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 

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