G'day friends and family and anyone else who happens to be reading this!
We just found out about transfer info about five minutes ago (we should have had the info last night BUT as it is this week was pretty crazy with President and the Assistants being up north, so info was a bit slow and some last minute changes were made). This transfer, for August-September of 2013, I will be staying in Darwin, serving in the Malak area. Elder Traconis is packing 23k's and is headed south with Elders Villierme, Hawkes, and Bennett. We're also getting four sisters, one of which has literally just entered the mission field. For the next few days, I'll be serving with Elder Fala in both the Nightcliff and Malak areas using Darwin City's car, seeing as their being transferred (whoop whoop!). I'm always a little nervous with driving- I was able to go on trade-off with one of the Zone Leaders, Elder Rapana, about two weeks ago, and I was allowed to use their vehicle for the day. Driving on the left is not the hard part- the switched interior of the vehicle is just a bit difficult to adjust to.
This week was a very slow week for Elder T and I; we smashed tracting this week and still only found 3 potentials, and other than that, our numbers were just low. I'm not overly worried- I'm starting to see a pattern in my missionary service in which some weeks we will work very hard and see the results, and other weeks we work just as hard and see absolutely no results. This is the Lord's work and He will do as He sees fit- His judgement is much better than my own and so long as I am committed to doing the work, I am not in the wrong. This week is probably going to be equally low in numbers due to the fact that Elder Fala and I will be serving in both of our areas at the same time. I'm not sure how much we'll use the car, so we'll see what happens and how productive we manage to be. Should only be for a day or two, no worries here. As far as what I think my own future holds as a servant of the Lord, I think this may be my last one in the Territory, or at least in Darwin (I'd very much like to see Alice Springs sometime- it's the closest to "out Bush" as anyone can get). As far as for how I feel the work will go... I'm not sure. I'm excited for the transfer and as always I'm anxious about getting yet another new companion, but thus far they've all been pretty top-notch companions... for the most part... anyways, I'm hoping and praying that we'll be able to find new people to teach and be able to get some of our current investigators baptized sometime soon.
We had a specialized training session up here with President Carter this week, as I hinted at just a bit ago, and it was extremely spiritually uplifting and enlightening. I really do love President Carter, but I'm not sure he appreciates my honesty. As I sat in my interview with him, he asked, "Elder Schomburg, how're you doing? How's your mission experience been so far?" I answered him with an affirmative, "I'm doing well, and so far my mission experience has been alright." He cocked his head quizzically and his eyes watched me with scrutiny as he posed the question, "And why just alright? Why not great?" I was honest and told him the simple truth, "President, my mission experience is becoming great- I'm starting to find a groove here and things are going well for me. The first three months of my mission were very hard, though, and I considered calling it more than once. Satan's been working on me mentally for the most part, and he's been working overtime, and it has been very difficult." I then expressed to him how mentally challenging it has been for me, and how it's just been recently -this transfer in fact- that I've actually started to get "comfortable" in a manner of speaking. I told him that I'd been trying to tackle every single issue I could all at once so I could become the instrument the Lord needs me to be even faster, and how doing so had pointed out hundreds of my many imperfections, which are difficult to accept sometimes. I told him how this week I had been studying the Atonement, to more fully understand it. When I had been talking to Elder Traconis about it, he basically summed up all of my words and responded with a simple question: "So what you're saying is that the Atonement applies for everyone else but you?" I was flustered and almost angered that he assumed me to think something so arrogant- of course the Atonement applies for me just as much as anyone else, every missionary knows that! As I thought about it though, he was right; for the longest time, my mindset has been that my past sins are stuck with me and even though I've gone through/am going through the repentance process, the Atonement just isn't going to cut it for Elder Schomburg. As I explained this to President, he felt as though it would be appropriate to read some scriptures out of the Doctrine and Covenants, section 93 I think. As we read the scriptures, he asked me if I understood what he was saying. To be honest, I could not make the connection of my quarries and situation to the scriptures he had chosen to read. He explained it and spelled it out, and even then I didn't quite understand what he was trying to teach me. In the end I told him that I would have to study it myself before coming to an understanding of what it is that he meant.
Anyway, I don't think President Carter has ever really received honest answers from missionaries when he asks, "How are you doing and how's your mission going?" Now maybe I'm just that guy who can find fault with everything and naturally views things more pessimistically than others (thus my answers are a bit more forward than others might be), but I did not feel impressed to put on a false smile and say, "President, everything is just roses and daisies!" because that just isn't true. I feel like President Carter probably gets lots of missionaries who will tell him what they think he wants to hear, which is "Everything is roses and daisies!" but I just can't lie like that. I've never really been one to put on a fake smile and tell everyone it's all great and wonderful if it isn't great or wonderful. Consequently, I think lots of missionaries (because I'm honest in these matters with everyone) give me a quizzical look and often cock an eyebrow that has "Are you apostate?" written all over it, and they probably come to that conclusion, which is quite silly of them. I am not going to lie about it to anyone- being on a mission is hard, and often it's not like it's made out to be. I'll use the analogy of war movies- they often depict all of the exciting and glorious and courageous parts as happening in rapid fire sequence in a way that keeps you on the edge of your seat for hours on end. However, when one studies warfare, they find that the nature of war is quite the opposite to what many movies depict- often times soldiers spend a lot of time (hours, days, weeks) waiting for the fight, and when it finally comes, it is not glorious or action-packed, but rather is long and drawn out, resulting in few instances of heroism or any grand displays of patriotism. The same could be said for missionary work- the common depiction is seeing missionaries tracting down a street where everyone welcomes them in with smiling faces, and investigators are getting baptized in droves and there's never a moment when the missionaries or those they are speaking to are never smiling. FALSE!!! Instances like the above are... well.... they haven't happened to me yet. I haven't baptized anyone. Probably 80% of the people we meet are swift to reject us, 15% listen but reject us anyways, and 5% will actually start taking lessons. Out of that 5% only 1% will ever be baptized (don't quote these statistics, I'm using them to help paint a picture of what missionary work is like). The other day Elder Traconis and I did a lap around the general perimeter of the chapel (not our area, but we were waiting for our ride back to Malak and we wanted to be productive, so we thought we'd help the Nightcliff Elders). We talked to a man who is Lutheran and is happy to stay like that, but he was kind and polite and offered intelligent conversation. As we continued our perimeter scan, we waved to a man across the street from us. He flipped the birdie and shouted things like, "Go back to Utah, f****** American pests! Stupid American b******s!" We smiled and waved and told him to have a good day, and then he yelled something in German. I politely called over my shoulder, "Auf Wiedersehen, mein freund!" and we continued walking. I can honestly say that I didn't get down or hold anything against the man- honestly, it didn't affect me at all, and when the time comes when Heavenly Father asks, "Elder Schomburg, do you forgive this man for having been a bit rude?" I will say "Yes, I do."
Now why am I ranting about how missionary work is not what everyone thinks it is? It's like Sister Carter said: "Missionary work is not for sissies- it is hard work, and it is work, the hardest work you'll ever do." I pity the boy or girl who thinks that coming on a mission is going to be easy- it is hard. HOWEVER... there is no place on this earth that I would rather be. I look back at the short time I've spent in the field (I feel like I left the MTC[which probably doesn't help me in writing home- it feels like I left a week ago]) and I can honestly say that yes, I've had some really challenging times as a missionary. I've pondered coming home a handful of times, and each time I've thought of that, I think of why I'm here. Some time ago, not sure how long exactly, I was with Heavenly Father at that same counsel we all were at, and it was decided that on , Elder Schomburg was going to be in Darwin, Australia, preaching the Restored Gospel to those who would be willing to listen. Some time ago, not sure how long exactly, it was decided that I was going to be a missionary for the Lord, and while I was at that counsel, I have no doubt in my mind that I said to someone that I can't remember since crossing the veil, "I will share the Restored Gospel with you, and I will help you come back to Heavenly Father." Someone out here, no matter how rough or how hard it gets, has previously been promised by me that I would find them, and that I would help them come back to Heavenly Father. I promised someone that I would help them come home to live with Heavenly Father again. I've been told that I am the "go-to-guy" and that I can be relied on to get things done, and that is exactly what I intend to be while in the field. Missionary work is hard and it's not going to get any easier. The results are not instantaneous in my own experiences and most of the time, the said missionary will never see the results of his/her labors in this life. We don't baptize every week up here in Darwin. We are rarely received into someone's home, let alone looked at with a positive nature.But it is so worth it. There is no work more important on the face of this earth than sharing the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I can find satisfaction just in the fact that, though I haven't seen many immediate results, I've put myself out there and thrown in my two cents. Something that Elder L. Tom Perry said just recently is (paraphrasing), "This time in the Church's history is just as important and just as exciting as the First Vision, and when the Book of Mormon came forth," That hasn't quite sunk into me yet, but how blessed am I to be on a mission at one such a time in the Church's history!? The Lord is hastening His work and He's not sparing a single moment, so neither should I. I am excited to be here and I know that the Lord needs me and planned for me to be here where I am, right now, for whatever reason. It's like I've said throughout my whole mission thus far: "I don't know what it is that I'm doing here or why the Lord has sent me here, but He knows, and that's good enough for me."
Well I'm not sure what anyone is going to get out of this blog post, but I hope you all can find a way to apply some principle in your own lives. I love you all and I want you to know that! I love you heaps!
[I have added captions as Elder Schomburg described the photos - I know nothing else. haha]
|Crazy tree at night|
|Yellow watermelon - champagne melon|
Elder Schomburg's first attempt at taking his own photo
|Gourmet meal - sausage, potatoes, eggs, cheese|
|Elder Lacanivalu - first companion in Australia|
|Watch for frilled lizards!|
|Light saber - no idea why!|
|Light saber 2 - still no clue|
|Elder Traconis - 2nd companion in AU|