are only about 6 other missionaries in the mission that walk more than us or something crazy like that. We are planning to go up to an area that's really far away where no missionaries have gone before where we would have to spend the night there because it's so far away. Woo! Haha that will be fun i think.

We have about 50 people in our branch that are regulars, but last Sunday we had 63 people and we're trying to get 100 people to come by next Sunday. It's a pretty good branch I think. We have a good branch president that is pretty helpful. We ended up teaching primary and relief society yesterday though haha. That was pretty funny.

Lastly we have about 10 people that we are going to try to get baptized this change so we'll see how that goes!

Also just fyi, the Elder that was here before me that was born in Tucuru as well was here for 4 changes (6 months) and the Elder before that was here for 10 months. So that should give you an idea of about how long I'll be here for. We'll see I guess!

Well my time is just about up. I love you all so much. I love it here a lot, and the people are really friendly and nice for the most part. Thanks for all of your advice mom and dad, I will definitely be listening to a lot of Q'eqchi to be able to learn it and everything.

I know that this is the Lord's work and that the things that I am teaching are true. That is what keeps me motivated and keeps me going is my testimony that this church is true and that it is the only way for people to be able to live with their families and with God again. I love you all so much. Thanks for your love and support. I will write to you again in a week! Love you!

Con amor,
Elder Jace Norton

Monday, October 4, 2010

I'm in Tucuru in the Polochic!

¡Hola familia mia! 
Well I can tell that you are all anxious to know where I'm at right now for my first area! Maybe you have a small taste of what it felt like to be me! I was going crazy when I got here. Well I'll just go ahead and tell you to relieve the suspense! My first area is Tucurú in the Polochic!!! Crazy right?? So I think you guys know that the Polochic is one of the 2 zones in our mission that is Q'eqchi' speaking so I am going to be learning Q'eqchi' here in Tucurú and picking up my 3rd language! It's really crazy that I'm here and actually starting to do the work. There were only 2 of us that got called to be Q'eqchi' speaking, me and Elder Dilworth who was an AP in the CCM. There are a couple other missionaries that will be in areas with some Q'eqchi' and will learn some as well, but Elder Dilworth and I are the only new Elders that are actually assigned to learn Q'eqchi' and we will have Q'eqchi' name badges and everything! So I'm really really excited and grateful to be able to be born (that's what it's called when you start your first area somewhere) in Tucurú! 
Alright so let me try and tell you as much as I can here. My companion's name is Elder Wixom. He's finishing his mission in Tucurú so he will be released the same day as Matt actually and he is just about the same age as Matt too. He's really a great missionary. He was AP for a change (the word for transfer is cambio which means change, so everyone calls transfers changes here) and then has spent one change in Tucurú. He speaks Spanish really well and has learned a lot of Q'eqchi' for only being here one change. He can speak Q'eqchi' well enough to carry on conversations and understand what people are saying and everything. He's really nice and is really a spirit-guided Elder so I'm excited to learn from him and have him as a trainer. He's from Utah I think and he's served all over in Guate so he knows a lot. So anyways he's great and I'm really lucky to have him as my trainer. 
Alright so let me back up and tell you more about my meeting with Presidente y Hermana Torres. They are awesome! They both speak perfect English and are really nice. Presidente Torres I can tell is a great mission president. So we had some training on Tuesday with the APs first while we had interviews with Presidente Torres and then later we went to the mission home to have a lunch with the Torres'. Hermana Torres talked to us about health and budgeting and finances and things like that and then Presidente Torres talked to us about a bunch of stuff and answered questions we had about the mission and everything. So they were really nice and really great. I talked to Hermana Torres a lot about her blog and about how my family followed her blog really closely for the 5 months before my mission. So she thought that was cool and we talked for a while about that. So anyways they are both really great and really nice and I had a great time with them. Then most of the missionaries went back to the CCM to spend the night but me and the 4 latino elders went to the office elders' house. I met Elder Mays there and I told him about how we had seen his blog before and everything and he was really friendly and cool so it was cool to meet him. I don't think that I took a picture with him actually (sorry mom) but I think I took one with him in it. Anyways so that was fun. 
Then the next day we had change conference where I found out I was going to Polochic and learning Q'eqchi'. All of the shock and suprise made me kind of overwhelmed and I didn't really get to talk to the people I wanted to say goodbye to and everything haha but it was all good. So then we got on a bus and took a 5 hour drive up to Coban where we spent the night in the ZL's house there. There were a lot of us there so I had to sleep in a twin sized bed with another elder from the CCM (my roommate Elder Wadsworth actually haha) so that was quite an experience. Then the next day we had to take a microbus (a big van) up to Tucurú. It was about a 4 hour drive because of some blockages in the roads and everything. Then we got to right outside of Tucurú and there was a huge parade thing they were having with 7000 people blocking the road to the center or pueblo. So we had to wait from about 10:30 to 1 for the microbus to be able to get into the pueblo so we could drop off our stuff. We finally got into Tucurú and dropped off our stuff and got to work! Tucurú is really awesome. It's a pretty big pueblo and its kind of old looking and has a really cozy and safe feeling to it. Our house is a little green apartment that is really nice especially compared to what I thought I would be living in when I found out I was going to Polochic. We've got a decent sized room to sleep in, a kitchen, a little entry room that we use to work out, a bathroom and a little balcony where we can see the mountains and the pueblo and everything. We are definitely in the mountains. It's really beautiful here. It's like being in a really cool jungle but we're also in the mountains. So it's really beautiful, but our area is really big so we do a lot of walking and we walk a lot in the mountains. Be sure to look on Google Earth at Tucurú and you'll be able to see what it looks like and everything. 
So a little about Q'eqchi'...They gave me a translation of the lessons in Q'eqchi', a Spanish to Q'eqchi' dictionary, a hymnbook, and a grammar book for Q'eqchi' and then I already have Lix Hu Laj Mormon. So it turns out that Q'eqchi' is really hard. I already sort of knew that but it's a lot different when you hear it and are trying to learn it. It's extremely ancient and a really figurative language. For example, to ask how someone is doing, you say "ma sa sa la cho'ol?" which translates "is there happiness in your heart?" and the response is usually either "Sa" which means happiness or "ra" which means pain or sorrow. It's really crazy and I really know just about nothing about it right now. But the good thing is that my area is a really great palce to start out because theres a pretty good mix of Spanish and Q'eqchi'. A lot of the people speak both or at least understand Spanish, especially the men, so that has helped a lot. So we've taught a few lessons and already we've got a few baptismal dates so that's exciting! For general conference we had to take a 2 hour ride up to Sacsuaha where they were going to broadcast priesthood session and all of conference. Sacsuaha is just outside of La Tinta which is a pretty big pueblo that has a lot of stuff like internet (were actually here right now for email.) You can look up La Tinta on google earth to to get a feel of where we go for pdays. So we went up Sat. morning and then we had to stay there that night because there wasn't going to be a way to get home after priesthood. It is pretty much completely dark here by about 6:45 or so, so that makes things hard sometimes. But anyways, we had to stay in the church building there. Obviously there weren't any beds or anything so we had to improvise. I slept on a row of the typical plastic church chairs and used my backpack for a pillow. I have to say it wasn't the best night of sleep I've ever had. I woke up once and had to go to the bathroom so I went down the the first floor (it sounds big but it's not too huge. The chapel is upstairs with some classes and the kitchen and restrooms downstairs)  to use the bathroom.  When I turned on the light, a huge spider started sprinting out of the middle of the hall. That was kind of scary cause it really was monstrously huge. It wasn't a tarantula but it was big. Anyways so then we came back last night and taught a couple of families and then came back up this morning. So anyways, I love it here and I'm really lucky and blessed to have been born here because it's a really safe and really great area. The people are amazing here so far and I'm so excited to be able to speak their language and really communicate with them. I'm really grateful or your prayers and your support and everything and I can feel your love and your support so thanks a lot. 
OK I'm running out of time so I have to list off some items of business real quick:
First of all I just wanted to let everyone know that I won't get mail very much at all here and it's really likely that I'll spend a good portion of my mission here and in surrouning areas so if anyone wants to write me they should just email me and then I can write a letter back. jace.norton@myldsmail.net
Hey mom could you get me Mark Thomas' address? Gracias! Also Twoody's if you can find it.
Also my camera randomly broke. The screen got a big crack in it just from being in my pocket. It must have been when I was carrying suitcases or something but it never got hit all that hard and shouldn't have broken. So I can kind of still take pictures but not see them so I'll talk more about that with you later!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! I love you tons thanks for your advice and for being a great dad. I really love you. And I love all of you and miss you tons! Please continue to pray for me to be able to learn the language and have the Spirit here in Tucurú. I love you all tons and I can't wait to talk to you soon!
Love you!
Elder Norton

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thumbs Up for the Guatemala City North Mission!

Just about to leave the CCM for the Mission Home.

The bus ride to the Guatemala City North Mission Home.

Eating dinner with all the new missionaries.
Off to my first area.  Where will it be?????