Monday, May 30, 2016

May 30, 2016

Hello Crew!
How are we? Hopefully everyone is doing great! I am sure all is a bit crazy with end of school/beginning of summer changes but it is okay...change is good. 
Elder Johnson and I were talking about how there is NO WAY that 2 years has already passed by since we graduated. We are convinced that it was 2 DAYS ago. But a special congrats to all that graduated and are moving on with their lives! What a special opportunity now that these recent grad students have to prepare themselves for missions, studies, and life! May our Father guide each and one of you down the path, not that you would choose, but that He has already chosen for you.
These past couple of weeks have been great! We got to go to Guayaquil for an INCREDIBLE conference, we did a couple of amazing service projects, and are still preaching the only true, divine, and complete  gospel that exists in all of the universe and galaxies...and we are doing it as best friends. So that is just kinda cool I guess ;)

What is new back home? Any mission calls? Any recent returned missionaries? Spiritual experiences? Tender mercies? Where did you see God's hand yesterday? This morning? Where do you see it now?

This past weekend actually was not TOO exciting. Poor Elder Johnson came down with a throat infection which locked us up in the house the majority of Saturday and Sunday. We were going crazy...haha...being sick is a lot different without your mom...I tried to put the "Sherry Johnson" or "Tracy Noll" wig on, but we all know that that is just humanly impossible. But don't worry Sherry...I did cook your son meals! ;) The good part was that I got to read the Book of Mormon quite a bit. So I can't complain on that one. But with that said...shoot some prayers in the way of Elder Johnson.
We are loving life. That is the most important part. This work truly is a marvelous work and a wonder.
I am gonna jump towards real business...
The 100m dash is one of the most highly anticipated sporting events that there is today. Hours and hours of anxious excitement are put into waiting for a race that only last about 11 seconds in HS, 10 seconds in college, and 9.5 seconds on the Olympic level. All to find out who is "the fastest runner". But is that really what we discover? Yes, speed is completely necessary to be a successful 100m dash competitor, but those who win races are those who are able to maintain their top speed the longest. Not necessarily him who is "fastest" will always win the race...but him who is fastest for the longest period of time. 
It has been shown that after 30-40 meters of 100% exertion and effort to run as fast as possible, it is humanly impossible to gain more speed and run at a faster rate. Hence, the 100m dash, the race that weeds out the quickest, the event that finds speed, and the way the world uses to find the "fastest man alive", has a lot more to it than just speed. There are still 70 meters left after reaching top speed to maintain speed and overcome the race triumphantly.
Brothers and Sisters, to live a life so similar to a 100m dash, we must refrain from dwelling on our first 30 meters or trying to "relive" what we have already ran. Common "30 meter thoughts" are: If I could only be baptized again. Oh how I wish I could have one more day in my mission. Why can't I feel the spirit as strong now as I did the first time in the temple? Why is reading my scriptures and doing my prayers so much harder now than it was then? If I could only go back. Indeed, these first 30 meters are crucial. But they are ONLY used to gain speed. They are not used to help you finish the race. 
We are able to develop speed with baptism, missions, spiritual experiments, temple attendance, and other "spiritual highs"...but after this requires endurance and maintaining the developed speed. "He that is faithful and enduring shall overcome the world." Overcoming the world is hard. Enduring is rigorous. Like enduring a 100m dash, physical and mental pain are felt. We will lose our breath at times. Our legs will get heavy. Many times, others are enduring better than we are which causes doubt, insecurity, and fear. All of these come from an adversary who wants us to stay within the "30 meters", hence, limiting us from ever finishing our race and making it to the finish line where God resides. 
What I believe will help us is knowing that we overcame this adversary before. We felt the same pain we sometimes feel today. We felt the same fatigue we perhaps feel now. We felt the same desire to stay within 30 meters in the premortal life. 
But John the beloved teaches us how we did it. How we overcame Satan then and how we can do it now. "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimonies; and they loved not their lives unto death" (Revelations 12:11).
1. It is only possible through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ that we can and will overcome this race. He is the only reason that we were capable of and still the only reason that we are capable of maintaining the speed we have gathered to finish the last 70 meters. We must use His atonement to endure as we did in the premortal life. We must trust in His wings. He will carry us. His blood will give us energy and light. He is the only way. By Him, through Him, and of Him, we will finish this race.
2. We must cling to our testimonies. Let us remember that we overcame Satan as spirit children of God...IMPERFECT spirit children. We do not need to be perfect to overcome Satan here just as we did not need to be perfect to overcome him then. Nor is a perfect knowledge of all things required. Fatigue is inevitable in this race. It will come...but our testimonies and our beliefs will keep us moving and pull us to that finish line.
3. In Spanish it says that "they loved  not their own lives, even if they had to suffer until death". Do not fear suffering. Understand that, again, it is part of this race. Accept the fatigue and the exhaustion. Accept the opposition. It is not the fatigue that wins or loses the race...but what we decide to DO with the fatigue and opposition that comes our way.
There have been times in my life and even to this very day in my mission where I have felt weak. Sometimes I get the tunnel vision just as I did in those last few meters. Sometimes my legs are weak just as they always were at the end of all of my races. Sometimes Satan lures me to look to my left and to my right to see who is "better" than me or who is "faster for longer". Sometimes I get tired. Sometimes I hurt. Physically and spiritually. Sometimes I feel like a race of 30 meter spiritual highs would be nice but that is not how it works. The blood of the Lamb is blood that was shed for me and you. The blood of the Lamb is blood that flows through the living body of the Savior, Jesus Christ, that will help us overcome this race. I have tried to focus on what I testimony...instead of what I don't know. I am not perfect. But perfection is not a requisite to overcome Satan. Let us not fear suffering...for it is what pulls me to my the finish line. I often hear His voice..."DIG DEEP" and "GET YOUR KNEES UP" just as my dad yelled to me each race when enduring got hard. I can feel His cheer through His blood that was shed for me just as my mom cheered. These 3 things help me to continue on in this 100m race and  maintain the speed that the Lord has blessed me with.
Endure and overcome just as you did before. The finish line will be forever worth it.
Elder Noll
"this is why we don't drink the water!"

"Giving thanks"

the longest broom handle we've ever seen!

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