Photos from James - December 12, 2011

Pic of me on a really cool street in Vilnius that is way old. 
You could hear all of the catholic church bells ringing in the air. 

The pic after the game of America Vs. Lithuania.  Our investigator, Romas, wanted to play basketball with us and before Elder Manning goes home. So he called us up on Saturday and asked if we could and we had time that night. Ya, we were a little nervous because we had no idea who was going to come, I haven't played in forever and neither had Elder Manning. So we went out there and we went to a school and we met up with his two friends. They were about Romas's age, about 40. So we felt pretty confident. Ha Romas's daughters came to watch us play. Hahah oooo real americans. They brought a camera too and took lots of pics during the game. It was so much fun. They were way good and we had a blast. I am still sore. I hate not having sport days or more of a way to work out as a missionary. Alas, America did not triumph. It was way close those but they pulled it out in the end.

Email from James - December 12, 2011

Well transfers will be this week but we just kinda found out what they will be. I still will be fully and 100% sure. Elder Manning is going home and it is so sad. I have never wanted a companionship to not end so badly. All three of us having been having so much fun serving together. We were all in the same district in Klaipeda when I was with Elder Hilton so we are already way close. We called Elder Hilton yesterday to get a good laugh out of him and reminice about the good time in Klaipeda so many cold winter days ago. Aw, good times. So about transfers, presdent boswell emails us personal small emails and says some stuff to each of us personally. To me he just told me about how great the work is going and yadadad. It was really good and the yadadad doesn't mean that it was boring it is hebrew for, it's only for the reader to know. :D But, in Elder Nelson's email, he told him that next transfer would just be Elder Nelson in I in Šiauliai. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. Oh I don't know what to think. I am completely excited to be with Elder Nelson for christmas. Oh we are so excited to be together, it will be a blast. I am also beyond beyond beyond happy I will still be here because I love this place and all of the members to death. The problem is, we need three elders together. We teach a lot of women and you need a third guy there. Problem is, we don't have  third guy. Antti, who could be the solid guy who comes is always traveling to Russia or Latvia or Estonia, for the seminary trainings and what not and he doesn't speak lithuanian. Vladas is here so I can see we could get him in on more lessons. It's hard to explain with him but he is doing a lot better since I came here. I gave him a suit and he loves it and I was just going to let him borrow it for his wedding but I don't wear it all that much and he really likes it. We need him to come to church in a suit to start getting him ready to be a leader and his family has no money to buy clothes. We go shopping with them everyweek. I'm sorry if you think that is a little to much but I really felt like I should. I still have suits so don't worry about that. Plus, hint hint, it's kinda normal for departing elders to get a new euro suit to come home and look nice in so you know, I keep an eye out for one of those. :D Maybe christmas or something. They are actually way good here because they are a lot cheaper than the ones you can buy in american and they are so much more nicer looking. Trust me, when you see me in one, you would agree. :D So ya, this transfer, if it is just us two, will be intersting but o so much fun. I love Elder Nelson to death and we get along great. I wouldn't be any happier. It will be fun for me because I haven't been in a two companion companionship in over 7 months. It will be transfer number 6 in Šiauliai. Oh yea. :D I would love to just hear president Boswell's voice and hear him say, " Elder Sanford, the Lord wants you to finish your mission in Šiauliai." I would love it. 

Man father, you have been working a ton. Take a good rest this holiday season and watch Elf and How the Grinch Stole Chritsmas for me. I have been acting out those movies and I can't wait to watch them. hahaha The Grinch with Jim Carrey is hillarious. We were in a book store and I found, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, in LITHUANIAN. I was flipping out because I had just asked my english class if anyone knew who Dr. Seus was because they had all seen the movie but they didn't know what it was from. I bought the book because it was way cheap and it was in lithuanian. It is so sweet! It is way cool because it all rhymes in lithuanian. Kaip Grinčas Kalėdas vogė. I took it to english class and showed everyone and I told them to all buy it. :D They got a good laugh. 

Our investigator, Romas, wanted to play basketball with us and before Elder Manning goes home. So he called us up on Saturday and asked if we could and we had time that night. Ya, we were a little nervous because we had no idea who was going to come, I haven't played in forever and neither had Elder Manning. So we went out there and we went to a school and we met up with his two friends. They were about Romas's age, about 40. So we felt pretty confident. Ha Romas's daughters came to watch us play. Hahah oooo real americans. They brought a camera too and took lots of pics during the game. It was so much fun. They were way good and we had a blast. I am still sore. I hate not having sport days or more of a way to work out as a missionary. Alas, America did not triumph. It was way close those but they pulled it out in the end. It was great and they really liked us. One of the other guys daughters came to and she played with us. She was really good. She plays for the school. We all got a picture together so I will send it. I look way short but I blam it on my flat bottomed shoed and everyone had higher up shoes. I was still taller than two of the guys so that makes me happy. :D haha. 

You should definitely send me that little movie thing. We have a lot of time when emailing and it would be fine to watch. I would love ot see it. It would be really fun to see pics of everyone. 

The family that has the son coming home from Lithuania, he is a russian speaking missionary. I don't know him that well but I have seen him. 

We went to Vilnius on friday for the whole day because Elder Manning had to go undeclare as a resident in Lithuania. We went out to lunch with President Chomskis because he lives down there. We went to a really cool italian place which is like a buffet, which is rare to see a buffet type place here. What you do is they give you a plasitc card that keeps track of how much food you eat. You go up to one of the lines and say what you would like to eat. They make it and then when it's done, you put your card up to this machine and then it records what you got and then you pay for it all after at the cash register place. Way sweet restaraunt and it was way yummy. I talked with the kid who made my pizza. He asked me what we do here and how we eat and work etc. He was way funny and about my age so we had a good laugh. I love speaking lithuanian. My kids are so going to speak a little lithuanian. :D I already have my first daughter's name picked out. I won't type it because you will read it americanly and I don't want that. It has to be pronounced lithuanianly. :D We took some pics by some of the old streets and I have one I want to use as a christmas card thing to family and some friends. I will send it in the email. It's really cool. It was  way fun being in Vilnius because it was starting to snow and vilnius was just covered in christmas decorations and what not. Being in big cities around christmas is one of my favorite things to do. It was fun going there and back because we took a train both ways and it was snowing so we joked around that we were on the Polar Express and we started singing the Hot Chocolate song. We had our own little cabin room thing to ourselves on the way there and then on the way back, we had a room again, but it was way old and we were pretty crowded in it. We didn't realize it was friday night and everyone was going back home for the weekend. Mostly all of the college students. :D 

hahah so I found a solution for how not to be tired in the morning. Yes, first was to ask the Lord for MAJOR help. I did that. Second, was to just take it in and just work out. It was quite a battle, I can surely tell you that. I just had to turn on all the lights and just start going at it. I felt so much better the whole day though and it made studies a lot better. Plus, for my future job in mind, I gotta start getting in the habit of being in shape. :D haha. Thanks so much for starting to look into the college stuff. I can't believe that time has already come to start thinking about college. I will be excited to hear how that goes and what goes on. If you could, try at UofU also, just more choices. :D The more choices the better. I can't wait to hear what you think about my job in mind. :D It may sound weird at first, but you will have to hear me out. It's a good job though and one that can support a family. Let me know how I can help with any of the applying stuff and keep me updated. Thanks so much for doing that.

I will have the info about the calls for christmas next week. I can't believe that is here either. I remember saying goodbye last mother's day and it felt like Christmas was far away and now it is here again. It snowed on tuesday crazily, there was so much snow and it just coming down and down. When I woke up and saw that it was snowing, I started yelling and doing my little Elvis dance and started singing Santa Claus is coming to Town. :D Then it melted and then it snowed and it melted then all the water froze and now there is only a little bit of snow left, but, snow or no snow, the nightmare of chirstmas past is here, the cold. Oh man it's just goes right through your bones and the wind doesn't feel any better. I am starting to get more used to it but it will still be freezing no matter what. Oh Utah winters will seem so nice when I can get in a warm car and look out the window and drive through the snow. Eh, I will still walk, bring back some good memories. :D I love it though. I really want it to snow more. I want a winterwonderland, not the dead marshes with a little bit of snow. It's not christmas without a winterwonderland. 

Oh, those pics just made my day. Oh I love the house and the beautiful durango. You got to give her a hug for me. Oh so many good memories with that car. Hahaha I sound weird but it's true. I am madly inlove with that sweet car haha. :D Our house is SOOO BIG. I couldn't believe it. I always thought about it but I never realized how big it really was. Whew, we are a blessed people. Say a big prayer for all that we have everyday. I tried that last night and it was kinda fun. I just said a prayer just thanking Heavenly Father for all that I had, without asking. It was a little hard at some parts but it was fun to try. Thanks for sending those. I would be happy to get copies of those because I tired printing them out but it's only in black and white and it doesn't look as good. I like the real pics when you print them at a store because they look so good. 

Well family, I love you all so much and I am beyond so thankful for all that you do for me. Just be prepared for a lot of spoiling, that is after I have a decent job, have some money, but I will do all that I can for all of you to pay back. :D If you haven't watched the first presidency christmas devotional, watch it. It was so good. We watched it last week on the computer in the church. It was so good. It is such a great time to think about our greatest gift, our Saviour. It was cool because they showed some videos from the new New Testament movies they are making. They are pretty cool. The clips they showed in the devotional had a lot of good music to it and it blended way good together. If you go to, the have the clips and they are a little longer but there is no music in most of them. It's kinda weird. Pres. Eyring talked about the videos. They really make you think and ponder about the scriptures. I can't wait for the next ones to be released. 

I love you alll so so much and I can't wait to hear from you next week and then on CHRISTMAS.
     Lots of love forever and ever,
           Elder James Sanford

P.S. Dad, if you get the chance, would you mind doing a little update of the blog. That would be great. My friends always like to read it and they ask when it will be updated if it doesn't get updated. :D

Dear President Boswell,

We had quite a busy week and quite a good one as well. I can't believe how quickly this transfer has gone by. It makes me quite sad actually. It feels like it was just a few weeks ago when I was thinking how blessed I am to be serving with Elder Manning and Elder Nelson and now Elder Manning is about to go home. I have learned so much from him and he has helped the work here so much. He told us that you told him one time in a meeting that you said he would be finishing his mission in Kaunas but later on those plans changed and he came up here to Šiauliai. I know that the Lord needed him here and we also did too. He has changed the work here in Šiauliai and I was so blessed to be able to serve with him for two transfers. They are transfers that I have grown and learned so much on and ones that I won't soon forget. I truly believe that some of the best missionaries are sent to the Batlic Mission, but I also believe that even greater missionaries are sent to Šiauliai. I try my best to match up to their great potential. I think the Lord just wants to me to learn and see how I can improve from their great examples. :D 

Romas- He is doing so great. We went over the baptismal questions with him and he said that the only problems he has is finding a testimony. He said that he is a little bit nervous for his baptism and still hasn't found an answer yet. He said when you have a testimony about God and Jesus Christ, everything else falls into order. We challenged him to pray more. It was quite a powerful impression actually. I felt the reason why he wasn't getting an answer was because he wasn't praying sincerelly enough and that he needs to pray more. He said he prays every night without failure and it looked like that was just a routine that never changed. We found the scripture where Alma says how he received his testimony, "much prayer and much fasting". We read that with him and asked him how he thought Alma had such a strong testimony. He said he prayed and fasted a lot, I guess I need to too. He is sensitive to the spirit and he is changing drastically. He wasn't able to come to church this sunday because he hurt his ankle but he has been three times. He are going to meet with him a lot this week and get him ready. We had a special fast for him yesterday that he will feel an answer from our Heavenly Father and that he will feel ready for his baptism. 

Saulė- She is doing really good. We finally got a chance to meet with her. We went over the baptismal questions with her and talked about what she needs to do for her baptism. It was a pretty good lesson. She was a little confused aobut what it meant about a living day prophet. We talked about that for a while adn helped her see why it's such a great blessing that we have a living prophet in our day. Vladas tends to be a little silly in lessons and we have been trying to make him see that it's a serious thing that we are talking about. Something great though is that he has been coming to church every sunday and he has a suit now. He texted us and asked if we had a suit he could borrow for their wedding which will be at the end of this month. That means Saulė's date will be moved back, but I already had a feeling it would be. She still needs a lot of preparation. So I found one of my suits and gave it to him along with a nice white shirt I haven't worn my whole mission. We went over and he tried it on. He looked so good in it and his family was way impressed. I had to help him tie his tie but he will learn pretty quickly with help. :D I told him he should come to church like this every sunday and he said, " definitelly", as he was looking at himself in a mirror like he was a model. I think he likes it more because he thinks he looks like James Bond in it. But if he comes to church in a suit, I'm fine with him thiking he is James Bond. :D President Chomskis and I were talking about what calling we could give him now that he is becomming more active and showing a lot of progress. 

Raimonda- We met with her once this week. We asked how her prays are going. We challenged her to pray more sincerally. She said it was a little hard for her still but she is trying. We focused our whole lesson about Jesus Christ because she only knows who he is from a movie she watched. We had a really powerful lesson and talked about what Christ did for us and what that means to us personally. We gave her The Living Christ and the chapter 9 in 2 Nephi to read as her assignment. We watched with her the finding faith in christ and she really liked it. It was a great video for her because she struggles with finding that faith that we always talk about. She always asks,how? How do you believe? When Jonas askes those types of questions in the movie, it perfectely applied to her. After the movie, we could tell something touched her. She seemed more sincere. She came to church and seemed a lot better. 

Dalė and Ruta- They are doing so great. We met with them last week and Dalė said she didn't like fast and testimony meeting. One of the members gave an "interesting" testimony. Dalė didn't like it and said it was a bit strange to her. We were going to talk about it but she kinda went on a long story about how she "saw god". We were able to bring it back to the lesson and brought the spirit back so powerfully. Her daughter Ruta asked about baptism in our church with us and with the young women on sunday. I was amazed at how she was so interested in baptism. Dalė came to church, which was a great miracle, and she was so smiley. It must have been something in our lesson because I thought she was scared away after the fast and testimony meeting. She came and after she was so smiley and said to call her and we would meet again. I am very excited to meet with them this week. 


We had to go down to Vilnius so Elder Manning could undeclare. We were down in vilnius for a while so as we were walking down through center, a lady came up to us and asked us how she could get a Book of Mormon. We talked to her for a sec and she said that she was interested in our church and didn't know exactly where it was in vilnius. We gave her a book of mormon and our visiting card and she said she would call us and would love to meet. After that, a few hours later, a man ran up to us and said that Christ or God helped him so much last year because he was trying to quite using drugs. He said it was so hard for him to do but God helped him. He said he started using them again the day before and that he didn't want to go back down that hard path. He said he wanted our help. He gave us his number and we told him other missionaries would call him the next day. He said he was excited and that he would be waiting. It's so great when we are simply outside, the Lord truly does place people in our path who are ready and prepared to hear the good news. 

We had 5 investigators to church. That was so wonderful. So many people are wanting to hear our message. The great task for us is is to be prepared at all times with the spirit to help them be prepared for baptism. One of the members said to us, " wow, you elders have a lot of investigators to church. you are guys are working so well here. keep it up." 

It was a double witness to me about testifying to everyone even if they don't want to listen, the Lord will always send people to us according to our desires and our work,as you mentioned in your email. We may not see the outcomes now, but all that we do is noticed and seen by the Lord and it will change the heart of someone. I learned it first in the scriptures and then your email provided that second witness that it was true. I first found out that truth this past week in my personal study. I read a story in the Book of Mormon that everyone knows quite well but I noticed something I never noticed before. Abinadi was commanded to preach repentance and the truth to all of the people. He did very well and very powerfully. No one listend to him. He kept preaching and then the people took him before the King to be put on trial. Quite a powerful way to tell a missionary that no one wants to listen to you. As he was before the King, in chains, already having been told he was going to be put to death, he continues in his calling from the Lord to cry repentance and the truth to the people. He preached so powerfully and with the spirit that his face shown as it did with Moses. EVEN AFTER he preaches this wonderful sermon, and I can bet the spirit was beyond powerful that everyone could feel it. It's shown how powerful it is that the guards dared not to touch him, the preists and the people cried to put him to death. I could imagine that was very heart breaking for Abinadi. What stood out to me is how devouted he was. He never gave up even when people wouldn't listen to him and then he was sentenced to death. BUT, his work had tremendous success, but not right away. ONE preist believed what he said. We could probably agree that Abinadi preached to thousands of people, but the Lord needed him to be prepared to touch the heart of the ONE. From that one, Alma, went on and converted thousands. THOUSANDS were brought unto christ because Abinadi did what he was commanded and he was ready, with the spirit, and bore a powerful testimony, that touched the heart of the ONE. How great is our calling.....

     Thank you so much for all that you do president. Thank you for praying for Romas. I know that it is helping a lot in his success. Tell sister boswell thank you so much for all the wonderful things so does for us as missionaries too. :D
                   -Elder Sanford

Email from James - December 5, 2011

Surprisingly, I really wish it would snow here. For the past few weeks, all it has been is depressing cold rain rain rain. It's not so cheerful especially when it's December. Which is way crazy how it is already December. Where has the time gone? I love it because we have been listening to Christmas music, which I absolutely love. I had president chomskis by me the Josh Groban Noel cd down in Vilnius and then I payed him back. Oh man, that cd is so so good. I love my Josh Groban. I defenitely call next trip to a Josh Groban concert when I'm back , with mom. And then Anna and I can go to Tim Mcgraw or Toby Keith. :D hhahah So funny story, last Wednesday we had our zone conference with Pres. Lawrence. It was intense and we talked about the tribes of Israel. I will tell about it later. So for some reason, the zone leaders said we had to go down to Vilnius to stay with elders there and then travel up to Kaunas. So on tuesday night, we went down to Vilnius. Elder Manning and Elder Nelson stayed with other elder and I went to stay with Elder Hengst, Elder Hilton, both of whom were in the MTC with me, and Elder Hyer, whom I was with in Klaipeda. So when I was with Elder Hyer back in Klaipeda, he said he was going to make me like country after the mission. I used to always make fun of country and how terrible music it was. So when we got on the bus and started going back to their apt., I looked at Elder Hyer and said, " well, my friend, the Lord has heard your cries and has softened my heart." He looked at me and said, " what do you mean?" I said, " Boiy, I am a country music man." Hahaha he made his funny little squel happy sound and flipped out. He couldn't believe his ears hahha. It made me laugh so hard. Elder Hilton was way surprised because I used to always bash on country in the MTC. Oh it was funny, you would have had to be there. 

So conference, I can't type it but the way I act out how conference was, is I put my hand by my head and make a blowing up noise and show my brain exploading. That's how I described conference. Elder Lawrence's wife knows her scriptures. Man, she went on forever about the Lost Tribes of Israel and all of this deep doctrine. It was intense and I wasn't too happy because we had to get up at 4 to get to Kaunas so I was way tired when I wanted to be fully awake. I learned to much though. She talked about how special and how important our mission is, especially in the Baltics. Her and Elder Lawrence said how only some of the best missionaries get called her. They told us that once this mission and russia and the higher scandinavian countries were opened, the church noticed a great work opening up. People have always wondered where the lost tribes are. Well, Sister Lawrence told us that when people here started getting their patriarhcal ( ya totally killed the spelling) blessing, the members were from the lost tribes. I couldn't believe it. It made me love this mission even more and made me think how great the work is here. I took a lot of notes and now I really want to study the Old Testament when I am home. It was a really good conference.

So I learned even more so that I hope I never have to be a bishop or a stake president. Ugh, President Chomskis and I, because I am the first counselor, had to talk about Vladas, a less active kid who is doing really good now but his girlfriend, is one of our investigators, and they aren't really living according to the Law of Chastity. Oh it was depressing. I don't know how you do it. So much drama with the whole family because some leader said this... and another said that... oh it was soo fun. I really admire that you are able to be a bishop. I don't think I will ever be one but I look up to you so much for being able to have so much love for the members and always being there to help everyone and me and still have a smile on your face. Pres. Lawrence talked a lot about repentance and said how when you bishop, the lord gives you the power of memory loss. He said he would see people sitting in the audience, but he couldn't even remember what they had done. He only rememberd how loved and how good of a person they are. He only saw the change that the person was making for the better and their worth in God's eyes.

I can print off emails. I printed off all of the talks that you gave and other random things I have printed off. There is a really nice library by our apt., literally right next to it, and it's way nice on the inside. They have a really  nice printer and the comps, even though they aren't apple, are way good. I can't wait to see pics of the house and off the durango. :D I haven't seen those in so so long. I barely even remember it. It has fadded from my eyes. You could send some through the email of the car and of the house but still send the pics in a letter because when their are the actual pic, it's much better quality. 

Transfers will be next week. I'm not sure what will happen when Elder Manning goes home. We don't really talk about it :D. We are only getting a new sister missionary so no new missionaries are coming in. Elder Nelson is my other comp, so I am in a threesome with Elder Manning. We have thought and it will be interesting to see what happens because Elder Leishman is going home too. I pray and pray that I won't leave Šiauliai. I love the members here so much and Skaiste, the member with the little baby boy, and Antti, her husband, invited us over for chirstmas so that would be a lot of fun. We went over to their house last night with pres. chomskis for his "birthday dinner" and had a lot of fun. I just entertained little Matti the whole time. Hahah Skaiste said I have to come back after the mission to play with Matti because he will miss me a ton. I love that little boy. Haha. I will have to get a pick with him. With Antti,  he speaks russian and really good british english. When he speaks english, you would think he is from England but he's not. With him at church, I have to translate for him. Your brain hurts trying to translate from an old language into english. It gets your head going though. 

Ugh I am so tired all of the time. I have such a hard time waking up in the morning. It kills me because I can't go running or do something in the morning to wake me up. When Elder Manning is taking a shower, I just callapse on the floor or the couch and pass out. It's way bad because then I get in the shower and then in studies I am so tired and can't concentrate. I have tried working out or something but pushups is no fun when it's that early. I found one work out that is good which kinda keeps me awake. I just lay on the hard wood floor, which is the only floor in our apt, carpet doesn't exist here, and I just roll around to keep me awake. Ha. Any suggestions? You would think by now I would be used to getting up but I learned it was from all of my running in the morning I could get up that early. I can't wait to have the freedom of going running again. It will be so nice. :D 

So next week we will be finding out when we can do calls for christmas. Weird. Something to get you excited, I have thought a lot about what I want to do as a carrear and I think I have found it. We were all talking together about jobs and my whole mission I never really thought of one and now, with such little time left, I was getting a little worried. But as we were talking, Elder Manning said he could see me working as this carrear and I had such a good feeling about it for some reason. At first I kinda laughed at the idea of me being one but as I thought about it more and more, it felt like the right carrear for me. So be excited :D Also, not getting trunky or anything but I just want to be sure. When do registration for colleges start. If it is possible I would love to start school in the summer. I talked with some of the other elders and they said it's easier to get in some colleges when you register for the summer. I have been thinking about BYU or UVU but let me know becasue I don't want to put those off until the last minute. Let me know about all of the colleges. Some Elders were saying I should start asking you about that stuff now. Weird huh? hahaha. I can't wait to start college.

I hope everything is going well with you and always know that I love you so much,

Email from James - November 28, 2011

Brangausia Šeima,

Well way funny, I got the B-Day package on monday which was amazing! Thank you so much. Oh how I love pictures so much. I showed them to my english class. I always talk with them about what's new at home or just funny memories. That cd, OH MY GOSH is so amazing! I can't stop listening to it. I like it more than MOTAB cd's. They have such powerful versions of hymns. That tie also is very good. I bought a scarf that is blue and black and it matches that tie perfectly. Thank you so much. I have just been tearing up, not literally but spiritually, that Ensign. I love it so much. So much to be learned and so much revelation to be gained. Conference is just so wonderful and I bang my head when I think about how I used to think it was the most boring time of the year. Ha. I get good catch up's thought because we have all of the Ensign back from who knows when so I read through those a lot. I had the great privilage of teaching preisthood this last week and I taught about worthiness and I quoted some from your talk you gave dad and from conference issues. It was fun because I had to translate what you said from english into lithuanian. I did that for language study. :D Then on Friday, your christmas package came. Crazy! Ok well hear me out. I have strength, but when it comes to new music, I can't resist. So I opened the package quickly, cause I figured you would put the cd's on top, which thankfully you did, and I took those out and hurried and taped it all back up so I couldn't see in more. Call me weak but hey, it gives me more time to listen to the good cd's on the mission. That THIS IS THE CHRIST cd is so so good. I love it. The pictures on the inside are really cool too except for the first one of Jesus. That one doesn't really look like him to me. That cd has been great during studies. I call the music we listen to during studies the "prelude to revelation" music. :) But OH MY GOODNESS!!!!! We love that Nashville Tennesse WORK cd. I have never loved country in all my life but now... times ar a changin. I seriously want to listen to more country when I get home. It makes you feel so happy. But that cd is by far my favorite. The songs are so sweet and they get me way excited to go out and work. I figured you listened to it because it was opened. It is sweet eh? Like the song " work" is awesome. "the dollAr don buy wha it did befar. the word of God has ben ignored" haha oh it's awesome. Or the second song, "Children, going where I send thee? How will I send thee oh I am going to send thee two by two. Two for Alma and Amulek" Oh we are having way to much fun with it. But righteous fun. I applaud you grandly for buying that cd. That is going to be a major booster during the cooming winters. Ma and Pa, your a hootin good 'ol parents I got here. :D Thank ya much.

So we had a thanksgiving activity and one of the members, Antti, who is married to Skaiste, pretty much the only solid family in the branch, they have a small baby boy, Matias, and he is the cuttest kid alive. Sad to say I didn't get to have any of the Turkey we made because there was a lot of people and the Turkey didn't have to much meat on it and I wanted more of the members to have some. I still got lots of mashed potatoes we made though so I was happy. :D  When he sees me, he just flips out and skaiste says "ok ok . go play with your best friend" and so I let him eat my card and what not and we go walk around while I hold his hand or we go get into something. :D After a lesson we had with them at their house, Skaiste said, " I have never seen someone entertain a him for so long". Matias was getting a little fussy during our home teaching visit so I kept him busy will my comps taught most of the lesson. I said, " I had good practice from a little brother". :D Ah matias is so cute. After the lesson, Skaiste and Antti asked, " Can you do a service project for us." I said sure and they said, " a babysitting service project" hahah. I told them unfortunately I can't but I pretty much do when they come to church and I keep him entertained while skaiste is helping people because she is our relief society president. The little kids are so funny. There is a lot of them and I have little jokes or little secret handshakes with all of them. Ah little kids are the best. :D Skaiste said that she is jealous of my wife because she says I am the best guy with kids she has ever seen. Hahaha. It's probably because I am so goofy and immatate things or characters that keep kids entertained. What can I say, I take on after dad. :D He is the best dad in the world. Anyways, where I was going is that Antti did a spiritual thought and I was apart of it. Skaiste would walk around with a plate of small donuts that she made and ask the people to take one. We had all of the tables together to form a really long one so there were about 32 people all together. So skaiste goes over and then asks if they want one. The first person took one so Antti says to me, " ok elder sanford, do three pushups." So I do and everyone kinda laughs. Skaiste goes on to the next person and asks if they want one, so obivously they take one. " Elder Sanford, three pushups." So I do three more pushups. Well after about 8 people, everyone starts understanding what's going on. It gets to Vladas and he doesn't want to take one because he thinks I won't have to do more push ups. So he doesn't take one and then Antti says, " ok elder sanford, three push ups". Vladas looked way surprised and kinda upset. Well I haven't done pushups in quite some time so it starts getting kinda hard after about the 10th person. I got twenty more to go. The members here are so close to me and I love them a ton and they always tell me how much they don't want me to go so as I am having to do these push ups for them and starting to struggle, some of them start getting tears in their eyes. I knew what this lesson was already about, about Christ and his attonement for us. It gave me such a strong look into what Christ did for everyone and more personally, for me. I could feel tears coming to my eyes as I am struggling to push up. The room was full of laughs as I was having to do this at first but now, it was silent, you could feel the spirit so strongly. Glad to say I was able to do push ups for everyone but I was quite sore. haha, I was for a few days after. Antti than taught about how what I just did was like Christ. He came, and he suffered and died for us so that we could be happy and recieve eternal life, the greatest gift God could ever give us. It doesn't matter if we decide not to accept his gift or not, Christ still suffered for us. It was a very powerful lesson and everyone could feel the spirit of that lesson. 

After the lesson everyone came up and said they felt so bad for me haha. I told them I would live and that it was a sign I need to start doing more push ups. haha. On sunday, oh it was funny. Here's some background history for you. President Chomskis doesn't like it when people know about his B-Day and he doesn't even post it on his facebook. I was going through MLS and found out his birthday was in November and on the 28th so I said we are cool for having Nov. B-days. I said what are you going to do and he said, " eh, I dont' know. I am not much of the attention guy or the partier." hahah I laughed and had a dark plan in my head. Hahaha so we bought him a birthday card and some funny lolipops and I made a secret plan with the young woman and the relief society. I had them all sign the card and along with the men and I told them that after the class, I wanted them to come into our class and then we would all sing for him. Skaiste was so excited about it. So class ended and I told my class to stay seated and then all of the women came in. President Chomskis said, "eh why is everyone looking at me. " So I pulled out his card and his candy and announced that tomorrow was his b-day and that we wanted to sing for him. So we did. Ahahahah he was so embarrased but he said it was way nice for him. :D hahaha. I can do that when I am the first counselor. :D We had some meetings before and after church. Elder Nelson is the branch clerk so President Chomskis and I fix other stuff while Elder Nelson works on the finances. I had to help with some translations and then talk about financial and church matters. I felt so official hahaha. :D 

Well this week will go by fast again and then we will only have one last week of the transfer which is way depressing because one, time is going by really fast and two, elder manning is going home :( We have gotten to be so close. I don't want to see him go. But alas, time always comes to an end on the mission. Tomorrow we are going to go help one of the members at her house with Antti because there sewage pipe that exploded and so ....ya..... use your imagination to figure out what that means. So we have to go dig up the pipe and fix it and what not. hahaha. ya.... it will be fun. Than after that we are going to Vilnius to stay with some other missionaries to go up to conference in Kaunas on wendesday. It starts way early so the zone leaders want us to get down there so we can be there on time. Šiauliai is by far the best city in the mission and I never want to leave but for conferences, especially when they want to start way early, it's terrible. We are so far from everything and the buses leaves at way hard times. It will be interseting but conference should be way good. I am way excited because Elder Lawrence is coming to speak. I will let you know how it goes. 

You got to send me some pics of the house with the lights because I really want to show my english class that and you have to get some good pics of the durango. Could you do that? That would make me so happy :D I tell them all about it and they have no idea what it looks like. I also want to se some pics of Anna's play. That sounds so cool. I will definitely watch it when I am home. ;D

Well dearest family whom I love so dearly, I hope you have a great week. I love you all so much. Dad, that meant so much what you wrote to me at the end. Being a missionary is the greatest thing I could ever be in my life, but the most important thing that I am so happy to be, is your son. I am so honored  and blessed to have such a great dad in my life who is such a great example and hero in my eyes. I can't wait til we can just talk and catch up on the past two years that have gone by. I miss those days when we could talk and when we would go to lunch together. That day will come fast. I love you so much.
           With lots of love through the grand eternities of time,

Dear President Boswell,

Miracle, Miracle, Miracle. I can say with a full heart and with full conviction that when we do all that we can and put forth our best effort in the Lord's work, he will always bless us. I found such a great love for King Benjamin's sermon in Mosiah this past week. I had read it before many times but this week, I decided for personal study, I wanted to read it slowly and pick out piece by piece what King Benjamin wanted his people to learn and what he wanted us to learn and apply in our day. It was great. I grew a greater love for prayer and how loving our Heavenly Father truly is. He makes the analogy of those who beg for money or food and how we shouldn't deny them or ignore them. He asked the great question, how can we deny those who are in need and then beg the Lord for help? It really made me think about how I work as a missionary. Am I going out each day with "full purpose of heart", "with real intent" trying to find those that are in darkness and need our help, and do I really have the true love of Christ for my companions, the members, and for these people here. I thought of that when I was praying because that is what I ask of God. How can I ask that of God if I don't live that in my own life towards these people. I do love these people to death and I really want to help all those that I can, what I learned gave me a greater look and desire to build that love even more. 

Saulė- We only got to meet with her once this week. She found a new job, like I mentioned, and she had to be trained a lot this week. What a miracle it was at the end of the lesson and we were all talking more about what we had just read in the Book of Mormon, Saulė said to us on her own, "So when can I have a baptismal date and prepare for baptism?". I felt like Elder Christensen on the PMG videos ," wait, whaoh. Are you serious?" It was so great to hear her say that on her own because it showed us that she was ready and willing. It's been so great to see that change in her. Our big work, as we discused on the phone with you last thursday is Vladas. We were able to have a lesson with just Vladas on Friday and we talked about the Word of Wisdom and he said there are no problems, it's just it's almost to hard at times to keep always. We felt he was just trying to justify himself but we gave him a very strong promise that if he keeps it, the Lord will bless him. We talked about how greatly the Lord has blessed him and Saulė and that they shouldn't push the Lord off now, think of how much more greater the blessings will be. I could see it really made him think.

I taught preisthood on sunday and I talked about worthiness quotioning from some General Conference talks and it went so well and I was very happy because Vladas came. He was very sincere during the lesson and I could see that he was feeling the spirit and really thinking about what he needs to do to change. We have been praying so hard for it and we hope they have the faith and the strength to commit. I have faith they will, they have already made such a big step and change in their life now. 

Romas- Ah Romas. He is just doing wonderful President. We only had one chance to meet wit him this past week also because he went out of town with his daughter to Riga. We taught the law of chastity and it went so well. He said he understood everything and he said he would agree to live it. We asked him if he was married because he mentioned about his wife and he said he is married and that he told her about his decision and she said it was fine but she wasn't interested. I think they are just married but not serious about their relationship. He asked about our views of divorce because in the Catholic Church, you can't get divorced. He came to the church thanksgiving activity and really enjoyed it. The members were so nice to him and welcomed him way warmly. We talked about moving his date earlier to the 10th. We felt like that may be a little hard for him at this point but we thought of a great lesson to teach him and we will ask him what he feels. We don't want to ask him if he wants to move his date, but we want to ask him where he feels he is at right now. I am very excited for this lesson and I pray he will say he is ready. I can't explain or describe the great change I have seen in him.

On sunday, we had a lady we have been meeting with for a while, Dalė, and her daughter and her friend come to church. The daughter and her friend come to english class so we already knew them pretty well. They said they really liked church and that they want to keep coming more and keep meeting. That made me so happy to hear because Dalė said that she wanted to see what our services were like so she could see if there was anything "bad" about it. She said she didn't see any. :D

We had a really good companionship inventory for Weekly Planning. I could tell it made our companionship unity even stronger. We all commented on things we had seen eachother do well on and how great of a missionary each one of us is. I am so blessed and happy about how great of a companionship I am in. Everynight, I smile just thinking that tomorrow, I get to serve in the beloved city of Šiauliai with the two greatest elders in the mission. We are truly quite a dream team in my eyes. We also had a great District Meeting were we discused about faith in the work. I learned so much from both of them and we felt very eddified to go out and work. You could say we all had a new fire to go out and contact and we got a lot of numbers that day. Elder Nelson made me smile when he said, " man I just want to contact everyone. That District Meeting got me way excited." He's a great elder. Elder Manning is holding on so strong as well. He is a way hard worker and I compliment him on that. I call him the "Rocky" of the mission. "Fight to the end". 

Raimonda- It's been a little hard to get her to progress. She is having a hard time to not drink coffee and she still isn't realizing the power of prayer. We really want to talk about Christ with her but this last lesson we talked about prayer. I felt like it was a really good lesson. I feel that she is just one of those investigators that you just have to help little by little, but in the end, they will understand. She is just a little afraid of getting an answer. We know she wants to progress because she keeps meeting with us and reading and trying to pray. 

Eduardas- He is doing great as well. We read with him for his first reading in the Book of Mormon up to 1 Nephi chapter 3. He had some questions but we did a great job in following the spirit and answering them to his needs. He is progressing well.

I am very excited to hear what Elder Lawrence has to teach us about how we can help our investigators progress in the following lessons in preparation for baptism. That is something we could definitely apply here and I pray that we will be spiritually ready to receive revelation on how to help our investigators better. 

              Elder Sanford

Photo from James - November 21, 2011

Chomskis, the branch president here, emailed me today. Last night, we had to fix a whole bunch of fincance stuff on the comp. because MLS was having a bug so a lot of the records were on hold so from after church which ends at 1, but we talked with all the members like always so that moved to about 2 or 2,30 ish. until 7 that night, we were working on finanaces. Yay. Oh it was so much fun and I totally want to grow up and be the branch clerk one day and work as an accountant and if your totally not catching the sarcasm then now you do. :D It took so long so it was funny to me how you said you were at the church until 6,30. I feel for you pops. :D I always wondered how you went so long without eating and weren't fazed by it but I see how because I didn't have time to eat breakfast that morning and I didn't feel to hungry by the end of the day. I guess The Lord strenghtens you when you are fixing his work and his church. :D So you can see the pic that I will attach and get a good laugh of your son looking like a professional counselor. All three of us were working and pres. chomskis was getting a good laugh at it. It made it feel like we were in the church a lot longer because it becomes completely nightime outside when it is almost 5. Crazy winter days here. I willl never understand it. In the summer, the sun is up forever and in the winter, it's like the sun has disappeared.

Email from James - November 21, 2011

Good morning Neverland!!!! aka. family

Fun week this week. Quite hard and yet, still good. We found some great lesson and Romas, the one with the bapt. date, is doing super. We just taught about the second lesson and in the first lesson, he was confused about some things, but we gave him some verses to read and then it helped him. He came to church for his second time and really liked it. We, along with pres, boswell, are going to try and move his date earlier so that Elder Manning can be here to see it. I really hope Romas will get baptized then. He is doing so well and progressing amazingly. So I figured I will probably just keep attaching the emails from Pres. Boswell because they sum up what we did during the week and then I can email more to you. :D 

So haha about the money thing. So I may need to go stop by a dentist office this week. My tooth has been hurting and it would be good to go get it checked on. But I found out a really cool thing. Elder Leishman went and got his teeth checked and had to get a couple of fillings. When he did, he was able to send home to receipt from his checkup and his insurrance covered it and they were able to get refunded. It was about 120 Litas which is about 50 bucks or less. Tell me what you think but I will probably use some of the b-day money to go get that checked on. Yay b-day present, going to the dentist in Eastern Europe. Haha. But that would be good to get money back for it because there are some small souvenir things I want to get here in Šiauliai before I leave. Hopefully not anytime soon because I would cry. 

Hahahah oh my I laughed when loud when I heard about the ol Turkey bowl injury again. I remembered last year when you told me about that happening and now Bro. Nelson got hurt this year. Man, I'm kinda scared what could happen next year because I want to come. :D I'm just glad you didn't get hurt. I know how bad your knees can get. For thanksgiving here, we are getting a little spoiled. Last year on exactly thanksgiving day, it was Elder Nelson's first day in the field and Elder Manning was training him, so we went to Can Can Pica. Wooo. haah sarcasm in that woo. This year, the Lord rememberd our poor loss and is now blessing us. We are going to have a branch thanksgiving party. Appartently it's a Šiauliai tradition. Thanksgiving isn't a holliday here. So some of the members are going to kill a couple of turkeys for us and then we, the missionaries, along with some members, are going to cook a whole bunch of food. :D Yum!!! I can't wait. I asked the members that are going to kill the turkeys if I could come and kill one and they said they live to far out of Šiauliai but if they lived closer I totally could have. Bummer. :/ It should be a lot of fun. I'm pretty excited. 

I haven't gotten any letters from the primary and the package still hasn't come but it could be here today. We always check mail after emailing. I am getting a hair cut lady from a lady from our english class. She is way good and we started going to her last week. Elder Manning got his hair cut and after she said it was free for us anytime. I'm way excited because my hair is long. It's way soft though which is good. You'll never believe it but I don't wear gel in my hair anymore. Only for special occasions but I trained my hair to be soft and work without gel. I know craz huh? :D 

At church, one of the mom's was in a meeting and all of her daughters who are about anna's age and her sons who are parkers age were running all around the church. So I entertained them for a while and kept them busy while their mom was in a long meeting. Everyone got a good laugh watching me play pirates with them and keeping them entertained. They all said that Parker must be way lucky to have a crazy brother like me who can act like any charater and have tons of energy to run around. I told them I like playing with the little kids because it reminds me of playing with parker. :D Then I would tease the girls about Twilight and what not and then they said oh, so this is the side that your sister gets. Haha. :D I love this branch so much. We are all way close and they keep saying their worried when transfers will come because they don't want me to leave. Aw :) 

Well I hope you have a super duper jumbo size splendid week. I can feel the snow will soon fall from the Heavens and then this beloved land of Lithuania that I love so dearly will become a frozen winterwonderland. I have a feeling that Lithuania is going to get a few last beatings into me before I leave with all of the ice. I took some pretty good falls last year. haha. Elder Manning always laughs at that because he remembers how many time I kept falling with all of the ice. :D Should be fun. Anyways, I love you all so much and I can't wait to hear from you again. Keep being the crazy and wonderful Sanford family that I am so proud of and love so much. :D

            Lots of love
           Elder James Sanford

Dear President Boswell,

It may sound repetitive but I have to say it, we had a great week. We worked really hard and had some great lessons. I learned a lot about what it means to follow the Lord's example and how we truly need to become "miracle missionaries" to keep this work moving forward. I learned also a great deal about how much God truly loves me, how much he truly loves the people here, and how much trust he puts in us. Along the great journey of learning, I saw some great miracles by the Hand of the Lord

Saulė- Ok so with Saulė and Vladas, they are full of many miracles for this past week. We met with her and Vladas only once this week. We read some of the Book of Mormon with them at the end of 2 Nephi to the beginning of Jacob. Our readings with them are good but they aren't too energetic and they just read and answer the questions how they know they are supposed to. Their attitude has completely changed. Remember last week we had a fast for them to find a job. Well, that fast was answered. When we came to meet with them, they imediately began telling us about how she had found another place to work and that she was positive she would be able to get the job. They said the whole week they had been reading the Book of Mormon and part of the Bible every single night. I was thrilled to hear that. They said that they both notice how strong they can feel the spirit when they read. They said they have been reading before they watch tv or anything else and they make sure that all of the distractions are turned off or put away. They said that there were times when they just wanted to keep reading and not stop. True miracle and testimony builder that the Book of Mormon truly does have power to change the hearts of people. Also, during the week, they are taking action to their process of getting married so she can get baptized. They are getting baptized in the end of December and they said once they are married, they want to set a baptismal date. How great of a blessing is that? We have been meeting with Saulė since the summer and it has been really hard for them to get married and to find suitable jobs and now they windows of Heaven have been opened because they were heading the words of the prophets and doing what the Lord asked of them to do. To add on those great miracles, Vladas came to church and to preisthood and participated so much. He sat up in the front row and almost every question we had in preisthood, he was answering. He is going to be a great strength here. A lot of the members are so surprised how much he has changed and it just builds my testimony more and more of how people truly can change. 

Great Miracle! We had 36 people in church on sunday! That's the highest number of people for this whole year of how many people have attended church in Šiualiai. We had to bring in chairs from the other classroom to fit everyone. Romas came for his second time to church and stayed for preisthood and really enjoyed it. After, he went up himself and talked to President Kucinas, who came to visit Šiualiai and spoke in sacrament meeting. 
The spirit was so strong in sacrament meeting. It was neat to see everyone and I could see Šiauliai growing. You could say it was through the spirit, but as I sat there and saw everyone listening to the speakers, I could see the growth of the branch of Šiauliai. I felt a confirmation that real soon, this branch would become a great strength in the city of Šiauliai. It kinda made me tear up because I love this branch with all of my heart and I want to see it grow. They speakers that came from the presidency in Vilnius spoke about how Šiauliai truly would grow as it did when they began going to church when it was small in Vilnius. I can express enough my great love for the members here. They have put so much time and effort into the chruch here. They are a small handfull, but I know as I felt and heard in Sacrament Meeting, one day it will grow into something powerful.  

Rimas- He is our other baptismal date but we weren't able to get ahold of him. We only have his phone number but he didn't answer it when we tried calling.

Raimonda- She was quite busy this week and wasn't able to meet with us. It was her daughter's birthday and they went out of town for a while.

Romas- He is doing wonderful. He is smiling so much all of the time. He never smiled when we started meeting with him, but not he is so friendly around us and smiles a lot. We met with him twice and we taught the second lesson with him. He had some concerns at first but we gave him some scriptures to read, it was mostly about Adam and Eve stuff and satan according to God's plan, but the power of the scriptures helped him so much. At the end of the second lesson, he said it made much more sense. He is progressing so well and we have been praying and pondering about moving his date to Dec. 10 as you said. He will have attended enough time to churh by then and we feel he will be prepared. We are excited to talk with him about that this week. Elder Manning really wants to be here to see his baptism and I really hope he will be here to see it because he has been such a major factor in our help with Romas in helping him come unto Christ. He said he really likes coming to church and he enjoys the members a lot. 

Maksim- He isn't a member but he is a less active. He is a teacher aged young man with whom we have been working alot with. He is the one that we read wit or have a lesson with every week. We met with him two times this week and the first time we had a really powerful lesson. We didn't feel what we should plan for him but felt that we just needed to go in and listen to what his concerns are and what he expects out of our lessons. It was such a powerful lesson. I will explain about him and what our lesson was like, as you read, if you have any thoughts of how we could help him, please share with me because that's one of my main quetsions ( I guess you could say) with how we could help him. So maksim, he is a really smart kid and when we read the scriptures with him, he understand what is going on and understands what we teach him. He answers sincerely and he knows what he needs to do in the church and out. We have been really trying to help him to get the desire to read on his own and not just with us when we come over. Everytime, we will give him a place to read, but when we come over and we asked how his reading went, he says he didn't read and has excuses why. When he is with us, he likes reading the scriptures and I can feel he does. He is dating a girl who is a bit older than he is. She is really nice and she has sat in a couple of the lessons. She has been in a lot of lessons in the past. We had a lesson about the law of chastity along with the standards of the youth with him not too long ago and he learned a lot from it that he didn't know before but he said he can see why we have those standards. He is quite serious with his girlfriend and we feel it's not the greatest relationship for him to have. With his mom, they argue a lot. When we are with them, if his mom is in the lesson, he doesn't really respect her. He acts a little nicer when we are around but his mom tells us what happens when we aren't there and it's breaking her heart. We had a really good lesson with her because she was way sad about her relationship with maksim and her. She is trying to do what's right and wants the best for him but maksim doesn't want anything to do with her. It's such a hard situation. This past lesson, we talked about being worthy of the preisthood. We talked about what it means to be worthy and why we need to be worth to hold the preisthood. He answered exactly what it means to be worthy and why we need to be worthy. We talked about how blessed we are and how much trust God has in us for giving his power to us on earth. He understood so well and said he would come to church but he didn't end up coming again. We are trying so hard to help him. If you have any ideas of how we could help him more, we would love to hear. Any new ideas would be great. 

We have some cd's in our apt. that our round table discussions from some professurs at Brighom Young Universtity who work in the dept. of ancient scripture and we were listening to the part about the book of Moses and then Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price. It was amazing to read and it opened my mind and my eyes to how much love God truly has for us. He has built countless worlds, more than the sands of the sea. He has all power and all knowledge that no man could possibly comprehend. He sits on the mighty and majestic thrown of his grand creations above Kolob. His time is nothing compared to the time we have according to man. He governs all the tides of the seasons and everything in natures course. He knows the beginning from the end. He is alpha and omega. And yet, he knows and loves each and every one of us personally and with a heart full of love. He knows our weaknesses and our concerns. He smiles and is beyond pleased with us when we do our best and follow him and he cries with us when we fall. But, he is always there to pick us back up, brush us off, and then tell us to keep going. He may be all knowing and all poweful, but I know without a doubt that he is also... all loving. 
          May the Lord bless you in all that you do,
                 Elder Sanford

Email from James - November 14, 2011

Sister Boswell just called and sang happy b-day for me and said how much her and president boswell love me, so that was a fun way to start off the day. :D I got myself a cool present I guess you could say. We got our shopping done this morning and they were having really good sales on some books and I have a card that gets half off of books. So I found the three musketeers in lithuanian. It's a huge book and they have a second one and they were only like 5-8 dollars with the money difference. What a deal and they are really nice. I will enjoy those greatly after the mission. You will have to let me know if grandma sanford's card got to you ok because she mentioned it twice in her emails to me. :D So far it feels like anytoher day in the amazing feild even though it is my b-day. It is weird though that I am now 21 so I have to start telling people that. My english class told me some good alcohol to buy to celebrate for my b-day haha. :D We are going to the Hill of Crosses with Irena and Monika, the members. I am way excited because we will be in suits so the pictures will look even better out there. I will get some good pics. I loved the brownie pic. I bet it was delicious and I bet I would have loved it to death. I have been loving cooking so much, believe it or not mom. We have a crock pot and a bread maker, only one in the whole mission, at our apt. and I found some way good recipes and I tweaked them a little bit. I have made a loat of raosts and chili. Yum! I have grown such a great love for cooking. It will be fun to try it out at home with all of you. :D

If you haven't, for the christmas package, could you put some good candy cane/ cinammon hot chocolate. Oh that stuff is soo good and we don't have any hot chocolate. :D

So Elder Nelson just got made to be the branch clerk. I had to help him out a lot yesterday because we had a lot of finances. I feel bad because it's a little overwhelming for him but I will be there to help him out. I'm still the first counselor so President Boswell and I went over the tithing settlement and what we are going to have to do for that. Just following in the steps of my father. :D It probably won't take 20 hours to do. ha. I had to fill out some more financial stuff and he went to the lesson and then he came back 10 minutes later and said, do you know where the teachings of ( some prophet that I can't remember who he said) that teaches about excorsism or something. I was so confused. Our awesome new investigator who has a bapt. date came for his first time to church and the class he was in was a joke. Apparantely they went way off the lesson and into some deep doctrine stuff and somehow got on the topice of excorsism. Great... Elder Manning said it was bad and he was trying to calm it down. Well, the Lord's church is perfect but he doesn't call perfect memebers :D. I talked to one of the members, who I am really good friends with, for a bit while I was overseeing Elder Nelson doing finances. She has been filling out her paper work to declare her divorce with her husband with whom she hasn't talked in over two years. She was also talking to an investigator of ours whom we dropped because he wasn't progressing and didn't like having leaders and yadadad that I will explain after the mission. But we talked for a while and I got a good feel of what our great leaders feel when they are helping members of the church. Pres. Chomskis was in a meeting so we talked for a bit and she started crying because she felt so weak. I bore my testimony of how loved she is by God and how loved she is in the branch. It was a really powerful moment for me and I felt such a great love for her. Pres. Chomskis talked with her more and after she looked a lot better and said what I said meant a lot to her.

We also had another great chance to excersise our preisthood power last monday. We went by to see Maksim, a wayward less active kid we have been working a lot with. He is a great kid but just not making the best choices and he isn't nice to his mom at all and it makes her so sad. His mom, Larisa, is one of the greatest ladies I know here and she has the most powerful testimony. We had a realy powerful lesson with her because when we went shopping with her, she looked way sad. The lesson was so good and I felt such a strong prompting to ask if she would like a blessing. She said she would love one and we gave her a really sincere and powerful blessing. I was about to cry it was so spiritual and heartfult. After, she was teary eyed and said she feels so much better. She thanked us a lot. I love Larisa so much and she is someone I will never ever forget. I look at her as my grandma here. She loves us so much and treats us so nicely.
I honestly would not mind finishing my mission in Šiauliai. I love being here so much and the members, I can't explain how much they all mean to me. They make me so happy and I try my best to make their day everytime I see them. Šiauliai means so much to me because I can see this was where I really became the missionary the Lord needs and I have grown the most in. I love it here so much and I hope I never leave. :D

Sooooo, don't think I'm lazy but I attached the email to pres. Boswell because it has the stuff I would have told you but it makes it easier on me so I don't have to email it all twice heh heh. :D

I hope you have a super and fantastical week full of joy and fun. How's the weather there by the way. We are still surviving with no snow but it is getting way cold and darker sooner and sooner every day. :D

Loves a ton,

Dear President Boswell,

"In the power of the Lord" would be how I would say this past week was for us here in Šiauliai. We worked really hard and from that, we saw the blessings from the Lord. I felt we truly gave our best effort and offered a more perfect sacrifice. I pray this next upcoming week will be just as great and can match up, or even better, outdue this past week. We have some great investigators to work with and the members are eager to help us in lessons. We set a goal to have more member present lessons and to get or members more involved in our work. That proved to be such a great help and we had many member present lessons. I have a strong testimony that membesr present lessons is the best way to help your investigator to progress because they not only hear the testimony from missionaries, but also from the members who come from the same background as they do.

Romas- Romas accepted a baptismal date for Dec. 17th. We talked about baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. We talked about the great peace that we receive to our souls that we can't find anywhere else in the world. We leaned on what he told us at the beginning of the lesson that he wants to find peace and truth. He said that he has been searching for a long time and wants to find a solid place where he can be. We bore powerful testimonies about the power of the Holy Ghost. We invited him to find out for himself if the Book of Mormon is true and to pray about if this is the path that he needs to follow and then be baptized. He heartfetedly accepted. At the end of the lesson, he told us that he thought about when he went hiking in Austria and how he felt at the top of the mountains. He said he was so far away from work and the worries of life. He described how great of a feeling that was and how he imagined that was the feeling of peace we were talking about through the Holy Ghost. He said that would be great to have that feeling every day.
The next lesson we taught about the Word of Wisdom and the Law of the Sabbath. He accepted those greately and said he doesn't smoke, drink coffee or alcohol and the other ones make sense. He thought it was funny how we don't drink green tea but he understood and accepted to live it. He came for his first time to church this last sundy which was so great. He seemed to really like it and we are going to follow up with him, and with Antti nonetheless. He will be out of town but once he comes back, we will make sure to get him in a lesson.

Rimas- He is an older investigator, meaning he has meet with missionaries for a while. I met with him a few times in the summer. He was really busy so he wan't able to meet but now he is free and isn't working in the village. We went over the first with him and he said he believes the Book of Mormon is true and what we saw is true because we are missionaires. We talked more about the restoration and how Christ's church was restored. We asked him if it would be important for him to be baptized and he said it would. He accepted a date for Dec. 17th also. We will have to work a lot with him because he didn't come to church and he, I don't know how to describe it, is more of a answer what needs to be answered type of guy. If that makes sense. He had a date with us back in the summer but didn't progress but perhaps this time he will.

Great miracle wast that there were 31 people at church on sunday. The church was packed and it was a glorious site to see. That is the highest amount of people in church in Šiauliai for the whole year. We also had a great fast and testimony meeting. There were great testimonies born and the spirit was so strong. A very good meeting for Romas to come to for his first time.

A lady from my english class, who was new to our english class, came up to me after the spiritual thought and asked if we could meet with her sometime. She said she likes learning about new religions and has never heard about us or the Book of Mormon and it sparked her attention. We have a lesson set up with her for this saturday and she says she is very anxious to meet.

Another great miracle is that it still hasn't snowed yet. It has been quite cold but still no snow. A lot of people said it was going to but the grass is still visible. :D


Eduardas- He is doing really great as well with reading the Book of Mormon. He really liked when we read the testimony of the three witnesses because that showed that other people saw the plates and not just only Joseph. He has been accepting what we read so greatly. He has a different spirit about him and wants to find an answer. The concern we have with him is that he won't read on his own or with his wife. He saws it hurts his eyes to read and he wants to only read with us because we have "the true spirit" that is different from his wife's. He came to church as always with us wife.

Raimonda- She said she is having a hard time with not drinking Coffee. We had Irena and Monika (members) with us and they did a good job bearing testimony and sharing the blessings they have received from praying to the Lord for strength and then living by his commandments. For Raimonda, it is really hard for her to realize she can pray for strength. Prayer still feels like a foreign thing to her that we only do when we are in church or at night to end the day, but not when we need strength or help. We talked a lot about prayer and why it is important for us to ask God for help. She said she will really try to pray for help and strength.

Saulė- She is doing quite well. They wanted to meet with us more and so we set up that we would meet two times a week with them. One to read from the Book of Mormon and the other to have a lesson. It is really good for Vladas because he participates a lot in the lessons. We talked about patience and the importance of it. She has been trying to find a new job so she can come to church on sundays, but so far she hasn't found a new one. They asked us to pray for her so she can find one. I had the thought to ask them to fast to find a job. I invited them to fast to find a job. We explained to Saule what a fast was and she really liked that ideas. We said we would fast with them to make it a "super prayer". I really hope, from our faith in fasting, she will be able to find a job.

The members here have been doing so great and we have been meeting with them a lot and I have seen in them such a big change. They will come up and say to me, you know after you lesson, I thought of one of my friends I have been wanting to share the gospel with. I was reading in PMG about working with members and it mentions the best thing you can do, as missionaries, is to first build their testiomny and faith in the gospel and then their desire will increase to share the gospel. I see that already coming from the members here in Šiauliai. I always love whenever we call, one of the members always answers the phone and says, "how can I help?" :D We are very blessed to work among such great members. The trust between us and them is so strong and now we can start putting us and them to work.

-Elder Sanford