Monday, July 28, 2014

Is This the Real Life... Is This Just Fantasy?... Week 70

I haven't been singing unapproved tunes... just verses xD sorry, I've been working really hard on that one throughout my mission (I love music, what can I say?). But this one is particularly relevant because I find that my time upon this earth as a full-time missionary is very quickly leaving me, and I must soon take up my missionary grave. This is a thought that does not sit well with me, because some days I am really excited about coming home, and other days I am really not excited at all. That doesn't mean that I dislike home, I just dislike the prospect of having to give up being a missionary. I really do love being a missionary at the end of the day; it's not easy in all the areas of life (social, mental, emotional, physical, what have you) but it is the most fulfilling thing I can currently be doing. I guess I could come home and get the next ordinance (wink wink, nudge nudge ;D) and really start to fill the measure of my divine potential, BUT I kinda don't want to do that right now... just not too keen, at the moment; too much to do, too many souls to save, too many missionaries to help, too many places to go and doors to knock... no time for that kind of thing! xD
Anyways, we don't have any investigators at the moment, though we found 11 potential investigators! That is HEAPS for the Clarence Park area! And yet I think back to that night when Elder Aiono and I found 10 potentials in the space of two hours... ah, areas go through phases, I guess. But to speak of a few people, we visited M yesterday. He's always drunk these days, and one of our members, P (who's getting ready for his mission) moved in with him recently. P's folks are going through a divorce, so he needed to get out of the house. He doesn't really seem to be prohibiting M from doing anything with alcohol, but who is he to say that M can't drink? - he's living under the man's roof without paying rent.
So M hasn't come to church for 6 weeks in a row, now; he used to come regularly, and his language made sense and was structured and had logic. Now... it's pretty heartbreaking to watch someone slip into their own personal apostasy. My companion was trying hard out to teach him last night, but I couldn't feel the Spirit at all. I let Elder Fleming take, for the most part, the entire "lesson"; I wanted to leave because there was no point in us being there. M was saying things that didn't make sense in the least, and P wasn't adding to anything being taught. My companion was coming off too strong and I couldn't discern the direction he was going, so that made it difficult to back him up at all... it just wasn't a very good lesson. It's funny as I look at it, though; I did the same thing as a younger missionary up in Darwin, and Elder Covey (we'd been on trade-off) largely let me take the lesson, and it got to a point where he just ceased adding to anything I was saying. He told me later why, and it was the exact same reason why I eventually ended up not saying anything in the lesson last night- no Spirit, no direction, no point = no teaching. I think my companion was a bit peeved at me for that, judging by his demeanor, and I haven't had an opportunity to ask him about it yet, but it'll come.
The other people we were teaching was a Baptist couple, Matt and Eden. They are the most lovely Christian folk I've come across in awhile that aren't of our faith. They're both very young and they're raising one son. We've taught them about four times, and the first two lessons were pretty brief, but the last two were good (not that brief isn't good, because it is; we just didn't cover all the main points). The last concern they had was that of having living prophets- why do we need them? But during our teaching, we did lightly scratch the surface of priesthood authority and how the prophet holds those keys that allow us to seal our families for eternity (and we translated it into non-Mormon English), and that really perked Eden's curiosity. According to my understanding from what they've said, the Baptists hold it to be true that after death, we become angels in heaven, and that there is no marriage in heaven. When given the options to choose between eternal angel or eternal father/mother, Eden was definitely leaning towards the latter. But since discovering this revelation that we need to teach them about eternal families and marriages, we haven't been able to see them at all; just goes to show that the Adversary is working very hard, because that would have got them.
So we continue to do the same thing- look for potential investigators so we can have more new investigators so we can have more progressing investigators so we can have baptisms. Such is the Investigator's Circle of Life. But we're remaining hopeful and optimistic. To be honest, I'm feeling pretty happy as of late. I still don't know why- there's not much going in this area at all, and it's supposed to be a hard area, but I don't understand how some areas are hard and others are not. This one should not be any more difficult than any other area.
We have tea with the Casano family every Thursday- these are the equivalent Paewai's, except Brother Casano isn't the Branch President. They're from the Philippines and both served missions, and they are the best family. They've got two boys, Yaeden and Xavier (we call him "Coia" which means "Older Brother" in Tagalek), and they are the most missionary-minded members around, save for probably the Costagen's (both also served missions, and Sister Costagen is from Samoa whilst Brother Costagen is a full-blood Aussie). I've only had tea at their place once because they live in the zone leaders' area, but they are so cool! We made fast friends and they are keen and excited to do missionary work as well.
Oh! We did a service project recently, which involved building irregular shaped flower gardens of large quality. It was pretty muddy and foggy, but it was a lot of fun! It reminded me of what I used to do back home with Sister Welch and Sister Grovenburg- hard, manual labor! More so gardening with Sister Welch, which comes in handy because everyone in Adelaide gardens, but yeah, it was great fun! And we did a service project for Sister Grecenin the other day- she's big into family history and she had us over for tea once (most fun I've ever had, being in the company of witty, sophisticated old people cracking jokes and making each other the butt of them [kind of sounds like... home... ;D]). She needed us to dig out a stubborn root... I spliced my hands open because the blisters the pickax and ax made were quite unpleasant (in between the calluses I developed from riding my bike... dang), but that was heaps fun as well! I love service projects, they're the best!
But I've got to go for now! I love you all heaps, and I'll talk to you soon! Don't blink- it'll be over that quick (and don't even ask me about my thoughts concerning that topic @.@ it's not true!).
-Elder Schomburg 

Monday, July 21, 2014

And Thus Began the Battle of Trunkiness... Week 69

G'day all!
As you might tell by this week's heading, I am battling! I am battling hard, brothers and sisters, because I am a representative of Jesus Christ, of the Monument Ward, and of my family, and I will not suffer the name "Schomburg" to go down in history as that of a trunky people. But I am battling! xD
I think it was on Friday when, as I fasted (that's why this happened) I suddenly felt the most driving desire to eat out at Red Robin. This was quickly followed by feeling nostalgic towards the times when Mum and I would go to lunch, specifically at Broken Bones BBQ. This made me think of my mate Ethan, because we made it a point to eat there every Friday a month or so before I left for the mission. Not only that, but we took Kayla and Amber there on occasion (you all know where this is going xD) so I was left to fight off some old memories for the remainder of the day. This seems to be happening more frequently- I miss home, and I miss my friends, and I miss girls... what more can I say? Don't worry- I don't have time to be distracted because of my various assignments and responsibilities (still can't see straight, so all is right in the world xD), just know that it's begun! (dramatic music).
They do say that the last 8 months for a missionary goes by extremely quickly. Considering that the first week of the transfer is gone, I was almost inclined to believe that... and then I thought back to Tuesday- that's when transfers were, and Tuesday was a very long time ago. Sister Farr (I guessed she was going to the Aberfoyle Park area to begin her training as a Sister Training Leader [they act like liaisons between district leaders and zone leaders, and the sisters under their stewardship, because there are female needs that blokes just can't meet sometimes]) was sent to Modbury, and Sister Moss (I totally called this one- my last act of receiving revelation for her [because she was still in my district] was spot on xD) is going to Darwin! Now I will tell you all something- I miss those sisters already. The new sisters that we've got are AMAZING (Sister Bailey, 6 months out and coming from an outlying area) and Sister Lewis (she was in the same district when I was serving in Firle), and they are fantastic at what they do. I've only really gotten to know them this week, though, so that friendship that I had established with Sister Farr and Sister Moss hasn't been established between us yet, but it'll happen. They are expert missionaries and I'm excited to serve them in my appointed assignment.
As far as miracles go this week, I didn't do as good a job at keeping track of them. We found 7 more potentials, of which 4 are most likely going to reject us on the long run based off of what they said during our initial contact. I'm not one to believe in first impressions, though, because they never tell the whole truth, so we'll be going back, as per the norm. Some of our recent converts that we had planned to see fell through, and other appointments with potentials that would have gleaned more new investigators fell through as well, SO we just kept keepin' on. I definitely felt as though we were committed this week- I was doing my best and I know it, save for probably Friday... moments of weakness, eh? They're like a... a wrench... in my bike chains.
We actually haven't used the bikes as often as of late- it's getting pretty cold, so we're abusing the privilege of having a car... we shouldn't be, but we are. I'll get some gloves today- should make it easier to ride around at night time, 'cause it is getting bloody cold in the evenings, and I can say that 'cause I'm a Yank! xD
What can I tell you all? I feel pretty happy- I don't know why. I'm so tired I can fall asleep in any position at any given time -all I have to do is close my eyes- and the area is improving but is doing so slowly. It may be that I've just severed my feelings from a lot of aspects of missionary work, perhaps that's why I'm so... I'm not sure, accepting of the situation I guess you could say.
Oh, I got a letter from Bro C this week, and a card from Mum and letters from Grandma and a letter from Amber! Not forgotten (plus one for Elder Schomburg and his fanno [Mauri for "family"]! And that fanno includes you non-blood related folks as well xD). It was mentioned to me in one of the letters that I shouldn't be so critical of myself and that I need to start loving me for being me (not in a Narcissistic way xP). I feel like that's true. I did a lot of self-evaluation after that (not too much, because being self-centered is not on my to-do list), and I definitely think that's true. The trick for me is going to be accepting that I will have faults for the rest of my earthly life... even saying that is uncomfortable, so it must be good, because President Carter says that we should be uncomfortable in our missionary work (talking with everyone and whatnot, I'm just applying it to the situation). So anyways, forgive me for depressing you with my own criticisms, if that has been occurring. I will strive to not be so critical, which is going to be weird and I'm scared to because I might give way to just being careless and lazy, and I don't want to be those things. Why are some things so difficult? Never mind, that doesn't need to be answered because I already know (amazing what the gospel will you teach you, hey?).
I guess being slightly "trunky" or starting to miss home a bit more is... normal, then? And therefore... acceptable? No, can't be- missionaries have to focus and work and think only of the work! Gah, see? I'm really at war with myself right now, with a number of things, but this is one of them. I think if I could just suss out my own self conflicts, I'd be a much happier person. That's not to say that I'm not happy, because I am really happy right now, I just could be happier- is that a bad thing?
I'm looking too deeply into things and thinking too much... tis a blessing and a curse. Anyways...
I don't know how much longer I'll be in Clarence Park, but to be honest -and maybe this is just because it's week one of the new transfer, or the start of week two anyways- I feel pretty... in place? Like I've found my feet in this area. I'm still trying to learn what it is that the Lord wants me to learn here so that I can take it to my next area and apply it there, all the while not trying to miss the "now" in hopes for a better "someday" because I'll just miss my mission and life as a whole if I do that. What I'm starting to stress about is this: I don't know if I have done what the Lord wanted me to do in any of my past areas, or if I'm doing it in this area, and I'm running out of time to do all that I can. That is a very uncomfortable thought, and I wonder if I'll feel like that when I'm 60-70 years of age. See, I think too much and too deeply.
Anyways, I'm sorry that this doesn't really give you a whole picture about what my life is like at this moment in time. Missionary work is not easy; being a trainer is not easy; being a district leader is not easy... and it's not that these things get any easier, our capacities to do them just increase. I sometimes forget that what I am doing is a very difficult thing... but it seems pretty normal to me. I'm going to get sent away after this transfer, I think- whenever things start to get "easier" I always get some kind of wake up call.
Oh, Sister Sperry! You emailed me, and I am forever grateful for your kind and supportive words. Thank you for your prayers as well (and I know there are many who pray for me, and you've no idea how grateful I am for that) and for the time you took to write me something- it means a lot, as any letter or note does, because I know that to write to a missionary is a sacrifice. Oh, my sister wrote to me too! What a joy my sister is! I love her and she's the best and I want everyone to know that! It's so much better when you've only got one sister- you have to treat her even better than if you had three sisters, ya know? Love you, Sissy!
I'm becoming a bit random and sporadic, so I should probably go now, but know that all is well and I love you heaps! The work is progressing, the district is awesome, I love being a missionary, I love Australia, and the sky is still blue- life is good!
-Elder Schomburg

[One of the members sent me these photos of Elder Schomburg with her son's Viking props.  Nothing like a weapon and shield to make him feel right at home!]

Monday, July 14, 2014

Where in the World is Elder Schomburg Going? ... Week 68

Again, as the District Leader I get information concerning transfers very first SO... serving in the Clarence Park area as the Marion District Leader will be... Elder Schomburg, and he will be finishing the training of Elder Fleming. That's what they'll say tomorrow. Yup, not going anywhere anytime soon!
G'day all!
The past two days, Elder Fleming and I saw miracles! I don't know how many prayers you've all been saying for us, but our testimonies have definitely grown in the past few days. We hit most of our daily goals two days in a row, and hit some weekly goals as well! People are actually open to learning again! Not sure what happened- it's as if the switch got flipped again, and people are suddenly softened. No complaints here; I just want to go hard-out now.
Yesterday we had a goal for two potentials; we didn't know when or where we would get them because we only had follow-up's planned with other potentials and former investigators. As we were following up though, I noticed that Elder Fleming was talking to everyone. It wasn't me talking to everyone anymore; he was talking to everyone, and he was happy to be doing it. The day before he had been on trade-off with Elder Dos Santos, and the man must have taught him something because he was going hard, and we found one potential. As the night went on, we went to follow up with another potential whom we'd never met.
We must have just missed him, because the man who opened the door said he had only been in the flat for a week. Well, as missionaries we teach everyone, so we got to talking with the man and found out that -though he had not always believed in Jesus Christ or God- he had come to develop a belief in his adulthood. He didn't go to any kind of church, and said his belief was nothing more than that- he did not know for certain. We boldly testified that it wasn't a coincidence that we had knocked on his door at that time, explaining that we pray to know where to be the night before we go out to work. He readily accepted an invitation to let us return to teach him, and said that if he hadn't been in the middle of tea, he would have let us in right then. He took a Restoration pamphlet and accepted a return appointment for Friday (a bit of a long wait, unfortunately, but our nights are getting cramped, which is a GOOD thing because evenings are the most difficult times to work during the winter). So it was a miracle! A golden contact!
I almost felt as though I wasn't deserving of it, but we made sure to thank the Lord for the blessed day He had given us before continuing on in our ministry. Truly, the Lord is looking out for us. We've gone this whole transfer seeing very few results, and at the last day of it, the last week really, we start to experience miracles. Regardless of whether or not these miracles keep occurring, I've decided that I did learn a number of things last transfer. Funny how it's always at the end of the trial that you realize that you've learned anything. But I don't want to waste any more of my mission feeling discouraged or sad or depressed.
So we have been experiencing miracles- the day before we found 4 potentials, which is a miracle for this area. I was also told that missionary "legends" who have baptized heaps have served in Clarence Park with minimal results. It made me feel good and not good- it's good to know I'm not the only one who has had a difficult time in this area, but it makes me sad to know that it hasn't changed much. But this transfer is off to a good start- we're going to keep it that way, regardless of how the Lord decides the work should flow in the Clarence Park area.
Sister Moss and Sister Farr are getting transferred; to be honest, I'm pretty gutted. I'm going to miss those sisters heaps. They taught me heaps and were such examples of diligence, perseverance, obedience, and just remembering to smile and have a laugh. They are some of the ZAAM's best and whoever comes in will have some big shoes to fill. But ZAAMer's are the best missionaries, so it should be just fine. ;D
There's not a whole lot left to report. My companion and I saw our "eternigator" yesterday [a person who continues having the missionaries over for lessons, but who never does any progressing towards change or baptism]- unfortunately, he was a bit drunk.  My companion was cut; I could tell he was hurting hard-out. I'm always disappointed when these kinds of things happen, and maybe it's just because I've seen it all before who knows how many times, but to be honest, I wasn't very surprised at what I saw. During our planning session, Elder Fleming had hopefully offered the idea of extending a baptismal invitation to him for sometime in September. When he asked me how I felt, I was honest in telling him that I couldn't see this man getting baptized for another 6 months, or possibly even another year. Lo and behold, he really isn't doing anything to move forward, though he thinks he is. I've never heard so much rationalization or justification in all my life.  Honestly, it was heartbreaking to see, but I guess I just expected it. My poor companion really did believe he had committed to changing though. 
On a happier note, we've got a lesson tonight with one of our potentials so we'll be inviting him to be baptized, and we're hosting some missionaries tonight (not sure who of) but it should be good for my companion to get to know some folks.
Thank you all so much for the prayers! Regardless of how things keep going, I know that the Lord has taught me some valuable lessons and has really put me through the ringer of faith-building. And I know it was all for a divine purpose, whatever that may be.
I love you all heaps and you should all know that I am doing well and am excited for this upcoming transfer!
-Elder Schomburg

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Enduring.... enduring.... enduuuurrrriiiinnnngggg.... Week 67

I'm trying to stay in a positive attitude as of late. The mission is very hard right now, but I appreciate all of the prayers that are said on my behalf and I am ever thankful for all of the love and support you all continue to give me.
President Carter sent me an email in response to last week's email, and he told me very simply midway through the email, "don't stress about what's not happening". Well, easier said than done. But his words of counsel were something I needed. For the past week my companion and I were committed to finding someone to teach. Our efforts, despite one miracle last night, have been fruitless. I have never talked to so many people in all of my mission and received so many "no" or "not interested" answers in my life as a missionary, let alone my life at all. It had (and most probably still is) dampened my mood and my disposition towards the work, and I found that I was becoming a very bitter person. A missionary who is bitter cannot spread a message of hope and joy and happiness. But that's the truth of it- I was (and still am) mad about the situation. My poor companion has been given the rudest welcoming into the mission that I can imagine, but as I've been watching him and his experiences, his own mission life reminds me a lot of mine- I recall being the new guy in an area I didn't know charged with doing a work I didn't know how to do, with very little happening. I keep asking myself how I got through that because this is just ridiculous.
Anyways, on Saturday we said a prayer with our ward mission leader and asked him if he could pray specifically for us to find a family. We went out and did our thing (finding for eons) and didn't find anyone. When Coordination Meeting on Sunday came, the areas reported in on what they were doing and what was going for them. Everyone has someone to teach and people to find and it's just dandy, for the most part. Then it was our turn to report for Clarence Park... let me tell you something; being a leader is hard, because you have continually do difficult or hard things for as long as the Lord will suffer you to. One of those hard and difficult things is -in front of all of my missionaries, missionaries who are supposed to be looking to me to be their example, missionaries who I am assigned to steward over- telling the truth about the area, and how we don't have anyone to teach, and how our ceaseless finding has been largely without reward. But I'm an honest bloke so I told it how it was without any negative connotation. We don't have anyone to teach, there is no update for our area, we are working hard to fix it. That was basically the report, worded in a more eloquent manner.
You could see Brother Li Santi (the ward mission leader in case I haven't previously mentioned that) drop- he was hurting for us and his prayer for us hadn't been answered. I wondered if I hadn't tried hard enough to find that family, and I felt a great deal of responsibility for having not built his faith by finding a family. Then there was the district- no one made any eye contact with us at all, save for Elder Dos Santos, who as my leader was most probably trying to discern my own needs (that's what I would be doing). The mood was just dropped. So I tried to lift it and began asking if it were possible for us to advertise the chapel as a place to hold a scripture study class, in an effort to find more people to teach. Elder Fleming mentioned later that night that he felt gutted when we had to report in front of everyone, but said that I still looked confident (funny, I felt pretty gutted too) and not concerned, meaning it was all just part of the work.
So later that night we were finding, and we had tea with some members whom we've never had tea with and it was a blast! Then we started trying to follow up with former investigators. A lot of them had moved, and when we went to follow up with a former family, we found that they had moved as well. We started teaching the woman who had answered the door as soon as we learned our family had left, and she told us that we could come back and teach their family, if they weren't busy. I'm not sure of the sincerity of her or the family (listen to the analytical missionary side come out), but beggars can't be choosers, and at this point I just want someone to teach (and that's the missionary that really just wants to teach someone). It's hard trying to fulfill your missionary purpose when you've got no one to teach; maddening, is what it is. President keeps telling me that because I'm striving to find people and because of my determination to fulfill my purpose that the Lord will bless me regardless. I don't know how those blessings will come, and I wish they would come in the form of some investigators and a baptismal date, but that's not what's happening right now.
But I have a fixed mind about it- I am going to enjoy being a missionary. I am not going to let outside influences disturb my own sense of happiness, because if I am doing what I know to do, then I am a successful missionary.
I love you all heaps!
-Elder Schomburg

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

Thursday, July 3, 2014

No More Poker Face... Week 66

G'day all!
Let me expound upon this week's heading. If you know me, you'll understand that I am the kind of person who can be pretty stalwart when it comes to having a "Someone's Got to Be the Strong One" attitude, and in so doing, have become a master of the so called "poker face" or that look, attitude, and demeanor that is put on to deceive anyone from believing that anything is wrong in one's own life. I have been doing this since I was given the stewardship over the Marion District- I was assigned to lead, not to display weakness when others needed strength.
But sometimes you've just got to be honest with those whom you love, and this district "feels like family" according to Sister Moss, so I decided to share my own continued Orange Zone with the district, only after being exhorted to by Elder Bush after I had a bit of a heart-to-heart with him. SO this is what I shared with them, and hopefully you will all get something out of it as well.
It may have been Tuesday night when I was sitting at my desk, my eyes bitterly glued to the Clarence Park area map. We had tracted. We had street contacted. We had noted the mass population zones and gone there at peak hour. We had asked the members for help in praying for us before we went finding as well as in keeping their own missionary efforts alive and active. We had sought counsel from all the other missionaries, gone on trade-off's, reviewed trainings, applied as we could, and prayed mightily for miracles... and yet nothing was happening. Nothing was happening.
I knew the Lord had not left us- He does not operate like that. But He was being very quiet about answering our pleas for something to happen in this area, and His silence made me mad, and bitter, and frustrated, and all other manner of lesser feelings. The previous week we had done some finding and a freak rainstorm swept out of nowhere, drenching us. It didn't last long, but it was a windy day, and it was very cold. Most other days were like unto this one, but we were lucky and only really got wet the one time (raincoats are the best). We had tracted and been mocked openly for our beliefs, and just the other night, I entered into a surprise mild Bible-Bash with three Christadelphians (never met any before). Only because my companion does not have the same scriptural knowledge, I was obligated to defend my faith largely on my own. The Lord kept bringing scriptures to mind to counter their points of incorrect doctrine in a teachable and loving way, but I found myself using not even a third of what I was given (bury your weapons, right?). My companion's testimony at the end, though, was the most powerful thing I've ever heard from him. I wish I could do this story more justice, because it really was a faith-building experience, but I'm short of time and want to share the most significant happening this week.
So as I was taking all of these thoughts into account, and feeding on the slowly building wrath of having tried so hard yet still gotten nowhere, I was alerted to my duties as a district leader when I received a phone call from the Glenelg Sisters. I love my sisters and have voted myself "that guy" to do anything and everything I can to make sure that my sisters are well looked after. So without a second thought I answered the phone (it was about 10:00PM). Sister Farr was on the other end and had something to follow up on, something I had asked them to report earlier that day, and for the life of me I can't remember what it was. But after that, I got to asking them how their day was, what was good and what was bad, how could I help, all the rest of it, when she more or less interrupted the flow of conversation and said, "Elders, I was thinking of you recently and your situation, and I just felt prompted to share some scriptures with you."
... what? Someone share scriptures with me? Someone in the mission, in the district, thinking of me and my companion and what we needed? And how did she find out about my situation? I'm so used to being the one who has to be the one for everyone that I was completely taken aback when she said these words. She shared Alma 26  with us, (I invite you all to read because of my lack of time) and just that act alone was an answer to a prayer I had been saying day in and day out. "Father, where art thou, and where is the pavilion that covers thy face?" has been my prayer for weeks now. These scriptures comforted my aching soul and waning strength, and through Sister Farr, I knew the Lord was saying, "I'm still here, son."
What a blessing that was. He is still there. He is always there, and of this I testify of in the name of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, amen.
-Elder Schomburg 

[I strongly encourage you to read the passages in Alma 26. The entire chapter is very powerful.  The heading reads: The faithful are strengthened by the Lord and are given knowledge—By faith men may bring thousands of souls unto repentance—God has all power and comprehends all things. ]