Monday, May 27, 2013

The Eagle Has Landed... Week 9

[For those of you who are new to the Elder Schomburg blogs, I usually try to add links to interesting articles or pages if clarification or additional information is needed.  If it's highlighted, feel free to click on it and learn more about Elder Schomburg's experience. ~Lisa]

G'day from Darwin, Australia!

Wow, where do I even start. Let me just say this; Australia is NOT the United States. I'm still adjusting to, well, everything I suppose. Driving on the left is throwing me off and I'm slightly worried because of that; there are a LOT of islanders that come to this mission, and they don't have driver licenses. Americans do, and therefore, we are highly favored because of our ability to operate motor vehicles, so someday I will be driving a car here, and I still don't know which way to look for oncoming traffic. It is harder than it sounds.

Okay, aside from that, let's see... what to say? This has felt like the longest week ever (it's about 11AM right now, by the way). We flew from Tennessee to LAX, Qantas (the Australian airline we flew on) was extremely prompt on boarding the transfer flight and Elder Taylor took up all the time to call by speaking with his mother and father separately (which is why I was unable to call with the one phone available- I knew you wouldn't worry though XD). So after that began the longest plane-ride of my life in which I did get some sleep... sort of. We landed in Sydney at 6AM AUS time, left for Adelaide at 9AM, stayed the night in Adelaide, and then flew up to Darwin (pronounced Da-Win) at 6AM again. At first I wasn't too excited about getting sent to Darwin; it meant getting onto yet another plane and then flying up north about 1400 miles from Adelaide, and I didn't want the culture shock (Adelaide and Darwin are VERY different). However, suffice it to say that I LOVE Darwin! This is the place of Australia that most Americans think of when they think of Australia- it's not very desert-like, but there are tons of different tropical plants and animals (cockatoos and parrots are the most annoying things... they just screech and scream and it was cool at first but now it's just.. yes, anyways), and there are crazy trees out here. It's really pretty neat.

I got here just as dry season began, which I thought meant it would be hot and miserable. Turns out, dry season is the best time to be in Darwin because it cools down and it isn't as humid. Wet season is when it gets hotter and wetter, and rains both ways, which I JUST missed. It really is beautiful up here, it's sort of hard to describe in just these few words. If I had more time I'd go into more detail.

Teaching the people here is WAY different than Tennessee, and I think that's why I got my visa when I did- I had Tennessee figured out as far as teaching the people and getting around and whatnot. Australia, Darwin specifically, is full of a plethora of different types of people. There are Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Atheists, Christians... it really keeps you on your toes, and you've got to keep your teaching skills sharp.

The Darwin Branch is 200 strong (1000 on the roster) and the people are just awesome, and the same can be said of the missionaries here. Everyone is just awesome, and they're easy to talk to and they're just fun to be around. My companion is Elder Lacanivalu (la-tha-knee-va-loo) from Fiji, and he has the coolest Fijian-Australian accent mix. Speaking of which, one Elder in our zone (which is ten strong and is also the district in the same if you understand that) is from Utah and sounds like an Australian, and not to get anyone's hopes up but I find that the more I talk to people the more I adopt their verbiage and pronunciation so... XD pretty cool XD

I guess you're all probably sleeping or going to sleep soon... that's weird to think about. I can't tell you much from the future other than the work is progressing and I am having fun. I will admit, missionary work is mentally challenging on an unfathomable scale; there are moments and days where I just want to come home. The only way to push through such times is to just work, and remind myself of why I'm here, and then I feel better. Bearing testimony helps a lot too- anything that invites the Spirit really helps. I've been focusing this week on focusing less on myself and more on doing missionary work. I don't complain verbally, but I suppose I've been too lenient with thinking about the comforts of home, or rather, the people I miss that are at home. In any case, we all have those days, but today is a good day and I feel great!

My diet hasn't changed a whole lot... they eat very similar foods. I ate Jackfruit the other day- that's some pretty good stuff, you all should Google a picture of it or something.


Jackfruit is huge!
Elder Lacanivalu is one of the best missionaries there ever was, by the way; he's an awesome trainer, and very spiritual. He relies one the Holy Ghost probably more than any other missionary I've yet met, and he knows why he is here. He's got six months left and he used to be a "Bush Missionary" meaning he's served outside of Alice Springs (a couple hundred miles outside of) with the aboriginals, and he did that for eight months. The mission has started pulling Bush missionaries back in, so I might not get to do that, but I think it would be awesome. Next to being a Bush missionary though, Darwin is the place to be, and I really do love it here. This mission just feels like home and I fit in pretty well. There are tons of islanders, it's crazy. I'm actually Elder Lacanivalu's first American companion (REPRESENT!!!) so I was excited to hear about that. Not many Americans over here XD

Anyway, I hope I've answered some questions. Alright, I've got to go now.

Cheers, mates!
-Elder Schomburg

P.S.  Getting into Australia is a lot less intimidating than it sounds; I declared all my things that needed to be, security asked for specifics, I told them, and they let me in. Packaged food can be sent to Australia, but it can't be opened. Last I heard it costs around $55US to send a package here though, so I won't expect much food. They made me leave a suitcase with half of my things in the "vault" back in Adelaide but I should be alright with what I've got. I'll probably be in Darwin for a pretty good chunk of time; the missionaries sent up here tend to stick around for anywhere from 6-14 months so we'll see what happens :) I love you lots and I hope you get to feeling better!

Elder Schomburg arrives in Adelaide, Australia
with President and Sister Carter

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