Monday, April 18, 2016

April 18, 2016

Wow. What a week. What a weekend actually! 

I am sure that you have all heard about the earthquake that went down here in Ecuador. Elder Johnson and I are so blessed to say that we are perfectly fine and safe. Thank you for all of the prayers that have been sent our way, but more for the prayers that have been sent to those who are suffering. It hurts my heart so much- with the thought of the beautiful people of this country who I love so so much- suffering. These people are amazing. They are incredible. And they deserve the prayers of everyone. 

The earthquake did not damage much of our mission. I feel so blessed to not have to see the suffering of these people with my own eyes. Everyone we are serving is just fine! We are pretty far away from the trigger point...but that does not mean that we didn't feel it. I am sure it was quite the sight actually...we were mid prayer when it hit. The Brother who was praying hurried and finished and then we ran still had not hit hard. But about 10 second passed and we actually started to lose our balance. Things started falling from all around the place! It gave Elder Johnson and I much fear! We actually started hugging each other and jumping up and down like 10 year old girls. In Vinces, where we are at, the earthquake lasted about a minute and then the power went out for about an hour. It came back for about another hour and then went again for another 5-6 hours...we will get to that a little later in the spiritual message! ;)
I don't even know where to start with this week! It was incredible!
I think I will just share one experience really quickly!
We found a man who had JUST finished off his smoke...and he had a packet of 2 more. We felt the strong impression to stop and talk to him so we did. We first testified of God...of His existence...of His love. Then we went strait to the case. We testified that He is a God of commandments and of Prophets who talk with Him and that a Prophet received a commandment called the Word of Wisdom. We explained that smoking and drinking is against the laws that God has given us and that we are damaging ourselves as we partake of such substances. We asked him, "Brother, what would Jesus Christ do with this packet if He were here?" He thought for a second...gave out a grunt, smashed the packet between his hands, and threw it into the street. He told us he has kids and he needs to be a better example to them. He thanked us so humbly and so kindly and we were able to take out another visit for later this week. What a tender mercy to see. We were blessed with the chance to literally see repentance take place. How amazing. What a Christlike example. What would Christ say about the things we are doing in our lives? What are we willing to smash and throw away in order to follow the Savior?
Now on to the spiritual message...

The earthquake that just occurred here and the loss of electricity brought me to the realization that we were blessed with the privilege of reliving both miraculous and devastating events in history. "And there began to be great doubting and disputations among the people, notwithstanding so many signs had been given (of the crucifixion of Christ). And there was also a great and terrible tempest; and there was terrible thunder, insomuch that it did shake the whole earth as if it was about to divide asunder. And it came to pass that there was thick darkness upon all the face of the land..." (3 Nephi 8). 
I can testify with all of my heart that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to this earth and established His very church. Not a church of men, of tradition, or of habit...but a church of truth, of power, and of authority. There existed one single church...the church of Christ Himself. The very one that he constructed, formed, organized, and led. But the people rejected Him...they even crucified Him...and His death and absence caused the world to shake and the light to go away just as it did here in Vinces on Saturday night. Vinces was completely dark for about an hour. I thought of my Savior during this hour of darkness. How would it be to not have a Savior? Dark. I felt in danger. We had no communication with other missionaries. We were lost! Just as those who lived in darkness for 3 days in the account of 3 Nephi. But just as the light came to Vinces once more...the light came to the world once more. "And now it came to pass that thus did the three days pass away. And it was the morning, and the darkness dispersed from off the face of the land." There is no doubt in my mind or heart that Jesus Christ lives. He arose and because of his Resurrection these Nephite people were brought out of the darkness just as we were on Saturday night. We were ordered to go back to the house immediately because it was not safe outside - so we did. We got home, planned, got ready for bed, (snuck in a protein shake just like old times ;)) and RIGHT before we said the prayer...the power went out again. Just as the power went out in the world when Christ had ascended to the Heavens. "And they began to be divided into classes; and they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain, and began to deny the true church of Christ." The TRUE church of Christ was denied and eventually withered away because of the pride of men. Because of the false teachings the light was taken from the earth once more just as it was in Vinces after it had returned. The only churches that remained are the same ones that we see today. Churches edified by men without direction from the One True God and without any power whatsoever to grow closer to the Lord, Jesus Christ. I lived this on Saturday night. This is called apostasy. And it was once of the most miserable things I have ever experienced in my life. I do not want to complain...because it was a marvelous experience that really touched my heart and has changed my testimony forever. Elder Johnson and I COULD NOT SLEEP. IT WAS ROASTING! The only thing we have that permits us to fall asleep is the little fan that we have. So when the power goes out...we are toast. The fan is also what keep us safe from the zeebra-squeets because the breeze from the fan blows them off of our skin when they try to bite us. So the mosquitoes got us pretty good. The fan also gives off a sound that helps us not hear the loud music from outside that never stops. It helps us sleep in peace. The fan is the gospel of Jesus Christ. After His ascension to Heaven the power went own and the fan stopped working. The heat of unbelief and false doctrine did not let people live in peace. Satan's temptations bit all continents and could not be blown away...and the world fell into darkness. These hours were miserable! The apostasy was MISERABLE! But what relief, joy, and gratitude we had when the sound of the fan was heard and its breeze was felt. The heat went away. The mosquitoes - millions of mosquitoes were blown off of our skin. And the music was no longer heard. We could fall asleep in peace. The power was back and the fan worked in Vinces just as the power came back and the fan started spinning once more in 1820. I promise all of you that if it were not for a 14 year old boy who entered a sacred grove on a beautiful spring morning we would have no fan. The gospel of Jesus Christ would not function. The heat of false doctrine would be unbearable, the bites from Satan would torment us, and the world's wickedness would take over our peace. We would have no access to the atonement of the Savior - had this 14 year old boy not of prayed. The restoration of the gospel and the life of Joseph Smith has been and forever will be the greatest blessing in your entire existence apart from the blessing to have a Savior and Redeemer and for the life He lived and gave for you. I know without a doubt that the heavens were opened that spring morning. They were opened because there was no truth. There was only tradition. They were opened because God is love. God is mercy. God is forgiving. And God is real. God would not be God if it were not for Joseph Smith. I know and testify that the fan is spinning. Jesus Christ has once again established the very church He Himself organized during His earthly ministry on earth. I don't know it because my parents told me, because I saw it on YouTube or because I read it. I know it because I talk to the Almighty God of the Universe. I talk to your God. I converse with Him who know all. I speak to Him who created the universe, the sun, and the stars...and I have asked Him if what I have shared is true...
I do it every single day...
and He never fails to tell me "yes".

Love you all!
Elder Noll

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