Email from James - November 28, 2011

Brangausia Šeima,

Well way funny, I got the B-Day package on monday which was amazing! Thank you so much. Oh how I love pictures so much. I showed them to my english class. I always talk with them about what's new at home or just funny memories. That cd, OH MY GOSH is so amazing! I can't stop listening to it. I like it more than MOTAB cd's. They have such powerful versions of hymns. That tie also is very good. I bought a scarf that is blue and black and it matches that tie perfectly. Thank you so much. I have just been tearing up, not literally but spiritually, that Ensign. I love it so much. So much to be learned and so much revelation to be gained. Conference is just so wonderful and I bang my head when I think about how I used to think it was the most boring time of the year. Ha. I get good catch up's thought because we have all of the Ensign back from who knows when so I read through those a lot. I had the great privilage of teaching preisthood this last week and I taught about worthiness and I quoted some from your talk you gave dad and from conference issues. It was fun because I had to translate what you said from english into lithuanian. I did that for language study. :D Then on Friday, your christmas package came. Crazy! Ok well hear me out. I have strength, but when it comes to new music, I can't resist. So I opened the package quickly, cause I figured you would put the cd's on top, which thankfully you did, and I took those out and hurried and taped it all back up so I couldn't see in more. Call me weak but hey, it gives me more time to listen to the good cd's on the mission. That THIS IS THE CHRIST cd is so so good. I love it. The pictures on the inside are really cool too except for the first one of Jesus. That one doesn't really look like him to me. That cd has been great during studies. I call the music we listen to during studies the "prelude to revelation" music. :) But OH MY GOODNESS!!!!! We love that Nashville Tennesse WORK cd. I have never loved country in all my life but now... times ar a changin. I seriously want to listen to more country when I get home. It makes you feel so happy. But that cd is by far my favorite. The songs are so sweet and they get me way excited to go out and work. I figured you listened to it because it was opened. It is sweet eh? Like the song " work" is awesome. "the dollAr don buy wha it did befar. the word of God has ben ignored" haha oh it's awesome. Or the second song, "Children, going where I send thee? How will I send thee oh I am going to send thee two by two. Two for Alma and Amulek" Oh we are having way to much fun with it. But righteous fun. I applaud you grandly for buying that cd. That is going to be a major booster during the cooming winters. Ma and Pa, your a hootin good 'ol parents I got here. :D Thank ya much.

So we had a thanksgiving activity and one of the members, Antti, who is married to Skaiste, pretty much the only solid family in the branch, they have a small baby boy, Matias, and he is the cuttest kid alive. Sad to say I didn't get to have any of the Turkey we made because there was a lot of people and the Turkey didn't have to much meat on it and I wanted more of the members to have some. I still got lots of mashed potatoes we made though so I was happy. :D  When he sees me, he just flips out and skaiste says "ok ok . go play with your best friend" and so I let him eat my card and what not and we go walk around while I hold his hand or we go get into something. :D After a lesson we had with them at their house, Skaiste said, " I have never seen someone entertain a him for so long". Matias was getting a little fussy during our home teaching visit so I kept him busy will my comps taught most of the lesson. I said, " I had good practice from a little brother". :D Ah matias is so cute. After the lesson, Skaiste and Antti asked, " Can you do a service project for us." I said sure and they said, " a babysitting service project" hahah. I told them unfortunately I can't but I pretty much do when they come to church and I keep him entertained while skaiste is helping people because she is our relief society president. The little kids are so funny. There is a lot of them and I have little jokes or little secret handshakes with all of them. Ah little kids are the best. :D Skaiste said that she is jealous of my wife because she says I am the best guy with kids she has ever seen. Hahaha. It's probably because I am so goofy and immatate things or characters that keep kids entertained. What can I say, I take on after dad. :D He is the best dad in the world. Anyways, where I was going is that Antti did a spiritual thought and I was apart of it. Skaiste would walk around with a plate of small donuts that she made and ask the people to take one. We had all of the tables together to form a really long one so there were about 32 people all together. So skaiste goes over and then asks if they want one. The first person took one so Antti says to me, " ok elder sanford, do three pushups." So I do and everyone kinda laughs. Skaiste goes on to the next person and asks if they want one, so obivously they take one. " Elder Sanford, three pushups." So I do three more pushups. Well after about 8 people, everyone starts understanding what's going on. It gets to Vladas and he doesn't want to take one because he thinks I won't have to do more push ups. So he doesn't take one and then Antti says, " ok elder sanford, three push ups". Vladas looked way surprised and kinda upset. Well I haven't done pushups in quite some time so it starts getting kinda hard after about the 10th person. I got twenty more to go. The members here are so close to me and I love them a ton and they always tell me how much they don't want me to go so as I am having to do these push ups for them and starting to struggle, some of them start getting tears in their eyes. I knew what this lesson was already about, about Christ and his attonement for us. It gave me such a strong look into what Christ did for everyone and more personally, for me. I could feel tears coming to my eyes as I am struggling to push up. The room was full of laughs as I was having to do this at first but now, it was silent, you could feel the spirit so strongly. Glad to say I was able to do push ups for everyone but I was quite sore. haha, I was for a few days after. Antti than taught about how what I just did was like Christ. He came, and he suffered and died for us so that we could be happy and recieve eternal life, the greatest gift God could ever give us. It doesn't matter if we decide not to accept his gift or not, Christ still suffered for us. It was a very powerful lesson and everyone could feel the spirit of that lesson. 

After the lesson everyone came up and said they felt so bad for me haha. I told them I would live and that it was a sign I need to start doing more push ups. haha. On sunday, oh it was funny. Here's some background history for you. President Chomskis doesn't like it when people know about his B-Day and he doesn't even post it on his facebook. I was going through MLS and found out his birthday was in November and on the 28th so I said we are cool for having Nov. B-days. I said what are you going to do and he said, " eh, I dont' know. I am not much of the attention guy or the partier." hahah I laughed and had a dark plan in my head. Hahaha so we bought him a birthday card and some funny lolipops and I made a secret plan with the young woman and the relief society. I had them all sign the card and along with the men and I told them that after the class, I wanted them to come into our class and then we would all sing for him. Skaiste was so excited about it. So class ended and I told my class to stay seated and then all of the women came in. President Chomskis said, "eh why is everyone looking at me. " So I pulled out his card and his candy and announced that tomorrow was his b-day and that we wanted to sing for him. So we did. Ahahahah he was so embarrased but he said it was way nice for him. :D hahaha. I can do that when I am the first counselor. :D We had some meetings before and after church. Elder Nelson is the branch clerk so President Chomskis and I fix other stuff while Elder Nelson works on the finances. I had to help with some translations and then talk about financial and church matters. I felt so official hahaha. :D 

Well this week will go by fast again and then we will only have one last week of the transfer which is way depressing because one, time is going by really fast and two, elder manning is going home :( We have gotten to be so close. I don't want to see him go. But alas, time always comes to an end on the mission. Tomorrow we are going to go help one of the members at her house with Antti because there sewage pipe that exploded and so ....ya..... use your imagination to figure out what that means. So we have to go dig up the pipe and fix it and what not. hahaha. ya.... it will be fun. Than after that we are going to Vilnius to stay with some other missionaries to go up to conference in Kaunas on wendesday. It starts way early so the zone leaders want us to get down there so we can be there on time. Šiauliai is by far the best city in the mission and I never want to leave but for conferences, especially when they want to start way early, it's terrible. We are so far from everything and the buses leaves at way hard times. It will be interseting but conference should be way good. I am way excited because Elder Lawrence is coming to speak. I will let you know how it goes. 

You got to send me some pics of the house with the lights because I really want to show my english class that and you have to get some good pics of the durango. Could you do that? That would make me so happy :D I tell them all about it and they have no idea what it looks like. I also want to se some pics of Anna's play. That sounds so cool. I will definitely watch it when I am home. ;D

Well dearest family whom I love so dearly, I hope you have a great week. I love you all so much. Dad, that meant so much what you wrote to me at the end. Being a missionary is the greatest thing I could ever be in my life, but the most important thing that I am so happy to be, is your son. I am so honored  and blessed to have such a great dad in my life who is such a great example and hero in my eyes. I can't wait til we can just talk and catch up on the past two years that have gone by. I miss those days when we could talk and when we would go to lunch together. That day will come fast. I love you so much.
           With lots of love through the grand eternities of time,

Dear President Boswell,

Miracle, Miracle, Miracle. I can say with a full heart and with full conviction that when we do all that we can and put forth our best effort in the Lord's work, he will always bless us. I found such a great love for King Benjamin's sermon in Mosiah this past week. I had read it before many times but this week, I decided for personal study, I wanted to read it slowly and pick out piece by piece what King Benjamin wanted his people to learn and what he wanted us to learn and apply in our day. It was great. I grew a greater love for prayer and how loving our Heavenly Father truly is. He makes the analogy of those who beg for money or food and how we shouldn't deny them or ignore them. He asked the great question, how can we deny those who are in need and then beg the Lord for help? It really made me think about how I work as a missionary. Am I going out each day with "full purpose of heart", "with real intent" trying to find those that are in darkness and need our help, and do I really have the true love of Christ for my companions, the members, and for these people here. I thought of that when I was praying because that is what I ask of God. How can I ask that of God if I don't live that in my own life towards these people. I do love these people to death and I really want to help all those that I can, what I learned gave me a greater look and desire to build that love even more. 

Saulė- We only got to meet with her once this week. She found a new job, like I mentioned, and she had to be trained a lot this week. What a miracle it was at the end of the lesson and we were all talking more about what we had just read in the Book of Mormon, Saulė said to us on her own, "So when can I have a baptismal date and prepare for baptism?". I felt like Elder Christensen on the PMG videos ," wait, whaoh. Are you serious?" It was so great to hear her say that on her own because it showed us that she was ready and willing. It's been so great to see that change in her. Our big work, as we discused on the phone with you last thursday is Vladas. We were able to have a lesson with just Vladas on Friday and we talked about the Word of Wisdom and he said there are no problems, it's just it's almost to hard at times to keep always. We felt he was just trying to justify himself but we gave him a very strong promise that if he keeps it, the Lord will bless him. We talked about how greatly the Lord has blessed him and Saulė and that they shouldn't push the Lord off now, think of how much more greater the blessings will be. I could see it really made him think.

I taught preisthood on sunday and I talked about worthiness quotioning from some General Conference talks and it went so well and I was very happy because Vladas came. He was very sincere during the lesson and I could see that he was feeling the spirit and really thinking about what he needs to do to change. We have been praying so hard for it and we hope they have the faith and the strength to commit. I have faith they will, they have already made such a big step and change in their life now. 

Romas- Ah Romas. He is just doing wonderful President. We only had one chance to meet wit him this past week also because he went out of town with his daughter to Riga. We taught the law of chastity and it went so well. He said he understood everything and he said he would agree to live it. We asked him if he was married because he mentioned about his wife and he said he is married and that he told her about his decision and she said it was fine but she wasn't interested. I think they are just married but not serious about their relationship. He asked about our views of divorce because in the Catholic Church, you can't get divorced. He came to the church thanksgiving activity and really enjoyed it. The members were so nice to him and welcomed him way warmly. We talked about moving his date earlier to the 10th. We felt like that may be a little hard for him at this point but we thought of a great lesson to teach him and we will ask him what he feels. We don't want to ask him if he wants to move his date, but we want to ask him where he feels he is at right now. I am very excited for this lesson and I pray he will say he is ready. I can't explain or describe the great change I have seen in him.

On sunday, we had a lady we have been meeting with for a while, Dalė, and her daughter and her friend come to church. The daughter and her friend come to english class so we already knew them pretty well. They said they really liked church and that they want to keep coming more and keep meeting. That made me so happy to hear because Dalė said that she wanted to see what our services were like so she could see if there was anything "bad" about it. She said she didn't see any. :D

We had a really good companionship inventory for Weekly Planning. I could tell it made our companionship unity even stronger. We all commented on things we had seen eachother do well on and how great of a missionary each one of us is. I am so blessed and happy about how great of a companionship I am in. Everynight, I smile just thinking that tomorrow, I get to serve in the beloved city of Šiauliai with the two greatest elders in the mission. We are truly quite a dream team in my eyes. We also had a great District Meeting were we discused about faith in the work. I learned so much from both of them and we felt very eddified to go out and work. You could say we all had a new fire to go out and contact and we got a lot of numbers that day. Elder Nelson made me smile when he said, " man I just want to contact everyone. That District Meeting got me way excited." He's a great elder. Elder Manning is holding on so strong as well. He is a way hard worker and I compliment him on that. I call him the "Rocky" of the mission. "Fight to the end". 

Raimonda- It's been a little hard to get her to progress. She is having a hard time to not drink coffee and she still isn't realizing the power of prayer. We really want to talk about Christ with her but this last lesson we talked about prayer. I felt like it was a really good lesson. I feel that she is just one of those investigators that you just have to help little by little, but in the end, they will understand. She is just a little afraid of getting an answer. We know she wants to progress because she keeps meeting with us and reading and trying to pray. 

Eduardas- He is doing great as well. We read with him for his first reading in the Book of Mormon up to 1 Nephi chapter 3. He had some questions but we did a great job in following the spirit and answering them to his needs. He is progressing well.

I am very excited to hear what Elder Lawrence has to teach us about how we can help our investigators progress in the following lessons in preparation for baptism. That is something we could definitely apply here and I pray that we will be spiritually ready to receive revelation on how to help our investigators better. 

              Elder Sanford

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