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