Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29, 2014

   How is everyone?! I hope everyone had an amazing Christmas! And hopefully my prayers are being answered and everyone is happy and safe as can be! :)
The past two weeks have been incredible! Here is the brief rundown...
   We had an awesome Family Home Evening with Hermana K...and dinner was included! She made the rice and bananas and P and I were in charge of the chicken and papas! Here in Ecuador they have something really popular called Papi-Pollo...TOO GOOD! The US is missing out for sure! 
   Last week Elder P and I were walking home from the cyber and this drunk dude came up to us...he was selling Tortillas...and he was very persistent! To the point where we were starting to feel a little threatened so we gave in and bought...and then he insisted on watching us...long story short it took my stomach a while to recover from that one...don't buy from drunks!
   Still working on the house of one of our converts...still playing football with bricks! Way too much fun! We still have a ways to go with their house but it is so fun to help out such and incredible family! I love serving the members and people in general here. It is one of the grandest blessings as a missionary.
   Kinda a cool story...The Lord works in mysterious ways! I was with the ward mission leader and Elder G was with a member on a split...we were supposed to meet back up at the house of the mission leader at a specific time so we could leaved from there to our house together. The time rolled around but I felt prompted to just keep I did. We ended up running into Elder G quite a ways away...and we walked far enough that we didn't need to take a taxi to our house so we just decided to walk...and on our way we found TWO amazing families who we are now teaching. They are AMAZING! And had we not have kept walking, we would not have had to walk home...and would not have found these two families who The Lord has prepared for the message of this true and restored gospel. FOLLOW THE PROMPTINGS OF THE SPIRIT! He will guide you to the path that you need to take...more importantly he will guide you to others paths that need YOU.
   I was with Elder P and we were teaching a woman who runs her own little store. She sells candy, toiletries, drinks, etc...and we were teaching her about the word of wisdom. THE INSTANT we told her that coffee was against the word of wisdom she responded, "Oh no, I am a sinner". After learning that she was breaking a commandment of our Heavenly Father she decided to stop drinking coffee...and even cooler...she does not sell it in her store anymore! How neat!?? She is such a humbling example to me of what it means to sacrifice and what it means to rely on and follow The Lord and His teachings. I have full faith that the window of Heaven will open over her head and the blessings will poor out upon her and her family.
   We also had another BBQ with K...she is always asking to feed us! And of course we always accept! Haha! She was in charge of the rice and bananas again and P and I cooked the meat...I accidentally burnt a piece :/ She just laughed it off and made sure to give it to Elder G! Haha! SSHHHHH ;)
   Our ward had a Christmas was Disco Themed! SO neat! To bad I couldn't get down with my bad self as a missionary! Haha! It is hard to go from buck wild to nothing...but I did it! Tons of our investigators ended up going and having a good was really an awesome activity.
   We got to go to the temple with the youth in the ward too this past week! Such an awesome experience! Elder P and I did confirmations! How cool it was to see our converts make it to the House of The Lord. One of the best feelings in the world by far. Indescribable. Unreal. The joy of seeing people change through becoming closer to our Savior is my most favorite thing in the whole world.
   I had to lend my suit to one of our converts for a party of his two weeks ago...still have not got it back...haha! Hopefully it shows up sooner or later...but I have been wearing Elder P's...and I am sure it would have fit me 5 months ago but now it is a little baggy...haha.
   The final between Barcelona and Emelek was this past week too. They are two teams from Guayaquil...and the rivalry is INSANE! Emelek ended up winning and the streets went wild! Wild to the point of danger! Flipping tables, throwing chairs, parades, drinking, and moshes. If only the people here were as passionate about conference as they are about soccer! ;)
   Last week was the BOMB! We got to spend P-DAY in Guayaquil...we saw HUGE paper sculptures. A big thing here on new years is to make paper sculptures and stuff them with bombs and fireworks. As soon as it is the new year they light them off..I am pretty pumped for that! I hear it is pretty awesome! And the sculptures are pretty impressive...
   On the 23rd, we had our mission Christmas party fiesta thingy...with all 250 missionaries! It was awesome! We all stuffed in one chapel so it was pretty packed. And I reunited with Elder J! It was so tight to kick it with the homie for the night. And we both spent the night at the temple hotels so we spent that whole day that dude! We had a quick conference with the President on the 24th and then headed home.
   We got back to Ventanas around 6ish on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve here is a whole lot bigger than Christmas day. We had tons of dinners and visits with members. So much fun! The streets were wild! It still did not feel like was hot, humid, and the trees branches flow up instead of down! ;) Elder P and I had our own little Christmas with the packages that our fam bams sent us which was fun...we went out on Christmas day and gave candy and toys to the niños, which was the highlight of the day by far! Did my laundry, studied, and ate some rice. So it was a pretty normal day in the mission...but a normal day in the mission is the best day ever not in the mission. I still got to put a plaque over my heart and represent our Savior! Which is the greatest gift ever!
   A member bought me a coconut...when I was drinking the milk I accidentally dropped it...they have so much built up pressure in the coconuts that when it hit the ground it exploded all over me! haha! SO there is my moment...
   Obviously seeing the family was amazing. Man do I have a beautiful mother! So good to see how happy my family was! And it made me more and more grateful for them every second I was talking to them...and more and more excited to work hard and help other families have what I have. We ended our Skype session with a prayer...half way through the prayer I felt something on my leg...I looked down and there was a MASSIVE Cockroach...I had to swallow my fear and finish strong soon as I said amen I lost it! I swiped him off my lap and finished the i thought...but, the next day I reached in my back pack to get my camera and the first thing I felt were little fuzzy legs and scraggly antennas. These cockroaches are endless!
We got 2 whole hours to chat with our sweet missionary! It was so good to see and hear him - he is doing well and is so happy. :)

The kids prepared a One Direction song to sing to Elder Noll and he LOVED it!

Elder Noll Happy, Happy, Happy! 

A Missionary Mom's favorite gift...all her kids together :)

   I am honestly having such an awesome time here! There are so many other stories I have but we would be here for days! And I do not have a whole lot of time!
   This time of year I am always overwhelmed with gratitude for the gift of repentance. With the new year we have the chance to set new goals and start the year out blessed we are to have the chance to start fresh every day of our lives through the Atonement of our Savior. I love the end of the 10th chapter of 2Nephi. We are told to "cheer up our hearts"and to choose for ourselves everlasting life or death. In today's terms...HEY! Lighten up! You are making your own decisions! Don't blame anyone else. YOU have the chance to make your OWN decisions...and your decisions will lead you to your destination.
The choice is yours.
It follows by inviting us to be "reconciled to God". To remember Him. To be like Him. And there is NO WAY that we can be even somewhat similar to Him with the spots of the world...being the sinners that we all are. That is why being reconciled to God through repentence is so important. It will make the difference between happiness and misery. Light and dark. It is the difference between life and death, Brothers and Sisters. Reconcile and repent. With every fiber of your soul every single day. Through repentance we can become cleansed from the spots of the world. We will become more like our Savior. Every time we kneel before our Heavenly Father and BEG for His forgiveness we are one step closer to coming forth on the morning of the first resurrection and inheriting the Kingdom of God.
It is not too late! It is never too late. Repentance is always available to anyone...and it is only made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ which was, is, and alway will be eternal. Never feel like you are hopeless or helpless...because if we have two things in this life with the Atonement it is HOPE and HELP. No matter what. NO matter the situation, who you are, where you are, or what you have done. The Lord´s only invitation for YOU is the come unto Him.
Choose TODAY. Our Savior is waiting to embrace you fully with His everlasting love.
I love the focus on Jesus Christ this time of year. His birth is so important...He was and still is the greatest gift that the world has ever known...
But, the baby grew up, Brothers and Sisters.
Rather, let us focus on the life that our Savior LIVED. Not just the fact that He was born.
Focus on the fact that the God of the Universe descended below all so that He could know, feel, and succor YOU perfectly. SO that you could be forgiven. So that you could return to live with your Heavenly Father again. So let's go there! Let's reconcile ourselves! Let's accept His invitaion and come unto Him through repenting daily and be cleansed through the Atonement and grace of God.
Choose TODAY!
   I testify, in His holy name, that the only way to inherit the Kingdom of God is through repentance which is made possible through the most loving, powerful, and eternal act in the history of the world; the Atonement.
He is ready for your return...He always is.
Love you all so much! I know I say that every week but it is so true!
Happy New Years!
Elder Noll

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