Monday, January 26, 2015

And Their Prayers Were Answered... Week 96

So before I go about updating you's on the week, I need to answer a question that I was recently asked by my Mum. I guess if you (Mum) want to share this you can or don't have to or whatever- I trust your judgment. =D

[To preface: I recently asked Elder Schomburg his feelings about not having as many baptisms as many of his friends who have also served missions in other parts of the world.]
Sometimes I wonder why it is that I've only baptized three people. Aside from Mick, Alisi, and Annie, Dennis was baptized up in Darwin the transfer after I left (I'd taught him for about 2 transfers); DJ was baptized the transfer after I left Broken Hill (taught him a number of times); a Chinese student named David was baptized almost eight months after Elder Lisati and I became the first missionaries to ever teach him when I was in Evandale, and I taught him twice after that with Elder Anton (all on trade-off) and even ran into him again when I was in Clarence Park. I didn't baptize them personally or even organize their baptisms or take any part in them, but I was privileged to have taught them, and I find great joy in knowing that I was able to teach several people that were baptized later down the road. In some way, shape, or form, I helped them progress towards covenant-making with God, and that's good enough for me.
To be honest with you, Mum, I don't really let myself think about it too much- I just square my shoulders and march out the door; whatever God wants to happen will happen.
I would leave you with that for an answer, but I know you want more. [I was satisfied with that answer, but apparently Elder Schomburg had more to share.] I am sad about it; I didn't think I'd be the missionary that comes home and says, "Well, in two years I baptized three people!" but at the same time, before I left for the field I wasn't imagining baptizing heaps of people anyways. I was a little more than halfway through my mission when I dubbed myself the "ground-tiller" of missionary work. You've got the seed-planters and the harvesters... but before you can even plant a seed you've got to till the soil, and sometimes that is some really hard work. Every area I've had is one that has had nothing going for it when I got there, and so far, I've only left one area as I found it, and that was Mildura North, the area I happened to be in when I was the most disconnected from my purpose. Aside from Mildura North, every area I've left was in better shape than when I first showed up. I don't say that to be prideful, I just say that because it's what I've found to be true. I am the ground-tiller; somebody has to do it, and if the Lord has decided that I can take the trials of being a ground-tiller, then that makes me the man for the job and I'm gonna do it! I don't get to see very much fruit because some "soil" is more difficult to till than other soil (Broken Hill vs. Clarence Park) but that's something that I've accepted. I can sleep easy at night knowing that I at least gave another set of missionaries a chance at planting some seeds and doing some harvesting. That is good enough for me. 

But to talk about the week, on Saturday we had a day of service planned: we went to Sister Ward's to demolish some old wardrobes and split logs (most fun service project ever!), then we went to the Sturt's to help them clean up their old property that they're looking to sell (lots of gardening and yard work [straight up my alley, eh Sister Welch?]). After that, we went to the chapel to clean the baptismal font. It occurred to me the other day that if we wanted to baptize at all, we'd need to get the dust out of that font and make sure it was ready. I was also hoping that doing so would show the Lord that we believe we can baptize in Port Pirie, and after showing such faith, I hoped to be gifted with new investigators that were ready to be baptized. So we tried to clean the font but the drain actually clogged... yeah, there's that much dust down there. We cleared it but we need to go back and get it done properly, after we get the pipes looked at.
The next day, we walk up to church and President Armstrong (he is the coolest branch president I know, save for President Paewai) calls us into his office. He immediately informs us that he was speaking with his mate, a branch president in Queensland, who was informing us that four investigators had just returned to Port Pirie from an extended holiday and that they would be attending church with us that morning. We were told there were four of them, but we didn't know ages or affiliation or anything- could have been four bikies or a family, we didn't know.
As we're greeting people in the foyer, a black SUV (pretty rare in Australia) rolls into the parking lot. An Aussie male in a suit, his Filipino wife in a lovely blouse and skirt combination, and their two beautiful boys (toddlers in age-group) walk up to the chapel. I thought to myself, "Those aren't investigators, those are members!" and I believed they were. Hadn't met them, but it's not uncommon for visitors passing through to stop in and attend church in different wards or branches, so I believed they were members.
We greeted them as per the norm, President Armstrong took over, and I didn't see them until after Sacrament Meeting (I gave a talk... it was alright). We were then properly introduced to Phil and his wife Lynnie or Linnie (not sure about the spelling), and became aware that these were the investigators we were expecting. I was alarmed! I immediately apologized and explained that they looked so sharp that I thought they were members! So we had a bit of a Gospel Principles class (no lesson was prepared because no one shows up, but...there should have been one prepared) It worked out in the end. We closed with a prayer and Phil immediately approached us while his wife entertained Brother Haggard, and he asked us straight out, "How do we get in contact with you? I'm looking to learn more about this church and I want to get this thing going, so what are the steps?" We exchanged details and he then offered to have us over for tea sometime (I mean dinner if you haven't been keeping up with this blog) which was absolutely shocking; an investigator offering tea? What? We then talked in the foyer some more before Priesthood, and he pried into Elder Barnes' and my own personal conversion stories. He mentioned that he had been baptized and confirmed as a lad into the Church of England, but had never felt anything special. He had church-surfed off and on for some time and failed to find God, but his wife had attended church (LDS) three times whilst being in Queensland and had even been taught the first lesson by the missionaries there. She was sold (that's why I'm not mentioning her as much- she's practically already a member, just hasn't gotten wet yet). I've never, in all my time as a missionary, met anyone as prepared as they. Phil was asking a lot of questions, but it wasn't to tear down or nit-pick; he is an honest seeker of truth, and he is eager for it.
ASK ME HOW EXCITED I AM!!!! It's so exciting when prayers are answered!!!
I don't believe in coincidence anymore, not after serving the mission I have thus far served, but I definitely know that this was anything but coincidence- things don't just happen like that.
I hope I haven't rambled too much or sounded too preachy, but I just want you all to know that I have felt your prayers and I can see them being answered, bit by bit. I love you all and am so grateful for all your love and support! Thank you so much! I know this church is Christ's church, and I know that Heavenly Father is indeed a God of miracles, and I say that in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
-Elder Schomburg

[The formatting on the computer Elder Schomburg was using appears to be a bit wonky.  Sorry for the strange look of this week's post.]

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