Monday, May 28, 2012

Brás Cubas - Week 2


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


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.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Letters home

* Note from mom: Elder Bushman is leaving the CTM today, and I don’t know if he will be able to write at all or very much this week so I am posting some excerpts from letters he has sent home through regular mail.  Also, his birthday is coming up and I would love him to receive some birthday messages from all of you.  Since he only has 30 minutes on the computer each week I don't want to flood his in-box with birthday wishes.  Instead I would appreciate you sending me a note for him and I will include it in his birthday package.  Email me at: before the end of May.  If you prefer to send him a letter directly to the mission home (the address is at the top of the blog) that is fine too.  Postage is $1.05 with the amount printed on the stamp - forever stamps are not valid internationally.  Thank you - I know he appreciates all of your positive thoughts and prayers for him, and I do as well. 

Minha familia,
I wanted to outline the talk I mentioned in my email.  I didn’t get a chance to write all I wanted because of the 30 minute time limit.  Here’s an outline of his insights:
1. God doesn’t hear the wishes of your mouth, but the wishes of your heart.
2. Everything has a purpose, so what’s your purpose in this time?  Don’t skip this phase.  Live every phase of life and don’t skip any.  They are all important.  There will be time for other things in the future.
3. You have 2 years to be a missionary, but regardless of the work that happens, if you are changed at the end, it is all worth it. – Elder Holland
4. A good objective is as the rod of iron: You know where you are and where you’re going.
5. Efficiency is the ability to do things well, effectiveness is the ability to finish what we start.  We must be both efficient and effective.
6. The three reasons we go on missions:
     To help change the lives of God’s children.
     To establish the kingdom of God.
     Most importantly – to change our own lives.  One soul becomes millions.
7. You have 2 years to do and an eternity to remember.
I hope that was as meaningful for you as it was for me.  I love you and miss you.
Elder Tyler Andrew Bushman

Hey Everyone,
I have truly come to love and appreciate my time in prayer.  I have learned to be much more grateful and specific in my prayers.  Not just grateful for people, but for specific attributes about them or experiences shared with them.  I am grateful for people or things I’ve only seen once that changed the way I think.  I’m grateful for opportunities I’ve had, gifts I’ve been given, love I’ve received, and people who came into my life just when I needed them and have loved me even when I’ve made it difficult to be loved.  Thank you for that.  I love you.  Truly.  Always.  Deeply.  And far more than you know.  I’m sorry I haven’t expressed that or appreciated you how I should have. 

We had a fireside that explained agency really well and I want to share the main example with you.
Choice: Having more than one option.
Freedom: Having more than one outcome.
Agency: Knowing the different outcomes of your choices.
          An explanation using coins:
One hand, one coin: no choice
Two hands, one coin: choice
Two hands, two of the same coin: choice but no freedom
Two hands, two different coins but no knowledge: choice and freedom, but no agency
Two hands, two different coins and knowledge of outcome: choice, freedom and agency
“If we think there is nothing more to agency than choosing right, we fail to understand the difference between choice, freedom, and agency.”
                One who ransoms, frees, or rescues by paying a price.
        Bring something value.
 “The right of our so-called “free-agency” was not free to our Redeemer.”

My faith is daily growing.  I am constantly praying for myself, my companion, and for all of you and I know that I am being blessed for it.  I love you.  I will serve my mission in such a way that the Lord will have to carry me most of the time because I will push that hard and when I get home I’ll sleep for a week.  I miss you and will be home sooner than you know.
Elder Tyler Andrew Bushman

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Week 5 in the CTM


Howdy, (The Brazilians think that is the funniest phrase)

This week was...long.  I'm just so ready to go to the mission field.  I am beginning to feel very claustrophobic, but I suppose that is part of being trapped in 3 hallways, a gym, an auditorium, and a cafeteria 95% of my time.

Today after the temple we went to a Brazilian all-you-can-eat barbecue.  It was amazing.  And the best part, it only cost 11 American Dollars (20 Reais).  Our teachers met us and came along.  It was so much fun to have our whole district just hanging out, chatting, and having fun.  It will be a while before I have an experience like that again, because as it has been said by prophets "The most important part of missionary work is work."  I truly love my district.  I know that they are exactly the people that I needed to be with at this time to help me to achieve my potential as a missionary.  I love this gospel and know that it is absolutely true.  That God lives, that He is our Father, and that we came to Earth to make choices, to learn right from wrong, to be cleansed by the Atonement of His son Jesus Christ, and then to return to Him.

I know that without the help of Heavenly Father I would be totally and completely unable to learn Portuguese as quickly as I have.  I know that He answers prayers and that He is looking out for me and guiding me.  One missionary put it really well in Fast and Testimony Meeting on Sunday, he said "Just take the wheel, I'll do the work, but just guide me through it."

I do want to talk a little bit about my adventure from yesterday.  All of the missionaries in my district went proselyting yesterday.  Each companionship was given 4 copies of the Book of Mormon and told to go out and find people to give them to.  That was really scary, but even more exciting.  My language skills were tested to their very max.  We worked for 2.25 hours talking to everyone who passed by.  Standing on corners, following people, walking into shops, everywhere we could think of going.  We walked all of the streets in the area we were allowed to go to at least twice.  And yet the whole time my companion and I did not feel like we were disappointed.  And then all the sudden we were able to give two copies of the Book of Mormon to 2 women in the park with a message of the Gospel blessing families.  And then we gave another copy to a man begging for cans after we brought him one.  We shared a message of service.  And then we gave out one more copy right away.  We went from having given out none to giving out 3 to the next 3 people we talked to.  We knew that the Lord had not let us feel discouraged because He knew that there were people that we needed to talk to after working for a while.

This brings me to the quote of the week.  There are actually two because they have a similar message.  The first is by William James.  He said "Beyond the very depths of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all, because we never pushed through that obstruction."

The second is by Elder Cordier, an Elder that I am friends with.  He repeats this to himself everyday "I will walk and talk with everybody that I meet and tell them about the church.  And when I no longer have the strength to walk, I will crawl on my hands and knees and speak with a louder voice so that the people can still hear me expressing my love for the gospel.  And when I no longer have the strength to crawl, I will lie on the flat of my back and shout to the heavens proclaiming this gospel to be true."

I hope that you all got as much from that as I did.


Elder Tyler Andrew Bushman

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Week 4 in the CTM

Hey everyone,

Another week has gone by.  I only have the opportunity to be a full time missionary for 100 more weeks.  I can't believe that 1/24th of my mission is already gone and I still have two more weeks here in the CTM.  How is everyone?  I hope you are all well.  I know that I'm doing fantastically.  Working hard, praying harder, learning Portuguese, teaching people, and preparing to change lives and bring people to the one thing in this life that makes me happier than anything else: The Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Not a lot happened this week.  My companion and I are continuing to learn how to be friends and how to learn and teach with each other.  The irony of the whole CTM experience is that by the time we become really great together we’ll be separated and probably never serve together again.  The Lord works in mysterious ways.  My companion has really taught me a lot.  He frustrates me to no end sometimes, but I truly love Elder Steele and am so glad for the opportunity I have to learn from him.

We get to go to the temple every week.  That is pretty amazing.  The temple is about 40 minutes away, but the sessions are in English which is nice.  I'm finally beginning to understand the words that the workers say to me.  It is wonderful.

Oh.  I just remembered my big news...  I started a permanent English fast on Friday.  I have spoken probably 100 words in English in 4 days.  It's very hard, and stressful, but my language skills have almost doubled since then.  Our investigator was having some pretty hard questions about the church, but I was able to answer all of them without any problem.  My companion still has to prepare the words he's going so say, so he will generally prepare a lesson about a specific topic and I will just work on generally increasing my language, that way he will teach the lesson and I answer questions and we each do about the same amount in the lessons.  I love teaching.  Even though my Portuguese is still very much lacking, I am able to bear my testimony comfortably and with power, enough that our investigators feel it.  Also, my prayers are now almost entirely in Portuguese, and not just my prayers in lessons or in class, but all of them, my personal prayers included.  It's a wonderful thing to pray in another language.

On Fridays or Saturdays we do a program called TRC.  It is where members of the church from here in Brazil, members who don't speak any English, come in and act as investigators and we teach them.  They film it and then we are able to watch our lessons and get feedback.  Last Friday they were short on investigators, and because my teacher is the director of TRC I got to play an investigator for some other missionaries, and then on Saturday they had too many members and so I got to teach a lesson with my companion.  It was really great.  My first week I was deathly afraid of TRC - last week I had a blast.

I'm running out of time to email, so I’ll get to the quote of the week.  "We are a product of the agency of every person who has ever lived, all the way up to Adam and Eve.  And yet despite that we still have the power to determine our own destiny." - Elder Dille, the 1st Counselor in my Branch and CTM doctor.  I hope this quote means as much to you as it did to me.

I love you all,

Elder Tyler Andrew Bushman