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!