How is everyone?! How was everyone´s fourth of July?! Hopefully tons and tons of explosions, fire, hot dogs, and parades! How is the summer heat? They say that the summer months here are the months...´´mas fresco´´...more fresh/cool...THEY LIE! Haha! It is pretty darn hot! But I love it so so much! Definitely having a blast!
Well I guess we could start with 2 weeks ago!
Kind of a cool story! One of the ward members is helping us out with a less active and getting him back to church and to institute and what not. They are really close friends now- after spending so much time together and the active member trying his hardest to help his inactive friend. They ended up going to the store to buy something and they were going to pass the alcoholic beverages where he bought every single time he went to the store...but this time he decided to change. He turned to the active friend and said, ´´Let´s not go down this way. I want to become a God´´. WOW! What a humbling story and a testimony builder. I was so grateful to see someone who realizes his potential. For someone who realizes his weaknesses and is striving to become better through diligent obedience. AMAZING!
Two weeks ago was cake after cake after cake! I think I had 4! Haha! The Mamasitas sure did take care of the birthday boy here in Panorama! It was a super fun time! The ward threw me a surprise party on Sunday night which was super fun! I sure do love this ward! SO, SO, SO much! They are so awesome...and the members are so willing to help in the Lord´s work.
We took a taxi early on last week...after talking to the taxi driver for a little while he told us that he was sick. He had Tuberculosis! We were so grossed out! I don´t think I took a breath or touched anything in the car for the rest of the drive! So let´s hope and pray I don´t come down with that! ;) Haha! We got home, decontaminated EVERYTHING, showered, sprayed ourselves with sanitizer, and showered again! Haha!
We did have a downer day. NOBODY wanted to accept us...not even talk to us in the street. I said a little prayer in my heart that we could find at least one soul...at least one person...ANNNDD...
Later that night, we finished up our planning session and were just about to say our prayers to hit the hay when the Bishop called.
"Elders! I am sorry that it is a little late...I just wanted to give you guys a reference to go and teach! He is ready to receive the lessons from the missionaries!"
There are no words...
The Lord lives. He answers prayers. He loves us. And miracles do exist...we just have to search for them in our daily lives.
The same type of miracle happened on Fast Sunday. We have kind of been in a dry spot when it comes to people to teach. Panorama is a little more of a difficult sector...and we decided that the best way to go about our fast was to fast and beg the Lord for more people to teach. And what do you know...yet again I am left without words. That Sunday it seemed as if every member of the ward was ecstatic to give us a reference of someone to visit!
I am so grateful for the law of the fast and the blessings that come through the law!
Such a great birthday present!
So was Elder Johnson´s call!! That was awesome too!
Speaking of Johnson! I just saw him a few hours ago! We both had changes so we met up in the terminal in Guayaquil...he is doing good! And he is off to Duran North. With me being in Duran South we will be able to hook up probably every Pday! We are super pumped!!
The day that the Pope came was super boring...NOTHING was open! The whole world stood still! haha! We weren't even allowed to leave our Sectors as missionaries...so that was kind of a boring day...
We watched a movie for a ward activity called ´´A Good Man´´ or something like that. A story about a man who gets called as bishop. The Bishop in the movie ends up drinking a rootbeer...ad boy did that confuse the people. Rootbeer doesn't exist here so we had to take a little while explaining that the Bishop did not commit apostasy and that he just drank soda. haha!
I have a new nickname that everyone calls me...NOLLITO! Haha. So there is just a random fact!
We got to go to the temple with our converts to do baptisms for the dead...which was AMAZING! It was so cool. TOO cool. I was so touched to see the recent convert be touched by the spirit and see her eyes fill with joyful tears as her husband was baptized for her ancestors. Something I will never forget. What a miracle the temple can be and is in our lives.
The past two days have been a bit crazy. Elder S heads home tonight :( He is in Guayaquil and I am here in Panorama with a temporary companion until Wednesday! It was super sad saying bye to Elder S. He has come to be one of my very best friends. He has taught me so much...he truly is an incredible missionary! And I wish the best for him. The ward threw him a surprise goodbye party last night. They had a few people talk...and they finished off with me. We have grown to be super close, Elder S and I, and boy did the tears flow! It is truly amazing how close spiritual experiences can bring two together. There is no relationship stronger than that of a spiritual one. But apart from the tears and bittersweet feelings...we got him all packed up and out the door! Pray that he makes it home safe everyone!
Those are a few of the details from the past two weeks!
I am loving it! The past 11 months of my life have been unreal. I am so excited for the 13 to come! I have never seen the hand of the Lord more in my life than I do now...the blessings are so abundant and real. So broad and profound. Representing the Lord and wearing His name over my heart is the best and most humbling calling that I have ever been privileged of carrying or claiming.
I have learned so much about our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, over these past few months...it seems as if I realize a different attribute of God the Father and the Son each and every day. These living, breathing, and perfectly glorified beings are glorified beings of love, understanding, compassion, mercy, and power. But equal to their infinite love, perfect understanding, everlasting compassion, atoning mercy, and endless power...these are glorified beings of law and of justice.
Our Savior teaches us that ´´He gave the law´´ and that ´´the law in Him is fulfilled´´. If we take ourselves back to the first spoken words of God, recorded by man, in the Old Testament, He says, ´´Let there be light´´. In Spanish He says, ´´Haya luz´´. ´´Haya´´ is a commanding form of ´´to have to do´´ or ´´must do´´ something. Here the Lord is COMMANDING light. From the foundation of the world the Lord has commanded...and His laws will never cease.
He has given us laws to keep. We keep His laws because we love Him. When we love Him through abiding by His laws, He blesses us...and will manifest Himself unto us (Juan 14:21).
There is no possible way to show love to He who commanded light, He who commanded you to be formed, and He who fulfilled His law so that you could inherit His throne...save it be through obedience.
Obedience is willingly, lovingly, and diligently putting your trust in the Lord and keeping His statutes and sanctifying His word. Disobedience has almost the same exact definition...but with a slight, yet drastic, change. Disobedience is willingly, lovingly, and diligently putting your trust in Satan and keeping his statutes and sanctifying his word. We learn from 1 Nephi 14 that there are no more than two churches, two gospels, and two paths. On of these paths belongs to the Lord...and the other to the devil.
´´Choose ye this day whom ye shall serve...´´
Let us remember the people of Nephi and the contention that came about due to the Kingsman ´´desire that a few particular points of the law should be altered´´. We do NOT govern God. His laws are written and His ways are set. His commandments can NOT be justified or altered. We see later on in the story that these Kingsmen, these justifiers of the law, these self-governers are ´´cast into prison´´, ´´put to death´´, and ´´executed according to the law´´.
If we are changers of the law or alterers of God´s ways we too will be cast into misery, put to death, and be executed into captivity.
The promised blessings of obedience are much better.
To finish, I would love to share Deuteronomy 30:11.
´´It is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.´´
The commandments of God are not hidden from us. Nor are they far off, or in other words, too hard. Nothing that God gives us is too hard.
I testify that Gods laws bring happiness. His laws are laws of love. Live His laws. Live the higher law. The higher the law we live the higher capacity we are able to reach and achieve.
For "This Gospel is not weight, it's wings".
Love, Elder Noll