"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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

God Answers Prayers


First of all, you might notice that all of the exclamation points in my email will be upside down and that's just because the key for the regular exclamation point doesn't work on my computer..so instead of not using any and having a boring email, I'll just put them in upsdie down. 

How is everyone doing these days? I hope you guys are all in good health and happy in spite of BYU's loss. and KU's loss too I guess.. Oh well, life goes on¡  I just want them to do well when I get home. That's awesome about the KC temple too¡  That makes me excited to be able to come home and go to the temple with EVERYONE since Jack is old enough now too¡  We need to do some family history work too and go to the temple and do work for some of our ancestors. That will be a lot of fun.

Alright, well this past week was pretty lame I have to admit. We didn't get back up to Yalijux until Thursday night again. We had to take up two big box springs to go underneath our beds up in Yalijux and so we were a little late getting to the place where the cars going to Yalijux leave on Tuesdays. We only ended up finding a car that took us to San Francisco where we waited for a car, but nothing came. We stayed there Wednesday and waited and nothing came still. So finally we decided just to leave the darn things in San Francisco and just walk up to Yalijux. To add insult to injury, right when we got to Yalijux, a car was also coming in from Senahu that we could have taken us with our box springs and gotten to Yalijux the same time. So that was pretty lame. We were with the Elders from Chijolom who were working in San Francisco, so we weren't completely alone, but it was slightly boring. Friday we went to San Antonio las Puertas to visit the family that lives there who are members. It's about an hour's walk completely uphill if you walk fast. So we went there all day and found a new family there and were able to contact a lot of people and find some potential new investigators and things like that which was good. Then Saturday we had our weekly planning which took out the morning and around 4 we went to go to a meeting of a bunch of church members in a less active member's house. So we didn't really have a ton of time to work which was kind of lame. And this week will be General Conference which means we will have to come down on Friday. But I love General Conference, so I'm ok with that.

So we didn't get to do a ton of working, but I did have a neat experience. While we were waiting in San Francisco I decided to read the new Liahona that I had just gotten. I read one article about a family in Puerta Rica who were trapped in a flood and about how they all prayed to be saved from the flood. I thought it was a cool story and was thinking about it when all of the sudden I started thinking about when we got in our car accident. I had forgotten a little bit of what had happened, but I'm really glad now that the Lord helped me to remember exactly what happened because it was an experience that looking back now has helped me out a lot. I remember that we got in the accident and Mom jumping out of the car and all of that stuff and I remember being really scared and confused. I was only 11 years old, and to make things worse, as you guys know I was a huge worry wart about everything. But I remember a lady coming to the window to help us out of the car. She told me to come over to the window and she would help me out. I told her to wait and that I wanted to say a prayer first. So we all said a prayer and I thanked God for His Son, Jesus Christ and for everything He had given us. Then, I desperately asked Him to please help us so that we would be ok. Looking back now at all of the blessings that the Lord gave me personally and to us as a family, I know that God answers prayers. For someone who was such a worry wart and who always was afraid of dying and weird things like that, once we had all gotten out of the car and the ambulances started coming, I was unusually calm and didn't really feel scared. I didn't think too much about it in the moment, but looking back now I know that the Lord blessed me with His Spirit to help calm me down and comfort me. Not to mention the miracles that we witnessed too-- the first highway patrolman on the scene was a faithful member of the church.  He was able to call his Stake President who sent one of his counselors to the hospital we were at. I remember the stake presidency member's wife, or at least I think it was, who stood by where I was strapped down waiting for exams and everything and how she talked to me and kept me company. Not to mention that everyone in our family was ok in the end, even though Dad and Matt had fairly serious injuries. The whole experience was a miracle for our family and I had forgotten a little bit how important that experience was for our family. Looking and thinking back on that experience, there's no way I can doubt that God answers prayers. Sometimes I have prayed to God to feel confirmation of His love or the truthfulness of this church, and have felt at times like I haven't exactly felt an answer. But when I think of this experience I can't doubt that God is there, that this is His church with real priesthood power, and that He loves and watches over me. Now I truly understand what the Lord meant when he said to Oliver Cowdrey that he needed to think back on the time when the Lord had already answered his prayer. I need to let go of day to day doubts or fears and think back to experiences like this one to 'know that the Lord is God, and be not afraid.' So that's just a thought for all of us to consider and to be thankful for continually.

Alright now on to your questions a little bit:

Dad- hahaha I laughed so hard about your Q'eqchi' words that you added to your email¡ I didn't know that 'sik' meant paralyzed, but thankfully Elder Larsen was next to me to tell me haha. He told me ' man, your dad is hilarious¡' haha so thanks dad. I love you for being the kind of dad to do stuff like that. Nakatinrah chi anchal inch'ool, at inyuwa. Thanks for being a fun dad. Haha and thanks for all of the bloopers, they were pretty dang funny. Stinks that you didn't get to go to the temple to see them put up Moroni, but that's still cool about how the temple is progressing. Too bad about BYU, but oh well they had a good season again. So here's just a random question that I had been thinking about. Terry Sexton was in the marines right? I was just curious as to what he did like if he went to a military school before entering, how much time he served and just stuff like that. I don't know why, I was just thinking about random stuff like that when I was waiting in San Francisco. How's bicycling coming? I'm going to start working out as much as possible every day so I won't be so dang skinny when I get back haha. Love you dad¡

Mom- hey¡ Thanks for the email. I know you're bummed about BYU losing but I'm just glad that my family is cool enough to be so into college basketball. Tell McKinzie that I'm sorry if her bracket didn't work out haha but she should keep doing it to be cool. Sounds fun about the Relief Society brithday party thing.   I'll be watching General Conference here in Senahu and I guess I could watch it in whatever language I want, but I think I'll choose English. They will have a room for Spanish, and room for Q'eqchi', and a room for English for the missionaries, so I'll watch it in English. But my last conference I think I might try and watch it in Q'eqchi'. As for the pillows, there's actually a pillow up in Yalijux that I've been using and I left the pillows you sent me in Senahu where I sleep Mondays since there's no pillows there. In San Francisco I just use blankets or a hammock for my pillow haha and it works out. I don't have to sleep there too often though so don't worry. I have had the opportunity to sing in special musical numbers in pretty much all of the zone conferences that we've had and I got to direct the hymns when Elder Martino came, but other than that I haven't done anything especially not solos or anything like that. But it's better that way haha. As for my birthday package the only thing I can think of that I really want is the perfect pushup things and a bungee workout cord thing with handles so I can workout better. I need to work out a lot and I want to do it consistently haha. Other than that, and other than an ipad, anything you send me would be fine haha. but PICTURES would be nice. I want a whole bunch to show to other missionaries and all of the people. So send me a bunch please.

Alright, well my time is up, but I love you all tons and I hope you all have a really spiritual week as you get ready for General Conference this week. I know it will be an awesome spiritual experience¡ Make sure to tell me what you thought of the conference next week. Love you guys tons¡

Elder Norton

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Lord is Working Within Me to Help Me Move Forward

Hello my dear family and friends!

Chan ru wankex? (how are you all?) I hope you guys are having fun and enjoying the success of BYU basketball. I'm really excited that BYU is going to the Sweet 16 and I'm going to work really hard this week so that they will go all the way haha. I'm glad that you guys are as into it as I would be (especially Kinzie with her bracket haha! that's awesome kinz! :) )  Thanks for the pictures and for all of the updates about everything going on with the temple and with everything else. The temple looks awesome! I'm so excited to be able to go there whenever I want when I get back!

Alright so first things first, I have my new companion now up in Yalijux and his name is Elder Gutierres! He came from a different part of Polochik and we met up on Thursday to go up to Yalijux. I already knew him because he was in my zone my in Polochik and because his comp left the same time elder Wixom did, so we were together in Tucuru a couple of days. When we were on divisions there,  I wished that he was my comp, so it's pretty cool that he is now! I LOVE Elder Gutierres haha. He's from Solola, the same place in Guatemala where Elder Xocop is from and he's a super funny, nice, and just a great guy. We've only been together a few days and it already feels like we've been comps for a while. We get along really well and he is humble and hardworking as well. He has 13 months in the mission and like me he has been in Q'eqchi' areas his whole mission. So he knows a lot of Q'eqchi' and speaks it really well. The best part is though that he wants to work hard.

My new companion, Elder Gutierres!

Last week we had a zone meeting and we talked a lot about Alma 26 and about the success of Ammon and his brothers as missionaries. I felt the Spirit really strongly during the meeting telling me things I needed to change and do differently. I realized a lot of my weaknesses and sins that I need to turn to the Lord to fix and correct. So I was feeling very motivated to start fresh and begin to change and rely more on the Lord. In light of that, Elder Gutierres' and my first day we sat down and talked about diligence. We talked about what it means, why it's so important, and the blessings of being diligent in the work of the Lord. After we studied diligence for  a while we came up with some goals for this change that we want to accomplish to help us be more diligent. A lot of our goals are little things that might not seem that important, but in reality will help us in the work here so much. For example, since everybody goes to sleep here around 7, we usually just come home around 7 and we lose an hour of work. So we decided to start leaving at 10 in the morning and then using the extra hour at night to study Q'eqchi' instead of studying from 10 to 11. We also set a goal not to come back to the house until we have 20 contacts every day. We just set a bunch of goals to help us be diligent and to have the Spirit more with us to teach this people. The blessings have been immediate from our efforts to be diligent. We only had 3 days of work in our area and we were able to find 3 new families and we had an investigator come to church for the firs time on Sunday. It has been really refreshing for me to work as hard as I can and to do all that I can do to serve the people here. Now that I'm the one that knows the area and has to take control a little bit more of what we do, I've really done my best to do my absolute very best and to give all of my time and talents to the Lord. It has been so satisfying to feel the Lord begin to work within me and to feel like I'm truly giving my best. I have such a long way to go still before I'm even close to the missionary that the Lord wants me to be, but the Lord is working within me to help me move forward and come closer to Christ. So I'm really, really excited for this change and I feel really good about everything. 

Last night I went to sleep around 10:00 ish and then woke up at 11:45 to get ready to leave by midnight for Senahu. There's a meeting type thing that everybody here, and seriously that means EVERYBODY, goes to called mi familia progresa. They pretty much just give money to people who have kids. And the dads usually go out and get drunk with it. So it's not really that effective a lot of the time, but everybody goes. So the trucks started leaving at midnight for Senahu. BUT, we didn't end up leaving Yalijux until about 1:30am because our truck couldn't make it up the mountain that goes out of Yalijux. It was too muddy and the truck wasn't all that great. They kept trying over and over again for about 45 minutes and nothing happened. Finally, all of the men (including me and Elder Gutieres) got out and tied a big rope to the truck (and this isn't like a pickup truck, it's a HUGE truck) and we pulled it up the mountain. It was hard haha but Elder Gutierres and I had a fun time. The pictures I'm sending are of this morning (really more like last night...). So I didn't get a whole lot of sleep last night since we didn't get to sleep in Senahu until about 4:30 and we still woke up at 7. But I feel good so far. Tomorrow I might be really tired though haha. 

Pulling the truck up the mountain : )

There were a few of us on the truck.

 Also, I have been given my official real Q'eqchi' name. I had to change it from Kaqi Wiinq because there was already another red headed missionary here with that name. But after a lot of thinking and talking with people, my new name is "laj Pich' " which means "woodpecker". They gave me that name because woodpeckers have red heads haha so I like it and everyone in Yalijux calls me that now when I walk down the streets and things like that. So that's kind of fun.

Oh! And I forgot to tell you something exciting a little while ago. Ubando, my investigator from Tucuru, just got baptized a couple weeks ago and I guess a lot of his family are planning on getting baptized soon too. I love that family so much so I'm excited for that.

Alright some quick shoutouts:

Dad- thanks for always thinking of me. I was thinking a lot about you this past week too and I tried to think about how I want to be more like you as I try to be a better missionary. Haha I love your use of Q'eqchi' haha, you'll be fluent in no time! haha. I love you dad!

Mom- Go Cougars!!! haha I'm excited for them too. Keep cheering hard for me. Of course I'm the same weird brother/ son haha. Today when I got to Senahu, Elder Larsen told me that he wanted me to talk in my King Julian voice all day haha so I'm still weird and try to stay fun. I love you tons mom and I have to go but I love you!

Alight well times up but I have to go now. I love you all tons! Keep being pilas and keep looking for missionary opportunities.

Elder Norton

Monday, March 14, 2011

Staying in Yalijux

At Rio Dulce.
Things aren't that bad Elder Norton!
Jamaica or Guatemala?????

Ma sa sa' lee ch'ool?? I hope that you guys are having a good spring break so far and that you are all happy and doing well!

This email might not be quite as long as they usual are because I was waiting for mom to write so I could write and also cause I'm attaching a bunch of pictures. (don't worry about it though mom, I'm a fast typer and I can still whip out a good email.)

Sooo, first of all I have to say that we got changes and I will be staying in Yalijux like I thought, and Elder Xocop is leaving which is sad cause I really love that Elder, but I was thinking that he would leave. So I'll be getting a new comp pretty soon. A lot of people think that a new person might come up with me to Yalijux (not someone new to the mission but to the Polochik) so I kind of hope that happens cause I want to train in the Polochik and I think it would be a lot of fun. So we'll see what happens.

Last week I didn't get much time to work in my area because of changes and the conference and everything so nothing really happened at all in my area this last week. I'm excited for a fresh new change and to get to work hard with my new comp, whoever he is. There are a lot of possibilities in Yalijux but it's going to take a lot of hard work. President Torres told us that the area that has had the most baptisms in Senahu for the past 5 years is Yalijux. Apparently there's quite a history there, but I still don't know what that history is yet... But I'm determined to keep up the good name of Yalijux and put in my effort to work really hard and baptize a lot of families. Yesterday we had to come down from Yalijux early to be ready to leave today for our zone activity. Since it was Sunday there weren't any cars so we had to walk all the way to Seritkiche to catch a car of some of the church leaders of Senahu. We had to go pretty darn fast to get there on time and Elder Xocop had a small suitcase of all of his stuff that I helped him carry half of the time. We walked from 9:30 until 1:30 pretty much nonstop. But it wasn't near as hard for me as it was last time and I felt good the whole time. Today for a zone activity we went to a place called Rio Dulce which is a little bit further than El Estor which I've told you about before. It's the river that leads into Lake Isabal and is really pretty. It was a lot of fun and the pictures I'm sending you are all from there. We went to this little castle and took lots of pictures and it was way fun. I hate to say it, but I kept thinking  that I have to take you guys there when you come to pick me up. Speaking of that issue, what I say is, everybody has to come to pick me up, or I'd rather just go home and do a different vacation. I want everyone to be there so if money is an issue or if there's some other kind of issue with the kids, I'd rather come home and do a little vacation in the states or something and then wait and go back with you guys the next spring or summer. I don't know. Tell me what you guys think about that. The other thing I was thinking about is that if we wait to do it for a year I will for sure be able to come back later. Cause if you guys just come pick me up, I don't know when I'll be able to go back. So let me know what you think.

Thanks for your emails as always and thanks for the spirit that you guys help me to feel every time I read your emails. You guys are awesome.

Mom- wow sounds like a kind of lame way to start off spring break with snow! But that's good that nice weather will come. We heard all about the earthquake and tsunami, but we just heard it was really bad, we didn't know too much about it. That's crazy. I really like the part of the song that you sent me, so thanks for that. I'd never noticed that before, but it's really powerful. Haha I'm glad that Twoody's mom is sympathetic. Tell her I'll be spending a month in Colorado when I get back for treatment to recover haha. My back's not hurting too bad, it's more of an annoyance than anything. And I want to be as healthy as I can be and not look like a weirdo. But thanks for being such a loving mom. Love you! ps, I had some alfredo pasta yesterday and almost cried.

Dad- jaja first off I love how you used Q'eqchi' for your subject. That just made you even cooler haha. Are you guys going to go maybe watch the tournament if BYU goes far? If you do I will be SO jealous! That's cool though about them getting 3rd seed. I'll keep`them in the back of my mind and I'll be cheering for them! I have been thinking exactly the same things lately about how far the world is sinking. In buses and on the streets sometimes we hear music from the states and I almost can't believe how vulgar all of it is getting. It was always bad, but now it's just plain disgusting a lot of it. It's really sad, but I know that as a family we can help each other get through it. I want us all to live close together too if we can so that all of us can have a support system and we can all go to church and eat dinner Sunday nights and stuff like that. Plus I just love you guys. Love you dad!

Kinzie- thanks for the email.  You are pilas for liking basketball and I love you immensely!! :) keep being awesome, I'll write more next week.

Alright well times up but I love you all tons!! Write you next week!! Keep being the best.

Elder Norton

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

We Have to Show Our Gratitude to the Lord for the Gospel by Sharing It

Hello wonderful family of mine! 

How is everyone doing?? Thanks for all of your emails this week, I'm always glad when I get a lot haha. And also thank you SO much for the packages that you sent me! I got all three of them yesterday and I almost fainted when I saw all of the good stuff that you sent me! Haha thank you so much. I will be eating REALLY well for the next couple of months. But not this week. Because changes are next week and also because there probably won't be a car up to Yalijux since we are leaving tomorrow. But next week I will start feasting on the abundance of food you sent me. (I am especially excited for the blueberry syrup that you sent me.)

Ok. So this last week was kind of lame actually. I was sick for a couple of days and so we didn't go out to work. Nothing too serious, just a weird cold/ eye infections that made me so that I couldn't breathe or concentrate.  So we only had 1 full day of work during the week which was kind of lame.  We didn't really have any great lessons or any cool experiences or anything during the week. We did find a couple new families to teach but we'll see if any of them will progress. So it was kind of a boring week. Then we came down to Senahu Monday, but we slept in San Francisco Sunday night. We had pday as usual yesterday, but the internet was down in all of Senahu apparently, so we had to wait until today (cheekuy inmaak= may you (plural) endure/bear my sin) to write emails. Yesterday we played frisbee which was fun and refreshing and then we played Uno a little bit and did our usual divisions with the other elders here in Senahu. Then today we had training all day from 9 until 4 and it was a good zone conference. We watched a lot from the new Preach My Gospel Dvds which are pretty good, and we talked about using the Book of Mormon more and about asking questions and a bunch of other things. I felt very enlightened after the meeting and it was a good conference. We talked about our new mission president President Watts, but all of us already knew thanks to your email mom :) So it was a pretty good conference.

I have been having back pain at night and it wakes me up and then in the morning. Nothing too bad, just kind of annoying I guess. So I went today and talked to Hermana Torres about all of my back problems and everything that happened over the summer and about what the doctors said and everything. So she told me just to have you guys send me exercises for strengthening my lower back and for stretching and stuff like that and told me to ask you to send me maybe a generic back brace to pull my shoulders back. So don't feel like you have to go out and buy it and send it right away cause it's really not a pressing matter or anything. Just when you send me my next package, maybe for my  birthday or something. :) But she said that she had scoliosis  when she was in high school, so she knew what it was like and she said that it wasn't too big or a deal, that I just need to keep working at it on my own. So. That was good. All of the elders where giving me a hard time and saying that I was going to get sent to the cap and a couple people were saying things like "you better be careful elder, you might get transferred to the states". But nothing like that is going to happen.

With changes coming up this next week, all of the elders are talking about everything that's going to happen and all that jazz. It's pretty sure that I will be staying in Yalijux and most people think that Elder Xocop will be leaving Yalijux since he's been there for 4 changes now. So we'll see what happens. I'm not too worried or concerned really, but I just want a companion who I can work really hard with and do our best in Yalijux. So I'm sure all of you moms are all talking about the changes as much, if not more than us, so we'll see what happens haha.

That's too bad about Brandon Davies.  But I'm proud of good old BYU for keeping their standards. It's sad for him, but if there wasn't such a strict honor code he maybe wouldn't be brought to repentance like he is going to have to go through right now. I'm praying for the Lord to bless BYU for sticking to the code and not punishing the team for Davies trangressions.

Alright now for some shoutouts!

Jack- Hey Bud!! Thanks for writing me! I was really excited to get an email from you this week. If you're just now figuring out that Kinzie is a freak, where have you been the past 12 years? (jk kinz ;)) That's cool about your classes. That'd be cool to do the 200 M dash. Weird that you are already signing up for next years classes! That makes me feel weird! That's dumb about the teenagers that did that, but there will always be weird people who just want to be cool. Just ingore them like you did. You're awesome bud. You already sound like you are like...older and smarter man. it's weird. Stop growing up! Make sure you keep those grades up and figure out about that C. Thanks for being an awesome brother. Love you and miss you too!

Dad- haha I know exactly how you feel dad. I inheirited your emotional attachment to sports too I think. But things like that are good to keep us rooted in the things that matter most. Even though BYU basketball will pass away and die, the word of the Lord will never pass away. =P Cool poem dad! I didn't know you could write! That's cool haha. I wish I had talked to you more about your mission and found out more about your experiences. But when I get back we can compare experiences and talk lots more. Thanks for being such an awesome Dad. You've taught me so much and I just really admire you a lot. Mom sent me that picture of my eagle scout haha and all of the missionaries were like "your dad must be a funny guy" and I said, yes he is haha. Thanks for your input on Norma and Ricardo. I'm going to try to use that soon. Thanks for being the best! Love you! (ps haha dang I wish I had been there to see the rancid mess segment)

Mom- well, well, well, you got yourself an iPhone eh? After all that you said about how you wouldn't want to have a phone and the ipod in the same thing. Haha you're funny. I don't know, I think I might want one when I come back...haha but being here has taught me a lot about that kind of stuff. We just have to be so careful that we don't get attached or too dependant on technology and nice things. But you guys are all great and I'm sure you won't ever have any problems :) It made me really happy to hear about your missionary efforts and I know that the Lord will bless you! I encourage you all to try a little harder to be a missionary. We have to show our gratitude to the Lord for the Gospel in our lives by sharing it with other people. If we aren't sharing it, we aren't truly grateful for it. I love how it says in Preach My Gospel that our desires to share the Gospel are based on our understanding of the atonement of Jesus Christ. So if you ever don't feel like sharing or being a missionary, study the atonement a little more. 

As for daily living, it's good. A little dirty sometimes and sometimes kind of rugged, but I like it and I'm happy every day. I think that everyone needs a mom like you and Sister Torres talked to me about how great you are and about how supportive you are. So thanks for being the best mom ever! I love you :)

Well, I love you all and I'm thankful for all you do. Keep doing your best to do the Lord's will and share the gospel. Always try to help the missionaries by giving them referrals. I challenge you as a family to just go with the missionaries to present them to a family in the neighborhood this week. Elder Clark talked about how as missionaries we just want the members to introduce us and present us to people and that after that they can keep trying to teach them. 

Thanks for being such a great family and I love you all tons. Next week we're doing a zone activity Monday so I'm not sure if I'll write Monday or Tuesday. Love you all tons!

Elder Norton