Thursday, December 6, 2012

My first week in the field


Well, I survived my very first week in the field, lol!
We got picked up from the mission home last Tuesday and had a very nice dinner with the Mission President. He is such a nice, kind and loving man. Then we went to a chapel in Lago Norte and had a little meeting and interviews with the President. Then we met our new companions mine is Elder Ribeiro Silva He is awesome fun and a really kind and loving guy! He’s from Brazil and I have learned a ton from him! We went to our apartment and unpacked for two seconds and then we went out tracting. We went to a new members house and talked for a while, I just kind of sat there because they speak so fast ha-ha. And then we went home and I just passed out I was so exhausted!

My area is very poor. The houses are all brick and only have about 4 rooms total and one floor. It’s definitely humbled me and I feel so different about money even after just one week. The three most important things in Paranoa are church, getting drunk at night, and soccer.  At night we try to be home by 9 because it gets pretty dangerous apparently. And people get drunk at like 7 at night and stumble in the streets. They spend a lot of money on alcohol, it is so cheap that the can buy a lot. Oh and people don’t get married here they just live together apparently that’s custom in Brazil, apparently it’s easier to split up that way to. lol

The weather here is perfect, I can close my eyes and imagine that I’m at Cape Cod every single day, it’s about 65 to 70 and sunny!

We did a lot of contacting on Wednesday. We have to find new investigators to teach and then we went and talked to a member by the name of Roberto. He got back from his mission a month ago and he is doing great.

Thursday was rough! Just getting used to a new life style and work is so tough it really bore down on me. Mornings are rough because I just think about home but then I try and put on smile and it definitely helps to lose myself in the work; it takes my mind off of things. I did set my first date for baptism. He is a cousin of a member and he said he would prepare for baptism on Dec. 16th so that was pretty neat. We ask ´people if they will be baptized on the first visit it’s kind of weird.

The members are genuine and love the elders so that makes me happy. We get fed for every lunch and then it is on us to make food for breakfast and dinner, which is usually a snack. I’ve probably lost about 10 lbs so far. Church was interesting it’s kind of like a social event more so than feeling the spirit but that’s just how Brazil is. I was so tired yesterday I just fell asleep at a member’s house ha-ha.

P-day is great, I just read and wrote letters and now I’m emailing! I hope everyone is ok back home! In the moment time feels like forever, but the weeks are flying by as I look back!
Love you all!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Time is flying by!

Hey everyone,

 Time is flying by so fast! Two weeks and then my journey starts!  The CTM is very cushy and our lives are spoiled. Don't get me wrong we work very hard here, but we have air conditioning and we have three meals a day, so we are quite spoiled!

Thank you everyone for all the Birthday wishes and the Pizza party! I'm having it this Tuesday with all of my buddies! Thanks to Emily for the Birthday card! Oh and by the way Kyle and Doug would you write to me? Brian I got your letter, thanks! I sent one to your email and also put one in the mail.  I'm sending it to your school address as well. Kyle check your email. Oh and Happy Birthday to Elder Wardle!

Slowly and surely I am beginning to love Brazil more and more.  The people are unbelievably kind here! Portuguese is such an awesome language.  I am definitely starting to forget some English though. I'm going to miss the guys that I've made friends with here. They are super awesome!

Last P-day was great. I didn't get to talk to much about if, but we got all of our candy and letters sent and then we had a District Volleyball game.  We split up 5 vs. 5 and it was Belem Vs. Brasilia, we lost by only a couple of points. It was hard caught though. That night we had a devotional and we watched a folk that Elder Bednar gave in the Provo MTC a few weeks ago. He spoke about the best way to study is to follow this pattern: 1. Find the Doctrine 2. Find the Invitation 3. Find the Promises. I've tried to apply that, but I have a lot to work on.


Not much happened today.  We did a lot of language study on the computers, they have an awesome program called Tall Lab. It is so great and you can learn a lot from it. I also started my personal study on the attributes of Christ. Hopefully, I can add some to myself so I can be a better person.


Halfway during my class my teacher started making impressions of Sponge bob that was hilarious! They have it in Brazil I guess. That was it for the excitement of that day.


I woke up early and worked out.  As much fun as volleyball and basketball is, I need to start lifting again. I miss it a ton! Later, after all of our studies one of the Elders in my group and I invented a game of ultimate golf. You take turns tossing an object to get to the final destination in the fewest amount of strokes. It's stupid games like these that are so much fun here! That night we had 3 more hours of study time on top of the long day of study that we had earlier, it was amazing how much we accomplished.


Another long day of study! Although I do love Saturdays, because we made it through the week. We had a workshop that night about better ways to teach our investigators. The day ended off well, we had tow hours of free time and I wrote my talk in Portuguese.  It has to be 5 minutes and I chose to talk about Christ's attributes.  I hope it goes well!


Well, I sure am glad that I prepared my talk! I had to give it in Church today and I was the first speaker.  Speaking and giving a talk in Portuguese is so TOUGH! WOW! I didn't get to finish all in 5 minutes but I talked about virtue, humility and obedience. Before I got started talking about obedience my 5 minutes was up, so I was obedient and closed. The President from another mission was there and he thanked me for being obedient and closing. He also expounded on how we all need to be obedient. It was a cool experience.


Nothing to much exciting happened.  It rained most of the day so gym was tough. We read and studied Mosiah 15 in class. I wish sometimes I was English speaking because they go into deep doctrine studies but, we only touch the surface because of the language.  I definitely learn a ton here though. The CTM is such a neat place to be.  I've been doing a lot of grammar study lately so that I can piece all my vocabulary together. A language is such a super difficult code, but once you figure it out it feels great. We learned the word to burp- Arrotar, so if you wanted to say "I burped", it would be Eu arrotei.  That's is it's not irregular, but that I'm not sure about.  Oh, before I end I find it very different in Brazil, when teaching an investigator in Brazil, you invite them to be baptized on the very first visit. the second visit you set a date.  I feel like that is so different from the USA. Oh one more thing, we started a new goal, to say something nice to a specific person everyday. So we all said something nice about one of the Elders and it was really cool and we ended on a good note!

Bye love you all!

--Emily check your email

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hey everyone back home!

Hey everyone back home!
 I sure miss all you guys! I hope everyone is well and enjoying the cold weather. I heard West Virginia got 3 ft. of snow from the hurricane, that’s crazy. I sure wonder what the election will be like. It’s going to be crazy here when we find out who will be President.

 I’m doing great here in Brazil. We talked to a teacher that got back from his mission in Brasilia and he said he loved it. He said it’s not to hot but of course it still is. There’s very low humidity. He also said the city is beautiful. So I’m pretty excited for it. There are also a lot of wealthier areas in Brasilia compared to the rest of Brazil because of the Government there. So I hope I will have some cool experiences. I didn’t realize it but the world cup is going to be hosted in Brasilia! I’m bummed but happy at the same time. I won’t be able to see a game but I’ll be kept up to date on the scores I’m sure! 

Now for events that happened this week


 We are still learning a lot of Portuguese and we learned how to invite members to come to church. I can’t believe it was Halloween! I missed out on it because they don’t celebrate it here. You guys will have to tell me what you all were.


 We had a sweet basketball tournament and yes John, Brian, Doug, Nick and Kyle I have gotten better and can make lay-ups now! Oh, so in class we gave our teacher a Hershey kiss. He had never had one and he loved it. He later was messing with a kid in the class and cut him off while he was talking and our teacher was like “I could give you a kiss to make it better!” And then he was like you’ll never forget this kiss! It was pretty comical. That’s the kind of things we think are funny now. Also, Portuguese is so weird sometimes. Words like avo and avo’ mean Grandpa and Grandma and are said exactly the same but apparently they aren’t, so it’s words like this that really throw me off. I have definitely learned a ton of Portuguese since I have been here. Also, our teacher said this “ The Bible is to convince and the Book of Mormon is to Convert” great quote!

11 -2

 We had TRC and this time we were the investigators. We actually got to wear normal clothes, so I wore my Sperry’s and J-Crew shorts and a batman shirt. The kids from the West Coast made fun of my outfit. But what ever they have no style in Washington and Wyoming! Just kidding they are a bunch of awesome guys! We were nice to the 2nd weekers that were teaching us. It made me think about how little I knew when I first got here.


 We played more basketball and it actually got pretty intense. That was so much fun. I studied grammar most of the day. I still hardly get English grammar. I’m trying to take everything in so I can speak perfectly. In class we read Alma 42, it’s a great chapter to read. We had a workshop that night and studied verbs. After that we had free time so we hung out and wrote letters. It was so nice to just relax! 


 Sunday was great we had Stake Mission Conference in the morning. There were a lot of talks given about obedience and how we need to follow the rules. There was also a classic talk by one of the Mission Presidents about how his Young Men’s leader loved him and never let him stop going to Church and if it wasn’t for that leader he wouldn’t have served a mission, married his wife, had kids and be where he is today. It’s pretty cool what we can do if we are persistent and help others. Most of the rest of the day I relaxed and wrote letters.


 My Birthday was pretty sweet for not having everyone I wanted around me. I got up early did all my personal study. I studied the Lamb of God and what it means. I still don’t know everything about it so if you know something cool please share. Today our teacher gave a lesson and used an analogy of stairs to help our investigators progress. The flat parts are easy but they need the missionaries to make it to the top of the next stair. We had spam burgers for dinner, they were gross, but I think we are going to the BBQ place for lunch. Anyway, we closed off the nigh and all the guys sang to me and wend around the room and said one thing they liked about me! I’m definitely going to start that tradition when I get home! That’s about it. I’m still hanging in there and only 3 more weeks in the CTM. It’s so crazy to think about!

 Well, take care.

 Love, Elder Norton

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Well Ladies and Gentlemen,

 This is the start to my fifth week and it is flying by so freaking fast! Its hard not to be a little home sick going from America and having luxuries and privileges to Brazil and basically having nothing and our entire lives ruled down here. It makes it more and more difficult but the adjustment is getting better and better. I still think about home all the time but the reality has set in that I am here for two more years. I might as well take everything in that I can and enjoy it. I can't believe that it's already been a month from today that I entered the MTC and if time goes by as fast as this month I will be home before I know it! Seriously!

 So last Wednesday I got my hair cut and I essentially buzzed it. 1. Because it is to hot and 2. Because it was just to much to handle and I have no one to impress here. I'm starting to change already by thinking about others and not myself haha! We did service again but this time instead of sweeping a parking lot we swept a staircase. Yeah! We didn't know the staircase even existed so we call it the secret stair case. We do a lot of studying here!
Let me give an overview of our day:
 7:00 Breakfest
 7:30 Personal study
 8:30 Companion study
 9:05-10:15 Gym, they have two volley ball courts and a half court gym set up.
 10:30-12:00 Computer lab and personal study
 12:00 -1:00 Lunch
 1:00-4:30 Class
 4:30-6:00 Dinner
 6:00-9:00 Class lol
 9:00-9:30 Planning
 9:30-10:30 Get ready for bed and be in bed at 10:30 (at least try to be)

 Oh so on P-day I had bought some peanut butter and some oreo type cookies called bom vida for like 25 cents and it tasted soooo good!


I studied super duper hard all day and my mind about exploded. We had received these phrase books and in the back it has vocabulary words. I've studied the verbs so far that's like 300 words and that's on top of everything else, so needless to say my head really hurt that night! We learned about past subjunctive which I don't even know what all these English terms mean in my own language. Some of this is pretty difficult. Then we got feed back from our second teacher and she said me and my comp are making great progress and are doing awesome in the lessons!


Not much happened. God did try my patience. It seemed like every 2 hours on the dot someone tried to annoy me. I think God just wanted to mess with me or something because I was about to snap, haha. That evening I got some letters so I was able to take my mind off of the things that were bothering me. SHOUT OUT TO EMILY GOSS FOR SENDING ME A LETTER!


We had TRC, that's where we are recorded while we teach and then we get feed back. We then had an investigator who had some problems with prayer, so we had a follow up visit and taught him all about prayer and answered any questions that he had. We got feed back and our teacher said we did great so I'm pretty pumped. We learned to ask alot of questions and that makes a big difference! Oh so later that night the Brasilians on our floor decided to give each other haircuts at 11 pm.! They like butchered one kids head so now he has a huge bald spot. It was crazy!


 It's kind of like our day to relax. We have two hours of church and then 4 hours to sleep or write letters so I did both! Also, I decided I might as well have a change of heart, I kind of slacked off a little bit before this time and I figure it would be more fun to help people to work harder than be the one being pushed. So I set a bunch of goals and hopefully I can stick with them and start working my butt off. We had a fireside that night and it kind of comfirmend my goals. They said that if you work hard you will be blessed and have the most fun! So I'll try that out!


Mainly we jsut had to teach our teacher and he said that our Portuguese is improving and he is usually a stickler and he actually complemented us on it so that made me happy and feeling good about the language until we went out today, Tuesday, for P-day and we were totally humbled about everything and realized we still have so much to learn. Anyway, thats a summary of my days here, they really are going fast. There is purified water all through out the building so don't worry Mom. Also, we leave the MTC on Nov 27th and go to Brasilia. I'M SO EXCITED TO GET OUT! I can't be caged in like this hahah! I need free space to go and explore and move around. The same thing gets boring after a while but we are having great times and I realize that this is just a stepping stone to help me for what is to come. The city is crazy like the East Coast except there are motorcycles that go every where haha. This morning I got up at 4:00 am so I could write letters and read the ones you sent me. I got them on Monday so perfect timing. There was a crazy cool thunderstorm last night in Sao Paulo, the clouds were like a mist that encompassed the whole city, so where there were lights the whole city lit up. It really is magnificint! I can't wait to actually know everything in Portuguese. Everyone says that they learn the basics and religion stuff in the CTM but once they get out and with a companion that is from Brazil, it's hard but they learn really quick! So they said by about 4 to 5 months we will be fluent which is insane! I am going to double everything I know when you think about it. There is so much to learn! The people here are really nice. It's sad but time goes by so fast because all the days go so fast and they are all the same, so they mush together and the older guys we made friends with left but I'll see them in two years! Send me questions and I will answer them!

Thanks for all the prayers!

 Love you guys!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hey everyone,

So, I have no idea what happened to the last three weeks and where it went, to be completely honest. We essentially do the same stuff every single day so things just seem like they mush together. I'll give you a day by day summary of what has been going on here! I feel like a veteran already! Most of my friends that are in the upper groups that got here before us have been leaving and thats pretty sad!

 Ok so on last Wednesday, we had to do service for an hour and they try to get the missionaries to help out around the CTM. So me and four other guys ended up sweeping a parking lot. After that we changed into our missionary attire and headed down for TRC where they record us while we teach an investigator, who is actually just Elders who have been here for awhile. We actually did pretty good and got great feed back. When meeting an investigator we have learned to ask tons of questions to get to know the person before we start teaching them. Later in the day we taught Jose, which is our teacher, but he acted as an investigator and we were really humbled because he talked in pure Portugese and we had no idea what he said.

 Thursday: We went to the Police Station and registered as residents for Brazil? I think thats right, we couldn't really understand them. If it's not religious stuff that they are speaking or simple words, it's hard to understand. That took three hours, we had to get up at 6:00 am for that. When we got back it was a Saints Day, so they decorated the cafeteria and we all got cupcakes. It was Saints day Friday but they celebrate all their holidays for like three days! Then, we as a district had to teach our teacher a lesson and we learned a valuable lesson,that we need to plan ahead and have a common goal or else we can't really get accomplished what we needed.

 Friday: We did our normal routine and played basketball. I have started to read the Book of Mormon in Portugese and translate it. It really helps to learn the language. We then have normal class the rest of the day.

 Saturday: The Brazilian Elders that were in our room left. They were super cool so it was kinda sad when they left. There was a gecko on our window, it was super sweet. Well thats about it.

 Love you all,

 Elder Norton

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Powerful Gift

A gift that can't be seen can often mean the most, 
unheard of or spoken of for it is a law of that gift that no man can boast. 
 A power upon high sent down through a hazy sky, 
touches souls and opens a door, 
 for many blessings this gift can pour. 

 Through every touch it does convert while the foes doth pervert. 
Through the majestry it can be oevercome,
 for he is the more loving one. 
 This powerful gift changes lives,
 giving to those who strive. 
For eternal happiness cannot be bought it is only one that can be sought. 

 If you have this gift, you can atest,
 because of the warm fuzzy feeling in your chest.
 This gift also can't be purchased with money,
 and who could have guessed it would be sweeter than honey.
 The color of this gift must be white, 
and with this power comes a great fight.
 And through the color red our spirits will be fed,
 for no exception can be said.
 For those who bestow this gift know that it is not a myth.
 For trials are sure to come, staying strong till the final drum.
 For we shall enter up into a kingdom come,
 but remember this,
 That powerful gift cannot be bought so seek the teachings and feel not distraught. 

 By Elder Norton

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hey Everyone

Hey Everyone,
 Things in Brazil are going great! I think time couldn’t have gone any faster these past couple or weeks. I’m at one end hoping that my whole mission goes this fast but then at the same time I know I should enjoy this experience because I will never have this chance again. I still get a little home sick here and there and I sure miss my Sunday cookies, there is a cookie store across the street from the MTC called Mr. Chenney’s cookies, they sort of compare to what I miss.

 So on Wednesday we traded our gym time..not by choice.. and we had to fold sheets for the new missionaries. I’m glad I’m not considered new; those first couple of days were absolutely rough, hahaha. Just because there is no phone and you have to go to classes all day haha. My buddies in here are great and I think that I will be best friends for a long long time with them. Oh so letters are literally like golden in this place and mean a lot to us missionaries. I never have appreciated them as much as I do now. The Brazil mail strike is over so it should only take 1 week to send and receive, so don’t be afraid to make my day!!!

 So we missed TRC today, where we teach and get recorded so that we can have feed back to see how we are teaching. I feel so much better about the language. Week 2 didn’t seem like we learned that much but all the older guys said after this the language goes faster and all the teacher’s speak pretty fluent English the first two weeks but from now on they are only going to speak in Portuguese so I’m in trouble! We do a ton of studying in the morning, about 3 hours and then about 6 or 7 hours of class every single day. By the end of the day I am so exhausted I am actually pumped for bed at 10:30. Food here on the outside is so cheap. We can get similar things to Oreos for like .25 cents a box, but clothes and toys here are like 3 times as much as in the U.S., it’s ridiculous. I hope that all is going well and I can’t wait to here from you guys!

 Con Amor! Elder Norton

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

General Conference Weekend

It's Sunday of General Conerence and on Sundays and P-days we have the opportunity to relax and write letters. Now, you know it's ok for you guys to send me more letters! I don't think you understand how much a letter is worth here. It probably is one of the best things ever so don't be affraid to send MORE!! THAT MEANS SEND MORE BTW!!! Keep me updated on the latest things in the world, we are seriuosly in a bubble. An update on the Patriots would be nice! Remember you can't send packages until I get to Brasilia but you can send lots of letters!

 Last night I had my first experience giving a blessing. One of the Elders had eaten something that made him really sick. The Spirit was very very strong. It was so cool that I could experience a blessing on my own for the first time.

 I am starting to understand more and more about the gospel as the days go by, it's really cool. I don't know if I mentioned it, but we watched all of Conference and Holland was by far my favorite. I actually took notes and enjoyed every session.

 Well, I need to go, we are going to the Temple today, I hope I have some more neat experiences like I did last week.

 Love you all, Mike, I mean Elder Norton(I am still getting used to that)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

First letter from the MTC

Hey guys!

I can’t believe that the first week is over and at the same time I want it to go by just as fast all mission but then at the same time I know I should enjoy every minute. I can and make the most of it because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. The first two days took absolutely forever! When I say forever I mean it! We got off the plane, came to the CTM and we had an introductory class with the Mission President, who is a super awesome guy. He used to be in charge of Pyrotechnics of like big events such as the super bowl. So then we had class pretty much the rest of the day! We even taught our very first investigator in English, thankfully. It is a requirement here at the CTM that the instructors have served a mission and can speak English. The crazy part is that they pretty much all taught themselves how to speak and write in English.

 So on the plane we all met up in Georgia there were about 18 other guys and they are all super cool. My companion is Elder Garrison and he is cool, he’s from Oregon. On the plane I handed out a pass along card to the guy sitting next to me, he was just coming home from his uncles and worked in Laguna Beach. He said that Brazil is very different than America and the import taxes here on American things are ridiculous like 40 percent so ill get used to American things. He said that for people to have credit cards here is absurd! They charge like 50% interest fees so the people don’t buy on credit. We did make it to the CTM in perfect time. The traffic is like East Coast except the motorcyclists are super insane and about 2 die every day here in Sao Paulo.

 So the first night we were taught how to conjugate verbs as well as start learning about religious verbs. I was quite surprised that the weather was cold, probably about only 50 degrees that night and the older missionaries said it was the coldest its been all year. So we got very lucky to have cool weather! Oh and all the water here is purified so its all safe to drink in the CTM.

 I will say that the spirit is so strong here and you can definitely tell a difference. The people here are super nice and the food is pretty good. The rice and beans are made with bacon so they taste great and the fruit is delicious way better than in the States. I have picked up quite a bit of Portuguese and I can understand them fairly well. They speak so fast and slur their words its hard to tell. Oh also when we are teaching Portuguese comes so easily because the Spirit is definitely guiding you. We gave a 30 min. talk about prayer in Portuguese and words I didn’t even know would pop into my mind. It sure makes you humble when 10 min later you can’t even remember those same words. Love you all and I’ll send some Portuguese phrases home next time!
Mike got a package from us!
Mike's District at the Sao Paulo Temple