Monday, April 29, 2013

And It Rained for the Space of Many Days... Week 5

Hey y'all (there, I did it :P),
First off, my mother sent me photos of my sister and her play. Elizabeth, not only do you look like the perfect Queen of Hearts but DANG! You make a fine red-head (and I should know ;D). Just watch out for the boys, yeah? I may not be there but if anyone ever gives you trouble, I still have friends (and some are in very high places) and you still have a big brother there... XD

Alright, enough of that. Now to answer a couple questions my mother asked. As far as church is concerned, be very grateful you have the Monument Ward; there's nothing wrong with the Lebanon Ward, in fact there are GREAT people there... but no one really sings the hymns... Sacrament meetings are... sad. The ward is also MUCH smaller than the Monument Ward, and about half of it -if not two thirds- consists of converts (I kid you not, the missionaries who came to Lebanon before me basically established the Church in Lebanon).
Things between me and my companion are very well. Elder Fishburn and I get along just fine; I think I was just having a day ;) I will say this though; going on a mission really teaches you what to look for in a spouse, simply because you're learning how to live with (and sometimes cope with) another individual. And while I'm on that subject, I have not yet had an opportunity to clean ANYTHING which frustrates me to no end... it only lasts for about ten seconds and then I get over it (time is precious in the mission field - too precious to spend being mad about anything).
This week in Tennessee, it rained... and it rained some more.... and then it rained even more. It rained to the point where I felt like I was going swimming every time I stepped out the door. It rained more here in two days than it has rained in Colorado for the past ten years. It rained... a lot. Speaking of rain, all of the houses down here (the middle-class ones and up) are made of brick, and stand out like a sore thumb when looked at with the incredibly green backdrop that makes up Tennessee. All of the driveways are a mix of pebbles and concrete, like that of the floor in the reptile house of a zoo, and there are moats around the houses and yard. At first I couldn't figure out why there were these one foot deep, two foot wide trenches dug around EVERYONE's houses, and then it rained... without the moats, the massive amount of water that falls would have nowhere to go, and Tennessee would have been washed away. Fun fact for the day: Tennessee homes are castles with their own moats.
This week was also "Elder Schomburg Shares His Conversion Story" week; I shared my conversion story with three different people: a progressing investigator named Zach who is SO close to being baptized it's not even funny, a member family (the Dickerson's [Fun Fact Numero Dos: Brother Dickerson served his mission in Quito, Ecuador, and believes Andrew {whom I boasted of ;D} to be a stud, which he is]), and Josh. I believe my story spiritually edified everyone I told it to, particularly Josh and the Dickerson's. I emphasized different parts of my story to fit the immediate needs of those I told it too. With Zach, I emphasized how prayer had played a MAJOR role in my conversion. With both Josh and the Dickerson's, I emphasized the role that member missionaries play and how important it is, because (and I really hope the girl I'm talking about turns red in the cheeks right now because I am going to boast of her for a little bit) if it had not been Amber, my family might not be where they are, and I would not be where I am.

Our sweet, courageous "Amber" and beautiful, brave Elizabeth.

Before I do more boasting of her, I find it expedient that I tell my story (only a handful of the people reading this actually know it). About two weeks after I was baptized my family went inactive [it was about a year after actually, but time goes by differently for an 8 year old] and we were inactive for eight [six] years. I will spare details (Mom, feel free to edit what you will), but suffice it to say that Mom and Dad were going through a separation, my older brother was in places he should not have been, I had no purpose, no motivation, nothing to live for, and my little sister and baby brother had no guidance. Pretty dark place. But then my little sister was invited to a youth activity by none other than Amber [12 or 13 years old at the time]. Elizabeth started going to church, and she went for two or three months (if I recall correctly) [it was about 7-8 months] by herself before my mom made me go with her.  So I went to church, and sat through Sacrament meetings, and eventually Sunday school, and I did so GRUDGINGLY. I went through the motions for a year, and over the space of this time, my parents came back together, my older brother went to BYU and eventually went on a mission so we can see how that turned out, and my little sister and little brother were just... awesome. I cannot say a lot about their conversions, because I am not them and do not fully understand their conversions or how it happened. But I understand mine, so that's what I'm going to share.
About a year or a little more [it was about 6 months] of going to church eventually brought me to Aaron's Camp (my mother made me go because I am just that stubborn). It was about the third or fourth day into the five-day long camp, and Bishop Bradley handed me two letters from my parents. We were told to go find a quiet spot in the woods, and pray, particularly with questions in mind. I did as asked, finding a quiet, secluded spot on the side of mountain in a deeply forested area. I prayed, with five or six different questions on my mind, questions I had never told anyone about. No one but God knew what was on my mind. I opened the letters then, and began to read...
Each and every question I asked was answered in that letter from my mom, in the exact same way I had worded the question. My main question to our Heavenly Father was this: "Am I on a path that is pleasing to you, and are you pleased with me?" Keep in mind that at this point in time, I did not see myself to be worth the Lord's time. The question as answered: "You are on a path that is pleasing to your Heavenly Father, and He is very pleased with you." Now as I said earlier, my mother would not have known that I would have asked this. The same thing happened with every other question, answered TO THE LETTER in the exact way I had worded it.
Now I say this not to boast of myself or of the long way I have come, but to point out how it all happened. If that member missionary, oh so long ago, had not put herself out there, had not had twenty seconds of insane courage to ask my little sister to come to a church activity, would I be here? Would my family be where we are? Words cannot express my appreciation for Amber and her courage in sparking a spiritual fire that I know will never die. Members of the church, you have a great knowledge... share it with others; you never know whose life you will change.
-Elder Schomburg

Monday, April 22, 2013

So this is the South... Week 4

Hello all! I'm here in Nashville, Tennessee right now, and it is.... different and familiar. First, let me get you guys the mailing address for my stay here. I may be here for three more days, I might be here for seven months- it's anyone's guess (except the Lord's; I'm pretty sure He knows what He's doing).
Temporary Reassignment Mailing Address:  
Elder Jeffrey Scott Schomburg
Tennessee Nashville Mission
105 West Park Dive Suite 190
Brentwood, TN 37027
United States
Mission Home Phone Number: 1-615-373-1836 (if necessary for sending packages)
So, there's my address. Now that's actually the mission office address because they don't want any direct correspondence taking place so that they can keep track of everything, but in any case any mail you send will reach me a day after it normally would. SO, let's talk about Tennessee! First off, the weather is predictable but has variety (not unlike glorious Colorado). It was up in the 90s my first two days, and then there was a thunderstorm and it dropped to the 50s for the next two days, and it's tapered out nicely into the lower 70s since then. The humidity was crazy those first couple of days, a LOT more noticeable than in California, or anywhere else I've ever been. Tennessee is flat, very green (as in stereotypical Windows-background-hill-picture green), and the hills that they have are referred to as "mountains" (chuckle-chuckle). The people are very nice, all have a firm belief in Jesus Christ, and they're very open about it. You can pray with them in public and talk about religion basically anywhere you go, which is very unlike the people in the West.
Tennessee is also the site of many Civil War battles, and I feel just a bit misplaced; everyone's ancestry here fought for the Confederate States, so I am very careful about relating to them that somewhere down the line one of my ancestors actually fought for the Union (and won [snicker-snicker]). Sorry, that's bad of me. But anyways, there are lots of cemeteries here that have Civil War casualties sprinkled all throughout, very easy to find. One of the members here does some reenactments of Civil War battles, so if the opportunity presents itself, I think it would be cool to go watch one on a P-Day.
A little less relevant to the history and more so with the area, picture Pueblo, make it greener, and add a lot of humidity- you now have an image of Lebanon, Tennessee (the area I'm currently serving in). Some places are nice, others (like the Projects) are not as nice, and we don't go there at night... ever. There are very nice places in Tennessee though, so much so that I wouldn't be opposed to living here (though I'm not sure I'd pick Lebanon... some places remind me of a green Lamar...).
Now, lots of people want me to pick up the Australian accent. Now I'm not sure what's going to happen with that because of the Southern accent here. I met a black man the other day, and when he spoke he had a THICK Louisianan-Mississippian accent, and it was AWESOME because I actually understood him... until he spoke to me... then that whole Gift of Tongues thing just vanished. BUT I am learning, and to be truthful it really isn't that hard to talk with the people here; they speak very clearly, accents aside.
One of the less actives (LA's as they're called) has become my personal project, by the way. Most of the other missionaries have given up on him. His name is Josh, and he is an expert at beating himself up, falls into depression regularly (his roommate committed suicide and basically pinned it on him), and he hates his job (he manages a bus barn, with 84 different buses and all their staff and routes). He basically thinks of himself as the scum of the earth, and the missionaries like my companion, Elder Fishburn (who has been in Lebanon for SEVEN months now) have sort of thrown in the towel with Josh. Not me. Maybe that's just because I'm mean and green, and I know Josh is already a member and that our purpose is to bring new investigators unto Christ (and one of the ways we do that is baptism), but the Church won't grow if we lose members and EVERY soul is precious in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. I don't know if this is the "reason" why I'm in Tennessee (I'm sure there are many), but this is my goal now, to get Josh to come back to church and become temple-worthy again. I don't know if it is the Lord's will that I focus on Josh, but he and I seem to click, and we understand each other. He is VERY good to the missionaries and feeds us and looks out for us, but he is so easily drawn down into that black pit that is self-hate, and I (with as much help from Heavenly Father as I can get) am not going to let him go on living his life like this when he has SO much potential! Josh could be an amazingly powerful member-missionary if he just had a better understanding of the Atonement.
Another cool thing I did was some studying on was the word 'repentance'. Normally when we think of repentance we think of apologizing for sinning and promising not to sin anymore. There's a word for that: change. I came to this knowledge after I was reading in the Bible about Jonah and the city he was sent to (not Tarshish, the one he was supposed to go to that I've forgotten). The Lord told him that if the people did not repent He would destroy the city. Jonah preached these things, and the people repented, but more interestingly, it says that the Lord repented of his ways, and did not anger against them anymore. Why would the Lord need to repent? He's perfect, is He not? He is, but He is not apologizing because He sinned; there was no sin. When the word repented -in that context- is switched out with the word 'changed' the whole situation becomes different. The Lord CHANGED His ways, and did not anger against them anymore. The same principle applies with repentance- it is a CHANGE. Everyone is sinning always, you can't fight it, and so when we repent, we're not just apologizing and hoping not to do it again, we're making a change, and that is what the Atonement is all about- changing for the better.
Well, that's not all I have to report, but that's all the time I have. I love you all, it was awesome to hear about Mom and Dad's new calling! Wearing the badge is something very special and not to be taken lightly (not that you will) so just treasure it while you can, it's a neat experience being able to wear the Lord's name. To the rest of you, keep on keeping on stay strong. Pray EVERY day :P it's good for you! I'll talk to you all next Monday, if not sooner (we'll see about the visa, yeah?). Bye!
-Elder Schomburg

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Waiting... again... Week 2

[As a precursor to today's blog entry, I'd like to let you know that Elder Schomburg received word last Thursday that his visa had not yet arrived and he would be staying at the MTC in Provo for at least another week.  He should find out this Thursday if he will continue to stay at the MTC or if he will be sent to another mission stateside while he awaits the arrival of his visa from Australia.  During his visa application process, Australia changed their visa requirements and while he submitted all of the correct forms and information, there is simply no way of knowing when he will be leaving for Australia.  That is up to the Australian government.  In the meantime, Elder Schomburg and all missionaries who are waiting for their visas to any country will be assigned to stateside missions where they serve until they are able to enter the country in which they were originally called to serve.  Lest anyone think there is any confusion or mismanagement within the Chuch's missionary program, please know that there are 65,000 missionaries in the field serving in 347 missions located in 150 countries throughout the world.  It is one of the largest, most well organized missionary efforts in the world and we know that Elder Schomburg is being watched over every step of the way.  As we believe him to be on the Lord's errand and the Savior Himself directs the work of the Church, we know that Elder Schomburg is in the best of hands. ~Lisa]

Well, here I am again, writing to you from the MTC. Today, District 24C, my district, was more or less disbanded; there were nine of us, with six going to Phoenix, Arizona, and those six left at 5AM this morning. Now, it is just me, Elder Warner, and Elder Taylor. P-Day has been quiet and boring and uneventful, and I fear the next couple of days will reap the same fruit. We're probably going to go to the temple today again, so that will be cool, and we're going to study (as always). Such is my life right now. Elder Warner's visa had some trouble so he's being sent to Oklahoma on Wednesday, and then Elder Taylor and I will become companions and welcome in the newest batch of greenies. The bunk room has been very quiet today, and it will be quiet -for a time- tomorrow. I'm not as excited to meet this new bunch of greenies, only because I know that four more young men are going to be bunking with us again, Elders I don't even know. It will be like day one all over again.... bleh.
Anyways, onto happier topics (sorry, today is just a 'bleh' kind of day), yesterday Elder Warner and I taught our last lesson to Robert, and he committed to be baptized. How awesome is that!? Took us four or five lessons to get through to him, but it finally happened, and we found out what it was that he needed from the gospel. Even so, I felt hollow with the "victory" I guess you could say; ever since I started finding success in our lessons with Arnold, Satan has been trying to get me to affiliate success with the phrase "That's not good enough" which is just the absolute perfect way to get to me, even when I have done some good work. I respect him for that, he deserves a pat on the back for his efforts. Unfortunately for him, I -being a worthy Priesthood holder set apart to teach the words of God- have more power than he does, and in the end, I am obliged to sorely disappoint him. So, now that I've got that little rant out of my system, let me talk a little more about how it's been going.
I am convinced that the MTC is a time wormhole, because the days have ceased to have any difference or significance and time seems to have been put on hold; every day is the same day, except Sunday -which is only slightly different- and it all seems to be melding into one giant day, with eight-hour periods in which I go to sleep. It's still great to be here, but even so, I want to get out into the field. We were supposed to have left by now, but who knows where Elder Taylor and I will end up. He has his visa, the Australian government just hasn't released it yet. I don't know if I have my visa yet, but they're keeping us together, and where I have been told not to expect a visa soon, I have been fasting and praying a lot (probably more fasting than I should have, my stomach was unhappy this morning, in an aching pained way). So, come Thursday, we'll know what our plans are (we hope).
I received a TON of pouch, thank you all SO MUCH for the packages and mail. I have more candy and food than I know what to do with, and that's a good thing; it'll be the last time I can receive such things [due to Australia's restrictions]. Also, as far as mail and writing goes, I have divided those who have written me into two groups. Group One consists of Mom, Robby, Amber, and Dad. Group Two consists of Andrew, Elizabeth, Grandma, anyone who writes me during the week, and Amber... (don't judge me :P). I also reserve the right to mix it up and send letters to people in Group One on the P-Days where I write to Group Two... again, judge me righteously. I would send pictures but I can't figure this... frustrating machine out, SO I will send MTC photos when I get to someplace where I have 90 minutes to figure it out.
Again, I can email anybody, so send me emails, and when I'm in the field I'll have MUCH more time to email back. I love you all, I'll try to keep you updated as best I can and I love you all more than when I said it before (I roll like that). Until later, from Provo, Utah, Goodbye all!

Elder Schomburg

[As another aside, if I have anything to add or interject, it will typically be in brackets and in Italics; that way you know if it is Elder Schomburg speaking or if the comments are from me.  His e-mail address is Please keep all communication upbeat, spiritual, and centered on his work if at all possible.  Thank you!]

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

And thus it begins... Week 1

Well, this week has been CRAZY, and spiritual and happy and sad and frustrating and disappointing and just... wow. I feel old, and by MTC standards, my district and I are vets by now. It's kind of sad; just as we're getting used to the hustle and bustle of the MTC, they're going to kick us out. Oh yeah, you don't know about that yet. Well, I have some information that I'm going to try to send to you in the form of a letter package, but for now, suffice it to say this: Salt Lake to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Melbourne (pronounced Melban), Melbourne to Adelaide, departing April 8th, arriving April 10th (don't think about it too much, it doesn't even make sense on the travel itinerary). Yes, this is going to be my only P-Day in the MTC, so I'm soaking it up (literally, my washer leaked onto me as I sat with my back against it, and now my suit is wet... good times XD).
My eye infection is NOT pink eye, just something that they don't know what or why I have it. They gave me medication (there's a story in that, btw), I received a healing blessing, and have felt great ever since. Really, it hasn't been that much of a bother to me at all, I wasn't even angry or mad when I discovered it, and the doctors said I caught it early (hidden blessings, yes?). I tossed my contacts and I miss them; glasses are great and convenient, but I like contacts more.
Anyway, here's the story for the week (one of the many [do I feel old or do I feel old?]). I woke up with a super angry eye one morning (forgot which one, I wrote it in my journal and just kept going), and after a quick breakfast, I drug my companion -Elder Warner- to the doctor's office. After the doctor put who knows how many liquids into my eye and stained it, he said he couldn't see anything on the cornea, but knew something was up. An hour later, I was in a large van -with Elder Warner- heading to an off campus doctor's office. We had escaped the MTC! XD But anyway, we get to our location and are dropped off, proceed into the building, ask around for Dr. Meyer... and find out it's the wrong building... (moment of terror). The man that we asked did a google map search for us and we were relieved when we found out the right location was just across the street, maybe 100 yards distance. So, unsure if we should hail the shuttle or just walk over, I -being the Senior Companion- made a choice and opted to walk over. We found the right place, Dr. Meyer took a look at it, prescribed me medication, and we were on our way back to the MTC within the hour (on the shuttle, mind you). I had my prescription two hours later. Pretty good service I'd say.
There are nine of us in my district (24C), and a total of seventeen in my zone (the old timers are leaving tomorrow early for Canada and... California I think). My district leader is Elder Taylor, who is -by far- a very good leader. There's also (in lists of companionships) Elders Okelberry and Allen, Taylor and Kwok (from Hawaii), and me and Elder Warner. We have three Sisters as well, and they make up a triplet companionship, comprised of Sisters Jones, Barnett, and Riches, and they are all very sweet sisters (save for Sister Barnett... she's a piece of work in her own, spiritual way). We're all excited for tomorrow; when we first came here, all the old timers were greeting us and laughing at us because we had NO idea what we were getting into. We all promised not to be them when we were in their shoes... you can guess how long that's going to last XD
Elder Warner and I have two investigators, Robert Slusher (played by one of our teachers, Brother Parkinson), and Arnold Young (a TRC [Teaching Resource Center]) nonmember, member, less active, or paid actor- we don't know. Our entire zone missed the TRC Orientation, so we had little idea of what to do when we were told to go teach our TRCs. So, after a lot of fervent prayer, Elder Warner and I went to teach Arnold, and wow.... the Spirit worked through us in amazing ways. We didn't even touch our lesson plan, but we talked to him about prayer, the BoM, and his relationship with Christ and Heavenly Father. He said he had talked to ministers of every church from here to all over the world, worked all over the world, but never once had anyone actually asked him to ask God, our Heavenly Father, if what they were teaching was true. That intrigued him. He asked for our conversion stories and was shocked; he had been looking at us as though we were just punk 19 year olds, but he was VERY nice (thank you, Heavenly Father), and after we shared how we had come to know the BoM is true, he had a whole new respect for us. It was just amazing, and I've only told you a tenth of it all.
Robert on the other hand has been the source of me and my companion's frustration, but we've been doing it wrong. We crammed the first two lessons of the Restoration and things about the BoM down his throat, and he was as apathetic as could be. So, after several more lessons went by, Elder Warner and I did MUCH more praying, fasting, studying, everything we could think of, and it all boiled down to this; you've got to LOVE your investigators, and not just love them, but LISTEN to them. The entire time we had been teaching him, I had been thinking of what to say next, but when you just listen and THEN respond... the Spirit works through you. Our third lesson with him was SO much better. Elder Warner (who is a bit more pessimistic than I am) thought it could have gone better, but given our previous success, I was overjoyed. Before that we had the amazing success with Arnold... yesterday was just spiritually overloading.
Alright, logistics: I need hangers, I am writing everyone I can think of when I have time (and I never have time), and that's all I can think of. Scripture markers too, at least seven different colors please. Not to sound rushed but I have three more minutes on this computer.
To finish off, I love you all, I miss you guys, I wish I had more time to tell you everything that has happened thus far (I'll send a journal back when I'm finished with it, and you can read it or something), and I am doing GREAT. Do NOT fret over me, this place is awesome and I am going to miss it when I leave, but really, I am doing SO well here... don't fret at all, I am VERY happy here!!!!
-Elder Schomburg
Elder Jeffrey Scott Schomburg
March 27, 2012