Monday, February 27, 2017

Chasing buses. Giving Him our will, and also our heart! ❤️

Hey everyone! :)

I`ve got no pictures or videos this week (sorry, Mom). :( It`s been a week of comprehension, in which I`ve come to understand some cool things.

We had a pretty funny moment earlier this week. We were running late to get home and we needed to catch a bus. As we came out of our appointment we starting running for the bus stop, only to watch the bus pull across the intersection in front of us. We looked at each other and then at the map, and then at the bus schedule, and realized it would take another half hour or so for the next bus. We needed to take this bus to another bus that would take us home, and this would throw our whole schedule off and get us home like a half hour later than we needed to be home. So what did we do?

We started running. We felt pretty proud as we counted up the distance and the time later that night and realized that we ran a mile in about 8 minutes. In dress shoes and a white shirt and tie, after a year and a half of poutine, that`s not too bad! :P

On Friday we had a zone conference with the combined Montréal Nord and Montréal Sud zones. It was awesome. President Phillips had asked us to come prepared to give a two-minute talk based on a talk given by Elder David A. Bednar, one of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve. His talk was about how we can come to better know the Savior. President would be calling on some of us to share our talks in the conference. As I prepared, I also studied a talk called, "The Fourth Missionary," and I learned something very interesting that I thought I already knew, but I learned it with my heart this time, rather than just my head:

In order to be changed by the Savior`s grace, we have to give him our will.

This is more than just obedience. Being obedient without enjoying it does practically nothing for us; it`s like giving a gift without really wanting to. It might profit others around us, but it profits us nothing. And that`s not the point of commandments. While we might be giving the Lord our might and strength, our minds are wandering to what we wish we could be doing, and our hearts yearn for those other things. Obedience without our heart is like trying to win the Tour de France without a bike chain; you may be spinning the gears, but you`ll never get anywhere.

So how can we give Him our will? It`s honestly as simple as just doing it. We just have to come to Him in prayer and promise Him that we`ll hand it all into His hands, our families, our job, our schooling, our everything. And in those moments where we have to make a decision, we have to ask ourselves what He would do, what His will is, and then do so. It`s simple, but not always easy. Getting out of my comfort zone to walk over and talk to a huge, scary-looking Quebecois man is not always (or really ever) easy. And I may not necessarily love the action itself of pushing myself out of my comfort zone to do things. But I love serving the Lord, and I love following the Spirit. And I`ve come to find that regardless of the outcome of my decisions, I am always happy as I recognize that I did my best and tried to do His will.

I was sitting in church yesterday, looking around at everyone, and a phrase came very clearly to my mind. "Suffer the little children to come unto Me." (Mark 10:14) I love this section of the New Testament, as Christ`s disciples recognize He is exhausted and try to turn away a group of parents who are bringing their children to be blessed by Him. Christ rebukes His disciples and invites all the little children to come unto Him. This thought came to my mind as I was looking at a family with many little children, all of whom can be a bit rowdy on occasion. I was rebuked personally for perhaps being a bit annoyed when these situations would occur. But then I had a lightbulb moment.

Can`t we all become little children?

Mosiah 3:19 - "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam,  and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spiritand putteth off the natural man and becometh saint through the atonement  of Christ the Lord, and becometh as childsubmissivemeek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as child doth submit to his father."

These aren`t just adjectives that describe us as we are somehow instantaneously and magically transformed from sinner to perfect saint. These are steps, attributes to be acquired through doing what people with those attributes would do. If we want to give the Lord our heart, we must be submissive. Meek. Humble. Patient. Full of love. We must be willing to submit to all things He seeth fit to let us struggle through, remembering that our Father wants nothing but the best for us.

Give Him your heart!

En avant!

Elder Bryan McOmber

Monday, February 20, 2017

Above zero temps finally!☀️ Heart, might, mind & strength. Don't miss the scenery!🌹

Hey guys! :)

As I write this, I`m looking out the library window and all of the snow is melting. Seems like spring is already arriving... it`s super weird!! We`ve had above-zero temperatures for the last couple days, accompanied with a little bit of rain; yesterday we went to church without our winter coats, just in our suits, and it felt great! :) I love spring. Here`s hoping the spring temperatures will stay!

Funny moment this week: Elder Colunga and I were lying in our beds talking the other night about some of the goals we`d set and how we would accomplish them. It was a somewhat serious talk, nothing crazy but we were just trying to figure out how to improve and be better missionaries. And as we were talking, I asked, "But here`s the thing, Elder. We need to be accountable to these goals or it just won`t work. How can we make sure we hold ourselves accountable to these?" The response came quickly and without hesitation from the bottom bunk, "Get tattoos."

That pretty much ended our conversation because I may or may not have exploded, causing our neighbors to wonder why we had a pet hyena in our apartment. (And no, Mom, I promise I did not take Elder Colunga`s suggestion seriously). ;)

My thoughts this week have been focused a lot on how to put my heart into things. As missionaries, part of our calling is to give the Lord our "heart, might, mind and strength." Well, I`m the kind of person who with reasonable effort can put my mind and might and strength into something, but putting my heart in as well is difficult for me.

For example, we can go out contacting some days and as we`re walking down the street, yeah, I`ll stop people and talk to them, but I can sometimes be sort of a robot missionary, doing the things I know I`m supposed to do out of rote obedience rather than out of love and a desire to share the gospel. So I`ll be talking at people, and sort of picking from a list of multiple choice answers depending on their response to what I say. And while I could say at the end of the day, "Yeah, I talked to everybody," I wouldn`t really be honest in saying so, because I was more talking at people, rather than talking to and listening to people. I`ve been reminded a lot recently that this gospel, the message we share, is a gospel of joy. And I have felt that joy. But on those days when that joy seems a distant memory in comparison to the opposition and boredom and discouragement that can sometimes threaten even the best of missionaries (and really anybody), it can be very difficult to not just buckle down and grind our way through the day.

So how can we change that? How do we take those moments when we just seem to wake up on the wrong side of the rickety metal bunk bed and make them into days of joy?

I can think of two things which I will be trying to apply this week. The first is explained in Mosiah 4:27:

"And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order."

We cannot think that if we simply buckle down and push ourselves harder, all of our problems will magically disappear. Diligence is not simply another word for "work harder," but also includes, "work smarter." Yes, we should continue to give our might and strength, and yes, we cannot slack off when the going gets rough. However, we also need to make sure we are not just trying to check off a list of to-do`s as fast as possible, thinking that our efforts are measured more by quantity than by quality. We must remember that, when dealing with people (including ourselves), it is the person who matters, not the activity or the chore. So we have to make sure the job gets done right, not simply quickly. This takes patience and perseverance.

Second, we must remember gratitude. One of Elder Colunga and I`s favorite things to say when we occasionally start complaining or venting is to say really loudly, "BUT I`M GRATEFUL." It can really lighten the mood, and although at first it feels pretty stupid, I try to start mentally counting my blessings. And I find that when I do this, and start really searching for what`s going right and good in the world, the hills of fear and discouragement before me begin to diminish in perspective to the mountains of blessings I have all around me. Things really will always work out.

So in those moments when we can be tempted to shrink back into our shell and try to just ride out the difficulties, let us remember to assess honestly what we are capable of and work diligently, and remember to count our blessings. Don`t run faster than you have strength; but give it what you can, and don`t miss the beautiful scenery you pass in this marathon of mortality!

I love and miss you all!

En avant!

Elder Bryan McOmber

Doing language study with my Christmas teddy. :P His French is actually pretty good! (We use him for role plays as well.)

District photo! From left to right: me (Superman pose again... yeah I don`t know), Elder Baldabinos, Elder Sykes, Elder Landetta, Elder Colunga, Elder Higbee, Sister Zobrist, Sister Terou, Sister Davis, Sister Bryant, Elder and Sister Christensen.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Crazy TONS of snow!❄️ From pork bites to doggy kibble. Distractions. Pics & VIDEOS!!

Hey everybody! :)

So, I shared a few videos with my mom. I have no idea if you would all be able to see those... but if not, trust me, they were hilarious. Just envision the most jaw-droppingly incredibly hilarious situation you could ever possibly imagine, and multiply it by six, and that`s how hilarious they were. To us, anyways. :)

En tout cas, it`s been a good week. And by good, I mean cold and covered in snow. We got seriously a foot of snow yesterday. It was crazy. Trying to walk to and from the grocery store this morning was insane. But we have had some fun. I sent a picture of what our balcony looked like when we woke up this morning... I almost cried. It was great. But we got baguettes and Kinder Eggs and that made me feel much better. Then in a few hours we will be returning to La Banquise for some poutine (I hold myself to like once every month and a half or so :P). Québec is just the best. :)

Transfers came on Saturday! All of the six elders in our district will be staying, but sadly we will be losing three of our four sisters. One of them (Sister Hoffman) is going back home to Gilbert (crazy, right?) and the other two (Sister Johnson and Sister Poulton), who were serving with us in Hochelaga, will be transferred elsewhere in the mission. We`re pretty sad to see them all go, we`ve had some great times. But we`re also psyched to meet the new missionaries coming in!

Funny moments: well, we attempted to make griot last Monday. I was so excited, and then so, so disappointed. We fried it up and opened up the pot we`d fried it in to find that our wonderful pork bites were now tiny bits of doggy kibble. It was just the worst. We tried soaking it in banana Pepper juice to hide the burnt flavor but it didn`t work. At least the story made all of the Haitian members in our ward laugh when we told them, and they helped us see what we`d done wrong and shared their own recipes for how to make it again. We will give it another try next week. :)

I think I`ve been reminded this week of how little I can do when I lose some focus. I`ve been a little more easily distracted this week, and our schedule has been thrown off a bunch, and so I struggled to really stay on track with those things I really wanted to do and found myself going to bed feeling rather unsuccessful several days this week. So I have set some goals to improve my focus and organization so that I can handle changes to plans and adjust accordingly. I am very thankful for the fact that we have a merciful Father in heaven who loves us so much that He will let us repent time and time again as we strive to let Him help us to change and be more like His Son.

Sometimes it just becomes so easy to lose focus, to let our priorities change for a moment to accomodate a temporary desire. Too often I let my greater desire to share the gospel be drowned out by my momentary desire to just sit back and keep to myself. Too often I let my greater desire to have effective studies be drowned out by my momentary desire to think about soccer. It`s just how life works; we are tempted by the current wants of our natural man to give up the long term desires of our spiritual man. But my invitation to us all is to remember, in those moments of decision where our agency is so important, the goals we have set and the plans we have made, and as we choose to keep our word, we display the Christlike attribute of virtue and the Holy Ghost changes our hearts little by little until we truly one day have no more desire to do evil, but to do good continually.

I love this gospel! I know it`s true!

En avant!

Elder Bryan McOmber

There was a park completely frozen over by some freezing rain, so I crunched my way through and drank some soda that a member had just given us. It was entertaining. (I also look to be a little bit heavier than I actually am in this photo. I don`t know why... but I promise I`m not that big) :P

Elder Colunga took a photo before I was ready. :P

Hasso was baptized by Elder Landetta yesterday. It was a great service. She asked me if I`d be in a photo with her and them. How could I say no? :P She`s seriously super awesome. :)

Tracting through the snow.... in a Canadian winter breeze.... knocking doors we go.... trying to not to freeze!


AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH


TRANSFER DAY.  (CLICK HERE to view the video)
video



MISSIONARY SILLINESS.  (CLICK HERE to view the video) video



P-DAY.  (CLICK HERE to view the video)
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MISSIONARY PRANKS.  (CLICK HERE to view the video)
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SINGIN' AT THE BUS STOP.  (CLICK HERE to view the video) video

Monday, February 6, 2017

I'm not dead!😀 Forgiveness is real...Christ makes us pure...it is WONDERFUL!

Hey everybody! :)

I am not dead! :) I just love not being dead. We`ve spent a good deal of this week running all over the creation and trying to adjust to the new schedule as well as the changing schedules of our investigators and members. Pretty entertaining. I`ve discovered something (or rediscovered) about myself: I can get frustrated with change. Just adjusting my habits and mindset is a bit awkward mentally and can put me in a little bit of a touchy mood. But I`ve been working on it and this week has gone pretty well. :)

As I sit here typing, Elder Colunga and I have some pork marinating in our fridge back home. We ate with a Haitian family this week and they fed us a bunch of Haitian dishes... and I have decided I really need to go to Haiti. One of the dishes is called "griot" (or something in that general spelling... I can say it in French though!). It`s basically marinated pork that you boil and fry and serve with plantains and I am learning how to make it so I can make it for my family when I get home (you`re welcome, guys). :)

I was sitting in bed one night this week, thinking about a bunch of things, and the topic of forgiveness came to mind. For those of you who know me well, you will know that my anchor is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The first thing I ever truly learned and knew for myself is that Jesus Christ is real and that He is our Savior. And throughout my life, I have trusted in Him, in His perfection, His example, and His willingness to let me try again, and again, and again, and again. But I`m not sure how much I let that faith in Him turn into hope, recognizing just how entirely His promise of forgiveness applies to me and to each one of us, personally.

I`ve always strived to be perfect. I can be pretty critical, most especially of myself, and no matter how well I do something, I always tend to focus on what I didn`t do right. I was occasionally jokingly called the Hulk by my friends because after every soccer game, I would usually walk off the field looking angry because I could only focus on what I hadn`t done right. Sometimes no matter how well I did, as soon as I made a mistake it would just pile on top of all of the other mistakes I`d made and cover up anything worthwhile I`d accomplished. This applied not only to soccer, but to school, church callings, and a thousand other things, including (at times) my service as a missionary.

But.

I can testify of the power of repenting daily. And this week, as I was kneeling in prayer, speaking with our Heavenly Father about what had and hadn`t gone right that day, I was reminded of the purity and power of the Lord`s forgiveness.

Look, we make mistakes. It happens. And for some of us, me included, we seem to make the same mistakes over and over and over again. But I had maybe never quite comprehended what was made clear to me this week: when we come to the Lord in sincerity of heart, recognizing what was done wrong and desiring to change and be better, and we ask for His forgiveness, He gives it.

Heavenly Father forgives us. The slate is wiped clean of any wrong. Our sins are not covered up, hiding behind an artificial layer of off-white paint, waiting to be revealed again by later sin. They are washed away by the blood of He who gave everything, even though He didn`t have to, even though He`d never sinned Himself.

And God doesn`t forgive us because of our efforts. He forgives us because of Christ`s efforts. Yes, we are asked to give of ourselves. Yes, we are asked to repent and change, because He wants us to be more like Christ and more like Him. And we cannot truly be forgiven unless we want to be, and we show that desire through repentance and obedience. And that is important. But we simply can`t do enough ourselves to be forgiven. But Christ can, and He did. And because of Him, we have that opportunity for a new beginning.

I could spend hours talking about this, but I don`t have time to and I`m sure you all don`t either. So let me just sum all of this up in the most simple and true testimony I could possibly give.

Forgiveness is real. Christ makes us pure. It is wonderful. It is not reserved for the best of us, those who commit the least sin. It is a gift of unimaginable proportions because He just keeps on giving it to us, every time we come to Him truly desiring it. I know this! I have felt it! There is no lie, no exaggeration in the statement that we can be completely forgiven, time and time again. I testify that there is no pit so deep that we can fall beyond His reach. There is no wound too deep that He cannot heal it, be it self-inflicted or caused by others. Heavenly Father loves us. Jesus is the Christ, and He loves us. And because of their love, we have second chances. New beginnings. There really is no such thing as the end.

En avant!

Elder Bryan McOmber