Monday, August 26, 2013

Growing Pains... Week 22

G'day from Darwin!
This week has been a rough one, and not because of the stubborn people we've been sent to teach, but because of dissension in the companionship. As the title is referring to, at the beginning of every transfer I often times wonder if the new companion I get is going to be "the one that drives you up the wall". I had been hoping that Elder T had been that companion- I was wrong. For the first week and a half, Elder A and I were smashing it- our member present lessons were off the charts, we smashed our other lessons, and we found heaps of new investigators. Then, I experienced a day-long stomach bug in which I was quite ill; we spent the day in the flat. As the Elders out here say, "Better to stay in and be sick for a day than to go out and be sick for a week", so we stayed in. Not two days after I came to, Elder A came down with a terrible migraine that put him out of the fight for the second half of the day (we turned into the flat after seeing our last set appointment, which was about 4:30). I gave him a blessing and I was about to start studying when he took the phone and disappeared into the study room.

Well, being slightly suspicious (because the last time he made a call it was to a single sister in Adelaide, but he had told me), I found a reason to go into the study. I could hear him talking from the other room (the phone wasn't on speaker, strike two for suspicious), and it didn't sound as though he was trying to set up a lesson with anybody or trying to get the members to come out with us- the conversation was too lax. As I entered the room, he switched to speaking Samoan. In a short time, he finished the call. I returned to the study, sat down with some study materials, and then asked him, "Elder, did you get permission to make that call?" He didn't look at me but left the room and said, "Yeah." He groomed himself in the bathroom and before he came back I checked the phone log, looking for a text or call to the Zone Leaders that would confirm he had obtained permission to make a call outside of the zone. I found none. He came back, and I asked him again, a little more insistently, "Elder... did you get permission to make that call?" He looked at me quizzically and said, "Permission to call a member? You don't need it," to which I responded, "If that member is in Adelaide, yeah, you do." I think that's what sparked our two-day war. He was deeply offended and we exchanged some harsh words, left the flat to go out and proselyte, and every appointment we had made fell through. We returned to the flat then, because there just wasn't any Spirit at all. We then exchanged more harsh words, and argued and yelled at each other, and that was how the night ended. The following day was Sunday and it seemed as if all was well. But I still had to report his misconduct- as his companion and as a missionary, I had a duty to report ANY misconduct of that nature. Sleeping in is something that, unless done regularly, doesn't need to leave the companionship. The same goes with starting studies on time and other mundane things, but making a phone-call outside of one's zone is something that no one should let fly, and I had no intention of doing so.

After Correlation Meeting, I took Elder C aside and told him what took place. He appreciated the report and said he would look into it and call the Assistants. When Elder A and I got back to our flat, he confronted me about what I had said to Elder C. I told him -word for word- what I had said and what took place. Elder A then left to the living room/bedroom, and after about five minutes called me to come out and talk with him. Well I knew where this was going, but I went anyways. Details aside, we fought and argued even more heatedly than before and ended up saying some pretty hurtful things to each other. He retired to the study and I sat outside, both of us fuming for an hour or so. He then came out and ate a bowl of Wheetbix, and I went into the study and started reading a talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, titled "The Divine Companionship". I was feeling pretty yuck at this point- I was nervous and on edge because I had put off a 6'5" Samoan who got angry very quickly, the Spirit had departed entirely, and we hadn't taught anyone all day. After about the space of another hour, Elder A came into the study and sat at his desk. He looked very somber and very tired, as was I. He then said with a heavy tone, "Elder Schomburg, you mind if we talk?" At this point I didn't want to talk anymore- every other invitation to talk had ended in a verbal beating of some kind, and I was not in the mood for another one. But, I knew that the problem had to be fixed, otherwise the people in our area, the people we were supposed to be teaching, would be denied the Restored Gospel with the reason being that the missionaries assigned and trusted to teach them were incapable of doing so due to their own utter disability to love each other. So, I nodded my head and waited for him to speak. I was surprised this time, however, because he said, "Let's start with a prayer." A prayer? Both of us praying together? Why, that hadn't happened in almost two days. I know I had been praying fervently for some kind of divine intervention, not knowing what to do with a fuming Samoan roaming in the flat, but praying together? That was almost unheard of. Well, we knelt down and he offered an opening prayer. It was a very heartfelt and sincere prayer, and after closing it, we sat for about five minutes in silence. It was then that he said, "Elder Schomburg, I just wanted to tell you that I'm sorry." WHAT!? I was utterly flabbergasted, and absolutely speechless. He was actually apologizing. He went on to say that it was his pride that had caused the dissension between us, and that the situation -and the negative and hateful atmosphere that had developed between us- was his fault. Well, it wasn't all his fault- I certainly could have gone about many things much differently, so I too apologized. As it turns out, we both came to realize that we were feeling very similar feelings: I didn't want to be enemies anymore, and neither did he. I didn't want there to be such a negative atmosphere between us, and neither did he. We took a step back and looked at where we were- being companions, we were supposed to be treating each other like brothers. We should have been strengthening each other, and doing our very best to help one another. Instead we had been tearing the other down, and smashing each other in every way we could think of. Needless to say, we felt very stupid after we came to these conclusions. We closed with a prayer and then gave each other a manly hug.

Then the Zone Leaders called later that night, and asked to have a minute with Elder A. I removed myself and he took the phone off of speaker, and I went into the study. We both knew what the call was for and what would happen, but it wasn't something we needed to talk about at that point. I came out after about ten minutes, when their call had ended, and the simple communication between us was something along the lines of me asking, "All goods?" and Elder A flashing a thumbs up and confirming, "All goods." Now, to say that everything is daisies and roses is not true- we're still trying to figure out how to teach with each other, and how to live with each other, and do all other normal missionary things with each other. It's not easy, and we're still trying to rebuild that trust that once existed between us. It's amazing how long it takes to build trust compared to how quickly one can destroy it, and usually repairs take longer than when originally building it. I can be honest and say that I did not in the least bit like where we were. I wanted to be ET-ed (emergency transferred), and if not me, I wanted Elder A to be ET-ed. We didn't work for two days, out of being obedient to the Lord's commandment of, "If ye receive not My spirit, ye shall not teach," which as Elder Holland teaches, is actually spoken in the form of a commandment; that is to say that what the Lord is saying, or as it should be interpreted, is "If ye receive not My Spirit, ye are forbidden to teach." Our area took a hit from that, and Satan won the victory for the space of two days. That is something that I'm not proud to admit.

I can say that I feel like I've grown from the experience. To be honest, as it was all playing out, I couldn't help but think about what it would be like to be married and in such a state of unhappiness (it's funny, Elder A thought of the same thing). I would only dare say that I got the smallest hint of the torment that would come from being married to a spouse whom you hated and vice versa, and it really did teach me about proper communication, and how to work through problems. Notice that only after Elder A and I had taken it to the Lord did things work out, and that is what every prophet from the time of Adam has ever taught, in one way or another: there should always be three in any relationship (in this case, a companionship, but the same applies to marriage), and those three are the husband and wife, or the two Elders (missionaries), and Heavenly Father. Someone very close to me wrote me two weeks ago and gave me this analogy: when three toothpicks are fashioned together so that the points are touching, and an equal amount of outside pressure is exerted onto each point, the chances of the toothpicks yielding and breaking is 8-10 times less than that of only two points touching. Thus it is in any kind of relationship, be it a companionship of missionaries or a married couple- Heavenly Father must always be a part of it or it will be much weaker on its own. Now, it is to my understanding that divorce rates are very high; I contend that a large part of that is due to the lack of having a proper common ground within married couples, such as being based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and leaning upon Heavenly Father for help and guidance and strength when things get tough. My parents and their story is a perfect example of this- only by leaning on Heavenly Father and learning to accept His will did they manage to restore their marriage, which I daresay is ten times happier and more joyful than it was before, but you'd have to ask them about that.

Well, I didn't think I'd go there, and this seems to be the common theme for the past two weeks. Tune in next time for another episode of Elder Schomburg's Marriage Counseling XD jokes! Seriously though, I wonder what the Lord is trying to teach me sometimes, and why it is that some things happen the way they do, and sometimes learning and growing can be very painful. Just like when we're children and we start maturing physically, sometimes we experience the same growing pains when the Lord allows us to go through trials (or sometimes brings us to them), except on a more spiritual level. But, as is the same with physical growth, when our bodies become mature and strong, the same happens with our spirits: we become stronger than we were before, and we're capable of doing more than we were when we were children. Of course, I'm not sure that's the best analogy to use, because someday we all get old and the next thing you know you're using a walker and someone has to help you to the bathroom again and then you die... again, there I go on a random tangent. I'd better shoot this off.

I love you all, and thank you heaps to everyone that writes me! Again, mail is never a bad thing to get! And, as my 6-month mark is fast approaching, I feel it necessary to say that most missionaries tell me that this is the time when people back home start to forget about you sooooooooo..... don't let these missionaries be right!!! And that's about as much of a "Please Write To Me, I Miss You Guys" as you're all going to get XP take it or leave it XD

I love yous heaps!
-Elder Schomburg 

[You can find Elder Schomburg's mailing address below.  His birthday is also coming up - as far as international shipping goes - on October 17th. He'll be 20 years old.]

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

Look - It's a coconut!
Eating/drinking coconut


Elder Schomburg's unattractive tie selection.

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