Monday, December 28, 2015

Chapter 30: The Final Frontier

Well, here it is, the final email. The final p-day. My final moments as a missionary. It feels really weird to be leaving.
For my last p-day, We plan on playing bola (futbol soccer, sorry). I already packed because I have to go to San Jose EARLY tomorrow. Then we are going to have pizza with a member. I said goodbye to everyone, but I really don't like saying goodbye. It's hard.
I loved Christmas, even if it wasn't white ;)

Also, Weird thing. They´re sending me to San Jose without a companion. There will be at least one other missionary with me but she´s a sister... That´ll be really weird for me. The last time I was alone during changes was my very first change from Nicoya to Siquirres, when I had to take a Taxi for 3 minutes alone to go from one bus stop to another. :P good news is that there will be missionaries waiting for me in San Jose. The La Rita Elders will be Elder Garay's companions until transfers.

Mom asked me for what I have learned, what I would change, and what advice I can give. So here it is:

The most important this I´ve learned from the mission would be True humility. Accepting God´s will over what one wants. being obedient to the commandments comes with this and blessings come from this. The great example of Humility is Christ:

Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

I´ve learned that we must always trust that the Lord knows best, even when we want something contrary to his will. He will always choose the best path for us. He will always lead us to become what the best we can. He will always give us trials to help us develop the attributes that He needs us to have. And, if we are humble to Him and His plan for us, we will be perfected in Him. We can be a powerful tool for good in the lives of many people.

Different? I wish I could have given my all and not fallen in the worldly temptations such as watching television and wanting to know about the new movies and lingering in places where they played music just to listen, that so easily beset me. To be honest, they weren´t good things that I did in the mission and I could have overcome it if I had given 100% and not just 95%. That is my biggest regret.

Advice? I´d say to keep reading the scriptures always. Many less active members start on the path of less activity just because they don´t have a good base of praying or reading the scriptures daily. GET THAT HABIT. It could save your eternal life.

The Quiros Family

Me with my new Christmas Hat and gloves
For the last time,
Elder VanderMeyden signing off
At the airport

Hug from Emma

A visit to Temple Square on the way home from airport

The mom hug

Aiden with his sign

Walking out to greet us

Hug from Jenni

The temple in Costa Rica

Last day in the mission

My handprint on the quilt

Me and President and Sister Hayes

Hermana Flor

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Chapter 29: Merry Christmas

So, as you can tell by my pictures sent home I learned how to sew shoes. I can totally be a shoemaker when I get back, but I don´t think I will. :P The person that showed me is a very inactive member with a great heart but a little bit apostate. :P He´s great though. :) Oh, the first picture is my shoes. I had them since the beginning of the mission, but you can see they did not last. The Mission Christmas party was fun. We got to go to San Jose and see the entire mission together in the office. A funny thing happened with the songs. The plan was to start out with It´s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas and Pine-cones and Holly-berries BUT the President´s daughter, Lizzy, was going to sing it with Elder Nelson and get the entire group to sing it as well then Elder Nelson BACKED OUT! Unfortunately I was sitting right next to him and earlier in the evening I had sang the first line of the song while reading the program agenda. Elder Nelson threw me under the bus and I had to go in front of everyone to sing a sone that I have never practiced, and only heard 2 years back. The good news is that Lizzy called up another Elder and sister up to help us out and the words were on the projector. :PI loved the party. It was sad that, with almost all of them, this will be my last time seeing them. There were some people that I met for the first time and I´ll not seee them again until a Mission Reunion! The worst part was that I almost didn´t have time to take any pictures! I was a bit upset because the party ended late and they told us to go straight to our houses but I thought we would have time at the end to take pictures so I didn´t take any before. In the end I ran the entire room doing quick pictures with everyone that I know.Another sad thing that happened is that after the party we had to sleep in Tibas, San Jose, on inflatable matresses. What was sad about it was that it was very cold that night. So cold that I couldn´t sleep well. I kept waking up because I was cold. I even had to use the hat and gloves that mom sent me in my Christmas Package. :PWe played Go fish on the bus ride home, especially because the bus stopped halfway because of an accident in the road. :/ But Go fish was fun! :D

For the most part Christmas is food here. The only celebration that they do is the 24-25 transition where they throw a party at midnight. One tradition is that they buy grapes and have 12, each a wish, and those that you are able to eat in the first minute of the 25th will come true. :P

I plan on going to visit families in my area for Christmas to say goodbye. It is weird that this is my last full week in my mission as Monday I will be traveling to San Jose to begin my transition home.

Welp, one last chance to email me. Next week I go home. Thanks for all your support - see you soon!

Love, Elder V

Chapter 28: This week in a galaxy (country) far far away

This week was very weird. For the first time I felt the end coming. Up until this point everything has been normal then one day this week it hit me that there are less than 20 until I´ll be greeting in person my family and friends. What would I have done without the support of all of you? I don´t know and I´m so glad that I don´t have to. As I was going through some of my stuff I found a huge stack of letters that I´ve received from all of you. I was surprised to see how many letters I´ve received in 2 years and I want to say thank you for everything that you´ve sent me.

So on to this week. I had an excellent time this week sharing to me companion the entire Star Wars movie series. It all started in an less active´s house in a country far far away when the cable channels are preparing for the new movie that is about to be released. Speaking about the movie, I´m extremely excited that it will be in theaters by the time I get back. :) But I had the chance to share the story of Anakin and the reason that he turned over to the dark side for fear just as how if we have fear we can´t have faith. In other words, I related the gospel to the movie and talked about how Darth Vader repented at the end but for everything he did he might still only have a chance at telestial glory... sorry Ani. :P

We also had an awesome moment when an investigator invited us to eat lunch with them after church Sunday. It was good 1 because we didn´t have lunch plans and 2 because we were able to meet her 2 daughters, mother, and husband and teach all of them a lesson. They had many questions and are excited for us to come back. Unfortunately she can´t be baptized soon because she needs to get married, but they are working on getting a house from the government so they can´t be married until after the papers have been processed in the government. :(

Speaking about people with a ton of questions. Today we had a lesson in the morning with a reference that we were given this week. He had a ton of questions about the in depth about the Plan of Salvation. I felt like he wanted to show us that our faith was wrong but he never openly fought with us and he was very respectful even if he didn´t share our beliefs.

Anyway, that was what happened this week.

See you soon,
Elder VanderMeyden

Monday, December 7, 2015

Chapter 27: Let the Festivities Begin

This next week we have a service project as a zone here in Cariari, we´ll be doing something (I don´t know what it is yet) in a retirement home in our area, so we´ll see how that turns out. I´ll be sure to take pictures. :)

I only have 1 other P-day that is normal because in 2 weeks is the Christmas party and the 28th is a day of travel and packing for me. I am really sad my mission is ending.

One awesome moment this week was that a family gave us a fruit that grew on a tree. They told us that it was Cacao the chocolate plant. I put a video on dropbox of me eating this sour, but sweet slime. We still haven´t made the chocolate yet, but we´re going to do it this week. :)

One this that frustrated me this week was that while we were in the sacrament meeting 2 loud explosions happened nearby. I imagine that they were a set of punks exploding fireworks near the church just to bother us. There were 2 explosions at the beginning, 2 at the end, and 2 in the first class. It was exciting and frustrating, but we didn´t let it destroy our day. :P

Oh, a sad moment is that we didn´t get to see the Christmas Devotional, for they did not broadcast it to our chapel. Good news is that I´m listening to it as I write to you right now, and I downloaded it to pay more attention later. :)

Love you all,
Elder V.

Chapter 26: A sloth and being hungry

My week went really well. :) We saw another sloth on Sunday, we don´t have changes, A young man broke my umbrella but I have a big rain coat, It rained half the week but was abnormally dry the other half. I don´t actually remember much from this past week. One thing that´s really sad is that Rene (our new convert) moved out of town for a month, so he was not able to make it to church this week. He moved to Barra Colorado (or whatever it´s called). It´s the other island in our area that is mostly used for fishing trips. :P He´ll be coming back soon though, and the members are staying in contact with him. :)

This week we found a family of old investigators that said they´d come to the Church this week. I know that they have a ton of potential, even if the father says that he´ll never change religions. :P

I´m doing well. A bit hungry but good. This week we ran out of money on Thursday so we suffered a bit of hunger, but now we´re good. One of the problems that we had was that we did many trips to far areas with buses so we didn´t keep track of the money as much as we could have.

Church was a bit disappointing. We had hoped for many people, both investigators and less actives, but very few made it. Only 43 made it to church this week and we don´t know what happened.

Well, that's all folks, see ya soon!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Chapter 25: When it Rains, It Pours

This week was actually excellent :) We were able to visit many people have and a baptism. :)

I forgot that Thankgiving was this week. Eat some turkey for me, ya'll. Everyone´s getting ready for Black Friday this month and some discounts came early to trick the people into spending their money early. :P (what one person tells me is that they do discounts of 30% right now so that way when it comes to 50% that they´ll have very little to sell. :P  ) I´m not able to eat turkey but I was able to save the chapel with my companion.

This week it has been raining hard. So hard and unexpectedly that Elder Garay and I have been caught in the rain without our umbrellas on more than one time. One of these times was for an activity that we had in the chapel. We were going to watch Meet the Mormons on a really old projector that out stake has. Everything was going well until we started on our way to the chapel an hour before it began and it started to pour! When we finally arrive (after calling a taxi where the window didn´t roll up :P We found the chapel filling with water. Luckily it had not yet hit the electric devices that we had in the center of the floor but before we clean up the mess we had to find the problem. Turns out a tube that was a drainage pipe on the roof had gotten clogged and the flat area on the roof where the air conditioning unites are positioned, had filled with water. The water was overflowing the sides and entering under the main door into the chapel. Fortunately, we got that solved and the water dried before other people arrived. Unfortunately, with all the rain, only 2 individuals came on time and one family showed up late. We decided to postpone the activity until further notice. :P The good news is that if we didn´t have the activity, the baptismal font would have filled all by itself that night so that when we showed up the next day for the baptism the entire chapel would have been filled with rainwater. :P

Baptism went well. We had a nice spiritual experience and I was very happy to see that his mother and brother came to support him. :) I´m so happy for Rene! :D

Today we wanted to play soccer, but it rained really hard and the cancha está mojado. :P

Our branch wants to go paintballing with the youth, but the youth want to go with us, so we´ll see what President says about that. :P

This week some of the youth came out with us to do visits, do practices in our house and learn about being a missionary. They actually let us borrow a few bikes to get to and from far away areas (namely Semillero, the place where Rene lives). I know that we´re not assigned to be bike missionaries, but it was necessary for practicality and it´s not against the rules. I felt free while I was riding the bicycle and I´m excited to get back to my bike back home. I was a bit frustrated witht the bike I was using because every time I wanted to go fast the chain came off. :P I guess it help me not get too out of hand, but I wanted so much to just ride forever! :D

Also, we saw an armadillo last night as we headed back to the house. I couldn´t get apicture because it ran away when a car passed by, but it was awesome to see it. :)

Also, A girl in our branch here in Cariari loves the music from Teen Beach Movie and I was singing karaoke with her this week. It was really cool and even though she can´t speak english, she´s heard the songs enough to know how to say the words. It was really cool to sing with her. She´s only 11 years old. :)

We also had a primary program here in Cariari, it was fun, and the best part is that even with the POURING RAIN we still had 51 people show up! I was extremely happy to see the willpower the people used this week to accomplish their baptismal covenants. :)
this is us with Rene on his baptism day

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chapter 24: Young Men and Animals

This week we had a huge responsability: The young men! We were in charge of taking them to and from our Stake conference this weekend, both Saturday and Sunday! It was an exhuasting weekend, but well worth it. My question for you today is: Was I as crazy as these youth are or was a good kid?

THIS WEEK WE SAW MANY ANIMALS! 3 Turtles in a river hanging out with 2 crocodiles. That same day we saw a street crab (I think it is a river crab but it was big and far from the river, either way, it was angry and we decided to bother it for fun... I should be sending the video) And today as we went to lunch we saw an iguana in the street! :D I love seeing animals.

This week we had a great capacitation about home teaching. It was stake conference this week so we saw both the branch president and the mission president. :) I love the stake conferences but I was busy helping with tech that never wanted to work so I couldn´t listen to the main session. The tech never worked so we had to shove 530 people into two rooms instead of the 450 planned. That was a huge challenge, but we fit almost everyone in there :P I also got to see a bunch of people from Siquirres because they are in the stake as well. i love it! :D

The baptism is on track. Parental permission and interview are both checks! :D All we need now is to plan it well. The baptism is planned for Saturday.

Some of our investigators are: Rene- the youth that will be getting baptized, he loves the church and is excited to continue in the church
Katerine- a lady that I found with Elder Lewis in divisions about 2 months back
Dayana- future wife of a less active member named Wilson. He´s the ex-husband of the mother of the family that is giving many references and doing mission work with us.
Norberto- A retired man who is ex-police. He´s a great guy that reads the Book of Mormon a ton, but thinks that all churches are good so continues in a church where the people come to pick him up every sunday.
Luis and Daisy- A couple that were old investigators when I was with Elder Coronado that we were able to visit again. Their no longer receiving the Jehova´s Witnesses so they are more open to receiving us. :)
Mindy is the wife of another less active member named Johan, they don´t come to church anymore and we can´t figure out why, it´s all excuses with them. >:/
Those are some of our investigators. :P

Have fun eating Turkey ;)

Also, I´ve been eating a ton af fish recently. In the last few weeks I´ve had fish in at least 5 different ways, including fried, grilled with white sauce, in soup, and breaded. The best news is that they have caused no allergic reaction in my body, just TUNA from the can. :P

See ya soon!
Elder VanderMeyden