Sunday, March 30, 2014

Some Random Postcards from James

So...James has a habit of doodling. He sent us some and told us we could post them on the blog. He didn't tell us what they are, but some of them are self-explanatory. Enjoy!

Chapter 2 and 3, Fun in the Sun & Beat the Heat March 24, 2014

I´m sorry everyone that I didn´t get an email out last week. I went to the beach and the bus got back too late to do anything. There´s something I learned, The buses run your life if you´re going out of town. If you want to plan anything, make sure bus variations are included.
To respond to some questions:
I´m teaching a bunch of people right now. We´re teaching many people who are less actives. About one out of four lessons in a less active member.
My town is really... LATIN AMERICAN :P we have different "Barrios" that are different parts of town. My companion and I have the north part of town which doesn´t have all the larger shops and stuff, but there is a "pulparia" (or however you spell it), which is a small super market, or two or three in each Barrio. Lots of people, and because it´s hot, everyone has their door open so we can see them as we walk up to  "ask for dirrections" which is our way to find people to teach. It feels like a small community and is a bit like Layton, Utah (which is where my family lives right now). I´m really far away from touristy stuff except for the day I went to the beach (becase I was a "gringo" everyone was trying to sell me stuff). Everything worth a P-day excursion is a bus ride away (which could be hours on a bus).
My day is wake up, eat, get ready, study (4 hours), Eat lunch at the cook´s house, Walk, Teach, Walk, Sweat, Walk, Teach, Walk Walk Walk, Sleep.
We paid a member to do our laundry for us and it´s ç10,000 per month. If you want to convert, multiply the american currency in cents by 5 and then you have it in colones.
No Baptisms yet, but we have one person that may be getting close. He has to stop smoking though and he can be really frustrating sometimes because he loves to interupt people.
Beans have been at almost every meal that we don´t make ourselves. Rice has been at every meal. Lunch is generally provided but for breakfast and dinner we are on our own. (lots of cereal and soup)
I have picture of my House that my mom will put on facebook as soon as I get them on Dropbox (everything here loads so slowly) (If you don´t have me on face book it is James VanderMeyden). There are only the 2 of us in the house because the other missionaries in the area are the sisters who live in front of the Cook and work South Nicoya.
I can´t really compare the cost of things here to in America because I really didn´t buy much while I was in America and the conversion makes things weird. I haven´t run out of money yet though. :)
I walk everywhere in our area unless we´re running late to an appointment. It´s great exercise and a ton cheaper ;) The Church is about 15 minutes away by walking.
No Soda yet and No stomach aches. I get a head ache every once in a while, but I am able to figure it out quickly every time (normally it´s dehydration, but I normally have water). Also, No allergy problems yet and no Asthma problems yet! I can breath really well, even though it´s so humid. :)
I haven´t been able to play soccer yet, but one of the less active members that we´re focusing on said that he was rally good so I´m gonna set up a time when he can teach my (by the way, he came to church yesterday!).
No time for the cool spiritual stuff:
This week for some reason I´ve been really quiet but I was having some trouble with my companion and keeping in some of my own issues too. We had a Companionship inventory and I nearly cried because we did it in a spirit of friendship and trying to be better for our companionship and investigators. After that, even though I was still quiet (I´m sorry, the language is hard) I was able to give3 really powerful testimonies in the same day where I felt the spirit strong and I hope the Investigators had their hearts open to hear it. One of the tesimonies was about God´s had in my life and another about my tesimony of the Book of Momon and what it means to me and our religion (it is the Keystone, and without it everything falls).
We also just found some Mormon Messages in Spanish and we´ve been showing them to investigators and stuff. However, we started watching them last night and this morning to see which ones we wanted to and could share (it´s scratched up so we can´t show every one of them) and I can again testify of the Gift of Tongues. The trick is to listen with your heart and your ears, one is not enough. If you do both, however, you can understand the entire thing without understanding most of the words.
Last thing: I went to San Josè today for the VISA stuff and got to see some really great friends. I also bought a stuffed Shy Guy from the Mario Brothers. I feel like it is a good choice for me and it shows both my Nerdy and fun sides. I also gathered a ton of shells at the beach (my companion was a bit mad because I had to borrow a pocket in his backpack and I got it super sandy).
That´s all for this week.
Elder VanderMeyden Signing off

Chapter 1 The Start of a Whole New World

Anyway, This week was crazy. I couldn´t sleep on the plane for some reason. It is hot and humid here but the breeze smells of fruit. My companion is Elder S and he is from Columbia. That´s right, a native speaker, so while I´m learning Spanish, I´ll be teaching English. My first area is called Nicoya and it is in the north. It´s actually an area that I´m just opening so... No baptisms yet. No investigators when I first arrived, and It´s been crazy ever since. The first day I didn´t have a bed until 11:25 at night. The branch has 350 members but only 50 are regulars. I am the only Gringo in town even though there are 4 missionaries. I wish I could share more this week but I still have to write the president, but here are the highlights:

Told a guy we believe in aliens (technically I said men from other worlds and this was a lesson where I could speak english)

Got hugged by a drunk guy
Woke up with a spider the size of my fist next to my head
Nearly kissed a giraffe
Had a lesson with creepy people (the spirit wasn't there at all, my companion thinks that the house was cursed)
Saw a cat die in front of me
Did tracting and much more

(we heard from the Mission President's wife, Sister Wilkinson, and she said 32 missionaries came in that day from North, South and Central America. The picture is the 32 missionaries with their trainers and the Mission President)

Just a spider, no biggie

Unknown church
This is all the new missionaries with their trainers

You are all awesome,

Elder VanderMeyden

Pictures from the MTC

 Hi! Finally was able to send some pictures home. Hope you can understand who and what they are. Most of them are in the MTC and leaving to fly off to Costa Rica. Just as a side note, my family and the Avila family were friends in Waynesboro, Virginia. What a shock it was to me to have David as one of my teachers. Pretty cool. It was also fun to see friends from high school in the MTC.
Goofing Off in the MTC

James and David Avila - his teacher in the MTC, our friend from Virginia

Elder Miller, James' companion and Sister Jill Larson from Layton

Their District with an MTC teacher

Their District with another MTC teacher

And another MTC teacher

Another MTC teacher

And another MTC teacher

Some sister missionaries from the MTC

James and Thomas (Elder Nilson) from Layton

The Layton gang in the MTC (James, Thomas Nilson, Miranda Jones, Jill Larson, and McKenna Watts)

Chillin' in the apartment at the MTC

Selfies in the mirror

Bus ride to the train station

Train to the Airport

Checking in at the airport

On the plane

Flying over SLC

More flight time

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well, the time has come for James to leave. He did not send an email this week, but instead called the family. He spoke to Jenni for about 10 minutes at the Salt Lake City Airport before his flight took off, then his mom for about 10 minutes as he was boarding. Then he had a layover in Atlanta and called from there and spoke to Emma and his dad for about 10 minutes. He then turned the phone over to other missionaries to call their families (the pay phones in their terminal did not work). He then called Athena for about 10 minutes as he was boarding again. It was a brief visit over the phone, but we were all thrilled to get some time to visit with him.

As far as we know, James made it to Costa Rica without any troubles. We have not heard from him since, but hope to hear from him on his first pday in country - next Monday. When we do, we will post it for you.

He says to tell everyone he loves you and misses you all. He is loving his mission and can't wait to actually teach the people in Costa Rica.

Here is a picture of him with his district and the branch presidency in the MTC.

 Letters and Packages can be sent to him at:

Elder James VanderMeyden
Costa Rica San Jose Mission
Apartado Postal 249-2010
San Jose
Costa Rica

 or you can email him at:

or you can email him at and they will print it and send it to him via the pouch. Deadline for each week is Sunday night and it will go in the Monday pouch.

Thanks, everyone, for all your love, support, and prayers!

Week 5 - February 26, 2014

This week I gave my 3rd blessing to Sister B from my district. I also had to say goodbye to some of the sisters in the other district. I ran into Elder Nilsen (Thomas Nilsen is a good friend of his from Layton) at the Devotional last night and I go the BIGGEST hug ever form him. It was really cool to see him and I was the most happy I've been in a while, though I've been really happy. I can only imagine how the Lord feels when one of his sheep comes back into the fold. I also saw Sister Watts, a really amazing sister from High school. I'm not sure what else happened this week, It's all a blur of getting ready for Costa Rica. We finished all the Spanish lessons and started on review. I know that the best thing for me now is practice but it's really hard to do... It's gonna happen sometime though, so wish me luck. I hope everyone is doing well at home ans I love you all.

Also, listen to this audio file. I think you'll love it ;)    Message from James in mp3

Anyway I have to go. I love you all.

Elder VanderMeyden