September 2009 - September 2011

The Journey from Beginning to End

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

30 December '09 Email

I just wrote my first full letter to Presidente Jayme in all Português! foi divertido. (It was fun) I spent a couple hours reading the rest of the letters I got last mission conference this morning and writing back, so there are a couple envelopes heading home with surprises!

PHOTOS!! Just 4 I think, but good ones. And a R$2,00 for Sam I want to trade for $2.00 (Two ones please. Brazilians like to trade for them because they look cool.) I also am sending a R$100,00 for Sam. But the 100 isn´t a real one. Its a mini look-alike. I've only had one real one since I've been here, but I used it to buy a fan.

Oh! I have a new companion now! His name is Elder Seastrand from Holladay, Utah. Yup, another American. At this rate, I don´t think I will ever have a Brazilian companion, besides Elder Sales I was with for the one day that Elder Gannon was gone before transfers. That was a fun day. We deep cleaned our two apartments, more or less.

Our shower isn´t working for some reason right now. Muito chato. (Very annoying).  I managed to get a small stream to come out to shower this morning, but it just doesn't seem to have any pressure in it. Toilet is filling up slowly, too.. I think it may have to do with the giant water tower we can see from our window leaking water profusely at great rates of water.

We don´t really have anything big or exciting planned for today, so I don´t know what we are going to end up doing.

Well, that´s really all I have for today.

Oh! I inherited a lot of stuff from Elder Gannon. I have so many books it's not even funny. It's super cool though.

Ok, that's everything.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Phone Call: 25 December 2009

Elder Mitchell Hayden Tenney - 23 December 2009
Elder Tenney's email on December 23rd was very brief and about our instructions on how to call him on Christmas Day.  And that call was way too short at only 45 minutes, but to hear his voice was the best Christmas present ever!  He was at the home of an 18-year-old member who allowed Elder Tenney the use of his phone for our Christmas call - THANK YOU to Welton in Manaus!  We called from Brian's office so we could all be on speakerphone and when Elder Tenney answered we weren't sure it was him. When we asked again if it was him, we knew for sure when he said "It's me, you fool!"  (Inside joke). He is the same, funny guy - when I heard, "Hi, mom", I knew it was my boy.  Speakerphone didn't work too well on his end, so we all talked to him individually. 

Here's what we gleaned from our phone call:

His companion, Elder Gannon, is going home on Dec. 30th.  Brazil is not getting missionaries very regularly right now as visas are not clearing in a timely manner, and Elder Tenney may get transferred into another area as they are consolidating due to lack of new missionaries coming in as others are going home.

He has some glass in his apartment windows, but we get the idea that most of them are open to mosquitoes as night time is when he gets a lot of mosquito bites.  Especially if their fans are not working and stirring the air around.  He says it rains there every 11 hours.  And he has not used his raincoat yet, and rarely uses his umbrella...he and his companion usually just try to take shelter.  I imagine the humidity keeps you from wanting to add a layer of clothing such as a wet raincoat. 

He and his companion live across the street from a bakery and go there every morning to get the equivalent of a very large loaf of bread for the cost of about $1 US.  That's breakfast. They eat some strange hamburger, cheese, hotdog concoction for one other meal.  And members are supposed to feed them one meal each day.  I wasn't sure if that is happening or not, but he seemed like he was okay with food.  He did say if we wanted to send him anything, American Candy was what he would like - no chocolate as it melts.

We were very happy and grateful to hear that he had received his box we sent on November 24.  The district leader went and picked it up and took it to him either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day as it had been in Manaus for some time, just not delivered yet to Elder Tenney.  We are so glad he had his Christmas and other items he needed.  He had been eating Swedish fish all day he said:)

They are teaching or making contacts all the time.  The biggest problems are drinking and people don't wear very many clothes there.  (He says he and Elder Gannon just keep on walking when I asked him how they handle that).

He doesn't get to the post office very often, and is not able to write letters except on P-Days.  He doesn't receive his mail often either, but when he does, he gets a big batch - THANKS to all who have written to him!  He mostly emails us and has been using his letter-writing time for friends.  If you have anything you'd like to share with us, please do!  We asked him to please try to write us a letter every week or so.  We do get a weekly email on his Wednesday P-days, but his email time is limited.

He said he has only been really sick once and that was at his zone conference the day his Grandpa Tenney passed away on Nov. 30th.  We are thankful he is enjoying good health. 

He tried out some Portuguese on us, and as we didn't understand a word, feel he must be fluent;)

He has taken hundreds of pictures and has burned us a dvd that he will be sending as soon as he is able to get to the post office.

In the end, it wasn't so much what Elder Tenney had to say, but that we got to hear his voice and sense that he is loving his mission, is happy and healthy, and that we love and miss him and vice versa, but that feeling is still there that he has been set apart to do the Lord's work and he is in the right place.

Merry Christmas and Happy '10! ;)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It Rains in the Amazon ;) 16 Dec. 09 Email

I have composed a list in my planner to remind me of things to email. I hope I cover everything. From the beginning, Box- No, It has not arrived. I think I will get it at transfers on the 30th. Or possibly later.

I watched the First Presidency Christmas Devotional this last Sunday. It was so amazing. I thought I was in Utah again for a second and I thought there would be snow outside or something. It was a homesickness moment, and the only one I have had in the field so far. It was cool though.

I had my first transfer interview with President Jayme on Monday. He is such an amazing person. I am so grateful to have him as my president. He treats us as though we were his own children practically, and he has a really good sense of humor.

The Rainstorms have begun. There is more water coming from the sky in 10 minutes here than there is in all of Southern Utah for 5 years. Today we are having the worst one yet. We were coming back from downtown in the bus and the road is completely flooded everywhere we went. Every time the bus pulled up to a stop, water flooded onto the platforms and everyone waiting for the bus got soaked. I took some pictures from the window.

Next topic- Pictures. I took my memory card to a place and had the pictures transferred to a disk. It is a DVD so it won`t work in your computer, but it will work in dads laptop. I suggest you get a new computer with a DVD drive for Christmas. Just don’t get Windows Vista. Stick with XP.

Phone call for Christmas information will come next prep day. We are still looking for a members house to make the call from. Not many people have a phone here. (Land line, lots of cell phones.)

I am going to try and mail the dvd pictures in an envelope from the post office in a week or two whenever we go by to withdraw money again. I have plenty of money. Today was just a restock of supplies day.

On a fun note, I was bit by a dog for the first time on Monday. We were just walking down the road, we passed this dog, it turned watching me, I wasn’t watching it, it growled and bit me right above my ankle on the back of my leg. Didn’t break skin or anything, so no need to worry. Elder Gannon and I just laugh that it was so random. It scared me to pieces too.

The language is about the same. I haven`t really been studying it that much. Its more walking and teaching what I can than stay at home and study for a bit. But now the rain is starting and we are having to find shelter (sometimes). There are a couple times where we just have to keep on walking in the rain and I have become absolutely soaked. I will just hold to the promise that was given to us by President Van Orman from the CTM-(He was our Branch President) He said for every rainstorm you have to walk in and the harder you work, the prettier your wife will be :P

Anywho, that’s amazing that Ty got his call! Spanish speaking?? Wow! And Josh to Thailand????????? I did not see that one coming!! When does he leave again?

I think the mission office forgot or lost the paper that says I bought a proselyting bag, because I haven’t got it yet. The backpack I brought is too big for this mission. It is strongly recommended to only have a small bag to not look like a wealthy tourist with lots of stuff to steal. So I bought one of those bags with the drawstrings like that roadrunner one I gave to sam.

Anyways, Love you a whole lot. Im freezing now. 80 degrees is very cold. Next week for p day every missionary in the mission is being called in to manaus and we are going on a boat ride up the river to where the Rio Negro and the Solimoes come together to form the amazon. It should be amazing.

(Can't wait to get the pictures from Elder Tenney - I will post some as soon as I can! - Mom 10-e)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Our First Real Photo of Elder Tenney!

We were so happy to get a letter and this snapshot yesterday from Elder Tenney's mission president (President Jayme) and his wife!  They just wanted to reassure us that he arrived safely and in good health from the CTM in Sao Paulo to his field of service in Manaus.   The letter was dated 17 November, just before Thanksgiving.
Elder Mitchell Tenney with President & Sister Jayme
First Day in Manaus, Brazil
17 November 2009

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Christmas = 100 Days! 09 Dec. 09 Email

Dear mom and family,

Everything is going good here. The rain has begun, and it. Gets. Wet. Crazy beans. This last week has been a little difficult. None of our investigators came to church last week, and for a lot of them this is the third or so time they haven’t come, and if they don’t come this next week we have to drop about half of our teaching pool. Super sad. Also, a lot of them aren’t home when we schedule to teach them, so we end up walking back and forth all day teaching not so much. We are making lots of street contacts though, but lots of people give fake addresses rather than be rude and say I don’t want to hear your message.

No package yet. It takes longer than what they say for that kind of stuff. I don’t think I`ll get it till around new years maybe on transfer day. The newsletter that the mission just emailed out has a list of packages and my name wasn’t there, so… oh well. We went downtown today so Elder Gannon could get his brazil stuff to take home. I was tempted to buy an Indian blowdart gun and a fedora, but that can wait a couple years. There is some super awesome stuff you can buy here. No piranha head keychains yet, but I saw full piranhas you can buy.

There is a hamburger here that you can buy at lots of places called the X-todo which is like Cheese-Everything. IT has egg, meat, meat, lettuce, cucumber, meat , 2 hotdogs, meat, bread and IT IS HUGE! oh, and cheese. They think its what Americans eat because all Americans are fat and eat hamburgers everyday. Riiiiiiiiiiiiight. I`m starting to wake up tired now from all the walking we are doing. It is crazy how many hills there are and how steep everything is. Its like walking up and down our hill all day.

Can`t see the river from the apartment, just other buildings and the forest. Saw the river today though. For Pday before Christmas we are taking a boat to where the two rivers come together to form the amazon river. Every missionary in the mission will be there.

Downtown is so much different from where I`m serving. It`s more like Sao Paulo with extra heat. It is really strange that that kind of stuff is so close yet so far to where I`m serving right now. As of Christmas Day I will have been in Brazil for 100 Days. That means that the mission is already 1/7 of the way over! Where on Earth is the time going! The question mark button doesn`t work on this keyboard… That`s awesome that everyone is getting their mission calls. I`m super excited for them. All in all it was a decent week this week. I`m doing good. I have 29 mosquito bites on my left arm alone. Don`t know how many total. Language has hit a brick wall, but I know it will come. Its cold at nights. I have to sleep with a blanket now. It gets all the way down to 89 Fahrenheit! Freezing cold!!!
Anyway, love y`all!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Grandpa Tenney... and the Work goes on... 02 Dec 2009 Email

Dear Mom and Family,
Center:  Grandpa Miles Tenney with Elder Mitchell Tenney
@ his setting apart as a missionary to the Brazil Manaus Mission
15 September 2009
Thank you for letting me know about Grandpa Tenney. I´m happy to know that he went peacefully and that he is in a better place now. I´m going to miss him.  I already did actually, but I know that he isn´t in pain anymore.

I had my first Zone Conference on December 1. I woke up and was (No Surprise) sick again. Also, throughout the day my back and legs and arms started to hurt and I got quite the headache. So when I got home I had authorization to sleep the rest of the day and I woke up feeling much better. I´m good now. Also, I got about 5 letters from all of you at the Zone conference. No package though. Those take time. The Mission home is in the Central Zone, and I´ve only been there once when I arrived here in Manaus. I only go there for if I get transferred and for interviews. There is a Zone conference about every month also. Interviews are in about two weeks so I might get the package then instead.

Right now my camera has about 250 pictures on the card. I have room for 750 more. Fun stuff too. We deep cleaned the apartment this morning and I took new pictures of it. We are going bowling later today for P-Day! YAY!! Next week we might go to one of the zoos, and after that go downtown for Elder Gannon´s last P-day for buying stuff because the last p day is the mission Christmas party. We are going to where the two rivers come together to form the amazon on a boat! Super fun. Also, I get to have my phone call on December 25, 2009.   IT CAN BE UP TO 45 MINUTES. NO MORE THAN THAT. So make sure you time it. When it gets to 40 minutes I need to start saying the goodbyes. (Obedience, eh!)

Please let everyone know I´m super sorry I haven´t sent any letters recently. The post office is forever away and we rarely go by. We are going by on Saturday to withdraw our allowance (We get about R$100 every 15 days) and the atm is next to the post office. I´ve got quite a stack to mail out. Sorry, none for the family. I say everything I need in emails, and I wouldn’t mail friends if I could email them, but I can´t, so… I´ll try to write Sam a letter soon though. :P

Our toilet got clogged last week. Write me back if you want details on how it happened and how we unclogged it. I don´t think mom has even had to do what I had to do. I´m scarred for life.

About toiletry items. They have TP and toothpaste and everything here. EXCEPT deodorant. That´s what I'm going to need. They also have repellant and sunscreen and all manner of items.

What else… The language is coming along good. I have a Book of Mormon in Portuguese that I am translating to English by writing the translation beneath the words in the book. I just started a few days ago and have the testimonies, introduction and everything up to about CH 5 in First Nephi. It's super fun to do. If you want to be fluent in any language, read the Book of Mormon in that language.

By the way, its illegal to eat monkey in Brazil.

We are teaching a lot of people now. We try to make about 25 street contacts a week (just men), get 15 new investigators, and get 5 people to sacrament every week. We could have a lot of investigators getting baptized in the next few weeks.  The problem is, a lot of them need to get married. That´s one of the most difficult things here.

I check email in a LAN House, meaning it’s a room with a bunch of computers people can come and pay to use (R$1.00/hour). It´s just down the road from our apartment. I don´t know the address of where we live, but the neighborhood is called ZUMBI 1. We live in an apartment above a small market about a block and a half away from the chapel.

Que mais? It has only rained once since I got here, and it was really light and short. Lots of people are worried because the river is going down and the fish are dying due to the lack of water.

I was very close to having to eat a chicken foot the other day. Thankfully one of the members we were eating with took it instead.

How is the Helaman´s camp coming along?

I´m happy to hear that you got my package. If Sam doesn´t like wearing the underarmour type jersey, put it in a safe place for me. I like that one. OH! I remember now. We found a shop that sells shorts for a really really good price and they are the right size too.

I finally picked my team to support. My team is BOTA FOGO. –(TO LIGHT FIRE) The reason I picked it- Elder Gannon likes them, and they are terrible. Therefore, when we say we like bota fogo all the Brazilians go “What?? Why do you like them? They never win!” and they open up to talk to us and then it's easier to teach.

Anyway, I need to go now. Hope you all have a great week!

Tell Grandma Tenney I love her and that I´m sorry about Grandpa. I´m happy to know I have one more person to help me now.

Happy St. Patricks Day!  (Goofy Kid!  That's our news from Elder 10-e for this week. He sounds great, doesn't he?)