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.

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