Monday, August 17, 2015

Oh, Can...a...da - I'm On My Way!!!

Hello friends and family!

Oh. My. Gosh. It's finally here!!! I leave tomorrow morning at 3:30 AM to fly to Montreal, Canada, and I am so darn excited I can't even contain it! Today is a frenzy of packing and goodbyes and singing songs and just a ton of crazy stuff. But... I'm REALLY glad to leave the MTC. Not that I haven't loved it... because I have. But... there are things I need to do and people I need to meet in Montreal, and the MTC is just the preparation stage of the mission. The REAL work begins as soon as I step off of that plane in the Montreal airport. And honestly... I'm really, really scared. I don't know this language, I don't know these people, I don't know who my companion is going to be, I don't know my mission president, I don't know the area I'll be serving. I know NOTHING. BUT. This work is not about me or what I don't know or what I lack. This work, this thing that we as missionaries have been called to do (along with every other member of the church; we just do it all day long), is not about how well I speak or how much I understand the people. This work, the work of inviting others to come to know Jesus Christ, is about Him. The only things required for us to share the gospel with power are these: a willing heart, obedience to the commandments, and a love for Jesus Christ. That's it. Everything else is extra. Which is not saying knowing the language doesn't help, because it does. There are plenty of things we can do to assist in the work. But those three things are the only requirements. That's the greatest thing I've learned here in the MTC.

Something hilarious happened at the beginning of my stay at the MTC that I totally forgot to tell everyone about, but I remembered this week because somebody brought it up again. Elder Critchlow (hopefully you guys have seen the pictures... he's the elder with the fiery red hair) was in our room and I was talking about my family and he said something like, "Do you have any pictures of your family?" So I pulled out my little brag book I have with pictures of my friends and family and showed him a picture of all of us. He looked at it for a little while and then said something like, "Elder McOmber, your sisters are both really attractive." It took me a full ten seconds to comprehend what he was saying. Sisters? But wait... I only have one sister... But wait... I have a mom too... she's the only other girl in the picture... wait... no... I'm gonna kill him. So I said, "I only have ONE sister. That's my mom." I expected him to get apologetic and awkward.
He immediately said, "Then your mom is really attractive too!" But he made up for it a little by saying, "Your whole family is full of models! You guys are all attractive!" I wasn't sure whether to get mad or just let it go... so I just laughed and moved on, away from the awkwardness. But I made sure later that day to clarify that nobody gets a chance with my sister unless I say so. :P

I had a really cool study period today in which I read through and studied the Christlike attribute of charity. In Luke Chapter 10, a man asks the Savior a question, "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus Christ responds with a parable (a form of analogy) entitled "The Parable of the Good Samaritan." I would encourage you to read that parable (it's pretty short) because it's awesome for learning how to love people. Anyways, I found three major types of people in the parable. First, a "certain man." Sometimes we all fit into this category, as we travel through our own personal "road from Jerusalem to Jericho." Life is full of thieves, or experiences which take from us our confidence, our family members, our possession, or even sometimes our happiness for a time. Second, there are "priests" and "Levites." I put these two into the same category because Levites had very similar jobs to priests in the New Testament; in fact, they were usually assigned to assist the priests. Both of these walked by the "certain man" in the road without helping him in the slightest. These men knew the law very well, being priests in the temple, and the law stated that if one saw a man's animal collapse on the road, you should not hide yourself, but rather help him lift his animal again. How much more important was it, then, to help the man himself when he has fallen by the way? Obviously they convinced themselves not to, soothed their consciences by saying they were in a hurry, or that the thieves might come back. Excuses are readily plentiful to those who seek them.
However. The third type of person, a Samaritan, came along and "had compassion" on the fallen Jew. (The man was likely a Jew, as he was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho.) The Samaritans and the Jews had a long history of hatred, to the point in which Jews were forbidden even to eat food prepared by the hands of the Samaritans, and would take long detours around the land of Samaria to avoid being made "unclean." The Jews treated the Samaritans with a "much holier than thou" attitude. And yet, a Samaritan took the time to stop, bind and clean the wounds of the fallen Jew, place him on his beast, and take him to an inn, at which time the Samaritan paid for his future care, and promised to return. This is the requirement made of each of us. The Samaritan did not find an excuse, because he wasn't looking for one. This is the demand that our Redeemer makes of each of us. As we travel through our own roads to Jericho, we will most definitely find those who have been cut down and thrown to the side of the road by the thieves of life. If we are looking for excuses to pass by, if we tell ourselves we have to be somewhere or that this person will probably not appreciate what we might have to offer... we are in danger of becoming those hypocritical priests who passed by on the other side of the road. Can I offer a challenge? Don't look for excuses. Let's look for ways to help. Look for ways to clean the wounds, place them in our own care, and be there for them as often as we can. That is the Savior's character. He could have found excuse in so many instances. And yet, He loved perfectly. He healed the sick, forgave the sinner, and performed the Atonement; He gave His life for people who would constantly fall short of His demand to "be ye therefore perfect." That is our example, and that proves that it is indeed possible to help the fallen stranger. If He could do it, then we can do it with His assistance as we pray for the desire to love our fellow men; ALL of them. I know He loves us. I know He will help us love others. I love Him with all my heart, and I testify that He lives today, our Savior, Redeemer and Brother.

I love you all. You are in my thoughts and prayers every morning and night, and I wish you all the best. The next letter I send home will be from Canada! I'M SO EXCITED TO GET TO WORK! God be with all of you until we meet again!

En avant!

Elder Bryan McOmber
 Frere Pehrson, one of my French instructors! He went to Canada Montreal, too!

 Soeur Johns, my other French instructor! She went to France Paris!

 Elder Menzel and I. He's from Germany, and we played soccer together a lot here at the MTC!

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