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.