Monday, August 27, 2012

California - Week 2 - A new Blog

Hello everyone,

As you know, I am no longer in Brazil and so I felt the necessity to change the title of my blog.  I will now be writing in a blog called "Today's Shadow." I tried to keep a blog consistently last summer, but I never got into the habit.  That has now changed and I will have a weekly entry every Monday.  Please take a look.

Thank you for your support,

Tyler "Drew" Bushman

Monday, August 20, 2012



Hello Everyone,

Wow, I am so grateful to so many of you for the great outpouring of love and support I have received.  I have had more hugs, expressions of caring, and warm smiles in the last few days than I have had in months.  For anyone who does not know, I am at home.  The difficulties I was facing were determined to be too much to try to face while on the mission. 

I had about 35 hours of travel from the airport in Brazil to California.  I spent much of my time concerned about how I should interact with my family, and what life would be like.  I am sad to have left the field, but as I walked around the corner in the airport and saw my family standing there with a sign saying they loved me a grin spread across my face and I knew that I was home.  Life is so hard sometimes, but after the Lord, the family is everything.  Our greatest joys in life come from the family.  Whether it is the family we have now, our friends, or the family we dream to one day have, true peace and happiness can be found in the idea of an eternal family.  I have a long path ahead of me and many long days, but I know that I am loved and my family is here.

I was afraid that when I arrived at church on Sunday that I would receive judgmental looks and difficult questions, but it didn’t happen.  I was welcomed home with open hands and open hearts.  I don’t really have a lot to report this week, but I just want to reiterate how wonderful everyone has been so far.  No one knows the specifics of what is going on and yet they are so willing to love me.  I was afraid that people would not love me because I wasn’t able to fulfill my responsibilities as a full-time missionary, but that was not the case.  I am currently on track to return to the mission field in April.  I don’t know where I will be serving, but I definitely plan to be serving again.

It does not seem appropriate to keep the name of my blog so I will be changing the title soon.  I’m not sure yet what I will change it to, just that a change will happen.

Lastly, I have decided to change my name and go by my middle name.  I have disliked my first name for a long time and have wrestled with the decision to change it since I was 11.  Now, at this transitional and pivotal time in my life, I am making that change.  From now on I would like to be called Drew.  I hope that isn’t too weird for you, but I suppose that it is my name and as I introduce myself as Drew people will come to just assume that is my name.

My quote of the day is actually just my life mantra.  John Locke said “Tabula Rasa.”  It means “clean slate.”  He was referring to the human brain at birth being empty and people being determined by their life experiences.  I don’t like that definition so I changed it to suit my lifestyle.  I wake up every single day knowing that regardless of what happened yesterday, happens today, or will happen tomorrow, today will be a good day.  I will be happy and I will make it the best day possible.  I do not often feel sad and I never feel discouraged because those feelings don’t help me to improve.  You too can live your life and make the conscious choice that you will never have a bad day.

I love you and am grateful for all of your support,

Drew Bushman

Note from mom:
I want to thank all of you for your amazing support for my son and our family this week during this unexpected transition.  We have been quite literally overwhelmed by the support and love we have received from so many of you in person and through messages.  What could have been an extremely uncomfortable situation for all of us, has instead been a happy reunion of family and friends that care deeply for each other and are not afraid to show it.  This outpouring of love is exactly what the Savior wants from us when he tells us in John 15:12 “This is my commandment, That ye love one another; as I have loved you.” And in 1 John 4:12 “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” For those of you who are interested, I would like to share some of my feelings from the last few days.

As Drew has been working on improving himself in the mission field, I have also been working on developing my Christlike qualities here at home.  It has been a wonderful experience to learn alongside him – even though we have been on the other side of the world from each other.  In the blog post from 6-11 he talks about charity – this has been on my mind a lot, especially this last week.  Charity is truly the ability to show Christ’s love for another person to the extent that they can really KNOW you love them.  As much as I would like to say I am confident in my ability to show my love for those I care deeply about, I know I fall short and hurt or disappoint the people I love more often than I would like. I continue to work on this trait that is such a vital part of our foundation in the gospel of Christ.

When we were officially notified that Drew would be returning home to us, my first and overreaching thought was “How do I show my son that I love him without exception?”  I did not have the opportunity to email or speak to Drew before he left Brazil, so I had to rely on the Lord to carry my love as my son traveled home alone – not really knowing what he would encounter when he arrived.  I was not nervous for myself, but I was apprehensive for my son because in these unforeseeable situations Satan discourages us and allows doubt to creep into even the most secure of circumstances.  I didn’t want him to hesitate as he walked around the corner in the airport – wondering if we would still really love him.  I don’t know what he was expecting, but as soon as he saw us I think he knew it would be okay.  His face filled with his silly smile and I knew that he was home, which is exactly where he needs to be at this time.  I have felt totally comfortable with him every moment since. 

Because I have been praying to increase my level of charity, I received a confirmation from the Spirit that I have succeeded in some small measure.  I realized that I have absolutely zero embarrassment over the fact that my sweet boy has come home from his mission earlier than anticipated.  I feel no need to explain myself or him to anyone.  I just love him without condition or effort.  What a blessing this charity is in my life – I hope to understand it more deeply each day as I continue to work through my many shortcomings.

I will close with the first thought that came to my mind when Drew told us he may be coming home.  Elder Holland stated: “You have a limited time to be a missionary, but regardless of the work that happens, if you are changed at the end, it is all worth it.”  I can testify that the time Drew spent in Brazil has truly changed not only Drew, but myself and many others for the better.  This is a blessing we will always cherish.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Brás Cubas – Week 13

Hello Everyone,

This week has been really difficult.  I received some hard news that I had been expecting, but nevertheless it was unpleasant.  I will almost certainly be coming home very soon.  I will find out for sure in the next few days what the final verdict is, but at this point I am preparing myself to return to California in the next couple of weeks.  I will explain in more detail for anyone who cares to read on.
When I arrived in the field 13 weeks ago it became apparent very quickly that I would have a problem performing the work in the manner required of me.  My body ached, but my heart and spirit hurt too.  I did not want to admit (to myself or the Lord) my weakness and so as I continued to work and pray I became numb to what I was feeling.  A missionary cannot feel the Spirit effectively or teach well if there is not an open channel between them and the Lord.  I prayed that the burden would be lifted, that the pain would dissipate, and I could feel the Spirit guiding me and helping me the way I needed.  The impression came several times to talk to my mission president about what was going on inside me, to allow him to help me fight this battle, but I ignored this feeling because it wasn't what I wanted.  The thing with me is that I may not always do what I should or what I think, but no matter how ridiculous it seems I always do what I feel.  To ignore this feeling was my signal that I couldn't put this off anymore.

One night while Elder Todd was sick and I had already been trapped in the house for more than a week with the only thing for me to do being to study; I was closer to the Savior than I had been for a while.  As I lay in bed this sick feeling came over me, not physical sickness, but a deep and penetrating feeling of sadness and disappointment.  I got out of bed and walked to my desk to study some more.  After hours of reading and not feeling relieved I finally humbled myself enough to fall to my knees.  For the first time in months I prayed with the intent to follow any and all promptings that came to me.  My terrible feeling increased and then gave way to a simple thought that alleviated the tension inside of me: "There are some pains that only the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ can heal.  Whether they are physical, emotional, or spiritual, it is the same."
It had finally come the time to turn my will to His will.  As I continued in my prayers I felt again the need to talk with my president and tell him what I was thinking, feeling, and doing.  I set an appointment with him and went into his office a few days later.  I felt his deep love for me and he agonized with me over what I was experiencing and the opportunities I had missed by blocking myself from the Lord.  He let me know what the steps would be and he commiserated with me at the percentages that looked so grim against me.  By this time I was truly at peace with whatever would happen because I knew I was following a true answer to prayer.

As I have said before, Elder Holland has promised that regardless of the work done, if I walk away from my mission a better person than when I arrived it was all worth it.  When I told my mom I'd probably be returning home she reminded me of this and told me that the principle is true even if my mission is shorter than expected.  I testify that even separated from the full influence of the Spirit because of my own pride I have witnessed miracles, blessed lives, brought joy, and more than anything else I have learned to study and ponder the Gospel, and to never ignore a feeling again.  I came into the mission thinking I was ready for everything, but now I understand that only with His help are we ready for anything.
I love being a missionary, and I am not happy to be leaving the mission field, but I am ready to return home and I'm excited to continue learning, growing, and being a lifelong member missionary.  I may not return to the mission field again, but never will I lose my missionary spirit.  This Gospel is too important and the message too powerful to let it sit in the back of our minds.  We must fight the good fight.  In the movie "The Other Side of Heaven" they are traveling to an outer island when the wind stops.  The branch president instructs Elder Groberg to get in the rowboat and he begins to row.  The young elder asks him why he is doing it and he responds, "I didn't decide to serve the Lord until I was old and tired - tired from all the sin.  But you - you are young and already give your life to Him.  I cannot be young again.  But today, I can be the Lord's wind."  We may not be old and tired from sin, but we can still decide that today, and every day, we can be the Lord's wind.  I bear testimony to you that God lives and loves you.  Jesus is our Savior and is there for you when no one else can be.  I say this in the name of our Lord, Redeemer, and Savior, even Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Elder Tyler Andrew Bushman

Monday, August 6, 2012

Brás Cubas – Week 12


Family and friends,

Note from Mom: Tyler’s companion Elder Todd has been sick all week so they have not been able to get out at all.  Tyler had just a few minutes on the computer and asked me to post something on his blog from his letters home.  He sends his love to everyone and told me he will find out later today if either he or Elder Todd will be transferred tomorrow. Here is an excerpt from last week’s letter to the family:
My dear family,

I read a story this week that inspired some new ideas.  It is titled “Smiles to Share” by C. J. Gudmundson –Friend, June 2009 – you can look up the full text but it talks about a child learning a lesson about the importance of discovering and sharing our talents. 
This story demonstrates some important principles.

1. The importance of sharing our talents.
President Hinckley once said, “We are here to accomplish something, to bless society with our talents and our learning.” That’s easy enough to say and to comprehend, but actually putting it into practice is much less simple.  It shouldn’t be, but somehow developing our talents always seems to be put on the back burner to things that are “more immediately important.”  Satan is incredibly clever and hardworking.  He likes to show us 1,000 things we could be doing to distract us from the few we should.

I know first-hand how powerful a gift from God can be.  I have been blessed with a “quick and ready” smile.  No one ever said it would be pretty, just that it would be there.  We reactivated this woman and the reason she didn’t come to church was because she has anger issues.  There are several people in the ward who have severely offended her, but her first few weeks at church when I could tell that she “ficon com raiva” (was with anger) I would smile at her.  My smile is so awkward that she always starts to laugh.  She told me that now, anytime she feels herself getting angry she picture my smile and the anger dissipates.
2. The importance of audience participation when teaching with the Spirit.

Elder Richard G. Scott (my hero) states: “Creating an atmosphere of participation enhances the probability that the Spirit will teach more important lessons than you can communicate.  That participation will bring into their lives the direction of the Spirit.  When you encourage students to raise their hands to respond to a question, while they may not realize it, they signify to the Holy Ghost their willingness to learn.  That use of moral agency will allow that Spirit to motivate and give them more powerful guidance during your time together.  Participation allows individuals to experience being led by the Spirit.  They learn to recognize and feel what spiritual guidance is.”
If that doesn’t say it all, I don’t know what does.  In the church we call them teachers, but a more appropriate title would be facilitators.  They prepare with the Spirit so they are guided to the correct words to say, but then their job is to stand in the front of the room, present truths, and invite class members to think and open their minds to the ministering of angels and of the Holy Ghost.  The world we live in today teaches that answers must come instantly and that silence is awkward, but both of those things are exactly contrary to the way the Spirit teaches.  If we accustom ourselves and those we teach to quietly contemplate during classes in church and school, alone or in a crowd, then the Lord will “open you the windows of Heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10)  Then we “shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures.” (D&C 89:19)  if we have the faith to let silence reign and then have the courage to share what the Spirit bore witness to you, everyone will be blessed with the ability to “be still, and know that [He is] God.”

I wish I had some funny story or experience, but missionary work is a lot of the same.  We wake up, work out and study, go to lunch, and then walk and teach.  Occasionally something different happens, but generally it is pleasant and spiritual monotony. I pretty consistently walk around with a silly grin on my face that I’m sure occasionally makes people wonder about my sanity, but such is life.
My testimony has grown so much.  I love the church more than I thought I ever could or would.  I can’t wait to learn and grow more.

Para Sempre,
Elder Tyler Andrew Bushman

Monday, July 30, 2012

Brás Cubas – Week 11


Hello Readers,

This week was truly amazing.  I will tell you why.

First, on Wednesday we got a call from the Zone leaders saying that I was going on a 2 day division with another District leader named Elder Lutz.  I had 5 minutes to pack; we jumped on a train and headed to Guarerema.  I loved it there. There was grass. And trees. And it didn't smell like smoke and alcohol everywhere we went. It reminded a little of home, and I have to admit that when we weren't busy I was feeling pretty trunky, but as soon as we started doing something again I was okay.  It was great; in the time I was there we reactivated one man, I taught Elder Lutz several things about how to be a better and more effective missionary, and he taught me several things as well.  Overall it was a really wonderful experience.

On Saturday my ward had a giant festa (party).  There were about 250 people there and about half of them were less-actives or investigators. It was amazing.  I had a blast and I know that everyone else did too.  It culminated in a brief experience I had.  They had a dance floor and music, but no one was dancing.  Knowing that I was a dancer my Ward Mission Leader asked me to get people dancing.  Always happy to oblige a request to dance, I got a few of the men and young men in the ward together, showed them a few moves, and then helped them to let loose and have fun.  I have missed dancing a lot, so it was nice, even if just for a few minutes, to cut a rug and just have a little fun.  So much of missionary work is work, I am learning to really value the brief times I have to let go and relax.  I love this ward.

Yesterday Elder Todd was sick, so after church and lunch we just went home.  We might have to go to the doctor today, but he hasn't decided if he needs that yet.  I have had the opportunity to do some service for him and really focus on making sure his needs are met.  In the early afternoon I took a brief nap, but being the kind of sleeper I am that was probably a bad idea.  I was up all night and only slept from about 5:45-6:30.  In reality though, that was a blessing in disguise. I was able to devote my night to study and prayer.  I am making a study journal and last night I was able to fill 10 pages with quotes and impressions from what I was learning.  We're going to take today and tomorrow off whether or not we go to the doctor, so I will have some more wonderful opportunity to feel the Spirit in my studies.

The quote of the day is from an Ensign Article by President Boyd K. Packer.  He said, "If you understand how the Spirit operates, you will be alright.  There is not enough evil put together - if it was all brought together as some kind of dark, ugly laser beam and focused on you, it could not destroy you, unless somehow you consented to it."  This is brilliant and true.  Satan has power only to bruise our heals, but we can crush his head.  We need not have respect for him, except to acknowledge that he has real power, but our secret is that we have a body and that regardless of what Satan throws at us, unless we give in, he cannot control us.  We are infinitely powerful and have infinite potential.  Infinite doesn't mean "a lot" it means limitless.  If we remember that, and keep the commandments of God nothing can stop us from achieving our righteous goals.

Para sempre,

Elder Tyler Andrew Bushman

Monday, July 23, 2012

Brás Cubas – Week 10


Good morning/afternoon/evening/night everyone,

This week was filled with a lot of craziness, not the least of which being our really awesome investigator that keeps shouting the gospel in the streets to his friends and neighbors.  We are currently teaching his whole family, his friend’s family, and various other people he has introduced us to.  Needless to say, our area focus has shifted.  Our investigator told us every single day how excited he was to go to church and how much he loved it, but a few weeks ago he broke his finger and when he woke up on Sunday morning it was so infected and nasty that his mom said he couldn't go to church because he was going to the hospital.  He was...very...very unhappy about that, but his brother came to church and next week his grandma and mom are planning to come.  It is amazing how we can work, and work, and work, and then one day meet this one teenager who gives us enough people to teach that our days are completely filled.  The blessings of the Lord do not come how or when we want them, but they come exactly how we need them.

I think it is sad, that now, just as I am becoming really comfortable with Elder Todd (and I'm talking comfortable enough to have very frank conversations about our personality faults) we will be split up in two weeks.  We have just hit a beautiful teaching stride, have a very full teaching pool, have several baptisms that appear very likely, and I'm about to say goodbye.  Is that fair? No.  Is it what I need?  Apparently we will have to wait and see.  There is a chance (small, but there) that neither of us will be transferred.  Oh well, the Lord has planned 6 week transfers for a reason and I trust Him.

It is wonderful though, that I am learning more Portuguese.  My first few weeks here lunches with the sisters in the ward were a little awkward because I couldn't communicate well.  Then, I could communicate well enough to talk a little.  But now, we have a blast at lunch.  We talk, laugh, tell stories, share mission experiences, and just have a great time.  I am learning better how to have fun but allow the Spirit to remain.  My Portuguese becomes better and better every day.  I always seem to think, 'okay, I'm doing pretty good now, I'll probably plateau for a while' and then I find a new level of comfort and skill.  It's beautiful what we can accomplish with the help of a divine being.

I met the new president this week.  He is really nice.  He has the opposite problem from me in Portuguese.  He knows tons of vocabulary, but his accent needs some work; I don't know almost any words (just enough to communicate and joke), but my accent is pretty excellent.  I have been blessed with the Gift of Tongues.  Sister Ferrin said that she was jealous of my language skills and hopes to someday be able to speak like I can.  They are a great couple with lots of faith, some great ideas for what to do with the mission, and they let the light of Christ shine through them.  I am lucky and excited to have the opportunity to learn from them in the next 20.5 months.

The quote of the day is from Winnie the Pooh.  In the movie Christopher Robin is about to start school and so he says good bye to Pooh.  In his heartfelt goodbye he explains to Pooh how much potential he has.  "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.  Even if we are apart, I'll always be with you."  We are children of our Heavenly Father, God.  He loves us and has given each of the talents and abilities to be more than we know we can be.  He is always with us even when we feel like we are alone, and He loves us more than we can comprehend.  With that in mind, go fearlessly into this next week and share the divine light within you with those around you.

Para Sempre,

Elder Tyler Andrew Bushman

Monday, July 16, 2012

Brás Cubas – Week 9


Hey everyone,

This week my focus has been gratitude and about forgetting about my needs to fulfill the needs of those that I am serving.  As I have done this I am more easily recognizing the miracles and the evidence of God's hand in my life.  I will tell a few stories to demonstrate.

First, last transfer we reactivated a family.  The mom hasn't been active in years and the children didn't know a lot about the church.  The dad... is not a member of the church and is not living almost any of the church standards.  The reason this woman went inactive is because she is not married to her "husband" and so she was embarrassed to go to church.  Her family is in the ward and after she came once, felt their love and support, she came every week afterward.  She had been feeling lost and lonely for a long time.  She was coming to church for about a month when we went over to her house to talk to her and her kids.  She told us that they would be moving out of the house, just her and the kids.  She has since moved.  She is living the law of chastity, going to church, and is happier than she has ever been.  It is a wonderful privilege to be a tool in the Lord's hands, helping this woman to have the courage to do something difficult and feel the blessings.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this work.

Second, we have an investigator that is the friend of a less-active member we are working on re-activating.  They both came to church this week and loved it.  We went to see them after church to see how they felt and the investigator was running around introducing us to all of his friends, inviting them to hear the truth he learned and to find God.  He is inviting them to youth activities, ward activities, church, and to let us teach them.  He truly has the spirit of missionary work and wants nothing more than for every other person to feel what he feels.

Third, last week was really hard and we weren't feeling discouraged, just a little...disheartened.  We were still working hard and talking with as many people as we could, but things just didn't seem to be working out.  My companion was taking it harder than I was and I didn't know how to make him feel better.  It all culminated last Sunday when none of our investigators came to church and we hadn't taught a lesson all day.  We had been on our feet for hours and sat down for just a second to rest.  A man walked by with a bunch of pastries that he was selling in the street.  He came over, gave us each one for free, and walked away.  That gave us the energy to finish the day.  Then on Tuesday we were going home after another hard day and decided to stop for churros.  As we went to pay the woman told us that a man on the other side of the stand had already paid.  We arrived home and the sister who lives in the house above mine gave us half of a hot quiche that she had left over from her family's dinner.  It is amazing how wonderful unexpected and free food can feel sometimes.  Since then we have been so blessed and I know that it is because we kept working hard and not getting discouraged even when things didn't look very bright.  I think our greatest blessing this week, besides having 2 investigators at church yesterday, occurred on Friday.  We went to the house of a referral that we had taught a couple of times.  During the course of the lesson 6 of his friends came in and sat down listening, totally hooked.  It was wonderful.  We were able to teach 7 people in a single lesson and many of them want us to come back.  The Lord works in mysterious ways, but He does always make things work.

The quote of the week is from Proverbs 17:22 "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine."  There is a story of a man who was very sick in the hospital.  His friends came over and brought a bunch of their favorite funny movies.  He spent days laughing and joking with his friends.  Miraculously he recovered surprisingly rapidly.  If we can smile and laugh through the worst of situations then our trials will always pass and make us stronger.

Para sempre,

Elder Tyler Andrew Bushman