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

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