Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Was the Grinch in Ecuador?

I think the most likely reason of all, may have been that his heart was 2 sizes too small

Dear Mom, Dad, Mitch, Jennica, Sam, Adam, Caden, Branson, and Sienna,

I love you all and hope that December is off to a great start! I love this month and I am so shocked at how quickly time is flying by! I still feel like a new missionary! But yesterday I completed seven months! And although I miss you all so much, I am realizing more and more every day that I don't want this all to end, and especially not in eleven months.

So, was there a car accident with a BYU student on their way home for Thanksgiving? I saw what Dad wrote to their family. So sweet. Brought me to tears though to see that that happened. How painful. 

I did get the Spanish "Grinch" book. I haven't read it yet, but I do know who I will give it to. I love these people so much, Mom. If I didn't have a family, I would move here. They have all accepted me like family. 

So, I am going to go over the week because a few things have happened.

Thursday mornings at 10:30 are our district /zone meetings. We gather in the new chapel that was just recently dedicated in September. This Thursday we got there at about 10:10 and the two elders with the keys (Elder LeBaron and his companion) had already been there for about forty minutes. When we walked up the stairs they were standing in the doorway and they looked absolutely distraught. They took us on a tour of the chapel and showed us how the whole thing had been robbed and destroyed the night before. This new chapel is giant and really, really nice. The alarm hasn't been functioning and the company who set up the alarm is in Quito and they haven't made the time to come down and fix it. I feel like that means that they will have to pay for the damages. But, even knowing that doesn't settle your stomach after seeing what had happened. All the churches here have gates with giant locks, but the robbers had clipped the gate hook and destroyed a door to enter. They literally took everything of value -- computers, televisions (they hacked down the doors literally), cords, systems for different microphones and the satellite. They were people who know the church, too, because they pulled out the microphone for the Sacrament. They took the piano. They took the gas tanks. They searched the bishops and secretaries offices for the donations and offerings, but thankfully, they weren't there. They took two paintings: one of Joseph Smith and one of Christ in the Americas (?). The rest they left. Strange. Anyway. All the windows and doors are destroyed and it was so painful to see. I have never seen anything like it. Anyway, the poor members here are so distraught and the elders who attend church there were in tears. Elder LeBaron had a feeling that morning that they should go to the church early, so they went and by the time we had arrived had already called our stake president. Anyway, so sad.  I couldn't help but just feel so sad for the people who had done everything and even more sad for the members. 

But yesterday they all still attended church in their building and for me it kind of felt like a "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" moment. They can take away everything we have and they can destroy our building, but we still have the Gospel, and really we don't need anything else. "It comes without ribbons. It comes without tags. It comes without packages, boxes or bags."

Saturday we were doing divisions or splits. We like to do that about once or twice a week because we have so many helpful members and we always feel like the work is moving so much slower than it should be. I was with a couple sisters from our wards and we were getting out of a taxi and I made the same silly mistake I have made many times in my life by closing the door on my fingers. This time it was my thumb. Jaja. Pretty funny. Anyway, it hurt pretty bad and now is so ugly and who knows if I will have a fingernail here pretty soon. But it reminded me of when we got home from Lake Powell and I did the same thing and Jay Gassman was helping me to take care of my finger when Jason and Dalton entered the room with a video camera recording everything. They're funny.

I. P. is one of the people God sent to us last Sunday. Her story is really neat. Her youngest daughter is sick and they haven't been able to figure out what is wrong. Finally a neighbor recommended that she do what she needed to get her life in order with God. That Sunday, I. P. asked the permission of her husband and she and her three young children took a bus out of their little community to find a church (passing the Catholic church that she grew up in but now does not feel comfortable with). She was seated by the window when she saw a few members walking to church with their scriptures in hand. She and her children immediately got off the bus and slipped into the meetings. We met her that Sunday in the meetings and she accepted a baptismal invitation that Tuesday. We are working on helping her recognize all of the answers she has had in her life because the Holy Ghost is testifying to her often of the truthfulness of this church.

Saturday and Sunday I gained a strong testimony of the principle of the fast. I am so grateful for all the means that God gives us to keep this work moving forward. I can honestly testify with all of my heart that God answers prayers. I am as sure of it as I am of anything else.

One thing I am growing to understand here on the mission is the innocence and godliness of children. Whenever we are teaching I. P., all the neighborhood children come gather around us and just listen with their eyes wide. I love it. They are so adorable and I hope to become more humble and childlike every day.

Yesterday we watched the devotional. How hilarious that President Eyring gave his seven year old son a barometer! I was a little confused at first listening. "Am I translating that word correctly? Is that in Spanish what I think it is in English?" Anyway, I loved seeing Temple Square with all the lights on the trees! I hope you enjoy every minute of this December!

I love you all! Find comfort in the scriptures - they fill us with the Spirit, aka THE COMFORTER. Keep reading everyone :)

H. Norton

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