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

Email from James - November 7, 2011

Dear most wonderful family in the whole wide world whom I love and had a greater love for because I talked about you all so much during the conference yesterday,

Transfers came and went and I have the beautiful news that I am still in my beloved Šiualiai. In the past, after my 4 transfers were over in a city, I felt ready to go on and serve somehwere else. It was the complete opposite for me this time. I was so nervous that I would leave my Šiualiai. But the heavens were opened and the Lord spared me to have a little more time here. I was so happy. I am even more happy because not only am I serving here, but Elder Manning is still here, and it's his last transfer, and Elder Nelson is here. He is the coolest and funniest missionary. All three of us were together last year at the same time in Klaipeda. Elder Manning was training Elder Nelson and Elder Nelson's first day was thanksgiving day. We got a good laugh about that how we are all back together. I am so excited for this transfer and I couldn't be any happier. :D :D :D I can't show all my smiles. To put a little cherry on top of that great chocoloate cake, this past week, one of our awesome ivnestigators has been progressing a ton and accepted a baptismal date. We challenged him to be baptized and we set the date for Dec. 17th. :D Way big miracle. I attached my email to pres. boswell so you willl be able to read all about it an it makes email more easier on my part so I won't have to repeat everything all over again. :D Not that I don't love you and want to spend the time to email you but just the repeating part kinda drags. Now I can write more about other things to you. But ya so the trip was sweet and I showed more family pics and laughed and had a great time with the members. We joked about that they can come stay at our house if they get a chance to fly out to Utah because they said that they want to see Utah way badly from what they have seen. Would that be ok mom? ;D

Next week for my b-day, wow I can't believe how close it is, the daughter Monika and her mom are going to take us to Kryžių Kalnas, Hill of Crosses, so Elder Manning and Elder Nelson can go there for there first times. I was just talking with them and I asked if a bus went out there and they said they would take us for my B-day. That will be way fun because I think it is so cool out there. It will be my third time out there but the pics will be cooler this time because it will be the creepy fall weather and we will be in suits. :D Good mission pics. So yesterday was such a happy and wonderful day. We had the big district conference with the members in lithuania. If I had it my way, I would have more District Conferences with the members than with just the missionaries. :D Mostly because I know I will see the missionaries after the mission and the members I won't. :( It was a fun trip out to Kaunas, where the konference was held. It was so much fun because since last conference, I am so close to all of the members. At the conference, all of the youth was asking me when I was going home and I told them I still had till April and they all were like, " Nooooo it's soo soon. YOu need to come to Klaipeda" and others would say, " no he's coming back to Kaunas" hahah. It was funny and so great to see them all again. Like I said and like I will say forever and ever maybe in this email or emails more and even when I'm home, I LOVE THESE MEMBERS!!! Sadly though, before I knew it , it was time to get back on the bus and leave again. I didn't tell anyone but that was my last big district conference. OOo forgot to tell you that the cool holiday, " all saints day" was this past week and that was way fun. We went to an old grave yard and saw all the candles around the graves. I got some sweet pics and it was a way eerie nigth and the cemetary was made way back in the midevil times. muawayhaha. The moon was out too in a really creepy way. It was such a fun night. :D

I got a good laugh out of your sweet costume and your pose. hahha. I liked it and my comps got a good laugh. They said, " ahhh , now I see where you get most of your traits from. When you were acting like Elvis halfway around the world, I too pulled a little Elvis out. We had the small halloween activity, but it didn't really end up being like halloween because we ate tacos and played some games that have nothing to do with halloween, but it was still a blast and a lot of people came. We played one game where someone is in the middle of a circle and everyone has to sit down. The person in the middle has to be blindfolded and has a magazine in their hand. They have to point it around at the people sitting than someone has to grab it. Than they person in the middle says an animal or something that makes noise, like a dog for example. Than the person holding that magazine has to make the noise, like bark, and the person that is blind folded has to try and guess who it is. It was way funny. So Elder Kezele was in the middle and he was blindfolded and we all changed our spots so he would know where we were sitting. Not planned our anything, he comes to me so I grab the magazine. He said Elvis Presley. Ofcourse it comes to me. Everyone kinda giggled and I thought if I should do a funny russian accented Elvis or do one of my good ones. I went with my good act and danced a little like him and sang don't be cruel. Hahaha everyone couldn't believe it and kept laughing so hard. It was way funny. Ha on the bus ride, Monika and Irena, the members that are going to take us to the hill of crosses, told me that they heard about the activity and said they heard I danced and sang like Elvis. I laughed and said yep that was me. They said oh you have to do it for us. :D hahaha. Some members who don't know me from Vilnius came up and said, hey Elvis! From Rumšiškes, that activity in the summer where I danced like elvis :D. OH it was so much fun. We had such a great week and I saw a lot of miracle and felt the power of the Lord in His work through us.

With the splitting up of the christmas and birthday package, if you could send the cd's and magazines in the birthday package, that would be great beccause I have been really wanting to hear those cd's and get some new music. We don't have that much especially now since a threw out a ton more. :D I am very glad to hear you got the Ensign with the conference talks. I can't wait to read that. Thanks also for the money and going through all the trouble to get the things that I asked for. It truly means a lot to me.

Oh ya, with the turning of the clocks back, it's even more darker and colder. Nevertheless, as Paul once said, "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" .

Below is the email for the report of last week. It tells of the miracles I had and saw this past week and you can see what I email to Pres. Boswell. He's such a great mission president and says the nicest things to me, like about how happy he is that I am a District Leader and how great of a leader I am and have become. :D I hope you enjoy it. Until I write again, when my body has thus aged into 21. This is goodbye from a 20 year old boy, turning into the pages of dawn, when boyhood leaves and turns into a new creature in the form of an older. I can proudly say to thee, oh great family for you did not see, but I assure thee that my fair and 20 year old age has fought a good fight, it has finished it's course, it has kept the faith. :D

I love you all so much and can't wait to hear from you next week.

Us at the activity playing the blindfold game. 

Dear President Boswell,

I am so excited to have this wonderful week begin. We have so many great lesson set up and so many wonderful people to teach, I feel it will be a great one as we work hard and as we rely on the Lord's help. But before I jump the gun before this week begins, I must report on the wonderful past week we just had.

What a miraculous week in my book. I saw so many miracles this past week, I couldn't believe it. I know they only came because of our diligence and our hard work. It has been great to see us praying and involving the Lord more "in the vineyard" of His work and I saw this past week why that is so important and a miracle came out of it. I am also so blessed and thrilled to be serving with Elder Nelson and still with Elder Manning. Right fromt the start, we have been working as hard as ever. Elder Nelson is such a great missionary and a missionary I had always desiredt to serve with. He has grown a lot since I had last been with him and in such an amazing way. He is such a hard worker and brings such a powerful spirit into studies and into lessons. On the trip to District Conference this past sunday, without being asked, he got up and talked with all the members and got to know their names. That was so great for me to see. I love the members here so much with my whole soul and that showed me that Elder Nelson cared about these members and took the effort to get to know all of them. I am so happy he has the wonderful privilage of serving here in Šiualiai. Elder Manning is doing so great none the less. I can see he is really trying to finish hard "through the finish line" and he keeps working no matter what. He is a great example to me and I keep learning a lot from him. He is always there to help and he always does small things out of his way. One great quality that he has that I like about him is that he has a positive attitude. A lot of missionaries who are going home soon, tend to get a little trunky, and sometimes it can get distracting for the other missionaries who still have time in the field. But that's not the case with Elder Manning. He stays keep his head up and works til the end. He could be talking about all the fun things he will do once he gets home but he doesn't. It's so wonderful to see and he always brings a smile with his funny sense of humor. Another great talent he has is in finding scriptures. That is one of my greatest weaknesses and the Lord has blessed me with wonderful companions who can always find great scriptures to help the lesson and our investigators. I got some great companions


Eduardas- He is doing so great with the Book of Mormon reading. He says he can't read on his own because it hurts his eyes but he says he can think clearer when he just listens to we read with him. We read right from the beginning with the introduction from Moroni and the Introduction of what the Book of Mormon is. In all of my time meeting with him, the miracle was the immediate change in him. The whole lesson, he really listened, he conentrated on what we were saying to him and when we would answer his questions. He would ask questions in a sincere way, rather than just proving a point or of something not related, but he asked questions wanting to know, wanting to find the truth. The spirit was so strong during the lesson and he was really responsive during the lesson. It was so wonderful. Words can't describe how great I felt after. It was a true miracle. Change is possible and change can come from reading the word of God.

Romas- We met with him twice this past week and he has experienced a great change in himself also. Our first lesson he had a concern about being saved and forgiven and why it was only done in baptism. He understood repentance and he brought up a concern about baptism inline with that Christ came and now we are all saved no matter what. We talked about it for a while with him but it wasn't progressing. Elder Manning gave him a couple of scriptures to read for his commitment. When we met with him again later in the week, I noticed there was something different about him. He was a little more brighter and he was smilling more. I could feel the spirit's inlfuence on him and I was amazed. We talked about the chapters he read and he said it answered his questions completely. POWER IN THE SCRIPTURES. He said it made sense. He said he could see how the Book of Mormon could be the word of God because he got his answers to questions that no one had been able to answer before. We talked about baptism more and the gift of the Holy Ghost and the peace it can bring to our souls. I could feel the spirit prompting us to commit him to baptism again. We committed him to prepare and be baptized for Dec. 17th and he said yes. I was so close to jumping up for joy. He has changed so much since when I met with him way back in the summer. He really wants to know and wants to prepare for baptism and we can see it in him so clearly. I can promise you that we are going to be praying and fasting so hard for him, well at least I am going to like crazy. He is such an amazing guy. After the lesson, he said talking about what I told him about the peace that we can get in our souls, he said, " What you said made me think about how I felt when I went hiking in the mtns. on a trip before. Away from the noise and troubles of the world and in a way close to the heavens, I felt an amazing peace. It would be amazing if I could feel THAT peace all my life." We bore powerful testimonies that he can. That we can be in the "spiritual mtns." in this world. He shook our hands excitedly and said goodbye til our next meeting.

Geduminas- As I said that I saw the importance of involing the Lord in His "vineyard", I saw that with Geduminas. Geduminas had disappeared for a while and we had no way of getting ahold of him. He said he was probably going to move to Holland for work and he didn't know when he would leave or when he would be back. We tried stopping by but he was never home and we felt like we had lost our awesome find. This last week, we had some time to go do some finding. Normally we would look at the map and decide on a good place to go, according to what looked good to us. This time, we knelt in prayer and asked the Lord where we needed to go. I offered the prayer and immediately I had the impression to go stop by Geduminas. His mom who lives there told us before he works and is normally home at 8 or a little later. The time was 6 o clock. At the end of the prayer, we all had the impression to go stop by Geduminas. Following the impression we had recieved, we went over and to our joy and amazment, he was home. He warmly welcomed us in and we had a great lesson with him. He said he read a little from the Book of Mormon. We asked if he would be interested in meeting more and he said he would especially now at this moment because he is going to stay in Šiualiai and he has a lot more free time. We also were able to get his phone number. That was a really powerful experience for me in following the promptings of the spirit. A very powerful witness that God leads and directs this work.

Vaidotas- We met with him and we had a great lesson. He is the less active member who struggles with his testimony. It had been a while since we last had a chance to meet with him. He said he has felt a little difference lately and that he doesn't feel concern or feelings for the people he is around, for example the relationship with his girlfriend or his mom. He says it's kinda funny but it has happened before in his life. He said he read a little from the Book of Mormon like we had challenged him to do. We talked a lot about receiving answers and recognizing them. We promised him that God doesn't want him to feel lost or confused. We promised and testified that God loves him and wants him to find that desire to change and recieve answers. At the end of the lesson, he said he felt so good and in a way he hadn't felt in a long time. He said he needs to start coming back to church more. :D

So those were the great miracles I saw this past week. Our investigators are doing so wonderful and are really progressing. We keep them in our prayers constantly and we feel such a deep love and concern for them. It makes sutides a lot more meaningful when we are thinking of their needs and how we can help them come unto Christ. The Lord's hand is truly in Šiualiai and I know he loves and cares about the people here just as much and even so more than I do. :D

Raimonda- We weren't able to meet wit her this past week because she was busy but she called us and said that she is still reading and that she wants to keep meeting this upcoming week.

Elžbieta- We had a first lesson with her and it went fairly well. She says she is interseted in the gospel and wants to know more about it. She can get a little flirty at times with us but she is seeing that we are truly missionaries more and more and I can see the change in her with us. We are going to have members meet with us more with her and that will help her have a friendship with members in the church than just with us.

We have a lot of wonderful and great lessons set up this week, like I said, and we are praying and working so hard to have the Lord continue helping us in a his "Vineyard" of Šiauliai. I am so blessed and excited to continue my service here. Thank you so much for what you wrote to me in the email. I printed it out and I am going to keep in in sight so I can keep that constant drive and vision. I want to see Romas and Raimonda get baptized and I know it is possible. I have felt such a great difference in the transfers I have been here and I feel, as you said, this transfer can be a powerful one. Elder Manning said he wants to see one more baptism before he goes home. I know it's possible and it will be so according to our faith, obedience, and our diligent work.
Put the shoulder to the wheel,
-Elder Sanford

Email from James - October 31, 2011

Sveika Šeima,

We are going to have a branch halloween party which we are preparing and leading. We are making tacos. The members here are so beyond happy to have some tacos because they don't have them here. When we would tell them we are going to eat tacos, their eyes would get big and they would say, "ooooo yay, tacos". hahaha. If only they had a taco bell here, then they would go nuts. :D

So I will try my best to remember all of the things that happened this past week. I forgot to take my last transfer planner with me, right now I have only my new one, so I don't have the pages from last week of what we did. A lot of stores are closed today and tomorrow for the holidays. No not for Halloween, even though we did see some great bachelor Halloween parties going on and at clubs and what not, ha, but it's for the all saints day. Ya, it's really making me see how fast the time has gone by. I can't believe it. I remember last year so perfectly when we went to the cool cemetery in Kaunas and how neat it was to see all of the candles littered all over the cemetery. We have an investigator that wants to take us out to Kryžių Kalnas after we teach him a lesson either tomorrow or wednesday. That will be fun, especially if we went tomorrow cause that will be all saints day and they may have millions of candles around there.

We had a great District Meeting about using our time wisely and giving everything to the Lord. We had a great discussion about what we could do more to "involve the Lord in the work". I learned so much in preparation for the District Meeting. I taught with olive tree allegory. I never noticed it before but I noticed how involved the Lord of the Vineyard was in the work. Most of the time, when reading that, I notice when He calls the laborers to go to the work and harvest. We think of that as missionaries and as the gatherers of Israel. I noticed when the Lord brings forth the laborers, He himself goes down with them and works with and among them. It was a really great find. I taught about how important it is that we need to involve the Lord in our work. At times we can get overwhelmed with the work or many of the worries of cares of missionary work, but we must always remember who's work this is and who we are serving. We must always remember to involve the Lord. We discussed how we can involve the Lord in more of the phases of our work. It's been wonderful! We have been praying more when we aren't sure what to teach someone or when we want to know where we need to go, we lean on prayer to guide us.

Ya that Liahona is way good, I got one in Lithuanian too. It's way sad because they only get a copy of the liahona in lithuanian when it's one of the special issues. It's way sweet in lithuanian. I think that Liahona is my favorite one of all and I can't wait to get the Ensign version of it along with the Ensign with all of the talks from Conference. Also, by the way, were you able to find the Reflections of Christ CD? That would be so great to have. Transfers are this week so next week I will let you know if I am still here or if I  have moved. We have two new elders coming in and one new sister. It will be an interesting transfer. This past one has gone by so fast and it was even a week longer transfer.

Your costumes sound way funny for Halloween. I can't believe you got out the old Elvis costume again. I definitely want to see some pictures. Parker went for the Vampire look instead of Capt. America. I figured that would probably happen haha. I like the vampire though. You'll have to tell him I think he is way cool for being a vampire. I laughed so hard when you said Anna was a Nun. Hahaha because we talked to so many catholics and it has become a major influence on me being here with all of the crosses and cathedrals and what not. Hahaha. What is mom going to be? I thought long and hard about what I should be for Halloween, and I finally came to a conclusion. I think a missionary would be the coolest so yes.. I will be a missionary. Funny thing actually, we helped some members move this week, ya, crazy huh? we never get chances to do that here. They are so cool! They had a lot of stuff to move and they lived on the top floor so we were pretty tired and sore after but it was so much fun. They have a little baby boy who is about a year and a half who just goes nuts when he sees me at church cause I always play with him. He was way happy to see me at their new apt. :D That was on wednesday and than on saturday we helped a members friend move too. That is very rare to happen here especially twice in one week. ha. We had to move some huge dressors and I got some pretty cool battle scars from it haha. It was so much fun!!! I miss manual labor! What made me laugh was when I had to wear my jeans and hoodie, it was so uncomfortable for me. I would have been just fine working in my missionary attire. I never thought I would grow so comfortable with wearing a white shirt and tie everywhere. Don't be surprised if you see me wearing a white shirt and tie randomly. :D

We had some really good lessons this past week. One of which with one of our investigators. We found out that she wasn't really praying personally on her own, and we have been meeting with her for a long time. She prays with us but we found out she didn't think prayer on her own was a big deal. She says it's kinda silly. So we had a powerful lesson about the importance of prayer and having a close relationship with our heavenly father. It was a really good lesson. I can't remember most of the lesson we taught last week but we had a great busy week. I love being busy with missionary work. The only bad thing is that it makes the weeks go by ten times faster. Ha in english, I told my class I may or may not still be here next week for english and they were so sad. ha. I gave the spiritual thought and than like most of the time, I told them goodbye til next week and then they usually get up and leave but this time they didn't get up to go. I laughed and asked them why they weren't leaving and they said they didn't want to go. That made me feel so loved. One of the girls started tearing up. I didn't think they liked me that much, ofcourse I am quite a funny teacher. :D It made me so happy and we exchanged email adresses for after the mission and they said they we would definitely talk after the mission. I love my english class so much. They said they would pray so that I would stay. Ha ha.

Overall, this week has been really good. I love this country more and more and I pray the day won't come too quick when I will have to go home. There's a really cool poem that shows a good way into what a lot of people here feel. It was written by a russian convert and I want to share it with you. It's way good and it's so perfect for this mission.

Who Are You Boy?
(Poem written by a Russian convert)

Who are you boy? You journeyed to this land of ours.
This land where I have endured my days,
And felt oppression kill my soul,
And forced me into some tight mold,
And teach me that I should not hope,
Unless I care to smell the smoke,
Of dreams that the Red Army tamed.

Who are you boy? From this land of plenty,
Teaching of God, if there is any.
You have all, we have none.
Do you know what that feels like son?
And yet, you ask me to believe,
In something that I cannot see,
Some force you say will bring me joy.
Do you know what that feels like boy?

Where you are from, faith is free,
But it has a price for me.
When I have pain, I have a bottle,
Hurt dies quick when you down it in vodka,
That’s enough to warm my soul.
I work, I sleep, the days go by,
I am waiting for the day I die,
You don’t understand this place,
You say you believe, obey, have faith.
Live life well, serve and give,
Here in Russia (or the former USSR) we just live.

Who are you boy? Why did you come?
To save a soul who once was numb?
To teach a wretched hateful man,
Who cursed your help, refused your hand.
I thought that we were worlds apart,
So how is it you knew my heart?
A fraction my age, you calmed my rage,
Mercy paid my generous wage,
I should have been left behind.
It is hard to love my kind.
Hope in your heart, power in your hands.
Why did you come to this distant land?

I know now, it was for me.
The red curtain fell, but I was not free,
Until a boy from nations away,
Brought me my Lord, I bless the day.
He led me to weep at my Master’s feet,
The American boy I met on the street.
New and naïve, still in his teens,
With a message to bring the world to its knees,
I thought that the truth would come from another,
I did not know this boy was my brother.

I can't describe how blessed I am to serve here. Sometimes the language is hard, or the people are mean, but non of that matters to me. It's the feeling I get when I can make someone smile or see that there really is happiness in hope in this life. This last sunday, some of the members told me how said they would be if I transfer because they said every sunday, they say I give them a new happiness and joy for the upcoming week just by my smile and positive and energetic attitude. I pray I don't leave either. :D

That really made me happy and feel so good when you told me how much you loved me dad. You are my hero and I have seen how much sacrifice you give to us as a family and to the ward you serve. I pray I can become half the man that you are. I have learned so much from your great example. I always keep you all in my thoughts and prayers.
         I love you all so much,

Email From James - October 25, 2011

I really wanted to copy and paste my weekly letter to the mission president for this email because it was way long and we had such a great week this past week and it would have been really good to share but when I tried looking it over, it didn't show anything. It better have sent because it took me so long to write and I was way proud of it. The reason we are emailing today is because we had a zone conference yesterday. Way amazing conference and I learned so much and I am making so many more dramatic changes in how I am as a missionary. I think it was by far my most favorite conference thus far. It was a little sad towards the end because a couple of elders are going home and sister Alldredge, the sister that was with us in the MTC is going home next week. They were all crying and then that made all of us cry. It was a bittersweet moment.

The Lord gives us trials, sometimes it's in the language, sometimes it's in finding people to teach, sometimes it can be with companions, sometimes it can be in having a very hard week where you feel very discouraged and you feel like you aren't the best you are. Then one week, the Lord opens the heavens and pours down blessing upon you according to your Faith and Obedience. You lay your head on your pillow on sunday night and say to yourself, " The Lord was in this week". That would be how I would describe this past week.

We found three great new investigators this past week which was a huge miracle.
One of the less actives young men has been coming to church a lot more. I found one of my long sleeve white shirts in a suitcase that I have never worn and I gave it to him. He made up a lot of excuses that he couldn't wear it but I laughed and told him he should and that he needed to. He laughed and then gave me a brotherly hug and said he would wear it and thanked me for it. He then asked if he could have an interview to the branch president personally by himself. That was a huge step. He said he wants to start preparring more for the preisthood and getting married. That was such a miracle to me because when I first got here and I saw him, I made a goal that I would get him to church and be active before I left Šiauliai. Words can't describe how happy I was to see that. 

I had to prepare a talk sunday morning because one of the people decided he couldn't speak but he came to church. So I spoke this past sunday and it actually went very well and everyone said I spoke so powerfully. 

One the way home from a lesson for english class, we do personal english classes for people, and we had a first lesson with her and she was one of the new investigators we found, a young guy came up to me and asked who we were and what we did. We were able to talk for him a while on the bus because we had a longer drive back to center. He was way cool and he spoke english very well. I laughed and asked him if he had learned his english from Cartoon Network and he said, " woah, how did you know?" I laughed and told him that most of the younger guys I talk to had learned english from that show. So we laughed and talked about our favorite shows. :D He said he had met with the JW's and the HarneyChristinias (however you spell that) and said he didn't find what he was looking for and said maybe we have what he is searching for. He said he was really interested in the book of mormon and that he wants to learn from us rather than through the internet because there are lies on the internet all of the time. FINALLY, someone realizes the truth. Ha. So we set up a time to meet on saturday and he said he would come. Sadly, he didn't end up coming and he didn't answer his phone. We will keep trying to meet with him because he is too coo to lose.

This week I just really felt the spirit so strong and I am so happy I am on a mission. I have been reading Jesus the Christ and it has been amazing. I have learned so much and I have felt so much more love and compasion for what our Savior taught and did for us while he was on the Earth. I have also been having an amazing read of the Book of Mormon. Even more amazing was last night when we were coming home from Conference. We got the October Liahonas about the Book of Mormon. Talk about AMAZING! We had a long bus ride home and it was late at night so it was nice and quite on the ride home so I read that the whole way. I still want the Ensign because it has more articles than the Liahona. But my gosh, that liahona was so powerful and I have such a greater love and deisre to read the Book of Mormon more. Please oh Please, for family home evening or something, READ that ensign. You will never want to miss a day of reading the Book of Mormon. I have set a goal that I never want to miss a day of reading the Book of Mormon, even before I read that Liahona, but now it has been made even stronger.

About the package, don't send it this week because transfers are next week and I'm not sure what will happen. I most likely will stay here but you never know. It's fine if it comes after my B-day, I didn't even dawn on me that my birthday was soon til at zone conference they announced it and sang to us whose B-day was in November. I really want to have the conference Ensign, so badly and I was also wondering a small other favor. There is a DVD at the church titled, The Reflections of Christ. We watched it and it was so powerful. The music in it is so beautiful and has such a power and brings the spirit so strongly. I would love more than anything to have that CD. They sell it at deseret book. If you can, please get me that cd too along with the MOTAB one. I threw away a lot of cd's I had gotten throughout my mission, soundtracks and what not, that I had been thinking and praying about a lot and a second witness came at conference that I needed to get rid of them. They weren't bad cd's, but I felt like I could raise my bar as a missionary and be a better example and leader but not having soundtracks, only music that focuses on our work and on the Savior. That is why I would love to have this cd because it is so powerful.

That is really cool about that restaurant. I will have to go there someday. I printed out grandpa's talk and I am going to read it. It looks really good. I'm excited. I'm glad you guys were safe with all of your travels. I'm gald you got to have a lot of fun and got to see everyone. :D

For the end of this email, I want to share a powerful experience I had this past week:

I thought I understood the meaning of being a servant and a missionary of Christ, but that changed this past week powerfullly. We met with Ramutė and Eduardas this past week. Some background history about them: Ramutė is a member of the church and is such a powerful member at that. She has such a strong testimony and loves the gospel so much. Her husband, Eduardas, is not a member of the church but likes meeting with missionaries because we are fun to talk to. They have been coming to church together for the past 10 years and Eduardas still hasn't joined the church. Since meeting with missionaries, he has had the same concerns all of those years. Most lessons include his comments of, "How come there is only one true church? My family has been a catholic forever and now all of these churches are here and tell us that it is wrong. Maybe I will read the Book of Mormon some day. All I need is faith, right?" There are more but that is the common ones. He never intends to argue in lessons, but he has a hard time believing in what his wife or what we say. In the ten years of his life attending this church, he has been to doubtful to even read or even touch the pages of the Book of Mormon.
This night, we were going over to meet with them and we were hometeaching Ramutė. The topic was the Book of Mormon. Right from the start, he started asking all these questions about why joseph smith? why the book of mormon? etc. We tried, along with his wife, to answer his questions. The tension began picking up in the room. It didn't seem like a new thing for me and it made me a little sad. It kinda got a little heated with my comps and him, because they haven't been with him so long and they don't really know how he is. I recognized the spirit was gone and I really wanted it back. I said I silent prayere and said, " Heavenly Father, what do we need to do to help this man? Please give us what we need to say." I had the most powerful experiences of my whole mission.
As I came back to the lesson, they were beginning to argue, my comps and Ramutė and Eduardas. I asked if I could say something. I followed what I felt I should do and say. I paused so that things could quite down and that the spirit could come in. And also so they could all settle down. :) I told about how I have been here in Šiauliai for the past 6 months. I talked about how I remember my first visit with them and we chuckled when I talked about when Elder Erickson was here for the first time and how nervous he was. I told Eduardas I have talked with him a lot about the Book of Mormon and how he can know what is true. The answer, when I ask him if he will read the Book of Mormon is, " maybe someday". I looked at him and said that he told me that 6 months ago. " You have been giving that response for the past 10 years and 6 months to me. Why can't today be that someday?" He looked down. I bore my testimony from the deepest spot in my soul of how I know that the Book of Mormon is true. He looked down at the floor and looked deep in thought. The spirit was so strong in the room and anyone could have felt that. I told him how powerful of a tesimony his wife has and how lucky he is to have her. I encouraged him to ask her how she got her testimony and what she knows to be true. I challenged him to read the Book of Mormon. Silence... He really was thinking. That was a huge step right there. He never thought so deeply about what he said before. I was praying with my whole sould to have his heart feel the power of our message and the power of the Book of Mormon. He looked up and said, " If you give me a schedule or a goal to follow, I will begin to read the Book of Mormon."

I love you all so much,
Elder James Sanford

Email From James - October 17, 2011

Ugh what a week. All I can say is, I'm glad it's over. There were some good things about it, but it really took a toll on me and I can feel it today. I'm just exhausted. I always thought, like how mom said, when you get in a routine of going to bed and getting up early, you'll get used to it. Well over a year and a half later, I'm still not used to it. It's like my bed hits the pillow and i'm saying yay bed sleep and then the alarm goes off and my body feels like it hasn't had any sleep. I swear this mission is putting 10 years on me. 

So those way cool investigators we found, well let's just say they aren't investigators anymore. We had a really "great" two days. We dropped one of the eternal investigators. Ugh I will tell you about him later but he is apparently "starting" a new church where they just go in nature and have direct communication to God without leaders and without any of this authority "stuff". It made me sad because he did not look the same at all and the spirit was not there in the lesson. It really made me more sad because during the summer we had gotten him so close to baptism and he had made such a great change. The other investigator, who said he had started praying more, said he felt he shouldn't meet with us and that he didn't want to keep the Book of Mormon because it will probably become "firewood" if he kept it. Ya we should definitely save that book. Our third investigator txted us and told us who was grateful for the Book of Mormon he received and that he really enjoyed meeting with us but that he felt he had received an answer from God and that he should stick with the beliefs he has and that he wouldn't be meeting with us more. :(... Ya not a great week in the record books. 

We did find a really cool lady. She was really nice to us and is really interested in reading the Book of Mormon. That was last monday so that was a great miracle find. I hope she will continue to want to keep meeting. I also got to go on exchanges on tuesday and got to go to Vilnius. That was so much fun and I got to be in a normal two-some companionship. They are so much better than three-somes. We ate KFC but it's not as good as in america. We met with this really nice older man they are working with. He was so nice and he builds model boats. He told me I had a true lithuanian accent when I spoke. Ha I laughed and told him he was lying. :D Apparently, he doesn't show many missionaries or people his model boats and drawings and paintings he has locked away in another room, but for some reason, he said he really liked me and wanted to show me them. So I got to see a bunch of his really amazingly well drawn pictures and his boats he made. It was so cool. I hope I get a chance to serve in Vilnius. It's such a big city and there are so many people. But I'm so grateful I get to serve here because we get a lot of lessons every week. Vilnius is a very hard city to serve in. Especially in finding lessons. Everyone kinda looked at us funny, especially in KFC because I would order in lithuanian, he would order in russian, than we would speak to eachother in english. :D 

This week has just been really hard. I have just felt really dead and my fire has died a little. I am planning on fasting this week because the last time I did that a few weeks ago, I felt so much stronger after. 
That would be so great if mom could send those ensigns to me and that CD. That would be so great to have. :D I was also wondering, could you possibly send some lucky charms and some butter lovers microwave popcorn. Oh, we talked about cereal and I have just been craving some lucky charms. Yum :D If you could that would be so so nice. ha.

We watched all the conferences in church on saturday and sunday. It was kinda fun because I made a whole bunch of alfredo for the sunday session and we all ate that at lunch. Everyone was saying how good it tasted and how my wife will love me. :D haha. It was so funny cause I had planned on catching up on my journal writing during the conferences but I just watched conference the whole time. It made me laugh because they ended quickly, meaning I didn't realize how fast time had gone by. I laughed because I remembered when I first got here and I didn't like watching conference all over again because I had no idea what they were saying, but now I had fun watching it becaus I learned a lot of new words and phrases. It's funny to watch their translations because it's hard to translate american saying into lithuanian. It's even funnier to watch when Pres. Monson or other apostles, say something that wasn't planned. Pres. Chomskis laughed with us because he helps out alot with the dubbing and translations of conferences. Conference is so good!!! It make's me tear up a little when they do the big shot of the conference center and there are millions of members there. Here, you can feel so alone sometimes. I know my first sunday i'm going to be crying before I even start speaking by just seeing how many members there actually are. 

Nothing much else to report. It's quite cold, excpet today looks pretty nice. The mornings are darker and the nights are growing longer and longer. Soon we will be living in darkness and snow. Yay ( sarcasm added ). I love you all so much and thank you so much for all you do for me. I am so grateful to have the best family in the world. 

Email From James - October 10, 2011

What a great week! This week we didn't get huge numbers, but we had great lessons and I saw some miracles this pat week. One miracle, the fleas are gone so that isn't a big worry. I wash my sheets every week and after that, I really washed them. :D But they aren't in our apt. anymore. Conference, simply amazing! Hahah Elder Holland's talk was sweet. Pretty much all of the talks were amazing. I think this was by far my favorite conference. I learned so much and I did something that was in the first presidency message for this past month. President Uchtdorf talked about being prepared for conference and one of the ways we can prepare for conference was to come with questions. I did just that and I learned so much more and they were all answered. I do have to say, I didn't like how a lot of the talks would be like, " the blessings of missionary service are wonderful. A missionary will learn so much more in their life in a mission than by anything else they would learn on their own" I would sit up and get ready for revelation and stories of missionary work and how I can improve, then in one of the talks I really remember well, " an important meeting a missionary will have is their last interview with the mission president, when a missionary is preparing to go home". Man, so many of those talks talked about returned missionaries and stuff about after mission. Ugh, I didn't like those parts of the talk so much. Oh don't get me wrong, I will love them after the mission, but in the mission, I don't want to picture me in jeans isntead of church slacks, a normal T-shirt without a nice looking tie, no Book of Mormon in Lithuanian in hand, no missionary planner in my chest pocket telling us who we are going to help that day, no name tag bearing the name of Christ. We talked a lot about conference and then we talked about those parts of the talk. I really fear coming back " to the world". Thankfully there were words of comfort and encouragment to return missionaries to continue their same study habits and "continue with that same missionary spirit we had as a missionaries". It hits me harder and harder how fast time goes by and how short I really have in the mission field. I just know I'm going to miss having literally 24/7 living the life of a missionary preaching the Gospel of Christ. I still got time though, the time is not yet at hand for me to leave :D. 

Conference was simply amazing though. I can't wait to get the Ensign. I am quite jealous of how the weather looked in Utah. At both conferences the weather looked so beautiful and people were outside with no coats on, sitting on the grass, and just very relaxed. Winter is definitely knocking on the door here very early. It has gotten so cold as of late and it is getting darker and darker very quickly. We can already see our breath when we are outside. Oh joy. The natives say that this winter is going to be very bad because we had a very mild summer. 

I got your package you sent. Thank you so much. Let's just say I may or may not have given my cereal a standing ovation when I ate it for breakfast. There is just something so amazing and beautiful about American Cereal. :D Also thank you so much for those journals. They are so nice and I love how they look. They look way cool. That picture, the bigger one, is really neat looking too. I have it on my wall. I changed to title of the pic though. He didn't really look like Jesus to me so I retitled it as, " Paul, the Servant of Christ". He looks like a paul to me :D Don't worry about those scriptures, I will be fine. I'm already far enough into the mission that there isn't any point of having to carry around more books. But random thought, for my b-day, I promise I normally don't think this far ahead. But, all I really want for my b-day and it can be a part of christmas, since you have helped out so much with so much on my mission, all I really want is the October Ensign, the November Ensign with the talks from Conference, and this new MOTAB Cd I saw in a Deseret Book magazine that President Chomskis randomly got. It's titled This is the Christ. It has a pretty white cover and it looks really good. Just a little thing on my mind. ;D  I also thought it was funny how mom sent my other jersey. Now I got two but it's so cold I don't really have a chance to wear it. I didn't know I asked to have that one sent but thanks a lot mom. It was really fun to see that again. :D Oh the candy corn was amazing too. It may or may not already be all gone. :D Oh how I love candy corn. They don't have that here. Really random but some people were wondering when your going to update the blog? :D

So like I said that this past week was really good and that I saw some miracles, I will share. We met with some really cool members who haven't been coming to chruch for a while. The lady's daughter who is my age hurt herself by falling down some stairs so that's more of the reason why they couldn't come. It hurts for her to walk but they have been coming to church a lot now and it has been making me so happy. On monday we went over to their house and had a wonderful lesson with her. Funny part was that they have a ginormous dog. This mission has really made me hate dogs, long story but I will explain after the mission, but they had a huge german sheppard. We didn't know that before hand. We went into their living room and sat down but we could hear this dog barking in another room. The came in and asked if we were afraid of dogs. We said no and they said ok we just want our dog to come in and see who you are and maybe it will calm him down. So i'm expecting some middle sized dog to come out because they live in a very small apt. Oh no, they decide to have a huge dog. It was this huge german sheppard who just charges out and jumps onto the couch and then all over us. He was nuts! He kept falling down and then jump on the coffee table and then onto us. OH I though I was going to die right there. Bring on any angry drunk guy, I feel safe with that, but not with this dog. Hahaha oh it was crazy. So they took him and put him in another room. I said a very sincere and heartfelt prayer in my heart that I was still alive :). So as we had this great lesson with them, the dog is literally killing this door to get out. It was way loud but he would quite down then randomly get loud during the lesson. It was worth it though to go see them. They are so great. The daughter conducted the music on sunday and I learned that she sings so beautifully. It was amazing. I asked her at this lesson if she would speak in church and she said she would. They are so nice and we asked how we could help them and they said to keep coming over to visit. :D 

We went to Klaipeda for a district meeting which was so much fun. I miss klaipeda so much and it's way crazy. Sister Alldredge, the sister who was with us in the MTC, is going home in a few weeks. Her mission is over. We couldn't believe it! How time flies. 

We met with a guy who is about 17 or 18. He started off as kinda a smart alic kinda kid. He said our first lesson two weeks ago that he doesn't believe in God and that people do because they are stupid. Hahah then are we stupid? :Dhaha This lesson we had last week was such an amazing change in him. He began asking about Adam and Eve and trying to have a big psychological talk and it wasn't going to help. We really followed the spirit and directed his question to a better concern, his faith in God and Jesus Christ. We told him we would love to talk about all that more with him later, but right now, what he should be focussing on is wether he believes God is real or not. He opened up a lot more tenderly after that and he told us something very amazing, he said, " you know, since meeting with you, I have been doing something I have never really done in my life a lot before. I have been praying a lot since meeting with you." That was such a miracle in my eyes. He has grown a lot in just a few short weeks. He's more sincere when we talk instead of trying to speak smartly or intelegently about God and stuff from the Bible that don't really matter all that much. He took a Book of Mormon and said he would read it. We bore our testiomonies of how he could know God is truly there and that he truly knows him. He was really touched by it and said we could meet again and that he really wants to. I had the feeling, and we talked about it after that his life is pretty sad. I don't think he has a lot of friends and he isn't happy in his life. I am so glad we found him now. And to add to that great miracle of his beginning of his "Change of Heart" he ended the lesson by saying a prayer. He bore such a short but sweet prayer. The last lesson, he wouldn't say the prayer and it seemed like it would be hard to get him to pray at all. The spirit really can really change the heart.

We met with a guy who has seen many visions, had many revelations one of which he knew and saw when 9/11 would happen and tried to write the first president, had seen and talked with God but doesn't remember what God said, and has many revelations and has three PhD's. Ya pretty weird huh? Even though he has all of these things happen to him, he is the nicest man I have ever met. He isn't full in his knowledge or puffed up by pride. This was our second lesson with him last week and it was pretty good. He says he believes that Joseph was a prophet because he believes people can see and talk with God. He said himself, ' I'm not a prophet, but I believe Joseph could have been." Your probably thinking, he is kinda wierd, but he is a really great guy. He came to chruch and loved it. I gave him my Book of Mormon that I wrote my testimony in and he said that really meant a lot to him. We challenged him to baptism and he said he needs to know for sure. He will do anything we tell him to, meaning about commitments. He could really help out this church a lot. There is a lot to tell about him but the Lord straineth me to not share more than that is needed. :D And I want to tell more in person about him than through email. :D 

Thanks so much for sharing that story of when you first prayed about the church dad. That really meant a lot to me and I want to have a good sit down with you when I'm home because I don't really know about your story. I can't wait for that day when I'm home :D I laughed how the missionaires didn't challenge you to baptism til forever down the lessons and even when you had prayed and gotten an answer, they still were nervous asking to set a date. I love preach my gospel and I have found a great way to get right to the persons concerns and get them more prepared for baptism, I learned a lot from Elder Lindell, it is to challenge them to baptism right in the first few minutes of the first lesson. That seemed so crazy to me at first, but it really gets people to become progressing investigators preparing for baptism and not just people meeting with us because we are nice boys from America. I love the feeling of your heart pounding and the worry of what will they say when I ask them, but then the power of the spirit coming in and giving power to your words when you call them to repentance. It's intensifying! I am so blessed to have this great opportunity to have that calling, that I can invite people to come unto Christ and follow him. This is the best two years of my life and for my life. I wouldn't want to ever trade it for the world! This Gospel is so great!

       I love you all so much and I hope you have a great week. If not, look at what's great in life and then it will be great!.
           I am Elder James Sanford, I have a great family who I love to death. I'm a missionary in the amazing and beautiful country of Lithuania. 
                   And I'm a Mormon ;D

Email From James - October 3, 2011

Wow Parker's leg looks way good. Haha he really did a number on his leg. I'm sure he will be able to show that off to me when I am home. He's quite a trooper. I told my english class about what happened to Parker and they said he is quite a crazy american boy. I am going to bring pics next time to class to show everyone. They always have big smiles on their faces when I talk about my family cause they say I have a shine when I talk about you. My class is way funny. The class got a lot bigger. Normally there was about 5 people that came but just this last week, it exploded with english calls and now my calss is about 25 people. Wooo. It is a little harder because some people speak better than others so I have to find ways so that all can learn and participate. At the end of class is where we have the spiritual thought and so far they all seem to like it. They say I speak lithuanian, " beautifully" haha. :D I usually laugh when they say that and tell them that their liars. :) That's way neat that Anna got asked to Bingham Ball. You'll have to send some pics. I want to see who her date is and how she dresses for the dance. :D

Oh Konference. I can't wait to watch it this week. We are watching a konference session a day this week starting tomorrow so I'm way ekstatic about it. :D I literally have been counting down the days. When the first session started when it was 7pm here, I have never wanted to watch konference so badly in all my life. President Chomskis has been working like crazy with a lot of the other members in Lithuania translating the sessions and he told me that Elder Hollands is way good. We also heard from the assistants that Provo is getting another temple. Yay, Satan's influence is dwindling. :D Now there will be two cities in Utah with two temples. I am going to pass out when I am home and see all of the glorious temples all around. I won't know what to do with myself.

So we had quite a crazy hard week this past week. Won't go into details now but after the mission I will tell, but long story short, we had a run in with a way drunk guy on a very big bridge and then had to sneak our way into a store and out to get away from him ;D Story for after the mission hahaha. But a another funny story I can tell. So last tuesday, Elder Kezele starts saying he thinks he is getting bitten by fleas at night. He showed us a couple of small red marks on his arms and says that they itch. Elder Manning and I told him it was all in his head and that he is probably getting hives from freaking out about it. Well next morning, he has a ton of red marks on his arms and legs and says he felt a couple of them bite. Well now we start to believe him and say to just spray some bug spray. Well the next night, I wake up at 3 and feel something bite my leg and then a little higher up my leg and it itches way bad. Oh great. He really did have fleas. Yep, next morning I had some good bite marks on my legs from a dang flea. Oh it was terrible. So we had to go to the vet and buy some flea killer spray stuff and then cleanse everything in our apt. with it. We sprayed every inch of our apt. with that stuff so it was impossible for anything to have survived. Elder Kezele was really paraniod about them so he slept on the coach in the other room. But now things are in order and there are no more fleas. We went to the farthest reaches of Šiauliai by accident and ended up in a way rough area to go harvesting. Ya that didn't end up lasting for too long. Once it turned night time, everyone decided to be crazy and more drunk then usually. A little crazy, but behold I say unto, that the Lord protected us for we were men strong in the faith. Yea, for the Lord surely doth protect His servants from the dangers of this world. :) I also got pretty sick during the week. It was just a minor cold/flu but I feel much better now. I had a really good fast and after all the finances were done and putting all of the end of the month reports in, and my fast was over, I began to feel so much better. It was a true blessing. Everyone during the week was so nice to me. They would tell me things that I should do to get better. :D All in all, It was a pretty tough week for all of us. I think this week will be a lot better, plus we will be watching konference. That will really boost us up. I have also set a lot of new goals for this week to help me with my studies and things to do to improve the work.

I saw and really felt the power of fasting and prayer this past week. I took a really long fast because I really wanted to receive the Lord's help. I felt pretty week this past week. A lot of our investigators weren't able to meet, we weren't finding anyone, I felt we weren't really working together as a District, and I didn't feel like I wasn't mounting up to my calling as a district leader. I started my fast on sunday and things started to change. I prayed so hard and for a while for what I wanted to the Lord to help me with and thoughts began coming into my head of what I should do and what I could do to help our district/companionship. Throughout my fast from saturday onward to sunday, my studies seemed to be sort of lead and at church, I felt the spirit so strong in a lot of people's testimonies. My language picked up again and I could feel the Lord was aware of me and was helping me. One the members that I really like but she had been gone for a while with her husband in Russia came back last sunday. She said she noticed a change in me and that I was speaking a lot clearer and better. That meant a lot to hear. My love for the members here grows more and more. I think Šiauliai is my favorite area I have served in so far. I have grown so close to the members here and they always say how happy they are that I am serving here. One of the investigators/investigator who is practically member but her husband won't let her be baptized along with her daughter. He is a great guy and loves missionaires but just doesn't think his family should get baptized but the mother and daughter want to. Long story, I will explain after, but she came to church for the last time. They are all moving to Holland. That was so sad. She talked to me for a bit and said that I was the easiest missionary to interract with because I am so friendly and speak very freely and kindly. I am so sad they are moving. She said I better stop by and see her and her family after the mission. :D I love that whole family so much. They will all get baptized one day. I know it. After my fast, I felt such a calm releif and a feeling that God knew my concerns and that everything would be ok. There is such a great power that we can receive if we just allow the Lord into our lives and we give him some time in our lives. It's so sad when people say they are too busy to read the scriptures or come to church. They don't know what they are missing. I'm so grateful that I have this time to dedicate my life to serving God every day and every minute. I know I'm greatly going to miss that after the mission. It's funny, when we are out on p-days and we see music videos on tv our hear some songs that we used to hear before our missions, it used to make me miss all that and I would say," oh I can't wait till I can listen to that" or " what I would give to ....". Now it makes me kinda sad that time is going by so fast and that day is coming when I have to go back to that. That I won't have this time to promise people blessings, to prepare for lessons on how we can help them grow closer to God and follow Christ, go out and talk to peole about happniess and joy every single day. Let's just say be prepared to have ultimate family home evenings and scripture study in the morning. :D Being a missionary is so awesome. By far, as that speaker said in konference like you said, the mission is the best two years of and for my life. :)

Make this week a really good one and I will too. :D I love you all so much.
su amžina meile,

P.S. hey dad, I haven't heard a good mission story in a long time. If you got time I would love to hear another one. :D I learn a lot about how great of a dad you are and how great of a sacrifice you make as a bishop. I am so blessed to have a dad who is home and loves and cares for all of us. You are a great example to me.

P.S.S. Mom, your the greatest and I learn more and more by having to clean up and cook all the time, how wonderful you really are. ;)

P.S.S.S. Anna, choose righteous friends and be thankful for how many friends you have that are in the church. We are truly blesses for where we live in amazing Utah. Also go to the Temple, once for you and once for me ;D Keep that crazy drama attitude always shinning that I love. I always think about the funny laughs you and I had together at Disneyland or on trips together. Or when we tease mom ;)

P.S.S.S.S. Parker, well first try not to kill yourself, but also know how much I love you and you are truly my best friend. There are a lot of times when I wish I had little parker boy with me to make me smile. :D We will have a lot of fun when I am home. :)

Email From James - September 26, 2011

Sveiki Šeima,

Wow you had quite a week with parker hurting his leg. It sounds way bad and I pray that he is doing alright. He's a tough kid though, I know he can pull through anything. I can't believe he had to get stitches though. You'll have to explain to me what happened in person, ugh I don't like talking about that:), because I was a little confused how it all happened. You really have had quite a lot of trips at hospitals. Hopefully the curse won't cross over to me anytime soon.

Uncle Scott sounds like he is doing so well. That is amazing to hear that he is a high preist now and that Robyn is in the Relief Society Presidency. I am so proud of them both for coming so far. That will be fun to go with them through the temple after the mission. Oh temples, I can easily in two seconds get tears come to my eyes when I talk about how much I miss temples. It's so so hard to go so long withot going to temples. Lets just say once I am off that plane and we are heading home, I want to go straight to the temple, even if it means going before I'm set apart.

I can't believe October Konference is already here. President Chomskis translates a lot of the talks and he told us that Jeffrey R. Holland's talk in preisthood is really intense. I can't wait to hear it. :D That will be a lot of fun to hear and I am excited to see what new counsel we are to hear from the mouth of the prophets and apostles. We will probably be able to start watching the sessions next week. I'm way extatic about it. Also I hear that the October Ensign is a special issue about the Book of Mormon. Maybe I would like to get one of those in the future.

When you mentioned studying in the D&C about Joseph Smith and how he probably felt when he was trying to get the church going, I can see how he feels at times. We have been visiting a lot of less actives and so far no one wants to meet, it's sad because we want them to come back so bad because from what is written about them, they sounded like great people. The church here in Šiauliai is so fragile that I look up to the members who are still holding on strong here. There really is no support system for them here for eachother. It gives me such a great strength a greater love for them. When I go to the church, even if I had a really hard week with no success, I always have the desire and goal to make sure that I make the members day and be there to help them and lift them up when they are down. I have seen so many chances of helping the members out and lifting them up. It has built so much love and trust between us and the members. It touched me when transfers came and went and a lot of the members said how happy they were to see my smiling face the next sunday and especially now in the front of the church as the first counselor. I love the members here so much in Šiauliai. They have become such a big part of my life and I would do anything for them.

Last week, I probably sounded really stressed out and overwhelmed but now everything is so much better. I love being a District Leader and a counselor and clerk in the branch. We had a great district meeting on tuesday. I taught about our callings and titles as elders. I quoted a lot from the talks of "Only and Elder" and "Rise to your call" and we had a really great and growing District Meeting. They said that they really like it during the week to some other elders we talked to on the phone and that made me happy to hear. We have become really close, us three here. This past week we worked really hard and found a lot of lessons. We found a really cool guy who is interested in hearing more about the gospel. Sadly he might be leaving to Holland to try and find a place to live and work. We are praying who won't have a chance to leave.

We met with a less active lady who is so great. It had taken us a long time to finally meet with her but we finally did on Saturday. She still has such a strong testimony of the gospel and she said that she will come to church. Her son ended up coming to visit so she wasn't able to come to church but we hope next week she will be able to. Church was a real treat because President Boswell and Sister Bosweel came down to visit. It was a really good week for them to come especially because a lot more people came to church. I sat by them and translated for them what people were saying. They said they really liked the branch here. It was fun too because I had to teach preisthood that day and I taught about Home Teaching and we had a really great discussion about why it is important for us to do as preisthood holders. After we had interviews and mine was so good. President Boswell is such a great man and such a powerful leader. He said that he was so happy that I am a District Leader here and that he loves how I am serving. He said he saw the mantle of the calling I got when I emailed the next monday and he said he made him tear up. He is really nice to me and makes me want to be a great leader. I look up to him a lot. He told my companions to learn from me and watch how I serve. That made me feel pretty special and gave me an even stronger desire to serve harder and better than I already am. I have been setting a lot of small goals of trying new contacting ways I have never tried before because I was usually uncomfortable with doing but I have seen so many blessing from it. For example, there was a guy in his garage working on his car one night and normally I wouldn't have walked all the way up to his garage to talk with him because it was night time and he seemed busy, but I stopped and realized I had to be the example that President Boswell said I was to my companions, then I said a silent prayer to Heavenly Father to give me the courage to go talk to this guy. It caught my comps by surprise because I stopped and they went on for a sec but turned around to see me going up to this guy. They guy turned out to be way friendly and we talked to him for a while and he gave us his number. It may seem like a pretty small thing but to me, it meant a lot. The Lord blesses us when we forget ourselves and give our everything to him.

We got a great week ahead of us and I hope that we will be able to find some more of the Lord's prepared. I really want to find some solid investigators. If we work in faith, the Lord will bless us and we will become powerful servants of the Lord. Thank you so much for all you do for me and all the love and support. I can't wait to hear from you next week like always :D

su daug meilų,
Elder James Senfordas

Email From James - September 19, 2011

Well this week has been fun and very stressfull. Well as you already now, which is kinda funny because I didn't know that Pres. Boswell emailed home if someone becomes a District Leader. So yes I am the District Leader and am still in Šiauliai. In Šiauliai, it's just us three missionaries. So District Meetings can be a little interesting because we are together all of the time but I have hopes that they will be a great time to grow and learn from one another. Oi I will try to make sense in this email, I have a lot to think about and do so my mind is kinda joggled, so if some of it doesn't make sense, give me a break. ;)

So with me becoming the District Leader in Šiauliai, Elder Lindell had to leave, :( We had been together for 3 transfers straight, which is a pretty long time to serve with one companion, but technically we are in a threesome. I loved Elder Lindell a ton and learned so so much from him. He is such a great missionary and we worked really hard. He helped me change so much and he was such a great example to me. So he is in Kaunas now. We had a sad goodbye and wrote a great page in my friend book. :D So now it's still me and Elder Kezele and now Elder Manning is with us. He is a really funny elder and he is going to play as QB for Utah State when he goes home. He was in Klaipeda when I was there so we already know eachother really well. This transfer is a 7 week transfer so we will be together for a while. Elder Kezele and Elder Manning were in the same district in Šiauliai so they know eachother really well too, I fear too well :D They are great elders and I am so excited to serve with them but they are a little too goofy at times. I talked with them a little about it and am really trying to find a more show them then tell them way of how to help them, like Pres. Boswell told us new District Leaders. It has been on my mind this past week and I fear we are holding back so many great blessings the Lord could give us and also becoming the great missionaries we can be. I have been praying a lot about how I can help them and make our companionship even stronger.

Also with me becoming the District Leader, I am now the first counselor and branch accountant in the Šiauliai Branch. Oh it has been so great. ( sarcasm added :D) Let's just say I am getting a great taste of what you do dad and what accountants in the church have to do. It is really weird to sit near the front, in our little sacrament hall, instead of in the crowd. I wish we had more male members to fill this spot because that would look so much better than a missionary serving as a leader in the branch. But for now, I am. I had to watch and learn from what Elder Lindell would do but it didn't seem to hard to do but when you get your hands on the work, it is a whole new perspective. I have to do the MLS system and put in all the tithing the branch president and I get and then put in all the updates of what we had to help with during the week. Here in Šiauliai, we are always having to help members out with money so we have a lot to keep track of how much money we used during the week and I have to keep track of it. President Chomskis doesn't live in Šiauliai, he comes up on weekends for church, so I have to do the branch work during the week with the money. He writes out what will need to be done during the week with the branch money and who will need help them I have to go and do it. I also have to decide who whill speak in church and who will teach in preisthood, which is going to have to be me this sunday, yay. I don't think I have ever prayed so hard in my mission up until now. I am so blessed and excited to serve and I know that if I truly really on the Lord and serve as diligently and worthily as I can, I know that the Lord will help me and us as a companionship.

I don't want to sound selfish but please say a little special prayer for me this week. I have a lot to think about and a little extra help wouldn't be too bad :)

I loved that talk you made from last week. I really enjoyed it and I printed it out. It's funny, our sacrament meetings are dead silent and everyone has a catholic background so they know to be silent during the sacrament. I learned a lot from it though and I could feel your testimony so strong in it. I am so glad you found yoru testimony and the truch to be a member of this church. I don't know where my life would be without it.

That is really cool about Lauren getting the call to singapore. That is going to be quite a mission for her. I am way happy for her. Tell her congrats for me.

Haha I did hear about BYU loosing to U of U from Elder Manning and Elder Kezele. They got hurt pretty bad.

We have been really trying to find and meet with a lot of the less active members in Šiauliai but so far none of them have opened up to us. I really hope we can meet with some of them. We ran into the old Branch President of Šiauliai while walking to an area and we talked to him for a while. He is really nice. We meet with him before and had a great lesson with him. His wife isn't a member but is so nice to us and loves the missionries from the past. They are a great family and have two great kids. We asked if we could come by again sometime and he said anytime, that we are always welcome.
Other than those crazy new things that happened this past week, nothing much more. Just a lot to think about and take in but I will get used to it in a few weeks, hopfully. :D I am truly really happy and priviliged to be trusted with these great responsibilites. It is a great opportunity for me to grow and to learn. I now that God wants to me to learn and to grow from these new assignments and I am going to trust in him and rely fully on his help. I love this gospel and am so grateful to be involved in this great work and especially in the country of Lietuva. Thank you so much for the prayers, the love, and all the support you give me. It really means a lot and truly helps. I love you all so much.


Email From James - September 12, 2011

What a great week this past week was. Oh it was so so good. I can't even describe it. I can see even more changes that are going to be happening as I approach my last 6 months in the field. When it's your last 6 months in the field, there's a saying that that is a missionaries time to sine, and I truly believe it will be for me. I am really trying to be the best I can be and serve strongly til the end. Missionary work is so great and it really helps you stretch and grow.

We met with a ton of members this past week. A lot of them are less active and don't come to church anymore so we have been really working to try to get the reactivated again. It was a lot of fun and it was really great to start to creat a friendship with them. They all had good concerns about why they don't come to church anymore and we have great goals and ideas on how we want to get them to come back to church. We meet with a kid a lot, Maksim, who is such a great kid but just has no desire to come to church. We read the Book of Mormon with him because he says he doesn't understand it when he reads by himself and he doesn't really have the drive to read it on his own. Haha. So we met with hima lot this past week. We are in 1 Nefio with him and it has been helping him a lot. In the past, we have come over to his house to get him up to come to church but that didn't really work in the past. Usually his mom and him start arguing and it's not good. I can tell you more about it after the mission, mom will like the stories, but we just couldn't get a way to get him to come to church. Our last meeting for the week on saturday night was with him and we read the Book of Mormon and it was really good because I could see in him the desire to keep reading the Book of Mormon and the spirit was coming back into him. Well, he finally came to church on sunday. It was such a miracle and I was so happy to see him there. Not only that, Vladas, another preist age kid who doesn't come to church that much, came too. Unfortuanately only to Sacrament meeting, but hey that's a start. They like me a lot because I always talk about music with them and what not. It's just my little sceam to help them be active more in the church. You can't tell. :D They are truly great and I see a lot of potential out of both of them.

We also got to serve a lot out in the village, outside of the city, at a members house. Her name is Diana. She is totally a power mom. At her small little house, which is pretty much a farm, she takes care of her 5 kids ( ages from 5 - 20) and her two little grandkidsand she isn't married. She just went through the temple for the first time this past week and it has been amazing to see her. She has such a new light and spirit about her. She loved the temple so much. So we went over for two days to help build up a part of the wall on her home, with bricks, and then put up the plasic linning on the outside of her home. It was a lot of fun and I felt like I was a temple builder because Valentinas, a member, would mark off part of the brick that needed to be cut off then I would take a hammer and beat out the part that needed to be cut off. We kept quoting the Joseph Smith Movie as we were doing it in lithaunain. :D So that was pretty much the first day.

The second day was so much fun for me. I began to talk to the little kids the day before because they would just watch what we would do and were a little shy around us. They are so funny cause they just run all over and get into everything. Well the second day I just entertained them the whole time while Diana cleaned her house then my comps and valentinas kept working on the house. She said she wished I lived closer :D I told her I had training from a little brother and that I love playing with kids so much. So we played tag, putting things in mailboxes and pretending we had mail, picking cucumbers from the garden, me climbing trees and picking out apples to eat and apricots, juggling the apples and apircots I picked, drawing little people and the kids on the wall before it got built up, tag some more, running races, jumping over the fence becasue it was really cool to them when I did, doing tricks on a little skateboard. Oh I had a blast. It was one of the funnest moments of my mission. I will send you a pic of the kids. They are adorable. Little Jovita, the girl, had the cuttest little voice in the whole world and she is the cuttest girl I have ever seen. If I have a daughter like her, I would be so happy. She would come up to me and say in her cute little voice, and by the way, lithuanian is the so much more adorable than in english. I am going to miss that terribly. She would come up and say, " einame" which means lets go. And I would say where, and she would lead me somewhere to show me something. She is 4. Hahah at lunch she would wink at me. It was so funny :D Little Andrus, the kids with the blow thing in his mouth next to her, is my little best friend, other than Jovita. Him and I would play tag and run around all over. He is 6 and has a ton of energy, until after we ran around a lot. He said, how did you learn to run around so fast. :D Hahah still got all my energy. Aw it was so much fun to play with both of them and the picture I am sending is my favorite pic out of the whole mission. I have another cute one of Jovita possing and it is so cute. Hahaha I have said cute a lot but they are so cute :D So that was our fun few days. It made me so so happy.

Jovita is the girl, Andrus is the kid next to her. And little Jilijus is putting something in the well in the back :D

I have just been making a lot more chagnes and looking at how I can become a more powerful and in pres. dances' words " miracle missionray". It's been so great to see and it has really helped me to have the spirit more in the work and in my life. My studies are so much more powerful and when I pray, I feel like I am really praying with my father in Heaven. He's has been helping me alot this past week and it has given me the greater desire to work as hard as I can. With hard work, lots of blessings have come. My language keeps picking up faster and faster. It's uncomfortable for me to read from Preach My Gospel in english and I find that the first set of scrips I pick up is my lithuanian ones. :D It's so great and I love it. I wish this country was more popular around the world and the language so I could have a chance to speak it more. I got so much I can do and so much I still need to change but I'm so happy with how far I have come. The Lord has truly strengthened me. I love being in the mission and I thank God everyday I can serve here in the beautiful country of Lietuva.

We will get transfers this week so next week I will let you know what happens. I pray I will get to stay in Šiauliai longer because we have a lot of great plans for this next transfer and I want to be a part of it. OOo it's thundering outstide. It's really cool. It has been getting pretty cold this past week. We have had to wear our coats it got so cold. Oh...winter is slowly approaching to unlesh it's terror upon us. It will be the last battle and fight with winter her for me. :D

So about those scrips. What some missionaries had was the Book of Mormon, with the DC with the pearl of great price together separate of the bible.So they had them in two books but they were smaller versions but looked just like standard scrips with the gold pages but smaller. I really liked those because they are a lot lighter to carry around and are more comfortable. If you could find those that would be so great and helpful. I like how they are separate. If not, mom suggested a small quad and that would be good. Just something a lot smaller and lighter with all of the books would be good to have. I have a feeling I am going to need some. Let me know what you find.

For the patriarchal blessings, I would have to say that I wish I would have understand how powerful they really are. I understood what they were and what was happening but I never realized how amazing that blessing truly really is. Now in my mission and seeing how true the gospel is and what we truly have in our day, communication from our Heavenly Father through a living prophet, a patriarchal blessing is something of great value. It's personal and it's straight to you from God. It's what he wants you to know, what you need to do, and what you can become as long as you are obedient and worthy to recieve those promised blessings. I would have to say, tell them to realize how great it really is and really prepare for that day when they get one. Realize that this is your one moment in your life when God is right there speaking to you in clearly heard words. Like when an angel came and spoke to Nefi, when Paul was called to repentance on the way to Damascus, when God and Jesus Christ spoke to Jospeh Smith, calling him by name. It's as real to us as it was to them of old. It's a time not to pass up but it's also a time to recognize and prepare for.

I can't wait to hear from you next week and I look forward every single week to email you. I love you all so much and I hope you have a great week. It's pouring outside yay. :D Thank you so much for all you do for me. I will let you know what happens for transfers next week.

su meile per amžiu amžius,