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

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