Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Missionary snail mail dated 21 OCT 2008

Mom says: I found this really great letter (in which our eating and tv habits are chastised!) on my computer desk this morning. I have no idea when it arrived, or who's been hoarding it (thanks for the spell check Kelly) and why they didn't tell me it had arrived, but somebody's in big trouble!

Dear Family,
It's been a while since I’ve written so I have a lot to tell.

First off: I don't know how many people I've told but I had my first 3 baptisms on the 21 of September. Mbokozisi Nene is a 15 year old boy who is very very good at soccer. Khulekani Mchunu is a 20 year old male who is actually a very good setter on a volleyball team that would be equivalent to a city league team. He is a powerful new member who drinks up everything he can find about the Gospel. He's going to be a great leader here in a few years. Fikile Qwabe is 23 years old and the oldest sister in my favorite family here in Nseleni. She is very quiet but she also soaks up everything like a sponge. I actually baptized & confirmed her.

The work here is progressing along steadily. We're having record numbers of people show up to church and soon we should break the record! We are teaching about 17 or 20 people (depending on how many are there when we teach) and we are likely to pick up a few more. One of the kids we're teaching actually asked if he could join our church without us actually teaching a lesson! We had only seen him once! We left him a pamphlet on the Restoration & the next time we saw him he asked to join us! He even wants to go to EFY! [a program called Especially For Youth] The people here are hungry for the Gospel so we should have some success here.

My Zulu is progressing along steadily. I need to get a book or something though if I want to learn much more & have an operating knowledge of the language.

I want to share some of the things I've learned recently. My patriarchal blessing says that I should share my mission with those at home so that's what I'm going to do.

First off I have noticed that in America we tend to live far beyond not only what we can afford but also that which is needful. In fact many of the things that we have become accustomed to are actually helping to push our families apart. Food is one thing that I have noticed. The Zulu people live off of rice & chicken basically for every meal. Sweets are very much a luxury for them. But the family aspect that I have noticed is the fact that in America (our family for sure) we seldom eat together and even more rare is for us to prepare a meal together. This could be a wonderful time for families to bond over learning Mom's favorite recipes and working together for a common goal. Instead of it being a hassle to cook for the family why not let the family work together to lighten the load?

TV is another thing I have noticed could be used differently. How many houses have but one TV? I think almost every house in America has at least two and I think ours has 6! [Okay, in our defense, we have two families living in our house and I only bought two of those TVS] Having only one TV would build the family up. Instead of one person dictating what is to be watched on one TV and everyone else splitting up and watching whatever they want on separate TVS, thereby splitting the family, unity could be created by choosing, as a family, something that would be enjoyable to all! We have movies enough to satisfy most everyone & usually families like similar things. There would have to be some sacrifices of course but that's life. Things like sporting events, movies, and other special interests could be scheduled to make everyone have a chance to watch some of the things they want to see.

Those are two things that I have noticed while serving here in Nseleni. It's interesting to see the things you notice and realize when you are constantly looking for opportunities to help & to serve. It is also interesting to find how different life can be when you are constantly seeking the guidance of the Spirit.

One other important thing I have learned is from my personal studies. Particularly concerning faith and trials. Part of the Plan of Salvation is that we are here on this earth to prove ourselves worthy to live in God's presence. We can really only do that here. There are many things that we can do after we die, in the Spirit World, but proving ourselves is not one of them. Alma 34:32 says that "This life is the time for man to prepare to meet God.” How is it that we prepare? How do we prove that we are worthy to be in His presence? By demonstrating faith in overcoming obstacles. God gives us trials to see if we will believe in Him and put our faith in Him. Each hardship in life is an opportunity to prove that we can handle all the blessings He wants to give us, including Eternal Life in His presence. But not only is it an opportunity to prove ourselves to Him it is also an opportunity to prove ourselves to ourselves! Faith is a funny thing; you have to use it to get it, & the more you use the more you have. It’s like the Parable of the Talents. You can’t just save up what you already have, you have to use & multiply it.

As members of God’s church it is our obligation and blessing to help those around us who are struggling. When we are baptized we covenant to “take His name upon us,” meaning that those who don’t know Christ will want to get to know Him because they know us. Being an example of Christ means doing the things that He did. Jesus never passed on an opportunity to serve others, neither should we. We should follow King Benjamin’s counsel in Mosiah 5: 7-15. King Benjamin is a sterling example of Christ’s words when He said, in Luke 22:26, “…he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.” Nobody is so important or cool that they are exempt from helping their neighbors.

I hope you all know that I love you dearly and think of you often. I hope you are looking after each other. Continue family prayer & scripture study because it is vitally important to the family to do those things together. And even though its football season, so I hate to say it, Family Home Evening is more important than watching Monday Night Football. Families are forever, football is only 23 weeks.

I love you guys.
Andrew Mendenhall


zealandrocks said...

man i love how pure missonaries hearts are. This letter made me want to be out on a mission. Thanks for sharing!!!

Brian & Cynthia said...

It is so wonderful to hear Andrew talk about what's important. We do take a lot for granted. Thanks so much for sharing this!


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