Saturday, August 17, 2013

6 8/13/13


Here goes another week and the beginning of the last transfer of my mission. I am no longer a district leader, not my job any more! Elder Florez has been transferred. I'm staying in Grand Bourg and my new companion is Elder Perez. He's also from Colombia, has the same birthday as me (a year later), and I don't know much else about him. He's been on the mission for 6 months today.

Well, Mom sent me a few questions to guide my mind. First was about pictures:Inline image 1
(this is Megan, I'm not sure why the image didn't come through on my email)
This is my district from the last transfer.

My area is a branch with about 60-75 members assisting regularly. It's pretty big, about four or five kilometers from one point to the other, perhaps bigger. We walk everywhere unless we can take a bus, but that costs money. I found out that this area is about half way between both Tortuguitas and Lopez Camelo. We are part of the Sarmiento Stake. We're beginning to work harder as a branch to find people.

As a district leader, it was my privilege to do exchanges with the elders in my district, lead the weekly district meetings, receive reports about the efforts of the other missionaries in my district and other such things.

We've still been having problems finding investigators, but last night we found a woman in the home of an active woman with whom we had organized a family home evening. We had previously planned other activities, but in that moment we changed all the plans to teach the restoration. We invited this wonderful woman to be baptized in that occasion and she accepted, on the condition that she could learn more (or course). We told her that of course she could have time, and we shared that we wanted to help her in her preparation for that moment. We'll be working with her and continue with our efforts to continue finding.

I love you all!!!! Know that, and that I will do what I can to not come home bigger than Aunt Marge...



Elder Matthew H. Dewsnup

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hola 8/5/13

Hola mi bonita familia!

I love you all so much!!

I have now had a brain toot. I had a bunch of things i wanted to say, but now I have no clue what to write.

We're working to try to find new investigators. We had one investigator come yesterday, who has had problems with faith. Last night we went to their house and we watched "Finding Faith in Christ." We want to help her to understand that she really has faith and help her to understand that God really exists and loves her.

Know that I love each of you and that God and Jesus Christ love you as well.



Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Dear Family 7/29/13

My Dear Family,

I'm struggling, but I don't know why or with what. I think during the week about things I want to share and then when I get to the consol, my mind goes blank; I think of nothing and everything all at once. I have conflicted feelings and opinions about several things. I'm also gaining weight, a lot. I struggled to fit into my only pair of jeans that I brought with me that were a little big when I left. And I broke one of my belts trying to cinch it with these pants............ I guess the pants didn't like the belt...

Well, we were able to find a few people last week and we set baptismal dates with all of them. But all of them lost those dates because not one of them was able to go to church yesterday. One is a pastor of another church, the other two are the children of a less active member who has been such for more than 15 years. I'll fill you in with more details as the story progresses.

Apparently the ward loves me, or at least some of them do. I went on splits with another set of missionaries in my district the other day and before we got to church yesterday a member who saw that I had left the area complained to the Branch President that I hadn't come to say goodbye or even sent a message. Interesting development.

It seems like someone finally figured things out here as well and I hope that things change here. Yesterday the Branch President rearranged the schedule a little bit to be able to talk with all of the endowed priesthood holders and relief society sisters. He said he woke up that morning thinking about several things that he needed to change about himself and things that he felt he needed to share with the entire group of us. Much of it had to do with the temple reccomend interview questions. He read the questions as we thought about our own answers and raised the questions of "how many of us are actually committed to and live these standards?" and "how many of us really understand and fulfill the promises we made at baptism and in the temple?" It was interesting to here the silence that followed. It was obviously a rhetorical question, so the silence was warranted, but I looked around and saw that several of the members were pondering their responses. He mentioned that we covenant to give all that we have and are, even our lives if necessary, to the edifying of the Kingdom here on earth.

Among many of the other things that were talked about, the topics of pride and charity were mentioned as well. A member of the high council who happened to be present shared an experience he had as a young man. He and his brothers lived fighting, teasing, and competing one with another (sound familiar?). They also always complained about each other. One night, at a family home evening, his father placed a chair in the middle of the room. It was the recognition chair, or something like that. He recounted that one by one each person sat on the chair, and each person in the family had to share ten good qualities of that person. That member said that that one family home evening has had such an impact on his life that it has helped him to realize and find the good in each and every person he has come in contact with and withhold from criticising them.

The Branch President also said that he was going to be the first person in the room to repent and he invited each and every one of us to do the same, so that we could really say, with complete honesty, that we were worthy to hold a current temple recommend.

A few days beforehand, I was thinking about covenants and their importance in each one of our lives, the impact that they have not only upon us, but also upon our descendants. I listed out all of the covenants that I could think of off the top of my head and looked up a few others. I also included a brief discription of a few of them. I came up with a good list and that has helped me to realize and think of more frequently the gravity and severity of those covenants, and the joy and freedom that we enjoy through our fidelity to each one. I have also returned a little to Dad's book on the chapter of "A Covenant People." It is really something very interesting and humbling when we come to understand more deeply the effects that those sacred promises have on our lives. On my life. In my life.

I also started reading a little bit this morning about Obedience and Revelation in the August Liahona. Elder Oaks' address was particularly interesting, as it made me remember a certain family home evening we had a long time ago when we discussed how each one of us comes to recognize the Holy Ghost and his promptings. He mentioned that many people mistake the phrase "burning in the bosom" to be literal. He then proposed that rather than being a literal burning in the bosom, it is a feeling of peace and warmth.

I was also touched by the story of Vinca, an older woman who only seven years ago was baptized after having known about the Church for the majority of her life. It hadn't meant much to her before, but when she finaly began to pay attention, she said that it just all made sense to her and it was logical (translating from Spanish). After years of trial--being a victim and survivor of the concentration camps of WWII and long term widowhood--she finally heard and understood the message of the Restored Gospel and was sealed to her deceased husband through proxy, one year to the day after her baptism, through the holy ordinance of sealing performed in the temple.

I have heard several experiences from people in the last week and a half about the church and their feelings towards it. I am still amazed at many things, but one things still rings deeply in my heart.

"I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me."

I love this song, and I have it completely memorized in Spanish, though not in English. I love my Savior. I know I am here doing His holy work and sharing His gospel; the gospel of repentance and forgiveness through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know we are here on this earth for a purpose and we are where we need to be, now.

I love you all.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Travel Itinerary 7/22/13

We have received Matthew's travel itinerary!!!!!!! :)

If you will be in the area when he comes home I'm sure he'd love to see you. This is mostly for his records though as this blog can serve as a journal for him to reflect back on.

He will be:
Departing from Buenos Aires at 825pm
Arriving in Atlanta GA at 551am
Total flight length:  A grueling 10 hours and 26 minutes!!

He will then board his next flight:
Departing from Altanta GA at 820am
Arriving in SLC UT at 1025am
Total flight length: 4 hours and 5 minutes
That should seem like a piece of cake! :)

Then his LAST flight:
Departing from SLC UT at 1101am
Arriving in MISSOULA MT at 1231pm
Total flight length: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Now that one might drag or it might be lightening fast depend on how exhausted/nervous/excited he is!!!!

TOTAL FLIGHT TIME 16 hours and 1 min!!! WHEW!!

Granted flights are always changing but this is what we are looking forward to!

10 7/22/13


This is an interesting time. I have two months left.

We're having a really hard time finding new investigators, but at the same time, we're meeting a bunch of new people. We've been going through the ward list trying to find out who really lives here and who doesn't and where those who don't live here anymore moved to. We're getting information through that and cleaning the list out and we've met a bunch of people through that. This week we actually have a lot of appointments set already with several new people. We're hoping that we can get those people going on all the different things.

As for the birthday box, I thought I'd mentioned a few weeks ago that I got it. When I came up from the south, it was already in the office waiting for me. I cheated and opened it right then. I kinda needed the socks that I knew were there ;) Thanks for the goodies, the tie, the socks and other items that were there.

I feel weird with this being so much closer to the time I will be coming home. It almost doesn't feel real to me yet. I know it's coming and I'm very aware of it, but it's still weird to me.

Not many people knew it was my birthday yesterday. I only told people when my birthday was if they asked, and even then, a few of them forgot. No biggie for me. One family did invite us for goodies towards the end of the night. Just as well, if all the sisters in the ward knew, they'd have made me something, and then I'd have ended up gaining ten pounds in a day... No joke, the sisters here love feeding the elders and some of them complain if they can't give the Elders food at least once a month.

Sorry, I won't be writing much more this time. My mind is really jumbled right now, thinking about a whole bunch of different things all at once. Know that I love you and my thoughts and prayers are with you often.



Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pride and Humility 7/15/13

Dear Family,

As the title suggests, that's my topic today. We have lost the only investigators we had because their parents kept placing barriers and won't make time to accept us. To them, they just don't have the time, and as sad as that makes me, I understand it. I just hope that sometime soon, the missionaries can go back and they will have more time because the two youngest of the family have been super prepared. The pride of the parents, even if they don't recognize it, is preventing the progress of their children, and through that the future generations.

That is something that i saw with another less active member recently as well. He is a very, very proud man. The first time he inactived was a relatively understandable case when the ward helped them out with welfare and then in a thoughtless moment the branch president told him not to make a bad habit out of it. That was a thoughtless stupidity (interestingly, that branch president, now released, is also less active). About three months ago, this man went back to church because the missionaries had been stopping by to help get their youngest son baptized. Then something else happened, an offered job and help, replied with offered service, then no follow-up. And now this man utterly refuses to go to church. He says he understands that we need to go to church not for the people but for the covenants, and we shared God's love, the purpose of life, the final judgment, agency and personal accountability, and a few other things. When we invited him to go back to church to participate in the blessings of the sacrament, he refused and then went off once again on his excuse.

Then I got a little bold, as did my companion, and we asked if he knew that he was condemning the future of his family and children and generations to come. We didn't ask it in those words, and we did it with a little more love, but that was the basic idea. He cut us off and immediately replied that he knew and he didn't really care. His pride has utterly blinded him to his family, when he claims that he does everything because he loves his family, at least on the part of work and so forth. But because he cannot find it in him to forgive a momentary stupidity, a human error (and we've heard both sides of the story) even when there was no real reason to become offended, he is denying his family the blessings of God. It is incredible!

President Benson, in one of his talks, warned us of the universal sin of pride. He admonished us to beware of and distance ourselves from pride. One thing more that we must do is plead from God the gift of humility with as much fervor as Mormon tells us to plead for Charity, as quoted by his son in Moroni 7. We need to pray to receive the gifts of charity, faith, hope, and humility.

Even among the members, I am shocked at how many of them claim to understand the doctrine and the gospel, and then turn around and don't follow it at all, either refusing to apply it because of the "strictness of the word," "the easiness of the way," or out of laziness, all of which can be categorized as the "pride of their hearts."

The people are invigorated and animated to do things during the meetings, and the moment they leave (and this is a large generalization) they forget everything, changing nothing, and continuing just as they are. No wonder the scriptures warn us not to fall into the trap of thinking "all is well in zion!" The moment we think that, we deny the urgency of the work and our own desires for salvation. We cannot be saved without putting in our constant efforts to warn and save our brethren and sisters. In this last week, the scriptures in Moroni 7 and D&C 121 have had an increasing meaning and weight in my mind. I also have a lot of room to repent and put aside my own pride. But I know that if it is something we desire and we ask for, it will be given us, as God promises many times in the words of the Holy Scriptures.

My dear family, I love you, and I want to share this with you because it is what I am learning and finding. I am hoping that circumstances can change and will be different or we will never reach the dream of Zion as it was when Enoch was on the earth. Again, I love you, and I know that we can start the changes if we continue to pray for, share with, and love our brothers and sisters in the Gospel.

With love,

Elder Matthew H. Dewsnup
MisiĆ³n Buenos Aires Norte
Gral. Lavalle 1828
1646 San Fernando
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Rescue Part 2 7/8/13

Dear Family,

Ok, This time, it won't be a rant, rather a motivational part.

As I was reading Dad's letter to me, he mentioned Moroni 7:48. Within an instant the D&C sections on the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood and the nature of the priesthood came to mind. D&C 88 and 121 are sections of revelation that can help us to understnad much more fully the reasons for all of the different things that God requires of us. With the backdrop of the 1 John 4:8, "God is Love," Those scriptures also take on a slightly different look.

We had the opportunity this week to work a little with President Ayre. He came to our area and the second we walked out the door, he contacted our landlord and another man who was with him. Within five minutes, we were back inside and taught a small lesson. The landlord was much more analytical with the whole thing, and wasn't open to feeling the Spirit much. But the other man was apparently a less active member who hasn't been to church for more than 10 years. As we shared the first and last two paragraphs from the introduction to the Book of Mormon, the less active member began to feel the Spirit much more. At one moment, he began to cry as he remembered his conversion story and shared his testimony about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Even though he didn't make it to church this last Sunday, I have high hopes to see him there shortly. This man felt the love of the Savior again.

I also had the opportunity to do my first baptismal interview yesterday. As we reviewed the interview questions, the woman bore testimony, without using the mormon jargon, about each thing; the word of wisdom, tithing, the law of chastity, the divinity and nature of God and Jesus Christ, how she came to know of the truth of Joseph Smith, even a few personal experiences in the small and simple changes that she and other people have noticed. She was super prepared by God to receive this ordinance now.

The work of the saving of souls continues in many ways. After all, God's ways are not our ways. The call to serve is the call to save. We are called to save and rescue souls. There are those who despite all efforts refuse to grab hold, but we cannot ever stop trying and inviting.

I love you all, with all my heart.


Elder Matthew Dewsnup