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 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

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