Thursday, October 29, 2015

The stakeout...October 26, 2015

 Well life keeps going and it brings even more twists and turns!!  Monday right after writing the family we got a call from the assistants that we were having an emergency transfer.  My companion (Elder Puchoc) got transferred to Cartagena and I got a new companion.  My new comp is Elder Gonzàlez from Chile (he was my district leader in Valledupar) and we settled in pretty nice having known each other before!  After saying goodbye to a couple of people Elder Puchoc and I went to do some investigating!!
We had heard that some missionaries were getting home late and so we went and did a stake out.  We got to their house at 8:30 and waited for a good hour and 15 minutes until these missionaries walked into their apartment.  Elder Puchoc was situated in another room while I was in their bedroom closet with a balloon in my hands..  One of the Elders walked into the room (it just happened to be the missionary that trained me) and I popped the balloon.  It sounded like a gun had gone off so he turned around and I exploded out of the closet!  Hahaha o I wish you all would have been able to see his eyes!!  hahahahahaha I am sure he peed his pants and just didn't want to say anything! 
Besides the fun stuff... we learned a lot this week as we had Zone Conferences and our Stake Conference.  President Searle talked a lot about how Faith leads into Repentance and it is interesting to think about it.  The flow that our Heavenly Father is unreal and it amazes me how perfect his gospel is.  Right now I have been trying to really repent every day for the little things I do.  I have to know and love the word repentance.  It is no longer a long process that hurts like it did before but little changes in my life that make me happy because I am following the Lord Jesus Christ.  His atonement is real and we are blessed when we can become more like him. (Try it!) 
 I have also learned the importance of strict obedience.  Our zone is composed of 16 missionaries spread out in distance of a little more than an hour.  Many members of the wards in our zone are new members (less than 5 years) and don't really comprehend the importance of missionary work.  As we have seen some of the disobedience of missionaries really just destroys the work in these wards and branches.  We have strived to be obedient to a "T" these past weeks and this week were blessed to encounter a less active and his wife who isn't a member.  We also encountered a family that listened to the missionaries before and just about got baptized but moved..  We are truly blessed when we obey the commandments God gives us.  All of them. 
I hope you are all doing splendid and have an excellent week!!
Love Elder Slack


Elder Hudgens from Heber, Elder Slack

Elder Farro, Elder Brunis, Elder Gonzalez, Elder Slack
 

Chased by a dog...October 19, 2015

Well here I am again writing another weekly letter.  This week was just like any other (with its ups and downs).  We started off the week really well!  We were supposed to have Zone Conference but some mixed up schedules took place and we ended up not having it.  We did some exchanges ( I got to look for directions while my companion went and taught) and had some pretty good time together.  It is pretty funny because our ward says their are 580 people!! (I don't even think my ward has that many people registered) Only 150 come on a regular basis and so we have been looking for the lost sheep!  I will put the whole story into a short one.  (Disney and Pixar always do it and they turn out better so here it goes) I met up with some crazy people who said their name was name so as not to be recognized.  We got chased by a dog.  We talked with an atheist who had no good reasoning besides a book he read when he was younger.  We replied we too have read books (the scriptures) and he shut up pretty quick.  We looked for 35 names and you will never guess what the outcomes were... We found 3 people that still live in our area one that died 3 years ago and the other 29 just never even existed... I am short of words and will finish by saying that we aren't even close to halfway done... Face with tears of joy
This week we also had lots of run ins with marriages gone wrong (so not looking forward to the next chapter of my life). Lots of Less Actives who have been lead astray for things others have done (do they not understand that the church is perfect made up of very imperfect people?!).  Last but not least... I got to do an exchange with some Elders in a small town called  Santo Tomas.  It is probably the most beautiful town ever and if you get the chance I would look it up on Google images.  That night was terrible because their was no energy in the house and I didn't have a fan to keep me cool... worst nights sleep ever!! 
Keep it real and have an excellent week!!
Love Elder Slack


Soledad 2000 zone

Elder Slack, Laura (Beatriz's daughter), Elder Puchoc
 
Crazy faces!!

Up to our necks in mud...October 12, 2015

What we had the quite the week!  This past was transfer week and I have the awesome opportunity to be with Elder Puchoc for another great transfer!  Tuesday we were stuck up to our necks in mud working the terminal!  It wouldn't have been so hard if the missionaries didn't act like such kids sometimes but watching my companion get frustrated is pretty funny sometimes haha!
Wednesday we were able to have a meeting with President Searle and our Stake President, President Rodriguez.  It is very interesting to have these meetings monthly about the missionary work because the church is really new here (our stake is relatively new and expanding southward due to little towns) and many of the church leaders have only been members for a few years (if that).  I really liked the phrase by President Uchtdorf saying, "We need to be converted to the gospel, not to the church." I could possibly make that my number phrase for my mission because it seems like everyone we visit just says no to our message because their pastor or leader said they could only visit their church. None others.  When asked gospel questions they have no idea how to respond and sometimes it is difficult to get that mindset out of the people.  (At this point I will just finish with some homework. Alma 4:3-4 will do the trick and needless to say, my companion and I are trying to build the church more fully... :) 
Friday we had Leader Council and we were able to talk about Faith, growing a Testimony, and feeling the Spirit.  It was a wonderful experience to hear the ideas and thoughts of others which also brought some interesting thoughts in my own head.  This week I was "Ponderizing" the scripture found in Ether 12:12 which reads "For if their be no faith among the children of men, God can do no miracle among them; Wherefore, He showed not Himself until after their faith." I found two key words and they were "Miracle" and "Showed Himself".  It was amazing to realize that every time we receive inspiration from God, it is a miracle.  How many times do we realize the miracles in our life?  Obviously life is hard but I find it a lot easier to have an eternal perspective as I recognize the little miracles in my life! 
Saturday we also had 2 Baptisms!!  I love it every time because ever since I was in Valledupar I have only been able to baptize when it comes from part member families.  What a joy it brings to see that families can be together forever.  Will yours?  I hope you have an excellent week and the Lord blesses you immensely as you strive to be obedient and love one another. Grinning face with smiling eyes
Love, Elder Slack


Beatriz, her husband, Elder Slack, Elder Puchoc


Elder Slack and Elder Puchoc
 

Love the new word, Ponderizing...October 5, 2015

Well what a great week filled with interviews for our zone with President Searle and then the General Conference!  What a wonderful spiritual experience that was!  I was thrilled to be able to listen to it in English and hear amazing counsel given by men and women called of God!  I think one of my favorite talks was by Sister Stephens and the importance of the commandments!  During interviews (mine are always real short with president) he asked me a question that threw me for a loop.  Maybe it is because he has never asked it before or they are so short that I didn't ever catch it but he asked me, *Will you keep the mission rules after the  mission?*
I was ponderizing (just love the new word I learned during conference hahaha) the question and I think Sister Stephens (and many others) really reinforced the importance of keeping the commandments (and mission rules).  What a waste it would be of two years to not apply mission rules after the mission.  Haha obviously I answered yes to the question President Searle asked me (right now thinking nuts this is going to be difficult) but my mother always said I could do difficult things.  What an awesome little personal experience/revelation I had this weekend among many others! 
This week I also got to work with Elder Black and Elder Selman in some companion exchanges! Elder Black is probably one of the most humble and righteous kids I have been able to become acquainted with here in the mission and Elder Selman is a farming kid from Utah.  Very hard working and super loving.  I learned lots of great things from them and I hope that I can continue to develop attributes so that others might learn something from me.  We just got transfer calls and I will be staying here with Elder Puchoc for another 6 weeks (unless we have emergency transfers, I have learned to expect the unexpected).  I am actually really excited to be able to work with him again and be able to learn lots more from him!  Earlier today I was able to go back to Lucero and visit with the Vargas family (my adopted Colombian family) and eat an amazing lunch with them!  I really do have to say that it will be a wonderful experience to be one huge eternal family after this life with so many people I have met and come in contact with!! 
Love, Elder Slack


General Conference
Elders Black, Elder Slack, ?,?,Elder Hudgens from Heber, Elder Burk
 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Little testimony builders...September 29, 2015

Sorry, one day late!  Well, I have noticed a couple of things here in the mission, the lights go out way too often, maintaining water pipes seems to be hard here, and ya really miss your mother when you are sick... :) gotta love the mission.
It was a super great week!  I was able to have two companion exchanges this week (one with Elder Garcia from Colombia and my trainer Elder Herbas from Bolivia!) I was able to learn tons of new things from them and also help them (I hope) learn a little!  It was interesting to teach once again with my trainer because we laughed about old times and talked about how those we taught were (which is to say that my first baptism, Victor Sanchez, is preparing to go through the temple!! WAHOOOO!!!) 
I also woke up on Wednesday morning with one eye shut.. I was trying to feel for the crusty stuff that usually comes with it but never came so I was kinda disappointed about that.. It didn't really go away until about Friday in the afternoon but by the time that went away my companion and I were struck with the cold... we have been talking in super deep voices (what power and authority right?! ;) and coughing the whole weekend!  Right now in Colombia it should be the rainy season but it has only been super hot and humid!  We have air conditioning in our bedroom (thank my lucky stars!) and I think that is maybe what has caused it! 
Besides all of the crazy things that happened we did have some spiritual moments!  We have 2 investigators progressing and will be baptized the 10th of October.  One is Karolyne De La Cruz (12) and the granddaughter of some recent converts.  The other is Kelly Gomez (15) who has been going to church for more than a year and the missionaries have never taught her and her parents have never accepted the missionaries but we have been able to help them out a little this week! 
I also had a super awesome priesthood experience!  We were visiting with some recent converts (Orlando and Otilia De La Cruz (grandparents of Karolyne)) and he said he needed a blessing because his back has been hurting him and he had a stomach infection.  It has been hurting him for some time and the doctors and their treatments had only been making it worse.  He asked me to give him a blessing and so we did and to be honest I don't remember what I said (yeah I understand Spanish but sometimes those things just happen!) and we passed by the next day and he was out working because all the pain in his body left!  I thought it was pretty sweet and little things that happen like this almost daily make things even more sure for me! I love little testimony builders that help me work more diligently every day! 
Hope you all have a wonderful week and love you all!
Love, Elder Slack

Pray with real intent...September 21, 2015

With my birthday week down.. I can officially say that good things must come to an end.. Birthdays are probably the worst day in the mission just because you think about the things you could be doing but I guess those things will just not matter one day!  We will be about 33 years old in the resurrection with no need to worry about time ruining us because we will all be perfect!  Besides, it was the neighbor's birthday too and just like every good *Costeño* they had their huge sound system (and when I say huge I mean it.. just about as big as my car) playing happy birthday bright and early for the whole street to hear!!  I guess it wasn't too bad!! ;) This week went by super fast being super busy with exchanges and running errands for the zone and having a super awesome zone meeting! Each week I print off one or two talks on a subject and I decided last week I would like to learn more about prayer.  I was able to study two talks given in BYU devotionals on prayer that strengthened my testimony even more.  I learned the meaning of praying with *real Intent* (Moroni 10:3-5). Why pray if we aren't willing to follow the impressions or guidance given by the spirit?! One thought I really enjoyed was the ability the pray for exact things and ALSO pray for understanding.  When we pray for exact things we express to God the choices we would like to make and if they aren't what we should do he will bless us with the answer and understanding as to why we should do it! (Look back to *real intent*... kick your bum into gear and Just Do It!!:) I was able to put that into practice a little this week as I make my decisions on schooling, work, etc.. for after the mission (because I have realized it is sadly coming closer to the end).  As I prayed for answers or told God what my desires were I felt like he truly showed me what it was I should be doing!  How blessed I am to have the opportunity to speak with my Father in Heaven!!  I know he listens as we repent to take away barriers keeping us from receiving answers we will truly be able to see our lives change so that we will be able to do what Heavenly Father would want us to!
Love, Elder Slack
P.S. this week was also *Valentines Day* here in Colombia (Dia del amor y amistad because they don't do it in February) and we couldn't really teach anyone so we went to the Relief Society President's house and talked to them and asked them about their marriage.  It is a scary thought and even more scary when their granddaughter (she is 15 years old) started listening to *Love the way you lie* by Rihanna... I don't wanna get married!!!  

Last birthday wishes!!...September 14, 2015

Well... This week went by way too fast.  I really have gotten to the point of my mission where I look back on the week and have to think even harder of things I did to keep you all informed!  I think the things I write are super cool for you all but I can't wait to get to end of my mission and be able to read these letters!  I would like to write about one experience that we have had but I think this one will be more for me to remember later.. There are 8 recent converts in our area that we are assigned to and they are all super duper awesome!  There is one who has been a member for about 12 months now. His name is Andres and he is 21 years old.  He is the only member in his family and the rest of his family constantly hammer him about being Mormon and not going to the church where they go!  He had a super strong testimony but has started reading lots of books that are written about beliefs or different opinions and has started asking lots of questions that are really easy and simple such as... *Is there just one God or are they three beings?* *Was Joseph Smith a prophet?* *Why is baptism so important?* etc.. I have really thought about a phrase this week by Joseph B. Wirthlin that says *Come what may and Love it...* Do we really come what may and love it?  He has been passing through some difficult repentance things but I have really learned that after the trial of our faith is when we will really know!! (D&C 121:7-8).  I know this is true and I love it!  I am doing super good and we had a stellar week!!  I hope you all have an awesome week and eat lots and lots of cake on Wednesday for me!!  Thanks for the birthday wishes!!
Love, Elder Slack 

In the growth and not very comfortable zone...September 7, 2015


I have been very fortunate to be in the refiners fire these past few weeks here in my new area.  I think I have been challenged physically, mentally, and spiritually more in these past 2 weeks than I have in a long time.  But mostly due to my own pressure to really become the son that God would have me become.  I was reading a conference talk titled * The Eternal Perspective of the Gospel of Jesus Christ* and thought really hard on my personal conversion.  Are the trials that I face really looked at as trials or little faith testers given by my Father in Heaven?  I have loved the experience of the mission for many reasons and I was able to reflect even more so this week with a statement given by President Searle in our Leadership Council this past Wednesday.  He said that the 3 most common statements given to him by missionaries are, 1. I don't have faith, 2. I don't have a testimony, and 3. I don't feel the Spirit.  I was able to look (and continue to look) more in depth on these three statements. 
I am so grateful because the Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to really grow my testimony and help me have more faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement.  What wonders the Atonement can really do for us when we comprehend it's extensive healing powers.  We read Alma 26:22 in a Zone meeting training this week and were able to help the missionaries understand the importance of a personal conversion before changing other people.  I really have loved my Personal Study time because I have been able to read (and I am almost finished with) The Book of Mormon, Preach my Gospel, and the New Testament.  I have grown closer to my Savior through a personal conversion. 
I was also thoroughly surprised to find that a topic heavily talked about in the Liahona this month is Prayer.  I know that I can definitely work on my prayers and get to the point where I have a conversation with God.  I know He lives and He sent His son Jesus Christ to atone for us, suffer for our sins and to be able to know how to help us in times of needs (Alma 7:11-12).  God has called modern day prophets to let us know who we really are.  I would like to invite you (if you can get a hold of it)(all of you) to read the introduction to Preach My Gospel.  It is truly inspired by God to help us through our trials and our personal path to conversion.  I am so grateful for trials.  I am so grateful for the pressure and time that it takes to become who we truly can become. 
*The climb might be a lot tougher but the view is always better at the TOP*.
Love, Elder Slack

Baptism on Saturday...August 31, 2015

Well, I am getting settled into my new area.  I am in Soledad (it is like a suburb of Barranquilla) and it is super crazy!  I am glad to live where I live because the weekends here are crazier than spring break in Miami!!  My new ward is medium size (about 110 people) and we have a progressing area! In our zone we are in charge of the bus terminal (the mode of transportation for the mission) and so things got super crazy right when I got here as we then had to find rides for about 100 missionaries to their respective areas.  Later that night we had to send the trainers and their new missionaries off to each of the cities where they were going then to take some of the new sisters in our zone to their town where they are going to be.  Our zone is one of the bigger zones in the mission (16 missionaries but 4 less than Valledupar) but super super big in distance.  Half of our zone lives a half hour or more from where we live.  The mode of transportation here is the front half of a motorcycle welded to what looks like a roll cage... It would make for a sweet snowmobile hahaha :)
My new companion is Elder Puchoc from Peru.  He has the same time I do in the mission and is super cool!  We have gotten along super good and been able to make some pretty good goals or plans we would like to accomplish together! 
Right when I got here I was informed that we were to have a baptism on Saturday!  Her name is Beatriz and her husband is Raul.  He has been a member for a while but has been less active.  She has been listening to the missionaries for 3 years now but none of them have been able to dunk her in the water yet (short of papers to get married which happens a lot because they get lost or aren't registered right and then you have to go to where you are born to get them out.) I was thrilled to find out I would be able to be there with her in the special moment but felt super bad because the missionary that worked oh so hard to have her be baptized was gone.
We were able to be at their wedding (only my companion Beatriz Raul their daughter Laura and I) in the Notary and then in her baptism and confirmation.  It is always such a joy to see what the Gospel can do for someone. 
I learned a lot during the wedding about the Family, especially when the Judge said that he was doing it by the authority he possessed.  It is true that he does have authority but as I thought about it.. we are truly blessed to have the POWER and AUTHORITY of God.. What a blessing it is to be a member of this Church and have the blessings available to us as we do what we are commanded to do.  I know it is true and hope you all have a wonderful week!
Love Elder Slack

Monday, August 24, 2015

Soledad 2000...August 24, 2015

Well, what has been an excellent trip in Valledupar has come to an end.  Tomorrow, I will be heading back to Barranquilla (my new area is called Soledad 2000 and my new companion is Elder Puchoc).  I have learned tons of things here in Valledupar and I have been able to learn even more from my companions Elder Lince and Elder Jorgensen!  Definitely a city that I won't forget!  It is kind of weird to think however that with my time left in the mission I may only have 2 more areas... It really is crazy how fast time flies!
This past week was very awesome!  We were able to have a Zone meeting and we talked about Obedience!  A while back, our Mission President talked about three types of obedience!  They are fear, love, and for blessings!  We used an example from the scriptures that every single one of us has used and it is that of the Tree of Life.  We see three types of people in 1 Nephi 8. 
First, there are those that started along the iron rod but when the clouds of darkness came they lost sight of what was ahead of them and never made it to the Tree.  The second type of people we see are those who eventually got what they wanted (the fruit) but when nothing else was available, they were ashamed by those mocking them and they too turned away!  The last type of people we see are those that got to the Tree and stayed there.  It is not merely because they got there and liked the fruit. Temptations still presented themselves to those at the tree but in vs. 33-34 we find that they obeyed for the love of the Lord that they had.  "They did not give heed to the temptations." 
I thought alot because my companion and I have really focused on being obedient with exactness this past transfer and we have felt good because we have really been setting the example in many ways.  I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to be able to have a new start in a new place.  It gives me the opportunity to know many more people, have new experiences, and test myself to see if I can apply all the things I have learned!  Every transfer is like a stepping block or a gate into a new world. My Heavenly Father has really blessed me in many ways and given me many opportunities to grow and refine myself. 
I guess I am off to a new adventure with new things to learn!  I hope you all have a wonderful week and the Lord blesses you all immensely! 
Love, Elder Slack

Meekly Drenched in Destiny...August 17, 2015

  Well... this past week went by abnormally fast now that I am sitting at the computer thinking about what I did.  We had a good week working in our area with two companion exchanges.  I got to spend some time with Elder Godfrey (he is from Arizona and one of the District Leaders in the Zone).  He is super crazy and the poor guy has a real struggle speaking Spanish (even though he has been out for 15 months).  The people love him even though they don't understand him because he is just real crazy!  I think he stayed up until about 11 talking about all these book ideas he has (I wouldn't know what time he finished because I was asleep haha ;)  Even though they are super crazy and weird ideas I think I would buy them.  They sound interesting especially because one in the mission always thinks about how worldly things apply to gospel doctrine so underlined in the stories has to do with the Plan of Salvation, Agency, or some other gospel principle.
    I also got to spend some time with Elder De La Cruz. He is a brand new missionary from Ecuador and I was super impressed at how humble he is and how much he knows for being out such a short amount of time.  The Lord is truly hastening his work in these latter days and confides so much in us to do it.
    Even though my week did go by so fast I learned an amazing lesson this week while reading a talk given by Neal A Maxwell titled "Meekly Drenched in Destiny".  It was an incredible talk that talked about humbleness, patience, and being meek.  I was able to learn a ton more about controlling thoughts, actions, or words for when they are really important or necessary.  I think more than anything the mission has given me the opportunity to practice these things. 
    God has blessed us with so many talents, abilities, and habits that we first have to find out what they are.  Many of our qualities (even when considered strong or maybe not so good) come from God and as it says in Alma 34:32 "we are to prepare to meet God".  The talk gave me an opportunity to think about what qualities I have and see in what ways I have to refine myself so as to do the will of the Father.  I am grateful for the time I have to be a missionary and realize that I am a child of God and that he has given me time here on Earth to refine myself.  "In a comfort zone we rarely grow.  In a growth zone we are rarely comforted".  THAT IS WHY GOD SENT US HERE TO EARTH!!  We never could have progressed like we can on Earth!  I guess I would like to challenge each and every one of you to find in what ways you can "refine" yourself!  I love you all and hope you the best week with the best blessings!
Love, Elder Slack

Loving life and running fast...August 10, 2015

Well, another one down and gone, doing the same thing, yet I still learn new things!!!  I love it!!  This week we were super busy running errands and traveling we really didn't have much time in our area to work but it was a successful week!  Tuesday we spent the day cleaning and moving some Elders out of a house and they got sent to Barranquilla.  We didn't get done until about 5 then we had to get ready because the Stake President had asked us to train every ward (5 wards) about how to use a new format given to us from the Area Presidency!  Wednesday early early morning we had to go to Barranquilla for a training given by President.  My companion and I with the 2 Sister Leaders of Valledupar left at 3 in the morning (for a 6 hour trip to Barranquilla).  We were able to learn many wonderful things and talk about the needs of the mission.  The assistants gave a super awesome training on teaching more about the Doctrine, Principles, and the Application that you find in the first sentence of PMG ch. 3.  Many times we just say the What?,  Why?, and How?  It made me think the rest of the council as needs or concerns were presented to talk about... I thought it was very interesting that we normally end up talking about the same things over and over and it amazes me that 20, 21, and 22 year olds can't figure out how to clean your room, take care of your id card, send and fill out a baptismal sheets, or send reports on Mondays.  While helping Sister Searle set the table to eat dinner Wednesday night she made me laugh saying the same thing!  I always remember what our 1st counselor (Pte. Vega) said in our conference with Elder Godoy. "In the mission, we are no longer sons and daughters of God. We are to be Men and Women of God..."  I just think it is so clear and wonder why sometimes... :) I have learned some serious patience!!! ;)  Other than that we got back late Thursday night and we were able to contact a reference given to us by a member!  Her name is Esleidis and she is 32 years old with a 14 and an 11 year old!  After we said the first prayer, she had watery eyes and her hands were sweaty and she just kept saying "keep talking, keep talking"! haha It was so funny and we were able to feel the spirit super strong!!  She couldn't come to church on Sunday but tonight we will go back and visit her to teach her more about the Book of Mormon that she has already been reading!!  I love it!!  I am super good!!  Loving life and running fast (but so is time) and keeping myself super busy!!  Hope you all have a wonderful week!!
Love, Elder Slack

Traditions...August 3, 2015

This week was very crazy but very inspired as we got to hear from our President in our Zone Conference!  We started off the week very normal and were able to work very hard in our area!  It is something we have gotten to do and focus on a couple of people who are progressing towards baptism and activation.  Wednesday we were able to work with one of the Assistants named Elder Black and he is from Arkansas.  It is pretty funny to see some of the faces on people as they watched three Gringos walking down the street talking a good amount of Spanglish!! (sometimes I laugh at me and my companion because we will start a conversation in English and by the end we are talking Spanish again!! :)
On Wednesday we had Zone Conference!  The assistants trained us on a new sheet that the First Presidency has come out with called Traditions of a Latter Day Saint!  It was very interesting as it explained how traditions (when taken from it's root in Latin) means deliver yourself and we know it means an action or habit.  Then he used the example of Nephi and how he was instructed by his parents (1 Nephi 1:1) and how the family then split (2 Nephi 4) and how his older brothers then destroyed the "Traditions" of Lehi.  It is kind of like a snowball effect from there...
Those traditions (Keep the Sabbath Day Holy, Tithing, Live the principles taught in the Proclamation of the Family, Prayer, Scripture Study, Family Home Evenings, and Go to the Temple) then kind of lead into what President Searle taught about which is always obedience!  He just kind of explained that the mission is a MTC for the rest of our life and we can be obedient because of fear, or we can be obedient for love of our Savior.  It kind of reminded me of a phrase that was said by Pte. Vega (Missions 1st Councilor) "We need to be Men and Women of God.  No longer children of God"  It has had an impact on what I do!  Reading in Preach My Gospel just affirms that saying that if the people don't recognize us as representatives of Christ right when they see us then we aren't doing what we should be doing!  It all starts with our obedience and then our conference was all tied together saying that if we can't start to live those 7 principles in the mission we won't be able to teach them to our kids in the future or be able to teach them with a good example and then turned back to the example of the Book of Mormon and Lehi's family. 
I am glad to say that I have been raised by goodly parents and I have been able to experience many wonderful things in the mission.  I feel the Lord has been able to do what he would do with me to this point and I am so glad that I have so much time left to learn so much more!  The mission truly is a time in our life to become completely converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I know it is true and I know our Savior lives!!  I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!!!
Love, Elder Slack 

Agency is important..July 27,2015

What a great opportunity to be a missionary!  I have really been able to see the results of obedience, diligence, and good old blessings!!  My companion, Elder Jorgensen and I this week really kicked it into to gear, reviewed houses, did exchanges, and worked very decently in our area!  We have been obedient with exactness in all we can and have felt the blessings!  It is a little frustrating because I haven't felt like our area has been progressing.  As I was reading in my personal study I was able to think about 2 situations presented to Nephi in chapters 16 and later in 18.  In 1 Nephi 3 and 8 they were being strictly obedient to all that the Lord had commanded them to do yet in verses 18 through 23, they have some troubles when Nephi's bow and arrows break.  As I was thinking about it, God was definitely punishing them because they weren't keeping the commandments but as I continued to read into chapter 18 I realized that later on, they were blessed.  But when Laman and Lemuel tied Nephi up in the boat and God sent the whirlwinds and terrible storm it was truly a punishment.  Later in the week I was able to have an exchange with Hno. Pablo Hernandez who is a returned missionary (while my comp was with some missionaries) and we had a super wonderful talk about agency (which I think has become one of my favorite gospel topics!!).  I was able to truly see in the scriptures that difficult times simply come to test us but more as ways to see what type of person we really are.  My dad always said that there are 3 types of people or members of the church. There are those who are really the less actives (go to church every once in a while, sometimes read scriptures, sometimes pray, or do it when they need it). There are those who I would call active (read, pray, because they were taught to do it, go to church but if they miss an extra meeting they feel fine). And then there are those who are COMMITTED. They are the type of person who would go to all the meetings they have to, they have a dedicated scripture study and feel inspired while reading, have meaningful prayers to bless the lives of others, and will one day face the Throne of God with Confidence (a talk by Elder Klebingat). I realize that missionaries are the exact same and the interesting thing is that you can tell them apart very easily. Our agency is important because that is what will determine our trials or our punishments.  God will obviously test us while we are doing our best to grow more.  He will push us until we can't think we can go on and if we prevail, put all our faith in Him and just ask "what else will thou have me do?!"  (1 Nephi16:23) He will bless us immensely and sometimes our blessings will come in the form of more trials because God knows what our potential is... It is to become like Him. (Romans 8:17) I love you all and hope you know I am doing super awesome!!  I hope you all have the best week ever!!
Love, Elder Slack

Monday, July 20, 2015

Letter to and from Elder Lince...July19, 2015

Elder Lince,
Soy el padre de Elder Slack y quiere dicer le que el nos diga muchas coses muy buenas de ti. Muchas gracias por el ejemplo por Elder Slack, el ampredo mucho de ti. El nos dijo que usted es muy buena gente y es uno de los mas amado misionarios. Que Dios te bendiga en su trabajo y vida despues su mision.
Mucho amor de nuestra familia.
Steve Slack



Hola hermano Slack, que placer saludarle.
Me alegra mucho saber todas las cosas que Elder Slack ha comentado acerca de mi, él es un gran misionero y tiene un potencial muy grande para progresar y seguir siendo un líder poderoso en la misión, aprendí muchas cosas de él, es un misionero muy inteligente, creativo y enfocado en ayudar a las personas. El presidente de misión tiene muchas esperanzas y expectativas puestas en él, espero que él pueda seguir progresando en la misión. Para mi es un honor recibir una carta de agradecimiento de su parte; Hermano Slack, su hijo me ha hablado muchas cosas muy buenas de ustedes, él realmente los ama y son el centro de su vida, usted es un gran ejemplo para él y espero poder ser un ejemplo igual para mis hijos. Espero sigan disfrutando de las bendiciones que el Señor por medio del servicio dedicado y consagrado de Elder Slack puede darles. Fue un Honor haber trabajado junto a un misionero tan poderoso como su hijo.
Un abrazo muy fuerte.
Saludos de parte de la Familia Lince
Con amor.
Jefferson Lince 
 
 
Hello Brother Slack, it is great to talk to you. 
I am very pleased that Elder Slack would say those things about me.  He is a great missionary and has great potential to progress and continue to be a very powerful leader in the mission.  I learned many things from him.  He is a very intelligent missionary, very creative and focused on helping others.  The President has many hopes and opportunities for him.  I hope he will continue to grow in the mission.  For me it was an honor to receive a letter thanking me for my part.  Brother Slack, your son told me how great his parents are and how much he loves you and what great examples you are for him and the other boys.  I pray that you will continue to receive the blessings Heavenly Father has in store for you because of the service of Elder Slack.  It was an honor to have worked with  a missionary as strong as your son.
A big hug and hellos from the Lince Family.
Love,
Jefferson Lince

Weekly Jig...July 20, 2015

What a wonderful week!!  Tuesday, Elder Lince went home and I received my new companion, Elder Jorgensen!  He is from Willard, Utah and has one more transfer in the mission than I do!  He is a little taller than I am and we definitely stick out in our area!  Part of our area is very nice and looks like a downtown scene with small houses and very small front yards but the other part of our area is very different!  Dirt streets and kids playing soccer in the street yelling phrases that definitely don't make sense and bad words they don't understand but hear in movies!!  I have never had the guts to do it but sometimes my companion will yell at them in English and they just quit talking real quick because they don't understand!  Haha I laugh sometimes because my companion talks so loud in the street and it just makes even more people look our way but whatever!  I guess it comes with the skin color!! (that wasn't a racist joke or anything so quit laughing... :) This week we were able to work super good!!  We had lots of lessons and a couple of the people we have been teaching came to church because we were really able to find things they needed to fix in their lives!  They are twins (about 44 years old) and live separate but do lots of things together (named Magolina and Elicenia).  Magolina is divorced (her husband who was a bishop here a while ago left her for another lady) and  has 3 daughters, one is a returned missionary, and her other two daughters are less actives.  Elicenia isn't married but watches a little girl in her house.  It is interesting and I have come to learn more than anything this week the importance of chastity.  We are also teaching a couple of Recent Converts (Sanchez Family) who moved here from Santa Marta.  The mom (Joanna) is 35 years old and her husband is in jail in Cartagena.  She has 3 kids and her oldest daughter is 16 living with a 32 year old! They aren't married and that is the reason they are living here.  We sure taught them the Law of Chastity real direct but... they still didn't commit to live it.. (welcome to Colombia because it isn't the first time it has happened and not the only hard commandment.) So many of these families don't have a dad living in their house, many have large families with small incomes, and the kids just keep doing the same thing their parents did (maybe they need a tv or something else to occupy their time....) and it just gets worse and worse.  I know the family is the most important unit our Father in Heaven has given us and I am grateful for mine.  I know the family, when based on the principles our Savior taught us, can be an eternal family.  I hope to be able to apply the principles I am learning in my future family and I know that it is all based on our willingness to be obedient to ALL the commandments and work really, really hard for what we want!  I love you all and hope you have the greatest week ever!!
Love, Elder Slack 

The weekly dig....July 13, 2015

Well, a first happened this week.  This week, for the first time in my mission, I threw up.... like 7 times in less than 3 hours!  I felt terrible!  The good thing is that the next day I felt super good and was able to work like normal!  Thank heavens because our lunch contract is delicious and I was super hungry!  Other than vomiting, this week was very normal!  I have been trying super hard to be able to write in my journal daily (which doesn't always work out well but I am trying) and recognize the spiritual experiences I have daily.  The truth is, our Father in Heaven blesses us so much!  I realize that as I read the scriptures, I am able to find things to teach my investigators so that they understand better!  We are teaching one man named Freddix (his daughter was baptized about 3 weeks ago and we brought his wife back to activation) who drinks and doesn't come to church but as we read we realized we needed to use the Proclamation of the Family!  We made a lesson plan that brought the spirit strongly into their home.  I still would like to take away free agency and force them to be baptized!  We are also teaching a lady named Sandra Clemente and her two daughters Eva and Celeina (references from a less active member).  They have come to church twice and have a baptismal date!  They are reading the Book of Mormon and going to other activities during the week! I am so grateful when members give us references!!  The Lord gives us so many blessings to strengthen our testimony!  I was reading in my Book of Mormon in 1 Nephi 8:33-34 where Nephi explains that everyone had temptations but those who ate and stayed at the tree were those who turned their backs to the temptations.  It has been interesting to turn my back to all temptations and really be able to feel the spirit more in my day to day life!  This week we were blessed with a super strong rain storm and we had to walk home in it!  The river in the road was up to my knees with logs and garbage in the streets!  It was pretty fun walking home but had we not been missionaries, I think we might have died!  Haha!  I was drenched from head to toe and it was the first time I was cold here in Colombia!  I know the Lord's hand works in our lives day to day and I would love to invite you to take note of what happens in your lives!  I love you all and hope you have a fantastic week!!
Love, Elder Slack


Drenched from the rain
Elder Lince and Elder Slack


Valledupar Zone
Crazy Elder Salck and Elder Lince
Valledupar Zone activity

Soaking wet and freezing cold



 






Weekly good stuff I got to tell ya about!....July 6, 2015

Well life is good, weather is hot, and we are still working!!  This week we went to Barranquilla for a leader council.  The council was very simple and we felt the spirit very strongly.  That is definitely how the gospel should be in our lives.  The gospel is not a hard thing to do and when we take time to learn the basics (good scripture study, meaningful prayers, and a worthy Sabbath day) we will feel the spirit more in our lives and definitely be blessed!  Even though there wasn't some crazy parades, I didn't eat watermelon, or see huge fireworks, I was able to think a lot about what it means to be an American and I do have to say that I love being a citizen of the United States!  It was hard thinking that this week I have officially been out one year but I don't have one year left.  It makes me sad to think how short the time is in a mission but then I was thinking how much time we have here on earth.  It is very short and what a waste it would be to not discover the many wonderful things our Heavenly Father has in store for us.  We didn't have much time to work in our area this week.  Barranquilla is a 6 hour bus ride from Valledupar and we go a day early and get home a day later.  We then had to run some errands for immigration, notary and surgery stuff for missionaries but while working we used our time very well!  We found some new investigators (Sandra and her two daughters Eva and Celeina) who were referrals through a less active member!  I'll tell ya what, members sure make the difference in the missionary field!!  I love being a missionary.  I know this is the Lord's church.  I know we have a prophet of God and I know I will be able to live with my family forever if I am obedient!  I hope you have a wonderful week and I love you all!!
Love, Elder Slack
 
 
HUMP DAY!!
Elder Brady Slack and Elder Aaron Wooden
 

Elder Slack and Elder Miller
 

Elder Slack, Elder Lince, Elder Miller and ???

Some Colombian memorabilia

Monday, June 29, 2015

Not quite Colombian...June 29, 2015

What a wonderful week that we had with President and his wife here in Valledupar.  We had interviews with all the missionaries and it was fun to spend some time with each of them individually and listen to hear what our President has to say!  We ate crappy Chinese food with way too much oil two days in a row for lunch (it is President's favorite) and got to review houses with Sister Searle!  She is a real sweet lady but I would never want to be on her bad side!!  She has a lot of tact!!  Makes you feel real dumb when something isn't right haha :)  We also had some meetings with the Stake President (Pte. Varon) so that we can clean up the attitudes of some of the missionaries in their ward councils and how we can work better together!  Besides that we have been scrambling to work in our area.  We had 6 Baptisms a week or two ago but now we have to find new people to replace those who were baptized.. it isn't as easy as it sounds.  We had a zone meeting Saturday where we talked about reaching our potential.  Most of us in the zone are just fine where we are at and with what we are doing but I know we could all be doing much more.  I realized who I am and who I can become by studying a couple talks from our Area Presidency and one from Elder Klebingat,  ¨Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence¨.  It has changed my perspective on what I do.  Sometimes I would love to just go and change things for other missionaries so they see what they are doing and how they can change to work more productively but then I look at myself and my area and find lots of things I can do to improve.  We also worked a little with a member named Alfredo Quintero.  He is a deaf member (we are teaching a couple of deaf people) and so when we teach someone he bears his testimony, we translate, and when one is teaching the other is translating for him so he understands.  I can communicate very basically in sign language which has been pretty fun!!  We had an amazing experience with him giving a blessing!  We had asked him to help us with a sister who didn't feel so good and while I was giving the blessing my companion and I felt him shake and I thought he was having a seizure.  After we asked him what was going on and he told us that he literally felt the power of God while helping us with the blessing!  It was amazing and I took a better look and the tiniest of things I am doing that would keep me from receiving the power that comes with our authority.  Definitely a learning experience that went in the journal!!  Hope you all have the best of weeks.  Love you all!
Love, Elder Slack

Baptisms and babysitting...June 23, 2015

This week was quite the experience!  We started off with some emergency transfers in the mission (here in our zone they closed one area) and moved some elders around.  We did lots of surprise house checkups and it makes me laugh how unorganized and dirty some were.  Glad I'm not their mother, mine would have definitely killed me!  The biggest thing that happened was that we had 6 baptisms!!!  They are named Ever Rodriguez (44 years old), Veronica Lopez (42 years old), Katalina Torres (15 years old), Julian Cortez (15 years old), Danilo Cortez (10 years old), Juliana Acuña (10 years old).  I have felt super good about the baptisms because every single one of them are from part member families!!  Ever was a reference from his girlfriend (who is an active member of the church who has been to the temple) and soon after the first visit had a dream saying that he had to study the Book of Mormon!  Veronica has been listening to the missionaries ever since her sons got baptized a little over a year ago.  Quite the struggle with her but we set a baptismal date and in the interview she finally decided she was ready and nothing was holding her back!  Katalina is a sister of a member. About 4 weeks ago my companions and I went and gave her a blessing for a stomach flu.  The next day, she got up without pains and continued on.  She knew it was true and accepted a baptismal date.  Julian and Danilo are a nephews of Katalina's brother in law.  They have been coming to church for sometime and I was fortunate enough to finish up lessons with them and then watch them be baptized!  I am amazed at how easy it was to baptize these people and it was all through the work of members!!  As I was writing this email, my companion got a call from two Elders in our zone.  They got hit by a motorcycle crossing the street and we got to spend the rest of the night in the clinic with them!  I am amazed at how the Lord blesses us while we are being obedient and I am sure that the accident could have been much worse!  I love you all and hope you are doing excellent!
Love, Elder Slack


Elder Lince, Ever Rodriguez, Elder Slack
 
 

?, Ever Rodriguez,?, Veronica Lopez, Katalina Torres, Julian Cortez, ?
 Danilo Cortez, Juliana Cuna,
Elder Slack, Elder Lince
 
 

 

Great learning opportunities...June 15, 2015

What a whirlwind of events and such great learning opportunities!  We started off the week working out a huge problem that was caused when a missionary decided to have a FHE the night before he left and was out until 11:00.  We get a phone call daily about something else he did in his area before he left.  Thank heavens he is in his house now and his stake president can deal with him!  We had a couple meetings with our stake president so that he can help us out as missionaries work better with members and so that they have a little more confidence in us.  This week we were very busy doing surprise checkups on a couple houses and some exchanges.  I do have to say that this week I learned how to control all the stress that was piling up and by the end of the week I just laughed when something new came up because it seemed to never end.  We are the farthest away from the mission home (6 hour bus ride, 1 hour airplane) and 22 missionaries in our zone (biggest in the mission) and it is has been interesting to say the least.. :)  One thing that happened that impacted my experience as a missionary was actually really sad.  We received a phone call from one of the mission counselors saying that one of the District Leaders in our zone (who is young, super obedient, trainer, and about to be a zone leader) had gotten involved with a girl in his ward.  We really didn't believe him and said we would look into it but we were really just shocked.  We are in the same building as them so we asked some of the people in their ward if they have noticed anything between them and not much was said but that we should continue to look into it.  After lunch we went and did a checkup on their house to see if they had really passed notes, given gifts, or called and we found nothing.  They got home and we did an interview with them and they told us everything that was going on before we were able to ask and asked some questions and came to the conclusion that a joke was being played, the missionary didn't have anything to do with the girl, and was a big mistake.  In the night while verifying with my companion, he told him everything.  What had happened was that he was in an exchange and went to the bathroom.  They were left alone in one part of the house and they got talking that they both were cute, had similar interests, etc.  He then asked if she would kiss him and then said no that it was stupid.  He never kissed her but just the thought of him doing it still doesn't make sense.  I have learned that it is really hard to trust in some of these missionaries and that we all make the stupidest little mistakes but they end up being things super hard to finish.   If he would have just told us at the beginning it would have been a whole lot better.  I felt very dumb because we just hadn't done our part to verify what was really going on.  Even worse, we have been slipping with small things like getting to bed at 10:30, or having new investigators.  It is exactly like life.  The more we procrastinate our repentance, (have a true repentance and telling it all in one visit) we will begin to slip farther and farther until it is too late and things turn bad.  Just like Joseph in the Old Testament when presented with sin we should just run away and forget what happened so as not to fall in temptation . I hope you all have a wonderful week, that all of your wildest dreams come true, and the Lord blesses you according to your obedience to his commandments and covenants.
Love, Elder Slack

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Homemade lasagna and chocolate chip cookies...June 9, 2015

This past week was super busy and super inspiring!  We started off the week with transfers.  Being the farthest from the Mission Home, we had to send those being changed off at 2:00 in the morning and were in the terminal until 5:00.  We got permission from President to sleep in a bit.. :).  Then we had a super constructive day until about 7:00 pm when the other missionaries got to Valledupar and we had to go get them.  Wednesday should have been a normal day but we had to run a ton of errands for the zone (starting off with the sisters who lost their keys) and we just kept going and going until 8:00 at night when we were able to rattle off a couple lessons!  Thursday we went to Barranquilla for a leader council with President Searle. It was super awesome and lots of things have changed since Elder Godoy (member of the Seventy) came.  He kinda cleaned up the mission so it runs a little better!  We got to stay in the Mission home and it was huge and gorgeous!!  Sister Searle cooked for us and it was awesome to eat some homemade Lasagna and home baked chocolate chip cookies.  Even though they weren't as good as my mothers, it was still nice to eat something that tasted like home!  Our week ended very well and has just kept going until now!!  I have learned tons from my Companion Elder Lince (from Ecuador) and we are getting along great!  Since Elder Godoy came to the mission, we have been pressed to receive our personal revelation and for those over whom we preside.  It has been interesting as I have pushed myself to listen to the spirit and try to follow all He says.  I can honestly say He really will take over if we give Him the opportunity and we will just go on from there!!  We will only be able to be guided by the Spirit if we are strict in our obedience! Love you all and hope you all have a wonderful week!!
Love, Elder Slack

Staying in Valledupar...June 1, 2015

Another busy week!  This week we had the opportunity to have President here in Valledupar.  He had some interviews and then we had a couple of meetings with his counselors and the Stake President here in Valledupar.  It was super awesome to be able to get to know him and see how he thinks! He is one patient man and definitely has learned how to have attributes of Christ.  We were able to have some exchanges and I was with Elder Carreon who is from Mexico.  He works super well and his area is one of the best in the Zone!  I will be staying here in Valledupar this transfer with Elder Lince from Ecuador.  He was my Zone leader when I first got into the mission and then one of the assistants that I got to verify in Barranquilla and now my companion!!  It was super awesome to be with Elder Miller (from Roy, Utah) for the three crazy weeks but it should be a fun transfer!!  My new area is progressing super fast and we should have a ton of baptisms this transfer!  I have learned more than anything this week to look for the Spirit in my life and be able to block other things out of my mind. It is very difficult here to have a virtuous mind while the weather is so hot close to the beach but I have learned that if I don't watch my thoughts or actions or words, the Spirit won't want to be around me.  I am super excited for this week and even though it will be super crazy (a trip to Barranquilla, transfers, and district meetings) we should be able to work very well and see how things will be going here in Valledupar!!  I love you all and wish you all the best!!
Love, Elder Slack

Playin church ball...May 25, 2015

Wow!  What an amazing week!  Our mission was blessed to have Elder Carlos Godoy from our area presidency and member of the first quorum of the Seventy with us.  We were trained by him Thursday.  We first had a training for the leaders of the mission and he kinda got in our grill saying that we were a wonderful mission as far as numbers go but if we were a soccer team we would always lose because we don't make goals.. We have very little baptisms.  Maybe it is because of where we are and I still say that it is very wicked here (maybe that is why it is so hot because God wants to burn us all out) but idk.  He said it could be because of our focus.  We as leaders are focusing on numbers and not missionaries.  Too many missionaries go home the same as when they came out.  It was awesome to here him say that we are here to prepare us for the future.  I think the vision of some missionaries is very different.  I also loved a phrase that was said by one of the counselors of the mission who said that we aren't to be sons and daughters of God in the mission but to be men and women in the mission.  I think we can say that the maturity level isn't quite up to par.  I loved it and it was a super awesome way to get to know how General Authorities act and what their thought process is!  I have loved the phrase since the MTC that I should always live to be able to be called to be a General Authority so that if ever called upon by the Lord, I am ready and worthy.  I am doing super awesome.  I always laugh at myself because I am a little picky about my hair.. I never seem to get it quite right and the poor lady did a good job but my dad and his wisdom once said, a bad haircut only lasts 2 weeks.  Needless to say, I will be looking forward to two weeks.. :) I love you all and wish you the best!
Love, Elder Slack
P.S. Two weeks ago I was playing basketball and dunked the ball.  First off, I didn't even know I could dunk, and second of all.. bet you can't say that you have broken a backboard.  After I dunked it, I looked at the other Elders as they were all running away from me.  I turned back to see it coming down!  Even though I have to fork out the money it is still worth it to say I broke a backboard. It is practically church ball because I am in the mission right?! :) 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Long, lonely bus ride to Valledupar...May 18, 2015

Wow!  So, so sorry for the time I haven't been able to write a big letter!  Two weeks ago we were able to go to the mountains of Santa Marta (got back late) and then last week I was able to talk with my family!! Wahoo for family and I love them very much but I am very honest in saying it is real weird talking with them.  Santa Marta was awesome and I loved every minute of it!  It was super hot and we had a solid church attendance of 25 (including 4 missionaries and 6 in the president's family who don't live in the branch boundaries).  However, many young people are listening to the gospel and I believe that the Lord has something prepared in the future for the church here in Santa Marta.  I actually finished up in Santa Marta on Monday after I talked to my family and left for Valledupar on Tuesday.  It was a long lonely bus ride of 5 hours but I survived and met my new companions.  One is Elder Lince who was an assistant a transfer ago.  He is from Ecuador and will be going home here in a month or so.  My other companion is Elder Miller from Roy.  He came a transfer after I did and is super awesome!  There are 21 missionaries in the zone and I am working with one whose companion went home on Tuesday for problems with kidney stones and stomach flu until his new companion gets here!
This week Elder Godoy from the area presidency will be coming to speak to the mission.  I am looking forward to listening to him and hearing what he has to say and how we can become better missionaries.  We will be in Barranquilla on Friday (leaving Friday morning at 2 and getting home Friday at 11) then back to work!!  It should be  wonderful experience! 
Besides these couple of crazy things going on nothing is to abnormal nor do I feel stressed or out of place!  The church is really truly one big family!  I love you all and I hope you all have a wonderful week!!
Love,
Elder Slack
 
Zone in Valledupar

 
 

Skyping for Mother's Day...May 11, 2015

 
**We get to Skype today instead of emailing!  Brady did say that there was an emergency transfer and he will be going to Valledupar in the next day or so.  On to a new adventure!
 
 
 
In the mountains of Santa Marta

District in Santa Marta

Elder Slack and Elder Piedra (Ecuador)

Sweet letter from the Hermano Vargas family...April 27, 2015

Queridos hermanos, para nosotros es una gran bendicion el haber conocido una persona tan especial como elder slack, para nosotros fue un privilegio habrirle las puertas de nuestro hogar y de nuestro corazon, el supo retribuir todo ese cariño que le brindamos, nosotros tambien queremos conocerles a ustedes y ojala el padre celestial nos brinde la oportunidad de poder lograrlo.


Un fuerte abrazo para todasu familia que el padre celestial los bendiga 
familia vargas ojeda.

On to Santa Marta...April 27, 2015

 What a crazy week!  I was transferred from Barranquilla to Santa Marta.  I am literally cruising the coast of Colombia!!  My new companion is Elder Peidra from Ecuador.  He is newer in the mission with just 3 months and finishing his training!  He is super good and we get along great!!  I was so super sad to leave Barranquilla, especially a ward with so many friends(my Colombian dad and family, Adolfo Vargas and super awesome people progressing in the gospel)!!  I got to my area which is one of the smallest branches in the mission with a solid 35 active members!  Haha I got to church and kind of laughed!  My area is super, super good and we have tons of people that are always so kind to listen.  We work very fluidly and have a solid 50 lessons a week without even trying.  The only hard part is it is a little trip to go to church and so it is hard for some of the people to come to church.  There are a lot of less active members here too so I would love to start to work some for them and I think that is going to be my goal while I am here.  Santa Marta is very humid and looks way too much like Globe and Miami Arizona.  The mountains are super close to the city and have all the cacti and what not.  The only difference is that in the city, all the smaller neighborhoods are separated and so it has this super small town feel to it!  I love it here and I have plenty of work to do! Santa Marta is definitely the tourist part of Colombia so when I start to get out on Mondays I will have plenty of pics for yall!!!  I hope you all have a super awesome week and I love you all!!
Love,
Elder Slack

PS.  I went from the second biggest ward in the mission in Lucero to the smallest branch in the mission.  Santa Marta is two districts and hasn't grown in the last 30 years!  Plenty of people to work with but very little come to church.  The branch president is 45 years old and has been in that calling since he was 19!!  He only took two years off to serve his mission!

I finally met Hermana Pantoja...April 20, 2015

**Brady did not send a big email this week but these were a few of the highlights...

I finally met Hermana Pantoja this week!  We were in the stake center for General Conference and we met up.  She is a nice little lady!! :)  She actually called my name while I was talking and said she knew it was me.  Haha  I don't know how, but she did! :)  (She told her daughter, Adriana that he was a happy face Elder)
I got a little sick this week and couldn't eat hardly anything without feeling the need to throw up so I am actually super skinny right now.  Haha


**We got word last night that Brady is being transferred to Santa Marta.  He will really miss the people in Lucero, especially the Vargas family

Hermana Pantoja and Elder Slack
Elder Brady Slack and Elder Stewart Black from Blanding, Utah

Elder Slack, Juliana and Elder Morales



 

Monday, April 20, 2015

New Companion...April 13, 2015

Well hello everyone.  We are now encountering another week 6 here in the sunny (and super hot) weather of Barranquilla.  Who knows what will happen but hey.. I've always liked surprises!!! :)  This week on Tuesday my companion, Elder Mora had to go home for a break because of some problems in his knee.  He has 2 months to be able to work it all out and get some rest and then he is back at it.  I received my new companion, Elder Morales from Bolivia Tuesday night as well.  He is 21 years old and has 20 months in the mission!  It has been way cool to be with someone a little older in the mission who has been around the ropes once or twice!  We have two investigators who have progressed really well over the past 2 months but haven't been baptized yet.  One is 18 (Juliana) and the other is 16 (Nathalia).  They have awesome testimonies of the Gospel but their mother hasn't let them get baptized.  Juliana has taken the step and says that she is just going to do it.  She has had her interview and will now be baptized this week!  We had an awesome lesson on Faith and I do have to say I learned a lot too!!  It was an awesome lesson where we felt the spirit a ton and I think she was able to learn that after baptism is when the real challenge will come!  I have learned the importance of persevering more than ever and listening to the Holy Ghost.  Other than that I am doing super good!!  Nothing else is different and I can't wait to receive the Liahona to be able to re-read the conference talks again!  Hope you all are doing very well and I love each and every one of you!!!! :)
Love, Elder Slack
 

Prepared by God...April 6, 2015

What a great week with an excellent weekend!  I hope everyone had the opportunity to listen or will have the opportunity to soon read and re listen to the conference talks!  They were very inspired and well needed!!  I was particularly fond of the talk by Elder Bednar about facing our fears.  I find it very useful to know that it doesn't really matter how we were but it matters most about how we will become through the atonement of Jesus Christ.  I know He suffered for us and gave His life for us. He is the greatest example of humility and obedience the world has ever known.  It is amazing to see little changes every day in my life and the lives of others as I try to help them do the same!  We had a super good experience this week with a friend of a member.  She had listened to the members before but I guess it just wasn't the right time.  We visited her and just taught her the Restoration.  She was asked to give the closing prayer and started off super good.  Halfway through, she just started balling. I know we felt the spirit super strong in her house and I know that she has been prepared by our Father in Heaven.  This same member ( she is super awesome!!) also has been helping us with another family (also references).  We had a super cool experience with them on Thursday.  It was Holy week and so practically no work or school the whole week and I guess before we visited them they were with family the whole day.  We, before, had planned to share the family, temple marriage, and family history lessons.  He was shocked and asked why we were talking about it.  We told him we felt impressed to do it and he laughed.  He said he knew what we are doing is true.  It is a very awesome family that has been prepared by God.  I would like to note that both stories have much to do with a member... During conference I heard a couple times that many around us are prepared but sometimes we are short of faith to help them get started.  I hope we can all get to work and pray for missionary opportunities.  It will only strengthen your testimony and help you feel the spirit!  I know this is the Church of Jesus Christ and the Prophet and Apostles are inspired.  I know that they have the power and authority of God.  I love it here in Colombia and it is so much fun!  I am doing absolutely awesome!!  I hope you have a wonderful week and look forward to all the Lord has in store for you!!
Love, Elder Slack

Rat Infestation!!...March 30, 2015

Hello my dear family and friends!  I hope you are all doing wonderfully well and that things are going good!!  I am doing splendid here in Barranquilla, Colombia!  Eating tons, walking lots, and sleeping little!  Things are going very good and I do have to say that I am pretty much best friends with the people that live in the street that try to speak English!  Sometimes I am tempted to learn German and start speaking!  Everyone says I am not from the U.S. because I don't speak like the rest of them.. I just try to have a little fun with em!! :)  This week was a pretty good week with a  baptism and a confirmation to top it off!  First confirmation I have done in the mission and it was a very interesting feeling!  Nothing like I have ever felt!!  We also seem to have quite the constant rat infestation in our apartment.  This week we have killed 5 rats and these aren't your little household mice either!!  These things get big!!  I think I might become a pro rat killer in the future!!  We threw some poison outside on a deck thing and came home to a very amazing fragrance on Saturday night!! The stupid thing ate the poison then found it's way in the house.  It was about ready to explode so we played rock, paper, scissors to see who had to pick it up but my comp isn't that good because he always plays rock first!  So, I won and the sucker had to pick up the exploding rat hahaha :):)  I am doing super awesome and looking forward to an amazing General Conference!  Should be stellar and I hope each and every one of you will have the opportunity to listen!!  Love you all and wish the best!! 
Love, Elder Slack

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Diligence is loving what you are doing accompanied with work...March 23, 2015

This week was pretty special!  We were able to listen to Elder Uceda (of the quorum of the 70) during a stake conference!  He taught a lot about temple work and the ability to go to temple.  I really missed not being able to go during that session.  They also talked a lot about the importance of ward council.  I can't believe the difference in the ward council here in Lucero compared to the last one!  It truly helps the missionaries if the ward council is specific and super detailed.  He also talked about the diligence of the members.  He said that diligence is loving what you are doing accompanied with work!!  I feel like many missionaries just have a switch and turn on and off when they wake up.  it drives me nuts!!!  It is real interesting what type of people work and how they work!  Today we went to some farm with Adolfo Vargas (my dad in Colombia) and his family.  It was super fun and relaxing!  Holy they have some pigs there and I really though they were cows laying down when I saw them!  They are sooooooo big!!!  We had a big old soup and just relaxed a bunch.  The mission is going good.  I am learning lots of things!  This week we helped a blind guy who I think had special needs cross a street.  Later that night.. my companion asked me.. "What if that wasn't where he was supposed to be going?!"  I guess the Lord knows and guided him to where he needed to go! .. I hope.. :)  It is awesome!!  Hope you all are doing awesome and love you all!!
Love, Elder Slack


Selfie with Elder Dos Santos
 
Vargas Family
 

Monstrous pig
 
Elder Slack and Hermano Carlos Pantoja (High Councilman who is the uncle of Sarah from preschool)
 

Elder Uceda is coming...March 16, 2015

Wow!  Another week down, not a whole lot left.  I'm getting nervous, like my mother feels in tight spaces!!  It is crazy how fast the time is going and all of things we have been able to do in this short time!!  Transfers flew by and I stayed in my area with Elder Mora!  We put aside our difficulties and just got to work!  We had an abundance of lessons this week but very little in the church yesterday.  I learned two lesson from this.. 1)Focusing on the person is one of the most important things.  2) Free agency is the best gift our Father in Heaven has given us.  But if we don't use it right, we end up worse off than where we started out!  This week in the mission and in the stake where I am working we have the wonderful opportunity to be able to listen to Elder Uceda who is a member of the Quorum of the 70 and our Area President.  The mission will be listening to him this Friday and then our stake will get to listen to him on Saturday and Sunday as our stake conference!  It will be a wonderful experience to help me prepare for General Conference and learn a ton!  I have a feeling that some big announcements will be made!! :)  I am doing awesome and hope you all have a wonderful week!!  If any of you have questions email my mother and I would be more than happy to respond to them in this email!!
Love, Elder Slack


Elder Dos Santos, Elder Cevallos, Aldofo Vargas and family, Elder Slack, Elder Mora
 
 
And, he got 'em