Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8, 2014

   I am alive! Not that anyone was really wondering...I just thought I would just let you all know ;)
   Last P-DAY was a little crazy...we were in Guayaquil and didn't have any time to write! But here I am! I am okay!
   First I want to say that I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving with family and friends! Hopefully everyone is safe and full :)
   So, two weeks ago Elder P and I constructed a Ping-Pong table...How awesome!? We got the paddles after searching for them for our entire P-DAY...we made it back to the house...anxious to play...I go to serve...wait...we don't have ping pong balls! We searched diligently and could not find any for the longest time, but we finally came across some! So every P-DAY we get our PONG on! Pretty tight! 
   Last week was pretty much the week of service (if I had to put a name to it). We helped a family put a second level on their house...TOUGH work! Concrete, bricks, and heights...three of my favorite things in the world! ;) It really has been fun though! I GOT FRIED though! So I guess that was my Gringo moment of the week...forgot my sunscreen and ended up looking like a tomato for a few days. It was funny to see the concerned looks I was getting from everyone.
    I got to help someone change the oil in their car the other day! Thank goodness for a '73 Bus and an INCREDIBLE Father. I also taught a man how to pop the clutch and start his car with the battery dead! Thank goodness again for a '73 Bus and an INCREDIBLE Father. Everything happens for a reason! Even if your car doesn't always start, it has a plywood window, and gas leaks out the bottom...everything happens for a reason! ;) Haha!
   Hmmmmm...They like to eat fish here this time of year so that has been fun! Too bad they don't gut them! All they do is cut them in thirds (Fourths if it is a big fish) and throw it in a pan and plop them in a soup! How brutal?! So I ate a strait up fish head. Bones, eyes, and honestly did not taste bad, but I felt bad for the poor fish looking me in the eyes as I ate his own head. I guess that counted as my Thanksgiving!
   We found an AMAZING family! There is no doubt in  my mind that The Lord has prepared them for this Gospel at this exact time. We feel so blessed to have been led there by the spirit. They have an adorable little girl! She turns 3 this month...she is so funny. She asked me why my skin is yellow and why my arm hair is white...every lesson since she sits on my lap and pets my arm if I am a dog. It keeps her quiet though! Haha!
   The other day we were fishing water out of a well with a bucket...I was really struggling. For some reason I could not fill the bucket! And the well is so deep that you can't see what's up at the bottom because it is so dark. The members we were helping started busting up. I could not figure out what the deal was. Finally after about 15 minutes of my tomato red, frustrated, foolish looking self trying to get water for this family I pulled the rope up...and the bucket was not even there!!!! I almost lost it! HAHAHAHAH! I am convinced that they knew it the whole time but they were just enjoying themselves too much! 
   We were helping another member that night with her Christmas decorations. She has a MASSIVE box with with so many decorations, ornaments, and fragile things like that. We were doing okay and as soon as she said "be careful", the bottom of the box ripped open and a very large majority of her stuff went crashing to the ground. I felt so bad! Broken Santa Clause heads all around was a NIGHTMARE. But she just shrugged her shoulders and invited us inside for rice and bananas! So we accepted :)
   ¿Que Mas? We are trying to finish up this house for this family, right? We are working on the roof right now. We needed a hammer or something like that so I climbed down to retrieve it. At the same time, Elder G needed to dump the bucket of dirty concrete there I am...casually picking up a hammer like anyone would pick up a hammer...and I am suddenly bombarded with 84 gallons of water...apparently Elder G did not see me below. Haha! So it was refreshing I guess...and it is as close to swimming as I will get for the next little while! Haha! Despite the fact that it was filthy and filled with concrete...
   We went to a place in our sector se llama Hechandia. It is about an hour and a half outside of Ventanas by bus. So we headed out there, my companion and I with 2 members - to preach the gospel! The bus was a lot more expensive than we thought...we were broke...and stranded in Hech-an-freaking-dia...we put together every single one of our nickels, pennies, and dimes and ended up having EXACTLY the right amount to get us 4 back to Ventanas. How cool? No more, no less...If that is not a miracle I am not sure what is!
   Saturday we were in Quevedo for a conference with Juan A. Useda! He is the President of South America Northwest Area and a member of the first quorum of the 70...holy smokes was that awesome! I learned SO much from him...shaking his hand was truly humbling...and I got to do it twice because he came to Ventanas yesterday for another conference in OUR ward! The capilla was filled! So filled that we had to stand up for the whole meeting! So cool! 
   On Saturday since we were in Quevedo I was reunited with mi Hermano, Elder J! We are the same exact numbnuts as we have always been...good grief. I was sitting up in the stands...I forget the word in English...where the speakers sit...where the microphones are...those seats behind the bishop and what not...and Elder J was sitting in one of the first rows in the congregation...and if any of you know Elder J and I you know that we were making faces and making each other laugh! Hopefully the President of the entire Northwest and Member of the seventy did not see...I think with just about 13 years of experience we got away with it though! Haha! It was so great to see him!
   The Christmas Devotional was great! How incredible was the choir though!?
   That was basically the last two weeks!
   Holy smokes...the only difficulty about sharing a spiritual message each and every week is choosing what to share! I could go on for DAYS! I am learning so much every second of every day and am growing so much. I think I just want to testify this week...that way I can touch on more than one thing!
   This church is true. I know it with all of my heart. Of all the churches in the world...all of the religions...all of the blessed I feel to be a part of the only restored and true church. I know that this Gospel was brought to the earth in this dispensation through the hand of God by the Prophet, Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith...a 14 year old boy...saw our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. That same boy did more for this world in every single aspect ever than anyone to walk the earth ever...with exception to Jesus Christ Himself. I know he was called of God and through the Spirit brought forth the Book of Mormon, which is the word of God and is the most sacred of books on the earth today. I know families are forever. I know that it is only in and through our Savior and His atonement that we are capable to live eternally in the presence of God in His Kingdom. I have a testimony of this "Marvelous Work and a Wonder". I know that we all have lost brothers and sisters. The Lord has lost sheep...and we have all been entrusted by the Almighty God of the universe to strap on our defend this faith...and to save the souls of many. I know that God is a God of miracles. I know it is through Him that Moses was led to dry ground. It was Him who loosened the bands from Nephi's wrists and ankles. It was Him who gave Joseph Smith the ability to translate the Book of Mormon. The Lord is "the same yesterday, today, and forever". The Heavens are open...His work never ceases...and neither do His miracles. Put your trust in Him.
   I know the atonement is real...with all of my heart. I know that it is real and that it is eternal. I know that our Savior took upon Himself the pains, struggles, and weaknesses of this world so that we could find our way home. So that we could have a light to follow and look to. I know walking in the light is hard sometimes. Staying in the light is difficult...but walking in the light and persevering in the light is how we develop more light! Look to our Savior's light and follow! Step by you are in Utah following someone in 3 feet of snow...placing your steps EXACTLY where they place theirs! I have a testimony of the power of conversion. I continue to be converted more and more to this gospel every single day. I have a testimony of prayer. As hard as this life is and as dark as times can get...I know that the Lord will deliver us from our sufferings through prayer. Learn to live in patience. Learn to walk in the darkness...and you will only need to walk in darkness for a little while, if you search for the light (Jesus Christ) and prayer can change your path of darkness to a lit path. As I think of the 2 most powerful events in the history of the world, I can't help but notice the similarity between the two. THE ATONEMENT...the saving grace of the entire universe, the universal lifeline for mankind...started with a prayer. The restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was followed by a prayer by a 14 year old boy. If you think your prayers are insignificant...think again. The two most powerful events in universal...history were followed by prayers...God listens and is on His toes...ready to answer the desires and requests of your heart. I know that Heavenly Father loves His children. He knows you. Perfectly. He knows what is best for you. So don't worry if you have a difficulty or trial in your life right now! It is all apart of His perfect plan for you! Faith in Jesus Christ is CONFIDENCE. Confidence in this plan and in this Gospel. Trust Him. We can do hard things. We were born to do hard things. We committed to do hard things because we knew we would be strong enough to do hard things. God knows we can do hard things and he had enough confidence in us to overcome hard things that he sent us here to this earth to do hard things and become more like him. We can overcome trials. We can do all things through Jesus Christ. We are sons and daughters of a King. You are royalty. Of this I testify of, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Keep Keepin´ Hermanos y Hermanos. Les amo much. Mas que todo...Dios nos ama. Mucho. BASTANTE. SIN termina. SIN la habilidad a comprender.
Hablarè proxima semana! (roughly translated: Brothers and Sisters, I love you very much. Most of all...God loves us...and then something about ending sin and being able to understand...until next week...)
Elder Noll 

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