Monday, June 27, 2011

The Seventy-Third Letter

June 27, 2011
Dear Family,

Well, this week hasn't been super eventful. Transfers happened and I am still in Kaunas with Elder Hilton. I'm happy about that. I don't really like moving a lot and I have done that a lot on my mission. I'm not in a leadership position or anything, but that's ok. I was just a little confused that President Dance had told me that he needed my help at the beginning of the transfer and then it didn't end up happening. But the Lord has His plans and knows best. I'll do whatever I am called to do. Last Monday we went to the local zoo and that was fun. It's kind of pathetic and I feel bad for the animals, but it's not too bad. It was fun going there a second time. We met some members from Sweden this week! They were super nice and spoke English like champs. They came up to us on the street and just talked to us for a while. I am continually amazed at how unified the church is. No matter where you go in the world, you have people that you can rely on and we are all brothers and sisters. What an amazing thing it is. It was great talking to them! We also helped the Chinese member here move some couches into his flat. Let me tell, you... It was a pain! They wouldn't fit through the opening to ANY of the doors, to the building, to his flat or to the room it was going in. So, we had to try a ton of different ways to get them in and then ended up having to force them through the opening. Good thing I'm buff! haha, just kidding... But it was fun to do some hard work. It was a pain, but it was fun. The member was so impressed that we got them in. Miracles do happen. :) Other than that, there wasn't much else that happened. Just a normal pretty slow week. I am doing well and am trying to work hard. I'm trying to be diligent and do the best that I can with everyday because I know that my time remaining as a missionary will go by so fast. But I am doing well and am trying my best.

Anyways, I need to go, but I love you all so much! I love hearing from you and am so grateful for all of your examples! I hope that you have a great week and that everything goes well for you! You are in my prayers always. Please be safe and healthy and love everyone around you. You are the most wonderful family in the world. I love you so much!

Love, Elder Leishman

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Seventy-Second Letter

June 13, 2011
Dear Family

Well this week has been pretty slow for us. Not much new at all. haha... We haven't had a lot of success with finding people, but I have faith that they will come. God is preparing people that we need to teach and help. On Saturday we went out to one of the center elder's investigator's house to have a BBQ and help him work on his house which his is building. It was a lot of fun. We moved a ton of stuff up into the top of his house and it was a lot of work. Tons of bags of cement! But it was great to get out and work with my hands. We had the BBQ afterwards and it was so good! But here is the really funny part... Orestas (the investigator who is about 30) had a friend over that was about 18 or something. I don't know how that works out, but whatever. But she was really nice and stuff. But when we were leaving, I was just kind of staring off across the field and she comes out of nowhere with her arms open to give me a hug! That is just a normal thing to do. Here at least. But it shocked me and I kind of freaked out! I kind of jumped and backed away and just stuck out my hand for her to shake and she looked so confused! I explained that we don't hug as missionaries. hahaha... There isn't anywhere in the missionary handbook that says we can't hug people, but it is kind of like an unwritten rule. But to my embarrassment, I found out when we were driving home that she had done the same thing to the other elders and they had just awkwardly hugged her because they didn't know what to do! So when I reacted like that, she was probably super confused and probably hurt! I felt awful after I found out. Poor girl. She probably thinks I am this jerk and just didn't want to hug her. Anyways, I just felt super awkward and bad. What funny things you have happen as a missionary. Thought you might like to hear about that.

Also, last night we were singing down on the big walking street here in Kaunas. We have started doing that and it is really nice. I didn't want to do it at first because I felt awkward, but it has been such a great experience the few times that we have done it on Sunday afternoons. It helps people to see a different view of us and to feel the spirit. So, last night this blind woman stopped to listen and right as we were singing the last hymn, a drunken man came up and started bugging her. The sisters wanted to go talk to her because she was obviously feeling the spirit as we sang. So, Elder Hilton and I skillfully went and distracted the drunken man and got him away from the woman so that the sisters could talk to her. Haha, he kept telling us to go away, but he followed us anyways. Oh drunk people. They are so funny sometimes. But Elder Hilton and I were proud of ourselves and then the sisters had a good conversation with that woman. Funny story. But things are going well with me and it is just hot. There is no relief from it. :)

You guys sound like you are doing well! I'm so glad that you have all had a great time on tour! Mom, I am so glad that you got to go on tour to experience what we experience. It is such a special time. I really wish that I could do it again. I want to go next year if I can. That means that you should go too and then we can hang out. :) The people that you meet and the things that you see as a member of that choir are unforgettable. I almost start crying just thinking about it. What a great thing that choir is. I experienced so many good things and my testimony grew so much through that choir. I hope they keep doing it for a long time so that I can have my kids in it. That would be great! Anyways, I just love that choir and am so glad that you have had some great experiences. That was great to hear about that girl staying active because of that concert we sang a few years ago. That is so cool!!! Go spiritual experiences!

Well, I need to run, because we are going to the zoo! That should be fun. :) It was a lot of fun when I went last fall. I want you all to know that I know this church is true and we are all so blessed to be a part of it. God loves each of us individually and knows us. I am so grateful for that. I love you all so much and miss you!

Love, Elder Leishman

P.S. That town that you guys went to in Colorado sounds just like here. :) except it's probably worst here... But it is good for the kids to know the good from the bad. Then they can know how good they have it.

The Seventy-First Letter

June 7, 2011
Dear Family

Well, I will jump right into it! This past week was kind of a slow one for Elder Hilton and I, but we were able to meet with a few members and some great less active members. I really love working with all of these people. They are so wonderful and I love them. I really have come to love the Lithuanian people and am really coming to love their language the more I get into it. At first when something is hard, it is hard for me to really like that thing. Because it kind of makes you want to be bitter towards that thing. I think that kind of happened to me at the start of my mission because I just wasn't getting the language. But as I have tried my hardest to follow the assignment that President Dance gave me, I have started to love it. My heart is being softened and I am so grateful. I feel bad for not taking full advantage of it sooner. So, things are going well on that front. I am working hard to master it better. It's a beautiful language, but sometimes I feel that that grammar is too difficult for its own good! haha, some of the members that I have talked to say the same thing! But it's good. This week I created a map of middle earth from memory and I will be writing all of the declension charts on it to help me remember them better. Thanks for the Idea, Dad. :) The map is the size of four pieces of paper and I think that I did a pretty good job of remembering where everything is. It's a good thing that I love maps so much and that I looked at that map so much before my mission! So, I hope that will help. It's all about diligence with this language and any hard thing that we have to do. With God's help, it will come in time.

On Sunday night we went to Vilnius and stayed with Elder Whicker and Kezly because we had to leave Vilnius at 5:30 in the morning on Monday to get up to Riga on time. We got up at 3:45 to get to the bus station on time so, I was way tired! It's like a five hour drive to Riga. But we had chartered a bus and all of the missionaries in Lithuania went up together, so that was really fun. I talked to a sister missionary that is new here about education for a while because she is way nerdy and know tons about school and stuff. So I was just trying to learn some things from her and it was really cool. She had a really good outlook on education and it made me really excited to get back and start studying again. I also really think that I want to do a study abroad too. She had been on a lot and told me all about them. I have always wanted to go on one, but I really feel that it would be a great thing to do for sure now. Anyways, I learned some cool things. The Conference was great! We got there late but it was so cool to see all of the missionaries there. We had all lined up to have a mission picture and President and Sister Dance, President and Sister Clayton, and President and Sister Lawrence drove up. The assistance had all of us sing called to serve for them as they walked over to us. It was pretty cool. The meeting was mostly Q and A so we got a chance to ask some questions to President Clayton. One thing that stuck out to me was when someone asked how we can forgive ourselves better. President Clayton read that scripture of how if we work hard and serve faithfully, our sins will be forgiven to me. But he said that as we do that our whole lives and serve the Lord faithfully, we will be forgiven of our sins. I thought that was really cool. I was amazed at their knowledge! People would ask questions and President Clayton would answer the entire question with the scriptures! He would just call up these scriptures out of nowhere and go from one to the next super fast. I was blown away. I need to know my scriptures better. He talked a lot about how one day the church will be a huge power here in the Baltic. He said that the church was just a baby here still, but not to worry or lose faith because it will become huge some day. That was really cool for us to hear. He talked about how the first stake in Russia was created on Sunday and that we were helping with that. Anyways, It was just really cool and there was a great spirit there. We didn't end up getting home last night until about mid-night because stuff just went wrong with travel plans and we had to call someone in Vilnius to give us a ride back to Kaunas. What an exhausting day! But it was great. I need to run, but I love you all so much. I am praying for all of you and hope that you have a great week. Work hard and take advantage of every day and moment that you have. I know that the church is true! I love you!

Love, Elder Leishman

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Seventieth Letter

Dearest Family,

It sounds like you just had a crazy week! I'm so happy for Rachel and all that she has going for her. She has a bright future. Before I forget, next week we will be having P-Day on Tuesday because we are having a mission conference in Riga on Monday. Elder Clayton from the presidency of the seventy is coming to speak and it's going to be pretty sweet. I'll let you know how it is! Another question, my address here in Kaunas is the same as it was last time. The missionaries all just share a mail box in all of the cities. This week has been pretty good. We have just been trying to find some new people to teach. We found one man that is older and pretty Catholic, but we will meet with him again tomorrow and hopefully that will go well. We have been praying that his heart will be softened. Tadas is doing well. We couldn't meet with him this week because he had a bunch of tests, but he came to church. We still don't really know what to do with him, but we will do our best. This week we will just be trying to find those people that are prepared to hear the gospel. I pray that we will be able to find them. To answer another question, I asked how Dainus was doing and the Elders in Center told me that they meet with him every once in a while, but he isn't progressing. Since his mom was so against the church, he just kind of lost interest I think. It's way sad... I hope that he will come back and that his mom's heart will be softened. Yesterday we had a meeting with the Branch Presidency here in Kaunas. All of the missionaries arranged to have a special meeting with them after church. We wanted meet with them and get to know them better and talk about how we can help to strengthen the branch. For some reason there are a lot of members here that don't trust the missionaries and think that they don't actually have testimonies and that their parents just forced them to come on a mission. I don't know whey, but maybe there have been some bad missionaries in the past. Anyways, we want to gain the members trust back and do the best that we can. So we met with the presidency and we made them tacos since they have never had them and we just talked for a while. I was really cool to hear all of their conversion stories. It was such a testimony to me to know that the Lord is preparing people here and they really will accept the gospel. They are great people. Anyways, that was last night and it went well. Things have been going well with my Language efforts. It's tough, but I know that as I am diligent, the Lord will help me. He can help us do anything. It is really warm here and it's nice. It is so green and I love it. It's so much nicer to go outside rather than in the winter when it was so cold! Anyways, that was my week and it was pretty normal. I can't believe that it is going to be June in two days! That is crazy. I hope that you have a great week this week! The church is true!
Love you all!

Love, Elder Leishman

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Sixty-Nineth Letter

May 23, 2011
Dear Family,

Another week has come and gone. I can't believe how fast time is going. I guess the key is just staying busy and working as hard as you can. I only have 7 months left. I need to make the absolute most of it. This week was a pretty good one. Elder Hilton and I are getting along really well. We are really similar and like a lot of the same things which is great! He is the first companion that I have had that I can actually talk music and bands with. :) We're both way chill and it's fun. We have been working hard to find some new investigators and get things going in our area. It's slow, but we have faith. We had a baptismal date last week, like I told you, but over the weekend we had to drop the date because the investigator won’t make it. His name is Tadas and he is a great guy! Last week we taught him about the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom. His only problem is that he is living with his girlfriend. He said that one of them won’t move out because his girlfriend is dependent on him. And he said that marriage wouldn't be possible for a few years until he is done with school. I have seen that they always do big weddings here and I guess he won’t have money. But we asked him to pray about what to do. He came back in our next meeting and said that he had decided to just wait til next year until he can maybe have the money to get married. Elder Hilton and I were so sad! We don't want him to wait until then because the spirit is really working on him right now and if he puts off those promptings, the spirit will leave! At least, I have seen that happen a lot. We asked if they could just legally get married and then have a big celebration next year, but he said no. All we could do was exhort him to stay strong through this next year and to not lose that fire that he has. He wants to follow Christ, but he just has this one hold up. I think that Elder Hilton and I have felt just a little of how Heavenly Father feels. We will continue to work with him and we are praying for a miracle. I hope that it all works out. And I know that it will. We have also been working with a few less actives in our area. There is a Chinese man that lives here and is a member. His name is Du Wei and he is married to a Lithuanian. He is the nicest man but has his own restaurant and can't come to church very much. Plus he can't understand Lithuanian so it's hard for him to want to come. His wife isn't a member either. But we taught him about Charity this week and he said that it was exactly what he needed. He said that he and his wife have been having some troubles in their marriage and that he wife wants him to be more charitable towards everyone. It was such a spirit filled lesson and I know that the Lord prompted us to teach him about that. We promised him that if he and his wife would have Charity towards each other, everything would be ok in their marriage. At the end of the lesson he asked us if his wife had called us and told us to talk about charity. It was really funny because she didn't! The Lord just knew what he needed. :) Anyways, that is what is up with me this week. Things are going well. It has been really rainy here too and it has been nice and warm. That is crazy that there has been so much rain there in Utah! That never happens! I have also been working really hard to get some plans in place to improve my language skills. Elder Hilton is helping me out a lot. I really appreciate your thoughts that you sent today. I had a lot of good impressions while reading the things you wrote. Thank you both for writing what you did. As you talked about the way that I learn, it made me so grateful for great parents that know me. Thank you for your thoughts. You guys are so great. I will be working really hard to incorporate the things that you said and I will continue to pray for guidance. This is a challenge, but I CAN DO HARD THINGS! With the Lord's help of course.

I need to go, but I hope that you all have a great week. I'm always praying for all of you. I love you!

Love, Elder Leishman

The Sixty-Eighth Letter

May 16, 2011

Dear Family,

Well, guess where I am? Haha, I am in Kaunas again! I got transferred again! Oh my goodness... It's a good thing I am so easy going. :) I have been moved so much on my mission. More than all the other missionaries that I know. But I really like Kaunas and am really happy to be serving here again. I think Vilnius will always be my city, but Kaunas is close behind it. I am serving in a different area, so that is good. I was in the center area before, but I am now in the north area serving with Elder Hilton. He is a way awesome guy and I am really happy to be serving with him. He is from Idaho Falls and came out three months after I did. He is super mellow and way funny. He also snores like none other, but I'm so tired after the day that I just fall asleep. He always offers his companions’ ear plugs because it's that bad... :) And it is a constant all night thing that is super loud. But I don't need them. Haha, he is really funny about it. He's great. Elder Whicker became a trainer, so that is cool. I miss Vilnius and all the stuff that was going on there, but its fun here in Kaunas. I don't know what happened to Vida... I will call Elder Whicker some time. Last week we were trying to get a hold of her and some of the members too but he phone was disconnected. So, some members went to go visit her and so did we at a different time, but she didn't answer. We asked her neighbors and they said they thought she was in the hospital. We were way worried, so I hope that Elder Whicker figures it out. I'll let you know what I hear. When President Dance called to tell Elder Whicker that he would be training, he asked to talk to me too, which is kind of weird. So he told me that he needed me to go back to Kaunas to serve with Elder Hilton (which is also weird because usually the Zone Leaders call the District leaders and then the call the rest of the missionaries, so it was weird that President Dance called me directly). But he also asked me to do something for him. He told me that I was already a good speaker of the language; but that this transfer he wanted me to really work as hard as I could to become an amazing speaker of the language because at the end of these six weeks he needs my help in a leadership position. I figure as district leader here again, but who knows. But It was a pretty direct assignment that he wants me to do this transfer, and I am more than willing to do it. I will try my hardest! I just thought that was interesting. Kaunas looks so much different in the spring and summer! I am so happy to be here right now because it is almost like a different place with how green it is. It's so pretty! It was so sad and depressing here in the winter... That's how it is anywhere here I think, but I am glad that it is so much nicer. The weather has been really nice here too. Pretty rainy, but that's normal. Elder Hilton and I actually got a baptismal date over the weekend! Elder Hilton and Sherman were working with this way cool guy named Tadas and so I just replaced Elder Sherman. He is 20 right now and a way cool guy. They had talked to him about baptism a few days before I got here, but he came to the lesson I was in a few days later and suggested a date to be baptized himself. He is way solid and he even came to district conference yesterday! That was really good by the way. It was great to see all of the members in Lithuania and President Dance gave a really good talk on families. Anyways, Tadas is way prepared but he might have some troubles because he is living with his girlfriend. We talked to him about the law of chastity yesterday and that came up. He wants to do the right thing, but it will be hard because his girlfriend is dependent on him and has nowhere else to go. And marriage is kind of a far way off. But I have faith that the Lord will work it out. We just have to pray our hearts out that it will all work out! I'm really excited to work with him though. Oh, our apartment that we are living in is way nice too! That's really sweet.

Hmm... what else about this week. This morning we had a special district meeting and President Dance was leading it. It was sweet to learn from him. We talked about teaching from the scriptures and about planning for teaching appointments. It was good. It's amazing to me how much I have learned since I came out here. I am still the same person I guess, but I have become a lot better of a person too and I have learned a lot. I finally feel like I know what I am doing as a missionary. Though there are still some really hard times, like leaving Vilnius AGAIN and the everyday hard things, I feel more at ease about it all. God has really helped me to grow and get used to things. Anyways, that was my week. Oh and I had to go get my new living permit back in Vilnius the day after I left and I got to ride one of those fast, way nice Euro trains. It was sweet!

I really wish that I could have been there to hear the choir sing in the tabernacle. That would have been sweet. I really miss singing in that choir. I learned a lot in that choir and my testimony was strengthened so much there. I'm really grateful and I think it is such a good thing that they are doing. I hope that your last few weeks go well with school. It is so crazy that Rachel is graduating and that everyone is getting so old. Good luck! Good luck with everything this week! I love you!

Love Elder Leishman

P.S. It sounds like the cougs are doing great! Thanks for the update, dad. Go cougs!

The Sixty-Seventh Letter

May 2, 2011
Dear Family,

Well, let me start this email out by saying that it has been a great week. The weather has been so nice and even hot on a few days! I'm sorry to hear that you got snowed on this past week! I thought it was supposed to be super cold here! I can't believe that I get to talk to you already! Time went so fast since Christmas. I am excited.

So, about this week. Last Tuesday I went to the Dentist. I was nervous that it wouldn't be as good of service as it is in America, but it was just as good. It went great. There was a little cavity and they filled it was fast. It ended up being about 50 American dollars but I got a receipt and will send that to you, Dad. They did a really good job on the tooth. The rest of the week was spent getting Loreta ready for baptism and she made it! The baptism on Saturday was so good. Loreta was so happy and I haven't seen her so happy before. She was nervous, but it went great. There was another 12 year old girl in the russian branch that got baptized too and she was so excited. The Spirit was so strong at the meeting and it was great. I am so happy to have been a part of that. The next day in Fast and Testimony Meeting, Loreta got up after being confirmed and bore her testimony and it was so good. It was so tender to see the light in her eyes and to see that she knew what she had done in getting baptized was the right thing. Like I said, she had investigated the church for a long time but when we started teaching her, she finally got her answer that this was the right path. She is wonderful and she is setting a great example for her daughter. It was cool because yesterday, Sunday, I was looking at my goals for the year and I saw that I had written that I wanted to help a young family get baptized. I didn't even remember that I had put that down, but I accomplished that one! I was so grateful. We will continue to work with her and Vida, to strengthen them and help them adjust to their new lives. Thank you, Dad, for your suggestions. It is so important for new members to be strengthened and not forgotten about. And I think that your council to keep in contact with the people I have helped, after my mission is so important too. These people really do always remember their missionaries. Anyways, it was a good week and I am so glad to be a part of this work. I have felt a lot of joy over the past few weeks because of the things that have been happening. Miracles are happening here. This month the mission had 10 baptisms and that is the most since last August. Heavenly Father loves all of His children here and I can see that. This week we will be doing a lot of finding so that we can find more people to teach. We don't really have anything to fall back on because our investigators got baptized!

So, next week is transfers and I don't know what to expect. I REALLY don't want to leave Vilnius! But who know what will happen. There are going to be two new Lithuanian Elders here too and that will be cool. It's been a while since we've had new missionaries. I hope that the family has a great week and I am so excited to talk to you on Sunday! I can't believe that May is already here. I'll talk to you soon! I love you guys!

Love, Elder Leishman

1. This is Me, Loreta, Saulene, Elder Whicker, and Mindaugas (the member that baptized Loreta)!

2. Cool picture from last week. This is down town in Vilnius. So pretty!