[Written Monday 12-23-13]
Merry Christmas from Down Under!!! I still don't know when I'm going to call! Which is frustrating for us Americans and Europeans- we aren't like the majority of Islander and Aussie and Kiwi missionaries here, meaning we can't just call home and only be a few hours apart. In fact, when I call home, it might just bein Colorado and no one will pick up. What a bummer that would be! I'm trying to contain some of these frustrated emotions because I know that Mum will want to know when I'm calling. I don't know.
I'm in Mildura right now- we caught the bus down from Broken Hill, so we're here for the rest of today, and then we'll drive down to Adelaide tomorrow. I'll get to drive as well, probably- I'm just the secondary backup driver in case our primary driver, Elder T, falls asleep. Hopefully he won't fall asleep while we're driving, but if he does, we're still in good hands ;D
Broken Hill was really hot this past week; 42-43C are the highs that I heard. I know that it rained last night and into the morning, which dropped the temperatures in Broken Hill. Unfortunately I won't be sticking around to enjoy the rare and wet weather of my area because I'm going to Adelaide tomorrow. There we will perform a 13-minute skit in front of probably 60-odd missionaries (that I just learned this morning), eat some food, watch a movie approved by President Carter, and probably call home. To be frank, I don't expect my call to even take place for a number of reasons: 1) it's just my luck that these type of things don't run smoothly or work out as they should, [We call this attitude the "Happy Meal Toy Syndrome" around here - never did Jeffrey ever get a Happy meal toy that wasn't broken, while the other children's toys were always just fine. :)] 2) everyone wants to Skype and I don't know how that functions and it is not in keeping with the Schomburg tradition of phone calls only, so naturally I do not want to Skype, and 3) I don't even know what time I'm supposed to call, which makes me mad, mostly because my Mum and my family now have a very decreased chance at hearing my voice at all until Mother's Day, which is not as far away but still far enough that a phone call for Christmas would be highly desired.
[After numerous e-mails between the mission office and me, and a call or two from the mission office to Elder Schomburg's host companions in Adelaide, a plan was finally established for his Christmas phone call. While it was almost 2 hours later than expected, after 4 failed attempts, the call finally came through at 4:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve our time/day - it was 11:00 a.m. on Christmas morning for Elder Schomburg. It was a wonderful call! He sounds very happy and healthy and almost like an Aussie! :) ]
Aside from my frustrations about traveling and not having call information, we had a fairly good week. We did two service projects in 41-42C weather, removing desert shrub from in front of a less active's house (my hat actually started to droop and become deformed because the sun was beating on it so hard). I've finally become fed up enough with a tooth infection of unknown characteristics to tell someone about it so that I can go to a dentist and not have to resort to using an ice-skate and a rock (even though that's probably what they're going to use here in Aussieland), and we set two more baptismal dates! You'll never guess who, either! K, who is a friend of Sister P's, and (drum roll) D! Our first lesson with her since the Christmas party was exceptionally awkward for Elder P and me, but we were able to overcome that personal barrier and invite her to be baptized on the! Whoohoo!!! Please include her in your prayers- she has some challenges to overcome. If any of you are going to the temple, chuck their names in please! [I will put their names in at the temple since we do our best to try to keep some anonymity here in the blog.] The temple... man, it's been a few days shy of 9 months since I've been to the temple, and it'll be a bit longer still... blarg.
Anyways, as I was wondering what spiritual something to impart to you all this Christmas season, I didn't want to end up just running my mouth or ranting (as is the norm, but habits are meant to be broken), so I thought I might just keep it simple. It's not Christmas for me yet but it will be shortly, and to be honest I've been so busy that it's really just snuck up on me (I didn't start "counting the days" until the 21st). As I pondered over the fact that this will be my first Christmas away from home, and that I will be missing out on a lot of things (Mum's cooking, get together parties, Christmas light dates, putting up the tree and things of the sort) I found myself trying to detach myself from all of those things and trying to focus more on the true meaning of Christmas (not that I don't love the things I listed... those are really good family bonding opportunities and therefore are divinely appointed). We all know what that is- Christ's birth. There is one simple truth that remains around Christmastime- a Saviour was born to us 2,013 years ago, and because such an event occurred, we have the precious opportunity of being able to return to live with Christ and our Father in Heaven in the Celestial Kingdom.
This Christmas, because I'm fairly removed from the "getting" part of Christmas, I have more time to focus on the "giving" and that is, after all, what should be the focus anyways. Christ gave His all- should we not do the same for each other? This Christmas I've decided that my gift to Christ and Heavenly Father -because They have given me, and continue to give me, SO much- is more consecrated, more obedient missionary service. It's the most I can give right now. It dawned on me the other day that my mission will not last forever- I will come home someday, and that day is getting easier to see. I can "see" my halfway mark, and when you've reached that halfway mark, you've crested the hill, and you can see the bottom of it. You can't go backwards, though; you must go down the hill. I've almost crested the hill, and when I do, time will be short indeed. I've been wondering recently if I've done what the Father wanted me to do thus far, or if I've spent most of my mission looking forward to when I would be able to look down the hill. Such thoughts scared me, and I'm not very proud to say that it just now clicked in my thick skull that I only have ONE mission, and that this ONE chance in eternity to serve the Father with all I've got is RAPIDLY depleting. I want the Father to be able to say, "Yes, Elder Schomburg did well in his service to me and my children." This is why I've promised to serve harder, to be more obedient, and to be more consecrated. What are you going to give the Saviour and Heavenly Father this Christmas?
Giving is better anyways- maybe it's just a change of heart, but I've found that I like giving people things more than getting them. I may have learned this as a missionary only because you don't get very much (the P's and Q's presented us with... presents however and I love them a lot, by the way), but regardless, it's taught me to be a bit more giving and a bit less selfish, and I think it makes people more happy when you give (yourself included). But that's just my opinion.
I've got to go now, but I love you all heaps!
Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good couple of days cos it's not Christmas yet!