Saturday, March 30, 2013

Just received two letters from our Sister Bullen in Maringa.  The post following this one is four photos from Sister Bullen's Zone Conference, held this week.

March 4,

Querida Familia,

Last P-day we spent a little more time outside the apartment and then we watched "The Lamb of God" inside the apartment.  So I didn't get much writing done, but it was a nice P-day.  I just got finished with my house cleaning which was the kitchen (we swap every P-day) and we haven't left the house yet.  Sister Ra... and I are thinking of getting approval from President Tavares to go "shopping" to maybe buy a new skirt or something.  Haha, I don't know how Elders do it...  There are some mornings I stand in front of my closet and think hmm... I've already worn this and this, etc, etc.  Haha, it's not that bad, but we joke about it sometimes.

I'm super excited to get my package, it probably arrived a week(s) ago, but because we're farther from the Mission Office, I haven't had an opportunity to get it.  Our leaders have meetings in Londrina once a month, I think and normally grab stuff for us.  We heard yesterday from our District Leader we'll have a Zone Meeting in Londrina this week.  So that will be exciting.  Don't know more yet.

I'm not really sure how it feels to be half way done.  Really, I'm almost to 10 months.  It's crazy to think how fast time has flown.  Sometimes I feel like I've only been here a few months and other times like it's hard to remember life before the Mission.  I've talked with a few companions at different times talking about how Elders serve two years and sisters only 1 1/2 years.  I don't know why, but I know it's inspired.  Sometimes it's obvious and you think really you can't serve more than 18 months.  It's like Sister Ra... said the other day, your body is tired at the end of the mission, and your heart and mind too.  I had one companion who said sisters worry and stress over investigators in 18 months in what Elders do in 2 years - your heart and soul get tired out.  It's an interesting theory..  Sometimes I feel like I've changed a lot and other times it's just obvious how much more I need to change.  I heard it said once that people always think about the hard things missionaries go through as the weather, the walking, etc.  But what's truly hard is how you see how much you have to change.  Trying to become more Christ-like, being more obedient, and living the Gospel more fully.  You have to adapt and change to teach with someone the Gospel of Christ.  You have to be willing to change to grow.

I've thought several times of why I'm serving foreign.  I never thought I was too prideful, but I feel like I've learned to be more humble.  I certainly want to be.  You really can't learn a language without being humble.  You have to learn to accept criticism and to look and to ask for help (things that were hard for me).  You have to learn to do basic things all over again.  It's definitely an interesting process.  I've seen how God helps us, but how he also expects us to do our part

But serving a mission has been both the best decision for me and for my life.  This morning in Personal Study I read the scripture Alma 27:18, which I love.  Our President Tavares talked about this in his last letter.  How Alma and Ammon had a lot of trials as missionaries, but they also had exceeding joy and happiness.  You find true joy by looking for it in good thing, by being humble and living life righteously. Ii've had so many experiences sweet and felt so much love and appreciation for members, for companions, for investigators, and for family.  I remember thinking before my mission how I always hear about people who talk about how much their testimony grew on their mission and how I thought, well I already have a strong testimony, I'm not serving a mission to get a testimony.  But I've realized how crazy this idea was.  My love for the Gospel has grown.  My understanding has grown.  My desire to help and to invite others has grown.  I know now how much more I have to learn.  But I am so grateful for our time here on the Earth.  How we have a Perfect Plan, a Plan of happiness, a Plan of Redemption.  Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to have joy.  We can talk to him and receive answers through Prayer.  I've learned more about the importance of Families and the examples.  How our choices will affect generations.  How practicing faith is showing our love and trust in our Savior, Jesus Christ.  How Faith truly is the first step, we have to believe and have hope in our life; hope and faith that our Heavenly Father loves us and knows what is best for us.

I have good health, I'm doing great and I'm loving the mission.  I love you all and am so grateful for you all.


Sister Laura Bullen

18 February


Hope you are enjoying the cold weather - I'm melting here.  Well not this moment, but the last few days have been really hot.  But sunblock is a blessed thing. :)  So all is well.  And it's a lot easier to talk to people and have success in the heat than it is in the rain or cold.  One day we (4 sisters) arrived in the chapel for our meeting with our Ward Mission Leader and we were all soaking wet from an unpredicted downpour.  He talked about how there's no better day to do missionary work, because where he served in the North of Brazil, everyone let you in to dry off.  But here it's a little different sometimes.  We definitely have tons of people who are really receptive, but we've all had a fair share of days in the rain when people aren't too interested.  But we truly have a blessed mission.  Sometimes I'd rather be drenched than lug around a raincoat and never use it.  But we try to plan and we don't have too many times like this.  But I'm so grateful to serve here.  In the rain or sun, I'd rather serve than in the snow.  So I'm grateful for the missionaries who serve Northern; to me, that's harder.

But this week we found some great families and couples.  We're excited to work with them and see how it goes.  One couple was really receptive and we only had one visit and invited them to church and they went!  Every Sunday I see the sacrifice of people required to go to church and I see the blessings .  I feel a little bit of the sorrows and joy that I think our Heavenly Father feels when we go or don't go to church.

One thing that I've learned as a missionary is we every week/constantly are looking for the elect of God's children.  One of the commitments that demonstrates our faith and commitment is the level of how we prepare to go to church and our commitment in going.  No one (at least no one I know) goes to church because they have nothing else to do.  But ti's a commandment and it's where we go to learn, to be renewed and to demonstrate our faith and love for our Heavenly Father.  I feel so happy when our investigators go, because I know they are making a choice that will bless their week and their life.

Love you all!

Sister Laura Bullen

Don't forget next post is photos!!

Some photos from the Zone Conference Sister Laura Bullen is in.  Taken the week of 3-24-13, I don't know which day.  -Shauna/Mom

 Lunch durng Maringa Zone Conference.

Sister Bullen with her new companion.

 The Maringa Zone Missionaries

Sisters in the Marina Zone.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mom, its been a great week. We don't have much time, because Sister B. got sick today (the doctor said she got a virus). SO we were late getting to the internet, and don't have too much time... 

But I received your package this week after our zone meeting.  It was sooooooo great and I loved it.  The sandals are great and I've already worked in them a few days. 

This Sunday we had a couple of former investigators who went to church, that was a surprise.  It was sooo great to see them there.  To see how people don't always forget the importance, but also how our Heavenly Father truly is helping and that every person has a time and season for everything.  I am so excited to see them progress.  It was a miracle!!!  But I can imagine a little of the joy that our Heavenly Father has when his children go to church or are doing the right things.  Because he loves us and knows how we will achieve the most joy in this life. 

I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve, I know it's the place where I need to be.  This gospel truly blesses our lives.  Thank you everyone for your love and support.  Hope you have a great week. 

ps mom- 
I wrote Sister B.´s mom because S. B. can't use the internet today (she´s not straying too far from the toilet for a little bit) and she asked me to let her know she's okay.  So our time is short today.  But we´re doing great, working hard, and loving it!!

We have a zone meeting (really it's 3 different zones) with President and Sister Tavares this week.  That should be really great and I can't believe General Conference is almost here!!

love you all!

Monday, March 18, 2013

This is the photo of the eight sisters who slept in their apartment.

This is the photo of Laura and her prior companion Sister R. with M. who may now be a member.

Trainors and Trainees at Londrina Meeting.

My new companion is Sister R. from São Paulo.  She has officialy 6 days in the field, and she´s really sweet and a really good missionary. 

The first photo is off me, Sisters. R. (prior companion) and M. who you asked about a few  days ago. 

The second, is of the trainers, and trainees in Londrina after our meeting. 

The third is off the EIGHT sisters who slept in our apartment during transfers.  Right now we have 6 sisters who are in our house. 

Time is up, but i promise I'll tell you more in the letter.  I had to help Sister R. with email, and things that are new for her.  But it was a great week and enjoy the photos!

I don't know if you'd send anything this week or not, we have 4 more weeks in this transfer.... 

But love you all!!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

o: Mom
It's been a crazy couple of days.  Yesterday I received a phone call from the assistants to the President that I will be a trainor.  This morning I had to catch a bus here for Londrina and tomorrow morning we will have our meeting/training with the President and new missionaries.  I will continue working in the same area. I'm way nervous and know its a lot of responsibility, but know that everything will work out alright with the help of the Lord.

Sister R. and Sister C. are being transferred.  Sister M. will be the new companion of Sister B. (will be the third time living in the same house with her) and two other sisters will be living in our house, but working in a different area/ward.   We´ll have 6 sisters in our house.

This last week we had a temple trip in our ward.  I was so happy to see all the families going and some of the recent converts in the ward too.  It's so great to see how the temple blesses our lives.  I'm so grateful our ward has a temple close by (it's like Anchorage, about 7 hours) and for the opportunities to go there.  I know it's the House of the Lord and that deciding to be worthy to go there is one of the best things we can do in our lives.  It's one of the things I was thinking about this week as most of our ward was gone during the weekend.  Last week the letter of the President talked a lot about the temple and the blessings that come from honoring our covenants. 

One other thing this week that seemed to be something we saw a lot of, is how all families have trials and difficulties different.  Sometimes we think it's only our family that has these things happen, but everyone has difficulties.  The thing that keeps us steady is the Gospel and the blessings that come from living honestly and righteously.  There is no substitute for the Gospel.

Ha one song that I´ve thought about this week a lot is the hymn èach life that touches ours for good´.  It's one I never sang a lot (and it's probably more common at funerals) but we sang it one morning this week. Probably because of the lack of music or because it's really a beautiful hymn, but we had several of us singing it in the mornings.  I've thought a lot about the words of this hymn this week.  I love the first and second verses `Each life that touches ours for good reflects Thine own great mercy lord; thou sendest blessings from above thru words and deeds of those who love´ .   I´ve had amazing opportunities to get to know other missionaries, members, and of course investigators who have all taught me a lot.  Our Heavenly Father truly blesses us with the people who affect us in our lives.  The people who strengthen our faith and help us really are blessings.  We can always learn something from the people in our lives, it depends on how we look and appreciate the situation.

I'm grateful for all of you and hope you have a great week!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

 Our children, Paula, Erik, Brian, Susanna and Laura (summer/fall 2011)

Below is Kevin and Susanna with Kayla and Sariah.  (summer/fall 2011)
I received 3 letters from Laura today.  Yippee!! 

4  February 2013

Dear Mom, Dad & Family,

I can't believe how fast time has gone.  I'll celebrate the 9 month mark this week!  If I haven't said it enough or often enough - I'm so happy here in the mission.  I'm healthy and have been blessed so much.  I'm grateful for a family that loves me and that my Mom is so good at keeping me updated and showing love for me.  Hopefully I show that I love all of you too!

I know Mom was pretty worried about me having back problems...  But I'm doing really good.  Like all missionaries, especially in a walking mission, some days we're tired or are sore, etc.  But I've truly been blessed.  ha.  I have my fair share of mosquito bites, I think mosquitos are racist - Sister R. never has mosquito bites.  But seriously, this is about the roughest it gets.  :)

You asked if I need makeup products.  I don't think so, we sweat so much and have to use sunblock - mascara is the only thing I use.  But I'm excited to use the packages you keep describing - keeps me antsy! :) 

P-day is almost over, but the mission is going great.  Sister R. and I are so happy to start a new transfer together, to continue learning and doing this work here.  Our mission is doing really good.  The last two weeks our mission baptized 94 people.  It was way higher than normal for us.  But we're seeing blessings from obedience in all things.

Love you all,

Sister Laura Bullen

Floyd and I with our family.
Laura in the front, Kevin holding Sariah and Susanna holding Kayla, then Jay and Paula, behind them Erik and Brian and then myself an Floyd.  (summer/fall 2011)
Paula and Jay (Hannah was born in November 2011).
(summer/fall 2011)

Myself, Laura, Susanna and Paula.
(summer/fall 2011)
Erik, Brian and Floyd.  (summer/fall 2011)

11 February 2013

Dear Mom, Dad & Family,

Mom I received your package you and Susanna put together.  It was great  I loved it!  haha you know your Mom's popular when you receive a package and everyone else is as excited as you are!  ha I received my package during our district meeting.  That day we had lunch with our members with 2 extra sisters (their area is about 2 hours away) they just opened a new area and didn't have lunch.  So we had 6 sisters for lunch.  It was a full house!  Thank you so much for everything.  I'm enjoying the chocolate orange as I write this letter for you. :)

It's always fun to hear how the girls (Laura's nieces) are growing when I read that Kayla was a chatterbox when you were reading to her, I had to re-read it, because in my head I was thinking Sariah. 

That's crazy about Paula and Jay's renter, hope everything works out.

Yesterday, Sister R. and I contacted one family that was very sweet.  We were contacting names from our Area Book.  _____ let us into his house in the middle of a family/friends get-to-gether.  Normally, people are a little annoyed or use it as an excuse when they have company over (and really it's a pretty good reason).  But they invited us in and gave us water, chairs and ice cream.  ha We were both pretty amazed.  They are Catholic and we probably won't return because they don't have interest, but I love the culture here.  We've had our share of people not interested or who avoid us, but it's also very humbling to receive or see the charity and love that people give us.

I can't believe I celebrated 9 months this week!  I know that the Lord has a purpose for each and every one of us.  Our Heavenly Father loves us and knows us individually.  I know this Church is true, that it is the Church of Jesus Christ.  I know that we have a Prophet of God, that temples are the house of God and families can be together forever.  I am so grateful for my family.  I'm so grateful for the things I'm learning and the opportunity to work here.

Love you all,

Sister Laura Bullen

11 February 2013


So I already wrote today, before we left the house for internet, but we only have a little more of P-day and I'm not really doing anything.  So I thought I'd write a quick note for you.

I loved your email today. The quotes you sent were great.  I love that you've enjoyed the Elders so much in your Ward and that they're making a difference.

I feel that as a missionary, I've seen a different side of the work and the sacrifice that leaders and members make in the Church.  That they can affect the lives of many.  I'm grateful for the organization we have in the Church.  I know it's the same Church that existed when Christ lived on the Earth.

You asked about walking on the muddy road.  I think it looks worse than it is and it's only a little part that's not paved.  But it's faster and cheaper to walk than to take the bus to return home.  But, yes, no really every day our shoes/feet are dirty, just from walking all day.

Thank you so much for your love and support that you give me and the other sisters.  Love you always, Your daughter,

Sister Laura Bullen

Monday, March 4, 2013

A few more photos received from Sister Bullen

Maringa.  Sometimes their appointments fall through, but the family dog is always happy to see them.  This dog is named "Maggie."

Maringa.  This is a Catholic Cathedral in the middle of the center of their city and in their area.  Sister Bullen says "It might be apostasy, but it's pretty at night.  :)"  The Catholic church is huge there.  Many people who aren't "practicing Catholics" were baptized as children.

But this week was really good.  One experience that was interesting this week, we made a contact with one woman one didn´t believe in free agency.  That we can make choices and decide what we want to believe, etc...  It was interesting, but really it was sad.  I don´t understand how someone could live thinking they can´t decide how they want to live.  That´s our purpose here, using our agency to decide what we want to believe, and to practice our faith as we make choices.

Yesterday in Relief Society in church one of the Sisters in the ward talked about visiting teaching and the importance of it. She talked about how we have the commandment to love one another and how we believe in modern revelation.  If we believe in these things then we understand that visiting teaching is an important commandment.

It was a great week, but out of time, hope you all have a great week!!

love you!

PS- mom i havent received the pck yet, but im sure its arrived in the mission office. but we are about 3 hours away and dont get mail tooo often. but should be this week :)

I received a package from Laura Saturday and found the photos below.

This is in Maringa.  She hasn't actually seen a can open in Brazil yet.  But they hardly
ever need them.  She has a can of peaches they received in their basket of Christmas food
from their Ward.  Most of the people in their Ward were travelling during Christmas and
packed them a lovely basket of food.  They have just finished planning at the end of the day and the cute sweat marks are from her backpack.

Christmas in Maringa

Maringa.  Sister Bullen and Sister R.  All of the buildings (and much you can't see) is part of their area.  Their apartment is cut out of the photo, but is behind the grey apartment building on the far left on the border of the photo.

Sister R. and Sister Bullen in Maringa.

Maringa.  Walking to church they walk along a huge park/reserve where monkeys live.

Ibipora.  The house of family O.  If I understand correctly, their Branch President and wife are also in the photo with the O. family and Sisters Gee and Gomez as well as Sister Bullen.

Postcard of Maringa.  Some of the center of the city - this is part of their area, but they never work here because missionaries don't have much success with apartments.  They pretty often have lunch with members here, because a large part of their ward members live in apartments.

Ibipora.  I am in need of better learning how to scan.

Obviously I should have scanned this one differently.  Again Sister R. and Sister Bullen