February 2, 2015
Today was interesting, first we had our regular preparation day activities. I bought a really cute dress and skirt, then when we were heading back to our apartment with all of our groceries we get up on the fourth floor where we live and realized that we lost the keys. We thought maybe we threw them in the dumpster when we were taking out our trash that morning, so we go back down with all of our groceries, which are quite heavy, and kind of poke around with a stick. We then called the Elders, who should have a spare key. After an hour the Elders finally arrive with our key. We head back up and when we get to our door our neighbor opens his door and he had found our keys, so luckily our things were not stolen and we got all of our keys back including keys to the church. In the evening we went to go knock on some doors. On the way we were talking to a lady and she was pretty interested and gave us a referral to her neighbor who she thought would be interested. We go to her neighbors door and knock and she answers, she wasn't that interested, but another lady was visiting her and apparently Sister Hoskin and Sister Argyle had met her before and they just never were able to meet to have a lesson. After that we decide to just knock on that building's doors. We met some very interesting people. First, there was a man with no shirt on, then we knocked on another man's door who didn't have any pants on. We gave him a pamphlet and he just kept talking to us while Sister Hoskin was pushing me toward the stairs. We knocked on this young adults door where Sister Hosking asked if his parents were home and he said, "I don't live with my parents." She was super embarrassed. We also knocked on this super cool lady's door who seemed interested and was wondering about the English classes.
Today we had to go to the immigration office with our landlord. We got there and I forgot my passport and I have to have it done in the next two days, and our landlord is limited on time, plus, I am going on exchanges tomorrow in Kaunas. I felt really bad I made our landlord come all the way down there, and now he has to go again, but I don't feel that bad because we couldn't have finished it anyway because he has already claimed six people living here and he cannot claim another person. It is only Sister Hoskin and I living here, he just never removed the other missionaries who had lived here. We would have had to come back again anyway. After all of that we had District Meeting, I was assigned to talk about companionships and why they are important. I wasn't really sure where he wanted me to go with it, so I just talked about what the handbook says about companionships, and I read a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 84:106. It is about how we put the strong with the weak so they can become strong. I spoke about how we are all strong and weak in different areas, so the Lord pairs us so that we can strengthen each others weaknesses. I spoke about how much I have learned from Sister Hoskin and how we have these amazing discussions where we can hear each other's different perspectives. Elder Armstrong spoke about prayer. He used two really awesome talks given by Elder Bednar, "Pray Always," and, "Ask in Faith." They were really good, definitely look them up and read them. He had a little different perspective about prayer, he said prayer is an opportunity to share our testimony with God. I really liked that. Elder Norman spoke about repentance, "see the God, that God sees in you," and, "when you recognize sin you can recognize hope." Then we watch the 2014 youth them, "Come Unto Christ," on lds.org. I had seen it in the MTC, it is really good. Elder Aidukaitis spoke about love, he told us to think about someone we love a lot and think of how we treat them, and then he challenged us to treat others in Lithuania and the people we teach with that same love. Sister Hoskin shared about eternal perspective. I really like this subject, she did a great job. I shared a quote from the MTC Departure Devotional, "the mission experience is the MTC of life." It was a really good district meeting. It is Elder Aidukaitis's birthday on Saturday, but since Sister Hoskin and I will not be here on Saturday we gave him his gifts today. I gave him glow in the dark sheep that stick to your wall, and Sister Hoskin gave him a magic bean that will grow. We bought the Elders a gift to give to him, it was a heart that lights up and changes color. He loves things that change color, he will just sit and watch it. We had Gospel Group Discussion tonight. We spoke some more about prophets and they seemed to be getting it, it takes a lot of work to keep them on track sometimes. Whenever they ask somebody to offer the prayer no one ever will, so for the closing prayer I asked one of our students, Romas, if I say the prayer first will you say a prayer? So, I said a prayer. Then it was his turn and all he said was "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." I guess it is a start. He said it was a compound prayer, it was so funny.
Today we had to go to the immigration office again super early in the morning. We get there this time with my passport in hand and apparently Sister Ballard, who was still listed as living in this apartment has to undeclare and declare where she is living currently in Vilinus. We had to figure out what I was going to do because I was supposed to be going to Kaunas on exchanges tomorrow, but since tomorrow is the last day and I should have all this figured out I have to stay in Siaullai. Instead of me going to Kaunas and Sister Hoskin staying here, I will be staying here and Sister Hoskin will be going to Kaunas. I was really nervous about that, part of the reason I would be going to Kaunas is because I don't know my way around that well yet but Sister Hoskin reassured me and told me the only places I would need to go to are the church, home, and the immigration office. So, I am staying here for the exchange and Sister Seaman came here. After I picked up Sister Seaman from the bus station and Sister Hoskin went with Sister Penrose to Kaunas, we went back to the apartment for our studies. Sister Seaman is really nice. We had a lesson planned at the church on Skype, after that we had another lesson at the church with a church member, Jovita. We were on our way to the church when Elder Norman calls us back from earlier when we had called to ask a question. He tells us that we have no electricity at the church. We were already on the bus on our way there, so we decide to go there anyway and do our studies there while we wait for our lesson with Jovita that evening. We were just studying with flashlights when all of a sudden we see flashlights shining in the windows. We were so scared, we dropped to the floor and call the Elders. The Elders tell us they are on their way. While we are talking to the Elders I think we should lock the door and so we ask them, they are like the building door is locked. We hang up and are sitting there when I say, "let's go lock the door." We crawl out of the room and go where the security system is and the door that we would lock. When the Elder call again and say just stay away from the windows. So, we decide to hide in between the two doors where the security system is. At this point, I hadn't locked the door yet and I remember that I was going to because what if they have a key. I lock it, and then we were just talking, trying to calm down, when someone tries to open the door. We just go silent and wait, and then we decide to pray. The Elders arrived and we felt better at this point, the men with flashlights were gone. The Elders shut the blinds and had brought some candles for us and said they would stay until Jovita got here for our lesson. Then we hear something hit the window, like a snowball or something. One of the Elders looks out the window, who is our Zone Leader, because they are also on exchanges, and says "Elder, let's go outside." They told us to stay there and lock the door behind them, so we lock the door and wait. They come back in, apparently it was the neighbors who live upstairs, they saw the men as well and threw something at the window to get our attention so they could see if we knew them. The men had gotten in the stairwell somehow, and then said they had a white van or something. I am just glad we were directed by the Spirit to lock the door, who knows what would have happened if we had ignored the prompting. Sister Seaman is freaking out, and somehow, I felt very calm, but later panicked a little after, but we are safe and the Lord was watching out for us.
Today was day two of exchanges, we were hoping that the electricity at the church would be back so we could meet with Jurga over Skype, but no such luck. Yesterday, Jurga had texted us that she had moved out of her abusive boyfriend's apartment, we were so happy she can not be baptized. She just started working on quitting smoking as well, she is just taking all these steps and we are so proud. We are pretty sure she sent us a text asking for a baptismal date! But we are not able to have a lesson with her. We traveled to Kaunas today and are spending the night with Sister Seaman and Sister Madison. Kaunas is beautiful. It was about a three hour bus ride to get there. They have a really cute apartment with an awesome view. I get to sleep in two chairs pushed together since they don't have an extra bed.
Today we had a Sister's only training meeting, it was really good, they talked about several things. President Harding and Sister Harding and the assistants came, as well as all of the Sisters in Lithuania. I finally got to meet all of the Sisters, it was really fun. That lasted pretty much all day and then we traveled back to Siauliai. We found out we get to have a new apartment if we want, so the Elders are supped to begin looking. Our apartment is nice and big, and we have a beautiful view, but it is super expensive and it takes us an hour to get to the church, we are pretty much on the outskirts of town. It is also super drafty, it is always freezing! I am so glad you sent me that hoodie, mom, and I am so glad I brought the heating pad and my Cariloha blanket! I got my birthday package today at the training. I am so excited to open it, but don't worry, I won't open it until my birthday! :)
Today there was an activity for the branch. It was the first one in awhile and we were super excited because we have been trying to get more activities and things going for the branch. So, by one of our suggestions on Personal Progress, the women and the young women met together to introduce personal progress and talk about why it is important. We were really hoping it would turn out well and a lot of people would show up. We got to the church and there ended up being 5 women from the Relief Society and 2 out of 3 Young Women were there, and then of course Sister Hoskin and I. I thought is went pretty well. I was super excited, Gitana, the Relief Society President, and Skaiste, the Young Women's President are planning on having activities every two weeks and switching off planning them. They will be activities that will help the women and young women complete their personal progress. I am super excited. Sister Hoskin and I are planning on doing our personal progress over again so we can support them in their efforts. For this activity Gitanan talked about why personal progress is important and what it is. We decorated the page in our books where we put our name and picture, and then we made posters for our next activity on February 14th! Super fun, then we cleaned the church together. I have a lot of hope for the Sialuliai Branch, I wasn't so sure for awhile, but Sister Hoskin made plans and then followed through with them and something happened.
Today we tried to meet with Jurga over Skype, but she did not respond to our text messages. We think maybe she was avoiding us because she moved back in with her boyfriend. :( We did meet with Jane this evening, it was really good, we just wanted to drop of the jar her applesauce was in and see how she was doing. She invited us in and insisted that she make eggs for us. She is so sweet, but we don't want her to feel like she has to feed us and put herself out overtime we come over. We asked her to read Enos, then we asked if we could come back. She is a less active and she seems to be doing everything that she needs to be doing except for coming to church.
(Answering some questions from letters...)
Elder Norman is from Provo, Utah. No musical talent here, Elder Aidukaitis, who is also the Branch President, plays the piano, conducts, and presides in Sacrament meeting. My companion is from Grass Valley, California. Her mom was less active and her dad is not a member, so she is a convert. She has two little sisters who are twins, Bailey and Lily, Bailey has special needs. I don't know what else you want to know about her, she went to BYU Idaho before her mission, she was also studying Elementary Education. We run stairs three days a week. We are also doing this 30 day arms, buns, and abs challenge from my missionary binder. We have personal study for an hour at 8, then companion study at 9, then we have language study at 10, then we usually eat lunch for an hour and then we have second hour, which is for people being trained. We usually go to lessons or knock on doors or have weekly training. On Tuesday's we have district meeting at 11, and on Tuesday's and Thursday's we have English class in the evening from 6 to 7, then we have a lot of travel time when we have to go to the church because it takes about 40 minutes, but now that we get to move we will find somewhere closer. On preparation day we have personal, companion, and half of language study, then we come and email, usually at about 11:30ish, then we go grocery shopping. We usually eat with the Elders and clean our apartment. I have not been to the hill of crosses yet, we are waiting until it gets warmer. Today we are going to go to this chocolate factory. We have usually around 20 people who attend and the branch President is Elder Aidukaitis. The Zeppeline was pretty strange, other than that we just drink a lot of tea.
Here is a dome, this is where I live.
Gitana, the Relief Society President, and the flyer she made for the activity we had on Saturday.
Sister Seaman sleeping on the bus to Kaunas.
Sister Hoskin and Matias.