Monday, February 29, 2016

Tracting for Dayzzz

Hahaha so this week.. man what to say?  I don't think I've ever tracted so much in my life..but hey :)  That's missionary work :)  Some weeks are slower than others :)

To start out, I swear we have fought with Satan himself to get Devin ready for baptism!  It has been crazy!  I can't really go into too much detail for confidentiality reasons, but sweet mercy...I'll give the devil this...he's DANG good at his job, that's for sure.  But Devin's finally on track for this Saturday, March 5th!  Tried to get this guy into the water for 4 TRANSFERS NOW!  It's about dang time :)  Needless to say, we've been fighting Satan this week, and I think we've come out winning :)  So we're stoked for that!  It'll be Elder Fillmore's first baptism, so I'm super pumped for him!  But hey, that's just how we do things in St. Thomas :)  

This week in our long hours of tracting we found a GOLDEN investigator, who also just happens to be the strangest investigator I've ever taught!  He looks like an auto mechanic, but has a PhD in Physics...and get this...he believes in a Heavenly Mother...!  Isn't that nuts??  AND modern day prophets!  He read the Book of Mormon in like a day....yeah he's crazy...so we're working on getting him baptized too!  We've focused a ton on Baptismal dates this past week, and it's been awesome :)  

It's also getting to be golf weather..and what do you know, Bill Veeken happens to golf..needless to say there will be much time spent on P-Day's on the course :)  we're stoked to get out the sticks and play a few rounds! :)  

We met a man on the street who started yelling and telling us we didn't know what we were talking about and not to knock on the doors on his street cuz they were all Christian and they'd try to convert us.  We walked over to talk to him and, as usual to St. Thomas, he had all these notions of who we were and wasn't about to change his mind.  What struck me was when we invited him to pray about if we really were of the devil!  And he refused, over and over and over again.  And I just sat there thinking to myself...okay, this guy proclaims to be a Christian...and yet he's refusing to pray to God..and it's just made me sad...what made me even sadder was when he started talking about families and marriage..
He said "There's no such thing as eternal marriage or eternal families.  You die and that's it.  We go to heaven."  It gave me an opportunity to testify to him that I KNEW...families were forever.  Families were intended to be eternal..our loved ones were given to us so we could spend forever with them.  It saddened me greatly to hear this man, with his wife just inside the house, yelling about how marriage was just for this life..because I knew that marriage was eternal.  The opportunity we have to find a spouse and be sealed to them for time and all eternity has come to mean even more to me this week.  What a wonderful idea!  And so sad that some people have been led astray by men portraying to teach doctrine, when instead teaching men's interpretation thereof.  It was appalling to me to see people who believe God is truly that cruel to separate us from those we love most.  It's made me unbelievably grateful for the doctrine of Eternal Marriage, and so blessed to have a family I'm sealed with for eternity.  

Love this gospel, love this work.  
Too blessed to be tired

LOVES!

--
Elder Bybee

STAY FLY AND BAPTIZE
Blood moon!

 Guitar:)  signed by all the missionaries in our zone.


 the wall...people like to give me calendar's for some reason..
 just da boyz 



(From Brother Vanderveeken's Facebook post today.)

After much pondering Elder Bybee and Elder Fillmore decided to re-arrange the name tags! Using their point system they feel justified in taking top spot.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Trifecta of Righteousness

Hahaha well this week we got an Emergency Transfer!  Elder Taylor, who I went to Junior High with, got transferred to be with us for the weekend due to his companion going home!  So we just slayed it here in St. Thomas for the weekend!

Transfers were this Sunday...and we're staying another!!!!  We prayed all week to stay another transfer, and the Lord heard our prayers :)  It was awesome, and I'm so stoked!!!!!  It's gonna be awesome :)  

Man where to even start??

Oh yes, of course, miracles ;)

So we have had the HARDEST time getting investigators out to church...we dropped a TON of our investigators this week because they just weren't willing to progress.  So this week we prayed every chance we got to find 2 investigators who were willing to come to church THIS Sunday...and then we just went out and had faith to find them.  Tuesday we received a media referral...straight from the Mormon.org website...which NEVER happens in St. Thomas...we dropped by and met probably the ONLY Jamaican guy here in St. Thomas.  And get this...HE WANTS TO GET BAPTIZED!  and he was willing to come to church this Sunday!  It was nuts, he was SO prepared, it was crazy and such a testimony builder to me of how much the Lord really does hear and answer our prayers!  It was just awesome :):)  

Another miracle this week came in doing some tracting!  We were out knocking doors in the cold and this young mom answered..we gave her a family proclamation and she went back inside...we were talking to her neighbor and she comes back out and starts asking us all these GOLDEN questions, it was awesome.  Then...get this...are you ready...she invited us back for a barbecue that Sunday!  We showed up on Sunday, and there was like 10 people there....so we taught ALL 10 OF THEM :)  It was crazy...Elder Fillmore was teaching a group, I was teaching a group, and Elder Taylor was teaching a group...it was like the craziest thing I've ever done...SO INTENSE!  and the spirit was like literally just so strong!  The only time I have ever walked into a non-member's house and felt the spirit the minute I walked in.  Just so prepared to hear the message, it was amazing!  

All transfer long we have struggled to get people out to church.  So this week we just did everything in our power to get investigators out to church...come Sunday NONE of the people we had invited came out...but we randomly had 3 investigators show up to church out of the blue we hadn't really talked to about church...it was just a testimony builder to me that when we do all we can, the Lord does the rest :)  

This week has been awesome, a real growth period for me spiritually.  This week I really tried hard to focus on how I receive answers to questions and prayers...and it was interesting to realize that the Spirit speaks to each of us individually..we all receive personal revelation differently.  and it was SO cool to be able to gain a better understanding of how I receive personal revelation, and how the Spirit speaks to me...i was looking for a definite type of response...but instead, slowly over time began to realize i had always been receiving answers...I just hadn't understood it.  It's been a tremendous growth period for me, and one I've really come to enjoy :)  The Spirit works in mysterious ways, but in ways we all can understand.  

Revelation is the rock upon which our church is built.  The key to a testimony is personal revelation.  President Packer said "No one of us, can survive in the world today...or what it soon will become, without personal inspiration".  I know that to be so true.  Personal revelation is available to everyone.  When we ourselves enter into situations where we are lacking wisdom, the way forward is to ask..with the intent to act upon what we receive.  Joseph Smith understood this concept
"For how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know."  

We will never come to learn more of the spiritual aspect of our lives unless we have the courage to ask.  The laws of God are set forward and available for us to learn about and understand.  God teaches that as we ask in faith, we shall receive.  

The other part of this is aligning our wills with Heavenly Father.  God has a plan for each of us, and a way for us to receive the innumerable blessings He has in store for us.  His will is the way for us to receive those blessings.  Praying each day for "Him to reveal the nature of God" will allow us to more easily understand and follow His will.  I have found as my desires have changed to more reflect the will of God for me, and the people I teach, the Spirit is felt more in abundance, and truly things usually just go better!  

Needless to say this week's been awesome:)  

Thank you all again, for your prayers!  I love you all :)  It's crazy I'm coming up on 6 months this week...that's a trippy thought...anyway :)  

Life's good as a St. Thomas missionary.  

much love


-- 
Elder Bybee
Toronto Canada
Ofa Atu
The nightlights in London


The homies :)

my face when I see president...or food


squad goals


happy times at the Stake Missionary activity :) 


Sweater Weather ;)


60 degree's on a winter Canadian day ;)


the boys doing some studies
getting ready to receive some revelation for weekly planning

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

More Moses/Messi, Possessed Ladies, and Canadian Cold...like real cold.

Hahaha oh man this week has been full of laughter and hilarious moments!  Elder Fillmore and I just crack up at everything and I swear we meet the funniest craziest people...anyway :)

To start, I think collectively we have spilled enough liquid between the two of us to fill Lake Erie twice over...mostly milk...mostly bagged milk...we're sick of it, we're finding jugged milk, I can't deal with this level of stress anymore haha ;)  

It got down to like -34 C with windchill, not including humidity, which is always at like 80% here...needless to say it was cold...see pictures at bottom for reference...I can honestly say I did not know cold til the last couple days...but now it's back up to 2 or 3, and it'll be 14 next week, so we're pretty chill with it :)  

This week we also got to attend Devin (our investigator getting baptized here pretty soon) Kosolowski's wedding!  It was super awesome, he's a stud and a half.  what a guy.  

This week I have also shoveled more snow than I ever have in my entire life...just endless hours of shoveling...just so it can dump another 2 feet on us and we go back out shoveling...it's okay though.  Builds character ;)  

We also had an interesting experience with a lady...knocked on her door and she was super nice and talking to us and then like a light switch, she turns and like screams in the scariest most possessed voice I have ever heard up the stairs at her dog...turns back and continues talking to us quite normally, until she started crying again...in which she again, turned all possessed and screamed up the stairs again....Brother Bill and Elder Fillmore are like on the ground laughing so hard and so they walk away cuz they don't wanna be offensive, so I'm standing there on this porch talking to this crazy lady whose crying and screaming at the same time...it was....something else.  Mission stories, gotta love them :)  

We also met a "self proclaimed prophet" who literally memorized the bible...like it was nuts...this guy was a legend!  Super crazy, and rude...but legendary for sure :)  I swear he knew EVERY single conspiracy theory from the Illuminati to Area 51 to this weird "Mark of the Beast" crap.  It was interesting to say the least :)  There's no where like St. Thomas that's for sure :)

Saturday Morning I got handed a talk to give...25 minute long talk....with an hour to prepare....gotta love being a missionary ;)  but it was a super awesome learning experience...reminded me a lot of what the Atonement really is.  There's a book I took it from entitled "Believing Christ" by Stephen E. Robinson.  Changed my perspective on the Atonement.  But anyway.  It was super awesome.  In it he talks about the difference between Believing in Christ and Believing Christ.  And there is a difference.

Too often in life as Latter-Day-Saints we go around, having a testimony of the church and of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ, but we lack one key element.  For many the problem becomes that while we indeed believe IN Christ...we don't BELIEVE Him.  

Christ says "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow" and we say to Him, in effect, "That's not true."  or "No, you can't.  For one reason or another we feel inside that the Atonement is applicable to everyone else....but we seem to be the exception for one reason or another.  The thing we fail to understand is that the Atonement IS NOT a halfway trip...and we somehow have to walk the rest of the way to the Celestial kingdom.  It's not a layover in the Telestial Kingdom, or a pit stop in the Terrestrial Kingdom.  The Atonement, the sacrifice Jesus made was, for all intents and purposes, designed to help mortal men and women become CELESTIAL material.  It's purpose was, indeed, to allow us to return to live with our Father in Heaven.   That means the Celestial Kingdom, and nothing less.  That means Exaltation, together forever as families.  The Atonement Jesus Christ made literally means that our guilt becomes His guilt.  He takes upon Him the sins of the world.  That means he becomes the guilty party, and pays the price associated with our sins.  Thus cleansing us of our mistakes.  Meaning that literally, we are clean.  We CAN dwell in the presence of God.  Not only each Sunday, not tomorrow, but NOW.  

Christ says in Isaiah 1:18 
"Come NOW, and let us REASON together, saith the Lord:
though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

The invitation is not to "Come Sunday" or "Come tonight in your evening prayers" or "Come Tomorrow".  The invitation is Come NOW.  Now means today.  This instant.  The Atonement is not defined by a waiting period of time where we punish ourselves for not measuring up to our standard of righteousness.  Why would we think, that God would give us the commandment to obey all that He asks, if He would not prepare a way for us to keep said commandments?  He would not do such a thing.  The question then becomes, How to we access the Atonement not just on Sunday, but Everyday?  The answer is, to "Come NOW" and "REASON" with Christ.  Reason indicates a conversation, some form of interaction between two parties.  It's not talking to a wall and pleading for forgiveness.  It's a bit of work, it requires effort to reason.  Reasoning our salvation out with Christ is the prescribed way we obtain forgiveness.  The Sacrament is a renewal of our baptismal covenants.  It does NOT replace daily repentance.  Nor should it ever.  The Sacrament is a culmination of a week's worth of daily repentance and conversation with the Lord.  It is the pinnacle of our week, and a reminder to us of what we promised to do the day we were baptized.  Forgiveness and repentance, however, are and should be a daily thing.  If we make a mistake, we need not wait til evening prayer, or Sunday to repent.  The Lord asks us, pleads with us to "Repent now, for the time speedily cometh".  We can access the Atonement now.  We do not need to wait til Sunday, or til we feel we have inflicted the punishment upon ourselves we deem worthy for the sins and mistakes we make each day.  

The words of a wise friend are as follows, "Christ already paid the price for your sins.  Don't make Him pay it twice."  We do not have to reach a certain level of spirituality to repent.  All it requires is "a broken heart and a contrite spirit".  Heavenly Father does not expect us to be perfect before we repent.  I have learned this lesson on my mission.  As a missionary, I am expected to do a vast majority of things.  Things that I frequently forget, or do not live up to that expectation set before me.  There are days when I could have tried harder, walked a little further, studied a little harder.  It happens every day.  The beauty of it is that Heavenly Father does NOT expect us to do this alone.  He is not a cheerleader or a coach, he's our teammate, he's already on the field.  He's the quarterback, He directs us, and then is right there with us each day.  He's not just an adviser or a counselor, He's the medic, He's the player, He's the captain, He's everything.  He's offered us the opportunity daily, to be made perfect through Him.  We are joint-heirs with Christ for a reason.  We, through His Atonement, can be made perfect TODAY.  Not because we are perfect, but because He IS.  And He so graciously provides us, loans us His Perfection, His Innocence.  And takes our guilt, and our sins.  The price is paid, we can't take back our sins or our mistakes.  He already has them.  They're His now.  Our task, then, is to take His perfection.  Become perfect, through the grace He offers us.  
We do that, each day...when we repent.  Isn't that just amazing??  We, as imperfect beings...have the ability to put on His perfection.  To wear His mantle of Cleanliness and Purity.  We not only have that ability, but we have it daily.  We need not fear for our salvation...He has given it to us...we simply need to accept that sacrifice...and then, as He spoke unto Peter, James and John, "Follow thou me." That is the standard.  And that..is something we ALL can achieve.  I know repentance is real.  It works.  It changes the natural man, and molds us into Celestial Material, of which we all are.  The choice is whether we want to accept that sacrifice, and do as he commanded...Follow Him.  When we fall short, and we will, we need not despair.  That perfection is ALWAYS available for us.  We simply repent, and continue on our path of discipleship.  

The Atonement is real.  It is accessible today.  I know these things are true.  I pray something will have touched each one of you in what was said.  

I love you all :)  God is real, and His Son lives :)  

Have a wonderful week :)

--
Elder Bybee
Toronto Canada
Ofa Atu
It got down to like -34 C with windchill, not including humidity, which is always at like 80% here...

needless to say it was cold


Devin (our investigator getting baptized here pretty soon) Kosolowski's wedding!

Making some wings :)




Oh ya know, just a casual stove fire. 


Elder Fillmore being a goober.



Posting up in the cold.
  


Just one of the many crazy places we visit often ;)


Monday, February 8, 2016

Another Day Another Struggle

Hahahaha man this week has just been full of hilarious things :)  Such a good week, and one of my favorites thus far on the mission!

Well to start off, we've been blessed to find 4 new investigators this week, which has been sick!  Man though it's been crazy.  

We felt impressed to drop by a potential on our way to a dinner appointment.  As we got out of the car we stopped and talked to this lady....who just burst out in tears....we were like "uhhhhhhhhh........so I just said..."God loves you"....which was apparently the wrong (and right) thing to say cuz she just cried even harder....it was a weird experience...anyway she was just super grateful we had stopped her to talk cuz she had been thinking about ending her life...it was just a crazy experience!  And such a testimony builder for me that The Lord really is in this work with us, and He knows His children.  It's just been awesome :)  Needless to say, we're teaching her now, which has been super sweet!  

Another Miracle this week came in listening to the spirit to drop by a Former Investigator!  We had dropped by her house several times with no luck, but we decided to drop by again.  She didn't answer, and as we turned around to leave we ran into a man named Cecil!  We talked with him for a bit and then he said, "You know I've been looking for a church to go to that feels right, can I meet you guys downtown in an hour and you can teach me what your church believes?"  

You should've seen our faces...jaws on the floor...we're like..."umm, yes...yes we can do that"...showed up downtown, taught him the Restoration and invited him to church!  We're hoping to commit him to a baptismal date this week!  

The last big miracle was a tender moment for me....a real testament that I'm here in Canada for a reason...

One of our Returning Members, previously Less-Active, has been Active now for over 2 years...he's had his slip-ups on his road to recovery from drug addiction, but he is SO awesome!  However, he has a unique circumstance with a serious and life changing injury a couple years ago that requires him to use some medication that he feels makes him unworthy to get to the temple....Bishop has cleared him and urged him over and over again to go, but he just doesn't feel worthy...

With the recent death of his dad, he's really been struggling...and when we went over to meet with him he asked us what our opinion was on whether or not he should go receive his endowment or not.  The Spirit strongly impressed upon me to share a bit of my story with him, and testified that the Lord had allowed him to remain on this earth and given him the means to control his medical condition so that he could prepare to receive the blessings of the temple.  This big, ripped, tough guy's eyed filled with tears and he stood up and just gave me a hug and cried...expressing that he had been praying for so long to find an answer and he was about to just give up...

It was such a fulfillment for me of my calling as a missionary and servant of the Lord...we are called to minister unto those that stand in need of comfort...this man had been searching deeply for an answer, just searching and wanting to do what's right...we just happened to want to share a message with him... but the Lord knew what we really needed to share.  After 2 years of feeling inadequate and unworthy, this man is now making preparations to receive his endowment at the end of this month.  It was such a tender moment for me to be able to witness the Lord working through us to bring healing and peace to one of His children.  

Ahh I just love the mission!  I seriously love it so much!  What a complete blessing to go out and serve God's children...to just love them..show compassion and kindness to these people...

I've talked about this before but this week has really been another testament to me of this gospel truth.  

"When we go about serving others, the more substance there is to our souls.  

It becomes so much easier to find ourselves, 

because there's so much more of us to find."  -Elder Christofferson

I can so testify that this is true.  I've found that those things that used to make me ache and hurt have faded and lessened...I've found that as I've just forgotten about myself...really realized that...my mission isn't about me...it's not about what I get out of it, it's not about the lessons I learn or the way I grow...it's about others...this lesson has consequently helped me so much...I've found that healing that I, for myself, was seeking...it came in looking outward...that's the secret really..there's another quote that I love..

"There's an interesting dichotomy between healing the body and healing the soul.  

When we heal the body, it requires turning inward.  

But when you heal the soul...turning inward doesn't work.

The triage of the soul is found in turning outward to other people."

This healing, the soul... it only comes in turning outwards...

To those of you who are seeking that healing...to those who feel the deep and aching pain of trials and troubles...to those who are seeking that peace that lasts throughout eternity..

I encourage you to start today..to look outside of your own atmosphere of consciousness.  Look out into the world...and find another soul in need...find another child of God who needs your influence...who needs the light that you have.  I can testify without a doubt in my mind, from personal experience...that this healing is real.  This healing does come.  

Looking outward puts ourselves in a position that softens our hearts, allows us to have charity.  In these Christlike conditions, it gives Christ access to that part of us that hurts and aches...it allows Him to enter our hearts..and consequently heal us...we can and WILL be made whole.  I am a literal witness to that healing power.  

Christ lives!  He has promised us that "He will not forsake" us.  He has given us the way to receive this healing power.  He gives it openly.  We need not earn it, for we cannot.  "Know ye not, that ye are bought with a price?"  This price has already been paid.  To those who may feel that a punishment is necessary before we can obtain that healing, or forgiveness, 
This. Is. Not. So.  Christ does not demand that we punish ourselves.  Christ has already paid that price, take care not to make Him pay it twice.  He has paid that penalty, felt our sorrow and anguish, both for sin and for the troubles and heartache living in a sinful world naturally brings.  We need not feel that we are alone, or that we must exile ourselves in order to receive healing or forgiveness.  

This healing comes through looking outward, turning to others to serve them in appropriate ways.  "The Church is not a mausoleum for saints, but a hospital for sinners," a metaphorical medical tent for the wounded and downtrodden.  It is not Christ's will that we suffer endlessly without relief.  He has provided us the means and the way to obtain relief, to find peace.  We can find that peace.  Relief comes through Christlike service, rendered openly and willingly to the needy, to the poor in spirit, to those that mourn.  This service need not be grand or extensive in nature.  A simple phone call, a hello to a stranger can be an answer to the prayers of those weary souls in need.  

I know these things to be true!  

I love you all :)  Thank you as always for your prayers and continued support.  I couldn't do it without you :)  

With Love,

--
Elder Bybee
Toronto Canada
Ofa Atu
when you gotta move and your apartment is just stacked..



Postin' up
 

Elder Fillmore postin' up in a masonic lodge ;)




more touring of the local Masonic lodge



just a little teaser of how warm it is up here;)


 on that weekly planning grind...with a much needed mtn dew


Monday, February 1, 2016

Moses and Messi

Hahahaha oh man this week has been awesome!  We got condemned to hell thrice, and contended with the Devil on multiple occasions, visited a couple mental hospitals, been searched at least twice for contraband and weapons, and set a baptismal date!  All in a weeks work for St. Thomas missionaries eh? ;)  

We've been dubbed Moses and Messi here in St. Thomas by Brother Veeken.  I'm Moses cuz I get lost and have to call him for directions all the time, and Elder Fillmore is Messi cuz he's had a couple accidents with spilling food on his white shirts, ruined a couple ties, etc ;)  It's been a great week! :)  

I'll start off with the condemnation ;)  Man these Baptists and Christians are really trying hard to get to us, I swear it's like the newest sport here, the "Condemning the Mormon Missionary" Olympic games or something ;)  We've been having a blast with it tbh ;)  It's honestly been such a testimony builder to me that truly this is the Lord's work.  You will not find in all the world a religion with more people actively fighting against it than the Mormon Church.  This is simply because we are Christ's church restored again.  The Devil has power to lead away many souls, convincing them that they are acting in the name of goodness and God, only to eventually realize they have been deceived.  

I cannot stress enough the COMPLETE AND UTTER EVIL OF ANTI MATERIAL.  This is one of Satan's most powerful tools in leading away the Saints.  The clouding and obscuring of facts and evidence is one of the great thorns in the Church's side, it is completely Satanic in nature.  
These articles and websites, and there are MANY, are designed purely to destroy and tear apart.  Their whole goal is to tear down your faith, cloud your mind to the spirit.  The prophets and apostles have taught that "Doubt chases away faith".  This malicious literature is created by Satan through souls he has brought under his control.  

Just this week I have met 3 men, all avid and devout Christians, who have devoted a large portion of THEIR LIVES just to contend with and study this Anti-Mormon literature purely so they can in their clouded and misguided minds "Help us become Saved."  People who have spent time and money on the study of this material, without out ever even picking up a Book of Mormon!  The Power of Satan is real, and his ability to influence us is strong.  WE MUST BE VIGILANT in the strengthening of our testimony through the teachings of the Prophets and Apostles, the Scriptures, but most importantly the Book of Mormon.  

Elder Holland testifies:

"For 179 years this book has been examined and attacked

denied and deconstructed,
targeted and torn apart,

like perhaps no other book in modern religious history

AND STILL IT STANDS."

The Book of Mormon is the foundation of our Church.  Without it, our Church will fall.  Is it any wonder then...that Satan has chosen specifically to direct the brunt of his forces directly at this Book, and consequently it's translator and Prophet of our Latter Days, Joseph Smith?

To me, this is an ultimate testimony of his divine calling, and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.  

You will not find in ANY OTHER RELIGION a history of continued persecution from ALL other religions like you find in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  This simple fact testifies that indeed, Satan is ever increasing his attack on the Kingdom of God established here on earth, because IT IS EXACTLY WHAT IT PROFESSES TO BE.  

This is God's church.  This is His Kingdom.  No powers of hell, or scheme's of man can ever change that truth.  Truth is universal, it transcends all.  I cannot, nor will I ever deny the truthfulness of this Gospel.  There is NO OTHER WAY through which we can find everlasting peace except through this Gospel.  

Christ lives.  He presides at the Head of this Church.  It is true because it is of God.  It's fruit's testify of it's goodness.  Prophets from Moses to Moroni have testified of it's actuality here in the last days.  The Bible testifies of Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon.  

It's very interesting actually...because in having to contend and defend what I know to be true I've had to become a lot more knowledgeable about the Bible than I previously was.  In doing so, it has strengthened my testimony so much.  The thing that has stood out to me most has been that even when you present scripture that clearly testifies of a restoration, of Joseph Smith, of the Book of Mormon, of the Celestial Kingdom, those who do not have a sincere desire to know will never accept our message....it has become clear to me that it is pointless to wage scriptural warfare, battling and reasoning out logically what I already know to be true Spiritually.  You can quote scripture after scripture all day long, but the bottom line is it comes down to that book...
To the Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith.  There is NO maybe he was a prophet, maybe the Book of Mormon is of God.  There is only he is a prophet, and this book is true, or he isn't.  And the ONLY way, the ONLY way we will ever be able to come to know that...and once we do to continue to know that...is through reading it's pages.  That testimony has become solidified for me this week, as both Elder Fillmore and I have each taken turns bearing testimony of this book.  
We have been condemned, told we're going to hell, that we will never see Christ, that God hates us for believing in this book.  And I have never been happier :)  Peter and John couldn't have said it better.  

And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. -Acts 5:41

It has been a blessing...to defend the faith, to stand for truth, and at all times let the devil know where I stand.  
I stand with Christ, and His Church.  I stand with His chosen men, the prophet and his apostles.  

God answers prayers.  The heaven's are open.  God giveth wisdom to every man and woman who seeketh in earnest prayer.  The pattern is simple.  If we lack wisdom, ask.  God promises us that as we ask, we shall receive.  These things require faith like unto a child.  Not some large complex comprehension of exactly how He will answer these questions...rather...a humbling ourselves, having a simple belief that as our Father in Heaven, He loves us...and He will answer us.  God does answer prayers immediately.  I have seen those answers this week as I've gone to Him in prayer, keeping a pen and paper nearby.  The feelings and thoughts that I have had as I've prayed, and chosen to write them down has been a testimony to me that God DOES answer prayers immediately, to those who earnestly seek, with meekness and lowliness of heart.  He loves us.  Why would He not answer His children?

God lives.  His Son Jesus Christ is our Savior.  The Atonement is real...we are NEVER...too far from His love and forgiveness...I, as a disciple of Christ and Son of God have personally experienced this and I can testify with all the strength of my soul that NO ONE is too far from our Savior's outstretched arms.  You have NEVER sinned so badly that His love does not encompass you.  The Savior has "descended below all things".  His love is unfailing.  I, without a single doubt in my mind, so testify that His Atonement is all encompassing.  There is no place too dark, no sin too great that cannot be overcome by His Atonement.  It is real.  The healing power of His Atonement extends to EVERYONE who only desires to find it.  He is nearer than you think, and closer than you realize.  Simply cry out to Him.  He will answer.  I know it.  The Spirit will confirm this truth to you as you seek to know for yourself.  He lives.  He lives! :)  What joy that sentence gives!  Because He lives...all can be made up.  Our Savior has paid the price.  It is finished, the sins of all have already been paid.  What a wonderful and sweet message.  His Atonement is real, and accessible TODAY.  Now.  There is no time period until the Atonement begins to work.  It can work for anyone, in the moment they turn to the Savior.  Again, He lives.  The Spirit has confirmed to me even as I've written this that these things are true.  I pray the same experience may happen for each of you.  

May we each feel His love and encircling arms as we seek Him this week.  

I love you all, and keep you in my prayers.  Thank you for the continued prayers on my behalf :)  
Talk you you soon :)
--
Elder Bybee
Toronto Canada
Ofa Atu