Monday, August 3, 2015

August 3, 2015

Hi Friends! What's going on?! All good in da hood?! I sure hope so. Things here are great! Super great! We are hitting up email a little earlier than usual because we are going to go meet up with my best friend. How many people can say that while in Ecuador?? ;) 
This week has been just great! As usual...
A ward member just got his call to Chile...I think it is the same mission as Max Terry but not 100 percent sure. He is a stud though. He always companions us and visits with us to help him prepare for his mission. He is so faithful and has the strongest testimony. There is no doubt that the Lord has prepared the strongest of missionaries for the coming days. It seems as if every generation gets stronger and stronger! 
We had a reference from a couple weeks ago that we hadn't contacted yet. They were old investigators from about a year ago that the missionaries had just left. So we thought we would give it a shot! When we knocked the door the father of the family lit up! The biggest smile! 
"BROTHERS!!! OH HAVE I MISSED YOU GUYS!!" He threw open the door and gave us the biggest bear hug ever...kinda caught me off guard a little bit...haha! We are not used to the opening of doors! Turns out that this family is amazing! So we will see where things go! We feel so grateful to have found them and so grateful to the Lord for softening their hearts enough to receive us.
One day this past week we walked...and walked...and walked...and then...we walked a little more! Haha! We were hoping to find a less active family but we had no line of communication with them. We really felt deep down that we needed to visit them...and it just so happens that they live quite far...but we made the journey anyways. I have been to the house over and over and over again...and not once have they been there...but when we arrived soaking in sweat and catching our breath...they were there! And we were able to share a message with them. One of the millions of tender mercies that we experienced this past week. 
We visited the house of the sweetest lady...a less active family who we have been working really hard with. When we passed she was reading the Liahonna. We sat with her and just talked. She started to break down completely. She had been having a really tough day. She had been praying for the spirit...praying for peace and comfort...wanting nothing more than to just feel love. She said that she felt as if she should go outside and when she did so she realized the Liahonna she opened it up and right as she did, we passed by. So we talked with her about the message in the Liahonna and about life. Her sweet testimony touches my heart and her faith in the Lord helps me obtain a faith more profound and dependent on my Father in Heaven.
On Friday we got our cooking jam on! We did an activity for an incredible family so that they can get married! I don't even know or remember if Empanadas exist in the United States??? Are they things? Just fried tortillas with cheese or chicken or meat inside? Anyways...we made TONS! And we sold them to all of the members of the ward and had quite a bit of success! The ward was so willing to help and the Hermanas who helped us cook were so sweet to offer their homes.
I truly LOVE the area I am in!
One pair of my pants was getting too long...I do not know that is possible but one of the pant legs started to drag on the ground so I assume I am getting shorter...but I took them over to an Hermana who sews and she stopped her whole day just so that she could finish fixing my pants as soon as possible. These people are so selfless! So Christlike! Love Panorama so so much.
I guess something kind of cool is that I captured an Iguana. I had the sucker in my bare hands! Okay...I had a glove...but still! It was right outside of the church and I chased the little guy down and caught him by the tail! They are fast little buggers! And their tails hurt really bad when they whip you by the way. I called just about every Mamaita in the ward to see if they knew how to cook Iguana but nobody that was a bummer. I was looking forward to finally eating Iguana...maybe next time! But I let him go free...his tail got a little messed up but other than that he scattered away happy as could be.
Now on a more important note...
I love the Lord's invitation of "Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect".
In order to obtain this perfection so much is required. The Lord lived a perfect life, with perfect love, exercising perfect patience, powered with perfect purity, and so much more. The list of his glorified attributes could go on and on...but I would like to focus on just one.
"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."
Are we the same person today as we were yesterday? Will we be the same person tomorrow as we are today? Not in the sense of a spiritual or physical stall or plateau but in the sense of being YOU...and NOBODY else...yesterday, today, and forever. In the sense of not changing YOU because of what your friends or the world want. In the sense of sticking to and accepting who you are and not letting anyone or anything change that.
The Lord made us all perfectly in His perfect image. He gave us perfect spirits and then sent us to earth to overcome imperfection and find that perfection once more. Who we REALLY are is a child of God Almighty, carefully crafted and uniquely formed by His very hands. We are not toys conformed by man and changed by the worlds deception and wickedness. We must be the person we are and trust in God who made us the way we are..Regardless of our imperfections. As we separate ourselves from the world and resist the worlds attempts to separate ourselves from who we really are we will come to know Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father more fully and deeply. 
In the book of Nahum, he teaches us that "The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust Him". By accepting who we are we show trust in the Lord and we can come to truly know Him. 
As the Lord suffered in Gethsemane I believe He saw us in two stages...the first being a filthy, stained, sad, hurt, lowly hearted, and without purpose soul. 
But then He began to suffer...
Our filthy, stained with sin, garments were washed clean.
Our sadness turned to a never before felt joy.
He watched our pains mend.
He saw us in a lost and lowly heart state rise to a glorified Kingdom found with our Heavenly Father.
He saw ALL imperfection turn to perfection. 
The Lord KNOWS us by this second view...when we trust in ourselves and Him we will become liken unto this second view and liken unto this glorified being. Satan, however, only knows us by that first state, and wants to keep us there...and will do so by telling you that you're not good enough. That you can't do it. That she's skinnier. He's stronger. She's better. He's smarter. He will try to get you to change. He will try to make a different you. He will control your mind to make you think that you need to be different..when all we need to do is be US!
So the invitation is to put aside the opinions of others. To tune out the commercials, magazines, and movies. Throw away the negative input of our brother who fell and never got up...and focus on WHO created you. Because that brother who created you fell below all and got up. Raised up. Exalted up. And you can do the same when you stay true to YOU. The you who was carefully crafted and uniquely formed with more love that we can comprehend.
Love you all so much! I am so grateful for the example that you have all set for me. Keep keepin' on, Brothers and Sisters. 
Elder Noll


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