Special shout out to my little brother Alec! I want all to know how much I love this soon to be 12 year old stud. I have grown up wanting to become like a kid that is 8 years younger than me because it is what would make me become more like our Savior than just about anything else. My little brother is one of the most submissive, meek, humble, and loving people that I know. Not to mention the most beautiful in the Noll crew...have you seen his hair?? A special congrats to him as well for coming to have the years to become a Deacon and receive God's gift to mankind, the Priesthood. I love you bud. You keep me going through the tough days! I could not be more grateful to be an older brother to a Nephi like you...you better be keeping Laman and Lemuel in line!! ;)
This week was a great one! As usual! I don't have tons of time so I will just share maybe my two most favorite experiences of the week!
One night, lesson by lesson fell through. We had made a goal to find 4 new investigators but had found 0 at this point in the day with only an hour left to work. We had changes last week and I am fairly new in the new sector so I don't know it that well...and it is HUGE. But we prayed to the Lord in the middle of that dirt road to help us find the 4. When we asked Him to give us the four we waited...about five seconds of silence passed and an image popped into my mind of a member family we had said hi to on of my first days. And of course it was the farthest away from where we were, but we got on our horses and headed there without looking back! We got there and treated this encounter as if it were life or death! Haha! We said..."Hermanos! We said a prayer and God Himself told us to come find you!" They got all wide eyed and insisted that we come into their house. We explained to them that we were looking for four people that have been waiting to hear of the plan that was created for them in the Heavens and invited the father of the home to say a prayer to find out who these four were. The prayer that he gave was simple but so beautiful. When he finished we waited in silence again. Then the brother spoke..."You know what? There is someone just down the street. His boys are members but they are inactive. He could really use some help. And in front of them is a family of 3. A father, mother, and child. You could visit them." We were so happy! We went strait to these homes and met these AMAZING people. We have visits scheduled with them for later on in the week! Revelation is incredible and prayer is direct communication with God the Father. I testify of that!!
The other happened yesterday. There is a less active teenager who we are working really hard with. He is super addicted to electronics. His parents and Grandma can't get him off of his computer or phone. His family is super worried about him and so are we. We visited him yesterday and asked if we could share a scripture and sing a hymn. He rejected and continued playing his video game. Then a thought came to my mind..."Sundays at 5: Family History"...I remembered that the stake worked in the Family History department every Sunday at 5. I was cunning...haha..."So (name)...you like computers, right? Do you like fast computers or slow computers? Obviously fast right? Do you like video games? Do you wanna play a game that only members of the church know how to play?? " He looked up with a grin and asked..."What kind of game are you talking about??" I told him he had to find out for himself. And he came with us to the church! It was the first time he had stepped foot in the church for years! We paired him up with a Family History Instructor and while they went to work we had a few meetings with different Presidencies. After the meetings we asked him if he wanted us to walk him home. He told us no. He wanted to keep kicking it with his friends and working on his family history. Right before we left he yelled, "Elders! Family Home Evening! My house! Wednesday at 7!' Haha! Such an amazing experience! He completely changed. It was unreal how drastic the change was and how instant the spirit of Family History was able to lighten him and touch him. How blessed we are to have such an incredible access to helping our loved ones on the other side of the veil...which brings me to the spiritual message of the week!! :)
I started to form questions in my mind this past week that really started to worry me. I was having trouble sleeping. I spent the majority of nights on my knees asking the Lord questions. Ever since I was a little child I remember my Grandfather, who passed away not too long ago, denying our faith as a family and as members of Christ's church. He spent YEARS investigating...but did not receive it. Doctrine and Covenants 137 explains that "all that have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God." What happens to my Grandpa after having had the opportunity to receive it but didn't? Will his happiness be complete? Will he be forgiven for having denied the truth? Do we or does he have any hope after being "permitted to tarry" in the gospel but refused? What is he now? What will he become? I was led to 1 Corinthians 15:17. "And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins." I know that Christ did indeed raise himself. He is risen today...and forever will be. Because of this my faith and the faith of all...living and dead...is not vain. Because of the resurrection of Christ my Grandpa does not have to be "yet in his sins". Then the Lord got after me a little bit in verse 19. "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." In Spanish it hit a little harder...I became "the most worthy of pity". There is hope in Christ in all times, in all things, and in all places...on BOTH sides of the veil. As I read of the "seeds" or souls not baptized, my love for temple work grew so strong. If it were not for the house of the Lord my Grandpa would be "sown in corruption" (1 Cor. 15:42). If it were not for the restoring of keys given through Moses, Elias, and Elijah themselves 180 years ago, he would be "dishonored and weak" (1 Cor. 15:43). If it were not for a 14 year old boy in the spring of 1820 who saw the brightness and glory of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, my Grandfather would be "sown a natural body" (1 Cor. 15:44). Which would then disqualify him of the Kingdom of God knowing that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 15:50).
But the Lord's house is here upon the earth. Moses, Elias, and Elijah did indeed restore these keys to a Prophet in this dispensation. Joseph Smith did complete the prophesy in the 33rd chapter of Job, "He shall pray unto God and he will be favorable unto Him: and he shall see His face with joy; and he will render unto man his righteousness." And because of this my Grandfather along with so many other will be "raised in in-corruption", "raised in glory", "raised in power", and "raised a spiritual body". I know it and I rejoice in it!
This came to life even more when I saw a sick, suffering, weak dog giving birth to 5 little beautiful puppies right outside of our house the other day. I felt so bad as I saw this dog suffer. It had already given birth to 4 living and breathing puppies. When it gave all it had left to give birth to the 5th I was so saddened when it came out dead. I then made a connection...this suffering, pained, and weakened dog is like our Savior when He performed His infinite Atonement. We are His puppies. Like the dog suffered to give birth to her living puppies, the Savior suffered so that He could succor and love the living. But the dog suffered equally to give birth to something that did not live. The Savior suffered equally for the dead. I testify that the Atonement functions on both sides of the veil and that temple work and Family History is real and is perfect.
Love you all!