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.

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

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy 20th Birthday John!

June 14, 2010

Dear family,

Wow… what a birthday I had! So I think it’s a miracle because today I got my packages and they were perfect!!! Thanks so much for the taco seasoning!!!

Elder Haws said that he’s super excited and he’s super happy now to have real taco seasoning and maple syrup!!! Ha Ha Ha. All the other stuff I got was perfect too. Thanks to Mary for the sunflower seeds and thanks to Grandma for all the awesome things you sent me too... especially my socks. It rained all day on my birthday, but besides that it was really just a great day.

One of my friends here is a guy named Jose Merola (I think he added me as his friend on Facebook, so Dad you need to check that out). He’s a young guy in the ward and so far he’s the richest Uruguayan I have come to know. For my birthday he threw me a party and we ate 30 kilos of meat!!! (Note from Dad - that’s 66lbs) Ribs and chorizo. It was unbelievable. They also made me a cake and they put big old firecracker, road flare thing on the cake and it just made it that much better. It was awesome!!! I worked the rest of the day in the rain and that night we had two more parties at different member’s homes. It was ridiculous and crazy and super awesome. The really funny thing is President Da Silva (the mission president) and I share the same birthday so I called him early in the morning and wished him a happy birthday and he did the same for me.

We had some setbacks this week with Cristina and for a while I didn’t think she was going to get baptized. But she went to church on Sunday and had a really good experience. Now this morning she said she’s ready and all things look really good for the 3 de Julio. I’m super excited and also another woman named Diana who we have been teaching will also be getting baptized the same day. Vamos Arriba con todo!!!!!

I’m so happy to see that you guys have all gotten home safely and that Mom got to have such an amazing, unforgettable experience as she did.

I might take some of that money out of my account in the next few days. My shoes still need to be repaired and my feet have been wet now for three days straight. There are quarter sized holes in the bottom of now both pair of shoes that I have. I’ll get it done and thanks for everything and for your support. I love you very much and I hope that you are all safe this next week.

Be careful and take care,
Love Elder Sluder

Monday, June 7, 2010

Having Success in Minas

June 7, 2010

Dear Father,

Well how is everything going? I’m still doing alright. I’m still just doing the same old, same old missionary work. Right now I’m in Maldonado. We spent P-day down here today and visited Punta del Este. Today we went and saw the Hand in the Sand statue here in Punta del Este. We also went to the only Burger King in all of Uruguay. It was so strange. I felt like I was back in the United States. It was an awesome experience to have.

My new companion, Elder Coyago from Ecuador is super, super quiet and hardly talks. It’s not that he’s afraid to talk; it’s just how he is. He’s really just a super chill guy and doesn’t want to lead and just says what ever you want to do, let’s do it. I have been the one who has been leading every lesson and pretty much all the work we had this past week in our area. It’s been a really good opportunity to grow as a missionary and not always have to rely on my companion for everything. I pretty much feel confident in everything missionary work wise now.

This past week we set a baptismal date with a woman named Cristina. She plans to be baptized on the 3rd of July. She is unbelievable! The first time Elder Maluff and I contacted her, she asked if it was a sin to kill herself. She just hated her life and didn’t want to live any more. She had recently gone through a long battle with breast cancer and had her right breast removed. She didn’t understand why God didn’t take her off the earth. She said she just wanted to die and was extremely mad at the world. Then she slammed the door in our face. We went back to her house a week later. I didn’t really know why we went back. I think that we thought it would be fun to talk to the crazy lady again. Surprisingly, she let us in and we taught her. We have been teaching her for about four weeks and today we set a goal that she will stop smoking on the 30th of June. She is super excited about it and I can’t wait. We also have plans by the end of this cambio to baptize several families that we have now found.

Besides all of that, I’m doing great. My health has returned completely back to normal. Just know that I’m fine and don’t worry about me. I’m so happy to hear about mom and I will keep her in my prayers so that she will be safe. I love you all so very much and I’m so happy to hear dad that you are having all the experiences that you are having in Young Men and your choir.

Love you all so much,
Elder Sluder

 La Mano en la Arena (The Hand in the Sand)
on the beach at Punte del Este.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cambios and a New Companion

Note from Dad: John has now completed 9 months in the mission field. Where does the time go?

June 1, 2010

Dear Family,

Well hey there! As you already know, today is cambios (change day). Elder Maluff is no longer my companion. He’s going to a new area and my new companion is Elder Cayago. He’s from Ecuador. Woo hoo… another companion who doesn’t speak English… but oh well. Besides all of that, I’m doing just great. I’m here with Elder Baum and we’re just hanging out and talking. I’ll probably head back to Minas today around 1:00 or 2:00. I’m still going to be living with Elder Taylor Haws from Arizona. This will be the last change of his mission and then he will be heading home. This will also be the last change of my new companion Elder Cayago. Elder Cayago is only about 4’10” tall. He was in my same zone when I was in Durazno, so next cambio will be a very interesting.

We plan to have a lot of baptisms because we have set and will set several more dates for this next month. So that’s super exciting, but things always seem to come up so we will see.

Well I don’t have too much time this week. I love you all; have an awesome week. And thank you for all that you guys do.

Love Elder Sluder