Friday, September 26, 2008

snail mail recieved Friday (transcribed by mom)

I considered editing this one to leave out some of the stuff about me (it made me teary), but in the end I left it all in. Here's Andrew's letter in it's entirety.

To all who may read this letter:

I’m having a really good time here in Nseleni. The work is moving along well and I’m learning very quickly what my role is here and how best to accomplish it.

My mission president, President Mann, is an awesome leader. He has put into place several new programs and emphasized a few strategies that make the work of being a missionary less “work” and more production (does he mean productive?).

The biggest one is what he calls the Neighborhood Walk-about. We get members to tell us who their neighbors are, what they are like, and possibly introduce us to the ones they know. This makes it a lot easier to teach people because through a member we establish a certain level of trust needed to get inside a home and be able to teach. People don’t trust strangers, but they will welcome a friend. Getting members to do their part is usually really hard; I know I never gave out any referrals to the missionaries in our ward. But for the work to progress and for the gospel to be spread which President Hinckley said was everyone’s duty, members have to be involved. Ask any returned missionary how effective tracting really is. They will most likely tell you that it really isn’t. The prophet has told us that the calling of a missionary is not to find people to teach but to teach only. Members are supposed to find people and refer them to the missionaries. Preach My Gospel discusses this on p. 160, where President Hinckley is quoted. The Walk-about helps us to find a lot of people to teach and it gives those who we teach a support system in the member who referred them.

President Mann has also given us a few things to focus on. He has told us to focus on families and potential priesthood holders because they are the ones who build the Kingdom of God. It doesn’t mean that we don’t teach anybody else but it is something for us to focus on. He’s also told us to “teach people, not lessons.” By this he means that each individual or family has certain things they need to hear or some things they have questions about. President Mann doesn’t just want us to go into a home and start teaching the 1st lesson which is about the Restoration. Sometimes people really need to know about the Plan of Salvation or maybe just certain parts of the lessons, like the eternal nature of families or how we are sons and daughters of God. The only way we can know what to teach is by caring enough to get to know them and then listening to the Spirit. There are a lot of times that the first time we meet someone we don’t teach much of anything; we just introduce ourselves and the Gospel along with maybe our purpose as missionaries and get to know the people as much as possible.

I am so grateful for all the preparation I received prior to coming to South Africa. The things that helped the most were family scriptures and prayer, seminary and Young Mens. Family scripture study gave me a familiarity with the word of God that has really helped me a lot. Praying as a family also taught me how to pray and not just for myself but for others as well. Through seminary I learned a lot of scriptures that are very important to help to teach by the scriptures. The experiences with the scriptures and the Gospel message that I had in seminary are invaluable to me now. Those experiences that I had I was able to have because I regularly and continuously attended. I encourage anyone who is reading who is of the age to go to seminary to never miss a day of it. The key to every opportunity to learn is to realize that there is always an opportunity to learn, and then seize it.

My time in the Young Men’s Organization helped me more than I can express to prepare me for my mission. Especially my leaders who were able to provide for me the fatherly influence that I did not have. I am so grateful for their guidance and love. Without it I am sure that I would not be where I am now.

I am grateful for the sacrifice and influence of my family. Mom, I know that you have always sacrificed for me and I know that you still are. I am grateful for everything you’ve done to prepare me for my mission and my life in general. I know of the sacrifices you’ve made and the hurt that you’ve felt. I love you for it all. Mom, I could never have asked for a better role model.

I know that there are others who have, who do now, and who will still make sacrifices on my behalf. I have been blessed with a powerful group of family and friends and it is partly for you now that I labor to prove myself worthy of all those efforts in my behalf, so that they might not have been made in vain.

I’m thankful for your prayers in my behalf. Please continue to pray for all the missionaries and help them in any way possible to further the Lord’s work to bring all of Father’s children back to him. Help others realize their Divine heritage and bring them to an understanding of the purpose of this life. We all decided to take this test, now those of us with the answers need to share with those who don’t. I am grateful to have been born in(to) the Church so that I have never been without a knowledge of our Heavenly Father and His Plan for us. So many others have never had that chance and it is now my opportunity to change that. I encourage all of you to do the same, share what you have with others. We all need a lighthouse to guide us safely in. But some of our brothers and sisters are drowning and thrashing about because they cannot see the safe beacon beckoning to them through the storm. It’s up to us to save them, before they lose themselves forever, because we can see the light that they cannot. We have been blessed with the Gospel not to hold it for ourselves to enjoy singularly, but to bless the lives of others.

I have come to believe that this is and ever has been my calling in life and I am only now beginning to see how many opportunities I have wasted to share what I know to be true.

I wish and hope for all the best in your lives and I pray for the Spirit to guide and protect you.

Elder Mendenhall

P.S. Happy Birthday Heather !!!

P.P.S. The 2 cent coin I’m enclosing is no longer in circulation here in S. Africa. I don’t know if it can be cleaned up at all but its something that’s really cool to have.

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