Tuesday, October 29, 2013



That's my bad attempt at coming up with something witty, but it is Mum's birthday today!!! Actually, it's her birthday tomorrow [it was Monday], but in Aussieland you've already turned 22, so I'm celebrating anyways! XD Wow, isn't this neat!? Mum's birthday!!! I'd do something special for you over here, but there's a lack of things to do in Broken Hill- go to the pub or go to the club, that's what there is in Broken Hill, neither of which I can do. XD But wow, today is just awesome! If my Mum hadn't been born and decided to come down to earth and face her challenges and battle her giants, then I couldn't have come down here either! And she knew she might get the most inwardly rebellious child there is and yet she did it anyways! What a courageous woman I have as a mother!!! I know that my Mum is the absolute best mother out there and no one can convince me otherwise! She has raised me and taught me heaps of things that I'm applying on my mission! She taught me to work and to be humble and to love and to always remember the God who created me. She's taught me to be a gentleman and to respect women, girls, and children, and she's just taught me everything ever! Even if I was rebellious and downright cruel with words, my Mum has always had the patience to not rip my head off and send me back to the God who created my soul. I can only imagine what that would've looked like: "Here (pulls off Elder Schomburg's head) you can have him back!" Haha, Sorry, I'm just excited because it's my Mum's birthday!!! Mum's are the best and mine is the best of all and no one can convince me otherwise. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUM!!!
On to what's happened this week! We had a Trunk-or-Treat party at the chapel, and 52 people came! Whoo! I went as the most terrifying thing there is- they knock on your door, chase you down the footpath, cross the street to say hi, and always wear a smile on their happy faces. You guessed it- I went as a missionary! Our investigators were present and wow, I'm excited. M has a baptismal date for Nov. 9th and he's stayed solid- hasn't smoked or drunk or done anything like that. He even bought a really nice suit just to come to church. Now he's invested- he's got to be solid. That does bring up a concern of mine though.
In the ZAAM they tell us to "catch the wave" which we've been told is to work with the members with our missionary work. We keep track of how much missionary work we do with members by recording the number of lessons we've taught with members present. Broken Hill has been smashing this Key Indicator (or KI's). We're also taught that finding on our own is the least effective thing we can be doing and should be a last resort. We should actually -judging off of how we make goals and set plans- see our less active members before we do our own finding. A really smart missionary will do his finding on the way to set appointments or less actives and whatnot. Having thus said as much, Elder P and I are a little on edge because our leaders, namely our district leader, is not shy about getting onto our case for our low number of potentials. The district has also implemented what is called "District Finding Time" in which Elder W will choose a set time that works for everyone and we will do our own finding for a block of time. In Darwin it was semi-effective; in Broken Hill, it is not. So, even though we have found very good success in WORKING WITH THE MEMBERS, our leaders are starting to question us for our low number of potentials. I know that President Carter is completely understanding- if we tell him that we go out and do our own finding and nothing happens, he can accept that we are doing our part, and that's all that's asked of us. Some missionaries in leadership positions get caught up with the numbers though and it probably is the one thing that is causing me the most stress right now, but what can you do?
That's about all I have to report I suppose- it was a pretty good week. I love you all and I hope to hear from all of you again soon! Remember to keep smiling!
-Elder Schomburg

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Week of Tender Mercies... Week 30

G'day, g'day, g'day!!!

Well, I got lots of emails this week (huzzah!) and most of them voiced "displeasure" at my turning 20. XD To be very honest, I really don't feel much different, but that may be because my birthday was lacking in any kind of partying or outing this year. I was very well looked after by the members though- Sister G baked me a chocolate cake that was quite nice, and the P's dropped off a big box of assorted chocolates and I actually received that birthday package from home when we got back to the flat after emailing. XD THANK YOU FOR THE AMERICAN CANDY AND FOOD!!! Speaking of that, we were at the Q's yesterday (a very solid member family) and Sister Q had some Kool-aid left over from when she came to America. She made it up and dished it all out and basically the Aussie's (and my Kiwi companion) treat Kool-aid like I treat Vegamite. As they struggled to get their glasses down, I decided to show off some American and downed my first glass in one fell swoop before going for seconds. XD So here's something for you to think about- all the food here is about 50% less sugary and sweet than anything in America (which may be why I'm finally starting to lose my appetite and eat just because I need food and not out of a desire to eat...). Anyway, that's off topic!

I still have to answer more questions, so I'll do that. I got my hat while we were walking to South (which is about 3k's from the section of our area known as North- haha) and I stopped in an outdoorsy shop and bought myself a Barmah. I know Akubra is the "Aussie hat" but they're also for dressier occasions and I wanted a hat that I could work in and beat up and throw around, so I went with the next best thing. Also, it is getting hot around here. I think dry heat is worse than the humidity we had up in Darwin- in fact, I think I was more comfortable when I was bathing in my own sweat all the time. We haven't been suffering from the wildfires down here in Broken Hill -haven't even seen any smoke- but the dust is still brutal, and the flies... I hate all the flies in the world... Anyway, when I wrote and said that it gets up to 50-55C I wasn't kidding- I was actually just spitting back what I heard the locals saying, but I suppose it stays around the 40-45C realm in Broken Hill, which we haven't had yet (thank goodness) but yeah... it's a bit toasty down here. I never once got sunburned in Darwin but I'm getting over a mild one right now... dry climates are worse than wet ones, that's all there is to it. But it hardens you up, and as all the Americans like to say down here, "Cowboy up, Elder!"

Oh, I also maybe have seen a little bit of Rugby Union and I maybe saw the New Zealand All Blacks play against South Africa and Australia (Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!)... President P did it!

So this week was a pretty neat one. To be honest, being in Broken Hill really teaches you to rely on the Lord- all of the good things that are happening have been by His hand alone, believe you me. We were able to teach M again, and a former investigator that the P's had been teaching for awhile -DJ- is interested in learning again (he had to hit rock bottom before he came around). Anyway, they're both progressing just fine- M is on top of everything, and DJ has already had all the lessons so it's basically just checking for his understanding and helping him to get off the cancer sticks. M has really turned it around though- he went from chain smoking 3-5 packages a day to smoking none all last week and hopefully he won't smoke any this week. He was briefly tempted to drink some rum too (it was the only thing in the 'frig and it was hot), and after opening and closing the 'frig three times, he was about to go for it when he dropped his cellphone. He's dropped it many times, but this time the screen cracked. I don't know if that was just coincidence or the Lord, but he took it as a sign and didn't go for the rum (huzzah!). They both (DJ and M) came to church Sunday and sat together, which was awesome. Sunday also found Elder P and I blessing the Sacrament and we both gave talks as well. President P told us that the talks were open subject, so we had some time to prepare them and pray about them and whatnot. Elder P smashed missionary work; I went for becoming truly converted. It wasn't my best talk though, despite the praise I received- I wrote every word down which hung me up (should've stuck with bullet points) and actually hindered the Spirit's direction, so I felt pretty yuck after giving the talk. I was kicking myself too- public speaking isn't something I'm foreign too, but I suppose it was just my turn for a humility check, and those are always good to have. Only a handful of the people I wanted to hear it also showed up, but maybe that's a good thing, who knows?

Serving in Broken Hill is really strange, and it's very easy to feel isolated and alone. The missionary work is different as well- adapting to the Broken Hill-style has been a bit interesting, but it's the only way we can get anything done. I suppose the Lord is trying to teach me that there is more than one way to do missionary work, but it's still an interesting adjustment to make. He really has been helping us out though- there have been days when we haven't had any investigators to go visit (M is a sheep shearer so he works away a lot, and DJ is just new so we don't know his schedule, just that he doesn't have a solid location that he's staying at), and we haven't really known what to do. We make some rough plans though, decide which less active's we should visit and at what times, if we should go tracting or not (which is, in all honesty, the least effective thing to be doing in Broken Hill), and then we head out. I've lost count of all the little miracles the Lord has placed in our path, whether they be an opportunity to serve someone, a member calling up and asking for help, or suddenly a member has set up a lesson for us to teach. Whatever it is, the Lord really has been looking out for us and it really has helped me to know that -after you've done all you know to do- the Lord has your back and will make up the rest. But anyway, that's my story- simple week full of LOTS of tender mercies.

I love you all and I hope all is well for you!
-Elder Schomburg


Hi Mum!!

Now I know missionaries shouldn't be holding any kind of child, BUT this was situational and my companion took a photo. Here's the story: President P had been finishing cooking tea, and Sister P had just finished feeding her baby, Patience, when President had to go and pick up an investigator for the tea date. He took off (one of his workers [over 18] was still at the home so it was all goods), and Sister P rushed to save tea from burning. As she rushed, she asked, "Elder, want a hold?" and without waiting for a reply, passed little Patience to me. The funny thing about this is that just the previous day, I had been talking with Elder P about how infants intimidate me- you can't clearly communicate with them so you don't really know what they want, you have to make sure everything's all good with them food wise and temperature wise and you just have to monitor them all the time and they're so fragile. Anyway, he was just laughing at me because I guess he's around babies all the time in his household. So when Sister P handed her little one to me he almost died laughing and couldn't resist but to take a photo. So that's my story.

The other photo was of me and Elder P after a service project we did for one of the older members, Sister R (everyone in the branch is old, what am I saying?). We thought we'd be there for an hour or two and get whatever it was that she wanted done fairly quickly. We were wrong- the service project took us about 3-4 hours instead. Needless to say, when we finished we were a bit tired and we decided to take our "shell shocked" photo.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Guess Who's Almost 20?... Week 29

G'day one and all!

First, thanks to my Mum for wishing me a happy birthday via email! I even have a package on the way!? Well, isn't that cool! 

And I just got a message from Mum who told me that Eric is going to Japan!? WHAT!?!?! Bro!!!! JAPAN!!! Hahaha, man, you wanted to go there, eh!!!! What!?!?! WHAT!?!?! WHOOHOO!!!!!! Oh man, I am heaps excited for you, mate!!! Awwwwwwww yeah!!!! Wow, I'm speechless... that's crazy, Eric, that's crazy- how many missionaries get to go to the country they wanted to go to? How much fasting did you do, exactly? XD Do you have a DIRECT-direct line with Heavenly Father or did you just walk into His house one day and say, "Hey. Japan would be really cool- can I go there?" and did He just say, "Yup, no worries!"? Man.... man, that's crazy! I am HEAPS EXCITED FOR YOU!!!!! [Eric is a very dear friend to Elder Schomburg and we are all VERY excited that he has been called to serve in the Japan Sapporo Mission!]

Phew, okay, calming down more or less. Well... man, Japan!? Nah, you're gammin' XP 

ANYWAYS!!! So, first off, I've only seen the Priesthood and 1st Sunday session of General Conference, which frustrates me to no end because EVERYONE else in the world has seen all of it (or should have) except for me and Elder P because we're in Broken Hill. BLARG!!! Frustrations! But what we did see was EXACTLY what I needed. I especially enjoyed Elder Richard G. Scott's and President Eyring's talks- they really put things into perspective and helped me more fully understand our Father's mercy and our Saviour's love for us.

This week was also one full of miracles. On Saturday, we spent mostly the entire day with President P (the branch president in case I haven't said that already) teaching his investigator Mick. At first, when we showed up in the morning at the P home, we were about to jump right into it with Mick when President felt inclined to invite Brad (who was mucking around outside) to come and have the lesson too. Brad paused his work and came in and we were able to teach both of them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Mick is keenaz and solid, too- he keeps his reading assignments, prays always, and he came to church! But before we get into that, let me finish this story. So after the lesson we were able to set the baptismal date of November 9th with Mick, and we invited Brad to be baptized. He stated that if he came to know that what we were saying was true, he would be baptized no problem, but he wanted more information first. That's a fair answer and we took it. Well, the day went on, and as we continued to do missionary work with President P, he got a text from Brad, who had shot off to go comfort one of his friends who was deeply depressed. In his text he explained that he had actually taught his mate about what we had just taught him earlier that same day, and it "was working". Well, all three of us -Elder P, myself, and President P- had a minor freak-out moment in which we became extremely excited. The day went on, more missionary work was done, and next minute (Kiwi's say it like "neck minutt") President gets a text from Brad asking when church is, because he and his mate are keen to come. Again, we may or may not have rocked the car a bit as we drove on to do more missionary work. Well, Brad and his mate never made it to church, BUT the fact that Brad -not the most solid investigator (or so we thought)- was teaching his mate the things that he had just learned was... wow.... that doesn't happen. Mick was able to attend church with us however, and he found the words of the Prophet and the Apostles to be very inspiring, especially concerning his Word of Wisdom challenges.

In other news, a few things about Aussie wildlife and the Outback- the magpies here make Colorado's magpies look less than inferior. While riding our bikes one day (and we mostly walk because the wind will almost knock us over on the bikes, and pedaling headlong into the wind on hills as steep as the ones here is not conducive to being on time- walking is actually faster) and I heard a snap by my left ear. I wasn't sure what it was. I heard it again, and when I looked, I saw this black and white bird -massiveaz- swooping in again. I ducked down and he missed, and a second dived down and actually hit Elder P's helmet several times. We've learned however, that if you keep your eyes on them, and more or less stare them down, they won't attack- they only swoop in or take off to attack if your back is turned. [According to Wikipedia: Spring in Australia is magpie season, when a small minority of breeding magpies (almost always males) around the country become aggressive and swoop and attack those who approach their nests, especially bike riders. hahaha]

Also, I haven't seen any red ones, but while we were walking to a tea date we thought we'd go out bush a little ways and have a bit of a walkabout, and while doing so, we saw two kangaroos in the distance. They were too far for my camera to focus correctly and take a good picture, but I've now seen kangaroos alive in the wild.

Next, the dust storms here are quite sudden. Though we haven't been caught in the middle of one yet, we were sitting on the porch of a less active member's house conversing with her, and her house -which is situated perfectly on the top of a hill- gave us a lovely view of Broken Hill. The wind was violent -more so than usual- and some gathering clouds looked to be fairly dark. I blinked -quite literally- and the clouds were over the city, rain was coming down, and dust from the Outback had blown in and just swept through the city. We rushed to help her get her and her kid's laundry down off of the line and get inside, and her friend was able to give us a ride home, but wow, I've never seen a dust storm move that fast before. Dust and rain intermingled... now that's a curious combination, but it did happen. The flies here are horrendous as well. I hate the wind, but it keeps the flies down. Never anywhere in any of my travels ever have I EVER hated flies so much- there are hundreds of them, and they fly into your eyes and ears and nose and mouth and give you a terrible time. Just looking at my companion's back while we were out tracting I could count more than thirty flies gathered on his backpack and shirt. The same was true of me. The flies here are the bane of everyone's existence.

As far as personal needs go, I have none though it is confirmed that I grew out of my first suit, which I passed down to Elder P, so I'll be having a look-see at a cheap suit store down here sometime. I would, however, if it were at all possible and of course not burdensome to anyone... maybe kinda want a box of contacts? Just one...? I love glasses, and given the option between wearing glasses and contacts in Broken Hill I'd wear glasses just because the dust gets into your eyes and by the time you get to the flat to turn in you're coughing up dust and your eyes just hurt, but it would be nice to put on my "skux" (Kiwi for "handsome" or "sharp") face once in a while. But that's nothing really vital. It would also make swatting flies out of my face easier if I wasn't knocking my glasses around all the time, but alas, such is just the whining of an almost 20 year-old missionary ;D Other than that, no complaints  =D

I love yous all heaps!
-Elder Schomburg

P.S. I just wanted to send one more picture so you could see what the average street looks like in Broken Hill, but I'll send more pictures soon. Also, the Alma Oval is a footie oval (not rugby - footie or AFL [Australian Football League] arena). I like rugby balls more because they're bigger and easier to kick, but footie is really fun to watch - you're not quite sure what's going on and heaps of people are just running aimlessly trying to chase the ball and score, but that's the fun part.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

This Hill Is Not Broken... Week 28

G'day from the Outback!

Well, where do I start off for this week? I haven't seen General Conference yet- we watch it a week after all of yous, which is unfair I think and I might write the Brethren... XD gammin' [teasing] XD But still, it's hard to read emails that say "Conference was amazing!"and not be able to do anything about it - yet. ;D

This week was slow and not super enjoyable but still enjoyable enough. I've had a cold all week and am just now starting to get over it (turns out that acclimatizing isn't really all that fun), so that has made working more than difficult, especially given the immense steepness of the hills here, but no matter; I'm alive and breathing (kind of) and that's good. To answer a few questions, Dad, yes Broken Hill reminds me heaps of Whitewater. [Whitewater is on the Western Slope of Colorado where we lived for a good portion of Elder Schomburg's young years.] The other night I woke up at about 3:00, went to blow my nose and I heard the all too familiar sound of dogs barking up a storm while the dingoes yipped and yapped all throughout the night as they became locked in their distant battle. That definitely aroused some memories from Whitewater. The main difference here is that we don't have any mountains to look at and the dust is red, not white. Also, I have been receiving mail from Grandma, the most recent letter dated September 5th. I still don't know how mail will work for us out here- usually all mail is sent to the Zone Leaders who then distribute it on P-Day, but seeing as our Zone Leaders are 3 hours away from us, we're not sure what the office is going to do with our mail. [I have been assured that Elder Schomburg will receive any mail sent.]

Man, I miss home. Being in Whitewater, er, Broken Hill doesn't help- I miss getting to do fun things with my family and getting to laugh and joke and be silly and whatnot. This week was lame for homesickness- not as bad as when I was in Tennessee though. I miss writing novels! And blasting epic music while writing novels... and getting to hug my mom and tackling my little brother and pestering my sister and filling my dad's head with useless information. XD Anyways! XD

We spent most of the week meeting up with the members, but as far as missionary work goes, it was slow. The first week in a new area always is- so many people to see and places to find and things like that, we're too busy trying to get established to actually do missionary work. Elder P is pretty nervous about it all and anxious and what have you, and very surprisingly, I am very calm. The Lord didn't send us to Broken Hill to crash and burn- He doesn't work like that. No, He has purpose for us being here and just that thought has made it very easy to adapt to the new situation. We dedicated the area and the flat our first night out and it was quite awesome- the Spirit was calm and peaceful, and I knew that whatever happened, it was in the Lord's hands. I have to keep reminding Elder P of those feelings.

Nighttime in Broken Hill is spookyaz (speaking of which... I'm going to miss the Haunted Mines... {insert super sad face}). The first couple of nights were windy; most of the houses are old mining shacks made with heaps of corrugated metal, and I swear you can see things move in the shadows out of the corner of your eye. It is pretty spooky, and it's a feeling that I like and dislike- the thrill keeps you on your toes, which is fun, but for the most part it's just freaky. The streets are extremely wide (for the massive mining vehicles) just for the record, and the town pretty much dies after 7PM. It's just spooky at night.

I've got some videos from Broken Hill and around Broken Hill and things like that- just missionaries playing around really, but I'll see if I can get them to upload properly. So, anyways... (sorry, this laptop has some faulty keys that aren't working properly so I'm trying not to get mad at this cursed machine). We didn't do much missionary work, just lots getting to know the members. We were able to teach one of their investigators early on, however, about the Restoration. Mick is keenaz, but he's living with some housemates who party heaps, and that's hard on Mick who is trying to overcome some Word of Wisdom issues. But he's pretty solid. I'm not too sure about his friend Brad, though. The context was this: our first night in the area with Elder W and Elder F we went and ate dinner at the Branch President's house. They didn't inform us that we were going to be teaching their two investigators, Brad and Mick but as we often do, we came up with something fast in our heads -Elders W and F taught Brad, while Elder P and I taught Mick. Our lesson was solid but Sister P had a poor baby who was hungry, President P had to take Mick home, and Mick had shears to sharpen (they're all of them sheep shearers), but Elder P drug the lesson out. I opened and out probably three times but every time Elder P would continue teaching. That happens a lot- we met a member last night, a late night stop, and she had 3 little ones that were wild and crazy -in need of sleep- and she mentioned more than once that it was time for bed, so again I made like we were leaving and Elder P kept going. Blarg! But no matter, he's a good companion! XD

I suppose there's not much more to report this week. Thanks everyone for writing me continually- I really do love and appreciate it!!!

-Elder Schomburg