Monday, August 22, 2011

One Baptism This Week and Another Planned

August 22, 2011

Dear Family, 

Wow what a fast week! Time is so uncontrollable. This is email number one of only two more that I will be sending for the rest of my mission.  Wow, it’s so crazy to think that over two years ago I was getting ready to leave on my mission and now it’s almost over.  

We have been working full tilt. Yesterday we had a baptism!!!!  We baptized a young girl named Romina Gimenez. She’s 19 years old and the ward was so jazzed to have new future young woman for the missionaries who are returning home this summer. The baptismal service went very well and we had several investigators attend.  We are so excited and plan to keep baptizing many more. We have a plan to baptize a young man my last Sunday in the mission field (The 4th of September). His name is Rodrigo.  He’s awesome and now has his entire family coming to church. We figure soon they too will be baptized. They all came to the baptism yesterday. I sent a picture of Romina from her baptism yesterday. She is the one dressed in white of course. Bruno is the young man who baptized her (he’s a stud!); and of course my companion and me with Romina’s mother (who is already a member and was reactivated after 15 years of inactivity). What an awesome Sunday and a spectacular week!

Well it got cold again!!!  And we have had a week full of rain and wind.  They say that things are supposed to warm back up before September gets here. I sure hope so, I’m very cold. We are working so hard. I have my companion and I doing everything we can to stay focused and to be honest I’m the most focused I have ever been in my entire mission.  

Next week, my Bishop has me assigned to speak in church here. I asked him what topic he wanted me to speak about and he said, “You just choose’s your farewell”. So next week I will have my farewell in Uruguay. My bishop here in Parque Del Plata is a champion. He’s so great and he loves my companion and me. It gives us a real motivation to work hard and I have really come to love and appreciate my calling as a missionary that much more.

The other photo I sent you is of the beach in Costa Azul y La Foresta (a small beach town 5 KM. east of Parque Del Plata). We went there the other day. We went out exploring there because it is also included in our area.  Missionaries have never really worked there and we were shocked by the number of people who are living there. It was beautiful and I feel even more overwhelmed with work than before.  But that’s a good thing. Besides all of these things, I’m well and plan to have another fine week in the mission field.    

I love you guys a lot and thank you for those addresses.


Romina's Baptism 

On the beach at Costa Azul y La Foresta 

Costa Azul y La Foresta 

Making Plans for Our Trip

August 14, 2011

Dear Dad,

How are you doing?  I’m doing well. I’m sorry to hear that you guys have had so many troubles with little Bradley, but I figure he will pull through. I will continue to keep him in my prayers.

Well Dad, I’ve been thinking about the car rental more and more. The only car they could rent me was 2006 Volkswagen Golf 4 door. I worry that with all the bags and stuff we will be caring around, it will be way too small for us to use. We need to rent a bigger car. This will cost us a little bit more, but it’s what I feel safest with and after thinking about this a lot, I think that it’s the most secure way to do it.  After you get off the plane, go to the rental car desk and rent a car. They should have someone who speaks English. I suggest looking into this by looking at the web page for the Montevideo International Airport web site. That way you can have some idea of what to do.  If something happens and you cannot get a rental car, you will have to take a taxi to the temple. I’m sending you a packet today that has maps and all the information included.  

I now need a big favor!  I need the addresses of several people and I need them by Monday next week.   Pete and Terry, Tony Nielson, Golda and Larry Duffner, The Noall’s, Bishop Duersch, the Pollock’s,  the Parkinson’s (Kyle), the Kureck’s, Mary and Phil Bakkedahl, Edris Stuebner and Zan Murray

I know that these people might be difficult to find, but I really need them as fast as possible. Thank you

Oh and dad sure I will go. I love to see things that I have never seen or even done before.  Vamos Arriba!!!   Well, love you and I’ll see you soon.


Keep an eye out for the packet I am sending you. You will need it for when you get here. I think it will take two weeks to get to you. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

One Month To Go and the Work is Great!

August 8, 2011

Dear Dad,
Well, I had a wonderful week. We worked sooooo hard and yesterday it worked out to our benefit. We now have two solid baptisms for the month of August and it looks like we are going to baptize a family that is so amazing. Yesterday we had 3 investigators in church and it felt sooooo good. We’re constantly looking for new investigators and it is working out so well. This is easily the best area of the mission that I have ever served in and to tell you the truth I’m having a blast!!! Yesterday our ward was so good to us and they took such good care of our investigators that I was shocked. I’ve been working a lot with the young mens organization and yesterday in fast and testimony meeting they all got up to bear their testimonies. They all mentioned how much they love my companion and me. Oh how I miss being in the young men’s. I really love working with the young men and hope that I can be a young men’s leader when I get home.  My companion and I get along great and we’re both very focused. I’m going out with a bang!!!

Besides all of these things, life is great. Later today I will get all the plans together for your trip and have them sent to you. Hopefully they will get there to you before you make your trip.  

I received my debit card!!!!  I probably won’t use it for a day or so, but I will need some money to buy a few things in preparation for going home. I want to make a business card with my address and information on them so that as we visit some people in the country, I can leave them with something.  I have seen many missionaries do the same and it works out spectacularly. So that is just an ejemplo of the things that I will need to buy in these upcoming weeks. I really can’t use my missionary funds to buy stuff like that.  

Besides this, I will also send you a list of things that you will need to get in the United States that people have asked me for because they have no access to them here.  For example, my Elders Quorum President wants a copy of Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie because it is nowhere to be found here (In English because he speaks English; for the Uruguayans Bruce R. McConkie is their hero). Another member asked me for an English hymn book. The packet I will send you will be more detailed and more organized and all expenses will be reimbursed. If you can even find them used or for free, more power to you.  

Well I love you and I’m very excited. When I write you next week, I will only have 23 days left. The real truth is that I will only write you emails three more times after this. Crazy!!!!!

Well I love you a lot. Things are starting to warm up and spring is coming here early this year.  Everything is great.  

Let Mary know that I will be thinking of her and keeping Bradley in my prayers.  And Mary I am excited to see and will see Bradley when I get home.

Elder John P. Sluder 

Monday, August 1, 2011

37 Days to Go and Lots of Work to Do

August 1, 2011

Dear Dad,

Well what a week!!!! I can’t believe it’s already over. Time is going way too fast and in 37 days I’m going to be seeing you. WOW!!!!!!!! We had a really good week and have found a ton of new investigators!! It looks like we are going to start baptizing like crazy!!! I’m very excited. Things are definitely a lot quieter since Elder Heywood and Elder Hudson no longer live with us. With just Elder Curapil and me, things get pretty boring.

I’m sending you pictures of the baptism of Pedro and Maria Del Carmen that we had last week. Also, my old district; the four of us that have the matching ties are Elder Heywood, Elder Hudson, Elder Curapil and me of course. Life’s really, really calm and easygoing right now. I’m just a senior companion. I really had forgotten what it was like to have no responsibility and not be a leader. Life is so easy. I really have no complaints! It’s great!

Dad I agree with you 100% on the take it easy and slow thing when I get home. I read a talk by Boyd K. Packer the other day and he spoke of how a fruit fly is born, grows to adulthood, mates, has babies, and dies all in the same day. He spoke of maturity and how we shouldn’t force ourselves into an adult and mature state too fast and to enjoy the moment we are in and not only live for the future. This really impacted me. I plan to not try to set the whole world on fire all at once. I don’t want to look back with the regret at not enjoying my youth to the fullest. I plan to see what the Lord has in store for me when I get home and really enjoy all phases of my life.

I plan to work and enjoy these next five week to the fullest. I really am not that trunky. I still get up every day on time, exercise, study, and do it all. I rarely even think of home when I’m out working. It’s weird because I know the end is coming soon, but I don’t really believe it. It doesn’t really seem like something that is even possible, so we shall see.

Dad, I’m putting together several maps and plans for when you guys get here. We will drive the rental car to several distant locations in Uruguay (remember Uruguay is practically the same size as Utah, so technically not that distant and all of the locations we will be visiting are places I have been during my mission). I know the rutas very well and have traveled them a lot during my time here. I will send your packet this week. Included will be our traveling locations, people that we will visit and tourist locations we will see. The only thing you need to reserve ahead of time is a rental car and the hostel where we will be staying on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Besides that I figure we will be staying in hotels in several locations. We will go and check in without reservations. There shouldn’t be any problems. During this time of the year all are pretty much wide open because there isn’t much tourism during the end of winter. I have been looking into it; prices vary but they are pretty much the same prices as a Motel 6 in the states. Every city we are going to is very safe and we should have absolutely no problems the whole week.

When you first get to Montevideo, the people at the airport will most likely be able to communicate with you in English and get you set up with a rental car. Your USA driver’s license is valid for a rental car, but only a rental car… BUY THE INSURANCE IT IS TOTALLY WORTH IT!!! Traffic laws are a little bit different here. I will include that information in the packet and give you precise directions from the airport to the hostel. Don’t get pulled over… you will not be able to understand a thing that is going on if that happens. The way people speak Spanish here is very different and difficult to understand. From the temple to the air port is only a ten minute drive. I suggest that you just go straight to the temple and hostel, take it easy and stay the night there Tuesday. It’s the safest thing you could do. There should be no problems. I’m almost 100% sure that I will be released on Tuesday night and be one of the first final interviews because of my situation. After meeting with you on Tuesday night, I will be your translator for the rest of the trip. You will need a translator.

I do need to know for sure what day we are returning home. That way I can make more precise plans. I think we will be flying home Wednesday if I’m not mistaken, but let me know.

Well I love you guys a ton


Baptism of Pedro and Maria

Men in Ties

The Zone

Monday, July 25, 2011

6 Final Weeks in Parque del Plata

July 24, 2011
Dear Dad,

Well I have had a good week. Last night the decision on the fate of the rest of my mission was made. I will be staying in Parque del Plata with Elder Curapil. As of tomorrow, it is 6 weeks until you will be here. That’s not much time, but I figure that all will work out alright and we should be able to baptize like crazy.  At our last change, we shared the biggest ward in the country with another companionship. We found out last night that we will now be solos and the entire area is ours. They are removing a companionship and now our area is huge!!!!!! There is so much work to do. I imagine that I will finish this thing more busy that ever. 

My companion is doing well. We had our planned baptism on Saturday. I won’t be sending pictures because I don’t have enough time, but next week for sure.  Pedro got baptized and all went well. 

Dad, I think you need to speak with the hostel. To spend the night in the hostel you have to reserve and attend the temple every day that you stay. The main worry I have is to run into you in the temple (of all places) before I’m released.  On the afternoon of Tuesday the sixth, I will be in the temple with Presidente DaSilva at the 3:30 session. 

I will send you all of the information you need this next week in a letter with maps and daily plans.  If you want, I suggest bringing your GPS with a Uruguay download or something. I believe that I may not be interviewed until Wednesday because my group that is leaving is so big, but we will see. If I do not get released until Wednesday, it will make things super complicated because I will be spending the night in the hostel as well.  I will let you know a little more later when I know for sure. One thing is for sure... Wednesday night we do need to spend the night in the hostel so call them and make the appropriate preparations. I figure that you might as well try to spend the night there Tuesday night also; it is the safest place to be while in South America. 

Mary… congratulations on your new baby Bradley.

Well I love you and thanks for everything.

Elder Sluder

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Things Are Going Well Here

July 18, 2011

Dear Dad and Mom,

Well what’s up? I haven’t received an Email from you yet this morning, but that’s fine. I figure that you’re super busy Dad with all the jobs back east that you have been working on.  I may come back this evening to check before I go out to work, so feel free to write me back.

As for me, I’m doing just fine. This past week has been quite interesting and we have been able to keep busy by teaching and inviting. Our ward here seems to be doing quite well.  We have good attendance in church and everybody seems to be quite happy.  We do have our strange members (that are a little crazy), but that is just how it always is. 

We have been teaching an older gentleman named Pedro Castro.  The plan is to baptize him this week.  He is fighting to quit smoking and so far so good.  We followed the steps in Preach My Gospel very closely and it looks like he will be smoking his last cigarette today.  Wooo Hooo.  Yesterday in church, he even went up to my district leader Elder Heywood and asked when he could interview him; he said I want to be baptized “el mas pronto possible”.  

We have a big activity planned for this Saturday, part of the baptism of Pedro. We are going to watch a copy of “Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration”, a movie that I have.  The members are excited because they haven’t ever heard of it and many plan to bring their friends.  We are super pumped. 

I look forward to seeing you guys in six weeks. Time has gone incredibly fast.  I’m very excited!  I’m trying to make plans so that we have a very organized schedule when you guys arrive.  I plan to put it all together and will send it to you guys in a week or so. When you get here, you will have no doubt how to get around and you will have an idea where we will be going and what we are going to do.  I do need to know the exact dates and times of our return flight. I have forgotten what you may have told me. I need to know how much extra time I will have in the county so I can make appropriate plans. 

Well some bad news.  I looked at my account yesterday and it seems that I have over drafted again.  It happened because of my negligence to pay attention to the balance when using my card as a debit card at the stores here in Atalantida.  Things here are a lot more modern than in the countryside. I have had the opportunity to use my card here as a debit card.  It’s cheaper because there are no withdrawal fees, but I can’t follow the balance as well and the dollar is always going up and down.  Forgive me for my negligence.

Life this week was good to me… no real challenges.  To be honest, I am becoming very content with life. I no longer feel that change is the solution to all of my problems.  Thank you for everything Mom and Dad.  I love you both.


PS.  I’ll send you pictures of our baptism next week.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Three Baptisms Planned for July 23rd

July 11, 2011

Dear Dad,

Well I had an absolutely wonderful week myself. Things got up to 15 degrees (that’s about 60 degrees Fahrenheit) this week and so it was a great week to be outside proselytizing. I’ve now scheduled 3 baptisms for the 23 of July. I am going to help one of my investigators rebuild his motor on his three wheeled truck thing so that he can come to church more regularly. Saturday night I taught one of the first lessons in English that I can remember on my entire mission. The truth is it was hard to do and I confused many words. But everything turned out alright. The sister was amazed at my bible knowledge. The things I taught about the bible didn’t come from the bible, but from the Book of Mormon. I really prefer teaching from the Book of Mormon. She is a 60 year old retired woman from Florida. A Super Random contact!

My companion is awesome!!! He’s doing so well and we have really enjoyed our time together. We are already getting ready for the end of the change on the 26th. I figure I’ll stay with him and he´ll be my companion to finish the mission. The work is going so good. My bishop is great and works hard. My ward is supportive and happy. We had awesome attendance of over 100 people at church yesterday! It is so nice to be in a positive, happy ward!

Regarding my debit card… I will probably receive it on a Monday because that is the day we receive our mail. I will have my eye out for it and things should work out well. Money wise, right now I’m doing just fine and with what you have given me, I should be just fine to finish out the month without any problems. Thank you so much!!!

Well everything here is good and the sun is finally shining. This area is beautiful. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to finish the mission. I’ll try to send photos in the email next week. We have plans to go out today and visit some local attractions.

I love you all so very much.

Elder Sluder