My Dearest Family,
This week has probably been the most trying of my mission up to now. Many things occurred which left me discouraged and disheartened. But something that happened on Friday lifted everything and made me think all the more of each one of you.
President Gulbrandsen called for a Mission Easter Conference, something that has never happened in our mission, but something that he felt impressed to do. After a musical number, Hermana Gulbrandsen talked about how Easter has become her favorite holiday ever since her son died, because Easter has come to be the brightest hope in their lives. The hope in the resurrection of Christ. That coincidentally made me think of 2 Nephi 9:21-22, which explains perfectly the suffering of Christ in my mind:
"And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam. And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day."
From this we see that Christ suffered all our pains, the pains of every soul who ever lived belonging to the human family, so that we could one day be resurrected and again be brought into His Almighty presence.
President Gulbrandsen then stood and for almost a full hour spoke of the love of Christ. He mentioned three things I'd like to share.
First, he talked about giving out burdens to te Lord. This is something that Dad has been trying to impress upon my mind for the last several weeks in most of his letters, wishing for me to learn now what he has struggled for most of his life to learn and apply. Some of the things that happened this week weighed down heavily on my soul, and my heart was pained for many reasons. But when President talked about that, I had a realization. I thought that if I held on to that pain and hurt, that somehow it would prove that I was a more caring and loving person. That is not so. It takes more love to let Christ take our burdens than it does to carry them ourselves. He already bore them for us, so that we would not have to if we would repent (something that the scriptures tell us often). I thought of an interesting Montanan metaphor for this. It is often said in the scriptures that we should "cast" our burdens upon the Lord. When I thourhgt of this, I thought of fishing. When we cast our burdens upon the Lord, to often we keep realing back in the pain, reliving it again and again, not willing to forget, and not willing to forgive ourselves. Our burdens are like trying to catch a Blue Whale with a small river fishing pole. Sometimes we stubbornly hang on to the pole and let the whale pull us wherever it wills. What we need to do with that kind of burden is either cut the line, or let go of the rod entirely. Literally we need to give up our will to hang on to our guilt, sorrow, and pain and let the Lord fill that ache with His love. He'll do it. I felt it so much as President was talking to us.
Second, He shared another analogy about the love of Christ. He had us all close our eyes and imagine that we were in a room, and in that room there was a throne, and on that throne was a man, dressed in white, and shining brilliantly. As we entered that room, we recognized the man as Jesus and when He saw us, he ran from His throne to envelope us in His embrace. President held us in that moment for a few seconds, letting us imagine the love communicated in that embrace. He then had us imagine that we followed Jesus into a corridor, in which we passed the moments of our lives pictured on the walls. With Christ at my side, President had me imagine that I passed the moment of my birth, my baptism, ordination to the priesthood, the thrill of every shining moment. Then together we reached the moment of my worst sin. Upon seeing it, I imagined my own pain and guilt and pleaded with Jesus for forgiveness. The next image brought into focus by President was that of turning to my Savior, knowing of His love and His sacrifice, and seeing Him writhing on the ground in pain. With that image fading, we opened our eyes and I couldn't see through mine. I know several others were in the same condition. Once again, President told us, He suffered for our every sin, pain, and discomfort. He suffered, so that we would not have to. If we plead for forgiveness, truly desiring a change, it will be given to us, because He does not wish for us to suffer His pains. Our pains are His, and He wishes for us to share in His joy.
The third is to imagine how much we want to embrace our Savior. Imagine how much we want to be with Him. And imagine how much we love Him. We cannot imagine how much He wants to embrace us. We can't even fathom how much He wants us to return home. And we do not have the capacity to comprehend how much He loves us. He is the "why" in every question. Why am I here? Because of Jesus Christ. Why am I sharing with others His love? Because I hve felt the smallest portion of His love for me, which has filled me from top to bottom, and from inside out.
I know this Church is true. I know it because I have asked and have felt of His love. I know I am doing a great work and that as I strive to more fully give myself to the Lord, He will be able to work mightly miracles through my frail frame, as He did with Moses, with the Apostles, and with Joseph Smith, and continues to do with all His faithful servants in this day and time. I know He loves you. And I love you too. Always look to the Lord, for He is the Man to which we must look for salvation.
I love you. I pray for you.
Until next week,
p.s. I apologize to all who asked me questions, this week I was unable to read any of the letters sent yet, but I have printed them and will be reading them shortly. Mom, let me know if you got my reply last week.
Elder Matthew H. Dewsnup
Misión Buenos Aires Norte
Gral. Lavalle 1828
1646 San Fernando
Buenos Aires, Argentina