Monday, August 27, 2012

California - Week 2 - A new Blog


8-27-2012
 
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

California

8-20-2012

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


8-13-2012 
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

8-6-2012

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

7-30-2012

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

7-23-2012  

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

7-16-2012

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

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Brás Cubas – Week 8

7-10-2012

Hey everyone, 

Another week in Brazil has passed by.  I'm sorry for the late entry.  Monday was a holiday and we couldn't find any place that was open that we could send emails from.  Anyway, this week was really cold and I was sick.  Not a great combo, but I learned some good things and had a few great experiences.  For now, suffice it to say that miracles still exist in the world.  I know that more now than I ever had before.

This week was hard, not just because I was sick, but because people kept canceling our appointments.  We would walk for 30 minutes to someone's house just to have them cancel.  And it was not time well-wasted, it was just time wasted.  And then on Saturday we spent all day visiting all of our investigators and inviting them to church.  Sunday morning came...only 3 investigators came to church, and none of them were invited by us.  What did that tell us?  To drop all but 2 of our investigators and start over from scratch.  Our goal this week is to do as many contacts as we possibly can and not stop until we have people to teach who will come to church and keep their commitments.  We will embark on this new journey starting this afternoon as soon as we finish emailing.

I now understand about 97% of all the Portuguese spoken to me and I can write almost fluently.  I still need to learn a lot of vocabulary, but I can communicate nearly any idea (in a roundabout way) that I want to.  We were at a member's house for lunch on Sunday and I participated in making several jokes and even told a few humorous life stories in Portuguese.  The problem now is embarrassment.  I don't speak as much as I really could because I can't make the sounds come out of my mouth correctly all the time.  I am learning to get over it as I hear more Americans speaking Portuguese.  Elders who have been here for almost 2 years have American accents so thick I can barely understand their Portuguese.  I may not have a large vocabulary, but my accent is pretty good.  Eu não vou ter vergonha mais. (I will not have embarrassment more.)

The quote of the week is taken from an article by Brad Wilcox about the importance of laughter.  He told this story: "Some time ago I was a passenger on an airplane that was coming in for a landing.  As we neared the airport, the other passengers and I began to realize that we were traveling much faster than normal.  I could feel the anxiety level in the plane start to rise.  Suddenly the airplane hit the ground with great force and then began taxiing down the runway.  Shaken, we passengers sat in stunned silence until the captain's voice came over the sound system: 'Take that, you bad, bad runway!'  We all erupted in laughter.  With a humorous viewpoint and a shared laugh, and uncomfortable situation had become bearable."  That story is beautiful.  Just like the captain in a tense moment was able to be the catalyst for relieving the pressure, we must also learn a few jokes to help others to be comfortable in difficult situations.

Para sempre, (forever, or literally for always)

Elder Tyler Andrew Bushman

 Two beautiful sunsets.
 A sweet mural on a local street.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Brás Cubas – Week 7


7-2-2012

Hey everyone,

I love being on a mission.  It's hard, I'm so exhausted, emotionally and physically that I hurt, and I'm so happy.  I don't even know why I'm so happy.  Can you be this tired and this fulfilled at the same time?  Apparently the answer is yes.

I started reading the Book of Mormon again last week and for the first time in my life I wasn't reading it because I was supposed to or because I need help, but because I wanted to.  Something really crazy happened; I experienced what the prophets, and especially President Hinckley, described as a love-affair with the scriptures.  I haven't been able to put them down.  I read during my study time, I read after nightly planning, I read while waiting for lunch, I read any chance I get.  I've read more than 400 pages in 7 days.  I'm reading in English and Portuguese (depending on whichever one I happen to have at the moment) and I love it.  I have never appreciated how rich the stories are, or how simple the doctrine is.  I've read from the Book of Mormon more times than I can count, but this time through it has taken on a simplicity and beauty that it never has before.  Perhaps I was finally spiritually ready to receive more from it, or perhaps I am just humble enough to read it, but either way, I have fallen hopelessly into the power and love of the words of God.

It's winter here.  The people don't like the cold, which seems silly to me because I still sweat through my shirt every day and they are wearing thick winter jackets.  Because it's winter there are less people on the streets and we are relying more on the members to send us to people to teach.  We started teaching these four 20 to 30 year-old men all together.  They seem to have a true desire to learn and I hope that they continue to feel the need for the Gospel in their lives.

Our ward had a really neat activity on Saturday.  It was a Dia de Feijoada, or a Day of Feijoada.  Feijoada is a food from here.  It is beans, beef, sausage, and a bunch of spices and sauce.  It is honestly one of my favorite foods here and I got to eat my absolute fill on Saturday.  It was an integration activity and we had a few investigators there.  It was a lot of fun.  I understand almost everything now, so I have to work on my speaking.  I love this ward.  They are so much fun and so strong in the gospel.

The quote of the week this week is from Elder Richard G. Scott.  As always I am continuing to work on building charity, faith, obedience, and better prayers.  In relation to prayers and revelation he says, "Communication with our Father in Heaven is not a trivial matter.  It is a sacred privilege.  It is based upon eternal, unchanging principles.  We receive help from our Father in Heaven in response to our faith, obedience, and the proper use of agency."

As always, love and prayers,

Elder Tyler Andrew Bushman


Monday, June 25, 2012

Brás Cubas - Week 6

6-25-2012

Hello everyone,

This week was...eventful to say the least.

On Monday it was my birthday.  Thank you everyone that sent me a birthday wish.  I really love hearing from you.  Elder Todd and I were going to have pizza on Monday but decided to have pancakes for lunch instead.  Between the two of us we ate 5 kilos (11 pounds) of pancakes.  It was really, really delicious.  Then that night we went to a less-actives house and had pancakes with their family and some investigators.  It's nice that my talent for making chocolate chip pancakes has a real purpose in bringing people together in unity around some good food.

On Wednesday there was a conference because President Moreira is leaving and going home.  They took a mission picture, there were some speakers, I understood almost everything that was said, we sang the mission hymn, and it was just an overall good day.  But in all honesty my favorite part of the whole day was seeing the people I'd gone to the MTC with.  I was just so happy to see them.  I had grown to really love them in the 6 weeks we were together and it was nice to see that they were all doing well.  Learning and growing.  And, I wasn't the one to lose the most weight.  Another elder lost 15 kilos (33 pounds), so my 10 kilos wasn't so bad.  The conference ate our whole day though so we got back in time to do just a little bit of studying and then go teach our English class.  We taught them commands and then played Simon Says.  They thought that was the greatest thing.  I look forward to continuing the class.  It should be fun.
Elder Todd and I keep our house really clean, and except for the 25 flies that live in our shower and various spiders that live in cracks that I can't get to, I haven't seen more than a couple of stray ants in weeks.  Until Wednesday...  I was kneeling down to say my prayer at night.  I don't have a bed, only a couple of mattresses on the floor.  I knelt down and found a cockroach...in my bed.  I flicked it off, killed it, said my prayer, and climbed into bed and fell asleep.  I don't have the time, energy, or privilege to be able to worry about having bugs in my bed.  I shake my sheets out every once in a while, but bugs are everywhere here so you learn to just deal with it.

We continue to work with less actives and part member families.  They seem to really love visits from us.  We had 2 baptisms this week.  Included are pictures of the baptisms.  Flavia was baptized a couple weeks ago, but on Friday her little brother Felipe was baptized and her friend Renan was baptized.  Renan was the referral of an investigator, who was the referral of a less-active, which was the referral of a member.  The Lord has a way of leading us to the people who need to hear from us.  Member missionary work is so much more powerful than I ever understood before.  Renan has several friends that want to hear the gospel and his cousin even came to church on Sunday for Renan's confirmation.  I love this work.  Renan, Felipe, and Flavia, are all filled with a light that they didn't have before.  It's beautiful.
The quote of the week:  In Joshua there is the story of the Israelites coming to Jericho for the first time and sending out scouts.  The scouts came back and all of them (except for Joshua and Caleb) said that there was no way that they could capture Jericho.  Caleb's response was "Give me this mountain."  He volunteered to take the hardest and most difficult challenge because he knew that with the help of the Lord it was possible.  We shouldn't always ask for the hardest thing to happen, but when it does we must be ready to turn to the Lord and let Him know that you are willing to take on the challenge.

With all the energy of my heart,
Elder Tyler Andrew Bushman


Tyler with President and Sister Moreira



 
Elder Todd and Elder Bushman



Flavia's baptism day





Elder Bushman with Felipe and Renan



Felipe and Renan's baptism day

Monday, June 18, 2012

Brás Cubas - Week 5


6-18-2012

Hey,

This week has been...miraculous, and difficult.  Allow me to explain.

I fasted from Wednesday morning until this morning.  Missionaries aren't allowed to fast for more than 24 hours so I ate lunch every day, but I skipped breakfast, snacks, and water all day for 5 entire days.  I have been praying for greater faith, charity, obedience, and a desire to make my prayers more fervent and meaningful.  I was inspired to fast and so I obeyed.  I have never been so tired, so hungry, and working so hard ever before in my life, but I persisted, because as President Eyring says "True spiritual staying power comes from pushing past the point when others would stop."  The physical and spiritual tax on me became so immense that I could not help but turn to my Father in Heaven with a prayer in my heart, always.  My prayers in the morning and night have become a true conversations.  I no longer just say the words, I feel them.  I know that Heavenly Father answers prayers, and sometimes when we foolish humans ask for a challenge we receive far more than we anticipated, but the blessings are great too.  Many miracles came this week.  My language skills have greatly improved, and I have a deeper love and appreciation for the scriptures and for the times when I am not malnourished.  I hope that I never need to learn this lesson again, but I do look forward to the next opportunity I will have to experience a hard and almost impossible trial because as a friend of mine told me, she hopes that my mission is hard so that I can grow.  I know that trials are one of the best ways that we learn.

We shifted our focus this week.  We did not even try to do any street contacting this week because we have decided to re-activate less active members of our ward.  There are about 600 people on the ward list, but 100ish come to church each week.  A soul that returns to the Savior is just as valuable as a soul that finds Him.  We spent a lot of time walking, but we were also able to teach many more lessons than we have in the past.  We contacted many less-actives; all of the people that we have taught in the last week have been less-actives or referrals from members and less-actives.  This has been a huge blessing because as we demonstrate to members the Spirit's ability to teach through us, our willingness to work, and our pure love of the people they feel like they can tell us about their friends that are prepared to hear our message.  We have 4 baptisms marked for the next 3 weeks solely from less-active and member referrals.  The members are a crucial part of missionary work and I never understood that before.  When I get home I will be so much better at being a member missionary.

The quote of the week is from my grandfather.  He has been reading my letters and he commented and my mom forwarded it to me.  He said, "Often, after a time of toughing it out, something will happen to make it all worthwhile. Jesus walked all the time; no bikes, cars, airplanes or skate boards, just feet.  The blisters will become calluses.  All WE can do is pray for strength of body and mind."  I am so grateful for my Opa and his example in my life.  He is such a powerful servant of our Savior Jesus Christ and I will follow his wise words and continue to pray for strength and guidance.

Love,

Elder Tyler Andrew Bushman

Monday, June 11, 2012

Brás Cubas - Week 4

6-11-2012
Howdy y'all,
(I'm running out of random greetings...This is bad.  I've got another 94 weeks and I can't think of any more random ways to say hello.  I will keep trying.)
Some business first:
- I've been in the field for 4 weeks now.

- Next Monday, the 18th is my birthday and Elder Todd and I will celebrate.  If you would like to write me, my address is "Elder Tyler Andrew Bushman,  Brazil São Paulo East Mission,  Rua Caa-Açu, 229 Belenzinho,  03171-020 São Paulo - SP,  Brazil.”  If you write me, I will write you back, always.  I hope you know that on my birthday I will be thinking about you and praying for you.

- I know that many people who are reading this have never met me and I'm glad that my words are still meaningful to you.  If you have any friends who you think would enjoy this blog then please share it with them.  I am a missionary but that does not mean that my work should be exclusively for the people of Brazil.  If I am saying things that are meaningful to you, then they can bless someone else's life too and my work as a servant of the Lord will be magnified.  Thank you for your love and support.  I feel your prayers.
Now for my actual message:
I have been praying and reading a lot about charity and faith.  In my studies I have found a list of attributes or activities that help us to build charity but also embody what charity is.
     
Charity is:
- loving someone enough to give up what is pleasant or easy to help them.
- demonstrating your love for someone and making sure that they know you love them.
- loving someone enough to hurt them so that they may grow.
- losing yourself in the service of others.
- giving the last thing you have to give to someone else who needs it more.
- serving the Lord and giving back to Heavenly Father the only thing that is truly His, our free will.- teaching a man to fish even though it would be easier to give him a fish.
- allowing the pure light of Christ to shine from your eyes so that others can see it and want what you have.
- always writing thank you notes and remembering birthdays.
- forgiving someone who has hurt you, but more than that, it is helping them to make a better choice next time.
- remaining worthy to receive revelation or exercise the priesthood, always.
- not just the outward expression of love, but the inward transformation caused by love.
- an experience, not a feeling.
- never faileth, ever.
- one of the greatest blessings and responsibilities of this life.
- the pure love of Jesus Christ.
- to begin to love as God loves.
We worked hard this week and a girl that we taught was baptized.  She is so happy and filled with a light and glow that she did not possess.  She is filled with the Spirit and has a greater desire to choose what is right and keep this feeling with her always.  It is sad that the feeling of cleanliness does not remain with us always.  We have the opportunity to feel like that every Sunday after we partake of the Sacrament, but that feeling become commonplace and we take it for granted.  We must try to understand what the Sacrament is and how meaningful it can be.  I will strive to be more worthy to feel that clean feeling, that closeness to the Lord, and that true love from God in my life.

The quote of the week is from President Eyring.  He said "Form a habit of pushing on through the fear and fatigue that might make you think of quitting.  The Lord's great mentors have shown me that spiritual staying power comes from working past the point when others would have taken a rest."  We have potential within ourselves to reach out to the Savior and find Him reaching back and then discover that together the impossible becomes just another stepping stone.  We can work harder, love deeper, and change the world, if we have the Lord helping us.

With great love,

Elder Tyler Andrew Bushman

Monday, June 4, 2012

Brás Cubas - Week 3

6-4-2012

Family, Friends, and other Readers,

This week was...eye opening.  Not in a bad way, just factually.  I will explain by talking about
specific events that occurred.

First, Friday was Elder Todd's birthday on the mission.  We had a cake and we made our own burgers.  We mixed garlic and onions into the meat and spiced it to taste.  Elder Todd is a flavor junkie, so they were strongly flavored.  It was delicious and a lot of fun to take some time to just relax and celebrate for a couple of hours.  Today marks my 2 month mark and I've already completed 1/12 of my mission.  The time is truly flying.  I thought it would feel like so much longer, but in reality, each day takes forever to pass, but the weeks just become a glaze.  I will not get trunky while thinking about this.  I have 2 more years to be focused.

The second realization that occurred is that we have an investigator that has been coming to church for more than a month, but this last week his son became sick and has been in the hospital.  His wife hasn't been home and he sold the shutters to his house to pay for a bus ticket to visit them in the hospital.  They have no food left in their house and he can't work because he has 2 small children at home to take care of.  He's heard the members of the church talk about love, charity, the relief society helping people out, and yet no one has come to help them.  Several members know about their situation, but the only people who have come to visit him are Elder Todd and me.  He even quit drinking for a couple days in the hopes of a miracle and nothing came.  He was very angry with us, with God, and with the ward when we talked to him yesterday.  Where is his help?  Where is his love?  Where is his miracle?  That opened our eyes.  Have we been doing all that we could to help... I don't know, but after we left his house we went directly to the bishop's house and then to the house of the ward mission leader.  The help will now begin to pour out, but it took longer than it should have.  Elder Todd and I committed to be more strictly obedient because things like this should not happen, we should have caught this sooner.  In the future we will.

The third thing and the one that has grown close to my heart is about Family History.  I have never done family history in my life.  I've filled out a 4 generation pedigree chart, but that is it.  It had always struck me as wildly uninteresting.  I have been told that one day my deep love for the temple would lead to a love affair with Family History.  I never believed it before, but on Thursday one of the assignments for our study was to go learn about Family History.  As I was watching the instructional videos I fell in love with the process and now I want to do Family History.  I want to find and fill out my ancestors.  They need the saving ordinances completed, and within me, at my fingertips at this very moment, is all that I need to find my ancestors.  I'm on a mission so I don't currently have time to do family history, but I will hold onto this deep love for 2 years and become a Family History junkie after my mission.  I love this gospel and the programs that are in place to bring us closer to our family, our ancestors, our friends, and our Savior.  Families truly are the focus of everything we do because families are our greatest source of joy in this life and eternity.

The quote of the day is from Elder Russell M. Nelson.  He said "If you really want a certain blessing, you'd better find out what laws govern that blessing and then work on becoming obedient to those laws."  We have the potential to do almost anything, including moving mountains and changing lives, but to do so we must be obedient to the laws of God and submit ourselves to the will of the Father because the only thing in this life that we can give Him that is not already His is our will and our agency.  When we turn over our will to Heavenly Father there is nothing we can't do.

Love,

Elder Tyler Andrew Bushman

Monday, May 28, 2012

Brás Cubas - Week 2

5-28-2012

Hey everyone,

I don't have a lot to report this week because not many people are keeping appointments or progressing.  It's really frustrating because last week we had so many people who were listening and then they all seemed to drop off the map.  It makes me sad because I know that if they had the courage to embrace the change, try some hard things, and then persevere, that they would be blessed beyond what they understand.  I come to know more each day about how much I truly need the Lord in my life.  I will give an example.

This week I have worked harder than I ever have in my life.  Because people haven't been keeping appointments we have had to walk a lot more.  Upwards of 6 hours every day.  On Saturday we did not have a single person open their door all day.  We taught a couple of lessons to people in the street, but other than a few 5 minute breaks Elder Todd and I took and a 15 minute meeting with a member of the bishopric, I was on my feet from 1:00 until 9:30.  At one point we were trying to arrange a ride to church for a guy we had met that week.  The phone connection was bad so the guy on the phone told us to come to his house, but he was leaving for a date with his wife so we had about 10 minutes to get to his house.  He lived 20 minutes away.  Elder Todd and I took off running.  We had already been walking for 7 hours, but we needed the ride for our investigator.  We get to his house and he agrees to pick up this person.

The same thing happened again on Sunday.  I have a blister that is so bad I am walking with a limp and I must look ridiculous.  And yet no matter how badly my body hurts, and the fact that no one answers their doors, I am doing the work of the Lord and it will all work out.  Maybe no one will accept the gospel, and maybe I won't baptize a single person on my mission, but I will plant seeds in every person I meet and talk to.

My family and friends, and anyone reading this is being blessed because I'm here, and that blessing is what keeps me going sometimes.  Every night when I kneel down in prayer before I sleep I praise the Lord and thank Him for the hard times I had that day, and I ask Him to continue to bless me with difficulties because the hard things in our lives chip off the rugged edges of our souls and makes us more closely like the Savior, more loving, more strong, and just more.  I feel the terrible pain in my foot at this moment, but I relish this pain because sometime in the future I will need to draw on this strength I'm receiving and do another hard thing.  The faith I build here will be my fount of blessings and preparation.  Every night I kneel down and pray for more faith and greater wisdom.  I know that the trials of our lives, especially the one I am going through now, are an answer to that prayer.

I don't know all of you who are reading this, but I love you and I hope that message comes through in my writing.  Continue to smile when life is hard, tell a joke when someone is sad, hug your mom and tell the people in your life that you love them.  Become the light that other people need to see to give them hope.

The quote of the week is about service.  I translated it from my Sunday School class in Portuguese. "The difference between doing service and serving is that we must make a sacrifice to serve.  We can have love for someone and do service for them, but to really serve someone is to show love to that person."

Elder Tyler Andrew Bushman

 The view of São Paulo from my CTM window.

My roommates at the CTM.

Elder Sena and I.  Elder Sena was a Brazilian going to Paraguay and he taught me tons of Portuguese and was one of my good friends.
My district in the CTM - Elders James, Arné, Burnett, Allen, Pearson, Shipley, Bassett, Richardson, and my companion Elder Steele, Sisters Fernelius and Fitzgerald, and one of our teachers Irmã Pozete.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Brás Cubas - Week 1

5-21-2012

Hey everyone,

I arrived in the field last week on Tuesday.  It was a really wild day.  We woke up early, 16 of us jumped in a van and we drove to the mission office.  We then had an individual interview with the mission president.  His name is President Moreira. He is from Portugal and his English is pretty good, but his Portuguese sounded funny because of the different accent.  It was really neat to get to talk to him though.  I'd heard from many people that he was really strict, but he actually is just very big on obedience.  He has a list of rules and if you follow them he is really nice, but if you break them he will really let you know that he is displeased.  He knows that the obedience is not to him, but to the Lord, and that when you are disobedient it does not just affect you, but it affects every person who could be brought to the true happiness found in the gospel, but will not because you are not worthy to take it or you are not doing the work necessary to find them.  That made a lot of sense to me, and I know that it is true.

I am in an area called Brás Cubas.  It is a giant city just outside of Sao Paulo.  I am actually serving on the East side of the State of Sao Paulo, not the East side of the city.  My area has no flat land and my companion and I walk upwards of 20 miles a day.  We walk, really fast, for about 6.5 hours and teach for 3.5 hours every day.  The problem is that to get from one side of our area to the other it is an hour walk, but we have investigators in all the corners.  It's okay though because we practice my Portuguese while we walk and we talk to random people on the street as we walk.  The work is going really well.  We marked people for baptism this week, but then none of them came to church so now we need to find out why they didn't come.  Our next job is to help to build more faith in our Savior Jesus Christ, in His Atonement, and in our need for His love, mercy, and guidance in their lives.  The language barrier is hard, but I am learning to listen to Portuguese better every day.  I love these people.  I love this city.  It already feels like a home away from home.

My companions name is Elder Todd.  He's actually from California too which is fun.  We've probably been at youth conferences or something together in the past.  He is fascinating, he is intelligent, and he knows as many obscure pop-culture references as I do.  I know that the focus of our work is our investigators, but sometimes when we are getting ready for bed it is nice to decompress a little and just chat.  He is writing a book in his head and I have been helping to come up with some interesting plot twists and literary undertones.  He loves music as much as I do.  He's been out on his mission for a year and he is an amazing man.  His testimony and his faith are so strong.  I'm glad I get to spend 3 months with him because I think that he has so much to teach me about life, the gospel, how to be a missionary, and how to be a man.  I can't wait.

Our area focus is in a "favela" or ghetto.  The roads aren't paved, the houses are made of concrete, sheet metal, and plywood and the people live in utter poverty.  And yet while many of the people in this area drink and smoke away their sorrows, some have hope.  Some know that there is a divine being and that life gets better.  There are a few elect souls who hear our message in the street and feel something that they have been waiting for their entire lives.  This work that I have been called to do, that I am doing, is not for me.  It's for the family with 5 children and all 7 of them sleep in the same bed, but every night they say a prayer and thank Heavenly Father for their bed.  It's for the family that lost a child and hears about the Plan of Salvation and knows that there is hope.  For the couple that just had their first baby and wants nothing more in the entire world than for that baby to be happy and know that the message we have can give that child the life they want to give it.  People have doubts, they have pain, and they have fear, but with Faith in Jesus Christ the life they need and deserve is possible.  Bad things will still happen in life, but we can be prepared.

The quote of the week comes from a Sacrament meeting I had in the MTC.  Elder Dickson said "In the moment of deepest despair, when the world looks like it's falling down and there is no light at the end of the tunnel, in that moment of their pain, we can be the answer to that prayer.  We can love that person and show them how to be happy again."  I know that is true because often times someone else's ready smile is what I need to change everything.  For the next two years, and then on into eternity, I will live my life is such a way that through me other people will be able to be happy.

Thank you for your support and prayers,

Elder Tyler Andrew Bushman

*Note from mom: We were very fortunate that Tyler was able to Skype home on 5/20 - he looks really happy.  He didn't get to call on Mother's Day because he was in the CTM so they allowed him to call a week later.  He told us that we will need to send all mail to the mission home because mail is frequently stolen locally. He will receive mail several times a month when the zone leaders pick it up and deliver it personally.  Thanks for all your support for Tyler.