Monday, September 30, 2013

"Miners, Not Minors!"...Week 27

G'day one and all!!!
I have HEAPS to say (my poor journal is suffering- I almost had to resort to bullet points to keep track of everything that's been happening). So on Monday I landed in Adelaide and bunked with Elder B and Elder W (surprise surprise). On Tuesday, I experienced my first transfer meeting (I've been out for six months and this is my first- go figure) and we heard the testimonies of a couple of the Great's who were headed home in the next few days, including Elder C's. I'm sad to see him going- out of all the missionaries, he's more or less the one I want to be like, and I'm sad to see him go. At the same time, I'm happy for him being able to move on to the next stages in his life, like going back to school, getting a job, getting married, having 50 kids, all that Mormon jazz XD After transfer meeting, we preached by the way for about an hour or two and then gathered our belongings and drove for five hours to Mildura, Victoria, my sort of new area... sort of. Mildura is the zone, and there are ten missionaries out here (just like Darwin). We stayed in Mildura, my new companion Elder P and I (a Kiwi on his 4th transfer) for a day, and then drove for three hours to Broken Hill, my new area. Let me tell you about Broken Hill (pause for effect... XD).
Broken Hill has a branch of 20-30 active members attending church. They haven't had missionaries for about 2 years. The members, however, had a baptism on their own and actually have nine investigators of their own as well. That is why Elder P and I are being sent to open Broken Hill- it has been prepared by the Lord. Broken Hill is a mining town (hence the title- I thought it was rather punny XD) that is -quite literally- in the Australian Outback. There is nothing as far as the eye can see for miles around and there is no gradual change from bush to civilization- it is bush, bush, and more bush, and then a town of 19-20,000 spread like butte, and then bush. It is flat, flat, and then more flat, and then Broken Hill, which actually has a handful of wicked hills... steepas hills... I'm sort of worried, because it's a biking area, and those hills are San Francisco-steep and then some. We're three hours away from Mildura, and therefore three hours away from all the other missionaries in our zone. To be frank, we are on our own out there, at least in part. The members are SO excited to have us there, and we absolutely have to be the members best friends, because they're all we've got, and they're the ones who are baptizing in Broken Hill on their own.

Broken Hill Branch Building

Broken Hill Branch Building
Screen Shots from Google Earth

On Wednesday we went out to Broken Hill and set up our flat- everything in it is brand new which makes Elder P and me the most spoiled missionaries in the ZAAM. After we had a brief look around the town and spent one night there, we came back to Mildura for a training from President Carter. After the training, he interviewed each of us at different times, so I preached in Mildura for a bit longer, and then came back to talk to President Carter. He asked me, "Son, why do you think you're in Broken Hill?" I wasn't quite sure, and I told him that it was because "I must've been doing something right?" He nodded his head and said, "Elder Schomburg, you're one of the most obedient and diligent missionaries we have- that's why you're in Broken Hill. That's why you're three hours away from everyone else. I trust you, Elder Schomburg, to get the job done- don't misuse that trust." Those words struck me. Out of 120 missionaries, Elder P and I have been sent to Broken Hill -the most isolated area in the mission- to open it up for missionary work. That's a humbling thought. [I have no idea what happened to the formatting here - sorry!]

Aerial View of Broken Hill
from Google

To be honest, ever since being in the field, I had this deep down desire to open an area. I thought it would be heaps cool to be able to open a brand new area. Well Broken Hill may have had missionaries in the past, but that was 2 years ago. Now the Lord has called me to open it up again. When we were out there, looking at the town and getting a feel for it (and it is a nice town- lots of shops, lots of big names... just in the middle of nowhere), I could feel it. The field at Broken Hill is more than white and ready to be harvested. I feel a bit bad- swooping in and taking the member's glory, as it were, but they are SO excited to work with us and I am SO excited to work with them. I would rather have a branch of 20 members -solid members- who have caught the wave and are missionary-minded as opposed to a ward of 250 with only 20 solid, missionary-minded members. We met the Branch President's wife and she squealed with joy, she was so excited to see us! This opportunity is a missionary's dream come true- opening an area and getting to work with members that are so devoted to building the Lord's kingdom that they baptized on their own and to actually have their own investigators just isn't heard of. To say that the Lord has blessed me with this opportunity is truly an understatement of just how much of a blessing it is. We're headed back to Broken Hill later today, and then Elder P and I will be staying there for the rest of the transfer. I'm excited!!! [A transfer as a measurement of time is about 6 weeks, I believe - for those who are wondering.]

Silver City Highway near Broken Hill
from Google

On the way, we saw heaps of Australian wildlife- we saw wild goats, about 20 dead kangaroos on the side of the road, and emus!!! There are heaps of emus out there!!! And guess what else? Coming back from Broken Hill, Elder P and I were with Elder and Sister L -who are serving in Mildura- and we... well... brace yourselves.... we hit an emu. All is well, save for the crunched and shattered front of Elder L's Toyota. We were doing 130 k's and he was watching the emus on the side of the road, but failed to see the one ON the road. Sister L screamed, which roused me and my companion (we'd fallen asleep... it's hard to stay awake when you've got nothing to look at) and we looked just in time to see the emu look at us with its massive eyes and -not gammin'- open jaw, and then BOOM! The emu rolled over the hood, over the back of the car, came down on the side of the road, and after a brief moment it came to, took several staggered steps, and ran into the bush and lied down not too far off from the road. That emu took it like a pro, honestly- how many animals, flightless birds even, know how to get hit by a car? But all is well, no one but the emu was hurt, and I'm sure we'll have a safe trip out there this afternoon :) no worries, bros!

Seriously, you hit me?
Emu photo from Google
Oh, another interesting thing- just before President Carter's training, I met a man who was cleaning the chapel. I never got his name, but I shook his hand and said, "Hi" and exchanged pleasantries, then went in to the room we were having our training in. An hour into President Carter's training, Elder L got a phone call. He went outside and took the call before coming back in and announcing that that Brother whom I had just met, had experienced a heart attack and had died- his wife and eight children -the oldest being seventeen- were trying to arrange for the body to be transported to Melbourne for an autopsy. Well, that really put many things into perspective- when that Brother woke up Thursday morning, do you think he knew it would be his last day? I certainly didn't think any more of it after I shook his hand and told him to take it easy before departing from him. Some words were shared shortly after Elder L announced the bad news that actually caused my mind to wander and I quickly became very afraid for everyone back home. I wondered how many people I had wronged or left with some angered or hurtful parting words, and if those were the last words we'd ever share. I wondered if my family knows just how much I love them, and how much I love and enjoy everything about them and how much I appreciate all that they do and have done for me, and if I've done enough to ensure that if I left in the next hour, they would know that I love them SO MUCH. I wondered about a lot of things that I can honestly say made me want to jump on a plane back home and make sure everyone that I love knows it!!! Life is SO short, and SO unpredictable... when you look at it with that perspective, lots of our differences and the things we argue or fight about start to look very petty and feeble. It's sort of frightening to think about, really, just how unpredictable life is and how it takes just a second for a life to end. Nevertheless, death is part of Heavenly Father's plan- it is by no means the end of all things that are good. The Brother who passed had been less-active, and had actually just returned to church in the past two years and, just in the last year, was able to be sealed to his family for time and eternity. His family- his wife and his lovely and precious children- will see him again, and they will all be able to live with each other in the eternities. Death isn't really the frightening thing- it's the thought of "Did this person know how much I loved them before they passed through the veil?" that really gets me thinking about things.
Anyways, I am doing well, physically, spiritually, emotionally (save for my thoughts concerning that which is mentioned above)... I get to open Broken Hill =D what a dream come true!!! I love you all heaps... I. Love. All. Of. You. HEAPS!!!! Don't EVER EVER EVER FORGET IT EVER!!!!!! XPPPPPPPP
-Elder Schomburg 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

One Chapter Ends and Another Begins... Week 26

G'day one and all!
First off, I must voice just what I'm thinking about as far as some family news goes. One, I miss my cat =/ I definitely wouldn't want him to come to Darwin though - even the street savvy cats don't really last long, and that's not necessarily because they get killed, but more because they kill things that end up being poisonous, thus killing the cat. [Elder Schomburg's cat is fine. He just misses him, I guess. ;)]  Anyway! Elizabeth got the lead!!!! Whoohoo!!! What a pro! I'm super excited for you, Elizabeth!!! You'll smash it! [Elizabeth auditioned for The King and I and landed the lead role of Anna!  You can see her in it in mid-November.] 
So... transfer information came.... I'M LEAVING DARWIN!!! I'm really excited to go south, and anxious and nervous, too. I knew this was coming- there was no way I was staying in Darwin for one more transfer, despite popular belief (I'm telling you, the Holy Ghost and I are like peas and carrots). We got the call at 6PM last night, which was much earlier than expected, and then we may have more or less been put in an apostate situation [they broke a mission rule - apparently by accident] by our ward mission leader: he heard about transfers in whatever way that he did, and he decided to put together and throw a last minute dinner for the missionaries! So Elder A and I didn't think we were going- we'd just finished riding around trying to say goodbye to the solid members that I really love in our area (none of them were home), and we were at a less active's house when Brother B called and said he was coming to pick us up at our flat. So we raced to our flat and we waited.... and we waited... and we called and he said he was still coming, so we waited. It was 8:30 when he showed up and it was 8:50 by the time we got out to Nightcliff where he lives. The Darwin District Sisters were there and so was Elder F and Elder W (who is going south along with Elder C [who is finished] and Elder N and me). So... we had to be into our flats at 9:00, and Elder A and I were dependent on a ride and twenty minutes by car out of our area, which would have been a fairly long walk considering our lack of navigational skills in the foreign Nightcliff area. Consequently, we were stuck. The District Sisters said hi and said bye and we took some photos and they were outta there. Elder F and Elder W, who were on bikes and in their own area, stuck around, and Elder A played music on a guitar and sang songs while we ate ice cream and lasagna. We got back to the flat at 9:30... definitely apostate and I'm sorry.  I've been wondering if we could have done something differently. We had wanted to cancel with Brother B but he had just pulled up to pick us up when we were going to make that call. Honestly, it was the most hastily put together thing I've ever experienced and Brother B's motives were pure (in his old mission the elders didn't have to turn in until 10PM) but we were still apostate for the space of an hour or so. Sorry guys....
On to more news! I have none! I'm excited to go south because in all honesty, I was getting pretty itchy feet in the Malak area. I wasn't quite sure what I should be doing (aside from the usual missionary work); none of our investigators were progressing and nothing long term seemed to be happening. I've been trying to figure it out but I'm not sure what the deal was. Oh, quick sidebar! I've decided that Elder A is a really good friend and fun to "hang out with" as it were, but as far as missionary work goes, we have very different styles, and we're both pretty stubborn in our ways and we think VERY differently, and that's where most of the problem was. But it's not fair of me to focus only on the negative aspects, especially when I myself have more than a few- he's a good friend and I know that he would have my back in any situation; we're just different missionaries. Alright, anyway, so I wasn't sure what was going on in Malak, or rather, why it was that nothing was going on and I was starting to get impatient with the situation. Now I'm leaving, and I'm sad and glad- I think it was time for something new, at least for myself, but I'm sad to be leaving the place that every other missionary wants to be. That also makes me nervous about going south- why is it that everyone wants to come to Darwin? How bad is it in Adelaide that Darwin -the most humid and therefore one of the "hottest" places in the mission- has become the place to be? My shirts are smashed, by the way, and I'm fairly certain that the black suit I have in the vault down south, my first suit, probably doesn't fit me anymore. I'm sure it'll be easy to take care of down there, but we'll see. That's another thing- they wear suits all the time down there... I probably should have brought three, because now I'm down a suit. What can you do? Come what may and love it! I'm going to miss Darwin... certainly won't miss the smells though- the dank and humid air makes the slightest aroma permeate the surrounding area like nothing I've ever experienced. If something smells good, you can smell it for 50 kilometres in any direction- likewise, if something smells bad, you can smell it as well, and there are just pockets of the aromas. One second you go through a pocket of air that smells like sewage, and the next you go past a lily tree and you just want to stand by it and soak up the sweetness. Wow, that was random, sorry for rambling. I've got to write down all the things about Darwin so I don't forget them later!
I'm going to miss the members here- I've been told that the members here are the most solid in the entire mission, which makes me a little less-than-excited for going south to meet the members. At the same time, I can't wait to see what it's like! Apparently, and Elder A just told me this, a different Elder was supposed to replace me up here earlier and I should have gone south already, but as it was that didn't happen. Elder A will be great up here, though- he's going to get it done and there are two investigators we have up here who I'm confident will be baptized this transfer. I'm a bit sad about not getting to be a part of those baptisms, but so long as it gets done and they become solid members, I'm happy- we're all on the same team here, and it doesn't matter who gets to do the ordinance, just so long as it gets done.

I'll probably be in Adelaide at about 5PM [1:30 a.m. Monday USA time] - my flight leaves at 1:10PM and I have to be at the airport in thirty minutes... aw dang.... what's for lunch...? Haha, no worries, airplane food tastes better than some of the things I've made! XD Anyway, I've got to be off now. I love you all!! Cheers!!!
-Elder Schomburg 

[Elder Schomburg is a somewhat nervous traveler, so please keep him in your thoughts and prayers as he makes this journey and adjusts to his new area. Thank you! Lisa]

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Work Goes Forth...Week 25

G'day everyone!
Wow, I have heaps of emails from everyone and I might not get to reply to you all!!! I'm so sorry that my time is limited at this library, but I will try super hard to write back to all of you! Thank you so much for the emails!!!!
So first off, this week Elder A and I smashed our goals. We found more than 30 potential investigators and taught 20 lessons. Now tell me that isn't good work! It is for Australia, let's not compare the mission here to somewhere like Samoa, where they get 40 member-present lessons and whatnot (we had 11 this week, which is exceptionally high). This is good news! Week five has been the best one of the transfer as far as work goes! It's also been the hardest for me thus far concerning loving my companion though. Despite our exceptionally good work this week, Elder A and I are still not quite "friends" due to some increasingly difficult personal differences.  I don't want to say that I've given up on the situation, but it seems that no matter the amount of scriptures I read for guidance, no matter the amount of praying I have done for strength and understanding, no matter the amount of service I perform, I just cannot find room in my heart to love him. I'm still trying, but it is very hard, especially when the only thing he is willing to talk about is how I am in need of much changing and it's my fault that the work in our area hasn't exactly been as great as it has been in the past for him... anyways.
Aside from internal affairs, the work in Darwin is great! The Sisters are smashing it and the Elders are doing great! I'm sad though- Elder C is leaving this transfer. When I first met him I wasn't sure I liked him- he was serious, he was unafraid to smash anyone despite their success, and he seemed very iron-fisted. He really did open up though, and it's now my privilege to call him my friend. He has taught me more than a lot of previous missionaries, and he's seriously, in all honesty, one of the best missionaries in the ZAAM. Today is his last P-Day, so we're headed out to East Point to play some Darwin Ten-Step later today. I'll take more pictures because I LOVE THE OCEAN!!! The ocean isn't even my ocean though, meaning I can't look at the horizon and be looking in the direction of America... instead I'm looking either at Australia, India, or French Indonesia... but it's still an OCEAN!!! It's funny- all the missionaries from Utah and any other land-locked state freak out when we see the ocean- the Islanders just laugh at us when we get excited XD
I hope everyone's doing well since Colorado seems to be being burned and drowned...
I love you heaps!!!
-Elder Schomburg 

P.S. We ate at the wharf again last P-Day and these are the photos I took:

U.S. Aircraft Carrier at dock

God Bless American and her
terribly awesome military might!!!

Elder A and Elder Schomburg

Chow time!
Exotic foods eaten: crocodile, kangaroo, lamb (not exotic but a first) and camel

A visitor on our front portch - Arachnus Deathicus!
Also known as the Huntsman Spider

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Outback Croc-House?... Week 24

G'day all!
Today finds me in a much less wrathful mood towards priesthood holders in general and I'd like to apologize if I came off as one who thinks of himself higher than anybody else. I can't apologize for calling anyone to repentance, but I tend to apply my own standards to others and make judgement calls based off of my own code, which isn't fair at all, and for that I can say that I am sorry.
Mum asked a few questions concerning my general welfare, and I can proudly say that I am as healthy as a horse. This P-Day we will be going to the wharf (a different wharf I think, a classier one), which will be fun. We spent from 7AM to 10:30AM cleaning the outside of the flat and also straightening the kitchen. The story behind it is that the Senior Couple -Elder and Sister S- came around, dropped us some cleaning materials, had a brief look about the flat, and were sorely displeased. Elder S asked us, "Would your parents be embarrassed if they walked into this flat?" I... am a terrible Elder- the smart alec in me has yet to leave and where it has been softened and limited immensely compared to what it was, hints of it still linger within me, and it came out as I answered his question with, "Well, the kitchen maybe, but everything else looks pretty good" which is the honest truth. [Admittedly, I, Elder Schomburg's mother, have a sign in the kitchen that reads, "When I get the urge to clean house, I lay down until it passes." He comes by his smart alec and cleaning skills quite naturally. haha]  Elder S really, legitimately does have a cleaning OCD, no joke, and our flat was in good condition, save for the kitchen, which I can openly admit was a disaster. I love them, but I can honestly say that they treat the doctrine of having a clean flat with such zeal that we would have to sit in our flats all day every day spending our time looking for and squishing mites in order to meet their standards. But such is the minor whining of an Elder who was -and still may be- in need of some rebuking as far as keeping a clean flat goes. It's a little harder to do with Elder A, who likes to leave things lying around and doesn't quite understand that wiping off the counter tops will clean them, but will also transfer the crumbs to the floor, and we don't have a dog [canine vacuum], which means we actually have to sweep it up.... anyway. I do my own laundry- we have a washer and drier, but down south they don't have driers, so they hang clothes up (which we ended up having to do for a day or two because all of the outlets on one side of the flat shut off due to one blown fuse (the washer), and this all happened about two weeks ago). As far as grocery shopping goes, we basically go to the shop, buy whatever it is we need (which is typically a lot because we both eat everything and we've expended all of our cleaning supplies twice with trying to keep up with the senior couple's demands and whatnot), and hope we have enough money between the two of us to get us through the month. Up in Darwin they do give us a $30 booster in the middle of the month because Darwin is the most expensive area in the mission, which leads me to wonder what the Elders do down south- Elder T and Elder A came up from Adelaide with nothing in their accounts, yet I started the transfer with an accumulated $280 and Elder L is now up to an accumulated $500- the product of smart shopping and such.  [The missionaries are given a monthly "stipend" by the mission office depending upon the cost of living in the area in which they are serving.  It is up to each missionary to budget what they need for necessities such as food and housewares, etc.  Missionary families (and members of the congregation) contribute money to the general mission fund for the support of each missionary in the field.  The typical cost for one missionary is $400 per month for the 2 years (or 18 months for sisters) that they serve.  While they can use their own personal money for "treats" and such, it is not encouraged since some missionaries do not have sufficient support or extra resources available to them from home.] As far as needs... I can't think of anything and if I could I wouldn't tell anyone while I'm in Darwin- missionaries up here can receive packages, but they stay in Adelaide to save the mission some postage. So whatever it is that I would receive would remain in the vault until I go back south, which could be a long time (Elder L spent a year in the Territory serving in Alice Springs and Darwin). So I don't need anything as of now. =)
This week has been the worst week ever, and not for psychological or emotional reasons. Elder A busted his ankle while kicking our punching bag (which he ended up destroying, quite literally), and then he busted his knee up doing the same thing. So, having smashed his left ankle and right knee, we were out of the fight for a little bit. That punching bag is brutal- I think I've got a micro-fracture on the top of my foot from kicking it as well, which makes moving it in certain positions uncomfortable, but it hasn't hindered anything and I've got to actually go out of my way in order to make it hurt as it had been before. [Missionaries are encouraged to work out and stay fit.]  Anyway! I insisted that Elder A call it in- his knee has been like this for two weeks now and his ankle immobilized him, so I told him to call Sister C and receive instruction, because he'd been in pain for so long. Well, he refused to. Not much more you can do after that. So, we stayed in the flat for a day. He rested, I studied and wrote letters. The next day I asked him how he was. Nothing had changed, and I told him to call it in. Again, he refused, and again, we stayed in the flat. I studied, wrote letters, and studied some more. The third day, I asked him how he was. He was a bit better, so we went out. Our appointments fell through, and he was falling way behind on the bikes, so I slowed up, asked him how he was holding up, and it was very obvious that he was suffering. I asked him what he wanted to do, and he called it- game, set, match, back to the flat! So we stayed in the flat the rest of the day. I studied, wrote letters, and studied even MORE. The next day was the same thing; I asked him how he was and we went out to a few set appointments and made a few return appointments, but as a whole, did about 2-3 hours of work before again returning to the flat. We added up our numbers last night and were awaiting our accountability call and the feelings that had settled in were just yuck. Our numbers were SO low. We didn't do anything at ALL. Of course I was feeling a plethora of emotion- part of me wanted to tell myself that I had done what I could given the circumstances and that it was alright and we'd fare better the next week. The other part me was tearing myself to pieces- numbers were the lowest I have ever experienced on my mission, we'd spent most of a week sitting in our flat vegging, and we hadn't accomplished anything! I didn't come here to sit in a flat and stare at the wall! I came to WORK! Well, after feeling these feelings, I felt anger towards Elder A- if he had called it in, we could have gone to the hospital, gotten the proper medical materials to help him recover faster, and we could have gone back to work sooner. We could have worked out an exchange in which Elder A could have worked in a car area and I could have worked in our area. I quickly quelled these feelings though- it was all in the past and voicing them really wouldn't help anyone. I thought and pondered a bit, and did my best to love my companion and to have more sympathy for him. He'd smashed his ankle and knee while trying to work out, he couldn't work either, and being the one with the issues, he had probably pinned it all on himself.  He wasn't the one who decided to smash his ankle and his knee- it just happened. Sooooooooo... I've absolutely nothing of good report this week. I spent most of the evening last night feeding on all of the above feelings and making sure I sunk my teeth into the bitter tasting results of having done nothing- I wanted to remember the feeling, and then I committed to never feel it again. I now know what doing absolutely nothing tastes like, and I do. Not. Like it. Needless to say I spent a very long time in conversing with my Heavenly Father.
I'm sorry I have nothing better to say. It's hard to talk about the week when you ended up staying in for most of it. We did a service project here and there and talked to a few former investigators, but that was it. I suppose there is one spiritual something that happened. I've planned and written down this one street that I've always wanted to tract and have NEVER gotten around to doing while up here. So yesterday evening, at around 6PM, I'd finally coaxed Elder A out of bed and I told him that we were going to tract Wolfram (who doesn't want to tract that street!?). We went down there and found that it was a very little street with lots of dogs and only about half of the houses on it actually had people in them at that time. I was already slightly discouraged, but I'd planned and prayed for this street for months and never gotten around to doing it. We said a quick prayer and started down, and lo and behold, the third house down received us! It was a brief conversation because we'd interrupted dinner, but we were met by a lovely middle-aged mother and her little one, and she was just a pleasure to talk to. She agreed to let us come back at a more convenient time and offer a blessing on her home. She was the only one on that street that agreed to let us come back, but that was all I needed- my entire evening was made, I was so excited! It had been the first work we'd done in far too long AND she had been on the street that I had always wanted to go down and felt that we should go down, but had never gone down. Isn't it interesting how sometimes the Lord places little blessings in our path and we sometimes get too busy to even pick them up?
Well, I just looked at the subject and see that I failed to talk about that at all. I've written a more detailed letter for the family, but suffice it to say that we went to Crocodylus Park for a zone activity, and we saw some massiveas saltwater crocodiles (the biggest one being a suspected man eater and weighing over 700 kilos)... and I got to feed one! XD We also got to hold on to the baby "Salties" as they call them, which was good fun. I'd include pictures.... but I forgot to take my camera... you may now throw tomatoes at me. Elder A's got me covered on that one and I'll send some photos home, but yeah, forgot my camera... sorry! =(
So, that's been the week of Elder Schomburg. I love you all, thanks for writing me and I'll try to write back as soon as I can!
-Elder Schomburg

Monday, September 2, 2013

Another 'Average' Week... Week 23

G'day All!
As the subject has hinted at, this week was 'average' in a manner of speaking. Elder A and I have overcome our differences and are working very well together (at long last). I suppose -just so I do not forget later- I should start with the highlights of this week. Um... yeah, there is no specific order to these events, it's just as I remember them happening. This week we saw a fried bat suspended in the air, hanging on the telephone wires (I'll include pictures); Our Muslim investigators dropped us (can't say I was too surprised but I'm still sad because it sounded as though we were going to be able to teach them); and Elder A and I celebrated our week with what is called a "TimTam Slam" (a TimTam is a chocolate biscuit [or cookie], and you bite both ends of it, and then insert one end into a mug of Milo [which is like hot cocoa] and suck the cocoa through the chocolate cookie, and then you eat the cookie before it melts to the point that it detaches from your teeth and falls into the mug, so you end up drinking thick, melted chocolate for the most part... it's a very effective way to gain weight, unless you're me...), so Slamming almost killed me... WAY too much chocolate, I don't know how Elder A does it. There are nine TimTam's in a package and he's on number 5 by the time I've finished number 2. Anyway, I think that's it as far as worldly highlights go- I'm saving the spiritual things for last.

Really... can there be TOO much chocolate??

Fried Bat

More Fried Bat

I have sent letters out, so hopefully those to whom I've written will receive their letters in another five days or so (I sent them about five-six days ago) and I have more to send today, mostly to those people who write me- I'm not very good at it but I do try to write back to those who write to me. Also, I printed heaps of photos, so I'll probably be sending those with various letters.
So,it sounds as though the Little One is struggling to want to go to church. Little One, my most awesome little brother ever whom I miss quite sorely, I've decided to direct a few words to you (but anyone might benefit). I wasn't exactly sure what to say to you, Robby, when Mum told me you were struggling to go to church. It's sort of hard to understand why that is when I can't have a conversation with you, so I suppose I'll just try to impart of some 'wisdom' and with any luck it'll help you out. I know it can be really hard to go to church- when we weren't going to church as a family and Mum started to make me go with Elizabeth, I really did not like it. Who wants to sit in a big room with heaps of old people and heaps of crying and variously whinging babies, and then not be able to do anything... just sit there and listen to old people ramble on... pretty boringas, eh? I know how that goes, trust me, I've been there! But we can get so much out of going to church! Heavenly Father loves you SO MUCH, little man, and He wants you to be as happy as He is and He wants you to be able to live with Him again! He knows the best way for helping us to be happy, though, and He's told us that going to church will help us. When we go to church, and when we "partake of the Sacrament" or eat the bread and the water, we're promising God what we promised to do when we were baptized- remember that? We had to baptize you TWICE because you're silly toe came up out of the water! And when you were baptized you promised God that you would follow His commandments and be the best little boy you could possibly be! But sometimes we make mistakes and don't do everything God wants us to, and sometimes we even end up doing things He's told us not to do- we break our promise to Him. So when we go to church, and eat the bread and the water, we're making those promises again- we're saying to Heavenly Father that we're sorry that we didn't do everything He told us to, and that we want to try again. And you know what? When we do that, Heavenly Father says He'll bless us with the Spirit, or the Holy Ghost. Remember that guy and what he does? The Holy Ghost is supposed to help us to do what God has told us to do. He can do a lot more than that, too- he can cheer us up when we're sad, and he can help us know when Heavenly Father answers our prayers, and he can tell us if we're in danger or not- he's a pretty cool bloke, eh? And he sticks with us all the time when we do our best to do what Heavenly Father wants us to do. Church can be really long and boring -I know where you're coming from- but we go to church so that we can go back to live with Heavenly Father someday, and not just Him, but so that we can see our family members again, too! That's pretty neat, eh? Heavenly Father loves you heaps, little man,, and He wants you to be as happy as He is, and He's shown us how we can be as happy as He is, and if we want to be happy for the rest of forever, we gotta go to church! What do you think, Little One? Church isn't so bad when you look at it like that, eh? And you've got heaps of friends at church, too! You've got it so good; you've got friends at church, Mum and Dad and Elizabeth at church, and you get to eat bread and drink water- who doesn't like the sound of that!? Alright, so there are better things to eat and drink BUT that's not the point of it anyways! So it can be really hard, going to church, but Heavenly Father knows that it can be hard, and He really appreciates it when you do go to church, and that's why He's promised to bless us too- Heavenly Father doesn't tell us to do anything just to do it, but we always get something out of doing it too. This might not be the best example, but it's just like when Mum tells you to eat your vegetables before you get dessert- you've got to go to church before you can have your dessert, and Heavenly Father wants to give you HEAPS of dessert - or good things!!! I hope that something in there helps you see why we go to church. =)
Anyways, I'm short of time now... that took a lot of effort: how do you explain complex doctrines to such a little one? I suppose I haven't yet achieved "true intelligence" which is the ability to take something complex and sophisticated and teach it on such a level that even a child can understand. Maybe I did do that, but it certainly wasn't in a nutshell. 

Church for ME was alright, up until we got into Priesthood. We were talking about the varying parameters that we had to follow in order to be worthy of a temple recommend. The process more or less started with society- we can exist and function within the laws of society and still not abide within the laws of the Church. The process went up: we can maintain our standing in the Church but not be living worthy of our priesthood, and then we could be living worthy of our priesthood but fail to magnify our callings, and thus be unworthy for the temple. (It looked a lot better the way it was drawn on the whiteboard.) Well, the brethren got to talking about living in the various areas, and shades of grey between society and church and church and the priesthood and so on and so forth, and this is what half of the brethren's basic argument boiled down to: "You can get to the Celestial Kingdom even if you're as close to the edge as you can get" That argument made us -the eight Elders within the room- fume. How can anyone call themselves a priesthood holder if they are looking to do the absolute bare minimum to get into the Celestial Kingdom!? That kind of thinking is cowardly, lazy, and ungodly. I could not believe my ears! Solid members or members whom I believed to be solid, were rationalizing that even if you were close to not being worthy but still basically worthy, you could obtain exaltation. They related it to taxes- I don't know a lot about taxes, but they said that there are hundreds of ways that are still legal that can get you out of paying higher taxes, and then they said the same could be said of obtaining the Celestial Kingdom. That kind of thinking is NOT the kind of thinking that should be going through ANY priesthood holder's head, EVER, and anyone who has EVER thought that they can get into the Celestial Kingdom with that attitude should be ashamed of themselves. Elder W, being the cool and collected Englishman that he is, calmly raised his hand to add his thoughts, which were something to the effect of this: "If your focus is 'How close to the edge can I get and still obtain the Celestial Kingdom?' then your focus is not on the Savior, who is at the 'center' as it were." I was thrilled with what Elder Wild had to say. Maybe I'm just a little more hardcore than your average priesthood holder, but the priesthood is a real, tangible thing, and it must be treated with respect. Sometimes priesthood holders mess up- we all do (that's why we have the gift of the Atonement). But if your thinking is that God will justify a little sin here and there, I have no fear in quoting scripture and saying woe unto you, you perverse and corrupt generation, woe unto you. God will NOT be mocked, and as Christ's representative, I am NOT about to let His church go to the dogs, especially to such feeble and slothful thinking. The work will ONLY be stopped by hallowed hands- that is to say that no UN-hallowed hand can stop it, or no outside influence can stop the Lord's work. Only His people can stop His work, and that is something that I am not about to let happen while I am on His errand.
Well, I'm sorry for that stiff message... I feel very strongly about this, can you tell? XD I wish I could leave on a more happy note, but really... priesthood holders, if you know you have to step it up, step it up, and stop rationalizing and excusing your shortcomings. Those who rationalize and justify committing a little sin have no place in the Celestial Kingdom, and how sore would be your sorrow if you had to explain to your wives and children that you could not herald them into the kingdom of our Father because of your quest to do the bare minimum? Shall we shrink or shun the fight, brethren? I can promise you, priesthood holders of the Church, that the Lord has provided a way for everyone to accomplish and fulfill every commandment He issues them, and (ready for this [I might as well take a stab at it]) if He commands home teaching to be done, just DO IT!!! Big deal if you have to drive for an hour to get to your assigned family- the Lord has commanded it, and I would really hate to be the guy that stands before the Lord, and then asked if I had fulfilled all my duties as a priesthood holder, had to answer and say, "Sorry, Lord, but the drive was just too far." If the Lord has brought you to it, He will -He WILL- bring you through it, and I leave these things with you in the name of our Lord and Saviour, even Jesus Christ, amen.
Lots of Love!!!
-Elder Schomburg