Monday, January 30, 2012

Mission Miracles 1/23/12

Para la Familia,
Les amo mucho!!  Les amo tanto que no puedo decirles!  Hay muchas cosas que pasaron esta semana las cuales son milagros!  Milagros digo.  El Señor nos ama y esta cuidandonos y bendiciendonos.
I love you a lot!!  I love you so much that I can't tell you!  There are many things that happened this week that are miracles!  Miracles I say.  The Lord loves us and is caring for us and blessing us.
This last week marked the "first time" for a lot of things for me.  For the first time, I did my personal study entirely in Spanish (and surprisingly I understood most of it).  For the first time, I went on splits and taught a lesson almost entirely on my own (of course with the help of the Spirit).  For the first time, I witnessed baptism and confirmation in the mission.  For the first time, I baptized someone.  And for the first time, I gave someone a blessing in Spanish.
All the things, minus the study, happened with the same family.  They've been taught before but were never all that interested until a little while ago.  They got married about two months ago in the beginning of the last transfer (I think), at the gentle urging of previous missionaries, but they still weren't interested much.  Last transfer, with Elders Tidei and Burton, things began to really progress, because the Elders came by about twice a week to do service for them and taught while giving service.  The family could see that we didn't just preach about some wierd religion, we served, loved, and helped.  And I think they began to realize that that's what it's all about.  While I was on splits last week, I was finishing up most of the teaching required before baptism, teaching them about certain of the commandments.  I used the ones they were familiar with (the 10 commandments) and then from there talked about the Law of Chastity and the law of the Sabbath (or keeping the Sabbath day holy).  It was a miracle for me, because before hand I had no idea how I would be able to teach people when no one could understand one whit of English and with a member I knew nothing about.  But I prayed for strength and help, and it was given to me.  I understood almost everything said by them and they understood me, much due to the help of the member who is a convert of 13 years and had many questions about the commandments that he has come to understand through years of attendance.  He was able to answer some of the questions better than me, because he had experience in overcoming things that I hadn't, for instance, worship of the Virgin Mary.
While reviewing the baptismal interview questions with them, I could see that they knew the answers and that their testimonies were like the sprouts of seedlings, in connection with the parable of the seed of faith in Alma 32.  The family we baptized comprised of a couple and the woman's sister, who are both sisters of a convert from about a year ago.  The couple have a 4 year old boy and a baby boy one week younger than Annie (which is what, about 8/9 months old now?).  Their names are Gustavo and Yesica (pronounced almost exactly like Jessica) for the couple, and the sister is Florencia.  Gustavo asked me to be the one to baptize him and Florencia wanted me to do her confiramation.  This last weekend was the first time I had personally performed either ordinance at all, let alone in Spanish, so I was a little nervous, but I could definitely feel the Spirit with them during those occasions.  They're a wonderful family and I'm anxious to continue watching their growth for at least another four weeks here.
Another first time was that yesterday, I taught Sunday School.  The Gospel Principles (the class for recent converts or non members) teacher was sick, and when that happens, the Elders teach the class.  Then Elder Tidei had to do an emergency split to make some visits to other members, so I was left at the church, with another brother as my temporary companion, to teach the class.  I taught lesson four from the Gospel Principles book, which is about Agency, and with the intermittent help of the brother, and help from a recent convert with my Spanish vocabulary and conjugation, it went over very well.  One thing that I felt impressed to relate to them during the class is that there are really only two options: We can follow Christ, meaning to do the will of the Father, or we can follow Satan, which is in essence doing any will other than the Father.  We know that in the Pre-existence Jesus said, "Here am I, send me...and the glory be thine forever," while Satan said, "Here am I, send me...and I will save them all, that none shall be lost, wherefore, give me thine honor" (or at least the quote is really similar to that, that's the translation I'm getting from what I remember of the Spanish in the manual, since I don't know the reference).  In this Jesus sought to do the will of the Father, and Satan sought to do his own will.  So we can either do the will of the Father, or our own.  And when we do our own, we are in essence following Satan, for if we aren't doing the will of the Father, it is not of the Father.
I like to think of the other miracles we have as well.  Elder Foster of the Seventy came on a mission tour and spoke to us on Friday.  He showed us the clip of when the Hubble Space Telescope was pointed at "nothing" and a photo was taken, twice.  And how many galaxies were revealed in those pictures taken of absolute blackness.  He then showed us a Discovery channel clip of the Earth's gravity and Magnetic fields and how complex those concepts are.  He then told us that this is what Moses saw, in the story relate in the Book of Moses, chapter 1, when he was shown the works of God.  That really put into perspective the fact that man is nothing, and yet the whole work and glory, that is to say, the purpose, of God, is to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life, which is to say, our happiness as His sons and daughters.  Something else that I noticed in Abraham 3:28 is that the reason Lucifer was cast out was because of anger.  The thing with this anger is that it was anger at having someone else be chosen over him.  Christ was chosen over Lucifer, which made him angry, so he chose to rebel and thereby became Satan.  The things that I learn day to day in studies and/or conferences are truly amazing.
I hope I didn't confuse anybody and I'm sorry that all my emails are more or less preachy in nature.  Everything I do is centered around preachyness; such is missionary work.  I love you all and, as always, I love questions, they give me a direction in which to go when I write.
The Lord bless you and keep you,
Elder Matthew Dewsnup

The first one is Elder Tidei cleaning the font, the others are the family.  Again, I baptized Gustavo, and I confirmed the woman I'm standing next to in the other picture.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Letter from 1/16/12

Hola a mi maravillosa Familia!!
Wow, time flies!  I already have a lot of time out here, almost four months.  Time continues on it's pace while it seems like everything is speeding up.  I guess it's because of how busy we get.
Something in relation to time was pointed out to me that I finally understood, or at least I understood it in a different way, this week.  In 2 Nephi, where it says the days of the children of men were prolonged, I thought about how God's days were like a thousand years to us.  In this is the change.  We used to be on God's time.  But time here on the Earth was slowed way down to give us a chance to learn and grow away from the presence and time of God.  I always used to think that that phrase meant that men just lived to older ages.  Now I understand that it means that regardless of our age, the time of Earth was slowed to allow us to experience things on a frame and plane of time that we could understand as mortals, especially since we cannot understand the concept of eternity, which is the time zone in which God lives.
Sorry for that philosophical side track.  Things here in the Lòpez Camelo area are moving rather quickly I think.  We're teaching several people and have four people with baptismal dates for either this Saturday or this Sunday.  And we have one more for the following week.  The only thing that keeps people from really being baptized in this area is their lack of commitment to the challenges we leave them, especially that of coming to church.  All of the people were going to be baptized on Saturday this week, but one of them didn't come to church.  In our mission it is a requirement that investigators come to church at least three times before they can be baptized, so that the ward has a chance to get to know them as well as for them to really understand what it is that they are going to have the priviledge of being a part of.  Yesterday was going to be her third attendence, which would mean that she could be baptized any time between the end of the meetings through the next Saturday, but now she's going to be baptized after the meetings next Sunday.  We prefer having baptizms on Saturdays so that the smallest amount of time passes between baptism and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, because in every mission the requirement is that the confirmation must take place in the sacrament meeting following the date of baptism.  Anyway, so we have five people who want to and can be baptized this month!  Hopefully I'll have pictures for all of you next week of that.
Yesterday, I had to speak in Sacrament meeting.  At first, it was just a "bear-your-testimony-so-the-ward-sees-your-face" type of thing, but one of the planned speakers didn't show up, so I spoke a little longer.  o.O   After a quick a fervent prayer for help, I felt like I needed to speak about Faith, so when my name was announced in the program, I got up and talked for about 10 minutes in Spanish about Faith.  After the meeting several people came up to me and proclaimed their amazement that I could speak so well (perfectly, some said) for only having been in Argentina for about 7 weeks...  Things just flew out of my mouth.  I shared with them about Alma 32, where it says in the end that our tree will grow through faith, diligence, and patience.  I also talked about how faith is required to do everything in this life, meaning we have to have a desire or a belief in something before it happens, including with things temporal.  We have to believe we'll get a job before it happens, or at least hope for one.  God works the same way, requiring that we try things by faith.
We also participated in a baptism yesterday in another area in the district, since Elder Tidei is the District Leader and we had to go there to do the interview.  It was a neat experience!  I also gave the talk on Baptism at the service.
One of the area presidency, Elder Foster of the Seventy, is touring the mission this week.  That means that we'll have a conference with him and he'll be inspecting certain of the apartments of the missionaries.  o.O  So we still ahve a little bit of cleaning to do, though not much, and I'm looking forward to hearing from him.  I'll let you know how it goes!
Anyway, My companion is already done and we only have about two hours left to P-Day to take care of the rest of the chores and cleaning things we have to do, so I need to say goodbye.  I love you all and hope to hear from you all soon!
With love and the desire to splash you with Felix Felicis,
Elder Matthew Hyrum Dewsnup

Friday, January 13, 2012

Weekly Letter 1/9/12

I've moved again!!  I got transferred today to Lopez Camela, which is closer to Capital than Pilar, but I don't know where exactly.  My new companion is Elder Tidei.  A picture will come next week, when I'm more organized and have things together.  Mom asked a few questions that I'll answer here, since you all are probably wondering. First she asked why we had to move.  So, the land-lady of the old apartment wanted to give it to her daughter, but we had to find new places for both of the companionships in Pilar.  One was found, relatively close to our area, and closer to the chapel, so Elder Black and I ended up moving there.  But now that I've been transferred, I don't have to worry about it anymore.  There was a lot we needed to do to clean it for mission standards, and there're still things that they need to do as a new companionship.  Elder Tidei and I will be working a bit in our own pench (penchion?  I don't know the word in English) to get it up to standards as well, since one of the Area Presidency will be touring the mission next week.  Oh, Elder Tidei is an Argentine, so he's my first latino companion, but he looks like and can speak like an American.
The other question was whether or not the woman I talked about came to church.  She did yesterday!!!  It was great to see her there with her husband and I'm just sad I won't be able to go and visit them again to help them more.
Things here seem to be passing more and more quickly. I'm sorry I don't have a lot of real news much of the time, but all of my news ends up sounding preachy to me.  It's hard for me to think of much that would really pertain to all of you, so keep questions coming and I can answer those.  It's much easier to know what to say if there are questions asked.
I have a new area now to get to know and a great companion from what I've heard to finish my training, so I'll let you know more about that as things go.  Mom said that Meg would want to pick my brain for food ideas, and one that we have a lot is a Peruvian dish.  I'm not sure what it's called, but there's a lot of rice, chicken or beef, and a nice "spicy" sauce.  That's in quotes because there's really not a lot of spicy food here.  And I've only once had beans with my food.  If you want to try doing Argentine Pizza, make a pizza with less sauce, more cheese, and different kinds of meats and fruits (though pineapple is the most common).
I haven't had a lot of opportunities to study this week because I've done transfers twice, which took away from study time to travel.  But I have gotten through Alma 33 now.  My favorite parts about that chapter are the verses on prayer, since so many times it talks about the mercies of God, stresses the fact that we can pray anywhere, and that God hears our prayers.
I'm just about out of time today, we're doing an activity as a district playing soccer, so if you read this, pray that you won't be hearing of a hospital visit for breaking my other arm by next week.  My love to all of you!!
Elder Matthew Hyrum Dewnup
P.S.  Mom, let the Berezay's and the Stocker's know that I got their cards.  I got a card from Grandma and Grandpa too, so please thank them for me.  Last Friday I finally got the letters out that I'd had to send for four weeks, so I won't be able to send written letters all that often.  I can explain why another time, as long as it's asked.  Again, Love you!!!


Dear Family,
This letter will be a shorter one.
We moved this morning, and that took up most of the time this morning, and we still have to go do our normal shopping on top of getting the necessary supplies to clean and keep the apartment, and also to have articles with which to eat and cook.
The last week of the year passed quickly with differing experiences.  I should start bringing my journal to relate stories to you, but one that happened yesterday involved helping a nearly blind, currently inactive member, to try to feel the need to return to church.  Someone once said to her that she should get a blind stick (I don't know their actual names), and she said that hurt her, and she didn't want to go back until she felt confident in her ability to see.  After listening and understanding most of what she said, I asked her husband if he would be willing to go with her and take her (he is also a member and attends rather frequently).  Immediately he said yes, so then I asked her if she had family support and a way to get there and back why she was keeping herself from being able to partake of the sacrament and receive the revelation she knows she needs and can only come from the church.  It was something I felt prompted to say, and she thought for a long time.  As far as I know, she's going to be trying this week.  We've visited them every week and tried to get their whole family to come, but she always had something that would prevent her, and I think we've finally begun to break the barriers down.  She has a really strong testimony, but she also doesn't want to feel useless in the church.  She expressed her desire to be able to go without depending on anyone, so Elder Black and I tried to help her see that we all need to rely on someone all the time. As children, we rely on our parents; on our own, we rely on the goodness of God, etc.
We all need to rely on someone, in all stages of life.  On the mission, I have come to rely more heavily on God.  I have been trying to aqcuaint myself more with the Spirit than ever before, and I am trying to do as I am directed.  Frustrations drive away the Spirit, and the only way to get it back is to focus on the good and the way to overcome the frustrations than just on the fact that they're there.
My personal reading has taken me through Alma 23 or 24.  I don't have any of my things with me at the moment, or I'd be able to tell you exactly.  It is the part where the Anti-Nephi-Lehies bury their weapons.  This is an example of true repentance.  I love it!  Their murders had caused them great pains and a harsh repentance for their clothes to be washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb.  To keep their clothes and swords clean, they decided to bury their weapons of war.  By doing so, they were showing not just to God but to all people their willingness to truly forsake their sins.  They removed the temptation to shed blood again, even to defend their own lives, on the possibility that it might make them stained before God at the Judgement.  Then they met the armies of the Lamanites in an attitude of prayer and thanksgiving to God, such that there were 1005 slain, but a greater number converted because of their example.  They were willing to die before sinning again.
Miracles can happen in any place and at any time.  We just need to open our eyes to recognize them when they happen.
I love you all!!
Elder Dewsnup