"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, May 23, 2011

We're Being Blessed With A Lot of Success

Heeeeyyy my dear family, extended family, and friends! I hope that you all had a great week this week together in spite of me not being there to make a fool of myself for you all. I hope that none of you got too scared when the tornadoes came (I miss tornado sirens going off this time of year!) Someone pointed out to me in a Guat newspaper about the 20 people injured in Reading, Kansas so I thought that was kind of funny since I never thought I'd read about something like that here in Guat. I'm sure you guys all had a lot of fun together in the mini family reunion that you did, but let me assure you all that for there to be 100% fun, I need to be there! So sometime in the next year and a half we'll have to do something like that again.

This past week was good. It started out a little bit rough because I was a little bit sick for the first half of the week. I ended up having to rest in the house for a little bit because I didn't have very much energy, but other than that it didn't affect the work too much. We didn't have a full week of work because we didn't get back up to Yalijux until around 5 on Wednesday because of the conference. But we tried to use our time well to keep working with Victor's family (family Caal) and a couple of other families that we found that seem like they might progress. One of them is Vicente Xo (pronounced: show) and his son in law, Ramiro who say that they wants to get baptized. They didn't come to church but it's only been a week since we've been teaching them so we're hoping they'll come next week. Then we have María and Antonio Choc who both have a ton of family members that are members of the church and they are also thinking about getting baptized. There's one other family where the little girl called us over to give them a blessing. They didn't come to church either, but we are still going to see if we can get them to come next week. They are Family Coc (I think haha..) All in all, we had all of the kids from the Caal family in church yesterday which was really good. The mom didn't come because of her foot still, but she said next week she'd come for sure. And I think when she comes the dad will want to come too. We also had another investigator in the church who is going to get married to a member in our branch, so we are going to marry them and try to baptize her soon too. It's always really neat to marry and baptize families because that's what this work is all about. So that should be really cool. All in all we're still working hard and giving it our all and we're being blessed a lot with success. This week I'll be here in Senahu with my ZL, Elder Fadel until Friday so it should be a lot of fun. Elder Fadel is a super great guy and is really fun. He is suposedly the "master" of Q'eqchi' so hopefully I'll learn something from him.

Thanks for everyone's emails I really appreciated them all! It's really good to hear from you all and to know that you are all doing well. (I just have to say that I really did shout for joy when I found out that Mimi got a divorce, although I've known that for a while now. But I felt like shouting for joy again!!) I'm sorry I don't have time to write you all something personal today but I promise to write you all a little something in the near future :) Thanks for all being so supportive and for your thoughts and prayers. Love you all.

Dad- Wow, yeah I'd say that's a bit harsh about your "reputation" with the kids in the Stanley ward. I never really noticed any nazi-ism in seminary with you other than the fact that the kids looked like they had sometimes just come out of a concentration camp when they came to seminary. No but seriously, don't worry about it kids are weird like that. Let me assure you that you are not a nazi seminary teacher. You're just not a lame duck who lets the kids do whatever they want and you just do what's right. I'm sure Laman and Lemuel said similar things about Nephi behind his back and pretty assuredly Jesus Christ had a "bad reputation" with a lot of people who didn't like keeping all of the rules and doing what He said. So don't worry about it. You are the best seminary teacher ever because you teach with love and with the Spirit. I would never trade my seminary teacher for anyone else. Love you dad :)

Mom- hey mom I'm sorry but I am running out of time and don't have too much time to write you something. But I'm glad you liked the picture, and I'm sure that you were very excited to be able to watch all of the dangerous weather with your "weather eye to the sky" haha. You've gotten me into it too haha but there's not too many big storms here. Thanks for always thinking about and praying for my investigators. Also, I just needed to ask you about the back brace you were going to send? I forgot to ask you about it, but I'm not sure if you couldn't find one or if you forgot or what. So just let me know next week about that please :) Thanks for being such a wonderful and righteous mother. Love you tons!

Alright, well my time is up. Sorry the email is a little short this week, but I'll hopefully write a little more next week. I love you all and miss you all. This is the Lor'ds work, and I feel so blessed to be working in it.

Love you all!
Elder Norton

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Latest on Elder Norton's Recovery

We received an email from Sister Torres last night.  She said that Jace is improving, getting stronger and eating better.  But he still has a slight fever, so he will be in the hospital until he can go a day without a fever.  His doctor feels that the pneumonia was caused by swallowing contaminated water when he fell into the river.  Thank goodness for antibiotics!!

Thank you for all of your prayers and fasting on Jace's behalf, and for putting his name on the temple prayer rolls.  We know he is anxious to get back to work, and we are anxious to see him well again!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Safe, Sound, and Very Happy

Hello wonderful family and everyone else reading! 

First of all I have to say a little bit about the massacre that took place yesterday here in Peten. I didn't know about it until today when President Torres announced it in the zone conference. All he told us was that there was a massacre, that it was fairly close to one of the areas of missionaries there, and that yes, it was drug related. It is pretty much secret combinations and violence just like in the Book of Mormon with the gadianton robbers. President Torres talked about how violence like that will only increase as the world comes closer to an end and how we just need to live righteously and keep spreading the Gospel to combat the evil in the world. So, that being said, I am very safe here in Yalijux. There is for sure no drug problem at all in Yalijux so no need to worry there, and I'm pretty sure there's nothing much in Senahu either. And even if there was, I feel completely safe in the hands of the Lord doing His work here. So no worries here :)

Alright, well I better start with the events of the week. This week has been a fantastic week. We have worked really really hard this past week and the Lord has really really blessed us. I think I told you this past Sunday that as a zone we were going to start a fast to be able to reach the goal that President Torres had set of having 5 baptismal dates with one family. So my companion and I did our fast and prayed hard, and then went to work. We had one of the hardest weeks of work we've ever had and tried to find as many new investigators as we could. We did a LOT of contacting and we could feel the Lord directing us in everything that we did. We were given the opportunity to give a lot of priesthood blessings this past week (which is cool since it was right around the anniversary of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood) A little girl came running up to us when we were contacting and told us "my mom sent me to find you because someone in our family is really sick and we need you to give them a blessing" (more or less haha.) So we went over and gave a blessing to a little boy who I think had been having a lot of seizures. After that we started teaching them the next day about the restoration of the gospel and the priesthood power. It was a neat experience and they are a really big family so we really hope that they will progress over the next couple of weeks. We also found a couple of families where one of the parents had died, and so we taught them about God's plan for us in this life and the next and taught them about where their loved ones were. And finally, near the end of the week, we taught a family where the son is already a member. We had been teaching them about the Book of Mormon and used it to teach them about the truthfulness of the church and to teach them about baptism. We were able to put baptismal dates with the whole family of 7!! I was so happy I just felt like hugging the dad. They are a really neat family and I really love them a lot. The only problem is that recently the wife fell down and we think she broke her leg. So, that means that they didn't come to church since the wife, Matilde, can't walk. We gave her a blessing and have been back a few times to pray with the family for her recovery. But I know that the Lord blessed us to be able to have the baptismal dates we were supposed to have, so I have full faith that the Lord can help us again to help her recover so that they can get baptized on the 11th of June. Please keep her and the whole family (the family of Victor Manuel) in your prayers especially in these next few weeks. And I know that you all prayed for us as well this week so that we could find people to set baptismal dates with, so I'm really thankful to you all for doing that for me. This week I have felt maybe the most guided by the Lord in the work. It seemed like everywhere we went and all that we did was guided by the Lord. It was a really great feeling and I have the feeling that if we keep up the good work we are going to start seeing a lot of success. That's pretty much what President Torres talked about in my interview with him yesterday. He talked to me about an area in the mission that was supposedly the most dead and hardest area in the whole mission and they were going to close the area. But, the missionaries started working as hard as possible, being obedient, and praying for the spirit. After a few weeks of that they began to baptize in an area that hadn't had baptisms for over 3 years. It was a neat story and I felt really inspired and impressed by the Spirit to keep working hard and being obedient with my companion.

This zone conference was really good. We watched the MTC devotional again by Jeffery R. Holland again and it is incredibly powerful. (mom, if you could please look it up and try to email it to me please :) it was given January 11, 2011 in the MTC) It's such a good talk and very inspiring. President Torres talked a lot about the same kinds of things that he talked to me about it my interview.I learned a lot and felt the spirit a lot. It was weird though because it will be President Torres' last zone conference. We'll see him again in a couple of weeks for our district conference, but it was the last interview I'll have with him. I'm really excited for President Watts though and I feel like he'll just be a great president. Sometimes changes like that can be a big help for the mission. It will be cool to see the transition. So all in all it's been a GREAT week. (I'm pretty sure that talking to you guys pushed me to work so hard too :)) 

Oh, and also I hada great birthday thanks to everyone! The elders in my zone (Elder Larsen) made me a cake that said "hey pich' " so it was fun.

On to the shoutouts:

FIRST AND FOREMOST- CAMILLE! How the heck are you doing!!! I hope that you are doing really well and that you can stand being at my house without me there to provide entertainment for you. I'm mad that you are going to be there so long when I'm not there!! Haha but cool that you can hang out with my family for a while. My mom told me that you told her that you sent me a letter through dear elder, but I haven't gotten it. When did you send it? It might reach me someday, but who knows, letters are hard to come by up here in the mountains a lot of the time! How's school?? I heard that you got some Gassy Scholarship?? All I have to say is tell me how the heck to apply for that cause I think I could definitely qualify!! Haha no but that's awesome. I have been thinking about writing you lately but I haven't had time yet. But maybe soon I'll send you a little gautemalan "hello". But if you ever want to write me just write me on this email and that way I'll for sure get it. I might not be able to respond on email, but that way I can respond later on paper. Well, have fun with my fam and be sure to make 'em all laugh for me. Love ya!

Mom- hello wonderful mother mine! thanks for the email. that's funny that Twoody's mom emails you a lot. She is so awesome I had a really fun time with Twoody's family when I went to visit. We'll have to do a fun vacation in Colorado sometime and go visit them. Be sure to tell her to say "hi" to Elder Twoody for me. (I sent him a letter a long time ago but who knows if it got to him.) Maybe I'll send him a letter again sometime soon. That's also cool about the ward choir song you are doing. I love that song! That will be neat to do at Sam Cockriel's homecoming. Be sure to tell Sam congrats on finishing his mission for me. Love you tons!!! (ps- the last picture is from the mother's day activity that we did and is probably the best I can get for you for your relief society picture. Hope that's ok for you :) Love ya!)

Dad- hey dad, thanks a lot for the email. It's true that it's much harder in normal everyday life to stay focused on what's most important and to keep a good perspective about everything. And I know you guys aren't the most social butterflies out there with neighbors and other things, but I know that the Lord blesses immensely those who always strive to do little missionary acts. They don't always need to be teaching people the gospel with the scriptures and things like that, but with just kindness and being really open about the church. I know that I wasn't very good about doing missionary work before the mission, but I am committing myself to always try to do more missionary work when I get back home. So I appreciate you thinking and praying about it and wanting to do better. I'm glad that you're such a great dad and I know that you'll lead the family to be able to be more "missionary minded". The Lord will bless you SO much as you try to do that more. Love you dad.

Alright, well I've got to go. Keep praying, keep studying the scriptures, and keep listening for the Spirit to help you spread the gospel and be examples of the believers. Love you tons!

Elder Norton

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Can't Wait to Hear All of Your Beautiful Voices

Hey guys!!!

I hope you are all doing well and as excited to talk tonight as I am!!! In light of the fact that I'm going to be calling you guys to talk to you in just a couple of hours I'm not going to write a ton. I'm going to send some pictures and write a little though :)

First of all (I'm going to say it tonight), but HAPPY MOTHERS DAY MOM!! :) You are the best mom ever and I would pretty much be a wreck without all of the things you've taught me and helped me with in my life. I'm really so thankful for such a righteous mother who has been such a good example of steadfastness and faithfulness to me and I want you to know that you are just the best. I hope you had a really nice and relaxing weekend and that you were treated like a queen (but I hope that you always get treated like a queen all year round too!) There's not much I can give you right now, just a phone call :) Love you Mom!

Grandma- Happy mothers day! Thank you for being a wonderful mother to my father (a.k.a. grandma) Thank you for always being so sweet and mindful of me, for putting my name in the temple always, and for being a good example to me of one who is dedicated in temple work. When I come home from my mission I want to do a lot of temple work with you and research a lot more about my ancestors! Thanks for all of your emails always. I think that I always get them but sometimes I forget to say that I get them in my emails home. So sorry, but thanks for always keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. I hope you are doing really well and I'll be sure to talk to you tonight. If we can't figure it out with my dad then I will just have you call me after for a little bit so we can talk. Love you!

Well, the only thing I really thing that I want to write about here is about the upcoming week instead of this past week. We worked hard this past week, I got sick a little bit, but we had overall a pretty good week. But, this upcoming week President Torres and our Zone Leaders have asked us to set a special goal of having 5 baptismal dates and one family that will get baptized. In light of that we are going to start a fast tomorrow to ask for the Lord's help in accomplishing this goal. It won't be an easy goal to accomplish, but with the Lord's help we can do it. We had a really great spiritually uplifting zone meeting today and we talked about this goal and about how we need to work and be like Ammon, Alma, Aaron, and all of the great missionaries in the Book of Mormon. I'm going to try to work as hard as I possibly can this week and be as spiritually in tune as I can be to accomplish this goal and to honor you guys by serving the Lord with all of my heart. Please pray hard for me and for the Lord to grant us 5 baptismal dates this week (or preferrably more) with a family. But like some of the general authorities have said, it's better to pray for your children on missions and then to show your faith by doing a little bit of missionary work yourselves. I know that it's a little awkward or out of place sometimes in normal everyday life when you aren't a missionary, but I know the Lord will bless you. Try to share little bits of information about the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, or invite someone who doesn't go to any church to go to church with you this Sunday, or introduce the missionaries to a family so that someday the missionaries can teach them. I know the Lord will bless our family for doing that and I know that doing little acts of missionary work will bring some of the best feelings you can have. So please just keep that in mind, and I know you guys will be blessed. :)

Also, I got my package today and it's great! You guys read my mind exactly haha because I was thinking just the other day that I should have asked for a pedometer to see how much I walk every day and you guys sent me one, so thanks haha. Hopefully my new exercise equipment will motivate me to work out more so that I can get into better shape haha. Also, thanks for the pictures!

Other than that, nothing too much to report. Before I forget, next week will be interviews and zone conference so I might be writing on Tuesday instead of Monday, but I'm not sure yet. We'll see I guess. But you should all for sure write on Monday just to be sure.

Alright well I can't wait to hear all of your xyaab lee kux jwal ch'ina useb' (beautiful voices)

Elder Norton

My companion, Elder Gutierres.

Elder Gutierres (in his waterproof boots) carrying me across a stream so I wouldn't get my boots (not waterproof) wet.    What a great companion!!!!

A little friend that we found in the church.

Water break!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I've Really Felt the Spirit Strongly This Week

Hey! How is my fantastic family doing this week? I hope you all had a great week and that you are having fun being all together again. I wish I was there with you all! But before you know it I'll be home again, so no need to worry. How's the weather up in Kansas? (li helookil ch'och' = flat land= kansas) I heard from another Elder that there were a bunch of tornadoes or something? He asked me if you guys had said anything about that in your emails since I'm from Kansas and I just told him that stuff like that isn't really news for us anymore haha. The weather here has been pretty good. There have been a few storms in Yalijux but mostly it's been pretty sunny and nice. I had heard this morning that supposedly it was announced that Osama had been killed (It's really funny here because everyone confuses the names Osama and Obama and so people were saying that Obama got killed and others were saying Osama.) It reminds me a lot of Teancum too haha. Unforturnately just like in the story there will probably be someone to take his place like Ammoron. But justice and goodness will always come out on top in the end of things.

THIS PAST WEEK was a really good, and tiring week. It was the first time in a while that we had a full week of work so it felt kind of long, but it was really refreshing to work hard and to have a lot of time to work. We started with all of our plans and our ideas and they proved to help. We're teaching seminary at 5 in the morning twice a week, and priesthood and a writing class once a week each at 7. We didn't have a ton of people show up this past week but I'm hoping more will show up this week. We worked quite a bit with the family of Victoriano which is a very big family. We've been trying to teach them a lot and we've had some success with them. The dad of the whole family, Sebastian, is a really neat guy and really friendly. We have been teaching him a lot and we've had some really spiritual lessons with him. The other day he asked us if it is possible to get baptized twice (most everyone asks that because pastors here tell them that once they've been "baptized" (more like taking a bath...) in their church it's a sin to get baptized again in a different church. ) So we explained to him that it's just like a lock. Only one key can open the lock, but if you put a key in the first time that doesn't work, what's to stop you from putting in the right key to open the lock? We talked to him about how you have to be baptized with someone with authority and with power from God because if you don't, there's no liscense to do it and it's not the right "key". He's going to a different church right now, but he says he wants to come to our church sometime and to pray for him to be able to.

We also found another couple of new familes this week. We're especially trying to work hard with getting references from members of the church about their family members that need the Gospel. I've really felt the Spirit strongly this week and I know that the Lord has begun to bless us for working harder. There's still a lot more to do and we need to improve a lot more, but I know the Lord will keep blessing us as we keep trying our best. In other news, there is currently no water in the church for some reason. We've asked around but nobody seems to know. They just say " it died." So we've had to go and bathe ourselves in the river a few minutes away. It's actually a lot better than showering in the shower at Yalijux because it's not quite as cold! Also, they are going to start building a house for us in Yalijux this month! Woo!! It won't be finished until right after this change so we might not even be here to enjoy it, but it will be nice. they are also going to put a solar panel in the church here (they might be remodeling the church I'm not sure...) so it will be really nice.

In other, other news, I'm going to Coban today! Woo!! Rmemeber how I spiked the football a couple weeks ago and it bounced back and smacked me in the face? Well it broke the nose piece off of my glasses. So I tried to just forget about it but the metal keeps scratching my nose and I started getting a big painful scab on the side of my nose. And since we're not supposed to wear contacts for safety issues (and also as a protection against girls I think....When I don't have my glasses on the girls here say "your face is beautiful" a lot more haha.) we got permission to go to Coban to get them fixed. The thing is I don't know if I'll be able to get them fixed or if I'll just have to get new ones. This is Guatemala so they might just tell me I have to buy new ones. We'll see. I'm also going to stock up on supplies to take back up to Yalijux. I don't know what I'm going to do about money. I never usually get to take anything out up here so I might just take out like...150 now. But that will last me for a really long time. I'm not just going to go spending it all or anything. I just never have any of my own money up here. So I hope that's ok with you guys. If not, well you can tell me next week when you call =P.

So about the CALL! I'm actually not exactly sure what is going to happen to be honest. I'm thinking right now that I want to call on Monday since I'll be in Senahu and everything. I'm pretty sure it will be like last time where I'll get to call you guys and set up the time when I'm going to call, so i might call you guys on..Saturday night when we go up to the mountain to get service. I don't know what time will be best for you guys so I'll talk to you guys on Saturday night to figure that out ok? I can't believe that it's time to call again! It's really weird, but really exciting too. I can't wait to talk to you guys!! It should be good. The service will probably be about the same, maybe a little better. I don't think it will get worse, so don't worry. Alrght well I gotta go. Love you guys tons and I'll talk to you soon!!!!

Elder Norton