Monday, August 22, 2011

One Baptism This Week and Another Planned

August 22, 2011

Dear Family, 

Wow what a fast week! Time is so uncontrollable. This is email number one of only two more that I will be sending for the rest of my mission.  Wow, it’s so crazy to think that over two years ago I was getting ready to leave on my mission and now it’s almost over.  

We have been working full tilt. Yesterday we had a baptism!!!!  We baptized a young girl named Romina Gimenez. She’s 19 years old and the ward was so jazzed to have new future young woman for the missionaries who are returning home this summer. The baptismal service went very well and we had several investigators attend.  We are so excited and plan to keep baptizing many more. We have a plan to baptize a young man my last Sunday in the mission field (The 4th of September). His name is Rodrigo.  He’s awesome and now has his entire family coming to church. We figure soon they too will be baptized. They all came to the baptism yesterday. I sent a picture of Romina from her baptism yesterday. She is the one dressed in white of course. Bruno is the young man who baptized her (he’s a stud!); and of course my companion and me with Romina’s mother (who is already a member and was reactivated after 15 years of inactivity). What an awesome Sunday and a spectacular week!

Well it got cold again!!!  And we have had a week full of rain and wind.  They say that things are supposed to warm back up before September gets here. I sure hope so, I’m very cold. We are working so hard. I have my companion and I doing everything we can to stay focused and to be honest I’m the most focused I have ever been in my entire mission.  

Next week, my Bishop has me assigned to speak in church here. I asked him what topic he wanted me to speak about and he said, “You just choose’s your farewell”. So next week I will have my farewell in Uruguay. My bishop here in Parque Del Plata is a champion. He’s so great and he loves my companion and me. It gives us a real motivation to work hard and I have really come to love and appreciate my calling as a missionary that much more.

The other photo I sent you is of the beach in Costa Azul y La Foresta (a small beach town 5 KM. east of Parque Del Plata). We went there the other day. We went out exploring there because it is also included in our area.  Missionaries have never really worked there and we were shocked by the number of people who are living there. It was beautiful and I feel even more overwhelmed with work than before.  But that’s a good thing. Besides all of these things, I’m well and plan to have another fine week in the mission field.    

I love you guys a lot and thank you for those addresses.


Romina's Baptism 

On the beach at Costa Azul y La Foresta 

Costa Azul y La Foresta 

Making Plans for Our Trip

August 14, 2011

Dear Dad,

How are you doing?  I’m doing well. I’m sorry to hear that you guys have had so many troubles with little Bradley, but I figure he will pull through. I will continue to keep him in my prayers.

Well Dad, I’ve been thinking about the car rental more and more. The only car they could rent me was 2006 Volkswagen Golf 4 door. I worry that with all the bags and stuff we will be caring around, it will be way too small for us to use. We need to rent a bigger car. This will cost us a little bit more, but it’s what I feel safest with and after thinking about this a lot, I think that it’s the most secure way to do it.  After you get off the plane, go to the rental car desk and rent a car. They should have someone who speaks English. I suggest looking into this by looking at the web page for the Montevideo International Airport web site. That way you can have some idea of what to do.  If something happens and you cannot get a rental car, you will have to take a taxi to the temple. I’m sending you a packet today that has maps and all the information included.  

I now need a big favor!  I need the addresses of several people and I need them by Monday next week.   Pete and Terry, Tony Nielson, Golda and Larry Duffner, The Noall’s, Bishop Duersch, the Pollock’s,  the Parkinson’s (Kyle), the Kureck’s, Mary and Phil Bakkedahl, Edris Stuebner and Zan Murray

I know that these people might be difficult to find, but I really need them as fast as possible. Thank you

Oh and dad sure I will go. I love to see things that I have never seen or even done before.  Vamos Arriba!!!   Well, love you and I’ll see you soon.


Keep an eye out for the packet I am sending you. You will need it for when you get here. I think it will take two weeks to get to you. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

One Month To Go and the Work is Great!

August 8, 2011

Dear Dad,
Well, I had a wonderful week. We worked sooooo hard and yesterday it worked out to our benefit. We now have two solid baptisms for the month of August and it looks like we are going to baptize a family that is so amazing. Yesterday we had 3 investigators in church and it felt sooooo good. We’re constantly looking for new investigators and it is working out so well. This is easily the best area of the mission that I have ever served in and to tell you the truth I’m having a blast!!! Yesterday our ward was so good to us and they took such good care of our investigators that I was shocked. I’ve been working a lot with the young mens organization and yesterday in fast and testimony meeting they all got up to bear their testimonies. They all mentioned how much they love my companion and me. Oh how I miss being in the young men’s. I really love working with the young men and hope that I can be a young men’s leader when I get home.  My companion and I get along great and we’re both very focused. I’m going out with a bang!!!

Besides all of these things, life is great. Later today I will get all the plans together for your trip and have them sent to you. Hopefully they will get there to you before you make your trip.  

I received my debit card!!!!  I probably won’t use it for a day or so, but I will need some money to buy a few things in preparation for going home. I want to make a business card with my address and information on them so that as we visit some people in the country, I can leave them with something.  I have seen many missionaries do the same and it works out spectacularly. So that is just an ejemplo of the things that I will need to buy in these upcoming weeks. I really can’t use my missionary funds to buy stuff like that.  

Besides this, I will also send you a list of things that you will need to get in the United States that people have asked me for because they have no access to them here.  For example, my Elders Quorum President wants a copy of Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie because it is nowhere to be found here (In English because he speaks English; for the Uruguayans Bruce R. McConkie is their hero). Another member asked me for an English hymn book. The packet I will send you will be more detailed and more organized and all expenses will be reimbursed. If you can even find them used or for free, more power to you.  

Well I love you and I’m very excited. When I write you next week, I will only have 23 days left. The real truth is that I will only write you emails three more times after this. Crazy!!!!!

Well I love you a lot. Things are starting to warm up and spring is coming here early this year.  Everything is great.  

Let Mary know that I will be thinking of her and keeping Bradley in my prayers.  And Mary I am excited to see and will see Bradley when I get home.

Elder John P. Sluder 

Monday, August 1, 2011

37 Days to Go and Lots of Work to Do

August 1, 2011

Dear Dad,

Well what a week!!!! I can’t believe it’s already over. Time is going way too fast and in 37 days I’m going to be seeing you. WOW!!!!!!!! We had a really good week and have found a ton of new investigators!! It looks like we are going to start baptizing like crazy!!! I’m very excited. Things are definitely a lot quieter since Elder Heywood and Elder Hudson no longer live with us. With just Elder Curapil and me, things get pretty boring.

I’m sending you pictures of the baptism of Pedro and Maria Del Carmen that we had last week. Also, my old district; the four of us that have the matching ties are Elder Heywood, Elder Hudson, Elder Curapil and me of course. Life’s really, really calm and easygoing right now. I’m just a senior companion. I really had forgotten what it was like to have no responsibility and not be a leader. Life is so easy. I really have no complaints! It’s great!

Dad I agree with you 100% on the take it easy and slow thing when I get home. I read a talk by Boyd K. Packer the other day and he spoke of how a fruit fly is born, grows to adulthood, mates, has babies, and dies all in the same day. He spoke of maturity and how we shouldn’t force ourselves into an adult and mature state too fast and to enjoy the moment we are in and not only live for the future. This really impacted me. I plan to not try to set the whole world on fire all at once. I don’t want to look back with the regret at not enjoying my youth to the fullest. I plan to see what the Lord has in store for me when I get home and really enjoy all phases of my life.

I plan to work and enjoy these next five week to the fullest. I really am not that trunky. I still get up every day on time, exercise, study, and do it all. I rarely even think of home when I’m out working. It’s weird because I know the end is coming soon, but I don’t really believe it. It doesn’t really seem like something that is even possible, so we shall see.

Dad, I’m putting together several maps and plans for when you guys get here. We will drive the rental car to several distant locations in Uruguay (remember Uruguay is practically the same size as Utah, so technically not that distant and all of the locations we will be visiting are places I have been during my mission). I know the rutas very well and have traveled them a lot during my time here. I will send your packet this week. Included will be our traveling locations, people that we will visit and tourist locations we will see. The only thing you need to reserve ahead of time is a rental car and the hostel where we will be staying on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Besides that I figure we will be staying in hotels in several locations. We will go and check in without reservations. There shouldn’t be any problems. During this time of the year all are pretty much wide open because there isn’t much tourism during the end of winter. I have been looking into it; prices vary but they are pretty much the same prices as a Motel 6 in the states. Every city we are going to is very safe and we should have absolutely no problems the whole week.

When you first get to Montevideo, the people at the airport will most likely be able to communicate with you in English and get you set up with a rental car. Your USA driver’s license is valid for a rental car, but only a rental car… BUY THE INSURANCE IT IS TOTALLY WORTH IT!!! Traffic laws are a little bit different here. I will include that information in the packet and give you precise directions from the airport to the hostel. Don’t get pulled over… you will not be able to understand a thing that is going on if that happens. The way people speak Spanish here is very different and difficult to understand. From the temple to the air port is only a ten minute drive. I suggest that you just go straight to the temple and hostel, take it easy and stay the night there Tuesday. It’s the safest thing you could do. There should be no problems. I’m almost 100% sure that I will be released on Tuesday night and be one of the first final interviews because of my situation. After meeting with you on Tuesday night, I will be your translator for the rest of the trip. You will need a translator.

I do need to know for sure what day we are returning home. That way I can make more precise plans. I think we will be flying home Wednesday if I’m not mistaken, but let me know.

Well I love you guys a ton


Baptism of Pedro and Maria

Men in Ties

The Zone

Monday, July 25, 2011

6 Final Weeks in Parque del Plata

July 24, 2011
Dear Dad,

Well I have had a good week. Last night the decision on the fate of the rest of my mission was made. I will be staying in Parque del Plata with Elder Curapil. As of tomorrow, it is 6 weeks until you will be here. That’s not much time, but I figure that all will work out alright and we should be able to baptize like crazy.  At our last change, we shared the biggest ward in the country with another companionship. We found out last night that we will now be solos and the entire area is ours. They are removing a companionship and now our area is huge!!!!!! There is so much work to do. I imagine that I will finish this thing more busy that ever. 

My companion is doing well. We had our planned baptism on Saturday. I won’t be sending pictures because I don’t have enough time, but next week for sure.  Pedro got baptized and all went well. 

Dad, I think you need to speak with the hostel. To spend the night in the hostel you have to reserve and attend the temple every day that you stay. The main worry I have is to run into you in the temple (of all places) before I’m released.  On the afternoon of Tuesday the sixth, I will be in the temple with Presidente DaSilva at the 3:30 session. 

I will send you all of the information you need this next week in a letter with maps and daily plans.  If you want, I suggest bringing your GPS with a Uruguay download or something. I believe that I may not be interviewed until Wednesday because my group that is leaving is so big, but we will see. If I do not get released until Wednesday, it will make things super complicated because I will be spending the night in the hostel as well.  I will let you know a little more later when I know for sure. One thing is for sure... Wednesday night we do need to spend the night in the hostel so call them and make the appropriate preparations. I figure that you might as well try to spend the night there Tuesday night also; it is the safest place to be while in South America. 

Mary… congratulations on your new baby Bradley.

Well I love you and thanks for everything.

Elder Sluder

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Things Are Going Well Here

July 18, 2011

Dear Dad and Mom,

Well what’s up? I haven’t received an Email from you yet this morning, but that’s fine. I figure that you’re super busy Dad with all the jobs back east that you have been working on.  I may come back this evening to check before I go out to work, so feel free to write me back.

As for me, I’m doing just fine. This past week has been quite interesting and we have been able to keep busy by teaching and inviting. Our ward here seems to be doing quite well.  We have good attendance in church and everybody seems to be quite happy.  We do have our strange members (that are a little crazy), but that is just how it always is. 

We have been teaching an older gentleman named Pedro Castro.  The plan is to baptize him this week.  He is fighting to quit smoking and so far so good.  We followed the steps in Preach My Gospel very closely and it looks like he will be smoking his last cigarette today.  Wooo Hooo.  Yesterday in church, he even went up to my district leader Elder Heywood and asked when he could interview him; he said I want to be baptized “el mas pronto possible”.  

We have a big activity planned for this Saturday, part of the baptism of Pedro. We are going to watch a copy of “Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration”, a movie that I have.  The members are excited because they haven’t ever heard of it and many plan to bring their friends.  We are super pumped. 

I look forward to seeing you guys in six weeks. Time has gone incredibly fast.  I’m very excited!  I’m trying to make plans so that we have a very organized schedule when you guys arrive.  I plan to put it all together and will send it to you guys in a week or so. When you get here, you will have no doubt how to get around and you will have an idea where we will be going and what we are going to do.  I do need to know the exact dates and times of our return flight. I have forgotten what you may have told me. I need to know how much extra time I will have in the county so I can make appropriate plans. 

Well some bad news.  I looked at my account yesterday and it seems that I have over drafted again.  It happened because of my negligence to pay attention to the balance when using my card as a debit card at the stores here in Atalantida.  Things here are a lot more modern than in the countryside. I have had the opportunity to use my card here as a debit card.  It’s cheaper because there are no withdrawal fees, but I can’t follow the balance as well and the dollar is always going up and down.  Forgive me for my negligence.

Life this week was good to me… no real challenges.  To be honest, I am becoming very content with life. I no longer feel that change is the solution to all of my problems.  Thank you for everything Mom and Dad.  I love you both.


PS.  I’ll send you pictures of our baptism next week.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Three Baptisms Planned for July 23rd

July 11, 2011

Dear Dad,

Well I had an absolutely wonderful week myself. Things got up to 15 degrees (that’s about 60 degrees Fahrenheit) this week and so it was a great week to be outside proselytizing. I’ve now scheduled 3 baptisms for the 23 of July. I am going to help one of my investigators rebuild his motor on his three wheeled truck thing so that he can come to church more regularly. Saturday night I taught one of the first lessons in English that I can remember on my entire mission. The truth is it was hard to do and I confused many words. But everything turned out alright. The sister was amazed at my bible knowledge. The things I taught about the bible didn’t come from the bible, but from the Book of Mormon. I really prefer teaching from the Book of Mormon. She is a 60 year old retired woman from Florida. A Super Random contact!

My companion is awesome!!! He’s doing so well and we have really enjoyed our time together. We are already getting ready for the end of the change on the 26th. I figure I’ll stay with him and he´ll be my companion to finish the mission. The work is going so good. My bishop is great and works hard. My ward is supportive and happy. We had awesome attendance of over 100 people at church yesterday! It is so nice to be in a positive, happy ward!

Regarding my debit card… I will probably receive it on a Monday because that is the day we receive our mail. I will have my eye out for it and things should work out well. Money wise, right now I’m doing just fine and with what you have given me, I should be just fine to finish out the month without any problems. Thank you so much!!!

Well everything here is good and the sun is finally shining. This area is beautiful. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to finish the mission. I’ll try to send photos in the email next week. We have plans to go out today and visit some local attractions.

I love you all so very much.

Elder Sluder

Work is Going Well in Parque Del Plata

July 4, 2011

Dear Family,

Wow what a week!! Well it’s been cold as usual and we have been working through it and enjoying this time we have to work as best we can. My companion is doing very, very well and has been able to endure his problems and help out the missionary work. This week we had several very clear days where the sun came out and were really able to enjoy the weather. My good friend Jose Merola from Minas has a summer home in Parque Del Plata and so Saturday they called me up. We had an awesome asado (barbeque) with him and the Branch President from Minas and their families. It was so awesome. We were able to celebrate the 4th of July Uruguayo style and they even came to church in my ward here on Sunday. It was GREAT!!!

The work has gone well and we’re currently finding whole families to teach. Things look really good and it seems like the work is about to explode and just take off for us right now. AND MY COMPANION IS A STUD!

I have already made some good friends here. I have been working with an inactive family and yesterday I got to bless their baby. The tradition here is that after the blessing, everyone in the circle (there were 4 of us) have to kiss the baby in front of the congregation. Well I didn’t know that one and when I handed the baby over to one of the brethren, he took it and kissed it and then put it in my face to kiss also. Anyway… very interesting!

Well now here is the time to tell you some bad news. As you know there is opposition in everything. Friday morning I went and took my monthly money from the church out of my account. I put it in an envelope and put it away. What was in the envelope was 3000 pesos Uruguayos. At 18 pesos to the dollar, it’s about $166 dollars American. After I finished my reembolsos and other financial things, we had some left over paper and receipts that needed to be destroyed. We put it all together and threw it into the wood burning stove. Ever since then, we haven’t been able to find the 3000 pesos that were in the envelope. I couldn’t really imagine that I would do something as stupid and irresponsible as to burn 3000 pesos. But I have looked everywhere and I can’t find it anywhere. I have spent hours looking through every last document that I own and all over our tiny house, but it is nowhere to be found. I spoke with the financers of the mission and they asked if I had an emergency fund. I told them I do and I have 1000 pesos for emergency. And they told me to use it and budget well and use my personal means if possible. Just so you know dad, I took 700 pesos out of my account to pay our fast offerings.

I want to let you know this because I imagine this month things are going to get really tight. I do have 1000 pesos emergency fund (about 50 bucks), but that’s not going to last me very long. In two weeks, I am also expecting to receive another 1000 from the reimbursals that I just sent in. But I really am going to need a hand on this one. I will continue searching for the benefit of the doubt. With the way things cost here in this tourist city, I had figured out my budget perfectly with the amount that I had.

I am sorry for the inconvenience and the dumb mistake. Let me know what to do. Besides all of this dad I hope you have a good week and that all things go well. I’ll keep you all in my prayers


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Antarctic Winds are Blowing

June 27, 2011

Dear Dad,

I don’t have too much time this week, but I will let you in on a few things that have been happening. My companion seems to be doing quite well. We have talked a lot about his loss and were able to come to the conclusion that it is all in God’s hands now and that he knows best.  

It’s super, super cold and I can hardly type right now. It’s been raining with the worst and coldest winds from
Antarctica ever. Living along the ocean is not so fun in the winter time.  

Yes, having Hermana Walton here was interesting and kinda awkward. Her mother gave me a memory card and then two days later I received two memory cards from you guys in the mail.

We have a BAPTISM scheduled!!!  We found a guy who came to church yesterday and came in spite of the cold rain. Our plan is to baptize him Saturday...  We shall see.    

Well as I said, it hasn’t been too much more of an exciting week than this. I am well. Thank you so much. I love you guys a ton!


Monday, June 27, 2011

Parque Del Plata is GREAT!!!

June 20, 2011

Dear Family,

Wow it’s so good to see all the kids again!!!!!   They’re all so big!!!!  Jack can walk and Luke is a big kid… Ha Ha Ha. Oh and Bear looks super, super old!!!! Happy Fathers Day Dad!!!!  Sorry I couldn’t be there to wish it to you in person.

This week has probably been the most interesting week of my entire life. I really do mean that. We’ve had a lot of work to do to get the ball rolling in our area. I have been trying my best to get to know the members and working hard to find somebody to teach. My new area is huge. We have three different cities to proselyte in, Las Toscas, Atlantida and Estacion Atlantida. It’s been quite the challenge searching and finding, but I know the Lord will provide. 

On Friday, Sister Walton and her parents came and visited me. That was pretty cool. They seemed to be doing be doing well and were having a ball. 

Yesterday was Ward Conference and to be honest, I was very impressed!  Parque Del Plata became a Ward about two months ago. The Bishop is great and we have tons of priesthood holders. It’s Awesome!!!  Finally… good organization! Yesterday, the Stake President was there for Ward Conference and told my companion and me about plans to open a new branch in Estacion Atlantida. I guess the plans are to have us focus all of our strength there and prepare the way. It’s very exciting and has led once again in my mission to another “special assignment”. 

Last night I had an unforgettable experience. We received a call from President Da Silva with some bad news for my companion. Elder Curapil is an awesome missionary. He’s focused and very obedient. I can’t really explain everything here, but one of Elder Curapil’s brothers died. He is an emotional wreck right now and it is very hard for him. We did a lot of praying last night, got little sleep and I gave him a blessing. He did have the opportunity to speak with his Mother and that helped. I imagine the next twelve weeks of my mission are going to be pretty interesting. I plan to just work him down and get ourselves lost in the work. I won’t have any room anymore to be trunky. I fear even mentioning the word “home” to him. We are currently in Tres Cruzes. Elder Curapil has an immigration medical check to go through, so I’m not with him right this moment. 

Well I guess life is like that… It sure made me grateful for the beautiful family I have. Thank you so much. I really love you all so much and really do appreciate all that you do for me.  

Elder John Sluder

P.S.  I think the Lord has prepared me for this because I too received a similar call from President DaSilva only three weeks ago.  The Lord works in mysterious ways.              

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Surprise Email

June 15, 2011

Dear Dad,

I have a few moments that I can write you a quick letter. I finally got to my new area this morning.  It was a little complicated because my companion didn’t arrive from Argentina on time. The airplanes weren't flying because of all of the volcanic ash, so the new missionaries came by boat and showed up late yesterday afternoon instead of early in the morning as we had planned. My new companion is Elder Curapil.  He’s from southern Argentina and he’s great. Yesterday, while we were waiting for the oros to get here, we had the opportunity to go through the temple and do a session. When my companion got here, I learned that he still had not gone through the temple. He had never even entered the temple in his entire life. I got to be his escort in another session and it was an awesome experience. It reminded me of my first time I went through almost two years ago. We had an awesome meeting with the temple president and everything. We spent the night in the Hostel and I even had to help my companion buy his first garments ever.  It was quite interesting and fun.

My new area is huge!!!!  It’s like a big vacation place. Walking to the cyber cafe this morning, we walked right along the beach the whole way.  IT’S AWESOME.  I found out this morning that there is a new small town that has just developed north of where we are named Estacion Atlantidad. The missionaries have never really gone there and the branch president wants us to go and eventually make a new branch there.  AWESOME. Well I have to go. I love you very much and I will see you soon.


Monday, June 13, 2011

21st Birthday & Transfer to Parque de Plata

June 13, 2011

Dear Family,

Thank you all so much for your support and for the letters you have all written me. I’m sorry I can’t write you all back, but my time doesn’t really allow me to.

I’ve had a wonderful final week in Treinta y Tres. In the way of new investigators and baptisms, nothing much has really changed. We’re still running pretty dry. The attendance in church yesterday was pretty high, but the branch president made some dumb moves and really killed the spirit of the meeting. After the meeting, I talked with President Davidson and it sounds like Rama Obelisco may soon be getting a new branch President. FINALLY!!!!!!

Saturday night the Davidson’s surprised me and took me out for a wonderful dinner at a restaurant. It was really good and I was so grateful to them. Last night, my companion and a member put together a birthday party for me. They made me a cake and everything. It was awesome!!! Then this morning, my zone all got together and brought me a cake and some more gifts. It was so great and it really helped me out a ton!!! I had a lot of cake!!!!!

Well as I have already said, I’m leaving 33!!!!! President DaSilva called me up last night and sang me happy birthday (in English) and then gave me my new assignment. I’m going to an area named Parque de Plata. It’s a beach resort town east of Montevideo. I will be opening a new area which includes several small cities right along the beach. My new companion? Well, I don’t know him yet. I won’t know until tomorrow, because I’m training a new Elder who is fresh… directly from the MTC!!!! AN ORO!!!!! Wooo-Hooo. From what I hear, my new house is only three blocks from the beach. But there is almost no one who lives there this time of year. IT IS FREEZING COLD RIGHT NOW and the Antarctic winds that come off the ocean don’t help!!! Whatever… I’m excited. It will be a great adventure and a great way to finish my mission.

Time’s going so fast and it sounds like everything back at home is going good.

I love you all so much and THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO. See you soon.

Love, Elder Sluder

New Assignment Coming Next Week

Note from Steve: I completely forgot to write to John on Sunday night. I did send him a quick note after I received this email. John is celebrating his 21st birthday next Monday.

May 29, 2011

Dear Dad,

I don’t know if you got my email last week. I hope you did. I haven’t received one from you guys yet this week, so I hope all is well.

I had an excellent week myself and I’m doing quite well. Just so you know, I did get my package and man do I love my new watch and all the bouncy balls you sent me. Thank you so much!!! I can’t express how good it made me feel to see that you sent me that stuff for my 21st birthday.

I will be starting my last week in 33 this week. I figure I’ll be long gone after the 14th. Next week I’ll be writing you on Monday and letting you know where my new area is and what my new assignment will be. I love you and thank you so much for everything.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Working with Less-Actives

May 29, 2011
Dear Family,

I’m glad to hear that all is now well and you were all able to make it home safe and settle back in. I'm doing well and was able to have a very calm and interesting week.  Time really seems to be counting down fast. The mission for me will be over in just three months.  My companion jokes with me and often sings the Green Day song; Wake Me Up When September Ends. Ha-ha-ha. We didn't do too much of anything out of the ordinary this week. The work is quite slow and I don’t know if in the short time I have left here, it will recover. We’re really focused right now on less-active members and have been really pushing for higher numbers in sacrament meeting. We have been making visits with the Davidson's and trying to reactivate all that will give us the time of day.  There really is a lot of potential here!!!!  

After talking with the assistants today, I am pretty sure I will be out of Treinta Y Tres on the 14th of June. I will find out exactly where I’ll go and what I’ll do for the final few months of my mission on my 21st birthday! I have been in 33 now since November of 2010.  When I finish here, it will be 7 months almost exactly to the day. Crazy huh?  I think I’ll be assigned somewhere to whitewash train an oro (new missionary).

Well I love you guys. Thanks for all you do.  Dad, I actually might need a little bit more money so that I don’t end up over drawing my account.  Sorry. 

Well, for now this is all I’ve got.  I miss you guys a ton.  I haven’t gotten the box yet, but I figure it will be here tomorrow.  I have a council in Montevideo tomorrow morning.  MORE TRAVELING!!!


Monday, May 23, 2011

The Passing of John's Grandfather

Note from Dad: This past week, John's grandfather passed away in Barstow, CA. The family is gathering for services to be held on Wednesday, May 25. The obituary can be found here: Jack Sluder Obituary

May 22, 2011

Dear Family,

I am so sorry to hear of Grandpa’s passing. I was well informed on Thursday morning by President DaSilva. It was kind of a shocker. I’m glad to hear that things are going well with the family as a whole and that much of the family can be together for the services. This is a special event that I hope can be a memorable one without any regrets and that charity will abound.

I’m also happy to hear that Grandpa didn’t suffer much. With what I can tell, he seems to have had a happy, peaceful passing. Like Aunt Cathy said, it was his time and our heavenly father needed him back. I send my condolences. But remember and imagine that now he´s dancing and having a big party, with maybe a few extra jokes to share with everyone. One of the many ways our heavenly father shows his love for us is that he gives all of us the opportunity to leave this world behind and come directly to him. Congratulations Papaw… you finished!

Being fluent in Spanish and Latin based languages, what he was saying if you don’t already know was to live with god. Via con Dios is not Spanish but it is Latin. There are many ways to live with God, but I figure now for him it’s more of a personal relationship. I know and I assure you that Papaw is currently in a state of learning and progression where there is no end to love.

Well I love you and look forward to seeing you all soon.

Elder John P. Sluder
(Treinta y Tres Uruguay)

Working to Build a Stake

May 15, 2011

Dear Family,

Well I don’t really have too much to tell you guys about. I had a pretty boring week. To be honest, I don’t really feel like I was able to get much done! We had to help move two elders out of our house into a new apartment. I had to sign contracts with some lawyer here in Spanish. Legal talk in Spanish is a whole lot harder than just normal speaking. But it all worked out alright. I'm kinda just working now to build a stake. Things seem to be coming along and we have been working with the Davidson's 100% of the time. It has made for a wonderful experience.

I'm really getting old on the mission. It’s crazy to think about all of the missionaries that were here before me and now, how long that many have been home. I figure soon that all of my friends at home will be home too. Things are getting pretty interesting.

Thanks for sending the package mom. Right now a little bit of money would be greatly appreciated so thanks for all you guys do. I don’t really have much more to say than that. Well I love you and I’ll continue to keep Papaw in my prayers.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Day Phone Call

May 8, 2011

Family and Friends,

Because of the Mother's Day phone call, John did not send a very long email this week. Here it is:

Dear Dad,

It was really wonderful being able to speak with you guys yesterday. It was the last phone call that you will receive from me until I see you in September. Wow! Time is really going super fast. I don't really have too much more to say to you all. If you do send me something in a package, you need to make it fast because we are getting down to the end of my mission and if we wait too long, I may just never receive it. I imagine though it will be just fine, however it works out.

Well I love you all ton... you guys are great.

Elder Sluder

We were able to speak for about an hour. He sounds very good. His Spanish is incredible! He is now staying in 33 for another 6 weeks. It is quite unusual to stay in one area for so long, but he really loves it there. Steve

Monday, May 2, 2011

Enrique's Baptism and I'm Staying in 33!

May 1, 2011

Dear Mom and Dad,

Wow, what a week! And it really sounds like you have had quite the week yourselves. I'm very, very sad to hear of the death of Roy. I send my condolences… I´m sorry Mom. Hey, I guess now you have to buy yourself a new horse? Make sure that he’s tame so that in a few months I can take girls out on dates… Ha Ha Ha. I was glad to hear that Osama bin Laden is dead... It’s about time!

As for myself, I got the call and guess what? I'm staying in 33 for a fifth change!!!! In the history of the mission as far back as I know, this has never happened before; that a zone leader has stayed in one area for 5 changes. The assistants told me they think that president must really trust me to keep me here so long. It’s a really big compliment. A missionary who is always being moved around just isn’t an effective missionary. It means that you’re not doing a good job as a missionary in that area. So it really is quite the compliment.

Saturday we had the baptism of Enrique!!!!! He’s our 3rd baptism in a row. I have now been working with him for almost six months! It was a miracle and the family was so happy. I’ll tell you the details on Sunday. I’m also including some pictures. Enrique is the guy that’s with me solo. I'm also sending the picture from Leo’s baptism from the week past. Leo is in the picture standing next to me and Alexander Degaray is standing next to my comp, Elder Powell.

Oh, just so you know I will be calling you about 6 O'clock our time, which should be about 3 O'clock your time. It should work out just perfect and know that I really just want my call centered with talking to you guys. (Mom and dad)

Well that’s really cool that you could speak with President Davidson. They should be here in the next few days to stay and will live here for 13 months. 33 will become a stake. We are baptizing future Melchizedek priesthood holders and they will be a big help to the cause. Now that we’re baptizing, the branch just seems to becoming alive. We had 70+ people in church yesterday. It was Awesome!!!

Well I love you all and look forward to speaking to you guys on Sunday for my last phone call home. Be careful and I love you guys!!!


John and Enrique

Elder Powell, Alexander, Leo and John

Monday, April 25, 2011

Leonel's Baptism

April 25, 2011

Dear Family,

Well I had an interesting week with bad weather. Monday and Tuesday started off well and we were able to work without any bad rain storms. Then Wednesday we got some really bad, bad rain!!!! I also ate something at lunch that day that made me sick. On Thursday morning I was still sick. We didn’t really work too much that day and the rain was still pouring down!

On Friday morning the assistants came and picked me up and went on that special intercambio. We had the intercambio planned for two weeks ago, but it never worked out, so we rescheduled it for this past week. I was still sick but I got into the mission truck anyway and we drove to Montevideo. I worked in spite of my stomach pains. I was able to keep myself from throwing up during the lessons, so it worked out well. HA-HA-HA. We worked in an area called Malvin and it was not pretty. I really do feel spoiled that I don’t have to live in this mess that’s called Montevideo. Man I hate the big city! Saturday morning we drove back. We went from Montevideo to 33 in two and a half hours. It surprised me how fast the trip is made in a truck compared to the four to five hour stop and go bus ride we usually take.

I got home Saturday morning (still sick) and we worked for a little while in the morning. The rest of the afternoon we prepared for the baptism we had scheduled. Our converts name is Leonel and he could be the most awesome convert I have had so far. Right after he was baptized, he asked all 70 of the people we had at this huge baptism if he could offer up a prayer of thanks while he was still in the baptismal font. Of course we let him. At first I found it a bit weird, but then the spirit flooded the room. It was amazing!

Yesterday, when we got home from church, I still wasn’t feeling too good so I called the mission doctor in Argentina. He put me on a special diet for 24 hours and so far, so good. I am feeling just fine now. He said it was probably just some sort of stomach virus that I got and I just needed to rest my stomach for a little while to recuperate.

Yesterday I also received a call from Presidente Da Silva and today Elder and Hermana Davidson arrived!!!!!! It’s awesome!!! They’re from Texas and are here to help us become a Stake. We have lunch with them in the next hour or so. They are just so great. He’s an ex-mission president from Mexico.

I also just got off the phone with the assistants and I asked them if they would leave me here for the next change… I really want a fifth change here. Four changes are very rare and five in one area is just unheard of, but we shall see on Sunday what happens. They said that it’s not likely but noted the suggestion down and so we shall see. Oh and one more thing about changes… after working with the assistants this week, I came to a conclusion that I have no desire to do that job. It’s just too much craziness and I would like to end my mission in a nice peaceful place where I’m not responsible for so many people!

If you could put 25 bucks in my account ASAP that would be marvelous!!!

I love you guys so much and Happy Easter. I can’t believe how big the kids are getting! I loved the pictures!!!! Happy mission ending to Austin! I LOVE YOU ALL.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Kevin's Baptism

April 18, 2011

Dear Family,

Well, we had our baptism!!! Everything worked out just great and all went well. I was asked to perform the baptism and it was awesome. I have included pictures. His name is Kevin and he is definitely the coolest little kid ever. Like I said last week, we found him while walking down the street and we just decided to open our mouths and speak with his mother. This week coming up we will be baptizing a guy named Leonel Rodao. He’s also really cool and will really help out the priesthood holders of the stake which we have been working hard to strengthen.

Yesterday we had a horrible rain storm that covered all of Uruguay. It flooded the roads and made our job really fun. Our church attendance went from 70 last week (the record highest attendance in years) to just 20 this week. It was horrible, but we got lucky and were able to go out in the storm just in time to find Kevin and confirm him. It was great! Besides all of this there is nothing new… we’re just chugging along.

Well I love you all and I hope that you enjoy the pictures.

Elder Sluder

P.S. Dad – I’ll be honest that I kinda doubt that I’ll be called as an assistant because there are so many other missionaries here who are much more qualified than I am. Plus, I only have three changes left and I still haven’t trained. Usually zone leaders who are in their last few changes do what we call “white wash training”. This is where they remove two missionaries from an area and put in two new ones. You then train an “oro” and also become a district leader. That’s what normally happens for someone in my position, but we shall see.

Monday, April 11, 2011

What a Good Week We Have Had!

April 11, 2011

Dear Family,

What a good week we have had! It went incredibly fast and at the same time things worked out well. It has been very rewarding and I feel like we are making some progress in some things. It’s looking like we are finally getting this ball rolling. Yesterday we had two investigators in church. It looks like one will definitely be baptized this Saturday and the other will be baptized the 30th. Kevin will be baptized on Saturday. He’s only 10 years old and I found him in a street contact. He is amazing and he definitely has a lot of potential to be a future leader in Treinta Y Tres. Our other investigator is named Enrique. He’s 26 and is the boyfriend of one of the young women in the ward. He’s a really good guy and the family is so happy that he has finally made this decision. I would call these baptisms two great miracles.

This past week, my companion and I had the opportunity to go to a baptism in the small farming town of Vergara (which lies an hour north of Treinta Y Tres). It felt like the olden days as we walked through the town from the services in the church building to the small river. It was quite interesting and there was a great feeling of the spirit with this small branch of about 20 members as we walked down to the river. The sister being baptized was dressed in white and smiled as she strolled. It was awesome!!!

It’s really hard to believe that I am almost four months short of being away from home for two years. President DaSilva drove up on Wednesday and we had our usual zone interviews. It was an interesting interview. I figure I don’t have much time left here in Treinta Y Tres nor do I think I will continue to be a zone leader after this change. I figure I have just 3 more weeks in 33… The assistants just called me on my cell phone and asked for my suggestions for future district and zone leaders of the mission. I figure they’re already looking for my replacement. Ha Ha Ha.

On Thursday, I will be going to Montevideo for an intercambio with the assistants. I don’t really know why they want me going there, but they plan to come and pick me up. I will leave my companion here in Treinta Y Tres with one of them. The other assistant and I will drive 4 hours there for one day of work and then four hours back. We shall see what is planned and the reason they want me doing this.

Besides all of this, I’m doing alright. I did receive my package a few weeks back. Sorry I failed to mention it in past emails. I’ve already used all of the root beer concentrate you sent. It was great. During general conference I made root beer floats for the zone. They loved it and they send their thanks.

Hey… did you know that in four weeks, I will be making my last phone call home for the rest of my mission? Just so you know Mom and Dad, I don’t want a whole lot of crazy confusion on this call. I would really appreciate it if we could limit the phone call to you two and me. That way we can talk and enjoy our Mother’s day. (And maybe if you want to invite Mamaw also?). Let me know what you think and what your plans are. Well I love you guys and I hope that you have a wonderful week. Send my condolences to Paul’s family and let them know that I will pray for them.

Elder Sluder

Monday, April 4, 2011

We Finally Have Some Baptisms Planned!

April 4, 2011

Dear Family,

Wow Wow Wow! What a week. I have been quite busy with meetings and all sorts of things. We have been working to find and teach some people to baptize. It looks like that we are going to have two to three on the 16th of April. Finally!!!!!!

I’m sending you guys a picture from our zone leader council meeting that was held last Tuesday in Montevideo. The picture was taken inside the mission home. I’m standing in the middle of the picture. Next to me, to my left is my old companion Elder Young. My new companion, Elder Powell is the one sitting on the front row, far left. We´ve been working hard and have really enjoyed our time working together. Today we have a very busy day!!!! We have to move two Elders from their house. They will be moving into our house for a week. In total, we will have 10 Elders staying with us tonight. Then early tomorrow morning, President Da Silva will be coming to do interviews. I imagine that it will be crazy!!!! Well for now, there is nothing else is too new to report.

I can’t believe that Laura is going to have another baby!! That’s unbelievable. What’s funny is that when I tell people here that I have 21 nieces and nephews, they all freak and ask me if we have television. It’s actually pretty funny. I figure now I can start telling them I’m going to soon have 23!

Well great big family of mine, I love you all. I hope that you know that I do pray for all of you! I hope that you were all able to listen to and watch conference. If not, you’d better find some time and watch it. Then apply the lessons to your lives and families. I realize now how important that is. My time out here is really limited. I have now watched my fourth and final General Conference as a missionary and in the next month or so we will have our last (fourth) phone call home for Mother’s Day. Time is going really fast.

I love you all so much,


Monday, March 28, 2011

Continuing Challenges in Trenta Y Tres

March 28, 2011

Dear Dad and Mom,

Well I am super tired!!!! We had a wonderful week here in 33 and were able to work very hard. It rained for several days, but that didn't slow us down very much. My new companion, Elder Powell is amazing!!! It’s like being companions with one of my best friends. I love it!!!

We have now officially gone an entire month without one baptism in zone 33. It sure worries me. Our missionaries are obedient and we know they are working extremely hard to baptize, but the baptisms seem to slip right through our fingers. We are trying to figure out what the problem is, but it has been quite difficult to really identify the problem to just one thing. The assistants called me this morning and we talked about why the disobedient companionships seemed to have always baptized a lot in 33 and the Elders who obey the rules never do. I will be heading to Montevideo again tomorrow for zone leader council for the month of April. We plan to sit down and try to figure out what is going on and come up with some solutions. We shall see.

With this last change and the departure of Elder Roisum, it was left me to be the senior missionary of the zone and the one who is really in charge. This is Elder Powell’s first change as a zone leader, so it’s really been fun this week showing him all the stuff we have to do as zone leaders. We also received a 7th new companionship in the zone. There used to be just one companionship for two branches. Now we have split them up and so that makes a total of 14 missionaries in the department of 33 and 10 missionaries in the city of 33 itself. The truth is that I have been thinking…. there really are a lot of members of the church here. This city is a whole lot smaller than Barstow. We have 5 branches with an average of 70 active members in each, meeting in 3 church buildings. It really is a miracle. I am slowly beginning to feel that in the long run we are winning.

So far my relationship with everyone here has been good. There are some members here that I have become very good friends with. We will come and visit them when you guys get here. The whole leadership of the district is coming around. We have been able to gain back much confidence and the ones who continue to complain have all been ignored away. The branch president that I had a hard time getting along with was put in the hospital last week. Things were looking pretty bad and we all were kind of just waiting to hear if he had passed away or not. To be honest, I really was kinda concerned for him, but we heard last night that he had gotten better and is back at home once again.

I’m glad to hear that everything back at home is well. I look very much so forward to General Conference this week. It makes for the best weekend on the mission!!!!!

I hear that the U.S. went to war with Libya. I don’t really hear too much so next week please fill me in. Who knows, I might come home just in time to be shipped right off again to war. HA HA HA just kidding. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

Well I love you guys so much. I’m doing well and I feel good, so what more could I ask?



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fighting Hard for Baptisms

March 21, 2011

Dear Dad,

Well it’s been quite the week. We fought super hard just to get one baptism for the week. Unfortunately our investigator didn’t show up for his interview. We now figure that he just couldn’t stop smoking. Everyone in the zone worked hard looking for baptisms. We had 4 planned but all fell through, so we went another week without a baptism. Our zone goal for the month of March was 22. So far we haven’t been able to baptize even one. Even though we didn’t get a baptism, it was still a week of growth for the zone of 33. I was quite concerned how all this would affect my changes. I spoke with President DaSilva last Monday night and he told me straight up how it really was. Right now my zone isn’t helping the mission at all. We are the only zone in the mission without a baptism. He told me they could remove the entire zone of 33 from the mission and we wouldn’t even feel the effects of it. To me it wasn’t really a negative conversation, but was able to motivate me. We were then able to use it to motivate the rest of the zone. In the end, I feel like we did all in our power this week. Because of that, we did see great spiritual growth in everyone who gave it their all.

Once again last night, I realized how much God loves me as I got my change call. I will be staying a fourth change here in 33 as a zone leader. My new companion is Elder Powell from Oregon. Elder Powell lived with me for two changes in Minas and was trained by my old friend Elder Haws. We’re actually like super, super good friends and when I found out, I was shocked. I’m soooo excited because Elder Powell is the most charitable missionary in the mission and is well known for being so. While in the MTC, Elder Powell was in a companionship with two other missionaries, Elder Thornton and Elder Young. Both of them have already been my companions. Strange huh?

My new zone looks great too. We are getting the old assistant Elder Bullock as one of my new district leaders and we are even opening a new area. We will now have 14 Elders in our zone. From what I hear, we will be receiving Elder and Hermana Davidson (a couple missionary) in a short time also. They will be on a special assignment from President Arnold (our area Seventies President) to reactivate and give us a big helping hand. I actually met the two of them a few weeks ago in a conference and they’re from Texas. They served as mission presidents in Mexico and so yeah, they’re pretty awesome people. We are really going to make this place a stake!!!!

I love you all so very much and I am looking forward to seeing you soon...

Love, Your Son
Elder Sluder

Monday, March 14, 2011

Another Week of Hot, Hard Work!

March 14, 2011

Dear Family,

Well another week of hot, hard work has passed. Nothing too exciting has been going on here in good old, mild Uruguay. This place is super tranquilo. Uruguay is actually known for being natural disaster proof. I think the biggest natural disaster that has ever happened here is maybe a tornado which was very, very unusual. You don’t need to worry too much about natural disasters.

We had a very hard week of work and really tried our best to GET IT DONE this week. So far, I don’t really know if we’re going to have a baptism anytime soon. We are teaching a guy that has came to church a lot, but he smokes and he’s got schizophrenia. It’s made for some really interesting lessons! I’m just gonna pray we can see some sort of miracle and just get him baptized Saturday. If it happens, it will be the last baptism my comp will ever have as a missionary and it will bring him to a total of an even 20.

We did hear some of the news of the tsunami, but I really haven’t really seen much. I’m kinda secluded from the world as a missionary. For example, we also had daylight savings time change, but had no idea until it was too late. We woke up an hour early for no reason..... Ha ha ha

Well for now that’s all I really have to say... Oh the welds on the handle bars of my bike broke last night… so now I’ve got to fix that one too..... IT’S A PIECE!!!! As for right now, I’m okay. Next week I’ll know the new changes and know about my new comp and possibly even a new area.

I’m sad to hear of the passing of Brother Colling. Please send my condolences also.

Well I love you all so much. Thank you for everything.


P.S. Memory cards can be bought here for relatively the same price as in the U.S. Maybe we should just do it that way... we can talk about that later.

Monday, March 7, 2011

18 Months Down... Six Months To Go

March 7, 2011

Dear Dad and Mom,

Well another week has passed! Today is not change day. We still have another two full weeks until the day of changes. My companion is hanging in there. He’s got two more weeks to go and we’re both doing pretty good. This last week on Tuesday, we went down to Montevideo for Zone Leader concilio. It was great. On Tuesday night I worked in an area near the temple and the mission home. When we finished up, we headed back to the mission home and stayed the night with President Da Silva. It was very pleasant and it felt so good to sleep in a normal, North American style home once again. The benefits of being a zone leader are quite nice…

On Wednesday we held a leadership meeting that we hold every so often. The leadership meeting is for all missionary leaders (like district leaders) and future missionary leaders. It went well and we got back to 33 late on Wednesday night. Thursday, Friday and Saturday were difficult. It seemed like no one wanted anything to do with us. But we fought and did everything we could to just make it through.

Yesterday was district conference and President DaSilva showed up. We were actually expecting President Arnold of the seventy, but something happened and he was not able to make it. In his stead he sent an Elder Davidson, who is his secretary. He brought plans from the first presidency for future of our stake in 33. From what I understand, Trenta Y Tres doesn’t qualify to be a stake! President Arnold got thinking and realized that the district of Rocha is just to the south of us. Combining them with us would bring us two wards. I’m about 99% sure that this is the new plan and from how I see it, it is wonderful. My old companion Elder Young is now the zone leader in Rocha and from all we can put together, THIS PLAN IS AWESOME! We really need it. Besides all of this, the conference went well and afterwards we went back to work to finish our week last night.

Change day will be on the 22nd of March. It is a Tuesday, but we have changed things around a lot in the mission. We no longer go to Tres Cruzes, so there is no email on Tuesdays. The mission president decided that it’s just best if the day before change day we just have a regular P-day. So I will never write you again on a Tuesday. I will write you Monday the 21 like normal because Monday will be P-day. I love this new idea!!!

Today I received what is called the “TRUNKY CALL”. It’s where the offices call you up and begin to prepare your fight information for going home. I told them that you guys were coming to Uruguay and that I plan to end up in the Salt Lake City airport. Let me know if that’s not right so if I need to change it I can.

Well… Love you guys

Love, John

P.S. Dad, tell Todd Mund that I honestly am definitely going to think about it. Ask him if the night crew still exists so that in the day time I could be going to school?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Things in 33 are Getting Better

February 28, 2011
Dear Mom and Dad,

Well it was a complete miracle, but we did it. On Saturday we had another BAPTISM!!!!! Her name is Tania. She is 13 years old and was baptized by my companion. On Sunday I confirmed her in sacrament meeting. Things here in 33 are finally starting to look like they’re getting better. I’m trying hard to be the most positive person I can possibly be and so far it’s working… HA HA HA. Next week we have district conference (It’s like stake conference, but were not a stake yet). I’m super excited. They say we will have a general authority show up, so we shall see how it goes. We also have a giant baptism planned for after the meeting on Sunday. So far we don’t have anyone to baptize, but we shall see what we can do to get someone in the font for Sunday.

I wasn’t able to read your emails until today because the 5 hour time difference didn’t give us enough time. No worries.... To answer your question Dad, no, I can’t look at my email on any day other than p-day.

Yeah this week I’ll be starting up my 19th month on the mission. Time flies super fast and it seems like it’s going faster every day. I’m not too sure if I’ll be removed from 33 this next change. My companion is finishing up and will be going home. So if they take me out too, they have to do what is called a “whitewash” (both missionaries from the companionship are removed). It is not a very common thing to whitewash, especially with zone leaders. But I’ve seen stranger things before so we shall see. Anyway, I figure I can last here for a forth transfer. (Six months)Besides all of this, we had a pretty strange week.

I don’t really want to buy a bike. I figure I won’t be in Uruguay much longer anyways. But I do have an older bike that I can fix up. So if you would send me sufficient this week just to get the bike fixed, it should be good. I figure no more that 30 bucks should do the job.

Well I love you all and thanks for all that you have done for me. I was wondering if Makell ever showed up a few weeks ago.

Like I said before, thank you for everything and I look forward to seeing you soon.

I love you guys,


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Note from Dad: This past weekend Gay and I traveled to Portland to visit Gay's sister Mary. As a result, I got behind on my blog posts. Following are emails from the past two weeks.

A Hard Week and a Stolen Bike

February 21, 2011

Dear Mom and Dad,

Well that was a real fun week, let me tell ya! This past week really kicked my butt! Last Monday night, I was sitting in a home, teaching a lesson when I heard a familiar sound outside. I stood up super fast and ran out the door because it sounded like the squeaking pedals on my bike. I was exactly right and saw a kid on my bike riding away. I ran fast to my companion’s bike and took off to chase the kid. I followed him for about 7 blocks then saw him turn into a really bad neighborhood. I followed him for a little while longer, and then lost him. I asked the people at a well known druggy house if they had seen the kid. They were not very helpful, then remembering that my companion was nowhere in sight, I quickly hurried to find him. In the end, I have a pretty good idea where my bike went, but I figure now it is painted a different color or it’s in pieces. So yeah my bike got stolen… Luckily I didn’t really spend anything for it, but I did have to pay to fix it several times. So it’s a shame that it’s now gone.

I’m currently using the bike of a member here in the branch. It’s very old and often is broken, but that’s all there is. Ha ha ha… It’s been quite an inconvenience. I will not go out and buy a new bike. I have too little time left in my mission. For now I will just suffer.

We’ve been losing several good investigators lately and it made this week even more difficult. We had some really well planned lessons, but it seemed like every time we would show up, the people either weren’t there or they didn’t want us to come by anymore. It’s been awful, let me tell you. So we have been looking for new investigators and for now haven’t had much luck.

Tomorrow is zone conference and I look forward to learning something new and enjoying a nice day of spiritual experiences. We always have awesome experiences at our zone conferences, so it should make for a much more enjoyable day tomorrow.

Besides all of these challenges and my difficult week of work, I’m really doing great!!! I’m still somewhat excited and am looking forward to what the Lord has in store for us this week. We have no scheduled baptisms for now, but I’ll let you know when we do.

For now, know that I am fine Thank you guys for everything and I really miss you.

Love, your son,
Elder John Sluder

Getting Trunky?

February 14, 2011

Dear Family,

How are you all doing? I’m doing okay myself. I’ve had a long week with lots of traveling. I had to go to Montevideo twice this week. There and back is roughly 8 hours so it was a lot of sitting and waiting. We had change day on Tuesday and Hermana Lundskog showed up from the MTC. She seemed to be doing pretty well but like all “Oros” seemed overwhelmed and a little bit lost. I can still remember how I felt my first day and I’ll tell ya it wasn’t the easiest day of my life. I still remember telling myself...”When this is all over, I’m going to be the most righteous person on earth. If hell is anything like Uruguay, I sure don’t want to end up there.” Ha Ha Ha

Besides all of this, I am doing pretty well. I took all the money out of my account. I haven’t really been spending it, but I figure it’s cheaper to take it all out in one chunk and save it than take it out in small increments. I was able to get my shoes fixed and I also got a huge hole in my pants fixed too. So for now, I don’t plan to touch money for a while. I think I’m going to save this for an emergency or something like that.

We had no baptisms this past weekend but we do have very, very sure baptisms for the 26th. We shall see how it all works out. We are also going to try our best to find someone for this Saturday too.

Dad, I hope you have a very good birthday tomorrow! WOW 56!!!! It’s going to be a good one for ya!

Besides all of this, I don’t have too much more to say. My companion Elder Roisum (he’s from St. Louis) finishes his mission in about 4 weeks. Luckily he’s not trunky, but just thinking about it has kinda been making me trunky! Ha ha ha… Just kidding! Anyway, it’s actually made him work in overdrive so we’re just both working in overdrive trying to find some one to baptize. It’s been fun.

For now, I’m happy. The weather finally seems to be cooling off. It’s been pretty nice.

Well for now that’s all that I really have to say. I love you all.

Elder Sluder

Monday, February 7, 2011

Another Week... Another Baptism!

February 6, 2011

Dear Family,

What a week… it sure went by fast! We had another baptism!!!!! Her name was Antonella. She’s only 12 years old, but she’s pretty cool. She’s an absolute miracle. For about 4 years now the missionaries have been trying to baptize her, but she has been very reluctant and has a huge fear of water. Well Saturday night she overcame that and she is now baptized and confirmed. I got the honors to baptize her too. It was a great experience and a great way to finish off this cambio. Hope you guys like the pictures.

Well besides all that we got change calls last night and I'm staying in 33 as a zone leader again. (Change number 3 in 33) My companion is still Elder Roisum and at the end of this next change he goes home,so I get to KILL HIM OFF... Woooo Hoooo!!!! We have plans to baptize at least 4 more this month and I imagine that we will do even better in the month after

Besides that we didn't really have too interesting of a week. Oh, I did hit another dog on my bike again. This time though the dog was much bigger!!! And I kinda ate it... But I'm fine. That's about as exciting as it gets here.

Well this week I'm going to keep it short. But Dad I'm cool with whatever you want to arrange for coming home. Ha Ha Ha I would love to go for a nice ride up to Ord Mountain. (Does my warrior still run? Did you buy new four wheelers?) And thank you Dad for fixing the problem with President DA Silva.


Besides all of this... this morning I read an awesome talk from the May 2010 General Conference on patience from Elder Uchtdorf. It was awesome!!!! It answered so many questions to so many problems that I'm facing here in 33 and I highly suggest reading it.

Well love you guys so much!!!


John and Antonella on her baptism day

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Doris was Baptized!

February 1, 2011

Dear Family,

Wow, what an awesome thing to see my family members becoming members of the church and being baptized!!!! Thanks for the pictures of Wendy and Addyson. That is so awesome!!!!!!!!

Well as for me, I have had a super wild week. On Tuesday I had an intercambio with another companionship from Vergara. It went well and we were also able to give Doris her baptismal interview. It was great and she passed. On Wednesday, we got a call from a member of the church in another branch. Apparently he had seen the missionaries doing some things they weren’t supposed to be doing and in the end we had two missionaries emergency transferred out of the zone on Friday morning. On the same day as all this craziness, we had to travel all over the zone to do four other baptismal interviews. It was rough. The original plan was for one of our district leaders to do them, but he was caught up with all the other problems and left early to Montevideo... (It was ridiculous). This past week we had planned five baptisms in our zone alone. It was like the jaws of hell were open against us and we really had to fight hard to get through. But in the end we won and all five miraculously went through. I even had to fix a bunch of plumbing and electrical problems on the pumps to fill the baptismal fonts! We almost had to cancel because the font wouldn’t fill. Luckily I have some experience from before the mission to fix stuff like that. The big news… DORIS WAS BAPTIZED. I have sent some pictures so I hope you like them.

Doris and Elder Sluder on her baptismal day

Elder Rosium, Doris and Elder Sluder

Elder Sluder and Elder Rosium on P-Day

This morning we had an awesome zone activity. I cooked tacos for the whole zone and we played some futbol. They loved it! I had to roll out 100 tortillas by hand last night because tortillas don’t exist here. It made for an interesting night. So I just made ‘em out of scratch and it worked out great!!!

Dad, the last thing I need to mention is something that is actually very serious that I need you to take care of. The other day President DaSilva called me up and asked me why I was using my Facebook account. He dropped a cane on me for it. (Note from Dad: The Uruguayan term is “bajar la caƱa”, literally translated as “drop the cane”. It is a figure of speech roughly equivalent to the phrase “lowering the boom”). I explained to him that I don’t use Facebook. I told him that you are uploading pictures and you are in control of it. I told him I knew that I cannot use it and don’t even remember the password to get on if I wanted to. I believe one of the disobedient missionaries told him in an interview that he didn’t think that going on Facebook was (that) bad because he noticed that Elder Sluder had a Facebook account and Elder Sluder is a zone leader. Yeah… can you believe that? Go figure! Anyway, President DaSilva asked me to delete it. I said of course, but because I don’t know how to logon without the password, you will have to do it for me. So Dad, please delete my Facebook account! ASAP!!!! I figure I’ll just start one up when I get back in 7 months anyway. (Note from Dad: John’s Facebook account has been deactivated as of this morning)

Thanks, Dad for your letter. I’m super happy to hear that you are having success with your choir and I’m even happier to hear about the family baptism that we had. Congratulations ADDYSON AND WENDY!!!! Well I love you a lot and look forward to hearing from you next week.


PS. Next week is changes and it will be much different than usual. We will no longer be going to Tres Cruzes for changes. I think I will even be able to email you on Monday and won’t have to take P-day on Tuesday like we used to do before. It’s going to be so much better. Oh and I think that Hermana Lundskog will be here next week. Is that right? If so, I’m really looking forward to seeing her.