Monday, December 17, 2012

tough goodbyes....what next!

Dearest Darlings,
Its weird but I'm ready for home now :) I cried so much as I was leaving Petro. Members even came to the train station to say goodbye and ran with the train as it headed off. It's weird how I have only known these people for 2 and a half months but they have become family to me. This week in the city has been exhausting and awesome and just weird. President Clark told me to fix anything if I saw that the sisters weren't doing the things they need to do. Each companinship I have been with this week has been completely different and it's weird how I have felt directed with them, and how they all had such different needs (dont worry correction wasn't necessary :) thank goodness. It was also weird but cool to be back in my first ward (because of the creation of the stake it is now a WARD and not a BRANCH like when I was there). It was weird to have my last sacrament here, but it was cool to see that the members all remember me and love me so much still. I totally thought they would have forgotten me by now. AND it was cool cuz I could actually talk to them and understand them haha. I mean I could before, but I didnt understand too much. Maybe I did learn some Russian on the mission :)
Today I have my exit interview with President Clark. I dont know what to expect. I'm guessing I'm going to be hearing about how I need to get married. Wow, the subject of marriage is EVERYWHERE these days. Here in Russia when you are saying bye to someone or congratulating them for something you "wish" or "desire" them things. Lately EVERYONE has been desiring me an amazing husband and talented kids.... everyone thinks more about my husband than I do! And being on these splits with the sisters they all keep telling me I'm going to get home and get married right away. Every American sister that has come home from this mission has gotten engaged within like 3 months from getting home. Gah. I'M SO SICK OF MARRIAGE and I haven't even finished yet! haha. Don't worry I promise you I want to get married. And I'm even looking forward to it :) I am just not in any rush. Just marriage please leave me alone for a little bit ok???
I'm already exhausted. I haven't gotten like any sleep. Being on splits basically means SLEEPOVER and with me leaving it's just been crazy as I've had lots of great conversations each night.....
I like my happy little ending in St. Petersburg. I've felt so loved, and just enjoyed walking around the city that I love. I really do adore St. Petersburg. And Russia. And my mission. I've had a great goodbye session with all of it. I'm ready for the farewell, just not sure if I'm ready for this next chapter to start.
I'm happy and I'm ready. I'm pretty sure I cried all my tears out in Petro, but we'll see today when I'm with President, he always seems to get me to cry.
Remember what I said everyone, mom is the first hug, then dad and the sibs. Love you all to bunches.
с любовью
сестра Тенни
до скорого!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Vision, expression, love, laughter, understanding

To all that I love,

This may be my last email home. I'm trying to think of how to make it awesome but I'm BLANK! Mainly I'm just overwhelmed with SADNESS and EXCITEDNESS and can't even figure out what to think.
You have all heard me say this over and over again, but really, I LOVE my mission. I love Russia. I love the gospel. And I have never felt such deep love for my Father in Heaven and my Savior.
I have a list book full of random lists that I have been keeping my whole mission. One of my favorite lists is the things that I have learned on my mission. I want to share a few.
  • The power and importance of VISION in life. We need to know what we want! And once we've caught the vision, we need to go after it. Do it. Make it happen. I've met so many people who are just walking around without anything to strive for. They are wasting their life! We need to ask ourselves, what do I want? And then we need to ask ourselves, am I willing to give my soul to make it happen???
  • I learned the beauty of communication, expression, and being understood. First of all, trying ot speak Russian and having people understand you is no easy task. But the real feat is people trying to understand THE MESSAGE I am sharing. I just want people so bad to "catch the fire" or the "drift" of the gospel! Its such a rare gift to see the flicker of understanding in one's eyes. Whether it's a child in primary, an investigator, a member, your companion, or even those humbling moments when you REALIZE something yourself. I have sought for this my whole mission.... I didnt experience it too much, but those moments I saw it I felt blessed :)
  • The power of laughter. Gosh, really the most healthy companionships I've had, and the only good investigators I've had, I look back now and see that we laughed REAL laughter with each other. Its so relieving and neccesary!! I feel accomplished as a companion when I make my compnaion laugh, and my favorite companions have always easily made me laugh :)
  • I learned how important it is to understand people. Recent example; This new sister in our trio, Sister Schwarz, I kinda wanted to kill her when she first got here cuz after every meeting, she had no idea what was going on (cuz she can't understand Russian) but afterwards she would basically tell us all the things we didn't do or should have done. Gah!!! It was so annoying, but mainly it was annoying cuz she was somehow right and I hated being humbled. BUT this last week I finally was able to get to know her and now I LOVE HER! She is hilarious and always has me laughing. And now I see why she does the things that she does. You just really need to try to get to know people and try to understand why they do the things they do. As we come to undertand them we can show them love in the way that they like to recieve it. And hear you me, when your comp is happy, then You are happy, and I have strived my whole mission to be each of my companions favorite companion haha :) good goal right? I like it...
Anyways, those are just a few things.
To sum it up, life i Petro is feezing and amazing, my comps are hilarious and I cant wait to go to Peter this week and go on splits with all the sisters! Basically the end of my mission is one big festive way to be the best missionary I can be. I love you all and thank you for my prayers and CAN/CAN'T wait to see you next week :)
Sister Tenney

PS- don't be surprised to see a very VERY white and out of shape Sister Tenney next week...... :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Land of ICE

Dearest Ones,

Remember how when I first got my call to Russia, we all imagined this crazy winter land full of ice and snow? Well guess what, I'M LIVING IN IT! This last week I was the COLDEST I have ever been in my life. Luckily I realized right away I need to dresss warmer. After doing so I was alot better :) thank goodness! But seriously the wind here was killer, actually no, murderous. I felt so bad for greenie Sister Schwrtz, she just kept yelling "PEOPLE ACTUALLY LIVE HERE?????". It was hilarious slash not hilarious at all. The wonderful thing is I love the coldness, because I only have so much time to experience it left. If I was here this whole winter I would want to die, but these last two weeks Imma SOAK IT UP.
This whole 3-some companionship is so fun/difficult. I love it. And I hate it. Not going to lie. These two sisters are so talented and amazing, and everyday I realize yet again how much I need to work on and do to be better. I felt really blessed. Sunday I specifically fasted to better understand and love both of my companions. Things kind of had not been super smooth between the three of us the last few days. But, because our Heavenly Father is wonderful, He blessed us yesterday during companionship study with a really strong spirit as we practiced and prepared to teach. I felt all of our hearts soften and we realized how lucky we were to have the rare opportunity to all serve together. It was beautiful. And exactly what I needed (cuz you all know how NEEDY I am when it comes to feeling like evryone loves me ;). So dont get all worried now, our companionship is awesome. And gets better everyday. But its no easy jig.
Those darn gypsies. I'm pretty sure the two daughters will be baptized next weekend :) SO PLEASE PRAY FOR THEM! I guess you could say their baptism would be THE BEST GOING AWAY PRESENT EVER. But we'll see. The most important thing is for them to want it and really be ready to make those sacred covenants. I pray that they will be.
So yea thats life :) Petro really is a miracle land. I dont have time to share any more miracles. But know that I see them everyday. My mission rocks. I dont think anyone could have a better mission than me. I love you all.
Love, Sister Tenney

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My new dream "primary chorister"

Family and Firendzies,

Just rocking the 3 sister companionship these days. We finally got our #3, shes awesome! We got to night train it up there and back to pick her up from Peter. AND President was here this weekend in Petro which was a treat. I seriously love that man. I had a really quick interview with him and we both started crying cause... well you know.... time is flying if you know what I mean.
My thoughts are all over the place I cant think.... Sister Schwarz is our greenie. She's from Oregon and she's 6 foot. Not gonna lie her Russian is TERRIBLE but she's a go-getter and has already taught me SO MUCH. Sister Kareba is my angel. She's just so pure and kind it almost kills me. At the time being, I am pretty much a translator. I want so badly for the 3 of us to understand one another and love one another..... its so interesting how different the dynamics are now that there is 3 of us. I love them both and I'm grateful for the change.
I dont think I have mentioned to you that I am basically Petro's primary music leader. I LOVE IT. We got here and the primary was a disaster. There aren't many kids (ranging from none to 3 usually haha) but we were assigned to fix it all up. The kids would just play the whole 2 hours... how sad is that? They didn't even know one primary song! Our first singing time was a disaster. The Sister Fellows, she's a senior couple sister, she plays the piano for us so thats relieving I dont have to do that. Our first sunday we attempted singing time it was CRAZY. The kids completely rebelled against us and wouldnt do a thing. I was convinced they were going to hate me cause I was strict with them. We decided to meet with the families of these kids each week to show the kids that we love them and to really get to know them personally. Basically we're seeing a miracle. The kids now love us, we love them, and they sit quietly and listen to us, and they know "I'm trying to be like Jesus" and "I am a child of God". On top of this miracle, we found a less active family with 5 kids 10 years old and younger. The father asked us last week if we could take 2 of his daughters to church. "OF COURSE" we said, and thanks to these 2 girls (by the way they are the two cutest things ever... 10 and 8 years old..... baptism age!!). So our primary was even more full this week and the kids were better than ever. Sister Clark (our mission president wife) came in and joined us on sunday and sat there with tears in her eyes. She later told us that she was SHOCKED at the change in the primary and couldn't believe how the kids just soaked it all in. Basically, when I get home imma beg my bishop to be the primary chorister. That is my new dream.
SO yea, life is good. These days I'm just avoiding calandars and clocks.... cuz time is NOT my friend.
Please keep praying for the gypsies. They are being pills these days. I just can't seem to figure out what they need and its driving me crazy! They are so close to "getting it", but they aren't quite there yet. I dont want to be dragging them. I want them to want it... ya know? Luckily my Heavenly Father is on my speed dial these days...
Petro is the best. My comps are awesome. And Imma go eat my thanksgiving dinner now. Love you all,

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Saying "good bye" is hard

Family and Friends,

I'm just going to be honest, this week was an emotional one. Gah. This week an Elder, who was my really good friend finished his mission and left back to Ukriane. Saying good bye to him, and then realizing that time really is flying, basically sent me into a freak out mode. WHY!? Im just angry. Mainly because Im just finally becoming a real missionary. Im just starting to be the missionary I dreamed of being. Its starting to happen!!!!..... and then the end was near.... seriously?
I randomly cried the other day while we were tracting. Well, to start the story of right, this week we had planned 28 meetings. That is so many! I think the most meetings I have ever had in a week was 17 or 18. Anyways, while we had 28 planned, 10 of them actaully happened. When people tell you "missions are hard", its often referring to this- we have so many great dreams and plans.... and then people cancel. The beautiful thing about this though, is that even though as missionaries, our favorite thing to do is meet with people and teach them (aka; the more meetings the better, cuz when you don't have a meeting, it means you're out on the cold street just talking to people, which can also be really fun, but not until you actually make yourself do it) but, as I was saying, the beautiful thing is, you get all bumed when your awesome plans don't work out, but then you try to be good missionaries and tract or contact, and then you experience miracles you never would have if you had been at your meeting. Therefore, God just has to remind us over and over again He has a better plan than ours.
Anyways, so this is what happened to us, we has a meeting planned we were SO excited about, and then it got cancelled and we didn't know what to do the rest of the night. SO, we set of tracting. And we hit GOLD! We knocked just one set of stairs in an apartment building (about 20 doors) and almost everyone was nice to us! And invited us back! WHAT????? However, one babushka answered her door, and right away started telling us that she didnt believe in God, we kept talking with her and it turns out both her son and husband died within 3 months of each other years ago and she doesn't understand how a loving God could let that happened. My heart was breaking for her. She was just SO hurt, and lost, and sad, and she is searching for peace, but her heart was hard and she wouldn't listen to us. We tried everything. We hugged her, we testified, we talked about the plan of salvation, we tried to explain agency, and God's love. EVERYTHING. And finally, she just slammed her door in our face. I just started crying. I couldn't handle it. I felt her pain and her hurt. I wanted SO BADLY to fix it, to help her feel God's love and peace. It just didnt seem fair and right to me that she wouldn't listen. Gosh dang it satan YOU Stink!
But talking to people really is one of the greatest things about the mission. A lady on the bus yesterday tried to tell me that God didn't exhist. I totally rocked her world when I explained to her how, and why there is a God. She said if God exhisted he wouldn't create a heaven and  a hell and wouldn't require us to give everything to him. I explained that God, is like our very own parents. A loving father tells his child not to touch the hot stove. The father cannot force him, but can only warn him and tell him. The child then has the agency to choose to do it or not. If he chooses to he pays the consequence! God already warned him and tried to help him with commandments, but we simply choose not to listen. We choose our fate, not God.
Gah, I dont have enough time to explain everythiung, but basically, Our father in Heaven is THE BEST and has it all worked out for us. We simply need to love Him, and others, and keep the commmandments :)
The gypsies are doing good. AND I have awesome news, Lena back in k-grad, her little brother got baptized yesterday! WOO HOOOO!
well I love you all so much,
kiss kiss, hug, hug,
Sister Tenney

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Typical street contact"

Mya Sembya!

Typical street contact:

  • us: "Hello how are you!?" ( smiling enthusiastically and awkwardly stepping in front of them)
  • the lady: " ... " (she looks up at us half smiling in a puzzled look)
  • awkward pause
  • lady finally answers: "I'm sorry I cant remember you, how do I know you?" (here in Russia when you just say hi to someone they think you are an aquaintance of theirs because its so not normal for people to just start talking to each other haha)
  • us: "Oh we just moved here to Petro, are you from Petro? we LOVE it here."
  • lady: "where are you from" (asks very bluntly and usually unamused)
  • us: "Well I'm from Yekateringburg, and my sister... I'm from America!"
  • lady: "No way. you students here?"
  • us: "NO, we're here as missionaries!" (as we show them our badge and then just follow the spirit and then they want to meet with us and want to get baptized and then we had 30 baptisms in Petro)
Yupp, thats pretty much a small taster of my every 2 minutes on the street. Just thought I would share :)
We found out this week, that next week we, Sister Kareba and I will, will get a 3rd companion, a greenie. She's American. Is it terrible to admit that I just did not want to train? I have loved this whole last transfer, it has just been so EASY and SIMPLE. Sister Kareba and I know what to do, and we go do it. We speak the language. And we're unified and just work. TRAINING is so hard ( yupp Im totally whining). I'm trying to remind myself that I LOVED training and even asked Pres Clark if I could train at one point. Also, I"m super worried about this whole 3-some thing and me and the greenie being Americans and then sister Kareba hardly knowing english..... rock hard place. BUT I am excited, and its going to be a crazy Petro adventure :) So, yea, I just need to decide RIGHT NOW its going to be awesome and not leave any room to change my mind about it later. Pray for me!
Also, I know I have told you a little about the gypsies. Have I told you that I am now obsessed with them? Galina the mom, with her daughters Vera, Nadia, and Luba (their names mean faith, hope, and love :). Vera, who is 21 cannot get baptized cuz shes on parole for 2 years (she didnt do anything terrible, just is stupid sometimes). Nadia HAS A BAPTISMAL DATE WOOT WOOT! Except, shes addicted to smoking (and shes only 15!) so we need to work on that. And Luba also has a baptismal date. I love them all. So much. Its a miracle to see how much they have changed and that they even want to be baptized. The mom is deathly afraid of water, meaning she refused to get baptized even though she really wants to. GAH! How do you deal with that??? They all LOVE me, and I love them. Its a huge party whenever we go over there. Just after we set the baptismal date with Nadia, all of a sudden she looked all sad and was like "Sister Tenney, why cant you baptize me?" HAHAHA. My eyes lit up and I gently explained to her that we as women have a different, yet beautiful role and that only men have the priesthood (little does she know how much she made my night :) haha. So pretty much all my thoughts are on them these days.
I'm happy, and trying my best to be excited for the upcoming change. I forget that I can't always choose everything, because lately I have been getting WAY too much of what I want. Just gotta remember God has a better plan than mine :)
I love you all! Pray for me and the gypsies please!
с любовью сестра тэни

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Satan strikes my companion

Family and dearest ones,
I really see how Satan is trying SO hard to stop us and do anything he can to keep us from doing this work. It started off by him making my companion SICK. Gosh, lets just say it really is the WORST when your companion is sick home all day sleeping and you have no idea what to do. We had SO many good plans and so much to do and we had to cancel it all. SATAN YOU ARE THE WORST. I pretty much went crazy being stuck home all day for a few days. Positives: I finished the bible. I finished Jesus the Christ. I probably called over 1000 people, both members and non-members to invite them to things and just support them. But man I have never been SO thankful to be out in the freezing cold all night with nothing to do but knock doors (cause I finally got to do that last night and it was so awesome!). I might die if my companion ever gets sick again.
Back to satan; one really weird thing, we had a really important meeting with an investigator, and I'm convinced he made the cat sick to ruin our lesson! First of all, its disgusting, but everyone here loves cats more than their own children, so my russian companion and our babushka investigator kept fussing over this nasty cat that kept barfing. The whole time I'm over in the corner trying not to get sick (both because of the nasty cat and the gross adoration for the nasty cat). Basically it was grosse and our meeting was totally unsuccessful because of it. Sister kareba and I both decided it was satan.
Another positive; because my companion was sick we went to a russian hospital (meaning the we went to the doctors, but here in russia the hospital is the same as the doctors pretty much. Oh yea, turns out my comp had bronchitis or however you spell it). So pretty much the hospital was a lovely tour of Russia: I'm pretty sure the stretchers are from world war 2, the staircases reak of cigarette smoke, AND I even saw a doctor walk by all in his white doctor clothes with blood all over his shirt. SICK!
BUT, with all the craziness of sickness,we did fit in a miracle this week. So tuesday we had a zone conference ( basically a 4 hour district meeting becasue Petro is its own zone), and Sister Kareba and I had to teach on how to give someone the baptismal invitation (that sentence sounds like bad english but i cant figure out how to fix it). We basically ended up practicing over and over and over again and after each time, we were talking about how we can do it better. So, us and the elders learned a lot and set out the rest of the day to do what we noramally do. Turns out, by the end of the day, that both the elders and us set a baptismal date! WHAT!? We went out and did exactly what we had practiced and learned, and then we saw miracles because of it. Thats craziness. Our mission this last week somehow set 20 baptismal dates. I know none of you understand how miraculous that is. Lets just say, I'm pretty sure since the start of this year we have not had more than 30 or 40 baptisms. And now this last week we set over 20 baptismal dates. CRAZINESS!
So yea, even when Satan is trying his hardest, we overcome, we are victorious because we are with God. We don't need to fear or doubt! We must have confidence. Trust that prompting. Do that thing that you dont want to do but you know you should. Apologize. Admit you are wrong. Just do whatever it takes so that you can turn to your Father in Heaven with confidence. That's happiness. And that is what we are here learning to do one step at a time.
I love you all!
Love, Sister Tenney