Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Week 10 {and a half}

{This is Megan... Sorry it's been a while since I've really posted any updates. It's been really busy with the holiday season so I'll just go head and post the actual letters...}


How to begin...
These last two weeks have been some of the most discouraging and uplifting of my life.  All of the baptisms that we had planned for the last two weeks fell through and we had two investigators drop us last week.  Our ward has in its records between 600 and 700 members, but in the last two weeks only about 80 on average have attended and Elder Black says that's the norm here in our area.  The retention rate is our killer.
I still can't understand the language as much as I'd like (meaning I can't understand it perfectly yet) but I know that I need to be patient and continue to listen.  My understanding has improved, but the speed at which some people talk still astounds me, and some of the idioms don't translate perfectly in English, so it's hard for my companion to explain what they mean.  We got our bicycles fixed up and are now riding them pretty much all the time, so the blisters I had are healing over and now my thighs need to be stretched each night, so they don't cramp up.  But as they say in Meet the Robinsons, Keep Moving Forward.  More on that in a minute.
Mom asked what my living quaters were like, though she didn't use those words.  I live in an apartment complex with three other elders (one, of course, is my companion) which is about a mile to a mile and a half south of the Pan Americana highway that runs through town.  The apartment has a front room, kitchen, two bedrooms (though we only use one with four bunks, the other is our study room), and the bathroom.  Conditions aren't as clean as I'd like them to be, so I try to spend a little time each day (more on P-Days) cleaning up a bit.
Mom also asked about meals.  The biggest meal here is Almuerzo, or lunch, which is normally eaten during the Siesta.  The Siesta is a period of the day that lasts for about three hours as a period of rest for people during the day.  They eat and take naps!!  How cool is that!  But we usually eat a large meal with members and then go to work.  The proselyting day ends whenever it needs to for us to return to our apartment by 9:00, so after nightly planning, we then either eat a snack, or go without.  So usually the only meals we do are breakfast and lunch, with a little before bed.
And Mom asked about whether or not I have played piano in church yet.  Seeing as I seem to be the only person in all of Pilar who knows how, yes I've been playing.  I have played in both sacrament meetings and at the ward end-of-the-year social last Thursday.
Right now, while I'm in training, our proselyting hours begin right after lunch, but once I'm done with training, there should be enough time to have one or two appointments in the day before lunch.  The proselyting area that Elder Black and I have right now is the area north of the Pan Americana, which is a poorer section of the town, except for the Countries (gated, walled, and protected neighborhoods, at which there are gaurds and specific things needed to enter).  We don't go into the Countries unless we have a referral to contact, a lesson with a recent convert or lunch with a member in one of them.  Thus far, I've only been in one.
I just looked at the clock here and realized that for all of you at home and in that time zone, it's almost 8:00, which means Joseph just started classes for the day, mom likely has headed off for Curves, and Dad's at work.  Meg and Marving are probably at their separate jobs.  Sarah is teaching her first class of the day and Brandon is probably either spending time with Annie, or has started his own classes (I don't know what your schedule is like as well as I know the Missoula schedule).  That's a really weird thought, seeing as for us, we're approaching our lunch time.
Mom also mentioned that she found Pilar on a map from National Geographic.  If any of the rest of you want to see the town, I'd suggest either using Google Earth or the map section under tools on  If you sign in, you can see mission boundaries and such, boundaries of your ward and stake, a stake directory, and other cool church related things.  On that map, the Pan Americana is called Ramal Pilar.
In one of my personal study sessions this week, I was studying out of Preach My Gospel, chapter five, which deals with the Book of Mormon.  I looked at the section where there are a bunch of questions and then places where answers can be found in the Book of Mormon, and I loved what I found there.  I looked at Alma 22 and 38, and 3 Nephi 13 and 14.  Alma 22 talks about when Aaron is conversing with the father of King Lamoni and the King asks Aaron what he can do to have eternal life (v. 15).  Aaron answers in verse 16 with what I have termed "how to get an answer"  He says "If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest."  This told me that when we want to know the answer to a question or when we want something, we need to pray about it.  The first step to a prayer like this is to have a desire; we really have to want to know something.  Then we bow down before God, repenting of our sins, in prayer, calling on His name in faith.  We approach Him in prayer with a repentant heart.  Then, most importantly in my mind, we have to believe that we'll receive an answer.  Only after that will we receive the hope we want.  I like the fact that it says "receive," because it's not going to be given to us if we're passive about it, or if we don't really want it.  We have to want and then we will obtain.
Alma 38 is where Alma is talking to his son, Shiblon, and many of the things there are great for investigator, member, and missionary alike.  In verse 8, he talks about how his sins caused him "the most bitter pain and anguish of soul" because he knew that he had done wrong in trying to destroy the church and in leading many people to do evil and wicked things.  The best part is that he then says that "never, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ...did [I] find peace to my soul."  It wasn't until he reached out to God and to Jesus Christ in prayer, feeling truly repentant, that he was healed.  This to me just talked about how we won't receive forgiveness of our sins without first reaching out to God and asking for it.  We have to humble ourselves and feel truly repentant in order to be forgiven ourselves.  The beginning of verse 12 is wonderful for missionaries too: "Use boldness, but not overbearance."  We need to be bold, as missionaries, in helping people to come to Christ, but we also need to do so with love and kindness, not forcefulness.
3 Nephi 13 and 14 were reiterations of Christ Sermon on the Mount to the people of the Americas, but I found it interesting that the questions asked in Preach My Gospel in connection with these chapters were: How can I balance my career and my family? (13, compare Matthew 6), and How can I improve my relationship with my spouse? (14, compare Matthew 7)
I love the scriptures; there is so much in them that we can learn from and apply that will be us become better people.  I know what I'm teaching is true, and I know that the Gospel can help everyone I teach.  This message is one for the world, and soon all will know it, for the day soon cometh when Christ will appear.  I don't know where that is in the scriptures, maybe Dad can help me with that reference, but we don't know when it will happen, all we can do is prepare for it.
I love and miss you all!!!  And you are in my prayers, as I know I am in yours.  Until next week.
Elder Dewsnup
p.s.  The pictures attached are of my first companiona and I, and then two pictures of my sunburn, one with my shirtsleeve and watch on and shown, the other with the shirtsleeve pulled up and the watch taken off.
p.p.s. at the termination of this email, we are now approaching 9:30 your time, the pictures have taken a
long time to load.

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