Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Another Week! 2/13/12

Hidee Ho, Family!
One more week has passed.  The time just flies.  Out of the 16 total transfers that I will have in my mission, I have almost completed the second. I've already passed the 1/6 mark of the mission too.  It seems like I boarded the plane yesterday.  I can still remember Mom, Dad, and Joseph as I walked up the stairway to the gates.
Miracles continue to happen in Zion.  As her beauty rises, more and more people are beginning to recognize the church for what it is. I recall a quote I heard, I believe given by Elder Ballard, in which he was talking with a recently called member of the Seventy.  He said that one day in the lifetime of that Seventy (perhaps it was a different calling, but I don't remember), the difference between the morals of the Church and those of the world would be so different that people would flock to the Church.  The man then said something to the effect of, "But that's still a long time left."  Elder Ballard then said, "It will happen in my lifetime."
Think of it.  The morals of the world really are so different from ours as members of the Church.  It is prevelant and visible everywhere you go that that is true.  I really believe that people will begin to flock to the Church on their own, as Elder Ballard said.  Dad, if I was wrong in quoting who said all that, would you be able to change it?  That's just what is sticking in my memory right now. 
We are teaching a woman named Mirta who when we first stopped by, was reading from the introduction with us.  In the second to last paragraph, the second sentence says something to the effect of "Those who do this and ask in faith will receive a testimony of the truth and divinity of the Book by the power of the Holy Ghost."  Again, if that's not the exact wording, you can look it up in the introduction to the Book of Mormon, but she stopped after she read the word "testimony."  She was crying.  She knew already that it was true.  We set a baptismal date for this weekend and will be teaching her all week to prepare her for that day.  She's excited about it and said when she came to church on Sunday that this is what she's been looking for all her life.
I love you all.  I'm running out of time, so I have to say good bye.  But I want you all to know that I know this church is the true church of God, restored by Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith.  I know that we receive continuing direction through Thomas S. Monson, the prophet of the Church today.  I know it, and I cannot deny the feelings I he received from the Holy Ghost testifying of the truth to me.
I love you,
Elder Matthew Dewsnup

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

S.M.I.L.E. 2/6/12

To the family,
I have less time this week than I have had in all the mission, except for the MTC, to write to you. Because of this, my message will be shorter than usual, but I don't love you any less.  In fact, my love for you all grows with each passing day. 
I don't know how many days I have completed in the mission, but people always ask how long we've been out, so I know that I've been in Argentina for 10 weeks now and I was in the MTC for 9, so I have a total of 19 weeks, equal to about four months and a week.  The time has flown by.  As I hear about news at home, I marvel at how fast the time keeps passing.  For example, Mom and Dad both mentioned to me in their letters this week that Joseph had to the Montana State Thespian Festival last weekend.  I remember going to those, and they seem forever ago, and yet yesterday.  I think I've mentioned this before, but Lehi talks about how the days of man were lengthened in 2 Nephi 2.  If our days have been lengthened, it feels like they're getting shorter all the time. 
Work here in the field has been slow this week.  We have few investigators and those we do have have not been progressing, so much so to the point that we have been discussing dropping a few of them.  That is something that I don't want to do, but I realize that in some cases the people just aren't ready.  I'm just scared that someone is and all we have to do is put in one more visit past the point when we drop them.  I've been in Lopez Camelo for a full month now, and I love the people.  And I know there are more people that the Lord has prepared for us to reach, but we're having a hard time finding them.
I don't remember where I was in my personal studies last Monday, but I've now made it through 3 Nephi 6.  The people once again are ripening in their wickedness.  It seems that after the people are so faithful, it takes only a year or two of relative to abundant prosperity for the people to become puffed up in pride.  I've found that as I think about different things in my own life, I have been a little (or perhaps more than a little) prideful in a few (or several) areas.  For that I'd like to apologize if I have been overbearing, arrogant, snobbish, and for all intents and purposes, a jerk.  I've been looking a little further into the Christlike attributes of humility and meekness. While these traits mean to be submissive and patient, walking in the ways of the Lord, they do not mean that we have to deny our gifts, talents, and abilities when complimented by others.  But then neither should we go on and begin boasting about it.  I recognize that often I have done both, and I'm sorry.   When complimented, the right thing to do is accept it with a simple thank you and continue forward in gratitude to God for having blessed you for that.  It's something that I am continuing to learn, and will likely be learning for a lot longer before it finally sinks in in my own life.
Last night, we were in the house of a member who is of mission age and is struggling with the decision to serve.  He's been researching a lot into different things, but he accompanies the missionaries (that is, us) a lot during the week.  The thing that he's not doing very much of is reading the scriptures.  This is why he has begun to doubt.  There are certain things that everyone must do in order to keep building their testimony.  They are: read the scriptures, pray, and go to church.  In prayer we ask God for the strength and help to keep going.  In the scriptures and with the members we find and receive revelation and strength to do it.  But not simply read, pray, and go; study, converse, and be.  We need to study the words, which means to ponder them and cross reference, finding connections.  We need to converse with our Father, for that is what prayer is, a conversation.  Quick side note, Dad, in his email to me either last week or the week previous, mentioned Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof."  We need to have a relationship with God, not just rote phrases, but an actual, spiritual connection with the Being who created our spirits. Tevye often talked openly with God in the street, to and from visits, and even as asides while with his family and guests.  Last, we need to be in church.  Not just present at the meetings, but also mentally and spiritually, paying attention to the promptings and feelings we receive through the Spirit.  The sacrament speaker could be relating something about carpentry, but because the Spirit is present, we receive an answer to a question about our child, or about how to approach that friend we've been wanting to share the Gospel with.  Things happen that way.  I've seen it.
Things here will progress and continue as we pray, fast, and work.  That is all that missionary work is: work, with a lot of the Spirit.  Preach My Gospel says faith leads to action, or as Dad teaches, faith is action based on belief.  When we pray, we exercise faith that God will listen.  When we study and attend church, we show that we are willing to listen to Him. But the important thing is then to act on the revelation we receive, because revelation doesn't do anything for us if we don't decide to act on it.
Well, I've carried on more than I intended in a direction that I hadn't planned, but the message is true.  Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, the Prophet called to restore His church upon the earth again.  God lives, and He loves us, individually, profoundly deeply, and beyond our comprehension.  Spencer W. Kimball once said, "Nothing will surprise us more when we pass through the veil that to realize how well we know our Father, and how familiar His face is to us."  Oh, how I look forward to that day when I can kneel before my Maker and look up into His face, knowing perfectly who He is.  I hope and pray that I will be found worthy to be with Him again.  A pray the same for you and for all the people I teach.  May God in His mercy open our hearts to receive His love, for He is willing to give it.  The only thing that stops Him is our own action.
I love you all,
Elder Matthew Dewsnup

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hola!!! 1/30/12

Para mi familia,
Miracles are all around us.  All we have to do is open our eyes.  We had another baptism yesterday.  Maria Lopez Rivas.  She's a woman who is always smiling, always happy, and ever willing to commit.  She was a Catholic, though not attending meetings. I think with a little time and more learning, she'll become one of the stalwarts in the ward.  Pictures will be included in this letter this time.  I was the one she asked to batize her and she'll be confirmed next Sunday in Sacrament Meeting.
The family who was baptized last week is doing well too.  The father was interviewed yesterday to receive the priesthood and will receive it next week, so this week we'll be teaching about the priesthood to him and his family, along with the other lessons of retention.  After her, we don't really have any investigators, so this week we'll be doing some finding activites by visiting with recent converts, less active families, and old investigators to try to find new investigators.
I don't really have any more news, but I know that I'm here to help others feel the joy I have through the Gospel.  I know God lives.  I know He loves us.  I know He hears us.  I know He answers us according to our needs.  I know that Joseph Smith restored His gospel.  We will all be blessed as we follow our own knowledge of His love and as we obey His commandments.
With Love,
Elder Matthew H. Dewsnup