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, October 28, 2013

The Work Goes On!

Mother's note: Andrew wrote us a personal letter in our "native" tongue, Spanish, this week.He told us that the area, district and zone are all doing better. He also reported the good news that 5 of their current families attended church this past sunday and are all progressing. Andrew has been able to respond to the call of need as a leader in his zone and help others in their struggles. He feels the closeness of the Spirit as he serves and loves his fellow missionaries.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Service and Love: The Fount of all Goodness

I know that as the Lord sees our desire through our actions (our faith) he begins opening up doors and helping us find the way.  Various times in the scriptures it says, “ask and ye shall receive.”  But it doesn’t just stop there.  He continues to say, “seek and ye shall find…”  The first step is to ask.  When we ask with faith the Lord with give it unto us. Many people however forget the second part.  We also need to do everything in our power to seek and obtain the answer, help, or guidance from the Lord.   Elder Mason and I have been making more steps to becoming more Christ-like missionaries. This past week in one day alone we were blessed by sitting with three new families.  They were really good families.  I also had the opportunity to do two divisions this week. One with Elder Schachterle and the other with Elder Fernandes. The divisions went well.  I walked in  Elder Schachterles area.  It was a very good learning opportunity for the two of us.  They have a new family that they are teaching, and the wife has always refused to sit with them because she's too busy.  Two days earlier for one of our studies Elder Mason and I talked about the elements of a first good lesson.  One of the points that came up was how when Ammon taught King Lamoni he first gained his trust through service.  Before he taught anything, he served.  When Elder Schachterle and I showed up at the the house of this family, the husband had not arrived from work yet. Agusta was in the yard cleaning up.  After saying good afternoon and a quick introduction I asked if I could help.  She said no.  At this moment I learned you can't ask someone if they need help.  I got on my knees and just started helping to clean dishes and her water buckets.  After which we filled up the buckets with water.  At first she told me I was just going to get dirty.  I didn't mind I told her.  I'm here to serve, I responded.  After serving for almost 20 minutes the husband came.  During those twenty minutes, we discovered that she has another church, and just didn't feel like she needed to be taught anything else.  Finally, by the time her husband arrived, she finally accepted to sit with us, but only for five minutes.  Needless to say that those five minutes turned into 30. She began to soften and had many questions. Meanwhile in my area Elder Mason was walking with Elder Lynn. They contacted a man named Roque. He is a policeman, (with a higher up position) and his wife Isabetta is a professor. They marked with him and we ended up teaching him on Friday.  On Friday I did a division with the Dondo district leader, Elder Fernandes.  Elder Mason went to Dondo and once again I walked with Elder Fernandes.  I love being with Elder Fernandes. He is a convert from Cape Verde with a fire to preach the gospel. The division went very well, especially the lesson with Roque and Isabetta and their daughter Sheila.  The spirit was so strong in the lesson, and when given the baptismal challenge they responded yes, and they said it confidently.  
     Tuesday was the day that we taught three new families.  The first one was Domingos and Beatriz.  Domingos is an inactive member who had a dream three weeks ago where he was told he needed to go to church.  So last sunday he came with his wife, who already has her own church.  On sunday we marked to come to their house on Tuesday.  When we arrived the lesson went very well.  On the division we had the next day, Elder Mason and Elder Lynn taught and gave them a Book of Mormon.  They've been reading ever since.  The Book of Mormon, along with the spirit, is our most powerful tool in the conversion of those we teach.  Those who read are those who end up getting baptized.  Omar and Gina, who I taught in maputo and were married and baptized only three weeks after we found them, read very much in the Book of Mormon. The second family we taught that day was George and Sandra.  We contacted him about 3 weeks earlier when we asked him for a ride.  The lesson also went well, and afterwards they gave us (I don't know how to call it in english but I think it's a Dragon Fruit) The third family was Joaquim and Louisa.  I don't think I've ever felt the spirit more strongly in a lesson that I did with them that evening.  
     Things are looking up. Our area is picking up. We are still having a few difficulties in helping our families get past the road blocks they have.  Charles and Judite for example, Charles got back into drinking, and apparantly has become extremely offended by something his wife did and he didn't come to church, but gave a letter to the Relief Society president to be read in front of the Relief Society that talked about how his wife did this and that.   The Relief Society president's husband is Alfredo Camalizene, the district president.  Needless to say that letter was not read.  Also, we had general conference this weekend.  After the sunday morning session I called Charles to see why he hadn't come and he said that he had given a letter to Sister Camalizene that explained why not. We talked to her afterwards and she said that she had it, but that it was not going to be read in front of everyone. (Side note... Conference was sooo wonderful, I was helped so much by the inspiration and ideas that came to me while I listened to the talks, but I'll have to talk about it later because of lack of time.)     
Later that evening after district meeting, which also went very well, we payed an unplanned visit to Charles and Judite's house. I had previously asked Sister Camalizene to bring me the letter, as well, so we could get to the bottom of the situation and see if we could help this good family resolve their problems. When we arrived, we could tell that there was a lot of tension in the air.  After a hymn, Be Thou Humble, chosen by yours truly, Elder Mason and I felt the impression to just read the Book of Mormon with them.  Sister Camalizene still hadn't arrived.  We opened up to Mosiah 4 and started reading in verse 8.  The spirit settled in, and the verses in Mosiah 4 never struck me as powerfully as they did then. Those verses were just what this family needed. Charles and Judite were both there with their two oldest sons, Marcelino, and Miguel. Ages 16 and 14. Sister Camalizene came and pulled up a chair and snuck me the letter.  I was curious what was in it, but as soon as I received it, I felt the impression to burn it. We began talking more about the importance of the family and how it is our responsibility to love the one, and then they will love us.   We were open with Charles and told him we had the letter that he wrote. He responded that it didn't matter because everyone at church already knew what was written in the letter.  He didn't know that it wasn't read.  At this point I told him that, and told him that I also didn't know and that I didn't want him to know and that he would be thankful later on that no one else at church knew.  Then I tried to burn it, the wind said no, so I said I'd burn it later. We talked a lot about forgiveness and how we need to forgive the others.  I'm grateful that Charles was sober at the moment when we talked, and as the lesson went on I really saw a transformation in him.  Sister Camalizene's testimony was essential.  Charles is recommitted to stop drinking and they are going to start working on marriage documents this week.   
     Another great thing this week was that we had 16 lessons with a member present and 12 other lessons. We are using the help of the members more than ever before, all these small things are truly bringing blessings to those that we teach. These blessings aren't so much for me.  These blessings are for the people Elder Mason and I teach.  The more obedient I am, the more people in my area will be blessed by hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
-Elder Greenman

P.s.  We went golfing this morning and it was a blast.  It was just Elder Mason and I.  After paying, the man asked if I knew the course, we said we'd figure it out, he suggested I pay for a caddy.  I told him that we'd probably do fine.  In the end we decided to pay a caddy 50 metacais, more for just having someone to talk to while we golfed.  Their comments were actually quite funny.  One time while teeing off, my shot sliced terribly over the fence and into a small neighborhood.  The two caddies, I'm sure were just trying to make me feel good, so they said it was a good shot.  Yes, they actually said that, then went on to say that it may have gone off the course, but that the velocity was perfect.  So that was good. I'm glad to know that the velocity of that hit was perfect. 

Above is the Durian Fruit, usually grown in Southeast Asia. It is known as either highly repulsive to some or wonderfully aromatic to others. I (mom) wonder what Elders Greenman and Mason thought of it. The thorny husk has been known to draw blood, but the soft custard-like flesh is quite a delicacy, especially in Thailand. I wonder if Andrew remembers when I bought one of these several years ago?

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Atonement is Infinite

Hello hello!  This week was another difficult one for us.  We’ve had a lot of lessons drop.  We took the time to look at some of our numbers for the past six weeks.  Of the 116 families that we’ve found so far in these past 3 weeks, only 16 of them have actually gone through.   This transfer we’ve marked 136 lessons and all of them dropped except 70.  Solution…..we need to start at the beginning of the problem.  Preach my Gospel teaches that nothing happens in missionary work until you find someone to teach.    Of all the phases of missionary work, we need to work on finding.  Elder Mason and I do fine on getting our goals to find families, but we’ve decided that we need to up the quality of the families that we teach.  We are called to gather the Lord’s elect for they harden not their hearts.  D and C 29:7.  In the three weeks that we have left this transfer we are going to pray and ask for the Lord to put these elect families in our path.  At the end we will compare the lessons marked and taught stats with what is shown above.  We believe that there will be great improvement.   President Kretly came to Manga this week to interview all of the missionaries.  We was going to have us meet at the Chapel, but I suggested that he meet with the Elders in their actual houses so that we can also get a feel of the homes and how the missionaries are living when they are not in the area.    I was so excited and glad to have an interview with President Kretly.  It was my third so far on my mission.  It was also very long.  He and I talked a lot about my district and my zone. 
I’ve noticed how incredibly much the Lord is blessing Mozambique right now.  One year ago what is happening was not happening.  What changed?    I like to think of 4th Nefi  and about the pride cycle.   It is interesting that after the 1st and 2nd generations died that is when the people began to be prideful.  Why?  They began to forget.   Nobody who had seen Jesus Christ  and had witnessed his visit was among them, other than the three nefites of course.    I like to apply this to our mission.  I was here before, when things were so different, but many Elders who were, along with me won’t be here after six months.   Who will remember what things were like before?  Why is it important to remember the past?   So we don’t repeat it.  In Alma 5,  Alma  while preaching reminds the people of their ancestors and their parents and how in their time of bondage they were freed.  They needed to be reminded.
Something I’ve been thinking about lately is that missionaries like me who have witnessed the change may become satisfied with the change that has already happened.  I know that the Lord has so much more in store for Mozambique, and the entire world, so who am I to be satisfied with the growth that has already happened.  Of course I am amazed and so grateful for it, but the moment we become comfortable with where we are at our rate of progression slows down.   When I first started my mission, when President Kretly came and gave the first Zone conference all of us truly felt and saw the need for change and growth.  We knew what we had to do.  We recognized where we were, where we needed to be and began applying Christ’s help and atonement to get there.    Because of our desire to change and sanctify ourselves the Lord has blessed these people immensely.  I wonder what will happen to the future generations of missionaries, if they come thinking that we are already where we need to be.  I believe that the same urgency for change that I felt at the beginning of my mission needs to be felt now.  We can avoid the pride cycle as we constantly look at where we are, acknowledge where we need to be, and use Christ’s atonement to get there.  Last Zone conference we talked a lot about where we are, and where we need to be.  I know that the miracles will continue to happen if we continue to sanctify ourselves and continue to desire repentance. 
Elder Mason and I have commited to have much more effective planning sessions.  We are making more specific plans to get our goals, and we are doing everything we can to get those goals.  Last night in our Daily planning while planning today we not only made a goal to get our 5 qualified contacts, but more specifically planned during the day when we would get them, for example, we planned to get at least two contacts on our way to the city this morning.  After we finished a great study this morning we headed out the door and by the time we made it to the city we had 4 qualified contacts.  And they were quality contacts.  One works at the city water department in an administrative position.  One had a very good job (biochemical something or other) and a very good car.   It takes about 30 minutes to get from Manga to the city.  There is public transportation, called chapas that can take you there, but we prefer to hitchhike. (it’s not really hitchhiking but it works out nicely because this way we get the opportunity to talk to more educated people that have good jobs and don’t work on Sundays. )  on one of the rides we got this morning two men were in the front and having their own conversation so we silently sat in the back and enjoyed the free ride.  When we almost arrived I decided to but in a  little on their conversation and ask them if they had already heard about our church.  The drive happened to be muslim but the man on the passenger side said that he had heard about it before.   But didn’t seem to show that he knew much about it.  The conversation evolved and he let us know that he “used to be one of” us.  That he almost served a mission, that he had the melchizidek and Aaronic priesthood.  (I enjoy speaking with inactive members who have an open heart like this man did)  I felt impressed to aske him, “Do you remember your baptism? How did you feel that day?  Why do you think you felt that way?”  I didn’t ask them all together like that, but gave him time to answer them.   I really feel that helping an inactive remember what he felt before, and why he felt that way, then testifying about the atonement  helps them know they can feel that way again.   Danilo, the man, spoke about the book of mormon and how it had helped him change his life.  I testified that it can change his life again, that all of us are continually in the process of changing and becoming more like Christ.  We took his number and are going to give his number to Elder Galland and Kanaga who work where he lives.
-Elder Greenman

Monday, October 7, 2013

Rain, Rain, and more Rain

     This past week was so sunny, except when it rained almost every day.  

     You’ll remember that last week I mentioned Charles and Judite, and how he had a major addiction to alcohol.  I’m pleased to announce that he has been alcohol free for 9 days.   He is doing so well.  This family has been investigating the church for a little bit more than 6 years.  The only thing stopping them from getting baptized and receive the blessings from God that comes with baptism by someone holding authority is following the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom.  They have 5 kids as well, who began investigating, but in this 6 year process have stopped coming to church.  Charles works for the city police department and works in an office.  He is set on getting married and baptized on oct. 26th.  He is doing so well as far as alcohol goes.  He has become a new man.   We are working on the marriage documents with him now.  One problem that we’ve come across is that he does not have his B.I.  or Identification card.  Why?  Because he gave it as collateral for his drinking debt to man that lives in a neighboring town.  He has racked up 2500 meticais in debt.  For some people that is the equivalent of what they would earn in a full three weeks of labor.  In our money it is less than 100 dollars. 
     Many obstacles are being thrown up against the date of oct. 26th.  But Charles and Judite are so ready to enter into the waters of baptism.  Charles told us last night that we are the first and the last. That there have been so many missionaries that have passed by his house trying to convince him but that we were the first that managed to do so, and that we would be the last missionaries to teach him.   We told him that it wasn’t us who convinced him, but that it is a blessing for us to be the ones to serve and help him.  So that is one of our success stories. Another happened on Wednesday night. We had a goal to get four member-present lessons that day, and by lunch time the members we had planned to teach with started dropping like—something that drops very quickly.  We knew President Kretly was in Beira so we called him and asked him if he would have time that evening to drive to Manga and come teach a lesson with us.  He said he could.  We ended up getting 3 member present lessons that day and they were wonderful. 

     We are currently teaching two families that are referrals from other members.  The two families happen to live near each other.  They are, Joao and Luisa, and Joao and Amelia.  (I sent a picture of Joao and Amelia's family two weeks ago)  On Wednesday night we taught the day of the Lord to both families.  The member that taught Joao and Louisa with us was President Elias, a counselor in the branch presidency.  The lesson went well.  We needed to teach it because Joao had not yet come to church, but his wife always would.   After the lesson ended we hurried up to the Manga Chapel where we would meet with President Kretly to teach our last lesson, Joao and Amelia.  We got into his car and drove most of the way there, then took a small path on foot that led to their house.  We needed to teach the day of the Lord to this family as well for the same reason, the husband has never come to church, but the wife has been coming for 6 weeks now.  Their family is so special, but it’s going to be hard.  The father, Joao, always lets us know that he is very catholic.  (the thing is, is that he never goes to church, he only goes once a year in January.)   We had one of the most powerful lessons with this family.  They have four kids.  Arculette, who is 18,  Cristina who is 16, Samo who is 11, and Gerson who is 5.  Samo has been coming to church for three years, he is such a responsible young boy who helps around the house.  His mother Amelia says that she has started coming to church, because of the difference she sees in her son, and she desires all her kids to be like Samo.  In the lesson we talked about that, and helped them recognize that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can really change people.  The lesson was intense, and powerful.  Joao was still saying that we was catholic when we committed them again to baptism, but at the end we helped him recognize that all we were asking was that he would ask Heavenly Father if this is the path he needs to take.  It was an edifying lesson.
     The next day we had Zone conference…..wow!  Mind is blown.    President Kretly has been working closely with the area seventy to get Mozambique ready to have stakes.  The area seventy took the matter to the twelve and Elder David A. Bednar prayed and thought a lot about Mozambique and the direction it needs to take now.  The plan that was presented is that we would have 4 stakes ready by march of 2015.  Elder Bednar said that we can go ahead and divide our two districts and get things ready but as far as stakes go, they will become stakes when the districts are functioning properly and well.  So for now we don’t have a date on when we’ll have stakes but we have a few mission goals.  By Jan 2014, here in a couple of months, our mission goal is to have 8 new branches.  Three of those eight will be in Manga alone.    So we have a lot of work to do here in manga.  The three branches in Manga are reaching the frequency of 200 each.  The Manga 3 branch had 233 people yesterday.   Back home, can you imagine a branch with that many people?  That is a lot of load and responsibility for a branch president.  They will be split soon, but shhhhh, the members don’t know yet.
     I’m very excited for what is coming ahead.  I have a wonderful Mission President who is so good at giving us a vision for what needs done.   He helps us know what is our part in getting that vision.  I really feel like our mission is a team and are all working towards the same goal which is establishing the church here in Mozambique through real growth and by becoming extraordinary missionaries.  We are working hard to get stakes here, and working hard to find the elect.  We are laying the foundation for the church here in Mozambique for the years to come.  Right now, we are specifically looking for leaders, and the Lord is putting them in our path.

-Elder Greenman