Tuesday, May 28, 2013

So much joy!

Elder Tenney's address for letters:
2922 Dunstan Dr., NW
Warren, OH  44486

Sent: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 11:31:12 AM
Subject: So much joy

1st of all, no, I am not in Argentina, haha. There is still work for me to do in Ohio. Preparation day is on Tuesday this week because transfers are this week on Wednesday. I will be staying in Warren, so you can still send me letters haha. It really is amazing feeling the reasons that Heavenly Father has me here. I am learning so so much.
This week was filled with miracles.
Every week seems to have it's own theme for something I learn and apply, and this week it was definitely joy. It was an awesome week. I decided at the beginning of the week that I was going to be unconditionally joyful all the time. I was thinking about that, and I was thinking "Why would I be joyful all the time?". I found my answer looking at the wall at a picture of Christ. I should be joyful because Christ Lives! He has suffered for every one of us, he is there to help us, and he has saved our souls. We just have to come unto him to receive all of that. Sometimes, I think we forget what great joy comes from just knowing that Jesus Christ lives and loves us so much. So I wanted to do my best to focus on that throughout my week and just be happy!
Miracle number # 328547234 or something like that: We were tracting, and we came to this lady named Sarah. She was in her yard cutting her bushes. We said hello and asked her how she was doing. I then said "Could we help you out with that?" Then she said "well, I don't really know what I'm doing. I don't know how to trim bushes. Do you know how?" And I said "Nope. But I can try." She just kind of laughed and said no thank you. But then we asked if there was anything else we could do for her to help her out with anything. She said laughing, "No, not unless you want to wash off and paint my shutters and window covers". We told her we would love to do that for her. She was just confused, she said "No, like its not that easy. You have to wash them off, dry them, then paint them; without getting paint on the windows." We assured her that we really would love to do it. She was just in shock. She then started crying and told us she had just been praying earlier and asked God to please give her help somehow to do all this work with the house she has to do. Then we showed up a little later offering to help her for free. So we came back and washed off her house for her, and we are going back next week. But it was amazing. Miracles are evvverrryyyywherrreeee. Heavenly Father really knows and loves each one of us individually. He will answer your prayers.
On Thursday we had a great lesson with Jessica and Sabrina. In the Morning when we were studying (our studies from the scriptures each morning are completely focused on how we can best help those we are teaching), I was planning for Jessica and Sabrina. We knew we were teaching about faith in Christ, but I was kind of at a road block for how to teach it. But I really prayed and sought for the spirit's help and I came across a quote in "True to the Faith." It talked about how we can exercise faith in Christ when we have a correct understanding about the character of Christ. It makes complete sense. How could we trust and have confidence in someone we don't even know? So we decided to just talk about Christ and who He was and share stories about His life. It was an awesome lesson. Talking about Christ always brings the spirit.
On Thursday evening, our lesson we had planned fell through, and we were with Brother G, an awesome man in the ward. So he had a guy in mind who we could stop by who hasn't been to church in a while. His name is Quinn. We got there and he was very open to having us in. We talked with him and his wife and we talked about the power of prayer. His wife is not a member so she was kind of the focus at first.  It was a good visit, but it completely changed when we followed a prompting to ask Quinn a question. We asked, "Quinn, what role does prayer play in your life?"  It was so simple, but this question made him completely open up. He told us about how his faith is really struggling, he says he prays but feels like no one is answering. He has a lot of health problems from doing MMA for many years and some other health complications, and he told us he did not understand how God could let him go through this. I really don't remember quite what we said, but we shared several scriptures and I shared with him the experience of Mom's recent health struggles and the strength and joy she received as she turned to the Lord. Then Brother G bore powerful testimony to him that God knows and loves him. The spirit was so strong. His wife told us she had been praying just a little bit earlier for help for Quinn, because he was feeling horrible emotionally and physically. He definitely felt our love for him. And I know he felt Heavenly Father's love. He texted Bro G and told him thank you for coming, and told him it was exactly what he needed. Now we are teaching him and his wife every week.
Last Saturday, we met with the P family again. Brother W wasn't able to go with us this time, so it was just me (since Elder Payne doesn't speak Spanish). I asked them if they read 3 Nephi 11, which we asked them to read the last visit. Lucy, Anna, and Raul all said they read it. Anna, who has never met with missionaries before loved it so much. She is the same one who told us about her dreams. She told us "I have never read such a book. It was so easy for me to understand and I just felt close to Christ. It makes sense that Christ would come to the Americas because he talks about visiting all of his children in the bible. This book is so amazing and fascinating." She said she truly believes that it is the word of God....Wow. I didn't even know what to say. I just felt joy. I felt so happy that she realized and felt the blessings of the Book of Mormon, that she felt the joy that comes from it, and she realized what a miracle this book is. She told me that she wants to be baptized, she just wants some time to be sure that this is what God wants her to do. She has been prepared by Heavenly Father. This family really amazes me with how soft their hearts are and how much desire they have to do what God wants them to do. I asked Raul, and he said he already knew it was true. He has known for a long time because he asked God about it when he was meeting with missionaries many years ago. And Lucy said she loved it and felt close to Christ. She said that she knew it was truly Christ in the Book of Mormon. Raul and Anna (Anna is Raul's fiance') said they would be baptized. And Lucy said she wouldn't because she had already been baptized and she didn't want to do it again. But I asked her, "if God really wanted you to be baptized, would you do it?" and she said of course. So we invited her to pray about it and promised her that Heavenly Father would show her what He wants her to do. It was an awesome visit with them. They LOVE talking haha. We were there way too long, it was almost 2 hours, but it was so good to talk with them.
I really want to be able to start a Spanish Sunday school class here. We could get Valentine, the P family, and a few members of the ward to be in it. Then every time we go out to eat, I want to go to Mexican restaurants to find more people to teach. But it would be so awesome if we could do it. It would bless the lives of Spanish speaking families here.
I am loving it here. My love for the people here is beyond what I could have imagined when I got here. The more I serve and the closer I grow to Christ, the more I realize where true joy comes from. It doesn't come based on our circumstances or on what happens to us, or based on what others do and say to us; when we draw close to Christ, joy comes from within us. It is something that cannot be taken away from our outside circumstances or the failures of the outside, because the joy is from inside of us. So be happy!  Because Christ lives for you!
I love you all so much! I hope you have a really great week!
Elder Tenney

Friday, May 24, 2013


Elder Heath Tenney
2922 Dunstan Dr., NW
Warren, OH 44486

Sent: Monday, May 20, 2013 2:32:12 PM
Subject: Bendiciones

Hola Familia!
This week was so great. It was actually really hard, but really good.
So on Thursday, we tracted a lot and had no success (in terms of people inviting us in or back). And I mean, I was used to that. But it was really hard this time because there were many people who were just angry about it. They literally would yell at us and tell us "we don't need your church" or other things like that. I always left those houses feeling sad, not because they hurt my feelings or anything, but because the very thing they are rejecting is what they need to not be so angry and really find peace. It is hard to see people unhappy who seem to be okay with unhappiness. Heavenly Father wants sooo much more than that for us.
Later, we had a super awesome lesson with a less active lady. We planned to talk about the importance and why we go to church. It was such a good lesson. We really let her share and ponder how she has felt when she has come to church. We talked about how church and the sacrament gives us the spirit that we need to get through the week and be happy throughout the week. She said "So many things have been going right in my life recently. My kids all got jobs, one just finished rehab, and so many things are going great. But I really just am not happy. I know I should be." She then explained that she now realizes that it is because she hasn't been coming to church. We invited her to come to church and to feel of the spirit there and receive the strength she needs to be happy throughout the week. She said that she really wanted to, and that she would come. Ahhh. I can't even explain the peaceful, yet consuming joy that comes when you see someone change and realize for themselves what they need to do to be happy- and the answer is always Christ.
That night we had a lesson with Jessica and Sabrina. We felt like we should review our purpose in being there with them. So we shared that and basically said "Our goal,is to help you to know that these things are true, and act on that, because it will bring you soooo much happiness." We then asked them if they had a desire to know if these things were true. Jessica said she wasn't really sure..."I think so, but I dont think I'm ready for that yet." she said. Then Sabrina said "No. I really don't". Wow. that hit me hard. I know it may not seem like a big deal, but I just felt heartbroken because just a few weeks earlier she said she really wanted to know. We could see her progressing and really trying to know. But she just said "no." That was really difficult for me, because she is SO close to indescribable happiness. But we won't give up on her. We had a pretty good lesson though, but I'll admit, I left still feeling a hole in my heart.
Then we had a lesson with a couple new investigators named Ashley and Zack. They are about to have a baby and they really want religion to be a part of their kids life. But we got there and everyone was smoking and drinking, so we tried to teach a lesson, but the spirit really couldn't be felt in the environment we were in, so we ended early. So this day was kind of hard for me, and when we got home, I just thought, "Wow. This was just one of those days where nothing goes well." And I sat there pondering. But then I remembered our awesome lesson with Sister J, and I realized there was good this day. I prayed and asked for forgiveness of my ingratitude. I just needed to find joy in the good that did happen that day. And if we are living righteously and doing our best, there is always some good- even if it is just "I felt the spirit throughout this day". How much better can a day be than that? So this day definitely taught me to just rejoice in the good of everyday, and learn from the not so good parts, but I shouldn't let that determine my happiness.
On Friday we served so much. It was awesome. We served for like 5 hours and it was hot, so that was awesome.
Saturday we had an amazing lesson with the P. family again (the family from Puerto Rico). We brought Brother W. with us who served his mission in Mexico. It was an amazing lesson. People open up so much more and instantly have a connection with you when you speak their native language. They told us about these incredible dreams they have had, that are so special. But Lus, the mother, told us about one dream her son had, and then no one believed him that he actually had this dream. But then we talked about how something similar happened to a boy in 1820. We shared the 1st vision with them and I was able to bare my testimony to them in spanish. And we shared "El libro de Mormon" with them (Book of mormon). They were so excited that it was in spanish and super excited to read it. The spirit was so strong. They are such an amazing family.
Then on Sunday I got to go and visit Valentine (the man from Mexico who only speaks spanish). We talked about the Book of Mormon and the Bible. He shared with me some things he had been studying. And he really expressed how grateful he was to have me there because he can never talk with anyone about the gospel since no one speaks Spanish at church. He shared his favorite scripture with me from Alma 32 about how the souls of men are so precious unto God. It is hard for me to write this all out because I guess its something you just have to see and feel. But hearing him explain why he loves the scriptures and why he loves that verse just brought this incredible feeling into me, like I was feeling the spirit for the 1st time. His sincerity and pure desire to do what God wants him to do is evident in his voice. He told me that it is hard because he has no one to talk to about the gospel, so it is pretty much just him and God. But he studies every single day, to feel close to God and to learn more about what He wants him to do. He told me he prays every single day for the missionaries. It meant SO much to me to hear that. Here is this man who has only been a member for about 6 years, he can't talk to anyone about the gospel except Heavenly Father; He can rarely come to church because he works so much; and he hardly knows me. But he prays for me and all the other missionaries every night. This probably doesn't seem like that big of a deal to anyone else, but I am so filled with gratitude for this man who is determined to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even if he is alone.
So I was able to use my Spanish twice this week! It was so exciting. And I absolutely know that the gift of tongues is real. There is know way I could understand a Puerto Rican family speaking Spanish on my own. They speak SO fast. But somehow I did it. The spirit is so real.
I absolutely love being a missionary. Other weeks I have said that, and I think I said it more out of the thought like "Wow. I am really a missionary now". But now, I really love being a missionary, not just wearing the name tag and having the title. I love going into people's homes and telling them about Jesus Christ. I love feeling exactly what Heavenly Father wants this child of His to hear, and seeing their entire countenance change. I love being able to serve people and see them smile. I love feeling the spirit the entire day and being happy! I love being a missionary.
I love you all so much! You are in my prayers every single day!
Elder Tenney

Friday, May 17, 2013

"Perfect love casteth out all fear"

We had so much fun talking with him on Mother's Day.  He's happy and doing great.  Please write while he's in the U.S. and it's easy to send letters:
Elder Heath Tenney 
2922 Dunstan Dr., N.W.
Warren, OH 44486

Sent: Monday, May 13, 2013 11:45:43 AM
Subject: "Perfect love casteth out all fear"

It was so good to talk to you all yesterday. I felt bad for the V's (the family whose house we called from), their kids walked by and got all scared because I was crying talking to you guys haha. It was so good for me, and I wasn't crying because I was sad or anything, I was crying because it just hits me even harder how incredibly blessed I am. And it makes me want to work even harder to bring that incredible blessing to others.
This week, at the beginning of the week I studied charity, because its something I really need to work on. And in Moroni chapter 7 (from the Book of Mormon) it says "Charity is the pure love of Christ". My entire life I have thought of charity as the pure love of Christ in terms of Christ's great love for us. But when I read it this time, I took it in terms of "the pure love of Christ" as in my pure love FOR Christ. I pondered this and thought "I know I love Christ, and I always say I love Christ. But how do I really know I love Him? How do I really know He lives?" and I pondered all the times in my life when I feel His love. When I pray and repent, when I take the sacrament, when I read about His life, EVERY DAY...in doing all these things I feel so much love for what He has done for me and I feel that He really does live. And I realized I haven't been using that love that I have like I should. "Charity never faileth". So I really wanted to focus on my love for Jesus Christ this week and let that power work in me to do more than I could do on my own.
This week was kind of hard. I felt so much joy and I loved every second, but it was hard. We had so many of our appointments cancel, a few investigators we had to drop, our progressing investigators beginnign to degress, difficulties with some missionaries... it was hard. 
 But with all of it, it was so amazing to see the influence of Christ's love. I would be really tempted to become disappointed or upset, but the thought would always come to mind "I love Christ so much. And my love of Christ is more powerful than my desire to be upset." So I chose to love Christ and not be disappointed. It really made the week so much easier. It really made me realize that love is not just a thought or a feeling, it really is a force. And if we choose to love Christ, that empowers us to do and be good because we already made the choice: I am going to love Christ. And loving Christ is more powerful than any temptation to turn inward.
On Friday we were tracting (knocking door to door), but before we left, I prayed and really pleaded to be blessed with charity. And I just felt so happy. But it was so cool to see the success that came when I truly felt that charity. Some might say it was just a coincidence, because I didn't say or do things much different than I usually do, but we had much more success and found lots of opportuinities to serve. As we were tracting, it began to rain lightly, then when we walk off the next doorstep it just began to pour. It was awesome. It was that same type of midwest storms that I would always run through at home for fun, but this time I got to run through it AND bring people happiness through the gospel! It was sooo awesome. I love storms so much. My companion doesn't like rain, so he thought I was crazy singing and smiling when we were soaking wet haha. People at doors are also usually nicer when we are dripping wet, so that's a plus too. As we were riding back to our apartment, it was still pouring rain, and I was riding along singing "there is sunshine in my soul today!" or something like that. But as we're riding, this white pizza delivery car drives by me, and drives through a huge, deep, brown, muddy puddle. It was like a movie. This huge wave of muddy water flew into the air right towards me. It felt like it was slow motion. Then crash...all over my white shirt, tie, backpack, everything. I felt like someone on the other side really didn't like my singing or something. My companion was dying with laughter haha, needless to say, he didn't get hit by this brown tsunami.

But this was another one of those moments, where I really wanted to just stop smiling and be bitter. But that love of Christ just came into my heart again and overpowered any feelings of anger or self pity. So I started singing again. If I have to be riding a bike through the rain, covered in brown water, and cold; might as well be happy as I do it.
Oh so last night, we stopped by this family's house who we found in our records who speaks spanish! We had tried to stop by before, but they werent there. So I got to talk to them and teach them a little bit in spanish. It was so awesome. I could understand almost everything, except for one girl who spoke super fast and slurred. But I understood her by the end. I lovedbeing able to share my testimony in spanish and pray with them in spanish. I love it because it is so simple, for some reason it is just really special. And I loved being able to do it for them in their own native tongue. They said they loved meeting with missionaries in the past, but none of the other Elders spoke Spanish after those ones left. We are going back next week! Their name is the P family! They're great.
I am really doing great and learning more every week. I love being able to help people, even if they don't accept it, I love trying because I can feel that it is what Heavenly Father wants me to do. I know that charity - pure love of Christ and the pure love for Christ- is real. It is more powerful than anything in the world. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I promise that He lives.
I love you all so much! Thank you for all of your prayers and your love! I am so blessed! Have an awesome week!
Elder Heath Tenney
Oh and the pictures: Brother's Pizza - Greatest pizza place ever. I'm totally coming here when I get home.
I think the others are self explanatory. LOVE YOU!

Additional story from personal letter:  Oh, but other funny story real quick. So I have been struggling a bit with charity. So I was praying for opportunities to serve the other elders in my apartment. Anyways, the day before they were joking/making fun of me for buying eggs and bacon and a bunch of other food so I could make my divine breakfeast sandwiches. The next day I made one and was all excited to eat it. I had to show it to one of the other elders first though to show them it wasn't gross. So I ran upstairs and said "Behold." I was so excited to eat it. It was beautiful. Then Elder C. (He was the only one in the room) says "Oh did you make that for me? (not joking)". All the excitement left my heart as I thought of my prayer a few minutes earlier. I sighed and said "Yes. Yes I did." and gave him the sandwich haha. It was really funny looking back.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

There's no such thing as a small miracle.

Heath's email time is limited.  He would love hearing from everyone by snail mail, while he's in the U.S., and pouch mail once he's in Argentina.  We'll pass that info. on whenever his visa comes through, but for now, his address is, followed by his letter from Monday:  

Elder Heath Tenney 
2922 Dunstan Dr., N.W.
Warren, OH 44486

Hola Familia!
First of all, Happy Birthday to my brother Garrett! Garrett really is one of the most incredible people I know. I've never met anyone who can brighten my day or the day of a complete stranger just by talking and listening to them like Garrett does. He is one of my biggest idols and best friends. I am so blessed to have such an amazing brother. I love you Garrett! I hope you have a great week!
So the title. I once heard a quote from President Collins (mission president of Indianapolis) that said:
"Theres no such thing as a small miracle, every time Heaven touches earth it is a mighty miracle."
And we saw so many of those miracles this week. I decided at the beginning of the week that I really wanted to focus on, pray for, expect, and then watch the miracles that God puts into my day.
I can promise you that miracles are so real.
On Monday, we left one appointment, and my companion, Elder P said that he felt like we should stop by April's house. April had told us that she probably couldnt meet with us because she had a lot of things to do, but we went anyways. We got there and April was having such a hard day. I told you all in a letter a couple weeks ago about how April has gone through so much. And it just keeps coming. 2 of her kids live in Virginia with her ex husband and there have been a lot of problems with that and so many other hard hard things. April just vented to us for a few minutes. She told us through her tears how hard it was to not be able to see her kids, or even talk to them without having her ex husband hearing too. She doesn't even know how they are really doing because she never can talk to them without him there. It was hard not to cry hearing how hard all of these things are. But we just listened. Then we shared a few scriptures with her and talked with her. We started a fast for her together, and then we gave her a blessing. I cannot describe the feelings in that room. There was so much love. It was incredible to see her countenance change as we talked with her. She was really emotional and kind of  in a panic when we got there, but when we left, she was calm and felt more at peace. It was not because of us at all. Completely through the spirit and through the priesthood. But that's really what the Gospel does for us. It doesn't take away our problems. If that was the case, we'd never learn. But it gives us the peace to know that we can get through it, we are not alone, and everything will be okay. MIRACLE.
On Tuesday, we taught a lesson to our friend Mary. Mary has been taught by missionaries for about 3 months. She has progressed so so much. Just 3 weeks ago, her house burnt down, she lost all of her posessions and kids clothing, but she said that she was happy because she had her kids and she was safe. She has grown up with a rough backgroud. She has been smoking since the time she was 15 or 16. She has never thought of it as wrong, it was just something they did. But that is the only thing that is keeping her from being baptized. So we taught her a lesson about the Holy Ghost. We had been praying all week that she would be prepared to give up smoking and that we could have a really good lesson with her. We fasted for her. We did everything we could to prepare and pleaded with the Lord to prepare her heart. In the lesson we talked with her about how she has felt it in her life and she shared her testimony with us of how it has helped her. We ended by asking her what Heavenly Father wants her to do so that she can have the Holy Ghost more in her life. She thought about it for a minute, the room was silent, and we could feel the spirit so much. She looked up and said to us "completely quit smoking...". I promised her that just as Heavenly Father had helped her to get through the trials and hard times after her house burnt down, that Heavenly Father would strengthen her and help her to give up smoking. Then we challenged her to give it up right now. She sat there silently on the couch biting her lip, and we asked her what she was thinking. She said "I know I need to do  it." So after a few more seconds, she got up and got her cigarrettes and gave them to us. YESSSSS!!!!!!! Ahhh. Elder Payne and I were so happy. I had to hold in my cheers as we sat in her friend's house. I felt so happy for her. We got home and stomped on the cigarrettes and threw them away. It was such an awesome experience. And Mary hasn't smoked since. That was a miracle.
I'm almost out of time, but these are just a few of the miracles we saw this week. This entire week was a miracle. It was a miracle meeting Mirah, who is just looking for truth, who's parents died several years ago, and she just wants to know what happened to them. And being able to testify to her that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what she has been searching for. It was a miracle watching Sabrina, who just a couple weeks ago told us she was athiest and that she would not pray because no one was listening. But now she is praying and earnestly seeking to find the truth, because she knows how it can bless her life. And it is a miracle that Heavenly Father uses me, despite all my faults, to serve His children. I love being a witness to Heavenly Fathers miracles. I know that they are so real. I promise if you pray for them specifically and pray to be able to see them, you will see them. And you will stand all amazed at what He does in your life.
I know that God lives. He is an active part of our life, we just have to have the spiritual eyes to see it. I know that Christ lives, and that He is the greatest miracle of all. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
I love you all so much! Have an awesome week!

Elder Heath Tenney