Sunday, June 30, 2013

Blood, Sweat, & Tears

Sent: Monday, June 24, 2013 11:47:51 AM
Subject: Blood, Sweat, and Tears...but mostly sweat.

Hey FamilyI
I'm glad to hear that family reunion went so well. It sounds like everyone had fun.
So the title of the e mail this week. It has been SO hot and humid this week. I was so grateful to have lived and spent lots of time in Texas because whenever it was super hot and I was sweating a waterfall, I just thought to myself, "At least I'm not in Texas." so that kind of helped. But riding bikes in 90 degree humid weather made us sweat so much haha. I like it way better than the cold though, so that's a blessing. We went to a members house and they said jokingly, "Oh Elder Tenney, you have sweat all over your back and down your pants....just kidding I know you guys rode through a sprinkler or something." and we said, "We didn't ride through a sprinkler..." haha.
Then the blood part...well, that doesn't really have any significance to my week, it just went with it. But I did cut my finger on my razor this week...twice.
1st of all, last night we watched the worldwide leadership broadcast, which was a broadcast for local church leaders and  from the leaders of the church ALL about missionary work. It was incredible. If anyone reading this didn't have the opportunity to watch it, go to and watch it. Its so worth your time. You can feel, just by watching it, that this truly is the work of the Lord. God is pushing forward His work so much right now, and you could truly feel that as you watch that broadcast. I left feeling so inspired and excited about the changes being made and about sharing the happiness we have with others. Even though there is so much darkness, evil, sadness, and forces pulling us away from the Lord; I have never felt more hopeful, because the Lord truly truly is hastening His work. And His work is to bring others unto Him, to bring happiness to others. So even though there is so much darkness, there is no need to fear, because the message of happiness is being spread to ALL the world. And Jesus Christ is the head of this. I don't know who all gets these e mails or reads them on the blog, but I want everyone to know that our Heavenly Father really is doing a great and marvelous work. I know that this really is the marvelous work that has been prophesied, and we all have an incredible opportunity and calling to be a part of it. So please watch it if you haven't. Sorry for ranting on, I am just sooo excited about this. This is true!
So this week we had some great things happen. 1st of all, on Tuesday, our scheduled appointment canceled, and then our back up did too. So we weren't sure what to do, but the name of a less active woman came to mind, so we thought we would stop by. Sister Kay., and her grandson Cody went with us, they are such great people. We went by Sister S's house to visit with her. We came there and she came to the door crying. Sister Kay gave her a long hug, and asked her what was wrong. One of her nephews had a heart attack and was on life support. She also has a daughter who was arrested last week, and she was struggling. We shared a message about how we can find peace through the Book of Mormon. It was simple, but heart felt. SIster Kay was so sweet and exactly what Sister S needed. Her countenance changed as we met with her and she said "I promise you, that starting tonight, I will read the Book of Mormon every day." It was amazing to see our plans crumble, but they crumbled right in the hands of Heavenly Father and He guided us where we needed to be. The same thing happened with our next visit too.
On Wednesday we had a lesson with the P family. I sat there and listened and I could understand everything they were saying, but when I started to speak, it was like I just couldn't speak Spanish. It was so weird. I just couldn't speak it very well and so I couldn't really teach that much. I really just felt...useless, I just wanted to sit there and be discouraged, but that is what satan wanted me to do, so I sat up and tried my best. It didn't get much better, but I did my best. Luckily Brother M  helped out a lot and we still had an okay lesson, but it really hurt my confidence. It really is hard to keep up my Spanish only speaking it once or twice a week with someone, but I am so grateful I have those 1-2 opportunities. Anna said she was planning on coming to church on Sunday, so all week I was praying for help and working hard during language study to prepare for that. Then yesterday, she came, and I translated for her. It was miraculous, it seemed the speakers talked super fast (as I'm sure it does whenever someone is translating), but I was able to clearly translate everything and help her to be able to understand. More importantly, I felt the spirit as I translated what the speakers were saying. So I know she felt it, and I know that I also felt that because it wasn't by my own strength that I was able to do that. The spirit completely helped me so that was such a blessing.
We had an awesome church tour with Mirah on Saturday. My favorite part was sitting in the chapel with her. We talked about how this is the place where we remember Jesus Christ every week and what He has done for us. We had Brother D, an awesome member, and his son Enoch, who is about to leave on his mission, with us. They helped out so much and bore sincere testimony of how Christ helps them every week. We then listened to "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" and encouraged her to ponder what the Savior has done for her, and how she can do better for Him. As we sat there listening, she wiped tears off her face. You could just tell she felt it. We asked her how she felt, and she said she definitely had several questions answered, and a few more come up. I think she is really searching to find the truth, but it is confusing for her to feel that spirit when she has been taught something different all her life. Mirah is such a good person and she has such an sweet spirit.
We also had an awesome visit with Valentine yesterday (the less active man from Mexico in the ward). One of the blessings of talking with the P  family is that since they are Puerto Rican, they talk SO fast and don't really use their S's, and slurr a lot. So talking to Valentine, I understood everything he said. It was awesome, and definitely helped me feel better about Spanish. We had a great lesson with him about his baptism and those covenants. We talked about how important it is to take the sacrament every week to show Christ that we remember Him and to live the covenants we have made. I really am so sympathetic to Valentine, going to church is not easy for so many reasons. He works 6 days a week from 7 AM to 10 or 11PM, and sends all the money to his kids in Mexico. Sunday is his only day to get groceries, wash his cloths, and do everything else he needs to do. So its not easy, but at the end of our lesson he said "Elder, I promise you that I will be at sacrament meeting next week." I love Valentine.
This week especially, I have learned so much about the Atonement. One night, I knelt down to pray, and I just cried...I wasn't even sure exactly why. I had so many emotions going through me. I just felt so overwhelmed, inadequate, and just tired of not doing enough. But most of all I felt grateful. The biggest reason I was crying though was because I felt so much and know so much, that I am not doing this on my own. I am inadequate and not good enough, but that doesn't matter because Christ is here with me. As we sang "Yo se que vive mi Senor" (I know that my redeemer lives) this morning, I felt that gratitude. One line in the spanish version says "he lives, and I will always have his love. He lives and always will protect me." Singing this made me realize that the atonement of Jesus Christ isn't just some super power that sweeps down and saves us right when we need it or when we are struggling; If we have that faith in Jesus Christ and in His atonement, He is ALWAYS with us. So that incredible power that we feel to get through our trials, to feel His love, and to receive His strength is with us all the time. So it needs not to just be something we use when we are struggling, we should use it everyday, because He really is always with us, and I felt that this week. My weaknesses get better little by little, my joy increases more each day, my love for Him and for others grows a little bit more everyday, and it is ALL through Him because He is always with me. His power is infinite.
I really thought I loved my Savior before coming here to give everything to Him, and I did. But words can't even explain how much I love Him now and how much my love continues to grow for Him. I know I still have so much to learn and so much to become, but I have learned so far that when we come and give everything to Him, at first we may think it is a sacrifice, and it's hard to do, but as we actually do it, and really give everything to Him, we realize that it's not us giving everything to Him, but Him giving everything to us. I know this is His work.
I love you all! I hope you have an amazing week and feel the atonement in your lives!
Elder Heath Tenney

Monday, June 10, 2013

Love = Work

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

Sent: Monday, June 10, 2013 11:34:53 AM
Subject: Love=work

Hey family and friends!
So 1st of all to answer a few questions from Mom. The ugly ties... haha. So we have this box in our apartment, filled with ugly ties from previous missionaries that they left in the tie box. So every monday is "box tie monday", so we all wear ugly ties on Mondays.
This week was rainy and kind of gloomy all week, so I think people were letting the weather get to them or something because we had SO many appointments cancel haha. But we always got to visit with someone to help them come closer to Christ. It was still a really good week.
I am learning a lot about loving people. I pray every single night for "the pure love of Christ" and I seek to act on it throughout the day. But I seemed to have kind of lost sight of the work part of it. It doesn't just take a few acts of service to increase your love, sometimes it takes a change in lifestyle. So with Investigators and also other missionaries, I tried to work this week and put in more energy, thoughts, and work to increase my love for others. Mom said something in a letter this week that helped me a lot. She talked about how when you love someone, you love the whole package. You love everything. You don't pick and choose, you just have to decide to love-even if that includes loving their faults and loving them through the things that may bother you. People don't change because you want them to, they will change when they want to. So the only thing we can do sometimes is just love them unconditionally and completely. With investigators and my companion, I really need to just love everything. So that is something I have been working on.
On Wednesday we visited Raul in the hospital again. I found out what the problem was, he had serious surgery for some stomach problems that suddenly came up. So he has to just sit down and rest for 6 weeks which means he can't come to church till then. :(
But anyways we visited him in the hospital and his fiance Anna was there. I shared one of my favorite scriptures with them from Moroni 7 that talks about charity. And talked with them about the love of Christ. Then Elder Payne and I sang "Soy un hijo de Dios"(I am a child of God) to them. We sang "Soy un hijo de Dios, y el me envio aqui. Me ha dado un hogar y padres buenos para mi. Guien me ensenen me la senda a seguir, para que algun dia yo con el pueda vivir." As we sang this I thought of my parents and what an incredible blessing they are to me, and I really feel the love of God through them and I know that I really am "un hijo de Dios". And I need him to guide me and teach me so much. The spirit came into the small hospital room. Anna began to cry as we sang. It really didn't make much sense from an outside perspective because we both have horrible voices, but she told us "cantaron con sus corazones. Lo senti" she said "you sang with your hearts, I felt it." I say it every week, but there really is nothing like being able to help others feel close to Christ through their native language. Even though Elder Payne didn't understand the words he was singing and I didn't sound very good, the spirit was there because what we sang is true. We really are children of God and He really has sent us here.
Thursday was one of those days I was talking about where it was gloomy and people didn't seem very happy. We tracted for 3 hours in the rain and everyone just seemed kind of...bleh. So it kind of got to me after a while and I started treating it more like something administrative and forgot the spiritual part of it. And when we finished, I really felt a difference. I didn't feel as accomplished. That night I realized why I didn't feel good and it was because I let it become more of a check list thing, rather than viewing it as saving my brothers and sisters. So I committed to myself that I would do my best to always make tracting or anything I do as a representative of Christ a spiritual effort and not lose sight of the significance of what I am doing. The next day there was a huge difference. It was still kind of gloomy, but I made sure I made it a spiritual effort. Even though we didn't have much success I was happier.
Saturday we had another lesson with the P. family, it was kind of all over the place because people were walking in and out of the house and yelling. But there were definitely moments of peace. We taught Lucy about the plan of salvation. She said she had always felt like we lived somewhere before this earth, and that made so much sense to her. I asked her about how it felt when she held her 1st child in her arms for the 1st time. She said "Oh, I just can't even explain it. So much happiness. And peace. I could tell that there was so much more to her than just this tiny body." It really brought the spirit in. I really don't know how someone could ever hold a new born baby in their arms and doubt that there is a God. The Plan of Salvation really brings me so much peace to know that Heavenly Faher has a plan for me and for all of us. There is no need to worry if we just follow His plan.
Lucy told us that she always feels peace when we come over there and talk with her. She said she never really gets to feel peace anymore because her kids are mostly living in the world not living good lives and she works constantly, but she feels peace meeting with us. I asked her if she would want to feel this peace all the time, and she said "of course". I promised her that she can have this peace all the time. It is the peace that comes from following the plan Heavenly Father has given us, and when she is baptized she can have this peace. Its a peace that comes regardless of financial or family circumstances, it is peace from within. She said she really wants that.
When I said that to her, it wasn't just something I had heard someone at church say once or something like that. It really is true. Peace comes from following Heavenly Father's plan for us. I know that is so true. She hasn't received her answer yet, but keep praying for her please!
Yesterday we met with Mirah to teach her about the Book of Mormon. Mirah is a referral from Issac, a 14 year old boy in the ward. Mirah is his bus driver. This kid Issac is amazing. He loves the gospel so much and he does so much to share it with others. So we went with Issac and his dad over to Mirah's. Brother D., Issac's dad, is so smart. He knows so much about the scriptures and it was really helpful to have him there. He explained so clearly to her how it makes sense that we would have a prophet today. God had prophets in the old testament with his church, and in the new testament after his death, so why wouldn't we need it today? Mirah really thought about this and you could see her mind just pondering this. We read the introduction with her and talked about the peace that comes from the Book of Mormon and how it helps us to grow closer to the Savior. I told her with all of my heart that I know this book is true. It really has changed my life. It continually strengthens me, guides me, and pulls me closer to the Savior. I have no doubt that it is true because I have seen myself and my life transform from consistently studying it. I really do know that The Book of Mormon is the words of Christ, it is a miracle. It will change anyone's life who reads and ponders it with a sincere heart. I don't know if Mirah felt it, I hope she did, but I felt the spirit so strongly telling her about the miracle of the Book of Mormon. It is such a blessing to the world and I am so blessed to share this blessing with others.
I really am doing well. I have felt your prayers a lot (especially Dad's prayers for me to be patient with myself). This work really is a big deal. It's laboring for the souls of God's children, our brothers and sisters. If we just stay focussed on Christ, I know we can receive His power to do it. He is the center of this work. I am so grateful for my Savior who purifies, strengthens, and redeems me. I love Him so much.
I love you all! I hope you have an awesome week!
Elder Tenney

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Cherishing my time in Ohio.

Sent: Monday, June 3, 2013 3:27:33 PM
Subject: Fwd: Cherishing my time in Ohio

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

Sent: Monday, June 3, 2013 3:03:17 PM
Subject: Cherishing my time in Ohio

Hey Everyone!
1st of all, I forgot to mention Scott's birthday in my e mail last week. Scott really is one of my biggest idols. His example of hard work and diligence always inspires me. He brings so so much joy to everyone around him. I really am so grateful and blessed to have Scott as my oldest brother. I love you Scott!
This week was really really good. I feel like I say that every week, but it's because it's so true. 1st of all, the reason I am e-mailing later than usual is because I was being super unwise and doing an eating challenge at this restaurant eating a 2 pound burger. And yes. Yes I finished it. ALL of it. I'll attach some pictures, it was gross. And it wasn't even a challenge because we didn't get anything for finishing it, not even a picture. But I am printing out a picture and bringing it back to them to put on the wall anyways.

This week was filled with miracles again. Every week truly is filled with miracles if we pray for them specifically, expect them, and then earnestly watch for them.
So we had a lesson planned with Keisha. I don't think I've told you guys about Keisha before. But she came up to the elders before I got here one day and told them she wanted to be baptized. But then the elders could never get contact with her, and when they did she said she had found another church. But within the past month, we saw her everywhere and she said she was really confused with the things they were teaching at her church, so we offered to help her. She said she thought it must be a sign since she kept seeing us everywhere. But so we have taught her a couple lessons, but it is just really hard to teach because she is always watching her 2 kids, then 3 of her nieces and nephews. We also have to meet outside because her brother is anti. So the lessons aren't that reverent to say the least. But we had been praying that week that we could have a lesson with her where it was calm and an environment where she could feel the spirit. A few days later we went over there and she and her kids had just gotten back from being at the lake all day, so the kids were exhausted. We had an awesome lesson about the restoration and she really took in all that we talked about. There were no distractions, it was peaceful. It was such an answer to prayers.
We had our first lesson with Sarah this week. She is the woman who had been praying for help and then we came to her in her yard offering to help her. But we served her on Monday and it was great. Then on Wednesday, we had a really powerful lesson with her. She shared some special experiences she has had where she felt peace and saw great light, even though she was in turmoil. We related her experience to Jospeh Smith. I told her how Joseph was confused and he felt like he was in darkness. He turned to the bible to receive guidance, and he prayed. Then I shared with her Joseph's account of his experience:
"I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me, I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said, pointing to the other, 'This is my beloved son, hear Him.'"
As I finished saying this, looking her in the eyes, she stopped me, and said, "You really feel that. You said that with your heart. I could feel that. You know that you are His beloved son too." She felt it. She really felt the spirit as we spoke. It was amazing watching someone who has never heard of Joseph Smith get teary eyed talking about his experience and similar experiences she has had. I really did try to say it with my heart. If we just recite things we know, then the spirit will not back us up. The spirit is not an intellectual being, it is a spiritual being. So we have to say things with our heart and soul if we want the spirit to be there. It is definitely something I need to work on. It was such a special experience to see someone feel the spirit as I pour out my spirit to try to help them feel that this is true. She said she is going to pray about Joseph Smith. She really feels like we are servants of Christ and she is doing awesome. We are going back tomorrow to help her out more and then teach her some more. I love Sarah. She has so much trust in God and is sensitive to the spirit.
On Saturday, we had a great lesson with Lucy P. She is the mother of the P family. In the past, other missionaries stopped teaching her because she said she had already been baptized a Catholic and she wasn't going to be baptized again. Raul was in the hospital, so it was just Lucy and I (and Elder Payne, but he can't understand what's going on so he usually sleeps haha). But we talked about authority, and how the prophets in the old testament received authority from God, and that's what separated them from other men. Then Christ had this authority, he was baptized by this authority, then he gave it to His apostles too. But after the death of His apostles, the people were wicked and rejected them, so this priesthood authority was lost. But Joseph Smith was called of God to restore this authority to the earth, and that same authority is here on the earth again today. I explained to her, that is the reason I invite her to be baptized again. To be baptized by the same authority that Christ was baptized and to receive even more blessings from Him through following His example. We really felt the spirit as we talked together. She accepted everything we talked about, and she said she will really pray to ask God if this is what He wants her to do. I asked her how she thinks she will receive her answer and she said maybe through the bible or the book of Mormon, or through a dream. I truly believe she will get her answer one day. I don't know when, but she has so much faith in God and will do anything He tells her.
On Sunday after church, I went with a new member of the ward, Brother M, to give Raul a blessing in the hospital. Brother M had just moved in the day before haha. It was so nice of him to be willing to help. He speaks Spanish, so it was great to have his help. We talked with Raul for a little bit. He is not doing well. He is having a lot of stomach problems and had to have his appendix taken out as well as some other surgeries. So please keep him in your prayers. Anna (Raul's fiance was there too). We explained what a blessing was and talked about the authority. Then Brother M  told me he would do the anointing and I could do the blessing (all in Spanish). So I was a little nervous. But as I placed my hands on his head, I just felt peace. I had no idea what to say, but as I spoke, it came. It was really simple, but I felt the spirit so much giving him a blessing in Spanish. That was a really sweet experience. Raul was very grateful. He is such an amazing guy.
Lastly, we taught Mary the law of chastity last night. We had to move back her baptismal date because she didn't feel like she was ready, and she is living with a guy who she isn't married to. So we had to work on that. We brought Bishop W and his wife with us and they shared so many great insights that were really good and simple, so Mary understood it all. It is really funny watching people talk about the law of chastity, some people are just scared to talk about it haha. But it was really good, she understands it. At the end of the lesson, we told her that part of living the law of chastity so that you are ready for baptism is not living with a member of the opposite sex unless you're married. So she would have to move out of Mike's and find somewhere else to live. Let me remind you that Mary's house burned down a couple of months ago, she lost everything, left her fiance, and lost many of her friends. So this wasn't a little thing we were asking her to do. So we said, "Mary will you exercise your faith in Jesus Christ, and live the law of Chastity? Will you move out of Mike's and live somewhere else?" She just looked at us and said, "Yeah." That's all. She understood it was something she needed to do so she just said "yeah". I was grateful it was that easy, but just amazed by her faith. There is no doubt that Mary has her struggles, but she trusts God.
I am so grateful to be here serving these amazing people. I truly know that this is Heavenly Father's work. I feel it and I see it. True happiness really is found in turning to the Savior and becoming more like Him.
I love you all so much! I hope you have a great week!

Elder Tenney
Pictures: biggest burger ever.