Monday, May 16, 2016

May 16, 2016

Hello my dearest American friends and family!
This week was so so great! It was so awesome to talk to my beautiful mother last week on Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day again to all! :)
Elder Johnson and I are still getting after it! We truly had an amazing week. Are any of you sick of hearing that?? Haha. Hopefully not because I am sure you will keep on hearing the same exact thing until the end. Actually I am sure of it! ;)
Two great experiences we had that I would love to share!
Yesterday in church a recent convert who I love with all of my heart came up to us and asked us, ever so hesitantly, if we could possibly help him. He asked us what that thing is called where if you gain 10 dollars you have to give 1 dollar to the church. We told him that it was tithing. As soon as he heard those words from our mouth he practically leaped with joy..."TITHING! Where can I do that?!" I was so touched by this man's intent and joy to pay the Lord with the little that he has. How happy are we to give the Lord 10%? Do we leap with joy as we sacrifice the little that we have?
There was another really cool moment when a sweet Hermana in the branch who has a tough husband and a tough life told us that she really wanted us to visit her. We had the chance to enter her humble home and share the gospel with her...but she was the one who actually shared the gospel with me! She bore her testimony on Family History and how it has totally changed her life. The way she explained how she feels when she does temple work and when she works on her Family History really impacted me. She explained that it is really the only thing she has to maintain the peace and her patience in her home with the hard life that she lives. She did not always do it either...she recently had the impression that she should be doing better with it. As soon as she took that counsel from the spirit she got a call that day which gave this struggling daughter of God, this struggling wife, this suffering mother, a job that will provide for the needs of her and her family. If the Lord asked us how important our Family History is to us, what would we say? If the Lord rated us on our efforts to go to the temple would He be pleased?
Elder Johnson and I continue to love each and every second of our time together! We have had so many great experiences together. I can not seem to chose which ones to share!
We were walking through the wilderness... but I did not have the best feeling about I made Elder Johnson lead the way. After a little while he ended up stepping in a hidden pond thingy...drenching his shoe and pant leg. I got a good laugh out of that one! But he got revenge on me when we went to lend service and there were only two instruments. He got the rake that was in perfect condition and I got the shovel...but it was broken. So I ONLY got the shovel did not have the stick part to hold on to. Let's just say that my back took quite the toll. I guess we are even now ;)
I will save the better stories for when I can tell them in person!! :)
A trip to Lake Powell was taken by our family and a couple of others years ago. One of my great friends and I decided to take the jet ski out together after we had set up our spot as a group on the beach. What a great time we had on that jet ski. We cruised on the lake for quite some time which felt as only seconds. As we were having a great time a little light with great meaning came on. The gas-light. But we were having too much fun to let a little light interfere with our joy. We actually ended up seeing an amazing slot canyon that looked like a blast. Not thinking twice about the light, we went all in...and kept going for quite a while. Until eventually the motor to the jet ski stopped, we came to a halt and were unable to move or start the jet ski again, and we were stranded deep into a slot canyon without eyes to see us, ears to hear us, or hands to help us. There was no way out but to swim. We swam, and swam, and swam. We had to pull and push this jet ski along with us which was quite the physical test of endurance and strength for the both of us. Probably close to an hour past as we fought the current, swam, struggled, and suffered. The torment from knowing that a little light would have saved us from our state of grief was afflicting and tormenting as well.
This life is a lake. A lake that was given to us "that we might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25). And just as a little light comes on to warn us and reprove us from being stranded, the Holy Ghost "will be sent to reprove the world of sin" so that we can always make it back to the beach of our Heavenly Father. We can not afford to play with sin. We can not touch it, we can not think of it, nor can we justify it. The only proper way to deal with sin is to hate it. It is what is keeping you and I from an eternal paradise. The ONLY thing. This spiritual light leads us to repentance and, if neglected, we will be stranded just as my friend and I were.

"And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.
 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked."

Procrastinating repentance as my friend and I procrastinated our return to the beach only leads to darkness, affliction, and to one tough swim. It is the devil himself that leads us into these slot canyons to strand us in misery and hopelessness. He tells us that the gas light does not mean much and that our return can be delayed until we our finished up with our will and what seems pleasing to us in that moment.
As I meditated on this experience I had, I was able to come to a conclusion of 2 teachings early on. 

1: We MUST give heed to the spirit and repent and return when we are told. We cannot continue to play on sinful waters.
2: Repentance is a swim...a tough one. As humans we will make mistakes. Our jet ski's will run out of gas due to our failure to act and repent and return. All of us sin. As a result...all must repent. Repentance is among the greatest gifts that God has offered us through His Son. But it is a draining, exhausting, and challenging process that requires effort, help, and endurance.

But the 3rd lesson that I was able to learn is my favorite.
My friend and I FINALLY managed to make our way out of the slot canyon. But we were still miles away from the beach. How many of you have felt like you have repented but you still feel miles away from your Heavenly Father? How many of you have finished a tough swim of struggle and affliction and feel like you still cannot make it to the beach of the Kingdom of God. My friend and I sure felt this way. In fact, we would still be swimming today if it were not for a boat that stopped by our side, threw us a rope that we tied to the jet ski, and towed us back to our beach and sound with our families. This boat saved us from an impossible swim of an eternity.

I can testify that the King of Kings, the Savior, the Christ...your Christ...has a boat. He has a rope. And through Him, by Him, in Him, and of Him, He will tow us back to the shore of our Heavenly Father. His rope is eternal. No matter how tired you are, how far you have swam, how many times you have neglected your gas light, how strong the current, or how heavy the jet, like my friend and I, can and will be brought to safety and paradise through the Lord, Jesus Christ, though His mercy, His atonement, and through your repentance.
"...if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you."

 I make the same promise to each of you today. IMMEDIATELY will our forever reachable, eternally accessible and merciful reliever tow us home.

I am evidence of the Lord, Jesus Christ's rope. I am evidence that he tows. And I know He will make you evidence too.
In His sacred name. Amen.
Elder Noll


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