"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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

15 Months

Hey guys! Hope everything is going well at home. Things here have been good and we have seen more miracles of the Lord working together for our good. But, as always, with the miracles come lots of tests and trials of our faith. 

The miracles: First off, we had a really great and spiritual conference with Elder Amado of the Seventy. It was a pretty big struggle getting everything together for the conference because of some landslides that happened. President and Sister Watts and Elder Amado didn't actually end up getting to Coban until Wednesday when we were supposed to have the conference on Tuesday. We had to stay in Coban as well because of the landslides which was a slight inconvenience but worth it. I got to go on divisions with Elder Fadel to an area that is now closed called "Chikojl" which is part of Coban but is PURE Q'eqchi'. It was the best feeling getting to go to an area that is pure Q'eqchi' and speak Q'eqchi' with one of my best friends in the whole mission. Elder Fadel is so much fun and I just wish that he could be my companion. It was also a little bit depressing going there because I really just felt like going back to the Polochik. Anyways, the conference was really great. Elder Amado spoke a lot of inspired words of the Spirit and we received a lot of revelation for things we need to do here in the zone and for me personally.  Also I helped prepare a special musical number with Elder Dixon (who is a DL in my zone right now and I'm SO Happy to see him and hang out with him again!) that we sang for the conference. We sang "Abide With Me: Tis Eventide." and did a little part in Q'eqchi', the rest in Spanish and also had just one little key change that Elder Dixon worked out. It sounded really great and made Sister Watts cry! So it was a job well done for the Elders that sang and for Elder Dixon.  Then, this week we baptized 2 precious souls and children of our Father in Heaven- Gilsa and Nieves. It was a nice little service at 7 at night on Saturday. We weren't able to get it very publicized because we were gone for most of the week with the conference, so we didn't have too many members of the branch show up. But the whole family of Gilsa and Nieves came to the baptism, including Nora, Vidal, Cristian, and Erick who aren't members. That's another miracle. Cristian (their cousin) this week told us that he wanted to get baptized. This was a huge shocker because we had been told that he had already been baptized. We later found out that he had in fact been baptized...in the Catholic Church as a baby. So we are starting to teach him and have a baptismal date with him for the 5th of November. Also Nora, the older sister, and her son Vidal, are great possibilities. She told us that she knew that her baptism wasn't valid because she didn't feel cleansed from her sins and that she wanted to get baptized. Now the only problem is that she goes to a different church and we need to bring her to ours. So, it has really been a miraculous week with everything that happened.

The trials: these really aren't that important in comparison with the miracles we've been seeing. Just a few problems with my companion that will most likely result in him having a change, possibly before the changes come, and some things that have just been wearing down on me and making me feel discouraged. Also the district here in Baja Verapaz has been a little bit...rebellious and it's been really lame. I wish I could be closer to the other district with Elder Dixon!!!

But anyways, I'm doing well and I'm just trying to be who the Lord wants me to be. I'm learning a lot and I'm seeing how the Lord is helping and blessing me. Sorry that I'm not sending pictures today, but my memory is at the house downloading pictures that I have to a disc to send home to you guys this next week. 

Quick shoutouts:

Mom- thanks so much for the email. I really love to hear from you and know that you are doing well. I love you tons and I'm so grateful for you. Keep the posts with the family that is getting baptized. Be sure to go all of you and support them and be good friends to them. Thanks for your love mom! :) 

Dad- hey dad thanks for finding the time to write me. Don't worry that it wasn't much, I'm just glad to hear from you and know you're doing well. Good luck with "defending truth and righteousness" haha. I'm praying for you. Love you dad.

Kinzie and Jack- heard you guys did a good job on Max's performance thing. Wish I had been there to see it but I knew you both did great. I want to hear from you guys soon! Love you both.

Matt- Love you bro, hope you're doing well and hope school's going well. Write me soon.

Grandma- Sorry I never wrote you back but thanks so much for the email and for your prayers. You're the best living Grandmother I've got! :) love you!

Alrighty guys well times up, so I've got to go. Next week I'll probably be in the capital for most of the week for a dentist appointment with my comp and for concilio. I'll write next Monday! Love you all tons!

Elder Norton

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Baptism This Week!

Hey!  I am writing to you all today in San Cristobal after playing an hour and a half of soccer in a little synthetic field. Definitely fun, definitely tiring, and definitely something I needed.  Normally we are down in Salamá for pdays and it is REALLY lame pretty much all of the time because we have sisters in our district there and so they never want to play sports or anything. So we never end up doing anything fun. Ever. So I finally decided I need to make an emergency 2 hour drive here to play with the elders here. It was worth it. 

Well, I hope you guys all had as good a week as I did. I can honestly say that this past week looked a little bit iffy from the start, but it turned out to be a Spirit filled, successful week.  We started off staying in the house pretty much all day Tuesday because we had another elder with us since his companion left. He supposedly had "horrible BU". But from what I saw/ heard it was a very whimpy BU. He wouldn't have made it in Polochik...But anyways that was kind of lame. Wednesday morning we received the changes. After that I told the elder with the whimpy bu to take some pills and man up and we went out on divisions to work. I went to go work with a really cool memeber from our branch, Hermano Armando. He's great and always goes out to work with us in spite of knee problems. Anyways, then Thursday was pretty hectic. We had to take care of the new missionaries that were coming to a couple of areas in the Baja Verapaz district. They "whitewashed" the area of Rabinal as we say here (which means they took out both elders and put in two new elders who have never been there) so we had to go to their area and show them the house and help them to figure out where some of the most important things were. Then after that we came back and got a little work done. Friday we had a zone meeting with all of the missionaries to talk about some things that we discussed in the concilio and to set some goals. We felt impressed to set a kind of different goal. Normally we put numbers of how many families, how many priesthood holders, and how many individuals we want to get baptized. We felt impressed to instead of setting a goal of how many individuals to just set the goal that every area can have a baptismal date with one complete family. We have baptized some here in the zone but most have been just individuals- kids, teenagers and sometimes single adults. So we're going to work really hard to find more FAMILIES because they are the most important. 

A cool story to go along with that: This week I was on divisions with an elder from Tactic in Salamá. We had walked around pretty much all day and had only gotten into one house. (everyone else just let us talk to them at the door.) All of the appointments we had for the night had falled, we were tired, and it was starting to rain. I really didn't know what to do to be honest. I waited for a couple minutes for some kind of Spiritual impression or some kind of "aha moment" to tell me where to go, but nothing came. So I had to think for myself of people that we could possibly visit. After thinking a few minutes I thought about a couple of families that lived back where we had just come from about 15 minutes away. But they were the only people that I thought of, so we went. The first family didn't have time, but I can honestly say that it was really good that we passed by because the dad of the family seemed really appreciative that we cared enough to pass by in the rain at night. After that we went to another man that we taught a couple of times named Mynor. We got to his house and he was actually there and invited us in. With him, he has normally made it seem like he is the only person willing to listen to us in his very Catholic family since we never even went into the house, just sat outside underneath a small "garage" I guess you could call it. He started off by asking us for some advice and personal experiences about how we have been able to endure and keep doing what's right even when we're tired and in spite of our weaknesses. I immediately thought of what had JUST happened. We shared a scripture in Ether 12:27. He liked it so much that he said he was going to get get a pen to mark it. He came out with a pen and his wife which was kind of surprising. He told her that that was why he loved talking to us- because we knew just the right scriptures that he needed to help him. After that I testified of the Spirit and how the Spirit had led me to his house, had led me to share that scripture with him, and how the Spirit was really the biggest part of how we as members of the Church are able to keep going in spite of weaknesses. We ended up teaching a LOT of stuff about the Book of Mormon and about the Restoration and they both were REALLY interested by the end of the lesson. It was great and we now have a new pilas family to teach. So pray for Mynor and Karina. 

This week we have a conference tomorrow and the baptism for Gilsa and Nieves will be Saturday! We're so exctied. AND their sister who is a faithful member, but of a different church, accepted to be baptized last night after a really awesome and spirit filled lesson about the law of chastity and keeping ourselves pure and clean. It has been a miraculous week. I'm really thankful to all of you for your prayers in my behalf. I ask for some special prayers that we will be able to find, teach, and baptize more complete families. Satan is working really hard against the family, so we have to work even harder for the families here. I know that the Lord loves us and wants to bless us if we keep his commandments. This is the Lord's work and it is a work of miracles. This week has been a trying week for me and I want to really thank you for the prayers that you have all said in my behalf to help strengthen me and to overcome my weaknesses and put off the natural man. I love you all tons and I'm sorry to cut this short but time's up. Love you all and I can't wait to hear from you all again next week! 

Elder Norton

Not sure what Elder Contreras is carrying, but it looks heavy!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Staying Put in Salama

Hey guys! How's everything going? Sounds like you are starting to enjoy some nice Fall weather. I wish it was like that here. It's just hot and rainy every day! 

Alright well I guess I'll get right to it since I don't have a ton of time left today. Well, the news about the changes is pretty boring. Both my companion and I will be staying put in Salamá for another change it looks like, so we're buckling down for another change of hard work and are going to try to do better this change than the last change. I'm glad that I get to stay because that means that I'll get to be here for the baptism with Gilsa and Nieves on the 22nd of October so that's good. We're hopefully going to help some other families out and try to find some new possibilities here in Salamá. I still have things to learn from my companion and from the people in Salamá so I'm excited to learn more from the Lord. In our zone there are a few people that are going to the capital, but not too many, so it won't be too stressful to send them all out and get things taken care of for the changes. 

This week was a pretty busy week. Tuesday we had the concilio (zl conference) which was really good as usual. I received a lot of personal revelation and learned a lot from President Watts. He's just so great and spiritual. I really love him a lot. I didn't have the chance to take any pictures (sorry) because my camera was out of batteries when I went to the cap. My suit didn't get finished which is kind of lame, but we're going back down to the cap on the 24th cause my comp has to get his wisdom teeth taken out (definitely taking videos!) so maybe it will be ready by then. Anyways after concilio we came back and had a couple of mostly normal days of work. Then, Friday we headed out for Tactic to do divisions with the elders there for a baptismal interview and then our plan was for me to come back to Tactic Saturday to be able to see the baptism of the kids that I had put baptismal dates with. But right after I had got on the bus with the elder from Tactic that I was going to do divisions with, the assistants called and said that I couldn't do divisions right then, that I needed to go back and get my comp, go back to Salamá, find another elder from a different district, and come down to Guate with him that next day for an emergency interview with President Watts. I was a little nervous at first about why I needed to go to Guate  but then they said it was an emergency interview with the other elder that I had to go with. So anyways, Friday we spent the whole day looking for this elder because he was doing baptismal interviews close to our area. Once we found him we told him that he needed to go back to his area and get his stuff to go to Guate the next day and my comp did the baptismal interviews. So we didn't get ANY work done pretty much on Friday. Then I made the 3 and a half hour trip to Guate to wait for a couple of hours and then have the interview for a few minutes and then take the bus back to Salama. It was pretty tiring I have to admit. So, after the concilio and all the drama of the emergency interview, the week was pretty lame for work. But we still tried to do our best and work hard throughout the week. 

So anyways that's what has been going on here. Now for some comments about what's been going on there:

Dad- I'm really thankful for Grandpa Jack too. I've read his journal entry that you guys sent me a few times while I've been out here on the mission. I really admire him a lot too for his courage to just change his life for his family. He really is a man that has a lot of faith and I am really thankful for his legacy that he's left us too. The world really needs more people like him, that just want to do what's right so that their families can be happy and have what's most important. Those are the people that make the biggest impact on the world in the end, even more than the most influential or powerful people that have lived on the earth. I'm thankful to have been born into that legacy and also with Grandma Cawley's legacy as well. I can definitely see how blessed I've been by the Lord in having everything prepared for me to be born into such a great family. hahaha I laughed pretty hard about your "fabricated story". Don't worry you didn't fool me haha. Love you dad, thanks for your uplifting email.

Mom- hey there mother dear! yes..I did want to go back to the Polochik REALLY badly. But it's not about what I want. So maybe someday, but I'll just try and do whatever the Lord wants. Thanks for the updates about the investigator family that has been coming to church. It makes me really excited to hear about them! They sound awesome. It's so cool to see the Lord working in the lives of other people. What a huge blessing for the members in the ward and for the missionaries. (there are missionaries in the ward right?) I'll pray for them for sure too! I'm glad you're keeping yourself busy so that time will go by faster. I'm getting to the point right now when time is going by WAY too fast and I'm trying to slow things down just a little bit because I have so much to do before I go home still! But santa vaca Christmas is next change! weird. Speaking of that, the only thing that I guess I would need are a few nicer ties. I don't really have too many actually nice ties. They are all pretty ugly since those are the only ones I can afford here. The nicer ones are expensive! So just that :) I'll let you know if I think of something else. Love you mom!

Alrighty, well time is up, so sorry this is a little shorter than usual. Love you all tons. Thanks for writing and for uplifting me with your love and support. I rely on these letters every week more than you guys know. Love you all tons! Talk to you next week!

Elder Norton

Monday, October 3, 2011

Last Week of the Change!

Hello! I'm feeling great to be writing you guys after an AWESOME conference. I felt my testimony being strengthened and growing as I listened to and felt the Spirit of all that spoke.

Some impressions that I felt- I need to be aware of the path up the mountain that I still have to climb, but I should always look down to see how far I've already come which will give me the strength to keep going. (I don't have my notes with me so I don't know who gave that talk..) I also learned a lot about personal revelation from Sister Thompson which is something that I really needed to learn. I loved President Eyring's talk about being converted as well. Elder Callister's talk was great because I've used the "dot and line" example a lot here in the mission. But most of all I loved President Monson's talks about prayer and listening and following the Spirit. I loved the simple examples that he used, especially about when he felt to call on the brother to speak that wasn't even in the meeting. I really want to develop that kind of relationship and trust with the Spirit of the Lord so that even when it's illogical, even when I don't see how it would even work, that I can just have the faith to follow without hesitation and trust in the Lord. I felt a lot of inspiration about our indentity as children of our Heavenly Father and how strong our relationship can be with him through prayer and scripture study. 

So now, I need to keep reviewing and studying what I learned and felt during the conference and need to start applying it into my missionary work and into my life. I was praying for all of you during the conference so that you would all receive the messages that God had for each of you. I kept thinking about all of you during the talks that could help each of you out and prayed that you would learn from the Spirit. I know that the Lord helped to answer that prayer and I'm thankful that I have a family that puts so much importance on the words of the prophets. I just love you guys! 

Well, this week has been BUSY. Definitely the busiest of the mish so far. It started out with a division that we started Tuesday. I went to a place called Val Paraíso which is in the same district as Tactic and is about 5 minutes away from there. It is PURE poqomchi' there so it kind of made me jealous that I never got to serve there to learn the language. But I was really surprised how much I learned/ rememberd from Poqomchi. All of the people were all surprised when I could carry on little conversations with them. The elders there have to have a translator with them when they go to certain areas because they don't speak spanish. So I really liked it a lot. But it made me think about the Polochik which made me homesick for the mountains of Yalijux. Anyways, we ended on Wednesday and I went back to Salama. We had to plan Wednesday for some presentations that we had to do during two district conferences that President Watts and the assistants came to. Thursday we had a conference from 11:30 until around 4:30 and only had the chance to get one lesson in that night. Friday we had the other conference from 9:30 until around..3:00 but then we all went to go eat lunch and didn't end up getting back to the house until around 4:30. Then we had the conference all weekend long. So we didn't actually work all that much in terms of teaching lessons. BUT, we were able to get the two girls, Gilsa and Nieve, that we had baptismal dates with before, to go to the conference on Saturday and Sunday! And because of that we were able to put another baptismal date with them for the 22nd. We also had another girl come to the conference who is a friend of Leticia who we baptized a few weeks ago. So that was cool. Her friend is cool and has some good questions, but she scares me sometimes...She told me the other day to tell her when I finished my mission...and that she liked the way I talked...but I have on the armor of God so that her fiery darts won't pierce me. (we watched that seminary video like twice in the past couple of weeks haha.) Anyways, it has been a busy week. And tomorrow we're going to Guate for the zone leader conference with President Watts. I'm excited for the conference and the food, but not for the travel and the time. I was supposed to have my suit ready for today, but I didn't pay any down payment so when I called him today he says he won't finish until I give him some money. (even though he told me it would be fine if I just paid him all at once today..that's Guat for you.) So hopefully soon. But I was meaning to tell you guys- dad, you told me that you saw that I took out the money for the suit, but I still hadn't taken anything out at that point. Today I took out the money for the suit. So I don't know what that's about. Hopefully no one's stealing from my account...

Anyways, I'm glad you guys all had a good week and weekend. Now for some personal comments:

Mom- hahaha loved all of the pictures. Thanks for keeping me close to your heart...or at least an image of me. The pictures were kind of dark though. Are they pictures from your iphone? or maybe your ipad? Speaking of technology I really liked Elder Bednar's talk about family history work. It made me want to start doing family history work! I also thought about how my patriarchal blessing says some stuff about that. So get some stuff prepared for me so that when I get home I can get started! I was really excited to hear about the new Provo Temple too! I was completely surprised as well since I sang it the Provo Tabernacle a couple years ago and I would never have thought that it could ever be a temple or anything. But cool because now there are 2 temples to go to for us BYU students! Speaking of temples I'm excited for the KC temple! I wish I could be there for the dedication. I'm praying for some kind of delay... :) Thanks for all you do and for your prayers for me. I pray for you and love you more than you can know!

Dad- hey dad! glad you enjoyed your birthday week long reign. I was thinking about you on Friday especially and praying for you to have a good day. But man, conference is probably the best gift ever for your birthday weekend! Did you like the priesthood session? I really liked Elder Holland's talk and a lot of others too. I hope Jack paid attention to some of the things said! I miss priesthood session with you. Looking back on things, I wish I hadn't been so stupid in choosing a dance over going to priesthood session with you! But, there will be many more priesthood sessions together with all of us kids and you to come. I was especially thinking about you when Sister Dalton spoke. It also made me think about me being a dad someday. Yikes! Although after the conference I got to thinking about out of all the girls that I know at this point in my life. Out of all of the girls that I know right now, I'm convinced that the only one I could actually see myself marry, the one who would be the best wife spiritually and who I would be happy with..would be ...(Not to be revealed on this blog : ) BUT, don't get me wrong.  There are a lot of girls that I still have to meet and date.  Any new insights about the old testament? I want to start finding the jewels of truth that Elder Scott talked about in his talk! Love you dad and I'm praying for you. (ps- a mission would be awesome! but always be prepared for the unexpected...like being a mission president! I was thinking about how you would be a great mission president with mom! :) love ya )  (Mike and I laughed at this comment!)

Alright times up! Love you guys all tons and can't wait to hear from ALL of you again next week :) Love you all tons!

Elder Norton