"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, July 25, 2011

One Year in the Mission!

K'alen (hello) from beautiful Taktik! Hope that you are all doing well and are enjoying your trip to Utah/ enjoying time in the house alone haha. How's the weather in Utah? Hot? It's pretty much just rainy here in Taktik. Today it's been drizzling pretty much all day. Hope that all of the extended fam out in Utah are good, healthy, and happy.

This week has been a good week- a little hectic, but good. In my district leader's area, they had a baptism yesterday, but since they were both new they didn't even know where their investigator lived that was getting baptized. The other elders had shown me where it was, and since the girl getting baptized spoke Q'eqchi' they had me go with them to show them where she lived and to help get her ready for her baptismal interview. Then they decided that they wanted me to be there to be a translator for the interview the next day. So I had to travel a little bit and we lost a bit of time in our area. And my comp got sick for half of a day. Luckily I didn't get sick at all though. Things are going really well here in Taktik. My companion is good. We get along well and we are working pretty hard. He leaves next change but he's not too baggy (yet). He is 24 years old and is a little more of the quiet type. But once you get to know him he opens up a little and so we are having a good time in Taktik. Taktik is a really beautiful area. I love it because lots of people here wear corte! It's mostly all Poqomchi' here, but there are a lot of people that know Q'eqchi' as well, so I have been talking a lot in Q'eqchi' with some people. We have a lot of different towns that are smaller than Taktik that are part of our area: Puruhla, Tamahu, Pansinik just to name a few. So we have a lot of different areas and a lot of little villages to work in. A lot of the really small villages mostly only speak Poqom, so I'm really trying hard to learn it so that we can work in those areas. We just barely found a bible in Poqomchi' which will help a lot. I am starting to be able to talk a little bit in Poqom, but sometimes it's hard because I am really used to talking in Q'eqchi', so I want to start saying things in Q'eqchi'. But I'm learning a lot. It's pretty hard to learn with the limited resources we have, but looking at all of them together and with the help of some members I'm able to translate a little bit the grammar book for Q'eqchi' that we have as missionaries into Poqom. President Watts say that they are thinking it through in regards to any kind of Poqomchi' program. But I've decided no matter what that I'm going to learn Poqom during my time here and I'm going to try to help the other elders in my district to learn it a little bit so that if the Lord wanted to do any kind of a program that we could start it fairly easily. I just think it would be awesome because there are so many little villages of Poqomchi' that don't know anything about the gospel and I know that we could have a lot of success! So we'll see how it goes. We were supposed to have a baptism this week of that little girl, Kennia, that I told you about last week BUT as it turns out she's only 7 years old according to her papers. The mom says that her papers are wrong, and we believe her, but she doesn't have any kind of proof to say that she really is 8 years old, so as for right now we are just going to have to wait until her birthday in October. I'll most likely still be here, so I can still baptize her maybe haha. IN OTHER NEWS: The family of 6 that I had put a fecha with in Yalijux (Victor Caal and his family) are getting baptized this Saturday!! I am really really excited for them, but I'm also super sad that I won't get to be there to see it. But that's just how it is. I'll watch the replay in heaven I guess haha. I'm just happy they are finally getting baptized.

Some suggestions for you guys at home that I have been thinking about lately: This week I have started writing in my journal every day and I have been writing a specific experience every day that I have had as I have felt and acted on a spiritual impression and the blessings received for doing it. It has really helped me a lot to recognize more easily the Spirit and has helped me to be more in-tune with the Spirit to do what the Lord wants me to do. You should try it! Also, mom and dad, we had a lesson yesterday with a family and something important came up: praying as a couple. We talked about how we need to pray in our families, personally, and also as couples and about how that helps the parents to always have more love and more of the Spirit together. So, will you commit to praying as a couple every day (once you get home)? :)

On to some personal shoutouts.

Dad- haha hump day? Kind of weird, but I get the point. Yeah I definitely have a lot more things to do in this next year. I have to get prepared to be a dad in the next year! Yesterday in Sunday school we talked about responsibilities as fathers and we talked about saving money and having food storage and just a bunch of different things and I just started thinking about what kind of person I need to be in order to real provide for my family and to be a good righteous father. I have a ways to go! But I'm learning so much already and I just want to keep learning and changing so that I'll be ready to get back into the real world. How did you feel when you had a year in the mission? Oh and sorry about the money thing...I ended up without any money somehow because I bought groceries for the week that I got the e-change and then had to buy groceries again here in Taktik so I kind of lost a weeks worth of money. But I needed to take some out of my personal account. I checked the balance thinking that I would take out money at the same time so that it would charge me the same but it said I had no money in my account so I didn't want to take anything out. Eventually I figured out that the ATM just didn't work with telling how much you have and so I had to go back to take out a little bit of money. Yeah sorry though for that. Maybe you could figure out a way so that the bank could send me a blanace report every week or something? And I'll also try not to spend anything. Thanks for everything dad. Love you!

Mom- haha that's awesome that you guys got to go and meet Twoody's family! Loved the picture. I got a letter from Twoody when I was in the hospital so I'm going to try to write him back today. It sounds like you guys will have fun in Utah. Maybe this time you'll have more room to take all of your crafty things home with you haha =P. Haha and that's really funny that you guys are going to go and hang out with Tayler "kaxlan" Larsen and his family. Tell everyone I said Hi! Have fun in Utah and tell Tayler's family "hey" for me. Hey also, things that I need are just shoelaces and socks. My shoelaces broke the other day on a pair of shoes, and somehow I lost almost all of my socks! So that is what I need most. Also I could used another spiral notebook, the scripture marker pencil, and some chocolate covered cinnamon bears ;) Thanks mom! Love you!

Alright, well my time is spent. This week I'll have been out one year in the mission. Thanks for everyone that has supported me this far and to everyone that will keep supporting me for another year. Love you all tons and hope you travel safe and have a fun time there with grandma. Love you guys!

Elder Norton

Monday, July 18, 2011

I Am Learning My Fourth Language Now

Suq na ak'ux taq?? 

Hello to everyone at the close of change 7 in the mission. You know what that means...almost a whole year in the mission. I really can hardly believe it. It's all going to be downhill from here and I already don't feel like I'm going to be ready to go back to the real world. Just having been in the cap for a month i just felt sort of out of place. I feel much more comfortable and normal in little villages and towns. 10 days until the big year mark.

Anyways, this week has been unexpectedly crazy. It started out on Monday when I got a call saying that I had an e-change and had to leave the next day. So I am NO LONGER in the capital! I am now in a place called Taktik. (tack-TEEK) It's the area closest to the Polochik actually, so it's about an hour or an hour and a half from Tukuru. It's a lot bigger than Tukuru but it has kind of the same feeling. The good news is that there are a lot more people here who speak Q'eqchi' than in the capital. The only thing is that Q'eqchi' isn't the language that the people speak normally in the little villages. It's another Mayan language called POQOMCHI'. So I am actually learning my 4th language now. I went and bought the very few books that exist about Poqom and have been studying Poqomchi' everyday since last Wednesday. (k'ahchi'kiin chi tijem i poqomchi' = I am in the process of learning Poqomchi'.) I have to say that I LOVE learning languages haha. I don't know why, but it facisnates me. Poqomchi' is kind of like Q'eqchi' only harder. There are some things that are pretty similar, for example like animals. A lot of of the animals are the same in Poqomchi' (also called Poqom sometimes) but it's really much, much different. Different enough that I don't understand anything in Poqomchi' even though I know Q'eqchi'. The hard thing is that, unlike Q'eqchi', there haven't been missionaries that have learned it really, or I guess I should say that have been called to learn it or anything like they do in Q'eqchi' now. I found out last night that i'll be staying in Taktik for this next change so I'm going to give it everything I've got to learn it and I'm going to talk to President Watts and try to start a Poqomchi' program that would be pretty much like the Q'eqchi' program only smaller. It's just hard to learn because there are really no books or anything that really teach you how to speak. So I'm starting to translate the Q'eqchi' grammar book into Poqomchi' so that we could maybe get something started. President Watts is apparently considering it and I really want him to do it. It would be really an amazing experience (like the elders who first started speaking Q'eqchi'.)  So pray for me please! So many of these Poqom people don't know the gospel yet and I want to try to help bring them to the gospel.

Other than that it has been a good week. My new comp is Elder Escate from Peru. He's pretty cool, just pretty quiet. But we get along well and we are already starting to have success. We are going to baptize a little 8 year old girl whose mom is leaving her with her member sister-in-law to go to the US. So we're going to have that on Wednesday probably. We also have another really pilas couple that are for sure going to get baptized. The only thing left to do is pray over a date to do it! So its pretty exciting!  The branch here is really awesome and I could feel the spirit a lot there yesterday so I'm excited to get to work here.

Well, sorry that this email is going to have to be cut a bit short but I have to write to President Watts and talk about Poqomchi' haha. But I love you all tons and I will write more next week as well as send a couple pictures of my new area here. Love you all tons! Keep choosing the right and praying every day. Don't let a day go by without following a prompting from the Holy Ghost. Love you!

Elder Norton

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Lord Truly Prepared the Way For Us

Hello dear family and friends from rainy Guatemala. It has been raining here pretty much (and by pretty much I mean definitely) raining every single day here in the capital. The nice thing is that in El Fiscal where I'm at, it only looks like it's going to pour and then it never usually rains until the night time. So we haven't been getting too wet. It's also usually pretty hot here, but then again "hot" for everyone here just means a little bit higher than usual haha. Not like Kansas City hot.

Things have been going really, really well. First of all don't worry mom and dad about not writing me last week! I figured that you guys probably had something else going on so I wasn't really too upset. Besides it's the first time that both of you have forgotten so don't worry. :) Besides the time has passed by so quickly since then that it's pretty hard to believe that it's already Monday again. I feel like it's like using the internet two days in a row. So no worries.

This week has been one of those weeks where the plans of the Lord are made pretty obvious as for what we need to do. It started out with going with getting to know a less active and part member family named Familia Castro. The wife, Janet, is a memeber of a long time but the husband, Marcos, still isn't. He really wants to be a member and was going to be baptized but he couldn't because he can't get married with his wife. On Janet's papers it says that she is already married to someone else, even though she has never been married. So it's just a mistake of RENAP (the Guat government way of keeping track of all of the people here) that needs to get fixed, but since we're in Guat, it takes forever. So anyways, we just barely met them last Saturday. They are really pilas even though they haven't come to church in a while. They told us that they wanted us to come over with them again during the week to meet with them and a single mother, Fernanda, who was newer in their little community so that we could teach her with them. So we agreed to come back Tuesday with just the Castro Family and Thursday with the Castro family and with Fernanda. Tuesday morning we called to confirm the appointment (something weird to do for a mountain elder) and she said that they needed us to come over that morning to talk to Fernanda because she was having some problems and needed help. We got ready and left to go and meet with Hmna. Janet and Fernanda. We found out that Fernanda was very poor and that the owner of the house she was renting was kicking her out and that she needed to find a new house, move all of her things, and give the keys to the owner by 8:00 the next day. So we talked to her for a while and found out a little bit more about her story. Her husband left her with 4 kids, 3 below the age of 8, about 2 years ago and went to the US. After that she didn't have any way to support herself and did the only thing she could do which was open a little tortilla shop made out of metal sheets and a couple of posts of wood. She makes 1 quetzal for every 3 tortillas she sells so you can tell that she wasn't making very much at all. She had been getting some living supplies every month or so from a governmental group, but for some reason, right before she got kicked out of her house, they stopped sending her supplies (mainly food.) Everything pretty much ganged up on her all at once and she had nowhere to go. Luckily the Castro family had already had their eye on her and had been watching over her so that when everything happened they were able to take her in and help her out. So anyways, we talked with her and taught her about Job and about how the Lord allowed Job to be tried and tested and that everything happened all at once to him as well. We taught her and promised her that if she would keep turning to the Lord and relying on him that she would be greatly blessed just like Job was. Just thinking about what it would be like to be in her position and how terrible I would feel and looking at her 3 little children tears came to my eyes. I testified to her that the Lord had prepared the way and had sent us in her precise moment of need to be the answer to her prayers and to be a blessing to her from God. I promised her that the Lord would help us to help her to find a house and that we would get everything figured out for her. We left and got to work looking for a house. Not so coincidentally, I had just met another member of the ward recently who lived in some rooms that were for rent. After calling a few members, they refferred us to the rooms where that member lived. So we went and talked to her and were able to find a room at the same price of the place where she had been before. I was just so thankful and felt so blessed that everything had worked out so well with that. I know that the Lord truly prepared the way for us to meet her, to find her a home, to teach her, and I know he will provide the way for us to bring her into His Church. We have some work to do with her (she just recently found a man who wants to marry her and he is pretty well off to say the least. They are currently living together and he is supposedly trying to get an authorized letter of divorcement sent to the ex husband in the US so that he can marry her.) She works pretty much all the time in her little tortilla shop so she didn't come to church yesterday, but next week she says she will. But her new "suitor" came to church with us and liked it a lot and said he would keep coming. So the good news is is that the Lord is already blessing her with a better life. The bad news is that we have to wait for her to get divorced and married now. We are teaching her with members pretty much every time we teach so it's going really well so far. Be sure to keep her in your prayers.

Other than that our other investigators are coming along more slowly. We didn't have any other investigators in church yesterday except for a little 8 year old girl whose parents are converts, but she counts for the missionaries because she wasn't presented in the church. We are trying a lot harder to work with the members more. Luckily we are really blessed to have a GREAT branch mission leader who goes out to work with us for at least a whole day pretty much. He's a great guy. Now we are working on getting a couple of branch missionaries and working with the Branch counsel to get the whole branch involved. President Torres told me that the Lord has big plans for the El Fiscal branch so we're working hard to get the Lord's plans into action.

Today for p-day all we did was go to some fake Mayan ruins. And when I say fake I mean ABSOLUTELY, unmistakeably fake. Really all it was was an old abandoned pool place or something weird like that. But the picture I sent today is from there. Not quite as cool as real ruins but it's the best we've got here haha. 

Dad- hey thanks for the article. I need to print it off and read it. I thought that it was going to be the thing that Elder Larsen and Elder Fadel did. They translated for some videos and stuff and had interviews and got some pictures taken of them and everything. That will probably just be on BYUtv or maybe in the ensign or something. So be on the lookout! I guess the good news about going to California is maybe getting some good sushi? haha I was talking to Elder Asdel today from California about sushi and I told him about how you went to California for work and came back a sushi fanatic. That's cool you are getting ready for another 100 mile ride. Holy cow, I think I'd die though riding in that kind of heat. Do you ride at night? As for next change I really don't know what will happen. In my interview he asked my how my Q'eqchi' was and I told him that I felt really good about it and that I was able to listen to the temple session in Q'eqchi' and understand it and he just wrote some things down haha. I talked to Elder Dilworth from the Polochik after President Watts went up there for conference, and apparently he had said a few things that pretty much made it sound like those who knew Q'eqchi' were going to stay in the Polochik. I wouldn't be too surprised if I stay here another change, and I wouldn't be too surpised if I got sent back up. Part of me wants to stay here (a small part.) I don't like only getting to be in an area for one change because I have already come to love a lot of people here and feel like I could do a lot of good work here. But at the same time I REALLY want to go back up to the Polochik. I just love that area a lot. I really want to go back up to Senahu more than anything. So we'll see. I'll let you know next week if I have a change! Here though, they only tell you that you have a change, they don't tell you what zone you are going to or anything. So we'll see!! Love you dad have a good week!

Mom- Hey mom! don't worry about not writing. It sounds like you guys had a fun time with the 'straulians. Now that you guys know all the rules of rugby you'll have to watch BYU rugby and cheer them on! We're like the best team in the nation! That's awesome you got a letter from Jared! I was just thinking about him and his family and everyone down there. We met this guy that we are teaching named Jose who knows a little bit of English and he reminds me SO much of somebody that we would have known in Dallas and wow it just made me feel a lot of love for him and for everybody down there. I can't WAIT to go back and visit everyone there and be able to speak to them all in Spanish! It's completely different honestly being able to speak to them fully so I want to go back and visit everyone and see how their doing.  Do you think you could sent me the Diaz address and the Gutierrez' address?? I really want to write to both of them. And I think I'll send you guys a letter to give to the D5 ward when you go down. When are you going down there again? And just so you know I am feeling 100% better. I don't have anything wrong with me at all anymore. The cough is even pretty much gone now. I honestly feel totally ready to go back up to the mountains. Don't worry I'll try not to fall again. (although I think I'd be willing to fall 50 times to keep teaching the Q'eqchi' people.) But I love you lots mom and thanks for being so great. I'll think about things that I need. But could you send me maybe some recipes? thanks mom! Love you!

Alright well times up. Until next week!
Elder Norton

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fourth of July and Meeting Pres. and Sister Watts

Happy Independence day to everyone back in the states from Guate! I hope you are all listening to patriotic music and watching cool patriotic movies for me. I think we are going to try and cook something really American tonight. Like hot dogs with real american chips and soda. I wish I could eat some apple pie!! Oh well, I'll just have to wait for a while.

Well, nobody has emailed me yet so hopefully you guys are out celebrating the 4th of July or something fun haha. (We forgot to email him on Monday morning because we are hosting some Australian descendants of Joseph Smith in our home for their reunion in Independence this week.  It was a little crazy, and we were running around and forgot to do it before he emailed us : (  So sad!)    Hopefully you aren't all sitting at home playing on your iphones and ipads =P This week was a pretty good week. Going to the temple was a big spiritual boost for me that I really needed. We had some really neat lessons and ended up putting 2 baptismal dates with two different families. First we put a baptismal date with Hermano Juan Antonio who has been one of our most pilas investigators. He is just a very neat person and he really wants to know the truth. We also put a baptismal date with another lady, Alejandra, whose husband is a less active member. She really was interested about doing the work for her grandma in the temple so we taught her about that and she was excited and then accepted to be baptized. So we were pretty excited about all of that! Then Sunday rolled around and neither of the two families that we had put baptismal dates with came to church. We also went to go and try to bring a family that we have taught a few times to church, but they told us they couldn't come. So that was a little sad. But the good news was that we had another person come to church for the first time that we had just met on Saturday! He lives in a place pretty far away, about 10 minutes in bus, but he found someone to give him a ride and was there early for church! His name is J√≥natan (Johnathan) and he is 15 years old. He really wants to learn English and that was probably his main motivation for coming, but he also really liked church and wanted to come back. So that's pretty cool. We've asked about his family (we haven't met them yet) and all he says is "well...they are very Evangelical."  So we'll see how they are. We are planning to go and meet with them on Friday. So that just shows that sometimes even though we work really hard and things look like they are going to turn out great, sometimes the Lord blesses us in ways we weren't thinking of. At first I kind of felt a little bummed because we had worked hard, had set baptismal dates, and had gone out before church about 20 minutes away to bring a family and none of that really turned out. But the Lord still blessed us for the work we did. So it was good. We are going to keep working with the people that we have baptismal dates with so that they can come to church and keep coming closer to Jesus Christ and towards baptism in His true and living church.

Other than that the week was pretty normal. We are working in a trio again which is a little different, but it's a lot of fun. Elder Mitchell and I were worried that we were going to have to deal with a lot of trouble with Elder Vindel because he had an emergency change and everything, but he's a great guy! He works hard with us, is super nice, and we all get along really, really well. So I'm really happy in my companionship right now. Being with Elder Mitchell is seriously a blast. He's just a lot of fun and is hilarious. He reminds me a LOT of Matt haha. I know I say that everyone reminds me of Matt probably just cause I miss him haha. But Elder Mitchell even looks like him a little bit. He's kind of like a combination of me and Matt together. He is really into computers and games and does programming and all of that stuff. But he's really obedient and likes to work hard. And we get to keep talking in Q'eqchi' a little bit! So I'm having a lot of fun and we are trying to work hard.

OH! Something really awesome that I forgot to talk about was getting to meet President and Sister Watts! They are probably the neatest people ever! We went and had a little meeting with them with just our district, and then we all had interviews with them. We could all just feel how much they loved us and how excited they were to be here and to work with us. President Watts is such a great man. He was so nice and loving and from the very first interview I could just feel his Christlike love for me and for the gospel. We talked about my mission so far and I told him about my recent fall and we talked about that for a while. He asked about my Q'eqchi' and I told him that I felt good about it and about how I was able to listen to the Temple session in Q'eqchi and how much I loved it. So it was cool. Then Sister Watts is just as cool! She is just the sweetest person and she just reminded me a lot of Mom haha. She doesn't hardly know Spanish at all but she is trying harder than I've ever seen anyone try. It's really neat. I'm really really excited to work with them. So please keep them in your prayers as they start!

I think I'm going to buy my camera today, and I'm paying off the rest of my glasses. The glasses ended up being 1200 for everything which is 150 in American money. Which means I will try not to spent much more than 150 on the camera. I want to try and get a more durable one though so that I don't have to get any more cameras before I go home! Elder Mitchell has a really cool Lumix camera that is pretty much "like a tank" and is waterproof as well, but I think it was somewhere around 300. So I'll look for something like that..only half the price.

Alright well I don't think I replied too much to your emails last week so I'll answer a little bit more of your questions:

Dad- haha actually a toe on my left foot was hurting right after it happened, but in the end it was fine. I think in the accidents that I have in life, I either am completely fine and have nothing wrong except for an injured toe, or I get really beat up haha. (He always thinks that he breaks his toes, so Mike was giving him a hard time about it.) California would be fun. I'm sure you probably don't think it's quite as fun since you are always there for business haha. But I can understand Matt wanting to go back and visit. I would go back all the time if it was going to be as close/ easy for me  as it is for Matt! Plus maybe he can look up one of the girls from his old areas and take her out or something =P But don't worry Guatemala will be VERY fun and different I can assure you. And 2013 we'll have to do something simple but somewhere beautiful and fun. South Carolina or Michigan would be awesome for me. I don't know about a cruise. They are pretty expensive! Besides we'd have to go somewhere cold so that there would not be a ton of girls in swimsuits everywhere (the good looking ones scare me just as much as the fat ones haha.) But we'll see I guess. Love you dad, thanks for being so great!

Mom-how did the Jospeh Smith family reunion go? I hope you guys had a fun time doing everything and that it turned out really well. Interestingly enough President and Sister Watts have some really good friends who happen to be the new mission president in our mission (Missouri Independence) and so we talked a little about the reunion and everything and they said they were going to have to talk to the new mission president there and tell them that they have a missionary whose family lives in KCMO and to look out for you guys there. So that's kind of cool. Now that I'm in the capital I can actually cook things! So I want you to send me some recipes if you could just of some good things that are fairly easy please! Including Munchy Crunchy Good Stuff! I love you tons mom, thanks for being awesome!

Alright well my time is up now so I have to go, but I love you all and you are all in my thoughts and prayers. Happy Independence Day!

Elder Norton