Monday, August 27, 2012


I´m officially the only American within at least a few miles that I know about. My new companion/trainadora is sister P. from São Paulo. We are still in the same area. Sister M. and Sister M. are still here as well. Sister Empey was transferred to Londrina.  But since sister G. and sister Empey were transferred, we only have 4 sisters in our house now. We also had our first district meeting this week (first after transfers) and I’m the only American, so I truly feel really really immersed in Brazil and everything now. My Portuguese is going. I’m learning all the time and it’s been really good. I am trying to have faith and not be afraid and with this faith I can see how I’m growing and learning. I’m getting mistaked more for a Brazilian now. But I think that has less to do with my Portuguese and more to do with Sister Passos. Because with Sister Empey it was normally pretty apparent, that since there were two white sisters, light hair, and light eyes we were American. But now with sister P. People don’t always know right away. Normally when I’m talking it helps people figure out :)

But it’s been really good. Since sister P. is new to the area it’s been challenging starting over. Sister Empey was here for several months and really knew everything. I have 6 weeks here, but because of the language, I’m still trying to remember and everything. But this has pushed me to talk more and be more involved in introduction, etc so it’s been good and fun learning together.

Before I get too far I´ll give mom a few details before I forget. Between letters to friends and family, the mission president, my journal, and everything I forget who I write what and what I’ve said. But sister P. is from São Paulo, she has 3 brothers and 3 sisters all who are older than her. She has 7 months in the mission and I am her first American Companion. It’s fun learning and studying the language everyday. They have a strong desire to learn English and it’s just as much language study for me as it is for them when they are studying English. Because I need to explain and define things in Portuguese. Normally we study with the Book of Mormon. So I explain they will only see ´thus´and other words like this in scriptures but it’s been good.

One of our investigators is really progressing and I pray for her all the time. Literally, missionary both pray and have lots of love for the people they teach. She was there for 45 minutes of sacrament meeting. She would have stayed longer, but she had back pain that was really bad. But teaching her, especially this week has been really good. Especially how we can use Christ as our strength and trust in him. And pray to God for help and when we have this desire and faith we can receive these blessings.

This week I also had my first visit with a woman who attends another church here. Her heart was open in the fact that she talked and visited with us, because she said their pastor says they shouldn´t talk with people of other faiths. It was interesting talking to her but sad. Because when people don´t believe in their church 100% I don´t understand completely. I believe in this gospel with all of my being, that is why I am trying to share this gospel with others. Because I know it is true, that it blesses families, and that it brings the greatest happiness in life.

But it has been a great week, challenging, but really good. love you all!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Laura's mailing address for letters is:

Sister Laura Ann Bullen
Brazil Londrina Mission
Rua Higienopolis, 1100, Sala 61
86020-911 Londrina - PR

Her mailing address for packages is:

Sister Laura Ann Bullen
Brazil Londrina Mission]
Av. Higienopolis, 1100, Sala 61
86001-970 Londrina - PR

Monday, August 20, 2012

I am experiencing my first transfer! We heard it from a very reliable source that Sister Empey will be transfered and I will stay in our area. So if things go this way, I will most likely be receiving a new companion tomorrow. Sister Empey has been having lots of problems with her back the last few months and this week we have been receiving lots of phone calls from Sister Tavares who helps with all the medical issues. The area that we are in right now has lots of hills, if your moving, normally you're walking either up or down a hill. So its likely she will be transfered to an area a little bit geographically nicer to her body.
This week we spent an interesting day in Londrina. Normally we visit Londrina 2 times a week for physical therapy. One of these days we went in at 8:30 am and were in Londrina with Sister Tavares until 7pm. We went to 2 different doctors and waited in the mission office for a while, had lunch with Pres and Sister Tavares (and their son) and did shopping with Sister Tavares for tennis shoes and some other things for Sister Empey. I told Sister Tavares it was like Christmas. It was really fun to be with her. But I was ready to return and get back to work. Her new doctor recommended acupuncture and it was hilarious, because neither of us really knew what was going on as we were waiting in the doctors office until he started getting the needles or pins ready. This week was definitely a little different than normal. We also had a day we needed to stay inside the house for Sister Empey. So I studied and did some practices, and we were able to go out to teach one of our commitments. But it has been a week of re-emphasising how much I want to work and why we are here. But it has also been a week of learning about faith and dedication. Sister Empey has been such an example of faith and courage for me. She has been having problems and pain with her back for about 3 months now. But she has such a dedication for this work. She knows what her calling is and she wants to fulfill it. She has been an example to me.
This Sunday (every 3rd Sunday) is about missionary work for our ward. One of the really cool things that we did was we sang a hymn (and I can´t remember the name, only the tune, so I'll have to include the title later in my letter) but the four of us missionaries and all the others in our ward who have served a mission sang with us with their plaquetas. It was really cool and such a strong spirit. I know that this work is the work of God and that we have such a strong purpose. Not only missionaries, but everyone.
This morning I finished reading ´Our Heritage´ about the brief history of the growth of our church. I have really enjoyed reading it in spare time which this week a little bit has been during our doctor appointments. But I really liked a quote at the end of the book ´Whether we are new members or old, we inherit a legacy of faith and sacrifice from those who have gone before us.´ I really liked this quote, because it is so true. I can think of several people in my life and this history who have sacficed so much for this gospel. We have the restored Gospel and what a blessing it is!
Love you all!
Read part of your email and saw your question about pictures, so thought I'd respond- if people want prints would be cool, but printing from the computer is good too!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Laura’s letter dated July 23, 2012 and received August 13, 2012

Mom, Dad & Family,

 Sis. E’s family is from ____, Washington.  I believe they have an apple orchard.  She is very patient with me as I learn.   As I learn more of the language – and can talk more we grow closer. 

Dad will have to take a picture or two for me and mail them.  I’m sure the people would be flabbergasted to see a 10 ft. snow plow.  (Her Dad works for the State Dept. of Transportation in road maintenance).  Could you (and the others) send me some photos?  Not a lot, but some of the family or whatever.  Even if Brian wanted to send a photo from work or snow machining, people would love it.  It would be really cool to see some of the photos that Susanna took the night I left, esp. of the kiddies.  I can buy a small album here, but would love some pics.

I’m sure the missionary dinner/Paula’s birthday will be great.  Here we are fed lunch by ward members.  I think it’s a Brazil thing, because often times families eat dinner really late.  But often times when we visit people they want to feed us a snack or what not.  It’s always fun eating with the families.  Our ward has 4 sisters, so they feed all four of us when they feed missionaries.  Most of the time the table isn’t big enough for 4 missionaries and family.  So they seat us and take such good care of us.  I have had rice and beans with every meal, but I’m not tired of it yet.  Salad and spaghetti dish are common too.  The CTM gives every missionary a filtered water bottle to use and a scary talk on health and eating in the field, but no problems so far. 

 The other day I shared the message at the member’s house after the lunch.  I shared Alma 56:45-48 about the Army of Helaman and the power and gift that families have.  It is something I was thinking about at the moment and something I’ve seen a lot in the families that we teach.  I know that I have learned a lot from my family. . .  Extended family too is something I’ve thought a lot about too, wondering if Grandma and Grandpa Bullen are some of the angels that are watching over me.  That is a blessing promised in
D&C 84:88.   Living in Alaska and Grandpa died when  I was 3 and Grandma when I was 10 or 11.  But when I gave a talk in the CTM on “Enduring to the End I” thought a lot about Grandma Bullen in ways that I hadn’t before.  I know Grandma blessed lives through her callings in the Church.  She was always so happy and loving are my memories of her.

 I also want Dad to know how much I’ve appreciated his example through my life and the blessings he’s brought to the family through holding the Priesthood.  I still remember practicing with Dad before my baptism.  He’d step on my toes and dip me down, like he was dunking me. 

 But, I promise, I don’t sit around all day thinking about the family.  As much as I love you all, this is such a great work and I love the people here.  I want everyone we teach to recognize the blessings the Gospel brings.  But they have to do their part.  You won’t receive an answer if you aren’t looking and how do you look?  Prayer.  I have had my testimony strengthened on prayer.  First how important it is to pray with your companions/family and on your knees.  Second, on the blessings and answer you can receive when you are specific.  Reading the scriptures.  I think the scriptures are one of the main reasons my testimony has stayed so strong through my youth.  They are the words of God and should be read every day.  People died and blood was shed over these sacred books.

I/We pray for our investigators, but we can’t lead them the whole way, if they don’t search for an answer themselves.  One thing we learned in the CTM that I love was a quote by Jeffrey R. Holland.  It said roughly, “Everything you want for your investigators the Lord wants for you.  You want your investigators to pray more sincerely?  Well he wants you to pray more sincerely.  You want your investigators to read the Book of Mormon more sincerely?  Well the Lord wants you to read the Book of Mormon more sincerely.”  I love that and it applies to life so well.

You’ll have to give Belle and Blondie (& Riley, too) a hug for me; and a good belly scratch.  (Belle and Blondie are our family yellow lab mix dogs and Riley is Paula and Jay’s German Shepherd).  It’s weird to see dogs everywhere and not want to touch them.  Some are strays and even the ones that have a home have fleas or ticks.

My companion, Sis. E. received a package this last week:  her Mom sent Pop Rocks.  Oh my goodness, it has been so fun watching kids eat them.  It’s like watching someone see magic for the first time.  It has been hilarious!

I love you all!!
Love,  Laura – Sister Bullen

P.S.  It’s odd, but it’s weird writing my first name.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Another great week. This week I really learned how to sing the birthday song in Portuguese. We had a couple of birthdays in our wards and Sister Moura celebrated her birthday this week as well. So it was fun learning that song. I also learned a hand game this week. So it was fun to learn a little something fun. The day we celebrated Sister Moura´s birthday was really awesome for a couple of different reasons. Sister Empey and I along with S. Gomez and S. Passos were supposed to get back a little early to put up some decorations and get food together. But we had a really good lesson with a family that went longer that we had hoped. We have been trying to teach a daughter to a couple in our ward. The couple is married, and waiting to get sealed in the temple. But one of her daughters she has hope that she will be baptized, so she can be there too. So we´ve been trying to teach her, but can never catch her, or other things. But the Grandma who has previously not been interested or would leave the room when we were there, etc has started to really like us. So its been really neat to see how sometimes when one door isn´t open we have other opportunities. But anyways, we came by the house, and the only person at home was Grandma, but she not only invited us in, but we talked for a while. It was really good and she enjoyed talking to us. We even talked about how she loves fish and I talked about halibut and tried to explain the fish, but told her how big they can get, etc and it was fun. But while we were talking a couple of other family members came by and we had an opportunity to teach them too, so it was really good. When we left we walked into one of our investigators, Rodolfo. It was the first time I had met him, because he has been really hard to get a hold of, and I think he just recently moved. But we met him along the high way walking home. And it was literally perfect timing, because of the directions that we were both going. But he is really cool and he knows this gospel is true and he and his wife want to get baptized but they have some things to work out first, so it was really neat to talk with him. So we ended up arriving at the house a little later than usual and rushing to get things ready, because the others were late too. So Sister Marques waited with Sister Moura at the gate and then downstairs while we finished getting things ready. But it was such a neat experience, because there were several moments that night where we had perfect timing, And it was so cool to see that no matter what you plan for, the Lord has a different plan in store. And even though we were late for Sister Moura, it was a good thing, because we were doing what we are supposed to be doing and talking to people that normally we don´t get to.
This week was also really good with some of our members and our ward. We had a couple of really special visits that were really nice with families or members. One family we were visiting to set up a family night and we talked to the wife for a while and it was really good. One of the other sisters in the ward happened to come by while we were talking and it was fun. They started talking about different American things and were talking about scented hand sanitizer, so they used some of mine from bath and body works, and loved it!! it was so funny, hand sanitizer is something they don´t really have here and it was just funny.   (This is great as I just sent her a package 3 days ago and it had Bath and Body hand sanitizers in it.)    Another sister in the ward after lunch, when we asked if she had anything we could help her with asked if we would help her with her hair. She has 4 sons, and super tight curly hair. So it took two of us to do her hair/roots. It was something simple, but it was really nice to help her with this. Such a small act of service can really build relationships and we want to work with our ward. So it was really nice to have some experiences of working with them. Yesterday was also Father´s day here (mothers day is the same as in the US, but fathers day is different) so we had a couple of fun experiences with that too. We had lunch at a members house, and their whole family was there so there was tons of people. We also meet weekly with our ward mission leader, Irmão Ilton, who is awesome and his family is really nice. We made him a cake for day of fathers and used a sparkler candle and it was fun to eat with them.
This week we also found ourselves in Londrina everyday for medical or other reasons. We had interviews with President Tavares (they are every 3 months I think) so it was nice to get a chance to talk with him. We also had a zone meeting in Londrina one day so we ventured in for that. I think there are 18 people in our zone and 10 zones in our mission. There was only 4 Americans out of our district including Sister Empey and myself. Riding the city bus into Londrina is always an adventure though. I´m not sure if I´ve talked too much about them before, but they are packed and drive like a roller coaster sometimes. This is the start of our 6th week, so at the end of this week I will have my first ´transfer´. Though it is a very tiny tiny possibility that I will be transferred. Because missionaries have a 12 week training period with their first companion/trainor. But its a fun marker. Time is flying!
But its been a great week and l love you all!

Monday, August 6, 2012

I attached a couple of photos for you. The view from our house, our district the last night in the CTM and a picture of some of us sisters at our Training for Sisters I think I mentioned (S. Neves, S. Empey, S. Moura, S. Marques).

District 19B at the CTM in Sao Paulo

Sister neves, Sister Empey, Sister Moura, Sister Marques and Sister Bullen

View from Sister Bullen and Sister Empey's house

This week has been really good. We have been having really warm weather and I want dad to know Im waiting for the snow he promissed me. We had some really amazing lessons this week with some of our investigators. One was with an older woman, named Cida, who was a reference from a ward member. Her husband passed away just a few months ago and we taught her the plan of salvation. She really liked it and there was such a strong spirit there. I felt such an overwhelming love for her, because I know that she is a child of God. I pray for her to accept this message, because I know she will receive so much happiness and peace through it. The knowledge that families can be together forever, and that we have a purpose here on earth is amazing. We also had a really good lesson with Eliete. She is amazing, and I think she is progressing. She talks about wanting baptism and she has a desire to follow Christ. We were starting our discussion on the Restoration again (she has been taught by several missionaries) but it ended up being more on the Atonement of Christ. I love the feeling of teaching a lesson and knowing that you can receive help through the Spirit to teach people what they need to know. It seems like we have talked with lots of people this week particularly on the fact that we have a Savior who knows and understands how we feel always. Because he suffered for us in the Garden of Gethsemane and felt our pains. But anyways, we were talking about baptism and I shared with Eliete an example that I remember from when I was baptized. I don´t remember their last name, but when I was 8 there was a boy Johnathon- and I think it was his Dad who gave the talk- he gave us all 2 pennies, an old one and a brand new shiny one. And talked about how they represented us before and after we were baptised. And I showed this example to Eliete using the equivalent of dimes, but with one little change. I explained to her that she has so much potential, so many blessings to receive. More then a 10 cent piece, she will be a whole dollar coin (because they have these here). Anyways, it was a really special moment and it worked really well.
This week I have been learning a lot on the importance of the ward in missionary work. Its something I definitely never appreciated fully until now. And Im sure I will continue to learn about it for the rest of my mission. So its been good, but a stuggle to learn about how important the entire ward is for missionary work, because we cant do it without the ward. It makes me think of the saying, It takes an entire village to raise a child. Well it takes an entire ward to make someone feel welcomed and to grow in the Gospel.
But it has been a really good week. Im understanding more and more always. But don´t get me wrong, i still have plenty of times where I am lost or don´t understand whats going on. But I am learning patience. This is one thing I learned in the CTM. If you don´t know whats going on, thats ok, your in good hands. ha anyways, I love it.

I love you all!