Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Lots of work!

This week feels like a very long week.

Transfer calls came two days ago and Elder Perry will be with another Missionary this next transfer and I will be training again. We all have talents and even in the mission we are expected to use them. I suppose the Lord sees that I am a decent trainer. Must be my mission niche! I am not the most eloquent teacher or the best leader but I am fairly easy to get along with so I guess training is something that I will be asked to do a lot! I am still the district leader and this next transfer my district is supposed to be larger. But you know it is so much easier now that I have been doing it for six weeks so that's a little bit less stress on me.

There is this ten-year old girl that we are teaching who wants to be baptized! We set a date with her for this next Saturday so hopefully it will work out. Everything has been working against us. It seems that almost everything that could go wrong has. Her Father left and moved to Texas, leaving behind her and her many siblings. She is the third oldest and is pretty responsible. She came to church on her own with one dollar for tithing. It was a miracle that she was willing to express her faith by bringing her tithing with her without being asked to. Especially since her and her siblings go to bed hungry most nights. It's hard to get them help because her parents aren't doing what they are supposed to which can cause problems. She is just very prepared and has shown us that she wants to do the right thing even if nobody else in her family is. How a gem like her came from the situation that she is in baffles me. Where did the good come from amidst all of the wrong? That in itself is a miracle and there is no denying it. I know that God wants to help us and that no matter what we are experiencing, we can be a light and we can be blessed with faith beyond measure. This little girl knows who she is and she knows what is right. Her understanding may not be perfect but her faith is very close.

I love you all and I want you to know that I have seen God's hand daily. If you have seen God's hand, you may as well have seen Him with your very own eyes. Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.

Elder Joshua Norrell

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

New Stuff!

So we got a third companion, Elder Edwards, and a jeep! Both additions were needed and with Elder Edwards we took in his area with ours! Also, I'm assigned to drive the jeep and I hate driving sooo yeah that happened. I will attach a picture.

We found two new investigators this week through inspired tracting! "What is inspired tracting?" you may ask. Well allow me to explain. We look at a map of our area and choose ten streets. Then We individually look at the list and select three streets. All three times we did it, Elder Edwards and I either got the exact same street names or were one off from having all three the same! It was cool and all and when we went there were people whose doors we knocked on that were super prepared for our message! It was surely a blessing!

Also this week when we had to go back home early because it was Halloween, we played chess and watched Ephraim's rescue. It's a movie about the Mormon pioneers in the Martin Handcart company and all of the miracles that they experienced even though there were plenty of hardships to go along with it. Parts of the movie were hard to watch, especially when it depicted other people in pain. Interesting how sensitive you become to those things when you don't see it for a while.

Anywho this week has been great and I appreciate all of the emails! Now enjoy a photo of me looking dumb with the keys to a nice Jeep!

Elder Norrell

Monday, October 26, 2015

New mailing address and new insights

First order of business,our new mission address is:
1370 Caldwell Blvd.  Ste.  300
Nampa, ID  83651

And now on to the email!

So this week has been pretty good! I decided I would email my trainer, who is home now, and beg for his forgiveness because I now understand all the things I did that were annoying!

So this week we have been mainly focusing on the young people in our wards that we felt needed help. When it comes to calling in all that we did for the week, there isn't a number that goes along with that but we know that if we can help the young people in the church continue to build their faith in God then the week wasn't wasted. We love helping people because we love them! Haha! What better thing is there?

So a spiritual thought for the week. The other day I was pondering the question "Who crucified Christ?" Well of course the Bible tells us that the Jews accused him and the Romans carried out the deed so that should be the end of the question right? No! It's deeper than that. Maybe the better question is "What kinds of people crucified Christ?"

When we look into the Saviors Earthly ministry, the answer runs through the whole course of His life. The Savior was born in humble circumstances and the news of His birth was heralded by angels to mere shepherds. The humble were the ones who would truly appreciate Christ. Do you think Herod, even if he hadn't been seeking to destroy the Messiah, would have come to see him in person? Probably not.

To emphasize the point I'm getting to, note that Jesus sat at meat with Publicans and Sinners rather than with the Scribes and Pharisees. He very much enjoyed the presence of the humble crowd rather than those who were puffed up in pride because they were teachable. Those who recognize their NEED for a savior are the ones that would recognize their Savior.

So what is Elder Norrell getting at? What does the question that he asked have anything to do with what he is saying? Well I'll tell you. Jesus Christ wants to be with those that accept him and those that Accept Him want to be with Him. When we accept Christ we are saved, not because we vocally said "I accept Christ as my Savior" but because when we make that commitment to humble ourselves and let Him help, He will show us how to become like Him and He will complete us and make up for what we cannot do on our own. That is the meaning of the word Atonement, to make up for something.

So what kind of person was it that crucified Christ? It was those who felt no need for saving. They had been lead under the false impression that they didn't need to accept help of any kind because they were already perfect. They were the ones who were so caught up in what was said or what had already been said, that they missed the bigger picture. They let worldly things get in the way of what, or who, would truly save them: Jesus Christ.

The message here is that we need to always watch ourselves to be sure we aren't getting so caught up in saving ourselves that we don't let Jesus save us. I can guarantee you that His way is so much easier. So don't be like the hypocrites and only worship in word alone or deed alone. Turning our lives over to Christ mean turning over our thoughts, our words, and our actions. Easier said than done, huh?

That's what I learned! And it's not so much that I didn't know it before but it was a new perspective on an old topic.

I hope you all are doing well and I pray that God's love finds you!

Elder Norrell  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Three updates in one!

I've posted Josh's last three emails here in one post from oldest to newest. He didn't send a group email on Sept 14th, so that week is missing.  Enjoy!

September 7, 2015

This week a young lady named Sierra was baptized! It was good to see her come out of the water. I was very nervous though because I was the one that she wanted to do the confirmation on Sunday. I spent all Saturday and part of Sunday worrying about it. I really am not a fan of speaking in front of a lot of people. But it was a good experience because when I got up to do it, I closed my eyes and imagined that it was just Sierra, Christ, and me. The words just seemed to flow and I tried not to think or second guess myself. If anyone in that room truly knew me, they would know that I could never have offered a more eloquent, specific, and well thought out blessing unless I had spent hours thinking about it and writing it down. I know now that I shouldn't have worried about it. Maybe the promptings of the spirit were so clear because it was fast Sunday, maybe it was because I had just finished two sacrament meetings, maybe it was because I had been trying extra hard to be obedient because I knew I was needed for the blessing. Regardless, I know that the spirit was there and that Heavenly Father cares about all of us despite our current circumstances. I love you all and hope you are doing well!

September 21, 2015
"Peace and Blessings"
This week was a pretty good week. I had so many opportunities to recognize the Lord's hand in my life and not only was it there but it was also a testimony to me that He knows exactly what we are going to do and ask for before we even do.

The first example of this was on Friday. Thursday night I set some goals for myself, which is something that I try to do daily. The goals that I set were to:

1. Find at least 1 new person to teach
2. Talk with everyone
3. Be ready for those that God has prepared

As we went about our day trying to contact old former investigators in one of the apartment complexes by the Birch, it seemed as though there was nobody to talk to. Then someone pulled up in their car and began to walk to their apartment. So we talked to them even though it didn't seem it would go anywhere and, in fact, I was right. They said they weren't interested. But this is where it gets exciting. Because I personally made a point to attain that goal that I set for myself, we were blessed. About as soon as the one lady we had just talked to went inside, someone else came out of the apartment right next to us and we talked to them! Suddenly it seemed as though the dead complex that we were in was alive. Everywhere we went there was someone coming outside or coming home. There were no people anywhere except for where we went. I saw God's hand in the work that day and we found one new person to teach out of all those people and along with that, two former investigators were willing to meet with us again!

Another miracle that occurred was with our investigator Lorenzo attending church. Lorenzo has been wanting to attend church for the past two weeks and because of circumstances, he wasn't able to come until this last week. Even though he was about forty minutes late, he made it to sacrament meeting with his three small girls (he's a single father). The last talk of the meeting seemed to be geared towards him and his girls were all very well behaved.

In Gospel Principles we taught about prayer and in this class we all introduced ourselves. When Lorenzo introduced himself Brother L. realized that they were first cousins and instantly made a connection! Brother L. who has been kind of a Debbie Downer in our class was now excited and making friends with our investigator! So much so that for the rest of the class and Priesthood meeting we didn't even interact with him much because Brother L. was taking such good care of him. Lorenzo was so impressed that he told us that he would be back next week and for an hour there I almost forgot that Lorenzo wasn't a member yet because he fit in so well. It was surely a miracle that the connection would be made and not only did it bless Lorenzo but it also blessed Brother L. I truly gained a testimony of member missionary work that day.

You all are so great and you make my day when you write! 

Love, Elder Norrell

September 28, 2015
"Interesting week"

Hey! So all is well in Nampa! I hit my six month mark in three days and transfers are today and Elder Goodsell is leaving :( He's going to Caldwell. Not sure who the poor unfortunate soul is that will be my next companion but he should be getting off the airplane tomorrow morning. It'll probably make him feel better about being new when he finds out that his trainer has no idea what he's doing as a District leader! Hey it's okay to not be perfect because God multiplies our efforts when we rely on him. In other words we will both be learning by the spirit of God and it is only by the grace of God that we will be able to succeed.

Our investigators are awesome! Lorenzo is doing well and it's like he's just super ready for the Gospel. Ashley went to church even when she was out of town (which is kind of super amazing) and we taught Oscar another lesson! Oscar definitely notices such a change in his home when we come because we strive to bring the Spirit of the Lord with us!

I know that this Gospel is true and the Jesus Christ lives. There is truly nothing that can stop the work from progressing! I know that when we choose to turn our lives over to God, He will guide us and protect us from more trials than we can handle. Come unto Christ all ye that labor and are heavy laden and He will give you rest. Take His yoke upon you for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. In other words, allow Christ to shoulder your burdens and as long as you stay neck and neck with Him, going the same direction, our burdens will be made easier. It doesn't mean they will go away but they will be made lighter. 

Do all that you can to be the best you can be. "Try a little harder to be a little better." - Gordon B. Hinckley

May the light of His love continually be a lantern unto your feet!
You are all super amazing. 

Elder Joshua Norrell

Monday, August 10, 2015


I've learned quite a lot about faith this transfer. When this past five weeks began, my faith was strong and I knew that God would take care of me. Yet over the course of those same five weeks my faith has grown tremendously. Every experience where I was unsure and asked for help, not knowing if it would come, my faith grew. Because every time I asked, I received. My prayers are answered 100% of the time because I asked, waited patiently, and watched for God's hand. I am now at the point where I know that I can call for the help of our Father in Heaven and never allow a single doubt to enter my mind because I know that what I am doing is right and that I am being the best that I can be, always improving.

Lately I read a book in someone's home. It was a short narrative on the parable of the ten virgins with the lamps and the oil. In the narrative, the author speculated on what the ten virgins were like before we even hear the part about the bridegroom coming. Each virgin who lives in this certain town is given a handcrafted lamp that is made by the man who sells the oil. Each individual lamp is different and was made with each woman in mind. Some used their lamps often, others were afraid to use it. Of those that used their lamps, they brought light to others and were given items that allowed them to improve the use of their lamps; of those that did not use their lamps, nothing was gained. One of the women didn't feel that her lamp was very special and thus did not use it, little did she know that the maker had made a unique design that would show with use. Another who did not use her lamp one day found that it was broken and was devastated. Although some used the gift that they had less or more than others, regardless of circumstance, the lamp maker was always glad to hear from the women and he would always provide oil, improve, or repair their lamps.

In the story, the one who made each lamp is Christ. He cares for each of us and He has given us all special gifts that we can use to help others. If we use our lamps or gifts to provide light and return to Him regularly to refill our lamps, He will provide even more than we expected. As we use our own special gifts, we can recognize how special each of us truly is. It is never too late to use our lamps or to ask Him to fix it because he cares for each of us unconditionally. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God, there is no thing or person that can keep us from receiving blessings but ourselves, and there is no other way to be truly happy than through Him. He is the light that guides us and helps us to see clearly. Any other way to happiness can only bring temporary happiness and never true joy. The path that Christ takes us down is the best one.

I love you all and I want you to know that God loves you. You can be sure of that because I love you. And how much greater is God than I?

With love,
Elder Norrell

Monday, August 3, 2015

Thai Food!

Super good thai food! Funny story they were like "On a scale of one to ten how hot do you want it?" and I was like "Seven". So that was awesome! Then later the restaurant manager (this sixty something year-old white man) came to our table and was like "Who ordered a seven?!" When I told him it was me he was like "Are you sure? This is a REALThai restaurant!"
I didn't know it was a crime to enjoy spicy food. (Also let's be honest it wasn't super spicy. Spicy, but not very bad.)

HAHAHAHA!! Now that I have your attention you MUST read my email! Muwahahaha! Evil evil evil evil!
I guess that's what people think of the missionaries. We just dedicate two years of our lives to being pure evil. I mean I'm so evil. I just want to love everyone to death and make them so unhappy that it just looks like they're happy but they are actually super oppressed and wanting to do good continually. That's the real scheme here. I'm not actually doing this out of love. But OF COURSE I"M BEING SARCASTIC! I actually do mean it all very sincerely and I'm trying very hard.

So this week there were some cool experiences. Twice in one day we prayed for a ride to come get us and sure enough one came each time! That usually doesn't happen in Nampa. When I say usually I mean it has only happened about three times since I've been here. So for it to happen twice in one day was awesome!

In that experience there are some pretty great principles that were emphasized. The rides did not show up until after we had walked for a bit. We had to exercise faith that our prayers would be answered and we couldn't doubt and say "If" we only would say "When".
The second principle taught was that we were only blessed after we had done what we were supposed to. The first time we needed the ride to get to an appointment but as we walked the second time without an appointment we saw so many people. There was a guy named Michael with a flat tire, some kids at the park (who weren't very nice but hopefully we set a good example), a woman named Michelle, and a man named Lake. Heavenly Father knows exactly what he is doing!

In other news, we bucked hay the other morning! I felt like a real cowboy!

So far we have two people with baptism dates but there are still a lot of obstacles so keep them in your prayers!

Elder Norrell

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

July 20. 2015

So this week has been VERY memorable. Nampa is treating me well and Sonic is making me go broke.

I'll start with Tuesday's Bible study. Over all it was pretty uncomfortable. The Bible study starts at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday night at the church building and is open to visitors. There is even a big banner outside that lets everyone and their dog know about it.

Well Elder Goodsell and I went to see how it was going and lo and behold there were about five non-Mormons there! We went to go put up our coats and saw we had a voicemail from the Bishop. It said something along the lines of "Elders, it has been rumored that there are going to be anti-Mormons (Mormon haters) at the Bible study. I want you to go and make sure it doesn't get out of hand." Of course as soon as we get to the classroom there is this fifty year old man waving his Bible around in the air arguing about the Trinity and whatnot. They were in the first few chapters of Matthew and of course he was under the impression that the Jesus Christ that we believe in isn't the same one in the Bible. Wrong.

We sat down and the poor lady that was teaching the class was doing her best to keep this guy calm and to continue the study. Of course every other nonmember (with the exception of one) in the room was a part of his posse. There was an older woman that all she said was "I agree with him!" and "But what about the Temple?", and older man who sat quietly with his iPad out, another older woman who said nothing, and a bald guy that was asking actual questions that weren't directed at being contentious.

I quietly raised my hand and, when called on, said "You came to an LDS Bible study. We study the Bible the way that we understand it. If you have any questions feel free to give us your information and we will answer all of your questions in a different setting." Oh but the man arguing about the trinity wouldn't have it. He continued on and on without ceasing and the woman in charge ended a little bit early after finishing Matthew.

Afterwards I approached the man and asked him if he wouldn't mind giving us his phone number so that we could answer his questions. "Oh no no I can't. I'm a.. traveling business man from Florida and all I have are business numbers," he said. Then I asked his name. He told me it was Michael. Then he began to argue. He asked me question after question and tried to catch me up in words. I didn't bother arguing with him all too much although I did for a few minutes until it was clear to me that he wasn't really looking for answers. After a while I just stood there with my arms crossed while he spoke, waiting for him to get tired of talking and to leave which he eventually did.

Michael and his posse congregated in the foyer of the church and exited the building. Elder Goodsell and I tried to make an exit to get to an appointment but they stopped us in the parking lot to argue.
Long story short. I had a theologian talk to me and present me with all of these "evidences" as to why I was wrong. "In Greek [blah blah] means [whatever]," and he just kept going. He told me I was going to Hell and that I was wrong about everything and that Jesus had literally possessed him which caused him pain (pretty scary experience if you ask me) and it was horrible. I did not feel the spirit at all as he spoke. And what can you do? I told him that I didn't agree and that I knew what I had felt before to be true. It was like talking to a brick wall of "But!" and "If!"

I wasn't going to share this experience because I didn't feel it was worth sharing (I'm sure you can imagine how I felt about it) but the other night I had an interesting experience.
As I lay in bed Saturday night I began to replay the experience in my head. It was a slew of "What if"'s. "What if I had said [this]" or "What if I had said [that]," but then a thought, "What if they would listen to our message with an open heart?" I began to expand that thought. "What if they came to understand the Gospel the way I do?" I saw their lives change, their hearts soften, and I eventually saw them as Heavenly people with smiling faces. When I had their end-goal in mind in which they could achieve their full potential, it hit me. That's how God sees all of His children. He doesn't look at us as who were are right now. Instead he see's the big picture. He sees where we've been, who we are, and who we can become. His love is perfect and it isn't limited to us. There is nothing that we can do to keep Him from loving us because we can all change. We can all succeed despite who we are or what we have done. He wants us to be successful.

So what is holding us back from being the best that we can be? Each of us has the most powerful being in existence rooting for our success, ready to help us learn, grow, and overcome. What is it that holds us back. I venture to say that nothing stands in our way but us. If we remain humble, as the dust of the Earth is humble and susceptible to the wind, and can do no more than hope for His help, it will come. Will it come if we are not ready to act? Probably not. What good is a light switch in a dark room if you won't bother to feel around for it?

I've probably already shared this scripture but in Romans 8 it says:
35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
37. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things to come,
39. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I love you all and I want you to know that I am doing very well. Keep doing your best and hold fast to your faith and everything will be okay. It does not matter what happens, you are always looked after by God and His arms are always outstretched towards you.

With deepest love,
Elder Norrell

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Email from July 13

Hello everyone!

I love you all very much and I hope to hear from you so I can know how you are all doing.

Nampa has been treating me well and I have been working hard! There's this taco truck and it is SO GOOD. It's amazing to see how much love you can have for people you just met.

So it has been brought to my attention that there are many things occurring in the world that are frightening. Know that Christ has foreseen all of the challenges that we will and are facing and not only has He foreseen it but He has also felt our pain and our joy, so that He could know exactly how to help us. Perfect love casts out all fear so hold to the Lord and none other, build on Him as a house is built on a sure foundation. Any temporal foundation such as science, worldly logic, or material things will fail. Christ told us to lay not our treasure where moth and rust doth corrupt but to lay up our treasure in Heaven. For where our treasure will be, there will our heart be also. Do not put your faith in the arm of flesh but in the arm of the Lord. Treasure up the Spirit of God in your home, invite it in and chase away the spirit of contention. Treasure up your families, do not let them go. Treasure up your faith, continue to build it. These are some of the few things that last for eternity. The division between right and wrong is growing. We must take time to separate ourselves from the bad influences in our lives and to make the decision in our heart now that we will make good choices and align our will with God's.

Be happy! This is a time to have joy in knowing that there is a Heavenly Father that loves us. Despite what we may do and where we are or were, we are still God's children. It is never too late to turn to Him. He loves you and is waiting patiently for you to be willing to accept His help. He cannot help us if we won't accept it.

I hope you are all having wonderful weeks. I sure am. If you are reading this email, I love you very much and I will always do my best as a missionary, a son, and a friend.

Elder Norrell

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

This is Idaho

So this week has been pretty good. Although the temperature has been peaking in the 100's, we still push on. I'm talking about sweat stains in my collars for days. But on the bright side, due to the heat, some people are a little bit warmer towards us. Get it? No?

Anyway despite the heat this week, as usual, was well worth it. Although a nap would be nice the work stops for nobody. There were some nice people that gave us water but dinners this week were all pizza and hamburgers. No lie. Pizza is the bane of my existence. There is no possible way anyone can eat pizza and then jump on a bike to ride in the oven called Idaho and feel okay. But I will say that I am thankful that we get fed at all.
So very hot!!

So the most exciting thing that happened this week is that I can see a change in some of the members of the ward and some of the less active members. Since 8th ward is so big, Elder Barrow and I have instituted a plan to help get the ward members involved in missionary work. We go to their homes with a map of 8th ward which has been divided into districts. On that map are the names and locations of members who are both active and less active. We show them the map and ask "Will you get to know these neighbors?" Usually they agree. Hopefully once the members know each other, we can step it up a bit and ask them to spread out to the nonmembers that they live by.

We've gotten a few new people who seem to be interested in church and we hope they will see the need for it. One of this weeks greatest successes was Ashley, the daughter of a widowed active member. The mother and youngest son actively attend church but the rest of the siblings do not. Ashley hasn't been attending church regularly so we wanted to invite her to come. On Tuesday while we were sharing a message Ashley had come out of her room to listen. Just looking at her you could probably tell she was having a hard time and didn't seem too happy. After sharing our message we invited all of them, active members included, to attend church. All three accepted. And come Sunday they were all there! It really makes us happy to see people at church. It means they are keeping commitments which also means that they are actively making an effort to change/ repent.

Later that night while on splits, brother Baker told me that he wanted to go see Ashley and her family because his wife does a lot with the young women and she was concerned about Ashley. So we went. We talked to her mother at first and she told us that her daughter seemed to be having a hard time with self-worth. It's always hard to hear that because as a missionary you seem to truly understand that everyone is so valuable. To know that someone doesn't feel the love that God has for them truly makes your heart hurt for them. You wish that you could somehow make them understand how important they truly are. After a little bit of talking. Ashley came and sat down with us.

As we spoke about their experience with other church's I felt that I should invite them to do a family home evening which is where a family gets together and plays games and shares spiritual thoughts. At the center of their family evening that I wanted to invite them to do is the Because He Lives video which can be found at www.mormon.org/easter. As I handed off the assignment to the mother, she turned to her daughter, Ashley, and said "Actually I want Ash to do it." That was inspired. So Ashley has now been assigned a lesson to prepare and I know that if she does it, she will be blessed.

The theme for this week is that you are all valuable. Although there may be times when we are the only ones who cannot see our true worth it doesn't make you any less valuable. We are all sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. He will always love us and guide us. The only thing keeping us back from those blessings is ourselves. What good is a gift if we do not accept it? Always know that you are loved and that you are never alone in anything. Through the good times and the bad, your Father in Heaven will always be there; Christ will always understand; the Holy Spirit will always want to guide you. If you ever feel lost, humble yourself and pray to God, relinquishing all of your fears and all of your desires to Him. If you are truly willing to do whatever it is that He asks, your own desires will align with His, you will be happy, and you will fear no man because you will know that your Heavenly Father is on your side. He will chase out the darkness in your life with the light of His love and there will be no place where you cannot feel Him close by. You will know that He is there and that He has a plan for you.

Elder Norrell

Awesome watch tan

Various pics of Idaho animal friends

Elder Savage on his death bed...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The importance of families

June 15, 2015


This week was awesome and insanely hot some days but that's okay because all of these people, some were strangers, gave us water and one even gave us popsicles!

So church attendance this week was amazing! We had nine less actives and recent converts attend and two investigators attend as well! It was so amazing to see all of these people who we love finally come to church! One old lady named Linda came and she sat with us. She felt that everything that had been said and done was just for her and she was so glad! She really wants her son to come to church but he is a grown man and can make his own decisions so she will be patient and love him regardless which is wonderful! I think that this past Sunday was the happiest day of my mission so far and it gives me hope to know that a lot of our efforts aren't in vain. It's an interesting thing to see how Heavenly Father is so aware of all of us. Still I'm not going to settle and get comfortable with the success that we have now. Everyone is important and nobody is too far gone and that's why we are always pushing to get God and Christ into every home and every life.

I really want to emphasize the importance of family to all of you. I've been reading True to the Faith and in it there is a lot of information about the eternal significance of the family unit. We have been warned and counseled by modern- day Prophets on how to protect the sacredness of families. This year marks the 100th year since the institution of Family Home Evening which is where once a week families take time out of their busy schedule to teach and learn gospel principles and grow together closely. In 1915 I don't think there was as big of an issue about having time to spend with families as there is now. That was definitely inspired and God knew that we would be where we are today and He knew how important Family Home Evening would be. On top of that, the document titled "The Family a Proclamation to the World" was released twenty years ago . Simply put, the document clarifies that the family is ordained of God, that marriage is between a man and a woman, that children deserve to be reared in a home with two parents who love each other, along with other things. One thing that stood out to me this morning was when I read about how we are all a certain gender for a reason. I wondered if gender identity was really that big of an issue twenty years ago. It wasn't as big of an issue as it is today. It's important to realize that God makes us the way we are for a reason. We endure physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges because we can grow from the and rise above the obstacles. It isn't because God is cruel but rather because He is a very great deal wiser than any of us could ever hope to be. Much like a parent, God knows much more than His young children and even though we may not understand why things happen the way they do, we can always find comfort in knowing that God loves us and that all pain, separation, and guilt can be only temporary if we trust God and try our best to be like Jesus Christ. He is the only way, the only pure example, and the only One that could have made up for our own mistakes and shortcomings. Do not give up hope that your Father in Heaven loves you and cares for you. Remember that we lived forever before this life and that we will continue to live forever after this life and that because we are able to endure this frail existence with faith, our joy can be multiplied exponentially because we will always remember the pains of mortality as well as the joys of eternity. Adam fell that men might be and men are that they might have joy. It is because we know pain that we can feel joy. The sting of death and sin is swallowed up in Christ and everything that happens to us is for to make us all better than we were and better than we are.

I love you all very much and I hope you have a wonderful week!

Elder Norrell

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mission destroyed

So the mission was DESTROYED this transfer! Nearly every companionship had missionaries transfer out and it was cray cray! We got a third missionary. His name is Elder Barrow and he's cool!

Today for P-day we went to Swan Falls which is a dam. There are these things called whistle pigs and they're like these little cannibalistic Guinea pigs that live in holes in the ground. I think they're known as ground squirrels or something. 

Elder Savage is going home three weeks into this next transfer because of school and whatnot. He'd be leaving at the end of the transfer in six weeks anyway but oh well. 

So we moved about a third of a mile down the road today so that's cool. We are living with an Elderly couple now and they seem nice. We had a good time moving. Elder Savage was trying to remove a stopper on the legs of the bed with a knife and I was like "Elder Savage we can find a better way to do this." and Elder Savage was like "Nah" and I said "don't cut yourself." and then the knife slipped and he cut his hand. Looks like I was right but I'll never say it. I'm the one that tries to think of the best way to do something and Elder Savage is the one that just does it with brute force. What I'm trying to say is that we compliment one another.

This week I found investigators while on splits! A mother and son living with the less active member boyfriend. Confusing right? But seriously this lady was praying for help and then a day later we showed up. Prayer ANSWERED! Cause that's what we do. They are all super awesome and are willing to come to church and do what it takes to get Christ back into their lives. I mean you can give me all of the reasons not to believe or have faith but this kind of miracle has been happening often soooo I can't deny it nor do I want to.

This week has been amazing and I love you all! I hope life is going well! feel free to send me mail and a personal email!

Love you all so much!!
Love, Elder Norrell!

Mailing address is : 
Elder Joshua Norrell
1008 W Sanetta St. 
Nampa, ID 83651-5047

Monday, May 18, 2015

Fasting and praying


I have to make it quick this week because all of the computers were taken for EVER!

Anywho so this week was good! I fasted and prayed for patience because I was feeling super impatient with EVERYTHING you know the whole "Me want cookie NOW!" deal. So I was fasting, I was hungry, nothing was happening, and I was bummed but I decided to keep trying and see how things turned out. So nothing had happened and it was time to break my fast. I was disappointed to say the least but I am not allowed to fast more than 24 hours (missionary rules) and THE SECOND I prayed to end my fast I felt absolutely fine. And that's when it hit me that being patient is all about knowing that God is in control and that as long as you keep the faith and endure, things will be fine! It is an absolute testament that God is there and that he wants to bless us but He will do it in his time and only when we are obedient and have faith in Him.

Elder Norrell

Monday, May 11, 2015

The simple truths

Hey all you people! Hey all you people! Hey all you people, won't you listen to meeeee!!!

This week has been good! I'm getting a watch tan line and stuff! So this week was pretty fun and challenging. It's getting kinda warm outside, like I had a pit stain the size of a quarter. It's legit. Sorry for being gross. So all of our families are doing well. We got a referral for a guy that just got out of prison, we taught a young sixth grade girl who had just been adopted by a member family (She was baptized just before we got here so we are just reviewing stuff with her) and she's so cool! We also taught an Elderly woman who is not a member with her husband who is a member. She wants to be baptized and she knows what we teach is true but she feels like she needs to know everything about everything first. It ain't gonna happen. The Crawly's are also doing well Brother C. hurt his shoulder and was cheated out of some overtime at work and was feeling down so we gave him a blessing Sunday morning before he and his wife attended church. It went over very well. There were no super insane people this week but it did rain twice! So that's good (just so you know it's nothing like the rain back home).

I had a neat experience with reading this morning. I have been rereading the New Testament as well as a book called Jesus The Christ and I realized when reading about Christ's childhood that all that is said about Him between the age of twelve and thirty is that (probably not an exact quote but you get you get the point) "He increased in wisdom and in stature". What this means is that even Christ, being always perfect and diligent in learning, was still learning about The Gospel and Himself at least until He was thirty years old. That being said, none of us are greater than Christ. So how could we ever possibly hope to know everything there is to know about God, Christ, the Spirit, and the Gospel? Simply put, we can't. We cannot ever hope to fully comprehend any of it because we are physically limited to mortal understanding and capacity to comprehend spiritual matters. The only thing we truly have are the simple truths. Christ knew we would never understand; that is why He taught us to focus on the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law. That is why he taught us by parables and example. That is why it is necessary for us to focus on Gospel truths that we do know rather than be frustrated about we do not know. Christ put it simply for us so that we could stay on the strait and narrow path when he stated that the most important commandments were to love The Lord thy God with all they heart, might, mind, and strength. And like unto it, love they neighbor as thyself. Contained within these simple commandments is the spirit of the law. If we truly love God, we will obey all of his commandments as well as all of the promptings he gives us and we will love everyone else to the degree in which we will do them no wrong but forgive and love them continually to which extent we will be willing to lay down our property, our time, and even our very lives for them.

I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God's Church and that there is none other like it. I love The Lord and his example. He is perfect and His love for each of us is perfect. Always always ALWAYS pray sincerely to know what you should do and how you can do the will of God. I love you all so very much and I love your support!

Elder Norrell

Monday, May 4, 2015

Elders come here!


So this week has been good! Biking at least five miles gets easier every day and now that it's warming up I'm sweating a lot. I never realized I could sweat so much but what can you do? One day it felt like everyone had something to say to us when they drove by! It was interesting to get so many opinions and most of them make Elder Savage and I laugh and give us something to talk about so that's good! We had to get Kevlar bicycle tires because we kept getting flats from these little thorn things called goat heads. So far no flats!

We met a RM (return missionary) the other day while we were going to contact someone and he was just standing on the street corner yelling "ELDERS COME HERE! ELDERS! ELDERS! ELDERS!" When we spoke to him he had been back from his mission in Portugal for a whopping seven HOURS. He had been home seven hours and here he was walking down the street at eleven O'clock looking for something to do and apparently talking to himself. It was a little weird like "Guy, you just got home at four O'clock and you got up at six thirty to go tracting in your own companionship. You're crazy." He was practically begging us to take him with us to go do contacting which was actually pretty funny. So we are going to get in touch with his dad so that we can get together since he doesn't have a phone of his own.

Oh my goodness so many blessings. It was weird because this past week I realized that before my mission I absolutely did not care much for talking to people. And then I think about what even motivated me to serve a mission. I'll be honest with you. I'm not doing it for myself. If this was about me I'd be out of here. I'm on a mission because I love God and in turn am obligated to love his children and that is what nobody around here seems to understand. They act as though you are trying to be sneaky and trick people into doing the wrong thing. Behind this badge is a person and he cares. I'm not a robot, just in case there were any doubts. If I could somehow make people understand my intentions I think they'd be a lot more receptive. All of the time we get people who want to use baseless facts and words that have been taken out of context and I wonder "What are they trying to accomplish?". They want to confuse me or shake my faith because I don't know why. Don't you know I have a big 'ol rock that I sit on? Don't you know that Christ is the foundation? You will never break me as long as I've based my faith on Christ. If all you want is to confound me, what do you accomplish? Did Christ himself not say that a tree that brings good fruit is good and likewise a tree that brings forth corrupt fruit is corrupt itself? Did he not say that if the blind lead the blind that they both fall into a ditch? Sometimes we are too busy focusing on little things that we fail to see the big picture. Are you or are you not trying to bring others unto Christ? Don't worry about who has a degree in whatever or who claims to know what's best for you. Do what YOU feel God wants you to do and always pray to know if what you are doing is correct. If it brings you closer to God it is right.

Sorry about my ranting! I meant it in the best way possible and in no way is it directed at any one person or event. You all are wonderful and I know that our Heavenly Father looks out for us and wants us to be happy. Just accept Him into your life, live the gospel, love your neighbor, and know that I love you. Do what is right, not what is easy.

Elder Norrell

P.S. I've given up on correcting people about the pronunciation of my name. It can be whatever you want.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 27, 2015

Miracles miracles miracles! Hello to all of my favorite people!

So this week has been wonderful! My legs are super in shape and stuff. I mean I can bike for days no lie. So this week we didn't really have anyone say anything rude or try to offend us which was pretty cool. We did have an old guy that wanted to not so subtly insult organized religion but I'm not exactly sure what he was trying to accomplish. You can always tell if someone is truly trying to serve The Lord by the way that they treat you. If all they want to do is tell you what's wrong with you and make you feel bad then you know that they aren't doing God's work; they're doing man's work. And so far I've had nobody even attempt to help me grow closer to God. Usually the Nazarenes and the Jehovah's Witnesses flee for their lives when they realize who we are.

So there's this family, we will call them the Crawly family for the sake of anonymity, and they are blessed. Around 8:30 Elder Savage and I got home from a long day and for some reason it just didn't feel complete. We walked inside and I was like "Wooh! Let's go again!" So we opened up our area book and saw the name which has been replaced with Crawly. "Let's go see them." we said. So we walk a ways because it isn't too far from our home and we knock on their door. An older gentleman who looks to be in his late fifties opens up the door and is standing there in his white tank top and jeans looking at us kind of confused. "Hello." He grunts. "Brother Crawly" Elder Savage states, "We are your missionaries." Brother Crawly just stood there. I can't recall exactly how it went but he ended up telling us that he hadn't seen missionaries for a while. When he said that tears began to well up in his eyes. "I've been turning away the missionaries for twenty years" he says "My wife and I have been going to all of these churches and praying a lot recently trying to find the right one and here you are." His lips turned upward into a smile as more tears came. "Would we be able to come back, Brother Crawly?" I asked. Immediately he said "Yes." And that, my friends, was a miracle and a witness to me that the LDS Church is the true church and that God's hand is seen there. It is a church of fellowship, love, and forever growing faith.

This week hasn't been easy. I will tell you that. Sometimes it's hard when everyone knows that you are the new guy. But I won't settle for that. I promise you that I will do my best to keep going and to stay worthy of my calling as a full-time servant of The Lord. With sufficient faith there is nothing that we cannot do to fulfill all righteousness. Stay faithful and trust in God. He is there and He is ready to bless you. All you have to do is show Him that you are ready to accept whatever he has in store for you.

Elder Norrell

April 20, 2015

Hello! So funny story, my companion Elder Savage, who was transferred into Kuna with me, and I were contacting someone and we saw this Elderly woman in a hover round and the end of the street. So after we contact this person we turn around and here's this old disabled lady in her hover round across the street from us yelling something incomprehensible. So being the Elders and stuff we walk over to her and she's STILL shouting nonsense at us and we haven't a clue what she's saying. All we can make out is "Mormon" so we are all like "Yes! We are the Mormons!" and then this woman, we'll call her Hanna, is yelling "CULT! Ahhhbuuhcookiiluuuaaahhh! CULT!" "No we aren't a cult." and THEN she starts yelling again and we have no idea what she is saying. So she pulls out this laminated sheet of paper with the alphabet on it and this woman is BASHING us one. letter. at. a. time. APPARENTLY Hanna went to a Lutheran Bible College so she MUST be well versed. She's going on and on about how we are man made and whatnot and how we are awful people. "All we want is for people to be happy." we say. She disagrees. So I pull out the big guns and say. "Do you hate me?" Her mouth opens up as wide as it can go. Her tongue is sitting there and some air begins to whistle past her tongue. The corners of her mouth turn up to show her teeth a little and she answers "YES!" as she nods her head up and down. And I'm just over here like "Oh really?". Eventually she accepted a Book of Mormon and we tell her "God loves all of his children and Jesus Christ does as well. We know that if you read this book and pray to God with a sincere heart, your relationship with him will be strengthened. "Yes yes!" Hanna is shaking her head the affirmative while pointing to the designated "PTL" which stands for "Praise The Lord" on her alphabet sheet that sits between the "YES" and the "NO". "I love everyone!" Says Hanna. But that was about all we had from Hanna.

People like to Bible bash in Kuna. We are biking about ten miles a day at least and my quads are constantly on fire but it's all okay! I love it though! Kuna is this small town and Elder Savage and I have about 900 members between 8th and 6th wards which are the two we cover. That's about half of the stake! There are rolughly 350 active members in 8th ward and 150 active in 6th and with all of the subdivisions being built people move in weekly. It's been a little tough. We have to bike to go see everyone, records haven't been kept in the area book for about sixth months and the Previous elders left a VERY bad taste in everyone's mouth so we have some repairs to conduct with our relationship with the town. The list of "Visit Weekly" people that the previous Elders left us is basically a list of hangout spots where people intend for us to stay about three hours to hang out. Homie don't play that. Overall though we are having GREAT success. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it here! Some people are really nice but others not so much. The population is about 17% LDS. Some people even care so much about us that they can only use hand signals to express their concern for us! To think that we could have such and impact! I mean there are young people that give us advice as they drive by and even one guy in a truck waving a sword around shouting for joy! The Nazarene's are a different story though. I'll tell you what they can sure be verbally hostile. But there are people here of every religion and their views of the Mormons are very colorful to say the least.

Fight it all you want. God still loves you! I know I'm doing the right thing and I love it!

Love you,
Elder Norrell

I can only do one picture at a time.P.S. Elder Hamlin my MTC comp is the one on the far right.

Here are pictures of Kuna.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Greetings Outsiders!

Hey. Stop freaking out. They just made us wait for over a week since we got here to let us have a P-day (preparation day) to do what we need to do!

The missionary training center (MTC) is pretty cool. I feel like I've been here forever. If you want to know what the food is like just look up Jeremiah 4:19. So I've done a lot and I have nowhere to start. I've taught some people and the lessons are going well. My companion is Elder Hamlin and I don't think I could have gotten a better companion. He's quiet but we get along super well and he makes funny comments that only the Elders in my district hear and we crack up during our six hour long study sessions. We have 0 time for anything else. Usually I try to keep the room clean but this morning we had to be at the temple for a session that started at 7:20 so I didn't make my bed like I usually do or put all of my stuff away and GUESS what happened. A surprise room inspection occurred while we were gone and we failed miserably. But that's okay. At least we know we might as well not worry about cleaning our room anymore. I think I'd rather go to the temple and get chewed out than be praised and have no temple time.You can't get a break in the MTC. We get out of class at 9:30 and have to be in bed at 10:30. 

My district rocks. We all get along super well and the Sisters are all very nice. Every meal I write stuff on napkins so that when people go to get napkins, they have something nice or funny to read. Other than teaching it's the highlight of my day. So we have investigators which are people that we teach and one of them is Ashley a.k.a. Sister Baer, one of our teachers. She's pretty cool and it's strange teaching a pretend investigator. They tell us that almost everyone you teach in the MTC is actually a member but I don't think Dan is. Dan is by far my favorite investigator. He is a BYU student who came from Japan to study. Dan is severely physically handicapped and has a hard time using his hands as well as most of his body but when I asked him what it was like he found a way to consider himself lucky. Dan isn't religious and has never even thought about God so at first he was difficult to teach because he knew hardly any of the terminology and on top of that his first language is Japanese so some English phrasing that we all understand, he doesn't understand. But although he was difficult we kept trying. I fasted and prayed on Tuesday for help in teaching Dan and lo and behold there was a MIRACLE. Not only did Dan begin to feel comfortable with the missionaries but we went to a devotional later that night that was on teaching those without Christian backgrounds! My prayers were answered because I had remained faithful to my promises, fasted, and kept myself aligned with God! It was unbelievable! And more miracles followed! On Wednesday when we were teaching Dan he expressed a new found love for nature and we didn't follow our planned lesson at all but instead felt inspired to talk about the Creation. After hearing about the creation Dan said "I think it's stupid for anyone to believe that everything happened by coincidence" and it. was. TRUE. Dan, the guy who was afraid to pray because he was almost sure that there was no such thing as God was now expressing a belief in something more than what we can see! I was so happy! Elder Hamlin and I expressed our own testimonies of the knowledge that we have of God and his Divine power. The feeling in the room was like walking on clouds. After we shared our testimonies, Dan said "Do you want me to pray now?" YES DAN YESSSSSS! We had been asking Dan to pray but he was too afraid of disappointing us by not getting an answer and there he was WANTING TO PRAY! His first ever prayer was the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. It went like this
"Dear Heavenly Father, are you there? I love nature. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
At that moment it was as though the gates of Hell themselves had been wrent in twain and no force on Earth could hinder the power of his sincere first prayer. I couldn't help but smile from ear to ear and tell dan how much I loved him. I could not cease to praise him. He said that he felt overwhelmed and that I was, as the Japanese would say, "Killing him with compliments" He told us "I don't think I've had anyone ever care about me this much after only three days." and that "I thought all religious people were crazy but I don't think you're crazy." Thank you, Dan. We felt that we should give him more time to clearly see the answer to his prayer before we invite him to be baptized but hopefully on our next and final visit, he will be ready. I know that he will get an answer. I know that nothing is coincidence and that there was a reason I felt so motivated to read that entire Learn Japanese book. I know I am where I need to be and that Love is the pick that can break even the hardest of hearts.

Elder Norrell

P.S. The MTC computer is weird and I don't think I can send photos. I'll send some when I get into the field.