Alrighty, here's the Scoop!
Dad sent me an email asking what a normal day is like so here we go. Wake up time is 6:30 and we have until 8:00 to eat, exercise, and prepare for the day. At 8:00 we have Personal Study for an hour, following which we have about two hours of Companionship Study. Depending on other things that happen, we may have more or less time than that. After companionship study, we're supposed to have an hour of Language study for an hour, but I've only been able to do it twice thus far in the last three-ish weeks. we've had a lot of other things that have needed to be done, but we really enjoy our study time. During each companionship study, we do a practice of introducing the Book of Mormon to someone using the first and last two paragraphs of the introduction to the Book of Mormon, which explain what the book is, three things we should do when we receive it, and three things we'll know once we know the truth of the book. The two hours of companionship study will only last for the first twelve weeks of my mission while I'm still in training. There is a relatively new training program called In-Field Training that happens now. I think it was introduced to missions within the last year or two. Anyway, after the study time, we prepare for the day with any other last minute things then head to whichever member's house we have lunch with in that particular day. After lunch, we go to work, most of the time having lessons, but often having to imrovise when appointments fall through. The proselyting day ends whenever we need it to in order to return to our apartment by 9:00; 9:30 when we're teaching a lesson. Once we return to the apartment, we plan for the next day (first), afterwhich we prepare for bed, write in journals, etc., to be in bed by 10:30.
Often enough in the last three weeks we've had to change this schedule to accomodate (spelling?) traveling to and from conferences, training meetings, and today I had to go to Capital to register for my two year Argentine papers, as the visa will expire soon.
Dad also asked what kinds of food I normally eat. So, here's a description of some of the foods:
1) Empanadas. These are like turnovers that Dad makes, but instead of being filled with jam, they're filled with meats, potatoes, etc. and baked or fried. They look like stuffed semicircles of yummy goodness. Imagine half a jelly-filled donut, but instead of jelly, finding shredded chicken and baked potatoe, or ground beef and a veggie mix. Anything can go in them.
2) Dulce de Leche. This is like Mom's carmels, but creamier. Dulce de Leche doesn't harden like the carmels we've come to love, but remains creamy. I'd say the consistency is somewhere in between cream cheese and yogurt. Maybe closer to yogurt, or the creamy honey that Dad likes to spread on bread. But it tastes heavenly!
3) Alfajors (pronounced ahl-fah-hohr). These are made in a number of different ways and are the most prevalent candy/dessert that you find in gas stations or other stores. It is made like a sandwich with Dulce le Leche in the middle. I've seen it like Oreo's, like Ice Cream Sandwiches, etc. But the way I've liked them best has been a home made variety by a member, where the Dulce de Leche was spread between two wafers (like Nillas, but softer) then rolled in Coconut shavings.
4) Milanesa. This is similar to chicken fried steak, but thinner. The only way I can really describe it, would be a mix between a soft beef jerky and Dad's Chicken Schnitzel. Sometimes it even is made with chicken, but it is generally beef.
5) Churi. This is a type of Sausage similar to Brauts, but sweeter. When split in half and stuck between two hunks of bread... yum!!! That is called a Chruipan (Churi being the sausage and pan being the word for bread.
Other foods are very similar to what it's like in the States: pasta, fruit salad, salads, etc. There is no really spicy food here, the rare taco at a member's house (which has happened once in my companions' mission, last week with a member family who spends a lot of time in Utah. He's been out for almost 9 months). There have been no rice and beans dishes served, and the pizzas are lacking for sauce. But on the whole, there a lot of similarities in the foods.
Dad, you said I may have received some news in duplicate from both you and mom. This is true, but I like it, because the two of you tell it a little differently. I'm pleased about your new guitar and amp! I hope to hear what it's name is in the next email ;) The new oven and reupholstered chairs sound like nice Christmas presents too!
Mom, you asked me to give more information on my address and the church and the streets I work on. Sadly, I'm not supposed to send that information, and even if I could, I don't know it. I only know where they are in the city. Suffice it to say our apartment is located near a field by a round-y-round, and the church is between our apartment and the highway, more or less. Our proselyting area is mostly the casitas between Champagnat and Dr. Thomas de Anchoren, and goes as far north as the Calles there, but we also have the neighboring areas. We just don't currently have anyone in the other areas that we teach. The neighborhoods we have are: Las Margaritas, Agustoni, San Alejo, Peligrini, and all inbetween. All of these are North of the highway.
Something that we've shared and taught with several investigators and recent converts, and even inactive or less-active members, this week has been the contents of Alma 36 and Helaman 5. These chapters deal with the counsel of fathers to sons as well as repentance. Alma 36, of course, is Alma's personal experience with repentance as told to his son Helaman and accounts how it was only after he cried out to Jesus, after he pleaded for the Lord to "have mercy upon me, who am in the gall of bitterness," that he was delivered. And oh, what joy did he experience! He says that there was nothing as exquisite and bitter as was his pain, but on the other hand, nothing as exquisite and sweet as was his joy after repentance. It was from that moment on that he labored with his might to bring souls unto repentance and a deliverance from their sins. In Helaman 5, we read about the advice of Helaman to his sons Nephi and Lehi, to remember (said 13 times in I think 10 verses) the things and lessons of the past and to always build upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ the Lord. Later on we hear of them being cast into prison, where a mob came to kill them. Nephi and Lehi were surrounded by a protecting wall of fire while the mob was surrounded in a cloud of darkness. Among the mob was an apostate Nephite who remembered the words taught to him in his youth about repentance. In that moment, he repented, and when the mob cried out pleading to know what to do, that repentant dissenter, named Aminadab, told them what he had been taught, and what they all had been taught by Alma, Amulek, and others, all of whom they had rejected. The mob numbered about 300. All cried unto God for a repentance, and then they were surrounded by the fire as were Nephi and Lehi, all witnessing the glory that those two had witnessed. So great were the experiences of those 300, that they then went out and preached the word, as had Alma, and they brought nearly the entire Lamanite nation unto repentance, to the point that they were more righteous that the Nephites.
That is a message we take. The message of repentance; a message of hope. That hope is in Christ, who is mighty to save, and has suffered for our sins that we may not suffer, "which suffering caused I, God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed from every pore" Christ already paid the price. We don't have to if we come to Him, paying the price of a humble heart and a contrite spirit, willing to make a change in our lives to do whatever it takes to choose the right, even if that means hardship. Even if we fall, that is why we have repentance and especially the sacrament; to allow us to continually better ourselves and try to be as He is.
We shared the above chapter of Alma with one of the men who dropped us after we attended his wedding. The next day, when we went back, he had read the chapter and asked us questions. Then he asked us for more to read. Hopefully we made an impression to the point of him coming to Christ through the waters of baptism and eventually the sacred covenants of the Temple.
I love you all, and I'll talk to you in a week!
With love and prayers,
Elder Matthew Dewsnup
P.S. The picture attached is me after we returned home from working last night. I don't think I've ever sweat this much in my life.
P.S.S. Mom and Dad will be pleased to know that for the first time I ate mushrooms, green olives, and dark meet without a single face of distaste. I even (surprisingly to me) enjoyed them.
P.S.S.S. Let Sister Hicks know that I got the package last Friday from the Activity Days girls, and a big thank you to them. Dad, your letter arrived at the same time. We had a leadership training meeting at with we all got mail, but if anything else has been sent, as yet I have not gotten it. Again I'm sorry to all I haven't gotten letters to yet. Time is of the essence and I don't have much of it.