"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

Friday, March 30, 2012

I Love Q'eqchi!

Hey guys!

Well, another change has passed by with nothing really too exciting happening. My companion and I are both staying in Saqsuha' which means probably a couple of things: first off, my companion will have 7 and a half months of being here in Saqsuha'. Secondly, I feel like I'll probably train to finish my mission my last 2 changes (the training program now in the mission is 2 months) I'm excited for that because I have experienced what it is like to be trained by someone that's going home in the Polochik. So I feel like I could hopefully help a missionary out a ton by training. So those are my thoughts. Other than that only a couple other elders had changes. Things are staying pretty much the same. Elder Ware and Elder Rodríguez, the other two elders in the district, (GREAT missionaries. Elder Ware is already one of my best friends in the mish) don't have changes either. It will be good because we are starting to get really close as a district and it's a lot of fun (as seen in the pancake picture). 

Other than that this week passed by pretty normally. We are still working with our investigators and right now we have 5 poeple that we are going to baptize in 2 weeks ad 1 couple that we are going to get married. They are Alicia, who is getting married to her husband, Oscar; Irma, Ana, and Sergio who are the kids of Domingo; and Edgar who is the child of some a less active family. Pray for them please!

Apart from them we still have Juana and her broken-legged husband, Oscar. We are working a lot with them and we are really gaining Oscar's trust. I think that they will get married soon. They just have some slight financial problems that they need to work out. A lot of people are telling him that it would be really "ugly" to get married with a big cast on his leg but I told him that he just needs to do it now and worry about keeping the commandments and not anything else.

We also found another couple that aren't married where the wife isn't a member. They were under the impression that maybe she could just get baptized without having to get married first so we had to explain that to them. The Q'eqchi' culture is a little bit (better put: a LOT a bit) messed up in terms of marriage. There's no real dating here, it's just a matter of finding someone you like and then the girl moves in with the guy and his family. Then they don't want to get married until they really get to know each other after a couple of years or so. After doing that, geting enough money to have your own house, THEN you get married. So we're trying to change that couple by couple just promising blessings of the Lord for obeying the commandments. The branch here is changing a lot and it's a lot of fun for me to get to work with all of the members. This last Sunday I taught the Sunday School lesson about keeping the Sabbath day holy and it was great because everyone understood everything I was saying. One of the most gratifying feelings is being able to really explain to people principles and commandments of the Gospel and have them understand you completely. I LOVE Q'EQCHI'.

Alright well I don't have too much time left so I better move on to some shoutouts:

McKinzie:  Hey! You little freaker neener!! I'm glad to hear that you are bailing out of BVN. I think I would have done the same...So you are going to BVH as of right now or as of next semester? That's so cool that you made chambers at BVH!!! I didn't have any doubts though :) Me and the other 3 elders in my district were just watching your video today of your voice recital and we were talking about how great you are. Elder Ware says you definitely have a country voice. So they dance a lot too at the BVH chamber choir? I'm totally jealous that you get to go to NYC and Disneyworld!! LUCKY! (Napoleon Dynamite voice.)  Well you are a super star for sure Kinzers. Congrats and don't get too cozy dancing with Paul and Parker.......haha jk. Seriously!  But if you have to dance with someone it had better be them and not some Cananite. haha. Love you!!!!

Jack- So if I get this straight, you are going to Prarie Star NEXT year right? Sounds cool bro. You'll do great anywhere you go. Sounds like dancing for the Cultural Event is a joy haha. Just bear with patience your afflictions and you'll be blessed some day when you get back from your mission. ;) Let me know everything else that's going on up there. Love you!

Dad- OK. 2 thumbs up on the schedule. Just one thing: I do want to challenge myself a little bit too. I'm interested in taking possibly a history class. I would like to take either a Mayan history class or a Middle Eastern history class if possible. Also pilates sounds...interesting haha. I am interested in working on posture and looking more educated...more white, but pilates wasn't exactly what I was thinking of. But we'll see. I'll go and if I don't want to do it I can drop it in the end. That's cool you get to be a host for the temple open house!! You're the man dad!! That should be a great experience. I'm really excited to see the temple and I'm even more excited to do family history work there and possibly get married there someday (gulp). Well, next Monday it would probably be nice if we could send a few emails back and forth to finalize my schedule. So I'll email you as soon as I get on the computer and you can let me know what things look like. Thanks for everything dad!

Mom- haha I'll hold you to that! I need to eat all of the Kolaches and McGriddles I can. And Chipotle burritos :) We will definitely make good use of the month that I'm home before going back out to BYU. Too bad I missed out on the parties! You know how I love you beat you all in "Times Up" with dad (the dynamic duo who do NOT cheat :) ) What does Julie have to say about the Q'eqchi' Choir? Any more interesting news? Also, you never know mom, I might find my pilates wife there. That's why I'm going to keep it at least for a few days to see if there are any candidates there. =P Thanks for writing and for all of your prayers for my investigators. I always tell my investigators that there is a family praying for them in Kansas. It really means a lot. Have a good conference week!!!! Love you!! :)

Alright, well time's up for now but I'll write you all again next week! Nekexinra!

Elder Norton

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Spirit of God Like A Fire is Burning!

With my buddy, Elder Ware.

Dear family,

Hope you are all in high spirits and rejuvinated after a nice, peaceful spring break. I write you today from Coban where we are having a small p-day activity. All we did basically was come here for breakfast, to buy some things that we need and to print some photos. Was it worth waking up at 2 am to get on a cramped bus and drive 3 and a half hours to get here? 2 delicious McGriddles tell me, definitely yes!

This week has been a pretty good week. We've seen some answers to our prayers and some disappointments as well. But things are for the most part working out for all of our investigators. Oscar, the husband of Juana, one of our investigators that is determined to be baptized, fell this past week and broke his leg in the capital. He came back home near the end of the week. We think that the Lord is providing the way for him to have his heart softened so that he and his wife can get married in April and so that she can get baptized. Please pray for Oscar so that he will decided to get married, giant leg-cast and all. So that was the answer to our prayers. The disappointment was that Miguel, our other investigator that we are planning on helping to get married and baptized, got drunk this past week and we went to his house every other day (he's only home every other day for his work) but didn't find him even once there. We talked to his future wife a little bit and she told us that he's got some friends and family members that are giving him bad advice and that he says that when he's ready to get married that he will tell us. So we're a little worried about him. Please especially remember him in your prayers. But he at least came to church yesterday. He told me that he wants me to give him a tie for him to wear to church. I told him that at his baptism I'd give him two. 

Other than that things are progressing along nicely with the rest of our investigators that have baptismal dates. Alicia is AWESOME and super faithful. She is finding out for herself every day more that this is really the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. She reads the Book of Mormon and she is praying and says that she feels in her heart that it is true and that she needs to get baptized. Now we are just getting everything figured out with the marriage and the baptism. We decided to move all of our baptismal dates back a week so that we won't have any problems getting our investigators confirmed because of the General Conference that will be the 31st of March and the 1st of April. (SO excited for General Conference. Kind of nervous though because I just know that almost all of the talks are going to be about marriage...) (haha just kidding. I'm excited for all of the counsel that I'll get about coming home and staying true to the faith.) The children of Domingo and Rosa are also all on track as well to get baptized the 7th. It's just too bad that Rosa is about to have her baby now too or esle she could get baptized right now too. Oh well, she'll just have to wait until May probably. Things are going well. The mission is really changing a lot right now, starting with the Polochik. We are leading the mission right now. We have 40 baptismal dates right now as a zone and that's after having just baptized 20 last week. "The Spirit of God like a fire is burning..." Things are going great with everything- the people, the comp, the language, the area. I'm loving everything. I'm feeling a lot like Elder Woodward after reading his letter. I'm to the point where I don't like telling people that I'm going home soon. I'd rather not think about it for now. Leaving behind such a wonderful, crazy, unique, silly, fun culture and people that I have come to be a part of will be probably one of the hardest things I've ever done. AH!

Ok anyways. Here's some shoutouts for y'all.

Dad- alright dad here are my thoughts: first of all about classes. I'm definitely down with taking Spanish with Twoody and that will be just perfect. In fact any other classes that he is thinking about taking as well would be nice to be able to take together if possible. I received I think what you could call a revelation this week that I want to study Hebrew. I'm decided about it. I think that it would be awesome to be able to understand more the scriptures and understand the Jewish culture more since it is a pretty predominant culture and religion where we live. So I really want to do that. As for the schedule of things, I think it would be best to have them all earlier in the morning to get them all done with. I would like to work it out so that I can have a work schedule as well at the MTC possibly or at any other place. Other classes that I would like to take: I think I told you my last email more or less what I think I should take...possibly some kind of fitness class to help with posture or balance things like that. I've heard that those classes exist at least. As for what you said about "becoming Guatemalan" yeah I think that materialism and technology have part to do with how my perspective has changed a little bit. I'm not really exactly sure how to explain it I guess. All of this time being without any sort of technology or cell phones or computers has helped me to just detach myself a little bit so that I'm not really as into it anymore. I feel like now I'm more down to earth I guess you could say. That's just how the Q'eqchi' people are. Down to earth. They don't need anything fancy to be happy. In fact, as soon as a lot of technology and stuff are introduced into their lives, their is a definite change in most of them. I'm not sure how to explain it really. It will probably be better to explain to you over the phone I guess. But I just have the feeling that I just want to kind of keep myself detached from everything for a while. It's just more fun that way. Technology is cool but there are a lot better things. Thanks for everyhing dad. Try to give me a rough outline of a schedule next week would you? Love you! ps- I'm excited for the time we'll get to hang out together and I'm really looking forward to it as well. I feel like our relationship will get even closer as we try to spend more time together doing fun things and talking about life and experiences. Love you!

Mom- sorry mom my time is running short but I think that for the most part the places that we would go to see wouldn't be very long visits. My areas would mostly just be pass through and make short visits. haha well mom just make sure that you remember that iFamily will never exist. I know you guys know that but it's easy sometimes to get caught up in the "coolness" of technology. Don't worry though I'll make you put that iPad down when I get back :) Love you Mom!

Alright, well times up guys. Love you all tons. Can't wait to hear from you all next week!!

Elder Norton

PS- Jack- thanks a lot for the drawing haha :) miss you too buddy. I can't wait to see you again soon!! Love you!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Lord is Blessing Us

Hey guys!!

Hope you all enjoy the nice weather during spring break back in the good old, blessed land of America. The weather here hasn't been too bad, just pretty rainy. When it's not rainy it's just hot. I don't get burned too bad for the most part though. 

Ok, well I don't have much time because the internet here is kind of lame but I'll give you a few quick updates:

This week we put 3 more baptismal dates with 3 kids of a member that had been inactive for a while and just started coming back to church. His wife is planning on getting baptized as well but she is about to give birth so she wants to wait until after the 40 days of rest (Q'eqchi' tradition...) after giving birth to get married and baptized. 

One of our fechas, Alicia lives about an hour away pretty much all up the side of a mountain. The first time I went there I thought I might die. But now we go up there 3 or 4 times a week to visit her and my legs are getting to be so strong, they are turning into "molten lava" (haha love you dad.) It's beautiful where she lives. I sent you a picture of us with her and a couple others. Hope you enjoy them. The Lord is blessing us a TON with all of the work we are doing. In fact the zone is having quite a surge right now with baptisms. Saturday the zone baptized 20 (11 in one single area.) and every area in the zone has fechas except for one area. It's really exciting and it only makes sense since we have really great zone leaders right now (Elder Dillworth and Elder Snow- both from my group.) Today we got together with our ZLs since we live fairly close and we played Monopoly on my nice new set. It was fun even though I lost haha. If it had been Settlers of Catan I would have won for sure (That is a threat for when I get home.) =P 

This Saturday we are having a big movie night here which will be fun I think. The 31st is when we are planning on having the 7 baptisms and 3 marriages. The three new kids that have a baptismal date are Irma, Ana, and Sergio. Please pray for them too and for their mom!!!

On to the baggy stuff.

Mom- sounds good about the car idea. I don't think I'm going to be using the car very much. I am going to probably try and use my bike a lot. (When I get back to BYU I'm going to live a pure Q'eqchi' lifestyle haha) But yeah it sounds good to me. As far as places I want to visit: (In order from shortest distance from the cap to longest distance) Salama, Tactic, Coban, Tukuru, Sacsuha, Senahu, Yalijux, Tikal, Flores. That's it for right now for sure. As for transportation. Any other place except for the Polochik transportation will be a very minimal problem I think. Actually in the Polochik it will be a little tougher. I'd like to go and visit Yalijux and maybe show you guys where I fell in the tube haha, but it would maybe be a little tough to get up there. It would probably be best to hire someone to take us around places for the most part. Ther other thing is, I don't know if you guys would want to drive to Flores or fly in on little airplanes. It's like 30-45 minutes in a plane and about 9 hours from the cap in a bus. So that's something to decide. Other than that the plans sound good to me. Love you mom!!

Dad- hey dad! Sounds cool about the iPads. haha I remember that I laughed when I read your Q'eqchi' name but there was one word that didn't make sense to me. You'll have to tell me exactly what it's supposed to mean. Sounds like you are still working hard. I pray for you a lot so that you'll have the energy and Spirit neccessary to keep doing what you need to. I have been thinking a little more about classes. Here are some ideas and things I would like you to look into for me: Spanish 391, New Testament with Todd Parker, Linguistics major- what are the requirements and the deets on the major?, Mandarin, Hebrew, Portugese, Italian (I'm leaning more towards Mandarin for sure and one other I think. Hebrew is another possible one but I'm not exactly sure how much it would serve me in the future. But I think maybe I woud like to take it. Portugese and Italian would just be easy since they are VERY similar to Spanish.) Marriage prep class? Not sure if that's cheesy, but what the heck. Piano class? Nueroscience 201 (I think that's the name. it's the first class of the major.) An easier English class would probably be necessary I think. And look into Mayan history/ anything that has to do with Mayan. I heard there are classes for K'iche' at BYU so look into that for me as well would you? Let me know what you think about these classes. Thanks dad, Love you!!

Alright My time is spent. Love you all tons and I'll write you more next week. Love you!

Elder Norton

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

More Miracles

Hey guys!!

This week was fantastic. One of the best weeks of work of my whole mission. We saw a lot of miracles and worked really hard this week. Last Sunday we found out that there was a new investigator in church that is the girlfriend of a member. (Among the Q'eqchi', it's pretty much just: flirt, find out you like each other, move in the live with the man.) So I say girlfriend because they're not married yet, but really it's pretty much his wife. We set up an appointment with them this last Friday and went to go and meet her and see how she felt about the church. We made the hour long walk (and we walked pretty darn fast) up the mountainside, which was exhausting for me since I haven't been walking in mountains for pretty much 8 months or so now. But we got there and she asked us if she could get baptized. We, of course, said yes and made plans to visit her 3 or 4 other times during this week, even though she lives a wee bit far away. We visited her again yesterday and started teaching her with the family of her husband about the gospel. The husband's family are REALLY faithful members. They come every Sunday even though they live so far away and they are always happy. They were really happy that we started visiting them since no one really visited them before. So we put our first baptismal date with her and we were very blessed by the Lord to find her. 

After that we went with our investigator, Juana, who is also the wife of a member of the church. (they aren't married either) Her husband says he doesn't want to get married yet...But we went to go talk with Juana about baptism and marriage. Her answer pretty much knocked me off my feet. She told us that she had had a dream that two missionaries gave her a book and told her to read it (not so coincidentally we gave her a new Q'eqchi' triple the visit before) She told us that she had felt in her heart that this was God's church and that she wanted to be baptized and that this was the church where she knew that she needed to work all of her life. We called her husband (who works in the Cap and was supposedly going to be home that day to talk with us but didn't end up coming) and asked him if he wanted to get married. He told us that he still didn't want to. We were all pretty let down by his answer. But then Juana told us "I'm going to fast tomorrow so that I can get baptized". This was a big deal because we had talked to her a couple of days before about doing a fast and she said that she didn't want to because she had never done one before and didn't know how. We fasted with her Saturday and Sunday so that the Lord would soften her husband's heart so that they could get married and she could get baptized the 31st. Please especially pray for her and her husband will you?  Apart from her we put a baptismal and marriage date with Miguel , also for the 31st. He is really funny and I really love him and want to help him. He comes to church every Sunday that he isn't working and really loves his family so we are teaching him about how to be a forever family. We were able to teach a great lesson about how he has to choose to have an eternal family and that he has to choose to stop drinking and smoking and it touched his heart. Please also pray for him because we have a lot of work to do before he can get baptized the 31st. Finally, we put a baptismal date with a 10 year old boy named Edgar whose parents are a little bit less active but have been coming back to church now.

In the end, right now we have 4 baptismal dates with 3 families that will be completed. We have another family that we would put a baptismal date with, but the mom is right about to have a baby and she is the one who needs to get baptized. Due to the tradition here of not leaving the house for 40 days after giving birth, she will have to wait to get baptized until April or May. Hopefully I'll still be here!! The members here have started leaving with us to go and teach families, they have started holding family home evenings with other less active members and making visits to the sick and the needy in the branch. They are doing all of this on their own initiative and we feel like the whole area here is reviving. The church attendance rose to 175 this past week and we expect it to keep rising. I'm pretty much seeing everything that happened in Salama happening here all over again. That just goes to show that the Lord blesses His children in the same way no matter who they are, where they are,or what language they speak.

Alright I have to finish kind of quick to get back to you guys on the baggy questions a bit: here are some shootouts.

Dad- thanks for the info about classes. I am in agreement with the Spanish class and I think that will be perfect. I'm honestly not sure if I want to stay in neuroscience or not. I'm thinking about switching to linguistics. I don't know yet though. I would like to take maybe a piano class though? Something like that. I also think that New Testament would be great. Todd Parker teaches New testament so I'd like to have him as my teacher if possible. Also, I want to know more about a class called "Living Prophets" I think? I think you're right that I'm not going to jump head in my first semester. I'll keep thinking about it and let you know more next week. You keep thinking about it too and give me all the info you can will you? Interesting dream...It kind of reminds me of a story that we read about in the teahings of George Albert Smith on Sunday in the chapter about the blessings of temple work about a man who had a dream. Since Pres. Hinckley is on the other side of the veil, it could mean that maybe you need to do more work for your needy relatives on the other side of the veil. There may be some "widows" who need your help to receive the sealing ordinance to be united to their husbands again. And maybe mom is your companion. Just a thought. Pray about it though! Love you dad thanks for everything!

Mom- haha you are so stinkin' funny! =P It's really weird that everything's coming down to the line already. But as for the baggy questions, I think I just want to go sing with the choir in Senahu after the change conference, go to see Tikal with you guys, come back to see the rest of my areas and then head home. I just want to be with you guys, visit my old areas, and maybe visit some of my converts to say goodbye and then leave. We could hire someone to drive us around. When Elder Wixom came they came with a tour guide that did Book of Mormon tours and that spoke English and it looks like he was pretty flexible in taking them wherever. They came to church with him Sunday. So I'm not sure. Look it up and let me know more.

I love you all!! My time is up for this week, so we'll talk to you all again next week!!

Elder Norton