Email from James - June 20, 2011

Hey Dad,

Zone Conference was really good. It was so great but at the same time was sad because it is probably the last interview I will have with President Dance. It was a pretty emotional conference for everyone because some of the missionaries are going home this week and one of the sisters, sis. paul who was in Kaunas for her second transfer when I came in and I got to know pretty well, is going home on wednesday for the end of the transfer. That has blown all of our minds that she is already going home. Soon the time of reckoning will be here in August cause once that time comes, missionaries are going to be going home every other transfer till our groups time to go home. So we will be having a lot of changes coming once summer is over. It was really cool in conference because President and Sister Dance told all of us their story of when and how they got their call to be a mission president. It was so cool and they talked about that for a while. Then they gave some of their lost thoughts to us and Sister Dance cried a lot. She seriously is like a second mom to me and she told us how much she loves us and cares about every single one of us. It was simply just a great zone conference, words can't describe it. President Dance also told us what happens when a new mission president comes in and what they do for that. When a new mission president comes in, once his foot touches the ground, he becomes the new mission president and the older one and his wife are immediately from then released from their calling. Then they, the older mission president and his wife, only spend 2-3 hours with them, they are told to do so, and then they will leave. They don't tell the new mission president anything about the missionaries or what's going on with the work. They only tell them about the members and who is in the priesthood body and mostly the church offices. What' s really cool is the new mission president has been taking our information and studying it to get to know each of us personally. What's really cool is that he takes a missionary one day at a time since he got his call to get to really know each and every one of us. The new mission president's name is President Boswell. He sounds really cool and it will be really exciting to meet him. In a couple of weeks we will be having another zone conference and he will have interviews with us and then he is pretty much touring the mission and going to every church to meet the members and have a little bit longer of an interview with each of us. I'm way excited. :D

Our week was pretty crazy. I can't go into a lot of detail about it but we almost had another baptism for the transfer with a guy we have been really working hard with. He has been meeting with missionaries for about 8 years and we finally got a date and he committed to it. He really wanted missionaries to baptize him so that was a major concern but he finally dropped it and he said he prayed and felt that a certain member should baptize him. We were amazed by that answer and had the date for Friday for him to be baptized and he said he wanted to. Well, with this member, some huge bad things happened with his wife and so he wasn't able to baptize him and so our guy didn't want to be baptized until the member could baptize him so his baptism will have to wait. He didn't come to church so that is another problem that we are going to have to wait longer for him to be baptized is with his commitment to come to church. The dramatic thing with the family was huge and came out of nowhere. Like it was really bad and it really killed me because I love the family a lot and the wife is so awesome. We met with them last night and we were pretty nervous at first to meet with them but we had a really good lesson. She really feels bad about what she did and we had a good lesson about how we really need Christ in our lives when we fall down. I testified and told her how I know how she feels when we make mistakes and we feel alone, but God loves her as His daughter and that we all love her too. She started crying and that got me crying and it really brought in the spirit so strongly. It is so amazing how close you got to the people you serve with. I would do anything for the people I have met here. I love them so much and I am so sad that one day, I will have to leave them. It was such a powerful lesson and one that I will never forget. I guess you can count that as what I learned and wish to share as my gospel learning for the week is learning how to truly feel love for everyone you serve with. Christ like love, I am still working a ton on it, don't think I am calling myself perfect. haha, but I can say I truly felt great love for her last night and I know that was God and Christ's love for her that I could feel.

Happy Father's day dad. That's way fun you got to go up to the Lambourne's cabin for the weekend for a nice break. I will have to go up there with all of us and see what it is like up there. It sounds way cool. But, I hope you had a great father's day and I always am so grateful that I have the greatest dad in the world. You truly are such a great example to me and you always make me want to be a better person. I see so many families where the dad isn't there to be apart of the family and it makes me so sad and at the same time is makes me so happy I have been blessed to have you as my dad. 

Wow Trek is here, I remember you talking about that a while back and now it's already here. Like I always say and will probably keep saying, time flies by when your on a mission. :D You will have to send me pics of what goes on. I love Trek so much and that really was a growing part for me in my life. I think it would be so cool to be a Trek guide or whatever they call them. 

When you see everyone, tell them I say hi back to them haha. :D That's cool to hear that your friend from work reads my blog. A lot of my friends tell me the read the blog too and they enjoy it. Thanks for making that for me. I check it out sometimes too, mostly to check if it's been updated, hmm hmm haha jk. It is really cool and it's fun to read back over emails I sent and especially to see the pics of the day I went into the MTC. Feels like it was only yesterday, literally. 

I'm not sure where the Dances will be reporting back to. They are finishing building their house in Midway I think so they will live out there or something. I'm not really sure. He said he has a facebook account so you could check that out. He said that is the best way for us to keep in touch with him haha. It's funny to think of talking to President Dance through facebook. He said he will add any missionary into his friends list haha. :D 

Transfers are this week which is way crazy cause I swear that this transfer just started. Not going to even make the time comment. haha. :D We will be having calls tomorrow so we will see what happens. Elder Lindell and Elder Erickson won't change for sure because trainers and their companions are always together for two now but I could have a chance of changing, so we will see what happens. I will let you know what happens next week. 

We found three really cool people this week and they all have baptismal dates so we are excited to see where they go. They were truly miracle finds so we are meeting with them a lot this week. I am way excited and I hope they will continue to progress. :D

       I love you all so much and I can't wait to hear from you next week. Thank you so much for all the love and support you always give me. 
                       Daug Meilų Visada,

Email from James - June 13, 2011

Sveikas Dad,

Su Tevo Diena iš Lietuvos. :D Happy Father's day from lithuania. Last sunday was father's day but since there are no fathers or really any men in the church, we didn't really celebrate it. Also a future Happy Father's day for this sunday to you dad. I hope your day is fun up at the Lambournes and your day at church is well too even though it may be full of church meetings and what not, but I hope it is still good and you get some time to relax. Also, I forgot to tell mom but I did get the Lambournes calender and I love it so so much. I thought I told them through email I got it but I guess I didn't. Tell them thanks so much and I truly appreciate it. I also got christmas pics from the Beans and the Ashtons which was way nice for them to do but I don't remember if I sent them a letter or anything. I will have to.

Ya last week I really did get to travel a lot and this week I get to do the same thing all over again. :D I have exchanges tomorrow and I'm going back to Vilnius then this weekend we have zone conference, our last one with President Dance, ugh :( which will be in Vilnius also. I can't believe it has come to where President Dance is almost about to go home. He has been such an inspiration and help to me all through my mission and I just can't imagine someone else serving in his place. I am completely excited to see what this new mission president will bring. I would say his name but I keep forgetting what it is. :D But it's just all the time we just say, President Dance said...... It's going to be hard not saying that all the time. He's such a great man and truly a man of god. I have no doubt that he will be a general authority one day. He is so wise and knows the scriptures so well. 

Your Birthday sounded really fun. Eating Pizza and seeing pirates. Where is that pizza restaurant at the District cause I may have eaten there. There was one right by the circle infront of the theater that was by there and it was brand new and I ate there a couple of times with some friends. Ya that pirates movie looks sweet. I can't wait to see it. We have our own movie nights here. It's great. What we do is, since I have seen a lot of movies, we set up the room so there is plenty of space and we turn off all the lights except for some where I am "acting" and the other elders sit in chairs and watch. So I act out movies they haven't seen after the day is over and they "watch" a movie haha. They actually get such a kick out of it cause it gives them something to give their minds a break so they beg me to say another story or act out another movie. I love it cause I love acting out the movies I love or telling stories :D hahaha it's been a lot of fun and they say they hope I don't get transfered next week cause they won't have movie nights. I laughed so hard when you told me how parker asks a lot of questions during the movie and that you had to explain that mermaids weren't vampires or sharks. haha it seriously made my day because I can totally picture him doing that. 

We had a wonderful and amazing Lietuvos Audra, Lithuanian storm. As I told you, Lietuva means the place or rain so when it rains here, it REALLY rains. So on saturday after english, it rained so hard and the heavens opened up and poured down all the water they had up there. It was so so cool. Elder Erickson and I went outside and just stood in the rain and let it fall on our faces. It felt so good cause they day before was super hot. The thunder was so so loud and it made all the car alarms go off like it did last year. I love it when it rains here so so much. It's amazing. Today thankfully it is a way beautiful day so we are going to do something really cool today with one of the members that just got baptized. I was able to be in the circle when we gave him the preisthood yesterday. :D so today we are going to go rent some bikes, dviračai, and then we are going to go on a long bike ride up to Križaus Kalna, the Hill of Crosses. Remember when I found that pic and put it on my facebook account. It's where there are a million crosses on that hill. I'm way excited because I haven't ridden ( rode or however you say that in english)  a bike in so so long. I will take lots of pics. It will be so much fun.

This past week wasn't too exciting. We got dropped a lot so we didn't have a lot of lessons so we did a lot of searching but didn't find much. We made friends with a really cool dog named Zara. It followed us around and we played with it while we walked around the houses. We had a lot of crazy things happen while finding, hahaha, but I will tell about them after the mission. We had fun though and this week will hopefully be a lot better in the finding phases.

I really like that story dad. You should totally send that to the Liahona or Ensign. They would totally post it :D I have been learning that a lot too that when we teach, we are just saying a rote script or saying everything we know, we are teaching our brothers and sisters and helping them return to heavenly father. That's why I love studying from Preach My Gospel so much because it constantly teaches to use the spirit in teaching and how to become a better teacher. It's been so great studying with preach my gospel and I still have yet to learn so much more. I'm not a great teacher but with the spirit, I have had some great lessons. Thanks for sharing that story, I can't wait to hear more. I love hearing about your mission. You truly were such a great missionary and I try to be as good as I can and serve with everything I got. This week was really cool for me personally. I did a lot of contacting things I have always been nervous to do before. Usually when I see a person on a bench, I usually keep going cause it's kinda akward here to just go up and talk to them, but I just sucked it up and contacted a lot of guys that were just sitting down. Sadly they wouldn't let me sit by them and just talk but it's ok, God knows I have the desire now to find more so perhaps one day I will find a cool guy to talk to. I notice more and more as I work harder, my language improves. I can remember words more and more and I can speak more smoothly when I am forgetting myself and just working. I love this language so so much and as my time on a mission gets ever shorter, I realize I will probably never hear a native speak lithuanian in a long time or I won't have another chance to speak to a native after my mission for a  while so I try every chance to talk to people. I love the lithuanian people so so much. Sometimes I think mom thinks that I miss a lot of stuff from home and that I don't love the country a lot  now. But it's actually quite the opposite. There are a lot of things I miss from america, trust me I could make a huge list, but there are so many things you can never see in america then you can here, more so as a missionary. To a tourist's eyes, they see shops, restaurants, hotels, big cathedrals, but as a missionary giving all of my time here, I see so much more. It means a lot more to be serving in a place then just visiting. I can't express it in words but I love this country with my whole soul. It will always be such a big part of my life and I will never forget the people I meet. The members have meant so much to me and they will alway have a special place in my heart. 
Ah I could just go on forever but just know, i'm not counting down the days till I come home or am trunky in anyway, I'm actually dreading how short of time I have here and how much more I want to know this language better and meet as many people as I can. :D 

I read in Luke 7:7-8 which is about the Centurion Servant who wishes for the Savior to come and heal him but he feels unworthy. He says he can command people to go and they will go, simply he has a lot of power under his hand. I thought it was amazing how even though with all his talents and powers, he felt unworthy to hvae the savior come unto him and heal him. He had such great humility and recognized his insignificance and because of that, he was healed. I really learned that this week. Even when I feel totally confident in the language or I feel invincible when I have those really high moments, I must recognize that I always need the Lord's help in all I day. I have been really trying to work on my prayers at night and have each prayer full of power and really conversing with Heavenly Father. I have been studying a lot about Revelation through prayer and it quites a difficult topic to grasp and I know I will have to work on that probably through my whole life. But I have seen and know that it is real and that God does grant us revelation when we recognize we always need his help.

Well I got an exciting week ahead and i'm excited to see what new things will happen and what I will learn and who I will meet. This is the last full week of this transfer already. Pretty crazy. Hopefully I won't get transfered but I'm pretty sure I won't but you never know. Tell everyone hi for me and that I love them. I love you a lot and look up to you so much. You in return help me want to serve harder and give my all in everything I do. 
              Meie Visada,

Email from James - June 7, 2011

Hey dad, 

Talk about a very awesome and changing week. 

First off, I went on a way fun exchange with Elder Falk, who is russian speaking. We went to their apt. in Vilnius so I got to serve there for a little bit. The travel time to get down there from Šiauliai took off a lot of the time so that was a bummer cause the exchange seemed way shorter. We still had a lot of fun together. He is such a cool elder and we had a lot of fun learning from eachother and just chatting. He says he will plan a longer exchange for us to do later :D We ran in the morning through the streets of Vilnius, right in center where all the big catherdrals are. There was no one out so it was really fun. :D I love running so much and it will be so great when I will have more time to do it. 

Second, we had two of our investigators come to church which was so so great. They both have baptismal dates and it was so great to see them come to church. One has been meeting with missionaries for a while and has been struggling to keep church attendance so it was really good to see him at church. The other, we found and have meet with for only a week but he is pretty cool. His date is for July 2nd. I hope he will keep it and find out that the church is true and enter into the covenant of baptism.

The MTC group we flew out with a year later in Riga where we started.

Oh my gosh that was so so good. It was such a beautiful day and it was so cool to see all the missionaries from all the Baltic States together. It was even greater so see Elder Adams and Alder from the MTC. We were like little kids when we say eatchother. We just talked and laughed so much. The meeting itself was so so amazing. A real spiritual feast. President Clayton, from the presidency of the seventy, and President Lawrence, from the second quorum of the seventy, and their wives spoke to us. They had spent the week with President Dance and they got to spend some time in the Baltics and see around the mission. It was such an amazing conference and as they said to us, "it will be one that we will never forget". These type of conferences don't happen a lot in the mission field, especially when all the missionaries get together in the Eastern Europe Missions. I can't describe to you how powerful the spririt was in the conference. I took so many notes and received so much personal revelation that was truly many answers to my prayers. I can't describe it to you and you may not see it in person til I get home, but I will be making many great and important changes in myself and ever strive to become the person God wants me to become. They spoke a lot about making a change in ourselves and a lot more than just change, but it really was an answer to what I had been seeking from our Heavenly Father. I can forsee so many great changes that I will be making. Missions are just so great and I wouldn't ever trade this experience for the world. We got to shake their hands before the conference started and that was quite a treat.
After, President Clayton and Lawrence had to go with President Dance to go to a meeting with a gov. guy so they couldn't stay for the food after to chat with us. But, we had food after and got a long time to talk with all the missionaries and take pics. I talked to so many cool missionaries and one of the missionaries who serves in Estonia heard I was a XC runner from Bingham and so he found me and told me how he heard about me from the russian missionaries. We talked for a while and it was cool. He lives right by the Jordan River Temple. Seeing the elders from the MTC was so great. We talked about how crazy it was that it was a year ago we came into Riga for our first day in the field. It blows my mind that it has been A YEAR. I can still clearly remember my whole first day and how exciting and overwhelming it was. :D We took a pic all together of all of us who flew to Riga. I will send it. Note, I look smal because elder Alder to my right was on his toes and Elder Hilton is already way taller than me :D Just want to point that out. haha. It was so hard to say goodbye to them. I think we gave eatchother 5 hugs before we finally left. It was such a great experience to see everyone and see the other missionaries we know, like the russians who transfer through countries. It truly was a great strengthening. So So great, I can't describe it.

I'm sorry to hear that you aren't feeling good. I hope you get feeling better. The Lord has greatly blessed me for not getting sick at all in the field. Well only a few times but through the winter I didn't get sick which was a true miracle, especially being here. Drink lots of fluids and you will get better. Lithuanian juice is so so good. :D unfortunately I can't send any.

It's really cool that it is your Birthday this week. I remember when I was in the airport when I talked to all of you and wished you a happy b-day. Like I always say but it's true, it feels like it was yesterday. No lies in that missions just fly by before you know iit. Happy Birthday Dad!!! Su Gimima Diena, Tete! :D I hope you have a lot of fun with pizza or whatever you decide to eat. :D I'm a little jealous that you might be going to the pirates movie. :D They have the movie posters all over and it gets me very excited to see it, but I can live til then. It's funny how before I left, I worried about missing things, but now, they just don't matter all that much. Just the real things that matter most is what I miss the most. Like being with all of you, my family. Anyways, have a great B-Day dad and I am sending a virtual hug via email to you :)

So, I was thinking.. this is a little part of my whole change thing. I am really making studies a reall purpose rather than just a mission thing we have to do and it has been wonderful. I have been keeping a study journey when I study and I right down my thoughts and what I see for myself what I am learning. Great way to receive personal revelation, I hight recomend it. But it is also really wonderful to share what we learn with others and if I could I would in person share some of the things I have learned with you, but obviously I can't. But I think every email we should share one or a few things we have learned in our studies or in our everday lives that we have learned about gospel or seen Heavenly Father's blessing in our lives, things we have been working on, etc. It think this is such a great time not only for me to be learning and strengthening my testimony in the gospel and building a real foundation but we can also learn greatly and build from eatchother. I think it would be great to do me and you but also as a family. :D I haven't heard stories from you mission for a while either haha. Sorry I sound like s teacher. It can be a mix of both, some learning throughout week and some mission, whatever you want to do. I just truly think every week we should share what we have learned or restrengthened, you get what I mean. I regret thinking that I wasn't that open with you and mom when I was home and I really want to be as much as I can when I have the time to and now is perfect. Let me know what you think. I will be very excited to hear from you. Mom sends me emails to so she can send her own "spiritual learnings" :D

Just a little note, if you could, could you send two journals whenever you send a package. I am going to be better about writing more in my journals. If you could that would be awesome. :D
Also funny note, I realized that this is the fith week of this transfer, can you believe it, this tranfer is almost over already. We have zone conference next week and then the transfer will be over. Very crazy if you ask me :) Elder Erickson is already thrilled to finish his first transfer haha. He will still be with Elder Lindell cause he is technically his trainer and they have new training and they trainer and trainee are together for the first two tranfer to get the full training. I could leave but I probably won't. I hope not.
Anyways, have a great week and happy birthday again and know that I love you so much. 

Photos from James - May 2011

Our church which is on the first floor connected to a "great" apt.

Me playing with "Blacks"

The somewhat finished dog cage project

Me, President Chomskis, Rimontas, Elder Lindell, Elder Erickson

Email from James - May 30, 2011

Dear Dad,

I really enjoyed having the little chats with you too (James and his dad happened to be online and emailing at the same time the week prior). It's fun to think that I am talking with you all the way on the other side of the world. They truly do mean a lot. I'm glad to hear you miss me a lot too. :) I always wonder if you are relieved i'm gone to have a little break after how I used to act a lot when I was an "angry" teenager. Oh geez I sound old haha. I do have a lot of moments where I regret not taking those moments I had to be together instead of hanging with friends. Let's just say I am really looking forward to Family Nights! :D

It sounds like Anna is doing really well now that she is home. I'm glad to hear that. It will be interesting to see her give herself some shots. She sounds like she is already a pro at doing it all by herself. 

That's way cool to hear about the convert baptism and how the boy wants to have the preisthood and serve. I wish we had a young mens group here so badly. There are two guys who are young men age who are way awesome and we always meet with them, but they don't come to church that much. We help out their families with finances cause we are the "clerks" of the church. So we have to go with them to Maxima to buy food and what not on mondays or randomly during the week. They are great families and I love them a lot. They two guys, Vladas and Maximas, are way cool with me. I already got nicknames for them when I see them and they always laugh. I think I can really relate to them becasue they are willing to help us out with missionary work but the church just isn't that interesting to them and they pretty much are exactly how I used to be. I have seen a lot of reasons of why I am needed to be here in Šiauliai. I promise to tell them to you after the mission :D I would have to agree with you dad. It is a blessing to have served in harder areas leading up to here. Elder Erickson can't imagine when I told him how some areas were for me compared to here. He says it's way hectic serving here and so many people to meet with and talk to but for me, it's such a great blessing. :D He will have fun going to other areas of the mission, like Vilnius or Kauas or Klaipeda. ( hahah wich is the only areas to serve in Lithuania). I truly do love it here so much. I forgot to tell you I spoke in church two weeks ago, maybe I told you I can't remember. It was a lot of fun and the members really like my talk. The branch here is way small but they are so awesome. We had two of our investigators come to church so that was awesome to see. One of them, Regina, said she didn't like it and didn't want to come back, ahaha the other elder talked to her. I sat by the other one. His name is Andrus and he is the coolest guy. I like him so much. He speaks really fast and he has the coolest accent I am always trying to immitate. hahaha we call him Josh Groban cause he looks like him a little. I say he looks more like a cool priate. Speaking of Pirates, the new Pirates of the Carribean poster looks so so so so cool. They have them all over and I will be very excited to see that when I get home. hahaha. All the missionaries asked me how I handled it seeing the new pirates poster, cause everyone knows I love pirates or have seen my jack sparrow impression. :D

We got to do a lot of service with some of the members. A lot of the time was buying pipes and what not for a member who is fixing all of his mother in laws bathroom but the other one was we built a dog cage for one of the members. It was a lot of work and it took us 6 hours to do and we still aren't done. I will send some pics. We dug around a cement thing and then hammered away at some of the cement then sawed some wood and nailed them together then put up a metal fence and ya, it was a lot. We are going back this week to finish it which will be exciting. They had a cute little puppy dog that would always come over and we would play with it. They fed us after and we just had fun chatting with them and what not. She had a lot of kids at her house cause she has 3 daughters and then 4 other small kids where from her daughter who lives in england. 

School is out and or finishing up for some of the college students so now the crazy fun summer is about to begin here in Lietuva once again. I just love dealing with the groups of drunk teenagers, drunk men try to grab you and kill you or something funny like that, bumbs who won't leave you alone cause you won't give them money,crazy barely dressed teenage girls who try to sound cool by saying dumb english phrases but they don't really say them that well, bachelor or bachelorette parties, being kicked out of domes (literally), every house has a fence that you can't see so we open the door then a huge dog tries to kill us, men answeing doors in only their underwear ( and not the good kind), haha ya , missionary life if awesome in Lietuva ;D It's going to fly by before I even realize it. This time, I will know what people are saying. 

Yep, so next monday I will be in Riga, exactly a year ago I came into the field. I am way excited. We are having some guys from the quorum of the seventy come and speak to us so that will be cool. I'm way excited to see the elder from the MTC who are in Latvia. It will be a blast. We will also be able to see Elder Graham, who used to be a missionary in lithuania but now is in Riga as a Russian speaker as an assistant. Poor guy. haha :D He only 4 transfers til he goes home so he has to attempt to get some little russian before he goes home. He was really good at lithuanian. So now I know I am off the hook to becoming an Assistant. Yes!!!  I don't want to have to learn russian or serve in Latvia. I want to stay in Lithuania and continue learning lithuania. It's by far the prettiest languages of all the Baltic Mission lanaguages. I am also going on exchanges with Elder Falk who is a russian missionary in Vilnius. He is our "District/Zone leader" so he calls us nights and see how we are doing. We always have grand talks on the phone so he wanted to be with me for the exchange, so I get to go with him to Vilnius. :D I'm so excited. So I got quite a week ahead for me. 

I don't think I will think about the dentist thing cause it doesn't hurt too bad but if it does become a problem I will check it out. If I don't have to go to a dentist here, the better I will be. :D I may not survive a russian dentist haha. 

                              Love lots,