Email from James - April 9, 2012

Hey dad,

Easter was great like always. Ha. I don't remember what last easter was like but this one was good. Anytime I get to be at church here and the time I get to be with all the members is always my favorite. I felt like reading in Jesus the Christ about the resurection because I was reading up the parts in the Bible and it stood out to me how they were all different accounts and I was wondering what order it went in. It was fun to read how it was written in Jesus the Christ. It's almost like a movie when you read it. That's one of the books I want to read through before I start college. I want to get one of the thinner copies of that book, like the ones that have book of mormon type paper. One of the elders has one and it's blue and pretty thin so it makes carrying it around a lot nicer than like my huge one. I am probably going to leave this copy here because it's big and weighs some. 

So I just got an email that said that UofU accepted my application so that is pretty sweet! The email was long and said how I would have to attend some orientation stuff before registration and yadada so that will be way fun to do this summer. :D I am way excited!

On wednesday, april 6th, the sort of real christmas, it poured snow from the heavens. It was crazy how much it snowed. It had gotten pretty warm the week before but on the 6th, we a couple of feet of snow. Thankfully it began heating up again so the snow is pretty much all gone today and the sun is out and shinning. Tomorrow it is going to be about 11C so I'm pretty excited. We probably won't have to wear our coats anymore. :D 

I want to go on this summer backpacking-fishing trip. I can't wait to go hiking through the beautiful mountains of Utah. :D I will definitely carry your stuff haha. I need to get back into shape again. Ha! 

So on monday, we watched the coolest movie I have ever seen. I think it may even be my favorite movie of all time. We had a sort of happy birthday/ going away party ( ugh stab through my heart) at the Flakes apt. with all of the missionaires in vilnius. We went over and had some food and then we watched the movie 17 Miracles. Have you seen it? I kinda hope you haven't because I want to ask if you can buy it and then you have to promise that you won't watch it til I am home. I want to watch it all together. It's an LDS Film so you can get it at Deseret Book for not that much. Oh my it is such a great movie. It is about the Willy Handcart Company. I have only cried in a few movies but this movie made my ball. Ha after the movie was over, we had some cake and we just all sat there in silence just eating the cake. The sisters were saying stuff like, " ok someone say something." I had tears about to come so I just went to the bathroom and cried for a bit. The reason it made me cry was because it made me really look at myself and see how what I am doing in life, in a mission, and everything is not that hard etc etc. Promise you will get that movie and then you HAVE to promise you won't watch it til I am home. ok? :D 

Welll, nothing much really to report on the work here. It was a pretty slow week. We had a lot of lessons set up but we got dropped a lot so not much  happened. Hopefully this week will be better. Conference has been amazing to watch. We watched the saturday sessions and preisthood. We are going to watch the sunday sessions sometime this week hopefully. I love conference so much and it will be nice to get the ensigns so I can read them over. 

Well my dear sweet family, I have no more to say. I love you so much and I can't believe this is my last full week in the field and then next week I will be coming home. It's very strange, especially when I thought about how I was in the MTC two years ago. I doesn't even feel like it has been two years. 

I can't wait to hear from you next week like always, for the last time through email. :o.
          Love you lots,
             Elder James Sanford

  P.S. Kaip ir sakiau, čia bus paskutiną kartą, kurioje rašysiu tik angliškai. :D Iki kitos savatiės. Myliu jus!

Email from James - April 2, 2012

Hey family,
Today I am living in a Winter Wonder Wasteland.... :D Last night it got way stormy so all through last night and today it has been super windy and snowing and it is way lame. I thought spring was here finally and I wouldn't have to wear my paltas no more. But nope, the snow has returned. Ew. I fear I may not see a warm lithuania before I leave. I have my fingers crossed though. So this morning we listened to christmas music to see if that would make things more happier and it just made us more excited for christmas. Haha.
So yes, everything got worked out for applying to the U. The cost for it is actually 46 dollars and not 30. Thanks for getting that info for me. President Boswell was so nice on the phone when I asked if that was ok that I did that because I didn't know you had to apply and all that. It was actually a miracle how I found that out. I was talking with one of the sister missionaries about college and she said I had to apply and that the deadline date was sunday. So I quickly called president boswell and told him the situation and he said, yes get that taken care of without delay. :D He's so great. So after church, I used one of the senior couple's comps and took care of all of that. So now we will know if I get accepted or not is that they will send a letter to the home by letter. I can also check through email. I am way excited to find out because for some reason I felt like I should apply there too. I have been thinking about my "carrear choice" and it might change possibly. I still got time to worry about it later. But I think if I get accepted into UofU, I think I may want to go there rather than UVU. We will see.
So MOMA, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!! I would sing a song for you or make something yummy or clean some dishes or help out but I can't right now but I will when I'm home. Just write up a big long list of chores that need to be done around the house and I will do it. deal? :D  So whatever that fire of doom thing you got from dad sounds pretty cool but I have no idea what that is. Hahaha oh I sometimes wonder with all of the weird gadgets and cool futuristic things you can buy now, that cars will be flying when I get home and we will have a little robot who is working in the house and I will call him GIR. I think only dad will get that joke. :D
In church, I had my last testimony meeting and I bore my testimony for my last time. It was really weird to think as I fnished that that was the last time I would bear my testimony in lithuanian on fast sunday. Maybe I will just do it "on accident" when I'm in america. ;) I love the members here so much and I am so close to all of them. The little kids here are so funny and I am going to be so sad when I won't be able to see them anymore. The members were so nice, they all said they wanted me to come over and eat at their house before I go home. There is a less active member I have grown really close to and since I came he became my new goal to get him to come back to church and he has been coming almost every week. He wants to make cepeliniai for us before I go. He is so awesome and I am so happy he has been coming back to church more. The branch president is one of the nicest guys I have ever met in the whole world. He came up to me and gave me a side hug and said thanks. I laughed and asked for what. He said that us missionaires always bring such a strong spirit whenever we are around. :D
We had a "talent" activity on saturday which was so much fun. We had a lot of non-members there so we had a great way to talk more about our church. A couple of the cute little girls here showed their gymnastic skills and one of the 23 year aged girls in the branch sang some songs and played the guitar. It was really cool. A lot of the elders played some really cool piano songs they had writen themselves. A lot of talents were shown. I spoke at the end of it all infront of everybody. Pretty much just made up my little spiritual message on the spot because Elder Rich asked if I would give some spiritual thought right before the activity began. Ha, I think I have dad talent for speaking or something because I act like him whenever I am around youth because I love them so much. I talked about talents and I asked each person about how long it took them to practice those talents lots of other questions while funnily acting out what they did. :D I then talked about why we have talents and that I believe God gave us talents to make the world a better place to live. It was really fun to do. After, some of the non-members said they really liked what I said. They said I have a great "talent" for public speaking. That really made my day to hear that from people I don't even know. :D 
A small little miracle is what has been happening in the arronic preisthood quorum we have here. In the quorum here, it is just Simonas who is a deacon and Adomas who is a teacher. We have combined classes with them and when I first got here, only the missionaries taught the lessons. Adomas and Simonas during lessons all of the time would act really rudely and say how boring it was or wouldn't act that interested in the lesson. When we aren't in lessons, they are so great and I love them to death. They are such great guys and we have become very close. When some of the elders give lessons here, they don't act to excited and they treat it like a burdon and it shows in how they teach and act. I set a goal when I first got here that I wanted that to change. It started by having me and elder rich give lessons and I would try and think of ways that would make it interesting to me if I was Adomas or Simonas. It helped a little bit. After class one sunday, I pulled adomas to the side and talked with him for a bit. I told him he is such he could be such a great example to simonas because he looks up to him. He said he will try and be better and he knows he should. He said the classes are just boring. I asked what we could do to fix that. He said, " I don't know, maybe bring candy." hahaha. So I told him I would buy candy with my own money if he would help simonas act better in class. I then had a thought to ask if he would give the lesson next sunday. He looked surprised and said the missionaries have never asked them to give the lesson. I said I wanted him to and it would help the lessons be better. He said he would and I promised I would give him candy after he led the lesson. He did lead the lesson that following sunday and it was wonderful. He forgot to even ask if I had gotten him candy. :D So after that lesson, I asked simonas if he would give the next lesson. He was a little "active" in Adomas' lesson so I felt it would help him as well. He asked about what topic. I felt it would be good for him to teach about the sacrament since he is a deacon. He said ok and we lent him the manual. He gave the lesson yesterday and he led such a wonderful lesson. We were all so amazed. It actually brought tears to my eyes to see how he taught with sincerity and really meant what he said. I see know why church leaders get tears to their eyes when they talk about the youth of the church. That I think, was one of my personally favorite miracles I have seen my whole mission. I was so proud of him.
Nothing really much to tell about. It was a pretty fun week. It started off really hard but in the end, turned into a really great week. :D We will be starting to watch conference this week and I can't wait. I have heared about some of the talks and they sound great. I can't wait to see those talks that you made notes about. I love conference so much and I still enjoy reading over last conference and listening to them.

Random note, let me know about the money for the suit situation next week because I don't have much time to do that. I have been looking around at suits.

Well my wonderful family whom I love so so much, I look forward to hearing from you again next week. I can't believe either it is April. Where did the time go? hahaha. Crazy huh? I have been having a lot of fun contacting people on buses. I have a good trick because I know sit by guys who are about college age more because I ask them about what they are studying and then I explain my situation with college and then they are way interested in why I am here. I have met some great guys and it has made bus contacting so much more fun. That's one of the fun things about Vilnius, it is that you have to ride buses everywhere so I have many opportunities to meet some great people and share the gospel.
         I love you lots,
          Vyresnysis Džemsas Senfordas
Čia bus pranašimas jums apie tai, ką darysiu savo paskutiną pasiruošimo dieną. Aš tik rašysiu lietuviškai visą savo laišką jums. Taigi kitą savaitę bus angliškai bet kitą kartą bus pirpildyta lietuviškai. Tada, čia yra praktikavimas tam, kad galetumėte pasiruošti. :D hahaha sekmės su suprantimu. Jei bus  jums per sunku suprasti, išversiu jums kia esu sugrižęs amerikoje. Myliu jus labai ir laukiu jus matyti.  

Email from James - March 26, 2012

Hello once again,
I swear it was just preparation day. I must apologize in advanced if my email has some funny parts because I am very tired and my brain insn't all there. We did the whole change your clocks forward so that messed me up yesterday and then I took some sleeping pills that I had from home because I was having a hard time sleeping during the week and I think they are still wearing on me. I slept great last night but I am still loopy haha.

I remember you telling me about what happened when you came home. ha that's way funny. Thank you for the speed of internet. :D It's going to be so fun to talk about all the mission stuff together and relate our experiences. I am very glad you served in Europe too because if you had served in south america like where most of my friends are where baptisms fly like crazy, I would probably just hit you. :D

Thanks so much for letting me get the suit. I will wait until the 7th and I will make sure I got enougth room in it to grow some. I am hoping upward and not outward. haha. Thanks so much, that means a lot, and also thanks for the coming home expenses too. That's crazy how close it is. At church they were planning on what day we would watch the translations for conference and they decided on the 14th. Ha crazy. So my last sunday will be watching conference again. Conference will be fun here because we are going to watch them at the Flakes apt. all together with all the missionaries. OH I can't wait for conference. I have been reading the last conference issue so much since I got it and I can't wait to get more from this year's conference. We are going to start watching it next week.

We had a sort of sports activity on saturday that was a lot of fun. The weather turned really nice and so we went to a big park with some of the youth and one of the families and we played soccer and threw a frisbee around. I love running so much and I was so happy I still have all of my energy and strength to keep doing sports. I had a little fear I would loose that over the mission. I have been keeping up my workouts in the morning so that must have helped. One of the members asked if I was sore from playing so hard and I laughed and said no. He said he was jealous. :D I told him about how I am doing another marathon when i got home and he said I was crazy.

Wow, that's crazy the first ward got a new bishopric. I can't believe that is already starting. I can't imagine you not being the bishop. It will be very interesting to have you sitting in the audiance instead of on the stand. Ha I was about to say it's going to be really weird not seeing you at the activites, but then I laughed and said to myself, ha I won't be there either. :D
So random question, have you heard or received anything from colleges or anything like that. I have no idea how that all played out. It kinda has me worried because I really want to be all ready for that so I can go in the Fall semester.

Ha that's way fun you went home teaching with parker. It's funny you mentioned that becase that is what the topic was for arronic preisthood. :D I miss home teaching. It will be fun to do that when I'm home and my english will be hilarious.

Nothing really much to talk about this week. We had an awesome investigator we meet with last week and we invited him to be baptized and he said he needed to think about it but that we could set a specific date. The lesson was set up this past friday but he txted us and said he felt he wasn't ready yet to make such a committment and that he wanted to wait till he felt ready to meet some more. He said he would call us when that time comes. Ugh so sad. I had a lot of fun contacting people this week. I love bus contacting which used to be my greatest fear at the beginning of the mission but now I love it. It kinda drives me nuts though. I can meet great people on the bus, have a great conversation, hand out a book of mormon or two, get their numbers to meet again, and then when I call them, they can't meet or they don't want to. Most of the reason is because they look up lies on the internet. I love the internet but at the same time I have a deep unkindely dislike ( I don't want to say hate because that is a mean word) for it. So many people won't talk to us because of the lies they have read on the internet. It drives me nuts. I wouldn't be too upset if all of a sudden the internet died here in lithuanian and then we would have a chance for them to really see the truth. But the prepared will hear the word and will come to it as the scriptures say so I will continue to raising my voice. :D

I love you lots and I will look forward to hearing from you again. :D

Elder James Sanford

Email from James - March 19, 2012

Hey dad,
I had a way funny dream last night. I had just gotten home from my mission and you and I were walking around. I was in my suit and with my name tag on because I hadn't been released yet. It was thursday and I asked when I would be released. You said on sunday night. So I said, " ok, so I will just be a missionary till then, cool you have to be my companion til then." You laughed and started planning out how that would work with your job and everything. I aksed if you had any english book of mormons. You looked confused and asked why I needed some. I said, " so we can tell some people about the gospel. I'm still a missionary and I have never contaced people in english so it will be a lot of fun. While I still got time I want to use very second as a full time missionary." I got very excited and started looking for some book of mormons. You laughed and said I didn't need to but I said I really wanted to. We went out and I started talking to people. Some people were interested and then I talked to a group of guys and they spoke russian. I could tell what they were saying so I said in russian, which I know how to say, I don't understand russian but I speak lithuanian. They said in russian, " you speak lithuanian? How?" I laughed and said I lived there and I showed them my lithuanian name tag and they were impressed. We had a great conversation until I woke up. :D It was sweet. I even preach the gospel in my dreams.
So we went by mindaugas twice this week but he wasn't home so I left him a note. We will keep trying. He lives in a very nice apt. Like really really nice. We were blown away when we got there. There were nice cars all around and people asked us who we were trying to visit. I had fun and explained how I knew Mindaugas throught my friend in America. We got a few numbers while out there. I wrote in a book of mormon my testimony and put in a lot of detail why I love the book of  mormon and the gospel so much and how he can come to know the joy of the gospel as i do. I want him to be home so i can give it to him. :D
Tell Anna happy b-day for me. I will see her in a few weeks and i will ask you for some money so we can go out to eat. :D That is so cool that a limo came to pick her up from prom. I can't wait to see those pics.
I can't believe your time as a bishop is coming to an end. I still remember clearly when I found out about that and when you became a bishop. It's going to make me sad not having as a bishop. Well you'll still be a bishop but not with the keys of it to be over the ward. It's crazy how time flys by so quickly, trust me, I know quite well. haha. It will be really neat having you as the bishop who sent me out and then welcoming me back home. That will be an experience we won't forget. Not many people can say that they were the bishop when their son left and then came back.
We had some great lessons this week. Very powerful and I will tell you all about them in person because they are so much better told in person than over email. :D My fire for the work keeps getting stronger and stronger and I am amazed at how much the Lord is helping me change and becoming the melchezidek preisthood holder he wants me to become. I love being a memeber of this church and I can't even imagine what my life would be like without it. We are truly a blessed people.
So random but serious question, we talked about it a while ago and last week I did some look into it. I really want to get a new suit before I come home because mine are nasty and the ones they sell here are a great price and are very nice. I want to look good at the homecoming and every sunday after. I Looked at some of the suits they have here and there is a great store where a lot of missionaries buy their suits. They have some great ones that are about 250 dollars. It is a great suit and it is worth it to buy. Let me know what you think because there isn't too much time left to get one. :D
( Here's a clip of what I sent to president Boswell)
I love the analogy of running to the end because that is what I am doing as strong as I can. Another great running analogy is that at the last 50 meters of a race in cross country, our coaches taught us that that is when you run faster and put in all the energy you have left, so in a way, I feel like that is what I have been doing. These past few transfers, I feel I have changed a lot and the Lord is giving me great strength to become the missionary He wants me to be which will then bless me to be the melchezidek preisthood holder I need to be after the mission and beyond. I studied a lot from the Bible about what Christ said that he is fullfilling his father's will. Jospeh Smith taught a lot about that. That Christ was becoming as his father by doing what he saw his father did. He is fulfilling what his father commanded him to do so that he would become as him. That is what we are doing on this earth. The Lord set the example and gave us commandments on how we can become as he is. It all relies on us and on how we take the time we have to become as he is. One of my favorite lines of chirst is when he is among the preist and he said, " the son can do nothing of himself but what he seeth the father do." We must do likewise to be able to enjoy his blessings and receive those promised blessings.
Family I love you so much. Sorry if this email is kinda boring but know that I love you with all my heart. I love my family here just as much :D. I love this work and gospel with my whole soul. I love how people can change if they give the Lord a chance to touch their hearts, like he has with mine. I have changed in such a short amount of time in god's eyes and I can't wait to see what I can do with his help in the last weeks of my mission and beyond. I never saw the great blessings we have in this gospel. I can't wait to be in the temple of god and to feel that great spirit that I miss and love. I have seen why temples are so important and such a great gift we have from our God.
I had a really touching experience at church. Sometimes we have to teach preisthood to the two priests we have. I am really good friends with them but in class, they act pretty bad. They say how boring it is and just play with their phones. It made me really sad that they couldn't see how much power they really have and how much good they cold do. One of the deacons is younger than the priest here and I could see he was following what the older one did because he was his example. After the lesson, I walked with the older teacher and talked with him one on one. We had a great conversation and i told him how much I love him and I know what it's like to be in his shoes, i was there. I told him how much of an affect for good he has on the younger deacon and how much good he can do. He is such a great guy and i know he has it in him to change. I won't go into details but I know he is going to be a lot better in lesons and really help us out more in lessons. I actually got him to agree to teach the next lesson for this sunday. :D After I laughed and thought about you and the poor leaders that had to deal with me and my attitude. :D I'm just following in your footsteps. A lot of who I am becoming is what I saw and learned from you.
        I love you so much and can't wait to hear from you next week.
                               - Elder James Sanford

Email from James - March 13, 2012

Dear Dad,
Hello my family from the other side of the world who I love and cherish so deeply. How are you? :D
I loved the pics of you and parker snowshoing together. That looks like a lot of fun. I love seeing the Utah mountains and I can't wait to see them in person. I miss them quite dearly.  Is parker missing a tooth already?

We still haven't had a chance to go see Elder Bean's friend. He lives in the other elders area so we are going to have exchanges this week so I can go see him with one of the other elders. I am way excited. :D Ofcourse I remembered he had a friend here, I could never forget hearing about something about this wonderful country and people.

   Wow I have to speak on the 22nd. That is when elder hilton is speaking but it's fine because he wouldn't be able to come if we had it a week later because his family is going on vacation somewhere. I really hope grandma and grandpa sanford can make it. Thanks for putting out the info on facebook. I really want everyone to know about it so they can all come. So I don't have a topic picked? If not that's fine because I will pray and think about what I should speak about. I will speak as long as you need me to. I'm way excited and I am positive it will sound funny because if I have to say things about the gospel in english, it comes out hillarious. I can't translate for the Flakes here because I don't remember how we say all of the church lingo in english. It's more comfortable for me in lithuanian. :D Ah presidnt homer. How is he doing? I can't wait to see him again. I'm excited to report to the Stake High council about my mission. Ha it took me forever to remember how to say that. :D

A really fun study I have been doing is in the Book of Alma. I have been looking up why Lamoni's father changed so dramatically to the gospel. He used to be very strong in his father's traditions and was so against Ammon that he wanted to kill him. I have been finding why he was so touched and why his heart was so softened so that he accepted every word from Aaron. That is a very applicable scripture here because everyone says they are catholic and that they won't change and that they will die catholic. I never thought this story could be so applicable to the mission. It has been a great study. Right now there are only questions in my study but next week I will let you know what I find.

    Well this weekend was quite fun and heart wrenching. We had district conference with all of the members on sunday which was so much fun. I didn't think we were going to have one again because they normally have the one in spring in may. So they randomly called all of the branch presidents and told them that they wanted to have one last week. Ya, a one week warning. It was a great conference and all of the members from Šiauliai were freaking out when they saw me. I came in the church and hear "SENFORDAI" and all of the members came over and talked to me forever. :D Aw, I miss them all so much. They say they miss me so much because sacrament meeting isn't as happy as it was when I was there. ha. It was a great reunion. Lots' of hugs and tears where there.
      So after that fun sunday, yesterday we had a zone conference. OH my gosh it was so amazing. I won't tell you any of the details, because I want to tell you about it in person because it would be so much better to tell in person, but I will tell you it was the best zone conference out of all of the zone conferences I have ever atteneded in my mission. It was a long one, from 8:30 to 16:00. It didn't even feel that long. I was quite sad when it ended. The ending of conference was quite a heart breaker because after the musical number, one of the zone leaders got up and announced what would be happening now. He said very softly and slowly, " we will now have time for testimonies. we will hear from the departing missionaries and we will have them go in this order; Elder Hengst, Sister Shneiderei, Elder Hilton, Sister Stout, and.... Elder Sanford." That was like a knife going through my heart. As he said that tears started coming to my eyes. When Elder Hengst and Elder Hilton bore their testimonies, we were all crying. Not only us three but everyone else was. When it was my turn, it felt like a long walk to the front. I couldn't hold back tears. I couldn't believe I was giving my last testimony in zone conference. I never thought that day would come. Through my tears, I bore my testimony of how much I love my mission. It will bless my life forever and through the eternities. There's no other way I could have come so close to God and have grown such a deep love for the gospel then through my mission. I wouldn't change it for the world. I told how much I love the members and the people of lithuania. They are my family and I will never forget them. I quoted one of my favorite quotes I recently found from Joseph Smith, " Every waft of adversity I have received has only gotten me closer to divinity." The mission has been one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life and yet, I am eternally grateful for those hard times because it has helped me to grow into the person I am now. Most people know that I quote a lot of things from my running experiences because I can apply it a lot to the mission and to the gospel. I told one of my favorite stories from cross country where we finished a race and we were exhausted. The JV had finished their race before us and were playing on the park. One of our coaches came over and was very upset with them. He told them to go run up this huge hill back and forth until he said to stop. He told us, the varsity team, to go run with them. We couldn't believe what we had heared. We ran with all that we had in the race and now we had to be punished. He grabbed us and made us go. It was one of the hardest physical things I have ever done in my life. When I finished races, I had no energy or strengh left, and now I had to run back and forth up this steep hill. Many of the boys started crying and falling on the ground because it was too hard but our coach kept making us run. We kept asking him why we had to but he wouldn't answer. After a long half hour of enduring that, he pulled us together and looked us all in the eye and told us how we are a team. We all run as hard as we can every race because we can't win if everyone doesn't put forth all that they have together. I bore my testimony how that is what has kept me going through the rough and hard times of the mission. I told them to work as hard as they can to the end. Don't ever give up because we are all running the same race together till the end.

The spirit was so strong and everyone had tears falling from their eyes. I have never grown such a deep love as I do for the missionaires I serve with and the people we serve. I love this country and the members adn the people with my whole soul. They will never leave the special place they have in my heart. They are a part of my family and will be forever.
That was really neat how you sent me that email from when I was in the MTC. I have changed quite a lot since then. haha. The language is a lot more enjoyable since then. I can't wait to come home and have you see what the mission has helped me to become. It will be so wonderful to have so much time to sit down and talk about things that matter most.
I'm quite excited for this week because I talked to a lot of great people and have a lot of numbers to call today. A really neat thing that happened last night was the bus we rode on. We take a bus back to our apt. from center and the sisters took the same one because they don't live to far from us. So as we got on, we all randomly sat down and began contacting people. The man I sat by was so great. He is a middle aged guy and is studying in college and he was quite interested in the Book of Mormon. He asked who wrote it. The thoughts came to my mind from conference about being more bold and using the gems from preach my gospel. I really want to break some of the route routines in this mission among missionaires. I told him quoting from preach my gospel how an angel named moroni showed joseph smith where an ancient record was, a certain plates, and by God's power, he was able to translate them. He listened very intently and I bore my testimony how it has helped me in my life and how it can bless his. He warmly accepted the book and gave me his number so we could meet.

        I love you all so much and I look forward always to getting your emails. They make me so happy. :D
            Elder James Sanford

Email from James - March 5, 2012

Hey dad,
Wow talk about working through revelation, I wrote down in my planner to ask you about Brother Bean's friend and you had it all here. When I saw the "title" of the email I started laughing. I'm so excited to go see him. He sounds pretty cool. We surprisingly get some referalls here because one of the members works with computers so he created a lithuanian church website out of his own free time. It is way well done and people write that they are interested. So far though, when we go by, they weren't too serious when they wrote it. Kind of a bummer but it keeps our hopes up. We will definitely go stop by this guy. We have to find out where he lives and hopefully he will be in our area. We will probably pull some strings so that me and Elder Rich can go stop by there even if he doesn't live in our area. ( I have to apologize if my grammar is a little weird. I have been completely endorsed in the language so these past couple weeks I have seen my english is going down hill. :D) Funny story of bad english, I had to translate for Elder Flake, one of the senior couples, when we were in preisthood and I couldn't remember any words in english so I just told him I would listen and get the jist of what is going on and then he can understand. He said that was perfectly fine with him. As I would do so, he laughed and said, " You have been giving me little over views so well, but when you give me an overview, you keep going into lithuanian." :D I laughed and told him it's easier for me than speaking english. Anyway, tell Brother Bean thanks for doing that. That will be one of our miracles for the week.

We had a way fun Preparation day this last monday. We went to Trakai which is that big picture of that castle out on a lake. It was way fun and it was way cold good weather. Cool part is, we went and walked out on the Lake. We got some sweet pictures and we were totally acting out King Arthur as we fought on the frozen lake. :D Unfortunately the castle isn't open in the winter but you can still walk around it. We also went to a really yummy lithuanian restaurant and we all bought huge flasks of Gira. It looks way funny and looks like we are drinking a huge thing of beer. I will show you pics later. :D Gira is so delicious.

So this is the first full week of my last transfer, we have transfer calls sometime this week and I garauntee I won't go anywhere but if I do, I will not be too happy. :D There are six weeks in a transfer so, ugh, it will go by quick because we have a lot of new investigators and members to meet. This last transfer cruized by and I can't believe I already have a new planner. But all in all, I am excited to come home. I miss you all and can't wait to see you. Elder Hilton and I talked about it for a while and we thought that you know, you know, it's not the end of our missions. It may be the end of our missions here in lithuania, but this is a new transfer call to another big area. Plus it will be good to start my life and put to test all the things I have learned on my mission. I can't wait to tell you all about it. Just don't be surprised if I walk around in my church clothes randomly. We did some "english group advertising" and we wore normal clothes. That was what the whole zone planned on doing. I changed into some of my normal clothes and I felt so weird. I am so much more comfortable in my white shirt and tie with good suit pants. So I pulled a sneaky trick. I just left my missionary clothes on and just wore my hoody and just changed my shoes. I looked like most of the youth here cause that's kinda what they wear, except not a hoody. I will explain later. :D I said I was like a super hero. I appear normal and harmless but when someone calls for spiritual rescue, I shed off the hoody and WAM I'm a missionary once again! Elder Rich thought I was weird. What can I say though, I love being a missionary. I also can't wait to enter into a temple again. Oh I dream so much of feeling that wonderful spirit again that only resides in a home full of love and in the Lord's temples. I literally just want to go to Wendy's to get some food in me to sustain my human body, and because I haven't been there for so long, and then go straight to the temple to strengthen my spiritual body. I will be there for hours I know it.

Oh Ema is hillarious. I was thinking she would have forgotten all about that by the next sunday. Nope, she remembered perfectly and she flew over and gave me a big hug and just hung onto my arm or bag for most of the day. Hahaha. She is so cute. She said it's to hard to remember my whole name so she just calls me Fordas. :D

The weather today is slowly getting better and better. This morning it was so warm and I could feel the joy of spring slowly approaching. But, as we were emailing, it keeps trying to snow so that kinda puts a downer on things. It will come and then kinda fade away and then it will try to snow again. I really want to see a good green spring before I go home. Lithuania is so beautiful in the summer and spring time.

OH haha, so we have been thinking of new finding ways because President Boswell and the zone leaders have encouraged us to frown on knocking on doors because we aren't finding people that way. So we got together as a District and thought of some new finding opportunites. One of our new ideas and it is already under way is a musical accappella group. We are going to be a band and our group is called the Fire of Zion. Hahaha. We have practiced and we are going to go sing on the streets and hopefully find some people that way. While we are out singing, we are going to take turns but just holding up a book of mormon and boldy testifying to everyone that is around. I'm way stocked and full of fire to try it out. It will be like the old days when missionaries would preach like that. It's going to be a lot of fun and I will tell you how it goes. I love singing so much and it's way funny how this random talent has come to be. We are having a district conference this week and we are singing. Which is so weird because the next district conference wasn't supposed to be til May so I had alreayd figured I said my goodbyes to everyone. But one of the area authorities is here so it was just planned this last week. Yay for quick planning. So I get to go see everyone and there will be tears and what not. It will be fun to see everyone again. They all know I'm going home next month but I hope not too many of them will truly remember. :D

Not much else to report about. One question though: Do you know which sunday I will be speaking because I want to work it out so that I can go see Elder Hilton's farewell and then it would be easier for everyone who served here too so that they can go to both? If you could find that out that would be great. :D I love you all so much and I always look forward everymonday to hear from you. BTW also, have you heard anything about college stuff from this Robin lady? I'm wondering if she sent everything ok and then if the info is coming home to you. I told her our home address so it should be going there. Anyways well I love you all and I look forward to hearing from you again next week.

             su meile per amžių amžius nuo,
                  Vyresniojo Senfordo

(a part from my email to president boswell which was a cool scripture I found in DC)
I had a great study one morning that really helped me a lot this week to think about what I can still change and how we can receive blessings. It is in Doctrine and Convenants 58:26-34. I titled it in my scriptures, "the reason why men receive blessings and why they do not". It stood out to me how we shouldn't wait to be told to do something, for if we do, we aren't being wise and we are loosing the blessings of God. If we act on our own free will, anxiously in a good cause, then we receive the blessings. I thought about that a lot in how we do in finding and what we do in our finding and teaching opportunities. Some days get hard and those may be times where we don't feel like talking to people and stepping out of our comfort zone. I thought about those times and felt a greater need to repent. Then the Lord provides a deep and powerful promise that took me a couple of read overs and pondering to see. In verse 31, who asks a powerful question that makes you have to answer it. In our words we could say he said, " Don't I always have a promised blessing with every commandment? Don't I always bless you when you obey?" It was wonderful for me to see that because it made me see all of the times the Lord has blessed me and us in His work. There will be those random times when someone will say, "hey, can I ask you a question about that Book?" or in our case, an awesome investigator will get passed over to you and will accept a baptismal date. The Lord is waiting to bless us, we just need to act on his promises.

Email from James - February 27, 2012

Bonjerno ( or however you spell the italian way to say hello )
    So hey family guess what? I'm married. Her name is Ema and she is a very pretty girl. Haha. You're probably so confused and are just thinking oh no, our son is married on a mission. haha. Let me explain. It's making me laugh just thinking about it. So on sundays, sometimes the missionaries come and help in primary to help the kids stay settled down because they can get a little crazy but they look up to the missionaries. It's so much fun and we sing songs in lithuanian and have fun lessons. So this girl, Ema, was sitting by me and her and her friend where asking about where I was from and what I knew how to say in french and other languages and just being silly little girls. So as we are singing and doing activites, Ema hooks her arm around mine and says that I am her new husband and that I wasn't allowed to leave until she said so. So during the whole class she would run up and do an activity and then come and put her arm around mine and brag to everyone I was her new husband. The teachers, who are our way good friends because we teach them, laughed and looked really confused. I said I didn't plan the wedding. hahaha. Ema is hillarious. So after church, I was standing with some of the youth in a circle and just chatting and she runs up and stands in the middle of everyone and announces she loves me and that I am her husband. Hahaha everyone couldn't stop laughing. So heres the funny part, she's 7. Hahaha. Apparently she has told that to another missionary who is here so everyone asked what about the other elder. She said she said I'm her husband. I jokingly asked what about Elder Rich, my comp, and she looked at him and said, " he's funny". ha. She is so cute and just a little flirt. I will have to get a pic with her so you can see her.
    I really liked what you said about missionary work. It is so true and that is why I hope I get put into more missionary service "callings" after the mission and for the rest of my life. Like you said, whatever calling, it is a form of missionary work. That's what is so great about this church. I am so grateful for my mission because it has given me a good base for me to build on and to stay strong after when I'm not a full-time missionary. It will be so great to put what I have learned into my life from what I have grown and learn in my mission here. It truly is my "life MTC".  Ha Ha I'm so glad I have a free extra day in the field because of the leap year.
    There isn't really much to tell about this past week. The weather kept acting like it was turning to spring early because it rained/snowed so everything started melting and I was so happy. But then yesterday and all last night it snowed like crazy. This winter has been way nice compared to last years. Ugh, I hope I never have to experience a winter like that again. Elder Hilton and I have good laughs about that winter. I don't know if I told you but he is in my district. He was one of the elder with me in the MTC and I served with him in Klaipeda. We went on exchanges this past week and it was a lot of fun. He is a great elder and we have changed so much over these two years. Here's a clip from the email that I sent to president boswell of a neat lesson we had while on exchanges:
   Elder Hilton and I also had another great lesson that day with a less active family. They haven't come to church for some time but one of the daughters is very acctive in coming to family home evening. We had a lesson about testimonies and how we get them and the importance of strengthening them every day. It was a wonderful lesson and I know that we could all feel the spirit. Laima, the daughter who actively comes to family home evening, asked if we could give her a blessing because she was sick. I was blessed to be the one to give her the blessing. The spirit was so strong in the room as the words came to my mind what to say and bless her with. At the end of the blessing, her mom was in tears and said that they needed to come back to church. This sunday they came to church and stayed for all three hours. What a wonderful result and blessing.
   Here's another story but a funny story that happened this past week. I sat by a guy on the bus and I just started talking to him about just normal things. At first he didn't really want to talk but then he said how hard it is to live here because he doesn't have a job and then he said, " I think it is the same all over the world, even in America." I joked about how nice it was that someone thinks it's hard to live in america too and that it's not just the golden place where life is easy. Haha. Then he laughed and lightened up. We had a great conversation and we talked about music and he said he loves Elvis Presley. :D I told him we have to be friends now. haha. He said he couldn't remember one song so he sang the words that he could remember in a funny euorpean accent and it was "don't be cruel" so I started singing where he left off and he laughed and said I sound just like him. :D So we both got a taste of some elvis. Mine was just european version. ha. I'm proabably the only elder who can say I sang elvis presley with another lithuanian on the bus.
    You're telling me time is going fast. It's so crazy an my mind can't grasp where the time went and how quickly it went by. This week is the last week of the transfer and the next week will be the beginning of my last tranfer. It's gross. But time has to come for all of us to move on and begin our next "mission". I am truly excited to see all of you but I also don't want to leave the people I love here. It's so heart wrenching when you come to have another "family" on the other side of the world where you came to on your mission. And like how I had to leave my family in america, which was hard to do, now I will have to go through that all over again. Except this time there isn't a two year dead line.
     I love you all so much and I will be excited to hear from you again. I love you all so much and tell mom to hold in there. I am praying for her everynight.
        Elder James Sanford

Email from James - February 20, 2012

Dad or family, whoever it may concern or whoever reads this. :D,
     I love missionary work! My love for missionary work has grown like crazy over this past week. I can't even put into words the crazy change that I have gone through in just one week. I love it and it was way humbling to see all the miracles. I am going to attach my email I sent to president boswell because I wrote everything I would want to say to you. It was such an amazing week and I love talking to people everywhere, and anywhere. I love missionary work and I'm sorry, but I really don't want to come home. It makes me sad to think how short of a time I have and I am now getting this crazy love and fire that I never had before. I always loved missionary work and worked really hard but I have never worked as hard as I am now. I ask the Lord for his patience and forgiveness for me for that but thank Him that I have this great fire now that I never had before and make promises to work and preach the gospel until the stake president says, "take off the tag". Ugh that hurt to write that. I still have so much time and it makes me comforted. I may or may not be planning on getting a good ol talk with the president to see if he needs an extra elder around a little longer. :D Odds are he probably won't let me :( but I can still try. ha. My studies have been so great. These past few weeks I have been really having a deep study about prayer and personal revelation. I can't wait to just sit down and discuss about how powerful prayer can be and how blessed we are to have such a gift. I think the reason I don't want to go home is because I love being so close to the spirit 24-7 and I have so much time to put what I learn to the test. Everymorning, I get up and I start getting way excited to go out there and start talking to people. I love having that sacred and powerful responsibility to go out and preach the gospel like the ancient apostles and propohets of old. I read a way good talk about that by Elder Holland. A line I really like was ," Imagine being Peter or Paul as you go out to spread the gospel and yet the lurking darkness of the apostasy is creeping in even while as they were living and they had lived with Christ himself". I pondered about that for a long time. How terrible that would feel. You had just been with Christ, after he died he is resurected and exhorts you to go out and feed his sheep and then as you do so, people start rebelling and then the world falls into darkness. Elder Holland went on to say that they had literally failed their dispensation. But, they knew that the gospel would be brought back for when last great time where it would never end. All of the ancient apostles and prophets dreamed and prayed for this day. I believe they still are and they are counting on us to do all that we can to keep it growing stronger. That made me so honored to be trusted with that great power and calling. It made my deisre grow even more to go out and talk with everyone. My bus contacting has been moraculous and I have met some amazing people. Elder Bennet visited Estonia and Latvia but didn't get to come down to Lithuania. He called those missionaries to repentance and a call to be better. I was with a russian elder this past week and I had him bring his notes so I could copy them and then he could tell me all about it. It was such a spiritual intense talk. He is like another Elder Holland. I love it. I will definitely share my notes with you. A couple lines that I just love is that when something is hard or umcomfortable for us to do, the Lord will see if we talk that step to change and become perfected and he will bless us for it. The other line I love was to enjoy the "sting" of the gospel. The gospel is here to comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comfortable. If we aren't feeling that "sting" of the change that we need to be doing, we aren't doing our part. That was a call of repentance to me and I have loved getting super uncomfortable and making myself change. Haha I'm so weird huh? I love feeling a prompting, thinking how weird that will be or how uncomfortable it will be, and then taking a deep breath and doing it. I read this morning that joseph smith said, " you have been baptized, you have had hands laid upon your head for the reception of the Holy Ghost, and you have been ordained to the holy priesthood. Now, if you will continue to follow the leadings of that spirit, it will always lead you right. Sometimes it might be contrary to your judgment; never mind that, follow its dictates; and if you be true to its whisperings it will in time become in you a principle of revelation so that you will know all things.’ Constantly be looking for the change that you can be making every single day of your life. It's a wonderful thing.   I love you all so much and can't wait to write next week.
                   -Elder James Sanford   

Dear President Boswell,
  In all my time as a missionary, I have never liked to bus contact. Now, I can say that it is one of my most favorite tools for finding people. Out of all of the things I have done over my mission to find people, I have been the most successful in bus contacting. It has been so wonderful and my happiness and my excitement to share the gospel just keeps growing and growing. I saw some amazing miracles and I know it was because of our obedience and because everyone in our district has an even greater desire to go out and find. I am so proud of the District that I am in. We have all changed so much and we will begin to see the fruits of our labours of we work our hardest and go out with the Lord into His vineyard.
  This week I really applied some powerful scriptures into the work and into my life as a missionary. It was so wonderful to see the results and to see that the Lord truly aids his people when they carry on His work. The scriptures were D&C 82:10. The verse before that I really like. In my own words he says, " here,let me show you how much I love you". Then in verse ten he gives us a powerful promise. He is bound when we do what he says. There is also a very powerful consequence. If we do not what he says, then we have no promise. That is pretty scary. I can't imagine being in the field with no promises. So as I said last week, I have been really making it a part of all that I do to be 100% obedient and to spread the gospel as bodly and as powerfully as I can. One of the great Lord's promises is that he will give us what we need to say at the moment we need it. Another verse he says, if we do not open our mouths and speak, he will take away our talents. I expecially like D&C 62:2. It was a good scripture for me to get the desire to bus contact and fear god and not man. In comparison to D&C 82, I found the verses in D&C 130:20-21. That made the verses in D&C 82 more powerful and more meaningful to me. God always gives us laws, but with every law that He gives us, there are always blessings. I thought about it in two ways. It thought about as me as a missionary all of the great blessings the Lord has promised if we keep all of His commandments and if we go out and open our mouths. My other thought was to the investigator. Are we letting them know how many great and wonderful blessings the Lord has in store for them if they keep His commandments? If they aren't acting, are they realizing they are denying themselves the blessings from Heaven? I thought about it long and hard. I wrote down a lot of my thoughts on why investigators aren't progressing and how we can help them see that the Lord is waiting to bless them, but it is entirely up to them. IT was a wonderful and very intimate personal study for me and it has changed how I look at a lot of things pertaining to the gospel.
    For district meeting, we set a goal of each member of the district has to hand out at least one book of mormon with out testimonies on the inside and we have to testify of the book of mormon to at least ten people. What a great goal to set? When there is a goal like that, my runner attitude comes out and I want to beat that number. Well the Lord surely made that happen. I set a personal goal that added to a really neat miracle that happened this week. I promised with the Lord that every bus ride I am on, I will talk to at least one man. It has been amazing. So as I was working on my goals this week and trying to talk to as many people as I could, we got onto a bus to go to the church to start our exchanges. I sat down next to a really nice looking man who is about in his mid 20's, perfect Melchezidek preisthood age,and right as I was about to open my mouth to start talking to him, he asked, "Can I ask you something? could I get one of those books?" Mircale! I couldn't believe what came out of his mouth. We had a great talk and I testified of the book of mormon and how much I love it and how personal it is to me. He almost didn't take it because he saw there was writing but I told him that was my personal testimony and he said, " oh great, even better." That same day, as I was working with Elder Mays, we handed out another book of mormon. Two book of mormons in one day! Those amazing miracles have really helped me to get that burning fire and desire to talk with everyone as bodly and powerfully as I can. I love it so much. I don't wake up tired anymore. I wake up and I get super excited to go out and talk to people. I kinda hit myself on the head because I am having this great desire now instead of earlier on in my mission. But I thank the Lord that I have this change at all and that I still have time to use this new talent and love I have for the work.
   The only lesson I was in this week with Elder Rich among our investigators was with Radvile. She is doing so wonderful and keeps making great progress. Our first lesson was about repentance and she understood it so well. We were both amazed at how well she knew it. We read from Alma 7:15 and in Alma 36:17-21. We talked about why we have to leave behind all sins and not just the ones that are easier to leave behind. It was a very powerful lesson and the spirit was strong. The other lesson we just decided it would help her a lot to read with her from the Book of Mormon. She is now in 1 Nephi 18. Our goal with her is to have her finish the book of mormon before her baptismal date. Elder Rich gave a very powerful promise that if she reads every day, her parents hearts will be softened before that time and she will be able to be baptized.
   We have some great goals and we have changed plans on how we can work more effectively this week to achieve them. Our numbers in other lessons have stayed at a constant 4 and we really want to get that up and find some more people. We got the courage to go out and find, even on the buses, but now it's time to find those people and teach some lessons and get the members to get the same excitment for finding as we do.
            Elder Sanford

Email from James - February 13, 2012

Hello family,

I am a bad big brother and didn't say last week so I will say it now: SU GIMIMA DIENA PARKERAI!!!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY PARKER!!!!!!! I loved the pictures dad sent and it looked like you had a way fun time. You, dad, and I will have to go hit some "real" golf balls when I'm back. haha you will probably play better than I will. I am terrible at golf. :D You will have to ask dad if you can write to me in the next email to tell me what you got for your birthday. Love you bud! :)
Before I forget, on the blog my address is correct but just need to add one thing to poeples letters will get sent to the right place. After the Lt-01011, there needs to be Vilnius written after it. So it would look like this:

A/D 3438
LT-01011 Vilnius

This email is going to be really short so forgive me if it isn't too long. We are going to Trakiai, the big castle that is outside of Vilnius and I had to email a lot to president Boswell today so I don't have a lot of time. Just know that things have been so great here. I love Vilnius so much and the members are so wonderful. I spoke on sunday and the members really liked it. I love public speaking. Also, me and two other elders sang in sacrament meeting. :D yay using my new talent. I have never been more happier in all of my mission than I have been than this past week. I will send a clip from my email to president boswell so you can know why. I was also wondering, dad, do you have a line of your priesthood. Like who gave you the priesthood and then who gave him and so on up to the apostles and jesus christ. All the elders have theirs and I don't even know mine or have one. hahaha. It would be really cool if I could get that. Well I really need to go but here is the clip from my emial. I probably would have written about the same thing. :D I Love you all so so much and I can't wait to hear from you again.
Elder James Sanford

Dear President Boswell,
What a powerful week. I feel this has been one of the greatest weeks in my mission. The reason I say that is one, I learned the great joy of repenting, pushing myself to the limit/stepping out of your comfort zone, and one investigator we called from the area book has a baptismal date. Let me explain this great overjoy that I have felt in this past week. I went on exchanges with Elder Frollick who is such a great elder. Him and I became quite good friends right from the start. As we were out working, he told me about the great conference he got to be in with Elder Bennet. He told me all that happened and all that he said. Wow, talk about a humbling conference and quite a powerful one. It really made me look at myself and get the desire to become even better that I already am. I thought I was a good missionary and that I lived according to the rules well, but I could see I could do a lot better. The reason I wanted to do a lot better was because of Elder Bennett's great promise," every blessing comes from an act of obedience." Elder Frollick and I talked a lot about that and we set a goal together and it is one that I have never been fully comfortable with. That is, contacting on the buses. Elder Frollick said since he started doing that, he has been so much more happier and he has seen the blessings from it. I am a second witness to that as of lately. It was so scary getting up the courage to go up to a guy and sit down and just start talking. But I did! I felt so happy and now I am always looking harder for someone to talk to. Harder now than I have ever done in my mission. I know the Lord has seen my desire to change and he blessed us with Valdas, who now has a baptismal date. I have been really looking in the handbook and looking at myself at how I can improve and change and repent. It has been wonderful. I can't describe how happy I am. My prayers have become a lot stronger and I have personally received so many strong and personal revelations. When I am in lessons, I have so many good questions come into my head that I didn't even think I knew. I kinda smack myself on the head for not starting this sooner. Haha. I am just glad I am still blessed with lots of time to use these knew skills the Lord has blessed me with. It was so hard to start this great change at first, but it was so worth it.

Email from James - February 6, 2012

Alo Dad,
What a crazy but awesome week this week. It was crazy but oh my flip, it was so cold. Last winter was cold but oh my goodness, I have never felt such a deep coldness before. Here are some funny stories to show you how cold it was.
   We had to go to the teaching center to clen it up and we cleaned out everything on the inside and and made it look really nice. Elder Mays said, " oh, I think I will go clean the front window because it looks way gross. He walked out and sprayed some of the window cleaner, came back in and put down the bottle and picked up the towel. Ok, that was like 2 seconds to do that, right? OK remember that short time. He goes out and trys rubbing the window cleaner. He tires but nothing happens. He tries a little harder but nothing. By this point you can only see his body from because the window was all covered with the window cleaner. He came in and said, " Ummm, it's all frozen." Ya it was all frozen. We went out and tried to scrape it off but it hardly did anything. Hahahaha it was hillarious. It wasl like those moments when you hear stories of things happen like that but this time I was in the story. Ha
   Next story. To style my hair without gel, I get it wet and just style it so it doesn't look so spikey. So I did that like normally and then we went out. My hair wasn't that wet. We got out to the bust stop and we were waiting. It was way way way cold. I have never felt a cold like it is here. We got into the bus and we sat down. I scratched me head and my hair was way hard. I thought, wait, did I put gel in my hair. NO ofcourse not, I don't wear gel. I began laughing and realized that my hair had frozen. It was way hard. Hahaha weird. My eyebrows got some frost on them from my breath and then it froze so I had cool spikey eyebrows. Hahaha. Ever experienced feeling your eyebrows and eyelashes freeze? Nope I never had before, until this last week. Weirdest feeling in the world. Hahaha.
   Even though it is cold, I wouldn't want to change my mission for anything. I love it so much and I don't ever want to leave. My language has picked up like crazy. I find it very hard to study in english. I don't even read the scriptures or preach my gospel in english. I left them in my suit cases. All I have is books in lithuanian. I will only look in my scriptures if I want to see how the translation from the bible are to find the difference. It's a  lot of fun. My reading of the book of mormon is going way strong. I am currently in Alma and I have learned so much. I love the branch here so much. The youth here are hillarious and I love them so much. The branch president is such a great guy and I got to talk to him for a while. You won't be able to see a pic of our apt. The places where I put those in the book are different now. We live way outside of center. We only come down to center if we need to go to the teaching center or if we need to check the mail etc. It kinda makes me sad that I never got the chance to serve here for a longer time but I am so overjoyed that I even get the chance to serve here. I am way excited for tonight because I am leading the lesson for Family Night. We have family night with all of the youth at the senior couples house and it is so much fun. I am going to talk about sacred things and about prayer mostly. The flakes wanted me to talk about something like that. They are a hillarious mission couple. They don't really understand the culture and they are just so sweet and innocent. They try to learn lithuanian and it is quite funny but we love them so much. You two better serve missions. There was another couple that came down from riga and the wife was so funny. She kept saying how hard it was and how her husband was just loving everything. I told her how much I love this mission and wouldn't ever want to change it and she said, " when does that start". She said that we don't understand how it is because we don't have grandkids. Hahaha I laughed and said eh go watch general conference again. Haha. :D At church we helped out in primary and it was hillarious. They are so funny and I haven't seen so many kids in so long. There is about 12 of them. I'm going to pass out when I'm back in our huge ward.
  OK you need to remind me who jenny gustaves is. I know that is josh's family but who is jenny. That is so sad to hear. We went to a funeral this week and sang at it. It was a little interesting. It was the father of one of the members. The guy that died was an older man but the members asked if we could come sing. There was an open casket infront of us in this really small room. Kinda weird but the singing was really neat. The spirit was way strong and the people after thanked us for it. It was a really neat way to serve. You wont' believe this but I love singing. I am totally joing the church choir and I may want to do some singing in college. :D
  I am so happy to hear that mom is doing great. I really enjoyed her email. It really touched my heart to see my pic by her bedside. I love you mom so much and I always think and pray for you. Don't get too excited for April because I'm not. :D Keep in there
   Well all the elder are dying to go. I was going to write more about what I have been studying about prayer in DC but I will wait til next week. I have learned so many things from just a few sections. I have been going through each verse and picking out things from it. Revelation is the neatest thing to learn in the whole world and my prayers have become so much stronger and so much more personal.
              I love you all so much,
                    Vyresnysis Senfordas
  So I attached a bit of my email to presidet boswell of a really cool experience that happened this past week.

Pijus- In this lesson I really learned the power of testimony. Pijus has been meeting with missionaries for a long time and he is quite a confused guy. In the lesson he was telling us how he is starting to believe in what the jews believe becaue it is all written out and you can see the questions and the answers. He said he beleives in Christ but just in the way that he was a good teacher which is contrary to what he had told missionaries just barely. In one word, the lesson was kinda crazy. He was very confused in his beliefs. He had an experience a while back with Elder Rich where he prayed and he said that he felt something when he asked if the book of mormon was true. He told us it is hard fro him to judge just by feelings and he wants to know for sure in his head that what he is thinking is from God and not just his own thoughts. We read from the story of oliver cowdrey when the lord reminds him of the "night he spoke peace to his heart" and it didn't help him too much. He just got a little more anxious and said he still doesn't know. I felt a strong impression to share my testimony. I shared my testimony of how I know how he feels. There was a time in my life when I was really confused about if the church was true or not. I told him I felt like him, confused and frustrated because I couldn't tell if it was just my thoughts or really from god. I told him I had to change some things in my life. I had to "really" begin reading the scriptures, I had to get on my knees and really talk with my heavenly father and showed him that my desires to know where important to me, I had to do all of "the small steps" to receive my testimony. I told him that it was hard and that it will be the same with him. It will require work, but if he really tries and asks with real intent, meaning he will act on the impression that he gets, he will get a testimony like I received. It was quite a powerful experience for me. Instead of bluttering out more thoughts from the world or his own head, he sat very quite. I didn't think that was possible for him. We sat there for a bit and he was thinking very deeply, I feel for his first time. We invited him to begin praying and to read from the beginning of the book of mormon. In the past, he had only read where the missionries said but we felt he should just start from the beginning. He said he would and I could feel he was truly being sincere this time.

Email from James - January 30, 2012

Dear Dad,

So already being the most humble of all missionaries that I am and finishing an assignemnt right as I get it, I had already sent that letter for grandma and grandpa to mom's email. But I took the liberty of sending it to your email for more confisciensy ( I have no idea how to spell that word lol.) Hahaha wow that was so me writing that with a sarcastic british stuck up voice so don't take that seriously. I am not that prideful haha :D It just made me laugh writing it.

Ah yes, transfers. Well I thankfully spoke in church on sunday in Šiauliai before I left. I met with a lot of members before I left and I saw so many tears and you would think we were having a funeral for me. I kept telling them I wasn't dying and that we would still keep in touch. :D It touched my heart at how loved I was there. Every president chomskis said he was way said I was leaving. He tells all newer missionaries to the city that he will forget their name way quick once they have transfered. haha. I am now serving in the large and spacious city of Vilnius. I am in the capital of lithuania and it has been great. I love the big city. :D I am serving with Elder Rich and he is just the coolest guy ever. We are going to have a lot of fun and I am pretty sure he will be the one sending me home. Gross, did I just say that. I meant to say the one I will be serving with these next two transfers. I love Vilnius. My whole mission I really wanted to serve here in the summer because I went on a lot of exchanges and I loved being outside and there were a lot of people out all of the time and it was so much fun. Now, oh my goodness, it is so flipping cold. I left those cool 180 earmuffs at home and that was a dumb decision, I got sick all last week and today it is finally going away. It was no fun. Elder Rich gave me a really great blessing and that helped a ton because I wasn't sleeping good with all of the junk in my nose, head, and throat. I took those cool orangey pills and they seemed to help a little. I just drank lots of tea and we stayed inside for most of the week. I feel so spoiled in the apt. we live in. It is so big and we are way up high so we have a great view. I sleep in a big bed. The kitchen is way nice and really big. The bathroom floors are heated, crazy huh? I thanked heavenly father so much when I found out where I was going to be for these tranfers. The branch is so great. I knew most of them pretty well from conferences and all of the activites so there were way excited I get to serve here now. The youth are so great and I love them a ton. We are already becoming way good friends. On sunday, oh it was so cute, they had a primary program. I haven't seen one in 2 years. They were so cute, singing and giving their little talks in their adorable little lithuanian voices. I loved every minute of it. Church here is three hours. It was really weird not worrying about who is speaking or the money stuff and all of the things that ran through my head while being a first counselor. Now I get to be just a great missionary. I am so excited to be serving here. There are a lot of teenagers here so that made me so happy to be serving here because I love talking to the youth. They were way nice to me and accepted me right away. They are hillarious. There are also 4 american girls here who are teaching english. It was weird to talk to them and it was really akward for me because I don't know how to have a normal conversation in english lol. :D I love speaking lithuanian. So before I forget, my mail address is:
A/D 3438

So haha, talk about last moment, I can't believe you and katherine and mom painted the wall right before her surgery. It looks really good and I love the temple pic. AH temples. I can't wait. It will be really cool to see. :D

That is way crazy that parker's birthday is way close. Hahah is he left handed? That is so funny. I remember he kept switching hands. That made me laugh way hard.

I laughed at what president homer told you when you mentioned he promised you would be the bishop when I came home. That is totally a mission president thing to say. It's great when the Lord turns the table and you didn't know what to expect.

Keep me updated on how mom is doing. I have been keeping her in my prayers all week and I will especially tonight when it is morning there. I hope everything works out ok and that she will have the courage to go through it. Just remember the scriptures where the Lord promises His children, fear not, for the Lord thy God is with thee. and also the prayers of your family and friends and your frozen son on the other side of the world. :D

I love you all so much. Stay safe and know that You are always in my prayers,
This is some of my thoughts that I wrote to president boswell and I thought you might like them.
AS for the question that we have to answer weekly, there was a verse in the book of mormon that really stood out ot me in my studies. I tried finding it through but it couldn't find it but I will look it up when I am at home and report it to you because it was a very good verse. But it said in the verse towards the end, "the Lord worketh in many ways to the salvation of His people". That really stood out to me because I feel sometimes, as missionaries, we get in a mindset that there are just a few things we can do to find and teach people. We harvest, we contact, we walk on the streets. etc. We feel, at least I can say for me, that these are the only things that we can do to find people. I felt really impressed when I read this because I feelt the Lord wants us to use many means to find people. Elder Rich and I are very creative and I feel that we can think of even more creative ideas on how to find people. We are very excited for putting this English Club idea to the test. I feel we will be able to find a lot of people through this.
One of my goals is to increase my courage in finding people. I was already caught with guile from the knowledge that the Lord works in many ways to bring salvation to his children but I also found another verse in 1 samuel that I really liked. It says, "When thou goest out to abattle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and bchariots, and a people more than thou, be not cafraid of them: for the dLord thy God is with thee." I liked this because I changed some of the wording and put, "when thou goest out to contact amongst thine enemies and my children and seest roughened men and hoolies of all kind, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the Lord thy God is with thee." That became more personal to me. I personally am not very comfortable with bus contacting. I have done it in the past but I feel I can improve on it and as we learned from president lawrence, we need to contact everyone everywhere. I noticed when I came here, it was very common not to have a lot of lessons or investigators. When I heared the calls from the other elders, they were pretty down about not having a lot of numbers and just kinda laughed it off. I felt way bad. In Šiauliai we had a lot of success and if we only got 5 lessons a week, I knew it was time for us to really pick it up. I feel that if we and myself included, pick up our faith and press forward harder in every finding tool and use the Lord's many ways of finding to bring salvation to His children, I know we will have great success. I am very excited. 

A letter from Elder Nelson's Mom

Hello! Sanfords,

My son Elder John Nelson is serving with your son in Siauliai Lithuania.  I wanted to write you and say "Hello" as well as letting you know how much we appreciate your sons service as a companion to our son.  Elder Nelson is loving his mission and he is grateful for the excellent missionary companion he has.  He is learning much from your son and is so grateful to be serving the Lord. We are so grateful for the experience our son is having and know that much of it is due to the faithful young men he serves with.  We hope your family is well and enjoying having a full time missionary.

Elizabeth Nelson

Email from James - January 16, 2012

Hey dad,
This week was really depressing and really hard. Sunday was a super day but the rest of the week, I didn't now like. Our investigator is in the hosptial because of depression and yadadad. We went to visit her because she wanted us to and it was so akward. She was on some way weird drugs because she was not acting like herself and had a ton of energy. A lot of people we had planned to meet with canceled at the last minute so we were stuck knocking on doors all night and getting the door slammed into our faces then it started snowing way bad. Not going to lie, my faith has dwindled a bit. But, you do what you got to do and you just keep going.
Not all was bad though, we found a pretty cool family. Just the dad and the daughter were home and we taught them a short first lesson. They were really nice and the dad wouldn't give us his number but he took ours and said he would need to talk to his wife. He came to english so that was fun. Teaching English class made me feel a lot better because I am way close to my friends there. They treat me so nice and they are all like my best friends. I wish people would give us the chance to speak and get to know us instead of judging us right from the start. It's way irritating.
Sunday just made my week. We had branch conference, so we had a lot of people come, well a lot for Šiauliai. Some members came from Vilnius and Kaunas and Klaipeda. The District President is so cool and we talked for a long time. His wife is way spunky and loves to talk to me. They are planning on going on another trip to Utah to see their daughter, about the same time I am going home. Their daughter lives in Riverton. Can you believe it? That is way close to us. I told them they have to let me know when they are coming out so I can see them. One of the members from Klaipeda, Gintara, is the funniest and coolest girl. She is 12 or 14 and just hillarious. We all talked forever and her mom was laughing way hard at all the funny things we were all talking about. They were all way interested about the story from our family about the guy from france who married an indian girl. They thought that was way cool and want to know more. Gintara and her mom were so cute, they asked when I was going to come back to Klaipeda. They said it's not as fun as when I was there. Gintara was so funny, they were getting ready to leave and she kept saying she didn't want to. :D I love them so much. All these members just make my day all of the time. They are such great people. I look forward to sundays so much.
Nothing really much left to tell. Really slow week, not fun.... Please let me know if you got those past two emails. Nothing was updated on the blog and you didn't respond to anything I said so I am a little worried. This is the last week of this transfer so we will know next week what will happen. I'm a little nervous because I have been here since May so we will see.
I love you all so much and I always keep you in my prayers. You mean the world to me