Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year!... Week 40

G'day all!
This day finds me feeling exceptionally well, for the time being- we'll see how long it lasts in my life of ever changing environments. XD First off, Christmas in Adelaide was splendid, and as per the usual, I was proven wrong and the thing I was anxious about doing was actually quite enjoyable. We spent two days with our host companionship, Elder T (my MTC comp) and Elder K, his green (3 months) companion from Utah... let me tell you about Christmas in Adelaide!
We arrived in Adelaide on Tuesday, got settled in with Elders T and K, did a bit of proselyting, and then came home. We spent the night watching "Joy to the World" and signing Christmas hymns. The next morning, we practiced our skit one last time, had a thing called Morning Sport, and then went to the Christmas event/party. There, all the zones and districts put on their skits, and there were some that were brilliant and others that were not so brilliant. Fortunately for us, no one could stop talking about "Mildura Time" as our skit was so named. It was just a song about the "Stress Level Colours" with various role-plays thrown in, and it was designed to mimic a children's show called "Play School". As ridiculous as we looked, the laughter and applause was booming, so we must've done a good job, as we should have.
We then listened to a few elders and sisters sing songs, and it was overall a spiritual event. When it finished, our zone leaders distributed the packages the office had been withholding for Christmastime, and I was surprised when I received a package from home AND from the Sperry's, which was full of all sorts of goodies and letters from the Relief Society. It's share and share alike with missionaries, so upon returning to the flat, the four of us dished out our various treats. Poor Elder K kept wanting to trade us for things, particularly his Salt Lake Temple recommend holder for Elder P's New Zealand MTC holder (and there are only a few hundred of those around) and my Denver temple one. I felt bad for him- everything he has is from Utah, and everything Mormon from Utah is a dime a dozen, therefore diminishing the value of his "trading" items severely. He didn't get a whole lot out of us... That night we went to bed earlier than on Christmas Eve and we drove for 8 hours back to Broken Hill the following day. 
I also got to call home! It was SO good to hear everyone's voices! Apparently I have an accent that I didn't know I had developed because I sound as American as ever, at least to myself I do, but lo and behold! The Aussie accent (whatever that is) is mine! I can come home now (jokes, jokes)! It was great to hear from everyone and I want everyone to know that my family has truly beautiful voices. As per the usual, I thought of lots to talk about after the call... but what can you do?
For New Years we're staying in our flat! Whoohoo! But that's okay because Elder P and I are pretty tight and we can have a good time together, so we might just throw ourselves a party and watch Mormon movies and write letters and sing hymns and whatever else it is that we can find for ourselves to do.
Anyways, I am short on time and must now be off. I love you all heaps! Happy New Year!
-Elder Schomburg

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas!!!... Week 39

G'day all!

[Written Monday 12-23-13]

Merry Christmas from Down Under!!! I still don't know when I'm going to call! Which is frustrating for us Americans and Europeans- we aren't like the majority of Islander and Aussie and Kiwi missionaries here, meaning we can't just call home and only be a few hours apart. In fact, when I call home, it might just be 3AM in Colorado and no one will pick up. What a bummer that would be! I'm trying to contain some of these frustrated emotions because I know that Mum will want to know when I'm calling. I don't know.

I'm in Mildura right now- we caught the bus down from Broken Hill, so we're here for the rest of today, and then we'll drive down to Adelaide tomorrow. I'll get to drive as well, probably- I'm just the secondary backup driver in case our primary driver, Elder T, falls asleep. Hopefully he won't fall asleep while we're driving, but if he does, we're still in good hands ;D

Broken Hill was really hot this past week; 42-43C are the highs that I heard.  I know that it rained last night and into the morning, which dropped the temperatures in Broken Hill. Unfortunately I won't be sticking around to enjoy the rare and wet weather of my area because I'm going to Adelaide tomorrow. There we will perform a 13-minute skit in front of probably 60-odd missionaries (that I just learned this morning), eat some food, watch a movie approved by President Carter, and probably call home. To be frank, I don't expect my call to even take place for a number of reasons: 1) it's just my luck that these type of things don't run smoothly or work out as they should, [We call this attitude the "Happy Meal Toy Syndrome" around here - never did Jeffrey ever get a Happy meal toy that wasn't broken, while the other children's toys were always just fine. :)] 2) everyone wants to Skype and I don't know how that functions and it is not in keeping with the Schomburg tradition of phone calls only, so naturally I do not want to Skype, and 3) I don't even know what time I'm supposed to call, which makes me mad, mostly because my Mum and my family now have a very decreased chance at hearing my voice at all until Mother's Day, which is not as far away but still far enough that a phone call for Christmas would be highly desired.

[After numerous e-mails between the mission office and me, and a call or two from the mission office to Elder Schomburg's host companions in Adelaide, a plan was finally established for his Christmas phone call.  While it was almost 2 hours later than expected, after 4 failed attempts, the call finally came through at 4:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve our time/day - it was 11:00 a.m. on Christmas morning for Elder Schomburg. It was a wonderful call! He sounds very happy and healthy and almost like an Aussie! :) ]

Aside from my frustrations about traveling and not having call information, we had a fairly good week. We did two service projects in 41-42C weather, removing desert shrub from in front of a less active's house (my hat actually started to droop and become deformed because the sun was beating on it so hard). I've finally become fed up enough with a tooth infection of unknown characteristics to tell someone about it so that I can go to a dentist and not have to resort to using an ice-skate and a rock (even though that's probably what they're going to use here in Aussieland), and we set two more baptismal dates! You'll never guess who, either! K, who is a friend of Sister P's, and (drum roll) D! Our first lesson with her since the Christmas party was exceptionally awkward for Elder P and me, but we were able to overcome that personal barrier and invite her to be baptized on the 11th of January! Whoohoo!!! Please include her in your prayers- she has some challenges to overcome. If any of you are going to the temple, chuck their names in please! [I will put their names in at the temple since we do our best to try to keep some anonymity here in the blog.] The temple... man, it's been a few days shy of 9 months since I've been to the temple, and it'll be a bit longer still... blarg.

Anyways, as I was wondering what spiritual something to impart to you all this Christmas season, I didn't want to end up just running my mouth or ranting (as is the norm, but habits are meant to be broken), so I thought I might just keep it simple. It's not Christmas for me yet but it will be shortly, and to be honest I've been so busy that it's really just snuck up on me (I didn't start "counting the days" until the 21st). As I pondered over the fact that this will be my first Christmas away from home, and that I will be missing out on a lot of things (Mum's cooking, get together parties, Christmas light dates, putting up the tree and things of the sort) I found myself trying to detach myself from all of those things and trying to focus more on the true meaning of Christmas (not that I don't love the things I listed... those are really good family bonding opportunities and therefore are divinely appointed). We all know what that is- Christ's birth. There is one simple truth that remains around Christmastime- a Saviour was born to us 2,013 years ago, and because such an event occurred, we have the precious opportunity of being able to return to live with Christ and our Father in Heaven in the Celestial Kingdom.

This Christmas, because I'm fairly removed from the "getting" part of Christmas, I have more time to focus on the "giving" and that is, after all, what should be the focus anyways. Christ gave His all- should we not do the same for each other? This Christmas I've decided that my gift to Christ and Heavenly Father -because They have given me, and continue to give me, SO much- is more consecrated, more obedient missionary service. It's the most I can give right now. It dawned on me the other day that my mission will not last forever- I will come home someday, and that day is getting easier to see. I can "see" my halfway mark, and when you've reached that halfway mark, you've crested the hill, and you can see the bottom of it. You can't go backwards, though; you must go down the hill. I've almost crested the hill, and when I do, time will be short indeed. I've been wondering recently if I've done what the Father wanted me to do thus far, or if I've spent most of my mission looking forward to when I would be able to look down the hill. Such thoughts scared me, and I'm not very proud to say that it just now clicked in my thick skull that I only have ONE mission, and that this ONE chance in eternity to serve the Father with all I've got is RAPIDLY depleting. I want the Father to be able to say, "Yes, Elder Schomburg did well in his service to me and my children." This is why I've promised to serve harder, to be more obedient, and to be more consecrated. What are you going to give the Saviour and Heavenly Father this Christmas?

Giving is better anyways- maybe it's just a change of heart, but I've found that I like giving people things more than getting them. I may have learned this as a missionary only because you don't get very much (the P's and Q's presented us with... presents however and I love them a lot, by the way), but regardless, it's taught me to be a bit more giving and a bit less selfish, and I think it makes people more happy when you give (yourself included). But that's just my opinion.

I've got to go now, but I love you all heaps!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good couple of days cos it's not Christmas yet!
-Elder Schomburg

Monday, December 16, 2013

All Quiet on the Outback Front...Week 38

G'day brothers and sisters, friends and family!
As the title (and I seem to be running out of creative ideas) may have implied, it is very quiet in Broken Hill as of now. We received transfer information last night- Elder P and I are staying in Broken Hill! I was extremely excited when I heard this because I love my companion, who (I know I shouldn't have favourites) is probably my favourite companion thus far, and I love this area and I love the members and I love being a missionary out here! So I was just elated to get that information!! This week there was a Christmas party at church (Elder P and I were the ones who set it up... that took two days...) and we actually had more people come to the party than to church- parties (appropriate parties) are the way to go. They allow us to meet people, get to know them on a social level, and then they become interested in hearing about the gospel. I wish we could do more things like that but there just isn't enough man-power. If the members were young and youthful we'd be well off, but they are not as young nor as youthful. 

The P's also had their break-out session (they run a sheep-shearing business) so we helped them to put that together as well. I wish I could say we were able to socialize and get to know people and invite them to church, but it's difficult to talk sense to those who are inebriated. Two of our female investigators were more interested in in flirting and inappropriate conversation with us, so needless to say, we told President that we needed to leave and we were promptly taken home. Ah, the joys of being in Satan's playground. We also went to a caroling thing last night at Stuart Park, in which probably the whole of Broken Hill assembled to sing Christmas songs, many of which were hymns. Elder P and I stuck around long enough to listen to them change sacred hymns with modified lyrics that took meaning away from the hymn and long enough to be seen by everyone, then we left the party and went home. Now all of Broken Hill knows we exist- there is no way everyone in this town has not at least seen us. Now we just have to tell them what we're all about.
What a blessed week it was though! At church there were around 30 attendees, Sister C being one of them (turns out that all the talk of her grave illness was just Small Town Syndrome kicking in again). There were also 6 young women in attendance, which brought our total youth class numbers to 7 -that is 5 more youth than the usual- (do the math- there was one lucky young man with all those young women ;D), and two of our official investigators came. At least half in attendance were members of a part-member family, but not members of the church, and people we had not been teaching. Unfortunately many of them still don't want to take the discussions, but that is hardly of any concern at this time- so long as they come to church, the desire to learn will come when it comes. Elder P gave a talk this week directed for the youth, and Sister D then gave a talk on pride. She listed heaps of things that stem from pride, and I don't think there was a single person in that Sacrament meeting that didn't feel at least a little bit of necessary pinching (I know I did, but it was a good pinch). She sort of cheated though, because half of her talk was based off of an apostle's talk, which she ended up reading. XD
Overall, everything is well in Broken Hill. I'm actually sort of excited to show up in Adelaide for Christmas, mostly because I've twisted my thinking enough that I want to keep a tally of how much "New Guy" treatment I get, and I'm excited to see the looks of shock that will undoubtedly accompany their faces after I reveal that it's almost been 9 months. For the most part, our teaching is slowing down and we're scraping the bottom of the bucket for things to do, though, so that is why I say it's all quiet out here.
In Broken Hill, I'm isolated and virtually alone and only a companion away from being physically on my own, which is the way I like it (doesn't that sound anti-social). Honestly though, there's just a bit more adventure out here and it keeps you on your toes when you don't have 4-6 other missionaries right at your fingertips to help you out. Being out here requires you to learn to lean on the Lord instead of others- A great example of a solid "loner" would be Moroni- after the Nephites were destroyed, he was on his own. If he did not have the relationship he did with Heavenly Father, and was reliant on social belonging to function, he might have abandoned the plates that contained the Book of Mormon, and he might have decided that it was better to be a Lamanite. There's also Joseph of Egypt- had he needed social inclusion to function, he would have straight up laid with Potipher's wife, he would have switched to worshipping Egyptian gods, and he would have adopted all of their customs. And what about Jesus Christ? If He had relied on being socially included, He might have decided that He didn't want to be the Only Begotten, and He might have adopted Roman gods and even sought after Roman citizenship- such would have made him VERY popular indeed, and virtually untouchable. (I am thankful that He didn't do that!)
I am not saying that anyone should go and live under a rock for the rest of their lives and shun being sociable- that is definitely defying God's commandments, but relying on social standing can be dangerous.  The only person we should be solely dependent upon is our Heavenly Father- we should be our own person. I am my own man- I make my own choices, I do what I want to do, I have my agency, and the only one who I allow to hold any sway on what I do is Heavenly Father. I have the utmost respect for my Mum and Dad because they have always recognized that I was going to do what I wanted to do regardless of what anyone said, but in saying that, they have always been an honest source of guidance and direction. The trust and freedom they gave me ultimately helped me to turn out a better person.  I think that was because I respected my parents more because of the way they chose to raise me, and therefore I was more prepared to listen and learn from them, and more willing to do so, as well. 

In my opinion, marriage and family is a good example of what a healthy social circle is, assuming it is a good marriage. Within marriage, two people have the opportunity to grow, learn, improve themselves, and learn to be a little less selfish and a little more giving. The same comes with raising children, and the children must learn this same humility. This is a good social environment because the good that results from it is more than just self-satisfaction. Marriage requires sacrifice, family requires sacrifice, and sacrifice requires heaps of love.
My social standing is usually that of loner because I choose not to do what everybody else does. Standing up for what I believe in has not -and is still not- very popular, and immediately limits my potential number of friends. My code of conduct is the Lord's code- I am not perfect in following it, but I try my very best and strive to follow it perfectly. I may be the only person who knows that I followed my code when I refused to do this or that, or in some cases, refused not to do this or that, but ultimately that's okay. Where no one else will know of my actions, that in the moment of testing I stayed true to what I believe in, there is one who will always know, and that is our Father in Heaven, and in the last days, before the judgment bar of Christ, all things shall be made known. 
I didn't think I'd go on that tangent and I hope it all made sense, but that's about all I've got to say this week. I'm sure there will be more exciting things next week, and they will be very Christmas-oriented. =D
Love you heaps!
-Elder Schomburg 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Back Against the Wall Sipping Rootbeer... Week 37

G'day all!

This day finds me well enough- this past week has been the roughest one we've had in Broken Hill thus far. Investigators either fell through, fell off the face of the earth, or left town on family/holiday business. All of our "Old Faithfuls" or older members who always come seem to have fallen ill. Needless to say, attendance at church was the lowest it's been since I've been here, almost as low as it was when it was just Brother C and the P's, and that was about 5 months ago (I haven't lost track of time- I wasn't here during that time). Anyways, with no one to teach and our less actives out of town or wherever they were in the world, Elder P and I accomplished next to nothing! I would be frustrated and angered by this; in fact, I am somewhat, but I also know that we did what we knew to do. We could probably do that better, and we're going to this week, but I can't be too angry with myself because I know I did my part.

There are rumors going around that the Mildura Zone is going to be sent south for Christmas in Adelaide. I don't want to leave. As a new missionary, I was very impressionable, so when I experienced my first Zone Meeting in Tennessee, with about 30-40 other missionaries, I was very shocked and rudely awakened to the fact that I had no friends in that mission. Elder F had better friends than me, so he favoured their company more (I don't blame him), so consequently I was left feeling very friendless and without very many conversational buddies- in fact, if it had been a YSA dance, I would've been the guy with his back against the wall sipping rootbeer by the snack bar.

I had higher hopes when I arrived in Australia because I was no longer a visa-waiter, so I was hoping to find a place I belonged. Then I went straight to Darwin, with only nine other missionaries. I had a good laugh when I came south because -if I recall correctly- I had been out for almost 6 months at that time, and I was getting all the "new guy" treatment from elders who had been out for hardly 3 months. Again, I found myself without very many friends- all the older missionary friends I made "died" [finished their missions and gone home] and everyone else -once again- had better, closer friends than me. I found myself with my back against the wall sipping rootbeer by the snack bar, again. I was hopeful that I would be sent to serve somewhere within the city, with more missionaries around BECAUSE that way I would get to know more people and actually have an opportunity to make my own circle of friends. We're not missionaries to make friends, I know, but I'm here for two years and even if they come and go it's still good to have friends. Then I was sent to Broken Hill (which I do love), but it's me and Elder P out here, and our entire Zone has only ever been assembled once.

I am certain that when I go back south for Christmas, and if I end up being transferred there (Dec. 17th will be transfers) I will again find myself with my back against the wall, sipping rootbeer by the snack bar. One could argue that it's my own fault that I'm "that guy" BUT on the contrary. If it were possible at all to mingle and get to know other missionaries, I would have, HOWEVER, everyone has better friends already, so they don't want to take any time to get new ones (like me) SO there you have it; I don't like being in large gatherings [herein lies the root of Elder Schomburg's issue] of missionaries, and I'm certain I will be thrown into one very soon. I'd rather have Christmas with the P's or the Q's, but I don't think it's in the cards for me. BUT I hate pity parties so if it at all sounds like I've thrown myself one, I'll ask you all to leave now because the party is over. XD I'm just a bit homesick at the moment :) I can't imagine being a new missionary and coming out right around Christmastime, though. There are probably heaps of greenies that are going to need a warm smile and firm handshake, so I'll be sure to back them up if I see any. I didn't really get that treatment and I know how it feels to be without any friends in the world, and I wouldn't wish that upon anyone, so I'll be there for them.

We're always asked as missionaries "What is the Lord teaching you today/this week?" so perhaps I'll just share that. This week, the Lord has taught me that when you do good things, you will feel good. Likewise, when you do not do good things, you will not feel good. Story time (please refrain from unrighteous judgments- I get them a lot BUT I don't need any from anyone back home so... just listen and realize that I am as far from a perfect missionary as humanly possible):

Friday in Broken Hill was "Smash the Elders" day. It really only started during the evening, but as Elder P and I walked down Chloride St., we found that everyone we said "hello" to gave us a menacing look and continued on. Normally we'll get very nice return greetings (until we bring up religion) and there will usually be a nasty one every two hours or so, sometimes more frequently. These are easy to recover from with practice. We stopped in at KFC (very popular over here) and had a quick dinner. Some nasty music was playing, with an accompanying music video that I think many would be appalled to see in the States (Aussie's don't really sensor anything... not very much anyways). With our meal down our stomachs and the Spirit driven away, we departed the KFC and decided to try to regain his companionship. We started down Chloride again, saying "hi" and waving and trying to contact people. It was fruitless and we received many glares. This was really unusual. Then, as we crossed various streets, we noticed that the drivers (some anyway, three that I remember) seemed to be trying to hit us, or at least run over our toes. Again, this was highly unusual for this area, but in the end I wasn't overly surprised that it was happening. With our spirits a bit low and feeling a little stepped on, Elder P and I continued towards Argent St., the main street of Broken Hill. We didn't have anything or anyone to see, so we figured we'd try to do some contacting.

As we made our way to Argent St., a silver Hilux with the words "Snap On" printed on the rear windscreen drove past. It was occupied by three teenage boys. As it went past, one of them shouted out a derogatory term at us. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. Elder P shouted out a simple "Hey!?" in question form (like they do here), and we hastened our walk. We were still on Chloride when we saw them take a left on Argent. There were only two possibilities of where they were going: it was either down Argent to their house where they were undoubtedly going to start gaming all night, or to Hungry Jack's (Burger King but... better...). I was not led by the Spirit as I came to the conclusion that three teenage boys in a truck were going to go to Hungry Jack's before going back to start gaming. So Elder P and I hastened our walk and eventually came to rest at a shop across the way from Hungry Jack's. The Hilux wasn't in the parking lot, so we deduced that they were in the drive-thru, though we could not visibly see them.

Sure enough, the silver Hilux pulled around the corner and up to the window after about five minutes of waiting. Elder P and I quickly identified it, and to the horror of the teenagers, they quickly identified us. The driver focused on driving- his eyes were hidden behind shades anyways, but the co-pilot and the one in the back were without sunglasses. The co-pilot then decided to try and stare us down. Elder P and I stared back. At this point in the unspoken communication that often times occurs between young males, it was their move- Elder P and I had done our part in extending a "challenge" simply by having pursued and tracked them down. In other words, we had basically said, "Come- let us fight." Now it was their move. Had they been more than talk, they would have parked the Hilux in a convenient place, jumped out of the car, and started a brawl with us (such is the Aussie/Kiwi/Islander way). As it turned out, they drove onto Argent, again going to the left, and the passenger flipped us the birdie. We made to look as if we were going to pursue them again, but we knew it was over. Elder P and I both felt good at first- there were at least three young men in Broken Hill that would no longer look at us like a pair of push-overs. However, as we began our walk home, our feelings of victory became rather hollow as we recognized the standard we had lowered ourselves to. A better man would have let it go and a bitter taste entered my mouth as I thought to myself, "You are not the better man."

That night I was in fervent conversation with my Father in Heaven, mostly asking for forgiveness and explaining in detail the extent of my thoughts on the whole matter. The next morning, as I prayed before I read my scriptures (something I had become a bit lax on, having traded that time for catching up in my journal), I felt the same hollow feelings. Then I began to read. For the life of me I cannot remember what I read specifically- it was within the Book of Mosiah. Regardless, I felt good-I was doing something I'd neglected the past two days, and where I didn't pick out anything particular to my situation, I still learned from the scriptures and was able to take some notes and mark some scriptures that will help me in later teaching. Thus I have learned a few things from the whole scenario, but overall I learned this: when I do good things, I feel good, and when I do bad things, I feel bad. I like feeling good more, and in the end, "all good comes from God" so if I feel genuinely good about something, it must be God-given, thus reading scriptures is God-given, and tracking down a silver Hilux with the intent of making a statement does not make me feel genuinely good, so it must not be from God, and anything that is not of God is of something else, and no matter what origin, stems from the roots of Satan.

I'm sorry if this wasn't as uplifting as it could've been- sometimes it is difficult to wear a smile 24/7, BUT I'll have you all know that I am well and am in the hands of the Lord. He loves me and is watching out for me; He wants my happiness and what is best for me. Again, sometimes the easy road is not the road the Lord would have us take, but in the end we will thank Him for the experience.

I love you all heaps! Remember to keep smiling even if you don't want to!!!
-Elder Schomburg

Christmas-time is often a difficult time for missionaries who are far from home - homesickness sets in and Satan does his best to turn those moments of weakness into feelings of despair and anger.  Please consider taking a moment to send Elder Schomburg an uplifting card or note letting him know that he is loved and thought about and that he does have friends back home.  While the reach of the Savior's love is infinite, sometimes it takes angels on earth to help someone feel it.  Thank you!

Elder Jeffrey Scott Schomburg
Australia Adelaide Mission
P.O. Box 97
Marden, SA 5070

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Work, Work, Work! ...Week 36

G'day from Aussie-land!

This week has certainly been an interesting one. To start off, it's been very hot recently. I've decided that humid heat and dry heat cannot be compared; in Darwin, I felt as though I was being deep fried whenever I walked out of the flat, but in Broken Hill, it feels as though my skin is going to start boiling as soon as it's touched by sun rays, and the wind is hot- I likened it to being baked in an oven with the fan on. Either way, it's not going to get any cooler so there's no use in complaining about it. As far as teaching goes, we didn't do very much of it this week, at least not as much as we have done in the past. We did, however, do a number of service projects, but I only really remember the main two.

We started Thursday off at Sister F's- we had wanted to get a lesson in with A, but she was going on to a sleep over party, so instead we asked if Sister F needed any service. She did, so we dressed out, went to her place, and started sorting out some rubbish that we eventually took to the tip. It was getting a bit windy and the day had started with a sunny, blue sky that had now been blanketed by a thin, grey cloud cover. We finished at the tip and were dropped off at our next service project with one Sister M, an inactive sister whom we had not heard of nor knew existed. 

Sister M was moving- she had just sold her home and was going to move in with her partner. When we saw how small he was (skin and bones) it became clear to us why she needed our help. We started to load up a trailer with everything that she wanted taken to the tip when a dust storm came out of nowhere. We finished loading the trailer and then took the first load to the tip- it was extremely dusty and windy, and we spent half the time dodging pieces of rubbish and debris that were flying around aimlessly. We repeated this twice, as she had two loads for the tip. We also had to take a load of her ex-partner's things to his house where it was obvious that we weren't expected. The bad thing about this was that I had lost my badge at the tip, so I basically looked like a YSA [Young Single Adult] on splits with a missionary (Elder P). My lack of a badge made it difficult for me to actually explain who I was. 

After that really awkward adventure, we took yet another trailer load of things to Sister M's mum's place. Sister M(sr) did not say hello even after we did, and refused to talk to us missionaries entirely. We finished unloading the gear, went back to Sister M's, and she began to ready one more load for her new place. She knew she had expired our services however (we had a tea date set for later that evening and the time was quickly approaching), so we grabbed our gear -and 80 kilos of food- and they dropped us off at our flat. We rummaged through the food and ended up discarding almost all of it, as it was all expired and had dates like "Best by November 2011" and to be honest, we weren't willing to put that down our bellies.

So that was how that went. But wait, there's more! Brother C went down to Adelaide recently to help a friend of his and her two sons move from that area to Broken Hill. Upon arriving, she immediately took up the lessons with us missionaries, and was keen on learning more. Brother C had already been sharing the gospel with her so she had a basic understanding, which made teaching her easier. We had a very spiritual first lesson and gave her a blessing of comfort, and the next lesson we were able to teach her about the Book of Mormon and even set a baptismal date for the 21st of this month with her. Then she got away for a day and ended up reading some anti-Mormon material. At first she was going to pull out, but we were extremely blessed to have the P's with us- Sister P talked to her, cut out all of the fluff and basically told her that we were trying to save her life from what it has been. So, she is still keen on learning and has stuck to what she knows- she knows she has felt the Spirit and she knows that what she has felt from us teaching her is good and something that she needs. She now wants us to also start teaching her children. She didn't come to church because she slept in, but she is still keen. Even so, keep her in your prayers please, because she does need backup.

Aside from all that, it's been a fairly uneventful week. I was glad to hear that people are enjoying the blog and that it's being shared in the RS newsletter sometimes and things of the sort -that knowledge has helped me more or less filter out what is worth saying and what is not. I had a good laugh the other day- before I left on my mission, I was telling Mum that I was going to go into detail concerning the area and describe the physical aspects of missionary work as much as I could. As it is, I find myself talking more of spiritual happenings for the most part, and I think that's probably how it should be. The physical aspects and the actual "What Missionaries Do" goes into my journal, and that will be published somewhere someday, so anyone who wants that will have to wait a bit. As a missionary, I have to do missionary things, even concerning those back home. It's been fun to write home and relate the lessons I've been learning to everyone else because, in a way, it's sort of like doing missionary work from here all the way over where all of yous are, and that's pretty cool. Some missionaries have tried to tell me that what I send home isn't going to affect anyone in the long run, but from what I've been told, I'm inclined to think that they're wrong about that. It's very humbling to know people are sharing the words I write with others, and just so long as good comes from it, that's fine. I've probably got to thank my mother for more than a few things concerning the blog, though- she edits out the wrathful feelings on those days where something has just rubbed me the wrong way, so I end up sounding nicer than I am. XD

Speaking of wrath (here we go XD), we had an interesting lesson on Sunday in Priesthood (Brother C passed the Sacrament and little RQ received the Aaronic Priesthood btw). Brother P lost his scriptures and everything else he usually uses for preparing lessons, so he pulled some statistics out of a newspaper and read the headlines for us (not as funny as Jay Leno's, unfortunately). One said, "Kids get Adult Only TV" and another article was about the rising number of single-parented families and how many children are born out of wedlock. Oh yes, also the Atheist Church in Adelaide will be holding their first meeting this Sunday (ironic). All of these things are pretty depressing, and it seemed as though the lesson was going that way for a time, and as it did, the job I have as a missionary seemed to get bigger and bigger. I wasn't worried though- I've been blessed with the truth, a very rare and scarce thing to find in this day and age, and I've been blessed with the opportunity to spread it and teach it to those who think they're living the good life. That's been the hardest thing as a missionary, so far- listening to people tell you that they're happy, and yet they have no idea what true happiness really consists of. That's been the most frustrating thing, as well- how do you tell someone who believes they are happy that they really are not as happy as they could be? I'll figure that one out later, when I have my scriptures in hand.

I have to go now, but don't forget how blessed we are to have the truth, and the fullness of the gospel restored to us in these last days. If you know the truth, share the truth. If you don't know the truth, ask God about it- He is no respecter of persons and will answer any sincere prayer, so long as action is behind the desire for knowledge.

I love you all heaps and I hope you have a glorious week!
-Elder Schomburg

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Week of Learning... Week 35

G'day from down under!
First off, I just want to congratulate Elizabeth on her performance-best musical production ever is what I heard. That's awesome! What an amazing experience and opportunity! It was cool to look at pictures of Elizabeth with her fan club, signing things and whatnot- that is cool =D What an awesome little sister I have! She's not so little anymore, but she always will be to me. XP 

Mrs. Anna and fans

Mrs. Anna, King, and children

Hello Young Lovers

This week I was also blessed to have a Thanksgiving dinner at Sister D's- she used American recipes and cooked up almost all the traditional Thanksgiving meals there are (she forgot the cranberries, BUT she did have them- just didn't cook them XD) and it all tasted amazing! My American taste buds were overjoyed, and the funny thing is that most of the things she cooked were using Aussie ingredients. They must've doubled the amounts of sugar in everything though, because Aussie sugar is weak as. So that was cool, and probably the only time I'll get that on my mission. The only thing that was missing was a game of grid-iron playing in the background, and the usual Halo ads (Bungie always seems to time their new games near Thanksgiving time). But that's alright because the food (and the quality thereof) was lovely.
This week has been relatively quiet as far as missionary work is going- it's kind of hit and miss in Broken Hill. But we've got a good week planned and we're hoping to start teaching heaps of people. The members here are keen as to do missionary work, and President Paewai told us the other day that he didn't want us to have any time to do any tracting. We've already filled up this evening and all of Tuesday with teaching appointments and hosting FHE [Family Home Evening] with a few families the Paewai's want to introduce to the gospel.
I think the most spiritual thing that happened this week was probably at church. Our recent converts weren't there, our only investigator A who is 10, so she was in Primary. Not exactly wanting to go into the Gospel Doctrine, Elder P and I opted to help Sister Q teach her Sunday school class, just to mix it up a bit. Unfortunately, the only ones in that class are Sister Q and her daughter E (13). Well we sat in, not really teaching but more so learning from Sister Q, and then K (a recent convert) stepped in as well (surprise), and it was actually a really good lesson. We talked about choosing a life motto -something to turn to and live by in times of duress- and we ended up doing a simple maze activity, but it was revelatory for me.
The maze began at "Birth", eventually led to "Fulfilling the purpose of life" and ended at "Death" (the lesson had been oriented around the Plan of Salvation with the focus on Mortality). I eyed over it briefly, found a path that would roughly get me from point A to B to C, and then attacked it. The surprising thing was that I was often times on the path I had eyed out, but was surprised when the maze took me in a completely different direction. I didn't hit any dead ends, but definitely didn't go the original direction I had planned out. Eventually I did complete the maze. So what does this have to do with anything?
Revelation for me comes during the most mundane activities, I'm finding, such as doing something so small and trivial as a maze activity, but I did get this out of it; as we strive to live gospel standards, and stay on the strait and narrow, sometimes we go through paths that we do not anticipate. The more I pondered about it, the more the revelation came. This one thought stuck out to me, though: "You don't always go the direction you think you need to go to get where you want to be, but you'll still get there." That is SO true! I thought about it and decided that there have been a number of times in which I had the finish line in sight, so to speak, and ended up taking a much different, and very little anticipated path. I did not see myself going through Tennessee to get to Australia, but I still got here. I knew I was going to mature and grow on the mission, but I did not think that I would have to go through so many varieties of trials to get to where I am, and I doubt that I'm actually going to take the path that I can "see" as I continue on in the service of the Lord.. The path we want to take is often not the path that we are going to take, and that is ultimately because Heavenly Father knows that even if we did end up where we want to be by going our own way, His way -while it is probably not the easier way- will leave us feeling more satisfied and with more knowledge and experience gained than if we had taken our own path.
I might also mention that this morning -via conference call- we were given a training by our Area 70, Elder Hamulla(sp?). He mentioned some things that really helped me with prayer. For the past couple of nights I've been in prayer with my Father in Heaven, and I haven't been receiving many answers. I had evaluated my questions to make sure they were relevant to me or those I was in connection with, answerable, and to make sure an answer would benefit me or others in some way, missionary work or personal. I evaluated my own worthiness to receive one such an answer and did not find any flaw that would disqualify me for receiving revelation. Why was I not receiving any answers then? I didn't challenge my Father in Heaven and ask Him why He was withholding answers, because I've learned thus far that everything happens for a reason, and Heavenly Father KNOWS what He is doing, and if He didn't see fit to answer my prayers, I'm sure I was supposed to be learning something. Elder Hamulla put it like this (paraphrasing and poetic licence have been claimed): "Sometimes -even though we're worthy and our question is one that is worthy of an answer from God- we don't receive an answer. That isn't because you aren't worth answering, or because God didn't hear you- He just wants you to use your intellect and reasoning skills. In other words, Heavenly Father is telling you that He trusts your judgment." What a humbling, if not indirect, answer to my own prayers!
I felt extremely humbled after I heard that, because the Spirit made it manifest to me that Heavenly Father was doing that exact thing with me. Ultimately things were going to work out in whatever category, regardless of the action I took, or Heavenly Father knew that I was going to make the right call. Either way, that is humbling, and just made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, knowing that I have earned Heavenly Father's trust- enough so that, as far as some things are concerned, He knows I will make the correct choices. How cool is that!? The God of All trusts me to know how to act on my own in some given scenarios. I do not say this to say that I'm above praying all of the sudden- I have a firm testimony that praying is essential and necessary, no matter how in tune with the Spirit or how trusted by God you are; the Prophet that God has chosen is still required to pray, and yes, he still NEEDS to pray, just as we all do. All I'm saying is that sometimes the things we ask for are not necessarily things that Heavenly Father needs to answer. I picture this when I think of it: just as I've fallen to my knees to pray, wondering what direction the Lord would have me take, He gives me "that look" that says "You know what you need to do." Sometimes it'd be nice to get an answer anyways, but as the scriptures say, "It is not needful that I command in all things." [Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-28]
It is dangerous to rely on the Lord for ALL things. We must rely on Him, absolutely must, don't get me wrong, but as is taught in the Book of Mormon, "The grace of God is sufficient for all, after all we can do." [2 Nephi 25:23] We must do all in our own power before turning to the Almighty for help. We must do as the scriptures say and "ponder it out in your heart, and if it be right, I shall cause a burning to rise up in your bosom." If it's not right, we're taught that we'll experience a "stupor of thought" which to me basically means you'll start to wonder why you're even asking what you are, but it's different for everyone I suppose. I stick to what I know, and I know that simplicity and plainness is of God, and complexion is of the devil- that's always helped guide a few answers to my prayers.
Well I didn't thing I'd go that direction, but I did- what can you do? I've got more time today, so I'll try my very best to write everyone. I'm very sorry for last week- that was a rushed as letter home and I feel bad for it. I also didn't get around to writing a few people I promised I would write that day, so I'm very sorry. Speaking of that, I've sent out some letters for the family and I'll try to pick up the slack on that- I feel bad when I don't write back. Oh yeah, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!! Oh, one more thing... 8 months in two days (not that I'm counting, I just know the month mark)... XD The sisters I came out with have 10 months left... what!? @.@ Time seems to be speeding up recently... how strange -and very inconvenient- that Time be so finicky with it's chosen speed.
I love you all heaps! Keep smiling!
-Elder Schomburg

Monday, November 18, 2013

Carry On! Carry On! Carry On! ... Week 34

I have received emails of love from loved ones and today, find myself in the lush greenness of Mildura. I didn't notice how green Mildura was at first, but given the fact that I've spent almost two months in a desert now, I can finally appreciate some green patches of grass (still miss the snow-capped mountains of home, though). What a blessing! Our entire zone is actually together and this is probably the only time it will ever be like this again! Robinvale came down for a fireside that Mildura was holding, so Broken Hill also came down with the Paewai's and Brother C to watch it as well. What a packed house! There were over 200 people who came, and half of them weren't members! Brother C and the Paewai's loved it- I think they needed it, to know that there are more out there like them and not just the 20-30 that come to Broken Hill.
There was another miracle yesterday as well- two less active members (Sister E and Sister F [with three of her kids and one of them, A, our investigator who wants to be baptized on the 7th of December]) came to church! Not only that, but DJ turned up! It was really awkward with him, though- he lets his guilt get in the way and the relationship that we used to have is strained because of it. So we had two rescues yesterday and wow! What a miracle! The fireside was the perfect way to end the week as well- what a great success it was! The only sad thing from last week was that two baptisms in Mildura fell through on the day of... that was a hard one to take, BUT this is the Lord's work, and "[His] hand is in everything" so we must not fret!
After reading through various emails from home... I've decided that home is under stress right now, and this is saddening to me. Elder P and I were discussing it recently (because I had been writing a letter to Mum in which I had been venting all these negative waves) and he did tell me something that I suppose I just hadn't yet accepted. He said something along the lines of, "There are tender hearts at home Elder and they care about you. They worry about you! They want to know that you're doing well and that you're happy and when you send things that are negative, you're doing more damage than good." When I first sat down to write home, I thought about getting some things off my chest, but now I see that -because home needs some strength and comfort- it would be unwise to do so. 

[Please remember when writing to Elder Schomburg to avoid the temptation of pouring out your heart of worries or stress.  While he has always been a wonderful and compassionate listener, he is on the Lord's errand now and needs to be able to focus on his current mission.  Always send uplifting and positive messages so that he may feel the strength and support that he needs to "carry on" in the Lord's most important work.]
My first trainer sat me down one day when I came to him with all the troubles in the world. I was stressed, I was scared, I was angry, I was filled with wroth, I was uncomfortable, and I questioned my ability to press on. We sat down and Elder L pulled out a pen and paper. He looked at me and said, "Elder, tell me everything that you are concerned about." I let it all out! The floodgates were lifted and I vented like I'd never before done. He wrote down everything, and ended up filling both sides of the paper. Then, he looked over the list, and with a long sigh, looked back up to me. He asked me, "Elder... what of these things can you change?" We boiled it down and eventually came up with about three to five things. Then he asked me this, "Elder, which one are you going to start with?" So I picked the one that seemed the most important. There were probably fifty things that I had been troubling myself with, to the point that I was considering coming home (thankfully the fear of returning early and the shame that would come with it were still stronger than my utterly depressed state and desire to give in).
Why do I mention this? There are times when we feel like we are on overload, when we feel like the very world's survival rests upon our shoulders. How much of that stress comes from things that we cannot change? We cannot decide who issues the tests we face, nor the difficulty thereof. However, we can decide how we will respond to them. We have our agency to do whatever it is that we will; the consequences of our actions are out of our hands, but we have that initial choice that sets the pace. There will be hard and difficult times in our lives, this is completely unavoidable, but we can still choose our reaction. Sometimes it is difficult to remain completely at ease because it is in our nature to be initially negative, but there is One who we can always turn to.
My time is so very short in Mildura, so I cannot finish this (curses!) but please please please don't forget to pray! And don't worry about things you cannot influence! The only really important thing you can influence is your own reaction to life's many hurdles. Sometimes we hurdle and trip and fall on our face. It hurts, but we should always be getting back up! We don't have to get back up alone- there's always a helping hand available.
I love you all heaps!
-Elder Schomburg

Here is the hymn which Elder Schomburg referenced in his title:

Christmas is coming - cards and letters greatly appreciated!

Elder Jeffrey Scott Schomburg
Australia Adelaide Mission
P.O. Box 97
Marden, SA 5070

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Lord Works Miracles... Week 33

G'day brothers and sisters, family and friends!
This week I have truly been shown how merciful, understanding, and caring the Lord is. This week has also reminded me of just how important the Sacrament is, but the means by which I received this reminding was not through the typical spiritual experience while partaking of the bread and water. No, this experience came through being able to witness one of our brothers, MC, be received into the Lord's church through baptism by immersion and the laying on of hands for the receiving of the Holy Ghost.  When I was able to see MC step into the water with President P, I could not help but feel overwhelming joy! The change that I saw take place in Mick was extraordinary! He used to be deep into drugs (crystal meth was a regular), he chain smoked, he got drunk whenever he could, and he wasn't shy about sleeping around with girls. He did the works, and he's not shy about talking about it -which is the only reason I'm mentioning it. To see him come full circle was incredible. He looks physically better, and he just has this elated glow about him. He's happier than he's ever been- President P, who has known M for three years, even said that the change that he has gone through is unreal. The Atonement is real, that is undeniable. No matter how far gone anyone is, the Atonement can and will work for them. M came straight out of Babylon, in fact Mick was probably living in the Red Light district of Babylon -if you catch my drift- and he STILL was able to turn it all around with the help of the Saviour. I've never seen such a solid recent convert! He bore his testimony shortly after the ordinance was preformed and my jaw dropped- the words he spoke sounded like those that might be spoken by a Church veteran of twenty years! He is going to be a solid Priesthood holder someday, and he understands exactly what that means. Shortly after he started down this path, we offered a blessing of healing for him to overcome his addictions, as his "flesh was [not yet] subject to the spirit", and after we rendered the blessing to him, he darn-well cold turkey-ed everything! I've never seen nor heard anything like it in all my young life! He comes to church in his nice, Italian-style suit, makes friends with all the members, and he is the most missionary-minded out of all of them (save for maybe the P's). He is an example of what true repentance is; he is an example of how powerful the Atonement is. Not only that, but by doing a complete 180, he has shown that the Father's hand of mercy truly is probably the farthest reaching out of any of them.

Filling the font

Waiting, waiting...

Happy Day!
Elder P preparing the font

Well, the week of M's baptism, Elder P and I were wondering what we would do after he was baptized. With DJ fallen completely off the radar only after going hard-out on the drugs again, we weren't sure who we were going to teach next. Personal finding in this town is downright unsuccessful (even the locals say this is the hardest town in all of Australia, and I'm tempted to believe it), the members didn't have anyone else lined up, and we didn't have any referrals. We were really worried about what was going to happen in the area and what we were going to do next. At the baptism, however, Sister P brought two friends, who after the service, approached us and asked us if they could take the discussions. How on earth did that happen??? We baptize our only investigator, and suddenly, without much effort done on our own part -aside from praying fervently- two investigators fall out of the sky. The Lord understands that the missionary work in Broken Hill is HEAPS different compared to any other area, and He knows that we, Elder P and myself, will do everything in our own power first before calling upon Him to help us. This was the perfect example of the Lord making up the difference; with nowhere left to go, Elder P and I were very nervous about what would happen next, and then two new investigators come out of nowhere. They were the P's friends and one had heard things from the missionaries in the past (way in the past) but neither had come to the baptism with the intention of taking up the missionary discussions, and now they're both extremely keen. There is a Lord... and He loves us each and understands our own situations just as well as we do, if not more so, of this I have no doubt. The Lord is a Lord of miracles, no questions asked.
Aside from this miraculous week... there's not a lot to report. Sister D is going to cook us up a feast for Thanksgiving, which is going to be awesome; the Aussie's don't do Thanksgiving, so I was very surprised when she came to me specifically and asked me what my favourite dishes were from back home. Most of the time Aussie's smash America but every now and again you get one or two who actually appreciate Americans, and then -very rarely- you get those Mum Away from Home figures like Sister D and Sister G (who's actually like a grandma away from home) who will go out of their Australian way to tailor to a lonely-az American. Lovely people, really. Christmas is also creeping up, eh? And you know what that means- when December ends, I will have three more months before reaching the halfway point... time has been crawling up until now, and suddenly I feel this slight increase of adrenaline being pumped into my bloodstream- where has the time gone!? I'm almost halfway through (not really) and I've only baptized one person! Excuse me while I mentally freak out (I do this a lot, but I find that people get concerned when you physically freak out and display your discomfort in ways that others can visually see, so I keep it all in my head).

Oh yeah, we also go to shear sheep this week (well, we shore a little off of one sheep... it was hard) and we got to corral them up into their pens with a sheep dog! Now that part was fun! I have a video that I can't attach, but I'll keep it so we can go through them all when I get back.
I love you all heaps!
-Elder Schomburg

p.s.  In the photos -we found these metal statues while we were out and about. We're not sure what they are or why they exist, but there were about eight of these statues. In the other photo, the sun was illuminating the baptismal font when we carried out the baptism- the photo was taken about an your beforehand. It made it look very celestial.

I cannot look at this without tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat...
and gratitude in my heart.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Be Not Ashamed... Week 32

G'day one and all!
It is, as always, a pleasure to be writing to everyone! It sounds as though Halloween was fun for Robby and Elizabeth! I kinda wish I hadn't missed out BUT it comes with the definition of being a missionary: "Missionary- a person who leaves his/her family for a short period of time so that other people can spend all time and eternity with their families."

Hawk Eyes


This week (I'm not sure how much time I have so I'll cut out the fluff and tell you what's up, and maybe I'll get more time later today to tell more, but we'll see) Elder F (one of the Zone Leaders) and Elder W (the District Leader) came up from Mildura to interview our TWO (count 'em) baptizees. M is set to be baptized this week on the 9th, and DJ (a friend of M's and a mutual friend of President P's) will follow him the following week on the 16th. Elder W had to interview both of our investigators since these are convert baptisms, and after spending plenty of time with both individually (a period of time in which I was more or less anxious) he said our investigators were good to go. He advised that we focus on strengthening DJ and continue to keep his mind focused on the "strait and narrow path" that we all know is baptism into the Lord's church. M is strong, though (he's been sober and hasn't smoked for 6 weeks and he knows that if Satan's been withholding the big guns, this week is the week he will use them), but even so, we're going to continue to give him the support that he needs. Baptismal week is always a nervous week for missionaries because this is the week that Satan will work overtime. Please please please pray for M and DJ- they will need all the help they can get, no matter how firm their foundations.
This Sunday was Fast and Testimony meeting as well, and I've never seen nor been in such a spiritually fulfilling meeting in that branch before. Our attendance was at 20, and usually there's a brief pause in the beginning of any testimony meeting in which no one goes up to the pulpit. At first I feared that would occur, and we would have a testimony meeting in which us missionaries were the only ones to bear testimony. I was proven wrong though, when Sister O -an older albeit spry woman- charged to the pulpit. After her, Sister G went up (not a big surprise- her words are inspired and she never fails to speak her mind). Following her, Sister W (visiting from New Zealand) went up, followed by her husband. Elder P then went up, having deemed it alright to do so (as missionaries, we try to wait before going up to the pulpit, to give the members a chance to bear their testimonies). Elder P was followed by Sister D, a semi-active member who shared her overall life experience and the role the Church and Heavenly Father have played- I've not heard such an inspiring testimony in all my life (save for that of my very own mother's)! Then Elders F and W went up, and M was going to go up after Elder W -and I after him- but we'd already gone thirty minutes over our time and President P then chose to close the meeting. Still, the Spirit was SO strong, and it truly was a humbling experience that I think would shame some of the larger wards. There have been sacrament meetings like this in which -after the time is given to the members to bear their personal witnesses that they know what they believe and practice are true doctrines- no one takes the stand for AGES and there are long and awkward silences. Here in Broken Hill, in our chapel designed for 150-200, we met -the 20 of us- and had a testimony meeting that -should every ward and branch in the world experience the same- would have shaken the very gates of hell.
I got to thinking about it, just briefly (because I know that the spirit of contention is strong with me and I did not want to feed it), why is it that when the time is given to us to bear our testimonies... we don't? Is it fear? Fear is of the Devil, and cannot coexist with faith. Is it because of shyness or nervousness? Both stem from fear, which is of the Devil. Can you see where this is going? Testimony has strength- as missionaries we are taught that when you cannot "convince" anyone that what you are saying is true, bear strong, firm testimony, to which no man can argue or dispute. It is true- no one can make further argument when testimony of truth -no matter how simple or short- is born from the lips of the righteous. Our testimonies are our own personal conviction that what we claim to believe and live is true, and by sharing them, we can not only rebuke the words of those who dispute and argue against truth "thinking they are learned", but testimonies also strengthen those who are weak. How have you felt after an apostle or prophet has born solemn witness that what he has taught is true? How much stronger is the Spirit's presence? I know that a simple testimony has the strength to help an investigator overcome addiction, freeing himself from the Devil's flaxen cords. I know that a simple testimony can invite the Spirit at any time and place. I KNOW that by bearing testimony, we can not only be forgiven of our sins (as is the promise from our Father) but we can lift, strengthen, and encourage those amongst us who are struggling. Satan knows this as well- that is why he encourages us NOT to go up during Fast and Testimony meeting. He knows as well as we do that our words -our testimony and conviction- could very well be the one thing that would bring a less active member back into the fold, or even introduce a new person to it.
Testimonies do not need to be long, drawn out, or be spoken with eloquence. "I know the Church is the Lord's church, and I know that He lives" is an example of what a testimony is. If spoken with conviction, with true conversion burning in the bearer's heart, the Spirit will come, and those simple words will cause the hearts of everyone else to burn as well. You do not need a story of conversion lined up and ready -word for word- before you approach the pulpit. You don't need a story of something you did earlier in the week to back up your claims. You don't need anything, save for your own conviction that what you know is true. There is always around 30-40 minutes of time to bear testimony, and I know that the entire Monument Ward -EVERY member- could bear his or her testimony in that amount of time. Think of the affect that would have on a new investigator, who has just been brought to the Church for the first time; if he or she could sit and watch as member after member approached the pulpit -even lined up down both lanes in the chapel- to tell everyone else that they knew for themselves that everything they had been taught was true. A testimony is like a prayer; when we pray, we do it so that we can converse with Father. The same is when we bear testimony- we don't do it so that the people below us in the congregation can say, "Wow, what an excellent speaker!" We do it because we want the Father to know that we love Him enough that -though we have that twinge of fear in our hearts- we are willing to tell everyone else that what we believe is true. That is what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, and everyone that is a member of His church -EVERYONE- covenanted to stand as a witness of Him at all times, and in all places, and in all things. Sister D's testimony really struck me, and she said some things that sunk in deeply to me. She helped me to understand more fully how repentance works and what our own part is in it. She helped me understand that part of repenting is forgiving yourself. This was not new knowledge, but I finally learned how to apply it through her instruction.
Every member of the Church has a testimony of something, no matter how "small". If there are any of you that doubt if you have a testimony, I promise you that you do. Take it from a guy who feared his lack of conviction and wondered if he hadn't just tricked himself into thinking happy thoughts all the time (so to speak). I attended church for 6 months, was involved in the Teachers Quorum presidency, passed the Sacrament, went to Mutual, and did all things Mormon for 6 months, and still I wasn't sure if I believed what I claimed to believe. I can promise you, brothers and sisters, that members don't continue to do what they do unless they have at least a sliver of faith that what they're doing is right, and what they believe is true. One of our less actives, Brother E, used to drive to Sydney (10 hour drive one way) for temple trips with the District Presidency once a month, carried out all of his duties, and indeed says that he had so many tasks that he could not see straight. He served for 30 years.... THIRTY YEARS, and claims that now, he never had a testimony and that's why he stopped coming to church. That. Cannot. Be. True. No one -NO ONE- does everything an active member has to do for 30 years and then throws in the towel because he/she doesn't have a testimony. I can promise you all that -even if you can't yet "see" it- you must have a testimony of some kind if you only do so much as come to church. The Spirit is subtle sometimes, and only by going back to the basics of reading scriptures, praying, and going to church can we learn to more fully feel of his presence, and once we can feel of his presence to the point that we can identify it, we will know that we have a testimony. I was so happy to hear that Elizabeth bore her testimony about keeping the Church as her center, or her keystone. I know -and this knowledge racks my heart with grief- that when we drift from the basics, and when we let other things get in the way of church, and when we start to slip and neglect "doing the basics" we become partially active, and then less active, and soon we are inactive and even adamantly opposing the Lord' church. It is a subtle transition -Satan has always been cunning like that- and it will happen when we neglect the basics. Stick to what you know, and STICK to it, and always bear your testimonies. Share your conviction that what you know is true with anyone and everyone, even when it's not Fast Sunday- only then will you have a firm foundation. I can promise -though I am young and in my youth- that as a representative of Jesus Christ, the Lord's blessings will be upon anyone who heeds to this counsel, and I leave these things with you in the name of our Lord, Savior, and Redeemer, even the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.
-Elder Schomburg