Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More Challenges and New Companion

December 28, 2010

Dear Family,

What an interesting week...

All was well with me for a little while after the Christmas day phone call. I was getting ready for bed when I started to get a fever on Christmas night. It got kinda bad. I had probably the worst head pains I have had in years. I felt super, super, super sick. I called Hermana DaSilva and she told me what to buy and what to do for myself. I suffered the entire night and when the morning came I was just glad it was day time again. I’m now on heavy doses of Amoxilina and I am getting better. My ears don’t hurt any more but I’m still not 100%. On Sunday I was bad enough that I didn’t even go to church. I suffered some more until yesterday and finally started to feel somewhat better.

I’m currently in Montevideo and today has really been a nightmare. Half of the Tres Cruzes bus terminal burnt down a few days ago, so they had to reroute all the bus traffic to another place. Because of the situation, it has left the missionaries confused in all sorts of different places in Montevideo. I’m trying right now to round up my entire zone and head back to 33. It’s super confusing and very, very frustrating. On top of that, this morning the branch president from Vergara decided to join us on the bus and got offended at something I said.

We had a meeting with President Da Silva this morning, but he was extremely busy. We have scheduled a very special meeting with him later this week about our situation in 33. I can’t wait for his help. We might actually be able to make some headway.

Well this is all I really have for you now. Oh… my new companion is named Elder Roisum from Missouri. He’s a good kid and I’m extremely excited for this next change!!!!! We’re going to do miracles.

Besides all of this, all is well for now. Thank you for the money. It helped out a lot. I’m getting a lot better and feel by tomorrow I will almost be 100% otra vez! (again). Well love ya…

ELDER SLUDER

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Another Week in 33 and the Christmas Phone Call

12/20/2010

Dear Family, Mom and Dad,

Well what a week I had. It sure was interesting let me tell ya. The first few days I pretty much traveled all over 33. I did baptismal interviews in Vergara and had several different intercambios (exchanges) with other missionaries in my zone. It’s been great in that aspect. We have really had a fun week of work. On Friday morning about two o’clock, a special bus arrived and took us down to Montevideo for our Christmas concert. The bus had come from Melo which is a town north of 33. The bus had 20 missionaries from the Melo zone on board. I didn’t realize that one of my best friends, Elder Maluff is now serving in Melo and he was on the bus. We stayed up and didn’t sleep the entire night and just talked. It was actually wonderful and quite interesting. Elder Maluff will be finishing his mission here in February and he seems quite excited. It’s crazy to think how fast time has really gone. I was with him for my forth and fifth change of the mission. Next week I will be starting change number 11. I only have six more to go. It made me realize that I have completed well over 2/3rds of my mission… crazy huh? Elder Maluff had a disagreement with President DaSilva a few changes ago. Since then, President DaSilva assigned him as Junior Companion in Melo to finish his mission. He was very, very down, but is happy to be coming to the end of this thing. Apparently his companion is crazy. He told me his companion beat him up the other day and so he’s kinda waiting for a little while longer to see if he can get an emergency change. I’m just glad I’m done with that part of my mission myself.

The Christmas conference was absolutely wonderful. We had an awesome lunch and we were able to visit and enjoy all of our friends from all over the mission. I was talking with Elder Stilwell (my companion from the MTC) and he did mention that his padres could be coming to Uruguay for when he goes home. If so, we could plan to all go out together and enjoy ourselves one night. We shall see. I was expecting to receive my packages this week, but they never came. So now I probably won’t receive them until January. But that’s fine, I’m not really too worried.

My plans for Saturday consist of the phone call. I have a certain time assigned to me that I will call. I will call you at 3 o’clock my time which is 10 o’clock your time. I will call the Yesco number, so just be ready and I will be on the line then. Thank you because I did want to talk to you guys first (mom and dad) for 30 minutes so that will work out perfectly. One last thing… MAKE SURE CINDY IS HOME I WANT TO TALK WITH HER ALSO!!!! I HAVE SOME REALLY IMPORTANT THINGS I WANT TO TELL HER!!!! Oh and you just never know, I might just do a surprise wake up call too like last year.

I loved the picture of mom cleaning the drive way!! It was great well for now I’ll just save my breath because I will talk with you on Saturday. Well I love you all so very much and I look forward to Saturday with great anticipation.

LOVE, JOHN

PS. I included 2 pictures of my zone that were taken this morning. Yes it would be so nice if you could put a little bit of money in my account for this Friday. THANKS



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Continuing Challenges in 33

12/13/2010

Dear Family,

Another week has gone by and to be honest I’m glad it’s over. I’m really trying not to be a negative person, but I will say that it was an extremely long, hard week. Then yesterday our end results were really nothing. We had one investigator come to church for about 15 minutes. She said she just didn’t feel good in the chapel and decided to leave. It was heart breaking!!! My companion and I were planning on baptizing 7 this month and as of right now, we would need a miracle to baptize even one. I’m extremely worn out and feel that we have gotten nowhere. We also didn’t have any baptisms in the zone this week. We actually planned to have two baptisms in a branch named Central. On the day of the baptism, the mother showed up and refused to be baptized and also refused to let her daughter get baptized because in a dream, a "SPIRIT" told her that the church wasn’t true. Go figure!!

We had rain storms galore this past week. I’m sending you some pictures from Saturday afternoon right after we had a rain storm. The other pictures are of me and my companion last week in the mission home for zone leader council, in front of the Christmas tree. And the last photo is of Me, Elder Gurr, my companion, and Elder Dominguez from Panamá. They both live with us. Elder Gurr is from Orem, UT. Last April in General Conference, Tomas S. Monson spoke about his family and his little brother Jason who died when he was 15. A picture of Elder Gurr opening his mission call at the side of his little brothers bed in the hospital and everything was shown in General Conference. Elder Gurr’s name is Kyle, so if you want to read the Liahona (Ensign), you’ll find out a little more. I know the story pretty well myself. Elder Gurr is a pretty cool kid and we talk a lot because he´s the only one in the house to practice English with.

Overall, I’m doing pretty well. This next little bit should go by super fast. On Friday, we have the Christmas mission conference in Montevideo. The next week is Christmas and the following week we will have changes. I’ll go to Montevideo again and the week after that I have another zone council in Montevideo. It will be busy! We shall see what miracles God has prepared for us here in 33. It’s been quite a trial. I can’t really explain it all in a letter, so when you guys finally see me, I’ll tell ya all about it. Mom thanks for the Idea of the Christmas activity. I would love to do it. The problem is that they have already planned the Christmas party and we had no say in the matter. They planned it for the 17th, the same day that we are going to be in Montevideo for our Christmas conference. Perfect huh? We can’t even participate in our own dang activities. Thank you for the suggestion mom!

With my health, I really don’t think that I have a parasite. I have gotten very sick, but I can honestly say that I’m skinnier because I have lost the appetite that I had as a teenager and I don’t eat as much. I also ride a bike 30 to 40 kilometers daily in the summer sun or if my bike doesn’t work, I usually walk at least 20km. I feel quite healthy and I believe it’s because I’m actually not eating fast food every day and that I try to eat healthy always.

Well all of this has brought me to my last point. This morning while reading in Nephi, I came to a great realization. Nephi had two great plans to get the plates. He tried both, but both times they did not succeed. Then the third time, God did his part and delivered Laban into Nephi’s hand to kill. It was the thing that God wanted, but at first Nephi didn’t want to do it. We have a very similar situation. We have had many great plans to change 33. So far none of them have worked. So now, we are waiting to see what it is now that God will put into our hands to fix the problem. I know that I’m not going to want to do it at first, but my companion and I are slowly figuring this thing out. (I just hope God doesn’t deliver the branch president into my hands - Joke) Ha Ha Ha........

Well I love you all. I’m happy and still alive.

I will talk with you shortly… until then

LOVE ELDER JOHN SLUDER



After a rain storm in Treinta Y Tres (33)

Elders Gurr, Sluder, Domiguez and Gonzalez

Elder Sluder and Elder Gonzalez

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Many Challenges in 33 and a Few Bumps in the Road

Note from Dad: We visited Nathan Hofeling in Cedar City on our way home from Las Vegas on Thanksgiving weekend. Elder Hofeling had served with John and just returned from Uruguay. He gave us a box of letters and other stuff that John wanted to send home. In the box was a small white paper box, about 1.5" square with tape and writing on all sides that say "Do not open". There is also an envelope that says do not open until December 24th. These are the items that he talks about in the first part of this week's letter. A mystery is brewing!

12-06-2010

Dear Dad and Mom and Family,

What a week! It sure was tough, let me tell ya. But before I get into that, I want to answer some of the questions you have about the little box and stuff I sent home. The little white box doesn’t contain anything for you. But if you find it to be kinda strange, I promise you that it will get even stranger after you open your letter for Christmas! Just so you know, there are no SD cards in the package. Sorry, I didn’t have time to get that part made up. But I do plan to send one… one of these days. The letter for the 24th of December is also very important. Just stay excited for what I have written to you there. It’s very important. After you open it, you need to keep it close by or with the little white box. When the time comes to open the white box and find out what’s inside, everything will be in order. Be patient and I promise you that the time will come and if you just wait and don’t jump the gun, it will all be worth it in the end. Just as another clue, this will not be solved in the month of December. It won’t be solved in January either; it will take time, so exercise patience. And yes it will get even weirder before it’s over.

My week has been incredibly long and quite interesting. On Tuesday night I received a call from Presidente Da Silva. He flat out told me that he had just gotten off the phone with President Arnold who had just gotten off the phone with Elder Scott who all wanted to convey the message that 33 must be made a stake in March, before general conference in April. About 80% of the work that we have to do to make this happen will come from our zone. This has now become a very real thing and it’s not just a distant dream. It definitely worries us, but if God said it can be done, it can be done! To reach this goal, we need 7 baptisms in the month of December (in our branch only) and in the entire district we need 26. That’s a lot considering that in November they had 4, in October they had 0 and in September they also had 0. We have to work super hard and I imagine these next few weeks will be very interesting. On Thursday we had our meeting in Montevideo with President Mervin B. Arnold. If you want to see a picture of him, he spoke in the last session of this past general conference. He definitely cleared up any doubt about this stake goal we have and we now look forward to see what’s going to come of all these new things we are about to apply. It was a very spiritual meeting and one that I will never forget.

Yesterday we were waiting for 13 investigators in church. We even went by to pick some of them up, but when all was said and done, we had no one show up. We had 28 people in church yesterday and it was quite sad. I don’t really understand what’s happening, but we are trying our hardest and were just going to give it all we have. With all of this, it made our Sunday very stressful. Then yesterday on top of everything else, I ended up killing a dog. I was riding my bike very fast down a hill trying to get to church on time. I was going 30 KmPH (I have a speedometer on my bike) and a big dog ran out in front of me. I slammed on my brakes and missed it, but right behind the big dog was a little white house dog.... and I hit it. I was skidding with my back tire because my front brakes don’t work so well. After my front tire went over its head, my skidding back tire did a number on its body. It was disgusting and it really grossed me out. I didn’t wreck or anything but it definitely took the dog out!!!!! And thinking of the experience that Steven had on his mission in South Africa with the dog he hit with his car, I didn’t want to stop. So I just kept on going. It was horrible!

This week I will be gone for about three days to help rescue a small branch of about 30 active members in a small town about an hour south of 33, in the town of Verela. They are really struggling and need some extra help, so I will be out of 33 Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. So that’s the plan for now.

Well I love you all so very much and look forward to talking to you all on the 25th. I’m cool with whatever, so just tell me what number to call and I will let you know at what time. This year will be a little more stressful. We have a lot more going on this year than we did last year. I´ll figure it all out and let you know. Well for now just have a spectacular week and know that I love you all. Dad… Study that Spanish, that’s all they speak here!

Love,
Elder Sluder

Monday, November 29, 2010

33 Needs Lots of Work!

11-29-2010

Dear Dad and Mom,

Well it sounds like you had a heck of an adventure yesterday. As for me… not so much. It’s just really, really hot. Every once in a while we are blessed and we have a nice, ten minute long thunderstorm roll through.

Well, 33 (Treinta Y Tres) needs a lot of work! Yesterday we had our third week in a row without one investigator in church. There were about 30 people in sacrament meeting and the people seem to be just fine with it. The most frustrating part is that not one of our members has asked us where or even who our investigators are. They all seem to be completely tired of missionary work. They are very down and very negative toward the work. We passed around our lunch calendar in Relief Society for the month of December and out of 20 women, only 2 decided to feed us. We had to go into Relief Society and speak with them again. They all just ended up fighting with one another, calling each other selfish and cheap for not wanting to feed the missionaries. It was ridiculous, but luckily they all seemed to talk each other into feeding us and so at least we now have lunch almost every day of the month. Ha-Ha-Ha! We had some problems this past week with the missionaries in our zone. We had to have an emergency transfer of two elders. The elder who was switched was my old buddy (and huge trouble maker) from Minas, Elder Lopez. It was sure an interesting week! The whole zone just seems to want to do their own thing. We had district meeting this morning and every companionship showed about 15-20 minutes late. But that really wasn’t the bad part. The worst thing was, they were all late because instead of doing their studies as they were supposed to do, they decided to get together and play a nice 3 hour game of soccer at the stake center this morning… a three hour game of soccer that they just happened to forget to inform us about. Also, one of the elders broke his hand also during the game this morning and so right now we are just waiting to hear from President Da Silva’s wife (who acts as our mission doctor). I know she is going to be very upset. I can’t wait for that call....... WE HAVE ALOT OF WORK TO DO!

Besides all that, I’m super excited for Christmas that’s coming up. We’re going to have ourselves a nice Christmas party again; I can’t wait. This Thursday I have to go to Montevideo again for a zone leader council. I’m pretty excited. President Arnold our area president is planning on coming and I’m sure we’re going to be learning something new. I’ve met President Arnold before, but it was in a meeting of about 80 missionaries. I’m excited because there are only 22 zone leaders in the mission. The meeting will be much smaller and we will get to talk a little more.

Today I was riding my bike down the street and I heard someone calling my name. I looked and it Jose Merola from Minas. He gave me a big old hug and we talked for about thirty minutes. It was so great to talk with him after so much time. He says that when you guys show up, we’re going to have a huge asado!!!!! (Barbecue)

Well besides that, I’m doing it. I’m doing my job and it’s been tough. We shall see what happens in these next few weeks, but I believe that we are in for some really big changes here in 33. Well, I love you both. I’m doing great I guess. I hope that the Hofelings didn’t tell you too much stuff about me. I’m very, very grateful to hear that you had a good Thanksgiving and you were able to make it home safely. Count your many blessings. Feliz Cumpleaños. I love you guys so much.

Love, Elder Sluder

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Challenges in Trenta Y Tres

November 23, 2010

Dear Family,

Well what a week! So yeah, I’m the new zone leader here in Trenta y Tres as you already know. We have so much work to do! Trenta y Tres is one of the nicest little towns I’ve seen or been in on my mission. This place is beautiful! It’s actually very clean. Our home is absolutely wonderful. We are cold when it’s hot outside and we are warm when it’s cold outside. Being a zone leader is definitely different. Monday morning at 2:00 am, we got back on a bus and went to Montevideo for a leadership meeting. I fell asleep many times during the meeting. At the end of the meeting, about five o’clock yesterday afternoon we got back on the bus and headed back to thirty three. It’s about a 4-5 hour bus trip from Montevideo. The trip really wore me out, but after a good nights sleep, I’m doing well.

We have the smallest zone in the mission. There are only six companionships. The work is slow and as of right now, the missionaries aren’t really doing much. President Da Silva told me yesterday that I’m here to get this zone running right, have the zone start applying preach my gospel, lift it up and prepare it to become a stake. He told me personally that that’s what he expects from me. Things here haven’t really been running the way they’re supposed to; our district leaders are poorly trained and really aren’t doing what they need to do. Today we had district meetings. One of the district leaders was very upset with me because I’m already starting to change things. He was mad because he didn’t want to write numbers down at night and just do his job. It was ridiculous. In the end we won and he will write his numbers down and do his job.

On Sunday, I went to church and we had about 30 people in sacrament meeting. The branch seems really down and things there are not getting run correctly at all. In the middle of sacrament meeting, the branch president stood up and invited me to speak by saying, “Now we will listen to the new gringo missionary counsel us for about twenty minutes. Elder Gringo the time is now yours.” I was caught off guard at first, but I was prepared for an emergency and it worked out just fine in the end. We shall see if they ever figure out what my name is.

So here it goes… another special assignment from President Da Silva. My new companion, Elder Gonzalez is absolutely wonderful. He is doing a great job himself. He’s super humble and like you said Dad, he’s well trained and he’s an absolutely excellent missionary. I’m sending you two pictures. One is of Elder Gonzalez and me. We took it about an hour ago in our house. The other picture is of my trainer, Elder Vargas and me. He finished his mission last week. We took the picture in Tres Cruces and it was the last time I saw him. What’s funny is, I am taking his place here in 33; he was the old zone leader here. We ride bikes here and because I sold my old bike, Elder Vargas left me his. That’s what I ride around on here… weird huh? We don’t have cars, but I do have a cell phone.

John and Elder Vargas at Tres Cruces

John and Elder Gonzalez in their apartment at Trenta Y Tres

Elder Hofeling will be going home today. He came and visited me with his parents on Sunday. I hope that you can go and listen to all they have to say about their trip. Dad one more thing, if you could give him $10 bucks, that would be kinda nice. I kinda owe it to him for something. I will explain it later.

Oh and yes, if you could put 25 dollars in my account today that would be wonderful. I kind of need it just to finish out this week. By next week I figure I will be doing just fine. Sorry for the inconvenience. Oh and if you haven’t sent me my Christmas stuff yet, there is one more thing I need. I need an American stamp book of stamps for sending letters. Forever stamps would be preferred. That’s all... for now. I love you very much.

Love, Elder Sluder

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Changes! A New Assignment as a Zone Leader in Treinta y Tres

November 16, 2010

Dear Dad and Mom,

What a week! It was quite challenging and now that I look back on it, I realize I was being tried for a reason. On Tuesday I became deathly ill. I couldn’t stop vomiting and the other problem thing. It was incredibly painful and I thought several times I was doomed. I cannot ever remember a time in my life where I have ever had such terrible stomach pain. The sickness laid me up in bed for three days, but by Friday I was back to work, hectically trying to get a baptism ready for Saturday. It was tough and we had many stressful challenges. Our baptism required a special interview, the baptismal font didn’t work and I had to repair it. It was tough, but we fought hard all week and we won. Saturday night I had my fifth baptism in Bella Italia. I had the honor of baptizing Jorge Neto. It was great. We had small numbers in attendance at the baptism, but it was incredibly spiritual. Right before the baptism, President Da Silva showed up to do the special interview. That was when he told about my new job as a Zone Leader. I will be a Zone Leader in a small city Named Trenta y Tres (or Thirty Three). I’m super excited! This morning we had a special meeting in Carrasco with President DaSilva and it went quite well. My new companion is named Elder Gonzales and he´s from Chile. Interesting huh?

Well so that is all for now about this past week.

Dad, there is an Elder Nathaniel Hofeling here from Cedar City, UT. He’s finished his mission and is going home this week. I’m sending a small package home with him. It doesn’t contain much, but I hope you enjoy it. It’s going to be kinda weird, but just follow the instructions that are included and you´ll eventually figure it all out. I figure for Thanksgiving or some time before Christmas, you should be going through Cedar City. You’ll just have to drop on by and go pick it up. It’s mostly letters that I don’t want to keep with me on the mission and other strange things. Just so you know, Elder Hofeling will want to talk with you for a while and he would love to tell you all of the stories and things we have done together in Montevideo. So you may want to go there with a little bit of time.

Well I hope you can find him. Wait about a week or so before you have to contact him. He and his parents will be in Uruguay for about a week before returning home to the U.S.

Well… LOVE YOU GUYS A TON!
Elder Sluder

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another Week Down and We're Doing Great!!!

November 8, 2010

Dear Family,

Well another week down and we’re doing great!!! It’s been a blast!

Dad… about the whole coming to get me thing… you are going to know a lot more than I do. Just plan the trip the way you think best. I won’t be too sad if we can’t be there with my family for their sealing. I don’t really know a lot of details about what’s going on with them. I only hear things from other missionaries and I hear they’re doing great. If their temple date happens after I leave, it will be okay. So for now, just don’t worry about it. I don’t want to ask for an extension, nor do I want to worry too much about it either. We will just play it by ear and see how it works out and what the Lord has in store for us. As for the hotel, yes there are hotels in all places and they are always vacant, so we´ll just play that by ear too. We will stay in the hostel next to the temple for the most part, but we will plan that when I have three months to go.

We had a wonderful week and we worked freakin’ hard. Last week, because Elder Young was sick, we spent almost the whole week in the house. But this week, we went out and just tore it up! We have now set 5 baptisms for the next few weeks. Next week we will be starting with our first. His name is JORGE NETO. Kind of a weird story, but he actually called us from the hospital to ask us if we would baptize him before he died. Miracle! Strangely enough, ever since he made these plans with us, his health has greatly improved. Good Week!

We went to the temple on Thursday and had a marvelous time. We had zone conference and a great temple session. Our temple workers were from Layton, Utah and they didn’t speak Spanish. It was quite interesting. Ha Ha Ha. It’s kinda weird because now I can’t really imagine what it’s like not being able to speak it.

Yesterday in church we had record numbers in attendance. It was the first time in four years that we broke 100 members at sacrament meeting. We had 102!!!!!! It seemed so full and it felt so good. At the end, the bishop got up and bore his testimony. He said he knew that this only happened because the missionaries, Elder Young and Elder Sluder are working and doing their job. We felt so good and we know that we are seeing miracles happen every day.

Finally, this change is coming to an end. I will be starting the 10th change of my mission and will only have six left. That’s kinda crazy to think about. Change day is next Tuesday and the change will go until the first week of the New Year. We shall see what and where things will be going for me in this next little while. Cool huh?

Jake Eliason will be coming home in the next few weeks. He wrote me a letter telling me that he was going to wait for me! HA HA HA! If you see him, tell him hi from me would ya? Oh and by the way, I know Elder Taylor very, very well. That’s so crazy that he is related to Brother and Sister Dean’s grandson. I just talked to him the other day. I don’t know if you knew this, but he was almost my companion. That happened right before I got sent to Bella Italia at the last minute (due to some former missionary disobedience here in the area). Elder Taylor is now in San Jose de Mayo with my good old buddy Elder Jacobsen who was in my district last change. Crazy. He seems to be doing well.

Well I love you all so very much and I´ll see you soon!

Love, Elder Sluder

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Tough Week with a Sick Companion

November 1, 2010

Dear Family,

Well another week has passed and I can’t really believe it. To be honest, this was probably one of the slowest weeks of my entire mission. My companion, Elder Young got really, really sick last Tuesday. For a while there, I thought he was going to die. I had to take care of him for several days last week. At first we thought he just had a head cold or something. As it progressed, we realized that it was something more. He had lots of pressure on the back of his head and couldn’t really get himself in a comfortable position. On Friday, I sent him with zone leaders to the hospital. I would have gone myself, but I had several baptismal interviews to conduct. The doctors said they didn’t really know what it was, but they also never did a spinal tap. They said it could be possible meningitis. Anyway, they told him if he wasn’t any better by today, he needed to go back to the hospital. Luckily, he seems to be doing better for now. But because he slept for five days and I didn’t have much to do things, got a little boring. Crazy hectic week! I’m glad it’s over. Our baptism for the 6th is now going to be the 13th. We had to change it up because our investigator didn’t come to church yesterday.

We’re all very excited because we’re going through the temple again on Thursday. I’m very much looking forward to it because it’s almost been an entire year since the last time I went through.

Dad, if two weeks doesn’t work out, that’s fine. Like you said, things will all work out in the end anyway. I’m not really too worried. I figure that I will be so confused when you guys actually get here, that it won’t even really matter. Do it and set it up just how you would like and how it will work out the best.

One last thing before I go this week. Dad I will be sending you guys a package for Christmas. It will include a video and some stuff like that. My question is can you send me a little more money this week to cover shipping fees? If so, that would be great. I´ll let you know more about this later. I did get your small package this week, thanks so much. It was awesome and just in time for Halloween. Thanks for all that you do. I love you so much. For now that’s pretty much all.

Take care,
Love Elder Sluder

PS: HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARY!!!!!!!

Another Week in Bella Italia

October 25, 2010

Dear Family,

Another week has gone by and I’m doing just great! I had a very interesting week. No baptisms this week, but we did have one intercambios of companions that I had to do, so that was a little difficult. I can’t believe how fast the time is going. I kinda think it’s scary.

For now we don’t have any baptisms planned until at least the 6th of November. We did have an awesome experience this past week though. We had a charla with Victoria’s Dad and he told us he had received an answer on the Book of Mormon and he knows it is true. SUPER COOL LESSON! But he is now in a dilemma. He says that he wants to get baptized, but the problem is that he works every Sunday. We left him with the promise that if he continues praying and tries, God will make it so that his work schedule will change. He told us he only wants to get baptized if he can obey the commandments and he really wants to live the commandments! Anyway, with this promise we also scheduled a baptismal date of the 6th. We are super pumped-up.

Dad those plans sound spectacular! Please consider one small change if you can. Can we stay in Uruguay one and a half to two weeks? During this time, I’ll show you all the craziness here and I want to make sure that we will be able to go to the sealing of the family that I baptized. (So far so good… they’re still on schedule) Think about it. Anyway, we will probably spend several days in Minas and definitely stay for three days in the hostel next to the temple here in Montevideo. I’m super excited! I am also really looking forward to seeing Juan and Jackie Rubio while in California. Let them know that for whatever reason they, have really been on my mind and that I wish them well and that I love them. I also look forward to seeing all the other people there too. Oh, one last thing. Make sure that the Stake President knows cause I really don’t know how the whole release thing works with us traveling home. I imagine though it won’t be too much of a problem.

Okay… now thinking of Christmas, there are only two things that I really want. One is a set of half metal guitar strings and half nylon guitar strings and the other is a nice capo. Besides these things, send me whatever you want. I don’t really care this time around. There isn’t anything I really desire as of right now.

Dad can you get me the address of Kyle Parkinson? That would be great if you could. Well tonight I’m looking forward to having tacos with my district. Last night I made up the tortillas (out of scratch) and now I’m going to go home and prepare the meat. Yep, I’m the cook! I’m super excited!!! Besides all of this I am doing great!!!! I love you all and can’t wait to see you soon.

LOVE ELDER SLUDER

PS: One more side note: when you come to Uruguay make sure that you guys have a current temple recommend!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Continuing Success in Bella Italia

October 18, 2010

Dear Family,

Well it’s P-day again and another week has gone by. It’s crazy how fast time seems to be going and it passes by much better when you are actually enjoying the work while doing it.

On Saturday we had our forth baptism here in Bella Italia. It was great and went off without a hitch. Our next baptism is planned for the 30th, but because of some complications, it might be pushed back to the sixth of November. But that’s okay. Our ward absolutely loves us. Yesterday I put together a plan to get referrals from the members. Now we will see how well the ward responds. Yesterday our bishop announced from the pulpit that the ward will now grow because of the two elders they now have. It really felt great and I know that we are just beginning to start to see more miracles.

Last Tuesday I had an interview with Presidente Da Silva. It was great. He told me personally to my face that my district from last change was one of the best of the entire mission. He also told us that on November 4th, we will be going to the temple. It felt super good and has really given me hope for this next change; so far so good. I had two intercambios’ this past week and spent several days in other wards and areas. I was bitten by a dog, but it wasn’t anything bad. Don’t worry, it didn’t have rabies. (Well at least I don’t think it did!) Anyway, we seem to be coming right along.

Besides all that, we are doing wonderfully and we are very much so looking forward to taking naps this afternoon to get some extra sleep. We’re flippin’ tired!

Well I love you all and I hope that all is well back at home.

Dad, you need to get in contact with the mission office sometime soon if you haven’t already done it. I kinda want you guys to just plan everything about where we go and the stuff we will do after we get home. That way it’s a surprise. I will probably be happy with just anything you decide. Well, let me know.

Love Ya,
Elder Sluder

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We are Flying!!!

October 11, 2010

Dear Family,

Well, I am extremely saddened to hear about my brother. Steven, I love you and I will continue to pray for you and hope that you have a speedy recovery. Beth, I will be thinking of you and your children also. Thank you Dad for letting me know. If there is anything I can do, let me know. I don’t think I can do much of anything for ya here in Uruguay, but if there’s anything let me know.

I’m continuing to just work hard and baptize as of right now. I didn´t actually baptize Victoria, Elder Young did. But yesterday I did confirm her in sacrament meeting. She was the first person I have ever confirmed in my life and I didn’t even do it in my native language. It was pretty cool.

I’m sending you pictures of her baptism. This first picture is Victoria and her father with me and Elder Young.


The second picture is of Victoria and Alexandra. I baptized Alexandra about a month ago.


And the last picture is of me and Elder Young inside the chapel with Victoria right before her baptism.



We have another baptism scheduled for next Saturday. Her name is Yamila and she is 10 years old. Her family was inactive for a long time. We have now reactivated the family and we’re working on getting them through the temple. Her baptism is a big deal because now she can be sealed to her parents.

The other day we found another family of six. They have all accepted the invitation to be baptized. It was truly a miracle. We are hoping that when we go back this week, we will set the baptismal date for the 30th of October. We are flying!!!! Last Tuesday in my leadership meeting, President Da Silva told me that my district was one of the most successful districts in the mission (for the last change). The zone leaders wanted to know how I did it and how they could see the same results with the districts in their zones. I didn’t really know how to respond to be honest. I just said, well I don’t know, I guess I just got lucky and got a really good group of missionaries. It sure made me feel good let me tell ya.

So as I said, as of right now, we are flying!!!!! This change is will be equally as successful, if not more so. Well I love you and I hope that you all take care.

Love, Elder Sluder

PS: Dad, I will be taking money out of my account today. I need to fix my shoes again and I need to buy some new sheets and pillow for my bed. My others have become moldy and gross from all the humidity. If you do put money into my account this week, only put in 20 dollars. That way I don’t have the tendency to spend more than that.

PSS: Dad you need to call the mission office and let them know all of your plans for coming here. In the next little bit, they will be putting together my itinerary and you can organize it much better than I ever could.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Seeing Small Miracles Every Day

October 5, 2010

Dear Family

What a time I am having!!! Well we had changes and guess what? NO CHANGE. I’m still assigned with Elder Young and still baptizing in Bella Italia. We have a baptism planned for the 9th (Victoria) and also have one for the 16th. We plan to schedule even more baptisms in the weeks to come. One baptism a week is the plan and we are convinced that we are going to do so. Life continues to be changing for me. I loved General Conference. I never thought in my whole life that I would really feel that way. It was amazing. I’m so grateful that we have a prophet to guide us and to show us the way. I’m really coming to a sound understanding of how things are in this world and to be honest I’m feeling happier every day. Mom, I saw my You Tube videos on the internet at a member’s home a few weeks ago. They found them and asked me if it was me. I only saw the first part, but I couldn’t believe how my voice sounds and Elder Young didn’t even believe that it was me. It’s so strange how things change. I don’t really know what I’m going to be like when I do get home. At this point I can’t even imagine coming home. Maybe the reality of that will set in after Christmas. We shall see. I love Uruguay.

Last night we had a super spiritual lesson with a less active family. We invited the father to repent and baptize his 10 year old daughter. He broke down and said that he would call the bishop first thing and get it figured out. It’s amazing how the spirit works in people. Our plan is to see this family also go through the temple in a few months. The daughter’s baptism is now planned for the 16th of October.

A few days ago, we found and taught a 20 year old woman. As we began to talk with her, it was very obvious that she and her life were in pieces. She opened up and told us that 2 months ago, she had lost her 7 month old baby. She asked us if her baby was in hell because she never was baptized. I love the restored gospel that teaches us the truth of all things. We reassured her that she can be with her baby once again. We told her that baptism is her answer and that will insure eternal life with her child once again. By the end of the lesson, she had a giant smile on her face and she accepted her baptismal invitation. We plan to baptize her some time in November.

These are just some of the small miracles that we are seeing here. They happen on an almost daily basis and we are seeing the work move forward.

I’m happy and well! I love you all.

Love,
Elder Sluder

More Baptisms in Bella Italia

September 27, 2010

Dear Family,

What a crazy flippin’ week! We had the baptism of Hilda on Sunday. I hope that you guys enjoy the pictures I’m sending of her and me and my comp. Also there’s a picture of my district. So far Bella Italia has been alright. I’m slowly getting used to the city. It’s tough though. For example right before Hilda had her baptismal interview, she was assaulted and robbed right in front of the church. She ran into the church crying right after. But I think it only made her faith stronger and she still got baptized. The miracle was then the next day at her baptism, a member found her identity card and her house keys in a dumpster right down the road. When the member gave her the keys and stuff she just started to cry and thanked and hugged the member and said there is no way this church isn’t the true church. Why or how the member found them we still don’t really know, but it is definitely one of those amazing, miracle things. We’re counting our lucky stars. Then yesterday after church, Victoria was heading home and she decided to walk home alone and she also was assaulted and robbed right outside of the church. I spent much of yesterday talking with her father and I believe it was necessary because now we can really see the faith she has. It was quite an interesting day let me tell ya. Now that all is said and done, we have very solid plans to baptize her on the 9th of October. All of our investigators though now think it’s required to get robbed right before baptism. Ha ha ha –

Besides all of this, life has been pretty good. I still haven’t been robbed, but I don’t really carry anything of value on me anyway so I don’t worry too much. I have been really happy lately. I’m seeing myself grow and I’m really getting good at this whole missionary thing. So far in my zone this month there have only been three baptisms. Elder Young and I have had two of them and the other one was also in my district. We feel great and get along great. I couldn’t ask for a better situation.

Next week is cambios AGAIN...... I will be writing you on Tuesday. I hope you all enjoy general conference. I’m super excited myself !!!!!!!! Love you all.

Elder Sluder


Elder Sluder, Hilda and Elder Young

Elder Sluder, Hilda and Elder Young

The Elders in the Bella Italia Distict

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Another Great Week and More Baptisms Scheduled

September 22, 2010

Dear Family,

Well that was a really long week! But I’m finally at P-day once again! This week I have actually had it pretty good. We completed our goals and are continuing to get better every day! For the past few days, I have been in Carrasco at a conference with the other leaders of the mission. We were taught by President DaSilva for about 20 hours. Really long days, let me tell ya, but it was totally cool. I learned a ton and now I just have to apply it to everyone in my district.

To tell ya a little bit about my companion, Elder Young, he’s 19 years old and been on the mission about 8 months. He’s from Gilbert, Arizona. (I think it’s next to Phoenix). He’s a dang good kid. I love him to death!! He’s really kept me going and to be honest I couldn’t ask for a better companion. He was actually a companion of my last companion in the MTC, but he definitely is a whole lot more loving! It makes the missionary work so much easier too.

We will be having a Baptism this Saturday of a woman named Hilda. She’s about 56 and her faith is unbelievable. I’m very excited! Then the week after on Thursday the 30th, we will have another baptism of a young girl named Shamila. She’s 9 and her parents have just never baptized her. (Don’t really know why but I’m not going to complain) And then the weekend of the 9th we should be baptizing Victoria and her father! They have really become some great investigators. They have been going to church and Victoria has been very active in mutual with the young women. So no complaints there either. That comes out to almost a baptism a week and every day we are looking for opportunities to continue baptizing.

I’m really starting to feel like I’m getting good at this whole missionary thing. I’m super happy and I have really lost my self this past little while. My district is absolutely awesome and I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys. Next week I will try to send you some pictures and so that at least you can see them before this change is over.

Thank you Steven for the letter you wrote; I always love your letters! Tell Pete that I will continue to keep them in my prayers. I do miss the good old fall weather. But things here are finally warming up. Dad, congratulate Krista and her new husband for me and tell them to just enjoy themselves! Time goes so fast! Well I love you all and hope to see you all some day once again soon. I wish you all a wonderful week from Uruguay. I’m going to baptize the hell out of these Uruguayans!

Love,
Elder Sluder

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Week of Training and a Baptism on Saturday

September 13, 2010

Dear Family,

What a week I have had! It’s actually been pretty dang good! On Tuesday, I had to work with the zone leaders in a different area for the day. Then on Wednesday through Friday, I had to work in barrio 14 in Montevideo with Elder Jacobsen. The mission is having the district leaders learn some new things from these special meetings we have to go to. Then we will have intercambios (splits) with other missionaries to train them on the things we have learned. It’s been a really fun week. On Saturday we had the baptism for Alexandra Ferriera Camejo. It worked out wonderfully and we are planning on having many more baptisms.

Another investigator, Victoria is definitely very interesting. She is a stellar investigator and has been reading the Book of Mormon like crazy. Last night she agreed to be baptized on the 9th of October with her father.

On Saturday night I received a call from Federico and Virginia from Minas. They got married on Friday and are now baptized members of the church. He mentioned that now their next step is to go through the temple one year from his baptismal date. ITS SUPER FREAKIN AWESOME!!!! I called Elder Maluff and told him about it and he immediately started to cry to me over the phone! He said that he now knows that all the time we spent in Minas looking for people was now all worth it!

Today we had a district activity and went to the temple here in Montevideo and cleaned it! My companion and I got the opportunity to go down and scrub the oxen on the baptismal font. We learned a ton from the temple presidency and got the opportunity to just go sit in the celestial room for about 30 minutes. Super awesome activity and it made our district super happy.

Next week I will be emailing on Wednesday because I have a special leadership meeting for two days in Carrasco. Super fun!

Well I’m doing great right now.  I’m just hanging in there. I love you so much. Included is a picture of me and my companion Elder Young in taken front of the Montevideo temple today.


Love,
Elder Sluder

Monday, September 6, 2010

Having Success in Bella Italia Montevideo

September 6, 2010

Dear Family,

I can’t believe its Labor Day once again! It’s so crazy to think that. And what a week we’ve had. This week was super dificil. We had rain every flippin’ day. I couldn’t believe it! All of my clothes are still soaked. Finally yesterday the sun came out and warmed things up. It made for a great Sunday afternoon to work. I have seen progress already in Bella Italia since I got here a few weeks ago. This Saturday, I will be baptizing a young woman who is 17 years old. We found her on my first day that I got to the area. Her name is Alexandra and she lives here with her grandmother. She’s originally from a place called Artigas, which is a city on the border of Brazil and Uruguay so she speaks Portuguese. I had to get written permission from her parents to baptize her so I called up President DaSilva to see what he could do for me. When I called him back on Wednesday night, he told me that he sent the sister missionaries from the other mission to go visit her family. They did visit and then got the written permission and now her father in Artigas is now listening to the missionaries. The hope is to see a grand change in the lives of this family. It’s super exciting! Pres. DaSilva seems to be happy with the work that’s going on here and so far we have baptisms planned for every Saturday for the rest of the month of September.

My companion Elder Young is super awesome and I have absolutely no complaints! The other elders in my district also seem to be outstanding and have so far been super obedient and hard working. No complaints. There was one nice thing about the rain and that is we didn’t have to worry about getting robbed all week. The ladrones are too lazy to come out when it rains and so I think that in that aspect we were blessed. :)

Well Dad, your Spanish was pretty good, but I definitely could tell a difference in the messages that Virginia wrote compared to yours. When you get here, I guess I’ll be your Google translator. Spanish is really starting to become second nature. I don’t struggle much at all any more. The weird thing is, I can’t really remember what it’s like to not be able to speak it.

Last night we had an awesome meeting with our Bishop. He’s super young, only 26 years old and it’s great to be able to work with him. He told us that he’s so happy to finally see the missionary work function as it should. It made us feel super good. So in all those aspects, I’m doing great! I’ll be sure to take some pictures of the baptism next week and send them to you.

Well, Vamos Arriba. Our house is on Torremolinos and Luis C. Caviglia. Punta de Rieles is a little northeast of where we live, but it is included in our area.

Note from Dad: Here is a picture of the intersection of
Torremolinos and Luis C Caviglia from Google Earth.
This is the neighborhood where John is living and working.

Well I love you all so much. I’ll see ya soon and so far I’m doing just fine here in Montevideo.

Love,
Elder Sluder

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

First week in Bella Italia

August 30, 2010

Dear Family,

Well at least I’m still alive I guess. This place sure ain’t the old Minas I’m used to. I now live in the city and life is much, much, much different! This place is a little more bravo than I really thought and we have made a commitment to follow the rules of the mission with 100% exactness so that we have the blessings of the Lord’s protection.

The capilla (chapel) in Bella Italia is at mile marker 12 on the Ruta 8 or (Camino Maldonado). We live a few blocks from there. It’s pretty much in the middle of a bunch of chappes (tin shacks). People here are poor and most of the neighborhood is run on drugs. Our house however is very, very nice. We are pretty much in the middle of the ghetto, but we are protected at night by a 10 ft wall with barbed wire above and pieces of glass cemented into the top of the wall. I don’t have pictures but when I get brave enough to take out my camera (I don’t know really when that will be), I will take some pictures and send them to you.

The barrio apparently had some problems with Elder Young’s old companion and so all I heard yesterday was, “Finally, President Da Silva sent us two gringos who want to work!”

Elder Young is awesome! In the past few days we’ve had tons of success and already have two baptisms planned, one for the 11th of September and the other on the 18th of September. It’s looking really good and the Bishop here seems to be very satisfied. Finally, I have a companion who enjoys following the rules and enjoys being a missionary. It’s been a wonderful week in that aspect. Elder Young has been out 8 months and I am out a year now. It’s pretty incredible and by the time Austin’s sister (Megan Lundskog) gets here, I will only have 6 months left, it will be crazy!!! I’m actually super excited to meet her and with the way things work, there is no doubt that I will run into her.

There is nothing too unique about this area and zone of Bella Italia. All of the missionaries here are Elders. It’s just too bravo to have Hermanas here and its way too bravo to have couple missionaries here. I have a great group of awesome elders in my district and they are all working super hard and just doing the right things.

Here is how things will work when you come to pick me up. I will finish my mission on a Tuesday night here. You guys will fly in on Wednesday morning and when you get off the plane here in Montevideo, I will be free to do as I wish. I will help you get a rental car and we will head out together and tour the country for about a week a week and a half or so. I will probably have to drive because you won’t be able to understand too much. During that week, we will visit with my converts and also probably go to the sealing of Federico and Virginia (my convert family from Minas) here in the temple in Montevideo. So make sure that you are worthy to hold a current temple recommend!!!!!! (At all times) It will be quite a memorable experience, so yeah get excited too.

Well I love you all so very much! I’m doing just fine with money, don’t worry about that now. I love you all so much. I’ll see you all in just a little bit

Con Amor tu hijo
Elder Sluder

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another Week... A New Place!!!!!

08/24/2010

Dear Family,

What a week I have had!

Well first off, yes some things did happen with the money problem. I’m extremely sorry. It all comes down to bad planning on my part and some really stupid situations that left me having to spend more than I had originally planned. I’m okay for now and I do not plan to spend much more. I will get better at this! But thank you so much for your support. You really helped out in a tight situation.

I have now been serving in Minas for almost six months. It’s become my home! I asked the President for a fifth change there, but he just looked at me in my interview like I was crazy. On Sunday night I received the call I kinda didn’t want to receive. I was told that my new area was to be San Jose de Mayo. I was to be whitewashing (they pull both missionaries out and put two brand new ones in) and my companion was to be Elder Taylor. I was really excited and I got my self all prepared to go. I even printed out a map of the city and was dead set on this place. Then last night at 11 O’clock, I received a phone call from the AP’s. They said there had been some problems and there were to be some emergency changes with some problematic missionaries and that I am now the district leader in Bella Italia Morañas Montevideo. I couldn’t believe it! I was so mad because I really don’t like Montevideo. I don’t like the city! And I’m now going to one of the roughest areas in the entire mission right in the middle of the freakin’ city. My new companion is Elder Young. I still haven’t met him, but I hear he’s great. I’m slowly warming up to the idea and so we will see how it goes.

Last night we had a special noche de hogar (family home evening) with a family in the ward in Minas and Federico and Virginia. They are the couple who plan to get married and baptized in September. Virginia told me some things that made this whole mission totally worth it. First, she told me she had been praying like crazy that I would stay and when she found out that I wasn’t, she knew that the Lord knew best. Second, I asked her what the difference in her life has been since I found them and started teaching them. She said that now she believes in God and knows he loves me. She also said, “I know God loves me because every morning when Federico goes to work, he kisses me and tells me that he loves me. I have lived with him for five years and we have a child together and he never did that until you taught us about the eternal family”.

It was night full of tears. They have a goal is to marry in the temple in one year. If everything works out right we might be able to attend their sealing.

Minas was wonderful and I will miss it! A lot.

I have a question… Are you guys really planning on coming in a year to pick me up?

Dad your Spanish is perfect! (With Google, keep practicing)

I got my shoes fixed and I’m ready to go!

I love you,
Elder Sluder

Thursday, August 19, 2010

From Punta Del Este

8/16/2010

Dear Family,

The pictures you guys sent to me are great! Thanks! I really loved them! I’m so happy to hear that you had a successful reunion and that all went well!

I have had a very difficult week myself. I am currently down here in Punta Del Este and today I have been going around with my district seeing the sights. I hope you guys like the pictures. If you can zoom in on some of them and you’ll see a lot of interesting things.

John on the famous Hand in the Sand sculpture. Thumbs up on the thumb!

Backpack on the beach

John and Hermana Kleinman

An artsy shot on the beach with his nametag in the foreground.

A shot of the city from the beach.  
The Hand in the Sand is in front of the buildings

I will be down here until tomorrow, head back to Minas and then on Wednesday morning there is a special meeting with a Seventy in Montevideo. So I’ll be traveling down there… again.

This past week Elder Mangleson and Elder Lopez didn’t get along at all! It was horrible. Elder Lopez just about called it quits and headed home and it really made for a rough week with a lot of drama. The truth is they don’t agree much about anything and don’t really like each other.

Federico and Virginia, our best investigators are still on schedule. They will be getting baptized the 11th of September. They are awesome and maybe, just maybe when you guys come to Montevideo to pick me up, they will be going through the temple and we will be able to join them. That’s my hope at least.

Changes will happen on Tuesday, August 24 and I’m almost positive I will be leaving Minas; six months in one area is a long flippin’ time! And to be honest, after this week I feel that it is time for me to go. The time seems to be flying and in the next little while I will be out one year in my time on the mission. It’s going quick!

Well have a great week. I love you and miss you guys a ton. Enjoy the pictures

Love, Elder Sluder

Monday, August 9, 2010

In Pan de Azucar

Note from Dad: We've gathered our family together this week for our second annual Sluder family reunion in Wellsville, Utah. I emailed John last night and included some pictures of the family that were taken last night.

August 9, 2010

Dear Family,

Wow… I can’t believe the family I have! This week I’ve been dreaming a lot about all of you. It might sound weird, but I keep having this same dream where we are all together at a family reunion function. The strange part is, I totally forgot that this week you were all meeting together for this reunion. I realized it and it really hit me hard when I saw you all together and happy.

I’ve had a heck of a week. Everything that we planned seemed to just not work out and at times was it very difficult to be content with the situation. We did however keep our three fechas bautismales and the family that we have planned to baptize is still on schedule. However, I do not think I will be there to see their baptism. They can’t get married or baptized until after the 10th of September. The change will end on the 24th of August and from what I hear from President Da Silva, I will not be in Minas a fifth change. He has other plans for me. I have an interview with him tomorrow, so we shall see.

Tonight I’m in Pan de Azucar. We had a zone activity today and we went and climbed the cruz It’s a cerro (hill) above Pan de Azucar. Anyway, because we’re already half way to Maldonado, we are just going to stay the night here and head on our way tomorrow morning.

I had a very interesting conversation today. While I was coming down from the cruz at the top of the cerro, I was talking with one of the oro hermana missionaries who is really struggling with her new life here in Uruguay. She is from Salt Lake City and is a convert to the church of only two years. I asked her what her parents and her family thought of her decision to serve a mission. She replied that her parents were furious (they’re not members) and when she left her mother at the airport, her mother told her not to ever come back. I couldn’t believe it and I immediately felt horrible for this sister missionary.

I first though about you Dad and the last moments I had with you in the airport and how life changing to me they really were. And Mom, I then thought about how much you really didn’t want me to go, but you always knew how important it was, so in a sense you gave me the push and support to leave. I then thought about my awesome brother, my loving sisters, their great husbands and wife and all of the rambunctious, loud and sweet nieces and nephews I have! I am so grateful to have all of you. I really miss every single one of you so much. I love you all even more! You’re the greatest gift that God has ever given me. I will keep you all in my prayers. Be safe and enjoy EVERY moment together in your family reunion this week.

Love your son, brother and uncle
Elder John Sluder

P.S. Tell Juan and Jackie thank you so much. I will soon be writing them a letter and send them my love.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Climbing Mountains & Teaching the Gospel in Uruguay

August 2, 2010

Dear Family,

Well how’s it going? I'm doing alright for now. Another week has passed and we seem to be coming along just fine. Today we had an awesome p-day activity. We climbed the Cerro Verdun here in Minas. At the top is a giant Virgin Mary. Yes, it’s another Catholic icon, but that's what they put here on the tops of mountains.
I have included several pictures.


First is my district; from right to left is Elder Lopez from Paraguay, Elder Mangleson from Centerville, Utah (he will be finishing his mission in about four weeks), Hermana Bull from Arkansas (also about to finish her mission), Hermana Kleinman from Orem, Utah, my companion Elder Thornton, and of course me.




In this photo you can see the city of Minas behind me.



 Here is one of me and Jose Merola. Jose is probably the coolest guy I’ve met here in Uruguay.



And here is one of the Virgin Mary shrine at the top of the hill.

We have set a marriage date with our investigators Federico and Virginia!!!! WOOOOO HOOOOO. They will get married on the 10th of September and we will probably baptize them on the 11th of September. Were baptizing a whole family and I can’t even describe how awesome and happy I feel. The next changes will happen on 23rd of August. I fear that I will be long gone for the wedding and for the baptism but I still feel super good about it. I am planning though to ask the president for a fifth change in Minas, but considering that I have already served here five months, I highly doubt that he will say okay. Four changes in one area is rare enough, but five is really just unheard of.

We definitely had a much better week. My reimbursements won't be here until Friday and I had to pay bills right off the bat, so I didn't get the chance to really use my monthly allowance for anything. I did take some money out of my account so I can eat for the next few days. Sorry. But thank you so much. I'm really trying to just be super cheap and so far having to take responsibility for all the small stuff has been really killing me.

Well I love you all. I'm doing great and I'm having a blast. Don't really have anything to else to tell ya. Thanks for the information on the people and please send my concerns for Kolby Crampton. That is just unbelievable.

Love ya!
Elder Sluder

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back in Minas and Enjoying the Work

July 26, 2010

Dear Family,

Well I’m back in Minas. Cool huh. The mission conference was great and it was even better to stay in the hostel. The hostel is a hotel located behind the temple for the people who go to the temple. It’s pretty much like living in the U.S.A. again. I got the opportunity to work with some very good missionaries and I really learned a lot in my short time working in Montevideo. When I came back on Wednesday it was really the same old same old. Nothing too new.... Well I take that back. One of the Elders has pretty much gone off the deep end. The mission president called last night and talked to him for about an hour on the phone. This morning he tried to pack his bags and said he was leaving to go back to Paraguay. It’s ridiculous. I’m just happy he’s not my companion!

My companion is great! He’s definitely my opposite though. It’s really funny; I can see what I need to change to become better by the kind of companions the Lord assigns me. My companion loves to study! Me... Well I do it only when I have to do it. So we’ll see if I develop some better study habits after this change.

Everything still seems to be coming along with the baptisms that we’ve been planning. This next week we’ll be planning a wedding for two of our investigators who we plan to baptize at the end of this change. They both said that they want to do it and they want to get baptized. They are the most awesome family I have ever met too. Their names are Federico y Virginia. So on that side of things it looking really great.

It was really great to see the picture of the parade and to see the missionaries of Cache Valley. I’m super happy to see every one alright. Hey Uncle Phil… My best uncle ever! Thanks for your email. We don’t really eat anything too strange here; it’s mostly all Italian food. But I have had Armadillo and Carpincho which is a giant rat, the world biggest rodent. But we eat those kinds of things very rarely.

Note from Dad: Carpincho are also known as Capybara.
See: http://www.itsnature.org/ground/mammals-land/capybara/

Well here it ain’t so warm… it’s about 9 degrees Celsius (48 degrees F) and the humidity is like 110%, so the cold just goes right through you. Besides that, I’m doing much better health wise. I went out and bought some antibiotics and I’m pretty much all better.

I included some pictures… one is of the baptism of Virginia that we held last Saturday. In the picture of our baptism is my new comp Elder Thornton. The other one is of the Catholic Church here in Minas that I just took about 20 minutes ago and the last one is... Well I forgot… anyways enjoy! So well I guess I’ll talk to you all next week. Thanks for everything

Love you,
Elder John Sluder


John, Virginia and Elder Thornton


The Catholic Church in Minas


John and his trainer Nahuel Trigueros
at the MTC in Argentina.

Friday, July 23, 2010

In Montevideo for Training and More Baptisms are Planned.

July 19, 2010

Dear Family,

Wow what a week I have had! It’s probably been one of the busiest weeks of my entire mission. It’s been out of control ridiculous. My new companion is Elder Thornton. He’s great. He’s from Grand Junction Colorado. He’s a good kid who will definitely follow the rules and he can speak some Spanish too.

This whole week, I’ve been running around Minas like a chicken with my head cut off. The sister missionaries had lightning strike their house. As a result, it ruined the water heater that I changed out two weeks ago, so I had to go back and change it again.

I had baptismal interviews to conduct and then had to conduct the baptism we had on Saturday!!!! Elder Haws and his parents showed up and now I’m not even in Minas but in Montevideo for a special conference!!! Elder Haw’s dad said he will call you guys and talk to you about me when he gets home in a week or so.

All of the missions in the entire world are changing and we’re starting a new, more structured training program. Because I’m the District leader, I’m here in Montevideo for a special training conference for three days. Fun huh? I will be staying in the hostel here in Carrasco behind the temple, so it’s actually not so bad. I left Minas last night alone and without a comp. When I got to Montevideo, I just kinda hung out and slept over at the AP’s house last night.

It feels like I’m getting sick. I think it’s from the weather change; we will see if it gets any worse.

Sunday we had a member of the Seventies Quorum, President Gavarret in church. He congratulated me and said he could really see a change in the missionary work in his branch. It felt pretty good coming from a seventy. He’s actually from the branch I’m serving in. We also had our super awesome investigator family come too. It looks like we will be baptizing the whole family here in just a little bit.

Sorry no pictures this week. I kinda can’t get that done with my situation in Montevideo.

Well besides all that, I’m doing alright (just wet). It hasn’t stopped raining for a few days now. I can’t wait to see the sun again. Missions are fun… let me tell ya… I’m having a blast!

Well love you all; be careful.

Elder Sluder

Monday, July 19, 2010

Things Going Well in Minas - I'm the New District Leader

July 13, 2010

Dear Family,

Well, the change is finally over!!!!! I’m in Minas again for my fourth change. My new companion is from Colorado and he seems really cool! He actually talks!!! His name is Elder Thornton and he’s only been on the mission for about three changes, so he’s pretty new. Elder Haws is going home. I’ll make sure that I get you his email address and stuff like that and you can talk with him. He knows me pretty well. He’s lived with me for the past seven months of my mission.

In our house, we now have Elder Mangleson from Salt Lake. He will also be finishing his mission this change; and Elder Lopez is still here. He’s really been a challenge, let me tell ya. Oh yeah, I almost forgot… I’m also the district leader of Minas now. Cool huh?

Well besides all that, I have a baptism this week on Saturday and it seems like all will work out once again nice and smooth.

I never really got a chance to go get my shoes fixed, I’m sorry. I kinda got into a bind last week and had to buy a bunch of tickets to go to Maldonado and so I used the money for that. I came up short this month cause of the ridiculous phone bill I had to pay from May, but I’m recovering and learning my best to just finance better. Sorry, but I will get them fixed in the next week or so when I receive the reimbursements that I turned in. Don’t even worry about my shoes anymore. For now I’m going to wear a pair of boots that Elder Haws gave me until I can get them fixed. I’m doing just fine. But thank you so much.

And the last thing I want to say is that I’m really grateful to you Cindy for talking to my friend Cory! Cindy, you’re the bomb and I love you so much! You just hang in there. You’re doing so great. I think about you often and many times when I teach about the change the gospel makes in peoples lives, I talk about you. I talk about a person that has gone through so much but has the strongest testimony ever. And this person knows that her heavenly Father loves her. Cindy I love you. I really do!! I’m sorry. And I can’t wait to see you and give you the biggest hug ever in a year.

Well I miss you all but I know you’re all doing just fine. Keep it up!!!!

Love, your son,
Elder John Sluder

Monday, July 5, 2010

Cristina's Baptism

July 5, 2010

Dear Family,

Wow what a week I have had!!! This was probably the most rewarding, best week of the mission I have had and at the same time the most difficult! First, on Wednesday I had interviews with the mission president. I didn’t think too much about it, but when I went in to have my interview, what the mission president told me definitely startled me. He first said that he was way super happy and super proud of the work that I have been doing and then he told me that I had succeeded in my special assignment. I didn’t even know that I had a special assignment! He told me that my companion was having a lot of trouble working and just being a missionary in his last area. So he sent him to me to help him change in the last assignment of his mission. I really don’t know what I did, but I definitely got a good report. President DaSilva said he couldn’t believe our number of baptisms and the lessons we were teaching. It was super cool. We are now starting the last week of his mission and I can tell he is dying to just get out of here. I can’t really blame him, but I will make him work till the last second. Ha ha ha

Friday night Uruguay won the semi-finals to the world cup and they’re part of the final four countries still playing. It’s a really big Deal!!!! This place was on fire on Friday night!!! We went down to the city square to see what was going on and it was the craziest thing I have ever experienced!!! These people love their soccer!!! I got some good video of South American soccer riots and definitely got to scream with the rest of these crazy Uruguayans VAMOS ARRIBA URUGUAY!!!!! It was the coolest!!! So tomorrow they will play Holland and if they win that game, they will be playing the last game of the world cup either against Germany or Spain! I really have come to love soccer like the rest of these people. It’s awesome!!!!

On Saturday I did it!!!! I baptized Cristina Correa!!! She was the biggest miracle of my mission. The baptism was perfect and everything worked out so smooth! Cristina got up to bear her testimony at the end of the meeting. In her testimony she said that the evening we knocked on her door for the first time, she was just incredibly angry with the whole world and honestly thought about killing herself. At first, she didn’t think much about us and had no problem shutting the door in our face. But when a few days passed and we returned telling her that we only wanted to help her out, she could feel the love we had for her and let us in. It was that simple. It was just service and love. At her baptism, I don’t think there was a dry eye. It was truly one of the most incredible moments of my life. It’s amazing to see the Evangelio de jesucristo change people’s lives. I have now come to the conclusion that if Cristina is the last person that I baptize for the remainder of the year I have left, I don’t care. She was worth the two years that I spent looking. I never thought in all my life that I would love some 54 year old Uruguayan woman who was a little on the crazy side. Cristina is the miracle of my mission.

I've included some pictures of the baptism.

I have two other baptisms planned for the 17th of July and I will be baptizing a whole family that I have been teaching on the 15th of August. It’s the best ever!!!

I got the letter from Nolan Gunnell. I never did receive a first one. THANKS NOLAN! You’re the bomb!

Well I love you all and thanks for all that you have been doing.

Love you all,
Elder John P. Sluder

                                  
John and Cristina Correa

John and Cristina again...

John writing in his journal at sunset

A great "artsy" shot at the beach!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Three Baptisms Still On track

June 28, 2010

Dear Family,

Well another week has gone by and it’s crazy for me to think that time is really going so fast. Changes are not for another two weeks. They will fall on the 13th of July. Woo-hoo. I’m pretty sure the mission president will keep me here for another change though. I’m having a lot of success and I’m happy!!! The truth is I feel I need to be in Minas for another six weeks for a minimum.

This week Cristina was my only investigator who came to church. Vamos arriba con eso, porque ahora ella puede ser bautizada!!!! (She can now be baptized because she was in church). She seems to be super excited and she doesn’t seem to have any problems with anything. Well almost nothing... ever since we started teaching her, when we greet each other, she hugs and kisses me. To me, it wasn’t really a big deal. It’s just the tradition we have here. I have probably been kissed more as a missionary than as a regular person. Hugging and kissing is the equivalent of shaking someone’s hand or waving or something like that.

Anyway, I told her, "Well I need to tell you that as missionaries we really can’t kiss and hug you any more". Ha Ha Ha I thought the woman was going to have a heart attack!!! She stood up and yelled a while about how the missionaries have crazy, ridiculous rules and then said “I don’t care, but I guess I‘m still getting baptized anyway”. It made for a good laugh.

Right now the goal in the mission is for every companionship to have one baptism a week. I think I’m getting there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have baptisms now planned for the 3 de Julio, 10 de Julio, and the 17 de Julio. The mission president is super satisfied. I will be talking to him on Wednesday in Maldonado. So that will be three baptisms and so far the way things look we will reach the dates and the goals we have made!!! It’s so awesome!!!

Elder Coyago is still super quiet. He hardly ever talks, but that’s fine I guess. I only have two weeks to go with him anyway. I couldn’t start a fight with him even if I wanted to. Elder Haws and I are almost companions because he is really struggling with his comp Elder Lopez (and I am too). Anyway besides that, things are looking good. Elder Haws also goes home in two weeks and his parents are coming down to pick him up. It’s going to be great because he said they will take us out to lunch. Ha Ha Ha. I’m really going to miss him!!! He’s become my best friend over these past few months that we’ve been together.

Besides all that I’m great and I’m healthy.

I love you all so much. Thanks for your support and I will continue to be careful. Thanks Mary for your Email. I never did get an email from Nolan so check and make sure he has the right address.

Love,
Elder Sluder

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Three Baptisms Scheduled

June 21, 2010

Dear Mom and Dad and family,

Well I survived another week here in good old little Uruguay. So that’s good I guess! We’ve actually had a really good week and now we have three baptisms planned.

One of our investigators is Cristina. She’s is doing alright and she still plans to be baptized on the 3rd of July. So far it’s the success story of my mission and I have really come to love all of these people I have been serving and working with. Second is a woman named Diana. She is pretty cool and also plans to be baptized on the 3rd. This week I set another baptismal date with a young girl named Virginia. Everything seems to be going alright and I’m just trying my best to help them all out and now prepare them for baptism. This week I plan to set some more baptismal fetches with another amazing family that I have been teaching now for the past few months. Vamos arriba con todo!!!

Dad, I’m super sorry for using my card so much. Things have gotten a little tight this month and I am still just waiting for reimbursals. I’m super sorry like I said and I will try my best not to over spend and be super prudent.

Well happy Fathers Day dad. Sorry can’t call ya. The mission president would probably kill me if I did, and I think God would be kind of mad too. I did receive the email from Brother Salmond with his address, so if he reads this, thanks!!!!

It’s crazy to think that someday when I eventually come home, there will be a new church building and I probably won’t even be able to recognize the place.

If you want to send me some new shoes, you can. Elder Haws couldn’t believe that I was able to walk the bottoms out of my shoes so fast. He says that I need metal shoes. So I really don’t know what you want me to do. I can get them fixed here, but for almost the same price as a new better pair. So you guys talk over what you want to do and let me know next week. I’ll do what ever you guys want. Oh and yah, so that’s a no, I didn’t get my shoes fixed yet. I have just been too busy and really couldn’t find the time. Sorry.

I know I write every thing backwards, but hey I understand it, so I just hope you do to.

My companion Elder Coyago still doesn’t talk much. He is counting the days left he has on the mission. He will be heading home in 23 days and seems to be super excited.

Well, I love you all. I’m doing great just trying to get through this horrible cold weather here. It’s been about 5 degrees C (40 degress F) with wind and its super, super humid so that makes it so much different and colder. Plus, we’re out in the streets walking all day. But hey, it is worth it! I’m still alive and I’m still happy. The work is finally starting to pay off too. Have an awesome week.

Love you all,
Elder Sluder