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

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