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