Monday, April 24, 2017

Not being perfect. When missionaries give haircuts. Gratitude for my Savior.

Hey everybody! :)

So... for starters, I suppose I should apologize. I have taken like no photos these past few weeks. It's rather difficult since there's so many people around that there never really seems to be time to stop and take a photo, and we're always either talking to someone or rushing to an appointment. But... I will be better. Thank you for your reminders. ;)

We had an awesome meeting with Elder Bennett from the quorum of the Seventy this week. He basically spent the majority of the meeting helping us to understand that we should not beat up on ourselves for not being perfect (he might as well have hit me over the head with a hammer... talk about revelation). I guess the Lord has tried so many times to help me understand this point that He finally just sent one of His servants to our meeting to say it directly to me in hopes that I would finally understand it. I think it worked. At least, I'm getting better at not beating up on myself. :)

Hahaha. I guess our funny moment was this morning. My past companion, Elder Colunga, bought his own haircutting kit and so we cut each others' hair while we were companions. When he left for Cornwall, he took that with him, so both Elder Valencia and I (who are desperately in need of haircuts) asked around to other missionaries to see if anybody might have one. Lo and behold, a team randomly had two hair clippers and gave us one of them.

This seemed like the perfect solution. We planned to wake up today, go through our normal P-day morning studies, then take a nap for an hour or so and then give each other haircuts. Until... the hair clippers didn't work. It turned on, vibrated, and acted perfectly normal until you put it to your head, at which point, for some unknown reason, it did not cut any hair. So, what's the solution? Find the nearest barber shop. But guess what? Almost every barber shop in Quebec is closed on Monday. Was I gritting my teeth by this point? Perhaps. Anyways, so we proceeded to take apart both clippers we had in our apartment (we had another broken one) and see if we could exchange some parts and get them to work better. We even dripped some vegetable oil over the blades, but to no avail.

Thankfully, Canadian Tire (which is basically a combination of Sam's Club, an auto store, and Home Depot) had a nice haircutting set for not super expensive, so we solved our problems with that when we went shopping. Now we just have to see if Elder Valencia can cut hair when we get back to our apartment. XD

So yeah, that was our morning.

I think that today I just want to share my gratitude for the Savior.

I am grateful for Him. He has changed my world and continues to do so. As I learn more about Him, I come to recognize on a greater and greater scale just how wonderfully real He is. Jesus Christ is not a fairytale. He is not a bedtime story. He is our older Brother, and we have known Him since before this life, when we heard about Heavenly Father's plan for all of us, which revolves so much around Christ. I am grateful that He accepted voluntarily His role from the Father as our Savior. I am grateful He was willing to follow the same path as us, through the temptation and sickness and pain of mortality, so that He could show us how we should walk that path correctly. I am grateful that He was and is always exactly obedient, despite the cunning craftiness with which men and devils strove to misguide Him.

Most of all, I am grateful for His Atonement. I am grateful for His courage in Gethsemane, when He chose to submit to the Father's will and take upon Himself our pain and anguish, so often self-inflicted by sin, so that He could know perfectly how to come to our aid in those moments of error and strife. I am grateful for His selflessness at Golgotha, when the final requests from His lips were for the forgiveness of those who had crucified Him and for the support of His beloved mother. I am so eternally grateful that those moments were not the end, that His Atonement did not finish with loss of life but with victory over death as He rose from the tomb and took His place as the successful Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. He quite literally defeated the worst that the devil could throw at Him or any of us, and because of His life, death and Resurrection, if we will let Him, He will stand strong beside us as we face our own storms.

I am grateful for my older Brother. He has changed me.

En avant!

Elder Bryan McOmber

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The greater the opposition, the greater the miracle. The joy of watching someone "get it". The Lord is my light...he lives!

Hey guys! :)

For those of you who know what My Plan is, it just showed up on my online missionary portal. Does that scare me to death? Absolutely. For those of you who don't know what My Plan is, it is an online course that missionaries take in the last six weeks of their mission to prevent us from getting home and having a panic attack, moving to the Himalayas and living there as hermits for the rest of our lives.

I'm not sure it's going to work for me. :P

This week was interesting. Monday was a balmy 70 degrees, and then in the evening it poured rain on us as we were walking to our next appointment. It was pretty great. I still love the rain - I guess the Arizona blood still runs in my veins. :)

I had a pretty funny day yesterday. Since our P-day was moved, we had a normal day yesterday. I went out feeling great, which is usually a precursor to some pretty harsh rejections, and yesterday was no exception. When I sat down in the metro, I began talking with the woman next to me. After giving me a few one-word answers, she interrupted me and said, "I don't know and I really do not want to talk to you right now. Thank you." Now, usually when people aren't interested, they're a little bit kinder about it than that. So this threw me off a bit. One of the very next people I talked to gave me almost exactly the same response. It was pretty interesting, almost strange how much opposition we seemed to be encountering over the next few hours. But I kept getting this feeling that the greater the opposition was that day, the greater the miracle would be if we kept talking to people. So we did. And a few hours later, on the bus, we started talking to a young man who told me, "Yeah, I lost my faith a few years ago." And I responded, "You know, I honestly don't ask this a lot. But... do you want to have faith again?" And he said, "Yeah, I do, but I don't know how." (For the record, telling a missionary that you want faith but don't know how to get it is the spiritual equivalent of telling a golden retriever that you`re taking it for a walk through a meadow of squirrels. They get REALLY excited.) This turned into a fifteen minute conversation in which we explained to this young man where we came from, why we're here on earth, and why God allows us to struggle sometimes. My favorite feeling as a missionary is watching somebody "get it." And this young man turned to us as we explained the purpose of adversity to him and said, "I've never thought about it that way before. That makes sense." We set up another appointment for later and he hopped on his bus and pulled away. This strengthened my testimony of what I call the "sunrise principle;" the sky is always at its darkest just before the sun begins to rise.

So if your skies seem pretty dark right now, remember that the Son has already risen, and He is there to be our Light. I know He lives, and I know He loves us. I have felt His love in a very intimate and personal way, many times. And while He will not deprive us of growth and agency by taking away the burden of those dark nights, He will take us by the hand and walk the path with us, because He can see the way; He is the way. We are never alone.

En avant!

Elder Bryan McOmber

Monday, April 10, 2017

70 Degrees!!!☀️ #PrinceofPeace. Remembering the true Peacegiver this Easter.

Hey ya'll! :)

IT IS A BEAUTIFUL DAY. The sun is shining, the tank is clean....

But seriously, it`s a great day. It`s like 70 degrees Fahrenheit outside (I have started thinking more in Celsius so that conversion was difficult for me) and I have been walking outside without a coat or sweater on for the first time since like August. It`s wonderful. Canadian spring is really something.

Well, we have had a kind of crazy week. We had lots of meetings and then some exchanges, and our schedule got thrown out of wack almost every day this week. It`s been insane. I am convinced that the Lord is trying to teach me to roll with the punches that life throws; I guess that`s part of what all of us need to learn sometimes.

I had an interesting experience this past week on the m├ętros. Elder Valencia and I were going to a meeting on the opposite side of the island, which is about a thirty minute metro ride. So we were talking to some different people as each metro station passed. When we were nearing the end of the line, with a few stations to go, I heard someone yell and looked over to see two teenagers talking to a middle-aged man. They all looked pretty angry. The situation escalated quickly, and as they got into each other`s faces, the older man shoved one of the teenagers and he fell backward against on of the seats. Everyone quickly moved away as the fight broke out. Quickly another man shoved his way between them, as they continued to scream at one another. Finally the teenagers got off the train and the older man stood back. The anger and pride on the faces of all three was so evident, and as the metro pulled away, I was struck by a thought.

As missionaries, we have been sharing the #PrinceofPeace initiative all the time recently. (For those of you who haven`t seen it yet, go to
 right now and watch the video because it`s amazing). The basis of the initiative is that, in a world so full of pride and sin and anger and hate and war and famine and a thousand other terrible things, the promise of Jesus Christ is peace. True, lasting, heartfelt peace. 

The contrast between the message we were striving to share and the fight I had just witnessed was so evident. I realized just how much peace has been brought into my life by the Savior; how much He has changed the way I think and the way I feel. I react so differently in so many situations than I did in the past. I`m not perfect and I still have my prideful moments; but I can confidently say that I have found great peace in the Prince of Peace.

Sometimes we can get so busy and frustrated that we neglect to stop and think about what we`re busy doing, to prioritize the gospel of the great Peacegiver. My favorite definition of the gospel of Jesus Christ is this: God`s plan of happiness, applied individually to each of us. Christ`s gospel is not a series of arbitrary rules, given to inhibit man's free agency, but rather a perfect and carefully thought out set of directions, which, if we choose to follow with that gift of free agency so lovingly given by our Heavenly Father, will allow us to obtain and preserve true peace and joy, as much in this life as afterward. How foolish we are when we choose to disobey, thinking that we can navigate this life without a guide, or ignore a certain direction because, somewhere in our minds, we think "we know better." We`ve only known ourselves since birth; our Heavenly Father has known us for much longer than that. He knows what will make all of us happy; thus, through His Son, and through prophets ancient and modern, He has given us commandments.

Let us live the gospel! Let us keep the commandments; in this there is safety and peace!

En avant!

Elder Bryan McOmber

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Prodigal often do I let others repent? My new comp...multitasking. Pics!

Hi guys!! :)

Wasn`t General Conference just the BEST?!?! I LOVED IT!!! :) I went in with my questions and I got multiple answers to each question! It was wonderful! There was one talk in which the speaker's opening line was almost word for word what I had been most worried about for the past several months! It was so great! My testimony of the Lord's modern day prophets and apostles was strengthened, and I am so grateful that we can go back and rewatch/reread the talks that were given! :)

On the sad side, I got sick again this week. During the two hour break between sessions on Sunday, we went back into one of the back rooms of the church building, did a bit of planning, and when I couldn`t handle it any more I put my jacket over myself, laid my bag under my head and fell asleep on the ground for about an hour and a half. I was surprised at how well I slept; I guess that`s part of being a missionary! You can pretty much fall asleep anywhere! Hopefully this will help all of you gain a bit more respect for the missionaries around you when you recognize that they`re running around half-exhausted every day. :)

I was watching a video this morning about the Prodigal Son and the parable found in Luke 15. It struck a cord deep down somewhere in my soul; I would like to try and put that into words this week. For those of you who know the story, bear with me; for those of you who don`t, go look it up in Luke 15. To summarize the first part of the parable, a man had two sons. The younger brother asked for his inheritance from his father, took it and traveled to another country, where he spent it all in sin. After a time, a famine came into that country, and he ended up in very humble circumstances, starving himself while feeding pigs (which, to the Jews hearing this story, was about as low as one could get). He then "came to himself'," and decided to return to his father and ask to be his servant. He was humble, and penitent, and when his father saw him coming a long way off, he ran to him and took him in his arms and kissed him. He showed incredible love and mercy, and even threw a party in celebration of his son's return.

Now, the Savior could have ended this parable here. And it would have shown a great lesson in how great the heavens rejoice in a penitent sinner. But He didn`t. He chose to continue, to teach another lesson.

Luke 15:25-32: "Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do serve thee, neither transgressed at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me kid, that might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Sonthou art ever with me, and all that have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."

So this is the question I want to ask to all of us: how often do I let others repent?

Forgiveness just doesn`t seem fair sometimes. Somehow, justice seems robbed if sin is forgiven, right? Or worse, when I`m living so righteously, why should someone else who has done less work than I receive so great a reward? Isn`t God fair? Shouldn't I be better off than someone who sins "more" than I?

I invite all of us who have had this line of thinking to repent.

We don`t decide who God forgives. We don`t know their hearts. "I, the Lord, will forgive whom will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men." (D&C 64:9-11) There is no qualifier for this scripture. All men means all men. Everybody. Everywhere. That is the commandment. And we know that every commandment is given so that we can be happy. The elder son did not understand this. Why was his father so happy? Because he had chosen to forgive. Why was the son so angry and unhappy? Because he had chosen not to forgive.

God doesn`t forgive us because of our own merits; when we come to Him asking with a pure heart for His forgiveness, He forgives us because of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. And we are striving to become like our Heavenly Father. So we need to forgive others, not because of what they do, but because of what Jesus Christ did.

My invitation for this week is to start the path to forgiving that person who comes to mind right now as I have talked about forgiveness. And to ignore that little annoying voice in the back of your head that is saying, "That`s not fair. What they did is unforgivable." That phrase is false doctrine. There is nothing that we cannot forgive. God will forgive who He will according to His laws, but of us it is required to forgive all men.

I know that healing and peace come through forgiveness. And our Savior will help us to do so; He is the Master of forgiveness.

I love and miss you all!

En avant!

Elder Bryan McOmber

My new companion, Elder Valencia, who I walked in to find brushing his teeth while on the exercise bike. While not the safest option, he is a great multitasker! :)