Wednesday, September 5, 2012

o.O 8/27/12

My dearest Family,

Well, tomorrow, I will finish 11 months since entering the mission field.  This is weird.  Time has flown by and I have the promise from many people that it will only keep going faster.  I'm slightly annoyed by that, but I can get over it I guess.

Something that I want to share with you is that we were able to take an investigator on Thursday to the Temple open house.  It was amazing.  The Temple is divine, and as the building says, it represents and is "Holiness to the Lord, The House of the Lord."  We've met with several people who have gone and they describe their feelings in many different ways.  Beautiful, marvelous, divine, peaceful, forgiveness, love, tranquility, etc.  The words just kept coming.  The architecture is stunning, but the Spirit that one feels. even in the gardens on the grounds, is something special.  Once I get the chance, I'll send some of the pictures that I took.

In my personal studies this morning, I was reading in the 6th chapter of John and had a "duh/ooohhhhhh/Way-to-go-Idaho" moment.  I made a connection that I have been taught for years, that never sunk in.  After Christ feeds 5,000 (which counts only the men in the crowd) He and His disciples sail to the other side of the Sea of Galilea.  When the crowd wakes up in the morning, they follow Him and find Him in Capernaum (my spelling may be very spanish, because I don't remember how to spell these names in English).  He then goes on to teach a doctrine about the difference between worldy bread and Mana, which feed the natural body, but do not give life, and the Bread of Life.  Fir the first time I really began to understand why it is that we eat bread and drink water when we partake of the Sacrament.  Christ teaches in this chapter that He is the Bread of Life, and that he who goes to Him will never hunger nor thirst.  Then he gives a commandment that up to now has not been taught, as far as I understand it, in the Hebrew/Jewish culture.  In verse 53 is says (quoting from the spanish) "If ye eat not of the flesh of the Son of Man nor drink His blood, ye have not life in you."  He goes on to promise that " he that eats of my flesh and drinks of my blood has eternal life..."  The Joseph Smith translation shed further light by continuing the phrase in this manner "...and I will raise him up in the resurrection of the just in the last day."  From this I finally understood that the Sacrament is just as important as baptism.  Indeed, baptism is required to enter into the way, but it is the renewal of our covenants by partaking of the bread and water each week (which represtent His flesh and blood) that we remain pure and can be raised up in the last day.  This doctrine was so disturbing for some that most of His followers "turned back and walked not with him."  But for those of us who understand, this can be and is the greatest gift that we can receive, the possibility to have eternal life (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7). 

If I had more time, I'd continue to share more, but I have run out for the day.  I love you all!!!  Stand firm in the faith.  I pray for you always!

Elder Dewsnup


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

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Apologies 8/20/12

Dear family,

I just finished writing to you the briefest letter I think I have written and right before sending, the entire thing deleted.  Now it really is the shortest letter ever.

I apologize for the brevity of this message, it's not even fit to be a letter.  I commented that we went to the Temple today, which is the main cause of the lack of time.  We are only allowed to go on P-Days.

I studied from the Bible in the testimony of John.  One chapter a day has brought to mind many wonderful blessings of knowledge that I wish I had time to share with you.

I love you all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Elder Dewsnup

Monday, September 3, 2012

Hola! 8/13/12

Okee Dokee,

Well for starters this week, it's been better than I thought it would be.  My new companion is Elder Soelberg from Ogden Utah.  He's awesome and in so many ways like Elder Buxton.  We've hit it off quite well.  I was gonna attach a picture of him ain this email, but I'm still trying to catch up from so much time of not having a card reader, so it'll probably come next week, hopefully with another baptism picture as well.  So, things are moving right along.  Elder Soelberg actually started his mission in Oregon, waiting for his visa to come through.  So when he got here, he'd already had three months field experience.  His Spanish is great, even though he has a Mexican accent, which is which is making it hard for him to understand the Castellano spoken here.  But we keep practicing and we're moving forward.

Our studies have actually been moving us more in the direction of connecting the Doctrine of Christ with Love.  So this next section should be interesting.  We know from the first general epistle of John, chapter 4, that God is Love.  As Dad has taught us, that means that the power of the God, or the priesthood, is the power of Love.  Therefore, the priesthood is the power of love.  Continuing with that thread, we know that all ordinances that are required for the salvation of souls can only be brought to pass by someone who has the proper authority from God to do so, or someone who holds the power of the priesthood (love).

We read in other places in the scriptures that Charity is "the pure love of Christ" and that if a man hath not charity, he is nothing (Moroni 7).  And, we also know that the doctrine of Christ, as explained in 2 Nephi 31 and 3 Nephi 11, include the steps of Faith in Jesus Christ, Repentence, Baptism by immersion, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End.  It is also interesting to note that when Christ came to the Americas, the first thing he did, after inviting all to come unto him, was ordain disciples and give them the power to baptize in His name and explaining how to do so.

So, since we know that the Power of God is Love, which is the priesthood, and that that power is requisite for someone to truly be baptized and receive forgiveness for their sins, we can understand that the doctrine of Christ is also the doctrine of love.  The reason that the doctrine is love is found in a few key experiences recounted in the scriptures.  We know through the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants that one cannot receive the ordinance of baptism validly without that ordinance being performed by someone who holds the priesthood authority from God, not from a diploma given by man. For instance, in Acts, we read of an instance in which many are baptized, but have not yet received the Holy Ghost.  So two of the Apostles go immediately to that city to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost upon them.  Later, Simon sees them doing this and offers to pay the Apostles for the right to have such a power bestowed upon him, and is denied and rebuked by Peter.  Such a power (the power of love) cannot be bought, nor given out freely, rather bestowed through worthiness and calling from God.  We learn further that whoever excercises unrighteous dominion through virtue of the priesthood loses the same (D&C 121).  Thus in order for one to hold and use the power of the priesthood, which is the power of love, he must also understand that that same power required he love others.

Now to really relate the doctrine of Christ to love, knowing that ordinances cannot be received but by the priesthood, given by worthiness and calling from God, we can see that love is required to perform these saving ordinances.  We can further understand through the commandments that God has given us to be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost (2 Nephi 31; 3 Nephi 11; and others) that He and His Son love us so much that they demand we receive these ordinances.  They understand and have explained to us that if a man "believeth not in me, and is not baptized, the same shall be damned" (3 Nephi 11:34).  Harsh, maybe.  But it is the Word of God, which cannot be changed, but "must all be fulfilled."  To expound a little, we need to understand that the Greek word for damned literally means stopped.  This applies to the eternal condition of the souls who choose, through our divine gift of agency, not to accept the good news of Christ.  By choosing to reject that message and by not receiving the ordinance of baptism, such persons are refusing eternal progress in the Celestial Kingdom of God.

There's a whole lot more that I could have included in here that I chose not to because of time and lack of space in the letter, but the who point of it is that without being baptized, even though our Father and Elder Brother love us completely, we cannot enter into Their kingdom.  We will be stopped, or damned, never to progress further.  We will not live with Them.  We will not live with our families.  Those wonderful blessings are only possible by following the commandments, and those include Baptism and Confirmation.  "It is written" and it cannot be changed.  Justice must be fulfilled.  Mercy can only be extended to those willing to accept it, in other words, those willing to repent, be baptized, and follow the path Christ has set before us for the remainder of our lives.

I don't have enough time to add it here or I would, but there is a story in the Gospel Principles book in the chapter on Repentence that shares President Packer's parable on Justice and Mercy.  It's a story that I have used several times out here to help people uderstand that principle.  There are some who refuse the gift Christ has given us to pay our debts to the Father.  But we need to make sure that the knowledge of that gift is shared with everyone.

This is just a part of what I have been learning.  There are so many blessings that we know about as Latter-Day Saints.  Our other brothers and sisters don't even know what they're missing.  That is why we have been charged as a people to dedicate time (as I am, and many others as well) to the spreading of this glorious news.  It is a churchwide duty that I did not understand before I got here to the mission field, or even until recently.

I love you all!  I can't say it enough, and these words in an electronically simulated message don't do them justice.  Please know you are in my prayers and that I am also praying for you to have missionary experiences.

Elder Matthew Dewsnup

P.S. The pics are of Nahuel, Roni, and Alejo's baptisms, then of Eusebio's with his son, who baptised him, and also Juan.  That catches us up to date on the baptisms, other pictures next week

P.S.S Meg and Sarah, say hi to Minion and Sharkbait for me!!  Marvin and Brandon, give 'em a hug from me!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Extra Extra!! Read All About It!!! 8/6/12

Dear Family,

"Baby Born wit' tree heads!!!"... ... ...  Ok, so not really.  Quick, what's that movie??

Well, I have little time, about 15 minutes to write this letter, but boy do I have some news.  I have been assigned to be a trainer.  This time, it's a for real greenie, and probably a gringo North American.  Things are going to be getting relatively rough here for me.  Very few of our investigators have been progressing and for the moment the work is slow.  I have received many heavy ideas and responsibilities brought to my attention this last week.

Our mission includes about 8 million people of the world's population.  Of those 8 million, there are between 50,000 and 200,000 in my area alone.  I and my green new companion tomorrow are the only two people in the entire world who can preach salvation to those fifty to two hundred thousand souls.  In the pre-existence, he and I were assigned and prepared to be the ones who would bring the wonderful news and plan of salvation to those thousands upon thousands of souls, who were promised by a loving Heavenly Father that one day they would have the opportunity to hear His marvelous plan for them.  In a possible 200,000 people, only we two men, accompanied by the Spirit of God (...we three [men] of orient...), are the only ones who have the authority and power to preach and baptize them.  This is heavy... great Scott!  (movie anyone?)

I'm sorry about the random references.  I am really nervous.  I understand that I have the responsibility to help my new companion to become the missionary the Lord wants him to be and I know I haven't even become the missionary God wants me to be yet.  This is a heavy burden for me to carry.  I wonder a lot now about who he will be, what he'll be like, will we get along (of course we will, but still...), etc.

I know it'll be hard, but I know I can do it with the Lord's help.  The biggest thing I need to remember is to treat him as my equal from the first moment.  In working together to make all decisions we will be able to develop the unity that we need to really help our area grow and flourish.  This is going to be rough, but as Nephi states, "I will go and do the thing which the Lord has commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men save he shall prepare the way for them to accomplish the thing which he has commanded them...I know in whom I have put my trust" (1 Nephi 3:7; 2 Nephi 4:19).

I love you all and as I know you pray for me, I pray for you.

¡Que Dios os cuide!
Elder Matthew Dewsnup

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Moving on Down the Line 7/30/12

My Dearest Family,

The Peanut Butter is almost gone.  Probably enough now for only two sandwiches.  I guess some things just never change... ;)

Ok, Mom mentioned some things in her email to me that are making me look like o.O  I think I heard that Minion is Megan and Marvin's Junior, so does that make Sharkbait Sarah and Brandon's?  Sincerely, confused Uncle Dweebus.

And in the Argentine news, or at least the news that pertains work progresses.  I can't remember what I've been sharing with you all about Belén (different one than from Lopez Camelo), but things progressed there a whole truck load.  Last Sunday, she told us that she didn't want to get baptized but that she wanted to keep talking with us about the church.  On Wednesday we had an appointment with her again.  At first it seemed like everything was going wrong.  We got there and there wasn't any other man there, which means that we can't enter the house, and it was too cold to have a lesson outside.  So rather than just say, "oh, we'll just come back tomorrow," we went a block and a half away and asked a Brother if he could come with us briefly.  He agreed and we returned.  Then just as we were about to start the appointment, the power went out, and Belén had to go buy candles.  We waited and lit the candles when she returned, then started a half hour late.  But the wait was well worth it.  We had I think the most spiritual lesson that I have been in in my mission.  We focussed so much on teaching by the Spirit and shared several scriptures.  We also left room for several pauses to let the Spirit testify of what we were teaching.  It was amazing!!  She felt in the lesson that she needed and wanted to get baptized, to the point that she actually said it outloud to us.  Later I asked her where she felt that impression came from, and she replied that she knew it came from God.  Then when we finished the lesson, she said the prayer, kneeling for the first time, and specifically asked if she should be baptized and if this was the true church.  The Spirit was so strong in that moment that she started crying.  I was close to that point, as were Elder Buxton, the brother with us, and her grandmother (who has refused to accept any invitation on our part other than listen when we teach).  It was just such an amazing experience with the Spirit and has reinforced my testimony so much.  For now she has let some other fears creep back in, but we keep reminding her of that experience and encouraging her.  We hope that she will enter the waters of Baptism this weekend.

In sadder news, one of the investigators we were teaching, Carmen, had a heart attack last Tuesday and passed away.  It was a really rough moment, especially for Clara, Mirta and Yeni.  When we found out, we shared the scripture in Alma 30 that talks about the spirits of the just and how as part of the Plan of Salvation she still has the opportunity to continue learning there and have the work done for her in the Temple.  They were comforted by that, and still are very interested in continuing to listen.  It was an experience that I don't hope to have again soon, but it was a spiritually eye-opening testimony to me again of the beauty of the Gospel and what we enjoy as members of the Church of Jesus Christ.

Juan was confirmed a member yesterday and has agreed to accompany us to certain visits this week, so we are now hoping to help him prepare to enter the temple and serve his own mission.  He doesn't understand as much, but as he begins this path, now armed with the constant guidance of the Holy Ghost, he will begin to learn more quickly and readily.  I think it will also help him greatly to teach with us.

We are still having difficulties contacting Ana and Guillermo again, and that is because they live in one of those gated communities.  You need to have documents to get in unless they come get you at the gate, and they haven't answered our calls for the last two weeks.  But we're working on it.

We're also trying to improve our ways to find new investigators, because we're struggling with that.  We've discussed several methods we can use and have decided on a few of them, so I hope that those produce more fruit this week.

Well, I have just been told that the internet café where we are writing from is closing in 5 minutes, so I'm going to have to close here for the week.  Know that I love you all and think about you often.  I pray for you and am looking forward to the experiences that I will hear about you next week.

With Love,
Elder Dewsnup

P.S.  The photos attached are of Maria Saldaña's baptism, Victoria's baptism, Me with Elders Black, Buxton, and Jorquera, and Nahuel's baptism!