Monday, August 11, 2014

Time is Ticking... Week 72

G'day all!
I'm finding that the longer I seem to stay out as a missionary, the shorter the days and weeks begin to grow. In fact we stayed relatively busy this week (effectively busy, mind you) so it more or less seemed as though all the days were just one long day, with six naps in between. Thus I feel that time is starting to tick a bit faster. I'm excited and not excited- it's probably not good, but I thought of a few things I'd really like to do when I get back home. I also thought of a rather scary thought- I probably have two areas left to serve in as a missionary, and probably only two more companions, and then I'll be done. Oh boy!
Well, in the interest of time, I'll send you what I sent to President, and then expound upon a few more thoughts:
"The spiritual highlight of this week was an ongoing one, I suppose you could say. My companion and I finally had some solid return appointments with a number of potentials we had found the week prior. We were riding our bikes Monday night headed to an appointment with one of them that fell through. We thought for a time and I felt a prompting to go to a referral of ours that we had tried for about the third time without any contact. He lived just down the road anyhow, so it wasn't like he was out of the way, but I felt particularly drawn towards him this time, in that subtle way that the Holy Ghost usually prompts us. I told my companion about it and he offered the idea of praying about it. I was already sure we were meant to go there, but I didn't see any harm in running it past the Lord, just to be sure. So we prayed, went past his house, and lo and behold he was there. We were able to teach a lesson and he became a new investigator. We were able to repeat this the next day and gained yet another investigator. Later on in the week, we were doing some housing and it had been fairly successful, though nothing fantastic occurred. We got to the end of the street to discover that the same street was home to one of the former investigators listed in our area book. We knocked the door, as we had in the past (and to no avail), and an Indian woman opened it. She practically set the return appointment herself and willingly gave us her phone number. When we returned to teach her, she mentioned that it was our appearance and conduct that had most impressed her, as we are young men and most in our age range are off being riotous. She then, after exchanging formalities with her husband and herself, invited us to present our message, stating that they were completely ready to listen. They eventually accepted a baptismal invitation and even the date of 31 August, but we'll have to reposition that- they don't entirely understand that baptism includes making covenants with God, and one of them is to abandon all other gods (they're Hindu, and thus believe in many gods). Regardless, they were extremely kind and hospitable, and readily agreed to have us back.

In the district, I trained on how to help our investigators better keep commitments, and how we should respond when they've kept them and when they haven't kept them. The emphasis was placed on the baptismal commitment. At the end, I did something I don't really do and had a bit of a final thought, asking the missionaries if they had the faith to baptize; if they believed the could baptize. I then went on to expound the scriptures, taking examples from Alma the Younger baptizing in the Waters of Mormon whilst being on King Noah's blacklist and Alma the Elder baptizing enough of King Limhi's people that seven churches (a whole stake or district) had to be organized for them all. I went on to explain that there was no reason why we could not baptize in Adelaide, and explained that (as it was common knowledge in the district) that though my area was proving to be "difficult" to work in, I do not believe in "hard areas" because I don't see why the people should be any different based on location- it only takes a broken heart and contrite spirit to give place to the Holy Ghost, who is the converter in this work of salvation."

That's what I wrote to President. To fill you in on the previous week, it was fantastic! We gained a total of four new investigators, and every single one of them was invited to be baptized! Only the two Indians said yes, but we didn't count it because -where we're supposed to invite people to be baptized regardless of understanding (in order to check their desire)- we felt that their understanding of making such a covenant was not quite up to par, and they might and most probably will decline an invitation once they learn more about what baptism really is. But I'm not being picky- I have people to teach the gospel to, and that is a wonderful thing for me because I'm a missionary, and it's heaps good!
President Carter called me yesterday about the letter I wrote to him last week. He was particularly concerned about me not feeling the presence of the Lord as much as missionaries should. He went on to say that not only did he read the letter I wrote for that week, but he also read most of the previous letters that I've written over the course of my mission, as it was my concern that I was missing the joy of being a missionary. He agreed with me in that -ever since being stationed as a district leader- I had become more reliant upon works than faith, and that my concern for a multitude of variables that arises when given responsibility had overall caused me a bit of undue grief. One thing he said in particular was this: "Elder Schomburg, don't worry so much." Of course President Carter is and has always been a very loving and understanding mission president for me, and I've come to be very close with him, but to know that he was interested enough in me to make a phone call, one of 126 missionaries, and a missionary on top of his duty as steward over two districts (Northern Territory District and Mildura District) and by implication, the steward over many many others, was quite humbling. I explained that I didn't want to be a problem child for him, after which I was told that I was anything but one. He gave me a number of other compliments, but I know my nature and will not repeat them, lest I become lifted up in pride, whether internal or external. So we continued to discuss a few more issues and concerns I had.
He asked me what I thought he meant when he said "Don't miss the joy of your mission." I told him that, to me, it meant not so much a matter of having righteous fun as it was a matter that one should be able to look back on their mission with gratitude and thanksgiving, having found joy in the journey and being grateful for what the experience molded him/her into. He said I was spot on. He then explained the me that being able to go home and at my "coming home" talk which isn't a coming home talk, and being able to say that I loved my mission was going to take an increase of feeling the Lord's love for myself, and of feeling His presence daily by drawing closer to him, and not relying so heavily upon my own merits. Well I've been told this who knows how many times, but this time I actually took notes, and it brought to my remembrance all those times when others, especially my Mum, have exhorted me to look for God's help more often and more readily. President then asked me a very thought provoking question: "Elder, at the end of the day when you're saying your prayers, do you feel God's approval for your work?"
I told him that I felt it rarely; that my thoughts were oftentimes turned too often to that which I had yet to do, that which should have been done, that which needs to be done better, and the like. Oftentimes I miss out on just feeling that sense of approval for a day's work because I'm too busy feeding on what didn't go right. President reiterated something he told me in a letter a month or so ago- "Don't worry about what isn't happening." He then exhorted me to seek for the Lord's commendation, and to ask him daily if I had done well enough for the day. He also told me to not think so heavily upon the negative side of things, but to focus on that which went right- one can only feel of God's love when one's thoughts are garnished in virtue, or in other words, continually positive and uplifting, moving one to do good continually. So that's what I'm going to work on this week- I want to be able to say that I enjoyed my whole mission by drawing closer to God. Furthermore, I want to do something else President told us to do: "Be able to look back on your missions with fondness and love and joy, but make sure that when you go home, you never wish you were a missionary again." That was not said with a negative connotation- President Carter was telling us to build lives that would make us happier than when we were missionaries. He said one of the saddest things he had ever heard came from a mate of his who was married and had children. He recalled his mate saying, "I wish I was a missionary again." My goal is to not be able to say that afterwards. President has a very eternal perspective- he isn't just helping us to become amazing missionaries, but he's helping us to become amazing sons and daughters of God, because he knows that missions are not even a full blink when compared to an eternal spectrum. I love my mission president, and I know that it's true what they say: "Missionaries are not assigned to mission- they are assigned to mission presidents."
I love being a missionary, and I love being able to learn and grow and work. I love having to earn my pillow on a daily basis. I love the Lord, I love His gospel, and I love sharing it, and I love you all too! I know that what I am involved in is a great and marvelous work, and I have been privileged to serve in the capacities that I have served in thus far, and will yet serve in. Our missions are not camps, but workshops in which what we build is ours to keep forever (that was President Carter's, I can't claim that one xD). I know that this is the work of salvation, and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
-Elder Schomburg

Too cool Elders - Fleming and Schomburg

They've really lost their marbles...

Hot Tamale!

The District
Don't mess with the missionaries. :)

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