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

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