Wednesday, October 31, 2012

We received letters from Laura today. 

To Paula and Jay she said:  "I'm so proud of Hannah walking.  That's really cool that Jay got to be the person she took her first steps for.  It sounds like she is still an incredibly happy baby and spreading sunshine to those around her.  When Katrina sent her package she included a note about getting to hold Hannah during Relief Scoeity when you were teaching.  Everyone loves this girl!  :)"

"I hope the house hunting is going good.  I'm sure you're staying busy with that & Paula said basketball season started up again - how's that going?  (Both of our son's-in-laws play on the same basketball team)

We're staying busy and working hard with our investigators.  It was 91 degrees the other day and it's only springtime.  But I can tell I'm adapting because before I knew the temp I remember thinking 'it's not too hot today'.  The nice thing is we almost always have a little wind.  But people say there isn't much wind during summer when it's hot.  Haha.  So vamos ver!  We will see!

I read a talk this week on the "Missionary Work and the Atonement" by Jeffrey R. Holland.  I read a quote that I love.  He said "Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask why this is so hard?  Why can't our success be more rapid?  Why aren't there more people going to church?  Why isn't the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?  ...I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience.  Salvation never was easy...  How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never ever easy for Him?  It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane..."

It's a long quote, but I loved this part.  "We have amazing investigators that we have great visions for, but sometimes they don't progress or show interest like we want for them.  We have to remember that everyone has agency and that change is hard.  But the rewards and blessings that comes through true conversion are so great and full of happiness.  The work is hard, but the fruits of the labor are so special."

P-day is almost spent."

Love you all!!
Laura/Sister Bullen

To Floyd, I and Family she wrote:

"Mom I'm glad you enjoyed Conference and hope the rest of the family enjoyed it too.  I forgot to write about my thoughts of the age change in my email.  It was exciting to hear in Conference that women in the church will be able to serve missions at the age of 19.  It's strange to think that in a few months my companion could be 20 or 19.  I've been the youngest missionary I've known.  Sister Matiaco and Sister Bradley in the CTM were 23 and 24 (or maybe 22 and 23) and the sisters in our house are 23, 24, & 25.  I know in the CTM I started to understand why it could be easier for Sisters to be a few years older than the Elders.  It's going to be interesting to see how the number of missionaries serving will change.

It was fun to read that Mom visited Sister Empey's Mother.  The Sisters here in the house thought that was really cool, too.  It sounds like you had a really good time visiting family in Washington. 

(In response to my enquiries, she wrote.)   If you want to look at sandals that might be something cool.  I had bright green sandals I bought for Thailand that Kaitlyn H. borrowed for a trip to Jerusalem.  I probably don't want the same ones because we're supposed to have more conservative colored shoes.  But if you get the sandals you could see what size they are.  Maybe some black ones would be awesome.  But I don't know if it would be difficult to look for.  But sandals would be great for the heat.  Nothing too fancy, but with arch support.  I'm really glad I bought Dansko shoes.  I think they've made a big difference.  The other Sisters here (1 with the same amount of time as I) have pain in their feet from wearing flats (which is probably what most Sister missionaries in the world probably wear).  But I also do some ab workouts to strengthen my abs, which also strengthens your back.  And I pray for the forces that I need to work hard.  I'm grateful that my back and neck are doing good.  Actually improved since when I was companions with S. Empey.  But I've been blessed and want to do my part to do all I can to have good health, too.

With lots of love,

Laura/Sister Bullen

I also had a very sweet letter from Laura's companion, Sister P.  Laura is teaching the Portuguese Sisters English and her companion wrote in Portuguese and had Laura translate into English. It is so easy to understand why Laura has admired and loved all of her companions both at the CTM and in the mission field. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

I received your package today! I haven´t opened it - because we had to come to Londrina to the mission office to pick it up (so it could have arrived last week) but I will open it when we arrive back in the house! I also got the pictures from Susanna - I love them! The sisters loved looking at them too! And said I have a beautiful family. They loved the pictures of the temple and of the ice sculpture. Thanks Susanna and Mom!

This week was really good. I love working with Sister Passos and Sister Moura. It's difficult working in a trio sometimes, but we have had some really good moments together. We feel we have something to learn together and are enjoying the time while we have it. It's been a challenge planning for our areas and trying to accompany our investigators in two areas.
We had a visit this week that was really neat. One of the women in our ward is a member with her two children who are older but her husband isn´t a member. We had visited them one night and we were talking about faith. He doesn´t believe in Christ or God and has no desire for church. But he goes to the activities when we have them and is a great guy. He´s always entertaining and is happy with life. It was interesting talking with him. He was talking about how he doesn´t believe in Christ because he´s never felt anything and that those who believe in Christ do so because they have felt something. Well he´s right. The purpose of the Spirit is to testify of truth, to testify of Christ. And we can receive a witness of these feelings in our heart through our faith. But you have to have faith, a pure desire to know. It was interesting talking to him and we are always grateful to those who are honest, and he always is.  : )
Each week until December we are receive a talk on the Atonement of Christ to include in our morning study. I have enjoyed reading and studying these talks. The atonement is essential for this Gospel and for our salvation. I know that Christ suffered for each and every one of us. Our pains, our sorrows, our heartaches, our grief and trials. I know he did this because of the love he has for us. Because of the atonement we can repent of our sins and return to live with him someday. But also the atonement is something we can use every day to help us. In the Book of Mormon Nephi was commanded to build a ship. Nephi had never done this before, nor did he know how. We are called and need to do things we don´t know how nor have the ability to always do these things by ourselves. We need Christ in our lives to be better people, he can help us become better.
This week we also met a woman who we are teaching who is so sweet. She´s probably about 65 ish and lives alone. She went to church with us and is hearing the lessons. But visiting and talking with her demonstrated the importance of listening. People need to feel that others care. It was sweet visiting us and talking with her. There are so many people who just need someone to demonstrate that they are thinking of them. To visit, to talk, and to listen. People in our family, our ward, or our friends. We have people who feel forgotten or lonely and want to feel the love of Christ. We can go a little out of our way to help someone.
I learned the word otorrinolaringolgista this week. Have fun trying.   : )
Love you all, have a great week!
Sister Bullen

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I received letters from Laura this weekend (dated September 17, 24 and October 1).  A few excerpts are:

Happy P-day! (For me, at least it's P-day (preparation day, the day they have to do laundry, shop, clean, write home, and in general do their chores/errands).  I laughed when I read that Hannah (our 11 month old granddaughter) turned off the computer on you.  I hope all goes well for Paula and Jay with their bid on the house in North Pole. 

Congrats to Austin on his mission call, that is so cool.  Every mission call is inspired.  People have investigators waiting for them.  I like to think that even the people who don't accept the Gospel message we teach might someday accept it because we tried to help them.  But I've learned that there is divine guidance in where you serve, who you serve with and when. 

It's been fun reading about Hannah and the changes and growth that she is making.  Does she make noise or talk yet?  I never know what ages these developments start at.  Can she eat anything yet or .....? 

One Sister here is the only member in her family and her family doesn't understand or support her serving a mission.  I am so grateful for the love and support that you all provide.  But I have a great admiration for this Sister - she has faith and trust in the Lord that things will work out.  And I know that all missionaries are blessed with protection from the Lord that our families will be watched over.

I only wrote a little in my email about our Conference with Elder Godoy, but it was really good.  It was all in Portuguese .  I feel like I understood most of it.  It started at 9 am (but we had to be there at 8) and it lasted until about 2 pm.  We heard testimonies from all the missionaries who arrived and will be leaving this transfer, President and Sister Tavares and from Sister and Elder Godoy.  Hearing everyone's testimonies was really cool.  Especially seeing the difference between those arriving and those leaving.  There's one Elder leaving whose testimony was really touching.  He was offered a job before his mission where he could make lots of money (I don't know but not an offer that comes often) and he might not get the same offer again, but he bore a touching testimony.  He wouldn't trade the experiences he has had here with anything else.  It was very cool.  He has had a successful mission and is known for good success with baptisms.  But it was really neat feeling the Spirit with so many missionaries and I enjoyed the talks. 

Time is moving fast.  I can't believe it's October now and we're starting a new transfer.  Sister P. and I are happy our companionship/area hasn't changed.  I'm happy and we're open with each other.  I'm learning a lot about patience, agency, and letting things go.  (It's funny how God knows what we need to learn.)   :)   Our purpose is to give people the best knowledge, situations, ect. to make the right choices.  We can't do a single thing for them.  Our Gospel is rooted in the fact that people have agency and can pray to God to know the truth for themselves.  It makes me laugh to think of people thinking of missionaries as "pushy".  We don't see it too much here, but in the U.S. everybody has this image of "the Mormon Missionaries".  And while we may be persistant, we can't force anyone to do anything.  We're truly concerned about the people we teach and have a love for them.  But why are missionaries persistant?  Because the adversary is real, and change is hard.  We want to make sure everyone is given a real chance to accept the Gospel.  To honestly say yes or no.

In my email last week I talked a little about an investigator.  She has a testimony of the Gospel, but doesn't feel ready for baptism.  We had a really good lesson, it was really spiritual and explained our purpose as missionaries.  She is just a great example, that missionaries are guides.  We can only show people the path.  We can try to help them and encourage them, but they have to make the steps.  Haha, but enough of that.  It really is going great and I love this work.

I always love reading your stories about Hannah, Sariah and Kayla  (our 3 granddaughters, Paula and Jay's Hannah is 11 months; and Susanna and Kevin's Sariah and Kayla are 4 and 2 years old - I tend Hannah while Paula works).  It's always cute.

Time is almost gone, but I love you all!!!

Sister Bullen

Monday, October 22, 2012

This week we had an emergency transfer and Sister M´s companion was transferred to a different area.  Sister M. joined Sister P. and I and we are working in a trio with our two areas combined, so we are covering a huge area. We found out a few days later that tranfers happened because Sister Empey will be returning home to care for her back and knees and will probably get to finish her mission in the US. (I saw in your email you knew already). It's sad that she can´t finish her mission, because I know how much she wanted to finish and how little she wants others to worry about her. But I know that she influenced and helped many people here and she will get to do the same in whatever area she can finish her mission. We got opportunites during our phone conference of sisters to say something if we wanted and Sister Empey got to bear her testimony. It was bittersweet. But I'm so grateful for the trainor that she was for me.

This week I woke up for my birthday and all the sisters had surprised me with cake and decorations. It was really sweet and fun. It was a pleasure to celebrate my birthday here with these amazing missionaries and people here serving our Lord. I´m so grateful for the blessings that I have in my life and for this opportunity. I am forever grateful for my family and the support they are to me. (love you all!)

Sunday I gave my first talk in Sacrament Meeting. It was on missionary work. And I was nervous when they first asked me, but then I realized I had talked with, visited, or taught just about every single member in our ward. Haha so everyone already knew the level of my Portuguese. But it was a really cool moment sitting on the stand thinking about our ward. And how truly we think, worry and love all of these families here. We truly pray and love the families and people here and want them to be happy. And of course how much we need our ward and each person to help this work grow. We have the promise of the apostles of our church that this work grows faster and is more successful when members share the gospel with their friends and family and when members and missionaries work together.

One of the cool experiences this week was teaching the Word of Wisdom to a family in our ward. The 11 year old boy is a member and walks to church every week alone. His mom isn´t a member and his dad and twin brother are inactive. But their family is awesome and I know how much this gospel will bless them. But teaching them this commandment it was really cool teaching the mom, because she smokes and drinks coffee and she said she believes it's true and that these things are bad for your body. And while she knows it will be hard she wants to. But it was really cool teaching the lesson, because we talked about how this commandment is also about having good health for your body. And how every person can always improve on how they are living.

But time is almost up..
I attached two photos - 1 of the birthday morning and the other of our district meeting - 3 of us had birthdays right in a row, so we had cake after our meeting (Elder B. and Elder L. were the others with b-days).

But love you all, and hope you have a  great week!
Sister Laura Ann Bullen

Monday, October 15, 2012

But this week was a great week! We had the baptism of Francisco yesterday. He is 12 and a grandson of a member in the ward. He is an amazing young man and I am so excited for him. He has a sincere desire to follow Christ and it has been really great this last week to teach him and see his testimony grow. The baptismal service was really neat yesterday and the ward really supported him so we´re excited to see him grow in the youth program, etc. (I included a photo of us with Francisco and another of us 4 sisters outside the church)
I also included a photo of us for the anniversary of Sister Passos. She marked 9 months in the mission. So we had a surprise for her for this, this past week. Let me tell you, it is an impressive feat to pull off a surprise with missionaries when you are almost constantly with your companion. It's probably easier for us since our house (is small) but is two stories. So when she´s downstairs or showering, etc. We were planning :)
Another photo was with us with some pets of a family less active in the ward. They have 4 kids, but their 3 year old is always giving us their animals in our laps. So we took a pic.
This week I experienced true Brazil rain. It´s rained a few times pretty good on us. But this time we got caught in the rain between visits and only I had an umbrella. I love my umbrella, because it's light and can fit in my backpack, but this means it can only really help one person. And sister Passos forgot her umbrella in a house earlier that day. But it was really windy so I used my umbrella more for my backpack than for myself. Ha my scriptures, etc were more important : ) but we were a pretty sore sight when we arrived. Especially sister Passos. The family we were teaching has two small kittens and they were licking the water off of her skirt. It was soaked! It was funny and we enjoyed the break from sun.
I´m so grateful for my family and friends and this Gospel in my life! I am always impressed by the members and missionaries I meet that are the pioneers of their family entering this Gospel and following Christ. Sister M. and Sister R. both only have a few members in their extended family. This past weekend was the temple trip for our ward. While I miss going to the temple, I am grateful to have temples in so many places of the world. I can see the difference the blessings of the temple make for these people and am grateful for them.
Love you all!!
Sister Bullen


Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy General Conference!

Mom, the ever fateful question you had about conference. No,I didn´t understand too much. But I had been ´forewarned´ by others that normally people don´t understand their first conference very much. They had an English room there, but I'm the only American sister, so I watched in Portuguese. It was still really good to watch all of the sessions of conference. We had one of our investigators there which was really neat. I´m so grateful for our prophet and our oportunity for the whole world to hear him. With conference this week I´ve been thinking a lot about our Prophet and the importance of listening to his council and the blessings that come from obedience.

This week seemed to fly by. I attached a photo of our zone meeting we had this week. I love our district and zone meetings, we always leave with a fresh renewal of hope and faith for the week. We´re staying busy with investigators and members here.

One funny story this week. I´ve never been ´really tall´ only average hight. But here I'm normally a good 4 inches or more taller then the women. We were visiting one lady this week who asked me to change her lightbulb for her so it was a funny experience as I changed her lightbulb standing on top of a chair and a blanket to reach the ceiling. But it's always really good when the members or investigators ask us to help with something, even if it's small, because we want to help whenever we can.

We also had a miracle contact this week. We were returning to our house and walked by a man who stopped us and asked if we had something he could read. haha I know! we were like, ha actually yes. But anyways he´s really great. He´s probably about 40ish and has a really sincere desire to change his life around. It was so spiritual and neat meeting with him and his family. We talked on the sidewalk for our visit and most of his family seemed to dissapear. They don´t have too much faith that he can change. But he talked a lot about how he wants to change his life around to be an example for his family.

We also had a really sweet experience with another man on a different street. We stopped to talk to him and ended up listening as this man who is 87 talked about how his wife had passed away the week before and his children want him to move etc, and he was just feeling really sad and lonely. We talked on a bench outside his house. He is √≥ur grandfather of Riviera´ because we felt so much love for this man. It was an expereince that reiterated the importance of listening for us.

A couple of visits this week have really emphasized the importance of love and support in families. And how change is hard, but with faith in Christ and how we can help each other change. But you can´t help anyone if you don´t first demonstrate how you love them.

Have a great week and love you all!

Monday, October 1, 2012

I can´t believe it's October! Tomorrow is the start of a new transfer for us, but I'm staying with Sister Passos in our area. For which I'm really grateful. We have been working really hard with some of the people we have here and I want to continue helping and working with these people here. We have desires for this area to continue growing.

I also can´t believe General Conference is this weekend, crazy! I'm super excited, and while I don´t know how much I'll understand :) Im excited. I know that this is such a great opportunity to hear our prophet and apostles speak and am so excited!

Yesterday was a really great church meeting. The sacrament meeting they had a primary program for the kids where they sang primary songs and had lines to read and say for the program. It was the first one I´ve seen for several years, but it was so great and so spiritual. Children really are so full of faith and love and innocence. This week we also had a couple of fun experiences with kids too. One was an investigator we have and she has a 3 year old son, who is so stinking cute. We hadn´t talked to her in several weeks because she works night shift and is normally sleeping or not at home when we can visit her. But she happened to come by the house of her niece, who is a recent convert we were visiting. Anyways, it was really funny, because the last time we talked, I could barely understand what he was saying. But the other day he was showing me pictures and talking, and we had a conversation. It was silly, but so cute, and fun to see. He also, said the prayer for our opening lesson (his cousin of 12 years and grandma) were talking about who should say it, etc. And he piped in and said he wanted to say it, etc. haha it was cute and led into our lesson of the gospel perfectly to talk about faith.

We also have a boy in our ward who is 12 years old and a recent convert. his mom is a different religion, his dad and his other siblings aren´t active as well. But he walks every sunday by himself to go to church. He has so much faith and his testimony is so strong. It's been really cool to see his example.

We had a really cool experience with service this week too. I've always had a strong testimony of service and love helping these people when we get the chance. I made no-bake cookies (thanks for the recipe mom!) and we went to drop´some off with the bishop and talk with him and his family. But they weren´t there so we left them with the neighbors and left a simple note under the door. But sunday at church him and his wife were both so grateful and talked with us for a little bit etc. But it was just another experience to testify that a little service can go a long way to show someone you are thinking about them and appreciate them.

Ha just a funny experience. So we met a new family this week we are teaching and the grandma absolutely LOVES my accent. haha it's funny, but its also kind of like, um excuse me, im not cute- I'm a missionary and trying to teach you!!! haha but she asked me to say her full name and a couple of words more because she wanted to hear how I say them. It was cute. haha but silly. But Sister Passos thought it was funny :)

Its been a great week and love you all!