Saturday, October 23, 2010


Here are a few of the pictures that Spencer recently sent. It gives us just a little taste of some of the experiences he is having.

All loaded up in a truck headed to watch General Conference.

Spencer with some pigs.

They got stuck in some muck trying to take a short cut.

These blisters are from a little green fly whose pee is like acid. They've cleared up now but were pretty nasty.

The best tuna sandwich ever!

Rolling out tortillas with a vanilla bottle.

His socks hanging in the rain.

Their Well.

This is a Relief Society Meeting. Spencer says " Even in the bush of Tarawa the Relief Society has flowers and a table cloth.

Baby Octopus for dinner.

Spencer's first baptism.

WWII gun mount.

Christmas Island International Airport.

His name tags in the 2 languages.
In Honolulu.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dear Family

Mauri mauri, its great hearing from you. I'm glad everyone seems to be doing well there and I hope it stays that way. I'm doing really well the week started out kind of crazy. There was an Elder here from Tonga who went home on Thursday. A bunch of people had big farewell dinners for him and invited all of the missionaries. I don't really enjoy them because a lot of the time they make everyone get up and talk, which I don't ever really like but its even harder when I don't really know the person and these kind of things always go really late. At one we had to play a game where the loser had to go in the middle and dance I almost had to do it but the other guy kind of cheated so they made him go instead. That's another reason I don't really enjoy them because there's usually something like that, But they were okay it was really cool to see how much the people here loved that Elder and how much he loved them.
We went to the airport Thursday morning to say goodbye to Elder Noa . On the same plane that he left on there where five new elders from America. One of them is the kid who worked at Jake's bank I haven't really had a chance to talk to him but it was cool talking to him at the airport for a little while. It's really weird to think I'm not one of the new guys anymore. On Saturday transfers happened Elder Green got moved to a new area and Elder Cole is training one of new Elders. His name is Elder Staley ,he's from Alaska. I'm sure he'll do great, but this morning he started getting sick and having to use the restroom a lot, if you get what I mean, it made me really grateful that I haven't had to many problems physically. I'm still with Elder Rameka which I'm really happy about, he's awesome.

One thing that has made this week really good is that I'm finally starting remember a little bit of this language, still not much but some things. I think a big thing has been my attitude, I worked really hard to not let myself get discouraged and make myself talk and it been a lot better. One thing I found that kinda helped was a quote by Mark Twain. We were in the zone leaders van and this book of quotes for missionary's was there. I started glancing through it and I found this " Make it a point to do something every day that you don't want to do. This is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain." I've really tried to follow that advice and have found that its true.

Something that Elder Rameka and I did this week that was kind of fun was that the Primary President asked us to help the primary learn the actions for a song they where singing at a stake activity. Elder Rameka had taught some girls who where deaf and so they thought he must be good at sign language. He knows a bit but thankfully he knew that some of the sister missionary's knew the actions so they showed us. We met with the primary over a couple of days to teach them, it was fun to get to know some of the kids. On Sunday they had the primary program. It was cool, one of the songs they sang was the one we showed them. It was pretty funny to watch, they forgot a lot of the actions but they really did a great job. So, its been good. We have some great people we are teaching who are really ready to be baptised, it's been so cool watching people grow in their faith, it's the coolest feeling. Well to close tell everyone that I love them, thanks for all your prayers I know they help. Until next week ti a bo.

Love, Elder Norton

Email 10/10/10

Dear Norton Family,

How is everyone? I'm doing really well here. General conference was awesome the first two sessions were on Saturday afternoon and evening then priesthood and the Sunday sessions were all day Sunday. They showed it at Moroni since that's also our stake center so it was a ways away for our branch. The branch presidency arranged for a truck that could pick people up. That was really good because we got a lot of people to come that likely wouldn't have. We had quit a few investigators and recent converts there. The first day the Kiribati version wasn't working so I was a little worried that some people wouldn't come back on Sunday, but I think everyone came back and they had the Kiribati version working. It was really cool. All the talks were of course great I think my favorite was president Uchtdorfs talk in priesthood session. Mainly because I really needed to hear it, but they all were incredible.

I finally got all of your letters on Saturday, Thank you all I'm sorry I haven't sent more letters. Today I'm sending home a memory card with a letter explaining some of the pictures. I wanted to write more letters but really only had time for the one. I will try to get some out next week. One thing I could use is a list of birthdays so I can get things sent out before. To answer one question in your letter mom the only scriptures the church has translated into Kiribati so far is the Book of Mormon but they are translating the Doctrine and Covenants now, the Bible we use is a Protestant one because the church says the translation is good.

The work here is still going well, we have some great people we are teaching. I still can't contribute much in lessons but I'm working on trying to talk more. It's not easy but I'm trying to remember what I learned in conference and apply it. Even though it's hard and I can't do much yet I Love It. It's really good hearing from you. Let everyone in the family know that I love them all and say Mauri to the Lady's in the deli for me.

Love, Elder Norton

P.S. I think I may have found someone to give Matties letter to. I haven't asked her yet but she and some of her family speak really good English so i'll see about that.

Email 10/3/2010

Dear Family,

Mauri, ko aura? That is how are you in Kiribati. As always it's great hearing from you. First of a couple of things I forgot or didn't have time to write, I did get Emily's package thanks. It was really fun to get it and great to hear from your family. The other thing I didn't have time to write last week was that there is a sister who just left on her mission to Temple Square,so when you guys are down there keep an eye out for a Sister Ereti. I didn't know her very well but I met her a few times so she might remember me. You could meet someone from Kiribati.

I can't believe that its already October, oh Happy Birthday John, Erica, and Mattie. Sorry I haven't gotten any letters sent out to you. Time just seems to fly by so fast here, particularly on p-day, I will try and do better. Its good to hear that you're all enjoying conference we won't watch it till this coming Saturday and Sunday because of the time difference and the translation. I'm really exited to hear it.
To answer your questions we actually have a stove in our flat which has been really nice we have made pancakes a few times and tortillas. Elder Rameka has some easy recipes he got from one of the senior couples who used to be here, so that's been kinda fun. This week has been pretty good we had another baptism a girl named Tenebo. She's been waiting for ages to be baptized. First she moved and then stoped coming to church for a while,but we worked with her and she was really ready to be baptized. Other then that we have some really great people we are working with.

The language is still coming really slow a big part of the problem is that's it hard for me to not be shy and just talk to people. Elder Rameka has been great though there are times when pushes me to speak which is good but he doesn't push to far. The other thing that is hard is not comparing myself to others.But really its been a good week. Thanks for finding that CD when you send a box if you could also send some band aids. That's all I can think of that I kind of need ,you really don't need worry about it, just whenever. One other thing , from what I've been told its alright if other family members email me I probably won't be able email everyone back just because of time but I'm pretty sure you can write me. I will try to get some pictures sent home soon I haven't taken as many pictures as I should have but there are still quit a few. Well I hope everyone keeps doing well there. I'm sorry this email is so random I never know how to say the things I want to. I love you all so much and thank you for your prayers and support.

Love, Elder Norton

Friday, October 15, 2010

Letter 9/20/2010

Spencer sent a letter a couple of weeks ago telling about his first weeks in Kiribati and the journey there. He started with thier time n Hawaii. When they got to Hawaii. they stayed with some Elders there. Spencer went with one set of Elders to the Bishops house for dinner and then they went to visit a familyin a place called the KTP. They said it is basically the ghetto of Honalulu and there are no white people there, everyone is Polynesian or Micronesian. The only white peopl allowed to go there are the missionaries. As they went in and waited for the family to gather he saw mice running across the floor and said it was very humbling. The family was from Chook in Micronesia so he couldn't understand anything they said. One of the Elders was from Chook so he taught them and Spencer said it was a really cool experience. They left for Fiji the next day at noon. They on Air Pacific, they call themselves the world's friendliest airline and Spencer said it was true. They got a hot meal, drinks and a sandwich later. They stopped on Christmas Island, the airport was only two tiny buildings, then flew on to Fiji. They stayed the night there and left early the next morning for Tarawa. There was a Senior missionary on the flight with him on his way to Tarawa to do missionary work. The airport there was not much bigger than the one on Christmas Island. The Zone Leaders weren't at the airport so they went with the senior missionary to Moroni, the church school where the senior missionaries stay, until the zone leaders got there. They took them back to there flat and a kid brought them some coconuts so they got to drink their first coconuts. He said it was okay. They had lunch with the Phipens, they ate little meatloaves that tasted a lot like Grandma Norton's meatballs so he really liked that. Then they talked with President and Sister Shaw on the computers. The Elders said they might be able to do that on Christmas instead of calling. They went on splits with the ZL's and then met there trainers. They had dinner with a lady they call aunty Fahteli. She teaches at Moroni and spoke english really well. She had a lot of food and it was all good. The next day they had an orientaion with the Zone Leaders. They took them to Batio, the "big city" of Tarawa. The area was just divided so they are in the west half. He shares a flat with his companion and two other missionaries. It is one of the nicer flats in the mission but there is no running water. Their drinking water is rainwater that they filter, for everything else they go out to the well, showers are a bucket and a little cup. He said he hasn't had a problem with any of the conditions there but it does make him appreciate all of the things we take for granted at home. They have a drink called kaevethatthey get from coconut trees that he said is really gross but it is important to their culture so everyone gives it to them. He always drinks it even though he doesnt like it since it is so important to them. He says the people are very kind, welcoming, and patient when he doesn;t understand. He talked about his first baptism, Kakai, and even though he messed up and felt really bad her mom was the first one to come up to him and tell him thank you. He told an experience that they had with some girls they are teaching that had a hard time coming to church. One week these 4 girls said they would come to church and didn't come. The next sunday the Elder's came to their house to walk with them. They were all ready to go but on the way to church one of the girls disappeared because she felt like her clothes were not good enough. But the other 3 came as well as Atuti so they had a really good day. It sounds like he is doing really well and enjoying his mission so far.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Email 9/18/2010

Sorry to everyone who checks this blog for updates on Spencer, I haven't been very good at keeping it up. This is the first of three emails and one letter that I need to get on here. I promise to try to be better and to not keep getting that far behind.

Dear Family,
My week has gone really well here. I got your package mom, it was awesome, thank you so much. The president brought it with him, he's here for zone conference. I guess Emily's package wasn't there yet but thank you for sending one. Packages come from the Marshall's whenever the plane flies between or when the president comes so I'm not sure when things will get here. There are about 40-50 active members in our branch, the ones I've met have been awesome. Hopefully with four of us in the branch that number will go up. Our housing is actually pretty good. I talked about it in the letter I sent last week but one thing has changed, in the letter I said that we had no running water but our tanks got filled the other day so now we can, we haven't really used it because with four in the house it would go pretty fast so we still shower with the bucket of well water but it's really not bad. The food so far has been pretty good, so far I've eaten tuna, flying fish, chicken, breadfruit, a ton of rice and a lot of other stuff I can't count. The weirdest thing has been octopus, you have to squeeze out the little beak before you eat it and it has a very rubbery texture, but really the people here always give the missionaries the best that they have. It makes me feel kind of bad sometimes but the people love the missionaries. We've gotten free bus rides and free pictures just because we're missionaries. The members here are awesome. So we have zone conference on Wednesday, Elder Hamula of the Seventy comes tomorrow so that will be cool, everyone says he's awesome. I met with the president for the first time, he seems like an awesome guy, I'm excited to work with him. The work has been going well, Atuti should be baptized this week so I'm really excited about that. So, I'm doing great, I love you all and hope everyone keeps doing well.
Love, Elder Norton