I am doing so good! That´s for sure! Empalme is SOOOOOO amazing! The members, the life, the everything. It is kind of the joke of the mission...they call Empalme ´´En Polvo´´...which means ´´In Dirt.´´ Haha! So that explains where I am... But it is honestly so much fun! It is about 30 minutes outside of Quevedo. Other than that I don´t know a whole lot about it because I have been here less than a week. But, it only took a week to fall in love with it! We actually have a functioning fridge...and the biggest news of all time...a HOT WATER SHOWER??? WWWhhhhhhhhaaaaatttt?? I wasn´t quite sure if i was dreaming or not...i still don´t know if I am dreaming or not. I didn´t think that those existed. I forgot what the sense of hot water felt like on my skin. To be 100 percent honest though...I don´t really like it. I am officially accustomed to cold showers so I don´t use the hot water.
Am I an Ecuadorian or what?? ;)
It has been funny to pass by all of our investigators and all of the members and talk about Elder J. Pretty funny to see all the broken-hearted teenage girls too...haha! But I am sure J is tearing it up wherever he is in the world...that is just the kind of dude he is!
Tuesday was kind of nuts...
My first real day and I had a one day exchange with an Elder from Quevedo in his sector. And it was Carnaval. The holiday of water, flower, and colors. To summarize everything...I got soaked. Absolutely drenched with water...TWICE. Then, just when I thought I had escaped the ruckus - I got attacked by hundreds of little kids with shaving cream. Hahahah! I was having the time of my life running from those little dudes! I am sure it was quite the sight...some white dude with over-sized white shirts, sunburnt, and soaking wet, running from a riot of niños! Too funny!
I got bit by a chihuahua too.... A super ugly dog. I guess you could say it wasn´t my day...but it was just as good as all the rest when it comes down to it...AMAZING! :)
Wednesday and Thursday I was on an exchange with the Leader of the Zone, Elder Y. He is from Bolovia and is so tight! I was still in Quevedo for both those days working hard with him and finalizing everything with the Stake President for Stake Conference which was this past weekend.
We taught a Jehova Witness...quite the time that was! We asked him to say the closing prayer and boy was that a mistake! We sat there for the next 20 minutes as he sang a song! haha! So that was a first!
I finally made it back to Empalme on Friday and FINALLY got to work in my new sector!
Lunch was legit! We had to climb like a 30 foot latter to get to the house to eat. I felt like the house was going to tip over the whole time...so that didn´t help in the food settling in...but it was a neat experience. Then the Hermano hooked me up with his machete and I helped him cut down chocolate seeds...how cool?? Not every day you can say you chopped down chocolate!
Later that day we ran into the most incredible family. They are a less active family but the mother told us that the night before she prayed harder than she ever had before. She prayed for help. For guidance. And that Elder M and I came to her rescue. How humbled I am to be on The Lord´s errand and help answer the prayers of someone else. It is the best and most incredible blessing you can ever receive...seeing the work of salvation flow through the Lord´s hands and out your mouth. Nothing better.
On Saturday, our lunch fell through so we headed back to the house and made pancakes. Or so they were called. It ended up just being mush...so we made the pancake-mush-goop-poop and then realized that we didn´t even have syrup. Thank goodness we are in the land of bananas! So we had pancake-mush-goop-poop with bananas and called it good! Life of a missionary...hahah!
We got to go to the Priesthood session of Stake conference which went really well...but the ride back was the best.
I sat by a man who was unable to walk. He was traveling from Quito, without money, without a job, without his children or wife, and without hope in his life. I was blessed with the opportunity to talk to him and share various scriptures about our Heavenly Father and the blessings that He has in store for this man. I got to pay for his bus ticket and buy him some food too. I felt so great after. So humbled. And I hope, more than the food or the bus ticket, that this man was able to feel of the love of our Savior.
Keep Hermano A in your prayers! :)
The Sunday Conference was great too! Our ward filled up a bus and we all headed down together! So great! We couldn´t even sit down on the bus because there wasn´t even room...that´s a good sign! It means that the Lord´s work is progressing! I would stand up for eternity if it meant that Our Heavenly Fathers children were going to His house to worship him!
That was basically this week in a nut shell!
The Taxi´s are super sketchy...I say a prayer every time I enter one. Haha! I am sure they are totally fine though mom :)
All in all...I am continuing to love every second of every day! And I am sure I will have more stories and experiences next week...
but for now...
I found myself this past week being overfilled with gratitude for my Savior and all that He has done and continues to do for man kind. Someone with such divine power and love has given me a life after death. Someone with such mercy and strength has given me a straight path back home.
And what have I given Him?
What could I ever give?
What could ANYONE ever do to somewhat repay our Savior? To show our love?
´´If ye love me, keep my commandments.´´
That verse really hit home for me and put things in perspective.
Elder Noll, if you love me...if you are truly grateful for all that I have done for you...if you want to know the only way to repay a fraction of a fraction of the sacrifice that I made for you...keep my commandments. Follow in my footsteps. Think my thoughts. Shine my light.
After all our Savior has done for you I would hope more than anything that we can all have a desire to do it all for Him. That we can have a desire to love Him. And the only way we can do that is by doing exactly what He did.
The invitation is short and sweet this week...LOVE THE LORD.
Let´s do everything within our power to, which is not a whole lot, to repay our brother, who gave us everything.
We are promised so much in return if we will just love our Savior.
We are promised to ´´abide in His love.´´
We are His ´´Friends´´ if we keep His commandments.
What could be better than abiding in the love of the Kind of all Kings?
What could be better than being called a friend of the one true God?
Here is my pregame speech...in fact it is my half-time speech because we are already in the game...
To keep the commandments is hard. To win this game is going to be a struggle. You will be tested. You will be weakened. You will be judged. You will be hated.
´´If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.´´
Our Savior KNOWS. Look to HIM!
To His light. To His love.
Salvation is not and never will be easy. You are going to have to give a whole 100% effort because anything less that that does not deserve the blessings that will come from doing so. Anything less that 100% does not deserve the Kingdom of God.
The other team is strong. They are tough. They are big. They are smart.
But YOU are stronger. YOU are tougher. YOU are bigger. YOU are smarter.
It is a new half! It is a new day!
WIN THE DAY.