Since I couldn't join you at the table, here're my "grateful fors"
I'm grateful for the Plan of Salvation and for a family who loves me. I'm thankful for the beauties that surround us and for the safety we have all enjoyed. I'm grateful Sarah and Brandon, Annie-Bug and Bee-Bee made it safely to our home, even if they had a little mishap along the way. I'm grateful for the newest additions to our family, Zayne and Royce. I'm grateful for the gift of giving and that of sharing. I'm thankful for a supportive, caring family who does all they can to comfort me from far away when I comment about a bad straight. I'm grateful for the examples I have been able to observe and learn from in all my brothers and sisters and my parents.
I'm also grateful for agency. It is something that recently I have been more able to study and understand. Mostly, and at first, everything that I learned about came from teachings of President. I learned some more recently that has helped me understand more about the purpose of life.
Basing my studies off of the Doctrine of Christ, found in 3 Nephi 27:13-22, I then ask a question following the guide of President Packer. Which doctrine, if understood correctly, would change (insert name)'s attitude or behavior? (See PMG 19, quote box). In each study that I do that way I come to understand the why a little more of each principle, like the word of wisdom, why we're on the earth, and a bunch of other topics. We have a little bit of a reduced study time being in the offices, but I think I've finally found a way to make it more effective. It's partly that study that lead me to several things about agency.
The Plan of Salvation is entirely dependant upon agency. There are two eternal laws, the law of justice and the law of mercy, and those laws take effect upon us according to our own choices and decisions in this life. The law of justice, by definition, condemns all man to eternal misery. The law of mercy exists to give us a chance. The law of mercy, however, will only apply to those who either cannot choose for themselves (the innocent and the youngest) and those who participate in the ordinances set in place by God. Christ suffered for our sins and misdeeds, even our pains and loneliness, sicknesses and afflictions, just so that we would not have to suffer the full penalty of each. Because of Him, we have the ability to repent, become clean by baptism and the sacrament, be sanctified by reception of the Holy Ghost, and continued obedience to the commandments for the duration of our mortal lives.
Such a plan provides for the tender mercies of God to apply to each one of us individually and personally. We have it within us to choose whether or not we will return to live with God. We are taught by the scriptures that all men who repent and become as a little child will inherit the kingdom of God (see 3 Nephi 11:37-38). If we choose to let go of hurts and pains and give ourselves over to the will of God (which ironically is that we have joy and return to live in His presence) then we will live with God again.
In all of the different joys and pains of life, we need to remember how much our salvation depends on us, and not on others. It's something that is sinking in more and more as I keep going.
As we have continued trying to find new investigators, teach, and invite to come to Christ, we've hit some bumps and run into some roadblocks. Through prayer and planning, whether in the moment or beforehand, we are able to find those detours. They are often easy to find, but we stop one step before reaching the finish line. Let us all press on and give that one final push in all things to be able to be together forever again after this life.
I love you all. You are part of what keeps me going. I've heard a saying here. I have given up two years with my family so that others can be with theirs forever. It is the truth. I know it with all my heart.
Mom and Dad, happy birthdays (perhaps late, but not forgotten) and anniversary. I know Brandon's is in December, but I don't remember the day, so Happy Birthday to you little early.
I pray for you all and wish you all the comfort that you need,
Elder Matthew H. Dewsnup
Misión Buenos Aires Norte
Gral. Lavalle 1828
1646 San Fernando
Buenos Aires, Argentina