"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, February 28, 2012

Hob' Po Chik . . . 5 Months Left


Tomorrow I will be completing 19 months in my mission. That means that I will only have 5 months left...it's such a weird thought to be honest. It's weird to think that Mark and Twoody are even further along than I am and that we will all be home soon. I actually don't like thinking about how much time I have left because I already love my area and the people so much and I wish that I could have more time to be here in the Polochik. But don't get me wrong, I am VERY excited to see you bums too haha.

This week was a good week. We had interviews with President which was really awesome. He told me that he was kind of surprised with the change but that the Lord wanted me back in the Polochik. He asked me why I thought that the Lord had sent me back. I pretty much immediately thought about the promise that I received in my blessing from President Ross about how I would have the opportunity to have people "flock behind me into the waters of baptism." I told president that that's why I felt like the Lord had let me come back. As soon as I said that I felt a very strong confirmation from the Spirit telling me that it was true and I just felt the reassurance that the Lord always keeps His promises when we keep ours. I left the interview with a lot of enthusiasm to keep working hard and changing to be worthy enough to receive such a great blessing. I have complete faith that it will happen if I change and work hard enough to be worthy to receive it. So keep praying for me ok? 

The area here is great. Its a big valley with big mountains on both sides. It's mostly hot and muggy all the time. It's not really a place that has a "center" or anything, it's just a few blocks of houses and then after that the houses are all pretty spread out. Yesterday in church we had an attendance of 162 people which is a good sized number! It's as much as we had in Salama which is a lot. We had 8 investigators in church yesterday. A lot of the time the investigators that come to church here are spouses of members. We have about 5 families that we are working with to "complete" the family (or in other words, baptize the one that's not a member.) It's a great blessing to already have so many people going to church because that's something not too common here in the Polochik. Now we just have to be dilligent and have the faith that the Lord will provide the miracles. This week in your fast I ask that you could especially rembmer: S. H.- his wife and kids got baptized a few months ago and they are SOLID converts. He drinks a lot and hasn't been able to stop. Please ask the Lord to help him to have the desire to stop drinking so that he can get baptized next month. M. A. - his wife is also a member and he also drinks. Plese fast for him that he will be moved enough for the love of his family to stop drinking, get married, and get baptized. Please also remember R. and her two kids (not sure on their names yet.) She came to church with her less active husband yesterday for the first time. Please fast so that she will understand what we teach and that the Spirit will help her have desires to be baptized. Finally, please remember A. He wants to get baptized as well but he can't get married to his wife yet because he has to get divorced with his first wife still. We need a pretty good miralce for him. I really appreciate all that you guys do in praying and fasting for me and my investigators. These people are really special to me and I love them a lot. I want to help them but I need help in calling down Heavenly help from the Lord.

On to some quick personal comments:

Mom- haha don't worry mom I know that you are determined. I talked to President Watts in my interview about it and he said although he normally discourages it (even though he can never and will never say no as you said and he even said it himself), under the circumstances of the choir and Julie coming down and everything that it would probably work out. He said he was going to think more about it and let me know what he thought. If the choir wasn't coming to sing though it would be better to just come back a week later. I think maybe the thing now is what to do about me still being a missionary. I've heard from other missionaries that it's actually possible for my stake president to call me and release me over the phone so that I wouldn't be wandering around with you guys still as a missionary. I wonder if that's what president is thinking about? Because he pretty much told me that it would be fine for the choir and everything. So we'll see, but don't worry :) ok a couple of baggy questions....What have you figured out about rooming/ an aparment at BYU? When do you need to sign up for rooming? and for classes when are signups for fall semester? Ok gotta go, K'A'JO' NAKATINRA AT INNA'!!! (I really love you my mother!)) ps thanks for Twoody's letter!

Dad- haha now that I'm back in the chik I expect you to send me random and funny Q'eqchi' words every once in a while haha. How's work treating you? Hope you're not too stressed out and busy. You'll get more gray hairs before I get home if you are too busy =P That's good that Jack talked to you about that. He's such a good little kid. I could see from the pictures that you and he are developing a really good relationship already. I am definitely in agreement that the four of us men need to do some REALLY fun stuff together when I get home. Dad, you're already one of my best friends and you always will be so I definitely want to make sure that we always have a close relationship. My wife will have to like your silly sense of humor so that we can all hang out together :) Love you dad. You're the best.

Alright guys well my times up so I have to send this out. Love you all tons!!!!

Elder Norton

Monday, February 20, 2012

I'm Back In the Polochik!!!!!

I write you this letter today from a little old place called "La Tinta." Maybe you guys remember this place from my emails that I used to write when I was in Tukuru? My new area is an area called Saqsuha. In other words, I'M BACK IN THE POLOCHIK!!!!

I'm more excited and happy than I think I've ever been in my whole mission up to this point. I've wanted to come back for such a long time now and I've been praying for it and waiting for the Lord to let me come back, and it's finally happened. I couldn't be happier. It wasn't hard at all to get used to the cold showers, the heat, having to walk more and walk up more hills, or eating mostly just tortillas with chili from the members. In fact those are some of the best things. So I'm very happy and I'm ready to work. I'm no longer a ZL which will be nice because it's kind of a load off my back. I'm a DL now of a small district of 4, so it will be a lot more intimate, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to really help and teach the missionaries in my district and learn from them. I'm DL for the neighboring district of the Tukuru district. Both districts meet together here in La Tinta for most things, so it's a lot like being in my first district in Tukuru. It's been pretty nostalgic actually being back in these same places. I have a new Q'eqchi' name which is "laj kokay". It means "firefly". I think it's technically a Poqom word because I've never found it anywhere except in a Poqom diccionary but everyone here understands it as if it were Q'eqchi'. I've also found a few people to speak Poqom with! It's awesome!

My companion is another latino named Elder Escorcia from Nicaragua. He is a cool guy and we get along well. He's starting his 4th change in Saqsuha which is his first area (in other words he was "born" here in the Polochik like I was.) I am only his 3rd comp. This means that he is my first comp that has had less time than me in the mission. Every other comp that I've ever had has had either more time than or the same time as me. So it's kind of different working with him. My area is pretty much pure Q'eqchi' which I LOVE. They speak pretty good Q'eqchi' here and the people are really humble and really great. But most everyone at least understands Spanish for the most part. This is good and bad for my companion who is learning Q'eqchi'. He is still struggling to learn and for the most part understands most things, but still has a hard time expressing himself and teaching. But this change we are going to study hard and I hope to be able to teach him what I can. I don't want to boast at all when I say this, but I feel really blessed that my Q'eqchi' has come back a LOT since day 1 of being here. When I would try to speak Q'eqchi' with some people in Salama or wherever, I felt like my accent was kind of weak, but right now I feel like my accent has completely come back for the most part. There are still some words that I need to remember and refresh myself on and I have a TON left to learn but I feel pretty good about my Q'eqchi'. The people here tell me that my Q'eqchi' is really good, so that makes me feel better about everything. The biggest compliment I've heard so far is that I'm just like "Laj Pek" (Mike Peck who is the linguist in charge of the Q'eqchi' Choir and pretty much a legend here among the missionaries and the people.) They told me that I speak Q'eqchi' like him and that I'm funny like he was. So I took that as a huge compliment haha. But it also could be just that my comp doesn't know very much Q'eqchi' so mine just sounds good. But I know the Lord is blessing me a TON to be able to remember and to keep speaking.

Well, the internet here has been really slow and I wasn't able to upload photos or anything but my area is beautiful. It's a big valley with lots of trees and is a sight to see. I'm so excited to be back and I'm even more excited because I think that this could very well be my last area in the mission which would mean that I'll be still here in Saqsuha as a missionary when the Q'eqchi' Choir comes to sing! That would be awesome to go there and everything. I think the choir is supposedly coming to Sacsuha the 30th or something. As far as I remember it would be the last Monday (last pday) that I'll be in the mission which would be SPECTACULAR! because then I'm sure I could sing with the Q'eqchi' Choir when they come to sing in Sacsuha. But we'll see. Interviews with Pres. Watts are this week so I'll talk to him about it this week and see what he says.

Thanks for sending all of the pictures I LOVED them! You guys are getting so old! Also thanks for the AWESOME package as well!! Although I regret to say that I forgot about the thing you told me that was taped ont he inside of the cookie box and I threw it away....haha just kidding thanks for sending your old ipod with the pictures and the videos. Jack and Kinzie have GREAT voices and can play instrumnets like nobody's business!!! What talented brothers and sister I have!!! You guys look and sound great and I can't wait to see you all in a few short months. Love you all tons!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Elder Norton

Monday, February 13, 2012

Change Week and Happy Birthday Mom!

With my Mom.  
(Please read as "Mr. Darcy")Dearest Mother of Mine,

I write you today to wish you the happiest of days as your birthday was, in fact, last Saturday. How I longed to be at your side, but as you know I find myself in a rather distant land. Nevertheless, I continue to contemplate your state of being in this the week following the celebration of your birth. 

Ok I got tired of that really fast haha. Sounds like you had a fun birthday weekend!! I'm jealous. But don't worry it's the last birthday of yours that I'll ever miss! WOO! I just wanted to take a little bit of time to write you a personal letter to tell you how much I love and appreciate you. I thank my Heavenly Father every day for having given me a mother like you. You really are "hand picked" for me :) We have always been good friends and I don't really ever remember not getting along with you. I have always been thankful for the great relationship that we have had and for all of the fun memories that we have together...throwing half of the popcorn bucket on the ground as we watched "Taken" for the first time in the theatre when I should have been in school...getting addicted to LOST together haha...going to the Renaissance Fair together...singing together while you play the piano...playing Settlers of Catan and Time's Up...watching classic British period movies together...arguing about whether or not "the Sorcerer's Apprentice" was actually based on a scene from Disney's "Fantasia".  I think that I can honestly say that my mom is one of my best friends. :) So thanks for being the fun, loving, caring, mother that you are. I can't thank you enough for all of the AWESOME packages you have sent me too! I wish I could send you a cool package from here in Guate, but my resources are limited (even being the Print Master master haha) All of my comps and everyone that sees the kind of stuff that you send me say "man your mom is AWESOME!" Everyone knows my mom loves me :) So thank you for being such a wonderful mother. 

Most of all I thank you for raising me and teaching me to love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So much of my testimony that I have gained throughout my life is dependent on the firm and steadfast example that you have always given me. If it weren't for you, I for sure wouldn't be where I am today. So thanks for always being there to support me and help me to walk in the light of the Gospel of Christ. The best part is that even though we are getting older and things are changing from what they used to be, "there is no end to love." We'll always be best friends, you'll always be my mom, and we'll always be together for ever! :) Love you mom, thank you for all that you do. Can't wait until your dream of hugging me and jumping up and down comes true! :)

Talk to you soon! 
your son,
who is in Guatemala,
who is wishing you a happy birthday,
who promises that when you get really old and wrinkly that he will take care of you, or at least pay someone to do so,

Elder Norton

Hey guys!!

First off, a shoutout to Abe Lincoln in honor of his birthday last Saturday the 11th of February.  (I don't have the heart to tell him that Abe Lincoln's birthdate is February 12)

AND of course to my dearly beloved mother :) You're more important than Abe mom.  (I am just glad that I am more important to him than Abe Lincoln : )

Well, I don't have much time today because I wrote mom an email and I wrote a letter explaining our desires for you guys to come and pick me up. So sorry that I'll be cutting my letter a little short today. As you all guessed, I have a change. All I know as of right know that I'm not going to the capital. In fact it's pretty certain that I'll be going to Polochik or Coban. In the end I have the feeling that I'll being going to Coban, NOT Polochik. Both of the zone leaders in Coban have a change which means they are going to "whitewash" the area as we say here. So it's actually pretty likely I'll be going to Coban instead of Polochik. But that's assuming that I stay a ZL. Who knows, maybe I'll go down this change or something? I don't know. I'm a little bit sad to leave Salama since I've been here so long. I've come to like Salama a lot. It doesn't really feel like I've been here for 6 months already, but I'm sure that I will miss the dusty, hot roads of Salama. It's especially sad because we just put another baptismal date this week with Ana Garrido and we are very close to putting another baptismal date with Erick and Rosa, and Familia Mejicanos who are a new family that have come to church twice now in a row. The work is expanding FAST here. But I feel blessed to have been a part of it for at least a couple of months and to have gotten to take part in the baptisms of Danilo and Reina. After having done that, I feel that I can leave in peace. 

This week was busy with a lot of traveling. We came back from the cap Monday night, worked normally tuesday, went to San Cristobal for a district meeting Wednesday, had a district meeting here in Salama Thursday, I went and did divisions in San Jeronimo on Thursday, came back Friday, we had a big movie night Friday night and then Saturday and Sunday were normal days of work. I got sort of dehydrated during the week because I had fasted and because we had been traveling a lot. I guess I forgot to drink very much water and I started to feel pretty out of it by Thursday. Then I started drinking a lot more water and felt better.

Other than that there's not a lot to tell! I'm sad to leave Elder Lemus because he's been a great comp. Last night we went to visit Danilo and when we walked in the movie " The Sorcerer's Apprentice" was on and it made me REALLY baggy for about 5 minutes since it made me think of the last few movies that I saw with you guys haha. Things are going great here and I feel great other than the fact that I really hate packing my suitcases. I'll write you all next week to let you know where I'm at. I love you all more than you know!!!!

Talk to you in a week.
Elder Norton

Monday, February 6, 2012

Best Baptisms of My Life!

Hey guys!

Thanks a lot for writing me last night instead of today so that I would have something in my inbox to read. This week is a little crazy because we have concilio but we also have 4 new Mexican elders that are going to be entering tomorrow supposedly, so they had to make today concilio and kill our pday. So I'm not complaining, it just means we have to write early and don't have as much time. 

So, I'm going to get right down to it because I have some important stuff to write!!

This past Saturday we had a marriage and baptismal service. We really worked hard to make it the best and nicest event that we could and the Lord helped us out of course. We worked all day Saturday getting ready. We first went to make programs for the baptismal service and we made them really nice (like the kinds that you get when you go to church in the states haha). We printed all of those out and folded them and got those ready. After that we went to the store and bought white balloons and some decorative ribbons and paper and stuff like that, all white of course. We also had to go and buy an extension cord and an adapter from a music store in the center (I'll explain that later...). We ate lunch and ran over to the church and started decorating. We decorated and inflated balloons and the sister missionaries and a few other sisters from the branch were there helping us as well. Then our branch president came to help us get the tech stuff worked out. We were expecting a lot of people to show up to the baptismal service, so we knew that not everyone would be able to fit into the small room where the baptismal font is. SO, we borrowed a members video camera and hooked it up to the church's closed circuit system, hooked up a projector in the sacrament meeting room, and projected the baptisms onto the big screen there for all to see. (That's why we needed an extension cord and an adapter so that the camera would be able to reach into the baptismal font room.) I have to say that it was honestly a baptismal service better than most services in the states! Our branch president is really awesome so he helped us out a lot with all of that stuff. So, the marriage happened first around 5:15 of Danilo and Reina. We had a judge from the municipality of Salamá come and do the wedding for us (who strangely enough turned out to be the cousin of our branch president and about 5 other members in the branch haha..) We had a lot of members there to support us and it was a really nice little service. 

Right after that we started getting ready for the baptism. In the meantime, we put up "Mormon Messages" in Spanish to keep the crowd from getting bored. We got all changed and everything and started taking pictures. It was really fun but people started to get bored so we had to cut the pictures short and get started. We started the service a little later than 6:15 and it was a really nice and spiritual service. Elder Lemus directed the meeting, I gave a talk about the Holy Ghost, and then we went to the baptismal font. I went down into the water first and baptized the sister's convert, Leticia. She kind of panicked when I put her under the water, partly because of the nerves and the other part was most likely mostly for how COLD the water was. After her, I baptized our convert, Danilo. Baptizing him was the best feeling I've felt in my whole mission. I just thought about the nearly 6 months that I've been working with him and the entire YEAR of investigating that he and his wife had been doing before they could finally get baptized. It was truly a miracle. After baptizing him, I baptized Meici, (AKA- Macy) who is a branch baptism because she is the daughter of members who just turned 8. After that I left and went to a little room where my comp and I had to change. It was awesome because I was able to watch the other baptisms as I changed because we put a tv in our changing room and hooked that up to the closed circuit as well. It was kind of funny though because my comp started baptizing Reina, the wife of Danilo, and I heard on the TV that he didn't say her whole name right. I hurried and zipped up my pants and tucked my shirt in and ran out in my flip-flops to tell him that he had to baptize her again haha. After my companion baptized her, he baptized Marta, our other convert, and 2 other branch baptisms that were 8 year old kids. All in all we baptized 7 children of our Heavenly Father and the Spirit was felt strongly. I've never been happier in my whole life! It is the best feeling in the world to baptize a family and to know that they are going to someday be sealed in the temple and be an eternal family. I hope maybe I can come back for their sealing!! After that we all went back to the main room where Danilo and Reina bore their testimonies and our branch president gave the welcome to all of the recently 

Sunday we spent probably about 30 minutes just in confirming all of the people that got baptized and 2 baby blessings. We were fasting to give thanks to the Lord for the miracles that he was providing for us. Then, another miracle happened when suddenly a family of 3 showed up for the first time at church and said that they had met with the missionaries twice in the capital before moving to Salama. They liked the church and said they were coming back next week. We also had 12 investigators in the marriage and baptismal service and they said they all liked it a lot. We're hoping that they will all have fechas this week and the next. The work is rolling on and filling all of Salama just like it is doing in all of the world. All it takes is faith and trust in the Lord for miracles to happen. Thank you so much for all of your prayers on behalf of our investigators. I really appreciate it and I know that it is partly because of your faith too that we were able to do this. Please keep praying for our other investigators: Bonifacio and his wife, Ana María; Roselia and her 4 kids; Erick and Rosa; and Ana. 

I don't have too much time left to write. I'm not sure if my package came yet or not but I hope so. Sorry to hear that you are sick mom, but I hope you feel better for your BIRTHDAY this Saturday!!!!!!!!
I will write you a personal letter next Monday when I have more time, but just know that I'll be thinking about you and praying for you to have a good day. You're the best mom ever! :) Glad that the Giants won because of my inherited hatred that I have for the Patriots haha. Today I'm going to talk to President about you guys wanting to come and pick me up. Apparently I've heard from some other elders that he's not a big fan of touring and stuff still as a missionary. So we'll have to see what happens. I'll let you know next week. I'll know if I have a change or not by next week. I am COMPLETELY divided about what I want. I really want to stay in Salama because there is still a lot of work to do, but at the same time I REALLY want to go back to Polochik. So whatever the Lord wants will happen. I love you all tons and thank you so much for all you do. Love you!!!!

Elder Norton

Thursday, February 2, 2012

18 Months: The Gospel of Jesus Christ Blesses Families

This is for my brother who loves all things Japanese, my two
uncles who served missions in Japan, and my Aunt Miyuki.

With Elder Dilworth, Elder Nelson, and Elder Lemus.
Hey guys,

Well, the time has come. For me, the last big marker in terms of time (except for the big 24 month marker) is over. This last Saturday I hit 18 months of being a missionary. This is a big milestone for me because it means I have completed now the time of a sister missionary. In other words, if I was a girl I would be coming home in 2 weeks. But, since I am not a girl that means I've got 6 months left. In short: I am no longer a sister missionary, but a REAL MANLY ELDER. 

We've been out 18 months already??????
So anyways, Elder Lemus and I are feeling pretty manly because we both hit 18 months the same day. It's really a weird thought...weird that a year ago I was celebrating my 6 month marker in Tukuru with my companion, Elder Lopez. Pretty much exactly a year ago is when I got sent to Yalijux...I'm kind of hoping that after a year of having entered that I'll get to go back this next change to an area like Yalijux. We'll see what the Lord wants. 

This week was another miraculous week for our investigators Danilo and Reina. We were working to get them married and baptized but unfortunately we needed to go pick up the Central American newspaper where their marriage was published from the capital. Somehow, Reina was able to find the money to go down herself. But, Satan was trying especially hard this week to tear them apart. They got in a fight and ended up pretty much not talking for a few days. They told us that they weren't sure anymore if they were even going to get married. We kept going with them but it was hard to keep the Spirit there. Luckily my companion felt the impression to talk about forgiveness and that calmed things down a bit but they said they still weren't sure. Saturday night we decided we needed to fast again for them so we started fasting after dinner. Sunday we went to their house and brought them to church. We made them sit together in church and then had the investigator's class with our mission leader which (not so coincidetally) happened to be about marriage. Our branch mission leader was really great with them and helped to lighten things up between them and shared with them a lot of good scriptures and experiences. After church they told us they were decided to get married this Friday. But, just to make sure that everything would work out well, we had a movie night with them that night in the church. We watched a movie called "On the Way Home" which is really good because it talks about a family and all of the changes that they made to get ready for baptism and shows the memories of the parents fighting a lot and stuff so it was really motivating for them. They left the church holding hands and happy and we were able to sleep peacefully. Thank you SO much to you guys to for praying for them too. If it weren't for our prayers for them, they might have been overcome by Satan's influence. This week I gained 2 strong testimonies. 1) Satan fights unceasingly against all families everywhere, and exerts ALL of his forces to destroy them. And 2) that God also fights unceasingly with all of His strength FOR families. When we turn to Him and when we base our families and our family life on the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, God blesses us and he becomes our sheild against the devil and his forces. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, when applied and practiced in life BLESSES FAMILIES. I know that with all my heart. Mostly because our family has been so blessed for trying to live together the principles of the Gospel. Thanks for being such an amazing family. We've been focusing a LOT of families lately and I feel kind of like we have the words "marriage counselors" stamped on our foreheads haha. It's a good thing because we get to help people solve their relationship problems but YIKES it makes me kind of scared to get married!  It's surprising how much you learn on a mission about marriage and marriage relationships.

Other interesting/ fun things that happened this week:

Thursday we went up to this mountain to go do service for one of our most promising investigators, Bonifacio. He lives on the side of this small mountain. We went to go cut up broccoli with him and put in in bags. It was fun.

Ok well my computer shut down and cut off what I was writing and I don't have time to write it again. But I'll write more and send more pictures next week. Sorry there's no time for personal comments but I love you all tons! Talk to you next week!

Elder Norton

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