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,

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