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