Monday, July 29, 2013

Faith is not only a feeling; it is a decision.

July 29, 2013

Elder Heath Tenney
1810 Winston Dr.
St. Marys, OH 45885

This was one of the most personally humbling and growing weeks of my life. There weren't any huge events that happened that made it happen or anything...just lots of personal revelation and lots of realizations. So it was a really hard and good week.
I had an incredible interview with President Vellinga this week. He was so guided by the spirit and I felt so much love from him and from Heavenly Father. It was such a blessing.
The quote that is the title of this sums up my week. It is from Elder Neil L Anderson from an awesome talk Mom sent to me this week, but it gave me stregth this week. Faith really is a decision. We can't choose faith and fear, just choose faith.
I had planned to write about a few stories of my week, but an e mail I just read caused me to change that. I read a few minutes ago that George Djelic, an incredible man in Warren (last area) passed away last night. I want to share with you George's story. George had a rough rough childhood without a father figure in his life and with so many challenges that I don't even know. When he turned 18 he joined the military and was in the military for 10-15 years after that. He never wanted to even talk about it because of all the things he had seen and done. He traveled all over the world in the military. He saw some of the worst things on this planet. He came back and never saw life the same. He tried about every career you can think of, a chef, business, pilot,...etc. But he never found the thing that truly made him feel happy. I don't know any specifics, but I know he resolved to violence to solve his problems, he was involved in so many rough things that he is ashamed of. He kind of began to just try out different things to try to find happiness, he even walked all the way across the country, just to try it. George was always laughing and making jokes, even at what some people considered to be sensitive subjects, but he told us in a rare moment of serious conversation that the reason he laughed so much was because it was the only thing he could do to not cry. George went through so so much. One day he was at his sister's dance studio, he saw one little girl, Ginny, who just looked different than everyone else. She had a light about her. Later on, when he met her parents, he realized they were different too. They were so happy and they just had a light, they were different. George quickly became great friends with the family. He began to meet with the missionaries. He said he started to feel this peace, that he had never felt in his life. He felt this happiness that he had never found before. Amidst all the craziness he had seen and been a part of, he felt peace now. He felt it, and he prayed about the thigns they were teaching. He could not deny that he knew this was true. It would be an understatement to say becoming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ would be a life change for George. It would take a nature change. A complete change of everything he had ever known and been. When the Elders taught George the law of chastity, he said it was one of the hardest things he ever had to change, but he told us "I knew it was true, so I had to give it up." He didn't fear or doubt at all, it wasn't easy but he had faith and he knew he had to do it. As he was changing his life and changing his nature SO much, George was baptized. George was by no means perfect after he was baptized, he had struggles just like everyone. I remember thinking "this guy is a member?" after my 1st time being with him. He had to work hard to stop all the old habits he was accustomed to, but he was doing his best. Every week George would go out with the missionaries. He was the 1st one to volunteer for service opportunities. The 1st one to be there when someone needed help. He was so so good. George taught me so much. He had his old habits still a small part of him, but that man lived the gospel. He chose faith. He completely changed his ways because he knew it was true. While he had outward struggles that others might judge him for, no one went out and did things like George did. He got things done. He helped people. Not out of a desire to look good to others, not out obligation, but because he truly knew this was what God wanted. I will never ever again have even a thought of judgement based on someones outward habits, because George taught me that it doesn't matter. What matters is who you can become through the transformitive power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. And he did that, he was transformed, and is still doing that.
George passed away about 6 months after he was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I know He is eternally grateful for that family who just lived the things they knew, the family who was his light to be guided to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. I will always remeber George because he showed me with his life that he has changed and he was trying to change. He had so much faith. I know he is rejoicing in paradise for the decision he made 6 months ago, the decision that forever changed who he is.

I'm sorry this is so long, but I know there is so much we can learn from the life of George.
Know that I am working hard and miracles are happening in St. Marys.  I know that Christ truly lives and that this is His work. Nothing else is that important, it's all about Christ.
I love you all!

Elder Heath Tenney

Monday, July 22, 2013

This Joy Can't Be Taken

Elder Heath Tenney
1810 Winston Dr.
St. Marys, OH 45885

Hey family!

It is really sad to hear about Daisy. She was such a good dog. I will miss her.

This week was a hard week, I say that every week haha. The more I get into this, the harder it gets, yet the more joy I feel in every moment.

On Monday evening, we went and cut down a tree for an older couple. I got to use a chainsaw, so that added some excitement into my week. I love being able to serve so much. It's great.
Then on Tuesday, we stopped by the house of a few of our friends who want to learn more about the Church, Jim and Joyce. They are in their 50's and have several grown kids. Jim and Joyce both love to talk, so it is hard to keep them in the same conversation because they will just keep on interrupting each other haha. It was funny. But so then Joyce just decided she would talk to me, and Jim decided he would talk to Elder Mitchell. So they both got to talk. In talking with Joyce, I asked her when she has felt peace in her life. She told me of several experiences when she has prayed and felt overwhelming peace. She said, "But then it just wears off after a while" she went on telling me other stories. But later on I asked her what it would mean to her to have that peace more in her life, she said "that would mean everything. Oh, I would love that." I promised her that she could and that we want to share with her how she can have that. So we are going back this week.

Later that night we went to visit a less active man, we came to find out he lives in the middle of nowhere and was evicted from his house which was down this long driveway in farmland, but it was an adventure. I saw a wild peacock! that was cool. I did my pterodactyl cry to it, then it started squacking and freaking out. I felt so cool.

Wednesday, we got up to run to K-mart for our work out because we needed a bike pump. Then Elder Mitchell walks in and says "I don't feel too well. I don't think I can go out today." So he was sick for the day, which means I got a lot of study time. I studied for SO long. Literally all day. I have a slight feel for what Weston felt like studying for the MCAT. But it was really good. I was able to go through the area book and look through all the records and make some phone calls and become more familiar with the area. I also went through and set some goals for what we can accomplish here. So it was a revelatory day, but a very long revelatory day. I was really really excited to just get out and work the next day.
Then the next day comes, we did our weekly planning which took way longer than it should have, then we had to go to the library to take a mission survey, then finally we are able to go out after everything at like 5:30. We were on bikes because we are low on miles, but then I'm riding down the road and I hear this loud noise that sounded like a gun shot...but it was accompanied with my front tire losing all it's air. so, my tire exploded haha. I got off my bike and wanted to be angry but I just couldn't. So I just laughed. Satan just didn't want us to work, or Heavenly Father just really needs me to learn patience...probably both. So then we got a member to come pick us up, we went home, then finally we got to teach one person that night so that was a blessing. At the end of the day I felt this conflicting feeling of wanting to be upset that we haven't been able to work the past 2 days, and this strange, indecribable internal joy. My mind just kept on saying, "I should be upset, we haven't done anything in 2 days." And I kind of wanted to be upset, but there is this internal joy that just can't be overpowered. This joy that I pray for every night, this joy of serving Jesus Christ. So I couldn't be upset, because this joy just overpowered that. It really is a miracle, the joy that becomes a part of us as we serve Him.

FInally on friday we got to work. All day. It felt SO good. It made me realize how much I love to work. Good, honest work. We went out on our bikes and we stopped by some people's houses. I loved being able to bike through the farm land here, it is so beautiful. Biking is the best. But those 2 days of not being able to work showed me how much I love to work. Before my mission, I could work hard, and I was okay with it, but now I just love it. I do not like when I can't work. The joy and fulfillment that is felt as we give everything to just work is indescribable. I love work. It really is joy.

It would be nice if I could write home and say that we are having trouble finding time for everyone to be baptized, or telling you about more teaching opportunities, but that's not Heaven's will yet. But one thing you can be sure of is that I am working as hard as I can here. I am giving everything I am to bring forth the Lord's purposes here, and I will not stop. I will work so hard. So I just want you to know that although there are lots of things to change, I'm doing my best. And doing my best for Christ is what gives me that inner joy. That joy that really can't be taken. I know He really is the way to true joy. This is all about Him.
Sorry my emails are so long. I will try to make them shorter. I love you all so much! You are in my prayers! Thank you for all you do!
Elder Heath Tenney

Monday, July 15, 2013

St. Marys, Ohio

Elder Heath Tenney
1810 Winston Dr.
St. Marys, OH 45885

Hey family!
It was good to hear about girls camp and how well that went! I was praying for Mom and Court all week.
So I was transferred, it was a crazy day at transferrs. But I was transferred to St. Marys, Ohio. This area is literally as close as I can possibly be to home haha. My area is on the Indiana border. It is so weird being so close. There are signs on the highway right next to our apartment that say "Fort Wayne Indiana: 50 miles". I think I'm a little under 2 hours from home. It is super weird.
Oh and before I forget, my new address is:
1810 Winston Dr.
St. Marys, OH 45885
But before I get to that, lets back up a few days. On Wednesday, we rode through the craziest weather I have ever been in (on a bike). It almost blew me off my bike. It was so awesome. I was just laughing and smiling so much haha. It was awesome.

 That evening, we had our last lesson with the Ps. It was great. I talked with them about God's love, how he truly loves them individually. I asked them how they have seen God's love in their life, Lucy said that she felt God's love through me being sent there. I told her how knew that Heavenly Father had sent me there to bring them His truth, to bring them the Book of Mormon. I told them I wouldn't always be there to teach them, but this book always is there to bring them closer to God and teach them, and I know it is true. When I told Lucy that I would be leaving, she began to cry, and said "No nos ovlide. No nos ovlide." - "do not forget us. Do not forget us." I assured her I wouldn't ever forget about them. I pleaded with her to please read the Book of Mormon everyday, because if she does then miracles will happen in her life. That was all I really could do. Just share my testimony because I'm not sure how much more they can be taught at this time after I leave. She then said with tears in her eyes, "You brought this book to me. You brought me this miracle. It is because of you that I know this is true and I know this is the right religion. You have brought me this book, and I can feel it changing my life... I know you were sent here from God." I can't even explain the love and spirit that I felt for them. I then started to cry as Lucy in between her sobs said "Gracias a Dios...Gracios a Dios" --"thank you to God, thank you to God for this boy." I love that family so much. I am amazed at that love that I felt, that I still feel for them. It was heartbreaking to leave them, but I have faith that Heavenly Father will guide them again to the truth.

So leaving Warren was hard. I love the people there so much and I will miss them. Transfers. Transfers was great. I found out I would be serving in St. Marys. a 4 and a half hour drive from Kirtland, where we were. So we said our goodbyes then headed out. The more I heard about St. Marys, I really felt the Lord has a great work to be done there. I was studying in Jacob 5 the day before transfers and I really received inspiration for what the Lord wants from me. I loved how when the Lord planted the tree in the poor spot of ground, the servant was kind of confused. The Lord then said "counsel me not". Then a little later the tree brought forth much natural fruit. This taught me that there is no such thing as a "poor spot of ground" when we are laboring with the Lord. It doesn't matter where he sends me or what this new area may appear to me, this is the Lord's work and He is the one who nourishes the fruit, so there is no such place as a "poor spot of ground" here. I decided that I wanted to have this attitude in the new area I go to, I had no idea what area it was at that point; But I decided that I was going to view this new area in the way it can become through the Lord's nourishment. I wrote out goals of how hard I want to work to fulfill what the Lord wants for this new area I would be going to, and determined that we will see miracles. Then when I found out I was going to St. Marys and I heard more about the area, I knew exactly what the Lord wants for this area. Last week before I got here there was 1 lesson taught total. So it is kind of slow as of right now, but I really know that miracles are about to happen in the Saint Marys branch. I am so excited to be a part of it.
My new companion is Elder Mitchell. He is from Herriman, Utah. He came out with me. We have a car sadly, which means I will probably be gaining weight soon. Elder Mitchell is a great missionary. He has a great heart. St Marys is a super Catholic city. The sign that says "welcome" doesn't say "St Marys welcomes you" it says "The churches of St Marys welcome you" haha. So the people here are so nice. Really good people. They just aren't very open to other religions...yet. I really know that this area is going to get better. We will work so hard to change this area.
I wish I had more time to tell you about the other great experiences we have had and the great people.
I hope everyone is doing really well and loving life! I am so excited to be here in St. Marys. I know the Lord has great plans for this place. I love you all! Have a great week!
Elder Heath Tenney
P.S. and I still have 0 idea when I will get my Visa. haha. So every week is an adventure. Oh and there is a Sister Tenney in the branch here. It was so weird hearing her name come up so much in branch council, Mom just came to mind every time.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Notwithstanding My Weakness

Sent: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 12:13 PM
Subject: "Notwithstanding My Weakness"

1st of all, once again, I am not in Argentina haha. This week is transfers so we had P-day on Tuesday. I found out last night that I am being transferred, so don't send anything to Warren anymore, you can just send letters to the mission office for now, and they will forward them to me.
This week was one of the best weeks of my mission so far. We found out Wednesday that Elder Payne is training again, so we knew one of us was leaving, so we wanted to make this the best week. At first we were both a little anxious to find out what is going on, but after a few minutes I realized it's not really a big deal. I already know what I am going to do, I am going to go wherever the Lord wants me to, and work my heart out. So that's what we did, we just went to work and stopped worrying.
On Tuesday, we met with Mirah. Mirah is doing so well. It makes me so happy seeing her progress and seeing her light as she continues to act and become more converted. We had a lesson on faith with her that was awesome, she talked about her faith and experiences she has had when she has had to take a step into the dark, not knowing what was going to happen, but trusting in God. We invited her to do that, to exercise her faith and trust in God by coming to church and feeling His spirit. Mirah was supposed to come the last 2 weeks, but things came up and she couldn't go the 2 weeks previous. When we said that to her she cut us off and said, "Oh, I am going! I told everyone, all my kids, my husband, 'leave me alone on Sunday. I'm not babysitting. I'm using the car. And I can't do anything for you because I am going to church!' " When she said that Elder Payne and I just lit up. We were so happy. She was totally determined to come, and she did. When she walked into the doors Sunday, words cannot describe the joy that came and the spirit that we felt as we saw her come in. Ahhh. It was awesome. As missionaries, we can only teach and invite. But when people decide to ACT for themselves, that is when conversion happens, and it brought us so much happiness to see that with Mirah.
Then on Wednesday, we had a lesson with the Pagan family. Last week, Lucy was adament that she would not join another church or go. So once again, I had no idea what even to talk about with her. As we started talking she told us about a dream that she had. A dream where she was in a hospital bed dying. She said she thought it was God telling her that she needs to make changes in her life and "die" and become a new person. When she woke up she said she could only think about us. She knew that we were sent from God to help her and that she needed to come to Church. That was definitely a miracle. Heavenly Father really is touching the hearts of His children preparing them to receive the gospel. It is just up to them to act on it and accept it. Sadly Lucy didn't this week, she ended up not coming to church, but I know Heavenly Father will continue to guide her and invite her.
So on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning I had been praying asking Heavenly Father to "please guide us to someone, even just one person who needs us. Who really needs help and uplifting." All day Wednesday, I talked with everyone trying to help them, but didn't seem to find anyone who really needed help. We headed home at about 8:50 and had like 10 minutes before we needed to be home, so we went to stop by someone's house, they weren't home, but then I felt like we should go a different way home. We then ran into Janniss who was sweeping out her garage. We offered to help, then strated talking with her. We  found out that she had just gotten back from the hospital. Her mom is in bad health close to death and she is really struggling with it. I shared Alma 40:9-11 with her and my testimony. We talked with her about God's love, said a prayer with her, and left her with a Book of Mormon. We told her how much peace it has brought to our lives. She said she would read it. I know Christ is SO involved in this work and he really will guide us if we ask for it and work for it.
I don't have much time, but lastly, on Sunday at church, Anna came again. We have started meeting with her seperately because she is progressing more than the P family and she lives somewhere different. It has been awesome to talk with her one on one and find out how much she really loves the Book of Mormon. At Church I translated for her. I know I say this every week too, but the gift of tongues is REAL! I sat there thinking about it, and this makes no sense. It is incredible that I am able to do this. It really is amazing, I wish I could explain it more, but it just is beyond description. It is not me at all.
I am really sad to leave Warren. Especially because the Ps and Anna especially will have no one to teach them. It scares me, and I am kind of worried for that. But I really know that Heavenly Father knows so much more than me, and He will do His work in His own time, so I just need to trust. I know I really was in Warren for a reason, even though Anna hasn't been baptized yet, I was able to share with her the true gospel of Jesus Christ, I was able to share with her "El Libro de Mormon", which has already began to change her life. And God sent me, a brand new 18 year old missionary who speaks broken Spanish, to Warren Ohio to give that to her and to others. The Lord watches out for each one of us individually.
I wish I had time to tell you about all the miracles that we saw this week. I have never been more tired at the end of each day and I love it. I am so excited about this work. It means everything to me. I was studying in 2 Nephi 33 this week, this is at the very end of Nephi's life. He says the phrase "Notwithstanding my weakness" and it really hit me. I compared how he was feeling earlier in his life in 2 Nephi 4 to then. Earlier he was feeling down, he had great faith but was so overcome by his weaknesses. He just wanted to be really good, but felt like he wasn't good enough. At the end of that chapter (4), he says that he knows where to turn, to the Lord. Then at the end of his life, he says that he was still able to do these things "Notwithstanding his weakness" . He didn't let his own weaknesses get in the way of doing what the Lord wanted him to do. He came to learn that it is okay that he has weaknesses because he can do great things through the Lord . That was something I have been learning more, I know I really do have a lot of weaknesses, but "notwithstanding my weakness" I can do the Lord's work because He breaks through my weaknesses and makes up the difference. That goes for everyone. The Lord trusts YOU. He knows you have weaknesses, but He has called YOU to serve him, and notwithstanding your weakness, YOU can do great things for the Lord because it is not you doing this work. We just have to stop focussing on our weaknesses and focus on the Savior.

I love you all so much! I hope you have a great week. This work is true!


Elder Heath Tenney

"I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord"

Monday, July 1, 2013

This is not about me.

July 1, 2013
Elder Heath Tenney
2922 Dunstan Dr. N.W.
Warren, OH 44486

Hey family and friends!
This week was awesome. It blows my mind how fast weeks go by. I wasn't even sure what to write because it seems like I just wrote yesterday, but looking back at my journal, I realized this week was so awesome.

In front of the gates at Mike Tyson's House 

The weather this week was kind of crazy and not especially suitable for riding bikes in a shirt and tie, but we got through it. haha. There were thunderstorms almost every night and lots of rain. On Tuesday, we were teaching Sister Cl. a lesson on her front porch. We were talking about Joseph Smith history and as Elder Payne was reading the part about Joseph being surrounded by darkness, the dark clouds surrounded us in the air. It was really funny. We looked up at each other confused and kind of freaked out haha. Then it started to get super windy, then it started pouring. So we rode home at the speed of light. It was kind of scary because it was not safe weather at all, there were branches flying off trees as we rode past, the rain was coming down super hard so cars couldn't really see us, and it was crazy, but we made it home safe. It was fun. The rain always adds excitement to our bike rides. A similar thing happened on Saturday too with Elder Bunnell, so I am becoming somewhat of a veteran at riding through crazy rain.
That night we had a lesson with Jessica. Brother Gold went with us and he connected super well with her. At this point, we don't know where to go with Jessica because she won't come to church and she isn't sure she wants to keep meeting with us. But Brother Gold really helped her see how church is such a blessing and explained to her how much she would love it. He did an awesome job sincerely inviting her to church. Jessica was convinced, it was great. She said "You make it seem so much more appealing than they ever do." and she said she would come. When she said that, initially I was kind of thinking "Wow, we are not very good at this..." and similar thoughts, but then I remembered "This is NOT about me". I have to remind myself of that everyday, because if I have an inward focus like that, then I can never be the tool in Heavenly Father's hands that He needs me to be. I shouldn't be thinking "wow, that is sad that we didn't explain it well to her." but I should be rejoicing, because her heart was touched and she said she would come! This isn't about me and the good I can do, this is about the souls of Heavenly Father and THEM coming closer to Jesus Christ.  I just have to constantly say to myself "This is not about me", because it truly is not at all.
I also learned so much about listening this week. The section about listening in Preach My Gospel is incredible. I made a goal that this week I wanted to listen, really listen. Not just hear and process what each person is saying, but listen with my heart and really care about the things that they are saying. I definitely saw the blessings of this. During our lesson with the P family, I talked with Lucy about her concerns. She explained how she was scared to go to church because she made a promise to her mom that she would never join another church. She explained her feelings, fears, and doubts. I sat on the edge of my seat and I exerted all my mental and spiritual effort to just listen to her, not to think about what to say or do, but just listen. So I did that, and when she finished, the words that I should say just came. I talked to her about faith and how we have to exercise our faith to receive the guidance and miracles from God, and how going to church is exercising her faith and showing God that she wants to know. I somehow explained to her that if she went to church and showed her faith, that Heavenly Father would tell her if it was something He wanted her to do and if her mother would be okay. Lucy's heart really was softened and she said she would come. It really was nothing that I said or nothing that I thought of, all I did was listen with my heart and with the spirit, and then it came. There is so much power in listening with all our hearts and making listening a spiritual effort. I definitely saw that this week.
We had a good 1st lesson with this man named Deneir. He is a caretaker at a house in our area, he is 23 and he has a rough past, but he is really religious. As we met with him, he talked about how I couldn't really connect with him because he said I was a good kid and that I hadn't done the things that he has done, so I haven't experienced the same things he has, which was totally true, but that really made me think, and as I pondered the answer came. I told him "You know, you're right. I really haven't gone through the same things you have, and I was raised in a religious home where I wasn't exposed to as much of the worldly influence as some others have. So I really can't relate to you or to a lot of people perfectly, but what I do know is that Christ truly does. He has experienced every pain, sorrow, and trial that you have. He knows how to help you because He has been there. He knows and He can relate to you. So I'm not here to relate to everyone myself, I'm here to turn others to Jesus Christ, because He can relate to everyone." It really is so true. I am not here for me, I'm not here to get people to like me or connect with me (not that that should not happen), but I am here to bring others unto Jesus Christ, that should be my goal and focus, because this really is not about me at all.
Then we had a great lesson with Mirah, she didn't come to church last week because her aunt passed away so she had to go to PA. We read the Book of Mormon with her, and I shared Mosiah 16:8-9 with her, which talks about how "the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ". We then shared with her how she really can see her aunt again through Christ, and how we can rejoice because Christ suffered for us so that we may not have that sting of death, because it's not the end. She marked the verse in her Book of Mormon, and it was great to see that it touched her heart.
I am so grateful to be here. I forget sometimes how happy I really am, this is the hardest thing I have ever done, I am dead tired everyday, and I am so happy. There is no place I'd rather be. I just need to always realize the happiness inside of me. I know that this is truly Heavenly Father's work because I really cannot do this. I can't. But this really is not about me in any sense. It is all about Christ, and He can do this. I am so blessed to be here an learn to forget myself, even if it takes some time, but I'm learning. 
I love you all so much! Thank you so much for your prayers and your love! Have an amazing week!
Elder Heath Tenney