Sunday, June 30, 2013

All Quiet on the Malak Front...Week 14

G'day everyone!
I wish I could be more excited today (this week was a VERY good week) but as it turns out, transfers have proven to be bittersweet and have left me feeling very nervous and anxious and fearful (faith and fear cannot co-exist so I'm working on that right now). Elder Lacanivalu is getting transferred down south, and he's the only one leaving the zone. Another missionary will be coming up with the sisters and senior couple in three days, so I'll spend the next three days proselyting with the Nakara elders, and then I'll return to my flat with my new companion. Chances are he's an older missionary with a lot of experience under his belt, which will make this next transfer very interesting- I'll probably remain as the Junior companion, but the Malak area is mainly my responsibility. He will most likely be the Senior companion and trainer, thus he'll be "in charge" of running the outfit and finishing my training, but when it comes to planning and making appointments, the burden will rest with me. This is why I am so nervous and anxious and fearful.
The Malak area consists of very condensed neighborhoods that more or less has no structured layout; every house looks the same (unless it's in Leanyer, in which case it's much fancier); there are no noticeable landmarks (save for a few parks and two shopping centers); and the only way to know where you are in the world is if you've come to one of four major roads. In short, on a scale of 1-10 (10 being having a very good knowledge of the area and its layout) I rate myself at a solid 3 1/2. I can find a few places, and I can get to a few less-active's and investigators, but for the most part, I still am pretty lost in the world. Normally this wouldn't bother me, but as it is, we found three young families to teach this week, and a number of other new investigators throughout the area. Now you may be asking "Why is that bad?" and it's not, but it does cause me great feelings of concern- the Malak area is MY area, and the Lord has charged me with bringing those who live in this area back unto Him, should they recieve the message of His restored gospel. That being said, those that have accepted return appointments are now under my charge and are my responsibility, and I will be held accountable for how well I help them along the way. What happens if I can't find them again? Ask me if I'm worried...
I'm trying to put into my mind my companion's counsel that he gave me last night: this is the Lord's work, and He will do as He sees fit. Thus, I've decided that even if my new companion and I ride around Malak all day trying to find old addresses, the Lord has His purposes for the Malak area and that's all there is to it. I don't know what He has in mind, but He knows, and that's good enough for me.
As far as the week goes, we smashed it! We blew our weekly goals out of the air and exceeded several of them (25 potentials, 6 new investigators, and 2 baptismal dates just to name a few of the successes). Missionary work is really hard, but it is also the Lord's work, and we're entitled to His help with it. He really has blessed us this week, and I'm very excited to teach all of the new families we've found (assuming we find them again).
-Elder Schomburg

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Master the Tempest is Raging... Week 13

G'day from the Northern Territory!
This week has been awesome! Again, shout-out to those who wrote me via email or letters (I got letters from Mom and Grandma the same P-Day I wrote home actually... just didn't check the mail until later...). So I've got to answer some questions first, and then I'll tell about the week. There are 10 missionaries in my district, and the district and zone are the same thing (we're getting a pair of Sister missionaries and a Senior Couple come transfers [the end of this week]- YAY!!!). We're split into five areas- Nakara (Elders Covey and Rapana [the Zone Leaders]), Nightcliff (Elders Bennett and Falla), Darwin City (Elders Hawkes and Villierme-Puputauki), Palmerston (Elders Nay and Lunt), and then Malak (Elder Lacanivalu and me). The Darwin Branch is about 200-250 members strong (near 1,000 inactive if memory serves [we're working on that...]), and there are a handful of pretty solid members- they come out with us to appointments and help out a lot as far as missionary work is concerned (Heaven knows, missionary work is -in all reality- done mostly in part by members [or it should be]; missionaries are the harvesters and teachers- it's up to the members to continue to fellowship, teach, and strengthen -or retain- those that the missionaries find). I haven't eaten anything else exotic and I'm still working up the courage to try vegamite- even got instructions on how to make a vegamite sandwich... I'm just not sure that eating a vegamite sandwich is condusive to missionary work (some Elders can't really handle how awful it is [and even Aussie's don't like vegamite]).
So, on to this week's report! I hope some questions were answered... anyway, this week has been HARD. "Master, the Tempest is Raging" has been the theme of this week, and seems to be the recurring theme for missionary work. This is easily the hardest thing I have ever done- mentally and psychologically it is so hard... to those preparing for missions, it is hard. You may think you know, but you have NO idea just how hard it is. President Carter came up this week from Adelaide for Specialized Training, and he told Elder Laca and I as we headed to a backup, "The ZAAM (Zion Australia Adelaide Mission) is a man's mission" and he went on to explain that LOTS of Elders and Sisters go home from this mission because they can't take it. It is hard; I have questioned every single thing I know to be true in just the 5 weeks that I've been in Darwin; my faith has been tried again and again and again; my conviction has been tested past any limit I thought even remotely possible. Satan hits the missionaries up here with a concentrated effort, and he hits HARD. The mission. Is. Not. EASY! Again, I'm reminded of Elder Holland and President Eyring's video "Missionary Work and the Atonement"- I wish we had that up here because there have been times when I've needed to watch that and play it over ten times just to get the motivation to get out of the flat and keep on keeping on. It is a battleground up here and it is not an easy-going skirmish- this is all out war with the adversary and he doesn't just attack those we teach or those we hope to find, he attacks the missionaries and he does it without relenting EVER; I haven't gone more than five minutes without some kind of onslaught. It is mentally exhausting, to say nothing of the physical effort it demands. My body really doesn't like me, but I'm pretty sure I have the strength to "crush man's skull between thighs". Speaking of which, we get fed very well... am I fat? Oh no! No no no no no no!!!! I work out every morning (mostly abs and anything I can think of to burn fat) but I guess it isn't working. All of my clothing still fits (my shirts are starting to look pretty rough... trophies of war)... more jumping jacks...
Well, yesterday evening my companion and I found 3 potentials in the space of an hour in the same flat complex. That number may not be large compared to other areas and other missions, but for Malak, that is nothing short of a miracle and a blessing. Elder Laca and I are soaking it up- we're so excited for this week! Our zone broke Darwin's previous record for new investigators this week as well- 25 new investigators in a week! That hasn't happened since 2008! My overall opinion of the week- Satan hates missionaries, missions are more psycholigically challenging than anyone who hasn't been on one knows, and I am SO excited for this week! I still don't even have half of my area memorized but hey, as my companion has been trying to teach me, "Don't worry about it!" (I worry about hundreds of things that are not in my power... old habits die hard). But the work goes on and we are pumped this week, we're going to really smash it!
-Elder Schomburg

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Calm Before the Storm... Week 12

G'day lads! And ladies (sheilas is unkind to say...),
It was good to hear from home this week via email (haven't received any letters- it'll probably take a month or so before I see any because they have to go to Adelaide and then come up to Darwin) and -as always- I appreciate everything and anything anyone says. Too bad Mom had to be the bearer of bad news- sounds as though Colorado is trying to burn down again, and to hear that it's worse than the Waldo Canyon fire is... concerning. As the Lord has said, "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear" (Doctrine and Covenants 38:30) and so it is- there are going to be some crazy times in the coming days and the only counsel I can offer anyone is to steel yourselves, square up, and take it. Everything that is happening is under the watchful eyes of the Lord, and they are happening as He would have them do so. The Lord has also promised that He will not fail nor forsake anyone (Joshua 1:5), no matter their circumstances, so be of good cheer! The Lord's work is hastening!
As far as the work in Darwin -specifically Malak- is concerned, the work is going more slowly... it actually isn't going at all. But I'll touch on that later; I've got to tell you all about last P-Day first! So we had a Zone Activity this P-Day, so all ten of us got together and went to Darwin City and ate lunch on the wharf. We could look out over Darwin Harbor and watch the few ships come and go (there were some pretty slick sailboats), and that was pretty cool. I've now been to the wharf twice (the second time was a dinner with a member) and I've eaten snapper and crocodile... snapper is really good, but crocodile tastes like fish and chicken combined. It wasn't bad, but even Aussie's find that eating crocodile is odd, and apparently it's bad karma- I might get eaten sometime because I ate one of them XD Anyways, after the wharf we went to the Darwin Botanic Gardens- most of the Elders got bored pretty fast and started kicking a rugby ball around, but I thought it was awesome! And hey, I just figured out how to send pictures! I had to set the camera up correctly! Okay, sweet, I'll try to send some photos of East Point! So after we went to the Botanic Gardens (which is a place that kind of makes you feel as though you've walked into a Dr. Suess world because the plants and trees are CRAZY) we went to a place called East Point, which is where the initial Japanese attack on Darwin came from back in February of 1942. Dad, San Diego is cool, but I don't think there is a coastline that can compare to East Point- that place was awesome! There were some old bunkers with coastal guns that we checked out, and we walked on the lower beach (I only touched the water, and if it wasn't full of salt-water crocs and sharks, and if I wasn't a missionary, I would swim in that- it was perfectly warm). There was so much to see it was just awesome!

So the work in Malak has slowed to a crawl- we're not sure why, so we keep working. I don't feel worried about it at all though- the Lord has something in mind for Malak, and He'll see it through one way or the other. Now just isn't His timing, so we will wait and be patient, and continue to work in the ways that we know how to. That honestly sums up how Malak is going (we have six investigators...), and where some moments it is deeply concerning, I revert back to the feelings that I've felt as my companion and I have prayed and fasted for the area- everything is on the Lord's time and He will see it through, but sometimes we must wait, even if we aren't doing anything wrong. I love you all and I hope you enjoy these few photos, I'll put more up later (there's about a hundred and thirty-some and attaching them takes too long, which is why this is so short). I'm doing well if you're wondering, and actually haven't felt so calm or peaceful in awhile- not calm or peace of mind, but calm and peaceful as it relates to dealings with the soul- the Lord will work how He will and in the end, it's not up to us missionaries; if the Lord wants Malak to be in a stagnant state for this period of time, then it will be stagnant, no matter how much we work (and we will continue to work even harder). It's in His hands, as all things are, and something is going to happen in Malak very soon- I can feel it. Until next time then, I love you all!
-Elder Schomburg 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Second Wind... Week 11


This week was much better than last week, and I got a ton of emails from friends and family so my day has just been made! Anything sent to me is GREATLY appreciated, so thanks to everyone whose keeping up with me! I wish I could send pictures but library computers don't let you attach anything, so I'm going to try to find a place to print pictures and I'll send them home with a few letters (after I get them written).
So last week was really difficult... extremely difficult. This week was better as far as my mental state goes, but the work hasn't really sped up as much as we'd like it. Alas, the wants and desires of missionaries are not always in keeping with the Lord's will- His will and His time be done, and not ours. First off (I need to get this down before I forget), the RAAF is doing Top Gun training right now, and the F-18s are always flying extremely low overhead all over Darwin, which is pretty cool but also inconvenient when street contacting- it's difficult to feel and teach with the Spirit when you've got four F-18s screaming overhead in their mock dogfights. 

Also, there's an Australian dessert here (I'm finding that I have a really bad sweet tooth, and Australians know how to make very good desserts) called Trifle, which is a mixture of Jelly (Jello) on top of cream (pudding), on top of a cake of fruitful flavor (mango in my case) served with vanilla ice cream, stacked in that order. It is just one of many God's gifts to the worlds, and whoever thought it up is wonderful.  

Summer fruit trifle

Anyway, on to missionary-related topics! As I struggled through last week (and I sent a very sad letter to my mother [since then I've gotten better, don't worry mom!]), I questioned why it was so difficult for me. The simple answer is that I've been too self-oriented. Though I may not openly verbalize it, my thoughts were focused on MY needs, and MY wants, and MY discomforts, which is why I'm convinced last week was so... sour. That being said, this week I've been focusing on everyone but me, and missionary work becomes much easier (in a manner of speaking, this is still really hard work and my body is starting to feel it). We didn't find as many people as we wanted to this week, an investigator dropped us, and those with baptismal dates are falling off the radar (Sunny, one of our investigators, is actually in the exact same position spiritually as Zach from Tennessee [interesting, eh... eh is actually an Australian thing, by the way, Canadians just stole it from them]). 

But I finished reading the Book of Mormon cover-to-cover for the first time this week. I prayed about it before and after I finished reading the last sections of the book, and the promise given by Moroni is a true promise- the Book of Mormon and the teachings therein are true. It is a real, tangible record of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. When I prayed to know if it was true or not (as I had always just taken it for granted to be true, or at least believed it to be), I did not see any angels. I was not struck dumb or translated in order to behold our Savior proclaiming "This book is true!" I did not faint for three days. Instead, I felt the calmest, most peaceful feeling that I have felt, which I can only relate to the feeling one is overcome with as they sit quietly in the Temple. There was no lightning, no thundering voice from Heaven to testify and declare that the book was true- just the still, small voice that is known to be the Spirit, declaring in such a tranquil manner that, yes, the Book of Mormon is true, and the events found within did occur. With this knowledge, I have not handed out copies of the Book of Mormon so easily- that is to say, I have not just given them out with a brief explanation and a commitment to read from it. Such a sacred work should not be taken lightly- it is the word of God and teaches us how to live in manners that will and do bring eternal happiness; that the mundane and short-lived pleasures of the world cannot measure up to. It's just that simple.

Speaking of worldly things, I've been reading out of Jesus the Christ, in coordination with Preach My Gospel and the Doctrine and Covenants. I encourage everyone who is a strong and faithful member of the Church -and scholars who are mature enough- to do the same; if you really want your mind blown, that is the way to do it. Eric, you especially would love the deep doctrinal topics found within. I won't divulge too much, but just know that my whole perspective has been changed, and the troubles of the world seem very insignificant compared to our divine potential and the plan of our Heavenly Father.
All in all, this week has been educating. I miss you all (as always) but that won't last either. I love you all very much and I would invite all those who have yet to read the Book of Mormon to do so, and to do so prayerfully. Anyone can read the book, but by doing so prayerfully, the truths found within will be made much more apparent.
From Darwin, Australia, cheers!

-Elder Schomburg

"Official" Mission photo taken prior to
Elder Schomburg's departure in March 2013
Thanks to Jen of!

Monday, June 3, 2013

In the Trenches... Week 10

G'day Everyone,
Well, how to start this? To be honest I don't have very much to say. This week has been really hard. Australia is not Tennessee. We get rejected quite often, and in more-than-rude manners. We ask people how they're doing and they get nasty: "What're you all about? What's your problem? Why're you asking me that?" We've gotten the "Not interested" act so many times this week. It's frustrating- they don't even know what we're all about and they're telling us to get off their property, stop harassing them, things of the sort. To be honest I'm a little down- this week has been REALLY hard. Elder Lacanivalu is doing his best to teach me, and I'm doing my best to apply what I'm learning (as it is easy to learn but difficult to apply), but it just feels like I'm not getting anywhere. It is difficult to teach when no one will listen, and it is even more difficult to teach to those who wish only to argue and fight. Many people claim that they aren't nasty about rejecting religion or the persons thereof, but I would beg to differ. People get nasty, and they get nasty very quickly, and it makes it very difficult to love them.
Well, it's not all that bad I suppose. The work here is harder than anything Tennessee had to offer, but as my companion and I have been saying: "This is Australia" and Australia is a much more bitter battleground than Tennessee. At least we're eating well: sausage and eggs and toast for lunch almost everyday, we've always got more than one dinner appointment (oh yeah, any missionary who says they've got it bad with Latinos feeding them so much clearly does not know how much islanders like to eat... stop complaining XD), and flavored drinks are extremely cheap. I never thought I would be saying this but I'm actually starting to miss bottled water. They don't drink water here... sad day.
My Preparation Days are Mondays, I wrote on Tuesday last week because Monday was Zone/District Meeting, so anyone who writes emails to me should do so on Sunday or even Saturday just to be sure that I read it. We email at around 10-11AM here, but we're 15 and a half hours ahead of all of you back home. Something that I discovered is that ultimate rugby is very fun- it's like ultimate frisbee but with a rugby ball. I prefer playing ultimate rugby as opposed to basketball, but that's only because Elder Villierm and Elder Lacanivalu are exceptional ballers, and scoring against them is sort of like trying to teach someone who's already said "Get off my lawn"- it's virtually impossible.
I'm sorry I don't have very much to say this week. I'm learning a lot as a missionary, and I really am doing well- this week has just been difficult. You can literally feel yourself slugging through the spiritual battleground. At least the biking in Darwin is easier than Lebanon. Speaking of which, I've gained twenty pounds over the course of two months- I'm not any rounder or taller, everything that was in my thighs has just converted to muscle.
Anyway, I'd best be off now. Keep on keeping on, and stay strong in the faith. Sometimes the Lord tests our faith through trials, and sometimes they just happen and He's as bummed about it as we are. Just stay strong, and stick to what you know, and you'll be alright :)
-Elder Schomburg  

[I have included a link to a very well written article which may shed a different light upon what Elder Schomburg is doing as a missionary.  It's a tad lengthy, but worth the time and effort: Time For Some Mormon Myth Busting ]