Monday, April 25, 2016

Life in the 519

Well, this week has been sweet!!  We worked super hard and got it done!  We were blessed to set 2 more baptismal dates this week and helped to reset another person with a more realistic one!  The Lord really has blessed the St. Thomas area :) :) We're making this ward into a stake, it's happening ;)

Loving life here really, Elder Fillmore is a complete stud, it's been a blast to be able to work with him.  Guys a stud, for any young ladies back home who might be interested in an attractive, worthy, stalwart, steadfast returned missionary when this guy gets home, keep him on your radar ;)  

We had a super cool miracle this week!  We're sitting in church, and in walks this random guy!  We go up after and talk to him and he just moved into town and wanted to find a church to go to, and this was the one that felt right!  We're meeting with him tonight, so we were super pumped! :) :)  

District Meeting on Friday was stressful but good :)  It's been super overwhelming, but I've really felt the Lord strengthen and support me through it.  I took the Tillsonburg Elders out on exchanges, and saw some more sweet miracles!  We got in contact with a lady one of the Tillsonburg elders taught when he served in St. Thomas a year ago, and was able to set up an appointment, give her a blessings and committed her to come out to church next week!  Life's just been sweet as we've just dived right in and got it done!

We were blessed to hit standards again this week, something Elder Fillmore and I have made a huge priority, and have seen great blessings from it.  We also did a lot of service too, so this week's been super busy!  

With a nice sunny day outside, we're hoping to hit the course and go golfing today :) :)  

This week I've really tried to focus on the Sacrament throughout the week.  Focusing on my baptismal covenants and my relationship with Jesus Christ.  It was such a spiritual week and Sacrament on Sunday was just the best.  When we take the time to reflect throughout the week on our covenants, repenting for those things we mess up on, and asking forgiveness each day, it makes that Sunday ordinance SUCH a blessing.  It was a piece of advice from a talk I read earlier this week, and decided to put it into practice.  I found a greater sense of peace and love from taking the time to focus on it each day.  I testify that the sacrament is the MOST important part of our week, and as we give it the respect it deserves.

I also testify that the Savior's sacrifice for us is real...His body was broken and bruised...His blood ran from every pore...for us.  Not because we did anything to deserve it...rather, simply.  He loves us.  And because He does...we are worthy of atoning for.  This is my testimony.  I know this is true.   

I love you all, and thank you so much for your thoughts and words and prayers to me!  I couldn't do it without you!  Please keep the St. Thomas area in your prayers! :)  Big things coming, and we need all the hosts of Heaven helping us accomplish the tasks ahead :)  

Much love from the North! :)

Elder Bybee

Straight Outta' St. Thomasss

A member's home in Port. Stanley.  It's gorgeous down there.

Elder Fillmore ;)

Sitting in the sun after service

Monday, April 18, 2016

Service with a Smile

Well, this week..was a week of service.  good stuff though.  builds character.  

We learned a valuable lesson this week about service as well!  For instance, we should follow the example of the Savior in having charity when we serve, and not just serving out of duty or obligation.  

We also learned that in following the example of the Savior, we should NOT do everything for those we serve.  Simply that which they cannot do on their own.  The Savior had many examples of this in the miracles and healings He performed.  He told the 10 lepers to make their way to the priest, to show them they had been healed, and as they went, they were healed.  In that time, in order to be pronounced clean, and re-admitted into society, a priest had to pronounce you clean.  As we see here, Jesus did not personally take them to the priest, or walk with them to the synagogue.  Instead, he told them to do what they could, and when they did, through His grace and power, they were healed.  

In the same way, we should seek to help others, by helping them to help themselves.  We should not take the responsibility off their shoulders to do their part.  We should lighten loads, and strengthen the feeble knee's, but to take upon ourselves their responsibility, we steal from them the right to learn, and to grow.  As I said, it was a valuable lesson this week.

This week it got pretty toasty, getting up to 25 C!  Summer's definitely coming, and we're looking forward to a lot of Monday afternoon golf games:)  It's also nice, because there's a lot more people out and about, so more people to talk to!  We're stoked to get it done!

We had a super cool miracle happen yesterday!  So we had planned to drop by this lady's house like forever ago, but things just kept coming up that got in the way.  So yesterday we set aside a specific time to drop by.  We did a lot of walking yesterday, cuz you can talk to more people that way, instead of being in a car all day driving from place to place.  We felt impressed to walk down a certain street, and we noticed a lady walking.  She was pretty rough looking, and, I admit, I was guilty of judging, but the Spirit told us we HAD to talk to we did...turns out it was that lady we were going to drop by!!  I had never met her before, she was a former investigator, and so it was super cool to see how the Lord lead us to her!  We set up a time to meet, and her little daughter LOVES us:):)  She was telling us how she reads her Book of Mormon Stories book every night, and loves it!:)  When she heard we were gonna drop by, she got so excited and was so happy for us to come over:)  It was a testimony to me that God knows His children, and will lead us to them when we listen to the whispering of the Spirit.  

Life's good, we had stake conference yesterday, which was cool:)

I had the opportunity to listen to Elder Bednar's concluding talk from October General Conference about lessons of a lifetime.  It was an amazing experience to hear the Spirit bear testimony to me as he spoke that not only was he an Apostle of the Lord, but each experience he shared about one of our beloved deceased Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ manifested the Spirit into my heart.  I wish to declare my witness that we indeed have a prophet on the earth today.  President Monson is His Chief Apostle.  I encourage any who may have experienced doubts about his ability or calling, due to his illness, to read Elder Bednar's talk entitled "Chosen to Bear Testimony of My Name".  While he does not speak of President Monson, it most definitely applies to him as well.  While President Monson is alive on the earth, the Lord still has a purpose for him here, there are still things the world needs to hear from his mouth.  We have seen on many occasions the past couple conferences the Spirit strengthening our beloved Prophet as he's born witness to us of gospel truths.  I encourage all to strive to strengthen their testimony of his sacred calling and office.  He bears the mantle of chief apostle, and leads this church as Jesus Christ's servant.  I testify these things to be true.  

Much love!
Elder Bybee

Straight Outta' St.Thomasss
Newsflash!  Alma's been obliterated!  
Just chillin in the car
bout to whack Elder Fillmore...with a lint roller.

Elder Fillmore's daily struggle to stay clean
Me last Sunday on you can see, it's quite a mental breakdown sort of night
my boy

Monday, April 11, 2016

St. Thomas or Die

Well, what can I say??  THE ST. THOMAS BOYS ARE STAYING ANOTHER TRANSFER!! :)  hahahaha we were freaking out, it was SOOOO SICK!!! :)  We had been asking practically everyone we saw to pray for us to stay here, and so when President told us we were staying it was just mass chaos, we were screaming and yelling, it was awesome! :)  

This week has been awesome! We've continued to see a wide variety of miracles, as we've continued to exercise our faith, and stay humble :)  Humility and faith have been key elements in my learning process this last transfer, and as such we were blessed to see 5 investigators at church on Sunday!!  It was such a blessing, and I definitely felt so humbled at being able to witness those people we meet grow closer to Jesus Christ and be touched by the Spirit.

In particular, we were praying and fasting for one person to make it out to church.  She is seriously SO awesome, and has such a sincere desire to better her life and more closely follow Jesus Christ.  Circumstances in the past have prevented her from making it out, and so Saturday night we decided to fast and pray.  As she walked into the chapel Sunday morning, a feeling, one I've only felt on select occasions, entered my heart.  I felt true the blessing to witness someone taking a step closer to Christ.  I love this town...and love these people.  They are close to the Lord's heart..and He loves them dearly.  

This week I had an interesting experience, as a returned missionary spoke in Sacrament meeting.  His mission president asked him at the beginning of his mission why he got up at 6:30 in the morning every morning.  At the time he didn't really know.  As he continued on with his mission, at the very end, he had an interview with President and told him he had an answer for him.  He said
"I get up at 6:30 every morning because I love the Savior."  

I've thought a lot about that...why I do the things I do every was a blessing to be able to ponder on that...and reflect on the why...striving to purify my motives...bring them in line with the first and greatest commandment,
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

That commandment is first and foremost.  I feel to add my testimony to that returned missionary's and say,
I do what I do...because I love my Savior.  He is the why and the how.  My mission, as His representative, is to testify of the Savior.  God the Father, in almost every recorded account of His appearing to man, testifies each time of the Divinity and mission of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Christ is the way.  

I have come to understand through various spiritual experiences that the definition of a man today is seriously warped.  Man today is dominant, and commanding, he exercises control and unrighteous dominion.  He is coarse, unfeeling, emotionless, and never soft.  He is to look a certain way, and act a certain way, to gain acceptance from his peers.  

It is saddening to see such a diversion from the example of the Perfect Man.  He was humble..meek, patient.  He championed womanhood throughout His entire life.  He mingled with the lowly, and the sick.  He wept, and wept often!  He loved...completely and unconditionally.  He never controlled...merely invited those around Him to change.  In all ways He honored His Father, and cared for the less fortunate and the downtrodden.

I have come to know, that a true man is
One who embodies the Character of Christ, and fearlessly follows Him.

This over arches and encompasses ALL other qualities and characteristics.  A true man, knows, and loves His Savior.  A true man..fearlessly follows Him wherever He leads him.

He is my Savior.  His love is all-encompassing.  He died, and rose again...for me.  It was not a collective effort for the sins of the world...rather an individual, painstaking atonement for a group of "ones".  Christ seeks out "ones".  Not groups, not families even.  But "ones".  He went after the one lost sheep.  Each effort He makes to reach out to us is not some large scale rescue effort to save all us sinners. is a heartfelt, plea..from one Soul to accept the gift that One made for you.  He speaks, teaches and heals the "one"s.  He has an individual understanding and relationship with each of us.  Because, in His eyes, we are all "the one".  Because of Him, and His love, we are ALL worth saving.  I testify these things to be true.  

I love you all!  Geared up and ready for another blessed transfer in the Promised Land!!

much love!
Elder Bybee

A fun little game we play with Bill.  We hide sticky notes with little sayings and funny comments all around his house.  As you can see, he's labeled it "The gospel according to Moses and Messy".

Zone Council with da boys

Massive cookie...just cuz

when it's transfer day...

oh ya know..just getting huge..

psych, just staring at weights, wishing I had the energy to get huge.
President Clayton seen on TV after being newly called as an Area Apostle.

President & Sister Clayton during Conference April 2016.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Day of Pentecost a.k.a General Conference ;)

Man, where to even start???  The Spirit has truly poured out in abundance this weekend, and throughout the week.  

I guess I'll start with conference, since that's like all I've been thinking about the past week :)

Conference this weekend was truly Heaven sent.  The Music was angelic, the speakers were so inspired, and the Spirit witnessed over and over again the truth and divinity of this church.  How could one, after listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing that beautiful rendition of "Come Thou Fount" not be converted to this gospel? ;)  

My favorite talk came right at the very first, with my favorite General Authority, President Eyring.  That man, it seems, is always inspired to say exactly what my heart needs.  He testified of Jesus Christ, and his words sunk home.  This is His Church, this was His Conference.  Many times in life we can begin to wear down, and like President Erying shared, we can begin to fear that if we cannot strengthen again our testimony, we will falter and sink under the weight of Satan.  

Christ has promised us, however, many things that can help us to restore our testimonies to their former glory.

"Where two or three are gathered, there will I be in the midst of them, even will I be in the midst of you."  

"Draw near unto me, and I will draw near unto you."  

What powerful promises!  The Lord, Jesus Christ, has promised that His presence can be felt as we gather together to experience the wonderful power of the Holy Ghost, testifying and teaching us of our Savior Jesus Christ, for that is His ultimate and Divine Purpose.  It is little wonder, then, that the prophets and apostles counsel over and over again to chose wisely our friends, for the Holy Ghost cannot dwell in unholy places.  

The other reference was to the fact that Christ has promised as we draw near unto Him, He will draw near unto us.  How do we draw near unto Christ?  As President Uchtdorf so beautifully taught, it is through Obedience.  
"Obedience helps us discover what we're truly made of."
"Obedience is the liberating path of our divine destiny."

Obedience best comes when we first understand that is is out of love for the Savior, that we should strive to act.  Duty is fine.  Obligation is better than disobedience.  But love for the Savior as we follow Him will allow our hearts to be changed, and to become more like His.

I also learned a very tender lesson from President Uchtdorf regarding lost sheep...

"The Sheep is worthy of rescue,
simply because he is loved."

I know...without a doubt...that is true.  

I testify, that Jesus Christ lives...He lives.  He is MY Savior.  He is my Shepherd, and I love Him...I love Him.  I have come to gain a great deal of tenderness...for Him.  In realizing more and more each day just what He did for me...not because I deserved it out of anything I did...rather I became worthy of His rescue because of what He did.  

That truth hit home for me while listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing "Come Thou Fount", my all time favorite hymn.  
For, aren't we all prone to wander?  How many times have we strayed from the God we love?  And many times does the Lord leave the find us?  How many times does He rescue us?  How often do we feel that desire to lay give up...yet, each time...He reaches down, and picks us up.  

These experiences in my own life have given me a testimony that has transformed from a belief into a knowledge of truth that words cannot adequately express.  He. Lives.  Christ, my Savior, my Rescuer and my Redeemer, lives. He has saved me, from the times I wander.  And will continue to do so, each and every day.  

His power to heal is real.  It works.  As we draw near unto Him, it allows Him to draw near unto us.  For He will not save us against our will.  

I know that this is truly, God's church on the earth today.  I invite you all to seek to strengthen your own testimony of Christ.  He is "a sure foundation.  A foundation whereon if men build, they CANNOT fall."  

I love you all!:)  Have a blessed week.  

Elder Bybee

chilling with Bill and Bro Hodges

 golfing last week on P-day!:)

Getting in that General Conference Spirit