**Mothers note - this letter is pretty lengthy and super interesting & detailed about the people he is teaching. But there is a very sweet, heartfelt testimony at the end, so don't stop short in your reading:)
Family and Friends,
I’m just going to do a handwritten letter so I can make it longer and more detailed.
Tuesday, 2/26/13- Today wasn’t very exciting, we went to lunch as a zone because transfers are this week and 7 people are leaving! Elder Elkington, Elder Furness, Elder Womsley, Elder Mecham, Elder Aiken, Elder Reguera, and Sister Mertlich! They are all great missionaries and I’m going to miss them tons! We walked around for a few hours offering Harvesting Blessings and had little luck but we got 2 referrals for 6th ward! We stopped to use the bathroom and shared a message with Br. P, one of our ward missionaries. He is awesome! He was a jock in High School and even though he is now a 75-year-old diabetic, he’s still a jock! Haha He is so bold with people! He also has a best friend of 60 years named Jack in our ward who recently got out of the hospital due to cancer/over medication. We visited him next and gave him a blessing. He was a ward missionary too before he got sick and he can’t wait to be back on his feet so he can come out with us! As we were leaving, he said, “Just like Schwarzenegger: I’ll be back!” We knocked some more doors and met an old potential investigator named Don. He is nothing short of prepared! He asked all the right questions and gave all the right answers! He invited us back on Friday. I’m excited!
Wednesday, 2/27/13 – Today felt really long…probably because Elder Swenson and I took a nap during our lunch breakJ We had 6 quality lessons today and 4 of those were with investigators! We are making a lot of progress with Curtis, Gloria and Jerry! And a new investigator (who is married to an inactive member) named Monty who really wants to read the Book of Mormon but he’s super busy trying to find a job and such. And his wife is checking up on him (asking him if he’s reading etc.)! It’s awesome! Back to the other investigators, I’m not sure if I’ve told you about Gloria and Jerry…ladies first. Gloria is married to an inactive member, Harold, and she is a character. I don’t think its possible to describe her with words. Harold would much rather go to our church but he doesn’t want to cause contention with Gloria so he goes with her to her church. They’re both awesome. Harold always takes us around shopping on Mondays and Gloria pays half her tithing to our church because she likes when the missionaries come and pray for her. CrazyJ Jerry is a 28-year-old Mexican with 4 kids and a 24-year-old girlfriend named Marlene. They’re not married=problem. Marlene wants to get married but doesn’t want to listen to us. Jerry wants to listen to us but he doesn’t want to get married (too much money). And Marlene is immature so that doesn’t help anything. We think they might be having some relationship problems… Perfect time for the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Thursday, 2/28/13 – We saw a lot of people today! We visited Jamal, this HUGE (muscular) black guy who looks like a straight G, but is the nicest guy ever. His wife has cancer pretty bad and we’ve been trying to catch them both at home because they both want us to give her a blessing. Awesome! We met a man named Stewart who has been visited once a year by missionaries and has never read the Book of Mormon… We straight up preached. It was awesome. The spirit was strong. He felt it! He’s reading the Book of Mormon! Next, we went and visited the E. family. This family is going through a lot, which makes them perfect for the gospelJ The mom (Sylvia) was sleeping and the son (Jesse) who has a drug problem, wasn’t home. We talked with Jackie (26 year old daughter who has a 10 year old son) for a good hour about life and the Holy Ghost and how he can help make important decisions. She’s really looking for direction in her life and we’re pointing her directly to the best source of direction: the Iron Rod. We also met a Fijian man named Harry who said he is a mix between Hindu and Christian…interesting. We taught him the first lesson (restoration) and he loved it! We’re going back Tuesday. Then we had dinner at the Maciel’s. They are Brazilian and Sis. Maciel is the CRAZIEST old lady I’ve ever met! She is a crack up! I haven’t laughed that hard in a while! Then the rest of the night we spent street contacting. No success really. Great Day!
Friday, March 1, 2013 – We only had two lessons today, but today was weekly planning. Our first lesson was with Juan. It really is a miracle that we ‘found’ him. We were riding our bikes a week or so ago on our way to an appointment and this guy yelled out to us. We approached him and he asked us what ward we are in…weird. We told him and asked him the same question. He told us he was baptized 9 years ago in San Jose and fell away from the church about 5 years ago. He has a really strong desire to start living like he should. We sat down and went over the restoration and he kept asking, “So when is a good time for me to talk to the Bishop so I can repent?” He’s awesome. Nicest guy. Our second lesson was after dinner with the S. family. They are inactive due to people offending them…dumb. But they’re super nice and Br. S. was impressed by how many ribs I ate so he said he wants to set me up with his granddaughter who is currently at U of A. Psh. Crazy old man. Hahaha. BYU or bust! We had a really good lesson with them about repentance. We tried to visit a few more investigators but they weren’t home. Then, on the way home, I got really mad at Elder Swenson. I definitely admire his faith, but he’s under the impression that God will protect him ALWAYS, so it’s perfectly fine to run red lights… We almost got killed. Ugh. I guess I could have just not followed him… Next time!
Saturday, March 2, 2013 – Today was crazy, kinda depressing. It was really cloudy so everyone was kinda down. Also, I learned that Modesto is the 5th most depressing city in the United States. And there are an average of 30 murders/year…yeah. We went around and visited every one of our investigators to invite them to church! We have 15 fairly solid investigators right now. Yeah we’re awesomeJ We didn’t do a whole lot of teaching today though…only two lessons. But Juan came out to the ward potluck! He was talking to everyone! And he’s coming to church tomorrow! Also! I got a package from Erica! Anyways, not a very eventful day.
Sunday, March 3, 2013 – Not a single investigator at church today. Bummer. Not even Juan! We stopped by to pick him up and apparently he went out for tacos… Satan is largely invested in Taquerias! Guess what Erica sent me? Jello and mints! She knows me so well. Hahaha. We ate dinner at the G. family's today. I don’t think I’ve told you about them yet… They’re insane. Well the daughters are. They’re pretty much anti-church but they like the social aspect of it so they still come. And the parents and the oldest daughter are SUPER knowledgeable in the gospel! We got into a super deep/mind-blowing conversation about the War in Heaven, pre-mortal life, Holy Ghost, etc. Br. G. could be a General Authority someday. Sad to say, but Sundays are generally uneventful… Only 2 lessons todayL We’re gonna do work this week thought! We have a lot of investigators that are super prepared! Love it!
Closing remarks – I thought it was cliché, but missionary work and being out here in the field 24/7 is the hardest work I’ve ever done. But it’s by far the most rewarding. Elder Holland teaches that a great swimmer once said when asked his secret of success, “I kick when I don’t want to kick and I stroke when I don’t want to stroke!” There have definitely been times when I haven’t wanted to stroke, when I haven’t wanted to kick, when I haven’t even wanted to dive in. But I did. Not because it’s expected of me. Not because I want to make a name for myself. But because it is the only intelligent thing to do. There are a lot of things in this gospel that are hard to do. But in the eternal aspect of things, the only intelligent thing to do is to follow Christ. I don’t know who the man is in the Stonecutter video (about the man who walked 22 miles to work on the SLC temple) but he said something that really hit me: “Callings are seldom convenient”. I love this gospel. I love the Lord. And I love what He did for us to allow us to return to His presence. He could have given up. He could have said, “What’s in it for me?” He could have just ‘gone through the motions’. But He didn’t. I want to add my plea to that of Elder Hollands: “My other plea at Easter time is that these scenes of Christ’s lonely sacrifice, laced with moments of denial and abandonment and, at least once, outright betrayal, must never be reenacted by us. He has walked alone once. Now, may I ask that never again will He have to confront sin without our aid and assistance, that never again will He find only unresponsive onlookers when He sees you and me along His Via Dolorosa in our present day. As we approach this holy week—Passover Thursday with its Paschal Lamb, atoning Friday with its cross, Resurrection Sunday with its empty tomb—may we declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith, including when the path is lonely and when our cross is difficult to bear. This Easter week and always, may we stand by Jesus Christ ‘at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death,’ for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone.” I love this from Elder Holland’s talk None Were With Him from April 2009. I couldn’t agree more. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen
Elder Zachary Evan Bushman
Elder Zachary Evan Bushman