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

Email from James - January 9, 2012

Hey dad,
Hopefully this letter will get to you. I don't know why the last letter didn't get sent. It was a long email and so I resent it and I hope it gets to you.
That's way funny that you got some snow on saturday because it started to snow here on saturday too. A lot actually. It just kept coming down and down and wouldn't stop. I had great fears that the winter was beginning and that the great battle was about to begin. It kinda felt like in the second Lord of the Rings movie where they are beginning the battle at the castle thing and the music begins and you can tell on Aragorn's face that it will be a hard fight but he rounds up his shoulders and fights. Ha ya that's how I would describe my feelings for that day. But, it warmed up a bit and now most of the snow is melted again. It is still way cold and bleak looking outside with the gray blanket of clouds but the snow is gone.
That's really cool you got to eat at President Homer's house with President Price. It's always way cool to be in the same room as a general authority and have the oportunity to be instructed by them. They are true servants of God. You can feel it when you are around them and I am blown away by how well they know their scriptures. When President Clayton came, an elder asked a question and without even a pause, he said, " well let's open up our scriptures to Doctrine and Covenants yadadad." It was crazy how well they know their scriptures. It makes me a little worried because I don't know my scriptures that well and I still haven't read through the new testament or the doctrine of convenants, but I am trying. I am beyond thankful someone used up their time to make the Bible Dictionary and the Topical Guide. :D I can zip through that way quick and find scriptures. I will have a lot of time to study the scriptures for the rest of my life which is very exciting for me because their is so much to learn from them. It's a life long pursuit that I am sure I won't ever be able to complete but I hope I can get close.
I totally am 110% in support of your new goal to be home with the family. That is a very honorable and worthy goal that not many families here have the opportunity of having. It's not that they have busy jobs or their lives are way busy, it's that most of the families are broken and their isn't a good dad or husband to come home after work to give the family some love and protection. I am so thankful that I have you as a great dad. You have been used as a great example for service, forgetting yourself, loving the Lord, being an example to me through my life and on my mission, being a great father and husband, and so many other great things. I can't wait til we are home and we can have conversations about gospel stuff and life more. I regret not taking those chances when I was home. Talking about gospel stuff or life wasn't that important to me, but now I am so thankful it is. It has taken a whole new meaning on my life and has a lot greater importance. I am so beyond grateful for my mission. Words can't describe how happy I am to be on a mission and to have this foundation that will bless my life forever. Thank you so much for being the great example that I needed to see to shape me into who I am becoming today. I shared some of my goals in the last email. They have been going pretty well. I have been working out every day except for sundays. It was a little hard to start and some days when I'm really tired, it's very hard to work-out but I actually want to keep this goal. I have seen great affects from it. I feel a lot better through the whole day and I am getting stronger. The Book of Mormon and D&C reading got a little slacked but I am renewing my desire to keep it going and setting goals to keep that strong.
Here's a copy from my email about one of our great investigators saule.
Saulė- I think personally this week for the question of what did I do to acheive the missionary and branch baptismal goal was our work with Saule. We have been working with her so hard and she has made so much progress in just one weeks time. She was very open with us when she knew that we saw her smoking after she told us she hadn't smoked in about 3 months. The spirit was a lot more stronger in our lessons with her and we could see and feel that she was repenting. I am very excited to ask her those questions you gave us. As we told you in our lesson this past week, the spirit was way strong and she has opened up way more to us, which I didn't think was possible. Her and Vladas have set the goal to quite smoking together. It has been wonderful to see. Vladas bore his testimony in church which was huge! We met with them sunday night and he said he was starting to think about not bearing his testimony but that he felt like he should. We are keeping a constant contact with Saule and Vladas to check up on their smoking and keeping that constant contact so we can know how they are doing spiritually. We gave their daughter, Gabriella, some of the bible and book of mormon cartoon stories and she loves them. They all read and study those together. Vladas and Saule are praying together. I couldn't be any happier from how I have seen them changed. Saule's baptismal date is for the 4 of February. It has been wonderful for me to be her so long to get that bond with her and saule so there is that trust. I feel I can be completely open with them and they said they feel they can tell us what they are feeling or what is hard for them. They told us that we were both from God just by how much we have helped them. When Saule first came to Šiauliai, way back in the summer time, she wasn't even interested in the gospel, and now, she wants to be baptized. People's hearts can change.
Romas has been out of town in Switzerland with his family so we won't be able to meet with him til next week.
That made me laugh about how people are arguing about who's team I will be one. What are the team's so far? Make sure they are serious about having me run because I really want to when I get back. I have been working out so I will be ready to get back into training fo the race. You totally got to run it. It's way fun and it's one of those experiences you got to try. Not many people say they ran a marathon like ragnar. :D
So I got an email from the lady from Bingham and she said that she can't send me those forms through email. I will copy what she said to me.

 James,We do not have the capability to email transcripts.  I need you to give me the name and addresses of the Universities for which you are applying, we will mail them directly to the admissions offices, that is part of the official transcript process for admissions.  Also, give me your date of birth and the year you graduated. If you would like us to mail an unofficial copy of your transcripts home we can do that just give me the address. Thanks,Robyn SmithRegistrar OfficeBingham High
      So you will have to get me the address of the schools that we are applying for. I think you can do both email and physical address of the colleges. I will need the addresses for BYU, Utah Valley University (UVU), SLCC and I was also thinking about Uof U too. :D Thanks for helping me out so much. It really means a lot. I am way excited to go into college and begin my whole new adventure. I am going to work way hard.
I didn't tell you on the phone about one of the exciting things I wanted to talk about. So we are going to go to Nauvoo? Wow I was way thrilled to hear about that. That is going to be so much fun and I can't wait. Some of my companions have been there and they say it is amazing. I want to go to the Nauvoo temple way badly. Oh I can't wait for that trip. Two thumbs up for that idea to go to Nauvoo and I am sure I will live if the hotel has a pool or not. :D That made me laugh hearing Anna and Parker ask if there will be a pool. Ha I remember flipping out if there wasn't a pool at the hotel. haha.
Nothing much really to report about this last week. It was a little slow but still lots of fun. I love being here and I can't believe how fast times just goes and goes. It gives me the extra drive to keep working harder and harder and to keep improving my skills constantly because I still have so much I can improve on. I love you so much and I can't wait to hear back from you. 
             Love always,

Email from James - December 26, 2011

Hello again, :D

Oh how great it was to hear all of your voices. I tried to think of things to ask each of you so I could hear all of your voices and could have a small bit of time to talk to all of you. I hope you felt like you all got a chance to say what you wanted to say to me. That was so much fun and the time went by way to quickly. It's a good thing we ended when we did because literally two minutes after we hung up, Elder Nelson's family called :D whew, close one. I can't tell you all enough but I love you all so much Dad, Mom, Anna, and Parker. You all sound like you are doing so good and I can't wait til I can be with you all again. You mean the world to me. I often catch myself thinking of fun times we had together and of those special moments. The moments when I would just come sit in Dad's office in the church or at work and just chat or lunch trips we took together. The time at a christmas many years ago when I was caught hidding on the coach. I thought I was in so much trouble and that I wouldn't get anything for christmas. You gave me a package from under the tree and told me to open it. I couldn't believe the words I had heard. It was nearly 3 in the morning I think. I went down and opened the package and it was the Lord of the Rings Risk. I don't remember how the game went or who even won, but I remember how happy I was, just me and my dad, spending time together. My sweet mom who I can't wait to give a big hug too. I miss those little hugs so much. Even though I would make a little fit or pretend I didn't want a hug, those meant a lot to me. I would give anything to have a mom hug when the hard times come here. My room was always clean and I never will forget those notes you would leave me, in my glasses case when I was in in elementary school or on my desk after you had cleaned it that told me you loved me. I laugh at the time when I made you laugh really hard when we went to McGrath's fish house right before I left and I was immating a russian man and thanking God we had two frozen dogs to eat instead of one. :D Anna, oh hahaha where do the funny memories stop, I don't think there is an end. You always have some querky comment to make or some funny act you will pull out out of that creative mind you have. I laugh really hard when I think about how crazy we were at Disneyland and how hyper we were. It was fun to have some Big Brother and Little sis time when we went off and waited in lines for Indiana Jones and Pirates. We constantly had something to laugh about and you kept me entertained for hours as we waited in those long lines. And my little Parker. I miss your amazing energy and all of the crazy things you get into. I miss those times when I would be playing videogames and then you would come down and ask if you could play. Or when you and I would have Bro time and go see a movie or go drive around in my car. Remember when we went to the zoo? That was really fun seeing all of the animals and watching your eyes get really big when we saw the big tiger open his mouth to yawn. Ooooo scary. I remember when you were really little and you had barely learned to walk. I was sitting on the edge of the stage in the church and you walked up and sat down right by me. I had be hands behind me to support me sitting up. You looked at me and studied how I was sitting and then you did the same. I smiled and started kicking my legs and then you saw me and started doing the same. Then I put my hands on my legs. You laughed and then copied me. I miss having you around and copying my every move. I try so hard to be the big brother that you need to see. You made me tear up when you told me you love me and you wanted me to baptize you. I didn't know what to say. :D It will be fun when the trio, Anna, You and Me are all back together and we can be as crazy as can be. Anna can drive us to some places and we will go eat and see some movies. :D 
   Family, you mean so much to me and I can't express how lucky I feel to have you. I see other families and I always think how extremely happy I am to have the family that I have. You mean the world to me and before we know it, I will be home. What a wonderful day that will be. 

     With all the love I have,

Email from James - December 20, 2011

Dear Dad and family,
So the great news is 100 percent true, I will still be in the belevoed city of Šiauliai. We said goodbye to Elder Manning, which was so sad and way hard to do. We became way close and we are going to miss him a ton. We had a lot of fun our last week together. He lives in Logan and he already gave his homecoming so you won't be able to see it. Elder Nelson and I are way excited to still be serving together. It is so foreign for me to be in a two-way companionship. We went shopping today and I felt like we didn't have enough food so I'm having to reteach myself how to live in a two way companionship. Should be funny. Thankfullly Elder Whicker is here today for exchanges for a couple of days so I can feel comfortable for a time. It made me so happy on sunday when all the members saw me. They were so happy when they found out that I would still be here in Šiauliai. :D I love them all so much. We had a christmas party on saturday and that was so much fun. :D I was one of the wise men and I got a good practice in in using my hebrew tounge. They all thought it was funny. A way funny thing happened, as Antti was speaking and president Chomskis was translating for him, Mati, the little 1 year old boy that I love to death and always play with, was running around in the hallway and his mom was chasing him, Skaiste who is Antti's husband so this is all one big chain. Skaiste is going to have another baby in January. So as he is running around, he sees me and I smile at him and make a little face. I'm up in the front so no one can see him but me. So he comes running towards me and runs up to me haha. It was so cute. So I just played with him so Skaiste could sit and Antti could finish talking. I love that little kid so much. I will have to get a pick with him.
There's still no snow. Ugh, it's so lame. I want it to snow so so badly. It tried to snow last night but it didn't stick. It's way funny how badly I want it to snow when just a few months ago I was dredding the coming of the snow. It's just that it isn't christmas without snow, you know? It's pretty cloudy and gloomy looking oustide so maybe it will come down. Cross your fingers.
We were at zone conference yesterday so that is why we are emailing today. It was a lot of fun and it was even more fun seeing other missionaries. Now that there is only two of us in Šiauliai, it gets a little lonely not seeing anyone else. I loved it in a threesome. I was fine without seeing anyother missionary. But now, it gets kinda lonely but I am glad I am with Elder Nelson. I wouldn't pick anyone else to be stuck with in Šiauliai than him. Haha. You would have laughed your heads off if you saw what I did at zone conference. So there is a new senior couple named the Flakes and they are hillarious. So they were getting pictures with all of the missionaries with their fancy dancey cool touch phone. So they ask me to help them and so Elder Flake hands me this cool phone and the screen wasn't on. They get in position and I am trying to figure out how to get the thing working. It was so funny how long it took. I didn't even figure out how. Some of the newer elders laughed and elder flake said, " oh come on it's not that hard." Then he took it from me and started it up. Hahaha. so I did a good grandpa voice and said, " dang kids with their shmazy dazy gizo devices. whatever happened to the normal push button phone. " Hahaha. OH it is so funny how I am so behind in the silly things of the world. I am sure I will be amazed at everything when I am home. You will have a great show for some time.  
I got sick last week which was no fun but I remembered I saw the cold flu stuff in the package. Yes I opened yet another thing from the package but this was an emergency. It helped a lot and tasted really good. My cold is all gone and I feel much better. Just a little cough here and there but no biggie. Mom said that she hopes there will be enough presents and I promise there will be plenty. Lucky charms is in there, I may or may not have seen, and that will be a present everyday for a while :D. It doesn't even really feel like it is christmas. I remember last year when I got those packages and it was driving me nuts for christmas to come and open those packages. I am just excited to hear from you all on christmas more than anything else. Ofcourse last year I was alraedy thrilled, but you get what I mean. ;D When you just grow up I suppose, the small material things of the world just don't matter. Hu Hu Hu Hu (you have to read that with an old wise man british accent to get the full affect).
So I will have to talk with you on the phone more about what to do with that email to that lady about the releasing my paper stuff because I was super confused. I don't know what that means and I don't know what to write to her. So you will have to explain to me what that means and what I need to do.
You'll have to try sending me that film again because when I opened it, it said it is only 30 sec. long and so I only got to watch thirty seconds of it. :( It looked way cool and I like the cool guitar christmas music of it.
Have you watched the christmas devotional? If you haven't, you should. It is so so good and I got to watch it again but in lithuanian on sunday. I love it and the new bible films are way interesting. One of the sisters here, well she is in Vilnius and she is a russian speaking sister, her dad is over all of the video stuff for the church so over a year he has been working on these films so that was kinda cool to hear. They are pretty sweet and they have a really cool feel and look into the birth of the savior.
It made me laugh when you said you have been planning all of the speakers for the next year and through the next few months and it's funny because that it what I have to do every month. I have to plan the speakers and pick the topics for them. Since there is so few members in the branch here, I just plan at the beginning of the month or before the month begins who will speak and what topics. It's been really cool because I always pray before planning and then the thoughts just come in what to say. I could tell it was true revelation because the talks that were given this last sunday, which I had planned at the beginning of the month, were so applicable for the things that happened this past week. It was amazing. The Lord truly does watch over his work, and even though we may not understand why we are doing something, it will always affect something to come in the future. It was a really neat experience for me to see.
So for the calls, here's how it's going down. Your are going to call me at 8:00 P.M. my time here. So that means it will be, I think, 11:00 A.M. your time. If I am wrong then you know just to figure out when my time is.  The number to call is 01137060678575. I can't wait!!
Well family, I love you a ton and I can't wait to talk to you. I can't believe it is already here!!!! Love you lots
Dear President Boswell,
It was quite hard letting go of Elder Manning, but we knew we had to. He needed to be sent off to his next mission and we still needed to work in ours. Elder Nelson and I have been working so well together and we have a lot of good goals to start this new transfer. I am very excited to be serving with him and I know that we will continue the work here. I am also very thrilled to still be in Šiauliai. I have so many great visions of changes that I can see here and have shared them with Elder Nelson. He has great desires for this transfer as well and I pray that we will have a lot of success.
Romas- He is doing wonderful. We had a lesson about Jesus Christ and we watched the film "Finding Faith in Christ." He really wants to find a testimony. He told us how he wants a strong testimony like we have and like how some of the prophets in the Book of Mormon said, " I know...". We have been praying alot for him and we really want him to see that he can find that testimony and that when we is baptized, he won't know everything, but he will feel that what he is doing is right in God's eyes. He amazes me everytime we meet with him by how much he is changing and how more sincere he is when we meet with him. He wants to learn from us. He told us how powerful it is to him to see young men acting and living what they believe in. He said that was one of the major reasons he knew he could trust us and that what we taught had to be true. He said he just wants to learn all he can from us. That made our day so much and it also put a lot of responsibility on our shoulders. I don't think I have ever prayed so hard for an investigator in all my life. We are going to meet with him this week before he leaves with his family to switzerland. They go on a family trip every year and they will be gone for a few weeks. We tried to set another baptismal date but he said he would be gone for that one. He said he wants to meet with us when he gets back and that he wants to keep preparing for baptism. He won't be back til mid January.
Dalė- We had a good lesson with her and Ruta, and their friend Greta. Greta is Ruta's friend and she comes to church with them but isn't too interested in the gospel. She comes to english class so we know her pretty well. We talked about testimonies and talked about the first again and explained the importance of authority and the great message we have of the restoration. They acceptated it but Dalė said she couldn't accept another baptism because she already accepted one in the catholic church and that would be a sin towards God. We expained, very well actually, I was quite impressed and it was completely by the spirit, about how if she felt that this is God's church, why would it be a sin to join God's church. She understood and she thought about it for a bit.
Raimonda- We talked with her about obeidience to God's Commandments and the blessings that we can receive from our obedience. We used a lot of scriptures that talked about how when we obey God's commandments, he immediately will bless us. She said that it is very hard for her to not have the desire to drink wine. She says she doesn't drink it but at parties with friends, she says it would be hard to tell her friends no that she can't drink and that it would be embarrasing for her. We talked a lot about faith and having fear of God and not of man. She is progressing little by little but she is getting there. She keeps coming to church faithfully each week and to the ativities. Her little daughters love church because Gitana, one of the members, teaches primary and they play a lot.
Saulė- We went over the chapter that she was supposed to read in 3 Nephi 11, about baptism. We went through it again with her and talked about the importance of baptism. We talked a lot about how with baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, we can be cleansed from all sin and that all of those bad feelings that we have about past sins, they can all be washed away and we won't have them anymore. I could tell she really liked that. We also talked a lot about the great gift we receive when we get the gift of the Holy Ghost. She didn't understand really what that was so it was fun to explain that to her and bear our testimonies of it's power. This week they said they should know the exact date for their wedding and then we will get a new baptism date with her.
Rimantas- This is one of our miracles this week. Rimantas is the recent convert of last summer and we went by to visit him. He has become less active and it's been kinda hard to get him to come back to church. He will coem but he thinks that all we do in the church is chat chat and that we need to go into the schools and teach kids how to grow up. Ha, he is a really funny guy and talks forever about the culture and how bad everything is. When we went over, one of his friends was over. His name was Saulus. He was such a nice man and greeted us way warmly. We began talking and he really opened up to us. He said he was seen us before when he used to come into Šiauliai for work and says that he was always interested in talking to us. That made him think of his friend. He pulled out his phone and asked if I would talk with one of his friends who has been wanting to meet with us. I talked to his friend who was an older lady who was really nice and said how wonderful boys we are and she said that she wanted to meet with us way badly. She said that we are angels in the city. I wrote down her number and her name and she took ours and I told her I would call her next week. She lives a little bit outside of Šiauliai, but she would be able to come into the city to meet and find out where our church is. That Saulus guy really enjoyed the lesson with us and came to our branch christmas activity and really liked it. He said he moves around a lot and doesn't have a set place where he always is so he is hard to get ahold of. I really hope we will be able to meet up with him again. He was a really nice man. It would be a great way to get Rimantas to come back if he had a really close friend start coming to church.
Geduminas- He is one of our new investigators who is doing pretty well. He said that he is interested in learning more about the church. We taught a first lesson shortly and got to know better who he is and what he believes in. He is a really nice guy and has a great family from what we hear. He is married and has a daughter and it is seen how much he cares about them. We want to go over to his house so we can get the whole family involved.
I learned so much from Zone Conference and I am looking forward to reviewing my notes. It was fun to watch those bible videos also. I found those on on one p-day and they were really interesting. Something that stood out to me and stood out again on sunday and then on zone conference was the importance of having time to pondering and waiting on the Lord. Those films are very interesting if you watch them in their full length. They seemed almost dragged out and when people walk, they walk more peacefully and with grace, for example, the angel. Everyone, at the beginning of the film, is slowly filling up their water containers as if they have all the time in the world. It stood out to me how Mary is pondering before she goes to work. As she is walking, she is still pondering deeply about something. She is giving a lot of thought to the Lord and on what she is pondering about. As she is on her knees, praying again, which I am sure that isn't her first time praying on that one subject that day, the Lord sees her real intent, and her prayer is answered according to her desires, her works, and her faith, and an angel appears. Pres. Chomskis and I talked for a bit about it after we watched the christmas devotional on sunday. Once we, the branch, were done watching the christmas devotional, everyone just jumped up and starting getting ready to go go go go go and no one took time to sit and ponder about what pres. monson had just said. President Chomskis said he asked some of them about what they thought about what pres. monson said and not many of them remembered after we had just seen it. We talked a lot about the importance of pondering and setting time for the Lord. I learned a great lesson this week about the power of waiting and pondering. I have never been good at that and I really want to become better at it and let the Lord touch my heart and give some revelation on how I can improve and become better. It was quite a powerful experience for me to learn this week. I know it was by inspiration that the Lord said that we must read, ponder, and pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true.
    have a wonderful christmas,
         Elder Sanford