Monday, November 29, 2010

33 Needs Lots of Work!


Dear Dad and Mom,

Well it sounds like you had a heck of an adventure yesterday. As for me… not so much. It’s just really, really hot. Every once in a while we are blessed and we have a nice, ten minute long thunderstorm roll through.

Well, 33 (Treinta Y Tres) needs a lot of work! Yesterday we had our third week in a row without one investigator in church. There were about 30 people in sacrament meeting and the people seem to be just fine with it. The most frustrating part is that not one of our members has asked us where or even who our investigators are. They all seem to be completely tired of missionary work. They are very down and very negative toward the work. We passed around our lunch calendar in Relief Society for the month of December and out of 20 women, only 2 decided to feed us. We had to go into Relief Society and speak with them again. They all just ended up fighting with one another, calling each other selfish and cheap for not wanting to feed the missionaries. It was ridiculous, but luckily they all seemed to talk each other into feeding us and so at least we now have lunch almost every day of the month. Ha-Ha-Ha! We had some problems this past week with the missionaries in our zone. We had to have an emergency transfer of two elders. The elder who was switched was my old buddy (and huge trouble maker) from Minas, Elder Lopez. It was sure an interesting week! The whole zone just seems to want to do their own thing. We had district meeting this morning and every companionship showed about 15-20 minutes late. But that really wasn’t the bad part. The worst thing was, they were all late because instead of doing their studies as they were supposed to do, they decided to get together and play a nice 3 hour game of soccer at the stake center this morning… a three hour game of soccer that they just happened to forget to inform us about. Also, one of the elders broke his hand also during the game this morning and so right now we are just waiting to hear from President Da Silva’s wife (who acts as our mission doctor). I know she is going to be very upset. I can’t wait for that call....... WE HAVE ALOT OF WORK TO DO!

Besides all that, I’m super excited for Christmas that’s coming up. We’re going to have ourselves a nice Christmas party again; I can’t wait. This Thursday I have to go to Montevideo again for a zone leader council. I’m pretty excited. President Arnold our area president is planning on coming and I’m sure we’re going to be learning something new. I’ve met President Arnold before, but it was in a meeting of about 80 missionaries. I’m excited because there are only 22 zone leaders in the mission. The meeting will be much smaller and we will get to talk a little more.

Today I was riding my bike down the street and I heard someone calling my name. I looked and it Jose Merola from Minas. He gave me a big old hug and we talked for about thirty minutes. It was so great to talk with him after so much time. He says that when you guys show up, we’re going to have a huge asado!!!!! (Barbecue)

Well besides that, I’m doing it. I’m doing my job and it’s been tough. We shall see what happens in these next few weeks, but I believe that we are in for some really big changes here in 33. Well, I love you both. I’m doing great I guess. I hope that the Hofelings didn’t tell you too much stuff about me. I’m very, very grateful to hear that you had a good Thanksgiving and you were able to make it home safely. Count your many blessings. Feliz CumpleaƱos. I love you guys so much.

Love, Elder Sluder

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Challenges in Trenta Y Tres

November 23, 2010

Dear Family,

Well what a week! So yeah, I’m the new zone leader here in Trenta y Tres as you already know. We have so much work to do! Trenta y Tres is one of the nicest little towns I’ve seen or been in on my mission. This place is beautiful! It’s actually very clean. Our home is absolutely wonderful. We are cold when it’s hot outside and we are warm when it’s cold outside. Being a zone leader is definitely different. Monday morning at 2:00 am, we got back on a bus and went to Montevideo for a leadership meeting. I fell asleep many times during the meeting. At the end of the meeting, about five o’clock yesterday afternoon we got back on the bus and headed back to thirty three. It’s about a 4-5 hour bus trip from Montevideo. The trip really wore me out, but after a good nights sleep, I’m doing well.

We have the smallest zone in the mission. There are only six companionships. The work is slow and as of right now, the missionaries aren’t really doing much. President Da Silva told me yesterday that I’m here to get this zone running right, have the zone start applying preach my gospel, lift it up and prepare it to become a stake. He told me personally that that’s what he expects from me. Things here haven’t really been running the way they’re supposed to; our district leaders are poorly trained and really aren’t doing what they need to do. Today we had district meetings. One of the district leaders was very upset with me because I’m already starting to change things. He was mad because he didn’t want to write numbers down at night and just do his job. It was ridiculous. In the end we won and he will write his numbers down and do his job.

On Sunday, I went to church and we had about 30 people in sacrament meeting. The branch seems really down and things there are not getting run correctly at all. In the middle of sacrament meeting, the branch president stood up and invited me to speak by saying, “Now we will listen to the new gringo missionary counsel us for about twenty minutes. Elder Gringo the time is now yours.” I was caught off guard at first, but I was prepared for an emergency and it worked out just fine in the end. We shall see if they ever figure out what my name is.

So here it goes… another special assignment from President Da Silva. My new companion, Elder Gonzalez is absolutely wonderful. He is doing a great job himself. He’s super humble and like you said Dad, he’s well trained and he’s an absolutely excellent missionary. I’m sending you two pictures. One is of Elder Gonzalez and me. We took it about an hour ago in our house. The other picture is of my trainer, Elder Vargas and me. He finished his mission last week. We took the picture in Tres Cruces and it was the last time I saw him. What’s funny is, I am taking his place here in 33; he was the old zone leader here. We ride bikes here and because I sold my old bike, Elder Vargas left me his. That’s what I ride around on here… weird huh? We don’t have cars, but I do have a cell phone.

John and Elder Vargas at Tres Cruces

John and Elder Gonzalez in their apartment at Trenta Y Tres

Elder Hofeling will be going home today. He came and visited me with his parents on Sunday. I hope that you can go and listen to all they have to say about their trip. Dad one more thing, if you could give him $10 bucks, that would be kinda nice. I kinda owe it to him for something. I will explain it later.

Oh and yes, if you could put 25 dollars in my account today that would be wonderful. I kind of need it just to finish out this week. By next week I figure I will be doing just fine. Sorry for the inconvenience. Oh and if you haven’t sent me my Christmas stuff yet, there is one more thing I need. I need an American stamp book of stamps for sending letters. Forever stamps would be preferred. That’s all... for now. I love you very much.

Love, Elder Sluder

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Changes! A New Assignment as a Zone Leader in Treinta y Tres

November 16, 2010

Dear Dad and Mom,

What a week! It was quite challenging and now that I look back on it, I realize I was being tried for a reason. On Tuesday I became deathly ill. I couldn’t stop vomiting and the other problem thing. It was incredibly painful and I thought several times I was doomed. I cannot ever remember a time in my life where I have ever had such terrible stomach pain. The sickness laid me up in bed for three days, but by Friday I was back to work, hectically trying to get a baptism ready for Saturday. It was tough and we had many stressful challenges. Our baptism required a special interview, the baptismal font didn’t work and I had to repair it. It was tough, but we fought hard all week and we won. Saturday night I had my fifth baptism in Bella Italia. I had the honor of baptizing Jorge Neto. It was great. We had small numbers in attendance at the baptism, but it was incredibly spiritual. Right before the baptism, President Da Silva showed up to do the special interview. That was when he told about my new job as a Zone Leader. I will be a Zone Leader in a small city Named Trenta y Tres (or Thirty Three). I’m super excited! This morning we had a special meeting in Carrasco with President DaSilva and it went quite well. My new companion is named Elder Gonzales and he´s from Chile. Interesting huh?

Well so that is all for now about this past week.

Dad, there is an Elder Nathaniel Hofeling here from Cedar City, UT. He’s finished his mission and is going home this week. I’m sending a small package home with him. It doesn’t contain much, but I hope you enjoy it. It’s going to be kinda weird, but just follow the instructions that are included and you´ll eventually figure it all out. I figure for Thanksgiving or some time before Christmas, you should be going through Cedar City. You’ll just have to drop on by and go pick it up. It’s mostly letters that I don’t want to keep with me on the mission and other strange things. Just so you know, Elder Hofeling will want to talk with you for a while and he would love to tell you all of the stories and things we have done together in Montevideo. So you may want to go there with a little bit of time.

Well I hope you can find him. Wait about a week or so before you have to contact him. He and his parents will be in Uruguay for about a week before returning home to the U.S.

Elder Sluder

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another Week Down and We're Doing Great!!!

November 8, 2010

Dear Family,

Well another week down and we’re doing great!!! It’s been a blast!

Dad… about the whole coming to get me thing… you are going to know a lot more than I do. Just plan the trip the way you think best. I won’t be too sad if we can’t be there with my family for their sealing. I don’t really know a lot of details about what’s going on with them. I only hear things from other missionaries and I hear they’re doing great. If their temple date happens after I leave, it will be okay. So for now, just don’t worry about it. I don’t want to ask for an extension, nor do I want to worry too much about it either. We will just play it by ear and see how it works out and what the Lord has in store for us. As for the hotel, yes there are hotels in all places and they are always vacant, so we´ll just play that by ear too. We will stay in the hostel next to the temple for the most part, but we will plan that when I have three months to go.

We had a wonderful week and we worked freakin’ hard. Last week, because Elder Young was sick, we spent almost the whole week in the house. But this week, we went out and just tore it up! We have now set 5 baptisms for the next few weeks. Next week we will be starting with our first. His name is JORGE NETO. Kind of a weird story, but he actually called us from the hospital to ask us if we would baptize him before he died. Miracle! Strangely enough, ever since he made these plans with us, his health has greatly improved. Good Week!

We went to the temple on Thursday and had a marvelous time. We had zone conference and a great temple session. Our temple workers were from Layton, Utah and they didn’t speak Spanish. It was quite interesting. Ha Ha Ha. It’s kinda weird because now I can’t really imagine what it’s like not being able to speak it.

Yesterday in church we had record numbers in attendance. It was the first time in four years that we broke 100 members at sacrament meeting. We had 102!!!!!! It seemed so full and it felt so good. At the end, the bishop got up and bore his testimony. He said he knew that this only happened because the missionaries, Elder Young and Elder Sluder are working and doing their job. We felt so good and we know that we are seeing miracles happen every day.

Finally, this change is coming to an end. I will be starting the 10th change of my mission and will only have six left. That’s kinda crazy to think about. Change day is next Tuesday and the change will go until the first week of the New Year. We shall see what and where things will be going for me in this next little while. Cool huh?

Jake Eliason will be coming home in the next few weeks. He wrote me a letter telling me that he was going to wait for me! HA HA HA! If you see him, tell him hi from me would ya? Oh and by the way, I know Elder Taylor very, very well. That’s so crazy that he is related to Brother and Sister Dean’s grandson. I just talked to him the other day. I don’t know if you knew this, but he was almost my companion. That happened right before I got sent to Bella Italia at the last minute (due to some former missionary disobedience here in the area). Elder Taylor is now in San Jose de Mayo with my good old buddy Elder Jacobsen who was in my district last change. Crazy. He seems to be doing well.

Well I love you all so very much and I´ll see you soon!

Love, Elder Sluder

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Tough Week with a Sick Companion

November 1, 2010

Dear Family,

Well another week has passed and I can’t really believe it. To be honest, this was probably one of the slowest weeks of my entire mission. My companion, Elder Young got really, really sick last Tuesday. For a while there, I thought he was going to die. I had to take care of him for several days last week. At first we thought he just had a head cold or something. As it progressed, we realized that it was something more. He had lots of pressure on the back of his head and couldn’t really get himself in a comfortable position. On Friday, I sent him with zone leaders to the hospital. I would have gone myself, but I had several baptismal interviews to conduct. The doctors said they didn’t really know what it was, but they also never did a spinal tap. They said it could be possible meningitis. Anyway, they told him if he wasn’t any better by today, he needed to go back to the hospital. Luckily, he seems to be doing better for now. But because he slept for five days and I didn’t have much to do things, got a little boring. Crazy hectic week! I’m glad it’s over. Our baptism for the 6th is now going to be the 13th. We had to change it up because our investigator didn’t come to church yesterday.

We’re all very excited because we’re going through the temple again on Thursday. I’m very much looking forward to it because it’s almost been an entire year since the last time I went through.

Dad, if two weeks doesn’t work out, that’s fine. Like you said, things will all work out in the end anyway. I’m not really too worried. I figure that I will be so confused when you guys actually get here, that it won’t even really matter. Do it and set it up just how you would like and how it will work out the best.

One last thing before I go this week. Dad I will be sending you guys a package for Christmas. It will include a video and some stuff like that. My question is can you send me a little more money this week to cover shipping fees? If so, that would be great. I´ll let you know more about this later. I did get your small package this week, thanks so much. It was awesome and just in time for Halloween. Thanks for all that you do. I love you so much. For now that’s pretty much all.

Take care,
Love Elder Sluder


Another Week in Bella Italia

October 25, 2010

Dear Family,

Another week has gone by and I’m doing just great! I had a very interesting week. No baptisms this week, but we did have one intercambios of companions that I had to do, so that was a little difficult. I can’t believe how fast the time is going. I kinda think it’s scary.

For now we don’t have any baptisms planned until at least the 6th of November. We did have an awesome experience this past week though. We had a charla with Victoria’s Dad and he told us he had received an answer on the Book of Mormon and he knows it is true. SUPER COOL LESSON! But he is now in a dilemma. He says that he wants to get baptized, but the problem is that he works every Sunday. We left him with the promise that if he continues praying and tries, God will make it so that his work schedule will change. He told us he only wants to get baptized if he can obey the commandments and he really wants to live the commandments! Anyway, with this promise we also scheduled a baptismal date of the 6th. We are super pumped-up.

Dad those plans sound spectacular! Please consider one small change if you can. Can we stay in Uruguay one and a half to two weeks? During this time, I’ll show you all the craziness here and I want to make sure that we will be able to go to the sealing of the family that I baptized. (So far so good… they’re still on schedule) Think about it. Anyway, we will probably spend several days in Minas and definitely stay for three days in the hostel next to the temple here in Montevideo. I’m super excited! I am also really looking forward to seeing Juan and Jackie Rubio while in California. Let them know that for whatever reason they, have really been on my mind and that I wish them well and that I love them. I also look forward to seeing all the other people there too. Oh, one last thing. Make sure that the Stake President knows cause I really don’t know how the whole release thing works with us traveling home. I imagine though it won’t be too much of a problem.

Okay… now thinking of Christmas, there are only two things that I really want. One is a set of half metal guitar strings and half nylon guitar strings and the other is a nice capo. Besides these things, send me whatever you want. I don’t really care this time around. There isn’t anything I really desire as of right now.

Dad can you get me the address of Kyle Parkinson? That would be great if you could. Well tonight I’m looking forward to having tacos with my district. Last night I made up the tortillas (out of scratch) and now I’m going to go home and prepare the meat. Yep, I’m the cook! I’m super excited!!! Besides all of this I am doing great!!!! I love you all and can’t wait to see you soon.


PS: One more side note: when you come to Uruguay make sure that you guys have a current temple recommend!!!!!!!!!!!