Friday, March 23, 2012

Past the Ides of March

A Grand Hello!!!!!!  From Buenos Aires,
I'm writing this message a little more quickly than normal.  We have less time today to do this than I think I've ever had before, so this message will indeed be shorter.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of confirming Sebasti├ín in Sacrament Meeting.  It is only the second time I have administrated as the voice in that ordinance and it was indeed a privilege.  I felt impressed to tell him that through his example one day his family would also join themselves with the church, if he remained faithful.  I've been learning more how to follow the promptings of the Spirit, but it is seemingly more prevalent in my mind when I am paying attention to it.  Go figure.  And I seem to pay more attention when I am giving a blessing of some sort.  That is something that I need to work on and do better with.  Plus also, I got to play piano in Sacrament meeting yesterday for the first time in Lopez Camelo (or maybe the second, not sure).
Our other investigators are few but slowly progressing.  One investigator named Victoria hasn't really been an interested participant when we have visited with her family, but last night she called us wondering when we were going to come next to teach them.  Her sister is Barbara, a convert from December.  Anyway, she called us, so we made that a priority visit and will be seeing them later tonight.
In other more mundane news, last week my allergies hit me with more force than before.  It was as bad as normal on Monday when I wrote you all, but on Tuesday they hit like a train.  Elder Tidei told me to stay in bed rather than get up, he told me I looked horrible.  A great compliment from a full-time companion...  So I stayed in bed for a little while longer.  We left around lunch time when I felt a little better, but returned after an hour and a half in the street because my nose would not stop running and it felt like a river was flowing around in my head, choosing as its exit my eyes.  So we went back to the pension where I kept a toilet paper roll close at hand to hold back the tide.  I was better the next day, so we went back to work.  The Ides of March passed without incident, and I completely forgot about St. Patricks day (I hope Grandpa Robinson can forgive me for that).  Luckily I was wearing green that day, I think.
I'm reading the Book of Mormon now in Castellano (the dialect of Spanish spoken in Argentina) and the going is a little slower, but I just got to 1 Nephi 17 this morning.  I've been finding things a little more fascinating as I've been reading more slowly and understanding things in a different light than before.  I'm sure that Dad can help you understand that, having read the Book in German, and Brandon in Mandarin (?).  My personal interpretations of certain passages have changed slightly as I have found different meanings, changed the emphasis of certain phrases, and explored a few of the cross-references given in the footnotes.
As always, I want to end my letter to you all by sharing how much I love you.  Dad told me in his letter this week that many people are finally beginning to catch that everything he teaches leads back to love.  It is so true.  In his book for us kids, he wrote something that I found very interesting and have found very true.  I don't have the quote in front of me, but it is to the effect of, "Often a servent begins his service to the Master out of a feeling of obligation and duty.  But as he performs his duty well those feelings change to feelings of love and appreciation."  It's not exact and Dad can tell you what it is exactly, but I think it's between pages 40 and 60, it's been a while since I read that page.  Dad, that is a wonderful book and has given me several insights into things I didn't know before, and I hope you won't be mad with me for having shared the story and your personal testimony of tithing found therein.  Many of the people I have shared it with are currently paying an honest tithe and were anxious to do so.
Anyway, once again, I wish to express to you my love and gratitude for each of you and the examples you have been to me.  I look up to each of you, whether or not I am the taller or the shorter.  You are my heroes and I pray for you each day.  May the Holy Spirit guide you, may it teach you what is true.  I love you.
With all the affection I can send,
Elder Dewsnup

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

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Weekly Newsletter!!!!! 3/12/12

Hola Familia!!!
Wet greetings from Lopez Camelo.  It's been raining all day, beginning with a pretty formidable thunderstorm, but is now mostly just a little drizzle.  Then again, that could change back to a downpour within a few minutes.  My umbrella is broken, so I got wet anyway heading to the church building, though most of my head stayed dry.
We had another baptism yesterday.  Nine year old Sebastian.  It was a challenge getting him to pay attention to us when we were teaching him, but as long as he keeps coming to church, he'll become a strong member.  He was pretty happy when he came out of the water.
Yesterday we had lunch with the family of a recent convert, where this convert is the only member in her family.  Everyone in the family is very open to us and they love to talk with us, but none of them want to come to church.  They enjoy learning about the church from our discussions and they always have a doctrinal question for us, but they still haven't come to church.  The main reason we keep going is because the recent convert, Barbara, wants to serve a mission and keeps asking us to teach her family.  We're trying to find a way to have them come to church, because they always give us the excuse of sleeping in, but Barbara comes every week.  But this family has seen the pictures I have of all of you and the mom, Norma, particularly sends greetings to Mom and Dad, and she wants you two to know that every time we come they take care of us.  And it's true, they feed us often enough, they've given us one too many gifts of anything that we might need (OFF, sunscreen, once they bought me lactose free milk, etc.).  They are very loving and kind, I just wish I could find the way to help them see what they're missing by not coming to church.
I have finished the Book of Mormon in English and have begun in Spanish, which is kind of interesting since I now for the most part understand the Spanish.  I commented to Dad that the difference between Moroni and Nephi in their themes is interesting.  Nephi spends the majority of the first hundred some-odd pages (1 Nephi and 2 Nephi) talking about two main things.  The coming of the Messiah and obedience.  Most of the first and second books of Nephi talk about the consequences of being both obedient and disobedient, always with the exhortation and promise that if we follow the commandments we will be blessed.  Moroni, on the other hand, speaks about Christlike attributes and the mercies of God (gifts of the Spirit, eternal life, light, and truth).
Another thing that I found interesting as I have begun the Book of Mormon once again is the story of Lehi's Dream, in particular the beginning.  He sees Jesus Christ beckoning him to follow Him.  So Lehi follows, but he tells us that he traveled in darkness for hours, until he finally cries out to God for mercy.  Then he sees the tree of life.  The interesting part is that he walked in darkness for hours before calling upon the Lord.  Sometimes we do the same thing.  We wander around blindly not knowing exactly where to go, relying on our own strengths and our own sight (ironically) to get ourselves through our situations before we ask for divine intervention.  But it is usually only when we ask for that intervention, that inspiration from above that we are able to finally see our way.  We are only then given the vision we need to see where we need to go and with a little more time, how to get there.  First Lehi saw the tree, it wasn't until later that the rod of iron was revealed.  I love the scriptures.
But now it's time for me to get moving along.  There's still a lot to do today.  I love you all!
Elder Dewsnup
P.S. the pictures that accompany this email are the last two baptisms we had.  Mirta and Sebastian.  Then there is a flavor of chips sold here in Argentina that I knew none of you would believe unless you saw it for yourself.  The last picture is to show you that Mr. Fredrickson from Up lives in my area.  He cooks amazing pizza, empanadas, and chicken, and he plays the accordion.  Sweet!
Elder Matthew H. Dewsnup
Mission Buenos Aires Norte
Gral. Lavalle 1828
1646 San Fernando
Buenos Aires, Argentina

couldn't figure out how to rotate the image. sorry.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Another week come and gone 3/5/12

Dear Family of Mine,

The work goes on. We have found so many more people to teach!! The
one problem with most of them is coming to church. That is the key to
almost everything. Beyond reading and praying, if they don't come to
the church, they may never feel the Spirit strognly enough to desire
baptism. We were waiting for a list of about 20 people to come to
church, who committed to come. Out of those twenty precious soulds,
only one of them came. Nine year old Sebastián, who is the friend of
a recent convert, has begun coming and has told us that he wants to
come every Sunday for the rest of his life. We are preparing him for
baptism this coming Sunday, and he's really excited for it all. We've
found so many other people through our recent converts and through old
names in our Area Book and old investigators. But by far, the most
plentiful harvest is found in referrals.

Out mission president is focusing a lot on the convept of Love, as you
all have told me was the focus in Stake Conference this weekend.
Beyond simply loving the people, we also need to gain the vision that
every visit and person we teach is a field, white for the harvest.
Even if the people themselves don't want to know anything, they often
have someone to whom they can send us. It is through that
realization, that the field is white already to harvest, that we can
truly find the people. The other focus is on opening our mouths, to
teastify, teach, and invite. I've truly been seeing miracles in our
area and in those of the other missionaries in our district and zone
through opening the mouth. Several of the recent converts already
have this vision and have been inviting other family members and
sharing the gospel with everyone they know. So many baptisms and
miracles have come from those simple invitations of those people. Two
of the recent converts we have now are starting to prepare for
missions, one of whom still has to wait for two years before she can
go. The field truly is white!!!

May we all be examples of steadfastness in this gospel, as were
Moroni, Ether, Joseph Smith, and others in the face of unrelenting
persecution. It is through that example and a simple invitation that
a miracle can occur.

In other news, my allergies have come and hit me full swing.
Yesterday, they were so bad that I was reduced to spending a lot of
time with a toilet paper roll close by to stop my nose up. And my
eyes decided to be rivers. During church, I had to return to the
apartment on an emercency split to take some benedryl, which tamed it
for the most part, but after lunch with the Bishop and his family, we
had to return to the apartment once again. Stupid allergies.

And so it goes. I love you all!! You are in my thoughts and prayers!

With Love,

Elder Dewsnup

p.s. pictures will have to wait a little longer. This computer
doesn't work all that well. Plus also, Mr. Fredrickson from Up lives
in our area and is a masterful cook.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Once Again 2/27/12

A cheery hello from Lopez Camelo!!  Things are shaping up and shipping out and sailing forth in the work here.  Mirta was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints yesterday!!  And now we've begun teaching one of her daughters, Sabrina, with her family.  We've also started teaching a boy named Sebastian who is the friend of one of the recent converts in the neighborhood.  Our visits continue to progress with the people we baptized last transfer and they are already receiving visits from women in the Relief Society.  Sadly, home teaching and visiting teaching is done less here that I remember occuring in Missoula.  It's so frustrating when we visit with less active members and those who have gone inactive for years to find out that they stopped coming because they didn't feel welcome or loved by the people.  Brief visits can make all the difference in someone's day and makes them feel like they have a friend in the church.  On the part of the recent converts, that is someone in whom they can confide and to whom they can ask questions when the missionaries aren't around.
Something that we are told to do as missionaries is try to NEVER have a lesson with an investigator or recent convert without a member present.  Mom expressed to me in her letter that often in Ohio it felt like the missionaries just baptized a person and dumped them on the doorstep of the ward without giving the ward the opportunity to fellowship them.  At least here in our mission, we are told that if the person we are teaching wants to be baptized, then we are to baptize them as soon as possible, as long as they meet the requirements established by the Church (see D&C 20:37, plus willingness to live the laws of tithing, chastity, and the word of wisdom).  When investigators come to church, we try to introduce them to their teachers, the bishop, and the leaders they will have as members, but beyond that the members need to extend their own hand of welcome.  I'll admit I wasn't good at that, but it's something I intend to change when I return home.  I want the people to know that they have friends in the church and they won't be alone.
I apologize if that sounded preachy, and I hope you weren't offended by it.  I guess I rambled a bit, but it's all true.  Then again, we can only do so much.  There have been some people who just won't come to church, despite repeated invitations, calls, reminders, and even people who are family members or friends who can bring them.  It's sad in that respect because if they don't come to church, they can't progress in a manner strong enough to really get into their hearts.  After all, after the reading and praying we can to daily on our own in any place, God has asked us to be in His house for a small period each week.  And for doing that, he has promised us that we will receive an added measure of the Spirit.  There are things we can receive in the church that we can't receive at home (the sacrament, to name one very important one).
And now I have rambled my time away.  One thing that keeps coming to mind is the story of the Nephites between the end of 3 Nephi and the first few pages of Mormon.  The people went from being entirely devoted to Christ and serving God, to cursing God and refusing to acknowledge His blessings.  Because of this, they removed themselves from Him.  He withdrew because no one would turn to Him, even after delivering them time and time again.  This happened in the course of less than 300 years (between 34ish AD and 320 AD).  I don't ever want to forget Him, because I want to feel the love of His embrace.
I love you all.  Remember.
With my love,
Elder Dewsnup

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

Monday, March 19, 2012

Week??? 2/20/12

{Sorry guys! I'm a month behind. of the next few days you'll finally get caught up}

Not sure what week it is, but today has begun my third transfer in the mission.  I haven't moved, so for the next six weeks I'll still be here in Lopez Camelo, with Elder Tidei continuing to be my companion.  And we have a lot of work to do.
We had another baptism yesterday.  Her name is Mirta, and she has had a lot of religious experience.  She recognizes the Spirit really differently from most other people, but she knows God loves her and has a plan for her.  The first time we taught her, she knew the Book of Mormon was true.  When she heard about President Monson, she said she wanted to meet him.  She paid her tithing, fully understanding the concept (though maybe not what it's used for) before we taught it and before she was baptised.  We quickly followed that by teaching about tithing and what it is used for in the church.  She is really excited to be a new member and wants to learn more, even though from her standpoint our meetings are a little strange.
WIth her, that means we have 5 people that we baptised during the last transfer, so we have a lot of work to do to finish teaching the lessons of retention.  We are also teaching a few people who are references of them, along with the family members of other recent converts from the last year.  So we do indeed have a work for us to do.
I am reminded of Doctrine and Covenants Section 4, when we are told the "field is white, already to harvest."  Indeed it is, all we have to do is thrust in our sickle with our might to gather the wheat.  In another section of the Doctrine and Covenants, it says somewhere three times in as many verses that we need to "open [our] mouths." I think it's section 33.  And we are then promised that they will be filled.  I'm learning that lesson more and more as I begin to open my mouth more in the lessons.  I find that it has become easier and easier to speak to the people.
Argentina is wonderful!  Many people are ready, and as I said before, people are beginning to run to our church.  Once they hear of it and of the beliefs, people are for the most part willing to listen.  But the only way people will hear is if we "open [our] mouths" and "fear not."  When we invite and share, people will listen, and in many cases will be willing to learn more.  I know that to be true.  I've seen it happen here in Argentina, and I don't believe that to be any different no matter where we are in the world.  The people of the world are ready to hear, so for those who have ears to hear, let them hear.  For those of us who have the knowlegdge and mouths, let us open them.
I love you all!!  My time has just about run out before we have to head home.  So I'll talk to you again next week.  You are in my thoughts and always in my prayers.  Even if we have a big head and little arms, we need to keep moving forward ;)
With love,
Elder Matthew Dewsnup