Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More Challenges and New Companion

December 28, 2010

Dear Family,

What an interesting week...

All was well with me for a little while after the Christmas day phone call. I was getting ready for bed when I started to get a fever on Christmas night. It got kinda bad. I had probably the worst head pains I have had in years. I felt super, super, super sick. I called Hermana DaSilva and she told me what to buy and what to do for myself. I suffered the entire night and when the morning came I was just glad it was day time again. I’m now on heavy doses of Amoxilina and I am getting better. My ears don’t hurt any more but I’m still not 100%. On Sunday I was bad enough that I didn’t even go to church. I suffered some more until yesterday and finally started to feel somewhat better.

I’m currently in Montevideo and today has really been a nightmare. Half of the Tres Cruzes bus terminal burnt down a few days ago, so they had to reroute all the bus traffic to another place. Because of the situation, it has left the missionaries confused in all sorts of different places in Montevideo. I’m trying right now to round up my entire zone and head back to 33. It’s super confusing and very, very frustrating. On top of that, this morning the branch president from Vergara decided to join us on the bus and got offended at something I said.

We had a meeting with President Da Silva this morning, but he was extremely busy. We have scheduled a very special meeting with him later this week about our situation in 33. I can’t wait for his help. We might actually be able to make some headway.

Well this is all I really have for you now. Oh… my new companion is named Elder Roisum from Missouri. He’s a good kid and I’m extremely excited for this next change!!!!! We’re going to do miracles.

Besides all of this, all is well for now. Thank you for the money. It helped out a lot. I’m getting a lot better and feel by tomorrow I will almost be 100% otra vez! (again). Well love ya…


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Another Week in 33 and the Christmas Phone Call


Dear Family, Mom and Dad,

Well what a week I had. It sure was interesting let me tell ya. The first few days I pretty much traveled all over 33. I did baptismal interviews in Vergara and had several different intercambios (exchanges) with other missionaries in my zone. It’s been great in that aspect. We have really had a fun week of work. On Friday morning about two o’clock, a special bus arrived and took us down to Montevideo for our Christmas concert. The bus had come from Melo which is a town north of 33. The bus had 20 missionaries from the Melo zone on board. I didn’t realize that one of my best friends, Elder Maluff is now serving in Melo and he was on the bus. We stayed up and didn’t sleep the entire night and just talked. It was actually wonderful and quite interesting. Elder Maluff will be finishing his mission here in February and he seems quite excited. It’s crazy to think how fast time has really gone. I was with him for my forth and fifth change of the mission. Next week I will be starting change number 11. I only have six more to go. It made me realize that I have completed well over 2/3rds of my mission… crazy huh? Elder Maluff had a disagreement with President DaSilva a few changes ago. Since then, President DaSilva assigned him as Junior Companion in Melo to finish his mission. He was very, very down, but is happy to be coming to the end of this thing. Apparently his companion is crazy. He told me his companion beat him up the other day and so he’s kinda waiting for a little while longer to see if he can get an emergency change. I’m just glad I’m done with that part of my mission myself.

The Christmas conference was absolutely wonderful. We had an awesome lunch and we were able to visit and enjoy all of our friends from all over the mission. I was talking with Elder Stilwell (my companion from the MTC) and he did mention that his padres could be coming to Uruguay for when he goes home. If so, we could plan to all go out together and enjoy ourselves one night. We shall see. I was expecting to receive my packages this week, but they never came. So now I probably won’t receive them until January. But that’s fine, I’m not really too worried.

My plans for Saturday consist of the phone call. I have a certain time assigned to me that I will call. I will call you at 3 o’clock my time which is 10 o’clock your time. I will call the Yesco number, so just be ready and I will be on the line then. Thank you because I did want to talk to you guys first (mom and dad) for 30 minutes so that will work out perfectly. One last thing… MAKE SURE CINDY IS HOME I WANT TO TALK WITH HER ALSO!!!! I HAVE SOME REALLY IMPORTANT THINGS I WANT TO TELL HER!!!! Oh and you just never know, I might just do a surprise wake up call too like last year.

I loved the picture of mom cleaning the drive way!! It was great well for now I’ll just save my breath because I will talk with you on Saturday. Well I love you all so very much and I look forward to Saturday with great anticipation.


PS. I included 2 pictures of my zone that were taken this morning. Yes it would be so nice if you could put a little bit of money in my account for this Friday. THANKS

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Continuing Challenges in 33


Dear Family,

Another week has gone by and to be honest I’m glad it’s over. I’m really trying not to be a negative person, but I will say that it was an extremely long, hard week. Then yesterday our end results were really nothing. We had one investigator come to church for about 15 minutes. She said she just didn’t feel good in the chapel and decided to leave. It was heart breaking!!! My companion and I were planning on baptizing 7 this month and as of right now, we would need a miracle to baptize even one. I’m extremely worn out and feel that we have gotten nowhere. We also didn’t have any baptisms in the zone this week. We actually planned to have two baptisms in a branch named Central. On the day of the baptism, the mother showed up and refused to be baptized and also refused to let her daughter get baptized because in a dream, a "SPIRIT" told her that the church wasn’t true. Go figure!!

We had rain storms galore this past week. I’m sending you some pictures from Saturday afternoon right after we had a rain storm. The other pictures are of me and my companion last week in the mission home for zone leader council, in front of the Christmas tree. And the last photo is of Me, Elder Gurr, my companion, and Elder Dominguez from Panamá. They both live with us. Elder Gurr is from Orem, UT. Last April in General Conference, Tomas S. Monson spoke about his family and his little brother Jason who died when he was 15. A picture of Elder Gurr opening his mission call at the side of his little brothers bed in the hospital and everything was shown in General Conference. Elder Gurr’s name is Kyle, so if you want to read the Liahona (Ensign), you’ll find out a little more. I know the story pretty well myself. Elder Gurr is a pretty cool kid and we talk a lot because he´s the only one in the house to practice English with.

Overall, I’m doing pretty well. This next little bit should go by super fast. On Friday, we have the Christmas mission conference in Montevideo. The next week is Christmas and the following week we will have changes. I’ll go to Montevideo again and the week after that I have another zone council in Montevideo. It will be busy! We shall see what miracles God has prepared for us here in 33. It’s been quite a trial. I can’t really explain it all in a letter, so when you guys finally see me, I’ll tell ya all about it. Mom thanks for the Idea of the Christmas activity. I would love to do it. The problem is that they have already planned the Christmas party and we had no say in the matter. They planned it for the 17th, the same day that we are going to be in Montevideo for our Christmas conference. Perfect huh? We can’t even participate in our own dang activities. Thank you for the suggestion mom!

With my health, I really don’t think that I have a parasite. I have gotten very sick, but I can honestly say that I’m skinnier because I have lost the appetite that I had as a teenager and I don’t eat as much. I also ride a bike 30 to 40 kilometers daily in the summer sun or if my bike doesn’t work, I usually walk at least 20km. I feel quite healthy and I believe it’s because I’m actually not eating fast food every day and that I try to eat healthy always.

Well all of this has brought me to my last point. This morning while reading in Nephi, I came to a great realization. Nephi had two great plans to get the plates. He tried both, but both times they did not succeed. Then the third time, God did his part and delivered Laban into Nephi’s hand to kill. It was the thing that God wanted, but at first Nephi didn’t want to do it. We have a very similar situation. We have had many great plans to change 33. So far none of them have worked. So now, we are waiting to see what it is now that God will put into our hands to fix the problem. I know that I’m not going to want to do it at first, but my companion and I are slowly figuring this thing out. (I just hope God doesn’t deliver the branch president into my hands - Joke) Ha Ha Ha........

Well I love you all. I’m happy and still alive.

I will talk with you shortly… until then


After a rain storm in Treinta Y Tres (33)

Elders Gurr, Sluder, Domiguez and Gonzalez

Elder Sluder and Elder Gonzalez

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Many Challenges in 33 and a Few Bumps in the Road

Note from Dad: We visited Nathan Hofeling in Cedar City on our way home from Las Vegas on Thanksgiving weekend. Elder Hofeling had served with John and just returned from Uruguay. He gave us a box of letters and other stuff that John wanted to send home. In the box was a small white paper box, about 1.5" square with tape and writing on all sides that say "Do not open". There is also an envelope that says do not open until December 24th. These are the items that he talks about in the first part of this week's letter. A mystery is brewing!


Dear Dad and Mom and Family,

What a week! It sure was tough, let me tell ya. But before I get into that, I want to answer some of the questions you have about the little box and stuff I sent home. The little white box doesn’t contain anything for you. But if you find it to be kinda strange, I promise you that it will get even stranger after you open your letter for Christmas! Just so you know, there are no SD cards in the package. Sorry, I didn’t have time to get that part made up. But I do plan to send one… one of these days. The letter for the 24th of December is also very important. Just stay excited for what I have written to you there. It’s very important. After you open it, you need to keep it close by or with the little white box. When the time comes to open the white box and find out what’s inside, everything will be in order. Be patient and I promise you that the time will come and if you just wait and don’t jump the gun, it will all be worth it in the end. Just as another clue, this will not be solved in the month of December. It won’t be solved in January either; it will take time, so exercise patience. And yes it will get even weirder before it’s over.

My week has been incredibly long and quite interesting. On Tuesday night I received a call from Presidente Da Silva. He flat out told me that he had just gotten off the phone with President Arnold who had just gotten off the phone with Elder Scott who all wanted to convey the message that 33 must be made a stake in March, before general conference in April. About 80% of the work that we have to do to make this happen will come from our zone. This has now become a very real thing and it’s not just a distant dream. It definitely worries us, but if God said it can be done, it can be done! To reach this goal, we need 7 baptisms in the month of December (in our branch only) and in the entire district we need 26. That’s a lot considering that in November they had 4, in October they had 0 and in September they also had 0. We have to work super hard and I imagine these next few weeks will be very interesting. On Thursday we had our meeting in Montevideo with President Mervin B. Arnold. If you want to see a picture of him, he spoke in the last session of this past general conference. He definitely cleared up any doubt about this stake goal we have and we now look forward to see what’s going to come of all these new things we are about to apply. It was a very spiritual meeting and one that I will never forget.

Yesterday we were waiting for 13 investigators in church. We even went by to pick some of them up, but when all was said and done, we had no one show up. We had 28 people in church yesterday and it was quite sad. I don’t really understand what’s happening, but we are trying our hardest and were just going to give it all we have. With all of this, it made our Sunday very stressful. Then yesterday on top of everything else, I ended up killing a dog. I was riding my bike very fast down a hill trying to get to church on time. I was going 30 KmPH (I have a speedometer on my bike) and a big dog ran out in front of me. I slammed on my brakes and missed it, but right behind the big dog was a little white house dog.... and I hit it. I was skidding with my back tire because my front brakes don’t work so well. After my front tire went over its head, my skidding back tire did a number on its body. It was disgusting and it really grossed me out. I didn’t wreck or anything but it definitely took the dog out!!!!! And thinking of the experience that Steven had on his mission in South Africa with the dog he hit with his car, I didn’t want to stop. So I just kept on going. It was horrible!

This week I will be gone for about three days to help rescue a small branch of about 30 active members in a small town about an hour south of 33, in the town of Verela. They are really struggling and need some extra help, so I will be out of 33 Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. So that’s the plan for now.

Well I love you all so very much and look forward to talking to you all on the 25th. I’m cool with whatever, so just tell me what number to call and I will let you know at what time. This year will be a little more stressful. We have a lot more going on this year than we did last year. I´ll figure it all out and let you know. Well for now just have a spectacular week and know that I love you all. Dad… Study that Spanish, that’s all they speak here!

Elder Sluder