Monday, February 22, 2016

February 22, 2016

Hey Fam Bam and Friends! 
I love you all...tons! You all are the bomb! Seriously...
This week was a great one! We had Stake Conference which was great. The Conferences are always incredible opportunities to get people to church and have spiritual experiences! It was crazy to reflect for a quick moment because I was in the same Stake Conference exactly a year ago! I ran into a lot of people I knew from El Empalme which was soo awesome! It was so good to see them all so happy and so blessed! There is no greater joy. President Riggins talked as well as the Temple President...there is no doubt in my mind that the investigators that attended the Conference were hit with something that they have never felt in there lives. We are super pumped to follow up with everyone to see how they liked the Conference.
Shout out to my BEAUTIFUL sister! First real dance! It made me think quite a bit...I feel like it was yesterday that I was capturing spiders in plastic bags and putting them under her pillow, asking her if it was okay to wear a certain pair of pants with a certain shirt, or being forced to walk around the block holding hands because we would not stop fighting! haha! You best believe that nobody is going to have to force us into holding hands from here on out! Love you mac! I wish I would have had a date like you in High School!
Last Monday was really fun...we got together as a zone and ate lunch...then I taught all of the Latinos how to play football...real football! It was such a good time. I think I got more out of watching these dudes that had never even touched a football, let alone thrown one, than I would watching the Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl! Man have I grown to develop such a powerful love for every living creature south of the border or Mexico! 
We had a neat visit with one of the recent converts in the ward. He has been taking a lot of heat from his companions from his work. They make a lot of fun of him because he walks to church each week with his white shirt and tie and hold his wife's and daughter's cool it was to hear him say..."I don't even care though. I am not going to hearken to those who laugh and point their finger at me for taking the fruit most delicious and precious above all others. God has a whole lot more in store for me than they ever would." So that was a proud missionary moment. I wanted to beat my chest and get up with him as if we just had taken the pigskin for 6!
We had a Multi-Zone Conference with a Doctor from Australia which was awesome. He is the area Doctor and taught us a lot about the importance of the health of the mind. It was cool how he related health in such a spiritual way. The way back was an adventure...we got pulled over and had to exit the bus. They made us all put our hands up for quite a while...I started to break a sweat (as if I wasn't already sweating ;)) and then put our hands on the bus...they came by one by one and patted us down thoroughly. So that was great. But we all made it back on the bus safe and sound...well almost all of us...all of the Missionaries: Yes.
This week was a week of references. One of the members told us that their neighbor was having a lot of troubles. Their little boy had been killed. We figured that there is no greater message for such a tragedy that the message of the only true and restored gospel on the earth today. Never have I met such an open and willing family. Despite the felt despair and hopeless sadness...they willingly accepted us and we are excited to help them find out where their little boy is and how they can find him.
So many incredible things happened...not enough time! AHHHHHHHH! I will just have to skip to the spiritual message!

I know without a shadow of a doubt that there is a living Prophet today. How important is the Prophet in  your life? What is it that the Prophets you have heard throughout your life have done for you? What is it that the Prophet has that nobody else has? All throughout the scriptures we find "the GIFT of the Holy Ghost"...and on rare occasions we read "the anointing of the Holy Ghost". In Lucas 4 and Isaiah 61 it explains that this Prophet "had the spirit of the Lord upon him, because he hath anointed him..." In Acts 10:38 it also explains "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power..." In Doctrine and Covenants 132:7 it explains in depth the meaning of this anointing and who it is that receives it. "...and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of the Priesthood are conferred..." There is only ONE person on the face of the earth today that has been anointed with the Holy Ghost...and his name is Thomas S. Monson. He has all keys and all authority. If we return to the question that I made at the beginning of the importance of the Prophet in your life this verse really brings things to life. "All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, OF HIM WHO IS ANOINTED..."
That just about covers every single thing we do as members of the only true church over the face of the earth. All baptism, conferring, ordinations, temple promises, sealings, callings, repentance, etc. What is it that would happen to all of these sacred blessings without "him who is anointed"...without a Prophet? 
"...are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead..." How eternally grateful I am for a living Prophet today...who is anointed to make our covenants eternal and bind "whatsoever that shall be bound on earth in Heaven" (Matthew 16:19). Had it not been for Gordon B. Hinckley the sealing of my family would be of no efficacy. Had it not been for Gordon B. Hinckley as well, my Baptism and my confirmation would be of no virtue. If it were not for Thomas S. Monson the Priesthood that my loving Heavenly Father has trusted me with and the sacred temple covenants that God's mercy permitted me to make would have no force. There is nobody else that has been anointed with this sealing power save it be the living Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know that Joseph Smith was entrusted with this anointing and was called of God as well. He did indeed see the Son of God and God Himself in the spring of 1820. He did restore the same church to the earth that was edified by the Savior Himself and destroyed by man. 
If you truly loved your family and really had a desire to live with them forever you would believe in the would follow him...because he is the only one that can give you what you want...He does truly "know the way". There is no way without him. If you are looking for spiritual or physical relief...if you feel lost or heavy laden...if you are looking for true an individual and/or for your would dedicate your every breath to looking and searching for this Prophet...the ONLY anointed one by God...Thomas S. Monson. Because with him we "won`t go astray".
This I promise!
Love you all to the moon and back!
Talk soon!
Be safe.
Be careful.
Have fun.
Have lots of fun.
You guys are the best.
Hopefully you believe me.
Because it is true.
I am going now.
For reals now.
Elder Noll

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

February 15, 2016

Hello world! It has been a while! It has been a crazy past couple of weeks! Two weeks ago Elder Ashman and I headed off to Guayaquil and had hardly any time to write and a week ago I had transfers which left me with no time either. I am so good though. I’m sad I am not with Elder Ashman still... but I know the Lord has other plans for us to help bring to pass His work and His glory. I don’t have tons of time so I better get on my horse with this email!

I am back in Quevedo! It has been a while. Just about a year actually. I am in the same Zone as I was a year ago when I was in El Empalme and will actually get to head over there every once in a while to work which will be really neat. Quevedo is an awesome city. The ward is super neat so far. It is not as close to the mountains as La Troncal is... so it is a whole lot hotter. Haha! I am with an Elder from Peru. He is a stud. We met each other in Ventanas over a year ago so we are super pumped to work together.

There are some incredible families here. My highlight of the week was probably when I met a guy named Hyrum. He is the biggest stud ever! He loves soccer, the church, and never seems to stop smiling. He has Down Syndrome so that might be why I love him so much! He is just the happiest guy and puts the biggest smile on my face and the Lord puts so much love in my heart through this light to the world. He really made me miss my Uncle Charlie... so, special shout-out to you, Chuck! Miss you so much! It is so amazing how the Lord puts special people in the special path that He has carefully constructed for each and every one of us in order to feel loved and succored.

We met a guy named John Baptist. He was quite the character, as I am sure you can imagine.
We taught a couple that is so in love... haha... it was so funny. The Hermana is a less active and the Hermano is an investigator. We shared 4th Nephi with them and talked of Eternal Marriage and the Hermano just started to blush. He stood up and said “We are getting married this month and you will baptize me on the 15 of March!” So that was a little unexpected! But a miracle to say the least. I love how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most miraculous thing that the universe has to offer. The most incredible, inspiring, and life changing of all. Something that I realized as well is that it is the most romantic of all. How lucky we are to have capacity to live together with someone we love for time and all eternity. Pretty Nicholas Sparksish I would say! ;)

Those are a few of the cool things that happened this week... A FEW! SO many miracles and amazing signs of the Lord’s hand have manifested themselves in this work this past week that a million words could not describe!

In the gospel of Matthew, our Savior is referred to by different titles. Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God, Son of David, Master, Lord, King of the Jews, etc. He even asks His apostles who men say that He is in the 13th verse of the 16th chapter. After hearing the responses of “John the Baptist, Elias, Jeramias, or one of the prophets” I would assume that the Lord has a bit of a “you’re kidding” kinda feeling. After all that the people had seen Him do, after all the sick He had healed, and after all that He had taught NOBODY knew who He was. He fed 5,000 with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes and another 4,000 with 7 loaves and a few fish just DAYS prior... what would it take for these people to know who He was? Then the Savior asks the question to his very own apostles... “But whom say ye that I am?”

Perhaps the Lord wants us to answer that very question ourselves. For you... who is He? What is His name? When you think of Jesus what is the first thought that enters your mind? What is the first memory that enters your mind? What is the first feeling that enters your heart? I LOVE Peter’s response, “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” How was Peter able to come to know this without ever hearing the Lord being called such things? How was he able to call Jesus “the Christ, the Son of the living God” without ever hearing it before? The Savior’s response teaches us a marvelous lesson: “Blessed are thou, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in Heaven.” Has flesh and blood revealed Jesus unto us? Do we rely on the testimony of others and how they see the Savior or are we “blessed because flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto us, but our Father which is in Heaven?”

Who is Jesus Christ in your life? When did He become what He is in your life? How? What makes you call Him what you do? Perhaps there are many of us who need to have it “revealed” unto us as it was to Peter if we have not had a personal manifestation from the Father Himself. How can we receive this personal testimony?

The Lord speaks in such a unique way to each and every one of us. How it will come, where, when, or what I cannot say... but I did ask myself the question... How can I receive revelation? And then 2 Nephi 30 came to mind!
“Wherefore, the things of all nations shall be made known; yea, all things shall be made known unto the children of men.
There is nothing which is secret save it shall be revealed; there is no work of darkness save it shall be made manifest in the light; and there is nothing which is sealed upon the earth save it shall be loosed.”
What is it they will do to have “all things made known unto them?”
Verse 1: “...except ye shall keep the commandments...” Obedience is required. Exact obedience. It is the spirit that speaks and it is obedience that permits us to have the spirit.
Verse 2: “...the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent...” Repentance OPENS our hearts...not only will it allow the message to be brought by the spirit...but the spirit will be able to enter our hearts and teach us who exactly is this Christ. “...and believe in His son, who is the Holy One of Israel.” We  must want to believe to come to know our Savior personally.
Verse 3: “...there shall be many which shall believe the words which are written...” To receive personal revelation we must read the scriptures and fall in love with them. We must believe in them and hearken unto them and their teachings and then “...carry them forth...” (share what we learn).
Verse 5: “...they shall be restored to the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ...” One way to receive revelation is through Temple work. As we help others on the other side of the veil come unto Christ we will find ourselves also coming unto Him in a more individual and personal way. With a deeper and more meaningful relationship.
Verse 6: “And then they shall rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God.” To come to know that Jesus is the Christ we must realize the tender mercies from God in our daily lives. As we see and recognize His hand we will find ourselves more familiar with Him and come to develop a personal testimony of who He truly is.

So ask yourself the question... “What do I think of Christ?”...and then search for the revelation. Don’t simply come to know that Jesus is the Christ. Develop the firm conviction that Jesus is YOUR Christ. Let the Father reveal it unto you. Ask. Listen.

I know that Jesus is my Christ. I know that He is my Redeemer. He lives as I do, and loves more than I or anyone else can.

Have an amazing week!
Elder Noll