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'!