Monday, March 23, 2015

The Eagle Has Flown... Week 104

G'day from the Down Under!
For the last time...
In the words of Helaman to Captain Moroni, "They [the Nephites] were determined to conquer in this place or die." Now that may sound morbid to start out with what I'd like to say, and I've yet to decide how much I have to say, but know this: I came to Australia determined to "conquer in this place or die (whatever that entails)" and I have conquered. I was not a perfect missionary. I was not always the most obedient missionary. But I worked as hard and as smart as I could and now I stand at that great and conflicted intersection of desiring to serve the Lord to no end, yet longing for the comforts of home that have been so carefully neglected in thought.
For the past 24 months I have been serving the Lord our God to the fullest of what I perceived to be possible. What I have done in the mission field will, I have a feeling, be judged for better or worse. Hopefully there's more that think it was all for the better. I know that it was for the better, and no one could convince me otherwise. There's a lot of scattered thoughts going around in my mind at this time so you'll just have to forgive my lack of a cohesive thought process (I'm not even sure that's the right word to use but it sounds sophisticated and I like it).
I'll put it to you straight; I don't remember very clearly who I used to be back home. I recall the activities I used to be involved in and the friends I had, the life I lived... but that seems very foreign to me, and it's not something I want to return to. Though returning home is something that I am greatly excited for, I daresay that I have fixed it in my mind that I will not go back to living life the way I once did.
My Mum wrote me and mentioned that it seems like my mission and I have become one, so I thought I might speak to my Mum in particular. I know exactly what you mean! It's difficult to describe, but I feel very integrated into this life and this country and my "missionary-self" for lack of better words. Because of this, I feel very disconnected with my past life and thus have no desire to return to it. What I have become in the mission field is who I now am, and to be honest I'm very worried about the family not really knowing me when I get back. Lots of things are the same, but so much is different that it's fair to say you might all need to get to know me again, just as I'll have to get to know all of you!
This is so very surreal. I keep asking missionaries who are in my intake if we've miscounted and actually have a transfer or so left. To my dismay, we've not miscounted. Don't mistake me- I'm not dismal about coming home. The only thing I might be remotely dismal about is that the change in lifestyle and culture and everything I have known for the past two years presents challenges that I've not had to face as a missionary. Despite my service including touring every stake and district in the entire mission, from Darwin down to Adelaide and almost everywhere in between, I was still doing the same thing; preaching the gospel as an ordained representative of Jesus Christ. Now I will wear one less badge, put on a tie only once a week (unless I want to be 'classy'), and you won't see me going door-to-door or entering into others homes to teach them from the Words of Life. Such is the great conflict faced by every missionary.
What have I learned? I'd have to write a book in order to communicate even a fraction of that, and I intend to. That's something I still remember- writing again will be good for me.
I've decided that the overall idea that I have selected to share with the missionaries as I part ways is this: live after the manner of happiness.
I've had ample opportunity to see lots of missionaries struggle in finding any kind of joy or happiness on their missions. Some that I've talked to are, despite their false smiles, are discouraged, concerned, worried, insecure, unmotivated, lacking enthusiasm, and constantly doubting, and all this for a plethora of reasons.
Yet I know that several examples of happy missionaries were Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah. We're talking about people who, at first, were so discouraged they thought to abandon their missions just in trying to reach the Lamanites. After they finally got there, they were taken prisoner, subjected to violence such as stoning and expulsion by force at the hands of angry mobs, threatened with death on occasion... yet the only thing that brought them any kind of sorrow was that of the people's wickedness and sin. The only thing that kept them from smiling was the wickedness of those they had gone to teach. For whatever reason, we let many things prevent us from living after the manner of happiness.
Doing so doesn't mean we will never feel stressed, anxious, uncomfortable, uneasy, or anything along those lines. It doesn't mean that life will be easy- happy people still have to work for the bread on their tables. It doesn't mean that we'll always have it easy or anything along those lines. It means that, despite our situations, we are still able to find the good in life, find the joy, and view things with a God-like eye. That's how we live after the manner of happiness- live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and look at everything with a God-like eye.
Missions are too short to be spent brooding in unhappiness, frowning, mourning for that which isn't happening according to our schedules (God's timing is usually better, anyways), and allowing trivial matters or matters that are out of our control to lower our spirits and dampen our moods. I'm glad that I've learned to smile, to have a laugh and make light of a seemingly difficult or troublesome situations (and I only do so with my situations, because it's rude to do that to others). It doesn't hurt to be a bit witty, and the good can always be found in every situation a missionary can be subjected to, at least in my experience.
On that note, I have also chosen to fulfil a commitment given to me by President Carter. On occasion, as we spoke one with another about how both of our time in the field is waning and as I expressed my conflicted feelings, and feelings of things that I wish I had done better or that I could have done more effectively, he asked, "Elder, will you teach the younger missionaries the doctrine of going home?" That's a challenge I could accept, but doing so in a manner that would not cause anyone homesickness would be the trick.
I chose a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 58:15 or 16, I can't remember which. Though the Lord is speaking to one who is not a missionary, I believe He used His chosen words for a divine purpose, because they are entirely applicable to us as missionaries:
"Behold, his mission is given him, and it shall not be given again." [D&C 58:16]
One really only has to read it once, with a sober mind, before the gravity of such a sentence becomes real. At least, such was true for myself. I have served my mission, though I dare not quote what Paul wrote about, "Fighting the good fight" as I believe my "fight" has yet to end. But I will say that I feel good about my service. It is finished and it is what it is- God Himself cannot change time from continuing as it does, thus why should I concern myself with brooding over all of the "what I could have done" questions? What I have done as a missionary has been done, and nothing will change it now. I recognize there were segments where I should have been more obedient, where I should have been less stern, when I should have been more loving, but I also recognize that I did some good in the world (literally). Despite my imperfection, I managed to do some good things, and I managed to learn a thing or two that I will take home with me. I am satisfied with that; my prayer is that the Lord will be at least pleased.
But in saying that, I should probably be heading. We're going to the Gorge today (a wildlife park) where I will get to cuddle koalas and teach kangaroos about the Book of Mormon. What better send off?
I love the ZAAM. I love the Lord. I love my family and I cannot wait to see them. I know that many churches have truth, but only the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a fullness, as far as it has been revealed to us, and that the invitation to find out for one's self is extended to all. I know that going on a mission is good. I know that if we let the Lord direct us, we will always come out the better because of it. There is a God, His Son is Jesus the Christ, and He has accomplished the Atonement. All of the tools for Salvation have been given to Man; all we need to do is access them. This I testify of in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
-Elder Jeffrey Scott Schomburg
Zion Australia Adelaide Mission
"ZAAM Forever"

President and Sister Armstrong
Elder Schomburg and Elder Duabe

Monday, March 16, 2015

Allow Me to Add My Two Cents... Week 103

G'day from Down Under!

Okay, first I need to cover acknowledgments and things of the like. Andrew, brah, happy birthday! You're old-as, man! But I love you anyways, and your friend is cute and adorable... does she have any friends? Ha, don't answer that- the prospect of near-future courtships is not one I am looking fondly upon at this moment in time, which is good because I am still a missionary for eight more days or something like that... I'm not really keeping track.

Second, Sissy! You're a missionary! You look just beautiful, and seeing those photos brings back a lot of memories, hey? Memories of a missionary gone to Ecuador, memories of a missionary gone to Australia, and now memories of a missionary gone to Chile. What a crazy family we have! I love you Sissy- you are my only sister so you are extra special to me =D

Thirdly, in answer to soon-to-be questions, hymn 44 is my favourite. It's the ZAAM anthem and if there was ever a hymn to be sung at any one time in the world, I would choose that one. As far as food is concerned, I want buffalo style chicken strips, or buffalo wings, whichever is easiest, most readily available, and smothered in cayan pepper sauce. Such things do not exist where I currently live and I have lived here for nigh well on two years... I would like some buffalo wings please. And Mexican food.

Also, Brother and Sister G were able to go to the Temple this past Saturday to do baptisms and confirmations, and they loved it! We spend a lot of time with them (probably more than we should) and every time is just a blast! They feel like family, and I wish that my family could meet them. They've taken such good care of us missionaries and I love them!

Fourth, in answer to soon-to-be questions of more life-decision things, Mum, I've got no idea what I am to do or where I am to start upon returning to American soil. As far as I know, the military is still a desire of mine. I've received no prompting or revelation counseling me to not join the Service, but on the flip side, I've received no revelation telling me to. I think I just need to explore more options before I pick something, because I really don't know what's out there to do. I know I want to help people in some way, and I would prefer my line of expertise to be more exciting than dull- something that involves riding in helicopters or airplanes. The need to carry a firearm whilst doing so isn't necessary- there are more ways to help people than just by killing their enemies, HOWEVER, I really want to be militaristic in some way, shape, or form. Not for bloodthirsty purposes, mind you.

And now for my two cents. It sounds like there is a lot going on in the Schomburg world as of now, and though sometimes I feel like I'm just on the sidelines looking on as all of these events play out, I'd like to share one experience that occurred just yesterday that was a fulfillment of something in my Patriarchal Blessing and that might add to the crazy lifestyle that we have opted to live.

Yesterday after the third hour of church, I was holding the door open for Brother W, an older man who is confined to using a walker. He was shuffling out of the chapel, and just as he entered the foyer and I closed the door, Brother Josh (second counselor on the branch presidency) called out, "Elder!" in a sort of anxious way, a tone not usually used unless in some kind of crisis. I walked further into the foyer to see Sister L, a woman who loves us missionaries SO much and is always going out of her way to provide us with extra groceries, lying sideways on the pew in the foyer. Sister D was leaning over her and trying to keep Sister L supported on her side, and bile had formed around her lips. She wasn't breathing. As Sister Lo entered the scene, Sister D (she's an authorized nurse of some kind and Sister Lo is a former EMT) announced that Sister L was suffering a seizure. Brother Josh (as President Armstrong was absent in Clare) rang 000 (triple zero is the equivalent to 911) and began the process of hailing an ambulance. With no medical training at all, but knowing extra hands might be needed, my companion and I remained nearby. The relief society sisters didn't want any little ones traumatized by the proceedings, so they corralled the little ones into the cultural hall, and other adults blockaded the hallway; mostly everyone tried to stay out of the way.

Finally Sister L, after an excruciating three or so minutes, started to breathe, but with much effort. I don't think she was "there" as it were, but she was battling, really battling, to get any air into her lungs. Josh came back and announced, "Ambulance is on the way, high priority." Sister Lo looked at the watch she had pinned to her chest and muttered with a grim expression, "8 minutes." One has a difficult time maintaining any hope in the situation when Sister Lo says something like that so grimly, especially 8 minutes- when an ambulance is called, one typically expects it right away. The real world is very different than the television dramas. 

So we remained by, watching Sister D and Sister Lo trying to rouse Sister L to some state of consciousness. I was tossing a multitude of thoughts around in my own head: do I jump in now and give her a blessing, or do I wait and see if she comes to? Will I be in the way if I insert myself? Will it even work? I have a tendency to think too much and act too little. What's more is that Sister L was giving up- the breath that once was flowing with such difficult effort was starting to slow and weaken. I'm not an expert, but judging by the increased urgency in Sister D's voice and the weakening breathing of Sister L, I truly, honestly thought that we were about to lose her. Josh strode past me then and said with that same urgency, "Elder, will you give her a blessing?"

That was all I needed. I called my companion to me and knelt down by Sister L. Someone asked if we needed oil, to which I responded, "It'll be alright, no need." Whether the use of consecrated oil is doctrinal or formal, I didn't care; I wasn't going to waste another precious second in doing what needed to be done. I asked as an afterthought, "Does anyone know her middle name?" Sister D called the question louder to those who were still nearby, but no sooner than she had did I say, "Doesn't matter." which was echoed by Sister Lo. With our hands placed upon her head, and mustering all of the courage I could -as I was very scared- I declared, "P----- L---- (full name), by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood which we hold, we lay our hands upon your head, and command your body to breathe, and to be healed through the power of Jesus Christ, and we do so in His sacred name, the name of Jesus Christ, amen." I hadn't fully risen to my feet before her lungs were suddenly opened. She started to breathe calmly and without effort, and she began blinking- conscious responses. Sister Lo announced, "That's it, she's coming to." Sister D started asking her informational questions- did she know Sister D, did she know where she was, things of that nature. The EMT's showed up just a few minutes later, and as directed by them, my companion and I moved out of the way and slowly slipped into our own states of shock.

Sister L is in hospital now and is okay.

So there's my two cents. I'm not sure what else to say about the ordeal. All I could think of was when Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said [from his General Conference talk "Sanctify Yourselves"], "Young men, you will learn, if you haven't already, that in frightening, even perilous moments, your faith and your priesthood will demand the very best of you and the best you can call down from heaven... brethren, the day may come -indeed I am certain it will come- when in an unexpected circumstance or in a time of critical need, lightning will strike, so to speak, and the future will be in your hands."

And that's all I have to say about that.

So this is my last full week as a missionary, the branch is brimming with excitement at my departure (good or bad? I can't tell xD) and everyone is trying to book lunches and dinners. Thursday night is probably the last night we'll see the Armstrong's, and then Sunday night we're having tea with the Gee's, and Monday morning we're going to swing past at about 7am and have a few final goodbyes. Then I'll drive the Port Pirie-Clare-Adelaide road one last time, transfers will be on Tuesday and I'll get to share a thing or two about what I've learned over the course of two years in the space of about five minutes with 80% of the ZAAM, and then Wednesday morning I will fly home, and you will all see me on Tuesday! Work that out in your head xD [Elder Schomburg is incorrect - he will leave on Wednesday morning from Australia and arrive in Colorado on Wednesday evening - however it will be approximately 24+ hours later.] I have a talk this Sunday on Elder Quentin L. Cook's remarks titled "Choose Wisely" which I found appropriate. I'm not sure what else to say. I will write my "I Just Served Two Years in Australia This is What I've Learned" email next Monday.

Ask me if I'm nervous.

I love you all and if you don't hear from me on Monday, I will see you soon! Hooroo!

-Elder Schomburg

The Schomburg Missionaries -
thus far...

Monday, March 9, 2015

Words Are Not Sufficient... Week 102


I could spend some time catching you up on the week, but really, the whole week involved one thing: making sure everything went smoothly for Phil and Lynny's baptisms. As previously mentioned, due to the lack of an announcement at church, or the lack of the opportunity thereof, it fell to the shoulders of President Armstrong, Sister Kemp (RS President), President Eastwood (Elders Quorum), and the missionaries to spread the word that Phil and Lynny were being baptized the coming Saturday, the brunt of the informing falling to us. I could sum up the week's events with that- we found ourselves scurrying around like chooks without their heads as we went about informing the masses. It took all week.

But a few important days to note were these. On Tuesday Phil and Lynny had their baptismal interviews with Elder Tanner and President Carter via phone. We originally had started the evening at about 5:30pm for tea (Mexican nachos... we love Lynny very much). Interviews started at about 7:30 after the kids were put down, and they went until 9:30 or so, and it was actually Lynny that had to remind President Carter that our curfew was up. Whilst one or the other was interviewing, it fell to me to entertain whoever wasn't being interviewed, so I basically sat at the kitchen table and conducted question and answer sessions whilst everyone else shared in a massively overwhelming spiritual moment- it's a bugger when you're not the district leader or President and can't do interviews, but such is the Lord's design.

So after that, we proceeded to see Phil and Lynny almost every day of the week for at least a brief exchange. We took Wednesday andThursday nights to finalize their baptismal program. On Wednesday we started filling in the blanks regarding hymns, speakers, and the like. The question also came up- who would be baptizing them and who would be confirming them. Phil had already put a lot of thought into it, since he knew his friend Ben would not be carrying out the ordination. He looked straight at me and said, "Baptizing," then to Elder Duabe, "and confirming." His reasoning was that I was the "next best pick" (Lynny tried to rebuke him for that, but I understood- they were sad that Ben could not do it, but they recognized that they needed the ordinances performed as soon as feasibly possible, thus they went with their "second best") because I had been so involved in their conversion process. He chose Elder Duabe to confirm because he reckons -and he's right- that Elder Duabe is a "very spiritual man, very in tune with the Holy Ghost" and thus he got that position.

Lynny took another day to decide on the grounds that "there are so many good people to choose from!" which was acceptable to us.Thursday night we finalized their program and asked again, "So Lynny, have you put anymore thought into who you want to baptize you?" and she gave me this really big smile and was kinda quiet but kept looking at me. Then Phil laughed and he looked at me, and Elder Duabe laughed and he looked at me, and I wanted to at least hear it so she said, "If you haven't guessed I'd like you to baptize me, and President Armstrong can confirm me." And thus it was decided. The privilege of baptizing them cannot be expressed in words, thus words are not sufficient. I was very humbled that they had both opted for me to perform that ordinance for them.

We spent the rest of Friday making sure everyone that could know did know to be at the chapel at 10:30am Saturday morning. We also took Phil and Lynny on Friday to get their baptismal gear sussed out that same Friday.

Saturday morning rolled around, and though I was striving to be one with the Spirit that morning and really relish what was about to happen, as per the norm with most missionaries, I was consumed by anxiety and nervousness. The moment right before two people, a family, is about to enter into the fold is the most gut-wrenching moment ever because you just don't know what's going to go down. We went to the chapel at about 8am and started filling the font (takes 2 hours to fill) and I delved into some scriptures to quell my anxiety. It never works and I just sort of glaze over the pages and get lost in thought again, but I read specifically in Mosiah 18 (hope I got the reference right) when Alma the Younger baptized in the Waters of Mormon, and that actually helped.

Then Phil and Lynny arrived, and all was well- I was completely calm and relaxed again. I had been nervous because Satan has really campaigned diligently to prevent this family from being baptized and from starting down the gospel path, and I felt that he would be especially aggressive in the final hours of their ongoing battle, and I feared him winning. Memories of Sister Farr and Sister Kafoa's investigators not turning up for their baptisms back in Mildura (2013) continued to play on my mind, so when I saw them turn up, when I knew that they had brought themselves to the chapel, I was entirely at peace. We got dressed out, and it was so great to be dressed up in white with them! Together, dressed in white, they just looked stunning, absolutely celestial.

We got to sit with them and their family in the front during the talks, which were very emotion-filled for everyone. The entire branch came (+30 people) and the Spirit's presence was so thick you could sink your teeth into it! Then we made our way down to the baptismal font, and I entered first, and to my horror, the font was missing about a foot of water. President Armstrong had commandeered filling the font after he arrived, and I suppose he didn't see a need for more than enough water that my hips (and I know my hips are quite tall on me) were still above the water, which was concerning for me because Phil is my same height... and it was my job to make sure he was submersed properly. No pressure. I didn't really let it get to me- I had already decided that if I needed to follow him into the water in order to baptize him properly, then I would do it.

He stepped into the font, we stood all the way at the opposite end of it so that he wouldn't bash his head on the steps or wall, and then I took his arm, made sure he was all good, and proceeded to baptize him. It was such a special moment for everyone! Their little boys were so cute with their faces pressed to the glass separating the font from the audience. Phil went down and came back up easy enough (I'd asked the Lord to strengthen my arm... I really didn't want to drop him. Call me silly if you will, but I was stressing about the fine details, too).

Then it was Lynny's turn, and she was already emotional, but I took her hand and guided her into the font, gave her a second to compose herself (and she must've been a bit nervous, because her grip was really tight on my arm), and then I baptized her. Haha, the trick with her was making sure all her hair was submerged!

And then we dressed out, went into the chapel to finish the service, and Phil and Lynny bore their testimonies. They sounded like they'd been doing it for ages! Phil was dropping phrases like "I know that through the infinite power of Christ's Atonement, we can come to live with our Heavenly Father again" and things of the like that just made my jaw drop. Up to that point, I'd never heard them bear pure, honest to goodness testimony. I'd heard them state that they knew what we taught concerning whatever subject was true, but never have I heard them open their hearts like that and just testify of what was true. Even Phil's lip trembled (shouldn't have looked at his wife xD) and I had a moment to laugh because early on in his teaching, he was just perplexed at how people were driven to tears when confessing what they knew to be true, and here was, doing the same thing! Ah, it was just so wonderful and my words are not sufficient to describe my joy and neither are my actions, and the rest of the day was just the easiest missionary day of my life! I loved it! I am so blessed by the Lord! What better gift could my Heavenly Father give to me before I go the way of all the earth?

I don't know what else to say- I was blessed. They were blessed. They're still being blessed! Elder Duabe's confirmation was extremely spiritual and that same Sunday, Phil received the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained to the office of a Priest, and they received their limited use temple recommends and will be going with the branch this Saturday to attend the temple and do baptisms! Ask me how I'm feeling! I can't tell you because there are no words in the English language to express how amazing I am feeling! I wish I could speak the Adamic language, which was pure and perfect and allowed for such feelings to be expressed properly.

Anyways, that was my week, and I loved it, and now I must battle on and find the next people to baptize and confirm. Easier said than done, especially when my endurance is waning. I put it to you all straight; I am really struggling with holding out to the end. Satan really wants me to just take it easy and relax, and I really don't want to. I want to finish strong, and I have been working diligently. I just need to keep doing it for a bit longer... it's so very hard. BUT, I can and will do hard things, and this is not the hardest thing that I have yet to do, so I just need to square up and face it.

I love you all heaps, and there are more baptism photos to come!

-Elder Schomburg 

p.s. [I wish I could post all of the photos that Elder Schomburg sent - they would absolutely melt your heart - but due to privacy, I cannot post member's photos. This one is WONDERFUL though!]

Elder Duabe and Elder Schomburg
Baptism Day for Phil and Lynny

Monday, March 2, 2015

All That Live Godly in Christ Jesus Shall Suffer Persecution... Week 101

2 Timothy 3:12

Good morning from Down Under!

Well, I don't recall being asked any questions this week aside from how I'm going and the like, so suffice it to say that I am really good. I have gone through a bit of a whirlwind of different emotions and it's still ongoing, but such is to be expected with this week's happenings.

So on Monday Phil and Lynny set a baptismal date for the 14th of March. That same day, they changed it to the 28th. We had a lesson with them and President and Sister Armstrong (and they have done so much to help us with Phil and Lyn that it's not even laughable) and the date changed to the 4th of April. This all happened this week, mind you. And then the biggest shocker occurred.

Sunday Morning, March 1st, Elder Duabe and I found ourselves in the usual position in the foyer welcoming members of the branch into Sacrament Meeting. We always stand by the door and anxiously await Phil and Lynny's arrival with their two boys, but the anxiety seemed to wear off for me after they started coming consistently. I knew they were coming- it was no longer a question in my mind. They walked up as a family like they always do, but this time, and though I only caught a glimpse of them for a time, I knew there was something off.  We had the following conversation:

"Good morning, Phil, how're you?"
"Not very well, actually."
"Oh, is everything alright?"
"No, we're going through a bit of a struggle at the moment. What exactly does a blessing entail?"

We then proceeded to tell him the difference between a healing blessing and a blessing of comfort and counsel, and he insisted that he and his wife receive one of the latter straight away. Though I've had a bit of missionary experience under my belt, I was becoming nervous, so we stole into the branch president's office and I quickly informed President Armstrong that they had requested a blessing. It was ten minutes to the start of the meeting but it could not wait. President Armstrong then informed us that we could use his office, left the premises, and closed the door behind him. Phil and Lyn were now both in the office, and Lynny began to fight back her weeping, though unsuccessfully so. Phil's eyes were turning moist and red as well.

I don't usually ask for details because most times the private details of people's lives are out of my jurisdiction to receive and or act upon, but due to the nature of the blessing, I needed at least a little information to go off of. I very gingerly said to him, "I don't need details, I just need to know what the trouble is." He struggled to keep himself composed as he gave me a heart-jarring answer. He went on to explain a few details that kept even me still in the dark, for the most part, but I came to understand clearly their situation.

I don't think words can describe the weight of the anvil that fell on my shoulders, the anvil that had the sentence, "You've got to give them a blessing in which they absolutely must feel of God's power, or you will lose them" written upon it. Not only did I fear losing them, I feared for the unknown. A lot of thoughts can go through one's mind when that one doesn't have a full picture. My heart was broken as I watched them both sit and cry bitter tears, tears that were the result of having gone to every extent known and not found any solutions. They were a mess, and my heart just broke- seeing them in such a pained and afflicted way was not pleasant.

So I kept things going and instead of let the dire situation slip into one that lacked hoped, I asked who wanted to receive a blessing first, and Phil was right quick to volunteer. We sat him down, placed our hands upon his head, and gave him a blessing. I have never struggled so much to find revelation for someone, and that was because, I am sure, I feared the results. I did not want to be the Priesthood holder that was called upon to give difficult counsel just as much as I did not want to be the Priesthood holder that gave a blessing that was not felt and resulted in a weakening of faith. But as I opened my mouth, just as the promise is written, it was filled with what Phil needed to hear. I knew he felt the Spirit very powerfully for the duration of the blessing, and after closing it, we shook hands and I held him for a bit longer and tried to look into his eyes as if to say, "It'll be alright."

His wife was next, and before I could finish asking -as I thought she would defer to my companion to give her a blessing- she had said, "You" twice. So I was up again, and the pressure that I felt lift after being relieved of giving her husband a blessing was again mounted upon me. Do not mistake me- giving blessings is not a burden but an honored privilege, and I've given enough that rarely do I feel nervous giving them. 

For example, an older lady who attends the branch, has stewardship over her two grandchildren, and one Sunday, her younger boy became suddenly very ill. It takes a lot to worry a woman like this sister, but she turned around in her pew after Sacrament that particular morning and said with absolute worry that her boy was just overcome with a fever and nausea and it was completely out of the blue and worried her extremely. She said he was to the point of hallucination. She asked if we could bless him, so we did. Again, I was given the opportunity to act as the voice, but I wasn't any bit nervous at all. In my Patriarchal Blessing, I'm told that I will be given power through the Priesthood to perform very miraculous healings, the nature of which should probably remain with me for now, and I had total confidence in that. I've seen that in my life and I've seen it in others- the Priesthood heals. Mick had trouble smoking, but after receiving a blessing, the very smell of smoke made him physically sick. The same occurred with this young boy; after the blessing he remained sick for perhaps thirty minutes. I thought they would have gone home, but the sister approached me after Sunday School and told me that all signs of illness had just vanished- he was right as rain again.

It was the prospect of not communicating vital information that made me nervous. I suppose anyone would have been, but again, how is a 21 year old boy with no experience, no knowledge save for that which has been observed, supposed to give a blessing to a man and a woman who have voiced their concerns which might help them at all? I don't know, but Heavenly Father definitely made up the difference for what I lacked. We gave her a blessing and again, I just feel as though the details should remain with those involved. Let it be known, though, that it was a very powerful blessing.

We gave them a minute to themselves and retreated back into the Sacrament Meeting, and I started praying diligently, very diligently. I thought they were going to go home- the fact that they came to church despite wading through trials and tribulations was absolutely shocking. It was painful to witness them in such duress, but it was more than comforting to know that they had turned to the Lord to help them. That is true conversion. That is true conversion.

They remained for the rest of church and spoke with President and Sister Armstrong afterwards.  That night we received this text message from them: "Thank you so much for today, you may never really know how healing your blessings were today, or how much pain we have been sharing. You would have felt the power of the blessing on me, it was an amazing moment. We are seriously contemplating moving our baptism forward to March 7th, we need that cleansing now and as soon as possible."

We responded by letting them know we love them, and the Lord loves them, and that we were there to help out with whatever we could and we were only a phone call away. Then we told them to just keep us updated with whatever they decided concerning baptism. It was difficult to remain calm. Then they texted back, which was a surprise as I thought we would just resume the conversation with them on Tuesday when we have dinner with them, and they said, "Thank you, we really appreciate the support today, it was everywhere. We are planning dinner for Tuesday night, but I think we should plan whatever else we need to do to make this coming Saturday our baptism day. How many more nights do we still need, and what about the baptism interview?"

We've been busy sorting things out ever since. It's amazing how busy you can suddenly become when you have a surprise baptism the very next Saturday.

Yes, you heard me correctly.

It was amazing to see the process of it all. Satan knows that they're on the right path, and he has been stepping up his game hard out. He knows that the branch needs this family, and he knows that those two little boys of theirs are going to be great missionaries someday. He hit them really hard this week with something, but the comeback was just incredible! The Lord allowed them to sustain Satan's blows so that they would call upon Him to help them via Priesthood blessings. Look at the result- they understand the importance and necessity of having the Holy Ghost as part of their lives as soon as they can because they have their future to think about. They need God's guidance 24/7 and they need it now, and they recognize that. Again, it was a miracle to see them at church given their circumstances, and now we're looking forward with eagerness to this Saturday.

Keep them in your prayers, please.

I love you all and I'll talk to you later!

-Elder Schomburg   

Meningie Lions Jubliee Park

Meningie Lions Jubliee Park

Elder Schomburg and Elder Duabe

President Armstrong, Elder Schomburg and Elder Duabe

Moonta Bay

Monday, February 23, 2015

I'm Out of Ideas - Sorry... Week 100

Well that statement isn't entirely true, but the others ones need to be saved for later.
This morning finds me enjoying a rare and much appreciated 21C (70F) in Port Augusta, which is more than welcome as far as I'm concerned. Mild summer as it has been, no one really likes consecutive days of 40C (104F) and sunny. Thankfully it's not gotten much warmer than that in my own part of the world, but I do still envy that blizzard you're all experiencing, or experienced.
As far as updates go, we had a brilliant lesson with Phil and Lynny about the Law of Chastity, and President and Sister Armstrong were present for it. In fact, they did a lot of the teaching, which was fine by me- having been the older, senior missionary for quite a while now, it's nice to be able to remain engaged in the lesson yet let someone else do the talking. Do I sound lazy? I think I'm just tired of hearing my own voice- I talk too much during lessons. I prefer listening, and I think Heavenly Father does as well; just think about how much listening He does compared to actual speaking.
Anyways, Phil and Lynny are excited to continue progressing in their knowledge, but it sounds as though their minds are fixed. Despite the importance of such covenants, I've decided to not concern myself with it. I want them to make their covenants sooner than later, as I should, but I also respect their right to exercise their own freedom of choice and they have chosen to wait. All I can do now is continue to teach as powerfully and sincerely as I can, and the Spirit will do the rest.
We made a trip down to Clare this week. I like Clare because it's very hilly and covered in trees and even has a few orchards; it looks a lot like Mildura in some aspects, which might be why I love it so much. We went to church at the Clare unit which was an interesting experience. There were 20 of total, including the children, which is the most they've ever had there. Mostly because a lot of Port Pirie members came. There was some kind of excitement at the prospect of missionaries going out of their way to attend church in Clare. We thought we'd be gaining a new investigator, but that didn't really happen. Whilst in Clare, we had a good lesson with Alex again, whose missionary mate in the US asked him to wait until the end of the year so that he could baptize him.... (ask me how I feel about that one later; I don't want this to turn into a rant) so we'll be addressing that in, hopefully, a Skype lesson with Alex. It's not conducive to his spiritual progression to have one lesson a month with him, so we're going to attempt to expand our horizons and do something intelligent. But he is just as solid as ever, which is a good thing.
Now what have I been learning recently by way of spiritual nature? My Mum actually sent me something relevant to what I've been learning just as the week was ending, which is in regards to forgiving. 
I had an interesting dream last night, one that involved two very close friends of mine back home. I don't usually pay attention to dreams, but sometimes I feel impressed to, just because I've heard not a few tales of people receiving answers to prayers via dreams. I'll spare some details, but suffice it to say that it sparked some deep thinking. I'm going to end up seeing the family members of at least one of these old mates fairly soon, and I was just envisioning going by and dropping off a gift I procured for them. As this scenario played in my mind, I mused that I would probably be invited in for at least a short time, time enough to share a tale or two of the Never Never (outback, specifically the Outback). And I found myself disliking the idea because this friend in particular and I had a bit of a falling out and I'm still feeling a subtle sting from it; I wasn't partial to remaining in a familiar environment where lots of feelings were developed -that are now a bit damaged- for longer than necessary. And then I opened my scriptures to the very scriptures I had read whilst such a falling out was occurring, in Doctrine and Covenants 112, in which I was exhorted to not be partial in any amount of love displayed, but to love my friend as I love myself (depending on the day, that could be a varying amount of "love") and basically to love all people the same way and forgive.
Forgive. Well... I thought I had managed that already. My friend had never asked for it, but I was hurt, so I had to forgive anyways. But if I couldn't even fathom lingering at my friend's house for longer than a few moments, how could I say I had done any amount of forgiving? I pondered about when terribly bad things happen to others that are brought about by people, and how they were not exempt from forgiving their wrongdoers either; could a victim of abuse wish to forgive, yet desire to never see the transgressor ever again, and still say they forgave completely? Would it be a full forgiveness? I asked myself the question, "Is it possible to forgive, yet feel uncomfortable with the idea of visiting old places that bring about carefully hidden memories that I have no desire to access?"
I'm not sure. It sort of sounds like a grudge has taken hold, and yet I don't desire for anything bad or evil to occur to my friend. I hope my friend is happy, and is experiencing blessings from Heavenly Father and finding joy in every day. But even if I could see my friend upon returning, if it was an available option, how long would it take before I could actually do it, face-to-face? 
It's one of those things where I just need to square my shoulders and face it someday. I don't like being a dying missionary. I have 4 weeks left to soldier on and it seems that as the time passes, I keep getting distracted by various "soon-to-be's", whatever they are. It doesn't help that other missionaries are asking me how it feels (because even I haven't figured that out yet) and if I have any "potentials" or "investigators" that need to be taken to "the mountain of the Lord" in short time, or what it is that I'm going to do, what I'm going to study or what my career path will be. I don't rightly know the answer to any of those questions and sometimes I wish I wasn't asked about it. At the end of the day it doesn't bother me- this is just one of those days. I usually work through it by just concentrating on being where I am in the moment; if I am on my bike headed to a lesson, then that is where my mind is, too. I am currently in a library emailing home, thus that is where I am and am not at the same time... paradox? Hence the torn feelings.
But all is well. As I was driving in the evening hours from Clare back to Port Pirie last night, the sun was blazing in a brilliant display of gold, which splashed with almost liquid-like quality over the scores of harvested wheat fields that splayed over the surrounding hills. The clouds, storm clouds to our aft, were a glorious scene of power and darkness, which contrasted superbly with the blue skies and white, tempered clouds to our left. We were playing a rendition of "Nearer My God to Thee", and I can honestly say that sometimes I feel closest to Heavenly Father when I am immersed in His creations. I have been exceptionally blessed with being able to see a lot more of 'Stralia than your average tourist, and I did the driving, not some trekky. Getting a good glimpse at that scene -storms and calm clashing in the most mild of ways- spelled out an interesting visual lesson that we've all been taught before: God is in control. "All flesh is in my hands; be still, and know that I am God. My ways are higher than your ways, even as my thoughts are higher than your thoughts." That's enough for me to get past all of the uncertainties that lie ahead.
I don't want this to turn into something that just drones on, though, so I think I should stop there on that subject. I am excited to see you all soon, but I'm trying not to get distracted by those thoughts. Something I learned from reading all those military books before I came out is that soldiers start making mistakes just before an operation finishes; they take it easy as their helicopters come in to pick them up, or they let their guard down when they see the armor roll in, and that's when they usually get killed. Relevant to missionary work, I can see the "chopper" coming in- it's up to me to be aware that the "fight" is almost over and I need to get ready for whatever comes next after I get on that chopper, but it is equally important for me to "keep my rifle down range and watch my sector" up until the last second, because if I don't, I might botz it hard.
There's my geek moment for the day, as well- some things don't change ;D
Love you heaps and hug you heaps!
-Elder Schomburg

[The following message arrived about three hours after the one above.  It was titled, "MIRACLES!"]


Okay, sorry so this just happened and I needed to tell you! Phil and Lynny just called up and asked us what more they had to do to be baptized. I explained that we needed to teach them a few more things, and that because they were reading, praying, attending church, and committing to live gospel standards that they were qualified and would be qualified for baptism after their next lessons.
So then Phil asked, "So in order to lock that date in, March 14, we just need to tell you that's the day?" And I said, "Yes, that's it, and we'll take care of the rest in regards to making it a formal baptismal service." Then he asked who could perform it and we told him anyone with the Priesthood could (his mate, President Armstrong, missionaries, members, etc). Then he told us that he and Lynny had just been discussing it and praying about it and there's no need for them to wait. Then he made me feel guilty and said, "You've just been so great, Elder Schomburg, and we want to get baptized before you go home." so I very quickly said, "That shouldn't pressure you though!" and he said, "No, it's time- there just isn't a need to wait and the only thing we'd be waiting for is our friends and they understand." So right now we're looking at March 13!!! Mum, March 13!!!! March 13 because they just texted with some new information, but MARCH 13!!!!
Mum, thank you for your prayers!! Keep praying!!! I'm going to fast like every day this week!!! I'm so excited and nervous and excited out of my mind!!!
-Elder Jeffrey Schomburg

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bounce-Back... Week 99


So, this felt like one of the longer weeks, to be honest. The thing is, these weeks feel like months, and the days feel like weeks, and irregardless of how I perceive time to be passing, it's still passing and the clock is ticking. Anyways, a few updates are in order!

First off, I have decided to title this letter in particular "Bounce-Back" because as we were sitting in transfer meeting, it was announced that I would be training. Elder Prouting was sitting behind me and he casually leaned forward and shook my hand and whispered, "Bounce-back, eh? The bounce-back." and we had a chuckle because trainers are the most trusted missionaries there are. President had already told me he trusted me after a past mistake was made, but this was the physical evidence. That, and President knows that not being distracted and enduring to the end is going to be my struggle, so I need incentive to endure well. All the new missionaries have always asked me with hope in their eyes, "Does waking up at 6:30 ever get easier?" to which I have been swift to say, "No, it never does." and I can honestly say that waking up on time has never been SO. DIFFICULT. That it's not even funny anymore. But my body is quite tired, and my spirit must be quite tired as well- my soul unit is tired, and I've decided that I want a time to relax and sleep when I get home. Not oversleep, but just sleep enough to catch up on all the lost sleep and recuperate from the rigors of missionary life.

Anyways, my companion is Elder Duabe from the Philippines! He is the first missionary companion I've had with whom I need to do language studies, believe it or not, and he's in training, so he needs an extra hour of study in the morning in addition to his hour of language study, which basically means we spend half the day in the flat studying! And he's doing most of the studying! I feel a bit badly for him- all that study is just... too meke'. I've tried to design our days so that we study up until 10AM, work for two hours, eat lunch at 12PM, and come back at 3-5PM for the rest of the studies. We usually eat tea at about 6 or 7PM depending on how the previous day was lined up. The idea is to not get bogged down with too many "to do" list items and be able to actually do missionary work as well.

Because of the slight language barrier, I'm finding that talking openly with him is a bit difficult; I've subconsciously fallen into this habit of not speaking as much because I'm not sure how well he will understand me, and no one wants to be talking to -in essence- the wall. BUT he needs to learn English, so we had a conversation about it last night and we've decided that I just need to speak anyways so he can at least hear the language. We've also decided that I should prioritize teaching him American English as opposed to Aussie English because I speak a mixture of the two, the Aussie's just speak the one and he doesn't understand it yet, so it would be better to speak the version of English that is easier to understand, and that's American English- the Aussie English will come with time.

He's 26, by the way... training him is so strange. He's very humble because I know the language and have been the missionary for longer, but at the same time, I don't really like directing someone who is older than my older brother... ya know? When I was being delivered, he was in Primary School, or whatever the equivalent is in the Philippines.

So about Phil and Lynny. They came to church again, as per the norm (we don't even have to ask them, they've just made it a part of their lives, along with the rest of the gospel). Due to our week-long stay in Adelaide (didn't get back to Port Pirie until Thursday night at 9PM... oh, I should tell you what took place with the driving situation...) we had missed out on teaching them on Tuesday and had to push ourThursday lesson back to Friday. So we showed up on Friday and taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ by using the pamphlet in coordination with reading 2 Nephi 31. Then we asked them if they've put any more thought into when it is exactly that they want to be baptized. They admitted to not having discussed it together, but they both feel as though they're ready, but they want their friend Ben to do it... in April. Nevertheless, we invited them to discuss and pray about it together, even with Ben if they wanted to, and consider March 7th and 14th as possible dates. We explained to them that we had been tracking the lessons on the calendar and that if all went according to plan, they could be baptized on those days. So they said they would talk and pray and discuss and we left it at that.

Now I don't want pressure them more than necessary to be baptized, and I want to do it for the right reason (i.e. delaying covenant making with the Lord is not wise... but worded politely and optimistically), but in my particular situation, it's difficult to do that because it might come across like I just want to baptize them before I come home. That is true, but I know that it's my job to present them with their options and teach the doctrine well enough that they will use their agency correctly, and after that, the rest is up to them and I have to respect their wishes. They've assured us that they want to be baptized, but they just really want Ben to do it. In April. Bugger.

So anyways, after church yesterday, we called them up and asked if we could come by to fix Elder Duabe's bike (Phil has a bit of a homemade bike shop in his car park that he told us we could use at anytime if we needed it). I know it was the Sabbath, but it was a case of "the ox is in the mire" and you have a lot of that as a missionary; the bike needed to be fixed and Sunday afternoon was the only time that was going to work with them. So we walked up and Phil patched the tube- we would've done it, and we actually tried to the night before, but we didn't do it correctly. He had the thing patched in ten minutes, only because the glue had to dry. As he patched the tube, he took the opportunity to ask some questions unrelated to lesson content. He asked us what we used when we first approached people to talk to them about our faith, and we basically taught him how to do missionary work. You see, he has older children from a past marriage that he wants to get involved in the gospel, but he doesn't know how to share it with them. Then he brought up baptism, and it's only been a day and a half since we talked about it, and he said (paraphrasing), "I'm really actually pretty keen to be baptized in March; I don't see why we should be waiting, we're both ready for it. I haven't told Lynny yet, and it's just that we have a tremendous amount of respect for Ben, you see, but I don't think he would mind us going forward with it in March. But we'll see what Lynny says about it."

Well, here's Lynny's standpoint: the night we taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, she said that she's finding more and more reason for not putting it off, and that she would be largely in favor of being baptized in March... but she also doesn't want to offend Bishop Ben by having the ordinance performed by someone else. Fair enough. But she was more keen to be baptized in March than Phil was. He switched her thinking pretty easily, though (sly dog) and by the end of that night they were both willing to pray and discuss it further, but were mostly decided on April with Ben. Bugger.

Now you might all be thinking, "Wow, Elder Schomburg is just a selfish missionary for wanting them to be baptized sooner." You wouldn't be wrong; I can honestly admit that I would REALLY REALLY REALLY LOVE TO SEE THEM GET BAPTIZED BEFORE I GO HOME!!!! But it's like I said, my job is to simply teach the doctrine and help them to use their agency righteously. Now I understand that they really want their friend Ben to do it, and who wouldn't? And being as solid as they are, why shouldn't they get to wait until April when Bishop Ben could do it?

All we did was explain the dangers of doing so.

1) An apex of progression will be met before March 7th, most likely, in which they will cease to progress in their knowledge and spirituality because they will have been taught everything they need to know before baptism and confirmation, and there will be nothing more to aim for because they'll be keeping all the commitments they can be before being baptized and confirmed. They will in essence be living a gospel-centered life, doing all the "Need to Do" things, but be lacking in a very crucial ordinance of baptism and confirmation, the gateway to progressing towards accessing more of Heavenly Father's blessings (i.e. temple marriage and sealing as a family [one of their main objectives]).

2) The more time spent outside of making covenants with the Lord, yet having a knowledge about them, the more time Satan is left to tempt, try, and pull them towards unrighteous living. We pointed out that Satan was going to do everything he could to distract them from being baptized, regardless of when that was going to take place (March or April). They even admitted that they could see Satan working on them- small tiffs after church turned into arguments, and even with just our postponed absence from them because of being in Adelaide, they mentioned that they could see a slight spiritual decline. They even slacked on their scriptures and prayers, which was absolutely jaw-dropping to me. To be honest, they seemed almost a bit anxious about us not being able to see them as regularly planned because of our absence in Adelaide. But they did notice the spiritual decline, and that is because Satan HATES what they are doing, with all the power of thirty raging suns... it sounded cool in my head.

3) With those times of spiritual decline mounting up, eventually they will get to the point where they find other ways of spending their time that seem to make more sense to them than building an eternal family. That's when Satan has got them- when they become so distracted from fulfilling their goal that they never accomplish it.

And these are the things we warned them of. We did so in a way that was not designed to scare, intimidate, or scorn, but rather, to inform and warn, as is part of an evangelist's mandate as put forth by Paul. They assured us that they wouldn't let that happen... but they did admit that they wanted to be baptized sooner than later.

So we'll see where it all goes.

For now, I've got to go.  This is the mission life! xD

Love you all heaps, let me know how you are please =D

-eLdEr ScHoMbUrG