"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, January 31, 2011

Four Baptisms and a Transfer!

Hey! Buenas Tardes to everyone this beautiful day. It's sunny after having 3 or 4 days with no sun and a lot of rain and the weather is nice and warm. Sounds like it's pretty different from the giant snow storm happening back home! By the time I'm done here I don't think I'll even be able to fathom how cold it really gets back in Kansas and Utah. The weather's always pretty nice here.

Well it's been a big week for me in the mission. I'm glad to say that I recovered just fine and was back to work the next day. Tuesday was interviews with President Torres and they went really well. Both of our investigators, Gilberto and Carlos, passed their interviews and they were both really happy. I was too. My interview was pretty good with President Torres. It wasn't very long or anything really special. It was kind of just a normal interview. I told him some of the things that were going on and explained to him some of my problems that I've been having, and he just told me that like Paul wrote to Timothy, that I shouldn't be ashamed of my youth (in the mission.) He set some goals with me to read the Book of Mormon all the way through again and to have more new investigators every week. So it went well and I felt good being able to finally talk with him about some of my companionship problems. I've realized that I haven't been the missionary that the Lord needs me to be lately. I've been making too many excuses about my lack of time/experience in the mission, my situation and my problems with my companion. There's really no excuse at all for not being the absolute best missionary I can be, no matter where I'm at, who I'm with, or what the circumstances are. So I'm recommitting myself to be the very best I can be and to be who the Lord needs and wants me to be. 

Wednesday was a great day because I was on divisions with my loveable district leader, Elder Howard. We had a really good time and went exploring a new area in my area full of Q'eqchi' people and inactive members of the church. It was pretty cool. We found a some promising families and some inactives that we are going to try and work with later on. Then on Saturday, we had the baptisms of all four of our investigators! It went really well, but we had some problems when the baptism was supposed to start. Gilberto was late coming because he was playing soccer at the soccer field about 20 minutes away on foot. We had talked to him and told him that if he was going to play that he could only play the first half so that he could be there on time and he said that was fine, but then he ended up playing the second half anyway. We ended up sending the son of one of our member families who have a car (thank goodness) to go and pick him up. So he came all dirty and hot and sweaty, but we baptized him all the same. It was a bit stressful at the beginning but it turned out to be a really nice service. It was neat since it was my first time baptizing someone, and I baptized Crismelin and Gilberto. I felt the Spirit really strongly and it was a neat experience for me. Sunday we got them all confirmed and they all received the Holy Ghost so everything is all taken care of and they are all set to go. They are some really great youth and I hope that they can be a huge strength for the Tucuru branch.

THEN! Yesterday we were expecting the call from our leaders to find out about changes. Elder Howard called me and said that I have a CHANGE. My very first change in the mission. I'm both very excited and very sad all at the same time. I had kind of hoped that Elder Lopez would leave and that I would stay because I really love the people in Tucuru. So I'll have basically all day to say goodbye tomorrow and then I'm going to sleep in the ZLs house tomorrow night where I'll wait until I find out where I'm going. It's an interchange which means that I'll still be in the Polochik (Zone Polochik and Zone Senahu) so I'm excited to see where I'll go! I really want to go somewhere where there's a lot of Q'eqchi' (preferreably only Q'eqchi'). Elder Howard thinks that we might go and open an area. There used to be sisters there, but now they are putting in elders, so that would be cool. There are 3 areas where the areas are getting "whitewashed" which means that 2 new elders will be entering at the same in an area. So it will be interesting to see what happens. The sad news is that Elder Lusty, my fellow Polochik baby buddy got sent to the cap to train, so who knows when I'll see him again! Kind of sad since we were supposed to be comps, but oh well, that's how it is in the mission.

Ok well I'm running short on time so I'll try and kind of respond to your emails a bit.

Mom- crazy about the snow storm! Take some pictures for me and send them to me will you? I'm going to start trying to send you more pictures but I want more pictures from you guys too! Sorry you haven't gotten pictures in a while. I'm going to try and send a disc before I leave from Tucuru, so I'll let you know next week ok? Speaking of pictures I was running around after Sacrament Meeting getting signatures and making sure the baptismal registries were all filled out and I forgot to get a picture with the Relief Society. So I guess I'll have to take a picture with my new branch and send that to you instead. Haha I'm glad you are getting to know Twoody's mom better, she's really great! Tell her I said "hey" and tell her to tell Elder Woodward hey for me, that I sent him a letter, and that I've been enjoying reading his letters. Love you Twoody. Thanks mom you're the best! Love you!

Dad- I'm super happy that BYU beat SDST but that's disappointing that they lost to NM. They always lose in the Pit! I hate that place! I'm kind of mad that Jimmer won't be there when I get back, but I'm hoping that Tyler Hawes will pick up the baton and take the team with him.   I'm really glad to hear that Jack had a good experience with his ordanation and I'm glad that you guys were able to learn together more about the priesthood. Thanks for being a worthy priesthood holder dad and for giving me such a good example. I'm going to study Ammon and his brothers and Alma as soon as I get there in my reading really in depth because there is so much to learn about being a good missionary from those stories. Thanks for always sharing with me your insights and your spirit dad. Love you!

Matt- haha you would leave your phone on silent! Always keep it on vibrate and you'll always be fine. You should probably not scare mom and dad like that, it would be pretty embarrassing to have the campus police come looking for you because your parents were worried and called them. Any dates/ women in your life lately? Keep me posted. Love you!

Jack- I'm so proud of you for being a great kid and I'm excited for you to be able to pass the sacrament next week! Always remember that the sacrament is really sacred so always do your best to be reverent. Sorry I didn't get your email but next week I should have it ok? Love you!

Kinzie- I heard you are repainting your room with mom. That will be nice to have a cool teen ish room. I know what its like though, remember that I had a rose flower room when I was your age. =P You should write me for next week you little stinker!  Love you!

Alright well I love you all tons and I'll talk to you all next week and let you know where I'm at and who I'm with. Be safe in the snow and take pictures! Love you all!!

Elder Norton

Monday, January 24, 2011

Yoo li Yaj - Sick is Happening!

Hello to everyone! Hope that everything has been going well in the month of January. I can hardly believe that it's already almost over! This month has flown by.

This week has been a pretty lame week in all honesty. We didn't work very much this week partly because we were in Coban for a couple of days and partly just because of lack of planning. I thought the conference with Elder Ballard (turned out that Elder Holland was just a rumor.) would be really awesome, but it turned out to be a bit disappointing. We went to Coban and had some free time to go around and shop a little bit before hand and then we went to the conference. They played the conference using Windows media player so it was like doing a web chat with Elder Ballard (kind of like the KC temple ground breaking) and the sound was really awful. It was too quiet to hear almost and there was a lot of static. And we didn't get to hear Elder Ballard in English either because they translated it over satellite which was lame because it made it even harder to hear. Most of the gringos gave up trying to listen because it was so hard to hear and it wasn't in English so it was really hard to pay attention. But I tried my best and was able to gain some new insights and take some good notes. I thought about how a lot of times it's kind of like that in our lives. We have to really put forth effort and try to be able to truly understand and hear the words of God from the prophets. Sometimes we think that because they aren't the words straight from the mouth of God that it's not the same, but if we truly listen we can learn and understand great things. I hope that made sense, but I'm kind of out of it today.

When I say "out of it" what I mean is "completely exhaustingly sick". (yoo li yaj= I am sick (sick is happening)) I was up basically since 2:30 in the morning,  and I started feeling worse and worse until finally, I threw up (xinxa'wak= I threw up.) So I didn't end up going to La Tinta with the rest of my district and instead am using internet here in Tucuru with Elder Lopez. I still feel pretty awful but not quite as bad as before. This is the second most sick I've ever been in my life (the first being the time in the CCM where it was pretty much the same only more throwing up.) So that's kind of lame and I always miss home when I'm sick because there's no one to take care of me really. But I'm hanging in there and I'll have all day today to get rested and better which is good because then I won't have to miss any work. Tomorrow we have interviews with President Torres, so I'm hoping that I'll be fine by tomorrow.

We've got a lot of work to do still really before tomorrow. Gilberto and Carlos (sons of the polygamist) are having their interviews tomorrow with President Torres, so we are trying to prepare them really well for their interviews so that President Torres will give them approval to get baptized this Saturday. Carlos is 14 and is really smart and understands everything that we teach him, but Gilberto is in classes with 9 and 10 year olds and has a very small attention span, so it's really hard to work with him. And we can never find him. So I'm pretty worried that Gilberto won't know the baptismal interview questions very well. We've tried a lot to teach him this week and haven't been able to at all. It's also hard because we can't teach them in their own house when their dad is there. So we'll see how things go tomorrow. I've got a lot to talk about with President Torres about a lot of different things. I am anxious to hear what counsel he has to give me and to feel spiritually uplifted afterwards. If everything goes according to plan, the next email I send we will have had at least 4 baptisms, maybe 6 depending on 2 girls in our ward whose parents are members.

Alright well I don't have too much else to say about the week, so I'll just move on to some shoutouts.

Mom- I'm glad that I got your email today because the last time that I got really sick I didn't get an email from you either, so I was worried the same thing was going to happen! So I'm glad you sent one :) How have you been lately? Still as crafty as ever I'm sure and always doing good things for other people. How's Relief Society? Speaking of which, I talked to the Relief Society here yesterday and they said that next Sunday I can take a picture and they will have at least one testimony for me to translate and send to you, so I'll try and take care of that. So who is bishop in the new ward boundaries? I'm assuming that everything is still the same for you guys. Haha I'm glad your car is ok, I was kind of worried when you said your car was in the shop. Being sick makes me think of you and watching Charles Dickens movies all day or Fawlty Towers haha. Good times. I think when I go back to college I'm going to come home every time I get sick. That's cool about the post office story. That lady is super nice and be sure to tell her and her congregation that I am truly appreciative of their thoughts and prayers in my behalf. I am always impressed and touched by good, loving, people who have faith in God and in prayer. The world needs more people like her and her congregation in it. Too bad you didn't run into that one girl that was kind of cute that we saw the first time when we went to get my passport. =P  Did Jack get my letter that I sent for him yet?  Thanks for being a great mom! Love you!

Dad- Hey! Haha I love how you are implementing Q'eqchi' speak in your emails by saying "happiness in your heart". You are practically a Q'eqchi'! Yep things are improving slowly but surely, so that's good. Thanks for your support and advice Dad, I couldn't make it through everything without you. I hadn't read that section recently either, but it's very good. I've been reading the Doctrine & Covenants recently and I'm in section 80 or something like that I think. There are a ton of sections that are a lot like this section.  How's work going for you lately? Any interesting cases? How's seminary? Send them my love as always and wake them all up for me. Maybe you could wear the banana suit one day in honor of me and Jordan haha. That's awesome about the BYU game this Wednesday! I will be praying all day that day..haha just kidding. I hope we beat them! I think we will especially if it's at BYU. They haven't played each other yet before this season right? Cheer extra hard for me. Jimmer is my hero haha. I heard the Jazz are doing terrible now, what happened! Well Dad, I love you and appreciate you. You're the best.

Matt- I heard from Grandma that you were still asleep on Saturday when she called at 11:30. Haha you are starting to sound like me! You better not get into any bad sleeping habits out there, it will be the death of your good grades. Any dates yet? How're classes going? Hope BYU is treating you like number one and that you are dominating your classes as usual. Love you bro, write me when you get a chance. Ps- you should get into BYU sports, they are super fun.

Grandma- Hey! Glad you got my letter Grandma. Thanks for putting my name in the Temple and for your thoughts and prayers in my behalf. You are a great grandma. I hope that you are having in a good time in your ward and that you are enjoying the nice St. George weather. And don't worry about waking Matt up on Saturday, it's a good thing. I think you should call him earlier! Thanks Grandma, Love you.

Jack- Hey! how was your birthday bud? I hope you had a really fun time with the family and with your friends! Just wanted to say congrats buddy on being such a stud. You will be such a great deacon. I'll be thinking about you a lot next Sunday when you are ordained as a deacon. Keep up the good work and write me when you get my letter ok? Love you bud!

Kinzie- I love you too you little pansy :) i loved your Christmas card that you sent me for seminary. I seriously laughed out loud. And a bunch of Guatemalan people looked at me weird. So thanks! You should write me you little brat! Love you!

Alright well my time is up now. I hope you all have a great week. I'll have a lot of news the next time I write with baptisms and with what's going to happen with changes. So be ready for a lot of news! Love you all tons.

Toj li chik xamaan,
Elder Norton

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Am Finding the Face of Q'eqchi More (I Am Understanding More Q'eqchi!)

Hello to all! Is there happiness in your hearts? (ps I really like speaking in terms of Q'eqchi' literally translated into English.)

How are all of you doing?? You guys are lucky that you are getting snow days when I didn't get any snow days my senior year! Not fair! Haha, no we definitely don't get any snow here. It's kind of weird because I'm becoming pretty accustomed to the weather here, which in my area is always nice. But anytime it's just a little colder or a little warmer than usual it feels like its hot or cold. In reality it's not like that at all haha and I know that it's both colder in the winter and warmer in the summer in Kansas than it is here in the Polochik. It's been kind of a crazy week here, but a good week nonetheless. We missed working all day Monday because we went to El Estor for pday and it took a little more than 3 hours to get there and another 3 hours to get back. So that was a bit difficult. Then Tuesday things started to get crazy. Elder Lopez started talking to me about some things he was worried about. He was at first just worried that he was going to get in trouble soon and he told me some things that he was worried that someone might tell President about the things he had been doing. So I talked to him for a while and we talked about the things he had done and I tried to give him the advice and counsel that the Lord wanted me to give him. So he told me everything and I told him that he needed to talk to President Torres about it as soon as possible. He was worried about getting sent home if he told President what he had done, but I told him that he needed to trust in the Lord to bless him in doing what's right and that no matter what happened, the Lord would support his decision because it would be what the Lord wants. So after talking to a few other missionaries and after we had gone out and worked all day Tuesday, he found out President was in another area fairly close to us doing interviews with another zone. So he called him Tuesday night and told him he needed to talk in person. So we left Wednesday to go to Salama where President Torres was. It was about a 3 hour ride as well. So we went and Elder Lopez talked to President for a long time and then came out and we left. He told me that everything went well, that he wasn't going home and that he didn't have an emergency change. So that was good and I was happy that he was willing to try and make the changes necessary to be a better missionary and to do what is right. Things are still a little hard with him sometimes, but things are a lot better than they were before. So this week Elder Lopez has worked harder and has been better which makes things easier on me for sure. So I'm thankful that the Lord has helped me to help him so that he can be a changed man when he goes home.

In other news, we have had a lot of deaths in Tucuru lately. 2 drunkard friends died from drinking too much 2 days apart. It was weird that they both died and that they were friends and everything. And even weirder that in both cases, at least a part of their family were members of the church. So we had some really good opportunities this week because both of the families asked us to give just a small message and to pray. So we taught a quick lesson about the plan of slavation and about the resurrection and we were able to contact a lot of people and find some potential new investigators. It's great how the Lord blesses us with so many opportunities to teach and how he just places them in our hands. We are really blessed here by the Lord. Brenda and Crismeli are doing well and both came to church yesterday. Their story is that they are part of a part member family. The dad, mom, and one of the sisters are members, but the rest aren't, and the dad is the only active member of the family. One day a long time ago I felt impressed to knock on their door and to contact them because I didn't know who lived there. So we contacted them at the beginning of my first change with Elder Lopez and we found out that the dad was one of our most faithful members who always comes to church. After that we met Brenda and Crismeli, the daughters in the family who are 16 and 11. At first Brenda didn't seem very interested in baptism or even in going to church at all. But we invited her to a baptismal service which she liked, and then to an activity where we watched the Joseph Smith movie in the church. That movie really helped her out a ton and helped her with her testimony. After that she wanted to get baptized and came to church and they have both been coming to church and are getting ready for their baptism the 29th! We have another girl Susana, who we set a date with to be baptized, but then she didn't come to church. So we'll see this week why she didn't come to church and keep progressing from there. We went up to Vina Roz again and had a good time again this week. I was able to teach well enough and we got lots of food from them (caldo, or spicy soup with meat in it, and beans and eggs.) There is happiness in my heart made by that I am finding the face of Q'eqchi' more. (I'm happy because I'm understanding more Q'eqchi')

So just fyi about the Q'eqchi' since you asked mom- the reason that Q'eqchi' is spelled 2 different ways (Q'eqchi' and Kekchi) is because there are 2 different alphabets in Q'eqchi, the old and the new. The difference is that the k changes to a q in the new alphabet because its the "k" sound but back in the back of the throat, and there's no c in the new q'eqchi', just k. So basically just a few letters get changed around. And isntead of having lines underneath the words to signify that the vowel is twice as long they just write the 2 vowels out. A bit confusing, but not too bad. The Book of Mormon right now is written in old Q'eqchi', but everything is moving towards new Q'eqchi'. In June of this year they are going to come out with a normal, nice triple combination in Q'eqchi' so I'm pretty excited for that!

Anyways, on to the REAL important things. Wan kab'lahu chihab' re li wiitz'in!! (There exist 12 years from the mouth of my little brother!!) Jack! Dude you are turning 12 this week!! Congratulations buddy!! That's fun that you guys are going to go and and do a lot of fun stuff today! I really wish I could be there to celebrate with you guys! Well I can't do too much for you for your birthday unfortunately bud, but I did send you a letter a few days ago, so hopefully you'll get that soon. I know it's not too much but I just want you to know that I love you and I'm proud of you for being such a good kid. I'm sure you are ready and worthy to recieve the Priesthood and be a big help in the ward to the members and a good example as well. Just keep doing what's right and remember that I love you and I pray for you and am thinking about you. I hope you have a really good week and that you have a good birthday. Let me know when you get my letter ok?

Dad- sorry to hear that you caused a riot in church. I would have supported you had I been there. Mary was highly favored of the Lord in the sense that she is the only person and will always be the only person to give birth in the flesh to the Lord Jesus Christ. So in that sense she is "more favored" than any other woman because no other women will have the same opportunity that she had. But in the grand eternal scheme of things, we all recieve our own blessings because we are all favored of the Lord. And yes the Lord loves us all exactly the same because he's a perfect being. But we know that we are all on different levels of intelligence (Christ being the most wise and intelligent) and based on our righteousness and obedience before this life, we recieve the blessings that we have now in this life. So Mary is more "favored" in the sense that she had an opportunity that no one else ever had or ever will have, but the Lord loves all of his daughters and all of his children the same. Blessings aren't dependent on the Lord's love for us, but on our love for Him like you said. thanks for your advice. Love you dad.

Mom- yes you are a baggy mom! haha but don't worry I won't sue you. Just don't make me too baggy before I even have 6 months =P   I will take care of the Relief Society thing for you as soon as I can! I don't have any more time to upload a photo but know that I was going to haha if that makes you feel good. I'll try to send one next time. We're going to hear Elder Holland this week so I'll let you know next week how it goes! (He meant Elder Ballard) Changes aren't until the week after next because we have interviews next week, so we'll see what happens. Thanks for sending the package mom, you're the best! And thanks for sending me some cinnamon bears. You're the best :) Love you mom! 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Baptismal Dates and Reading the Book of Mormon in Q'eqchi

Hola familia!! I hope that there is happiness in all of your hearts and that this new year is arriving at your face. (That's how we speak in Q'eqchi'.)

That's cool that you are getting some snow! I kind of miss snow, but I won't see it for another couple of years. Although, I went up to Vina Roz again this past week and some of the trees had ORANGE leaves! I was freaking out because I didn't think that any trees did that! The only conclusion that I could come up with is that they are rubber trees, and the people are cutting into the trees to get he rubber, so maybe that is making the trees die? I don't know. It was weird, but I liked it a lot. I took some pictures though, and I'll probably send you a packet with photos soon.

So here's a little of what happened this week. It was a pretty good week. We set 4 baptismal dates! Gilberto and his brother Carlos (We got permission from President Torres to baptize them in spite of their dad who lives with 7 women) are going to be interviewed by President Torres on the 25th and are going to get baptized the 29th. They were super excited when we told them and they are really pilas investigators. Then we also have Brenda and Crismeli who we put dates with also for the 29th. They are the daughters in a part member family, so we're excited for them too. We've been working with Ubando and his older brother Manuel too. Manuel has come to church twice now so we are going to teach him with Ubando and see if we can't baptize them both soon too. They are a really fun family and they help me out a lot with my Q'eqchi'. We went up the Vina Roz this week by ourselves, which was kind of scary because we usualy try to go up with someone who speaks Q'eqchi' really well. But the Lord really helped me out and I understood more or less everything that happened and was able to communicate with the people there pretty well.  As we were walking back we met a man from a small Q'eqchi' village really far away who was also going to Tucuru and so I walked and talked with him for about 30 minutes and we were able to carry on a normal (as normal as can be for Q'eqchi' that is) 
conversation and I understood everything that he said! So I felt good and I was thankful to the Lord for helping me out and for opening my ears and loosing my tongue. 

Other than that, not too much else exciting happened. We had one of our less active members and his nonmember wife come to church yesterday, so that was exciting and we also found a girl, Susana that we have been teaching, Susana's mom is a inactive member, and I don't think the rest of her family are members. Right now Susana's mom is working in the Pollo Express next door to one of our most pilas hermanas in our branch, so Susana and her mom are pretty much always surrounded by members who are teaching them and helping them too. We're hoping to reactivate the mom and baptize Susana eventually. Also in church yesterday we had a meeting with everyone about our branch and about less active and inactive people in our ward. We have about 600 members here in Tucuru and of those members about 60-70 go to church regularly. So our new branch presidency is working right now to help reactivate and visit the less active families in our area. Hopefully we will have some success in reactivating and helping out the families in our area.

We have interviews with President Torres the 25th of this month, and the 20th we get to go listen to JEFFERY R HOLLAND!!! He's coming to Guate and will be speaking in the Capital! Pretty exciting right? We don't actually get to see him because we can't go to the Cap, but we get to go to Coban and watch the conference through satellite. So that will be awesome and I'm excited for that. (And no mom, I didn't get to hear Elder Cristofferson last night unfortunately.) Anyways, the end of the change is the end of this month basically. So we'll see what happens. I want to do what the Lord wants me to do of course, but I kind of want to go somewhere puro Q'eqchi' where nobody speaks Spanish. I love Tucuru, but I really want to be able to be in an area where I can focus more on Q'eqchi'. But whatever happens, as long as I can have a hardworking and obedient companion, I'll go wherever. Speaking of Q'eqchi', it's going really well for the amount of practice I'm getting in. We still are teaching mostly in Spanish, but there are a few families that have been helping me out lately and helping me to learn. So I've been practicing as much as I can lately and with the Lord's help, I'm learning a lot more than I should realistically be learning. I just barely got my Q'eqchi' nametag today! (only one, not the clip on one that you use for suits) It's really cool and it's the new translation of the name of the church, so it's really cool. I told myself that now that I have my Q'eqchi' nametag that I can really learn Q'eqchi' now.

Last week I got all of the cards from the seminary class and so I just wanted to leave them a special little note to thank them for their thoughtful cards. Thanks to everyone that wrote me and for all of your encouraging and kind words! I can't tell you all how much I really appreciated your letters. They meant a lot to me and really uplifted me and made my week to have them. I can tell that you are all enjoying seminary and that you are all having a good year this year. I know that you guys are all good kids and that you all want to do what's right, and that makes me happy that the youth in the church are strong and doing really well. You guys have some of the best seminary teachers in the world, so be sure to be mindful and grateful of the things that Brother Norton and Sister Hirschi do for your class to help you all feel the Spirit and grow in the gospel. I've said it before, but seminary was probably the most important thing for me in preparing me for a mission. The stories and the scriptures that you learn about will help you so much in your lives with your situations and with your problems that you have. Read the scriptures every day and you will see miracles in your lives. The scriptures are probably the most important things that you can have to have the Spirit in your lives more. And if the Spirit is truly in your life, you will be able to truly do what's right and do what the Lord wants you to do. Keep working hard and reading the scriptures every day. I love you guys and I'm thankful for you're support and for your love. Don't sleep through the most important lessons you will learn during these years! Love, Elder Norton.

Alright, now that that's out of the way I'll respond to your emails a little bit now.

Dad- thanks a lot for your advice about idleness. It's funny how a lot of the times you send advice to me right when I'm thinking about the same things. The Lord is truly inspiring you to help me and I'm really thankful to you for being in tune with the Spirit to help me so much. We have lost a lot of time because of things that Elder Lopez has been doing and things like that, and I probably can do a little better at using all of my time, even if Elder Lopez isn't, to do what the Lord wants. So I'm going to work hard at that this week and do everything possible to use my time to improve myself and to work on Q'eqchi' and everything. How's work going? I'm sure you're still dominating the courts up there in Kansas. How's BYU bball? I hear that football has been going crazy lately and that a lot of good teams lost (including the Chiefs!) The Book of Mormon is really cool to read in Q'eqchi' because it's just different. It's kind of hard to explain, but it's different in the way that it speaks and things impress me in different ways than in Spanish or English. A lot of things have to do with the heart, which is cool. For example, to say "to remember" is to have something in your heart, and to say "forget" you say that it was lost from your heart. It's really cool, but it's really really slow haha. I'm only in chapter 8 or 9 of 1st Nephi. But it's awesome.

Mom- haha Mom you are so baggy! =P You just keep telling yourself that mom. Just make it through this Christmas and then only 7 more months to go and I'll be home! It will be in no time at all! Especially with Matt getting married this summer and everything, that should help time go by faster =P (right Matt?) Interesting about new church meetings. What new families are in the ward? Any that I know? Are you still Relief Society president? I'm assuming you are since you didn't say anything. Thanks for sending me Twoody's letter. If you could send those whenever you can haha. He's hilarious and a great missionary, I can tell. Sad that Elder Kruger didn't visit haha, but what can you do? The only thing I can think of that I need would maybe be a little pillow or something. Maybe your could air seal it so that it would take less space or something? Just a little one I think would be fine. Other than that, more peanut butter, and of course candy =P hichews would be nice :) Thanks for taking such good care of me mom. You're the best. Only a few more changes until I get to call again! Don't worry, time will fly by mom. Love you!

Well I'm out of time, but I love you all so much and I'm so thankful for all that you do for me. Have a good week and enjoy the snow!!  Cheeril eerib'!

Elder Norton

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I Have Felt the Power of the Lord Pushing Me Forward

Hola Familia!! Chab'il ak' chihab! (Happy New Year!!)

I hope that you all had a really great new years and that you all had an extra fun time for me. Although you must not have done very much since you didn't say anything about what you did. But that's fine because we didn't do anything either. I just went to bed at 10:30 and woke up at 12:00 (not intentionally) when everyone in all of Tucuru was lighting firecrackers (more like small bombs really) and then went back to sleep. So it was pretty lame, but the refreshing/ nostalgic feelings of a new year were still the same. It was pretty weird to think about how a year ago I was going to BYU. It doesn't seem like it was that long ago at all! It seems like only yesterday I was living it up at good old Wyview Park and wasting time that I should have spent studying with friends. I have to say that I do miss BYU basketball a lot. So yeah a lot of memories came back from BYU and from my fun experiences there. At the same time I have more of a view of my time that I am blessed to have here. I have this whole year ahead of me to dedicate completely to the Lord. Of course I still have 7 months after, but this entire year, all of 2011 I can spend completely in the service of the Lord. It makes me feel excited and motivated to think about that. Although there will be a lot of challenges this year I'm sure, I'm keeping my view towards the Savior to try and come as close to Him as I can this year especially. 

I hope that all of you can have good goals for this year too. Something that my mission has already taught me is about goals and goal setting. I've never ever been good with goals before so this is something that I'm still working on. But goals are very important to help us reach a level of achievement that is the maximum of our potential, or in other words, more than what we think is our potential. Today as a zone we watched a short video clip from a football movie where the coach had one of the players do the "death crawl" which is where you crawl on your hands and feet without your knees touching the ground with another person on your back. The coach had the player be blindfolded and the coach asked if the player would give him his absolute best. The player said he would and said that he thought that he could go 30 yards. The coach told him that he thought he could go 50. So he started blindfolded and the coach kept pushing and pushing him to keep going and to keep moving and not to stop. Every time the player felt like he couldn't go anymore the couch would say "You promised you would give me your best. Don't stop now. Keep going." Finally as he started reaching the end, the coach would yell "30 more steps!..20 more steps!...10 more steps!...5 more steps!" Until finally the player collapsed and began to cry saying "that's got to be the 50..I can't go anymore" The coach took off his blindfold and he saw that he was laying in the endzone. This was something that had a lot of meaning for me. It really is true. Often we limit ourselves based on a standard of our own thoughts or on standards set by others and we don't allow ourselves to achieve our full potential. If we look past our limitations and allow the Lord to help us in our goals we will be able to go so much farther than we ever thought. I have felt the power of the Lord pushing me forward when sometimes I feel like " I can't go anymore..this is my best.." Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can move so much farther and achieve so much more. So that's just a little thought that I wanted to share with you all for this new year. I hope the Lord will bless you in your goals and help us all to go a little further than what we thought possible.

So. A little info about this week. This was one of the worst weeks I've had in the mission so far in terms of our weekly goals and our numbers. I have been sick this week with gripe, which is basically a bad cold. But we didn't lose any time because of that, I just had to sleep a little more in the mornings for a couple of days and lost some of my study time.We had to go to La Tinta on Thrusday to get money out because we didn't have enough money to pay the rent. We had to move into our new house this week so that took a whole day out. We also had a small activity in the church for the youth on New Year's Eve day. The activity was at 3, but because of some...ineffective planning we'll call it...we didn't work at all in the morning and after the activity we didn't have any lessons, just ate with members. Other than that, we usually lose a couple of hours every day at least so that's pretty lame. It's fairly likely that I'll stay in Tucuru another change I feel like. But who knows. The Lord is in control for sure though.  But things are still going well with the work. The Lord has truly blessed this area a lot and helped us to have good investigators. We had a few investigators come to church for the first time yesterday so that was neat and we are hopefully going to have some more baptisms soon. One experience this week that was especially meaningful for me was after the activity that we had in the church. The only thing we did was watch The Prophet of the Restoration and eat a little bit of food afterwards. But after the movie I took the opportunity to bear my testimony about Joseph Smith. The Spirit was so strong in the room and I just felt the spirit more than I ever have before testifying to me that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of God and that he did what he said he did. I was really grateful to the Lord for giving me a simple and yet needed spiritual boost and testimony.

Ok so a little commentary on your emails before I have to go.

Mom- haha Elder Smith and I didn't really know what to think about the pictures you sent. He just kept saying "That's my house!..That's my girlfriend!..that's my family!" and I just kept saying "That's my family in your house! That's my sister with your girlfriend!" It was kind of funny actually haha. Cool about the ward I guess. Kind of sad that some cool families won't be in the same ward though. But I was really glad to hear that Mark and I will still have the same home ward when we get back. I got a letter from him today and he's doing really well from what I can tell! So that's good. Love you mom, you're the best. Don't cry too much if you go to the MTC =P but hey could you do me a favor and buy me some chocolate covered cinnamon bears (I know it will be a temptation not to eat them before you send them to me, so try to resist) and also some red pencil lead for the scripture marker mechanical pencil for the next package you send me? I would appreciate it. Love you!

Dad- haha I laughed a lot at your poetic rendition of "I Hate Provo." (not to be confused with I hate Provo Dental) I have to say I was pretty impressed with your writing skills! You just came out of nowhere and hit me with some poetic writing. I never knew you did that kind of stuff =P Heard you got a new bike? Cool. Better work hard old man to keep up with me! Love you tons, you're the best! (We were in Provo dropping Matt off at BYU and Mike wrote a little essay to Jace on why he hates Provo, because everytime we go there we have to leave one of our sons behind.  He doesn't really hate Provo, just the leaving his sons behind part!)

Matt- Noticed in the pictures that you were wearing my jacket and I think my shirt too. Creep! Kidding. Knock 'em dead out there in Provo. You'll do great. Work hard and do the Norton name proud out there in Provo. Try to help out the Norton reputation in Wyview =P Love you bro!