Monday, March 29, 2010

Week Three in Miñas

March 29, 2010

Dear Family,

Oh my gosh Cindy… you fell and hit your head? That picture is awesome!!!! I hope it knocked some sense into you. Ha-ha-ha! Just kidding. I’m glad the doctors didn’t find anything wrong with your brain, though I’ll be honest, I was kinda surprised. Ha-ha-ha Okay, sorry that might have crossed the line a little bit. But you know I do love you and you’re awesome!!!! At least you’re not dumb like I am. I got hurt and had to have surgery here in South America!

It’s so awesome that you tried out for Americas Got Talent. I’m really excited for you. I would love to see you advance on; it could really be a good foot in the door for you. That’s so cool. I’ll pray for you to get better and maybe even win so that by the time I come home; we can be millionaires… ha-ha-ha. In all seriousness, I’m very happy that you’re okay and that now you can heal and get better. I love you, ya know.

Well for the rest of you, I’m still doing it. I have had a very interesting week. I got really sick on Friday. I don’t know if I ate something bad or what, but I definitely sure did have my troubles. Elder Maluff and I are having a blast. We are slowly starting to have more and more success in our area every day. We have been working so hard and have been super obedient to the rules. I have never in my entire life felt better spiritually than I do now. Dad, I loved the quote you sent from President Eyring and I look so forward this next week to General Conference. It’s going to be so awesome.

This morning we put on a ward activity. We had a futbol tournament. The stake patriarch is in our ward. He is a 60 year old man who really seemed very tranquil. But this morning, he came dressed in a soccer jersey and all the gear. He played futbol and was pretty much the best player I have seen since I started my mission. It was Hilarious. We had awesome turn out and we expect the ward to give us referrals and help out a lot more (now that they like us).

Besides all this, it was a good week. I did have a tri-zone conference in Montevideo on Friday. It was great to see all the missionaries that have now become such good friends of mine. I learned a ton. The mission president has challenged us all to read the entire Book of Mormon in Spanish in six weeks. I’m going to try my best.

I’m doing great. I’ll keep you all in my prayers. I hope that you will all have a safe week. Cindy, stay away from cinder blocks. I love you all and stay safer...

Love your brother and son
Elder Sluder

Monday, March 22, 2010

Week Two in Miñas - I'm Doing GREAT!

March 22, 2010

Dear Family,
Wow… another week gone by and I don’t know what happened to the time. I have had a very successful week and I’m doing great!

Life here in Miñas is definitely different than the life I had in Sarandi Del Yi. The work has been great and my companion, Elder Maluff has been awesome! My companion and I worked hard this week to find new investigators and we are now teaching some really awesome families. So that’s been great! We have been planning some awesome activities here in Miñas and have plans this Friday night to have a movie night. I got my hands on a copy of the new “Joseph Smith, prophet of the restoration” movie in Spanish and we plan to show it here in Miñas. We found a projector and plan to have a huge movie night and invite everyone in the city. The thing about it is, there aren’t any movie theaters in town because they just don’t really exist in South America. The people we have invited so far are excited and we plan to have an awesome program. We also have a branch fútbol tournament planned for this next upcoming Monday. We announced it last Sunday in church and everyone in the branch got super excited. We hope to bring excitement and spirit into this branch so that it will be ready to accept the new converts that we plan to baptize. We also want to let the members know that we do need them and we appreciate their help. So far this has been working. We had a branch activity the other night. I taught the lesson and we had about 40 people show up and afterwards we made some tortas fritas. It worked out great and we definitely could see that it helped when we went to church on Sunday.

Yesterday at church, we had a branch conference and had great attendance once again. The stake president spoke and said that he wanted this branch to become a ward in the next year or so. So that is now our main goal. We are looking for new priesthood holders and praying for miracles.

We have seen our miracles this week and I have learned that there is no better feeling than when one of your investigators looks at you and says that they read the Book of Mormon and they felt something special.

Mom, I think it’s funny that you mentioned Alma 17 in your letter. I had just read about that this morning in studies and it really is incredible. I’m also reading the journal of Levi Jackman daily. It’s unbelievable! I’m about halfway through and I love it. He was an awesome example of a missionary.

Well, I don’t have much more time. I plan to send you guys some pictures. We had a rain storm last night and it’s starting to get cold here. Here are some pictures of us four missionaries who live together here in Miñas. Elder Maluff is my companion. He is the Latino; he says "good looking one". Elder Haws is the extremely tall Rubio (blonde). And Elder Powell is the guy that’s going bald. He looks a lot older than he really is. Ha Ha Ha They are all so great!

I’m doing really well and look forward to talking to you all in about a month for Mother’s day. Well thanks mom and dad for keeping me informed. I love you guys very much and I hope you have another wonderful week.

Love, Your Son,
Elder John P. Sluder

By the way, I wanted the photos of the family reunion that were taken in front of the house and were all wearing brown and everyone is there.

Left to right: Elder Maluff, Elder Sluder, Elder Haws and Elder Powell

Left ro right: Elder Maluff, Elder Sluder, Elder Haws and Elder Powell

Left to right: Elder Sluder, Elder Maluff and Elder Powell

Monday, March 15, 2010

Week One in Miñas

March 15, 2010

Dear family,

Well… Wow!!! I’m doing great. I love my new area and I love my new companion even more!

I went to Montevideo this morning because I had to sign some paperwork with immigration. Anyways I took 500 pesos out of my account, which is like 25 dollars American. I was expecting my reimbursements this week, but because of all the changes, it’s going to be another week to get them. Today is P-day and I’m in need of a haircut and I really need to buy a bar of soap. My companion says I can use his for as long as I want, but I figure since I have been using his soap for a week, I should just buy a bar of my own. Today being P-day is the day to buy stuff like that and I really don’t want to go another week without it. I’m sorry. For now I’m about 98% sure that I won’t need to take any more money out for a while. I’m expecting reimbursement of 2500 pesos to come next week. Then the next week after, I will get paid my gyro of 3100, so I should be more than fine. I plan to put some money away into an emergency fund so I no longer need to use my account. If I can slowly build up my reimbursements, I will have plenty from here on out. Sorry for this inconvenience.

Miñas is awesome!!!! I live with three missionaries as you know. It has been the best time ever and I’m loving every minute of it. My new companion Elder Maluff is amazing and this past week we have had some success and plan to work hard and be obedient to the rules! So far so good and we are accelerating and doing wonders in only our first week together. It’s really strange, we get along really well. He speaks English perfectly, so that’s been nice. When I have a question or don’t understand a word, I can ask him what it means and he can tell me. I feel like I’m a missionary now. I had a rough month in February, but now I feel incredibly blessed and it has been wonderful.

Miñas is divided into two areas, Miñas 1 and Miñas 2. Before I came here, there were only two sets of missionaries. Sister missionaries are usually assigned to Miñas 1 area. The mission president split Miñas 2 area, so now we have 3 sets of missionaries in the branch. Now that we have more missionaries here, the mission president has set a goal to turn Miñas 2 and eventually Miñas 1 into wards. I know it’s possible and I know that we were all put here by inspiration from the Lord to get this done. I was given the half of the city to work that has the countryside and I will once again be working in the country going from farm to farm. Miñas is beautiful. It is the only place in Uruguay that has mountains. It’s awesome and it kinda reminded me of home… kinda!

Last week I did receive two packages. I got my package from you with my camera! It rocks to have a camera again; thank you so much!!!!!! And I also got a package from grandma. I loved it and I felt so blessed I can’t even tell you!!! I still have my bike. I brought it with me from Sarandi Del Yi.

Dad, you tried sending me those photos but my email won’t accept them… I would love for you to send me the photos from the family reunion that we had back in august. I need photos for lessons to share about families. I can just print them off here in the cyber cafe for like 5 pesos apiece.

Lots of things in our new home are broken, so I have been busy fixing them. My comp says I’m Mr. Fix it and he too offers my help to people who have problems on the side of the road. He tells them, “Hey, my companion is a really good mechanic; he´ll fix it for you for free”. I think I have now fixed more crappy cars on my mission than before. Unfortunately I can’t drive any of them and I’m just stuck walking for now.

It’s now starting to get cold here. It’s kinda weird; I’m not really looking forward to the cold here. It’s been over a year now since I have experienced winter. So this next one is going to be kinda interesting

Well I've got to go. I love you all and I’m alive and safe. I’ll keep you all in my prayers.

Love, Elder Sluder and ELDER MALUFF

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New Area Assignment and New Pictures

Note from Dad: This week marked John's six month anniversary in the mission. March 3rd was the official six month date.

March 9, 2009

Dear family,

Well, I’m so excited. I finally got changed! I’m currently in Tres Cruzes in Montevideo Uruguay. My new companion is named Elder Malluf. He’s from Paraguay and he speaks perfect English. I’m so happy!!!!!! So far he seems to be awesome and I’m looking forward to this change and working with him. My new area is called Miñas. It’s up north from Montevideo and it’s much bigger than Sarandi Del Yi. I will be living in a house with three other missionaries; Elder Haws, who was the old assistant to the president, and his oro and my companion. My old comp elder Rostaing is with a new missionary who is super obedient and I'm so happy. And I hope he can change him. I had a really rough last week with Elder Rostaing. I'm hoping that he gets better and they can see some success in Sarandi Del Yi.

I'm really glad to hear that your choir trip was so successful and I’m even happier to hear about all of your referrals. If I had referrals like that here I think I would die, because that's unbelievable. Congratulations.

I just met Hermana Walton who is now going to be in my same zone. I'm really looking forward to going to my new zone, Maldonado. I hear there are zone conferences on the beach.

I had a really strange experience the other day. My first baptism, Luis Zaidan hasn't been to church in about a month. Because of my surgery and everything, I haven't seen him in a while. We were working and walking up the street and we saw Luis. He walked up to me and I could tell he was drunk and he had been drinking. He was covered in blood, and he looked like he just got into a fight. I asked him what happened. He started to cry, and told me his wife beat him up. He had all of his stuff with him, and told me that he was never going to go back to his wife. He then pulled out a picture of his baptism. He thanked me and told me this was the happiest he had ever felt in his life. It put tears in my eyes, and after that I had a hard time working the rest of the day. It made me sad to see him like this. Besides all of this, I hope that he can somehow get over it and get back to church.

The assistants called me the other night and told me that I have two packages that just came in. So, just so you know, I should have my camera. They said they're waiting for me in Miñas.

Well, it was good to hear from ya. Another week down. It's crazy how fast time is going. I'm having so many experiences, and I'm going to really miss Sarandi Del Yi. I hope that you all have a good week; you need to know that I'm doing good and my health is returning back to normal. Thanks for everything.

Love your son,
Elder Sluder

P.S. Here some pictures taken yesterday before I left Sarandi.

Sarabdi Del Yi town sign

Another ward family and Elder Rostaing

Looks like an old train car... John and trains.

Not sure who this is...

Bishop Barreto and family

The Ward Building

Sermon on the mount???

This is my favorite picture so far (Dad).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Back in Sarandi Del Yi

March 1, 2010

Dear Family,

Well... I’m back! I got in to Sarandi Del Yi on Friday morning. Once again I traveled alone, so that was kinda tough, but it wasn’t too bad. I really hate to say this, but as I came over the bridge coming into town on Friday morning, I really felt at home. It was really weird. I have now served in Sarandi for four and a half months and I’m getting very comfortable and very accustomed to it. It’s really been great to get back to work and to come home to Sarandi Del Yi. Dad, just so you know, for now, all feelings of home sickness have left me. I was glad to see the pictures of the family and I hope for all is well with everyone.

On Thursday night, I got word that I was to return to Sarandi the very first thing in the morning. I tried calling my companion, but the line was cut and I couldn’t get a hold of him at all. When I showed up on Friday morning, everybody was shocked. It was hilarious. We have been working hard and I don’t think I have ever been more obedient to the rules. I’m feeling great! On Saturday night, we had a talent show as a ward activity. Everyone wanted me to sing, so I got up and performed “Lead Kindly Light” as a solo with no accompaniment. I sang the first verse first in English and then the first verse again in Spanish; and then the last verse in English and then the last verse again in Spanish. Afterwards, everyone complimented me. All of the men and some older women gave me hugs and kisses and said they were very happy to have me back. Just so you know, kissing on the cheek here is the custom for saying hello. The problem is, at times even the women come up and kiss you too. Anyway, now I can probably say that I have gotten kissed more during my mission than before. Ha-ha-ha.

So overall, I’m doing just great. Thanks for all you do. Next week is cambios so you won’t receive an email from me until Tuesday morning because P-day isn’t until Tuesday. I’m kind of excited and curious to see what happens. Well I’ve got to go. I love you all so much. Take it easy and have a wonderful week

Elder John P. Sluder