Monday, May 2, 2016

If I...King Julian... :) My Conversion Story. My Anchor.

Hey guys! :)

So this week has been pretty cool. The craziest part of the week was Wednesday; we had transfers and four out of the five teams in our district had one or both missionaries transferred. In total, five new missionaries came in. Crazy! But super fun. We spent a good deal of time driving around and calling people to make sure everyone got where they needed to go. A little stressful, but super cool to meet all the new missionaries! We got together with the Rimouski elders and the Ste-Foy elders and went to this really good poutine place (the first time I've had poutine in several months, for the record) called L'Intuition. I had a smoked meat poutine that convinced me I am not allowed to eat poutine ever again because I will end up like that girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who turned into a giant blueberry. Anyways. It was a good day. :)

Well, I guess the funniest part of this week would be the fact that I have gotten Elder Peery to start speaking in the King Julian voice. That was pretty great. At random points in time we will just start quoting him and it's pretty dang funny. "No, thank you." "Um, yes, thank you, it's my plane!" And so on. We've had a good time. That is the second companion I've gotten to start speaking in the King Julian accent. For the win. :)

I was thinking this week about what to talk about in this letter home, and I honestly wasn't sure. Then I remembered a question a friend asked me in an email recently. She asked me if I'd share my conversion story. To explain, I was born into an LDS home; the missionaries never came to teach me the gospel and baptize me; I'm not a "convert" in the common sense of the word. But my conversion story is still real, because there came a time when I made the decision that this gospel I'm out here sharing is true. And that's my story; I'll share it with you all today.

I was always a pretty good kid. I mean, sure, occasionally I opened all the Christmas presents three weeks before the big day, but for the most part, I tried to be obedient. And all my life, I believed pretty easily in the things I was told at church and that I read in the scriptures. My parents knew it was true, so obviously it must be true. And I stayed like that through most of my younger years.

Things started to change when I got into middle school and high school. The people around me became less innocent, and I found myself in several situations in which I had to defend my faith. So I decided that if this were going to continue, I needed to know what I believed better than I then did. I began to study the scriptures much more in depth. I got into the habit of reading every night before bed, and I came to know the stories in the scriptures pretty well.

As I got into high school and life became slightly more complicated, I made some decisions in my life that I wasn't very proud of. I never did anything illegal or incredibly wrong, but I also wasn't perfect. This was the refiner's fire of my testimony. As I completed my junior year of high school, something clicked. Something deep down in my soul realized that it was decision making time, and I couldn't ride on what anyone else believed anymore. It had to be my testimony; it had to be what I believed, what I KNEW to be true. And at that point... I didn't know. I believed... but I didn't know.

And so the work began. I threw myself into deeper study of the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. I wanted to come to truly know my Savior, to feel in my heart that He was there and He cared for me. I read through every account of His life in the four Gospels as well as His ministry to the people on the American continent found in the Book of Mormon. I prayed like I never had before, seeking out quiet solitude and having very personal conversations with Heavenly Father. I begged, multiple times, to know. It was no longer enough for me to believe everything; I needed to be sure.

I wasn't illuminated in a ray of light. There was no vision that came to me to clear my soul. I didn't converse face to face with the Creator of Earth and Heaven.

But I did get my answers.

They didn't come all at once. But gradually, I would come upon my answers in the scriptures, or I would have thoughts come to my mind accompanied by powerful feelings of love and peace as I prayed.

I've been told that everyone needs to have an anchor; something that holds them firm while the waves of doubt and questions and accusations threaten to toss them about. Well, my anchor is the first thing I came to truly know for myself; the first thing the Spirit testified to me was an unchanging, doctrinal truth.

Jesus Christ is our Savior.

I can stand before anyone and declare shamelessly that I have been washed clean, and continue to be washed clean, through the blood of the only perfect Man who ever lived on this Earth. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is REAL. It applies individually to you and to me and to all of us. I know it, to the deepest part of my soul.

I have come to know many more truths through this same process of study and prayer; the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, the Restoration of the gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith, the individuality of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, and many more. These are things I know for myself, and no power or influence can remove that testimony from my heart.

And so my conversion story continues. I grow and learn more and more each day. I know things now that I didn't know before and I will continue to become more and more converted to the Savior and His teachings as I serve and strive to be obedient to the commandments He has given.

I know He lives!

En avant!

Elder Bryan McOmber

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