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Faith, prayer sustained Norby family following terrorist attack

Richard Norby's wife and missionary companion credits faith in God for allowing her family to endure the horrific moments, days and weeks that followed the airport bombing in Brussels on March 22.

“[Faith] has been our anchor,” said Sister Pamela Norby at an April 19 press conference at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City where her husband is being treated for burns and shrapnel injuries suffered in the attack.

“We are grateful for the faith that we have and for the trust and belief that we have in our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ,” she said. “He is a God of miracles and we have seen miracles throughout this experience.”

Sister Norby was joined at the press conference by her son, Jason Norby, and Dr. Stephen Morris, a surgeon and burn specialist who is part of the medical team caring for Brother Norby.

On March 22, Elder Norby and two other missionaries — Elder Mason Wells, 19, and Elder Joseph Empey, 20 — were dropping off Sister Fanny Clain, 20, at the airport when two bombs detonated.

The 66-year-old Lehi, Utah, resident suffered serious burns and shrapnel wounds and spent almost a month in a Belgium hospital where doctors performed skin graph procedures and other surgeries. He returned home, via air ambulance, on April 16.

Sister Norby was at the couple's apartment at the time of the attack and learned of the bombings when her injured husband called.

The Norbys were released from their mission call on April 17.

Dr. Morris said Brother Norby “has a long way to go” and is expected to remain in the hospital “for a number of weeks.”

Still, he is recovering. He is able to speak and is enjoying peanut butter sandwiches, ice cream, bananas and other favorite foods. He even wished his family “good luck” prior to the press conference.

Brother Norby, the doctor added, is a remarkable patient. “He has a lot of determination and he has a lot of heart — he's amazing.”

Brother Norby will likely require additional surgeries in the future.

Sister Norby shared her family's gratitude for many things, including “the prayers from many people throughout the world.”

She also expressed concern and love for the other missionaries injured in the bombings — and all of the victims of the Brussels attacks. “We know what they are going through.”

It was a joy and a blessing, she added, to serve the people of Belgium. “They are a warm, loving and kind people.”

Jason Norby said his father remembers clearly the attack, but he declined to speak of the dark memories of the day. Instead, he focused on his father's optimism and his excitement to be back in Utah among loved ones.

“He's just so happy to be home.”

Better days await, assured Sister Norby.

“It has been an interesting journey. We hope to make the best of it. We feel that we are.”

Two of the other missionaries injured in the attack — Joseph Empey and Sister Fanny Clain — have been released from the hospital. The fourth, Mason Wells, is continuing his recovery at the University of Utah Hospital.

Sister Clain plans to finish her full-time mission in the United States.

[email protected] @JNSwensen

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