Saturday, August 17, 2013

6 8/13/13


Here goes another week and the beginning of the last transfer of my mission. I am no longer a district leader, not my job any more! Elder Florez has been transferred. I'm staying in Grand Bourg and my new companion is Elder Perez. He's also from Colombia, has the same birthday as me (a year later), and I don't know much else about him. He's been on the mission for 6 months today.

Well, Mom sent me a few questions to guide my mind. First was about pictures:Inline image 1
(this is Megan, I'm not sure why the image didn't come through on my email)
This is my district from the last transfer.

My area is a branch with about 60-75 members assisting regularly. It's pretty big, about four or five kilometers from one point to the other, perhaps bigger. We walk everywhere unless we can take a bus, but that costs money. I found out that this area is about half way between both Tortuguitas and Lopez Camelo. We are part of the Sarmiento Stake. We're beginning to work harder as a branch to find people.

As a district leader, it was my privilege to do exchanges with the elders in my district, lead the weekly district meetings, receive reports about the efforts of the other missionaries in my district and other such things.

We've still been having problems finding investigators, but last night we found a woman in the home of an active woman with whom we had organized a family home evening. We had previously planned other activities, but in that moment we changed all the plans to teach the restoration. We invited this wonderful woman to be baptized in that occasion and she accepted, on the condition that she could learn more (or course). We told her that of course she could have time, and we shared that we wanted to help her in her preparation for that moment. We'll be working with her and continue with our efforts to continue finding.

I love you all!!!! Know that, and that I will do what I can to not come home bigger than Aunt Marge...



Elder Matthew H. Dewsnup

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hola 8/5/13

Hola mi bonita familia!

I love you all so much!!

I have now had a brain toot. I had a bunch of things i wanted to say, but now I have no clue what to write.

We're working to try to find new investigators. We had one investigator come yesterday, who has had problems with faith. Last night we went to their house and we watched "Finding Faith in Christ." We want to help her to understand that she really has faith and help her to understand that God really exists and loves her.

Know that I love each of you and that God and Jesus Christ love you as well.



Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Dear Family 7/29/13

My Dear Family,

I'm struggling, but I don't know why or with what. I think during the week about things I want to share and then when I get to the consol, my mind goes blank; I think of nothing and everything all at once. I have conflicted feelings and opinions about several things. I'm also gaining weight, a lot. I struggled to fit into my only pair of jeans that I brought with me that were a little big when I left. And I broke one of my belts trying to cinch it with these pants............ I guess the pants didn't like the belt...

Well, we were able to find a few people last week and we set baptismal dates with all of them. But all of them lost those dates because not one of them was able to go to church yesterday. One is a pastor of another church, the other two are the children of a less active member who has been such for more than 15 years. I'll fill you in with more details as the story progresses.

Apparently the ward loves me, or at least some of them do. I went on splits with another set of missionaries in my district the other day and before we got to church yesterday a member who saw that I had left the area complained to the Branch President that I hadn't come to say goodbye or even sent a message. Interesting development.

It seems like someone finally figured things out here as well and I hope that things change here. Yesterday the Branch President rearranged the schedule a little bit to be able to talk with all of the endowed priesthood holders and relief society sisters. He said he woke up that morning thinking about several things that he needed to change about himself and things that he felt he needed to share with the entire group of us. Much of it had to do with the temple reccomend interview questions. He read the questions as we thought about our own answers and raised the questions of "how many of us are actually committed to and live these standards?" and "how many of us really understand and fulfill the promises we made at baptism and in the temple?" It was interesting to here the silence that followed. It was obviously a rhetorical question, so the silence was warranted, but I looked around and saw that several of the members were pondering their responses. He mentioned that we covenant to give all that we have and are, even our lives if necessary, to the edifying of the Kingdom here on earth.

Among many of the other things that were talked about, the topics of pride and charity were mentioned as well. A member of the high council who happened to be present shared an experience he had as a young man. He and his brothers lived fighting, teasing, and competing one with another (sound familiar?). They also always complained about each other. One night, at a family home evening, his father placed a chair in the middle of the room. It was the recognition chair, or something like that. He recounted that one by one each person sat on the chair, and each person in the family had to share ten good qualities of that person. That member said that that one family home evening has had such an impact on his life that it has helped him to realize and find the good in each and every person he has come in contact with and withhold from criticising them.

The Branch President also said that he was going to be the first person in the room to repent and he invited each and every one of us to do the same, so that we could really say, with complete honesty, that we were worthy to hold a current temple recommend.

A few days beforehand, I was thinking about covenants and their importance in each one of our lives, the impact that they have not only upon us, but also upon our descendants. I listed out all of the covenants that I could think of off the top of my head and looked up a few others. I also included a brief discription of a few of them. I came up with a good list and that has helped me to realize and think of more frequently the gravity and severity of those covenants, and the joy and freedom that we enjoy through our fidelity to each one. I have also returned a little to Dad's book on the chapter of "A Covenant People." It is really something very interesting and humbling when we come to understand more deeply the effects that those sacred promises have on our lives. On my life. In my life.

I also started reading a little bit this morning about Obedience and Revelation in the August Liahona. Elder Oaks' address was particularly interesting, as it made me remember a certain family home evening we had a long time ago when we discussed how each one of us comes to recognize the Holy Ghost and his promptings. He mentioned that many people mistake the phrase "burning in the bosom" to be literal. He then proposed that rather than being a literal burning in the bosom, it is a feeling of peace and warmth.

I was also touched by the story of Vinca, an older woman who only seven years ago was baptized after having known about the Church for the majority of her life. It hadn't meant much to her before, but when she finaly began to pay attention, she said that it just all made sense to her and it was logical (translating from Spanish). After years of trial--being a victim and survivor of the concentration camps of WWII and long term widowhood--she finally heard and understood the message of the Restored Gospel and was sealed to her deceased husband through proxy, one year to the day after her baptism, through the holy ordinance of sealing performed in the temple.

I have heard several experiences from people in the last week and a half about the church and their feelings towards it. I am still amazed at many things, but one things still rings deeply in my heart.

"I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me."

I love this song, and I have it completely memorized in Spanish, though not in English. I love my Savior. I know I am here doing His holy work and sharing His gospel; the gospel of repentance and forgiveness through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know we are here on this earth for a purpose and we are where we need to be, now.

I love you all.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Travel Itinerary 7/22/13

We have received Matthew's travel itinerary!!!!!!! :)

If you will be in the area when he comes home I'm sure he'd love to see you. This is mostly for his records though as this blog can serve as a journal for him to reflect back on.

He will be:
Departing from Buenos Aires at 825pm
Arriving in Atlanta GA at 551am
Total flight length:  A grueling 10 hours and 26 minutes!!

He will then board his next flight:
Departing from Altanta GA at 820am
Arriving in SLC UT at 1025am
Total flight length: 4 hours and 5 minutes
That should seem like a piece of cake! :)

Then his LAST flight:
Departing from SLC UT at 1101am
Arriving in MISSOULA MT at 1231pm
Total flight length: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Now that one might drag or it might be lightening fast depend on how exhausted/nervous/excited he is!!!!

TOTAL FLIGHT TIME 16 hours and 1 min!!! WHEW!!

Granted flights are always changing but this is what we are looking forward to!

10 7/22/13


This is an interesting time. I have two months left.

We're having a really hard time finding new investigators, but at the same time, we're meeting a bunch of new people. We've been going through the ward list trying to find out who really lives here and who doesn't and where those who don't live here anymore moved to. We're getting information through that and cleaning the list out and we've met a bunch of people through that. This week we actually have a lot of appointments set already with several new people. We're hoping that we can get those people going on all the different things.

As for the birthday box, I thought I'd mentioned a few weeks ago that I got it. When I came up from the south, it was already in the office waiting for me. I cheated and opened it right then. I kinda needed the socks that I knew were there ;) Thanks for the goodies, the tie, the socks and other items that were there.

I feel weird with this being so much closer to the time I will be coming home. It almost doesn't feel real to me yet. I know it's coming and I'm very aware of it, but it's still weird to me.

Not many people knew it was my birthday yesterday. I only told people when my birthday was if they asked, and even then, a few of them forgot. No biggie for me. One family did invite us for goodies towards the end of the night. Just as well, if all the sisters in the ward knew, they'd have made me something, and then I'd have ended up gaining ten pounds in a day... No joke, the sisters here love feeding the elders and some of them complain if they can't give the Elders food at least once a month.

Sorry, I won't be writing much more this time. My mind is really jumbled right now, thinking about a whole bunch of different things all at once. Know that I love you and my thoughts and prayers are with you often.



Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pride and Humility 7/15/13

Dear Family,

As the title suggests, that's my topic today. We have lost the only investigators we had because their parents kept placing barriers and won't make time to accept us. To them, they just don't have the time, and as sad as that makes me, I understand it. I just hope that sometime soon, the missionaries can go back and they will have more time because the two youngest of the family have been super prepared. The pride of the parents, even if they don't recognize it, is preventing the progress of their children, and through that the future generations.

That is something that i saw with another less active member recently as well. He is a very, very proud man. The first time he inactived was a relatively understandable case when the ward helped them out with welfare and then in a thoughtless moment the branch president told him not to make a bad habit out of it. That was a thoughtless stupidity (interestingly, that branch president, now released, is also less active). About three months ago, this man went back to church because the missionaries had been stopping by to help get their youngest son baptized. Then something else happened, an offered job and help, replied with offered service, then no follow-up. And now this man utterly refuses to go to church. He says he understands that we need to go to church not for the people but for the covenants, and we shared God's love, the purpose of life, the final judgment, agency and personal accountability, and a few other things. When we invited him to go back to church to participate in the blessings of the sacrament, he refused and then went off once again on his excuse.

Then I got a little bold, as did my companion, and we asked if he knew that he was condemning the future of his family and children and generations to come. We didn't ask it in those words, and we did it with a little more love, but that was the basic idea. He cut us off and immediately replied that he knew and he didn't really care. His pride has utterly blinded him to his family, when he claims that he does everything because he loves his family, at least on the part of work and so forth. But because he cannot find it in him to forgive a momentary stupidity, a human error (and we've heard both sides of the story) even when there was no real reason to become offended, he is denying his family the blessings of God. It is incredible!

President Benson, in one of his talks, warned us of the universal sin of pride. He admonished us to beware of and distance ourselves from pride. One thing more that we must do is plead from God the gift of humility with as much fervor as Mormon tells us to plead for Charity, as quoted by his son in Moroni 7. We need to pray to receive the gifts of charity, faith, hope, and humility.

Even among the members, I am shocked at how many of them claim to understand the doctrine and the gospel, and then turn around and don't follow it at all, either refusing to apply it because of the "strictness of the word," "the easiness of the way," or out of laziness, all of which can be categorized as the "pride of their hearts."

The people are invigorated and animated to do things during the meetings, and the moment they leave (and this is a large generalization) they forget everything, changing nothing, and continuing just as they are. No wonder the scriptures warn us not to fall into the trap of thinking "all is well in zion!" The moment we think that, we deny the urgency of the work and our own desires for salvation. We cannot be saved without putting in our constant efforts to warn and save our brethren and sisters. In this last week, the scriptures in Moroni 7 and D&C 121 have had an increasing meaning and weight in my mind. I also have a lot of room to repent and put aside my own pride. But I know that if it is something we desire and we ask for, it will be given us, as God promises many times in the words of the Holy Scriptures.

My dear family, I love you, and I want to share this with you because it is what I am learning and finding. I am hoping that circumstances can change and will be different or we will never reach the dream of Zion as it was when Enoch was on the earth. Again, I love you, and I know that we can start the changes if we continue to pray for, share with, and love our brothers and sisters in the Gospel.

With love,

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

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Rescue Part 2 7/8/13

Dear Family,

Ok, This time, it won't be a rant, rather a motivational part.

As I was reading Dad's letter to me, he mentioned Moroni 7:48. Within an instant the D&C sections on the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood and the nature of the priesthood came to mind. D&C 88 and 121 are sections of revelation that can help us to understnad much more fully the reasons for all of the different things that God requires of us. With the backdrop of the 1 John 4:8, "God is Love," Those scriptures also take on a slightly different look.

We had the opportunity this week to work a little with President Ayre. He came to our area and the second we walked out the door, he contacted our landlord and another man who was with him. Within five minutes, we were back inside and taught a small lesson. The landlord was much more analytical with the whole thing, and wasn't open to feeling the Spirit much. But the other man was apparently a less active member who hasn't been to church for more than 10 years. As we shared the first and last two paragraphs from the introduction to the Book of Mormon, the less active member began to feel the Spirit much more. At one moment, he began to cry as he remembered his conversion story and shared his testimony about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Even though he didn't make it to church this last Sunday, I have high hopes to see him there shortly. This man felt the love of the Savior again.

I also had the opportunity to do my first baptismal interview yesterday. As we reviewed the interview questions, the woman bore testimony, without using the mormon jargon, about each thing; the word of wisdom, tithing, the law of chastity, the divinity and nature of God and Jesus Christ, how she came to know of the truth of Joseph Smith, even a few personal experiences in the small and simple changes that she and other people have noticed. She was super prepared by God to receive this ordinance now.

The work of the saving of souls continues in many ways. After all, God's ways are not our ways. The call to serve is the call to save. We are called to save and rescue souls. There are those who despite all efforts refuse to grab hold, but we cannot ever stop trying and inviting.

I love you all, with all my heart.


Elder Matthew Dewsnup

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

To the Rescue 7/2/13

Dear Family,

I only have a few items of news to recount this week. We just had transfers and received the new mission president. President Ayre and his wife arrived on Friday with their two sons, Alez and Nick (15 and 11 respectively). Their oldest daughter is serving a mission in Nashville, Tennessee, speaking spanish as well, and their second daughter is at BYU as a freshman.

I have stayed in Grand Bourg and have a new companion. Elder Florez is from Colombia. He's the second born child, first born son, in a family of four kids with his parents. He's cool and we'll be together for a while. Pray for us please.

And now the reason for the title. Allow me to vent a little.

We are sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven. We have a Celestial calling and duty to our brothers and sisters. When we were baptized we took upon ourselves the covenant to bear one another's burdens. In the temple, we covenanted to consecrate our time and our talents to God in His service. There are some of us who have broken that covenant and fallen away from the church. But how many more of us are breaking that covenant and don't even realize it?!

We are children of the Most Supreme Being in the entire universe and in all eternity! Every single one of us here on this earth. There are many of our brothers and sisters who have joined themselves to the covenant people of the God and have left behind that covenant. And we are just standing here watching them! We have taken upon ourselves willingly the covenants--sacred, holy, and obligatory promises between ourselves and God--to serve and save the rest of human kind.

Lets take the example of a swimming pool. We as active members perhaps are like life guards. We stand and sit in high places, able to observe the swimming pool, looking out for dangers and trying to keep order and safety for all in the pool. What happens when a person begins to drown in a public pool? What does the Life Guard do?

I have seen too many people here who just whip out a phone and send a text message or try to call a person. Someone who is at the bottom of the pool doesn't exactly have the ability to respond well to either one of those methods. Others send messages on Facebook or other online communications and social networks. Someone at the bottom of a pool doesn't all that easily have access to a computer consol.

Just as it would be absurd for a life guard to text the person at the bottom of the pool, drowning and suffocating, it is unreasonable to think that just sending a message or a quick call will to a lot to help a brother or sister come back to Christ.

So, returning a little back to my questions: what does the Life Guard do? He (or she) jumps off the perch or seat where they watch and dive to the bottom of the pool to grab the person and haul them back to the surface where they then begin emergency resucitation efforts to help the person breathe and stay alive. We should be willing to do almost the same. Rather than just "sitting on our perch," we should dive to the rescue of those who have fallen into the deep end. We must go and visit them in their own homes, and be a little persistent in doing so.

When someone is still conscious, they do not just submit to the life guard, they fight trying to get air and lift themselves up. We will need to be persistent in our efforts to save them. We can't just swim up to them, ask them if they want us to save them, and if they say no, say ok and walk away. NO. Even if they don't know that they're drowning, we need to save them. We can't wait for them to go unconscious before bringing them safely to shore.

With our less active members and with our non member friends, we must be willing to share and actually share with them the message of the Restoration. We cannot stop extending them invitations. my purpose as a missionary is "to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them to receive the restored gospel..." The key verbs in our power are invite and help, which we can never stop doing. Their part is to come and receive. But we can't ever stop inviting.

What if they say "no?" Fine, they say no. Wait a little while and invite again. Never stop showing them love. But they will never become a member if we don't invite. As the church keeps growing, there will be more less active members. But if we stop inviting because we don't want them to become less active, then we aren't even giving them a chance. We aren't even giving them the opportunity to exercise their agency. Who are we to determine whether or not they have the opportunity to go to heaven? Don't we want everyone to come back?

There will be those who repeatedly refuse. Fine. It's OK. They have their agency. But so do we, and we gave up our agency to chose the wrong when we agreed to be witnesses of Christ at all times and in all things and in all places. We chose to choose the right always. If we have experienced the Atonement in our own lives; if we know of the joy that Alma describes as one that was so exquisite and wonderful; if we understand that we want to live forever with our families; if we want to be happy eternally; if we want to look into the face of our Eternal Father and hear the words "Well done, thou good and faithful servant"; we must not let another moment go by without inviting our brethren and sisters to partake of the same blessings. If we hide our talent (a lot of money, by the way, which we could equate to lots of blessings), we won't hear those words. We must put our money to the exchangers and multiply it.

Ok, perhaps I've ranted long enough. I didn't understand much of this before my mission, but I do now. I almost wish I could go back in time with this knowledge and share it with all my friends in school. We have to invite everyone and help them. That we can do. They have to come and receive, if they decide to. But if we don't do our part, they will never do theirs.

I love you all. May we be life guards to those who are struggling in the seas of life, with much deeper waters and dangers than I shared here.

I pray for you all to have missionary experiences and to feel God's love. I hope you can feel it. Never lose hope.

Elder Dewsnup

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bigger News! 6/24/13

Dear family,

Well, I've been blasted with quite a bit of a shocker. Last Monday after writing to you we went back to the pension and I started cleaning a little bit. Then we get a call from Elder Tippets, the mission secretary. His words, "Hola, Elder Dewsnup. You're coming back up north. I'm calling to give you your flight information. Do you have something to write on?"


I waited, thinking he was joking. We had been told that if we didn't hear anything by the 15th we were good to go in the new mission. This was the 17th. Needless to say, I though he was messing with me


I was wrong. "Yeah," I said, "hold on." Flight AR 1846 leaving from Rio Grande at 16:50.

aw dang

At the airport, before boarding, I then get my funcioning camera stolen out of my carry-on. Poo. Luckily, I'd already backed up all the pictures on that memory card up to three weeks before, so I didn't lose too many pictures, maybe about 30, but the most important ones I can ask from other people who took them as well.

Then I get to the offices (Tuesday night at about 9:00ish) and see where I'm going and who my new companion is going to be. Grand Bourg with Elder López. The information I see on the special organizer marks me as a senior companion, nothing new there. I also find that I have an entire other duffle of stuff waiting for me that I left behind in the north when I went south. So I went through all that that night and the following morning trying to decide what things I was really going to need and the things I wanted to pack rat, getting rid of a bunch of other things.

Now, another surprise came. Wednesday afternoon at about 4:00 I get to my new area, bags and all, and get partially settled (pull out my proselyting materials) and we hit the streets. When we get home at night, I send a message to our district leader letting them know we are home. Ten minutes later I get a call from the Zone Leaders, asking, "Is your district all in their houses?"

"...._____]!!!! (empty space in the conversation as what they said hit me) What? What district?"

"They didn't tell you?"

"Um, no."

"Oh," a slightly uncomfortable laugh, mixed with surprise, "Well, you're a district leader."

... ... ... ... ... ...

Oh great, goes through my head. That was a lot of change all at once. I get a surprise call that I go back north, meaning no change to a new mission. Then I get a surprise call saying I'm a district leader. A lot of new things to deal with now, and yet, not so new all at once. The only slightly annoying thing about it now is that my district (of one other companionship) lives almost a full hour away by bus.

Ah, well. Goes to show ya that the Lord's ways are not our ways, neither are His thoughts our thoughts.

The new area is pretty cool. I met the Branch President the night I got here and enjoyed a pleasant discussion with him about his vision for the branch. It is so very close to that same vision that President Gulbrandsen has been teaching me for two years. I also missed half of the conference yesterday. That's how we found out how long it took to get to the area of the other elders in my district. We missed one bus, got on the other one after the training meeting started, then got there halfway through Elder Nelson's message. We'll hopefully be able to find the rest of it online, and the Branch President said that if we could, he'd show it to us in his house. The things that were said perhaps are old messages to us, but are not all the things that we hear about in General Conference also? There must be something that we just aren't getting. And here, it still hasn't been applied as much as it could be.

Perhaps we can do all of those things with the less active members. There are more than 350 names on the records of our branch here. Yesterday there were only about 50 in attendance. And the 300? Where were they? We have been working with the Branch President closely about that and we are putting into action a new ward mission plan to be able to find new people through visiting the less actives, not just us as missionaries, but also several couples from the branch and also a few companionships of the young single adults. We are hoping to see a great increase in the attendance and participation in the ordinance of the Sacrament.

Well, that about sums up the week. I got to know a whole bunch of the members and the few current investigators that we have. The work moves forward.

I love you all! Have a wonderful week!!!!



Friday, June 28, 2013

^-^ 6/17/13

Dear Family,

Well, here we go again.

Mom asked about Luis and his family in her letter to me, so I'll let you know a little about that situation to start with. Luis hasn't been coming very regularly for a while to church. He's only been once in the last 6 weeks, and the majority of the reason he hasn't come has been for work in one way or another. His son hasn't come even once in that time. Nor have his nephews. But we're working on that. It's hard to get in to see them now because it seems that Luis has more work now than he had in the Summer!

Andrés is progressing slowly. He still finds it hard to believe in Joseph Smith, which is a big stumbling block for most people. We're trying to reinforce the necesity for reading and prayer in obtaining any answer, but he's still reluctant to even do that. I think it's because he values a whole lot the teachings his mom gave him as a child, raising him as a Catholic. We're trying to share with him that we are not trying to trample or even set aside his beliefs, but rather to build them up, but I don't know if he really sees it that way. We realized in our companionship study today that perhaps one of his biggest doubts is that a belief in Joseph Smith is denying everything that his mother taught him. I also think that he still thinks that we worship Joseph Smith. Obviously, we know that's not true. He's been telling us that he doesn't think we need someone to tell us God's will if we have the scriptures (which he still doesn't like to read much of anyway). We'll be trying this week to focus on the Restoration and the need for a prophet, as in old times.

Also, once again, we were the Sacrament program. We're working on getting the men and priesthood holders that we have here more active and participating, but we're still having a few problems with that. Most of it revolves around work, but there are some other existing problems.

I will tell you this, if I finish my mission here in Tolhuin, I'm going to have a culture shock when I come back home going to a ward of almost two hundred people. I'm used to about 13 right about now, including us.

Ah, well. Things will be getting better.

This week, we'll be finishing the mission challenge to read the Book of Mormon in 90 days. I read the second half of Mormon and the first three chapters of Ether this morning. I find it strengthening to me to read that even in his moments of deepest grief for the slain of his people, Mormon feels to reach out to us and emphasize the need for us to follow the Gospel of Christ in order to be saved. That and Moroni's testimony at the end of Mormon, explaining to us that al of his people have been destroyed because of their pride and their wickedness. They continue to exhort us to diligence in keeping the commandments of God and to remember Him in all that we do. It's something that we need as a constant reminder because it is also something that we don't do with all that much consistancy as human beings. But we are promised a multitude of blessings for obeying and keeping the commandments of God.

I thought it was interesting that from 3 Nephi 18 to the end of 3 nephi, we are told fifteen times in one form or another that we need to pray unto the Father in the name of Christ. Just an interesting point that I noticed, especially with all the people who say that we need to say memorized prayers in order to be heard, or recite the same things over and over. Something to think about.

Tonight we have a full night, working with a few less active members and a few new investigators. Hopefully there will be bigger and better news next week as we increase our efforts to find new people to teach.

I love you all!

Happy Father's Day to Dad, Brandon, and Marvin!!!


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Let It Snow! 6/10/13

Dear Family,

The heavens are being a little bipolar today. Almost literally. It's been indecisive about rain/sun/snow all day. It hasn't really snowed uch, but we saw some flakes. It's the first time we've seen snow in about three weeks.

Ok, Mom mentioned that I haven't sent pictures in a while. Well, here's our zone last transfer two hours before three of them boarded a flight headed north...Inline image 2

No one laugh, I know I've gained weight. I'm working on it....

This is a picture of my current companion--the one in the middle--and one of the assistants who was with us for a few days. This is in the house of Andrés and Liz...
Inline image 1

Speaking of Andrés and Liz, they are a wonderful couple. Liz is a less active woman who greeted us in the street one day. Now her husband Andrés has a baptismal date for this Sunday. Things will depend on if he returns to smoking, but he is working on quitting. Maybe I should work with him on quitting some of the things that I eat.... Maybe I'd drop a few pounds.

Mom said I once mentioned a young teenage recent convert, but not any more information than that. Her name's Nancy, 17, and super cool. She's got a great testimony, and I think I mentioned before that she read the Book of Mormon twice in one year. She's working on inviting a friend of hers to church and the friend has gone once. Now we're just trying to meet the girl outside of church and get to know the family so we can share with them the message of the Gospel.

In three weeks from today, the chances are very high that I will still be here. The reason that is somewhat important news is that the mission is splitting. In three weeks I will belong to the Argentina Comodoro Rivadavia mission, consisting of the three southern provinces of Argentina; Chubut, Santa Cruz, and Tierra del Fuego.

More news next week! More questions!



Wednesday, June 26, 2013

This Week.... 6/3/13

Dear Family,

Once again another week gone.
Does life ever quite slow down?
At moments it seems to drag on and on,
but at others flicks by...

and I can't think of word to rhyme with down that'd fit. Dreams of being a poet, slashed to pieces... ;)

Anyway, golly jee whirllickers batman! WE'RE IN JUNE! Where have the last two years gone?! They disappeared! I protest! But I guess it won't do any good.

This week has been a very interesting one. We had much less time to actually do work in our area this week and ended up not teaching much. We did a lot more walking than talking.

Yesterday at "church" we only had 8 people (including us) show up, and one of them left early. We ended up only doing sacrament meeting, and that shorter than normal, just because everyone who wanted to bear their testimony went and it was done. Short meeting, but it was worth it. The sacrament is so important. One of the recent converts, a teenage girl, bore her testimony about prayer, sharing the story of her sick little brother who got better after she prayed for him all the time. She's super strong in her testimony and will definitely be a great leader among the women in the church here very shortly.

Another piece of great news... The one investigator that went to church yesterday has accepted a baptismal date!!!! He has been reluctant for a long time to accept a date, but yesterday we explained and taught him about the priesthood. This entire last week has been a very spirit filled week in teaching him. He's enjoyed it all and yesterday accepted a date for the 16th of June. Of course, we still have a few things left to do to help him prepare, and we especially want him to feel the change within himself, but he has taken another step towards baptism and eventually eternal life!

I've been thinking a lot recently about things that have happened over the course of my mission and I can see that I have progressed a lot, but still have a long ways to go. I feel apprehensive about the future after the mission, and it keeps looming closer on the horizon.

Well, I have to be going now, we have a few other things to do before we close off the day. I love you all!!!



Thursday, May 30, 2013

Weekly Update 5/27/13

How are things down south? How's your new companion? We're you able to fill up any more seats on Sunday? Is it getting cold? How are the new priesthood holders doing?

My dearest family,

I've already been on the computer for over an hour, reading letters, writing President, updating mission files, and now writing you, and I still have a lot to do. So this letter will sadly be a little shorter than normal.

This last week has actually been much better. My new companion is Elder McNab, from the Seattle, Washington area. He's the second of five, loves rock music, and hates the cold and ice here while at the same time enjoying immensly "skating" on the streets in his shoes.

We also are hosting the newly assigned Assistant to the president, Elder Martinez, who is the travelling assistant for the south. He's visiting all the areas here so that he can give a report about each one to the new mission president when he arrives. He was also in the same house with me when I first arrived to Argentina in Pilar, so it has been neat to catch up with him a bit.

I have not been officially moved to the new mission yet, but I'm almost sure that it's going to happen. I also have no idea what will be happening with all of the changes. I suspect that this new transfer could very easily be only until the 15 of June, which is when President Gulbrandsen said that there would be no more changes made in the organization of the southern areas bafore the end of the transfer. I have no clue, but it is a suspicion of mine. (I killed the spelling on that word I'm sure of it.)

Things down here in the south are going well. We had a great Sunday yesterday. After a whole week of trying to find a place to meet, the community let us use one of the cultural buildings. We improvised the pulpit out of a trashcan, a bucket, and an empty produce box, covered with a thick blue curtain. It was the missionary show, since none of the leaders from Rio Grande could show up, so it was kind of interesting in that sense. I presided and directed the meeting. Elder Martinez and I blessed the sacrament while Elder McNab passed. Elder Martinez said the opening prayer and lead the music and gave the opening remarks in testimony. Elder McNab spoke on the Plan of Salvation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then I spoke on Agency and how to recognize the Holy Ghost, expounding Galations 5:22-23. It had one of the five investigators present tearing up a little towards the end. It was the first time in 5 weeks that we had investigators in church and there were FIVE! with a total attendance of 15. Every single one of them from Tolhuin, because no one from Rio Grande could come! SUCCESS!! We're planning on working a lot more with them this week and hope to see all of them baptized within the next three to four weeks. This of course very much depends on their agency and dedication to fulfil the commitments we will be extending to them.

Sadly, only one of the recent converts from the past year was in attentance yesterday. Not one of the people who has joined the church since I came to Tolhuin was present, and we will be verifying why this week. The new priesthood holders didn't show up either, which was wierd to me because we were with one of them an hour before church started. In fact, he was helping us go look for the investigators to remind them about church and to wake them up if they were sleeping. (You wouldn't believe how late people sleep in here!! Some of them until 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon!! Keeping in mind that the sun goes down at 6:00...)

It's getting super cold down here. I've even been thinking about buying a new pair of warmer gloves and a replacement hat for the one I just lost. I feel like an idiot for losing a hat I had just bought, but I can't find it anywhere and have no clue where I could have left it. While most of the snow we had two weeks ago has melted, all the water has since frozen, making the roads relatively slick. We've all fallen quite a few times. Luckily, nothing more serious than a few bruises, but we had a close call with Elder Martinez today. As he slipped, he almost hit his head on the curb. If he hadn't put out his hands and weren't wearing his backpack, he'd have had a super bad accident. Lucky for him (or due to guardian angels) he just left with a bruise on his leg and a sore ligament behind his knee. I'm keeping care of my self and avoid patches where I know I will fall, though there are places where I'm surprised and fall just the same.

Anyhow. That's about where we're at down here at the moment. I love you all and hope to hear from you all soon!

Elder Dewsnup

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

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Transfer 5/21/13

Dear Family,

Well, this week the letter will be shorter. The internet café where I am right now closes in about 15 minutes. I'll be printing out your letters to read later.

¡Man! How time flies. At the start of this transfer, I will once again be staying in Tolhuin!! Elder Johnson, however is heading for Buenos Aires on a plane in four hours. Due to that, we're at the moment in Rio Grande in a small cyber cafe waiting before he has to go to the airport. The only thing I know about my new companion is that his name is Elder Macnab or Elder McNab (both of whom are Elders in this mission). We've got a lot of work to do in Tolhuin.

We've been finding a lot of people but the hardest thing for all of them is making the sacrifice on Sunday to go to church. We've now had four weeks in a row without a single investigator in church. That and soon we will be moving locations. The hope is that the new location is more towards the center of the town, but we'll just have to see what happens.

I got my package from the office on Sunday, five weeks after it was sent. It sat in a warehouse in Buenos Aires for two weeks, then took two weeks to get down here, then another week before we finally asked someone to get it from the shipping copmpany because it was taking forever for them to get it to us. I called and complained a few times to no apparent avail. After several promises of "oh, it'll be there in... (a few days, tomorrow, later today, etc.)," I'd had enough. So, Thanks Mom, I've received what you sent three months ago and I'm enjoying every second of them! I never thought I'd be so grateful for new underwear! ;) Nor had I ever thought that I'd be asking for them for birthday or Christmas either. Interesting how interests change over the years...

We've got several new people to teach this week and we're going to be working hard to get them to understand the importance of coming to church, so that they chose for themselves to come this Sudnay. Last week, I wrote a bit about that and I'm sticking to what I said. The Sacrament is the most important part of the week. It is in those moments of reverance and reflection that we often can and will receive the revelation we need from God to be able to get through the week.

I'm looking forward to reading what you have written to me and I want you all to know how much I love you!!! There is not enough room in Cyberspace to count the number.


p.s. Mom I saw the picture of the flowers as I went to copy and paste to Word. They're lovely!!!

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

Saturday, May 25, 2013

So.... 5/13/13

Dear Family,

Well, another week is gone. The last phone call has passed. So little time remains, 'til I'll be home at last.

Ok, so maybe not at last... but it was a good rhyme.

Well, we had the first snow fall today. Nothing big enough to really stikck to the ground but a couple of flakes. The problem is more in the ice on the dirt roads and the frozen mud. Once the snow really hits and starts to melt and freeze, we'll be putting on our ice walkers. I loved seeing all your faces yesterday!!! I was a little bummed about the lack of a good amount of time, but that's life and things move on.

We've seen a hard week. After meeting a whole bunch of people and two new families, we had a record low of attendence in my time here. Nine in total, four being leadership from Rio Grande and two being us. Not the ideal, especially since not a single one of the investigators or future investigators showed up. Despite best efforts, not a big turn out. But we've got another week to really try and stress the importance of the sacrament and church meetings. Something that I recently wrote to Joseph is still on my mind. And it also happened to be the topic I was asked to speak on yesterday, since almost no one showed up.

The topic was really the blessings that I have seen in my life from living the Gospel and the effect it had on my and my siblings. I sorta morphed it a little bit, because I came up with two of the most important things and focused on those. Daily family scripture study and daily family prayer.

We all have memories of the successful and not so successful moments of daily scripture study, and I'm sure Mom and Dad remember more than I or any of the rest of us kids do about those. But I do remember and will value forever the consistancy and lessons learned from those moments. I will also always remember the love felt in those moments. We had our rushed days when we would just read to read, and we had our time days when Dad and Mom would ask us understanding questions and would understand our questions respond to them. I also remember when learning to read the love and patience that all had with my halting language. I also still remember and will never forget that once when it was my turn I misread the word bond for blonde, making the phrase "both blonde and free, both male and female," or something like that. That phrase is said a lot in the Book of Mormon, and every time I come to that point I smile and remember the laughs we had at that! :)

With our family prayers, I shared with the congregation about the twenty to thirty minute prayers that we had and with a mix of tears and chuckles told them of the love I felt and the Spirit that was present. It's something that Dad about a month and a half ago commented to me about as well. Dad, if you ever thought those moments were irreverent, I cherish those moments as some of the closest moments we had as a family. The joy I still feel at the memory is filling. I also shared an experience in which I learned from Mom and Dad, from the two of you, the importance of prayer and the love and blessings that it can provide for your children.

I remember once I had some dort of question and I was coming to you later on in the evening and still being younger I just opened the door without knocking. I saw you two kneeling side by side at your bed in prayer. I closed the door most of the way, but remained standing there and listened as you prayed for each of us in turn and I felt your love for me. I still don't remember what it was that I needed in that moment, but I have a memory of receiving something better; the testimony of love from my parents and the knowledge that they lifted their voices to God for me. The Book of Mormon testifies that children are blessed by the righteous prayers of their parents, as shown by the story of Alma the prophet and his errant son Alma.

I shared those experiences and a few scriptures and ended with a testimony of the importance of the sacrament, which I want to emphasize here a little more. As Elder Oaks taught us several years ago (don't remember how many) the sacrament is the most important part of any of our meetings. It is the time in which we have to renew our baptismal covenants with God, and a time to receive a new forgiveness for our sins. It is in the moments of the sacrament that we can perhaps feel the Spirit the strongest outside of the Temple, as we contemplate the atoning gift of our Saviour and partake of the emblems of His flesh and blood. We take into ourselves, figuratively and spiritually, His flesh and blood, symbolizing a becoming one with Him. The promises of the sacrament I still remember from a Family Home Evening when we lived in Hudsen as AKT-always remember Him, keep His commandments, and take upon us His name. We are promised in turn His Spirit, that Holy Guide and Comforter, as a constant companion, as in the words of the prayer, "that they may always have his spirit to be with them" (Moroni 4:3, italics added for emphasis).

When we do each of these things with diligence and consistency (as in constant, not as in the cooking term for how liquidy it is, not sure of the spelling), we are promised the Blessings of God. "And when we obtain any blessing from God it is by obedience..." for, "I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." When we obey God's commandments to study the scriptures, pray, and renew our covenants, we will receive the blessings held in store for us. I know it.

I love you all and will talk to you again next week!


Friday, May 24, 2013

Hollar!!!!!! 5/6/13

A shout heard round the world!!!

That's a phrase around here used for a guy with the last name of Favaloro who denounces the Cleveland hospital for claiming a bunch of things. He was apparently a doctor raised in Argentina who invented the heart bypass surgery. There's a really big memorial to him here...

But anyway...

My shout for the week is that: "TIME IS GOING TOO FAST"

Mother's day is only a week away!!!!!!! :D / D:

double emotions on that one. I'm trying to avoid becoming trunky, and every time I think about the slowly decreasing amount of time I have left in Argentina, I have a big mix of butterflies and anxiety, and maybe even a few crocodile and water buffalo fights, that go on inside.

Crocodiles are very astute creatures. They lie in wait, motionless or almost so, as the prey gets closer. The last possible second, they attack, opening and slamming shut their powerful jaws, utterly refusing to let go until the prey either dies from loss of blood or drowns. Then, snake like, the crocodile slowly swallows the creature.

It made me think of the story shared by Elder Packer several years ago that has become a very widely known story and even a seminary video. It's too long of a story to put in, nor would I do it justice if I tried, so I'll leave you to look it up if you don't know it, but he compares Satan to crocodiles.

Spiritual crocodiles lie in wait all the time, waiting just long enough for us to wander a little too close to the water's edge. If we aren't careful or cautious enough, we can quickly and suddenly be caught in the crocodiles powerful and relentless jaws, and without divine help, those jaws will never release.

The Atonement, which was prepared and planned from before the foundation of the world, has been effected by a loving and every merciful Saviour, through whose grace we can become clean and perfected. We have no power, once in the jaws of a crocodile, to release ourselves. But there is a way that another can open those jaws and provide us an escape. The hands of the Master and Healer of Souls can open the jaws of hell enough for us to escape it's grasp, but on certain conditions.

For many people today, they don't even realize that they are in the grasp of the crocodile's jaws, and are slowly bleeding or drowning to spiritual death. But once we are brought to a realization of our trapped and helpless condition, we can immediately cry for help. The Protector will only be able to come to our aid if we call for Him. After all, He has put in place more warning signs than one sees for roadwork and blasting zones (after all, at the last one, we lost Billy...) It is obvious when there is roadwork taking place, with easily visible, in both light and darkness, bright orange cones and barrels. Everyone's favorite color... We are given the signs and many times we choose to ignore them and we boldly and brazenly walk right into the crocodile's mouth.

When we cry for help, we can receive it, but once we escape those sharp and deadly teeth, more is needed. That Master Healer gives us the opportunity to be healed and at our further plea offers and applies the healing balm of Gilead, dressing the wounds and anointing them with oil. But even after the healing process is complete, there will be ugly pink and red scars that may not fade for a very long time. Those scars serve as an everlasting reminder to us that we must avoid those crocodiles and the memory of those events is permitted to remain so that ever we may distance ourselves from the gaping jaws that hang open wide.

I have many scars, and some have reopened from time to time, due to my lack of watchfulness. As the healing process continues, I look to my Saviour and His teachings, through which I can even find teatment for those scars to hasten their fade. In the books of Mosiah and Alma, we find example after example after example of persons or cities or nations who realize their perril and cry out for help. The wounds of some are larger than others. Alma, the sons of Mosiah, Lamoni and his people, his father and seven Lamanite lands, even several of the Zoramites and later generations of Lamanites all find refuge in the arms of His matchless love and receive treatment from His healing hands.

I am currently reading the Book of Mormon in both English and Spanish. In one, I just reached the book of Alma, and in the other have made it halfway through Alma 5. From King Benjamin to now in these parts of the Book of Mormon, we find many evidences of the mercy of God in liberating His people from physical and spiritual dangers and bondage. In Alma 5, we read the question that this morning made me pause and think a lot.

"If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?" (Alma 5:26)

I imagine that the oldest people among the audience at this time of widespread pride among the members of the church were some of those youngest souls who heard the words of King Benjamin and felt that redeeming love as they received a forgiveness of their sins. They received in that time, so long ago, a remission of their sins and had the Holy Spirit poured out upon them as they faced the holy Temple. In this moment, I imagine that those older men and women remembered that moment of inexpressable joy and reflected on the answer to the question in their hearts.

"Can ye feel so now?" How profound! We often feel the affects of the atonement in our lives, and then, due to our human state, are quick to forget those experiences. Asking that question to ourselves can keep the remembrance of our Redeemer in our minds always.

"Can I feel so now?" I have asked myself that question several times. Sometimes I am ashamed of my answer, and at other times less so. A few times I do feel that way. I am beginning now to keep that phrase, that priceless question, in my mind always.

I know that God loves me and that He sent His Beloved Son to die for me that through Him I might be made free and find refuge from the storms of the world. I know that in these days, even if we cannot hear the very voice of God or talk to Him face to face, we can feel of His endless love and perceive the voice of His Spirit, comforting and uplifting us. I know it is true.

That was a long story that I had not intended to write, and many times I think that I get here intending to write one thing and then the keys just start to press themselves as my thoughts are released. Mentioning a crocodile at the beginning was just an expression, but it has become more than that. I know that we can be a forever family, if we all strive our best throughout the entire length of our lives to live the Gospel of Repentance.

This is God's church and His gospel. This is His will. I know it, I live it, and I love it!

I love you all and will speak with you on Sunday!



Thursday, May 23, 2013

3 "x7" "x7" 4/29/13

Dear Family,

I have three weeks of weeks left. That's a scary thought. I've already had my last conference in the mission, my last Christmas, my last New Year's, Valentine's, St. Patrick's and April Fool's days. In two weeks I'll have passed my last Mother's day as well. Things are coming to a close. It's almost like I got hit in the face by a board of the dimensions in the Subject line. There're also only two months left before President Gulbrandsen goes home. I still have no idea if I'm going to be staying in the south and become part of the new mission or will head back north to finish out my service. Things are becoming even more uncertain for me. But there are a few certainties that will never change.

God loves me. He loves you. He has a plan for us to be together eternally. As long as we always strive with all the energy we posess (spelling?) we will be able to take part in the wonderful gift of the Atonement, receive Mercy, and be welcomed into our Father's kingdom.

This week, we have not been as "successful" as we would have hoped, but we are working with a few new people and hope that soon we will be able to enjoy the full benefits of a branch here in Tolhuin. Luis has recently been interviewed to be ordained to the office of Elder and receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and will be ordained next Sunday. With that, we will have two Melchizedek Priesthood holders here aside from the missionaries, which as far as I understand it, is just enough to organize a branch of the church: four Melchizedek Priesthood holders, with the missionaries counting as part of the four. If I'm wrong, meh, it won't change the fact that we're still trying to find more men and families to share the joy with. We want to be able to take people to the temple. Perhaps we won't see it, but that is the goal that we want to leave in the people's minds.

We have also been told that the Area offices have approved a budget for a rent here in town for a meeting house. The property guys will be coming either this week or next week to look for a suitable place, but that means that now we won't have to meet in people's homes! I'm still not sure as to when the rent will start, there is still the whole process of paperwork and contracting and negotiating and all that that I became very familiar with while I was the housing coordinator, but the area continues to grow.

AND!!!! We had three young women come to church this last week that haven't come in almost two months, perhaps more! AND!!! Two of them have given us referrals to contact and are talking with people. The young men and young women have chatted a little bit at school, although I don't think they had much communication between themselves before the boys were baptized.

Sadly, another two families are moving though. Antonela has almost officially moved to Rio Grande, since she's super involved in politics. She's still leaving the house for us to use for church until we have the rent, but I haven't seen here in a little more than a month now. And Francisco has been transferred to Rio Grande as well, at least for work. He wants to work there during the week and return here for the weekends, but it's something that he still isn't sure about.

So, life moves on. I also have recently come to appreciate the Sacrament and the covenant renewal that we make through it each week. I made the comparison to one of the young women that when we are baptized, it's like we sign a contract, promising to be called in the name of Christ, remember Him, and keep His commandment, and He in turn promises us His Spirit. This contract we have expires each week, so in order to maintain the contract current, and to keep the Spirit with us, we need to partake of the Sacrament, which is the weekly renewal of the contract. It helped here to understand better, and at the same time, it helped me as well. Having worked a little more with contracts now, I understand a little more the gravity of a contract. And it also puts a little more perspective on covenants. The consequences for not fulfilling our part of a contract is spelled out within the same, and can include fines, jail time, or other punishments.

With a covenant, the disobedience is rewarded with eternal punishments. Whatever disobedience is met with an equal punishment, reminiscent of the first law of motion. However, no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God. Any sin, no matter how small, already condemns us to live without God's presence eternally. However, a Mediator or Lawer has been provided for our defense. If we have tried sincerely to put off our natural instincts and become holy (something extremely hard in these days, though not impossible) mercy will be extended and we will be permitted into God's presence, there to live forever more.

I love you all! See you in two weeks!! (by Skype, not in person...)
Elder Dewsnp

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Let Us All Press On 4/22/13

Dear Family,

I've got a lovely bunch of newsy bits, deedle-e-dee, here they are for you to read today...

If they didn't show up, there are supposed to be music notes at the beginning and end of that phrase.

Ok, so I got strep throat this last week. !GASP!! 8O (look at that as if it were a face) First time that I've been medically diagnosed with it. It's mostly gone now that I've been on amoxicilin (pardon the spelling) but I still have a few days to take the pills before it's suppose to be completely gone. It was an interesting feeling having the sensation of knives being slowly dragged along the sides of my throat. I didn't feel it much when I talked, just when I tried to swallow. In spite of that, I don't think I lost weight this week...

Francisco and Ivan's little brother Maxi was baptized last Saturday and confirmed yesterday. The stories there are funny too. On Saturday, city wide, the water was cut about mid-day because of extensions they were making to the water lines. But no one told the Elders. So we get to Luis's house to begin filling the font/pool for the baptism and find absolutely no water pressure. Awesome, what now? We had the possibility of the lake again, but by this time of year the water has dropped significantly in temperature. So all involved nixed that idea. So how do we find enough water? We thought about trying to head up higher out of town where all the houses have tanks of water and don't rely on the city for that precious resource, but that would take even longer, leaving the baptism for midnight or later. ... Ok, what gives? At about 5:45 God decided to smile on us for our efforts and probably took pity on two young missionaries who were sick and trying their best to to His will. The water turned back on and immediately we began to fill the font.

¡Phew! one problem solved. Now how do we make it hot... They have about a 30 liter tank for hot water. -.- So for the next 4 hours we were turning the water on and off trying to give it time to heat up in between al the while boiling pots and kettles of water to add. By 9:30ish, the water level was half way up my shin, just enough for Maxi, who is 9, to be submerged, so we began the service. An opening prayer, two minute talk by Elder Johnson, and 30 feet later, we enter the water. In doing so, I cut my white pants and knee open on the "staircase" for the font, though no one else knew it yet. I knelt down (ow) and he sat, the ordinance was performed and we stood up, I trying to hide my knee in the corner of the pool without anyone seeing. I wasn't sure if he had submerged completely, and after a few seconds, the witnesses told us to do it again. Once again on my knees (double ow), I performed the ordinance again, this time trying to make sure that he went completely under, and after two seconds or less, I was helping him out of the pool, wet and shivering (the water wasn't warm... though the lake would have been worse. Fail on heat.) By now, my white pants were showing that I had cut my knee. I'm sure you can imagine. Not a bad cut, but just enough that I had a flap I had to cut off while changing.

While I wa changing, Maxi and his family made a quick escape, leaving us to finish the service with Luis's family. We said a prayer and departed for the night.

Sunday rolls around and we decide that for the first time in a long time, we're going to actually go look for our investigators to bring them to church. We were under the impression, based on a phone conversation earlier in the week, that a man would be at Antonela's house to open it for us when we got there, so we went looking. An hour and a half later we arrive at the house, having met with closed and unresponsive doors on the way, only to find that the supposed man was not to be found. Another call to Antonela revealed a miscommunication between us. You see, we normally go and help her clean the house and prepare for the meetings around 11:00 or 12:00, so she thought we'd be there at that time for the man to open up and let us in and told him so. We thought he was staying at her house for the weekend and would open up for us. (Quick aside, Antonela was in Rio Grande because of some politics thing she had to do.) Well, that man was waiting for us at 11:00 and when we failed to show up (due to looking for investigators) he left, taking the keys with him.

We arrive together with the Branch Presidency member, his two sons, and two other local members at about 1:45, with 15 minutes to go before Sacrament meeting was supposed to start. Trying to figure out what to do so that Maxi could be confirmed and the sacrament could be ministered to these saints, I suggested we meet in a number of other places. Adjustments would have to be made (all of the meeting materials were inside the locked house) but at least we could still have the sacrament meeting in some other place. Trying to think of the growing, yet still weak faith of the newer members, the branch presidency counselor wanted to cancel the meeting for this week and just wait a week for the sacrament to be administered and the confirmation to take place. .... Um, no. These saints have been without the sacrament since the moment they got here to Tolhuin, have waited anxiously to participate once again, and now we want to cancel it, just because the normal place is locked?! I don't think so. One of the other members had already offered her house as a place to meet for the day, she having waited 20 years without the opportunity to renew her baptismal covenants, so that we could partake of the emblems of our Savior. Still, for the sake of the new members, the counselor wanted to postpone. We called President Gulbrandsen trying to figure out what to do. A young man would be going a full week without the privilege and blessing of the Holy Ghost, for crying out loud! With the help of President, we were able to convince all present to regroup at the house of the earlier mentioned sister and we went to get Maxi for the confirmation.

The meeting was irregular; a song and prayer, followed by the confirmation and administration of the sacrament, then another song and prayer; but the two most important things took place. A boy was able to receive the gift and blessing of the Holy Ghost, and 14 people were able to renew the covenants they had made to God and be cleansed once more.

President Gulbrandsen has taught us, many, many times, that there exist two things within us: Faith, or Excuses. We can either find a way to fulfill our commitments and covenants, or let circumstances and excuses get the better of us. When we have faith, excuses, no matter how good or reasonable they may be, can and will be overcome.

No matter what trial presents us, we need to exercise the faith to do that which will be of highest value to us in the eternities: keeping the commandments and fulfilling our covenants.

We will be facing many challenges this week, seeing as how snow will be coming soon, work and school schedules don't like to agree with our proselyting schedule, and other things. I'm sure that each of you, my dear family, also can think of the things that you need to do and the challenges you will face. But when we exercise our faith to fulfill the commitments, covenants, and promises we have made, putting God and His glory above all else, we will be blessed beyond our imaginings. "...and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (3 Nephi 24:10, italics added for emphasis). We will be blessed for our obedience to the commandments of God. He loves us and wants to give us "all that he hath." But unless we keep His commandments, "[we] have no promise," and lose the opportunity to receive those precious blessings and gifts of our loving Father in Heaven. Only through exercising our faith in Him can we witness these blessings and miracles. As Moroni teaches us "neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith" (Ether 12:18, italics added for emphasis).

Through our faith in Christ, and in His Atonement, we can repent and are healed. Through our faith in God, and in His power, we are saved and receive the strength to cary on. I know this is true. I know it with all my heart.

If this sounds like a talk, well, I might use it sometime, but I felt like I needed to share it with you. Perhaps it was meant more to strengthen myself by getting my own thoughts out in words. But again, I know it is true.

I love you all. My prayers and thoughts are with you and I anxiously await the chance to talk with you all in a few weeks.

Elder Dewsnup

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tell Everybody... 4/15/13

Dear Family,

I'm on my way!! Mom let me know while telling me a story that I had 5 months left. It's a reality, and I'm more at peace with it now. I guess I have no problems with you talking about it. Besides, It's something that I have in mind all the time while trying not to dwell on it.

But in "cooler" news, we had another baptism last Saturday. Luis, who received the Aaronic Priesthood Conference Sunday was able to baptize his nephew, Francisco. He, along with Ezequiel and Ivan, was confirmed yesterday in Sacrament Meeting. We're planning on helping them receive the priesthood this week and we'll be teaching a lot about enduring to the end and missionary work, from the view of a member. These three youth will become the future leaders of the church and as such will need to start now to prepare for that responsibility. It's so cool to think about it all. The baptism was held in the portable pool in Luis' back yard. The water heater ran out of hot water earlier than hoped, so the water was pretty darn cold. However, the alternative was the lake, and I think the pool was warmer than that would have been...

I think I've caught the flu bug. I started to feel it this morning with a mildly scratchy throat, but as I write, my body aches from the waist up and I feel slightly dizzy with a currently mild head ache. Luckily no queasiness yet. If I'm lucky, it's just a small cold bug, but only time will tell.

Leter on today we'll be going over to Luis's house to work on the construction of a small warehouse in his back yard that could become the temporary meeting house here. It'll be about twice the size of Antonela's house, and situated almost in the middle of everything. For the moment, it's just going to be an extra warehouse for his work shop, but he said that if the church needed it, the warehouse would serve first for that. He's such a stud! He also wants me to cut his hair today... We'll see how much he has left. I'll be sure to take pictures...

Speaking of pictures, the ones I took of the baptism didn't turn out all that well, so I'd rather just wait to show them to you when I return home. Besides, I can explain all about it at that moment too.

I love you ALL!! Stay strong in the faith and Remember who you are!

Matthew Dewsnup

Elder Matthew H. Dewsnup

Misión Buenos Aires Norte
Gral. Lavalle 1828
1646 San Fernando
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Monday, May 20, 2013

Weekly Report 4/8/13

My Dear Family,

So, the news for this week includes a bunch of different things. One, Luis and Francisco received the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday and were ordained to the office of Priest. Two, Luis' son Ezequiel and nephew Ivan were baptized (sadly no pictures of that one). Three, General Conference. Four, a lot of traveling. Five, new mission companion. Six, my head is still swimming after all of it!

So a little more detail about each one.

First, the ordinations to the priesthood. Francisco for a while has been hesitant, but after an interview last week with our Branch Presidency member, he accepted the call and was found worthy to receive the priesthood. I think he thought that the moment he received the priesthood he would be made a leader in the church here, but that's still a ways off, at least until we can find a few more men and really begin to organize a branch. Luis on the other hand, even though he didn't at first know exactly what the priesthood was, has learned a bit more during this last week and for sure we will continue right there to help him learn and understand more. Both are awesome and we are continuing to work with their families.

Second, speaking of their families... Ezequiel and Ivan were baptized yesterday between conference sessions. Originally, they also wanted to be baptized in Lake Fagnano, but when we went there for the service, the wind had wiped up some waves. The water was pretty cold too. At one point, while trying to coax one into the water deep enough for submersion, a wave hit me from behind. I was standing only a little passed my knees, but the wave hit me from the neck down and I almost added angle to my already crooked nose. After a few attempts, they decided just to do it in Rio Grande in the Font. And, sadly, I have no pictures on my own camera this time.

Third, with mention of the baptism between sessions... I saw very little of Conference this time. We had arranged to watch conference in Luis's house, but by the time the baptismal interviews happened and we returned from the lake it was already 2:30 (the session started at 1:00). While having internet problems, anti-virus updates, and errands that we had to run, we didn't start watching conference until about 6:30 (when the second session was already almost over). We were able to see the first hour of the Saturday morning session before connection problems forced us to stop and we went back out to the street. So I missed almost all of Saturday conference. On Sunday, we had chartered a small bus to take us to Rio Grande to watch conference. We were able to take Most of Ivan's family and a few less active members. During the first session, I missed many of the talks because we were having problems filling the font, but we finally got it going and I was able to see the majority of President Monson's talk. Mom mentioned Elder Uchtdorf's talk about patience through and healing from trials, and I only caught part of that talk. Once the baptism was finished we were a little more relaxed and were able to fully enjoy the last session. Even with that, I had a four year old next to me (Luis's other son) who was trying to imitate me by drawing rather than taking notes and I was distracted often. He's such a cool little boy. He even wore the tie that I gifted to his dad. To conclude this part, the talks that I enjoyed the most (of the ones I was able to hear) were by Elders Packer, Davies, Holland, and Falabella. I caught a snippet of Elder Clayton's talk and he was giving much the same story that he shared with us in the Argentina Conference two weeks ago. To continue...

Fourth, a lot of traveling. With all this weekend's action--baptism, conference, errands, transfers, etc.--I think I've spent about 8 hours in a car or bus within a period of two days. I hate how tired traveling makes you, even if you're just sitting there doing nothing, it's tiring. It doesn't really make much sense to me.

Fifth, part of the traveling was because of transfers. Once we got home from conference last night, about 45 minutes later, we received a call giving Elder Rosazza his flight information. He had 45 minutes to pack before we had to be out the door to catch the last bus to Rio Grande at 10:45. Because the last bus drops everybody off at their specific destinations, we didn't make it to the Zone Leader's apartment until almost 1:00 in the morning. We had to be up at 6:00 to get to the airport so that Elder Rosazza could check in for his flight which left at 9:45. I took the next bus at 10:30 back to Tolhuin alone to meet my companion who was coming from Ushuaia in the other direction. We met up at about 12:30 in the travel office. His name is Elder Johnson. From Arizona, he loves the warmth, so being here is a little interesting... He's the oldest of five kids and loves water polo. He's a cool dude. I will have a picture for you next week of the two of us.

Sixth, keeping up with everything is rough, but we're making it. Elder Johnson was in a similar situation in his previous branch as we are in here, so he already has a bit of experience in this kind of work. We've got high hopes for this area and we're making plans to continue building the kingdom. With the few recent converts that we have, we're hoping to begin teaching many of their friends, relatives, and acquaintances. More news will be coming soon.

Stay tuned for the following report!

I love you all!

Elder Dewsnup

p.s. before I forget, I've already downloaded all of General Conference with President's permission so that I can hear the talks. I'll be listening a lot this week in every moment I can.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New Week 4/1/13


Well, it's the last week of the Transfer and we've broken four records in our area. We have one more to break as our goal, and we're working hard to do it.

On Saturday last, Luis was baptized. I'm trying to get it put on, the picture that is. He's awesom, a short guy with a great beard. He's got a great testimony already. I may have to wait on telling you more of the story mainly because of the time constraint we have right now. We'll actually be heading over to his house shortly for a family day activity. We'll be making them lunch, then he's going to help us make a table in his shop and we'll get to use some of his wood working machines. The one I'm most excited to work with is the lathe. He, along with Francisco, will be receiving the Aaronic Priesthood this Sunday, in between Conference sessions, and Luis may even have the opportunity right there and then to baptize his son and some nephews. We're still in the preparations and finalizing the teaching with the others, and the biggest thing that we want to help them understand is the importance of the commitments that we extend to them so often to read the scriptures and pray daily, and attend church weekly.

The baptism was performed in Lake Fagnano, as the picture testifies. It was a little chilly in the air, but Elder Rosazza and Luis both said that the water wasn't all that cold after the first few steps in. They're only actually about two meters or less out from the shore. The lake drops off quickly and no one knows how deep it is. Despite modern technology, it is still unknown.

I love you all my dear family!!!! I had to print your letters this time because of the time, so I can't answer questions from Mom and Dad, but I'mm be sure to do more in the writing next week.

Keep things "cool,"

Elder Dewsnup

Elder Matthew H. Dewsnup

Misión Buenos Aires Norte
Gral. Lavalle 1828
1646 San Fernando
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Time 3/25/13

Dear Family,

Well, time is of the essence and it is something that we all have a shortage of. Things seem to move faster and faster now. Without entirely intending to, I discovered I had made a calendar of my time left. It was originally intended to be a reading calendar to track where I should be daily in my reading, and then I realized how much (or little) time there really was left to me.

Not much.

This week we've had the opportunity to listen to a special conference for all of Argentina. Elders Bowen and Clayton spoke, as well as one of the members of the Primary presidency, whose name I can't remember, and Elder Nelson. All of them spoke in Spanish but the Sister. I think Elder Clayton's talk stuck out most to me from the conference, but I don't have much more time to tell about it. We've got a service that we're heading to do with one of our investigators.

On that note, we've been able to help several people continue to progress towards baptism and we are hoping to be leading a family into the waters of baptism this weekend. They've been to church before, are growing their testimonies well, and are wonderful people. And they've fed us almost every time we've been over, and they have plans to feed us a lot more too. Don't be surprised if I come home looking like I'm 8 months pregnant... But then again, there are enough hills here that with plenty of walking I'm sure that I'll be able to keep it relatively under control. It's the immediately after eating stomach that worries me.

More news will have to come next week, but know that I love you all and that you are in my prayers!


Elder Matthew H. Dewsnup

Misión Buenos Aires Norte
Gral. Lavalle 1828
1646 San Fernando
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Actual News 3/19/13

Dear Family,

And now in the news, The work here progresses, slowly but surely. We have experienced many miracles this last week as we have gone about doing good. Through service and love, we have contacted and egun to teach a wonderful family who has had contact with the church before, years ago. Many from the family were able to come to church on Sunday and most have accepted the commitments to read the Book of Mormon and Pray. It is through those three basic steps that their faith can increase and build enough to feel repentance, and from there follow the rest of the path. We are doing our best now to change our way of teaching and being so as to more fully reflect and project our beliefs in our actions as well as our words. It is in those three commitments that any person can obtain the certainty and testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel.

We have not been as diligent in following up on these commitments in the past, but that has changed. We are now striving with all diligence to teach the thruths that we have been taught to all our investigators. At the same time, we are trying with our might to share the message with all. After all, the Gospel, the Good News of salvation, is a message and goal that all of us desired before. The only thing that we need to do is call the people to rememberance of the truths they have already known and deep inside desire and feel.

Patricia is still struggling with those commitments and it is our fault for not having verified better. She has investigated various other churches before and all with the same end: disconfidence and feeling cheated. We have come to the knowledge that Francisco, though he has progressed on the path, is also struggling with those commitments, but he is eager to learn more about what has now become his relegion. We will be doing all possible to help them deepen their testimony and plant the roots of the Gospel deeper into their own lives.

Another less active/part member family has at least opened the door to us more recently. We are planning on a visit with them tonight to share with them a little more about the plan of salvation and hapinnes, and we hope to help each begin to feel the truth themselves.

We also found out Sunday night that one of our investigators is a member, baptized when he was 10, but without sincere desires. He had seen the influence on his sister and saw that it was good for her, and that led he and his mother to take the steps. But after a time, the flame of testimony dimmed and now it is barely a spark. He questions in great measure the truth of Joseph Smith, which is also the interest of many of the other of our investigators, and even new members. We have plans to continue to bear testimony and share with him and his small new family the truths of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Yesterday, I was able to spend some time while we waited for our ride back to Tolhuin from Rio Grande to do a little shopping, and I was able to replace the majority of my... shall we say old... shirts. In some places you could say that by looking at my shirt, I might be mistaken for a duckling... ;) But I was able to find them at a reasonable price and quality. I bought 5 shirts for $680 pesos, which is about 130 dollars total (a little more than $25 dollars per shirt!!) BONUS! Now I just need to find good quality pants and I'll be good with two pair.

I was asked to speak in Sunday meetings the last two Sundays. The previous week, it was on the Plan of Salvation, and this last Sunday it was the final Judgement. I wish I had known on Sunday what I know now. It is quite a difference, what I woud have spoken, to what I did speak.

But anyway, that about sums up the news for now. We have District Conference next Sunday and that'll prove a challenge; we will need to find the way to transport more than 20 or 30 people an hour and a half to and from Rio Grande, Satrday evening and Sunday morning. But that's the easy part. The hard part will be to actually do it.

I love you all!!!!! Keep on keepin' on.

Elder Matthew H. Dewsnup

Misión Buenos Aires Norte
Gral. Lavalle 1828
1646 San Fernando
Buenos Aires, Argentina