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