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!

  Thursday

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!

  Friday

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!

  Saturday 

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!

  Sunday

 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!

  Monday

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