September 2009 - September 2011

The Journey from Beginning to End

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

10.27.09 Pday Email to Family

"Wow! Is October really over already? Elder Owens was just saying to me the other day that September is almost over! Time is absolutely flying!

We went to the temple again this morning. There are some really amazing red flowers all around the grounds. It really is a beautiful temple.

No class on Sunday. Just devotionals, church, a movie (testaments this next sunday in portuguese) about 3 hours of free time (nap) choir and a bunch of other stuff.

I just finished re-hemming my pants. There is just one pair that I´ve had to sew 2 buttons on, and the other day i saw a string coming out of the pant leg so i pulled on it and it kept coming so I stupidly kept pulling and before it all came out, i realized that I had pulled the hem out. So i did an extremely good job. With Green Thread. :P Don´t worry, its on the inside. I did extremely well.

Elder Scott´s talk was amazing! I wish I had my journal on me right now so I could give a run through of it, but I put some stuff in the letters so I guess you´ll just have to wait a week or so to get that.

They give us the run down for our trips to the field the day before we leave, so I don´t have an itinerary yet, but I do know we only spend 62 days in the CTM, which means I leave the Tuesday before Turkey day I think..

It. Is. Getting. Hot. The classroom gets up to about 28 Celsius sometimes and we just boil. We love when the air conditioning randomly works. We can get it down to about 18 Celsius if we leave the room for an hour or so and blast the AC.

I have hit 69 Kilos! That is 152 lbs. I came in at 61 kilos or 134 lbs. thats over 15 lbs!! I tried my jeans on today and they are a little tight. Thankfully my pants have a little bit of room left in them, as well as my white pants.

I really do miss Chinese Food Friday. I now have CTM Pizza Wednesdays, and I get the same effect eating the pizza here as dad does eating a butterfinger. Yummy, right?"

That's the majority of Elder Tenney's email for this week. Thanks for reading! Now, go write him a letter:)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Letters and Emails for Week #5

Letter dated 10 October 2009: 
Dear Family and Others (And Friends!),

"Hey there!  How are all of you doing?  Did you enjoy conference?  It was absolutely amazing! Right now only the Saturday morning (afternoon here in Sao Paulo) session has played yet.  But WOW!  It was intense, and it was over in about what felt like a half hour."

"Right now we are in between sessions and we get personal time to nap and do whatever inside the CTM.  Unfortunately, pictures/cameras can only be used on P-Day, so I don't have many yet.  That camera rule only applies to the CTM by the way.  Also, I have an email address but while in the CTM, we are only allowed to email family, but out in the field it is up to the mission president.  I still need a confirmation, but I think it is possible to receive, but not send email to outside of family.  Because many here have, but I'm not sure as of yet."

"They only turn on the air conditioning system when there are big group meetings here, and it's been pretty nice temperature-wise so far when we open the windows and doors.  UNTIL...Yesterday we  were hit with an intense heat wave.  And there wasn't even a breeze.  The inside temperatures hit 30 degrees C!  What made us feel worse is that a Brazilian from Manaus told us this was cold.  In Manaus, it can get up to 40-45 degrees C by the end of the day.  We don't know if that is with or without humidity though..."

"It's pretty cool that Brigham City is getting a temple.  I wish it was Cedar City instead though."

"I love Friday and Saturday breakfasts here.  Friday has cereal like granola and chocolate frosted flakes, and Saturday is pancake Day.  The syrup is really thin though.  Every other day, though, is ham &/or bologna and cheese sandwiches.  I shall never eat a sandwich after my mission ever again.  We can toast them if we want, and add butter, but we all wish for cereal.  There are tons of stores all around the CTM, so I'll probably buy some next P-Day (Tuesday)."

"P-Day ends at 4 in the CTM instead of 6 like out in the field.  I've been to the Sao Paulo Temple twice so far.  On the bus trip there, I saw something that brought more joy to my soul than chocolate frosted flakes for breakfast:  WAL-MART.  Underground parking included.  I'm saved!  Hahaha...Too bad it's outside our area..."

"Well, with the missionary stuff, we can almost teach the first lesson entirely in Portuguese without having to check our notes every 3 seconds or so.  I really really really like Portuguese.  It makes Spanish sound like a more basic language.  It's like this: 
Romantic languages>Neanderthals>Spanish>Portuguese.        According to one of our teachers, that is how it is.  Upon asking where/what English is from/like, he said, "Oh, it goes barbarians>English>then romantic languages to Portuguese.  China and Japan are just weird.  Not really."

"There was a giant rat running around the other day. It could almost have been classified as a Rodent Of Unusual Size.  It was about the length of my wrist to my elbow.  Maybe a bit bigger.  It. Was. Awesome."

"You can send me pictures (preferably wallet size) of people in the mail (and email, just make sure they're not too big!) over the weeks.  Just F.Y.I. :)"

From a letter to mom dated 10 Oct 09:
"In case I haven't said it yet, streets here are filled with crazy drivers.  I'm so happy I don't have to drive here!"

"Sao Paulo is so huge.  It's hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that there are 23 million people around me."

"The days feel like they are just flying by.  It feels like just yesterday was my first Sunday here, but now I'm in my 4th week!  100 more to go."

"Guess what.  I could have come to the CTM with a 70 lb bag!  And go to Manaus with a 50.  And leave x-tra weight at the mission home.  That's how I understand it at least.  Most missionaries stay in the city, so they can have a heavier suitcase until they get sent out to a far corner.  Oh well."
(We sent Elder Tenney with the specified 47 lb least he's travelling light).

"When I came, there were about 60+ Americans who came the same week. This week: 5. Visas are extremely hard to get now. I feel blessed."
"My Portuguese is coming along very well.  One of my teachers were extremely surprised with my "milestone event" which we have twice a week to evaluate where we are.  I can teach the entire first lesson without having to check notes now.  I done feel so smart. ;)"

"Life is good."

And if you are still reading, here's excerpts from his Tuesday, 20 October 09 email: 

"Hi. Need I say more?...Yeah, I guess I'd better. This last week was fun. I'm back to 100 percent health-wise, my eyes are clear and my cough is gone! Yay!"
"We went to the temple this morning and it was pretty much awesome.  My district was put in a van instead of the bus because there were so many people and we got there and back before everyone else, so we get an extra hour or so to our P-Day time today."

"We have an Apostle coming this Friday to speak to us!  I wrote in the letters I'm sending who it is, but I'm going to let you guess who.   Have fun guessing!"

"Elder Owens and I were talking with a teacher who went to Manaus, and he told us some fun stuff.  There are 2 zoos:  SIGS and IMPA.  SIGS is a land animal zoo and IMPA is an aquatic zoo.  Super excited!"

"There are 3 states in the misison:  Amazonas, Roraima, and Acre.  Roraima is the nice one according to the teacher that went to Manaus."

"Supposedly there are no people in Acre. It's just a myth.  There are cities on the map, but none of the teachers have met anyone from Acre.  It's like us saying there aren't any people in Montana.  Just mountains.  Supposedly the jaguars in Acre are really open to the gospel though."

"We are through 3 lessons in Portuguese so far.  It's amazing to see how far we've come with the language.  We actually have a Portuguese only thing in our District from 6:30 a.m. to after lunch.  It was really quiet the first time we did it. ;)"

"Well, I thought I could do it, but I failed.  I was trying to wear the same tie everyday in the CTM, but last Friday I just couldn't stand it anymore and pulled out a different one.  Maybe I'll just wear the same tie for each transfer.  Every 6 weeks, switch the tie."

"I hit 68.2 kilos yesterday.  I don't know what I'm at right now.  However this means I have gained over 7 kilos since I've been here, which is over 15 pounds!  I can't tell the difference though."
"Thank you to everyone who sent a letter!  I got about 6 envelopes in the last 3 days!  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!"


Elder Tenney

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Halfway Mark at the CTM

Email from 13 Oct 2009: 
"Wow. This week went by super fast!  Mioto rapido!  Time is absolutely just flying!  My stay in the CTM is half over, and that means Sister Christofferson, (she's the wife to one of the Mission Presidency) is going to bake us COOKIES SOON!  She is an angel."

"Last Saturday I got my cough back again because I share a room with other elders who got it from me and are giving it back.  I think the worst of it is over now and soon it will all be gone.  The only problem is this time I seem to have developed something that is very similar in nature to Pink Eye in both of my eyes, and so I had to take my contacts out last night and I've been a little blind for awhile.  They are really starting to clear up though."

"We are already moving on to the 3rd lesson this week.  It's insane! It goes a little faster because we aren't starting completely over with the language.  It's just reorganizing the words in a different order.  The grammar is extremely similar to Spanish, so it kind of makes sense, but there are some things that are completely opposite English grammar." (Elder Tenney is learning Portuguese for those of you who are wondering.)
"We are starting to see some of the same meals during the day now, and we really miss food that isn't cafeteria food. I'm not complaining, though. It's really amazing far as cafeteria food goes...hahaha."
"Smile!"  -Elder Tenney

From an email to his sister on 13 Oct 09: 
"The grounds at the Sao Paulo temple are so beautiful!  There are red flowers everywhere, palm trees, a sweet fountain, and PARROTS!!! :D  Super awesome.  I like the money here.  It reminds me of Monopoly money, and all the bills have a different animal on the back that is native to Brazil.  My favorite is the 20, which has the "Lion Monkey" on it.  It's actually a little monkey that would only come up to my knee at most, but it has a lion mane on it. Fun Stuff!"

We are still hoping for a letter from Elder Tenney this week.  We have only had 2 so far.  It's a good thing he can email us once a week!  Keep writing to him and praying for him.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Letter: 09.26.09 & Email 10.06.09

Elder Tenney writes on 09.26.09 that his district is very "goal crazy".  "We have so many goals that we can't remember all of them.  Most of them are made on random occurences, but they are pretty awesome."

"We figured out that from the schedule we are in our classroom about 50 hours a week.  Which means we are in this small room for about 3 weeks straight. I now know why everyone says you'll go crazy about week 6 or so.  We are already starting to feel the evil voodoo of it."

"My branch quite a character.  We just had a semi-fireside taught by him on the 9th chapter of Preach My Gospel, and it was fantastic!"

"Please send a great multitude of letters my way.  A plethora of letters would be very pleasant to a celestial degree!  If you have nothing to write about, Go Do Something! then write about it!"

09.28.09 PS.. Please write letters.  I'm starting to go crazy.  Not really, but still, a letter would be nice.  If you find some time during the day when you've got nothing to do or something...HAPPY CONFERENCE!  (Seriously, I'm in my 3rd week and only have 1 letter?? Thanks, Sam!)  Write!) :)

*Sounds like Elder Tenney would like to see some mail in his mailbox.  What do you think?
And from his 10.06.09 Email on P-Day: 

"Well, since last week, I feel that my skills in Portuguese have skyrocketed to huge proportions over the last week.  I managed to teach the entire first lesson without having to check notes.  We are just mopping up the details and ironing the commitments and little things and we could have this stuff down pat."

"It's weird to think that I'm already in my fourth week here!  Time is just zooming by!  Every week we have friends from our floor head out and we get new 'smurfies' every week.  During the first week, everyone gets a blue sticker on the front of their name thingy and therefore:  Smurfie."

"I feel so blessed to have gotten my Visa when I did!  The week I came, 60+ American missionaries came to the MTC. This week, there are 5 coming in total."

"Conference was SUPER AWESOME.  I took fabulous notes, drew some random pictures, and never fell asleep.  That is a first time for me to have seen all 5 sessions for conference!  I put most of my good notes into my journal, including all the songs that were sung and stuff.  It looks pretty cool."

"Today, I ate rice and beans.  Yesterday, I ate rice and beans.  Sunday:  Rice and Beans.  Saturday was different.  Beans and rice.  Thankfully the pineapple here is grown in heaven, and they seem to have 1001 ways to cook a chicken.  They still have a way to go with their cow products, but chicken is amazing.  DON'T EAT CORN AND BANANAS!"

"I'm still trying to get my mind around the fact that I'm in one of the most heavily populated cities on earth, and I'm stuck in this same building for the entire time.  We get to go proselyting in a few days, and again in 3-4 weeks when we know some more.  I can teach in Portuguese, but I don't think I can have an intelligent conversation."

"I really do enjoy getting snail mail.  The last one I got was yesterday with a comic in it and a letter from...  Thank you. :)

"I find one thing that is very lacking in Brazil is condiments.  I've only seen mayo once.  I really do miss it."

"Our district had a basketball game against another district this morning.  We got crushed.  If we kept score anyway."

"My clothes are starting to fall apart.  At least the buttons anyway.  I had to sew one on in between conference, and I'm going to do my suit coat next p-day maybe.  The button I sewed on will never come off again.  It doesn't look very pretty, but it's where no one can see it, so I didn't try very hard on that.  Oh, and I shined my shoes for the first time today.  They look like I just bought them again, except that they look a little worn from all the walking, but at least they is shiny." :)

What a funny boy!  Can't help but smile to read his letters.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Elder Tenney's Emails: Week #1 and Week #2

Mystery solved...We were finally able to get the 1st  big email Elder Tenney sent to us dated 09/22/09!  Here are the highlights...

"Our first week has been awesome!"  "The food here is amazing!   I've already gained 8 kilos here, which is about 6 pounds.  Seriously.  The food is good."

"We went to the templo...temple today and while I was waiting to go to the chapel I was asked to do initiatories instead.  It was really really really reallyreally reallyreally reallyreally reallyreally reallyreally reallyreally really awesome!!! It was all in Portuguese, and I think just listening is helping me to improve my portuguese pronunciation.  The sessions for us are in English by the way, except for a bit of portuguese at the end."

"When I arrived in the SLC airport, there was only one elder there. ...he had the 12:00 flight to Dallas. I watched them board, and then a guy came over and said, when are you leaving elder?  I said 3:10, and he said, that's not good!  I just loaded your luggage on the 12 flight!  So my ticket was changed and I boarded last minute.  That's why I didn't call.  But then they had engine problems right before take off, and long story short, I managed to get my original seat back after standing in lines for 2.5 hours, but elder *** had to reschedule for the next morning. He is here now.  2 days delay.  Sad day, I know!"

"I am having an extremely hard time spelling now..."

"Most of my district is going to manaus, but there is a sao paulo south and a recife.  r at the beginning and middle of a word makes the h sound. so it sounds like hecife, or heh-see-feh."

"Did I mention the food is most excellent?"

"I'm only allowed to take pictures on pday in the CTM (Center for Training Missionaries).  They don't want us to look like tourists, so the only pictures I will have are of  the CTM."

"EVERYONE HERE LOOKS OR ACTS LIKE SOMEONE FROM HOME!!! My companion looks like cousin nathan b, but more my height.  His personality is kinda like Quinten Hardman, but just a little.  Elder B. looks and acts just like Steve Ott, but with brown hair.  His companion Elder J. is like a mix of Ryan Wiggins and Josh Christensen. :)  There is an Elder Wiggins here by the way!!! It is so cool!  I saw Kevin Steck here.  He arrived last Wednesday from the Provo MTC.  Elder C, our DL, hmmm...I can't think of who he is like. His companion is a red-head named Elder Larsen, and guess who he looks like!  You Betcha!  He looks...not exactly, but kinda like Todd."

"Elder K is my fellow star wars nerd, and he is like a tall Colton Campbell. He is super awesome and likes minty things.  He always has listerine packets and ricola.  his comp elder H is another one I have a hard time describing...I'll get around to it."

"The classes are good.  I'll try sending our weekly schedule to you next week.  I'm almost out of time. You can use thing to send me letters sooner. I don't know how they get to me, but they do somehow." 

"We sleep in bunk beds by the way.  I still need to go do my laundry today...I've got 3 hours left. :)  Please send many letters!  PLEASE PLEASE (Elder Tenney repeated this about 50 times:) !!!! Even though I really don't have time to read them...Kidding!!! but yeah...."

"Ummm...have I said the food is really good yet?"

"I can bear my testimony and pray in portuguese right now.  They seriously do not waste time teaching.   They used to, but they took away an hour of personal study time for more class time."
Well, I wanted to share most of that email in Elder Tenney's ow words so you can tell he's still got the same fun personality.  The three top things I learned from this first email are:

1.  He loves the food:)
2.  He really, really, really wants letters in his mailbox from all of us!
3.  He is already learning the language, enjoying the spirit of the temple, and loving missionary life.
Now for excerpts from this 2nd email dated 09/29/09:

"Hey,  everyone!  Just sitting here in the CTM typing away, having a good ol time. The keyboards and stuff here are different, so I seriously am having a hard time typing..."

"So, we just got back from our second temple trip about an hour ago.  I finally got to go through a session, and it was amazing!  It is so easy to feel the spirit there when the entire place is filled up with missionaries!"

"So how is everyone doing?  The only letter I've received so far is one from Sam, so I feel like I fell off the face of the Earth or something...Everyone and Anyone can send me snail mail!"

"Is it true that some strange creature was seen in Panama that looks like Gollum from Lord of the Rings?  Irmao D. said it was all over the news all over the world, and it was chasing some kids and they stoned it to death.  We need confirmation on this siting!"

"I went to the distribution center today ....  I bought a Portuguese bible, Book of Mormon (triple), and a mini portuguese hymn book."

"Classes and stuff are intense.  We are just on the first lesson right now, and its all jam packed with info that we have to learn in English first, then we start all over again in Portuguese!  It's insane!"

"I'm at about 147 pounds now, but I'm afraid that this rollercoaster I'm on is gong to plummet to the end of the ride when I get to Manaus and start back at my original weight.  Oh well, enjoy it while it lasts."

"We are going to the post office today to buy stamps and envelopes so I can send snail mail.  And we are going to exchange the rest of our cash.  Everything is really close to the MTC. It's pretty much awesome."

"I don't really remember what all the questions were about the CTM and stuff like that, but if you ask me, I'll try to answer to the best of my capability.  Nobody really has asked me anything I'm just rambling away still."

"Give me a topic. :P"

"Is BYU winning? I heard they lost a game the other week..sad day."

"A guy on our floor got a box sent to him from his parents a couple of nights ago. Lucky guy.  It was filled with American Candy.  I would love to have some cow tails and milky ways if its not too much of a hassle.  If you wanna wait till Manaus, then ok...."

"All the Brazilians on our floor went out to the field last night.  Since it was their last night here, they kept us up for quite awhile with a lot of singing, yelling, and running about.  It was semi-funny, except we couldn't get to sleep and had to be up earlier than usual to get to the temple."

"I'm doing pretty good. My cold went away about 5 days into the mission.  There are bugs everywhere."

"I saw a bunch of Green Parrots today!!!! Like seriously!  They are so awesome!  They were all over the temple grounds, just chirping away!"

I love all you guys!  I miss you all a ton!  Have EVERYONE write stuff!  Individual letters appreciated!  Don't group them all up and make it look like one.  More Envelopes=More Love.  But please, no empty envelopes cuz that's just empty love.  Kidding." 

"Stay in touch!"
Elder Tenney

So, there you have it...The first 2 weeks of Elder Tenney's missionary experience.  Thanks for following his blog, and to all his friends and family, please, please, please:) take time to send him a letter or card of support when you can.  98 cents 1st class postage from the US to Brazil.  And thanks especially for remembering him in your prayers.