Monday, December 9, 2013

Back Against the Wall Sipping Rootbeer... Week 37

G'day all!

This day finds me well enough- this past week has been the roughest one we've had in Broken Hill thus far. Investigators either fell through, fell off the face of the earth, or left town on family/holiday business. All of our "Old Faithfuls" or older members who always come seem to have fallen ill. Needless to say, attendance at church was the lowest it's been since I've been here, almost as low as it was when it was just Brother C and the P's, and that was about 5 months ago (I haven't lost track of time- I wasn't here during that time). Anyways, with no one to teach and our less actives out of town or wherever they were in the world, Elder P and I accomplished next to nothing! I would be frustrated and angered by this; in fact, I am somewhat, but I also know that we did what we knew to do. We could probably do that better, and we're going to this week, but I can't be too angry with myself because I know I did my part.

There are rumors going around that the Mildura Zone is going to be sent south for Christmas in Adelaide. I don't want to leave. As a new missionary, I was very impressionable, so when I experienced my first Zone Meeting in Tennessee, with about 30-40 other missionaries, I was very shocked and rudely awakened to the fact that I had no friends in that mission. Elder F had better friends than me, so he favoured their company more (I don't blame him), so consequently I was left feeling very friendless and without very many conversational buddies- in fact, if it had been a YSA dance, I would've been the guy with his back against the wall sipping rootbeer by the snack bar.

I had higher hopes when I arrived in Australia because I was no longer a visa-waiter, so I was hoping to find a place I belonged. Then I went straight to Darwin, with only nine other missionaries. I had a good laugh when I came south because -if I recall correctly- I had been out for almost 6 months at that time, and I was getting all the "new guy" treatment from elders who had been out for hardly 3 months. Again, I found myself without very many friends- all the older missionary friends I made "died" [finished their missions and gone home] and everyone else -once again- had better, closer friends than me. I found myself with my back against the wall sipping rootbeer by the snack bar, again. I was hopeful that I would be sent to serve somewhere within the city, with more missionaries around BECAUSE that way I would get to know more people and actually have an opportunity to make my own circle of friends. We're not missionaries to make friends, I know, but I'm here for two years and even if they come and go it's still good to have friends. Then I was sent to Broken Hill (which I do love), but it's me and Elder P out here, and our entire Zone has only ever been assembled once.

I am certain that when I go back south for Christmas, and if I end up being transferred there (Dec. 17th will be transfers) I will again find myself with my back against the wall, sipping rootbeer by the snack bar. One could argue that it's my own fault that I'm "that guy" BUT on the contrary. If it were possible at all to mingle and get to know other missionaries, I would have, HOWEVER, everyone has better friends already, so they don't want to take any time to get new ones (like me) SO there you have it; I don't like being in large gatherings [herein lies the root of Elder Schomburg's issue] of missionaries, and I'm certain I will be thrown into one very soon. I'd rather have Christmas with the P's or the Q's, but I don't think it's in the cards for me. BUT I hate pity parties so if it at all sounds like I've thrown myself one, I'll ask you all to leave now because the party is over. XD I'm just a bit homesick at the moment :) I can't imagine being a new missionary and coming out right around Christmastime, though. There are probably heaps of greenies that are going to need a warm smile and firm handshake, so I'll be sure to back them up if I see any. I didn't really get that treatment and I know how it feels to be without any friends in the world, and I wouldn't wish that upon anyone, so I'll be there for them.

We're always asked as missionaries "What is the Lord teaching you today/this week?" so perhaps I'll just share that. This week, the Lord has taught me that when you do good things, you will feel good. Likewise, when you do not do good things, you will not feel good. Story time (please refrain from unrighteous judgments- I get them a lot BUT I don't need any from anyone back home so... just listen and realize that I am as far from a perfect missionary as humanly possible):

Friday in Broken Hill was "Smash the Elders" day. It really only started during the evening, but as Elder P and I walked down Chloride St., we found that everyone we said "hello" to gave us a menacing look and continued on. Normally we'll get very nice return greetings (until we bring up religion) and there will usually be a nasty one every two hours or so, sometimes more frequently. These are easy to recover from with practice. We stopped in at KFC (very popular over here) and had a quick dinner. Some nasty music was playing, with an accompanying music video that I think many would be appalled to see in the States (Aussie's don't really sensor anything... not very much anyways). With our meal down our stomachs and the Spirit driven away, we departed the KFC and decided to try to regain his companionship. We started down Chloride again, saying "hi" and waving and trying to contact people. It was fruitless and we received many glares. This was really unusual. Then, as we crossed various streets, we noticed that the drivers (some anyway, three that I remember) seemed to be trying to hit us, or at least run over our toes. Again, this was highly unusual for this area, but in the end I wasn't overly surprised that it was happening. With our spirits a bit low and feeling a little stepped on, Elder P and I continued towards Argent St., the main street of Broken Hill. We didn't have anything or anyone to see, so we figured we'd try to do some contacting.

As we made our way to Argent St., a silver Hilux with the words "Snap On" printed on the rear windscreen drove past. It was occupied by three teenage boys. As it went past, one of them shouted out a derogatory term at us. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. Elder P shouted out a simple "Hey!?" in question form (like they do here), and we hastened our walk. We were still on Chloride when we saw them take a left on Argent. There were only two possibilities of where they were going: it was either down Argent to their house where they were undoubtedly going to start gaming all night, or to Hungry Jack's (Burger King but... better...). I was not led by the Spirit as I came to the conclusion that three teenage boys in a truck were going to go to Hungry Jack's before going back to start gaming. So Elder P and I hastened our walk and eventually came to rest at a shop across the way from Hungry Jack's. The Hilux wasn't in the parking lot, so we deduced that they were in the drive-thru, though we could not visibly see them.

Sure enough, the silver Hilux pulled around the corner and up to the window after about five minutes of waiting. Elder P and I quickly identified it, and to the horror of the teenagers, they quickly identified us. The driver focused on driving- his eyes were hidden behind shades anyways, but the co-pilot and the one in the back were without sunglasses. The co-pilot then decided to try and stare us down. Elder P and I stared back. At this point in the unspoken communication that often times occurs between young males, it was their move- Elder P and I had done our part in extending a "challenge" simply by having pursued and tracked them down. In other words, we had basically said, "Come- let us fight." Now it was their move. Had they been more than talk, they would have parked the Hilux in a convenient place, jumped out of the car, and started a brawl with us (such is the Aussie/Kiwi/Islander way). As it turned out, they drove onto Argent, again going to the left, and the passenger flipped us the birdie. We made to look as if we were going to pursue them again, but we knew it was over. Elder P and I both felt good at first- there were at least three young men in Broken Hill that would no longer look at us like a pair of push-overs. However, as we began our walk home, our feelings of victory became rather hollow as we recognized the standard we had lowered ourselves to. A better man would have let it go and a bitter taste entered my mouth as I thought to myself, "You are not the better man."

That night I was in fervent conversation with my Father in Heaven, mostly asking for forgiveness and explaining in detail the extent of my thoughts on the whole matter. The next morning, as I prayed before I read my scriptures (something I had become a bit lax on, having traded that time for catching up in my journal), I felt the same hollow feelings. Then I began to read. For the life of me I cannot remember what I read specifically- it was within the Book of Mosiah. Regardless, I felt good-I was doing something I'd neglected the past two days, and where I didn't pick out anything particular to my situation, I still learned from the scriptures and was able to take some notes and mark some scriptures that will help me in later teaching. Thus I have learned a few things from the whole scenario, but overall I learned this: when I do good things, I feel good, and when I do bad things, I feel bad. I like feeling good more, and in the end, "all good comes from God" so if I feel genuinely good about something, it must be God-given, thus reading scriptures is God-given, and tracking down a silver Hilux with the intent of making a statement does not make me feel genuinely good, so it must not be from God, and anything that is not of God is of something else, and no matter what origin, stems from the roots of Satan.

I'm sorry if this wasn't as uplifting as it could've been- sometimes it is difficult to wear a smile 24/7, BUT I'll have you all know that I am well and am in the hands of the Lord. He loves me and is watching out for me; He wants my happiness and what is best for me. Again, sometimes the easy road is not the road the Lord would have us take, but in the end we will thank Him for the experience.

I love you all heaps! Remember to keep smiling even if you don't want to!!!
-Elder Schomburg

Christmas-time is often a difficult time for missionaries who are far from home - homesickness sets in and Satan does his best to turn those moments of weakness into feelings of despair and anger.  Please consider taking a moment to send Elder Schomburg an uplifting card or note letting him know that he is loved and thought about and that he does have friends back home.  While the reach of the Savior's love is infinite, sometimes it takes angels on earth to help someone feel it.  Thank you!

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

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