Monday, June 29, 2015

End of an Era - Pictures of the end of our mission


Post haircut


Elder Pratt

Elder Miller, Elder Neider, and Elder V (James and Elder Miller were MTC companions)

Elder Zibin

Hna Ahnder and Elder Black

Hermana Chatwin and Elder V (both from Layton high school)

Elder Dale

James and Elder Saavedra (his trainer)

Hna Corrales (as a RM)

Our MTC Group

Elder Branham with James

Elder Gonzalez with James (who James trained)

Hna Whitman

Hna Acosta

Hna Haggard and Hna Pizza

Hna May

Goofing off

This is the Hole that Elder Coronado fell into

Where they live - welcome to Cariari

Some of the flooding

Chapter 4: High Adventure - roughing it - the big split - PART 2

Mom note: Here is his email. FYI - the entire Carribean coast is experiencing major flooding and is completely cut off from the rest of Costa Rica. James is on the Carribean side, a little north between the two refuge areas. If you look at a map, you will see Guapiles and a road leading northeast, Cariari is on that road almost to where it deadends between the national park/refuge areas. Route 32 is blocked into San Jose and they don't know when it will re-open. Some bridges have collapsed and the hydro plant dam has collapsed. Some people have been evacuated from their homes, but none of the missionaries, and life still goes on.

James: I loved the mission conference. I thought that it was an amazing moment to say goodbye. One of my favorite things was the fact that I got to hug both President and Sister Wilkinson. I was very sad when I thought that I was going to have to wait until the very end to hug her. :( I did cry, but they were tears of the spirit. not once did I cry from the sadness (though it is way incredibly sad) But there was a moment where the spirit was very strong and I cried.

I somehow knew that I would not have any time to write emails today because I made an audio recording of what I was going to say. Turns out I have a hard time speaking English again (just like it should be :P  ). Look below to see why I´m so short on time. :(

Excerpts from letter to pres:
Today we have been waiting at two different internet places for more than two and a half hours waiting to get computers. They just opened up and I´m a bit frustrated. I wanted to be at the house studying at thins point during the day.

Other than this small setback we are doing well. I learned this week that we in Zona Limon and Zona Atlantica are stranded in Limon and there is no way to make it to San Jose. We don´t need to go there anyway, but if an emergency were to happen we would not be able to get there. It makes me feel "so secure." Jaja. I´m actually bien tranquilo even though it is a bit strange. My companion made the comment today that if it continues like this then it means that the changes in July will only be between the people and San Jose, Cartago, and Zona Sur unless they decide to change someone from Limon to Zona Atlantica and Vice Versa.

I finally received my birthday package. I loved the movie 'Meet the Mormons'.  I watched the Movie one the way home from San Jose in the bus (we convinced the bus driver to put it on so we had 40 people captive audience :P :D  )

Also, I just wanted to share with you the last thing that President Wilkinson shared with us.
7 Spiritual essentials to staying active in the Church
If you never want to be less active in the church put goals to each one of these 7 steps in order to never worry about felling the spirit in your life.
1) Prayer- How many times each day will you take adequate time to say a personal kneeling prayer to your Father in Heaven.
2) Scriptures- How much time every day will you spend studying the standard works and words of modern prophets and church leaders?
3) Temple- How many times will you go to the Temple each month?
4) Sacrament- How many times a year will you worthily take the Sacrament? (there are 52 weeks in a year, 2 General Conferences, 2 Stake Conferences, 48 possibilities)
5) Tithing- Integral, Pracial, or nothing?
6) Institute- At least one class every semester?
7) Mission Goal- Not so much "how many times will you leave with the missionaries?" more "How many mission references will you give?" "how many people will you reactivate in the year?" and "What will you do to help the missionaies?"

He told each one of us to put goals and tell him. He would keep the number and verificar if we were keeping true to our promises. It was AMAZING! :D
Love you. :)
Elder VanderMeyden

Chapter 4: High Adventure - roughing it - the big split - PART 1

Mom note: James sent us an audio recording of his last week. It was highly adventurous, so I transcribed it and put it on here for you to read. The actual recording will be on his blog with lots of pictures he sent: He really struggles with his english and muc of it is spanglish (spanish english). It's quite funny. So go check it out!
This week was a little crazy. Started out Monday of last week. We were planning on going to San Jose so we could get to the (mission) conference on time. The last bus from our area leaves at 5:30, so we had our day planned out just right. So about 10:30am we get a call from the zone leaders telling us to sleep in Guapiles and travel to San Jose in the morning because the mission home was a little full. (we were planning on sleeping in the mission home originally) All the missionaries from Guanacaste Zone, Puntarenas Zone, and Zona Sur were staying there because none of them can make it there in the morning, but from Guapiles, you can. So the day went okay, we had lunch, I taught some people how to play scrabble. We didn’t have the instructions, so I made some of it up, but it turned out well and made sense and we had fun. Then we went to do internet which was awesome. I want to say thank you all for the support you all give me for writing me so often. We were an hour into internet and got a phone call from the zone leaders saying we had to go to San Jose that day. At that point it was already 5:30 and we had to run to the bus stop where the bus left us, so there was no bus from Cariari to San Jose that night. Moreover, we had no bag to sleep over and no suit coat jackets, so we ran to the house to get that, because there was a bus leaving from Guapiles, but at that point it was 5:45 and the last bus leaves at 6pm supposedly, but it’s not possible to make it to Guapiles in 15 minutes. Even by going by taxi super fast it takes about 20 minutes. So we were stuck out here with no plan, and no way to make it to San Jose. We made lots of phone calls.. packed our stuff. and trusted in the Lord and had faith. The branch president had a great suggestion  that we sleep in Siquirres and take the first bus from Siquirres to San Jose. The thing is we had to be in San Jose by 8am in the morning the next day so we could make the picture of the whole mission. The first bus from Guapiles was at 5:30am. The reason we had to leave that very same day, because the route goes through Zirqui, but the pass is not as safe as it would seem because a bridge fell (due to flooding), wohoooo, so now we have to take a bus through Turrialba which adds another 2.5 hrs to the route, so if we took the bus at 5:30am on Tues. then we would show up around 11am, three hours after when we needed to be in San Jose. But the first bus in Siquirres leaves at 4:30am, so we decided to sleep in Siquirres that night. I got to see a few good friends, like Hermana Magaly and her family. It wasn’t just us that did that (sleep in Siquirres), the elders from La Rita as well were stranded. So our entire district went to Siquirres to sleep, it was pretty cool. We were dead tired. We woke up at 2am to get to the bus stop at 3am. Just following our leaders suggestions. The zone leaders and the assistants told us that we should probably be there at 3 in the morning even though the bus didn’t open til 4 and the bus didn’t leave until 5. But we did it anyway. We were really tired that day. Moreover I couldn’t sleep in the bus, for some I reason, I don’t know what it was. Turns out we were trying to get there by 8am. There was lots of traffic for the last 15 minutes, and we made it there by 8:07. Good news is that the president hadn’t showed up for the picture yet, so we luckily made it for the picture.

The conference was really cool. It wasn’t a goodby conference for President Wilkinson, it was a hello conference for the new presidents, even though they are not here, they are coming today in the noche. It was President introducing them and giving last words and telling us to be obedient to the new presidents. Don’t try to defend what he taught. I really like when he said, if for me it’s black and for the new president it’s white, for you it’s white.

 One note from the conference, he gave us a really cool thing teaching us about how to stay active in the church.
He said if we do these 7 things put a goal and keep to them we will never fall away from the church. We will always feel the spirit and will never worry about ourselves in the eyes of the Lord. Super powerful.

This week was a cool experience on Saturday. On Saturday, we were just walking and I felt we should talk to this person and so we went and talked to him. So we did and just like that and he let us into his house. I don’t know why we were told to knock on his door because he wasn’t very receptive to the spirit but he said we could come back at anytime, which is good. We are going to go back. We left him with a proclamation to the family to the world. The most important thing in his life is his daughter. He wants her to grow up to be a good person and if he reads it he will get a whole bunch of ideas that will help him.

This week we went out with our branch president. He took us to an area far away and it has a little group of members  and that is really cool. To be honest, some of them are partial families where not all of them are members. We had an activity Saturday. We couldn’t eat there. But I made snow cones – but the snow cones here are different. They are called granasaldos or colpos. First you put the shaved ice first , then the syrup then powdered milk, then more shaved ice, then more syrup then condensed milk over it. It’s actually amazingly delicious. I suggest each of you go home and try it. If not, when I get home I will make sure to make a few.

I love you all,
Elder VanderMeyden

Chapter 3: Wet and Rainy

I´m wet but working. I really enjoy this area. The flooding has not displaced up and for the most part there is only one big river to cross in our area. not many people have to be evacuated yet (I actually haven´t heard of anyone). We cleaned the house today and got on tarde to email, sorry. We´re gonna have a mission conference tomorrow and you should see a picture with all the missionaries from the MTC with me coming soon (hopefully). :)

We had one powerful lesson and then they canceled on us the other day so we have another appointment Wednesday. :)

My companion and I are having a great time! We get along so well. It just makes me realize how much  the people we surround ourselves with can affect our entire lives.
Moment: This week I had a great moment when we were walking down a street and I felt that we had to walk down a side street. We were doing an LPE at the time, but we returned after doing it and started to look for news. My companion felt like we should talk to a lady, but she didn´t want to talk to us much, but we decided to ask for references. When we did she gave us two families to visit and they both received us. I felt really happy that day and knew that we were being guided by God.

Animal Moment: I also saw a sloth and a cayman and a weird lizard that runs on him back legs and a dead armadillo, and we have a cat that breaks into my house and a bunch of crazy animals. :P

Food moment is that I have had eggs for the last week at lunch and every time it tastes good. Strange that it doesn´t get old. :)
Gotta go! The bus is leaving early, they are closing the pass because of a landslide so the bus wants to get through before they officially close the pass.
Elder VanderMeyden

Monday, June 15, 2015

Chapter 2: Milagros and hard work

This week was full of milagros (miracles). I really enjoyed this past week and I feel like this week can be even better. My companion keeps saying that he has never worked so hard in his entire mission. I was very surprised when I heard that. This is how my mission has been since the beginning. We got 30 lessons with Elder Coronado and ha said it was a new high. We had 15 news even when he was only planning 10. We were very disappointed though, that nobody came to church.

We had a small miracle, though. One set of investigators said that they were using us to help them build up spirituality so they could return to their old church. We testified of eternal families and that they could only lograrlo with the true church on the face of the planet and we testified of the Restoration. They refused to accept to be baptized or to have a fecha, but we commited them to pray. An hour after the lesson we recieved a message: "Hola Somos la pareja que acaban de visitar. Meditando y pidiendo respuesta a Dios nos hemos dado cuenta que ustedes son personas que trabajan por la obra de Dios. Queremos acompañarlos el Domingo esperando grandes bendiciones y avances espirituales en nuestra familia eterna. Gracia por su tiempo." (Hello We are the couple who just visited. Meditating and asking response to God we have realized that you are people who work for God's work. We join them on Sunday expecting great blessings and spiritual progress in our eternal family. Thank you for your time)  I could hardly believe my eyes and I was very happy. My companion nearly jumped for joy when he read the message. We don`t know exactly what happened on Sunday but we have a lesson with them today so I hope to have more news for you next week.

I`m going to be looking for miracles every day this week and I promise to be obediente.

About my new area and my companion now:

Cariari is way out in the middle of nowhere, but it has a bunch of potential. My companion is not used to working as hard as I am but he`s getting used to it. He`s really fun and was learning to be a systems Engineer! He likes a ton of the same stuff and really is an answer to my prayers. It`s been crazy fun, and a bit stressful when you trust that your companion will put the alarm and doesn`t do it. I changed all that and I will never wake up late again (it was only today, and I felt really bad, but now I`m repentant).

Cariari is more rural than siquirres but more touristy like Nicoya. I`d say that it`s about an even balance between the two. :)   Our branch had 38 people show up on sunday. We`re small, but their goal is 60 for asistencia. I plan to have more as we get more and more help from the members. I need to know more of them first though. Our Branch President doesn`t actually live in the boundaries of the branch, I didn`t know that could happen. I told the branch about how we had to drive to church 15-20 minutes when we lived in Virginia, they thought that was weird for the USA.

I am still happy because, as I said, my companion is an answer to my prayers and him and the area are parts of what I consider cumplimientos of the Priesthood blessings I`ve received in my life.

Love you,
Elder VanderMeyden
the text from the investigator

my companion

elders and sisters at church

some of our elders

more pictures of elders at church

Monday, June 8, 2015

Chapter 1: Changing my Sole/Soul/sol/soul food

The first part of my title is about my sole - meaning the soles of my shoes. I had ants eat a hole in the sole, so I still need to look for a place to change soles!

The second part of my title is changing my soul - my spiritual moment: I had a night when I was really sincere with Heavenly Father and I felt a huge peace that day and I never wanted it to end.  I had to fall asleep though, so  :/ But it was a really nice feeling and warmth, I normally don´t feel the spirit like that, but I´m glad He gave me that moment telling me everything would be okay. I am doing so much better this week, my soul is lightening and I feel a ton better. Thanks for all your prayers.
The third part of my title is the sol, or sun. On my birthday, it rained, but the sun came out a little and brightened the day.

The fourth part of my title is my 'soul' food - I made fudge - who doesn't love fudge?
So, I had changes!!!! I am now back in Limon, cariari. :P I like it here and my companion is Elder Coronado De León, another guatemalteco. I am pumped - my companion is super funny and wants to be an engineer like me, so I am really looking forward to having a great time with him and working super hard to baptize and help lots of people. My area is 20 minutes away from the other areas and the zone leaders are 40 minutes away. Stay tuned for lots of fun stuff. It's fun to be out in the country again and out of the big city.

Foodie moment: I´m ready for more "Rice an´ beans" in my new area. Did I mention that I made fudge from our cook book? Last P-day after internet we had an international food experience. The 2 mexicanos made tacos (the right way) and la columbiana made a salad with Piña and I made the fudge. :)
Love you all,
Elder VanderMeyden
Me and my fudge :)
Us having our awesome meal we made
A special baptism
A special baptism
Um, YUM!

Two Hermana's, me and Elder Avendaño and the ward mission leader in Flores

Friday, June 5, 2015

Chapter 12: Sick and Tired

These last few weeks have been a little hard. Last week my companion had been sick. This week, I was sick. It isn't a big deal - stomach issues. I am able to do my work, but my stomach is clearly mal.

I had a tired moment this week. I got into bed one moment, said my prayer and my companion got up and I was already asleep. :P
wet moment, we were walking to an area but I didn´t have my umbrella, it started to rain a bit, but not hard so my companion didn´t take his out. somewhere along the way we learned that we were soaked while talking to a member. It was a slow soaking but we were soaked. :P

This week I was lead to some great talks about how adversity is the refiner´s fire and that God never leaves us solos. One that really stood out to me was one from the February 2014 Liahona (I think). There were 2 talks about prayers and feeling the Holy Ghost. One was by Elder Oaks and he really helped me. I read the talk and realized that I was in one of the circumstances he described. As you know, I´ve had times in these last few weeks where I´ve felt that God has not been answering my prayers. I felt that maybe I wasn´t praying with sincere intent or that my ideas for what I wanted were´t what God had planned and so He didn´t answer me. I learned otherwise! In the article by Elder Oaks It talks about sometimes God doesn´t answer us with a yes or no. He´s still listening, but He wants us to ACT. He wants us to take that step into the unknown to help us learn and make us become what He needs us to be. I had always thought that he would tell us EVERYTHING that we want to know but it s not like that! He hears us always but what He wants is that we can do His will without having to be told to. While writing this letter I learned that if we go to him for everything and wait for the answer EVERY TIME then we would be slothful servants. I can´t tell you how much joy I feel to say "while writing this letter I learned..." because it means that I´m still listening and worthy of the spirit to teach me and receive "pure knowledge" flowing into my mind.

Love you all,
Elder VanderMeyden