How is everyone?! Hopefully SO SO good! I am doing great out here! As usual!
This past week was a normal one...caminando y predicando and predicando y caminando! ;) Nothing better!
I was super sick on Monday and Tuesday...I will say that part of the week was not so great! I actually had to end up going to Quevedo to have an appointment with the doctor and run a bunch of lame tests...but here I am! Breathing! Living! And obviously LOVING every second of every day that our Savior gives to me! But The Lord managed to, yet again, take a weak servant and give me strength to fulfill His promise and sound this perfect message in the ears of those who are ready for it. How blessed I am. :)
On Wednesday I got to give Hermana J a blessing! She is the member that lives below us and always hooks me up with smoothies! ;) It was a really neat experience...I am not quite sure what her illness is or was...but she had to go to Guayaquil the next day for an appointment. So we ran down to her house really quick to administer the blessing and she woke up the next morning feeling great! Good enough to not need to go to her appointment! How cool? The Lord's power is real and it is powerful. I was feeling kind of down because I felt like I couldn't express myself and say exactly what I wanted to say in Spanish...but I had to take a step back and really think...is this my power? does it really matter who I am? does it really matter what I say? THE ANSWER IS NO! All that matters is that you perform saving ordinances under the sacred name of Jesus Christ and have un-waivering faith that our Heavenly Father will do the rest. I know that when we do that...answers will come...and miracles will happen.
Thursday was cool! Elder M and Elder P were in an intercambio so that night there were 3 Gringos and only 1 Guat! It was like a homie sleep over back at home all over again...minus the staying up all night...and eating good food...and talking about girls...and causing a ruckus...okay it was nothing like a homie sleep over...haha! But it was a good time! :)
We have been teaching an investigator who is having problems with the Word of Wisdom. We have been working so so so hard with him but we have not been seeing any progress. FINALLY...he showed up at church. He was so quiet...like he was thinking so deeply about something. When we saw him later that night he told us he felt like he needed to change. He decided to enroll in a recuperation program for alcoholics. What faith? So off he went...for THREE whole months he will be living in a new home to help get over his addiction all because he has faith and knows that it is a commandment of The Lord. I want to be like Him when I grow up. Something that I have found on my mission is that those who I am teaching are actually teaching me more than I am them.
WHY IS THE MISSION SO AWESOME!?!?
On Friday the Ward Mission Leader and I visited a particular family...and the father is a punk! Haha! I love him to death...but he never wants to pray. So we went into the lesson with the intentions of getting this dude to talk to his Father in Heaven. And our prayers were answered! :) He offered one of the most heart felt prayers I have ever heard. He reminded me that we need to pray like it is the first time every time.
On Saturday we got to do some service! One of the families in the ward have some family from Utah that just moved here to Ventanas. Man was it strange to converse with adults that knew English. And they have the CUTEST kids! So we helped them unpack and what not and got to play with the kids for a little bit. This family is incredible though...they lived in Utah...in a beautiful home in a beautiful area but felt like they needed to change. They prayed to their Father in Heaven and felt like Ecuador was their answer. So they packed up and here they are. Holy smokes...how hard would that be?! Let us all try to be 100% reliant on The Lord and His plan. He KNOWS.
Yesterday was a little interesting...
We were gathering people for church, Hermano N and I, and we stopped to see an elderly man. He is very, very sick. He can't walk. Has no food, and has nobody to take care of him. So, N and I had to change his diaper...which was a little startling...there was no fear in this mans eyes...haha...but we fed him and then got him to the church and carried him up the stairs so that he could take the sacrament and listen to the word of God. I think we are all kind of like this man. We are all kind of sick and unable. We need to rely on God's messengers...on His son...on the Prophets to guide us to happiness and eternal life because we can't do it alone.
Ah! So many awesome experiences this past week! I love how every day is so new here...but I am in the same arms of my Heavenly Father. On many occasions I am exhausted from this work. I am beat. Completely. To the point where I fall asleep on my knees...but what better place to fall asleep than literally in the arms of your Heavenly Father. I love falling asleep on the phone with the God of the Universe. I am not advising you to do so...but advising you to offer your heart and soul up to Him every night and every day like it is your first time ever doing so and like it will be your last time to ever do so. I promise He will answer...because He LOVES you.
Which ties into my message...da da da da!
Last week I talked about the pure love of Jesus Christ and how we need to give our all to Him and serve and love others. With the little time I have left I thought I would switch from the love that we should have for others to the love that our Heavenly Father has for us.
''For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.''
Our Heavenly Father loved us and still loves us enough that He sent His firstborn son to the earth, knowing PERFECTLY well the sacrifice that His son would have to make and the pains that He would have to feel. But he sent Him off anyway. He sent Him because we needed an example. A light. A hope. He sent Him because we needed a way back to Him and that is all that matters to our Heavenly Father.
''For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.''
This scripture blows my mind every time I read it. What could God's glory possibly be? Perhaps His kingdom? His authority and power? His ability to create universes? The fact that He is God? The truth is that He does not glory in a single one of these things...in fact...He glories in us. And His only purpose...his only objective as our Heavenly Father...is for us to return to Him. And this purpose and objective is something that He made for himself! The God of the Universe glories in His sons and daughters. The Almighty and infinite being of all existence glories in YOU...because He loves you. Perfectly and Infinitely.
His glory is our Salvation and when we reconcile ourselves unto Him.
He loves us enough to give us a two way communication between us and Him.
He loves us enough to have restored, through His power, the true and everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ.
He loves us enough that He sent us here to live with the people we love and He loves enough that He made a plan so that we could live with those same people forever.
He loves us enough to grant us daily breath and to give us life.
He loves us enough that He will always be there.
Our Heavenly Father is ALWAYS there, Brothers and Sisters. That I testify of. And He will continue to always be there for time and all eternity.
This life can bring the most negative feelings and thoughts. And they are from Satan...who is also real and powerful. But these feelings only have power if we let them. We can feel worthless, hopeless, helpless, and without a friend. At times we can feel like we are drowning and like we don't have a chance in this world and that we have no escape. GET ON YOUR KNEES and KNOW...that your Heavenly Father is kneeling right beside you. That you are in His constant care. That you are in His constant watch. As you talk to your Father know that His arms are around your broken heart...and He is holding you ever so softly and loving you more than you can possibly imagine.
A simple prayer will make all the difference in the world because we mean all the Universe to Him.
I testify that His love is endless and eternal. He loves you as His only child because that is exactly what you are. He loves you infinity times more than anyone in the world has the capacity to even comprehend or let alone match.
Raise your shoulders up. Stop dropping your head and raise your chin. Wipe away your tears. Take the world and throw it away! The only thing we should feel is confidence and love...we have Heavenly Father on our side...and He always wins.
Keep keepin' on!
Sending all my love from Ecuador...but it is not NEARLY as much as our Heavenly Father is sending you and has in store for you each and ever day.
Love, Elder Noll