My white shirts are starting to do a colormorph…

May 10, 2017

Hello mom!
THis letter has found me doing well. We had the opportunity to go to the temple today, lots of fun.
Glen Burnie is well. Transfers are every six weeks, so they will be next Wednesday for me. We find out if we are staying or going the Monday before transfers, so as of the moment I know not if I will be staying.
Joel’s baptism was great! The ordinance was performed by a newly ordained priest. We were excited for Joel. It was awesome.
I am all good to skype home at 4:30 our time. Hopefully that works! And I have an interview with President on Friday so I will ask him if it is okay for me to call dad (I think it will be though)
I am doing okay. I had a few friends that were released early. I am a bit sad that they had to go home and hope they are doing better in their home environments. I am a little stressed out, but I think I will be okay.
My white shirts are starting to do a colormorph, so I think a couple more long sleeves would be good. I wear a 16 1/2 in collar, if you do end up getting a shirt. I love the pants I got for Christmas. I wear them with my black suit and their is no noticeable difference. The St Johns bay ones are a bit big, as they are a 34 waist, but they are still pretty comfy.
Elder Bias and I are deep cleaning right now, as we have our inspection tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. All is well with the apartment outside of a chronic bedbug problem. No matter what we do after a week they come back. It is really irritating.
I am sorry for the brevity of this letter, but I have had a pretty long day. I appreciate your prayers and your love and look forward to talking to you on Sunday!
As for a gospel message this letter, I would like to encourage all who are able to go to the temple. Even if you can’t go inside, enjoy the grounds and peaceful atmosphere. Iit is one of the greatest gifts God has given to us.
I love you, I will talk to you on Sunday!.
Stay safe,

Elder Jacob Norris

 

Cherry Blossom Festival Time!

April 24, 2017

Hey Mom!

I have been doing pretty okay this week. Things have been a little weird in the mission though. A few missionaries I know have gone home early, which is sad, but Elder Bias and I are well. Joel passed his baptismal interview and will be baptized Saturday at 9. We are really excited for it!

Yesterday we went to Why I Believe with our investigator, Rachel. The speaker was Mason Wells, one of the missionaries injured last year at the airport in Belgium. It was a really good fireside. The recent converts that spoke also did an awesome job. All in all it was a great event for people investigating the church.

I saw the picture of the valentines box, that is pretty weird it took so long to get back to you, after being undeliverable.  haha.  Sometimes they don’t leave packages at the door though. Transfers are three weeks away. After that I will only have five left, less time than I spent in my first area, which I think is crazy! Odds are I will be transferred on the Wednesday after mother’s day, but I don’t know for certain.

Skyping will be a little weird for Mother’s Day, as my ward meets at 1pm-4pm our time. I hope we can find a time to make it work well for everyone.

The cherry blossom parade was fun! I was an usher on the west end of the parade and pretty much just made sure the people sitting in the bleachers had tickets. In other words, I just watched the parade with Elder Bias, Strubell, and Bassey. It was pretty fun.

Currently our apartment is looking a bit rough as we had some issues with bed bugs (again) so I will probably give you a photo tour next week.

In regards to your topic, I too get frustrated with some people’s aspect of “judge not”. I am glad you and dad taught me well because that is a problem many people out here have a hard time getting a grasp of. One way I like to view it is that yes, we do not pass judgement of others salvation. Each of us on this earth are the literal children of God and, as such, heirs to glory (as stated in Romans 8) . However, each of us has agency on this earth to help us grow. God expects us to utilize this agency and make decisions to bring ourselves and others towards him by following the example set forth by Christ. Every day we encounter those who struggle following that example and we, as the Savior did, have a responsibility to encourage those around us to choose the right. If someone I teach is breaking the Word of Wisdom, I let them know they are going against the laws of God and encourage them to repent and follow the Savior. If I do not do my best to help them receive their inheritance by encouraging them to turn to their Savior and repent, then the judgements of God will have full power over them. It is through our own repentance process and the mercy of God that we can return to him. In my personal opinion, people who get insulted by those trying to help them become better people need a dose of humility and the ability to recognize the need of repentance in their life. If you do not believe this, the prophet has given us instruction to read the Book of Mormon more often, and I would suggest 2 Nephi 9: 39-41. Jacob didn’t have a hard time telling people when they were messing up. Encouraging repentance is not a bad thing. As a missionary, we are told to Teach Repantance and Baptize Converts. It is through repentance that we become converted to the Lord. (Feel free to use what you want from that, it did get a little harsh at the end haha.)

Some things that keep me inspired are the Scriptures. Also, President Johnson does a great job. He has to deal with so much I can’t even begin to understand. Last thing I can think of is my memories. Good stuff locked in my brain. When I feel discouraged I just go dig up a good memory, whether it be backpacking, skiing, going to the beach, reading with you and Kyle when we were little, going to a movie with Grams and Gramps, goofing around with Tucker and Spencer. Those little pushes help me stay happy and willing to serve.

I don’t do much to relieve stress outside of walking. A lot of stuff I used to do is no longer permitted, so now the main things are singing and walking around. Sounds sort of lame but I enjoy them.

I smiled pretty good while I was on a killing rampage of all the dang bed bugs in our place. I was pretending to be a velociraptor, making weird noises and such and all in all having a good time.

I love you all a ton. Dad, I guess you still are the rattle snake whisperer. I am glad you have a way with snakes. Did you remember to do your own snake call back at it? If not, I suppose not trash talking it was a wise strategy. Do your best to not step on any more snakes okay?

Love,

Elder Jacob Norris
Trust God, good things will come 🙂

A game called Smear.

Hey Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, and Everyone!

Elder Bias and I will be companions for one more transfer here in Glen Burnie!

I am happy to hear your vacation went well up to Sequoia. It sounded like you both had a lot of fun! I saw how much snow was still there and thought it must have been a welcome break from all the hot weather!

I am glad your poppy trip went well. There was a good amount from what I could see. They looked really pretty.

Things are well with Elder Bias and myself. Our investigator Joel was able to make it to the Priesthood session and both of the Sunday sessions of conference. He loved both of them! We watched it at our Ward Mission Leader’s house and there was also a recent convert who watched it with us. We had a pretty good discussion with Joel, and he hopes to be baptized on April 22nd. Please continue to pray for him. I would say that was probably the most exciting thing this week!

Today we played a game called Smear. It also goes by the names of K.I.L.L and Ultimate. Basically everyone gets in a circle and juggles a volleyball like a soccer ball. After four juggles, the ball becomes live and it turns into dodgeball. So after the fourth juggle you catch and throw. If you get hit, you are out until the person who hit you gets out, at which point you come back into the circle. You win when you get everyone out. We played that for a good 4 hours for our district activity. Lots of fun!

The best meal I had this week was before the Priesthood session of Conference. The Elders Quorum for our ward and the Pasadena Ward brought in a bunch of different pies and pizzas! Not the most original of meals, but tasty nonetheless. The best pie was this really good apple one. (Apple pie is his favorite)

Recently I have been singing just about all the time. It helps me relax and I sing just about everything that I can, from Rock of Ages (hymn) to Rock of Ages (Def Leppard) haha!  Mostly hymns, but sometimes I catch a snippet of a song from a car driving by and if I recognize it, I will usually start singing it. I had an exchange with one of my Zone Leaders, Elder Rowley, and he said he was going to ask Sister Johnson if I could sing in Why I Believe. That would be pretty cool, though it has been a while since I sang for a crowd. It is at the DC Temple Visitor Center’s auditorium, which is pretty sizable, so I may have to get used to that! I will probably practice it at a zone conference/ training before I do the Temple Visitor Center. Elder Bias likes it when I make up medleys that shift from classic rock to bluegrass to jazz to spirituals to show tunes to indie music. It is kind of hard, but he will say a few songs and I will try and make something up. We have kept ourselves occupied at night.

I hope you are all well and safe! I love you all this much <—>. See, it is a line. Never ends! 😉

Elder Jacob Norris
Washington D.C. North Mission
Trust God, Good Things Will Come 🙂

Out in force this week!

Hello Mamma,

Things have been pretty fun today. We played some volleyball at the ward building. I have a bunch of batteries. Also, I am probably moving next week, so hold off on sending any letters/packages.

We are going to be doing the Cherry Blossom Festival again, so I am excited I will get to participate in that this year! It will be over in D.C., and the whole mission gets to go! I will definitely have lots of pictures to send home from that. I guess I get to see some pretty flowers also 😉

Elder Bias and I have been out in force this week. We had interviews, Zone Conference, and an exchange with the ZL’s, so we have been pretty motivated to crank out some lessons! We just got back from a FHE with a family in the ward. They are a mix of a former-now returning member and nonmembers, so it was a pretty good chance to invite the spirit to their home.

I cant wait to go skiing again! When people ask me what I look forward to most about going home my response is almost always our annual trip to ski. Nothing tops it! haha.

In the mean time, suggestions of audio for dad’s hikes, there is a talk from Oct 1975 conference entitled, “But Watchmen, What of the Night?” By Vaughn J. Featherstone. It is a very patriotic one. Gets my blood pumping. The whole conference is centered patriotically,  as it was just prior to the U.S. Bicentennial, and there is much to be learned from some of the talks there.

1. I am grateful for a mission president who is loving and supportive and encourages us to grow. President Johnson is awesome!

2. I have two Book of Mormon heroes, my “Holy cow, that was awesome!” hero would probably be Teancum. He kills not one, but two rebellious kings in crazy manner, teaching a valuable lesson in controlling our anger. My spiritual hero would probably be Captain Moroni, who, like Teancum is a military boss, but is also a spiritual giant as well. See Alma 48 for proof.

3. If my shoes could talk, they would have spent half the time wondering why I had been sitting for so long and the other half wondering why I had been walking so long! Also, they would probably tell me to get between my toes more regularly.

4. I really hope people think of me as kind. Friendly, happy, nice, caring are all also alternate adjectives of how I hope people see me. I am just trying to make other people’s lives easier through kindness.

I am sorry for the brevity of this letter, but I must be getting off now. Know that I love you and hope that you are all well. Stay safe back there! I pray for you all everyday.

Love,

Elder Norris
Washington D.C. North Mission
Trust God, Good Things Will Come 🙂

Dinners have been hopping!

Hi mom!

Things are a little hectic. It snowed some more on Sunday, but it never stuck as it is in the 50’s again. Dinners have been hopping! We got fed 3 days last week by members and twice by nonmembers. Sorry for the lack of pictures, there just hasn’t been much new in the way of things to photograph. I will keep my eyes (and lenses) open this week though.

As I recall my time moving up through the Church’s programs I can remember seeing the examples of those around me. Any who do know me to any degree know that I struggle with life as much as the next mortal, but I had a lot of questions that I didn’t ask most of the time. One thing that made it possible to have those questions answered without asking anyone aside from my Heavenly Father were those examples. I can remember “being sick” (i.e. stayed up too late the night before) and staying home from church. One time in particular I thought about how my dad was up as late or later than I was, got up earlier, worked to provide for me, and tried to be involved in my life and my interests. On top of all of that, he always made time for gospel related tasks. Whether it was a Bishopric meeting, a fireside, or visiting with members, he always put forth his best despite clearly being worn out from his life’s tasks. He would probably not admit it, but he does enough work for ten people. He shows love to everyone around him and works to emulate Christ. One thing I remember him telling me and my brother and sister was that the priority we need to place on things are as follows:

1. Gospel
2.family
3.education

As my parents read this, they can probably think of a million times my list looked more like this:

1.Tucker’s swimming pool
2.Spencer’s swimming pool
3.The beach (worlds largest swimming pool)

In my good and long life experience, I have seen why my mother and father placed such priority on the first list. It was not because they didn’t like my friends, that they wanted me to stop using so many towels, or that they didn’t think I would enjoy being out and swimming. They knew that my lasting happiness would come from living gospel principles, spending time with and developing a close relationship with my family, and receiving an education so I could provide for my family better in the future. Happiness is something that is promised as we live the teachings of Christ. Many times in life we burden ourselves under questions and doubts. Those doubts are resolved through Christ and His Atonement for us.

I have seen many of the ward members back home struggle with things that can be seen as overwhelming to many in the world. But I have seen the efforts of their faith to help guide me to know the way to happiness.  Bro. Larson, Bro Morrison, Bro. Makanui, and Bro. Schuffert are other examples of faith that helped me learn and grow. I appreciate many others efforts, from my Primary and Sunday school teachers, past bishops, caring Ward members, and my seminary teacher, sis Waldman. So many people have helped develop my faith, and I know that as a child I learned one important lesson. I have a family that loves me; both in my home, and in my ward.

1. Conference will be sick! I think we will go to our ward mission leaders home to watch it.

2. Freedom to me is the ability to make decisions and live with the consequences of our actions in accordance with laws in place. We always have our agency to decide and must accept our actions results.

3. I think an influential teacher has been the Holy Ghost. I wouldn’t be on a mission if I hadn’t learned a few things from the Spirit.

4. This week’s goal: I will try and have more meaningful relationships with the people I meet.

Lots of love from the D.C North mission, Glen Burnie area!  Sorry for being so late with this. We have Zone conference down in Suitland tomorrow ,so we had to get things ready for that. Sort of a longer drive. I hope you all are well. You remain in my prayers

Love,

Elder Jacob Norris
Washington D.C. North Mission
Trust God, Good Things Will Come 😉

Pretty nutty; has good taste

March 14 ,2017

Hello!

I am doing well. It blows my mind how hot it has been back home. The snow has been a lot of fun. It was coming down pretty good last night. The weather here was pretty crazy this last week. Some days it was almost 70, then some it was 25.  Other than the weather being what it is, everything has been pretty standard. 
We have had a couple more good lessons with Joel. He still needs to get to church though, so hopefully he makes it this next week
1. Glenn Burnie has been pretty good. People go crazy whenever it snows apparently haha
2. Five words to describe Me? Pretty nutty; has good taste
3. Well, teaching the gospel is a pretty good way to share kindness haha
4. Something I wish I was good at a year ago was using the topical guide and index effectively. It makes teaching way easier when you can get a scripture for pretty much everything. Also, it would have been a lot easier if I knew the lessons as well as I do now haha.
Love you!
Elder Jacob Norris

Washington D.C. North Mission

I have cleaned more chapels in the last 14 months than I before thought possible!

March 6, 2017

Hello mom and family!

I am well and was able to enjoy a full sleeve of oreos on Oreo Cookie day!  I also was able to buy more milk today, along with some cheese and crackers. My diet has been better. We get fed by members a decent amount, 2-5 times a week, and I get my veggies too.

Happy belated anniversary! It is good to hear you had an enjoyable trip up the coast. I can’t wait to be able to go to the beach again. I am excited to go to the museums you and dad have been to. Last year you went to the CB Museum, right?

It is good to hear that you are busy with ward business and service. I have gained a huge appreciation of the acts members do to help those around them. Also, many a thank you for always having Kyle and me help with ward building cleaning. I have cleaned more chapels in the last 14 months than I before thought possible haha. Also, we have helped around 3 moves last week, two on the same day. We have been pushing for more ward involvement, and one way we are trying that is to help more with the ward. We have a “service day” where we made ourselves available to the ward families. After we help them, we teach a discussion. So far it has been really successful. We have a few member exchanges set up as a result.

Elder Bias is great. I have known him since my second transfer. We served in the same zone for a long while, and last transfer the same ward. He is from Peoria, Arizona and has been out a transfer longer. I have yet to have a companion I don’t get along with (though levels of stress fluctuate, I do a good job at keeping my patience), but so far Elder Bias is one of the best. We like pretty much all the same things. Something we talk about a lot are books. I never knew I had read so many before having good length discussions about them. Also, we like the same music, have similar taste in food, and like sports. He is a pretty easy to get along with Comp.

Things are well with our investigators. Rosaura is off date, as she is moving to SC in a few weeks, and Keesha missed her date (she has missed a few appointments for medical reasons.) We picked up a new investigator named Joel, a young man who is very bright. He loves the Book of Mormon and wants to be baptized. We are working on a date with him for the service.

We are headed out right now, but I will try and send some pictures before I go to bed.

Love you!

Elder Jacob Norris
Washington D.C. North Mission
Trust God, Good Things Will Come 🙂