Monday, November 23, 2009

Missionary Work is Challenging!

November 23, 2009

Dear Family,

Wow! Another week has gone by so fast and what a crazy week… let me tell ya. Well, last Sunday night one of our investigators got into a fight in the park. The police showed up and he decided to run. They tracked him down to the river. I don’t really know why, but they drew their guns and shot at him. Since it was dark, they didn’t really know if they shot him or not. And so they just declared him missing. On Wednesday night, another one of our investigators, a ten year old boy named Georgie found his body in the river. So it looks like the police killed one of our investigators. Since his mother, his aunt and almost all of his cousins are members, it has been a very difficult week for our ward here in Sarandi. But life goes on. It has opened doors for us here and has kind of helped us with the work. It’s funny how things sometimes work out that way.

Well anyways, I’m kind of upset that my letter still hasn’t arrived with my Christmas list. Anyway, there are some things I would like. Chocolate! Good American chocolate. Top ramen noodles. If possible a two liter bottle of Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper. That might be kind of expensive. And lots of candy and sweet stuff! Oh and my comp loves my English hymn book. So maybe you could go to church distribution, buy him a small hymn book and put his name on it. That would be so awesome. His name is Juan J. Vargas. That’s all and if I need stuff I’ll just buy it here like you said. Thanks so much.

Oh… and we do ride bikes because our mission president has approved it. So, I really need a new bike, no matter what they tell you in the office. I’ll let you know when I find one, how much it’s going to cost me. The exchange rate here is about 20 pesos to 1 American dollar. A half liter of milk is about 27 pesos, so maybe that might help you out.

Okay, anyway, on Friday we had a special meeting with both missions in Uruguay and Elder Bednar spoke to us. Flippin’ awesome! It was a question and answer type meeting and so I raised my hand and asked him a question. I don’t have too much time for the details, but I will write you all about this experience in another letter (if you’ll ever get it). Ha-ha-ha. So we had an awesome reunion with both missions. I’ve included a picture of Elder Tippets and me. His dad is in the stake presidency in Wellsville. I went to school with him and it was awesome to see someone familiar from home. We had a great time together.

Well, we still have two baptisms planned this weekend for Saturday and I’m way excited. I don’t know who is going to perform the ordinances exactly, but I’ll let you know how everything went next week. The work has been great, even though it has rained very hard every day this week and the streets are rivers. Also, the rivers have risen an incredible amount and now there is only one bridge left that is accessible to leave the town.

Anyways, I love you very much and yes Uncle Phil, I have lost a lot of weight. I have only been eating once a day and it’s always lunch because that’s the main meal here. It’s always with members too. Love you all, have a great week and God bless you.

Love Elder John P Sluder

Here is a picture of John and Elder Derek Tippets at the meeting with Elder Bednar. Elder Tippets is serving in the Uruguay Montevideo West mission and graduated with John from Mountain Crest High School.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bicycle Woes and Pictures... YAY!

Wow, another week on the mission gone by! Well family, I’m doing pretty good even though I’m dirt poor broke and very tired. For the past few days, I have been in Durazno. My companion and I have been working with the zone leaders. We are here because this morning at three o’clock, I had to go all the way to Montevideo for some medical testing. The way the bus schedule works, we had to stay in Durazno. The testing was part of getting my visa to stay in the country legally. So my new companion for the day has been Elder Moncada. He’s also an Oro and he’s from Chicago. (They call all new missionaries here "Oros". Oro means gold in Spanish) He speaks perfect Spanish because he’s Mexican. Well anyway, this morning when we went to get on the bus, they said they had no more seats. We had to stand up for the whole two and a half hour trip to Montevideo, so I’m pretty darned tired.

I’m getting pretty skinny. At my check up, the doctor said I’m 180 lbs. All of my pants don’t fit me anymore and my belts are on the last notch. While at the clinic, I met the new president and his wife from the Montevideo temple. They were there for the same reason I was. Interestingly enough, she is from Bakersfield Ca, so we sat and talked about lots of stuff while we waited for hours in the clinic. It was awesome. Your choir got brought up dad and she was just thrilled to hear all that I knew about it. Sorry, I don’t really remember their names.

Hey… I need to know why the pin number got changed on my account. Is it a new account? I’m very confused. I learned that for safety precautions, here in Uruguay, the ATMs will keep your card if you type in the wrong pin number. If you can send me another email, I’ll just check it again in the next few days. I still haven’t received my new card. I kind of wish you could have over-nighted it to me because I’m really hurting for money. My reimbursements haven’t gone through yet.

I found out that it takes a month or two to receive packages here, just so you know. I sent you a hand written letter with my Christmas wish list. If you can’t send all of it, that’s fine. What I really need is a new bike! Maybe instead of all that stuff in my letter, you could just deposit money in my account so I could buy a new bike. The bike I have right now was made in the 1980’s and I’m constantly fixing it. It has become a money pit. Please give me some counsel on this matter. I’m dying for a new bike and if I buy one here it will go with me to all my different areas throughout my mission.

About the church here; there is only one ward of about 150 members in Sarandi Del Yi. It’s a great little ward and they take great care of the missionaries. The bishop is a firefighter and is an awesome guy. He actually reminds me a lot of Trevik Jenkins dad who was also the bishop in Las Vegas. But of course he only speaks Spanish… ha ha ha.

Our baptism fell through this weekend. In two weeks, we have two more baptisms planned for Saturday, so it was okay that things didn’t quite work out. Right now, we’re teaching a guy named Luis; he’s awesome. Luis completely quit smoking and is so eager to get baptized in two weeks. He has gone to all of the church meetings and talks about how badly he wants the priesthood. It’s awesome. We are also trying to get a young couple married right now too. It’s been kind of hard, but I have faith that it can be done.

We have a church building that is actually really huge for Uruguay. It’s on the corner of Garibaldi and Oribe if you wanna look it up on Google Earth. My shack is just down the street from there. Well I don’t have much more time and I’ve got to go. I’ll write another letter concerning more spiritual things. Later you’ll have to tell me how long it takes to get a letter from me through the mail. Oh hey, because I’m short on money, I will be including other letters with the letter I send to you guys. So sorry, I know you guys are busy, but if you could distribute them that would be awesome.

Love you,
Elder Sluder

Elder Sluder

Elder Vargas

The kitchen (check out the stove and sink!)

The "shack" (nice ladder)

The Sarandi sky after a thunderstorm

Monday, November 9, 2009

First Email From Sarandi del Yi

Dear family,

How are you doing? I’m sorry to hear about Zwieba’s father and grandfather. I pray that they will recover and get better soon. It’s good to hear about Kolton Mitton and that he’s alright and doing much better.

Well family, I’m a real missionary now. There’s so much to tell you. I don’t know if I have the time though. Yes Dad, Sarandi del Yi is a farming community and it’s much like Wellsville. But it’s different too. I now know the true meaning of poverty. A lot of people live in small shack things and most of them have dirt floors. So it’s been kind of interesting to see that. I wash all my laundry by hand and my house is tiny. It would definitely not pass the building inspections in the United States.

I’m so looking forward to getting my debit card; hopefully it will get here soon. I had kind of a bad first few days. My bike is a piece of junk and kept breaking. I have now had to replace my handle bars, my crank and sprocket and my seat. So I have had to use a lot of my monthly funds for this and I can’t get a reimbursement for it. So yes, I’m excited for my card. Thank you so much. I fixed all these things with just my Leatherman that I brought with me. I guess this impressed my companion. Whenever we see someone with a broken down car or a messed up bicycle he tells them that I’m the best mechanic in the world and that I can fix it for free. Ha ha ha

I also found out that on Friday nights we teach English. So now I’m an English teacher too... it’s pretty fun actually. I found out that I’m the only person in this town that is fluent in English. Everyone wants to talk to me cause I’m different I guess. They all call me “el Aleman”, which is “the German” in Spanish. Besides all that, it’s definitely been a humbling experience overall.

You asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I don’t know what I really want. I would like a hymn book in English for my comp, preferably a small one and another SD card. And I’ll think of some other stuff later and write it in a letter when I’ll have more time.

Mom, it’s a good thing you don’t live here, because horses are the big thing here! There are so many animals just roaming around freely; it’s crazy.

Yesterday at church we had 13 investigators go to church with us. It was awesome! Our first baptism is this Saturday and we have families planned to be baptized later this month. We have had a very successful week and it has been awesome.

Well I love you all very much; thank you for everything.

Elder John Sluder

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Email from the Mission President

We received the following email from the Mission President along with this picture of John and his new companion, Elder Vargas. John looks great!

Dear Sluder Family,

Today we went to the airport in Montevideo, Uruguay, to pick up Elder Sluder and welcome him into our mission. He arrived a little tired, but full of excitement and enthusiasm to get to work.

We have spent the day with him, getting to know him and we have recognized that he will be an asset to us here in the mission. With this time that we have had with him, he has shown many talents that will be put to use in blessing the lives of many wonderful people.

Today was the day of transfers; he met his trainer and then headed off for his first area so that he could start ¨ [bringing] to pass the immortality and eternal life of man¨.

We are now sending you a photo that we took with him this afternoon. As you can see, he is extremely excited and ready to start. We are so excited to have your son with us and hope that you receive this photo with excitement and pride in all that your son has done to prepare himself for the opportunity that he now has to serve the Lord for the next two years.

The Da Silva´s

Elder Sluder is in Uruguay!

Family and Friends,

I knew that John was transferring to Uruguay sometime this week, so I decided to email him last night. It was a good thing I did, because I received the following email from him this morning. He is now in Uruguay and is on his way to his first assignment. His first area will be in Sarandi Del Yi, a town in the district of Durazno. I did some checking and found out it’s a small farming community along the Yi River, about 120 miles north of Montevideo. If you want to see some pictures of the area, start here: Sarandi Del Yi. According to one website, this is a town of less than 8,000 people. I believe he will fit right in! Enjoy his email…

Love Dad

Date: 03 November, 2009 10:15 AM

Dad, Mom and family

I did it! I made it through the MTC in Buenos Aires, Argentina! I’m now in a small computer place in the bus stop in Montevideo! This mission is awesome! My flight was okay, but the plane seemed pretty rickety. I just kept telling myself that the Lord takes care of his missionaries!

I had another bout of bad luck! Ha-ha-ha I tried to take some money out of my account and my card got sucked into the machine. I don’t know if I typed my pin in wrong or what, but the machine ate my card. So you will be getting some information from the mission office in another email tonight. Sorry… So you should probably go to the bank and make sure the purchases made with that card are valid. The purchases you told me about are right, so that’s all I’ve used my card.

Well besides that, I got a new companion. His name is Elder Vargas. He’s from Honduras and doesn’t speak much English, but he’s great! I have really come to love these people. We’re getting shipped to an area of Uruguay called Sarandi Del Yi, Durazno. Its right in the middle of Uruguay and it’s just a small little town, so I’m very excited! I can’t wait. I was told by my companion that we have our first baptism on the 14th of November! Plus tonight we have to teach four lessons, so I’m so excited. This just rocks.

We never were able to find time for the taped interview thing from Salt Lake, so I never got to do that. But I did meet Sister Julie Beck, so that was kinda cool. I did send you a letter, so you should be getting that sometime this week. My p-days are on Monday, so I’ll be emailing you on this day. Oh, and in our new area we get bikes! I’m loving it!

I’m so sorry to hear about Colton Mitton. Give him a hug for me and tell him I love him and I know he was a great missionary! Well family, I love you and you will hear from me later. Love ya lots… oh and don’t worry, I have plenty of money still, but I will probably need you to send me a new debit card!

Well, have fun! Elder Sluder!