Monday, May 27, 2013

Bela Vista - Week 2


Dear readers,

This week was fantastic.  It started out a little rough, but then it picked up a lot.  My knee was hurting a little bit on Tuesday and Wednesday, but I got a blessing on Thursday and my knee has been feeling pretty good ever since.  I was also experiencing some feelings of anxiety and inadequacy, but Elder Camargo and I talked it out for a couple of hours, gave each other blessings and again, I have been feeling much better ever since.  I am so grateful for Elder Camargo.  He is an incredible missionary and a really good man.  He is such an amazing example to me of the kind of missionary I want to be and the kind of friend that I want to have.  He is always supportive of my weaknesses, doesn't overemphasize my faults, loves to talk but knows how to listen, and is so happy all of the time.

If any of you were wondering, almost everything I heard about Cape Verde before I came was a lie.  Not in a bad way, it just is not what I was expecting.  Everyone was right that the culture was super laid back and that it was beautiful, but the stuff about not having bugs, was wrong.  They have these giant yellow spiders the size of your hand, and flies and mosquitoes.  They have fetid dogs in the streets everywhere and lots of people seem to have at least one chicken or pig.  It actually feels a lot like Brazil.  I love it here though.  We took the time to immaculately clean our apartment and so now home is a safe haven from the dirt, sun, and bugs.  The people are absolutely incredible.  Open hearts, warm personalities, and I am really enjoying changing my accent from a Brazilian Portuguese to a much more Cape Verdian Portuguese.  Elder Camargo and I are actually both working on it together.

We had a really neat experience.  We had just come out of a very frustrating lesson.  The man only spoke Creole, but we are only allowed to teach in Portuguese and so we generally need an interpreter who speaks the specific Creole of that person to come with us, but none were available.  So it just felt like a huge waste of time.  We walked out of his house into the pitch black darkness of night when we heard a very drunk voice and see the lit end of a cigarette.  The voice said "Elders, elders, I need your help.  Come with me to my house."  We followed him, but we didn't feel comfortable going inside.  He told us he needed to get something.  We almost decided to walk away in case he came back with a gun or something, but we didn't leave.  He came back out with a copy of The Book of Mormon and he said "I have read this book.  Help me to understand it and know that it is true like you do."  We marked a day to go talk with him.  His whole family is really enjoying learning about the gospel and every time we go back to his house there are more people there - a niece, three friends, a cousin.  It is amazing.  The Lord truly works in mysterious ways.  After our first lesson with this family Elder Camargo and I decided that the Lord was testing us to see if we would listen to our feelings (and not to what made sense) and was blessing us according to that obedience.  I love missionary work.


Elder T. Drew Bushman

Monday, May 20, 2013

Arriving in Cape Verde: Bela Vista - Week 1

May 20, 2013

Bon dia,

I have really loved my first week.  I definitely have had some interesting adventures though.  I'll start with probably the most humorous one.  When flying on planes in the US you are usually allowed two 50 pound bags, so that is what I packed.  When I met the other missionaries going to Cape Verde in the airport in Salt Lake, they told me I could only have one bag that weighs 70 pounds (because the Cape Verdian airline has weird rules).  Because of the lower weight allowance we grabbed my bags in Boston and throwing out all non-essential items and anything (like toiletries) that I could just buy again when I got there.  Easy enough.  I stuffed all of my heavy things into my carry on and I made weight.  Then the problem came - what to do with my extra bag.  Because you can't just leave a bag in the airport.  Someone will think you are a terrorist.  One of the elders, with a smallish suitcase, suggested we try to put his suitcase inside of mine, and it worked.  So, pretty much, we did suitcase Inception.  A backpack, inside of a suitcase, inside of a suitcase.  It was pretty great.  We all felt very successful.

Guess what.  I have been blessed with some pretty bad ingrown toenails again.  Last time it was just one, this time it is two toes, but my companion, Elder Camargo, and I did a minor surgery involving needles, essential oils, rubbing alcohol, antibiotic ointment, and some bandages and my toes look and feel much better now.

I love President Oliveira, my mission president.  He is so inspired.  You can just feel the power of his spirit emanate and fill the room.  When we finally got to Cape Verde it was 9 in the morning here and I'd already been up for 24 hours straight with only a 20 minute catnap on the plane.  We then went to one of the apartments in the mission - the sisters to one and the elders to another - where we had breakfast, took showers, changed, and took a short break to rest.  After that we went to the President's house and had lunch with him and Sister Oliveira.  I love them.  They are such great people.  Then we went to the mission office and had an interview, emailed our families, received some instructions on the rules and things of this mission, and then we received our assignments.  I was called to train with Elder Camargo, on the island of São Vicente, in the city of Mindelo, in the area called Bela Vista.  But I didn't leave until the next night.

I went teaching with the Assistants which was amazing because they were both really incredible and helped me learn to do better without making me feel silly for the mistakes I made.  Then I went to the airport and jumped on a plane (yes, I get to take a plane every time I get transferred from one island to another), but the plane was not very good and all of the natives were crossing themselves and we even had a guy give a prayer over the intercom that we would be safe on our flight.  That was a little unnerving, but the Lord's hand is in the work, so that other stuff doesn't matter.  I am wrapped safely in the arms of His love.

And now I am in Bela Vista.  Laboring really hard and loving every second.  We are teaching several beautiful families and the ward is fantastic, but they don't have anyone to play the piano so the Branch President asked me to play the piano for them.  I agreed.  I am so glad that I learned to play a few hymns while I was home, but I will still need to practice some.

I am running out of time, but I am so happy to be back here.  I know with all of my heart that I am meant to be here right now and that the Lord is guiding my path, helping me to learn, grow, and serve His children.  I love my companion, my area, my friends, my family, and my God.  This life, as hard as it is, is good.


Elder T. Drew Bushman

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Call

This is something I wrote, but didn't post, last week:
I have been called to the Cape Verde Praia Mission, Portuguese speaking.  But I didn’t get a mission call like a normal person.  I got a phone call from my stake president on Friday April 26th at 7:30pm and he told me that he had received an email saying I need to submit a visa application if I wanted to leave on May 14th.  This email was the first thing either of us had heard about it so it was a big surprise to be going abroad since I was told that most missionaries that come home from abroad return to a stateside mission.  I have nothing against the states, but apparently the Lord has a work for me to do abroad using Portuguese.  I still don’t know what I need to pack, how long I’ll be gone, or anything like that, but my stake president is going to call the mission department today and hopefully get some of those necessary details for me.
Cape Verde is a 20 island nation with only nine inhabitable islands and six islands with church members on them.  There are about a half million people that live in Cape Verde and 8000 church members which means that one in every 63 people are members of the church.  They had their first stake organized last year and they have only had missionaries in Cape Verde since 1988 so the church is still very young there.  Their diet consists almost entirely of fruits, vegetables, and meat so I should be eating pretty well.  They don’t take boats between the islands much, so maybe I’ll get to fly between islands each transfer.  That’d be pretty fun.  It is a very laid back nation and often you could wait hours to make a deposit at the bank because people there prefer relationships to speed or ease.  There are a lot of common-law marriages so the Law of Chastity is going to be a big one on the islands.  They are a race of mixed black and white people so it is very common to black man or woman with blond hair and blue eyes or a white person with black hair.  The economy is based almost entirely on tourism so it should be a very clean place.  Because the islands were uninhabited and had no animals or plants before the Portuguese planted and built there, there are essentially no bugs and the only predator that I have to worry about is a scorpion with a sting like a wasp.
Given everything I have read about Cape Verde it sounds like the place I was always meant to serve and live in.  I feel like my time in Brazil was a training ground for missionary life so that I could do better in Cape Verde.  I think it is truly amazing how Heavenly Father can know us so well that He can plan such intricate journeys for us that always seem to work out just right.  I am so filled with light and joy right now that any words I try to use to describe it fall short of the fullness in my heart and so I will avoid such lavish words and stick to words used by our God.  It is good.