Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Dreaded 'First Blog Post'

Well all, this is it.

The first blog post.

No, no, I'm not in Chile yet, I don't mean to scare you, but I thought that I might start posting a little bit before I leave so I can talk a little bit about what it's been like to prepare for a mission. I actually want to make this post a bit of a disclaimer for anybody that might be doubting my sanity at this time. I will do this in the cliché fashion of a Q&A of many of the questions I have received.

1. Elizabeth, why the heck would you want to leave the comfort of your books and armchair to go off on such a long adventure as this one?

I'll start off with the overall 'why' of this question (and I apologize, but this is going to be a bit lengthy). As many of my close friends know (and as you all are going to learn), my family wasn't always a good, church-going, prayer-saying, God-loving family, which may seem surprising as both of my older brothers have served missions and I'm about to as well. As a matter of fact, I wasn't, by my definition, even brought up in the church. I was baptized on my eighth birthday, but my family hadn't been attending church for nearly two years before that and for close to five years afterwards. I was baptized only because I insisted on it.

Fast forward through a lot of emotional turmoil and several moves later, and you would see that we weren't really a family anymore, nor could I remember a time when we had been. We were six individuals living under the same roof rather than a family living in a home. Then, one completely and totally ordinary night, one of my closest friends gave me a routine call and invited me to go rock climbing with her church youth group. Not thinking much of it, I accepted. I knew that this church youth group was from the same church I had been baptized into, but that was about it.

So, I went.

And then I kept going. In fact, I went to the youth group activities on Wednesday nights for a couple of months before somebody invited me to go to church on Sunday with them.

So, I went.

And then I kept going (sensing a recurring theme yet?). I went to church every Sunday by my little thirteen-year-old self for seven months, and it wasn't just some new thing that had I had put into my schedule; it was something that honestly changed my life. Little by little, however, I began to see things in perspective. My house wasn't a place that I wanted to be, or even a place that I wanted my friends to be. I didn't get along with any of my brothers and my relationship with either of my parents was quite strained. I didn't want that.

And I knew how to fix it. So, after several months of casually inviting my mother to come with me to church, I implored her to come to church with me.

So, she went.

And then she kept going. So my mother and I went to church together and, fast forward through a bunch of muddy muck, then my brothers and father began attending too, my younger brother for the first time.

Not to say it was an easy thing to do, believe me, coming back to church after being in such a downright yucky environment wasn't just a walk in the park. It often seems that from the perspective of a faithful church-goer, coming back isn't a big deal, all you have to do is take some time out of your Sunday, but it's not that simple.

I relate my experience to the story of the prodigal son in Luke. Coming back called for a lot of humility. "And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son" (Luke 15:21). Now, don't think that people made us feel unworthy to enter or that we were looked down upon or judged, but rather, realizing the goodness of God made us feel unworthy, a common mistake to make really. It took some time to realize that "there is no sin or transgression, pain or sorrow, which is outside of the healing power of His Atonement" (C. Scott Grow). Now, we hadn't so much commit terrible sins as we had felt great pain and sorrow, but it took some work to ask for any help.

It wasn't long after I had this realization that I was able to not only forgive myself, but forgive each of my family members. I had been living so long thinking only about myself and my own happiness that I had neglected to recognize them as fellow human beings who were also seeking happiness and in part, forgiveness.

I don't know when it happened because it doesn't happen overnight, but those six individuals became a family and we are all much better for it.

So, now that that is out of the way, it might be helpful to explain how this is my 'why'.

Quite simply put, it's because I know what it's like to be without this gospel. I know what it's like to not feel the healing power of the Atonement, or even know that it exists. I know what it's like to feel so very alone.

And I don't want anybody else to have to feel that way.

I am going to Chile and leaving the comfort of my books and armchair to spread this gospel to anybody that will listen and hopefully bring a little cheer while I do. The word 'gospel' actually means 'good news' and who doesn't want good news? Basically, I just want everybody to be as outrageously happy as I am!

And now to address the 'long' part. When you think about it, eighteen months is but a blink from an eternal perspective; a blink in which I may be able to bring the reality of eternity to somebody who needs it. A mission, to me, is me leaving my family for a short time so that, hopefully, somebody else may be with their family for eternity.

Now, none of this is to say that I'm not slightly extremely terrified of going, because I am. I'm not going into this blind, I know that there will be dangers in Chile that I haven't yet faced, e.g., crowds of people shorter than me, really long hotdogs, etc. *pause for laughter* I guess what I'm trying to say is that the risks seem far outweighed by the benefits and even though it's scary and new, I've got the Lord on my team, and he's kind of a powerhouse player.

2. What do you mean you won't get to Facebook? Can you text? How are you even supposed to communicate with the world if you can't text or Facebook?

I would like to remind you all of a thing called 'email' which still exists, as well as an even more ancient way of communication: post. Not as in Facebook post, but as in letters written on paper and put in envelopes with stamps on them.

Yes, I will miss using Facebook and embarrassing myself in a public forum, but no, it will not kill me.

I won't be bringing my cell phone along either, so y'all will be limited to emails and letters. A lot of people I've spoken to have a problem with this and think that it's too strict of a rule, but to be honest, I'll be glad to be rid of those distractions for a year and a half as I dedicate myself to the Lord, and I think that's kind of the point behind the rule anyway.

3. Why do you have to wear skirts and dresses all the time? Why is your church stuck in the Dark Ages?

I think you mean get to wear skirts and dresses and actually, my church wasn't restored to the earth until 1830 so JOKE'S ON YOU but anyway, while I'm on my mission, I will be an official representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and not only that, but Christ's name will be on my name badge, right along with my own. For these reasons, I will dress professionally out of respect to my calling and to my Savior.

4. But what about your music, Elizabeth? What about your favorite TV shows and all the Marvel movies that will come out while you're gone? Don't you get to see them? Do you get to take your favorite books? What will you do for entertainment, Elizabeth, what are you going to occupy all that time with what why when what wh-?

Stop. Do not go any further. Before you worry yourself too much about my methods of entertainment while in Chile, please note that I am not worried about it, so you shouldn't be either. Also remember, I am going to be in Chile. I think that's probably entertainment enough.

But back to the point, yes, it is true that my entertainment in those ways will be sparse. My music choices will be limited to music that invites the Spirit and isn't distracting from the work at hand. Keep in mind, I am dedicating these eighteen months to the Lord and doing His work, and as I said before, I'll actually be glad to leave those distractions at home. As for movies and TV shows, there won't be a whole lot of that (or really any of that at all), but that just means I'll have those waiting for me when I get home! Yippee! (that was optimist Elizabeth speaking; regular Elizabeth is trying not to think about all the Marvel movies she'll miss)

5. Okay but you're not actually going to learn Spanish while you're there, right? Like, you won't be fluent or anything, right?

Uh, yes I will. I'm going to be living there for eighteen months. I feel like it's sort of necessary and unavoidable...?

6. People don't actually ask you that do they?

Yes. Yes they do.

7. Please end this blog post I'm tired of reading it.

Sorry, you're right, okay, let me just wrap it up.

If you made it through all that, I applaud you! Thank you for reading! I hope that this has answered some of your questions and addressed some of your concerns. If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to comment.

I know that this church is true and I love it! I know that this gospel brings peace of mind to most everyone it touches and I hope to be able to share it with many people on my mission. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us all very much; we are all children of God and He wants us to be happy. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Until we meet again,
   Elizabeth Schomburg

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