Email from James - February 7, 2011

Dear Family,
Your email was pretty intesnse with all of those crazy stories happening. I hope everything goes ok with everyone. I will pray for Cambrey. That is so so scary. I hope she is doing all right. Tanner and I emailed last couple of P-days and emailed eatchother's mail addresses so we are going to start wrighting eachother.
So conference yesterday was awesome. I have been really studying and learning from our scripture reading on how to better strengthen my faith in finding people and what it truly means to have faith. I have been starting to use a study journal which has been an amazing thing for me. I never understood what personal revelation was until I started using one. It's amazing! As I was studing about faith and what not, I got the impression of a sort of "quote" that is now my new favorite quote from me. It is, " We can have faith, but with the wrong attitude, we can loose miracles". I shared that in my testimony yesterday at conference and a lot of the missionaries said that is one of their favortie quotes now. haha. I have just been loving the scriptures so much. Right now we are in Alma 10. I have never had a scripture relate to me so much as Alma 8 did to me. I wrote a ton in my study journal about that scripture and my thoughts and my impressions about it. I'm still not done wrighting about it. :D
Funny news, so Elder Hilton and I are still in Vilnius. We went to the hospital this morning after a sweet Borne Identity Taksi ride. hahahah I love riding in Taksi's here. They drive so so fast and they cruise in and out of traffic. Totally a highlight of traveling to Vilnius. I always look forward to riding in taksis. Anyways, so Elder Hilton had his toe looked at.....And..... we have to stay here for possibly a couple more days. For sure tonight but possibly an extra day. They told him he needed to come back tomorrow and he would like him to come back on thursday too. We were hoping he would have had it all done today. They did some work on it. We waited for along time and finally they checked his toe. We both went into the room where the doctor was. I had been reading the book of mormon the whole time as we were reading cause I didn't do my reading for yesterday. So I sat in a chair and began reading. They doctor quickly told me to wait outside. So I got up and went out. As I did, they shut the door. I have never felt so much worry and great concern for a companion before. I couldn't even read I was so worried cause I wasn't there with him to make sure everything was ok. Hahaha I truly love Elder Hilton. He has been such a great companion and it was funny that I would worry about him so much. We are always together so I never knew what it would be like to have to be shut out of another room. He said he was worried too when I had to leave. I gave him a blessing this morning before we went to the hospital and that was such a neat experiene to do. Transfers are next week and I am going to be so sad if we aren't companions. I'm pretty sure he is transering cause he has been there for a while and there are going to be huge changes for this transfer. So yep, we will be here for tonight as well. We won't be able to go out and work cause he has to elevate his toe which is a bummer cause Vilnius is so cool at night. :D I want to take you guys here so so badly. It's so big and pretty!
We got a couple of new investigators. One is a younger guy, I think I already told you about him. But we found a cool older man on sunday night. He was born and raised in russia but thankfully speaks broken lithuanian. He was way cool and we were able to have somewhat of a lesson with him. We gave him a pamphlet about the gospel and set up another appointment to meet with him again this week, ( that is if we ever make it back to klaipeda haha). Missionary work has been going really good. I love it! My love for the people and this wonderful country grows more and more everyday :D
Your package hasn't come yet but it should for sure come this week. Mail has been completely dead this week for everyone. We heard the snow in Chicago and around there has been really bad so we think that is why mail is taking so long. It will get here so don't worry.
It has been raining a lot here and warming up a little so the snow has been meling which I love a ton. I can finally see lots of grass :D Problem is, with all of the rain, comes.... ice. Oh yea, I have fallen so much these past couple of weeks. I even fall when I think i'm walking carefully. I fell really hard this one time flat on my back, it was funny, but I smacked my wrist way hard and it snapped the band on my watch. The metal, not the part where you can slip in a new one (which is bad), was acting a little loose and when I fell it completely snaped it. I am able to line up the metal but there's no way that the watch people here could fix it. So, I found a solution, Elder Manning had some black duck tape so I used that and now it's pretty much how it was before except there is black tape on part of it. You can't even notice, I can't at least cause I can't see it when I'm looking at my watch. hahaha :D I will have to take a pic and send it next week :D
I'm am doing super here and just loving missionary work and everything about it and growing so much in my love for the gospel and all it means to me. :D I love you all so so much and am so so thankful to have the best family in the world who loves and supports me so much. Thank you so much for all you do for me. As always, I will be excited to hear from you again next week :D Happy Birthday to Parker too!!!!! You will have to send pics of his hamster. Su Gimima Diena Parkeriai!!!!!!

           Su daug meilu,
                   Vyresnysis Dzemsas Sanfordas

Email from James - January 31, 2011

Brangus Siema,

    So today the library was closed so we went to Topo Centras ( An electronic store ) so I am emailing from there and way cool news, I'm using a beautiful apple computer a little bigger than the one that we have at home. It's kinda like a flash back of being at home :D

    This week was so so so so so so good compared to last week. Last week, i'm sure I sounded pretty downhearted but that all changed this last week. We had mini exchanges on tuesday night. Elder Manning and Elder Hilton went to the church and Elder Nelson and I went harvesting up in the North area. I love the North area a ton because the domes look more european and it's way fun up there. So we went harvesting and began knocking doors. First door.......  nothing. Then, miracuosly, the second door, a nice lady let us in. She was probably about mid 30's. We went in and her husband came over from the room. I was so afraid he was going to kick us out but he didn't. He warmly welcomed us in. The wife, Edita, made us some way yummy soup and we began talking. He asked if it would be ok to put on some quite music. I told him that's totally fine. Who would have guessed, he put on Josh Groban. I laughed and said is this Josh Groban? He, Aleksejus, laughed and said," How do you know Josh Groban?" I told them I loved Josh Groban and that my mom loves him and has been to some of his concerts. They laughed and thought that was so so cool. They were so nice to us. As we chatted, Edita asked how I was able to speak so beautifully. I laughed and said I wish I spoke beautifully but we learned some before our mission and we learn more from talking with people. They were really impressed. They could tell Elder Nelson was a newer missionary cause he had a harder time speaking but they were so nice to him. They told him, it's ok, you got Sanfordai helping you :D It was cool cause they were the first people I met with who kept using my name the whole lesson. We taught them a wonderful first lesson. Edita was really really interested about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and I gave her one. They both believe in Jesus Christ and so much like how what we believe in. They were so so prepared. Oh I will totally tell you more about the lesson after my mission but it was so so amazing to meet with them. They truly were an answer to my prayers. Our lesson was so powerful and we could all feel the spirit so strongly testifying of truth. He played us a song on his guitar and after he gave us a hug goodbye. I told them that this wasn't my area and that another missionary would be with elder nelson. They said, ah man how come? we like you a lot sanfordai. :D That really touched my heart. We chatted about what i like to do and I told them how I like to cook and all about my running and they were blown away by that. They kept saying wow  that's so so cool. They gave us their number and said they would love to meet again. After, Elder Nelson and I were so pumped. We couldn't stop smiling and all we would do was talk about them. I love missionary work!!!!!! I wrote a huge journal entry about the whole experience so I have it all down. It's an experience I will cherish forever. Their way cool son came home after our lesson and he was so so nice and way cool. This family is so so prepared. Not only do we have them as investigators now, elder hilton and i were able to find a way cool kid on saturday night that we are going to meet with again on tuesday which i am way excited for. He seems way cool and was really interested in learning more and wants to know more about what happens after death. My faith has truly been strengthened by these experiences and I am doing all I can to keep this drive, this fire, going and burning. It's a great time to be a missionary in the Lithuania.

    The package hasn't come yet but your letter did. It should come this week since it didn't last week. Ya that email from Sis. Dance is because in Riga, when they pick up packages from missionaries serving there, they sometimes have to pay a shipping fee and that requires them to use their own money so that's why they said to make sure it is under 50 dollars. It doesn't really effect here cause if I have to pay a few extra LT's then it's from us. BTW, was there supposed to be pics in the letter you sent. Anna made it sound like there was pictures she put in there but there weren't any. 

     Next monday will be zone conference so I won't be emailing on monday. We wouuld be having p-day on tuesday but elder hilton and i have to go to the hospital for his toe. It is way swollen and way bad looking so right after zone conference, which will be in Kaunas, we have to go to Vilnius and we don't know how long we will have to be there so just a little heads up so you know I will be emailing .....sometime next week :D

     The branch is still struggling with getting people to come to church but we are still working hard. I love the memebers in this branch so much and I want to do all I can to help them. We are all thinking of ways to get the less actives to come back and to help more people come to the church. 

     Hhahah wow now I do feel dumb for forgetting parker's b-day. But now I know :D It's coming up really quick. Time, like you said, has flown by so so quick. It's crazy. In just a short 2 weeks it will be transfers. These past two transfers with elder hilton have gone by so so quick. I have been having a lot of fun serving with him. I can see a lot of big changes are going to happen this upcoming transfer. 

     Well that's all the real big updates for this past week. It was a really good week. :D I love being here and I am learning lithuanian faster and faster every week which is a true gift and help from God. I love you all so much and can't wait to hear from you again. 

       Su meile,
          Dzemsas Sanfordas

Images from Klaipeda - January 2011

Way sweet big sword at a war memorial

Quiditch Field in Klaipeda

Nebraska pride in the frozen Lithuanian Tundra

Email from James - January 24, 2011

Alo Šeima,
Hahaha ya the language is no where near fluency. But I try, it has gotten a lot better and Elder Hilton and I talk in only Lithuanian some nights. It's such a flippy language. I have days where I feel really confident in the language then I'll talk to someone who decides to talk about bizaro things and then I feel like I know nothing. hahaha it's great. :D I love the language though, I keep learning more and more and I love it. I have been memorizing a certain amount of words each night and before I used to have a hard time remembering them but now I remember them really quick and don't forget them. Things are clicking together a lot faster then before which is good. Hahaha oh ya my language stories will be hillarious. I am almost to my 10 month mark and I still have stories :D
Yay recipes. I'm very excited to get those. It has become a tradition for me to make ( well I make all foods :D) but my specialty is Chicken Alfredo on sundays :D Elder Manning showed me a way good recipes for some yummy enchiladas we had on exchanges. Oh they are so so good.  So ya recipes would be very awesome to have. I will try your hot dog thing. It' sounds way good. We made hotdogs like how I used to make them at home where I cut them up into thirds and then toasted them then put them on toasted bread. :D
Man your work just sounds intense. It will be cool to see your office in person and see all of the people you work with and all of the cool projects you have done. I loved seeing your office and the cool stuff you do :D I hope to have a cool job when i'm older but i'm not going to talk about jobs cause that just gets me worried cause I can't decide what I want to do :D hahaha
Grandpa sent me a quick email. He just told me about all of the shrimp he got and all the cleaning and stuff he had to do for it. He got tons. Then he said he has found some pesos here and there so no big jewels haha. I love wearing the Nebraska hoody :D I have my camera so I will send a pic so you can see it :D
So this week was .... pretty slow again. We taught a member and english class. wahoo. hahhaa. that was a sarcastic wahoo btw. :D It's really hard to have faith sometimes to think that there are people out there who want to listen. It feels like hello we are missionaries WAM door shut over and over. The cd I bought in the MTC of motab with praise to the man keeps me going. I have been reading the Teachings of Joseph Smith book and it is awesome so that has kept my fire going. I still love it here but I just really want to find people. We, the district, are way worried about this branch. The numbers of people that come is seriously bad. We have had about 8 members that keep coming and the rest have been moving away for work and what not. I really fear that this church will be gone here in Klaipeda in a few  years because everyone is leaving for work in other countries. It may just be missionaries on sundays. Thankfully Pres. Blinduruk can't move yet cause they don't have enough money too. They want to move to America. If they did that would be awesome cause they said they would probably go to Utah then you could meet them. But if they move, a missionary would have to be the Branch President which would not be a good thing. We need members to be in the presidency to keep it going.  Anyways, just pray for the branch here and that the hearts of the people will be open to hear our message.
We were blessed to have President and Sister Dance over on Tuesday for our District Meeting which was awesome. He taught well retaught us some of the things he talked about at Zone Conference about how to work with members and the mission leader. Our mission leader is Thomas who is the coolest 18 year old kid I know. He speaks way good english and we always bud around. :D He is the only young man here. He's way solid though. So ya we talked about that then President Dance took us to lunch after which was way fun to do with them. We went to Chili Kaimas which is a Lithuanian Restaurant. President Dance refuses to eat Cepeliniai cause he is set that the meat on the inside is dog meat hahahhaa. :D So I had way good Cepeliniai and Shalti Baršiai ( the cold beet soup) It is so good. Elder Nelson had it for the first time and he started gagging hahaha. :D Silly americans and not liking good food :D A funny note: President DAnce talked about honesty. In paritcular about being honest in music. We were a little confused how we could be honest with music. He invited us to chuk burned cd's we had from other missionaries in order to be honest cause that isn't being honest to have those cause we didn't buy them. That was way hard for Elder Manning and I to do. I had over 30 cd's from other missionaries like motab and some efy cd's and way good music. NOW, it's ALL GONE. I have the cd's you sent me and Elder Hilton has some soundtracks. So hahahha music is about the only thing I want from home :D President Dance said it's fine if our family sends us burned copies of music but we can't share it with other missionaries ( like burning our copies for other missionaries) so if you ever see cool cd's at desert book feel free to maybe get me some :D I love motab a lot so more of them would be way good and any cool soundtracks from movies would be way cool. I am  happy to get the package sometime this week cause I know you sent some music. But ya it was way funny how he invited us to do that cause we have all been on huge discusions with eachother about after our missions, are we going to burn cd's for other people or download music. :D They go on for a while :D So ya, dearest family, music is pretty much all I want from home hahaha. Called to Serve and the Joseph Smith cd over and over is kinda driving Elder Hitlon and I mad sometimes hahaha :D I promise we are surviving. It has made things challenging but we know we will be blesed for our obedience.
ALSO, I'm a terrible brother for forgetting. I remembered two mondays ago and forgot to email it and then forgot this past email but, HAPPY BIRTHDAY PARKER!!!!!!!! I'm so sorry for not emailing that bud. I hope you had a way fun birthday and got lots of cool stuff. :D I told people you were six and they thought it was crazy how I have a six year old brother. I always tell my english class about you and how you and I would go hang out and how we went to see AVATAR. They all laugh and saw how cute :D
Well that's all for this week. We are going to get kababs. OH they are so so good. It's a turkish thing but what they do is they have little stands all over but there is one we found that is the best. It's in a hidden location. But what kababs here are is the take lettuce, cucumbers, onions, some funky sauce and this way good meat and put it all together in a big tortilla and then toast it. Oh it is so so good. I laugh everytime I eat it cause I know if I was offered to eat it when I was home. I would say eew, I hate all the vegetables in it. But now, being a missionary, I love trying new foods and that is so so good with all of that in it. Mom, dad, you were right that I mission would change my eating habits :D I even love sour cream with my enchiladas ahahaha :D
I can't wait to hear from you once again next week :D I love you all so so much. Thanks so much for the support and love you give me. And all the prayers. I am going to be so much better about sharing the gospel with people. If you ever know anyone who doesn't know about the gospel, don't hesitiate to share it with someone and tell them how much this gospel has blessed your life and ours.

           su meile,
               Vyresnysis Džemsas Sanfordas