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
MisiĆ³n 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