“I started teaching when I was 19. You know, we weren’t 30 years old back then, trying to find ourselves. If you didn’t work, you didn’t eat.” Pam Norman, mother of two and grandmother of four, set out early with a burning desire to serve others forged with an unstoppable work ethic. That combination created a force powered by love that radiates all the way from Bay Roberts, Newfoundland to Parramos, Guatemala.

After retiring from a thirty-year teaching career and selling a busy fitness business, Norman found herself at loose ends. “I had plenty of life left,” she said, remembering back to the summer of 2008. Active in the parish of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in her home town of Bay Roberts, Norman became aware of missionary work being undertaken to Guatemala to build homes and help an impoverished, indigenous community educate its children. “I knew nothing about Guatemala,” she commented. “Missionary work was not a passion for me, but I think when you’re called to do something like that you’re often the least likely person for the job. So it was in my case. The dream came after the calling.”

Norman quickly discovered that she would be responsible for paying her own way if she was going to follow her new calling and so she set out to earn the money to go on her first mission. She answered an ad for a real estate assistant and was surprised to hear the interviewer say that he wouldn’t hire her for that job because he believed she was “a born real estate agent”. “I didn’t like the idea of selling real estate at first,” she said, “but I did like the idea of making money so I could help build homes. Selling real estate was a means to an end.” Within three weeks she obtained her real estate license, sold her first listing and was on her way to Guatemala.

Norman throws herself wholeheartedly into everything she undertakes and her real estate career is no exception. She built her business by knocking on doors during Newfoundland’s extreme weather. “I still have people today who say to me, ‘I saw you going around the first year you started, knocking on doors in the snow, and I thought, if I ever sell this house, she’s the real estate agent I want.’” She held open houses every Sunday and invited the local community to attend. Right from the beginning, she told her clients, “I can’t promise that I will sell your house but I promise you that nobody will work harder.” In her first year, fueled by her new passion, she took 50 listings and made 40 sales, becoming National Rookie of the Year. Today, Norman oversees a team of four other agents, has two administrative assistants and carries, on average, more than 200 listings at any given time.

The company she joined then, and in fact, the only real estate company where she has ever worked, is EXIT Realty. “I love the brand,” she commented. “I really appreciate the training and I would drive an hour from Bay Roberts to St. John’s to attend.  I love the energy of the company and I especially love earning residual income. EXIT is a part of me.”

With EXIT Realty’s unique business model known as the EXIT Formula, Norman can build a team of real estate agents within the brokerage and earn a bonus paid by EXIT Realty Corp. International based on their production as a special thank you for helping to grow the business. “A lot of money goes back into my real estate business in the form of advertising and promotion and I also have two administrative assistants,” she said. “All of those expenses are paid with my commission income and I use my EXIT Realty sponsoring bonuses to help build the houses in Guatemala and contribute to other projects. I would never want to leave EXIT.”

Norman sponsors the director of the school in Guatemala, three families, and she sends money or supplies along with every mission trip regardless of whether she personally attends. “Seeing the need first-hand is not like watching it on television. The school provides a meal each day for the children and their facilities were awful including an old wood stove that filled the place with smoke,” she said. “We were instrumental in remodelling the kitchen, providing a stove and ventilation. Many people like to sponsor the building of a house and they often do so in memory of a loved one. I have personally sponsored approximately 30 homes.”

On Boxing Day of 2014, Norman’s life changed dramatically when she suffered a succession of three near-fatal heart attacks. While preparing a meal for her family, she felt a hot flash and became nauseated. Her son, an emergency room nurse, recognized the symptoms and her family rushed her to the hospital. “I died in the car,” she recalled. “I felt as though my body was being lifted and I heard voices that told me not to be afraid. I remember being filled with joy and peace; it was so beautiful. Then the voices told me that my family was in great distress and I had to go back to comfort them. As I came to, I realized I was in the arms of my son and he was pleading with me to stay. I assured him that although I was going to die, everything would be okay and that I was at peace.”

Norman suffered two more heart attacks within a couple of hours during which she flat-lined and again experienced similar feelings of joy and peace only to be called back to comfort her family. Remarkably, she recovered fully and within a week she was back on the phone conducting her real estate business. “We have an amazing place to look forward to,” she said.

Norman often shares her story with others and in fact, when she posted it on Facebook shortly after she returned to work, it was seen by more than 40,000 people. “Often when you’re selling someone’s house, they’re selling because they’ve suffered a loss. When I sit with someone who has lost a husband or wife, mother or father, they appreciate hearing my story. It is a gift I’ve been given.”

Norman, her husband, Eric, other family members and missionaries traveled to Guatemala in the spring of 2016 for the opening of a new high school. Of the 700 students, 200 of them are sponsored by people in Newfoundland. “Eric agreed to my attending the dedication but he doesn’t want me to get back into the physical labor of building homes yet. My heart attack was devastating for him. He worries and it took him longer to get over it than it took me! I’m a ‘china doll’ to him.” Norman is making plans to visit Guatemala again soon.

“Being involved with EXIT and using my real estate income to fund my missionary work in Guatemala has been wonderful for me and helped to broaden my horizons,” she said. “Confidence and hard work will take you anywhere you want to go. I have an amazing life.”

 

 

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