Email from James - June 20, 2010


       I checked out the blog and I thought it was so so cool! Thanks for doing that DAD. Also the address is right. It does look a little short but it's right. And you can put they can put the letters in normal letters like if they were just writing a normal letter, like when I was at the MTC. The mail gets sent to a huge Paštas( mail center) where we go pick up the mail, on Laisvės Aleja. It is a huge strip/ outisde shopping center. It's one of the longest ones in Europe. They are really cool stores that line along them. We do a lot of contacting here. 

       Things have been going really well. I'm sending off the two tapes and a letter today. So you should get it probably next week. :D You can use those tapes or just get new ones. lol. You could keep those or whatever. I have really come to love Kaunas. Even though the people are sometimes crazy or really mean to us, I love them anyway. I love the billboards all over Kaunas that have a site in Kaunas then another site from around the world in it. Then it says "Tai Mano Meistas, nesvarbu kur bučiau." "This is my city, It's not important where I go." We are going to get some of those post cards so you can see them. but they have huge billboards of them all over Kaunas. 

       The language is still coming more and more. Very slowly though lol. I have gotten down the phrases. "ne turi liko" or "man nerekia" or "aš zeniau apie jusų bažnyčia" or "kas norit?" lol which means 'I don't have enought time", "I don't need it", " I know about your church" and "what do you want?". :D I love it. Most of the time when we do street contacting and we go up to people and say hi, they won't even acknowledge us lol. Bet buna, but it happens. 

       I have recorded a lot of the funny and crazy experiences on the tapes so you will be able to hear lots. :D This place is so so great. I hope in the future I will be able to take you here and show you all around. I have only been in Kaunas so it will be cool to see the other cities too. :)

       The picture on the blog of the cobblestone street is in Old Town. It's down the walkway down from Laisvės Aleja. It's so pretty. There are huge Cathedrals and a really old castle down there. They are fixing part of the Castle but it should be done soon then we can walk through it. 

        It has been cloudy and rainy a lot these past few days. Elder Hatch hates the rain but I love it. It gives everything a really cool European look :D. In some regions, I feel like I am in a cool WWII movie lol. 

        Elder Hatch is from Washington. We both kinda laughed when we read that mom wanted to write to his mom. lol :D I love you mom. :)

        But all is very well here. I feel though after serving here, I will have no fears of any scary parts of cities in the Americas lol. :D I miss you all and remember you in my prayers. The Branch has loved seeing pics of you :D They want to see pics of the house and of the family more. They love pictures here :D

          I can't wait to hear back from you :D 

          Vyresnysis Sanfordas

A little bit about Kaunas, Lithuania

This is where James is serving. I (his dad) pulled a few photos from the internet along with a few quick facts about the town and area.

Kaunas (English pronunciation: /ˈkaʊnəs/Lithuanian: [kɐˈunɐs]( listen), is the second largest city in Lithuania and a former temporary capital. Kaunas is located at the confluence of the two largest Lithuanian rivers, the Nemunas and the Neris, and near the Kaunas Reservoir, the largest body of water entirely in Lithuania. The population of Kaunas and the surrounding metro area is about 673,706 (plus four missionaries).

I have updated James' mailing address in the column to the right under his picture. It seems like the address is a little short or missing something, but we'll give it a try. You can send him email (which he gets each Monday on P-Day) by clicking the link to the right where it says, "Send James an Email."

Email from James - Monday, June 14, 2010

Hey ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok so much to tell lol.

First, I'm serving in Kaunas! My companion is Elder Hatch. He is way cool. We are the only two elders in Kaunas. The sisters make up one region of Kaunas and we make up all the rest of Kaunas. We have a huge area to cover. It's really pretty here. Mostly in Center which has a very long walkway with stores on the side. We proselyte there a lot. We mostly do harvesting, knocking on doors, at the flats. I'm going to start taking pics, they were pretty freaky at first but now i'm used to them. They were made when the russians were here. They are very old. Lithuanians are very energy effecient so the lights are never on so it's pretty dark and creepy looking.

Ok, first, mom please don't worry. lol Dad you'll probably read this first so you can hide it lol.
So Kaunas is the roughest city in Lietuva. Everyone here knows us and really hate us. Like everyone lol. Everyday, something crazy always happens. It's great. I have been recording everynight about what happens so I will probably send them both out today. I used the second one already.

I will tell you some stories lol:  Ok so last Saturday, we went to this scary region called Šilainiai. I dubbed that day, "I hate Missionary day." We got flipped off so many times. Some little kid was screaming at us, " hey poopo heads, we hate you here." We went to talk to this guy who was playing with his daughter and we said "laba diena" (good day) and he said "go - off" We talked to another guy and he said he wasn't interested so we asked if he knew of anyone who would be interested and he said he would never refer someone to us. lol. We get glared at and people say crude things about us. haha this guy was drunk and he said in very poor english, " your crazy your crazy". 

Some guy who had a bead cross necklace was way nice to us and let us on to the bus. We got on and stood in the middle of the bus. Some kids got on and glared at us. The guy with the cross ran over to them and said, " I saw you staring at them like that, they are good people." As he walked back the kid said something to him and the guy went back and smacked the kid. The kid got up to start something but the people made him sit down. We got off the bus at our stop and the guy and the kid did too. I didn't see the kid so the guy said hey and I turned around to say hi and Elder hatched yelled for me to get in the Apt. building. We ran in there before the kid got to the guy and us. It would have gotten bad. The kid maced the guy and ran off but he was ok. We went up the elevator and looked out. He was ok thankfully. 

When we were harvesting, the guy opened the door and I began talking to him and then he started laughing and slammed the door lol. The way we get into the flats, i will take a pic, there is a metal code pad that locks the bottom door. I have become a pro at it, but you have to look for the buttons that are worn the most then push them in to unlock the door. It's quite fun. I have way more funny stories i will send on the tapes.

OK good notes lol. We got 3 investigators on one day. We met a way nice couple who were in about there fifties. I love them. they weren't able to come to church this sunday. But we are hoping to teach them this sunday. I taught a guy named Duwei. He is asian and speaks english. He is way cool. I didn't have to speak this last sunday but i'm speaking June 27. The branch is way cool. They all have a hard time saying my name lol. This young girl who is about 17 says my name as Sanfonandas. lol. they were all really nice. Alai and her family always invite us over to eat. they love having missionaries over and she never stops smiling. Every week we go over to Mykolas, he is quite old, and eat way good food and read a chapter in the book of mormon. He is way nice. It's sad he say his dad get shot right in front of him my the Russians. This little boy, Aistas, who i absolotuely love, plays with me all the time when I see him. He is so so cute. He is about 3. I talked to this guy in a smaller but so beautiful region of, Šančiai. He complemented me on my Lietuviškai and asked, " Are you from Salt Lake City?" lol. He was really nice to us. 

The area there is so so beatiful. I'm going to start carrying around my camera more. There was a way cool graveyard there. We didn't get to go to it but we will soon. But the area was small cottage home and it was like being in a world war II movie. It was so cool and the people were so nice to us. They were really interested in what we had to say to them. The flats around our home, they don't like us lol. The sun come up at 3:30 in the morning. I sleep through it though cause i'm exhuasted. lol. Our flat is very nice. They don't use dryers here so when our towels dry after washing them, they are pretty rough. I still barely know the language but i'm trying hard. It's a lot to cover. oi pa. I am a pro at door approaches/ contacting. This is about as far as I get before the slam the door, yell at us, call us something, walk away, don't even look at us, or some new way i haven't seen yet lol:

"Laba diena. Mes Misionarai esime iš Jėzaus Kristaus Bažnyčia. Mes stengima kalbeti apie Jezu Kristu ir tikejimas su zmonems."
"Good day. we are missionaries from Jesus Christ's Church. We are trying to talk about Jesus Christ and Faith with people."

Yesterday I talked to a lady for a while. She was really cute.

This is definitely a very hard mission. I can see a lot why the Lord has sent me here. It is the best day when I can make a Lithuanian smile back at me. I alwasy keep a smile on my face because they people never smile. It's a very rough culture. I love it though. I feel a lot for the early saints in being persecuted because I am going through a lot what they have been going through now. I feel more closer to my Savior because he was mocked and everyone hated him. I can't describe how badly I feel for these people. Please pray for them. I can't describe how hard their life is. I really want to hit myself for the stupid things I complained over. They are nothing compared to what most of the people here have to go through. They live very poorly and  the policija really don't care if crime is going on.I wish a lot of people could come live out here for a few months. It has really been a humbling experience for me and I haven't even been here a full week. I love this place. No matter what i'm called, I love these people.
Kaunas is awesome. I call it the Bronx of Lietuva. :D

I love you all so much.

Here is my address:

A/D 286
44004 Kaunas

I can't wait to hear from all you :D definitely put that on the website :D


He's Finally in Lithuania - June 8, 2010

We were able to speak to James on the phone from the airport (Washington D.C.) for an hour or so (in case you're wondering, it cost about $80 from the pay phone using his debit card). He talked to his mom a couple of times, but had to recall because of a bad connection. He sounded good and excited to be on his way out of the country - though he expressed some nervousness about being able to understand the people when he got there.

We received the email and photo below Tuesday afternoon from the mission president, letting us know that our missionary arrived safe and sound - and to his mother's relief - his luggage made it just fine.

Dear Family,

Your missionary made it to the Baltic Mission safe and sound.  Attached is a picture taken at the Riga Airport just after they landed.  They all look great and arrived without incident.  They spent a few hours this afternoon talking with people on the street and sharing their testimonies.  We had dinner and a testimony meeting at the mission home and then put them all to bed.  They will have some training in the morning and then leave mid-day with their companion to their new area.  We will have the office send you the details of where they are serving and some information about the mission.  You can expect them to email you next Monday on their preparation day.  

Thank you for your trust and confidence in sending your missionary to us.  We love them and are excited to work with them in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Warmest Regards,
President and Sister Dance
Baltic Mission

Letter from James - June 3, 2010

     4 more days til we leave!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     So the language is still not so great but it's coming lol. We leave very early at 4 AM. What a day but i'm so so excited.
     Dad thanks so much for the new speakers and cd player. That will be a lot nicer in my bag. Less space and weight. It's works great and thanks so much for the cd's. They made me very happy. I will send suit case tomorrow with all the stuff in it. We have been cleaning our rooms a lot and getting ready for our big day. I can't wait.
     So I sent another letter home. You probably got it today about coming to the airport and what not. It's going to be way early and I don't have the exact time we will be getting there. Your free to come if you want to see me but we wouldn't be able to talk. But it's up to you. Either way I will for sure call home. I said pretty much everything in the letter i sent home. lol
      Thank you so much for all the support and getting me things for this. This truly has been a lot easier with all of your love and support. I love you all so so much. I wouldn't be where I am now without you.  
      I can't wait to call you at the airport and hear your voices. I'm hoping Parker will be up so I can talk with him. If it's too early I can call in Denver or D.C. We have a little longer waiting time then.

      I have been studying a lot and am so excited to get out to the field. We hvae to speak our first sunday so it will be very very interesting to see how that goes. I will for sure send lots of pics from the country when i get there. I'm so excited to see who my new comp is. LOL i hope he can be patient with my language "skills".
     We had our last day at the temple. I won't be at another temple for 2 years. I remember being in the temple thinking week 1 and thinking how long that was. Now it's finally over and i'm heading out to the field. It's gone by so so fast. The days literraly go by like a blur. When you get lost in the work, time seems to not even exist. Our teacher tells us that it goes by even faster in the field. I totally believe it. Before I know it, it will be time to head home. But not yet, my time is for the Lord and to preach his gospel in the Baltics. :D
     We watched a video about Lietuva and oh my gosh I got so excited for the field. It's so so beautiful there. It's so neat, I can't even describe it. It got me so so excited to get out there and serve. I can't wait to send pics home. It's really cool to watch it on the video and think, I get to go to all these places and see it in person. It's gorgeous there.
     A funny phrase we learned is As ( the s is supposed to have a v over it) so As tau duado igalva, which means, want me to give it to your heard. It's a threat sometimes missionaries get lol. Or this funny phrase, Kas tau yra,  which means, What's up with you. lol we say them to each other all the time.

     Well my email time is up. I love you all so much and look forward to hearing from you when I call :D   

     Su daug myliu.
     Vyresnysis Sanfordas

Letter from James - June 2, 2010

     Hey Everyone!

     Si I got your package today! Thank you so much! I needed that shaver. I have been having to shave everyday and it is hard to use the razor to trim my sideburns. And thanks for the pants, too.

     My language is doing...okay. I still struggle, but I don't every give up. I have found so much for the great love for this gospel. We had a wonderful meeting yesterday that got me even so much more excited for the mission field. We have to speak in our branch our first Sunday there. I am so nervous - lol. I'm thinking this what what I might want to talk about. My accent is terrible. I may say words I don't mean to say, but I know that if I bring the Spirit and really show that I love this gospel, it won't matter how bad I say it.

     Our teacher, Brother Snow, is leaving this week for Lietuva. He and his wife are moving there for three months. He is doing an internship working there. One of us will be in his branch if we serve in Vilnius. Tomorrow is our last day with him. I'm sad we are saying goodbye to him. I hope I see him there.

     I can't believe how fast time has flown. Everyday we are like, "This is our last time..." for everything. Tonight is our last Devotional. Sunday we watched the movie, "Joseph, Prophet of the Restoration" for the last time. I really love that movie. Especially the parts with the missionaries in England. I lvoe missionary work so much. It bothers me when missionaries goof off. In our zone, some of the missionaries were being way too roudy, so we had to take care of it. It was some of the American missionaries. It just bothers me when they goof off and it gets distracting, but I try to tell them nicely that I am trying to study.

     I just got to third Nephi in the Book of Mormon and my goal for this week is to finish 3rd and 4th Nephi by the end of the week then finish it on the plane. A lot of the plane/travel time will be language study. One of the Latvija teachers looked over our travel times and it is a total of 31 hours all together. Wow. And I thought driving to Nebraska was long - lol. But I love airports, os it will fly by - hopefully not too fast so I can prepare myself.

     I bought a small tape recorder here that uses normal size tapes so I can send recordings home and listen to tapes from you. Tell everyone they can send me tapes, too.

     I have seen Taylor Alplanalp (another young missionary from our neighborhood) a lot. We always talk to each other. He leaves in about two weeks for the Madrid MTC. He's waiting for his visa.

     We don't know about our visas. But if we don't get them, we get to spend 90 days in Lietuva (Lithuania) and if they still don't arrive, they will send us to Ireland.

     I'm a little over halfway through writing in my journal. I'm going to read it while on our trip. I was reading a couple of pages from when I first arrived here. It's so cool how much I forgot then remembered when I re-read it. I write in it a lot so I will remember all of my experiences. Just being here in the MTC, I have so many stories of faith, courage and struggles I can't wait to share with you.

     So, I am not a fan of the hymn, "Called to Serve." We sing it so much that it is definitely not a song I think of with missionaries. We sang it last night (again) at the devotional and let's just say I'm glad it sis one the the last times - lol.

     I hope all is going well at home. Send more pics of the family whenever you can. I love you all so much. Thank you so much for your love and support. Tell Parker I loved the dinosaur picture he colored.

     Su myliu daug,

     Vyresnysis Sanfordas

MTC Photos - May 2010

Utah was hit by a snowstorm on May 24th and a huge tree fell over in front of James' apartment building at the MTC.

James attempting to make a phone call from the MTC without getting caught.

James and Elder Black in front of the Provo Temple.

The Elders on their way to the Temple.

The same Elders on their way back from the Temple.

Putting their heads together to decide what to have for lunch.

James and Elder Lippert sharing a moment of reflection.

This is James' name tag for the next two years. It reads: 
Elder Sanford 
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Sanford showing his approval for the sign in front of the MTC.

Letter from James - May 29, 2010

Dear seimas,

     So I didn't get to tell you something really cool in my last email letter - Elder D. Todd Christofferson (an apostle) spoke to us last Tuesday. He talked a lot about how we have joined the Brethren in the great call to spread the gospel. He said a powerful line that I love; "Teach with such power that the people cannot disbelieve." It was a really good talk.

     Afterwards, about 30 of us missionaries were waiting outside to wave goodbye to him. He came out and saw us then came over to us! He shook each of our hands. He came up to me and shook my hand and looked at my name tag while still holding my hand and with a puzzled look said, "Where are you going, Elder?" I said, chuckling, "Lithuania. I get that puzzled look a lot with Vyresnysis." He laughed and said, "No wonder. I can't say that. Well, good luck, Elder." It was so cool to shake an Apostle's hand.

     On Wednesday I got to be a new missionary host for the new missionaries arriving that day to the MTC. It brought back so many memories of the day I first came to the MTC. I was able to host six missionaries. I would take their bags and them take them to their rooms and then to the Bookstore, then to their classroom. I think we might be doing it again this coming Wednesday.

     We received our flight plans! So here's the schedule:
      7:15 am  -  Leave SLC
      8:42am  -  Arrive Denver
    10:06 am  -  Leave Denver
     3:37pm  -  Arrive Washington D.C.

     5:45pm  -  Leave Washington D.C.
     7:40am  -  Arrive Frankfurt, Germany

     10:55am  -  Leave Frankfurt, Germany
     2:00pm  -  Arrive Riga, Latvia

     I laughed because I remember how you, dad, guessed I would be going to New York because I would fly into there, but I'm not on this flight. :D

     We leave at 4am from the MTC on June 7th. I am nervous and way excited. Our teacher just barely talked to us about accents. Oy - I have been saying so many things wrong. I don't feel too confident in the language. It's been a way stressful and hard two weeks, but I'm still trying. I'm going to study a ton on the plane flights - LOL.

     I included some more pictures. Send some family pics to me, too. I have been writing grandma Sanford a lot and she sent me some family pictures. It made me happy.

     So dad, make sure to put on the Blog and Facebook for people not to write to the mission home. Because it is in Riga, Latvia and not Lithuania, it takes the mail a lot longer to get to us. I will write home and give you my address once I arrive and you can post on the sites.

     Thank you all so much for the love and support. I miss you all so much and can't wait to call you from the airport.

     As labai myliu jus!
     Vyresnysis Sanfordas

Letter from James - May 20, 2010

2 and a half more weeks left til I fly out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
         I'm so excited! This week has been so so good. I have studied and prayed so much for this language to come, and it has. I have seen the Lords hand in my life. We switched teaching companions so Sis. Alldredge and I taught together last night at TRC. It was so so so so good. The spirit was so strong. Our investigator went from not knowing if God even knew or cared about her to feeling his love. I learned I know so much LIthuanain if I don't worry about it and just share my thoughts and feelings about the gospel. It was so so good, I can't even describe it. At the end I bore my testimony, and I started tearing up cause the spirit was so strong. I could see and feel God's love for me and his great love for those I teach. :D

         President Dance wrote to us. :D He told us he is so excited for us to come out to Riga. He also said we would be proslyting our first day in Latvia :D I guess the youth and a lot of the adults can speak english so that's how we will do that. I'm so so so excited. A lot of the other missionaries were getting way nervous but I have grown to really love this gospel so much that I will do anything for it. I get so excited and happy now when we got to TRC. I used to get really nervous but now it's more so excited to share the wonderful message of this gospel. I can't tell you how excited I am to go. It's coming so quickly.

         Tomorrow we are having a full day of SYL ( speak your language). I'm so excited. We have been having all of our classtime in Lithuanain and it has been way fun :D It's cool to sit at lunch and talk in Lithuanian. All of the english missionaries just watch us in awe lol. It's so fun.

        So ya my first companionship was Elder Hengst and Elder Hilton and me –  a three-some. Then a solo Elder, Elder Lippert came, and I became his companion.  But he just left for Chicago. It's so sad, all the Greek missionaries visas got declined so they all got permant reassignments. Instead of going to Greece half went to Chicago and half went to New York. they were all really excited though. Elder Lippert and I became really close. We also called eachother Tulio and Miguel like on El Dorado. I was miguel. He left at 3 in the morning and i got up and we talked til he left lol. Surpirsingly I wasn't tired the next day.

         I'm really loving it here and I have been making lots of friends and have really grown a lot in loving this gospel. My love for the savior has grown so so much. I wouldn't be anywhere without his and my heavenly father's help. I love the Lithuanian people and i haven't even met them yet. I can't wait to serve them and bring them the happy message of the true gospel of chirst.

         It's funny. we taught another teacher in English and after we all said we hard a hard time teaching the lessons. In Lithuanian we teach in a more simpliar way and it's more comfortable for us now. I feel it's better cause it helps the investigator to understand what we are saying cause we speak slowly and very simply. Don't be surprised if my english starts to go away. one day after class, speaking only Lithuanian, I was struggling to read english :D

           I love you all so much. Thanks so much for your great love and support. Telll the young woman thanks so much for the cards and candy. It really made my day.
                    Su labai myliu,

                   Vyresnysis Sanfordas

Letter from James - May 13, 2010

          So MTC has been amazing this week. The language got really hard. I got really frustrated when we had to do our SYL( speak your own language) at certain parts of the day. We have set times we do it everyday. So I set a new goal for the upcoming  monday that I would study more and practice speaking more, even if it wasn't right. So I did. The results were amazing. I plead with the Lord for help with this very hard task. But, I can speak so much more than I ever have before. At TRC, where we teach our "investigators", went so good. BTW the "investigators" are missionaries who served in Lithuania. So they speak fluent Lithuanian. Anyway, teaching went so so well. We taught the second lesson. Right as we walked in and I said hello to our investigators, this immediate feeling of love and great excitment to share this wonderful gospel came over me. I couldn't stop speaking and sharing scriptures. Helvis, who is Latvian but served in Lithuania, was blown away lol. He gave me a bro hug after and said in his funny accent, " Elder, keep up that excitment to share your love for this gospel and so many people will be converted and listen to you." I was so happy after. Me and my comp did a little dance after. lol.

          Another awesome thing also this week was Jeffery R. Holland came and spoke at our devotional on Tuesday. Oh my gosh I love his talks he gives. He speaks with such power. I took so many notes. He spoke about how important it is to not waste one minute on your mission. He also said, when he starts powerfullly yelling/speaking, " You better have at least one convert after your mission, And It Better BE YOU!" He also talked about how he has no compasion towards the Elders who go home early he said so amazingly and powerfully," Don't your dare go home! You have no right to go home! Don't you dare go home after your mission and leave this faith! Do not let the primary children down who look up to you and my grandchildren!" He said so many other things that I loved. It got me so excited and the spirit was so so strong. I was so happy to hear from him. After we all waited along the road to wave goodbye to him and his wife. It was raining and as he drove by he rolled down the window and said sarcastically, " Get out of the rain! lol" It was funny :D

          I have been here over 5 weeks! Time is flying by and I haven't even gotten out to the field. I can't wait to get out there! As I see missionaries leave it gets me so so excited. We all can't stop talking about when we will finally be there serving.

          I love u all so much! Tell everyone I love them and thanks so much for the goodie packages and the letters. They make me so so happy when I get them
               Myliu,   Vyresnysis Sanfordas