Saturday, December 27, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Chapter 13: Driven

What I mean to say is Drivin` because we were in the car all day on Tuesday and Wednesday. Not to mention the trip we made out to Alajuela on Thursday and Friday was when we went to San Jose central. I have been to the many areas near San Jose so many times in the last few days that I almost don`t need the GPS to make it anywhere anymore. :P What can you do though, I was delivering the Packages to the missionaries so that they would have things to open on Christmas Day. I felt like Santa, and Hermana Wilkinson even allowed us to use our Christmas hats for the trips. :)

But in reality, this week has been horrible for our area. We got back late from these trips every day and have only had 1 normal day to work in our area. we`ve somehow been able to squeeze at least one less a day though, but it drives me to better in the week to come even thought the Festival of Zapote is going strong right now and we have a heard time getting people to let us in because they`re all drunk or out partying. It is a bit frustrating, but We`ll get work done this week, I promise.

Speaking of the festival. Elder Hoover and I are just gonna go look at it today to finish up our P-day. They have some souvenir stuff and roller coaster stuff and food and a rodeo stadium. Elder Hoover and I can`t do the roller coaster stuff or the rodeo stuff, but we can watch others do them. :) It all looks fun and I`ll try and get some good pictures for all of you. :)

That`s all the time I have this week, but I`m super excited to hear how the the New year goes for all of you. I hope you had a Merry Christmas. :)

Elder VanderMeyden

P.S. this picture is how I`ve felt this Christmas, just from pure running. I actually loved this Christmas season, even though I wasn`t at home or getting a ton of stuff. It was great to see the Family after so long. :)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Chapter 12: White Christmas

White Christmas is my title this week. One is because I heard you got snow on Christmas Day - so not FAIR!! My White Christmas is because we were able to go to the temple this past week as a Christmas present from Presidente.  I actually had a dream with snow the other day. I miss snow a ton and it was fun to play in it, even though it was just a figment of my imagination. :P

Anyway, as for my week, it has been CRAZY and there was one day when we were literally not in our area between 10:30 until 10:30 and we only got a lesson because we called an investigator that we had planned to visit, but we couldn`t. That was the Christmas devotional day and we had the best present ever: We went to the TEMPLE! and not just that, the Temple President invited Elder Hoover and I to do Baptisms after our session! I have wanted to do that for a very long time. So long that I made up my mind to work in the Baptistry in the Logan Temple in early  mornings if I can -  for the high schoolers and stuff. :) We had such a crazy day and we even bought KFC, even though I only ate a biscuit. :P

We also had a miracle of a story that I`d like to share: We had a bad morning this Sunday when we passed by and called our investigators and one after one they all said that they wouldn`t be coming to church that day. It really bummed me out but then a simple thought came to my mind, "call Dennis". If you don`t remember who he is, he is an investigator that we had long since dropped because he didn`t progress even though 10 years before he was going to church. He had never been baptized because of Alcohol problems, but now he stopped but doesn`t go to church. HOWEVER, I called him and woke him up, and he said "I`ll make the sacrifice to go." It was AWESOME! And I am so grateful for that little whisper because now Dennis has a planned date of baptism for the 27th of Diciembre and confirmation the following day. We`ll be visiting him today again. :)

Other things that happened this week are some powerful Revelation in the Temple, President saying good job to Elder Hoover and I, and a trip to Taco Bell. Oh, and I forgot to mention the fun little storyelling that Elder Hoover did when he told me of when he ate with the Dinosaurs (he actually commented on their great table manners, even though there was no table), the raccoon men from the inside of the sun and their blue pet tigers, the Under Earth people and how he helped in the war against the water men, and the little rock that has a tiny screen like a tiny Kindle and works as a translator for all languages. I`m not sure if I should believe him about that last part though. :P All in all it was a great week but I am exhausted.

Love you,
Elder VanderMeyden
Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Some incredibly random pictures

The evil red taxi's in Costa Rica
Elder V driving the city

Elder V with Elder and Sister Coleman (the senior missionary couple in the office)

a fun spider in their apartment

Stupid missionary tricks - James used his machete to cut the flame off a lit candle (I am not posting the video) :)

A special Christmas tie

How Elder V and Elder Hoover respond to changes week in the office

Changes week in the office is insanely crazy! The office elders get incoming misisonaries from the mtc, outgoing missionaries going home, and all the missionaries who are getting transferred. Multiple trips to the airport, lots of abnormal requests. It is a lot of work that week. So James and his companion Elder Hoover set up some videos to demonstrate how crazy it is. It is a link to dropbox since they are kinda large. If it doesn't link, please let me know.

Changes from the office point of view - for the first time

Changes from the office point of view - second time around

Changes from the office point of view - third go around

Chapter 11: Dropping

Three reasons for my title this week:

1 dropping a ton of cash on the airport ticket
2- dropping in difficulty my job as secretary
3- dropping in temperature (we reached the high 50s this last week, and with a wet wind it was cold to both me and my companion)

We had a huge Oh Crap moment when we sent Hermana Pacheco to Guatemala (mission change) We had a huge problem with area approval not getting communicated, tickets not being ordered, and having to get to the airport in 30 minutes during rush hours. I was the one sent to drive and I have never gone that far over the Speed limit in all my life- 115 in an 80 zone.(MOM NOTE - I looked it up  - 115 is about 75 mph, BUT it would have resulted in a $600 fine)  :P But even though it´s illegal here, the cops don´t do anything. ;) anyway, we made it there 15 minutes too late to get her on the plane. We had to do some quick thinking and we ended up buying a new ticket with money that we miraculously had with us. I hadn´t taken the money that I had for the month out yet because I hadn´t needed it quite yet. It was $279 (in american cash) that we used to pay for the ticket and Elder Hoover had enough money on his personal card to pay for the rest. It was a good thing too, or she wouldn´t have mad it out that night. :)
It was Oh Crap, funny, frustrating and, miraculous all at once. :)
I also got a few new nametags. :) My last name is so long that it had to go in 2 lines this time. :( But it´s not a big deal ;)

Oh, other oh crap moment- The enders (those ending out their missions and going home) clogged our toilet before they left and didn´t tell us. Now we have a broken plunger and a clogged toilet that are waiting for us at the house. We´ll be buying a new plunger, but until then it´s literally "Oh Crap" ;)

To be honest, this was the easiest of all the changes weeks that I´ve ever had. The food was great. You can´t get enough Gallo Pinto ;) Some investigators are doing well, but not going to church. It´s a bit hard because most of the people we can only meet with them on certain days and it´s not very often. We do a bunch with President Wilkinson like projects, but doing activities is a bit rare, we´ve only had Thanksgiving. I really like the Christmas gifts and I laugh because the stocking that I got from my folks was one that I had made the plans to make for my child when he was on him mission. It was really funny because I didn´t say anything to them about wanting one, but they must have read my mind. ;)

I´m a bit exhausted and I haven´t been eating very well, I know I should do better, but we have very little time to cook and I´m stuck eating chips most of the time. I´ve been trying to buy more fruit than other stuff but to be honest, because of the stress I´m just not eating. This last week we sent many missionaries to the house and then home because they are done with their 2 years. 2 more missionaries are getting changed to a different mission and that made it a grand total of 5 trips to the airport. Did I mention I really hate driving in Costa Rica? it is insanely crazy driving. It´s also really hard, I´m not going to lie, to see people go. So many people that I know aren´t here any more and I feel like there is a huge weight on me, being a missionary with nearly a year in the mission, to be the new leadership. I´m not sure that I´m up to it even though I want to be. I feel like an old sponge being wrung out, getting rid of the old water and putting in new. I´m changing and I´m not sure how I actually feel. I always feel like someone is looking over my shoulder, and I don´t know why. It´s so hard to describe exactly how I feel. I don´t feel bad, but I do feel strange. It´s not that I don´t like what´s happening, but it´s not quite a comfortable feeling. You might say that it´s growing pains, but it doesn´t sound quite right to say it like that.

Before anybody starts worrying about me, MMMMOOOOOMMMMM, I AM FINE, a bit stressed, but nothing new. I can see that things are moving fast and I need to run to keep up because as my Cross country coach taught me "it´s easier to keep up than to catch up." I can really feel the love of the Savior in my life and I really know that I have been guided and lead to where I am and I am meant to be here.
Love to you all!

Elder VanderMeyden

A note from Hermana Peterson

I love snapping fotos of Elders VanderMeyden & Hoover!! They love gallo pinto (gallo pinto - rice and beans) & it shows. They've been burning the candle at both ends lately I know & were probably famished. Hermana Wilkinson has 2-3 local ladies that help with the meals when the missionaries come to eat, but she always gives the gallo pinto the taste test before it's done. I've eaten this same dish @ various places around the country &  it's the very best at the mission home : ) ps - your son got his Christmas package
Hiding in the back taste testing the gallo pinto

It gets the Elders' seal of approval

Elder Dortch's parents came to pick him up at the end of his mission and brought James his Christmas package from us. According to him, the bag 'broke' so he got Christmas early. Uh huh. ;) 

Chapter 10: And So it Begins

Christmas season is begun as the beginning of Diciembre makes it to town. This season we need to really focus on our Savior.

Another beginning is the beginning of all my troubles when the transfer cycle will start anew this next week. All of the issues with finances sprout from 2 things: Things done before my time and things that happen during changes week. We are about to see a new world of problems begin to erupt and I´ll tell you how the week develops next Saturday.

I am glad to hear that the holiday spirit is growing in the house and that St. Nicholas made his was to Utah once again. ;) I was able to fill the shoes of Elder Hoover, Myself, and one Elder that was staying the night with us with candy (and subsequently ants :P Ooops). I was even able to get the ornaments that Sister Wilkinson gave to us and put them in the shoes. :)

We actually have quite a few more investigators progressing right now, one of which is Jorge and he is coming out and teaching with us even though he´s not a member. He loves the mission work and he should be getting baptized on the 14 of December. :D We´re very excited for him.

We also had a small miracle in our area this week and I would love to share it with you. We were looking for new people to teach and we were walking down a street that we don´t normally use, but we were given a reference and we were searching for them. Out of nowhere Elder Hoover starts talking to a family that looks like they are not interested (sometimes you can tell by their reaction to us as we walk by, but this time he said that he just felt like he should talk to them) and it was really really awkward. It didn´t flow the normal way that they normally do but somehow, as we showed that we were fun and "normal" they started opening up and right when we were about to set a return date I felt the need to ask them if we could share a small message right then and there! It was really strange that they said yes and then I looked at Elder Hoover thinking "What are we going to teach?" To be honest, I had no idea, but Elder Hoover asked them if we could share a video, the He is the Gift video and they said yes. :) I only had it in English, but most of the family spoke Caribbean English and the only one who didn´t spent time in the USA so he understood how to read it! If that wasn´t a miracle enough, after the video, we asked them how they felt about the video and what it´s message was and as the Father of the family was sharing he almost started to cry and I could feel the Spirit so strong that I felt like if I moved to fast it would pull it apart because it was so present and so delicate. Everyone in the room could feel our sincerity and the Spirit of the Lord. The atmosphere was completely changed from the awkward beginning that we had and they actually told us to come by whenever we want (we are going to visit them today). It was such an amazing experience and I can´t describe how grateful I´ve been in the last week for the blessings like this.

This last week my breaks have been the time I´ve spent in the field because when I´m in the office I´m stress and preparing for Changes week, but when I´m in the field I can forget the office and focus on my real calling. It helps me get rid of the stress that I have (at least for a time) and focus on the work of the Lord. I´ve been loving every moment that I have to teach, even though sometimes it´s hard to find someone to teach. We are hoping, praying, and doing everything else that we can to have as many people come to church tomorrow as possible. I hope to see the fruits of our labor soon.

Elder VanderMeyden

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Chapter 9: He is the Gift

The reason for my title is because we have been asked as missionaries to share the video from the church titled 'He is the Gift'. As we go into the Christmas Season, it is easy to be consumed with lists and all sorts of things we 'need' to do and gifts to buy that we miss the reason we celebrate at all: the birth of Jesus Christ. So I would hope, as I share it in my email, you all remember the true reason we have this special time of year.

I love the opportunity we have to work during the Christmas season. Many people keep asking if we´re going home to be with our families for Christmas. We always say no, and say that the mission is for 2 years without visiting our family once. It also got me to thinking. The Christmas season is the best time to teach people of Christ, the real reason behind the holiday, why would we go home. I love my family, but the work is better during this season. I´d prefer to have more Christmases out in the mission field (Sorry Mom) so that I can help other Families. It is really cool because they have something called a "Portal" which is like a nativity set with a large case or a bunch of lights around it. It reminds me of a time portal to the birth of Jesus. :D There was a small miracle that happened this week that has to do with the real reason for Christmas. We were able to see a family setting up one of these portales and it was huge, so I asked them if they wanted help. They said no, but we were able to start talking to them and then shared a small message about how Jesus is the Gift and the proof of God´s love for us. This family, who is normally very catholic actually invited us back to teach more. :) It´s one of the many blessings that come through the Spirit of Christmas. :)

1 funny- We actually had a miracle this last week with a girl that has been prepared for us. She was Catholic a while back, and still believes in God, but she knows that the Catholic church is false and that the bible has been manipulated by man. When my companion said "what would you say if I said there was more scripture?" she said "I´d believe you" and it freaked him out because NO ONE says that here. :P He was at a loss for words and I was able to cover for him. It was really funny because he has never been at a loss for words before and after the lesson he just kept talking about how awesome it was that she would believe us and how he was just so dumbstruck. We gave her a Book of Mormon and she said she´d read and pray about it. It was awesome.

1 foody- I ate Pumpkin Pie! It was made as a dessert at 2 different Thanksgiving events that happened this last week. :D (this is also my "this reminds me of" 
Thanksgiving in the states)
Love you all!
Elder VanderMeyden

He is the Gift – Christmas Video – #ShareTheGift

A visit to the San Jose Children's Museum

If you can't already tell - the missionaries went to the Children's Museum in San Jose. They had a blast being little kids again and just plain having fun. So enjoy a little childishness from these kids who grew up really fast in a foreign country just being goofy and silly. 

Chapter 8: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving - no double meaning this time - just that with the American holiday coming up, there are many things I am grateful for. One is my companion, Elder Hoover. We are having a great time and really get along and work so hard to bring the work to the people in Costa Rica. Another is the Prophet, Thomas S. Monson and all does to lead the church in these latter days and be the mouthpiece of the Lord. Another is my mission president, President Wilkinson and his family for sacrificing their lives for three years to come down here and guide the best mission ever. He is like a second dad to me and I love him dearly for his guidance. Yet another thing I am grateful for is my family - my mom and dad for supporting me, writing me, praying for me, raising me to be the man I am today, etc., my sisters for always writing me every week, telling me the things I am missing out on, loving me even when I tease them, etc., my grandparents - grams and gramps and nona and papa - for supporting me on my mission, writing me, living and loving the gospel so my parents would love the gospel, spending time with me in my youth, etc., my extended family - aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. for hanging out with me, emailing me, sending me letters and packages, teasing me, teaching me to laugh, and so much more. I am grateful for my friends for always being examples to me, for hanging with me in high school and college, long chats, video gaming, etc. And last but not least, I am thankful for my Savior Jesus Christ and His sacrifice and atonement so that I can return to my family for all eternity.

Now that the sappy stuff is over and mom can stop crying:

1 spiritual-prayer for Jorge. We did a huge prayer of faith this last week and a miracle happened! We were praying for an investgator to get a change in work. He works every Sunday but after 2 days of praying every prayer he got off every other sunday and should be getting baptised this week. :) I`m super happy for him and we will be rocking it in white when, as my companion says "he get`s wet."

1 oh crap-today I have 3 projects left to do! 2 from people in SLC and one that I have to get done today, but it`s a monthly thing that they moved up for the Thanksgiving holiday. I am freaking out, but I can do this. :)

1 funny- This week I accidentally dropped a coin in from of homeless people and they all started making jokes. It was funny and sad (this is also the 3rd world story)

1 reminds me of-I got lost today in the car trying to give directions, but then the road turned into a one way road. It reminds me of the first time I was in the car with Elder Hoover, it was crazy because we were learning to drive in Costa Rica. Also, it reminds me of one of the times I had to give you the driections to one of my friends house, but we got lost... That was funny. There also happened a time when I was in college and I was goin home in the Car of a really good friend, but we got lost and I didn`t know what to do or where to go... That was also fun because it was a great friend and now we have a fun memory

1 foody-I have had too much pizza for one week. We didn`t even buy it very much, but many people offered us the pizza and I didn`t want to say no.

1 thing I am thankful for- LEADERS I love my leaders and they help me so much. I have learned so much from them on both a mission level and a World wide (General Authorities) level :)
I am excited for this week. Thursday, Thanksgiving, after we get done with the daily work, we get to go to the Mission President's house and have a real Thanksgiving. My only one, probably, while on my mission. I can't wait!
Love you all and Happy Thanksgiving!
Elder VanderMeyden
Me and Elder Hoover posing in Costa Rica

Thanksgiving is not complete without pie and whipped topping :)