Friday, July 20, 2012

9 months + 7/9/12

My Dearest Family,
Mom made an interesting comment to me in her letter.  It has now been just over 9 months since I started my mission.  Her comment was that I have been out for the same amount of time that Meg and Sarah will have their little ones inside.  The funny part was that she said while you two are just about half way now, I can consider myself as "delivered."
As I have sat here thinking a bit more about that comparison, it has taken on a little more significance than I think Mom intended it to be.  As I thought of "incubation" time and how much time and sacrifice it must take to just have the baby (let alone raise them to their own adulthood).  The time that I have spent thusfar on my mission has really been an eye opener to me in many ways.  I have been in a sense incubating the spiritual part of me that will determine how faithful I am for th rest of my life.  How I deal now with my own frustrations and pains, along with the joys and smiles, will help me to prepare a focus for my church service in the future.
Elder Buxton shared with me last night a story that has helped me to understand a specific part of God's plan for us.  Obedience to the commandments.  There were two large groups of children playing at two different playgrounds.  The first group was gathered all towards the center of the playground, not playing much, nor running around.  They had the jungle gym and the monkey bars, and enjoyed the slides and seesaws but did not venture very far, nor did they seem to be having too much fun.  They seemed a little scared and fought for turns on the different amusements.  The second group was very different.  The children were everywhere, running, jumping, playing, chasing each other in the fields, playing tag and hide and seek.  They invented games and all were involved in some activity or another, whether on or off of the play ground equipment.
So, what was the big difference in the two groups?  Why was there contention and unease in the one, and involvement and joy in the other?  The difference was the fence that encircled the second play ground, and the lack theirof in the first.  The first group did not know what was further out away from the center pieces of the playground and didn't want to get hurt or lost.  The second group knew the boundries, and, protected from outside dangers, were able to enjoy to the fullest the space in which they were found.

Which group are we in?  Which group do we want to be in?  In the first group we often can find ourselves staying very close to the middle, or getting very lost or seriously hurt by exploring too far.  When we know the limits we can enjoy with complete safety and security all of the things that were provided for us and more.  It is the same with the commandments.  When we truly understant them and why they are there, we can more easily enjoy life, without having to worry about getting lost or hurt, phisically or spiritually.

Well, I've run out of time.  But I love you all!!!!!!!  Meg and Sarag, keep telling my niece/nephew how fun(ny looking) their uncle Matt is!

With Love,

Elder Dewsnup

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Another Week 7/2/12

Dear Family,
Well, once again we come to the close and start of another week.  This has been a very trying week, physically and in the area of investigators.  I got really bad food poisoning last Wednesday, enough that it suspended the work for the rest of the day.  I spent the rest of that day between the bedroom and the bathroom, literally.  I still haven't fully recovered, but at least the worst of it finished itself off that night.  Then other stressful events passed that have made me feel pretty exhausted.  But things are starting to return back to normal.
Alejo was confirmed yesterday, and we've already started talking with the family about temples and the blessings to be found therein.  Roni also received the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday and will be participating in the passing of the sacrament next Sunday.  They're all getting excited to go and get to know the temple at the open house.  Claudia and Beto are still working out their document problems, and many things keep getting in the way.  Nevertheless, they keep pressing forward and finding ways to get things done.
We're teaching another man named Eusebio, too.  His son is the Stake Executive Secretary in a neighboring stake and President Gulbrandsen talked with him at their Stake Conference.  He passed us the referral and we met with him.  He's a wonderful man, with a good knowledge of gospel themes and with a desire to learn.  He's still not sure that he can recognize his answer about the Church and the Book of Mormon, but he keeps reading and praying.
Claudio and Belén are also right around there.  The problem is still with his work.  As a remis driver, he works 12 hour shifts with one day off a week.  Most of our appointments with them have been later on in the evening, but Claudio is already sharing some of the things that he's learning from us with his co-workers.  We're still working on impressing upon them the importance of reading at least a little bit from the Book of Mormon every day, even if it's just a verse.  But they understand well all the things that we teach.
In the Book of Mormon challenge, I finished it last Thursday, two days early.  So, I have now finished reading The Book of Mormon for the fourth time.  While going through, taking my counts, I counted more than 4,000 times that a name of Jesus Christ or God is mentioned.  But I didn't count any of the pronouns I, him, his, me, etc.  But it is something amazing to see.  The progress and destruction of two great civilizations. 
I love the book of Moroni.  After having witnessed the destruction of his people and having wandered in the wilderness for 20 years, he decides to add one of his father's talks, two letters, and his own personal words about the topics of faith, hope, charity, love, and gifts of the Spirit.  After having seen so much war, blood, and destruction, he still believes and trusts in his God.  I have only recently begun to understand the why behind many things and most of it has only become clear as I have tried to look at the broader picture.  The moments of pain and sorrow we have in this life are less than the blink of an eye when compared to the vastness of the eternity that we existed before coming into this life, and the endless eternity in which we will exist after.  In view of that, it really becomes so much more important to focus on the "things that matter most."  Those things include everything to do with the church, family, and intelligence; the church incuding everything of God, the family with all of humanity, and intelligence with learning and progression.
I'm running out of time for today, but my dear family, please know that I think of you often and you are always in my prayers.  I look forward to your letters and hearing experiences.  I love you all!!
With love,
Elder Dewsnup

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Feliz Navidad! 6/25/12

Dear Family,

¡Feliz Navidad!  Ok, so maybe it's not Christmas, but it is June 25 and halfway there.  Besides, it feels like the Christmas I'm used to finally.  Cold weather. ish...  But there's too much sun and I haven't seen any snow since the MTC.  But that's enough on that subject.

Alejo was baptized yesterday.  Elder Buxton performed the ordinance.  It is so awesome to see the progress of that family.  And Claudia and Beto are continuing to work on their document problems so they can get married.  We are going to begin teaching the lessons over again with them for retention purposes and also to help them begin doing their own deeper studies.  They are such a wonderful family!   We've also started working with a few new families and people, all of which are steadily progressing.  The biggest thing is just getting them to church.  One of them, Claudio, is having trouble getting Sundays off work and has started looking for a new job that will give him that opportunity.  It's so awesome to see the desires and efforts of people to continue in the church.

My scripture study has braught me this morning to Ether 6, which means I'll be finishing the Book of Mormon in a few days.  Something that I loved, as I was finishing Mormon, were the words "doubt not, but be believing."  They help.  As I have read the Book of Mormon, one of the phrases that has jumped out to me more than usual has been "trust in God," usually paired with a short description of faith, patience, diligence, and an example to follow.  The stories are so awesome!  Once I finish reading the Book this time, it will mark the completion of my fourth time reading it and I plan on starting right back from the beginning.  It's just, I don't know, there aren't all that many words to describe how I feel about the Book of Mormon.  I know it's true.  I know it's scripture and that studying from it along with the Bible will help us learn.

I love you all!!!!!!!

Elder Dewsnup

Monday, July 16, 2012


Dearest Family,
I considered putting "aloha" in the subjext line.  But I don't really have any time today.  We did some extra travelling today on top of playing soccer with a couple of other companionships and members.  It was pretty sweet and I scored a few goals.
The Silva family continues to progress.  The 14 year old boy, Roni, was baptized on Sunday and the 12 year old boy, Alejo, will be baptized the this Sunday.  The parents are having some document problems that are preventing them from getting married right now, but they're trying everything to get this put in order.
Yesterday, we found 5 new investigators which is pretty awesome since we've been having trouble finding new people to teach.  But there will be more news on them as it comes.  For now, I have to go.
A very Happy (belated) Father's Day to Dad, Brandon, and Marvin.  As well as Grandpa Robinson and Grandpa Dewsnup!  My love to you all!!!!
Elder Dewsnup

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Once More 6/11/12

Dearest Family,

Yet again we meet, and it seems all too soon. I guess you get tired
of me commenting about that in every letter though. But it's true
that time flies.

The silva family has been progressing so well. Nahuel, their 8 year
old boy, was baptized yesterday and he asked me to perform the
ordinance. Roni, the 14 year old, will be baptized this coming
Sunday, if all goes well, and Alejo (Ah-lay´-ho), the 12 year old,
will be baptized the following Sunday. The parents still haven't been
able to take out their turn. It's hard to explain, but here you have
to go ask the government to give you a marriage date, but you also
have to have witnesses. I'm not sure how the whole thing works out,
but they told us that regardless of what they had to do, they would be
getting their turn today. Since we've taught just about every thing
to them that they need before baptism, since Nahuel needed to have a
testimony and be willing to follow all the things first, now we can go
a little more in depth with some of the things and read scripture
passages that illustrate principles and help them begin to "feast upon
the words of Christ" so that "the words of Christ will tell [them] all
things [that they] should do" (2 Nephi 32:3).

Today we enjoyed a fútbol game (soccer). Yes I played. No I'm not
injured. Best thing, I even scored a goal on my companion. But
moving on. The weather is getting steadily colder. But while running
on the cement soccer field next to the chapel in Del Viso, we were
quite warm, enough that we sweat and were in shorts and short sleeved

There's not much else in the news front. We have a few other
investigators, but they aren't progressing as much as we'd like them
to be. And we're struggling to find people still. But we've been
looking and searching. Sometimes it's just rough when you try
everything you can and you still can't even get in contact with the
investigators you supposedly are teaching.

In my studies, I finished Alma today and have gotten up to Helaman 5.
I love the war chapters of the Book of Mormon. There are so many
things that we can learn and find in their pages and stories. For
instance, when Amalakiah starts his take over of the Lamanites (Alma
47), it is a perfect example of temptation, consequence, and what not
to do. Lehonti stays in his high place until Amalakiah comes almost
to his camp, then he comes down just a little bit with his gaurds. A
few verses later, he is poisoned to death. Later Amalakiah's servants
act as though they are reverencing the king and as he reaches toward
them to raise them up, they stab him to the heart. If we even
entertain temptation we can see those two reactions, poison by degrees
(slow death) or stabbed in the heart (quick death). It's the same
with Satan's temptations. Depending on the temptation, we may not see
the consequences right away, but by and by they will poison our minds
and lives until we destroy ourselves. Other temptations may lead us
to a quick and sudden fall. But unlike in those two cases we have the
chance to repent, to change and move on. To receive forgiveness for
wrongdoing and make things right.

Another thing I thought was interesting from the same chapter is that
the servants of Amalakiah who kill the king of the Lamanites, instead
of acknowledging their own murder, pass on the blame to someone else.
Passing the blame is something that we do perhaps all to often. It's
really neat to see the lessons that we can find in all the chapters.
Elder Buxton and I have enjoyed reading and discussing those chapters
and how they can apply to us and our own lives as well as in the lives
of our investigators. It's like Nephi says in 1 Nephi 19:23, "And I
did read many things unto them which were written in the
[scriptures]...for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might
be for our profit and learning."

The wonders and mysteries of God are there for the taking in the words
of the scriptures and the prophets, ancient and modern. I know they
are of God, and that they testify of Christ. I know my Savior lives.
He loves me, and I love Him. I am in His service, and it is through
His Holy Spirit that I have the opportunity to touch the lives of the
people of Argentina. I have seen its influence work in their lives
and change them for good.

I love you all. May we follow the counsels of God given through the
holy prophets, for they will lead us to salvation.

With love and prayers,
Elder Matthew Dewsnup

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Time, Where has it gone? 6/4/12

Dear Family,
I have absolutely no idea where time goes.  It has flown since last week.  It's hard to believe I'm at a computer terminal again.  But anyhow...
Things here are progressing.  It's still hard to find the investigators we have--many of them are hardly at home and rarely answer their phones--but with the few we have continuing contact we are seeing great progress.  There is one family that we've been teaching for about two weeks now who are progressing at such a great rate.  They are the Silva family.  We found them through a recent convert who casually invited them to come to church and listen to the missionaries.  The mom was the first to accept.  Her name is Claudia, and she was very receptive to the message of the Restoration when we first talked to her.  We've had several lessons with them since then, reviewing the Restoration, the importance of reading the scriptures, praying, and going to church, and the Plan of Salvation.  They've been doing a lot of reading on their own, both from the Book of Mormon and the Gospel Principles manual.  On their own they are realizing a lot of the things they are doing contrary to the will of God and are making plans and carrying them out to change.  For example, Claudia and Julio, the dad, aren't married.  She really wants to be baptized, as does her husband, and at first getting married was just something they wanted to do to get baptized.  But as Claudia was reading something, she realized that the importance of being married--the severity and seriousness that the law of Chastity has in God's eyes--is so much that they are advancing all of their plans to do so.  Quick side note, in Argentina, all marriages go through civil authority, not ecclesiastical authority.  In order to get married, one needs several documents and to take out a turn from the civil office to make an appointment to be married.  So they're advancing in that.  Best part, we haven't even talked about the Law of Chastity, nor have we really mentioned being married more than that it is a requirement for baptism (among couples who are living together.  They need to be living separately or get married before they can be baptized).  Such progress!!!!  I haven't seen it all that often.  Their three older sons also will be baptized within the next two weeks.  They already receive so much revelation for themselves in areas they never knew of before!
I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!  Of course there are the frustrations of appointments falling through and not being able to contact certain of them.  And the most discouraging thing is when you know someone is progressing and they just choose not to participate any more.  But then again, that is why God has given us our free agency.
Anyway, moving on.  In my Book of Mormon study, I got to Alma 38 today.  I'm a little behind, but I read something today that has become my favorite scripture.  We all know that Alma 36 is the big chapter about repentance, it being Alma's account to his son of his own repentance and acceptance of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  But the second half of the third verse really stuck out to me this morning when I read it.  "...for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day."  What a promise!!  It is something that I have questioned several times.  I've wondered how to recognize if a thought is my own or if it is insporation from the Holy Ghost.  I've had to apply what Moroni counsels in Moroni 7, which is, "all that is good cometh of God."  In other words, it doesn't matter.  If we just trust in Him and do good, we will be supported in all our troubles, and if we endure well, we will be lifted up at the last day.  This scripture has taken on such a deep meaning for me and I wanted to share it with you.  Then again, I have learned so much in the last two months that has played a part in the importance of this scripture to me, and I don't have the time to share all of that with you.  But that's what the homecoming talk is for, right?
I have come more and more to appreciate the guidance we receive through the scriptures.  I know that the Book of Mormon is holy scripture and the word of God, just as the Bible, and both testify of Jesus Christ and His mission among man.  The counsel and guidance we can find in its pages are priceless, being of such eternal value that it cannot be counted nor measured.  I never cease to be amazed at what I learn from reading of the prophecies of the prophets and the dealings of God with His people.  I know it is true.  And we have this marvelous book of scripture thanks to the efforts of so many in the early days of the church, foremost among them Joseph Smith.  The Book of Mormon really is the keystone of our religion and all that we profess as a church balances on the veracity and validity of its truth.  By reading its words and applying its counsels we can and will come closer to God.  I know it. Iknow it.
I know God loves us.  I know He has a plan for each of us, and that through obedience to Him, we can live eternally in His presence.  I feel His love.  I feel my Savior's love, through reading and pondering the accounts of His Atonement and suffering.  I know of their love because I have felt it, and I hope you all will know of my love for you.  I love you.  I pray for you.  And I await anxiously the day when we meet again.
Elder Matthew Dewsnup

Friday, July 13, 2012

Here We Go 5/28/12

My Dear Family,

Once again, I find myself at the computer station.  It's getting stranger and stranger the seeming absence of time between Mondays.  Today being the 28 of May, I have now been on my mission for 8 months.  I have no idea how that happened.  I don't know how the time has passed to rapidly.  Something that I found a little strange this week was that I started feeling homesick for my last area.  Weird, right?  I was there for four and a half months and it made quite an impression on me.  It's also really weird to think that I already have been here in Tortuguitas for two full weeks.  I used to think that time dragged on and on.  Now I am watching almost helplessly as the time keeps slipping from my grasp.

We had a rougher week this last week.  Of the investigators that we have, we have been unable to make appointments with most of them.  In the absence of having appointments, generally due to their work schedule or other excuses, their interest in our message has waned to the point where they don't really want to see us much.  So we'll have to stop going by some of them.  This is something very sad for us.  When these people, children of God, don't give heed to our message, they lose that opportunity to make the changes that will bring them the most lasting happiness and peace that they can ever find in their lives, and they don't even realize it!  It's heart breaking to see someone who doesn't want to take part in the beauty of the Gospel, especially when we understand that those who don't accept cannot return to live with our Father in Heaven.  Amulek teaches this very clearly to us in Alma 10 (pretty sure, I read it this morning).  While contending against the lyings of Zeezrom, he is accused of commanding God in saying that the Son of God will not save the people in their sins.  But that's just the thing.  Jesus Christ didn't come to save us in our sins, rather from our sins.  It is explained further that the only way this is possible is by repenting of our sins.  In Moroni, we learn that the first fruits of repentance is baptism.  So, the only way to be saved and have eternal life (living forever in the presence of our Father and Elder Brother) is to repent and be baptized unto a remission of our sins.  It's also so hard to impress that upon the minds of those we teach.  There are not very many who understand this doctrine, which is the only doctrine of the Father (3 Nephi 11).  What we have been trying to do is help them to see this.  But once again, when we can't even make a time to really talk with them, the interest fades and disappears and they choose not to participate in the joy that is the Gospel of Christ.

I never understood this before my mission.  If there is anything I would change about myself if I could do it over again (the preparation, that is) it would be to try to understand this Doctrine.  Grandpa Dewsnup tried to explain it to me several years ago.  I don't remember what year it was, but he pulled me aside one day and read with me that section of 3 Nephi 11 where Christ Himself explains this doctrine to the people.  I don't remember if it was later that day or later that week that we were in the Conference Center for the afternoon session.  He explained the exact same thing to me again, while we sat side by side before the session began.  It is something that I remember now, and I wish I had paid more attention to it before.  I also wish I'd actually studied the Book of Mormon.  I read it, and I knew/know where many stories were found, but I didn't cross reference, ponder, or apply the doctrines I learned anywhere near the level I should have.

Sorry, I didn't mean to get that far off and ramble like that.  But it has been somewhat frustrating to see the lack of any progress in the people we have been trying to teach.  On the other hand, we have found a few other people who are at least willing to listen to us now, and that have had singular experiences already with the Book of Mormon.  With three different people, I gave them the promise that if they opened the Book of Mormon and read a little passage, the very thing they read would have a special importance to them.  The next time we saw or talked to those people, they recounted to me that that promise had come true. The scripture was the same in each case.  It was the scripture in 1 Nephi, I think chapter 21, that mentions that the Lord will not forget His people, because we are engraven upon the palms of His hands.  I want to say the reference is 1 Nephi 21:17, but I know it is when Nephi is quoting the words of Isaiah.  It touched the hearts of each person, and they have each since that experience read from the Book of Mormon every single day.

It is amazing the promises that we can make as servants of God.  As representatives of Jesus Christ, we truly have the power to make promises like that and have them fulfilled, as long as they are in accordance with the desires of the Spirit.  In that sense, I have felt to make a promise to you, my dear family.  As you study from the scriptures every single day, personally, and as your family units, the temptations and frustrations that face you will be lessened and in the moment that you least expect, you will be able to feel the Spirit of the Lord lifting and comforting you.  It is something that I have felt myself.

I love you all.  I pray for you.  I think of you.  That the Holy Ghost may be with you in all you do is my prayer, my hope, and my faith.

With all the love I can express, as your brother and son,
Elder Matthew Dewsnup 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Another Week 5/21/12

{Sorry about the lap in posting but here are his letters...}

Ok, so we're not going fox hunting, nor are we riding horses from a Mary-Go-Round, but I hope you've all chuckled at the reference.
So, to begin this letter, Mom asked me some questions that I thought would be better to answer here seeing as how you all probably had similar questions.  And so the Q & A begins:
Q: How do you like your new area?
A: I love this place.  It's very different from my other areas and is in that respect providing a bit of a challenge.  I am once again in a biking area, since this area includes two rather large suburbs, Tortuguitas (tohr-too-gee'-tahs) and Alberti, both of which have their own seperate train stops on the same line, so it's big.  Did I mention it's a large area?  The one thing that I'm not all that enthused for is that several of the roads are dirt roads, and we're on bikes, and it's been relatively rainy in these parts for the last four days.  So the mud has had fun with us.
Q: How do you like your new greenie?
A: Technically, he's not a greenie.  He's only got two weeks left of the new missionary training program, following the end of which he should be able to be a senior companion and trainer himself, if it were required.  So in that respect he's awesome.  He's already got great control of the language and has a really strong testimony.  He works really well with the members and knows how to teach.  He also has a strong testimony of the Spirit and its role in everything we do.  I've really been learning a lot from him.
Q: What's your companion's name? Where's he from?
A: Elder Buxton from Orem Utah.  I already asked him what ward, and he answered ward, so I knew he could be in the same branch as Brandon and Sarah.  But I told him generally where you two are and he said he knew the place.  So that's an interesting bit there.
Q: How have you been received by the members?
A: Well for the most part.  There are very few members who don't like missionaries, and they usually don't talk to us in the first place, so we rarely know that anyway.  There's a member here in the ward who served in the same mission as my MTC teacher, Brother Robinson, and was actually his companion when the two were assistants to the President.  So he comes with us to some appointments and he's a beast.  We've got a lot we can learn from him.  The Bishop is really cool too and is really concerned with helping the people we teach gain their own testimony so they can become faithful members of the church.  And there are several families who just about fight to get lunch times with us.  So we're well fed in this area.
Q: Are you working with contacts or do you have to start from scratch? Investigators, less-actives?
A: Yes.  To explain, there were a few investigators when I got here who had baptismal dates, and we've been trying to work with them, but we've had a really hard time actually getting appointments with them.  The majority of those appointments that we've had have fallen through for one reason or another.  So we didn't have very many people to teach last week, but we did various contacts in houses while looking for investigators, and we have been working with several less active members as well.  Yesterday we found a former investigator who lost contact with the missionaries when she moved but wants to restart the discussions.  We also found some former investigators who just needed to get married before they could be baptized, and they recently set a date to get married, so we'll be working more with them over the next while.  Also, the mother of one of the Bishop's counselors, who is a recent convert herself, invited two friends to listen to the missionaries and they are anxious to meet us and learn about the Gospel.  So the work is moving forward in this area.
So that gives a little bit of a report on what we've been doing here, but in some sadder news, when I got here to the area, the other couselor to the Bishop was in a coma.  He woke up the day I got here, but he passed away on Thursday morning.  Brother Alegre was his name.  He preceded a family of 7 kids raging from 22 to 4 years of age, and his wife.  It was a really sad funeral, made sadder by the fact that he and his wife are the only members of their families who are members of the church.  His brother and sister, who shared a few comments at the funeral service last Friday, are really supportive of his family, but they don't have the same beliefs we do about eternal families.  It seemed like they didn't have much hope of seeing their brother again.  How grateful I am for the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, which tells us that we can be together forever as families!
I love you all, so very much and am so very grateful that I know that when we die, we will not be separated forever, rather just for a short season until we also pass on.  Then we shall be reunited eternally.  The biggest part of this is that being a forever family is only possible according to our obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Through following the example of our Savior, having faith in him, repenting of our sins, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end, we can be together forever.  Through the ordinances available to us in the Temples, we have to promise from God that this will be so, as long as we are obedient to the covenants we make with Him.  I know this is true.  I feel it with my whole being.
May we all be faithful to our covenants that we may be together forever.  I love you.  I pray for you all.  Until next week.
With Love,
Elder Matthew Dewsnup