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

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