Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Another Week in Miñas

April 26,2010

Dear Family,

Well, I’m still here in Miñas Uruguay doing my thing. Mom and Dad, it’s very interesting that you guys ran into that woman who is a distant relative. I find it’s even crazier that my Mother is going to ride a horse 100 miles across the Nebraska plain at 54 years of age! Okay mom… have fun… ha-ha-ha.

Anyway, for me things have been alright. I will probably take the money out of my account today so that I can buy the things I need on p-day (which is today). I had a very good week… so far so good. We’ve had a lot of progress. By the end of this change, the plan is to be baptizing a lot and have more to come for the next change. Yesterday was Stake Conference in Maldonado and so we went and it was very enjoyable. President Da Silva, my Mission President spoke about the Book of Mormon and it was awesome. I also saw my book covers being made by Walter in Maldonado. They look great, but they’re not finished yet. He said he is going to water proof them and I should get them on Tuesday.

So many things are changing in the mission. Just so you know, the addresses and phone numbers have all changed. If you write me a letter, you must now send it to me at the new address which I will include at the end of the letter. Dad, please try your best to let everyone know. Also on Mondays, we are now having a district meeting in the morning from 10 am to 12 am. From 12 pm to 9 pm will be our p-day, so that really means a longer p-day. Woo-Hoo! We are all so excited and so happy this is going to start in two weeks.

I will call you guys on May 9th. You just need to tell me a time and a number and I will call. I have a lot more to tell you, so I’m very excited. I don’t know how big of a deal you really want to make of it. I don’t know for sure, but what I hear I will only have 30 minutes to talk to you guys. So we gotta go fast and we can’t be talking about just whatever; there are some really important things I need to talk with you guys about.

Besides all that, I’m doing great and we had an awesome week. I’m still very healthy and I feel great (cold but great).

Thanks for all. I love you all so very much and miss ya.

Elder Sluder

Note from Dad: I have changed John's mailing address on the blog here and will also post it to John's facebook account.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wow - What a Great Week I Had!!!

April 20, 2010

Dear Family,

Well another week gone by. Today I’m in Montevideo because it is time for changes again. Luckily, we aren’t making any changes. Elder Hawes and I have come down to Montevideo to see off some of his old companions who are going home.

Wow, what a great week I had!!!! We have worked so hard and finally yesterday Elder Maluff and I were able to set our first baptismal date with one of our investigators. We plan this week to invite three more of our investigators to be baptized. We are so excited and very happy that the mission president allowed us to be together for at least another six weeks. We have set a goal to baptize 11 people in these next six weeks and we honestly believe that it is very possible! So far though, our only planned baptism is with an 18 year old girl named Cynthia and it is planned for May 15th… Woo Hoo!!!!

Besides all that, no real grand adventures happened this week. But I’m very excited to just see how this next six weeks turns out!

Dad, I guess if you want to do a conference call that would be just fine. But there are several things I want to talk with you guys about first this time and I have written it down to make sure that we can have an organized conversation. I’m pretty excited for its only two weeks away. Man, time is really going fast!

Okay also, yes I know that I only have a little bit of money left in my account. Sorry, I had to take some money out last week because I needed some things to write and send letters. Also, the scripture covers are awesome I guess! The zone leaders called me and said that mine are almost done. I guess he’s finishing them early or something. I had him do something that has never been done before; he’s drawing a picture of Joseph Smith on a horse for me. It’s going to be great. I don’t know for sure, but I think later next week on Tuesday we’re going down to Maldonado. I would like to pay him then if it is possible. Let me know… sorry it’s so soon.

Anyway, besides all that I’m doing great. I have felt super blessed this past week and I know it’s because of all your prayers. Thank you so much!!!

It’s getting cold here too... really, really cold! And I really don’t have winter clothes. I am planning though on talking to you guys about this on Mother’s Day, so for now I will just keep using my companions sweater! Ha ha ha

Love you all so much!!!

Elder Sluder

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Family Baptism and Other Adventures

April 12, 2010

Dear Family,

Wow, another week has now gone by and I have had quite the week too. It was pretty much just the typical busy week, but it’s definitely gone by super fast. There are several things I want to mention so here it goes. First of all, last P-day we went to a place called Pan de Azucar. In Pan de Azucar, there is a cerro (hill) with a huge cross on the top.

It’s about 16 stories tall and you can climb up inside of it. From there you can see the ocean and all of the Uruguayan country side. I included pictures of it. If you want to know more, just look it up on the internet; but I have now been there and done that.

Today we went up to the horse statue Artigas which like you said is the biggest horse statue in the world. I also took pictures so I hope you enjoy them also. So all of that’s been really cool.

On Friday we went on an interchange with the zone leader to Maldonado and wow that place is ghetto! Have I told you guys how much I hate dogs here in South America? While in Maldonado, we had a meeting with the Hermanas and I spoke with Hermana Walton for a while. It was pretty cool. We talked a whole lot about the people in Las Vegas that we both knew. Weird huh? We got back to Miñas on Saturday.

My companion and I have now reactivated several families in the branch here. One of our families named Incuralde has identical twin 8 year old sons who really wanted to be baptized. So on Saturday night we baptized them. It was really cool. They were not convert baptisms, but I still felt good about it. I hope that they can continue to make good choices in their lives and have success. We had a full chapel on Sunday! It was so awesome and we are seeing miracles. We hope to be able to reactivate and baptize the few good investigators that we have. Well besides that, all is been good.

Mom and Dad, one other thing… Here in Uruguay, the missionaries use handmade leather cases for their scriptures called tappa. An artist usually draws an image on every side. They protect your scriptures and are kind of a cool remembrance of the mission. I’ve priced them out all over Uruguay, but everywhere I go they are all upwards of $200-$300 dollars American. I didn’t want to spend that much. When I went to Maldonado the other day, they have a recent convert there named Walter Del Puerto (look him up on the internet) who makes them. I asked how much and he quoted me at $100 dollars. (Three different cases, one for my Bible, one for my BOM and one for my hymn book, all with an image drawn in the leather of my choosing) Can I get them? It was an awesome price. I will probably receive them right around my birthday in June and it would make for an awesome birthday gift. Tomorrow he is coming to our zone conference to talk with the missionaries about what they want. I did make a plan to get them from him and I kinda placed an order. He did tell me though that because of all the work, he will not start on mine until the first week of May. If I need to cancel, it would be fine. Anyway, let me know. I will finish putting in my order and getting everything situated with him tomorrow, but let me know if that’s alright with you in your email next week.

Thanks for all you do. I love you all and I love the new horse, she looks great!

Love your son,
Elder Sluder

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Little Adversity and the Spirit Testifies

April 5, 2010

Dear Family,

Well, how are things? I have had quite a week! Por suerte, I’m doing just fine health wise and I feel that I’m progressing as a missionary. I don’t really know where it all started, but at the beginning of the week, we had several very normal days. We worked super hard and felt super good. We found a new investigator on Tuesday afternoon who is quite interesting. Her name is Natalia Ortega and she is 24 years old. Here in Miñas, she is a famous Latina singer. We sat down and talked a lot about music with her. I talked to her about how much music impacts our religion. Elder Maluff can sing very, very, very well and I sing okay, so we decided to sing one of our hymns for her. When we finished, she was tearing up. It was another one of those cool things that happens to me on my mission almost on a daily basis. I’m a little more excited this time though, because she was very interested. When we finished, she gave us her schedule so we can come by again. She said she had a desire for something like this in her life.

This week I dealt with one of the most difficult situations of my mission so far. On Friday, we found a young man who is a Baptist, who knows the bible through and through. He very kindly let us in and we began to teach him. All was normal and we felt good. We just started to go through the almost routine way of how we teach. In the middle of the lesson, he got up and stood on a chair with the pamphlet that we give out on the plan of salvation in hand. He declared that this is a sin. He then recited the second commandment to us and said that the picture of Jesus is bad. We explained that we don’t worship the picture. We then sat there and took heat from this guy about how Mormons are the most corrupt religion on the face of the earth. My companion was able to stay cool and he ended up teaching me so much. We did all we could to testify of the Book of Mormon and challenged him to read and pray about it. We went back the next day like we had planned and he had invited his Baptist preacher over to fight with us. Great huh? Well once again we were cool-headed. These men sat there and told us how Joseph Smith was a homosexual and how all the pioneer brethren of the church are now in hell. Way difficult… that’s MY heritage! It was very humbling and I had to really rely on my own personal testimony. We then did the only thing we could do…. we invited them to General Conference, testified of the Book of Mormon and challenged them to read it. The spirit at that moment was so strong and I can honestly say that it was by far the most strong I have felt it yet on my mission.

They showed up to General Conference and listened to the talk on Saturday night that Elder Holland gave about lust. It was perfect! They both felt the spirit. I know they did because they invited us back to their homes on Sunday morning. They told us how it made them feel and that they plan to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. This is just one more miracle I can say that I have experienced. It’s absolutely incredible. General Conference was also wonderful for me.

I love you all so much and I too can add my testimony that this work is of a divine nature and I know for myself that the Book of Mormon is the true word of God. It was translated by a true prophet in these latter days. I know that my Savior Jesus Christ is real and I feel his protection, his influence and his example in my life each day.

I have been enjoying myself here in Miñas so far and I’m very satisfied with my companion and our work. Have a good week and enjoy all that we have, because in reality we have much to enjoy and to be thankful for.

Love, your Son, Brother and Uncle,
Elder John P. Sluder