Dear Elder Slavens

Dear Elder Slavens

Elder Dallin J Slavens Cambodia Phnom Penh

Elder Chancellor J Slavens Idaho Twin Falls

Monday, October 28, 2013

His Eye Is On the Sparrow

Hola! Como estan todos??

Yet another crazy fast week rolls by in the slow town of Wendell, ID. It's been such an awesome week, and I've had some pretty crazy experiences! Elder Johnson and I are on a roll, and the mission's just a blast.

So this week, we had our 3rd baptism in a row!! It's complete insanity, and we're so thankful for all of the miracles we've been seeing over the past month! The baptizee (?) is a woman named Gloria Vital. She just recently got married to the son of one of the Spanish members in our group. The son's a super recent convert to the church, and they're both really excited about raising their family in this gospel! So we've been teaching this girl for the past month, and they just wanted to plow right through the lessons and get her baptized ASAP! Unfortunately, Elder Johnson and I couldn't just dunk her, because we really wanted to help her understand what it was she was getting into! So we've been taking it slow and making sure she really comprehends what the church is all about. And every time we visit her, she gets more and more excited to make it a part of her life!

It's been so cool to see the change in this family's life as we've taught them more and more about how the gospel can truly bless their whole family's life, including that of their son that's to be born in like December! Did I mention she's like WAY pregnant? She's this tiny little girl, and Luis, her husband, is a BIG boy. That means big baby. The plan was for Luis to baptize her, but the glitch was that they HAD to get it right the first time because dunking this pregnant woman in the water over and over again just didn't sound quite right. So we made all the proper preparations, including making sure the font was extra full, and stuff like that.

On Sunday we had the opportunity to see Gloria be baptized by her husband. It was absolutely beautiful to see this family become completed in the eyes of God. I could just feel Him smiling over the whole goings-on. I can't wait to see how they'll progress as a couple in the gospel and have kids who grow up in the truth! It was an amazing thing to see, and it really strengthened my testimony of the importance of a strong family built on the foundation of Christ, with the priesthood there to bless them along the way. I want to have a family like that.

So this was an incredible week, and i just love what I've been blessed to see out here! I hope you all have a great week!

Elder Slavens

Monday, October 21, 2013

Tengo Gozo En Mi Alma Hoy

Well hi there, everyone!! Hope you're all doing well! You know I am!
This week has been absolutely insane. Easily the best week on my mission, and equally as easily the most exhausting. I am pooped! But I'm beyond happy too! I suppose that's how a mission should be, right?
The spotlight of this email is going to be... Mario Reyes! I believe I discussed this kid a bit last week. 18 years old? Has a twin? Yup, that one! Well I've got quite the story for you. Remember how he was having troubles making the decision to be baptized, and we helped him set the goal to be baptized on November 9th? Well I laugh in November 9th's face now! Bahahaha! You see, Elder Johnson and I witnessed a miracle this week. Just the day after I last wrote you guys, we got a text from Mario. He said "Elders". We said "Mario". He said "Yup". (That's how we communicate with Mario. Every time he has something to tell us, he says "Elders", we say "Mario", he says "Yup". Then we get down to business.)
Anyway, we asked him what's up, and he said something amazing had happened! He had been on chatting with a sister missionary, and she mentioned something about the spirit of revelation -- and suddenly everything just clicked! It all fell into place, and the time had come. He was ready for baptism! Not only that, but he wanted it more than anything, like, as quick as possible. So Elder Johnson and I were sitting there discussing how soon we should plan this baptism. Our discussion was interrupted by another text from Mario: "This Saturday."
We were literally jumping around the room and screaming, we were so stoked (and so freaked out at the same time). How the heck are we gonna plan a whole baptism in like 4 days?? There's a lot more to consider than you'd think, my friends! So this kid only knows like a couple families in the English ward (by the way, he speaks to us in English), so we figured we'd get them to do the talks and stuff. We asked one family and they, collectively, were down to do the two talks, play the piano, say one of the prayers, and conduct the meeting. So basically the success of this baptism was riding on the presence of this family. We were working with them the whole week to get the thing all organized. But halfway through the week we were told that, because of schedule changes and whatnot, they weren't gonna be able to make it on Saturday! You can imagine our stress.
We decided we'd break the rules a little bit and have the baptism on Sunday. That seemed to work nicely for everyone, and a huge weight was lifted off Elder Johnson and I. It was put back on when our Spanish Group President told us that we would be giving talks in Sacrament Meeting - in the Spanish Group - in Spanish. Ew, gross. But I quickly forgot about that stress when we were sent another text from Mario, in which he said "I've made a decision about who does what for my baptism. Elder Slavens, it would be an honor if you would baptize me."
This was a first for me, that's for sure! So Sunday rolled around, and I had the opportunity to baptize Mario Reyes. It was such a miracle to see the change in this kid that I met just a short couple weeks ago. When he came up out of the water, he had this gigantic smile on his face, and I was so happy I could hardly hold it in! It was so beautiful to see, and I'll never forget it. I love being a missionary and being able to bring this happiness that I feel every day to people who're lost in this world. They need us, and we need to help them. This is the Lord's work, and having the opportunity to push it forward - even just a bit - is the most wonderful blessing.
My talk went alright!! Ish. I spoke for like 7 minutes, though I was asked to speak for 20. My grammar was pretty half hazard, but the spirit was there! So that was a fun opportunity to have as well.
Anyway, this has been an incredible week, and I'm so thankful that I got to experience it! I love you all, and I'll talk to you next week!!
Elder Slavens

The Baptism of Mario Reyes.

I write "Elder Slavens loves you." on the Seminary class' board, 
and this is what I get in return.

We have a Lego robot, and put it in a different position every day. 
I think this one wins.

The "District Master", Elder Franks.

Monday, October 14, 2013

And the Plot Thickens

Best week out here so far, you guys! Woo!!

How is everyone? I miss you all times a bajillion and hope your lives are going just swell!

I'm doing so great. Things are picking up like crazy in the Twin Falls mission, and it's so cool to be a part of! Elder Johnson and I have had an amazing week, we've learned so much, and it's just been tons of fun! We've been keeping ourselves mighty busy, that's for sure. The weeks are moving so quickly, but the days themselves feel like ages!

First off: I had my first baptism this week!! Now before we get all excited, it was pretty much a done deal before I even showed up. But I still took part, and I'm pretty proud of that! The baptizee (baptizee?) is a kid named Francisco Diaz, 8 years old, and a complete genius. His parents aren't members, which is why Francisco was officially an investigator baptism, although it was basically a member baptism anyway. Like I said, his parents aren't members, but they basically are. His mom, for all intents and purposes, is a member. She has a calling and everything. Been active for like 4 years or something like that. Just hasn't made the covenant. The reason she hasn't been baptized is that her husband feels like he's not ready to take that step yet. But they have 4 little boys, and all of them have been baptized! It's kind of a backward situation, but we're trying to push them in the right direction! Anyway, the baptism was absolutely beautiful. Francisco's two older brothers both gave talks and they did so well. The spirit was stinking palpable in that room, and I know the dad felt it! We're gonna hop on that right away, and tell him it's just time, man! I'll keep you updated!

The other big thing that happened this week was our lesson with Mario Reyez. Mario's and awesome kid. He's 18 years old, and has a twin brother named Mariano. Mariano was actually baptized a few months ago, and now we're focusing on his brother. Mariano's story is absolutely insane. Just like 2 years ago, he was a straight up meth addict - on the run from the cops. He was in a very bad place. But the missionaries got a hold of him and he turned his life around! He's active in the church, Christ is a part of his life -- a 180-degree turn. I wish I could've been there to see it. But now we're focusing on Mario, and I'm so excited about it! Mario very much reminds me of myself. He's very logical, and it sometimes makes it hard for him to completely wrap his mind around the idea of faith. He's been taught all the lessons and stuff, and thoroughly enjoyed them, but is scared to make a change in his life; especially when he can't be sure it's the right thing to do. So I told him that he needs to do exactly what I would have to do: take a leap of faith! I said often times in my life, I've found that I just need to trust in the Lord and do what I feel is right, even if all isn't made perfectly clear to me. You should've seen his face!! He just brightened up and said "Man, I've never thought of it like that before!" You can imagine how excited I got. We took like another hour talking about the importance of faith, and I asked him to read Alma 32 for homework. We ended up helping him set the goal to be baptized on November 9!! We're gonna keep swinging by and helping him achieve that, 'cause I know that it will help him in his life.

This has been such an incredible week. My testimony has grown so much, and I've learned tons. Thank you all for all the support you give me! I can feel your prayers, and you are in mine! Have a beautiful week, and I'll talk to you all next time!

-Elder Slavens

Monday, October 7, 2013

Even If You're On the Right Track, You'll Still Get Run Over If You Just Sit There

I'm back!! And better than ever!

How is everyone?? I know I ask that every week, and I can't actually get any legit responses, but just know that I care!!

Anyway, this has been such an awesome week! Lots of changes, and I really am doing better than ever. I got transferred this past Wednesday to a little town called Wendell, Idaho! It's teeny-tiny. Like, I thought Buhl was small. This is like half of Buhl, for realz. I didn't even know towns like this existed, but you learn something new every day, don'tcha? But anyway, Wendell is stinking great! Despite the tininess. There's actually more cows residing in Wendell than people, so that got a chuckle out of me.

My new companion is Elder Johnson from Georgia. Coolest dude in the world. He just loves this work and is helping me so much to really appreciate why I'm here. I've only known him for a couple days, but I just know we're gonna get a ton done together! We really take excellent advantage of our time and do our best to visit people who we feel truly need our help at that moment, so I feel like I'm being much more efficient than I was last transfer.

I've already met so many cool people here in Wendell and can't wait to get to know all of them! The interesting thing about this area is that Elder Johnson and I are only covering Spanish (unlike Buhl, in which I covered one English ward and all the Spanish-speakers), yet the area doesn't have an actual branch in Spanish. Basically, all we've got is like a group of Spanish-speaking members who don't belong to any ward or branch, and we're trying to figure out what to do with them! On top of that, Elder Johnson and I aren't even assigned to a specific ward ourselves, so we're all just a bunch of vagabonds trying to find a place in this world. It's quite the adventure. But I'm learning lots from it! Learning how to be resourceful and not waste time on the unimportant stuff.

So I WAS ON CONFERENCE!! Oh my gosh, did you guys see that?? I kinda freaked out a little. It was pretty darn funny. So Elder Valenzuela from the Quorum of the Seventy started showing pictures of the Mexico City MTC, right? And I was like 'Oh, that's where I went! Cool!' So he showed a picture of the courtyard of the MTC, then he showed a picture of a couple of sister missionaries walking along, and I elbowed Elder Johnson and was like "I bet you he'll show a picture of me!" And then the next picture WAS OF ME! I was laughing so hard, I couldn't even focus on like the next three talks. So yeah, I suppose I'm famous!!

Anyway, things are going so well right now, and I can't wait to get to work! I love my mission and the opportunity it's giving me to learn how the spirit works for me, and how the Atonement of Christ applies to me personally. And I love helping others apply those things to themselves as well. Everyone have a beautiful week, and I'll talk to you soon! Muah!

-Elder Slavens

Planner art

It is what it is.

Bye, Elder Casillas!

The new one

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Elder Slavens spotted in a conference talk!

LDS General Conference 
 October 2013 Saturday Afternoon Session 
Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela

Elder Slavens is the elder standing on the left

From when we took Chancellor to the Mexico City MTC.