Friday, August 31, 2012

Another Fantastic Week 7/23/12

Dearest Family,

I just enjoyed looking at a whole bunch of pictures of my little Cutest Niece Annie-Bug.  And I got the Birthday package two days before my birthday, along with cards from Grandma and Grandpa R. and Mary.  I've enjoyed immensely the ability to have PB&J sandwiches for the first time in 8 months.  Mom, I've already gone through one and a half jars of jam, the largest still remains unopened.  I'm putting the socks to good use, have already consumed the Butterfingers and Snickers, and am now downloading some pictures to put attach to this email with my new card reader.  Mom mentioned a "few surprises" as well, which included a wonderful picture of two missionaries preparing to leave their appartment, while in the mirror, Christ is placing a helmet on one's head, his Book of Mormon reflects as a sword, and he is wearing armor as well.  It's a pretty sweet picture!!  And speaking of sweet, I highly enjoyed and recommend the new Cheerios flavor "Dulce de Leche."  It does a good job at immitating the flavor, but when I come home, I'm still bringing a few jars of Dulce de Leche.

Moving forward, thanks to you who sent me messages.  It was cool to read 'em!  And a hearty hug to each of you!!  Most people didn't know it was my Birthday, and I preferred it that way.  But at one house we went to, they fed us some sweets and sang the Argentine Birthday song.  I'll try to fit a picture of them in the message, but it may take a week or two (or perhaps more) before I get all the images sent to you that I want to send.

The week was spent in trying to keep in contact daily with all of our investigators, which was a hard task a few of the days (more in a mo').  We have been working really, really hard to get Juan to church again so he can be confirmed, but for the second week in a row, he didn't come.  When we went to visit him yesterday after church, he told us why, after which we talked more about the process of the Gospel and the importance in our lives of receiving the Holy Ghost.  We'll be working with him again all this week to make sure that he can make it this week.  It's been a fight to keep in touch with our other investigators and we've had to begin deciding if we should keep visiting some of them who just aren't progressing for one reason or another.

Two of the four women we contacted the other week came to church on Sunday and said that they really liked the meeting.  They're still not all that sure about the doctrines, but we keep teaching them about the importance of readnig from the Book of Mormon, praying about it's truth, and coming to church.  Clara and Mirta are progressing, and Yeni and Carmen, though they didn't come to church, are sincere in their desire for a change in their lives.  They both expressed to us yesterday that they've passed through some rough moments in their lives that they want to be able to forget; pain felt or dealt, physical infirmities that they are finding dificult to accept, etc.  We listened to their concerns and, through the Spirit, promised them specific blessings if they continue to investigate and progress.

One thing this week that made things difficult to make a contact daily with our investigators had to do with a really special invitation, which was that we had the opportunity to go to the Buenos Aires Temple to help at least a little with the renovations and set up for the Open House in August.  We were mainly in the new MTC buildings--putting things into the appartments, organizing furniture, etc.--but we had the opportunity to go all around the grounds placing locks on the electrical and utility boxes and got some great pictures of the exterior of the Temple.  I've included one with the email.  After we finished the service, we were taken on a tour of the interior and got to see some of the happenings that go into renovating and preparing a Temple for use.  It is GORGEOUS!  They took us into the Celestial room and turned the light on in the chandelier, which had just been hung.  It was one of the most beautiful things I've seen in my life.  Few places or views in this world compare to the beauty and peace of a Temple of God.

Changing topic a little, there is one big theme within all of the things that I've seen this last week that has come to mind, and that is a focus on forgiveness.  When someone hurts us, physically or emotionally, the reprucissions, though sometimes fleeting, are often felt for a long time.  Being able to forgive them is not easy in some cases.  But extending forgiveness is necessary and ultimately more healing personally than if we continually held a grudge or hate against them.  It is a lesson I have learned a few times, and will probably have to learn many more times in my life.  If I had more time, I'd go to a few scriptures, but for now I'll just direct you to the topical guide and Bible Dictionary.  One of my favorite stories is in the New Testament, about the servant who was forgiven a debt of 10,000 talents and wouldn't forgive his fellowservant a debt of 100 pence (the difference between several million dollars in comparison to perhaps $50 dollars or less).  Others are given and I've been reading many of them.

The second is in receiving forgiveness, and this one is perhaps harder to understand and yet covetted so highly.  The scriptures teach us that to be forgiven of sins we must follow the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel (Article of Faith 1:4; 2 Nephi 31).  First we must have faith and believe that we can be forgiven of our wrongdoings, then repent and change our attitudes towards God and the world.  We must be willing to change ourselves to conform and submit to the will of the Father.  Moroni tells us that the "firstfruits of repentance is baptism" (Moroni 8:25) and Nephi explains further that we only recieve a remission of sins through a "baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost" (2 Nephi 31:17).  Later on we are told that in order to remain clean and unspotted from the world, we must endure to the end.  If we endure to the end, we will have eternal life (2 Nephi 31:28?  towards the end).  Those who don't endure to the end wil not receive this precious gift, which Christ Himself decrees is the "greatest of all the gifts of God" (D&C 14:7).  Part of enduring to the end lies in returning weekly to the Lord's church to partake of the Holy Sacrament, which we can only partake of in a Sacrament meeting in the chapel, or as directed by the Bishop.  Elder Oaks in 2008 described Sacrament meeting as the most important meeting of the church.  It is through partaking of the sacrament that we can receive a weekly cleansing from sin in a renewed self-commitment to live the covenants we have made with our Father in Heaven.  I have never been as concious as I am now of how important the Sacrament is.  It is so important that Jesus Christ teaches us that "he who partaketh of my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul" (3 Nephi, not sure which chapter).  At the same time, we are helping those who partake worthily to receive the forgiveness necessary for eternal salvation and exaltation.

My studies of the Doctrine of Christ (as taught in 2 Nephi 31 and 3 Nephi 11) have lead me repeatedly to this theme.  It is a theme that I have seen take effect in the lives of our investigators.  It is a theme I have seen affect entire families and all those who really understand its significance.  Forgiveness is so central to everything that it was the reason Christ suffered for us.  He knew we would sin and that by doing so we could not, by divine law, ever return to live with our Father.  Through His eternal sacrifice, we are able to receive a forgiveness and sanctification that can last forever, as long as we are worthy to receive it.

I hadn't planned to go on for so long about that, but it is something that has been on my mind a lot.  I love you all and sincerely hope that you can forgive me for the things I have done wrong to you.  I also want you all to know that I forgive you of any thing that you desire forgiveness from me for, even though I cannot personally think of a one of you who would have a reason for it.  I love you so much!!!  I miss and pray for you.  I hope that we can all think more carefully on this marvelous gift of forgiveness in our life.  As President Kimball has said, it truly is a miracle.

With love,
Elder Dewsnup

P.S.  The pictures are of Elder Verges and I after the largest rainstorm I've been in in Argentina, we got thouroughy drenched.  Then the baptisms of: 1) Nicolás, Kevin, and Jónatan; 2) Marina Alegre; and 3) Belen and Zulma.  More to come next time!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

From The Field 7/16/12

{Okay okay. I know that I'm way behind in posting Matthew's letters but at least I'm consistently a month behind. I've had a lot going on and now I have no internet for the next month or so, so I'll inevitably be behind again but I hope you enjoy this last months letters. ~Megan}

Dear Family,

I love you all!

Ok, so here's the scoop on some of the happenings with our investigators.

Juan, a Peruvian man we've been teaching for about three months, was baptized last Saturday night.  His biggest problem for a long time was that he just didn't pray on his own.  He prayed when we taught him, but he wouldn't do it on his own.  Now he has already shared his testimony about the Church and prayer with a few of his neighbors, and he hasn't even been confirmed yet!  He was supposed to be confirmed yesterday, but his aunts paid him a surprise visit at 7:00 in the morning and took him out to buy things for an asado (Argentine Barbeque, but better).  But he is now willing to come with us to other citas and things, so we're excited to begin working more with him, and not just teaching him.  Now he gets to teach with us.

Eusebio was confirmed on Sunday by his son.  He's moving along strong and slow.  He likes to understand things, and understand them well, so his reading has been slow, but steady.  He reads from every book we have given him every day (the Book of Mormon, Gospel Principles, and a couple pamphlets).  He lokes coming to church and has been coming on his own, sometimes getting there even before the Bishopric.

The Silva family is doing well, for the most part.  Claudia is still having problems getting to the Capital to have her documents fixed, but she says that they're going for sure this week.

We "found" a new couple this last week too.  Their son is going to (shiver) the University of Utah.  He decided he wanted to study there after having worked at Big Sky Ski Resort in Montana (o.O) for two years.  So he applied and is now rooming with a member.  When this couple went to visit him, the roommate (who served a mission in either Guatemala or Costa Rica) took them on a tour of Temple Square.  They left their information with the offices of the church, who passed their information on to us.  They are of a Catholic background and have a lot of questions, but the woman, Ana, believes strongly that they found out about the church for a reason.  She doesn't believe in coincidences.  Guillermo on the other hand has a few more doubts about the Apostasy thing and the historical background of the Catholic Church in relation to Priesthood authority.  But he is very open and even excited to read the Book of Mormon to see if his doubts are answered in the Book.

We also found a few other new investigators while looking for a reference.  Four women who were selling on the street invited us over to talk to them.  We were with two members at the time and we taught them about the Restoration, following up by giving them all copies of the Book of Mormon with a promise to come to church and a baptismal date.  They are very open to the things here and liked the Spirit they felt around us.  Every time we pass them, they wave to us now.  

I've been enjoying my studies recently in many of the talks of General Conference.  We got a copy of the Liahona from one of the members and I've bene reading mostly from there.  I started with Priesthood session and the last two talks of the Sunday Afternoon session, since those are the ones I missed.  Then I continued from there.  The messages are so inspiring.  This morning I read Elder Baxter and Elder Soares's talks.  Elder Baxter's dealt with a message to single parents which included the experience of a woman recounted by President Hinckley in 2006.  In that experience she recounted how she didn't think she could keep on going and prayed to God for a moment of relief.  His reply to her was that "I can come to you."  I really liked that, in that it is a message we can all apply in our own situations.  I also liked President Eyring's talk about building a foundation of Faith.  From Elder Anderson's talk, I loved how he talked more about how we should ask ourselves how the Lord thinks of us.

I've been pondering a lot lately about humility and pride.  It's something that has been worrying me a little as I have been drawn to my own shortcomings.  I started thinking about the Pride Cycle in the scriptures and how we always need to keep ourselves humble to be able to receive the blessings of the Lord.  It also reminds me of Alma 37:37, in which we are admonished to "counsel with the Lord in all [our] doings, and he shall direct [us] for good."  If we acknowledge Him in all things, we will be directed in the way we need to go.  We've been understanding that a little more as we have found our new investigators.

I'm excited to work even harder this week and I am looking forward to all of the challenges that we have been given by our President to open our mouths a little more (though not wider) and invite the people to the Temple Open House.

I know that the Temple is a sacred place where we can feel closest to God in this world and in which we can feel most strongly His love for each and every one of us.  I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to carry a current Temple Recommend and for all of the strength I receive for honoring the covenants I have made.  Though my temptations have not disappeared, nor really lessened all that much, I have found an additional strength in those covenants to resist that which was harder before.  I know that through keeping those covenants, both from the Temple and my baptismal covenants, I can enjoy more fully the presence of the Spirit in my life.

I love you all and hope that you have a wonderful week.  I thank you for all your prayers and love, I feel them.


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