Wednesday, August 27, 2014

District and Zone conference fun

So there was a recent district conference and yesterday a zone conference. Here are some fun pictures of them.
This is to help them all realize that every one of them needs to be working together to help the work go forth. 

Trying to work together

The District

Having fun!

This was at the zone conference yesterday. James is on the far left against the wall. Sister Wilkinson, when she sent this said "He is looking happy and great today!!! He just read a quote for President and his Spanish is great!" Ah, the little things that makes a mom heart sing!

Sister Wilkinson, Mission President's Wife, sent me this picture. I think he is sleeping, but I surely hope not. She said "They are not required to wear suit coats to conf (due to heat and travel) but look at him - in his coat, looking so sharp!!!"

Chapter 13: Train - ing

So this week I had a special treat. I was able to baptize someone. Her name is Valeria and she´s 11 years old. She´s gone with a member to church for the last 6 months and said about 3 weeks ago that she felt the need to be baptized. It was really cool and I know that she gained a testimony and conversion from the Spirit. I know she´ll be a great addition to the Branch. :)
Now about the title: Obviously I´m a trainer, that is the number 1 reason I´m doing this but also, there is a train track that actually divides the area here in Siquirres. To be honest, I haven´t seen many trains pass by in the 3 months I´m been here but this week I was privileged to see a passenger train, a tiny train engine, and a fork lift thing with train wheels that was on the track. That in addition to 2 modified cars and a plenitude of trains with only 2 trailers makes the set complete. :)
This week wasn´t much of a special thing, but it was good because we had 4 in the chapel and 9 new investigators, some of whom have special cases where it will be hard to teach them but all of whole whom I have high hopes for.
That´s about all for this week, with the exception that I´m practicing Piano again and hopefully I´ll be able to help out in Sacrament meeting some day before I finish my mission. :)
Wish me luck,
Elder VanderMeyden

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Some Random (really random) photos

Our newest convert: J
Super random street shot
What it looks like from our place after the rains hit

another random street shot

Elder Branham doing service, moving rocks

Elder De Leon playing the piano

Something dropped into the stairs at a members house and we helped these kids get it out from under the stairs - quite a funny experience, we pulled up the step, put a chair down there, climbed down, got it and then came back up

Goofing off with Elder De Leon, Gonzalez and Branham

Chapter 12: Fall

As my friends back home enter the fall season, I stay here in Rainy ol´ Siquirres. To keep up on the times I´ve tried to fall a few times during the week and other ended up following the trend. My first fall was on Friday, where I took a step onto an incline that, if it were in Utah, wouldn´t have been a problem, but with the climate here it had grow a slippery moss that I did not see. I didn´t get seriously hurt, but it was a bit embarrassing because we were with a member. I also fell playing fúbol, my water gun fell and broke the same day I bought it, and a member fell today and hurt his had as we were playing fútbol in the rain in the morning. To be honest, I should start using the word "Autumn" from now on. :P

My week was above average, but there was a bit of discouraging news. One of the missionaries from Rama Siquirres came home this week. He had only finished with his training and I don´t really understand everything that happened. He was in Chile and we´ve had 2 lessons with him. The good news is that he says he wants to come with us to do visits and lessons. I don´t know what happened so I´m a bit wary though. Anyway, My health is good and my atitude has been better than normal. The lessons we´ve had have also been good but the people haven´t been coming to chuch. Some of them for personal sickness, some for sickness in the Family and others don´t give a valid reason. In otherwards, we had 0 in the chapel this week and I am sad (maybe a bit angry as well). On the bright side, we had a baptism last week. His name is Jafeth and is the 9 year old brother of a recent convert. We are working with his mother now and also a family that just moved houses (still in our area), they are the Torres Family. We also had a our first lesson with the girlfriend of a member that was asking about learning more from the mormons.

I have had time in the past to explore a bit of the and found a few mormon messages that I love. One was the other prodigal son and the other I can´t remember the name but it had to do with the Holy Ghost and it has a picture of an old radio. If you have a chance, watch them. :) Also, a personal letter from the first person to tell me which Mormon message it is that I am talking about with the Holy Ghost and old radio.

I am doing well. I getting a bit fatter, but with our cook, everyone is. :P We eat lots of rice and beans and chicken. Also there is a lot of fruit. They feed us a ton and with all the work we do, I tend to eat what they give me. I am trying to exercise, but am struggling a bit because my companion doesn't want to exercise. He enjoys his sleep a little too much. I would love to have a companion that likes to run because I miss running. Running would help me a lot. Oh, well. We play a lot of futball and I get some exercise that way. We even played futball in the rain today. It was fun :)

My mom asked me what I miss the most: apples that are cheap and watching television.

My companion is ever the same, but I´ve learned a bit more of who he is and where he comes from. Putting his story together helps me understand why he is who he is and helps me relate a bit more. In some ways it has helped our relationship as friends but in other ways it reminds me of how the Lord puts people in our way so that we can learn new things. I´ve been able to become a better person with Elder Gonzalez and also learned to take more responsibility, which is something I needed.
Have a great day!

Elder Vanderson, Banderazul, Vanderdrizzle (I'll tell ya more about my nicknames next week)

Chapter 11: To the Top

This week we hiked to the top of the mountain and saw all of siquirres. I actually though of Lion king´s "everything the light touches" quote and it applies quite well in this way: "everything the light touches is your area, Elder"
Our area is GRANDISIMO! but we are to go to all areas, even "that dark spot over there" :P
A few other things that happened on our hike are:
1) I found some of the most amazing animals in the world including a majestic dragonfly that cannot be described by my tongue, a million spiders of ranging sizes, a bull or 3 in the pathway to the top, and a bunch of wasps or bees that gave me a panic attack and I couldn´t move for more than a minute (the rule of thumb is this, the phobia is 3x bigger because the wasps are 3x bigger as well)
2) The Gringos were in better shape than the ticos and guatemaltecos
3) We took a ton of pictures that my mom will put on the blog
4)I had so much fun and got a n awesome sunburn. :)
The double meaning this week is that we reached a new height in our companionship today. We dedicted our house and there was a huge change in the feelings there. Also, my companion got sick and I was priveliged to give him a blessing. I don´t know, but this week I learned to trust Elder Gonzalez mucho más.
That´s it for this week. There wasn´t too much to share except that we need to find more nuevos (new investigators) because our "pool" is getting a bit "dry"
Wish me Luck!
Elder VanderMeyden

Tender Mercies

Little things we have seen from James these last few weeks. One is part of an email to his dad and I and the other is a surprise email from Hermana Peterson. She is the sister of the Carlson's in our ward and her and her husband are serving in Costa Rica working with the members and the Perpetual Education Fund. She is also the mission nurse. Little surprises like these emails touch our hearts and help me see the tender mercies and love from the Lord as our son serves.

Never underestimate the influence of a worthy priesthood holder in your missionary's life. My husband received this yesterday from our son: "I need a fathers blessing. It´s been too long since my last one, but I´ll ask my companion for one. I just want the support and perhaps a reassurance of the work that I´m doing. Don´t worry about me, but keep me in your prayers." I got concerned, so I asked him if he was okay this was his response "The biggest reason I want this blessing from Dad is because I miss him. There is no substitute for a good father´s blessing. Even a blessing from the Prophet himself couldn´t replace it." I sure do miss that boy and his sweet spirit.

Dear Sister VanderMeyden (Athena),

My name is Senior Hermana Diane (Carlson) Petersen. My husband & I are from South Weber & we're serving as P.E.F./Self-Reliance missionaries here in Costa Rica. Before we left home, people would tell us names of missionaries to watch for, should we meet them here. Elder VanderMeyden was one of those, because you see, Dennis Carlson is my oldest brother (I'm #4 out of 6 kids). He told me how fantastic your son is, as well as the entire family. I'm a retired R.N. & so am also helping the young mission nurse by fielding phone calls from the English-speaking missionaries & some other things. I sent your son an email recently w/ his insurance informations & my phone number, should he need to call me. I also told him who I was & that I was watching for him & hoping to meet sometime.

I ran into him today, in the mission office. He was hanging out with another Elder's companion, while his companion, Elder Gonzalez here, went to be fingerprinted for migration purposes.
What a happy, delightful, positive person he is!!!! I pointed out to him jokingly that he was wearing a sweater in Costa Rica (of all places). His response was that it's the only time he gets to wear it (because it's generally cooler here in San Jose, than in the east or west). He said he used his sweater for a blanket last night.

I just thought you might want to know! I was soooo excited to finally meet him. Thanks so much for your support so that Elder VanderMeyden could serve his mission!!

Most warmly, Hermana Petersen

A Hike to the top of Siquirres

For p-day, Elder VanderMeyden took a hike to the top of Siquirres with Elder De Leon, Elder Branham, and Elder Gonzalez. They also went with two members that hang out a lot with the missionaries. Here are some pictures of the hike. It was on this hike James got a panic attack from the wasps, they ran into a bull, and the ticos and guatemaltecos decided they never wanted to hike again. Only the gringos really enjoyed the hike.

Chapter 10: Anime-tion

well, this week was full of Elder De Leon and Elder Gonzalez and a few other members talking anime and for me to listen to it. It was cool to hear the stories but I´m not sure if I´ll ever watch any of these shows.
Anyway, the other side to my double meaning title is that my animo, or my excitedness shot up 100% or perhaps more from the first month check up that i had with the president yesterday. It was a very spiritual experience where i learned a few things I need to change. The biggest advice he gave me was "you haven´t been called to change him, you´ve been called to train him." I´ve been so worried that he´s not doing exactly as I taught that it was affecting my stress, our companionship and my health. I realize now that I can only do what I can and that if he doesn´t do it there is nothing I can do but remind him. I took it upon myself to learn humility and just do my best. To be honest, I had heard most of what he had to say before, but it had to come from him in that moment or it wouldn´t have sunk in. It was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. I love the Spirit.
Anyway, I´m cutting this email short by saying that I love the Lord and he can help any person with and problem in any circumstance.
We also had a baptism that I was in charge of planning. AHHH! MORE STRESS. Just kidding. :)
Love you all,
Elder VanderMeyden

P.S. I finally found my first Tico that loves Doctor Who. He´s AWESOME!

Goofing Around with the Elders

Here are some fun pictures with the elders in our area.

Chapter 9: Catching Up

I am awesome today, I got a great workout and now I´m motivated. This is a much better letter from last week.
About the title, I´m catching up on sleep, journal writing, and numbers from my previous area. Part of the discouragement that was expressed the last week was the fact that I had such good numbers when Elder De Leon and I were together that when it dropped when I moved I wanted them to be the same, but that wasn´t possible.
We´re actually finding new people more often. People from Cairo keep showing up to church without us even going to Cairo (can you guess what our goal is this week ;)  ). Elder G and I are getting along swimmingly (even though we can´t swim) and we are having fun having spiritual debates that don´t break up our unity, but instead strengthen it. :) The leadership thing that I´ve been put in is less of leadership now and more of friendship, so I don´t feel as much pressure. I feel the guidance of the spirit more and more often, but it´s not constant. The problem is that the spirit is constant, but it wains and grows too so when it´s small it´s harder to recognize it, but it´s always there. I´m working to get it better every day, and part of this is obedience.
Also, 2 notes, They have FRY SAUCE. They call it Sachipapas but it´s the same thing. 2- I´m at the 1/4 mark of the mission, wish me luck. :)
Best wishes,
Elder VanderMeyden

Animals (or bugs) everywhere

Random dog (looks a little skinny)

A gecko they caught

ants in their apartment

Stick or leaf bug

Ants working hard


Cool Grasshopper
Another Grasshopper

The wasps I am deathly afraid of

Check out the cool frog

Just a pretty flower


Wicked looking spider

Chapter 8: Stuck

3 meanings for this chapter title:
1) this keyboard is sticky, so if there are problems with spelling or more than one word put  together, please forgive me
2) the mud took off my shoes this week because it was stuck. Luckily, I put my foot back inside without taking another step or falling into the dirty slime.
3) I feel like I´m stuck. I´m not making the progress that I´d like and I can´t really think of a good reason why. I´ll express a bit of what I´m feeling:
I know that the only way to measure success as a missionary is with the dedication  that you put into the work, but all of the leaders keep saying that the Lord will reward your dedication with the souls of those who are chosen, meaning that the numbers will show your hard work. It´s simple math here that says that even though you can only measure success with your level of dedication, you will get the numbers if you are dedicated. I´m not getting any of this, even though I feel completely dedicated to what I´m doing. We´re finding, we´re teaching, but we are not retaining and we are not baptizing. I don´t think that I´m effective but I need to keep moving.Like I said, I feel a bit stuck and my logical mind but together this "equation" to show me that I can´t do it. All I can say is that we had a baptism planned for this upcoming week but it feel through because he didn´t come to church. In addition to that 2 less actives that we´ve been working with didn´t come to church and another wouldn´t enter the meeting room because his Ex was there. I´m more than a bit frustrated right now.
HOWEVER,  I refuse to give up and I refuse to end on a bad note. Before I was in Equipo Nicoya and now we have begun Equipo Siquirres. We are working hard as a team and actually made some great progress in our area. We found some new people recently,but haven´t had time to visit them since. I know that at least one of these 3 families can progress if not all three! We are actually doing splits with Siquirres 1 and we are learning a ton. My companion spent a day and a half learning from Elder De Leon and Elder Branham had a day and half with  me! It was actually a ton of fun and It was weird being 2 gringos together. I appreciate having a District leader, former companion, and highly respected and trusted amigo here with me to help in the times of need. We´ve both needed each other´s help at least once in the last week, but we helped each other through. It´ll be sad when one of the 4 of us leave the area. LONG LIVE EQUIPO SIQUIRRES!!!!!

That´s about it for this week,
Elder VanderMeyden

P.S. I really am doing well, I just needed to put a few of my concerns/doubts in the air. I will never give up, even if I feel miserable, because I know that when you hit bottom, things can  only get better. :D

Chapter 7: Growing on Me

So, my companion is growing on me. He´s new and so we need to get into the vibe quickly to have success, but he´s growing on me. ;)

Also, another thing that´s growing is mold on my shoes (It´s not growing on me, but it was close enough). I can´t seem to shake this silly little mold that keeps appearing because of the humid climate.

Anyway, Down to buisness:
My companion is Elder Gonzalez, a native speaker from Guatemala (Yup, the second one in a row :)  ). He´s a bit quiet and actually very smart. He´s been a member all his life and loves Fútbol just as much as Elder De Leon. Today we actually played for a long time in the church for our Día de Preparación. He´s planning on going into system engineering. In general, he reminds me of a certain Mckinlay that is serving his mission in Mexico City right now otherwise known as my best friend. I know that he can be a great missionary very quick, I just have to get him to start doing things solo and not rely on my because there will be a day when I won´t be here. However, he still has a while with me and I know that small steps, when added up, can finish even the longest of journeys (wow, ¿que profundo? :P  ). I haven´t had a single problem with him since he arrived and I want to keep it that way.
Let me tell you, Trainer is the LARGEST Responsibility that there is in the mission because they prepare the way for the future of the mission. Do you know how much pressure that is? I HAVE THE FUTURE OF THE MISSION SLEEPING UNDER ME EVERY NIGHT! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I´m suffocating in the pressure, but it´s good because it keeps me vigilant. ;)

By the way, this is my mailing address. Quite a few of you wanted it so I thought I´d put it in the weekly email to help out. :)
Elder VanderMeyden
Mission Costa Rica San Jose
Apartado Postal 249-2010
San Jose, Costa Rica
Centro America
That´s about all for this week but it has been a great week of searching and finding. We actually have a baptism we´re working on before the end of the month. wish us luck and more of the spirit
Also, I thought I´d say thanks to all of you for the support and love. I need it now more than ever, especially with this new responsibility that I have. You have all helped me through hard times before, but I know that the hard times are going to be harder than ever. All I can say is that I will have to trust in the Lord more than i ever had before.
Love you all,
Elder VanderMeyden

New Companion, New Apartment

Here are pictures of James in Siquirres 2 with his new companion Elder Gonzalez. and his new apartment (I think they went a few days without electricity - hence the candles).

Getting your trainee
Elder Gonzalez. from Guatemala

All the new missionaries with their trainers

the kitchen

where they slept until the bunkbed was built

by the light of the little candle

studying by candlelight