Elder D. Andrew Greenman

Our son, Elder Andrew Greenman, has been called to serve in the Mozambique Maputo Mission. He has asked me to create this blog so that you, the reader, can read his letters to home. His current writing address is found below along with the most recent letter.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Manga Means Miracles in Portuguese...

Actually it means mangos but you get the point.   I love Manga more than any other area I’ve served in.  The people here are as good as ever.  The branch continues to strengthen every week.  Last week we had a frequency of 201 and we established the goal for 207 for this past Sunday.  This past Sunday we surpassed our goal and got 209!  As far as our area goes, we’ve dropped a ton of families who aren’t prepared yet and are starting over other than about 2 families that were being taught before I got here.  To get to know the area better Elder Thomas and I walked with the ward missionary leader Joaquim Conde.  Sunday after church we walked for two hours with him and he showed us where the majority of the members in our area live.  With that knowledge that we now have we are going to focus just in that area and create a nice center of force.   I gave a training this week to the district leaders in my zone on how to create a center of force.  The training went super well and they are already applying it in their areas.  Elder Robinson  the district leader in Manga 2 told of how they taught a family who lived near a members house.  They had marked the day before and apparently when they came the next day the family they had marked with had actually invited the neighbor member over.    Elder Peterson, the district leader for Manga 3  had over 40 lessons this week, on Saturday they taught 13 lessons.  I asked him how he was able to do it.  He said that the only way was by using centers of force.  Okay, so what are centers of forces.     All areas are large for the most part and would take much of a missionaries time to walk the whole are every day.  The Idea of centers of force is to only focus in one or two small areas within your area.  How do you determine where to create your center of force.  One of the main things you need to keep in mind is that the center of force needs to be where members live.  It also needs to be near a high traffic area where it is easy to find men and families walking around on the streets and paths.    Why do centers of force help?  It helps especially where the church is still relatively new.  It helps because as the families we teach will become members they will be living in a community with other solid families and recent converts, they will support eachother.  Also visiting and home teaching becomes more practical.  Also for those that live within the center of force but are not members begin to see the difference in the lives of the others around them and begin to have a desire to also have that happiness.     
Now that Elder Thomas and I know where the majority of our members live we will be focusing our time in that center of force.  Another great thing that is happening is that we have a collective marriage planned for the 21 of September.  So far the manga 3 district has one family who has opened up the process and elder Thomas and I will be opening it up with one of our families this Wednesday.  We are going to have 6-8 families getting married and baptized.  It is going to be a beautiful thing.  The manga 2 district will have a family married and baptized this week and also in the coming week.    Okay, my time is up, but more than anything I want you to know that miracles truly are happening here in Mozambique.  I’m loving  serving a mission.  I’m more busy than I ever have been before, but its good.

-Elder Greenman

Letter Written Last Week, but for Internet Freeze, Could Not Send 'till Today

Manga is the best.   I left Maputo knowing I’d have a lot to do.  To be Zone leader and trainer, but little did I know that I would also be district leader on top of all of that.  Ya…..I don’t think I’ve ever been more busy in my entire life.  The plane flight was quick and as soon as I stepped off the plane, “hello humidiy”  ya…it’s a lot hotter up here in Beira.   Elder Snelson the Senior missionary was there to pick us up and take all of us to our area.  I love Elder Snelson, he is such a great missionary.  As we rode in the car we talked a lot about Manga and it’s needs.   Another great thing is that when I got to the house it was clean and super organized.  My companion Elder Thomas is such a hard worker and he and I are having a great time together.   I told him the first day that the Lord expects a lot from us this transfer and that it is going to be a 50 50 companionship that both of us would work together.       We’ve been working super hard and he is one of my favorite companions.    As soon as I got to Manga I set up a meeting with President Abdala to talk to him about what the missionaries can do to help the branch.  We were also able to get a few other numbers from him.  There are 434 members that live within our branch but with an average of only 160 people that come to church.    This week I’ll find out how many active families live in our branch and get to know those families to be able to use them in missionary work.    As for our area there are 4 families that have been taught for a long time but the only thing holding them back is getting married.  They are all working on getting their documents.  One family though is dirt poor and literally had no way as of now to get that money.    My district is awesome.  There are six of us total and all of us are training in fact the entire Manga Zone except the two elders in Dondo are training.  Okay, so much has happened this week, I’m having a brain overload and I really don’t know what to talk about now.    I’ll just say that I love the Manga 1 branch.  Church was incredible.  For us it starts at 8:30 so we left at 7 to go get investigators.  We had a goal of four families at church.  We have sacrament meeting first.  And the chapel just kept filling up.  We had 201 people at church.  Elder Thomas and I had 17 investigators and 3 families.    The members are so awesome, our ward missionary leader is the best one I’ve seen in the world.  And elder Thomas and I talked to him about a few Ideas we have that we believe will help the branch.  also good news,  Saturday night we sat with a new family. (Alexandre and Bete) they have………..7 kids.  Ya….  A family of nine.  Not all of the kids were there but those that were all accepted baptism for sept.. 14 and they came to church as well.  Also we had a baptism of a man named Paulo.  We asked the branch president if we could do the baptism right after church so that all the members would already be there along with our investigators.   So basically it all went super well.     

Okay so the Idea that Elder Thomas and I had has to do with the collective marriages.  The collective marriages takes so much money out of the District and branch’s budget.   Solution?  Do It on a much much smaller scale.  Here in beira the marriages are done by zones or districts and the district will pay for the party.  Instead of doing that we want to do the marriages on the branch level.  And instead  of the church paying for the party we almost won’t have a party.  It will be similar to Omar and Gina’s wedding.  The Elders quorum can bring drinks and the relief society brings a little bit of food.  Everyone in the branch just donates a little bit.  This solves the problem of the church having to spend so much money on the weddings.  Another problem that we as missionaries have is that sometimes we teach families that don’t have a job, and have been searching for one for months and months or even years.  Currently there is one family like that in my area.  Julio and Delfina.    Of course the families we teach still need to do sacrifice and do everything they can but there are a few occasions where a family that we are teaching is doing everything they can but still can’t get enough money to get the marriage documents.   Solution:  the branch uses a very small percentage of what they would have spent for a party to help that family get the documents.  But the family has to work towards it, the branch president will have an interview with the head of household and give him a worthy job to do within the ward.  He will have to work hard for it but then the branch will pay for him.  It will only be in rare cases that the branch will provide this help for families because the majority are able to scrape enough for marriage docs.  So the idea is cut the costs that the branch spends on parties.  That’s the main idea, then on the side, in rare occasions the branch will use a much smaller amount of money to help certain families get married.  (the party never should have been the focus anyway.)  okay so the idea is still rough but we’ll be talking to the branch president on Tuesday.    Okay so the internet ran out here and I don’t have anyway to send this so I’ll probably have to send it next week.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Elder Greenman and Elder [is it] Thomas?

Elder Greenman was not able to make it to an internet café this week due to electricity problems in his apartment...he and his companion had to spend P-day waiting for an electrician, however, we were blessed to have a picture sent to us from one of the couple missionary sisters who serve with him. What a dear! I think this is Elder Greenman's new companion named Elder Thomas.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Back to the Motherland

This week was really good.  About 20 new missionaries arrived to our mission and 8 are leaving which allows for some areas that were closed to be opened back up again.  (this includes Dondo!  My first area is opening back up again.)  This week two of the new missionaries stayed at our house.  Elder Ndala from Angola and Elder Ujembe from Magoanine (a city near Maputo)  They stayed at our house and worked with us in preparation to be transferred up north to their first area after the Mtc.  Elder Ndala worked with Elder Hamrick and I with Elder Ujembe.  We taught so many lessons this week and continued to find more families to teach.  We found another 20 new investigators this week.  Our area truly continues to be blessed.  Every day we are finding more families to teach.  This past week we taught the Law of Chastity a ton! We have 5 families who have accepted to open up the marriage process this month to get married in Sept.  That is 5 families being baptized in Sept.  Miracles are happening here in Mozambique for sure.    This past Sunday we had District conference in the new Matola Chapel.  Elder Cook from the Seventy came for the Saturday sessions, and it was really good to talk to him again and feel of his genuine love for everyone.  We knew that the Sunday sessions would be very special because President Kretly said that he  was going to show the “it’s a miracle” video made by our mission that talks about how many couples in Mozambique were able to get married, follow the Law of Chastity, and all of this by putting God first and the traditions behind.  Knowing that this video would be shown we did everything we could to get as many families as we could to church.  When it was all said and done we had 4 complete families and various other part families.  They all loved the conference and many of them expressed afterwards their desire to get married and follow God’s commandment.    After the conference when the majority of the members had left President took me aside and asked, “Are you ready for the trip?”   I knew transfers was going to happen but I did not expect at all that I would be leaving, especially since Elder Hamrick and I have been seeing miracles happen in our area and had only been together one transfer.   Regardless, I told him yes I’m ready.  He told me that the Lord needs me in Manga, which is a neighboring city of Beira.  (yup, I’m going back to the motherland.)  He told me that I will continue to train and will continue as Zone leader.   My companion will be Elder Thomas.  Elder Thomas came in with Elder Hamrick, they were in the MTC together.   It will be quite interesting to train finish Elder Thomas’s training right after starting elder Hamricks (a missionary is trained for two transfers, therefore Elder Thomas and Hamrick still have one more transfer of training.)    I’ve been thinking a lot about duty and the responsibility I have as a missionary to go where God wants me to go.  It has never been harder to leave an area.  It has never been harder to leave the branch where I’m currently serving, but I know that this is where God wants me to go.  And I only desire to go and do what the Lord commands me to do.    I have a few goals upon arriving in Manga that I feel need to be accomplished.  First  serve my companion and gain his trust.  Second have a meeting with the branch president and ask him what we as missionaries can do to help each other become the best missionaries, find out how many members are in the branch, and how many currently attend, also how many active families are there in his branch.  More than ever I want to, and need to use member in this work.  By the next weeks letter I will account on these goals that I have set.  I know that  this next transfer will only be a continuation of the miracles I’ve seen here in Maputo.   The principle of obedience is what helps me the most in deciding to not be depressed or sad about being transferred.  It is hard, but I do not regret the time that I’ve had here and I will willingly go where ever the Lord needs me and continue to make the best use of my time there.

-Elder Greenman

Monday, August 5, 2013

It's Not Bad to Be Black

Editor's Note: Last week Dave asked Andrew what he has learned so far in his mission. Here is his response, plus more about the progress of his mission.

Things I’ve learned:  I’ve learned that God wants to bless us and grant unto us happiness but cannot do so unless we follow his commandments.  I’ve seen that in my life as well as in the lives of those I have the opportunity to teach.  In life, the natural man entices us to find the quickest possible way to pleasure.  Sometimes we are motivated simply by the desire to fill our physical demands.   Motivation is based on the desire to maximize pleasure, avoid pain, optimize our well being, and minimize discomfort.  The natural man is motivated by these desires.  What about a man of God?  What motivates him?   A man of God is motivated by ethics, by faith, and even by the desires listed above but inverted.   That is, a man of God is motivated by helping others have more happiness, helping others have more comfort and ultimately salvation.    When teaching families who have their own set of cultures and traditions as missionaries we often have to motivate them to follow the commandments of God.      There are two kinds of motivation:  extrinsic and intrinsic.  Extrinsic motivation is not a long lasting motivation. Examples of extrinsic motivation when teaching someone the law of chastity is to help them recognize the social benefits for being married.  Help the person recognize the physical benefits for following that specific commandment.  
 Intrinsic motivation comes from within and  is longer lasting.  The motivation is derived from the person recognizing that it is the right thing to do and that is why they do it.  An example of intrinsic motivation when teaching the law of chastity could be to help the person recognize for himself the blessings and importance of following a commandment because it comes from God.    To do this we ask inspired questions that the spirit takes to their heart.  This transfer I’ve learned that when teaching commandments of God the people need both kinds of motivation.  Extrinsic with intrinsic motivation by far lasts longer.   This transfer I’ve learned how to make better use of questions to help the investigators know from within that they need to follow the commandments, not just because God said so, but inspire them to desire the blessings that come from it.
This week was harder than the last and was also humbling.  With so many families to teach Elder Hamrick and I have had to rely even more on the help of God.   With so many families to teach and so little time to do it in we knew we needed the Lords help.  We also knew that the Lord has so much more potential for our area and that he doesn’t desire us to stop here.  Many Elders work in phases.  They have a phase where they only find people, then the teach then they baptize then they start again at ground zero.    Elder Hamrick and I are determined to keep things rolling we continued finding this week and sat with 6 new families this week.  On top of that we continued to teach our progressing investigators.   On Tuesday we taught Claudio and Emilia.  Actually we just taught Claudio and his friend Felix that was there.  Claudio had sent us a question by text.  He had read in the beginning of 2 nephi about the lamanites and the skin of darkness.  Elder Hamrick and I studied on how we could best answer his question.  We found many scriptures that would help.  We started with 1 nephi, in the beginning where the prophecy is made that if nephi’s brothers rebel they will be cut off.  We explained that this was the curse, being cut off.  We talked about the amalicites and how they put a mark upon their forheads to differentiate themselves.  We explained that in the same way the lamanites were given a darker skin to differentiate themselves from the Nephites so that the Nephites would know not to mix with the lamanites in fear of mixing also with their traditions and wickedness.  We also explained that at the end of the book of mormon it was the lamanites that were righteous and the nephrites were wicked.  We explained that the color of your skin does not have any effect on you being righteous or not.  We closed with a scripture in 2 nephi (I can’t remember where) where it says that the lord invites all to come unto him, both bond and free, black and white.   It was a really sprititual lesson and all of Claudio’s doubts were answered.  Now his felix is kind of a funny guy, and at the end he said he had two questions, “Was Jesus black?  And is God black? “   I knew that eventually someone was going to ask us that question.  We explained that Jesus was a Jew and just like different races have different skin so did Jews.    Then Claudio answered his question about God being black.  Claudio said that it is a mystery of God and something that we don’t need to know to have salvation.    We all smiled and that seemed to be a good enough answer for felix.   This week was really good at church.  The spirit was super strong during fast and testimony meeting.  We only had two complete families at church, but we did have 9 part families where the husband or the wife didn’t make it.   I’m excited for this coming last week of the transfer and hope that Elder Hamrick and I will stick together in our area.    This work is hard, but so gratifying.  I often come home every day exhausted but somehow in the morning I have just enough strength to make me through the next day.  Miracles happen everyday!  I know that our God is a God of miracles.   Things are changing here in Mozambique, I’m so blessed to be a part of something big.  The Church is True!

-Elder Greenman

Sunday, August 4, 2013

It's A Miracle

President Kretly posted this on YouTube about Beira in the Mozabique Maputo Mission. It is so inspiring. (Almost persuades me to put less emphasis on big wedding parties!)

It's A Miracle

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Guess what!???  This week was full of greatness!  It was a little harder than last week.  I’ll give a quick update of the new families who came last week.  Joao and Gina have both received their answers from God that these things are true, so has their 19 year old son.  I love teaching this family.  Joao is such a humble and happy man from Beira.  I just love looking into his shining eyes as he tells us that he knows that Joseph Smeny (that is how he pronounces it) was a true prophet.  The family is doing well but we are also finding some difficulties we will have to help them overcome.  The pastors from their previous church came to their house this week, and we also found out that their son Sabado who is 19 has a drinking problem and he also smokes weed…ya.     We’ve been working really hard to get Sabado integrated.  We introduced him to Daniel, the ward missionary leader who is his age and they’ve gone to some youth activities together and Sabado has realy enjoyed his time.  This week Joao and Gina didn’t come.  Joao was super sick and Gina had to take care of him, Sabado on the other hand was there and loved church.    Leonardo and Emilia, who also came for the first time last week came this week as well.   We have come to love this family so much.    They have a baptismal date for August 18th.  We have come across a few problems though,  we found out on Saturday that they still go to their other church throughout the week and Sunday morning before they come to ours.  This week we have a plan to help them recognize that they need to chose one.   Also two weeks ago we found a muslim man named Abdala.  (he’s not really muslim, and neither is his family, he was just born into a muslim family and basically doesn’t go to church.)  He has a very big family of six kids.  One of them is currently living in South Africa.  All the others  live with him at home.  The second oldest already has a wife and lives there as well.  The Abdala family is really special, and very interested in learning more about Jesus Christ.  They also feed us loads of African food every night we go there.   Which is nice, but it also makes us late for our other appointments, and there is no way you can just deny their food, so our genius Idea is to bring a container and say that we have to go, but they can put it in the container.    African food is soooo nice.  Last week they couldn’t make it to church because they had already committed to go to their cousin’s baptism.  This week they promised that they would visit and be at church this week as a family.  Claudio and Emilia are doing well but still don’t understand why they need to get married as soon as possible.    All in all it was a really good week.  On fruits day (Sunday)  we were blessed abundantly, I could even say that is was a miracle.  Once again we left home early and were in our area two hours before church started.  We passed by all the houses of the families we are teaching and sent them off to church.  We were confident that we would have at least 4 families at church again.  When we got to church still none of our investigators had arrived yet, and…..the power was out in the chapel which translates into extra hot rooms…..  But  that didn’t phase any of us. One by one the investigators that the Assistants are teaching started showing up.  We were really happy for them, last week they had 4 families at church and we could see that many were coming back.  Still none of our families had come yet.  We had also found out earlier that day that Claudio wasn’t going to be able to make it to church because he had to go work.  We waited patiently at the gate of the chapel, the first class had already started and was going to end in about 20 minutes.  In those twenty minutes all our families started coming.  I don’t even know how to describe how happy I was when I saw them all coming to church.  By they time sacrament meeting started we had 7 complete families at church and two other part families.  It was such a blessing to see so many people that were being taught by the missionares there.  (what is even more amazing is that we had two new families that came that had never been taught but that we had invited just the night before)  The assistants also had many families and investigators at church.  The frequency at sacrament meeting was 109.  Of that number 45 were individuals that were brought to church by the missionaries.  In just a short amount of time our branch has grown a lot.  When I first got here in this branch we averaged 80-90 people at church.  This week we had 109.   What is even more impressive is that that Sunday the new Matola chapel was being dedicated so various members had gone there instead of staying and helping out in their branch.  I believe that if all those members would have come to our branch we could have had 130 people at church which is a growth of more than 30% in one transfer.    Our branch is growing and our area is exploding in large part because we are applying the things we are learning in District meeting with Elder Croft.  He has given us a greater vision of how to do missionary work creatively.  Recently was published an article in Deseret News about the families he baptized in Beira.  When he got to the area it was dead and he walked a ton every day with no success, but he decided to change his paradigm and let God work through him. (http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/63802/Miracles-in-Mozambique.html )
I have also been thinking a lot more about the needs of the districts in my zone.  I want to talk briefly about the attitude that the missionaries in Magoanine had towards their branch and their area:
Their attitude was negative.  It was so hard for me to hear their complaints about their branch and how nobody in the branch give references or helps.  The paradigm is so skewed.  The magoanine branch is the strongest branch in the mission.  It has the most melchesidek priesthood holders and the most full tithe payers and wonderful members.  Yesterday after Church Elder Hamrick and I took a chapa to Magoanine to give a training.  In the training I taught them the principles of a paradigm and how a negative paradigm never has helped anything or anyone become better.  Further more I explained about a positive paradigm and how it is so much better than a negative one.  To explain this we did an activity.  I displayed four pictures of common scenes in Africa and gave them about 30 seconds each to write every possible negative thing they could.  We repeated the activity writing down all of the positive things in the pictures they saw.  After this experience I invited them to no longer have a negative paradigm about their area or their branch.  But then I went on to explain that it isn’t enough to just have a positive paradigm.  We did the activity once more writing down creative ideas, or solutions for the negative things in the pictures.  Being a creative thinker is SO much more powerful than a positive thinker.  When we just think positively we aren’t always fixing the negatives, in fact I think it is safe to say that a positive thinker often times tries to ignore the negative things.  If you ever want to make a difference you must recognize what needs changed and then creatively find a solution.   At this point in the training I invited them to think about their branch.  I didn’t have them write down the positive or negative things about their branch, they already knew those things, but I invited them and gave them some time to write down all of the Creative ideas that could come to their minds to change the situation, to help the negatives become positives, to help weaknesses to become strengths.  I testify that God gives us weaknesses so that we can be made strong.  There will often be times in our lives where we will have to humble ourselves enough to accept God’s help in strengthening us, our area, or our branch.  All of the Elder were touched by the traning and I pray and hope that they will begin to apply the things they learned so that when they get transfered they will have made a difference, and they will be sad to leave an area and branch they love instead of being so happy to get out of there.  When change is needed we can either let those who will come next make it happen or we can.  I am decided to be the change I want to see in my area, my branch, and the world. 

My Area

-Elder Greenman