Monday, September 28, 2015

September 28, 2015

Hello! Hello! How is everyone? This week FLEW! It was such a great week! I don`t even know where to start!! Hopefully all of the women enjoyed the Women`s Conference and received all sorts of personal revelation on Saturday. Pretty crazy that yet ANOTHER conference is under way. Weird to think that a whole year ago I was fighting for my life to adapt myself to Ecuador. Now it is my home. My life! Crazy how fast a year can pass by. 
   Monday was really cool! We kicked it with a ward missionary who headed out on his mission on Wednesday. We went to a Historic Park in Guayaquil and ran into a familiar face. Elder Johnson! There is no doubt that we are connected in some way, shape, or form. Just casually - you run into a homie in the middle of Ecuador...I THINK NOT! We saw some monkey`s and iguanas but that was about it.
   We had an incredible Mulit-Zone Conference. Elder Calderòn from the 70 presided and he taught us so much! We had to travel quite the distance to get there. Panorama is kind of in its own little world so we couldn`t travel there with the other missionaries in the zone...instead, Hermano Jaramillo was a tour guide! Such a great man. We asked him how to get there and instead of giving us directions...he dropped what he was doing, led the way, and payed our transport. Such a humble and serving disciple of the Lord. We made it to the conference and felt such an incredible spirit.
   The conference finished super late so the way back was an adventure. We tried to take the same buses and routes back to our sector but with it being dark and with unreal amounts of traffic we got lost. I was wishing pretty hard that Papa Jaramillo was there guiding us but sometimes you gotta solve problems on your own!!! We ended up getting ourselves down from the bus and we just decided to walk towards the noise, light, and contention. We ended up making it to a dark street and the bus we needed in that exact moment randomly passed. So we waved it down and we were underway with another miracle under our belts! 
The owners of a school here in Panorama are members...the school is called ``Ezra Taft Benson``. They are in conference olympics and asked me to help out with the spelling b. So we got to go to the school and help some kids with their English and pronunciation and what not. Pretty fun! These guys are brilliant too! 
I was attacked by at least 10 children early on in the week! We passed by one of our investigators who lives in a little sector called Miduvi. The kids there are always kicking it outside with nothing to do and I guess they were having a competition of who could get the first high five from the gringo. They were dragging me down to the ground, jumping all over me, laughing, screaming. These kids are poor. They have nothing. But to see them happy melts my heart. We were all laughing and having a good time. Finally I told them that everyone wins the game. They all agreed. Haha! 
A great Sabbath Day we had ourselves! The Sacrament makes my week...EVERY WEEK! It never fails me. The week is basically a build up of everything you have from Monday-Saturday so that people can make it to church. The majority of the times the people don`t follow discourages...but as soon as I partake of the body of our Savior and the instant I partake of His blood all pain and agony fades. I can literally feel the stress being lifted off of my shoulders. All is replaced with peace and patience. Courage and readiness. So grateful for such an incredible covenant and ordinance.

One of the first things taught in the missionary lessons is that God is our loving Father in Heaven and shows His love through the calling of Prophets. This gospel truth is so incredible. We learn quite a bit about the role of a Prophet in the first chapter of Lucas. 
``As He spake by the mouth of His holy Prophets, which have been since the world began.`` The Lord speaks to us through a fact, ``He will do nothing save it be reveal His secrets to His servants, the Prophets``. We go on to learn that the Prophets ``save us from our enemies``, ``allow us to partake of mercy and oaths made to our fathers``, and help us to ``serve the Lord``. 
I would like to focus on three incredible verses;
A Prophets Duty...
``For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways;``. I testify that God speaks to His Prophets. They receive revelation FROM the Heavens above to lead us TO the Heavens above. Nobody else holds such keys as these. 
``To give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of sins.``
A Prophets duty, role, and goal is to help our Heavenly Father bring to pass His work and His glory through the salvation of mankind. If we heed to him we will come to obtain knowledge that will lead us into salvation so we can return to the loving arms of our Father in Heaven.
How many of you feel that you sit in darkness? Perhaps without guide of direction? THAT is when God`s mercy strikes...THAT is when His love comes forth through the words of a Prophet...
``To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.`` The Prophet gives us light when we are in darkness and guides us to peace when we are lost. 
The Prophet is so much more than a primary song encouraging us to follow him because he knows the way. 
We are sick. We are ill. We need healing. 
In Christ`s earthly ministry, He gave power and authority to His Apostles to heal the sick...He gave this authority and power to His called Apostles in the Americas as well. Apostles are called to heal and to mend. They are called of God to mend our spirits and souls. 
In less than a week we have the divine privelege to hear what God Himself has to say to us through the mouth of His called servants. Hearken to the cure. Be atentinve. Pay close attention as these men, called of God, show us how to place our feet in the way of peace.
Even as the Nephites ``did labor exceedingly all that night, that they might be on the morrow in the place where Jesus should show Himself unto the multitude``, I invite all to labor exceedingly this week so you too can be ready in the morning on Saturday to listen to Christ as He shows Himself through the mouth of His called and ordained servants.
I testify that Thomas Spencer Monson is a Prophet of God. I testify that he will lead our feet into the way of peace. 
Love you all. Happy Conference! Glorify it. Love it. 
Elder Noll

Monday, September 21, 2015

September 21, 2015

   Okay...this week was too fast? Who fast forwarded? I feel like I want to push pause for a sec!! Haha! It was another great week filled with incredible and unforgettable experiences! I am still here in Panorama and loving it! Elder C and I have been blessed so much over this past week it is unreal. The Lord is so mindful of us and never fails to give us what we need and desire. It is so interesting how we spend our lives striving to follow God's will...we spend our lives trying ever so hard to live according to what God wants when God's glory is our happiness and He exists and lives to give us what we want. It almost seems like when we follow God's will and plan He follows our will and what we desire. He is so loving. I invite all to strive to live His perfect and personalized plan! And as you do so you will find that He is ever so willing to bless you with what you need...even if you don't make it known to Him or anyone!
   We came across the sweetest man. He has special needs and was sitting in a park all alone. We went and sat by him and put an arm around him and gave him a bunch of little pictures of Jesus. We kicked it with him until someone came to pick him up. What a humbling moment. I was almost brought to tears as I watched a man...alone...lost...unable to walk or talk...with the BIGGEST smile on his face as he GLORIED in little photos of our Savior. 
   I am so so so so excited about one of the families we are teaching. We found them a little while ago and they have been nothing but GOLDEN. Everything we teach them they accept...and everything they accept they complete. They are such prime examples of faith. One of the biggest worries we had was coffee. Just to put it into perspective; when you enter the house there are countless bags of finished off coffee beans...then you make it into the kitchen and there is a mountain of coffee containers. We were so nervous to bring up the Word of Wisdom but it was time we tried. They were a little bit "ify" about things, but accepted. The following day I not only got a good laugh...but I was taken back by their Christlike example of obedience. When they answered the door they both had dark circles around their eyes as if they had not slept in days. They were SO tired. They said, "WE ARE SO TIRED! This no coffee thing is killing us!" But they told us that they know it is a commandment and that they are going to continue on with their promise to God. 
   The Jaramillo familiy invited us over for Tacos which was super fun! We had a little family night there with some recent converts! I had the chance to meet this family. Man are they something else! 

   We ran into a man who was having a tough time. He opened up quite quickly to us. He told us a story about his son that ripped my heart. His wife left him four years ago and took their little boy with her...apparently the wife does not treat the child as a mother should and she sent pictures of the little four year old boy crying to the father who we talked to. He was pretty shaken up. He told us that nobody could every understand what he was feeling. What a father feels as he sees his son suffer. What a father feels as he sees his son cry, as he sees his son humiliated. What a blessing it was to testify of the love that our Heavenly Father has for us all and that he knows us perfectly. That our Heavenly Father watched His son be rejected. He watched Him take upon Himself the pains, doubts, and sins of mankind. He watched His son bleed from every single pore. He watched His son be nailed to a cross and be spit upon. He watched as His son was tortured. Do you think our Heavenly Father knows what it feels like to watch a son struggle? I testify that He does. I testify that He knows us perfectly. This seemed to help this man and I know that God will comfort him through our prayers and the prayers of you all!
   That was a quick rundown of the week! 
   In the 49th year of the reign of the judges the Nephites experience something incredible. "And so great was the prosperity of the church, and so many the blessings which were poured out among the people that even the high priests and the teachers were themselves astonished beyond measure." The work of the Lord prospers...even to the "uniting of tens of thousands of souls". 
How can we obtain such great prosperity as a family?
How can we unite all of the souls in our home?
If we analyze what the Nephites did to obtain this prosperity and these blessings the answer becomes very clear.
"And it came to pass in the 49th year of the reign of the judges (the year that they experienced this prosperity and uniting), there was continual peace established in the land..."
A peaceful home is a prosperous home.
There are so many ways to establish peace but I would like to focus on three crucial requirements to have continual peace and to be prospered as a family and receive the pouring of blessings as the Nephites did.
1) In Alma 24:19, the Lamanites "buried their weapons of peace, or they buried their weapons of war, for peace". We must bury our weapons of war. Negative, hurtful, and mocking offenses wrought contention. We must bury these weapons and uncover the tools of encouragement, love and praise to achieve this prosperity.
2) In Psalms 119:165 we learn that "Great peace have they which love the law: and nothing shall offend them". CHILDREN: LOVE the laws that your parents set. We will obtain great peace when we develop great love for the laws and standards that our parents set for us. Do not be offended by restrictions, limits, or curfews. LOVE the standards and KNOW that they are what you need as a son or daughter of God. 
3) The last step is in Romans 8:6. "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." The family that obtains the spiritual mind obtains also peace. ALL THINGS are spiritual in the eyes of our Heavenly Father and we should strive to have the same outlook on things. We too must think, work, and act in a spiritual manner. 
   It is my prayer that all families can prepare themselves spiritually in the morning with the scriptures before preparing physically. It is my cry that a child will never again exit the front door without kneeling with their family in prayer. It is the Lord's promise that peace will fill your homes as you do so. All things should be done in a spiritual manner and the center of all activities, conversation, and or traditions should be based on a spiritual mind and becoming more like our Savior through His teachings.
The gospel of Jesus Christ saves people but exalts families. I testify that as families BURY THEIR WEAPONS OF WAR, great will be their prosperity. As families LOVE THE LAWS SET BY PARENTS, so many will be the blessings poured upon them. And as families strive to be SPIRITUALLY MINDED, the souls within the home will unite. As we strive to have a peaceful home the prosperity, progression, uniting, and blessings that poured upon the Nephites will too be ours.
Love you all! May peace be unto you! :)
Elder Noll

Monday, September 14, 2015

September 14, 2015

   Well...another blink of an eye and here we are again! When am I going to wake up from this dream?! Time is flying way too fast! It was such a good week...I LOVE PANORAMA!!! I have officially fallen in love with this sector, the ward, the area, and the investigators! 
   How are things in the USA? I know things in the 'Ville are pretty dope! Congrats to the Devils for balling out and beating the Mapleducks! Haha! I heard it was a pretty intense game. Keep at it boys! Super weird that we are in the heat of football again! I feel like just yesterday I was strapping on the helmet! Man does time fly. 
   Last Monday night was super fun! We had a family night with the Stake Patriarch and his family. We ate sweet potatoes! They were not quite like Mamita Noll's but it was cool to bring back the sensation of sweet potatoes in my mouth again. We used the can that my parents sent me and we also made another batch out of "camote". Which SUPPOSEDLY are sweet potatoes as well...but they are purple...and don't look the same...nor taste the same...nor feel the same...Haha!
   I love talking with the Patriarch...he is such a loving man. You can visually see his humility...his love for everyone. It is something that I desire to develop. I was so humbled as he talked of our Savior. He explained to us how un-explainable our Savior is...His glory...His love...His attributes. It is so true! We cannot ever possibly grasp the divinity of the Lord, Jesus Christ. He is so much more than we can imagine and His glory is so much brighter than what we could possibly behold.
   On Wednesday I got to take it back to the Saturday mornings with Dad days! The Hermanas in our Zone had to change houses so we got together as a Zone in the morning to help them load all of their stuff into a members truck and take it to their new house to unload it. So that was fun!
   We passed by an awesome family the other day. They are struggling with family prayer and scripture study. We have been focusing so much on the scriptures and the importance that they have in our lives. The excuse was that the scriptures give them desires to sleep. So we told them to simply try it...and to see what the Lord is willing to do for them. The Hermana said that she woke up even MORE tired that usual...and her and her sister started to read the scriptures...despite the dreariness...In her own words..."The words of the Lord IMMEDIETLEY took away my sleepiness." Wow. So incredible what the Lord is willing to do if we will obey and act. The scriptures are such powerful tools in our lives. With them we WILL NOT sleep through the restoration.
   Oh dear...never have I suffered with a soup as I did with "Caldo de Mangera". Hose soup. Not recommended for viewers at home. It is a soup of pig. But has 0 meat. It is filled with pig heart, intestine, foot, ear, liver, skin, and blood. It was a miracle that I made it through that one! I squeezed AT LEAST 14 lemons into that sucker and a bottle and a half of hot sauce...but I can still taste that liver in between my teeth! Haha! Overall good experience...Elder C and I are still laughing about that one...I had nightmares about that black, mystical, bubbling, caldo! The left cardiovascular ventrical artery that I swallowed whole because it was un-chewable is haunting me! ;)

``That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty; that ye may fear the Lord your God forever.``
In the Spanish ``Guide to the Scriptures`` it explains that to ``fear God`` is to feel ``reverence`` and ``admiration for Him``.
Our loving Heavenly Father and our Perfect older Brother have no intention to induce a threatening fear nor a scarce fear. The fear they induce is a fear explained in Philippians 2:12.
``Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, out your salvation with fear and trembling.``
We are told to simply obey...that is what working our or salvation with fear and trembling means.
The following verse helps us understand this fear a little more deeply.
``For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.``
As we allow God to work in us and as we strive to do His will with reverence and admiration we show the Lord God our fear, or in other words, we show Him our respect, loyalty, and love.
I love the battle of the Nephites and the Gadianton Robbers with Giddianhi as their leader.
In 3 Nephi 4:12 it says ``...behold the Nephites did beat them...``
But how exactly did they do this??
Verse 10: ``...for the Nephites did not fear them; but they did fear their God and did supplicate Him for protection...and they were prepared to meet them; yea, in the strength of the Lord they did receive them.``
And how did the Nephites show their fear of the Lord??
It was not through a scarce fear. They were not afraid of the Lord. They were not intimidated. Through SUPPLICATING unto their Lord...through TRUSTING...and as verse 8 teaches us...through ``...falling to the earth, and lifting their cries to their Lord their God...``
If fearing the Lord can deliver a Nephite army from destruction I testify that fearing the Lord can deliver us from our daily battles.

I testify that this fear will save us. I testify that this fear takes away fear. The Lord with His perfect humility and unfailing love does not wish to win our heart with fear of His power or to intimidate us with trembling of a future destruction...
The Lord with His perfect humility and unfailing love wishes to gain our heart through trusting in His power and overcoming destruction as we lift up our cries to Him and humbly fall.
Let us all fear the Lord God. Let us all raise our cries and fall. Let us all obey the will of the Father and trust in the Jesus Christ. We too will be delivered from our daily Gadianton!

Elder Noll

making sweet potatoes...Jessi's favorite!

Purple sweet potatoes!


Monday, September 7, 2015

September 7, 2015

What's good team?! 
Hoping that you are all doing so so good! What's new? I hear that the Ville is tearing it up! So exciting to hear! Keep at it boys! I am sure it is starting to get a little brisk outside...I can't imagine what brisk feels like...I have kind of forgotten...but HEY! Let me know how it goes!!;)
This week has been...LEGEN...DARY! As usual. So let's get to it!
We had the chance to give two blessings this week...and both really touched me. 
The first one was to a recent convert. He is preparing for his mission this coming winter and always comes with us to make visits. He came down with a super high fever and body aches and so we headed over there to give him a blessing. We then headed in the other direction down the street for another appointment and we ran into the Relief Society President making a visit with one of the Sisters in the ward who was really sick. Her husband is not a member and as a result she had nobody to give her a blessing. So there was blessing number 2! PRIESTHOOD POWER! Love it! Later that night the recent convert called us and told us that he was perfectly fine. He was all ready to preach the gospel with us!! We didn't hear from the sister but she showed up to church and is doing tons better. It is so incredible to see the blessings that come from the Priesthood. I know that it is God's power. I know that it blesses lives. I know that with proper authority, worthiness, and faith, children of God can receive miracles and experience the tender mercies that come from the Priesthood power by God, given to man, to act in the name of Jesus Christ, to bless the lives of everyone.
We are working with a mother and her three children. The mother was having an interview and Elder C and I were in the nursery room of the chapel making sure that the children didn't cause any mischief. The youngest daughter was BALLLING. I truly have no idea why. I was touched when I witnessed the other daughter make a special decoration out of blocks and invite the crying child to play with her. The child instantly ceased to complain...and got the biggest smile on her little face that absolutely melted my heart. To see these two sisters play see them laugh see them love such a tender mercy from the Lord for me to witness. It does not matter what their circumstances are...the tin roof above their head...the distance they have to walk every day to get to school...the lack of food in the home...the love overpowers all. After the crying child was playing with the blocks the daughter then went to her other sister to play with her. The oldest has special needs. I think she has Cerebral Palsy. I could not help but weep as I watched these three sisters laugh and love together. If there is one thing that is for sure it is that the people and the experiences in my mission have changed me more that I have changed the people. 
On Friday we had to go to Guayaquil to renew my Visa. All the office told me was to go to the ministry and that it is a big gold building. So we went forward with faith! haha! We asked someone in the bus and it just so happened that they were headed to the big gold building too!! So she just told us to follow her...we were in the bus forever!!! I was starting to get a little nervous...she suddenly said, "HERE! We get of here!" We got off the bus and there was not a big gold building nor the ministry. She then said, "I am sorry. I thought the big gold building was close to where I was going. Good luck!!" THANKS MISS!! Haha! So we were stranded in the depths of the city for a bit until we could get a solid direction to the golden building...and we eventually made it. So it was a great experience overall I guess!
We went to visit a very humble did not know homes like this existed before my mission...but the people inside are what counts! They are an incredible family. So faithful. They are just struggling with going to church...and they lost a daughter a little while back. Struggling with financial circumstances and such...but they always accept us and light up whenever we go to visit them. She makes breakfast for the construction workers ever morning to be nice (if that tells you anything about how incredible she is). But they ran out of supplies to make the breakfast. She told us that she prayed that Heavenly Father would give her the means to provide this food for the workers and that she too would have the means to provide for her family...she then handed her money jar off to her daughter to go buy the food for the workers...but right as she left to make the purchases an Hermano came to the door...with a big bag of food and cooking supplies. EXACTLY what she needed too. So incredible to think of the power of prayer and the mercy of our Heavenly Father. So amazing to see God's children on His errand. I doubt this humble Hermano had the slightest idea that a struggling daughter of God was on her knees begging for exactly what occurred. 
How many of God's children are begging for us to be their rescue?? 
Those are some of the great experiences from this past week...with so many more!!! But we would be here for days if I were to share all of the many times I saw the Lord's hand.

We had the chance to teach a Jehova's Witness this past week who had very strong feelings on the Resurrection of man and where we will go after this life. He even doubted the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It saddened my heart so much to listen to someone so disbelieving in the gift that our Savior has given all of us, that is, a guaranteed and perfected resurrected body. 
What a blessing it was for my companion and I to share a message and testify of the eternal life of man in a perfected body of flesh and bone. What a testimony builder it was for me to testify that Jesus Christ lives.
I love the words in 1 Corinthians 15. "For if the dead rise not, then is Christ not raised...and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins."
If we ourselves cannot arise after death then Christ Himself did not rise. If Christ did not arise the third day then all faith we have is vain. It is invalid. His Atonement is incomplete without His rising, therefore forcing us to remain and dwell in sin eternally.
I know that He is risen...I know that He lives. I know that we too shall rise. For "the soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair on the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame".
What an incredible promise that is!
In Philipians 3 it explains to us how this is possible: "...the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body..."
Our potential is perfect. Our potential is like unto His.
So cast out all doubts, insecurities, and negative self-images.
Imagine yourself without sickness, pains, or illness.
Picture yourself "fashioned like unto His glorious image".
I bare testimony that our potential is perfect and that we shall be perfect and restored in and like unto the Lord Jesus Christ.
More than anything...
I testify with all of my heart that Jesus is the Christ. As I live, breathe, and does He. I know that He overcame death by His power and Godly divinity....and we too have this in our future.
Incredible to think of the opposition in all things.
We were sent to earth by Heavenly Father only to return in His presence. We descended so we could rise. We fall to be lifted up. We live that we might die...and through the Lord God, Redeemer of the living and dead, Prince of peace, and Savior of the Universe, we die that we might live again.
"For the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ."
Of this I testify in the name of the living and breathing Brother of us all, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Love, Elder Noll

The birthday package finally arrives!