Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pictures 11/3/12

So Here are some pictures of things that are here.  There's a picture of a flower I liked, a picture of the Temple, and a picture of one type of Argentine pizza

These pictures are of my district before transfers, and my office family before the Castañedas went home.

The Holler after Halloween 11/3/12

Dear Family,

So, Halloween isn't a big holiday here.  I think I saw one person dressed up that night, and another yesterday... I think people are just a little behind on that.  But I'm not unhappy that we didn't celebrate.  I care for it about as much as Mom.  My companion heard my rant about that one.  On Halloween last year, I was in the MTC, and we traded name tags within our district for about three hours.  So this year, the only  real celebration we did was to eat a bit of extra holiday cake given to us from a few of the members.

Sometimes, I wonder what God's purpose was in placing me in the offices.  I don't see it all that much now, but that seems to be the case with almost all of the things we receive from God, both blessings and trials-we don't understand them until quite some time after the fact.  I get calls daily from missionaries informing me of some electrical problem there, a leaky pipe here, no gas for the stove every blue moon, etc.  Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed with all the calls coming in, then other days are so slow all I do is sit and reorganize my desk.  On the other hand, I also get calls from landlords who are unhappy with this or that, usually that certain expenses haven't been paid, to which I find out that the missionaries weren't informed of the need to pay such a charge.  Miscommunication is such a problem.

Speaking of miscommunication, another part of my job involves overseeing the functionality of all of the cell phones in the mission.  That provides another set of complaints every now and again, and caused me a little problem on Thursday.  We went to the central Claro office in Capital to pick up an order of phones and SIM cards.  What I had requested was about three replacement cards and five replacement phones for faulty this or that.  They gave me eight cards and eight phones.  At first I was thinking, "Awesome!  We just got ourselves some extra equipment."  Not so.  What had happened was that the cards, when activated, disactivated the old ones that were actually in those areas.  So in a period of five minutes, we lost almost all communication with five areas.   !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  So that was a scramble to figure out how to fix that problem.  Luckily, there are many places to use public phones, so at least those missionaries were able to communicate with us, if not the other way around.  The problem with be completely resolved by the end of today, so that heart attack has passed.

Continuing with other news, Jorge is progressing steadily.  He has had a really rough few years and is struggling a lot to get past some of his temptations and trials.  With some of them, he understands that he needs to stop, but he doesn't understand why he needs to stop.  This has helped us to understand a little more about how we need to gear our lessons with him.  

There is another man named Patricio who has been an investigator for quite some time.  He had a really rough life until he met a member woman and they became a couple.  They're finally getting married on the 16th and soon thereafter, he'll be baptized and confirmed.  He is so ready to receive this saving ordinance.

Thiago is such a stud.  We heard that last Sunday, his mom had taken him to a "quince," a celebration for his cousin who turned 15.  But that morning he bugged and bothered his mom so much saying that he wanted to go to church, that she drove him to the front of the chapel, dropped him off with a neighbor and said, "Here, you take care of him for a while."  We're hoping to be able to set a baptixmal date with him tonight for a date in about two weeks.  He understands a lot and is so excited for everything to do with the church.  I wish that sometimes many of our young kids and youth could have the vigor and excitement he does to go to church.

We're still in the loop trying to find more people to teach, but things are moving along.

Dad told me about the close call Meg had on Halloween.  You almost had little Josh there on an interesting day...  What a spooky scare.  And I hope that all of your eyes just rolled at that.  Plus also, did I get the name right?

Mom had a few questions for me that she asked, and I'm not sure if I had mentioned any of the partial details in my last general email or not, so here are the answers:

Q: Are you and your companion not getting along well? (asked because I had aid that i hadn't done any driving in the country yet except for driving my companion crazy)
A: Yep, we're gettin´along.  Not perfectly, but we get along pretty well.  We've both got some querks that grind and our personalities are very similar, so that is a little wierd.

Q: Aer we still a trio?
A:  No, Elder Chase was transferred to Tolhuín, a small city in Tierra del Fuego, which is the southern most province in Argentina.  Elder Abaroa is still here, though.  So we're continuing the work here with two now, instead of three.

Mom mentioned that we were having perfect temps lately here in Buenos Aires... ... ... ¿huh?  This place is humid, which makes me sweat in 60ºF weather.  While it's between 55ºF and 70ºF, it's bearable, but passing that, I'm already dying...  though not literally. But hey, that's life.

Well, family, it's about time for me to get going.  I love you all and pray for you daily!  Keep on Keepiin' on.

With Love,
Elder Dewsnup

Sunday, November 11, 2012

13 10/27/12

Dear Family,

Tomorrow marks quite an interesting point.  I will hit 13 months in the mission tomorrow.  As I sit and think about it, Stuart Anderson and Wesley Thomas should be home now or returning within a couple of weeks.  Tyler Rauckhorst should be getting home soon too.  Time is flying.

Speaking of flying, transfers are already up on us again.  It's way weird to be seing transferes from the administration point of view.  We have to deal with flight information getting people in from the south, down to the south, getting people the right amount of money on their support cards for rent, personal assignments, etc.  We deal with the remis (taxi) costs and company...  All in all, it's really hectic right now.  The number of missionaries coming here from other countries keeps changing because of people who are waiting for visas, people who get them at the last minute, other people who are postponed, etc.  On my end of the work, I have to make sure that everyone has a place to sleep at night that is safe, secure, and appropriate for a missionary's calling.  We currently have about 90 apartments in the mission, and we have extra missionaries coming in this transfer than we originally had planned, so I'll be crunching in the first two weeks of the transfer to be able to secure contracts and new apartments in the new areas that will open up.

Dad asked me to explain a normal day in the offices, so here goes.  We begin the day at 6:30, like the rest of the missionaries, exercise, study, eat, etc.  The main difference is that we need to be in the offices shortly after 9:00, so we miss out usually on being able to do a really effective companionship study, if we get one at all.  From 9:00 to about 5:30-ish I'm accepting calls from missionaries and real estate companies, and occasionally landlords.  For instance, we're currently trying to renew a contract with one of the landladies and it's getting a little frustrating because of certain issues that I can't discuss openly online.  Needless to say, some of us didn't have parents as clean as you are Mom and Dad.  The landfolks notice if they visit the apartments.  But moving ahead, once 5:30 hits, we go out to proselyte. We normally get about three lessons of some sort in, be it to investigators, recent converts or less active members.  The best way to find new people is through referrals, but people don't like giving us referrals.  We have, however, gotten a few that we will be contacting really soon.

We're currently teaching one young man named Jorge (hor-hey).  He's really cool, but has a lot of doubts.  The biggest one that we think about is that he was super catholic, including the fact that he helped several young people take the comunion and confirmation.  He was batptized twice in the Catholic church, and we think that he feels it would be almost an hypocrisy to change religion now.  He has felt several times that he should get baptized, but he still feels iffy about it.  One of the things that he told us dealt with him having an inability to forgive himself, something that I have great experience with.  He also feels sure that he'll go right back into sinning, even if he gets baptized, and he doesn't want to do that.  

Things are progressing here, slowly but surely.  The work of the Lord will not be frustrated.  "No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing... 

The truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and dependent...until the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the great Jehovah shall say, 'The work is done.'"

I love you with all my heart.  I pray that day to day you can find the strength to keep on going.  I have a picture of Christ above my screen, the one of Him at the Second Coming seen in most temples.  Periodically throughout the day, I look at it and think, as Elder Andersen asked, "What does Jesus think of me?"  I know He is our Saviour.  I know He loves us and that we are children of a loving Father in Heaven.  The newest addition and proof of this in our family is Zayne.  What more evidence could we ask for of a loving Heavenly Father than the responsibility and privelege to help others of His children return to His presence and partake of this wonderful experience.

I wish you all the best and pray for you daily.

Elder Dewsnup

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Estoy Feliz 10/20/12

Dear Family,

HAPPY DAYS IN THE HISTORY OF OUR FAMILY!!!!!!  WELCOME ZAYNE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I hope he can feel his crazy uncle's love from so far away.  One has now been welcomed and one more awaits!  

Well, there are many things that have been happening and progressing in each of our lives.  With the arrival of Zayne and the anticipation of Minion, there is an abundance of joy that we are feeling together as a family.  I am sure that that joy is shared by each and every one of us.

This morning, in my studies, I came across a few things that I felt to share with all of you.  I read Mosiah 21-24.  Here we can see the same trials endured by two different groups of people and how they reacted to those trials.  In the first two chapters, we read of Limhi, son of King Noah, and his people after the death of his father.  They were brought into bondage by the Lamanites and for a long time were subject to them, being forced to pay a tribute of 50% of all they had.  Gaurds were posted around their land and often they entered among the people and beat them, placing heavy burdens on their backs as if they were pack animals.  After a while, the men had had enough and asked Limhi permision to try to force the Lamanites off their land.  They went to battle, and were beaten.  Widow's and children's cries were so strong that it provoked the remaining men to anger enough to drive them to battle again.  Again, they were driven back.  And a third time they went, with the same results.  Finally, they were brought down so low, the scripture says they were himiliated unto the dust, unto the depths of humility, and then they cried unto God for deliverence.  They tried on their own three times to free themselves, but they never achieved freedom.  We are told that the Lord was slow to hear their cries because of their iniquities, but he began to lighten their burdens.  It was still a long time before the Lord judged it time for them to be delivered before they finally achieved their freedom.

The Lamanite army that followed their escape ended up getting lost in the wilderness and by chance found the people of Alma, who had escaped from King Noah before Limhi became king.  This Lamanite army promised to Alma that they would leave them alone if Alma would help them return to their lands.  But they broke their promise.  Alma and his people were surrounded by Lamanite gaurds and were also subjected to servitude.  The difference here is that even before this happened, they began to cry to God for help and strength.  When they were forbidden to pray vocally, they continued to pray in their hearts.  After so much faith was shown, God promised them that their burdens would be lightened, even though He hadn't judged it the right time to liberate them.  Nevertheless, they continued to show faith, they continued to be patient and to endure.  Finaly the voice of the Lord came and told them to prepare because they would be liberated that night.  After a full day's journey, they set up camp and immediately prayed to thank God.  He then immediately warned them to keep going because the army of the Lamanites was following them.  They then kept on their way until they reached the land of Zarahemla.

What I learned here was the better way to deal with trials.  When we try to go on our own strength, we can continually fall, but when we rely on God and His matchless power, we can eventually be freed from all forms of bondage.  It is the same with any trial, problem, and temptation.  It is so interesting.  It is something that is so aplicable to everything we do in life.  I've been experiencing some really hard moments.  Things at times have appeared much larger than I could deal with.  I know that through the Atonement, we can make it through anything, even if we suffer consequences first.  I love you all

Elder Dewsnup

P.S. the pictures are one of my old broken shoes and a "Mormon Ad" that I drew myself about three months ago.  The translation to English is "Reach,  His hand is extended all the day long"

Friday, November 9, 2012

Conference Follow up 10/13/12

Dearest family,

Another of the perks to being in the offices is that we have ready access daily to re-listen to the sessions of General Conference.  I still haven't listened to all of Priesthood session, but things are coming along.

So now for a rundown of how I loved conference.

Saturday Morning:   !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  O.O  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  O.O  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  etc.  The announcement of the new age requirements has thrown us all for a bit of a loop.  One of the sister's families in the mission already has two daughters out and now the other two are doing their papers.  By May we expect to be receiving some of the first wave of the 19 year olds.  Perhaps sooner, but time will tell.  I thought it was also really interesting how Elder Cook opened the conference with remarks about intrafamily respect.  Part of the interesting bit of conference this time was that I listened to almost the entirety of it in Spanish.  Elder Bowen's talk was really good.  I liked how he touched on the reality of what most people feel when they lose a loved one.  There are many people who are less active in our branch who have dealt with recent losses.  And it's true, no one else really knows what that feels like, except for Christ.  Elder Nelson's talk just made us all chuckle, and very frequently.  We've kind of picked up that phrase as a companionship motto.  "[We] can help you."  We've actually tried to focus more on that and have tried coming up with random situations in which we could be posed with a dificulty and figuring out how we could be of help or how the Gospel could apply to and help them.  It's a very interesting and spiritually uplifting experience.  President Uchtdorf's talk was one of my favorites this conference.  While reviewing some of the frequent regrets, he touched again on his good-better-best concept.  I did find some of the regrests really interesting.  Just to refresh all our minds, I'll write 'em here too.  First, they wished they had spent more time with loved ones.  Second, they felt like they had failed to become the person they could have been.  Third, they wished they had let themselves be happier.  The first one I felt was relatively common, it's something that everyone desires, regardless of how much time they already spend with family.  The second one was a little more perplexing to me in that President Uchtdorf mentioned that it wasn't in the aspect of achieving some sort of business recognition or other promotion, but a personal spiritual desire.  The last one threw me for a loop.  But as I continued to think about it, it is so true.  As agents, we are all personally responsible for how we act.  We have the choice to be happy or not.  It actually reminds me of a talk that the Bishop's wife gave in Tortuguitas my last day there.  I'll indulge in telling that story here too.  

There was a King who had a very wise and wonderful servant, but this servant was also just a little strange.  No matter what happened, this servant always said "Que Bueno" (translated it would be something like how wonderful).  The King was not bothered by this most of the time, but it did call his attention.  One day, the King was practicing his swordplay and cut off one of his toes.  The servant then said to him "how wonderful."  At that comment, the King was infuriated.  How could his servant think it was a wonderful thing that he had cut his toe off?!  So the King fired this prized servant.  At the pronouncement, the servant again replied "how wonderful."  The servant was thrown out of the palace and the King continued his reign.  The following week, an enemy tribe came and captured the King.  While discussing what to do with him, the suggestion was made to sacrifice the King to their gods.  Preparations were made for the sacrifice, but then they noticed that the King was imperfect, he had a missing toe.  They decided that such an impure sacrifice would infuriate the gods rather than appease them, so they let the King return to his kingdom.  Realizing something, he called back his servant and told him of the event.  The King asked of the servant, "why did you say 'how wonderful' when I cut off my toe?"  The servant replied, "if you hadn't cut off your toe, you would have been sacrificed to the heathen gods."  Then the King asked of his servant, "Then why did you say 'how wonderful' when I fired you?"  The servant then said, "If you had not fired me, I would have been captured with you, and they would have sacrificed me in your place."   Moral of the story, try to see the good in every situation.

Saturday Afternoon:  Elder Perry's talk was really good and family oriented as well and I liked how he enumerated a few things that we can do as families to strengthed our ties and relationships.  Elder Andersen's and Elder Oak's talks were brilliant as well and answered many questions that investigators and less actives have had about God and our relationship with Him.

Sunday Morning:  Elder Eyring.  May I just say, WOW!  I received a lot of personal revelation during that talk.  It was interesting for me to hear that it is never God who is hidden, but rather that perhaps we are hidden from God.  We, perhaps, are placing a pavillion over ourselves which keeps us from feeling that which God wants to give us.  One thing that I personally thought about was the following, in reference to prayer: "If you aren't receiving revelation, change the way you ask your question."  It came to my mind in those words.  I also loved President Packer's talk, which to me featured the theme of rescue, especially with the story of the island and the two lights, and Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy.  That also made me think about the last Sunday we were there together and sang that song in Sacrament Meeting. It was pretty cool!  Called to Serve was fun to sing, but it was interesting to see the confusion on peoples faces when we stopped singing after two verses.  There are four in Spanish.  Elder Holland's talk closely followed one that he gave in the MTC almost two years ago that a lof of elders here have on DVD.  It also made me think of his recent CES fireside address.  It would be a wonderful thing to watch when you get the chance.  I do feel really bad though, that I missed President Monson's talk.  He has a bad habit of speaking so well that it lulls me.  Needless to say, I will be listening to it again shortly.

Sunday Afternoon:  It was really cool how Elder Hales and Elder Holland used the same story from the Bible as the basis of their addresses.  Both used the same story with a slight twist.  It was way cool!  Listening to Elder Scott's talk was awesome because he did his own recording to be played during the conference.  I loved his focus on ancestry.  Elder Nash mentioned a few things that I really liked.  1) Fear distracts from faith.  2) the story of Anne Rowley.  The story of two hard seabuiscuts turning into a pot full of food is truly a miracle.  That one reminded me of the story of the woman who fed Elijah before herself and her son.  In that story, they only had enough to make food for their last meal, but the prophet promised them that if they gave him to eat first, they would not run out.  Elder Johnson's reference to Fiddler on the Roof made me chuckle, especially since I had mentioned that to my companion earlier that week.  I love Tevye.  Elder Clarke's talk on the Sacrament was really helpful because I think many of us don't really think of the preparation that we need to do personally to partake of the sacrament.  It is the same as if we were preparing to be baptized again.  That is what the sacrament represents.  A renewal of covenants made at baptism and a weekly opportunity to cleanse ourselves of sin.  The sacrament is of equal importance to baptism, for without the sacrament, we would not be able to receive a continual forgiveness of our sins.

GOOD CONFERENCE!!!!  It also helped with one of our investigators.  Leandro has been having a rough time really focusing in our lessons with him and we had been discussing whether or not to stop visiting with him because he just wasn't progressing.  But when he went to conference, he felt a tranquility that he hadn't ever experienced before and he then started getting more serious about this.  We actually were about to set a date for his baptism last night for the 21 (we've been teaching him for a while).  Tonight we have plans to review the Word of Wisdom, which would be his next step towards preparing to be worthy for baptism.  We're still struggling to get other investigators, but we don't lose faith.

I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!  Good luck in the next couple of weeks Megan and Sarah.  I want you to send me an email the moment (or at least the day) that boys are born!  I won't be able to see it until a saturday, but I want to see what day it was the moment I sign on.  Have a great week!  Y'all are in my prayers.

Oh, attached is one of the pictures I took when I went to help prepare the MTC.

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

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Last Weeks Letter 10/13/12

My apologies, I sent the letter and then received the notification of failure to send when I signed on today.

Dear Family,

Now beginning the downhill portion of the mission, all is not going at a smooth cruising speed.  I wish it were, but that's not the purpose of anything in this life.  Apparently the downhill slope has got a lot of rocks and cracks, intermingled with smooth sections.  Being here in the offices of the mission is definitely a match of that description.  There are moments during the day when everything is going smoothly and I can work easily on the projects that need doing, and then there are other times when the phone won't stop ringing.   The frustrating thing about that is that i can only half the time understand the spanish people talking on the phone.  Elder Chase told me that with time I'll get used to hearing people on the phone, and I believe him on that one, but I still wish it just came quickly.  Working at Allegiance helped though.  Working on the computers there and working with the legal language has helped me understand more how the contracts and things work here for the different apartments.

I'm a little behind on the picture sending thing and I'm not sure where it was when I left off, so here I have attached the pictures of Eusebio's and Juan's baptisms.

We're struggling with our proselyting time too.  I wish we had more time to be in our area teaching and finding.  It's difficult to be able to get people to teach and have consistent lessons with them when the time is limitted to three to four hours a day.  It's possible, but difficult.  We're managing to find people often enough, but they don't realy progress too far we're noticing.  And then the ones who do progress have only done so for a short while before just not doing it any more. 

Well, I'm hitting a block and don't know what else to write, so hopefully I'll have stuff to add later on in between conference sessions.  I love you all!!!

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

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

At the Peak 9/29/12

Querida Familia,

Os estoy escribiendo hoy de la mitad de la misión.  En éste punto tan grande en mi vida hasta ahora, llega el momento de pensar en que necesito mejorar.  Hay tanto para hacer que ni siquiera puedo hacer el diez por ciento del trabajo.  Pero, los amo, con todo mi corazón.  

I'm writing you today at the half point of my mission.  At this great point in my life, up to now, the moment has come to think in what I need to change.  There's so much to do that I can't even do one tenth of the work.  But I love you, with all my heart.

I've been reflecting a lot this last week on all that I havce to do and all that I need to do, and all that I want to accomplish.  I know there's not time enough to do it all, but I need to do my best.  There are a lot of things here that are hard to work with and a re relatively frustrating.  Working with contracts on the apartments and fizing problems... There are many things that have come back to mind of what you all have taught me.  For example, Dad shared with me various experiences about finding ways for things to be done instead of saying that they can't be done.  That is one of my biggest jobs here.  I have to find ways for things to be done, in a timely manner, and at the lowest cost possible.   This position is really helping me to realize the importnce of tithing and the role it plays in the Gospel and the Church.  It is true that God does not need money, but to get things to happen in this world, without having a fund behind it, this church would have fallen years ago.  But those funds are sacred and need to be taken care of and watched more carefully than even a personal account.  It is astounding as well to see how little some people understand the importance of tithing.

We all know Mom and Dad's story of tithing.  That miracle has helped a few people here understand the gifts that can come from paying tithing, and it has also helped me understand even more importantly why it is that tithing is so important.  It is through the tithing funds that the missionary program can even continue.  It is through tithing funds that temples and chaples are built and maintained.  It is through tithing funds that we receive many of the blessings that we enjoy as members (the printing of church materials, copies of the Book of Mormon, etc.).

I love you all!!!  

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

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

O.o The New Side 9/22/12

My Dear Family,

Well, this is a totally different perspective on the mission.  I had never before realized how much goes into the preparation and upkeep of a mission.  I mentioned to Mom, but I think it merits mention here that any letters or packages that come in for me during the time I am in the offices will be received by me the moment they get here.

Well, things are absolutely and totally strange for me here.  Proselyting time has now changed from almost all day to about 3 hours a day.  But I have been a learning a lot here in the offices.  We have so many apartments to deal with with all the different areas that have missionaries in them.  The costs are enormous and part of my job is to keep the costs from growing too much.  This is going to be a big helper for me for the rest of my life.  But the biggest thing is that this is going to help me influence the lives of others more as well.  My job is to help the other missionaries keep their focus on their work while focusing on mine at the same time.

Things that have been happining that are new here as well is that i get to work with all of the senior missionary couples as well, who are stationed here in the offices.  I'm not sure what exactly to tell you all further than that.  I now have no idea how the investigators in Tortuguitas are progressing, but I continue praying for them.

I commented to Dad a little bit ago that I had been informed a little bit about my first convert.  Gustavo, from Lopez Camelo, has been a strength and the way to bring the gospel to the majority of his family through baptism, and he almost daily accompanies the missionaries.  Now with the temple here in Buenos Aires open, I hope to be able to be present when he and his family are sealed for time and all eternity there in that place of all holiness.

The Temple here has been such a help and a goal now for all of us to strive for.  The time spent preparing for the open house and for the dedication were times of trial.  The adversary knew about the opening and he worked hard against the progressing of the work.  But as Joseph Smith taught, "no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing."  This work is and will forever more roll forth until the end of time, when all of the children of God have had the opportunity to prove themselves worthy to return to the presence of God.  With the dedication of this temple, the power of Satan has been decreased that much more on this Earth, and with every temple that is constructed and dedicated, his power will continue to decrease.

I know that the Temple is the House of God, and a place of Holiness as inscribed above the doors to every Temple.  The work that takes place in the Temple is a work of glorious salvation for all of us, the children of God.  This Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is the true church of God today upon the Earth.  As Jesus Himself proclaims, it is "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth" (D&C 1:30).

This work is true.  God lives, as does His Son, Jesus Christ.  I know it.  I have felt it.

I love you all and keep you in my prayers.

Elder Dewsnup

Monday, November 5, 2012

Changes 9/17/12

My dearest Family,

This will be the shortest letter.  I have been transferred to work in the offices of the mission as the Elder in charge of housing.  Because of the change, my Preparation day will be on Saturdays for the duration of my time as an Office Elder.  Millions of apologies, but I'll be writing on Saturdays to you until I get transferred again.  I love you!

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

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Forward, Pressing Forward 9/10/12

Dear Family,

This has been probably one of the most exhausting and Spiritually uplifting weeks in my mission thus far, as well as a week of trial.  Some events that I'm sure you've at least heard about being the Cultural Celebration for and Rededication of the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple.  We were participants in the Celebrations on Saturday night, singing Called to Serve with gusto amid the youth participating there as well.  The three Buenos Aires missions participated, so there were about 600 missionaries in addition to about as many or more youth.  It was pretty stirring!  As a side note, I was just looking back and saw the word gusto and I just saw an interesting language connection that I don't know if others have noticed.  The verb "gustar" in Spanish means to please, and often when a person meets another they say "un gusto conocerlo," which is, being interpreted, "A pleasure to meet you."  So when connected back to the English, singing with gusto isn't necessarily singing loudly and fully as much as singing with pleasure.  Interesting language bit there...

The rededication itself was amazing!  I wish I could remember all of it, but my head just doesn't want to function properly for me right now.  Elder Mervyn J. Arnold of the Seventy spoke of hope an progress, which seemed to be a theme with the majority of the general authorities during this time.  I'll admit I kept getting lost during the dedicatory prayer because of the translation taking place.  I heard both languages and occasionally got lost in the change, thinking that certain things had already been said before remembering that they were just now being said in a different language.  It was an interesting experience being able to understand almost perfectly both of the languages, to the point of recognizing the exact same meaning of both.

Friday night we had a special missionary conference with President Eyring, Elder Ballard, and Elder Christofferson.  The Spirit felt there was almost palpable.  Elder Christofferson gave his address in Spanish himself, since he served his own mission in Argentina.  I wish I had brought my notes to share some of the things that they all spoke, but one of the things that sticks out in particular with me was an experience that President Eyring shared.  He talked about two main things, actually that stuck out.  The first has to do with the process of calling young men and women (and the senior couples and sisters I imagine) to specific missions.  He talked about how the first time he, as an Apostle, sat with Richard G. Scott to send them out.  He described how he sat in a room with Elder Scott in front of two computer screens; one showing a picture of the prospective missionary, the other a little bit of information about that missionary.  From there, while pondering about where this person would go, he said he would get the slightest of feelings of where the prospective missionary should go and would say to the mission offices "show me all of the missions in ___________ area."  Once the information appeared, he told us that the name of one of those missions would shine just a smidgeon brighter (not a direct quote).  He would click on that name, and the missionary would receive his call.  After several minutes of doing this for several missionaries, he told us he turned to Elder Scott and asked, "Is that small feeling all I'm going to get?  That small little push?" to which Elder Scott replied in the affirmative.  The telling of this experience led into the second thing that stuck out.

Following the sharing of this experience, he told us that that little push is what we as missionaries need to acquaint ourselves with and that it leads to really knowing that God knows and loves each one of those people (refering both to prospective missionaries and our investigators) so profoundly and so intimately that we need to trust perfectly in him and follow each little push we receive.  He said, quote, "When we know that God loves us...we will not fear."  

Fear is something that I have often succumbed to and given as a reason for not talking to such and such on the street.  "Oh, I don't know if they'll understand me," "I don't know if they'll accept me," "I don't want to get rejected," etc.  Something that I have learned (and will undoubtedly continue learning for the rest of my life) is that something like this has nothing to do with me.  In each question, my fear was a selfish one and one that exhibits a lack of trust in my Father, who already knows each of His children with a perfect love, one that breaches all bounds we can conceive of.  I have for years said that I know that God loves me, but by fearing in the manner that I was, I was in effect denying the claim of my own knowledge.  This is because if I know that He loves me, I should also know and trust in the fact that His love is perfect and that He will share with us a portion of that love for another person enough to help them to recognize that love for them, giving me the words to say to them in the moment that they are needed, trusting in God more than in the "arm of flesh."

Fear is the antithesis of Faith.  "Neither can live while the other servives." (Props to the one who can tell me where that comes from)  They cannot coexist in the same instant in the same person.  Faith drives away fear and leads to love, trust, and happiness.  Fear, when allowed to enter the heart, covers our faith and leads to hate, mistrust, and misery, leaving us with an empty feeling.  Faith is love.  Faith is Hope.  Faith is belief, and it leads us to act.

I apologize for using this time to organize my own thoughts on this subject, but this has been just as edifying a time for me as I hope it has been for you.  Our investigators continue to progress and we right now have seven people actively preparing to be baptized in the next few weeks.

Thank you for your prayers.  I feel their effect.  I love you and pray for you as well.

Elder Dewsnup

P.S. I haven't as yet read your emails to me.  We were trying to get on quick to get the writing done, because we have other things to do, but we'll be trying to get on again later.  I've printed the messages and will be reading them soon.  I'll reply if I can.  LOVES!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

This week 9/3/12

My Dearest-Wonderfully-Amazing-Absolutely-Awe-Inspiring-And-Loving Family,

I love you.  Things have been brought into a more interesting view for me lately.  In less than a month, I will have been on my mission for a year.  This is a little surreal for me (spelling?).  I can still think back and remember with clarity several of the events of the last week before entering the MTC and many things in the MTC.  It is hard for me to really comprehend the passage of time.

Elder Soelberg and I have been getting along wonderfully.  Very few arguments, and those trifling.  He's way cool and he's grown so much in the language.  He can't see his change, but in the four weeks we've been together, his language skills have just about doubled.  He is confident in himself during the lessons for the most part, until he thinks he's made a mistake.  I don't correct him unless what he has said completely changes the meaning of the sentence he wants to say, which has happened much less this last week than the first week.  Almost not at all.  It makes me think back on the first days of my mission and wondering how in the blue blazes I was going to figure out all the grammar.  I still don't think I have it all perfectly, but hey, miracles have happened.

I apologize for the scarcity of news in the investigator region in the last several weeks.  I don't remember if I have told you about Alberto and the Fernande family yet.  That family is a part-member, recent convert, and little "less active" family, and we were passing by relatively regularly to teach the retention lessons to those who needed them.  Once we invited another one of the boys to participate, and three weeks later he was baptized.  This last week (two weeks after the baptism and one since his confirmation) he was sustained to be ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood.  He also came to church in a suit and asked us for help tying his tie (as far as I know, he's the only one in his family who has a suit...).  He's a stud.  

This week we also found a lot of new people to begin teaching, many of them just from passing people on the street.  As I said earlier, miracles happen.  We just started teaching a young woman who has a one-and-a-half year-old boy named Eric.  He's so much fun to play with (before and after the teaching, of course) and is very obedient to his mother (sorry Mom, don't know if you can say the same about me at that age...).  It is so great to be teaching her.  This Sunday, she woke up early and almost couldn't sleep because she was so anxious to go to church.  Then when we stopped by to pick her up with another member, she looked so discouraged because she didn't have any diapers for Eric to wear and she was afraid he'd have an accident.  We organized things right on the spot, talked with the Relief Society president, and got diapers for her there.  She enjoyed the meetings immensely and is reading from the Book of Mormon and Gospel Principles books both at once.  The only thing that is a problem is that she and her husband aren't married.  Please! pray that they can get married soon and that there won't be any problems!!  We're going to be finishing up the Plan of Salvation, talking about eternal families, and then introducing the Law of Chastity tonight so that she can understand the importance of marriage in the eternal plan of God.  Just realized I haven't said her name, it's Janet.

I continue my studies in the Bible, and John continues to astound me.  The stories are much more poignant to me now than before.  I used to think the Bible was boring, except the parables (mostly because of the Living Scriptures movies we had).  Now I find so many different meanings and personal applications to so many little things.  It's way cool.

Well, my family, my time has drawn to a close for the day.  The rededication of the Temple happens this weekend and there are many preparations to do personally and in the ward.  The work calls, the fields are white, and the Keeper is calling me to "thrust in the sickle".  As I assist in the gathering of Israel, know that my prayers are with you all, that you may also be gatherers in your own parts of the vineyard.  Right now you may now be full-time harvesters, but in the middle of the daily chores, a small harvest can be enjoyed.

With love,

Elder Dewsnup

P.S.  Let Sharkbait and Minion know that their favorite Uncle Dweebus is giving them hugs!  When do I get to see prego pictures?
P.S.S.  I'll try to get some pictures of my own in the next letter.