Monday, March 31, 2014

"we have dedicated our time to helping new members feel the spirit and also help them fill in the little holes of doctrine they might still be missing." (Sam)

"Hastening the Work" takes teamwork, organization, and lots of smiles!

March 3, 2014

Hi there!

Another good week! Elder Hall and I are getting along really well together and working our tails off. The work is going really well here in Jerez as a ward. And its cool cuz the three companionships here are working really well together. 

The influx of missionaries has caused a lot of new "side effects" I guess that I didn´t even think of. More missionaries means more than one companionship in the units and teamwork and humility between companionships. Of the three areas in our ward, the sister's area has baptized 17 in the last 11 months.... and the other two area are slow and producing fewer results. And its not a lack of work or obedience, rather different people and different financial levels and ways of life. We as a companionship have been working really really closely with the hermanas these last couple of months to support them in their work and help and carry the recent converts that they don´t have as much time to visit. These new members are all excited to do missionary work and many new people have been found through them.... ALL of which are living in the hermanas area....... soo.. the hermanas have even less time to visit the many recent converts that all need visits. That is what Elder Hall and I are focusing on. In my opinion, recent converts need the most support and help.. and we have dedicated a lot of our time to helping those new members continue to feel the spirit and also help them fill the little holes of doctrine that they might still be missing.

I received an email from the office with my travel itinerary.......... O.O..... if you didn´t get it i´ll forward it to you. SUPER WEIRD to get that.

Hey, its been kinda short today but there´s a quick update. Hope you´re all well. Pray for the missionaries and the hearts of the people!

Love you all!

Élder Norton

March 10, 2014
Hey mama, fam, and friends!

Good week this week! We´re really working as a team here and the work is moving. I love the members here. I really have been able to create some great relationships and I love feeling the support of the members. Members are so important in missionary work. Although its important and always will be important to open our mouths and "hablar con todos" speak with everyone, that work can often times be very detached and unproductive.. whereas with members, we fortify and uplift members in need while we help them invite and teach their own friends converting the friends into members and the members into member missionaries. That way when we leave, the members themselves and carry the work along. THAT is missionary work.

Thanks for the updates on things. Happy to hear things are going well. Know that I will be praying for Jennica and waiting updates.

I got your letter last week and just this morning I got the little package. THANK YOU. I sent Adam a letter the other day and want to send one to you two Mom and Dad this week. I´ll do my best. Either way, know that I love you! I would like to be able to buy a couple more things before I go but I don´t think I have any money in my account. If you have a second and are able I´d love to be able get a couple more things. THANK YOU.

Love you all! Be seeing you SOON!

Élder Norton

Sunday, March 16, 2014

"I will generously give my whole life." (Sam)

February 24, 2014
Hello again!

Transfers this last week! Wow. My time with Elder Crandall, almost 9 weeks, FLEW by. I love that kid so much. I don't know if I mentioned last week or if we even new where he was going last week. He was transfered this last tuesday to Huércal-Overa, my first area and has been there for about a week now. I´ve been emailing him a little and says he loves the people. I wrote a couple of notes for my converts and a couple of investigators that were never baptized. I hope Pepa and Rafa are doing well. I´ll keep you updated.

Each week I feel like I have less to write.. WEIRD.

I hope you´re all doing well. Sounds like you´re all busy and happy. How it should be. Help someone who needs it today. Helping is good.. but a lot of times I feel like we help people that don´t need it that much. Look harder! Look for someone that needs it. They exist. They´re out there.

Things in Spain are really bad economically right now. I´ve heard from people that Spain has like a 30+% unemployment rate.. and then our bishop told us that in this part of spain, the province of CÁDIZ, theres 40% unemployment. He then looked at me and said, "To be honest, I would not be suprised if Jerez had an even higher unemployment rate than that." It´s so so sad. It really is so hard to see families and people that just struggle and can´t make it. I love the Lord´s help system. Those that are obedient and true to the Gospel can receive help to maintain their families. I have a huge testimony of the Fast Offering we give. Not only fasting but the fast offering that we donate monthly. I will generously give my whole life.

My new companion Elder Hall is great. He´s from Salt Lake City and went to a high school called Highland. He´s a great guy and started his mission almost exactly a year after I did so he´s a year in. He was companions with Elder Larios, my hijo, for a transfer. Fun to catch up on how he´s doing. Elder Hall and I are excited to work together this transfer. We have a lot to learn from each other and he´ll do a great job taking over the area when I leave.

Anyways, thats all for this week. Sorry I don´t have much to say. I´m working hard and representing the Lord how he should be represented!

Love you!

Élder Norton

 click below to watch a short clip

Saturday, March 15, 2014

… Just singin', … Singin' in the rain (Sam)

February 17, 2014

Hello hello!

Had a great week here in Jerez. Elder Crandall and I hit a high point together this week which was perfect because it was "week 6" of the transfer-the last week. President called as we were expecting and Elder Crandall is being transferred. We were expecting it cuz since I only have one transfer left, whoever is with me this next transfer will have to stay when I leave. Elder Crandall has already been here 3 transfers and he wasn´t going to stay this one with me and then another one after. Understandable.. So as I said, it was really great to hit a high point together here on the last week of the transfer. This part of this city has really been struggling but we were able to hit 20 total lessons, 10 with investigators (member present or without) and ten with members (active, recent convert, and less active). It felt great teaching the last lesson sunday night in an active member´s house with an unexpected non-member friend present. His name is S and although he doesn´t believe in organized religion, he believes in God and enjoyed our lesson. He agreed to meet with us this week in the members house. Nice end to the week!

Elder Berrett, the Financiero that trained me in the office, was transferred here a transfer ago to facilitate a Zone Leader city change. The funny thing is that he only had one transfer left and finishes his mission wednesday. It was almost hard to believe that he was going to be transferred with one transfer left but the Lord and President Deere know why and the change was necessary and turned out well. He and I have become really good friends and its WEIRD to see him go. He was a great, obedient, consistent missionary. Love that kid.

The weather here has been SO so wet ever since I got here. Elder Crandall and I have this wall right in front of where we study that we put sticky notes on with little jokes or funny things that happen to us and funny memories. :P It has almost 60 sticky notes on it! haha and I put one up about 3 weeks into my time here that was a drawing of Jerez, basically just a bunch of buildings with a burger king in the middle, with tons and tons of rain coming down and then another sticky note next to it with an arrow pointing and words that said... "Jerez since Elder Norton got here"...... :D haha I´ll attach a couple of pictures. We think its getting better though. WE HOPE. haha

Well, Love you guys! I feel like this has been short and kinda empty but know i´m doing well! Pray for our obedience and for the stiff-necked people! :P

Love you!

Élder Norton

Sunday, February 16, 2014

"he has decided to leave everything behind and be baptized" (Sam)

This was a great week. Not fantastic numbers but the work we did was more important than the numbers we could have "achieved".

We organized and had this awesome JAS (jovenes adultos solteros- young single adults) activity on tuesday with ping pong, desserts, and UNO that turned out well and helped fellowship a couple new members and investigators. We are working with a girl named P. who´s parents are less active from something that happened like years ago but she was never baptized. She has a lot of friends in the church, including the bishops daughter and we´ve been getting to know her a lot more. The three companionships here in Jerez have been working really well together. P technically lives in the Hermanas area but we agreed that a companionship of elders would probably be better for her right now. This saturday and sunday were our stake conferences and P attended both saturday night and sunday morning! :P We set up a Noche de Hogar with her and a really solid family in the ward that she´s good friends with. We´re pumped!

We set a baptismal date with an "eternigator" that is finally going to get baptized! His name is J. J. and couldn´t be baptized before for a long list of weird little things and obstacles. Due to a series of events that have gone down the month or two, everything has "cleared up" so to speak and he has decided to leave everything behind and be baptized. We´re working closely with the bishop because he has obviously known J. J. a lot longer than we have.. but Bishop agreed to letting us set and baptismal date with him for the 15th of February!.. the weekend before Elder Crandall will leave! QUÉ BENDICIÓN. I´ll keep you updated!

Hey I love you all! Thanks for your support and prayers. We need them.
!Hasta la otra semana!

Élder Norton

* Wondering what "Noche de Hogar" is? 
Here in the U.S. we call it "Family Home Evening" or "FHE"
It's a night we set aside weekly (typically Mondays) to spend quality time with our family.

What makes family home evening successful?

  • Start and end with prayer. This invites the Spirit, increases love, and teaches your family how to pray.
  • Learn from the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets to help your family live the gospel.
  • Add music, such as hymns and Primary songs, to create an atmosphere of love, peace, and joy. 
  • Make it fun by playing games, acting out scripture stories, and making treats. Keep the atmosphere light and loving.
  • Be consistent. Monday nights are set aside by the Church for family home evening. If that doesn’t work, find a night that does.
  • Add variety. Help a neighbor in need, hold a lesson at the park, or go for a walk as a family.
"We cannot afford to neglect this heaven-inspired program. 
It can bring spiritual growth to each member of the family, helping him or her to 
withstand the temptations which are everywhere. 
The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest.” 
resident Thomas S. Monson

Saturday, February 15, 2014


January 27, 2014 
Hello everyone! 
Things keep moving forward here in Jerez. Poco a poco we´re gathering momentum and seeing the fruits. We are loving missionary work right now. ITS HARD but we are loving it. We are seeing the important things in the work and balancing and organizing our time and our work. Between the three companionships in Jerez, it has been established that mine and Elder Crandall´s area has the least members, is furthest from the church, and is the richer, more closed off side of town.. With that being said, we´ve picked up where the area was left off and we´ve established really good relationships with the members in our area and the leaders in the ward. We are feeling their confidence and support a lot more now and its allowing us to create good consistent work. Once you get an area in a grove, things start too flow without you manually making things happen. That´s what we´re seeing. 
The three main people we are working with are Jo, J. J., and H.. Jo. is a former investigator that got married to the woman he´s been with for the last 20 years to be able to be baptized. Up to that point everything was going great but because of the pressure of everything all at the same time, they got married and then kind of disappeared. We were able to find him again and start from scratch and he´s been making incredible progress. He´s dropping bad habits and replacing them with new, edifying ones. His family is sadly closed off to the situation now but with his progress, we´re seeing them open up more and more. He received an interesting blessing last week.. they called him to go to work down in Algeciras that is several hours away from Jerez from monday to saturday and some sundays...... so his family is staying here and he will be gone most weeks. He´s excited for his time alone because he has made good habits and knows that he will be able to continue reading and praying. When he has a free sunday, he says he´s going to come back to Jerez and attend church here. We´re happy that he was able to get more work but it obviously throws a wrench into things. Guess we just need some patience
J. J. is also a former investigator that is basically un miembro seco.. a dry member. He and his girlfriend were both basically active members but couldn´t be baptized cuz they weren´t married. Just recently there was a problem in the relationship which caused them to separate for a time. They are back on good terms but J. J. has made the decision to be baptized instead of returning to live with M.. We´re working closely with the bishop and getting him completely ready for baptism. We´re thinking he´ll be baptized middle or end of February.
H. is a spaniard. He is in a relationship with a woman who moved to spain without getting divorced from her husband. She was in a really bad situation and just left.... which is obviously causing tons of problems now. The last lesson we had with H. he RE-realized what the BoM was.. haha He kind of flipped when he really realized what we had been teaching the whole time. Those are the memorable lessons... when someone really comes to a realization of the fact that Christ visited the ancient inhabitants of America directly following his resurrection and time with his apostles.... AND WE HAVE A BOOK THAT HAS ALL THE DETAILS!! Ahh what the world doesn´t know.

Anyways, that´s a quick update. I did get your package and although I don´t really need anything else in the birthday package, some small american treats would be greatly appreciated. :D Thanks!

Thanks for the update on Jennica! I had very very little idea of the situation! We´ve been praying for her. Keep us in the loop.

I love you all! Talk to you soon!

Élder Norton

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"the look on his face was priceless!" (Sam)

January 20, 2014
Hi everyone!

Good to hear from you this week. Happy to hear you are well and busy. Sorry I couldn´t write last week. It was my bad. Today I´ll give a good update.

The mission is so different than when I came in. 80 percent of the areas have more than one companionship. Jerez, where I am right now, has three companionships. We are Jerez A.. I´m the district leader here and Elder Crandall just finished his training. Jerez B are the Hermanas Brown and Anderson and they are the sister trainers (what hilary was in her mish) which are basically the equivalent to a zone leader except they do the splits with the hermanas.. and Jerez C are the zone leaders Elder Vergara who I was companions with in Aljarafe and Elder Berrett, who trained me as Financiero. Really great group.

The ward here is growing soo quickly. With the three baptisms the ward had this weekend, I think there are 21 Recent converts in the last 9 months. Its incredible. Elder Crandall and I really wish there was more happening in our area.. but more than anything, we have been supporting the two other companionships with the last little push needed to get their investigators to the waters of baptism. This last week I did 5 baptismal interviews, 1 follow-up, and we taught two appointments to investigators that were not ours. We spend just as much time IN our area last week as we did OUT of our area. Like I said, we´d obviously like to see more success come from our area but we´re happy with the three baptisms that the hermanas had last week and the two the elders will have this weekend.

Really cool thing happened this last week. Elder Crandall, just starting his third transfer, has been stressing about a goal he set for himself. Its a great goal and I had the same one when I started. It was to baptize in every area. He´s a third into what will be his last transfer here and hasn´t baptized yet. Well to make a long story short, we´ve been working quite a bit the the hermanas investigators this week, Ph. from brasil and Al. from bolivia, and about mid-week, Al. called the hermanas and told them she wanted me to baptize her instead of what was previously planned. I was honored and accepted. On friday, we went back for a quick follow up interview with Ph. and at the end I mentioned how I thought it would be cool if Elder Crandall could be involved in the baptism since it would be his first. He said that he didn´t know what she would say but that he´d ask her. We finished the follow-up and we left. About 2 minutes later, I got a phone call from him saying that Al. loved the idea and wanted Elder Crandall to baptize her! :D I hung up and stopped Elder Crandall on the street and said, "hey, buckle up."... and he just looked at me weird... :P and then I said, "Al. wants you to baptize her." haha the look on his face was priceless! He was so happy and had a great experience saturday night. The baptisms went down perfectly. She was baptized the first try.. etc. :) So that was really fun.

Anyways, I know you wanted me to write more this week. Sorry I´ve run out of time. I´m going to try to send some pictures really quick. Love you all!

Élder Norton

ps.. I´ve started claiming all the advertisements that come in our mailbox cuz Elder crandall gets so many letters I have to boost my self confidence somehow! :D..... haha

Monday, January 6, 2014

Out with the old and in with the new (Sam)

December 30, 2013
Hello family! Hello friends!
Hope you had a merry christmas 
and have a happy new year!

It was great to talk to you on Christmas! This week has been crazy! Its interesting to see people during holiday times because there are some people that are more open and desireous for us to visit and want to spend time with the missionaries, and then there are the people that get sucked into their lives and kind of "put us off" till after the holidays.... haha the fun thing about Europe during this time is that EVERYONE is out on the streets. Almost all of Europe is such a "walking culture".. and lots of people are usually on the streets, but during christmas time, even more people are out on the streets. Its fun to see people out with their families. Wish we could reach more of them.

Sounds like you had a good week. Its incredible to me how much things have changed since I´ve been gone. Mitch and Jen have a new child that I´ve never met. Their boys are big and talking and going to school. Dad´s had his BYU calling long enough that the home ward feels foriegn to him :), mom works in the temple and has a calling on the stake level, Hil left to Ecuador, learned spanish, baptized a bunch AND IS ALREADY HOME, Adam is draining three´s like a boss and is probably taller than me!! All of that has happened SINCE I´M BEEN GONE. I hope we can all look back and see that last 21 months.. and see the changes that have occurred in each of us. Good ones and bad ones. I also hope we can all look 21 months into the future and set real, achievable goals and then work for them. In these next 21 months, lets change back the bad things that have changed in these last 21 months. Lets do new things, meet new people, gain more knowledge and faith.

Times up! Gotta go. Love you all! See you soon!

Élder Norton


January 6, 2014
Hello everyone!
Thanks for the weekly emails, they really do mean a lot.

I´ve sent a lot of other emails out this week.. so my message will have to be quick..

Things are great! Another slow week cuz here in Spain. This holiday starts before Christmas and goes till like tomorrow..... yesterday night, everyone went to the city center and watched "The 3 Kings/wise men" come in one camels and throw candy out to everyone.. and then they make their way to the hospital where they give the kids in the hospital presents. No worries, things are going to pick back up. It was like this last year.

I do remember Brady!! Tell him Hi and hi to the family too.

I got my packages! You saw the photos right?? There were quite a few people that got all their Christmas packages late so it was fun.. we all got to open our packages together like it was christmas morning. :P

Elder Crandall and I are doing well. We have had several moments already where we´ve known that we needed to be together. We´re loving our time together.

Transfers were last week! Another huge transfer has come and gone. We´re both staying and we´re glad. Elder Flint and Elder Crapo in the office almost died though.. haha its been super crazy for them. Zone conferences, transfers, new missionaries, mission leadership concert at the mission home.. all of that almost in the same week and a half. They´re awesome.

I´m out of time. Sorry its been scattered.

Love you all!

Élder Norton