Wednesday, December 17, 2014

B-B-B-B-BAPTISM!!!! Week 90

That's right, ladies and gentleman, the Lord has blessed myself, Elder Schomburg, with another baptism!
G'day all!
To start, we've just about finished teaching Annie all of the lesson content she needs to know. We always check for her understanding and it's always there. She's really shy in teaching settings, but last night we had the opportunity to have dinner with her as well (usually it's just Brother and Sister Pioch that stick around for a feed) and we got her to open up a bit and have a few laughs. It's good to see that there is a great personality behind her generally shy demeanor. Sister Pioch and Brother Pioch teach her in a less formal way when we're not there, and we always ask them where Annie's understanding is. Even if she's shy in front of us (and I reckon she's just shy about saying the wrong thing or something) she's not shy in front of her auntie and uncle, which helps Elder Callahan and me a lot, as indirect as it may be.
She gets baptized on Dec. 21st, and we're trying to go through and make her a program with our branch mission leader, Brother Seve.  Annie was fairly indifferent about the program -not a whole lot of preferences as to who did what- so Sister Pioch suggested the missionaries baptize her. Then came the golden question- which missionary? So we made sure to give Annie all the options available and in the end they settled on having me baptize her. Lest my ears deceive me, I'm going to baptize someone personally whilst serving in the Zion Australia Adelaide Mission. I wanna show you all something, okay, it's called my surprised face: WHHAT!? I'm a bit nervous- her full name is Tongan (Annie is her English name) and actually consists of five names. Even Elder Callahan said, "I'm indifferent, but deep down, I'm thankful that I'm not the one baptizing her- that's a long-as name." Well, well, sir, you've dodged one bullet, but he might be the one confirming her, so HA! xD
Also, we saw the Paewai's again! I love serving in Mildura because I get to be so close to my Kiwi Whanau- it's the best! Oh... I need Sister Paewai's email address. Ah, shucks! I'm not allowed to email her yet 'cause we're still in the same boundaries... bugger. Oh well, someday soon.

Dinner with the Paewais

Mildura MiniConference with Sister Paewai!

Speaking of soon, guess who has two thumbs, wears a badge that says "ELDER SCHOMBURG" and got asked a terrible question today? Ya, this guy, and that question was from the office, from the beloved Sister Sheffield, who is leaving after Christmas... all the good missionaries and senior couples are going home.... anyways, the request was this:
"For your March 25th travel date, please advise us of your home airport asap, please. Love you all- Sister Sheffield."
To which I responded: "Sister Sheffield, this is the worst email I've ever gotten from you... but I still love you heaps. Denver International Airport."
Did you read that correctly? They're starting the process of sussing out my flight information. I wanna show you all something, okay, it's called my negatively surprised face: WHHAT!?
Hmm, ya, so moving on. This week was relatively hot- yesterday was about 38C or 39C so it was pleasurable on the bikes. Something about the hot weather makes me want to work more diligently- couldn't tell you why... maybe it's because biking is the only way of creating a substantial breeze to cool down and cool off.
On average, I find myself eating a lot of chicken, or chook(s) as the Aussie's have dubbed them. My favorite is probably the chook kebab. We eat lots of Tongan food, which is alright- I'm not a fan of the way they prepare their pigs, and they don't really flavor much of their food, but it fills us up, so it's good. I like Brother Pioch's cooking, though, and Sister Strathairn (both Aussies, coincidentally). They make a mean-as feed, probably because it's always closely related to what we have back home (potatoes with steak or pork chops, casseroles, seafood salads, all the rest of it). I just don't really like Aussie salads, though- they don't serve them with dressing. I always feel like it'd be equally good to go outside and eat some grass in exchange for eating the salad, but alas, such is a first-world problem; some people don't even have grass to eat, and that's saying something.
Aside from that, we eat a lot of rice for lunch. I've come up with a good way of cooking sugar rice that involves adding butter, heaps of raw sugar, and milk, which gives it a nice, creamy texture. A bit easier than eating it plain. All the missionaries that know of it always ask me to make some when they come on trade-offs or are traveling to and from, so it must be good. It also turns out that I give a really good back massage. "Magic Hands" is a common nickname for myself now, so I guess it's not so bad a thing- just extra practice for when I've got a tahini or wahini, depending on your language (Tongan and Moari for "girl" if I recall correctly). But we don't think about those kinds of things for very long- only when the other missionaries tease me about getting ready to receive the next ordinance xD
I don't know what else to say, and I'm probably out of time by now. I hope my less-than-spiritually filling letter was at least informative. I love you all heaps, and I'll talk to my Whanau soon and to the rest of those whom I think of, I'll do my best to send you a Christmas card or note or something. I love you all!
-Elder Jeffrey Schomburg 

Monday, November 3, 2014

WHAT!?... Week 84


Whoases, I am officially and utterly dumbfound right now! I can't believe that my little sister, my Sissy, is going to the Chile Santiago North Mission! What an adventure that will be! Can you ask the prophet for another week or two, though? March 11th, that's SO close! [Elder Schomburg returns from Australia on/about March 27th.] Way to go, Elizabeth! I am so proud of you and your decision to go on a mission.

What words could I possibly offer my little sister as she gets ready for this great journey? What is something that I wish I had done before I left for the field that I didn't do? I'll tell you what- forget about your social life right now, bury yourself in the scriptures and Preach My Gospel, and don't do anything else for up until you go on a mission, where you'll just do even more of that xDD

Jokes xD but seriously, study everything that you can about the gospel (not just the scriptures and PMG but all the books that the prophets and apostles and other inspired folks write).

In all seriousness, though, I really want to direct this letter to my little sister, so forgive me for doing so.

My sweet Sissy, what have you done? ;D You've got all grown up and you're getting ready for a mission now. I know you didn't need my permission to do that, but I wish you would've at least asked me if it was okay first xD I am so excited for you and for the place that you'll be serving. When I think of Chile and try to picture you walking through cramped lanes and busy streets, I can't help but think that the Lord picked the perfect place for you- something about it just feels very right. Coming from your older and incredibly protective brother, it amazes me that I'm not worried about the potential dangers of one such a country, and you shouldn't be worried either.

If it's one thing that I've learned on my mission, it is that the Lord is the One who is taking care of everything. A scripture that I constantly find myself referring to is D&C 101:16 which reads, " still and know that I am God." [See also in Psalms 46:10.] That is a powerful invitation from a Supreme Being. You may be very excited, anxious, and feel ready and able to serve a mission. As time draws closer to your departure, I daresay you might start feeling something similar to what I experienced; fear. Flying 9,000 miles out of the country over a massive body of water with not enough money to return by my own means is a bit frightening. Not knowing which of your friends you'll still have by the time you get back can be a very lonesome thing. Putting yourself out there and choosing -on your own accord- to do something that others would say is downright ridiculous is challenging, and not easy. There probably already have been -and there will continue to be- those who challenge what it is that you're doing, and they will oft times come in the form of those whom are closest to you.

Don't. Worry.


"Be still and know that I am God." Your Heavenly Father is not just the Father of your spirit, my dear Sissy, but He is also the Creator of everything you see, everything you hear, everything you haven't seen, everything you haven't heard, and everything that you have yet to see or hear. God is in control. Through means unbeknownst to myself, He is capable of reading every thought that his currently 7 billion children are thinking. On top of that, he is capable of reading every single thought all of His deceased children have, and further still, He is doing the same with the populations of "worlds without number." Yet because He created your spirit, gave you existence, you have become His daughter, and because you are His daughter, He will take the time out of His impeccably planned schedule to comfort your timid heart. You are His daughter and He loves you with a Godlike love- something we mortals cannot even conceive of in this mortal existence.

Because you are the daughter of a Divine Being, you have actually inherited some of His traits, and by implication, you have most definitely inherited some of your Heavenly Mother's traits. Do you know what that means? A better question- do you understand what that means? You have the potential to become like Him and like Her because you are Theirs.

Just for a moment, Sissy, think of God's qualities, traits, and capabilities. Let's start with His nature as a Father:

He knows you individually despite having numerous concourses of children that only He can number.
He loves and cares for you with a perfect love that no mortal being can comprehend in the slightest.
He is willing to let you struggle because He knows you will grow from it.
He has been where you are... think about that. "As Man is, God once was; as God is, Man can become."
His sole purpose in creating you was so that you could experience what we refer to as "joy".
He watches over you constantly, so much so that you know when it is that He is telling you to turn right instead of left.
He cares about the mundane things of your life- the things that you don't feel are worthy to be brought before the great Alpha and Omega are the very things that He has taken an interest in.
He is a physical Being, and He can laugh, too- I imagine that He does a lot of that.
He can cry, as well- whenever you cry, He cries. God Almighty will weep with you when you are sad, lonely, hurt, betrayed, or otherwise distraught. Think about that.

This is my insignificant and certainly not all inclusive list of a few traits of our Heavenly Father as He is in His divine station as our Father. What about His role as a Supreme Being?

He spoke, and the very atoms which are called intelligences responded and formed an earth, the stars, the "void" we call "space", and everything else He commanded.
God spoke -just spoke- and the cities of the unrighteous were toppled.
God told the earth to rain for ages, so it did.
He organized a star to exploded billions of years in advance so that it would be visible to those on earth in exact coordination with the birth of His Only Begotten (again, impeccably timed schedule).
Because we're on the subject, God found a way to impregnate a virgin with His own DNA without violating His own law. Figure that one out and I will be more than impressed xD I do have a theory about that one, though- ask me about it sometime if you really want to know ;D
God lifted up mountains and dropped them on wicked armies.
God made it possible for a stone slung from a youth's sling to fell a 9' giant (keep in mind that the stone would have had to penetrate Goliath's helmet, which -if proportionate to his size- would have been -I'm guessing- at least a quarter of an inch thick).
He told a whale to swallow His wayward prophet, so it did. When He told the whale to give him back, it did.
He destroyed whatever it was that was occupying earth's current position until it became "matter unorganized." (Jacob 5: 43-44- the Lord destroyed something so that He could plant His "vineyard"). He probably killed the dinosaurs in the process, and they're probably awaiting the Resurrection (that last bit is not doctrine, just speculated guessing supported by doctrine... ;D).
He has called you to serve in the Chile Santiago North Mission.

Now I ask you, Elizabeth, my Sissy... are you still worried? If you are, that's okay- we would only feel something like worry if it was something we inherited from our Parents. I dare not say that They are ever worried, but to some point, They must be. They would only ever be worried about who finds the truth in this life and the next, because having the truth -and acting upon it- is what helps Their children return to live with Them.

That is your commission; to help Father's children get back to Him. Worry about that, but nothing else.

A few things to remember that have helped me on my mission:

-God is in control of what you are not, so be in control of what has been given to you to control, and let God handle the rest.
-Father will not ask how many people you baptized or how many people you helped save at that great and last day; He will ask you if you did your best, if you gave it your all, and if you endured to the end.
-You cannot convert anyone beyond your own conversion. If you don't know something is true, believe it is true and work towards gaining a knowledge that it is true.
-At the end of the day, everyone has their agency to choose for themselves if they will accept or reject the restored gospel. Don't worry- this is part of God's Plan.
-There are a lot of things said about what a good missionary is, what a great missionary is, how to teach this and how to teach that; you'll get a lot of trainings on how to do certain things a certain way. Don't you EVER let the amount of trainings or programs you receive block out your receptiveness to the Holy Ghost. Just because you didn't do it the way the training says to do it does not mean that you have not done your job properly.
-Your loyalty is first to the Lord! Listen to the Spirit before you listen to your mission president, your assistants, your zone leaders, your district leaders, your senior companion. If what they say feels right, it is right. If what they say feels wrong, pray about it and see what you can take from it. Your leaders are not perfect and they will not always tell you the right thing, so pay attention to the Spirit. If someone teaches false doctrine, be the first one to say that's wrong. If someone teaches correct doctrine, be the first person to support and sustain it.
-Adaptability in Application. Take whatever you learn and look for ways to apply it in ways not originally intended and you will become a master missionary, and that ability will help you throughout your whole life.
-Obedience. I've heard some crazy stories about missions that are not as obedient as my mission, and to be honest, my biggest worry for you is not even that you're leaving home or the people you'll be talking to daily; it is that of the obedience of your mission and fellow missionaries. The ONLY thing that I regret from my mission is the time I spent in disobedience to God's commands. Remember the Spirit of the Law, but never rationalize or justify disobedience, and don't condone or take part in it. You have a job to do for 18 months, and after that you can be as silly as you want to be.
-HAVE RIGHTEOUS FUN!!! Sissy! Have fun! You're going to be a missionary, and it the best, most gratifying work you could ever involve yourself in (aside from that of being a mother, but that'll be later for you xD).
-Remember that the most important work you will ever do will be done within the walls of your own home. You won't be a missionary forever, so give it your all in the homes of others, take what you learn, and use it for when you get to organize your own home.

That list was longer than I wanted it to be but the counsel just started flowing. I think the most important thing to remember is to listen to the Spirit before you listen to anyone else, and that includes yourself. If you get that down, you're set to go.

I love you, Elizabeth. You're my Sissy, my only Sissy, and I will miss you SO much!!! I wish I could give you a great big hug and tell you just how proud I am of you and how amazing I think you are. You're my Sissy, and I love you! <3

Love you all heaps!
-Elder Jeffrey Schomburg

Bugger... Week 83

There is no better way to describe my feelings of this week than by stating this simple word which the Aussie's hold to be slightly rude. I'm a Yank so I can say it. I got a tie and shirt from Sister Welch and Skittles from Nan this week, so that was definitely a bundle of fun! Thank you! And I got lots of birthday cards and letters, too. Thank you! And speaking of birthday's, me Mum's is tomorrow!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUM!!! You'll probably be getting a signed sheet of paper that needs to go to the DMV for your birthday (isn't that exciting!?) but I wish I could send you something more =/ for one such a Mum that is as great as my Mum, there should be no limitations as to what can and should be given to pay tribute to my life-giving mother xD doesn't that sound sophisticated? ;D Love you Mum!!!
G'day from the Under Down, or the Down Under xD
This week's spiritual highlight was -though General Conference was indeed every bit as revelatory as it could ever be- my companionship inventory with my companion Elder Callahan. We had an honest and realistic look at what we needed to change to get our area moving, and not even that it might start moving but something we needed to do regardless. We have committed to being as diligent and hardworking as we can this week. I told my companion that I oftentimes thought back to my time in Darwin, when I was working my hardest yet yielding little to nothing. It wasn't that I was working ineffectively, either- things just weren't happening. I've since learned a thing or two that allows me to cope with lacking results, but I came to the conclusion that it was my level of diligence and my overall casual attitude towards the work that was making me feel a bit frustrated with the way things were going- I knew deep down that I needed to be trying harder, and that I was capable of more than I was putting out. I told my companion these thoughts, and as it turns out, he was having similar thoughts. We have 3 weeks left in the transfer, and I have 5 months left in this mission, and I want to be able to return home utterly exhausted. I may not be the best missionary, but if my effort is there, then I know the Lord and our Heavenly Father will be alright with that. These are the things we talked about during our Inventory, and now we're bound to helping each other remain diligent and active, without casually going about our days.

It was watching Conference that really solidified my decision to be more diligent. I have to be more diligent if I want to leave the mission with no regrets, and lately I've been wondering just exactly what will be said of me after I leave the mission. A scripture that has been speaking out to me recently is found in Helaman 5:7 which reads, "Therefore, [Elder Schomburg], I would that ye should do that which is good, that it may be said of you, and also written, even as it has been said and written of [Elder Covey, Elder Nay, Elder Dos Santos, Elder Lisati]." Those missionaries are the missionaries that I have aspired to be like; they are my examples, and each one of them has taught me something that has made me who I am. But sometimes I feel as though who I am -or who I want to be- is not manifested in my works, and so for the rest of this 5 months, I am going to do my best to make who I strive to be, the person I perceive myself to currently be, and the person that I am, the same. I hope that makes sense.
(For Mum) I was very touched by your email- thank you for always putting so much effort into helping me see and feel what it's like to be on the homefront; it's good for me. In response to your question, the first thing that I do when I get into a new flat is leave again- we have to proselyte, you know xD but when the night is over, after we've finished planning, I unpack. I unpack everything I have if I can and make the place my home. I arrange my things the way I want them to be arranged, I stow my gear, make my bed, and by then it's time for evening prayers and lights out. But that's the first thing I do- the flat is going to be home for the next 6 weeks, so I make it my home and try to make the most of it. I also don't really think about it as "my" home- may sound paradoxical, but I more or less consider it the place to be where I will be resting my head for the next 6 weeks at least, and this allows me not to get attached to it, thus making future moves easier. I've never really been attached to any one flat or had feelings attached to it. That might sound weird, but it is what it is xD I don't know if that helps you at all, because I know there's lots of unpacking to do, but if I were you, I'd start with my own things and my bedroom. I'd then move to the kitchen or living room probably- wherever it is that I'll be spending the most amount of time. The rest will just come as it needs to.
I'm excited for it all, though =D can you see my excited face!? Oh, I guess you'll get my SD card for your birthday, too- my camera is broken and dying, and so my SD card is all I have with all the photos on it, and a few more on a USB stick I have. Hope you can do something with it.
I love you all, I've nothing else to report. I apologize for the briefness of this! Cheers!
-Elder Jeffrey Schomburg

Another Year CLoser to Meeting Heavenly Father... Week 82

Such was the sentence written in a card given to me by the Mildura Zone, or the majority thereof. So true, though- there's something about turning 21 that punches you in the gut and says "Wake up, good sir- you're a man now." Legally speaking, we become adults at the age of 18, but let's be reasonable- no one at that age is an adult. No, 21 I reckon is the age in which one can call themselves an adult. As told by Sister Hartley, in Maori culture, no one becomes an adult until they turn 21, and I reckon that's a bit more accurate.

G'day, by the way! I was blessed with a simple birthday this year- Elder Callahan and I purchased a cheesecake and ate it, we spent the day proselyting as per the norm, and that was about it. Simple albeit enjoyable. It's like I said in one of my previous letters- it's more fun when you're little, but what a blessing it was for me to "celebrate" whilst in the service of our God! That's good enough for me, but I am thankful for all the cards and package and emails! Thank you all for thinking of me!

It's starting to warm up around here. That's nothing I'm going to complain about- being a Broken Hill veteran (xD) a decent 36C isn't worth getting worked up about. It'll be time to mourn when it hits the 40's in coming months. I keep trying to explain this to my Canadian companion, and sometimes I worry for him- he doesn't take the heat very well. But he's a good missionary and I like him. Sometimes he asks a lot of unnecessary questions, and when myself and the older missionaries are making plans for multiple missionaries when we have certain things to do, he sort of gets nervous and tries to but in by asking things like "What's going on?" "Who's going where?" "What are we doing?" before we've even formulated a whole plan, which is patience-testing. I'm trying to be patient; I understand he just wants to be in the loop, but sometimes I wish he could just roll with the punches- it's a good skill to have.

We have seven investigators and haven't been able to see any of them, not really. We dropped by M the other day and thought he was out or sleeping, and just as we were about to leave, we heard the most ungodly noises from within. The man -or some man- was screaming and gasping as if in pain and so for a moment, my companion and I tried to figure out what we should do. The thing that came to mind was perhaps a bad acid trip (e.g. he was using drugs and was seeing/feeling unpleasant things). We debated as to whether or not he was physically in trouble and we should break down the door, or if we should just let him do his thing and come back when he was more sober. Ultimately we came to the conclusion that it was best if we leave, so we did.

We saw him later in the week, and he looked fairly unhealthy. He set up another time for us to come by, and so we saw him again, later in the same week. This time he looked worse and told us that he would give us a call (in other words, we're not going to see him for a long time). 

One of our other investigators -the next potentially progressing investigator, if you could call him that- is on his honeymoon right now; after a long awaited year, he finally was able to take his Misses out for a 3 week holiday of sorts. Well, my companion and I talked about it, and decided that neither one of us would want to be called by anyone during our honeymoons, so we decided not to call him; we'll wait until he gets back to set up a time to see him.

Another investigator, Mk, is slipping into the very dark and lonesome cavern of depression. We showed up, briefly taught him about the Priesthood after he had his yarn, and offered to give him a blessing. He declined- that's the first time I saw the Spirit working on someone and then have them refuse it, deny what they knew they should do. He told us he didn't want to be rude, but he was going to go and take a nap and he wanted us to leave. You can't do too much when you're invited to leave, so we left with a prayer and departed. I sort of wanted to grab him by the shoulders and shake him whilst loudly proclaiming that sleeping does not make problems go away, it just delays the inevitable moment in which one must square their shoulders and deal with their issues. Sad, disappointing, frustrating, painful to watch... that's how I've chosen to describe that encounter.

We went to follow up with a potential investigator, A. He's got some sort of speech impediment but that was no concern for us. He's just getting over ending a marriage of 2 years. He asked us to teach him what we were teaching everyone else so we went into teaching the Restoration, personalizing it to himself, of course. He admitted that he believed Joseph Smith could have seen God the Father and Jesus Christ, but as we went on to explain how he could know for himself through prayer, he suddenly pulled back and expressed his disinterest in joining a different church or being baptized into a different organization. The Spirit had yet again been present and bore witness that what we were teaching was true, yet he denied it, just as Mk had. I was appalled, star-struck, in awe- call it what you will, but in the same week I'd seen the Holy Ghost -with a surety- been rejected. I'm sure it happens all the time when we teach people in the streets and on the highways and byways, but in a formal teaching environment when we all had felt the Holy Ghost testify to us of truth... and then to have them reject it...

Maybe it's because I'm a bit more seasoned now, and you'd reckon such a seasoning would just make my heart sore for them -and it is- but really, honestly, I just felt angry; angry at the increased hardness of men's hearts, angry that God could be denied despite His very presence being there via His Spirit, angry that my companion and I were working so hard yet yielding nothing. You would think I would have learned this divinely instituted lesson by now, whatever it is, because this is yet another area that I am assigned to in which nothing is happening... nothing that I can, anyways, and my own eyes are very prone to missing the long-term effects of missionary work.

I think the most frustrating thing for me at this time is that I know and understand the doctrine- I know that I should take heart in the fact that I am doing my all and that is all the Lord asks. I should take courage in knowing that I'm fulfilling my purpose by inviting others to come closer to Christ. I should be confident in knowing that, despite their choice to reject the gospel at such times, it's part of the Plan. Yet for whatever reason, knowing all of the above does not make me feel any better about not having any investigators progressing towards covenant-making with our Father in Heaven. I don't really care that I'm giving my all or that I've done my best- I want to see something come from it. This is a selfish desire, but perhaps I feel this way because I have yet to accept the Lord's timing; I'm still trying to get things done according to my timing, and right now, it just looks like my timing is not in alignment with the Lord's timing.

But what can you do? Pray to accept the Lord's timing, look for opportunities to accept it, and then accept it. Such is my battle plan, if you will.

That's about all I've got to say, though. Working and working hard as usual, but trying very hard to not get caught up in the motions, and trying very hard to not get too excited about doing all of the things ever in the next 5 months or so- that's me xD

I love you all!

-Elder Jeffrey Schomburg

Monday, October 13, 2014

To Everything There is a Season... Week 81

G'day all!
I say this only because it's part of my mission experience, but I'm starting to see a great number of changes occurring in my life and a few lives back home and ALL of them are happening at incredibly peculiar times, as if the timing was intended or something. Now that may sound cryptic and I hope it does because I like to keep my readers at the edge of their seats with suspense, though I daresay that's probably not what anyone is feeling- frustration and impatience is probably the more appropriate emotions I would guess you're feeling as you read this, but maybe not; maybe you're all just laughing. I hope you are; laughing is the best, and joy is a fruit of the Spirit so laugh away!
Here's what I mean. I recently wrote to and received an email from someone back home that has put an end to a very long relationship on good terms. I have mixed feelings. Don't ask me about it; I'm a missionary and I need to focus to the best of my abilities, and where I can talk about a lot of things, I can only mention this subject briefly because this subject has a tendency to linger on my mind, which isn't very helpful when I'm trying to street contact and teach people. So that's no small "change of seasons" as it were, at least in my own life.
The second "change of seasons" would be the role I have taken in the mission field. I am still a regular missionary with the only assignments issued being that of Senior Companion in my area (and what a blessed life that is, though... well, I might mention it later). I find that I am the one who talks too much (there was a time and place when Elder Covey said he talked too much, and he promised me there would be a day in which I said the same. I denied him, yet lo and behold, the man was right... I talk too much xD), who conducts most of our initial contacts with absolute strangers, who will ask random blokes out of the blue for directions, and has no fear in walking into stores asking where the best merchandise can be found and if not in that store, then where? Things of that sort- these examples are not all inclusive. Now there was a day and age when the last thing I would do is ask any store clerk for assistance in finding something, I would have sooner dug a hole to China than ask a stranger for directions, and the idea of talking to complete strangers just for the sake of holding conversation, let alone teaching the gospel, was not something that appealed to me. Now, it bothers me (really bothers me) every time I pass someone without talking with them, and I've never been so "comfortable" in teaching anyone about a gospel truth (practically walk into their homes like I've lived there for ages, with respect of course, don't go thinking I'm some brute that just goes charging in... brute... Brutes... Halo... my old life? What? Where have you been? xD). So what has been the change? [Halo is a favorite video game from Elder Schomburg's former life.]
I'll tell you what has been the cause of the change! As soon as the Saviour left the Apostles in Jerusalem for the last time, Peter, a once unsure, confidence-lacking disciple of the Lord (and I say that not in a condescending way because I have the utmost respect for Simon Peter) suddenly became a bold teacher, one who could stand before angry mobs, armed soldiers, kings, and even Caesar, and testify of his Saviour Jesus Christ and the truthfulness of the gospel. This mighty change of heart could only be wrought by the Spirit of the Lord, and I know that the Holy Ghost has done the same with me. Maybe this sounds like it's verging on narcissism, but I was comparing my past self to my current self, and the Lord truly has caused a mighty change of heart to occur.
Such changes of heart cannot, however, occur unless one is willing to let them occur. The Lord does not force anyone to do anything- He never has and He never will. Concerning changes, sometimes they are very difficult to make, and I've had to make a lot of them, a few fairly significant ones recently, but I know from past experience that the Lord has designed such changes to occur. He presents opportunities for us to progress, to learn, and to grow, yet in His infinite wisdom, He leaves it up to us to decide if we will or will not make the most of the opportunities presented.
Breaking up, no matter how softly, is painful. Leaving home for two years, no matter how rewarding, is frightening. Moving houses, no matter how organized or disorganized, is uncomfortable. Deciding to cross the street to talk to that bloke with the tattoo sleeves, sunny's to hide the eyes, and a scowl that says, "Say something and I'll drop you" so that you can tell him that God loves him is nerve-racking. Inviting your most valued investigator to be baptized, though you risk losing an investigator, is intense. The thing that all of these examples have in common is this- they obligate us to move from where we are comfortable and safe, and make a change.
Though it's not easy for me to change (especially regarding issues of the heart), the Lord did give me a bit of a "cheat code" if you will; within my Patriarchal Blessing, it states that I have been blessed to know when the time is right to change, and not only that, but that if I exercise faith and put trust in the Lord, making the changes will be exciting, rewarding, and I will experience miracles. Those are quite the promised blessings for moving out of my comfort zone.
It's interesting to note that Lord made faith-testing and trust the two conditions of such blessings for me, though. If anyone knows me, they'll understand that my trust is one of the most difficult things anyone could hope to gain, and that I would sooner like to act with a sure knowledge than put my trust in something that I cannot see or that is not foreseeable (thus my slow conversion xD). I daresay the Lord works the same with all of us. Why would God, our loving Father in Heaven, weigh the things we desire most upon acting on the things we least want to act on (i.e. trust Someone I cannot see and have faith that that Someone will make it all work out in the end)? It is so we can grow.
Something President Carter told me was this- "We draw close to God when we are asked to do things we don't think we can on our own power. It is during such times that we plead for the Spirit because we know we can't do it alone! We would never seek or feel the Spirit if we stayed in our comfort zone. There is no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone. As the pioneers said after their experience of crossing the plains in deathly chill of winter, 'We became acquainted with God in our extremities.' -- you can come to know God no other way my son."
What inspired words. I've never really looked at change the same way. As I recall, he wrote me this email whilst I was in Clarence Park, and if you have been keeping up with me, you'll know that Clarence Park was my proving ground.
I guess I don't have much more to say. We've built a few strong relationships with the members which is great, and we have an Elders Quorum president now, and I love him- the Lord picked the right man for the job, but He never really picks the wrong man.
I love you all heaps, I can't wait to see you in 5 1/2 LONG months, but until then, I must work! Work work work! Kinda like "Wort wort wort!" Hahaha, only my Halo mates will understand that one. Whoas-es, why does that keep happening? Okay, really quick- I'm starting to really miss some things, like watching awesome movies with my mates, and going shooting, and having random adventures with Dad, and wrestling my brothers, and teasing my sister, and talking about anything and everything with my Mum, and eating American food, and writing my books, and reading other books, and watching races, and watching football, and going to parks, and sitting on the porch basking in the sun doing absolutely nothing but pondering deeply, and taking Sunday afternoon naps... I guess those are mostly summertime activities, but it's summertime here, and I like it because I just finished a really wet winter in Adelaide... okay, now that's of my chest... thank you for tolerating me.
Love you heaps!
-Elder Jeffrey Schomburg  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

At Long Last... Week 80

As the title of this week implies, I am sorry for not having been able to properly write home in what seems for ages now, but I'm happy to report that I have adequate time today.

First off... my older brother is a skuxx... what a skuxx!! I like the hair and the sunny's and the suit... and that tie... I wonder where you got that from ;D it's okay, I'll let you have it 'cause I have two of yours xD Side note, Hymn 44 "Beautiful Zion" is our mission's anthem [click on it to listen], so I'm excited to see what Motab managed to do with it!!! I almost cried when I heard that it was the first hymn sung at Conference, because it has a very special place in my heart (been singing it for a year and a half now). 

The Older Brother
Andrew at General Conference
in Salt Lake City 10-5-14

What can I say about this week? This past two weeks it seems... I've lost all track of time, and this is due to my recent amount of traveling. I have been driving for days it seems, from Berri to Robinvale to Mildura to Adelaide and back and all the rest of it. I am the only licensed driver in Mildura at this time (save for Elder Gray, one of the Senior Missionaries here), and my license expires in November on the 6th, so Mum, if you could please start to get onto the renewing process (and I know that things are crazy) that would be really good. But that's what I have been doing for most of the past many days- driving...driving... and driving some more. I'm beginning to think that I have been given a glimpse of my mother's life, and because of it, I have a new-found appreciation for all the driving that my Mum ever did for me- THANKS MUM!!!

Transfers were this past week. Elder Hefa was transferred into the Glenelg Elders area, and Elder Seru was transferred out of Robinvale. I brought Elder Lee back for Elder Molisi in Robinvale, and my companion is Elder Callahan from Alberta, Canada! We've hit it off fairly well- we can hold conversation, have a laugh, and have very similar ideas of how missionary work should be carried out, which makes it easier to become unified and thus teach with more power and authority.

We also had Mini Mission this past week with the Mildura Branch's youth. For three days we went on splits with an assigned temporary companion and showed them the ways of a ZAAM missionary. There are lots of good missions out there, and lots of good missionaries; they've got portions of the truth and what they do is good... but there is only one true and living mission which contains the fullness of all a mission -and its missionaries- should be, and that is the Zion Australia Adelaide Mission, and I am so glad that those youth were blessed with the opportunity to go on a three-day split with the best missionaries in the world!

Elder Schomburg is right in the middle
Mildura Mini-Mission
Elder Schomburg is on the far left.
Mildura Mini-Mission

My companion was young Khaleb, a recent convert of about nine months. We actually got special permission for him because he is only 15 years of age, not quite a Priest. We spent our time out in Buronga, a small town on the outskirts of Mildura in blessed New South Wales. We only had three people to go and see, so we knew that most of the day would be spent housing. I was a bit concerned for my companion because housing is the hardest thing a missionary can subject him/herself to, and to do one such a thing without any missionary training or even being exposed to the bitterness of rejection would be no easy task, but I can firmly testify that today's youth are prepared for missionary work- more prepared than my own "marked generation". We had an incredibly successful day, regardless of a few door slams- we found nine potentials whilst finding that day, which was more than anyone else had found, save for one other companionship (Elder Matekohi and Douey... Elder Matekohi is another one of my Kiwi brothers, btw, so it was fun to have a bit of a competition with him xD). The next day we didn't have as much proselyting time, but we found three more (Elder Matekohi and Douey found five... bugger xD). Overall, it was a great experience for the youth- I loved it because my companion was actually the recent convert that we've been going to and having Book of Mormon reads with, and we've been working a lot with him as he is the only member in his family. Khaleb is like a younger brother to me, and it was great to see him do his very best at sharing the gospel. Let me tell yous, though; I will always and forever be thankful to the Lord for having put me in enough situations and given me enough experience to be able to turn any situation into a teaching scenario. Some things my companion said weren't exactly in accordance with "milk before meat" but he was doing his very best and giving his all. I was proud of him- he did not have ANY idea of how to missionary work, had only briefly looked at the Finding materials, and did not have any prior instruction as to how to teach a gospel principle or doctrine, yet he spoke to people right on the doorstep and testified of what he knew was true, and even taught out of the Plan of Salvation pamphlet on the doorstep (that's something even missionaries forget to do). I was impressed and humbled by this young man and am thankful I had the opportunity to be his Mini Mission companion.

Aside from Mini Mission, I've basically already talked about how the days have been- long hours of driving to every area in the Mildura Zone and driving to and from Adelaide. Had a few close calls with passing cars and trucks along the way (I've now been bestowed the nicknames of "Paul Walker" and the "Transporter" by my fellow missionaries... probably best not to ask how I gained those titles xD don't worry, everything's good!), but we didn't hit anything save for a bird, and even though the tires on my car are bald as and could be likened unto racing slicks, the Lord has protected us. I just had the car serviced but they didn't change the tires! How do you not change bald tires when the car has come in for a service!? The eggs... oh well, at least it's clean and still functions properly. I really enjoy being the only driver, though- it's been a blessing to be able to see so much of Australia and getting to go from place to place. There's not a whole lot to look at by way of mountains or oceans, but the Riverland, as it's called, is definitely not short of rivers, vineyards, orchards, isolated valleys, and of course, barren Outback. I love Australia, I love my mission, I love being a missionary!!! This is the best EVER!!!! 

Oh, the sisters in my intake went home this transfer, so I was blessed to hear their testimonies. It's a slightly gut-wrenching moment, when you watch your intake sisters give their last formal testimony at transfer meeting. It's a reminder that the journey is almost over and as Sister Carter said, "The best is yet to come" but it's also a reminder that the sacred privilege of being one of the Lords' full-time missionaries, the opportunity to teach the gospel as one having power and authority to do so is almost gone. I'm feeling many mixed emotions about it- the time couldn't come sooner yet I wish time would slow down, at least a little. It's the 8th of October here already. in 19 days I'll have reached my 5 month mark going backwards, you see, and I feel like I just hit my 6 month yesterday. I'm starting to bite into that last six months and I hate it, I absolutely hate it. Hate is a powerful word and I hope and pray that every single meaning, every single emotion associated with the word can be felt when I say that I hate running out of time...

I suppose I'm mostly just scared of not accomplishing what Heavenly Father wanted me to. I've never been so afraid of anything in my life as I am of having missed the point, of having wasted and squandered this precious opportunity to serve. I'm scared of the inevitable pains of the heart that will be inflicted with leaving my beautiful ZAAM. But I can say that I've never felt so confident about how to adopt a new life once I cross that bridge... or ocean... ;D the trick is to not think about what that really means and to get right into it. It's like baptism- no one ever really knows the true depth of making one such a covenant with the Lord, but we do it anyways! xD

I wish I had more to say, but I really don't. There was something I needed... or wanted... but I forgot what it was. I'll remember as soon as I get this sent xD My 21st birthday is coming up... being little is better because it's a big deal, but the older you get, the less significant certain things become. Halloween is coming up too, hey? I'd completely forgotten until I saw the merchandise at a store... I never forget Halloween...

Ah well, the time is far spent and I hope there are a handful of yous who are dying to hear what I've got to say. I know this wasn't the most uplifting or spiritual letter, but I hope if anything it puts some troubled minds to rest. I love you all and I hope you're enjoying the cold, because it's getting a bit hotter here xD

-Elder Schomburg 

After District Conference - with the Quinns

A wonderful reunion with the beautiful Quinn family from Broken Hill!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Whoa-ses!... Week 76

Whoa-ses (wo-z-es) is a common expression here used by missionaries when they want to communicate shock, surprise, excitement, or express their surprise at still being alive after a near miss in a car or on a bike (happens a lot... don't be worried)- it is purely missionary lingo. The reason why I've titled this "Whoa-ses!" is because that's really all I could think to say when I saw the picture of my sister that is going to be her missionary photo... WHOA-SES!!!! I might not get to see my Sissy for a long time... =( but compared to the things the Lord blesses us with, I see it as a small sacrifice, if that. I'd be being selfish if I told my Sissy to stay home at least a little while longer so I could see her off...

Sister Schomburg - eek!
She will be submitting her mission papers
on Sept. 20, 2014
...and then we wait :)

Well, anyways, what can I tell you of my week? I'm getting to know the area fairly well, and it is a relatively small area. Nevertheless, we've had positive growth in our teaching pool, but it's still a very shallow pool. Deeper than Clarence Park's, but shallow nonetheless. We've invited all of our investigators to be baptized and a few said they'd think about it, and others said no, and others still said yes but didn't commit to a date to work towards. The work is sort of all over the place and I'm still trying to readjust to working in outlying areas. When I was in Darwin, Elder Traconis and Elder Aiono both mentioned that the work seemed slower than down in Adelaide. I didn't know what they were talking about and they had difficulty explaining it, but I can see now what they mean. Trainings given down in Adelaide are -for whatever reason- slow to make it to outlying areas, and perhaps it's just me, but I'm sensing an overall lack of urgency. It almost seems relaxed, working in Mildura, yet despite the easiness of it all, work still gets done. I haven't quite figured it out yet.

We're teaching a less active Fijian family. The father's name is Masi and he is the man- we're definitely great friends with him and he understands what we do as missionaries as well, so it's about as good of a relationship as you can get with anyone. Elder Hefa has been teaching this family for a long time, but only yesterday did Masi come to church. Not only that, but when he got home (and we were told these things by his wife Sophie) his daughters approached him and said confidently, "Momo (father or dad in their language), we're coming with you to church next week." Sophie really wants to get the kids going back as well, but a lot of things relied on whether or not Masi wanted to go.

This past week, Masi invited us to a dinner with him and his family. He said it was a club-sponsored dinner (he plays for a rugby club [the Warriors] in Mildura) and they were having a dinner to celebrate the season that just ended. Masi wanted to bring us with his family and whatnot to the dinner, but was very concerned that the environment wouldn't be good for missionaries. We got there and sussed things out, and it was determined that it was a good family setting up until 10PM, at which point the party for the adults would start. That wasn't a concern for a pair of missionaries- we'd be home by 9. So we stayed with them and socialized for a time, but as time went on, they were still working on getting dinner going. It was about 8PM and Masi looked to us and said, "Okay, we're going- I'll get you Hungry Jacks." We had been having a great discussion about church and the gospel just as we sat down at the table, so we continued it in the car. He dropped us off at the appointed time and then went back for his family.

Sophie told us the rest of the story last night, but here's what happened: Masi got back to the place just as dinner was getting started. Because it's Aussie culture, most of the people had been drinking and were already getting pretty tipsy, but things looked like they might get out of hand before 10PM. So Masi and his family scarfed some food and did their thing with receiving a number of trophies , and then Masi said to his wife, "Come, we're going home now." Well, she was a bit bewildered and asked, "Are you sure?" to which he responded, "I need to go home because I'm going to church tomorrow." So they left. 

At 6AM Sunday morning he woke up and asked Sophie, "Are the elders here yet? Did I miss them!?" She calmed him down and explained the time (we weren't even awake yet). He couldn't get back to bed because "[he] was just too excited for church" and when we showed up at 8AM,he was ready to go in a white shirt, slacks, purple tie, and a black jumper [sweater]- he looked like the man! He only came to Sacrament because he had a 12 hour night shift (he's a security guard) later on, so he gapped it back to his house, but most everyone said hello to him, and he said hello to everyone else as if he owned the place (the man doesn't forget a face, you see). So last night when we went over there after church to see how the family was, everyone was eager and excited to talk about church and excited for next week. They've got four children, all little ones, and the whole family wants to come back to church after being less active for... awhile. Miracle number one!

Miracle number two is this: I survived a Tongan lunch session. Straight after church we went to a Tongan sister's home to have a bit of a party; her baby had been blessed that day, so they were having a celebration. When we got there, I was the only palangi (awkward xD) until Brother Pioch showed up (older Aussie fellow, really cheeky bloke but awesome company to have). There was some kind of speech, they sang "Love at Home" in Tongan, to which -after I discerned that it was "Love at Home"- I was able to offer an English accompaniment, and then a prayer was said in Tongan. Then they all looked down the line and someone started giving orders in Tongan. My companion wasn't reacting -out of shyness maybe- but one of the sisters was sympathetic to my language barrier and said, "Come elders, missionaries eat first!"

Well, talk about intimidating- the only palangi around leads the charge to the head of the table surrounded by Tongans to start eating at a party that isn't even for him... worse things could have happened. xD

Anyways, I think I left that party 5 kilos heavier than when I first got there. I want you all to know that in the past 36 hours I have eaten KFC twice, Hungry Jacks once, bacon (ham) and eggs twice, and more than can be mentioned at that Tongan feast... I'm going to have to be rolled out of the terminal when I get home if this keeps up! xD I am well fed- don't even worry about that. Mildura is where they send missionaries to make them fat, and this one is going to be fat (192lbs, 86 or so kilos... watch out xD).

Anyways, that's about all I've got to talk about for now. I love you all heaps and hope to hear from you soon (meaning before I see you in person next xP that would be awkward for you xD)!

-Elder Schomburg 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Welcome to Mini-Tonga... Week 75

Fefe hake! Which is to say "How are you?" in Tongan. You'd never guess it, but the Mildura Branch (that's where I am) is about 70% Tongan, 27% Samoan, and 3% Palangi (directly translated, palangi means "white man with a big nose" but it's generally used to describe anyone who is white).

I've never been so out of place, so happy, so excited, so ANYTHING!!! I'm in MILDURA!!! Haha, wow, I'm really happy to be in Mildura again! Technically the first time was in Broken Hill, but the sights, the surroundings, the people- everything is familiar to me. Unfortunately when I was serving in Broken Hill I went on trade-off mostly in the Mildura South area, which I know much better than my own area, the Mildura North area. My companion is in his fifth transfer- his name is Elder Hefa from Tonga, so he fits right in. No joke, there are a great many islanders here, so that is why I am out of place- going from a population of Aussies to islanders is no small change to make, but thankfully I've been properly prepared for such an occurrence due to my many past islander companions! The Lord works in a perfect way and accounts for all the details- I've experienced no culture shock because I already know what to expect, and I love the islanders' cultures.

So what can I tell you? The drive down would have been scenic if we hadn't left Adelaide late- it was dark for the majority of the trip, so we didn't see much (no incidents with any 'roo's, thankfully [or emu's for that matter... clueless birds]). Unfortunately the Toyota's we've been supplied with are unequipped with cruise control, so after my leg was verging on cramping, I decided to pull over in the middle of the Victorian Outback, if you could call it that, and we had a brief stargaze- I've never been able to see the Milky Way so clearly; in fact I'm fairly certain I was able to make out individual particles of space dust as they drifted aimlessly in the black abyss. That's a bit exaggerated, but in order to properly communicate a truth, sometimes a bit of exaggeration is needed, only to compensate for the lack of everyone else's personal experience in looking up at the stars in the middle of nowhere... anyways...

Photo credit: Blacklegend @
Milky Way Rising - Tolcumwal NSW Australia

I mentioned a pattern in my missionary work in the last letter I wrote back, about my speciality getting areas going. Guess what Mildura North needs? Everything that Clarence Park needed when I first arrived. Do you dare to venture a guess at what I'll be doing in the coming weeks? That is right- I will be in the trenches of Mildura! I'm actually very excited- country folk are so much more polite than city folk. I feel badly for the elders here who have started here and think it's difficult- a taste of the city will change their minds eventually, and they won't know how lucky they are to be serving in Mildura until they've left. I have been blessed with a taste of everything, so I'm going to be sure to make this one of the most joyous transfers ever because I know just how much of a blessing it is to serve in Mildura!

My district leader is Elder Molisi and it's his first command, though he's the second oldest missionary in the zone (Mildura District is the Mildura Zone as well). My Zone Leader is Elder Tuigamala, and this is his last transfer. If you haven't already connected the dots -and it's okay if you haven't- I am responsibility free! At least as far as leadership positions go. WHOO-HOO!!! I am so excited to be able to focus solely on my area and thrash it!!! I'm being cautioned not to rest too easy, though- Elder Tuigamala is leaving after this, so they'll need a new Zone Leader- most have suspicions that my being in Mildura is a tactical move by President, because he knows he'll need to fill a position. I'm not really paying attention to that because I want to enjoy being a regular missionary for as long as I possibly can! But it wouldn't surprise me if President has the rest of my mission -and the rest of several other missionaries' missions- planned and plotted already. Elder Hefa thinks this will be my last area. I don't really know- it could be, only because Mildura has a habit of swallowing missionaries for extreme amounts of time ranging anywhere from 4-5 transfers, but Marion District had the same reputation and I got shot out of that one. Oh well, that kind of thinking doesn't really matter right now. It would be nice to know which area will be my last, though, only so that I don't get careless. I shouldn't be careless anyways, but I am -like most everyone else- prone to carelessness.

Speaking of that, a recent struggle for myself is not becoming the missionary that simply goes through the motions. Before I left last transfer, Elder Dos Santos gave me piece of paper after our trade-off with various compliments and strengths. He also admonished me to not get stuck in a rut of simply going through the motions. I'm finding -especially now- that this is beginning to be a trial for me. I feel like I'm taking all of the things I've learned and applying them, but doing so without a greater meaning to it. I made it a matter of study this morning as to how I can start caring more about the individual rather than the rote cycle of missionary work, and my answer is a bit detailed, but perhaps I'll share it at a later time- suffice it to say that it comes down to following the example of the Saviour and that of Heavenly Father, Who's greatest desire is to bless His children. If that is His desire, it is also His Son's desire, and if it be Christ the Master's desire to bless others, than I -a servant in His vineyard who wears His name every day- should have the same desire. I have decided to begin to ask myself what I can do to be a blessing to anyone and everyone, whether that be in teaching or finding or even just in the flat; how can I be a blessing and not a burden? Hopefully this pattern of thinking will scoop me out of the pre-routine rut that missionaries can become prone to falling into.

Just some insight into how I'm feeling now: to be honest, I feel very good. I feel sharp, alert, ready and able, but I want to keep my confidence in check, as I am feeling very confident- for me, I might appear outwardly humble but I can be pretty bad about being inwardly prideful, and I don't want to be prideful or arrogant- no two personality traits halt personal progression and -sometimes- the progression of others as efficiently as pride and arrogance.

That's about all I've got to say for now, though- I'm excited to be back in Mildura, I have the only area in the mission that covers two states (Victoria and New South Wales), and I feel great!

I finished reading Jesus the Christ as a side note- that book is a great book, and I want you all to know that it has helped me to know and understand my Saviour even more fully on an even more personal level. It was a challenge to read, but the reward was well worth it, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about the Saviour.

I love you all and I'll talk to you soon!

-Elder Jeffrey Schomburg