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

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Brás Cubas – Week 8


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


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