Mother celebrates son's mission work
Mother. Christian. Missionary. Meet Boone resident Teresa Norman.
She's a world traveler, having recently returned from a mission trip to Nicaragua. Her faith has led her to do some amazing things, but it's no surprise to Norman. After all, as she'll tell you, when God calls, you have to answer.
Just ask her son, 26-year-old ASU grad and Nicaraguan missionary Jim Bob Norman.
He heard the call in 2008 and has been with New Song Mission in Nicaragua ever since as its youth leader.
What started as a family trip became an extended stay for Jim Bob.
"God called him on the airplane trip when we left," Norman said.
And, through his tenure at New Song, he has touched the lives of Christians in Watauga, giving them an opportunity for missionary service.
The latest trip, put on by First Baptist Church in Boone, consisted of Teresa Norman, Dee Greene, Daniel Rochelle and Emily Rochelle. The quartet returned July 14 after a week of service, helping youth at a nondenominational church in Candelaria in northwest Nicaragua.
"Daniel plays guitar, and he helped lead in the worship events," Norman said. "We had one almost daily."
But New Song Mission, and missionary work in general, isn't just about foreign nationals. It's about helping, and it's an invaluable experience for any Christian, Norman said.
"It's just a wonderful time to know how people worldwide experience their relationship with Jesus ... there's this cycle of poverty for them," she said, and through it all, they don't ask for sympathy.
It's just the opposite. Norman was touched to see how the children, in particular, maintain a positive attitude in the face of what much of western civilization would refer to as adversity.
"They don't have much opportunity for enjoying each other, like a social time," Norman said.
"Their homes are the size of one room in most houses in American, and they enjoy coming to the church to be able to play music, to play games, to dance, to just have time together."
Things that much of America takes for granted, personal automobiles, computers and books, are virtually nonexistent.
"Their poverty is dramatic, but they are a very happy people, even though they don't have material things," she said.
Still, the people find ways to celebrate. Norman was excited to take part in a birthday celebration for a 15-year-old Nicaraguan girl, a "big deal," she said.
"Their custom and culture believe that, at age 15, a girl is entering womanhood," she said.
The girl dons a costume similar to what someone would wear to a wedding.
"And she is escorted from her house to the church ... and she is given her first pair of high-heeled shoes," Norman said.
And the mission is a part of the celebration, just as it is an integral part of daily life in Candelaria.
"The area is mainly a sugar cane plantation," she said. "For years, there was no other work there. Now the mission hires many of the people who live there to be a part of the church and help with the medical and dental clinic that they have there."
Along with Norman's son, Tommy and Linda Gable (formerly of Boone) live full time in Nicaragua, working at the mission.
For Norman, the trip represented several things: An opportunity to help, a chance to experience another culture and, of course, the much treasured opportunity to visit with her son.
After all, there's no telling how long he'll be in Nicaragua.
"I just say God knows how long he's supposed to be there," she said. "He loves it there, and he's happy to be in service there. So, I don't really know what time frame that might be."
While she misses her son, she is proud of what he's there to do, and hopes his story inspires others to service.