Monday, April 25, 2016

Fun Trip to Montreal. Repentance. LOVING MY MISSION! Lots of pictures!

Hi guys! :)

So, it's been a pretty dang swell week.

For starters, we went down to Montreal for exchanges this weekend. And it was quite entertaining. I got some pictures of the city as the sun was going down; those will come later. :) But Montreal is crazy... I thought Quebec was big! :P What is great about Montreal is that there are a LOT more people walking in the streets, which is a missionary's PARADISE because it means you can park a ways away from your appointment and just talk to like a million people! Le meilleur! :)

We also had a super fun district activity this morning. We went to Le Rigolfeur, this fun mini golf place at a mall near our church building. (Pictures to come) So hilarious. Each hole has some sort of laugh-inducing trick to it; sometimes something jumps out at you, or water sprays you, or you have to open a toilet seat to get your ball out of the hole. All in all, a great experience. :P It was kind of sad though, because last Saturday was transfers, and five members of our district are being transferred/going home. :(

Transfers are always a different experience. I was very happy to learn that I will be staying here in Quebec City for another 6 weeks with Elder Peery, at which point, he will be finished with his two years and headed home. He's kinda freaking out. I simply laugh at him, because I'm NEVER going home! :) :) Right?


Hahaha. Anyways. Great week.

I've been thinking this weekend about repentance. About change. I don't know if any of you know this. But I am not the same Elder McOmber who walked into the Missionary Training Center in Provo. I've learned a heck of a lot about a million different things.

Too often we associate the word "repentance" with sackcloth and ashes, tears and guilt. Well, that's not wrong. Certainly, sorrow for sin and failure is a part of repenting. But true repentance is so much more than that. Repentance is a turning of oneself, one's habits and lifestyle and, really, one's heart and very soul, more fully toward our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I could explain the steps to repentance, or how to know if we are really forgiven, or a million other things in this letter. But I really think the best way to explain repentance is to explain first the "why."

Our perfect Father wants us to become like Him. He created a plan to help us get there. He, knowing all things, of course new when He created this plan that we would inevitably all make mistakes.

I wonder if we sometimes think that when we sin, alarm bells start going off all over heaven and angels start running around yelling, "THEY RUINED EVERYTHING!!"

Of course not. Because that would be silly.

No, instead, our loving Father in Heaven knows our weaknesses and our shortcoming. He prepared the Way for us to return to live with Him again and to become like Him. And the Way is our older Brother, Jesus Christ.

He was chosen from the beginning to perform His Atonement, so that our mistakes are no longer our downfall, but our learning curve. We are NOT alone. We are NOT our weakness. We are so much more than that. We have the potential to become PERFECT. That is not an understatement. That is not a lie. That is an eternal truth, and the very purpose of the most powerful Being in the universe; He wants us to be like Him.

I think the key here is to stop thinking of sin in terms of ups and downs. What I mean by that is that we're not standing on a slippery slope every second of our lives, carefully making our way up the mountain to perfection, knowing that if we slip we have to start all over. I think that life is more like a marathon, and our goal is to reach the finish. We run and run. And occasionally, we trip. We fall. But that does NOT mean we have to start over. All that means is that we have a choice; we can stay down, or we can get up, dust ourselves off, and keep running. But how pointless is it to lie in the dust, when all of the energy and help and hope we need is there for the taking if we'll just let Him lift us? How silly to quit, when thousands of angels stand at the sidelines cheering us on?

My invitation this week is that of Paul in his letter to the Corinthians.

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

I testify that Jesus is the Christ. He lives. He loves us. I know it. I know we have a Heavenly Father who gave His Son so that we could overcome the stain of our sin in His Atonement, and become like Them; perfect in every way. They are real. They are there. And They love us more than we could ever try to comprehend.

Is that not a cause to rejoice?!?

En avant!

Elder Bryan McOmber
This is pretty much how elder and sister missionaries take pictures. Awkwardly.
  Don't know why I included this one. I think just because of Elder Peery's smolder.
Quebec missionaries group photo! Left to right: Me, Elder Peery, Sister Payne (she's being transferred... thus the photos) and Sister Clark (one of my MTC friends!)
The Westover couple came with us to mini golf! :)
If you look behind me, you'll see Elder Peery photo bombing. :P
Ste-Foy district represent! :) (Except for Rimouski... but they're 3 hours north of us so they couldn't come.) Fun fact... four of these people are either going home or being transferred this week!
  Mini golfing. It's... different.
Really different.
Elder Morris! He's being transferred to Ottawa. :(
There are ducks in our puddle outside!
No bicycle kicks allowed in Quebec!

  We knocked this door. It kinda freaked us out.
For the record... we knocked this door too.
The Olympic Stadium in Montreal!


Just because I could.
I really liked this photo. It just made me happy.
The Olympic Stadium again.
Montreal really is a cool city.

Only in Canada do the malls have a big hockey rink in the middle.

Monday, April 18, 2016

THE TANK IS CLEAN! T-Rex Football. When you are knocked to your knees, look up...He is there. Pics!


The sun is shining, the tank is clean, and we are getting outta - THE TANK IS CLEAN!

Okay but like seriously. This quote from Finding Nemo describes perfectly how I felt this past weekend. The temperature did NOT drop below freezing overnight, and Sunday was BEAUTIFUL with 20 degree (Celsius) weather! AMAZING. It felt like I was in California. The snow is all melting. It's interesting. I always imagined living in snow as a white wonderland, where the snow miraculously doesn't fall on sidewalks or streets or cars and the temperature stays above 0. I really set myself up for disaster there. :P Rather, I've learned that after the first little while, there's a lot more gross gray and brown snow than white snow. It also becomes very icy and deadly to walk around places. And you have to figure out good ways to get the ice off of your windshield wipers without your fingers freezing off. All in all, I am VERY glad to see that spring has officially sprung here in Quebec. :)

Funny experience this week. So, I received a football in a package from my family for my birthday (thanks again guys :)). And Elder Peery and I were just tossing it around waiting for our lunch to finish cooking. And we were kinda bored. So we invented a new sport.

T-Rex Football.

Basically, you have to keep your elbows pinned to your sides while you play football. You look exceedingly foolish while playing this. We had a blast. We started running plays to see if we could make them work. I'm pretty sure we're gonna go pro with this. I would have attached pictures but I was laughing so hard I forgot. But I'm sure you can picture it. :P

The other comment I wanna make is just one of gratitude. I am so grateful for the struggles I deal with and have dealt with in my life and on my mission. I tend to be pretty quick to demand to the heavens, "Why are You letting this happen? Don't You love me?" Yet in hindsight, I realize that EVERYTHING good about me is a result of His love and care and willingness to let me struggle and work and fail. I would not be here on a mission if it weren't for my failures. They have strengthened me and molded me into a better, though SO imperfect, servant of our Savior. I've learned patience, I've learned kindness, I've learned to listen. I've learned to be more humble. I've learned to be more optimistic. I've learned to love.

I had a Physical Education teacher in 7th grade who loved to quote, "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." Well, welcome to the 10%. We can't change it, and we can't just sit down and cry about it (however tempting that may seem). What we CAN do is REACT. Change something! Become something, someone, more than you are! I hate to break the news, but nobody who is anybody has had an easy life. Those who have attained the greatest eternal peaks are those same souls who found themselves in the lowest and most miserable valleys; their success came because of their decision to accept their ability to react and the Savior's ability to help them.

So if you've been knocked you to your knees, if you find yourself lying amidst the pieces of broken dreams and broken hearts, react, and react right. Look up and realize that He who fell below all of us is standing in front of you, with His hand outstretched. Take that hand. Let Him change your heart and change your life. He's changed mine. He's still changing mine. I owe everything I am to Him and to our Father in Heaven. I love Them. I know They live. And I know They love us.

En avant!

Elder Bryan McOmber
 Did an exchange with Elder Roubicek! Mom, you remember who this is? :)   (Note from Danette: Yes!  I remember who this is.  The Roubicek's are a family from Fresno...where Mark and I grew up.  LOVE them!)

 Elder Peery exchanged with Elder Mecham, Elder Roubicek's companion. This pretty much explains their personalities.

The sister training leaders asked us to wear blue (for Quebec) to match them. So I wore a blue tie, and Elder Peery wore a blue, albeit very black-looking, suit. Le meilleur! :) Sidenote... all three of them are going home in the next two months and I will be left all alone. :(

 Le Fleuve Saint-Laurent (Saint Laurent River)

Quebec City from down the river. The big building near the river (behind the cranes... it's pretty far away) is called the Chateau Frontenac... it's a hotel. Super popular and pretty much the face of Quebec.
 Quebec City again. You can't see the Chateau anymore.

Monday, April 11, 2016

When snow melts you get...mud. When your struggling through life (and any other time)...keep the Sabbath. Pics!

Hi everyone!

Well. It's been a little bit of a tough week. Nothing crazy bad happened... it's just been kind of cold again, so a lot of people went back into hiding for the week. So we spent a good deal of time knocking doors, with relatively little success. As knocking is probably the very least effective way to find new investigators, we're really trying to focus on helping our members to talk to their friends and acquaintances, because that is where miracles really happen. But that's a work in progress. And so we knock. And we talk to people. And we hope and pray that they listen to our message.

We were on exchanges with the elders in Victoriaville (sidenote: that was super cool, because I was serving there a few months ago so I got to hear about all the stuff that's going on in that town now. Memories :)) and I was with Elder Ridenour. We were parking at the end of the night outside our apartment. There is a giant puddle in front of our apartment building (in between the two giant piles of snow. Oh Canada.) which we usually walk across/through/around (depending on if it's frozen or not). Well, Elder Ridenour and I couldn't find parking in the normal spots, so we decided to just park in the puddle, thinking it wouldn't be that deep so no problem.

Well. We were wrong. And soon we found ourselves about a foot deep in mud and freezing water. As I was the passenger, it fell to me to get out and push. What joy. It took us a couple minutes, but we finally got out; the car was completely coated in mud by the end. Which is fun since we're going to have car inspections this Wednesday for zone conference. Oh well... it was their car, not Staci. :P It really wasn't that funny... but it was definitely interesting.

The thought that's been on my mind a lot this week has been the Sabbath Day. Throughout all scripture, the idea of a Sabbath, a day of rest, is mentioned multiple times.

I heard a saying in a talk I was listening to recently, and it struck me. "Our great-grandfathers called it the Holy Sabbath. Our grandfathers called it the Sabbath. Our fathers called it Sunday. And we call it the weekend."

Anybody anywhere can recognize that the values and truths in the world as a whole seem to be taking a larger and larger turn for the worse. But to what can we attribute this?

In Preach My Gospel (the go-to manual for missionary work), it states, "When a community or nation grows careless in its Sabbath activities, its religious life decays and all aspects of life are negatively affected."

Well, there's the answer. We gotta start with the Sabbath Day. It's a day of rest, rest from the world and its demands. A day to devote to the Lord so that He can give us the strength we need to overcome the struggles of life throughout the rest of the week. He wants to bless us with that strength; but if we're devoting HIS day to OUR shopping and sports and parties... how can He?

If you find yourself questioning why things go wrong in your life, start with the Sabbath. What do you do on that day of rest? What can you do better? There are some SUPER good videos that have been put on the website about this. I encourage all of you to watch them (ALL of them!); I promise that they're awesome and you'll find great ways to live this commandment with joy! :) Here's the link: 

But like seriously! You gotta watch these videos. They're the best!

I love you all. Thank you for your letters and prayers and support. You're all amazing!

En avant!

Elder Bryan McOmber
 We ate it all in less than a week. Missionary diets are a joke. XD

General Conference tie!

 Staci. Good old dependable Staci.

The view of Quebec city from down the river.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Staci! LOVED Conference. The Earth Runs on Charity - the Pure Love of Christ. Don't EVER Give Up!

Hey everyone! :)

So, it's been a pretty great week. A little bit of a rough start, but after the first couple days, things really started looking up and I've had a pretty good time.

I guess I should start off by saying that I made Heath Cake on Tuesday for my birthday (a little late, but ca va). And... it's almost gone. My companion and I have seriously flown through that cake like it was nothing. It's really a little sad because with every bite we were adding another mile of running in our heads to our exercises... once the temperature finally reaches above freezing. Okay Canada, we get it! It's cold! Can we go back to non-glacial climates now? It's April! :P But seriously. It has dropped back below freezing this week and I am rather upset.

Hahaha. So... last week the mission office decided to give us a new truck to replace our car. It is a white 2016 Chevy Colorado (happy birthday to me! :P). And we've been debating what to name her. We brought the issue to our district after district meeting (that's where a small group of missionaries from the same area, or "district", meet each week), and we decided on a pretty good name. After going through several very unsuitable names (Shanaynay was mentioned, as well as Shaniqua and Jessica/Jessiqua), we managed to all come to the conclusion that we were going to name her Staci, with an "i." Staci has treated us well, although we've had our arguments. It is not uncommon for us to hit an unseen pothole and start yelling, "STACI! Why didn't you warn us?"

We're easily entertained.

I gotta say, I loved General Conference. I loved it so much. The talks were all amazing. I especially liked those given by Elder David A. Bednar and Elder M. Russell Ballard in the Saturday Afternoon Session, as well as that given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in the Sunday Afternoon Session. All in all, I'd say Elder Holland's was my favorite. But I want to talk about the biggest overarching message I felt this General Conference. And that message was love.

Love is an interesting word. We use it so easily, and yet true, unshakable, perfect love is one of the hardest things on this earth to obtain for ourselves. This kind of love is referred to in the scriptures as "charity." In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Mormon states in a letter to his son Moroni,

"And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail— but charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him." (Moroni 7:45-47)

Do you want to know what the universe runs on? What the reason for our very being on the earth is? It's this. It's charity. The pure love of Christ, possessed by both Him and our Father in Heaven. We were placed here on Earth because Heavenly Father loves us enough to let us leave His side for a time, so we can learn and grow and become more like Him. The reason behind everything He does is charity. It's His nature, His character, His most defining characteristic. He gave everything for us, up to and including His own Beloved and Perfect Son.

We seek so much after happiness in this life, and yet we seem to look so easily in all the wrong places. We search for pleasure, for excitement, for adrenaline.

True love is not found in serving ourselves, but in losing ourselves. When Christ said, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it." We lose our lives in loving others. Are you looking to be truly happy? When you lie down at night and you have your thoughts to yourself, and you feel that uncomfortable hole inside and don't know how to fill it, where can you look? What can you do?

Be long-suffering.
Be kind.
Envy not.
Seek out the stranger, the outcast.
Keep your temper.
Watch your thoughts.
Take no pleasure in sin.
Be honest.
Choose to have faith.
Have hope in Christ and His Atonement and His love for you.
And above all, NEVER give up! Not on others, not on yourself, and not EVER on the Lord!

Our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ love us FAR too much to let us down, no matter how far we may have fallen, and no matter how distant They may seem. No matter how far from our potential we feel. The greatest thing about the Atonement of Christ is that it allows Him to meet us where we are, not at some distant checkpoint in the distance. The Creator of Heaven and Earth is NOT a coach who meets us at the finish line, but one who runs the race with us, and when we just can't seem to make that next climb, He stoops down and pulls us onto His back and He carries us until we can get back on our feet again.

So my challenge this week is this: don't you dare give up. Don't you ever, ever, ever give up. If you try, I will drive Staci down to wherever you live and I will find you and I will shake you. This is too important. This truth is too precious to me, and you are too precious to Him.

En avant!

Elder Bryan McOmber