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

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