Monday, June 27, 2016

June 27, 2016

As I reflect on these past 2 years of my life, I am left with a heart so full of gratitude, feeling, and love. Yet my heart feels empty at the same time because I feel like I need to wear this plaque for a life time and more to learn and become what the Lord would have me learn and become. I would find it very difficult to tell each of you what I have learned in my mission because I have learned something new each and every day. But I can express 6 things that that I have felt. They are 6 things that I believe every missionary to have ever served, is serving, or will serve in the future felt, feels, and will come to feel.
1- I have truly felt over these past two years that I have been more blessed that any other existing human being alive for simply being permitted to wear Jesus Christ's name on my heart. "And if they desire to take upon themselves my name with full purpose of heart, they are called to go into all the world to preach my gospel unto every creature" (D&C 18:28). There is no greater calling that the calling to be a representative of the Savior of all mankind and put His name over your heart. I often feel like this white shirt is His white robe. Sometimes I think of my tie as His shepherd's staff and this plaque as if it were His very hand and His very own heart touching the lives of others. What a blessing it is to be permitted to be His hands and help others to feel His heart and His perfect love. WE ARE HIS REPRESENTATIVES.
2- I have come to feel an in-explainable joy. I cannot tell you why or how it occurs. All I know is that it is a promise from God that "if it so be that you should cry repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy..." (D&C 18:15). There is no greater joy I have felt in my entire life than the joy that comes from witnessing a lost child of God make it back to His loving arms. The joy that comes from seeing the Atonement change the life of someone is the greatest joy that exists in this universe. There may be things in this life that seem to bring joy but God has not promised "great joy" to them like He has to missionary work. GREAT WILL BE YOUR JOY.
3- Alma, as a missionary, "labored much" and "prayed mightily" but the people still "hardened their hearts". He was reviled, spit upon, and cast out. He was "weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul". Despite "laboring much" and "crying out in mighty prayer" my soul too has been tormented from time to time. The mocking is real. Being spitted upon and cast out really does happen. My being weighed down with sorrow has often times led me to my knees at night only to bathe my pillow with my tears. But despite the rejecting, the spitting, and the anguish..."behold, an angel of the Lord appeared unto him (Alma)". I promise that the tribulation will come as a missionary...but along with the tribulation will always come an angel. I have been blessed with so many miracles in my life over these past two years. Angels, or divine miracles from God's loving grace, have attended me since day one of this journey. WE WILL NEVER FAIL TO RECEIVE HEAVENLY HELP.

4- "Therefore what say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle? And now I say unto you, my beloved brother Moroni, that never had I seen so great courage, nay, not amongst all the Nephites.
For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus.
Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it."
This group of "very young" men with "such great courage" teach us such a great message. They did not "think more upon the liberty of their fathers that their own lives" until they were to fight. They were also taught their entire lives by their mothers that "if they did not doubt, God would deliver them", but did not rehearse, believe, or love these words until they were tossed into battle. Every single missionary will come to "think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they do of their own lives" and will come to respect the sacrifices that were made by their father's. Each missionary will come to understand a little bit more of the love that their father's have towards them and will come to develop a love quite a bit more powerful towards their father's than they thought they had before. 
Every missionary will come to KNOW that "their mothers knew it". That their mothers know just about all of it! The teachings, hugs, succors, and love of a mother really come to impact the heart and soul of a missionary and the love of a missionary towards his mother will grow to a more passionate and powerful love that is un-explainably deep. I have been able to come to love my family more than I ever thought possible although I am thousands of miles away. WE WILL DEVELOP A MORE POWERFUL LOVE FOR OUR FAMILIES.
5- In the second book of Nephi and in the 1 chapter, father Lehi exhorts to all that they should repent, keep the commandments, and believe in the Redeemer who was to come. That is the role of a missionary, is it not? Invite others to come unto Christ through faith in Him and obedience to His gospel teachings. But I love what Lehi comes to feel through completing his missionary duty because it is something that every missionary will come to feel as they preach repentance and exhort all to come unto Christ. "I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love". 
I make a promise to all youth preparing to serve a mission and to those who are still of age...if you desire to feel the Lord's loving arms holding you, succoring you, and protecting will come to feel just that as you serve a mission. The Lord has never once failed to wipe my tears, hold my hand, hug me tight, or leave me forsaken. I have come to feel encircled about eternally in His arms. WE WILL FEEL HIS ETERNAL HUG.

6- "The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house" (Isaiah 44:13). There are quite a few verbs used in this verse that explain to us just what a carpenter does to a worthless block of wood. Stretching, ruling, marking, lining, fitting, planing, compassing, directioning, making, and figuring. All of this was done to a piece of wood so that it could be made into "the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man". 
I testify that the Lord is our Carpenter. He stretches, rules, marks, lines, fits, planes, compasses, directs, makes, and figures missionaries...blocks of wood...into "the figures of men or women" that He desires us to become. A full time mission is His shop and the experiences within that mission are His tools to help us reach our potential as His children. Not only does He make us and form us into the earthly men or women that He would have us become. But He builds us "according to the beauty of man". The beauty of man is the perfection and glory of God, the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. The mission will not only form us into the earthly men and women that God hopes for us to become...but a mission will form us into the eventual God that we are able to, one day, become. WE WILL BECOME WHAT GOD WANTS US TO BECOME.

Brothers and Sisters, my mission has been the best two years for my life. It will be the best 2 years or 1 1/2 for you as well.
I look forward to writing you all one last time next week. I love each and every one of you so much!
Elder Noll

Monday, June 20, 2016

June 20, 2016

Hello all!
There is not much time today... but just enough time to do something that I have not done near enough in my mission.

“I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me” is one of my favorite lines in all of music and art. I truly do stand all amazed at the love that my perfect Savior offers me every second of every day. But Christ’s love comes in so many ways, shapes, and forms. This day, and every day, “I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me” through each and every one of you.

I have stood in need of succor over these past two years... and I have pulled strength from your begs to heaven on my behalf.

I have been in darkness at times... and I have been brought to light through your candles.

I have been sick and afflicted... and I have been administered to because you chose to right my name on a little slip of paper to be presented in the heights of the Holy Temples.

The love and support I have felt through and from you, my brothers and my sisters, has been truly remarkable. I have been touched by your examples, your love, your faithfulness, and your love towards the Savior and me.

It would take an eternity to say “thank you” to all of you. But we have a Savior. We have a Lord. We have a Brother. We have a King. And through this Perfect Being eternity exists. Eternity is what we have.

Eternity is what I have to hopefully show all of you a small portion of the love that you have shown me.
I hope all of you have been able to feel of my love and appreciation for you. I have knelt for you all and cried out for your well being. And I know that you have knelt unceasingly and cried out for my well being ever so diligently and I thank you for that.

It will be my continual prayer that you all continue to be blessed by our Father’s hand. That you all continue to be lifted by our Savior who was lifted first. And that you can all come feel of the Father’s forever loving and eternal arms around you to protect you and your families.

Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.

I love you all. Love is a powerful word and I hope you can feel of its power through words. Endure on, my siblings of the same Father. Thank you for the love that you have shown me during my mission, before my mission, and the love that you will continue to show me after.

With so much love,
Elder Noll  

Monday, June 13, 2016

June 13, 2016

I stand all amazed...

That is basically all I can say about my life at this moment. I don't know exactly how to express how incredible this past week was. On Saturday our loving Heavenly Father blessed me with the opportunity to look a prophet, seer, and revelator in the eyes and shake his hand. Elder Ronald Rasband came to our mission and we had the chance to hear him speak. We were together with two other missions from Guayaquil so there was quite a bit of power in the room. I have no doubt in my mind or in my heart that God is a God who loves us. That is exactly why He calls worthy men to represent Him and the Church of His Son. He is a God of love because if it were not for these elect men we would have no light. Never in my life have I seen or felt more light from a human being. He walks with Christ. That I know. How blessed we are to have servants of the Lord in our lives.

It was also Elder Johnson's birthday! So that was cool! Not that we could really celebrate...haha! We do have enough cake to last us all through the millennium though. But I think the true celebration was preaching what we love and representing who we want to become.

I just want to skip to the spiritual message...I think the stories and funny occurrences will have to be put on hold for now! Hah!

When I was a 9 year old boy I remember receiving devastating news that my father was to be deployed to Kuwait for military service. For as young as I was I do not recall much before his departure or even during his deployment but the little that I do remember has taught me so much about a father's love towards his children. The night before my father left we gathered in the living room as a family and, one by one, received blessings from the hands of my father. I remember two things only from this blessing: First, I felt his tears falling upon my head as he blessed me. And second, he expressed his unfailing love for each one of us in his blessing but finished by saying that his love, being so great and so unfailing, being powerful beyond comprehension, was nothing compared to the love that our Father in Heaven has for us. Later that night we decided as siblings that we wanted to spend our last night with dad in the basement and sleep together, since he was leaving very early the next morning and we were not going to see him again for a long time. I remember falling asleep scared...heartbroken...lost...unable to breathe...knowing that I would not wake up to having a dad for quite some time...but something happened that I do not recall telling anyone about ever in my life. I was awoken to something early that morning. When I opened my eyes it was still dark due to the hour, but I could see just enough that my father was no longer in between my little brother and sister on the ground where he had fallen asleep. I then looked to the stairs where I saw the silhouette of a figure dressed in military turnouts. My father, though I could not see the details of his face, looking over and at his children for the last time before he would be separated from them. That is the last memory of my father that I have before he left. I now ask myself...what was it that woke me up at such an hour? I do not know with certainty...nor have I asked my father before if these events truly took place...but I believe something with all of my heart and feel like I have come to a conclusion. I believe that my dad got himself up, went upstairs to get himself ready, and seconds before leaving with my mother to the airport, came down to the basement one last time. I believe he observed my older brother Ryan...and kissed him ever so gently on the head. I believe that he went to the side of my sister and looked upon the perfection of his little princess and kissed her every so gently on her cheek. I believe that he beheld his youngest baby, who was almost two and kissed him ever so tenderly on his little head. Then I believe he made it to me...and woke me up from the touch of his unfailing and forever loving kiss to my forehead...causing me to wake up just in time to see him that one last time at the staircase. How grateful I am for an earthly father who bathed me in his tears that last night. How humbled I am to have a loving father who kissed me ever so softly and loved me so gently to leave me and to fight for me. How grateful I am for a father who comforts me and loves me...who provides for me and who teaches me...who saves me and gives me life...and who teaches me that I have an Eternal Father...whose love, tears, kisses, teachings, and comfort is much better. Much deeper. Much more compassionate. Much more perfect. What a sacred calling being a father is. Being a father, I am sure, is nothing easy. But it is something that perfects us as sons of God. God the Father is perfect and wants us to be like Him...and we will come to be like Him by doing what He does. The call of a father is the call to be more like our Father. I love you, Dad. Happy Father's Day. And a Happy Father's day to all!!! 

I would like to give the most special of Father's Day wishes to my Eternal Father. To Him that loves me perfectly. To my first Dad. I have no doubt, brothers and sisters, that we all have an Eternal Father who bathed our heads in His very tears as He blessed us the night before we were to come to earth. I have no doubt that our Father descends from His thrown ever so often to kiss us. His kiss awakens us...perhaps we will not see the details of His face just as I could not see those of my father's...but His kiss will let us know that He is there at our staircase...that He is present in our lives...that He is there...watching over us. His kisses are real...I have felt them through His mercy and His miracles. His kisses are possible through the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Look to your Father...pray to Him...remember the tears fell over your head that last night...tears that sealed you with the promise of eternal life. Feel and look for His kisses. Know of His love. Call Him Dad.
For He is your Father.
Elder Noll