Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Break Forth into Joy!

From: "Heath Tenney" 
Sent: Monday, September 23, 2013 12:00:08 PM

Hey family!
So I left my journal at the apartment today sadly, so this will all be off memory. It has been a crazy week.
So 1st of all, on Tuesday, we had exchanges, so Elder Taylor came with me to St. Marys which was fun. We taught 6 lessons within about 3 hours, so we were busy. We had an amazing lesson with our investigator, Georgia. Georgia is in her 70's, and you will never meet a woman with more faith or more love for the Savior. I love talking with her because she amazes me, when she speaks, you can feel how much she loves the Savior. I want to have that kind of love. Anyways, when we got there, she was excited to tell us about her experience. She said that her son had said some mean things to her, so she was crying, but she saw the Book of Mormon on the table, and she remembered how we told her it was the word of God, so she picked it up and opened it. She opened to Alma 36:3 and read it. It talks about how whoever puts their trust in the Lord will be supported in their afflictions and He will deliver us. She told us in tears how that was exactly what she needed, she felt like God himself was speaking to her, and she could not deny that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. It was amazing to hear. The Book of Mormon works miracles. If we can just get anyone to sincerely read it, they will change and draw closer to God. Georgia wasn't feeling very well, so we offered her a blessing, and she was blown away. She said, "You're going to baptize me with the holy spirit in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?!" I replied, "Well, it's not exactly a bapt.." "OH YES! Yes it is!" She said cutting me off. hahaha. So we explained a little more about it and gave her a blessing. She was so honored. She cried as we gave her a blessing, the spirit was so powerful. It amazes me every time I am able to give a blessing how the words just come, and they are not mine. It was such a great night with Georgia.
Later that night, we had a great lesson with Dustin. Dustin is the man. He has a testimony. He knows exactly what he needs to do and what God wants him to do. Now it's just the matter of doing it. So we went into the lesson with the plan of reading the Book of Mormon with him wherever he was at and really encouraging him to act on his faith, because there really is nothing left we, as missionaries can do for him if he isn't acting. So that's what we did. He was in Alma 37, and we encouraged him to write down a question before we started and to pray to receive the answer as we read. His question was something like, "how can I get the money I need to fix my truck?" So we started reading. The Book of Mormon amazes me, it just floods the room with the spirit if we allow it. As we read with him, I felt strongly impressed to promise him something. After we read a verse about the Lord promising something, I said, "Dustin, as a representative of Jesus Christ, I promise you, that if you will exercise your faith and come to church this Sunday, that the Lord will provide a way to get you the $250 you need." I told him I knew he would have to sacrifice, but that if he did it, the Lord will fulfill His promise to him, because it was not me promising him that. The very last verse we read, said something like, "I know the Lord will fulfill all his promises unto His children if they are faithful." It was amazing. The Lord was definitely speaking to Dustin. Anyone in the room could have felt that.
On Thursday, we had a good lesson with Joey. Brother Davis came with us and he was so helpful. Members make the world of a difference in lessons. We talked with Joey, Linda, and Stephanie about the importance of church. They seemed willing and excited to come. The spirit was there. Like I said last week, we really can't do much for them after a certain point if they are not reading the Book of Mormon and coming to church. We can't give them faith. They have to gain that on their own. So they have to come to church to progress.
Sunday. I was praying so much coming up to the Sabbath that Joey, Dustin, and all our investigators and less actives we're working with would come. I was blessing the sacrament, so I was sitting on the stand, and I looked to see if any of our investigators had walked in, but sadly, no one came. Church once again was so nourishing, cleansing, enabling, and such an amazing part of my week. I want that so bad for them. That is one of the hardest parts of serving a mission and loving these people so much: their agency. It is hard when they don't take advantage of this incredible gift God is trying to give them. It's like someone trying to give me a mint cookies and cream shake, and me letting it sit out and melt! But Church is even better than mint cookies and cream shakes!
On the bright side, Lisen and his family and several other Less Active members we had been working with come! So I am so happy they came. I really am so grateful for that tender mercy of the Lord. One thing I am learning that I definitely need to apply more is: joy is not the absence of disappointment, but the presence of blessings to rejoice about! So yes, none of our investigators came to church, which was hard, but we had several families come to church who in the past have not come very often. What an incredible thing! So I rejoice in that. And my rejoicing should overpower any disappointment. I think that is how the Savior was so happy all the time. It is definitely not that He had nothing to be disappointed about (because He had a lot), but He rejoiced more in the blessings He had. I want to become like Him.
I love the words of Isaiah in Isaiah 52:9 "Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem." We really should break forth into joy. That's not a suggestion, that's a commandment, it is our very purpose in being here. And we have the greatest reason EVER to rejoice, because the Lord has redeemed His people. He is the greatest reason to rejoice. I am so grateful that no matter what disappointments we face, we can always have more to rejoice in through Him. He lives. He is the greatest reason to rejoice. He is the reason I serve. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Have a wonderful week! I love you all so much!
Elder Heath Tenney

Monday, September 16, 2013

He is Laboring With Us

Sept. 16, 2013

Mi familia!
This week was another really great and really hard week. I am amazed every week how miracles just keep coming. I'm realizing, they've always been coming, I'm just beginning to notice them more.
Anyways, so on Tuesday we had a lesson with Kenneth about the Book of Mormon. We got there and he had lots of great questions about the restoration pamphlet we left with him. He read all of it! He was upset at the end because he looked up all the scriptures in the Bible, but he didn't have a Book of Mormon to read those scriptures! So he ate it up! We really were so excited to share it with them. This book is incredible and it will change anyone's life who reads it. So we showed that to him. At the end of the lesson, we knelt down and invited him to pray, he was hesitant, but he agreed. We helped show him how, and he started to slowly pray. There was a long moment of silence after he said "Heavenly Father...." and I was praying so hard for him. It really was one of the hardest times I have prayed for someone on my mission. I was pleading for Heavenly Father to help him to pray and especially to feel the spirit. He gave such a simple and beautiful prayer. The spirit was definitely there. Elder Gorringe and I were ecstatic after! There is nothing else in the world that can bring that joy! Hearing someone pray for the 1st time and feeling it... ahh! It was amazing. JOY.
The next morning/night we had to get up at 2:18, yes 2:18 AM, so we could drive to Sandusky to hear from Elder Shane M. Bowen who was coming to visit our mission. And St. Marys is the furthest away in the mission, so we had to get up early. It is super weird to think I could have driven in less time from St. Marys and gotten home (to Indiana) quicker than we got there. Anyways, I was SO tired. It felt like a battle to stay awake the whole drive. It really was a miracle that I stayed awake the whole drive. Not only that, but during the whole meeting with Elder Bowen. It was SO good. We received so much guidance and were definitely uplifted. He talked a lot about getting rid of artificial limitations. Sometimes we tell ourselves, "Oh that can't happen here...we don't baptize in this area..." or things like that, and he said "Get rid of them! They're not true!" It was a great meeting.

Yesterday, at church we anxiously anticipated our investigators coming to church. We called all of them the day before to invite them, we had 3 new investigators that week we invited, we did all we could. We sat in the chapel waiting...but no one came. Church was so good. It was SO spiritually edifying. I left feeling stronger and closer to Christ. I left having my questions answered and knowing what I can do better this week. It was so good. I felt heartbroken for all our investigators. Not because of the numbers of having 0 there, not because they need to come before baptism...I felt heartbroken because they missed out on that. They missed out on that strength that comes from church. I wish so badly that any of them would have come. I am sad for them, but not discouraged. We just have to work harder to get them there! We really do them no lasting good unless we can get them to come to church. They have to come for themselves otherwise the spirit they feel is just temporary.
We are still seeing so many miracles here. We are finding prepared souls everyday who need this Gospel. The spirit is truly guiding us and so many amazing things are happening with us and with the members of the branch. Our key indicators have been improving every week and the branch is getting more excited about sharing the gospel! This week, I studied Jacob 5:70-72, where it talks about how the Lord is laboring with His servants in the vineyard. I heard someone say this week, "Well He isn't laboring with us yet...", I felt a little defensive (I know I shouldn't have). I said, "I KNOW He is. I feel it. I see it everyday. The things that are happening here could not happen without Him."
I know that He really is laboring with us today! The Lord's work isn't some future thing where He will come and "finish up" what we missed. He is fully invested, 100%. He is even more involved and cares SO much more about this than we ever will. He is so much more involved in this work than we can even imagine. This work is a joy because He is laboring with us, we have no need to fear or be discouraged because the Lord is on our side! I know these things are true.
Things are going great. Conversion takes time, so it is teaching us patience. But I know that when the Lord is working with us and within us, it comes. Thank you for all your prayers! I love you all so much!
Elder Heath Tenney

Monday, September 9, 2013

Feeling Blessed

Sept. 9, 2013

Hello friends!
I don't even know exactly where to start. We have been SO blessed by the Lord this week. I really feel like Ammon in Alma 26, I feel SO grateful for the great things the Lord has done for us this week, but "I know that I am nothing, as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God..."
One day, we had like 30 minutes, so we decided to go find people to help by tracting. As I looked at the map, I really had a prayer in my heart to be guided, then this street came to mind and we went there. We went there and found 3 people in 30 minutes! We found a woman who had just finished going through Chemo, lost her husband 3 months earlier, and doesn't have a ton of direction. We found a man named Jim, who isn't really happy with the church he is going to, and feels like he needs something more. And we found one other woman who's family is struggling and said a prayer with her. It was amazing. The spirit is EVERYTHING. All we have to do as missionaries is just LISTEN and ACT on the spirit! If we do that, we will see miracles! I am SO grateful for the spirit.

This week we drove all the way down to St. Henry to meet with Gonzalo. It was a big gamble, because his phone number didn't work and we didn't know if he could meet with us. It's like a 45 minute drive and our miles are limited. We have the biggest area in the mission and our miles got cut for this month haha. So it really was a gamble, but after praying about it, we went. We got to Gonzalo's house and I talked with him for a few minutes, but he said they couldn't meet with us tonight. Afterwards my mind initially went "Hmmm....", but then the spirit reminded me we were there for a reason! So we went to work! I looked at my planner and we had a couple streets lined up as backups, again we were inspired which street to go to. Then we went there and at the very 1st door, we meet this really cute little kid, he runs and gets his dad. Then his dad comes out. He says, "Hey! I saw those white shirts and knew exactly who you were! I'm glad to see those white shirts again." His name is Daniel. He moved here from the Marshall islands. He was baptized when he was there, but didn't even know there was an LDS church here. So we talked with him and invited him back to church. Yet another miracle, we had a Marshallese Book of Mormon in our trunk. So we gave it to him and invited him to read it with his family. So crazy. He was excited to come! What a miracle! The Lord planned out every little detail of that happening. One that we were in St. Henry; two we knew which street to tract; three, he was home because he took this day off (which he never does). and lastly that we had a Marshallese Book of Mormon in our trunk! I didn't even know what that was before my mission!
We are finding more and more brothers and sisters prepared by Heavenly Father. This work really cannot be stopped. It may take time and it definitely takes diligence, but Heavenly Father is changing hearts everyday, we just have to find them and help them.
Almost every night I pray for the members of the branch here to have spiritual experiences and to be excited about missionary work. I pray for them to be protected and pray for the well being of the branch in general. I also have asked you all to pray for them (and thank you SO much for that). We saw more miracles this week in answer to our prayers. In Priesthood meeting at church yesterday, when they asked for missionary experiences people have had, man after man stood up and shared some type of experience they had this week to share their beliefs. For 20 minutes, we listened to all the different missionary experiences. I didn't realize it right away, but that is a miracle. I can hardly type this without tears falling from my eyes. This branch is changing before our eyes.
It is a miracle. I don't want the meaning to be lost by saying it so much. Every time I type that word I mean it for exactly what it is. Like the Bible Dictionary says, they are " they are powers or mighty works, because they are the acts of One who is almighty... the natural results of the Messiah’s presence among men; they are wonders, marvels,..." They are real.
There are wonders happening before our eyes here. It truly is proof that Jesus is the Christ.
I feel just like Ammon:
" 16 Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."
This is true.
I love you all! Have a wonderful week and thank you SO much for your prayers for me and the St. Marys branch. They never go unanswered or unfelt.
Elder Heath Tenney 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Diligencia trae los Milagros!

September 3, 2013

Dear Family,
This week was insane. I don't have a ton of time, I wish I could tell you about each of the miracles that we witnessed this week. There are so many! We really prayed and looked for ways to be more obedient this week, then did it. And blessings were falling like the dew from Heaven.
So 1st of all, we stopped by a potential investigator who we had stopped by like 3 times before, and it seemed like he really wasn't that interested because he kept telling us, "Not today" or would forget whenever we had an appointment. But I felt guided to try again, so we stopped by Kenneth's place, and he let us in. We had a great lesson with him and his girlfriend. They want to increase their faith. They just don't know how. They are scared and have personal doubts. I felt so much love for them. It is one of the most joyous things to say, when you can look them in the eyes, and say, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ will help you." Not just saying it out of habit or because it was a thought coming to mind. But saying it, bearing testimony of it, KNOWING it! Then we invited them to a baptism that was on Saturday and they were so excited to come!
It was so exciting for me to see a change in Elder Gorringe. His first week here, we were mostly tracting, with not a ton of success. We taught a few lessons, but after this lesson. He just lit up. You could see it in his countenance, he was happy to be a missionary. He was so excited and happy. It inspired me. I want to be like that after every lesson, so happy and grateful to have people to help. He was already asking, "So when they get baptized, who is going to baptize them?" hahaha. We have a lot more to worry about before we worry about that. But it was great. He's excited.
Next miracle. This week we drove out to St. Henry to visit a former investigator family from Mexico. The record said that they lost contact and didn't think they were interested or something, but we stopped by anyways. So we went there and met Brother M! They let us right in and we met their daughters, who speak English, but he and his wife only speak Spanish. We had a great lesson with him talking about our purpose and relating to him the story of Joseph Smith and the similarities between his questions and Joseph's questions. He said we could come back! The gift of tongues is so real. The 1st few sentences he said just sounded like "hjdhmmmmmm mmmmmm sjhhhhh   mmmmm"...So naturally, I just nodded my head and said, "Oh...Si...Si" But then I started praying and it came. But so now we have a Spanish speaking investigator family! In every Spanish lesson I teach, I always leave feeling the spirit so strongly. Not just because of the lesson, but because I can feel it, I can feel the power that was working within me. It's not me at all. So much joy.
Then we had this random phone call from a man from Illinois, who lived here 25 years ago, but he had a friend who was sick, who he wanted to give a blessing to with us. It was such a cool experience hearing this man bear his sincere testimony to his dear friend.
Lastly, then on Saturday, we went with Bro. R (the most helpful member ever) to pick up Kenneth and Linda for the baptism. We get there, knock. And no one answers...knock answer. So that plan failed. haha. No baptism. Then the thought came, "call Dustin." (Dustin is an investigator who has been meeting with missionaries for years. He is such a great guy and knows it is all true, he just needs to commit.) So I called him, then he said he could go, even though he only had 2 hours of sleep. So we were able to go to the baptism with him. It was great. Then we had a powerful lesson on baptism afterwards and he accepted the invitation to be baptized. He said, "I know I need to. I think it's about time."
MIRACLES! Ahh! They are so real. If we just do what the Lord wants, and work our hearts out for him, he will guide our paths and others. He will bless us with miracles.
These are only a few of the miracles we saw this week. I wish I could tell you about all of them. I testify that miracles are real. God does have a hand in our lives, even more than we realize. I am so grateful and honored to be a part of the miracle that is sweeping the entire earth right now.
I love you all so much! I hope you are having a great week! Please keep the St. Marys branch in your prayers!
Elder Heath Tenney