Monday, March 28, 2011

Continuing Challenges in Trenta Y Tres

March 28, 2011

Dear Dad and Mom,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fighting Hard for Baptisms

March 21, 2011

Dear Dad,

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

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

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

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

Love, Your Son
Elder Sluder

Monday, March 14, 2011

Another Week of Hot, Hard Work!

March 14, 2011

Dear Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, March 7, 2011

18 Months Down... Six Months To Go

March 7, 2011

Dear Dad and Mom,

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

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

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

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

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

Well… Love you guys

Love, John

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