Monday, February 16, 2015

Bounce-Back... Week 99


So, this felt like one of the longer weeks, to be honest. The thing is, these weeks feel like months, and the days feel like weeks, and irregardless of how I perceive time to be passing, it's still passing and the clock is ticking. Anyways, a few updates are in order!

First off, I have decided to title this letter in particular "Bounce-Back" because as we were sitting in transfer meeting, it was announced that I would be training. Elder Prouting was sitting behind me and he casually leaned forward and shook my hand and whispered, "Bounce-back, eh? The bounce-back." and we had a chuckle because trainers are the most trusted missionaries there are. President had already told me he trusted me after a past mistake was made, but this was the physical evidence. That, and President knows that not being distracted and enduring to the end is going to be my struggle, so I need incentive to endure well. All the new missionaries have always asked me with hope in their eyes, "Does waking up at 6:30 ever get easier?" to which I have been swift to say, "No, it never does." and I can honestly say that waking up on time has never been SO. DIFFICULT. That it's not even funny anymore. But my body is quite tired, and my spirit must be quite tired as well- my soul unit is tired, and I've decided that I want a time to relax and sleep when I get home. Not oversleep, but just sleep enough to catch up on all the lost sleep and recuperate from the rigors of missionary life.

Anyways, my companion is Elder Duabe from the Philippines! He is the first missionary companion I've had with whom I need to do language studies, believe it or not, and he's in training, so he needs an extra hour of study in the morning in addition to his hour of language study, which basically means we spend half the day in the flat studying! And he's doing most of the studying! I feel a bit badly for him- all that study is just... too meke'. I've tried to design our days so that we study up until 10AM, work for two hours, eat lunch at 12PM, and come back at 3-5PM for the rest of the studies. We usually eat tea at about 6 or 7PM depending on how the previous day was lined up. The idea is to not get bogged down with too many "to do" list items and be able to actually do missionary work as well.

Because of the slight language barrier, I'm finding that talking openly with him is a bit difficult; I've subconsciously fallen into this habit of not speaking as much because I'm not sure how well he will understand me, and no one wants to be talking to -in essence- the wall. BUT he needs to learn English, so we had a conversation about it last night and we've decided that I just need to speak anyways so he can at least hear the language. We've also decided that I should prioritize teaching him American English as opposed to Aussie English because I speak a mixture of the two, the Aussie's just speak the one and he doesn't understand it yet, so it would be better to speak the version of English that is easier to understand, and that's American English- the Aussie English will come with time.

He's 26, by the way... training him is so strange. He's very humble because I know the language and have been the missionary for longer, but at the same time, I don't really like directing someone who is older than my older brother... ya know? When I was being delivered, he was in Primary School, or whatever the equivalent is in the Philippines.

So about Phil and Lynny. They came to church again, as per the norm (we don't even have to ask them, they've just made it a part of their lives, along with the rest of the gospel). Due to our week-long stay in Adelaide (didn't get back to Port Pirie until Thursday night at 9PM... oh, I should tell you what took place with the driving situation...) we had missed out on teaching them on Tuesday and had to push ourThursday lesson back to Friday. So we showed up on Friday and taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ by using the pamphlet in coordination with reading 2 Nephi 31. Then we asked them if they've put any more thought into when it is exactly that they want to be baptized. They admitted to not having discussed it together, but they both feel as though they're ready, but they want their friend Ben to do it... in April. Nevertheless, we invited them to discuss and pray about it together, even with Ben if they wanted to, and consider March 7th and 14th as possible dates. We explained to them that we had been tracking the lessons on the calendar and that if all went according to plan, they could be baptized on those days. So they said they would talk and pray and discuss and we left it at that.

Now I don't want pressure them more than necessary to be baptized, and I want to do it for the right reason (i.e. delaying covenant making with the Lord is not wise... but worded politely and optimistically), but in my particular situation, it's difficult to do that because it might come across like I just want to baptize them before I come home. That is true, but I know that it's my job to present them with their options and teach the doctrine well enough that they will use their agency correctly, and after that, the rest is up to them and I have to respect their wishes. They've assured us that they want to be baptized, but they just really want Ben to do it. In April. Bugger.

So anyways, after church yesterday, we called them up and asked if we could come by to fix Elder Duabe's bike (Phil has a bit of a homemade bike shop in his car park that he told us we could use at anytime if we needed it). I know it was the Sabbath, but it was a case of "the ox is in the mire" and you have a lot of that as a missionary; the bike needed to be fixed and Sunday afternoon was the only time that was going to work with them. So we walked up and Phil patched the tube- we would've done it, and we actually tried to the night before, but we didn't do it correctly. He had the thing patched in ten minutes, only because the glue had to dry. As he patched the tube, he took the opportunity to ask some questions unrelated to lesson content. He asked us what we used when we first approached people to talk to them about our faith, and we basically taught him how to do missionary work. You see, he has older children from a past marriage that he wants to get involved in the gospel, but he doesn't know how to share it with them. Then he brought up baptism, and it's only been a day and a half since we talked about it, and he said (paraphrasing), "I'm really actually pretty keen to be baptized in March; I don't see why we should be waiting, we're both ready for it. I haven't told Lynny yet, and it's just that we have a tremendous amount of respect for Ben, you see, but I don't think he would mind us going forward with it in March. But we'll see what Lynny says about it."

Well, here's Lynny's standpoint: the night we taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, she said that she's finding more and more reason for not putting it off, and that she would be largely in favor of being baptized in March... but she also doesn't want to offend Bishop Ben by having the ordinance performed by someone else. Fair enough. But she was more keen to be baptized in March than Phil was. He switched her thinking pretty easily, though (sly dog) and by the end of that night they were both willing to pray and discuss it further, but were mostly decided on April with Ben. Bugger.

Now you might all be thinking, "Wow, Elder Schomburg is just a selfish missionary for wanting them to be baptized sooner." You wouldn't be wrong; I can honestly admit that I would REALLY REALLY REALLY LOVE TO SEE THEM GET BAPTIZED BEFORE I GO HOME!!!! But it's like I said, my job is to simply teach the doctrine and help them to use their agency righteously. Now I understand that they really want their friend Ben to do it, and who wouldn't? And being as solid as they are, why shouldn't they get to wait until April when Bishop Ben could do it?

All we did was explain the dangers of doing so.

1) An apex of progression will be met before March 7th, most likely, in which they will cease to progress in their knowledge and spirituality because they will have been taught everything they need to know before baptism and confirmation, and there will be nothing more to aim for because they'll be keeping all the commitments they can be before being baptized and confirmed. They will in essence be living a gospel-centered life, doing all the "Need to Do" things, but be lacking in a very crucial ordinance of baptism and confirmation, the gateway to progressing towards accessing more of Heavenly Father's blessings (i.e. temple marriage and sealing as a family [one of their main objectives]).

2) The more time spent outside of making covenants with the Lord, yet having a knowledge about them, the more time Satan is left to tempt, try, and pull them towards unrighteous living. We pointed out that Satan was going to do everything he could to distract them from being baptized, regardless of when that was going to take place (March or April). They even admitted that they could see Satan working on them- small tiffs after church turned into arguments, and even with just our postponed absence from them because of being in Adelaide, they mentioned that they could see a slight spiritual decline. They even slacked on their scriptures and prayers, which was absolutely jaw-dropping to me. To be honest, they seemed almost a bit anxious about us not being able to see them as regularly planned because of our absence in Adelaide. But they did notice the spiritual decline, and that is because Satan HATES what they are doing, with all the power of thirty raging suns... it sounded cool in my head.

3) With those times of spiritual decline mounting up, eventually they will get to the point where they find other ways of spending their time that seem to make more sense to them than building an eternal family. That's when Satan has got them- when they become so distracted from fulfilling their goal that they never accomplish it.

And these are the things we warned them of. We did so in a way that was not designed to scare, intimidate, or scorn, but rather, to inform and warn, as is part of an evangelist's mandate as put forth by Paul. They assured us that they wouldn't let that happen... but they did admit that they wanted to be baptized sooner than later.

So we'll see where it all goes.

For now, I've got to go.  This is the mission life! xD

Love you all heaps, let me know how you are please =D

-eLdEr ScHoMbUrG

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