Monday, January 28, 2013

From the Land of Fire 1/28/13

Dearest Family,

So, things here have been very interesting and different. Dad mentioned that the latitude here is further south than Missoula is north, and I believe it... all too much. The temperatures have hovered as a high at about 60 and a few days have gotten below the 40's. It's really weird to have temperatures like that in a time frame that's supposed to be summer. The town is pretty small and abnormally quiet, as I'm used to the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires. Even the dogs here don't bark all that much.

Now to answer some questions from Mom and Dad. (Sarah, I'll get pictures as soon as I can, working with a member to get a new battery charger, and I have a disposable camera with which I've taken a few, but those'll take longer)

The area is quiet, small town feel with a large surface area. We actually belong to the Austral branch which is located in the city of Rio Grande, about an hour and a half drive north. About a year ago, a few members mutually found out they were members and found a way to communicate with priesthood leaders and were able to form a family group here. We're not even a branch, just a family group, but we hope to form a branch here by April. On that note, Dad, what are the requirements to form a branch? Sunday meetings are held either in the house of a member or in a local school house, depending on circumstances during the week. They should be in the school house, but sometimes we can't get the key to the school. I'm thinking about making a copy, but to do so would have to talk to the director of the school. That and at the moment we have lent the keyboard we have to an investigator who is waiting for divorce papers to get married here with an old member so she can be baptized. She'll be directing the music for the meetings and is beginning to familiarize herself with the music of the church. Dad, she's also an excellent guitar player and she asked to see pictures of your guitars. Could you take pictures of the walls and email them to me?

The nearest church buildings are about equally far, in Ushuaia and Rio Grande. My companion and I are in this area which coveres eveything in about a 10 km radius, perhaps more, but we stay in the central "city" for the most part. The maps on Google lie, there has been some growth recently that is not on there yet. It takes about 45 minutes to walk from one extreme to the other of the city area, and we don't have a car or bikes. But the walking is good for me. I need to start me pre-return diet so I look good. I won't be able to woo many girls with my current form (wink ;D) And Mom, I left my license in the offices and at this moment am not sure where it is. I may have to get a new one when I return.

Tolhuin is more like home (Montana) in respect to seeing mountains daily and walking in hilly territory. The apartment is located close to the center of the town. Mr. Clean will be coming out again today, though it's no where near as bad as other areas have been. The dirt and dust is terrible here with all the wind, and there are very few paved roads, though the projects of pavement have recently begun.

My companion's name is Elder Rosazza. He's a latino from Peru and is a very joking character, though in ways slightly different than me. We get along well and joke around all the time with each other. He's also only in his third transfer in the mission field, and I'm his third companion. Together we're trying hard to find the men and married families that will help the church really grow here.

In that train of thought, we are teaching a couple whose names are Francisco and Patricia. They're great people and have already invited us twice for dinner (and they're not even members!!) They like all the things that we've taught them thus far and are in agreement, the only things they have trouble with are daily reading and prayer. We're hoping that Francisco will get baptized this weekend, and then the following receive the priesthood so he can baptize his wife himself! How cool is that!!!

There are lots of opportunities to serve here. Most of the people run their houses on lumber stoves like in the old days, so we've been able to lend hands and strength to chop plenty of wood. And I up to now do not have a cool check mark for chopping like Dad does, though I almost hit my foot the other day. Most people are also building their own houses out of wood frames and lumber, altough there are also several built out of metal frames and tin roofing (think of the houses from The Other Side of Heaven during the huricane).

We've also heard some interesting stories about this little island. Apparently, when some of the first settlers came here, who were Christians, they converted many of the people and the place was formally named Tierra del Fuego del Espíritu Santo (the Land of the Fire of the Holy Ghost). Also, those explorers found the three local native tribes building gigantic bonfires for warmth and ceremony. The history here is really interesting, and many of the animal species that are found here were actually brought here, among which are beavers, salmon, and parrots. Don't ask me why parrots, I haven't a clue. People are also paid to hunt beavers because there are no predators to keep the population in check and they have been wiping out many of the local forrests. So, Marvin, if you want a shot at some beaver, come on down.

Anyway, we need to get going so we can get some things prepared for the week. A general authority is coming on a mission tour this week and it's possible that he'll pass through Tolhuin and want a look at the apartment... And at this moment, I wouldn't want him to... But by the end of the day it'll be sparkling.

I love you all!! Keep asking questions, I love'em.

Elder Dewsnup

Monday, January 21, 2013

Big News 1/21/13

Well, in the process of only 6 weeks, I have now served in three areas and had 6 companions. I have now been transferred to a small town called Tolhuin in Tierra del Fuego (the almost southern tip of Argentina).

It's more like I like it temperature wise here, cool. Not hot, and not (at the moment) too cold. It was quite a change. That and I have found out that the ozone layer here is supposedly the thinnest in the entire world. I'll definitely be getting a good use out of my sunscreen now, even if it's not hot. It was a shocker for me to have been transferred after less that five weeks in Caballito, but the Lord does what He knows will benefit His children the best.

The work here is much harder. We don't even have a full branch here. We have a family group of about 8 families or single people, with few of the active, seeing as how the group was formed only about 7 months ago. We're working hard now to get to know them all, get them active, and build up enough active members to form a small branch here. That requires priesthood holders, so we're focussing mainly on men and married families, but the people here are warmer than the temperature. At least I don't start sweating now the moment I walk out the apartment door.

I'll be able to tell you more next week. We only have a limitted time today, seeing as how we've got a lot to do and the places are far distanced. I love you all and want you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Elder Dewsnup

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The New Year 1/7/13

Dear Family,

I want to share with you some of the experiences that we have been having here in Caballito. The following is an exerpt (most of the letter minus maybe two short paragraphs) from my letter to President Gulbrandsen this week:

"We've been seeing miracles here! Last week week we were able to find many people to start teaching. We didn't have almost any people to teach, and things were rough because many people in the ward had lost confidence in the elders from past actions. But when we started having meetings with the ward presidencies, we were able to get many names of less active people whom we could visit (seeing as only about half of the 5-5-5 list belongs to our area). On Sunday night last week, we passed by the house of one of those 5-5-5 families and knocked on the door. As always, we had done the prayer beforehand to find new investigators, men and families. Through the door, they asked who we were and we replied the missionaries. They asked us if we could come by the following night since they had people over in that moment, so we set the hour with them. When we passed by last Monday for that house, we knocked at the appointed time and they opened the door. We greeted them as our brother and sister from the church, but much to our surprise, they told us that they were not the family we were looking for. The 5-5-5 family had moved about two months ago, but they invited us in and they tolds us a little bit about themselves. They are a young family, a couple with four kids, only one baptism age, but all with a strong Christian background. The wife had even spoken with missionaries several years ago! After we taught them the first lesson, they agreed to a baptismal date!! We were almost shell shocked with the blessings we had been given.

"Then the following day, we were walking past a recent convert's place, who wasn't home, trying to find out why they hadn't been coming to church in a while and there was a woman who stopped us just around the corner. She told us that her son had been baptized a few months ago in Juncal, but that since they had moved here, he hadn't been to church. She asked us to come by the next day to speak with him. We still haven't really been able to talk with him, but in the process of the week, we discovered that no one else in her family were members but this one son, so we began teaching them and now both the parents have baptismal dates as well.

"Through constantly praying, trying always to improve in our planning, and opening our mouths we also found a few other people who are willing to listen to us and have set a few other dates, some of which did not get to church despite our plans. But now we have firm testimonies in the tender mercies of the Lord. We have been blessed a lot according to our obedience and our diligence. Since Elders were put in this ward, the teaching has been slow, but by not losing faith and constantly and consistantly trusting in the Lord, we have been able to witness miracles.

"Another thing that we have started doing is praying after almost every visit to thank God for what we were able to accomplish and to help us as we prepared for the next visit. In all that we have improved upon, I think that my personal testimony of the importance of obedience and diligence has grown significantly. I'm anxiously looking forward to the future opportunities here in this ward, and the leaders are seeing our progress and have begun to trust us more. They see that we are willing to work and have begun to work more with us. That perhaps is one of the biggest miracles."

I was super happy to hear about things back home. Brandon, thanks for the message you sent about working with the ward members, we've looked over them and will be applying several in these last two weeks of this transfer.

We have been so blessed as we have continued in this area to study and pray as a companionship. I think I now understand why I had some of my "disagreements" with my last companion. I've had to help Elder Jackson learn some of the same things that I learned from Elder Abaroa. Notice I didn't say I taught him. I helped him learn them on his own. We've been learning so much together about ourselves and how to become not only better missionaries, but also better men.

And, as we have been working together with the ward leaders and the families that they wanted us to visit, they have grown to have relationships with us as well. They trust us with their families and their homes and have opened themselves up to coming with us to our visits. In our finding efforts and bringing people to church, we're slowly getting better and the leaders are seeing the results of those efforts now. The Bishop was particularly pleased that we brought a couple yesterday and enjoyed a chat with them about how they liked church. The woman in the couple also got to know the ward employment specialist and they will be working together to help her find a job that their family desperately needs.

Things are now progressing more rapidly and we have really been witnessing the blessings of God in our area. These people are our brothers and sisters, our own family members, and we are helping them to get to know our Father a little better. The two things that I think I enjoy most are feeling God's love for the people, something that He has blessed me with from time to time, and seeing the light in someone's eyes as they gain a testimony of the truth.

This is the true gospel. Ours is the only church on the Earth today with the full and restored power of the priesthood, with all of the sacred and holy truths that were taught by our Savior and King. With both the Bible and the Book of Mormon together, we can and will come "to know...God, and Jesus Christ, whom [He] has sent." I know it is true.

I love you all and pray for you daily.


Elder Dewsnup

Wishes 1/14/13

Dear Family,

My wishes are that you all have an absolutely wonderful week.

My wishes also include new investigators, since the ones we have are not really progressing that well. In fact we've almost lost the majority of them. One family moved, two others are on vacation, another family is having serious doubts of revelation that they received, and the last is going through some pretty bad back pain. On the whole this week was a little disappointing, but the silver lining is just hiding from me at the moment.We also pretty much deep cleaned the majority of the apartment today and we got rid of some junk. The bathroom looks better, but I can't figure out how the bath tub got so stained. The both of us took turns scrubbing with a dish sponge, then a scrub brush, then steel wool, and nothing really worked... ... ... Well, keep moving forward.

We've been double and triple checking ourselves and have set some new goals for how to get the work going a little faster in the area and we'll be putting some of the in practice today. We've also got a couple of projects going to help the work move better, but those are coming along slower than I'd like. On the whole, though, things are good. It's hot and humid and my companion marvels at the waterfalls that increasingly pour off my head. I swear, even my hair is crying for me to get out of the heat :D

The letters you've sent to me today are being printed to read later; we're in a bit of a rush to get a bunch of other things done today before the transfer ends on Sunday. So, I love you all and I hope you have a wonderful day, and a wonderful week. Give the kidlets kisses and hugs from Unca Ma, and know that I pray for you.


Elder Dweebu... I mean Dewsnup ;D

¡Feliz Año! 12/31/12

This is definitely an interesting year. Dad mentioned that he got an iPad mini ... o.O And that he was dictating his message to it like on Star Trek... o.O ... O.o ?!? I feel old fashioned now... Mom talked about how she has been taking down the decorations early... !! GASP !! And about the tree... was it real or fake... ?

There were things that I missed but it was a rather fulfilling day. To end the day we spent some time with a family in the ward who also have a missionary out in the field, serving in Colombia. It was a real treat to be there, and I had fun playing with the younger kids while listening to their daughter sightread very well David Lanz's Christmas music. The younger ones have gotten to love me so much that when they saw me in church on Sunday, they ran to me to give me hugs. It was really nice. They also made us some treats... They have contributed to a slight loosening of my belt this Christmas season.

Elder Jackson and I have really been having a rough time in this area. Not because of not getting along, which we actually do quite well, but with the fact that some past Elders did some things that lost the trust of the ward and it's a little rough getting it back. But we've already won the confidence of the Bishop and most if not all of the organization leaders, mostly due to a new sense of optimism and focus that they didn't see before. We're struggling to get appointments each day, so we look at our lists of less actives and try to set appointments with them. But at this time of year, most of them are on vacations for the summer, visiting family or friends out in one of the other provinces. It is a little frustrating at times, and at others very discouraging, but we have the occasional miracles that keep us going.

One of those miracles was that a woman stopped us in the street yesterday and said that she was preparing herself to come to our church and wanted to get baptized. !!!!!!!!! The thing that makes it a little difficult to reach her now is that she also told us that she was going to visit her family in Tucuman for the next three weeks and that she'd already received some of the lessons there. She might get baptized there, but once she comes back here we'll be able to really include her in the fellowshipping and will try to help her share the gospel with her friends ASAP. She was really sweet about it, too, saying that she had been trying to look for us. The really cool part about it was that we almost didn't run into her. We had just left a house, and were heading back up the street when I...randomly...decided to turn left rather than go straight. At the end of the block, she stopped us. If we hadn't turned, we'd have missed her entirely. So my "randomness" was apparently a Spirit guided action. I just love those!

We're learning some interesting things about each other and about the Gospel as we keep studying and discussing things. The fact that he has a vocabulary very similar to mine makes the conversations really interesting and we actually understand each other too. We also recently played the communication game, which we soon will also be implementing with some of our lessons. It's really been helpful for several things in the past and I hope that it will be equally useful here.

I love you all with all my heart and I hope that you will have the opportunity to share the gospel with more people as you continue in your daily tasks. It's true. Jesus Christ lives and loves each and every one of us. "The worth of souls is great in the sight of God"

Elder Dewsnup

Extra 12/24/12

Hey, Sorry about the short notice. I was hoping to have more time, but with the emergency transfer I haven't had much time to do anything lately. A lot of my stuff is still stuck in the bags. The only things I have really unpacked as of yet have been my study books and my clothes. Anyway, I also don't have much time now because we had to traevl most of the day for a Christmas activity for the mission.

So the christmas call. I was also hoping to hear from meg as to what time she has to do her call. and I'm sorry about the short notice. but the call will be at about 11:45 your time, Mountain Daylight time. My time will be 3:45, after lunch with our bishop. He's such a cool guy! I hope that doesn't conflict, and even if it does, I'm sure we can get megan and Marvin and them up on Facetime with Dad's ipad. Sometimes I love technology. Other times it just gives me a headache.

I haven't had time to read you letters yet either. I'll try to print them out tomorrow to read before I talk to you.

I love you!!!!!!

Elder Dewsnup