Well transfers came and went. I'm still here in Vilnius as a Zone Leader with a new ZL companion, a Russian Speaker, Elder Williams, who transferred down from Latvia. We will continue to teach both Lithuanian and Russian contacts. He's a way cool guy (he will help with my Russian, and I'll help with his Lithuanian). He happens to be from the ALOHA STATE OF HAWAII. He lives by BYU Hawaii. Great guy and we are really getting a long! We got three new Elders in the Zone (including Williams) Elder's Suthered, and Faulk. Two more Russian speakers. (The growth of Russian membership is amazing in this city) We continue teaching our English classes on Saturday's which continues to be very productive.
So the first night with Elder Williams we go contacting and I contact this guy in Lithuanian and he smiles saying he doesn't speak. He had a heavy Spanish accent so I then started asking him in my best HS Spanish why he was here, where he is from and so on...only to find out he is from Spain and from the city of Valencia. Hahaha I thought it was sweet how he even said it with a little 'lisp' at the end. I then told him my Dad served there and that he loved it. It was great how that triggered a conversation of the gospel. At the end though he said he was catholic and he wouldn't be changing. Pretty cool experience though I thought. We have a professional soccer player in our branch now from Brazil. It's just way cool as all the members love him already and think its awesome he's a professional player. I guess he played in Uruguay for a while and then got a good deal here. So it's sweet as he's still a new convert of 7 or 8 months so we will get to meet with him once a week. He's a way cool guy. He plays for the soccer team "Zalgiris" here in Vilnius.
Zone Conference in Kaunas was good and especially nice to feel a little bit more regenerated! I had to conduct the conference which was a little bit uncomfortable... haha I did fine until I had to introduce Elder Nueschwander who is an Emeritus General Authority. He came over from Russia to visit with us and to talk a little bit about his calling in the Eastern Europe area. At lunch I was able to talk to his wife a little bit. They said that they knew Uncle Joe (Christensen) pretty well, so that was fun talking with them.
We went church hopping (Catholic Cathedrals) just to see inside them... Pretty awkward in one of them as they have 3 dead bodies lying in a glass bullet proof case. Haha it's really awkward when we walk in to look at the insides of churches because it feels like we're going in behind enemy lines, plus everyone knows who we are anyways if we're in our suits ha. There were a lot of beautiful ones.
We have been meeting with ‘Father’ Joseph (the catholic priest). He has had so many questions that our doctrine answers. He seemed so confused as he didn't really know what we were talking about when we'd bring up some of our doctrines of the church. He's really really intrigued though to keep learning and meeting. We gave him a Portuguese BoM this week with a testimony written in it from "Erik" (converted soccer player from Brazil). We also invited him to be baptized when he finds out this Church was true. He was a little hesitant, but said”if it is God's will” he would. It was a really powerful feeling in that lesson. He's a really really great guy with a really good desire to do what is right!
General Conference WAS AMAZING. I really enjoyed it and the feeling while watching the prophet speak. I really enjoyed Elder Grow's talk and also Elder Cooke's as well. Elder Scott's talk was a little bit of a shocker and it got two missionaries from the Zone who are about to go home "Excited" to go get married haha. It was a really good conference:)!
I'm so happy to be an Uncle! With my new nephew and also new niece (Johnny & Courtney's) baby! Haha Ju I was super confused with what it is in the email you sent because you didn't say. haha... I'm glad it was on the picture though :)! I'm just extremely happy about that! I'm really really really really excited about that news! I continue to pray for grandma Mary. Go see her as much as you can. I really want to see her, but I'm half-way around the world...
With the ZL assignment we’ve traveled to Kaunas (I kind of miss Kaunas ha) so I could do a baptismal interview for a little 11 yrs. old Lithuanian girl. It was great I really felt the spirit strong and it was so fun seeing how she was about to change her life forever.
One Saturday we did service all morning cleaning up around the church and in the woods near by. It’s RIDICULOUS how many beer cans/bottles! haha we probably would have made like $50 recycling! haha It was fun though and then we taught English for a 2hrs afterwards. I'm very grateful for P-day and the relaxing it allows haha
Elder Williams and I are getting a long great and we have a lot of the same stuff in common. It's fun being his companion. He's pretty big as well he's 6'3 195lbs. We like to eat, :) and the Hawaiian boy loves his rice ha and chicken (but me too). He's asked me numerous times to come over to Hawaii after the mission. Pretty sweet ha.
This Easter went well and it definitely was a fun one. Although it was as nuts as last Easter (the KKK outfits) I was still amazed at how many people go to church on the Easter Holiday (Catholic church and others that is). They all have a little branch that they take to church with them. A little interesting and I'm not really sure why, but that's what they do. I know part of it is for the "palm" day. Anyway I guess I probably should just ask someone who knows haha. Easter was good. Elder Williams and I went to 6 hours of church (Lithuanina and Russian Branches) and I was able to conduct another baptismal interview. Those are always so special and so spiritual for me, they are really fun. Also this week, 2 people here in Vilnius accepted baptism and were baptized. One Lithuanian and the other Russian. It was great and an awesome way to celebrate the Easter weekend. People are a little warmer and friendlier here around the Easter holiday so that is nice! It is a really big holiday here.
We had a Lithuanian speaking investigator passed over to us from the Russian Missionaries. He's a way nice old man (Geronamo) who is really lonely. He welcomed us with some nice milk and honey. That was nasty... He was trying to be the best host he could be, but by the end of the lesson I was about ready to throw up... I'm pretty sure the milk was spoiled and the honey was a little different ha. To put a "cherry on top" he fed us these vienna sausage things that were a little questionable where he even got them ha. He's sincere and awesome, but i'm thinking i will not be able to eat his food anymore as I was in bed for 2 hours after with a sick stomach hahaha.
We went to Riga for exchanges and then we had ZL council on Wednesday morning. I don't really understand why, but the buses here are about 30 degrees hotter inside then outside. The bus we road up on still had the heater going. Pretty nasty haha. Anyway. The monthly Riga experiences are always great. It went really well and it was pretty productive. Afterwards we went to a store in Riga and Elder Williams bought a new suit for home haha. Then we rode back with the medical couple from the European East Area. They were really nice and it was fun to talk for a little bit.
The Zone is on fire! But it may soon stop as everyone in the zone is falling back on nothing after their baptisms. Things are going well here and I'm thankful for the missionaries here in the zone that surround me. They are all really good examples and it's always fun seeing one of them!
That sweet little old (maybe a little crazy) man showed up to church. Hahaha we went to Russian branch with him and then he decided to stay for The Lithuanian Branch as well. He's way random with his comments ha, for example he took the sacrament again in the Lithuanian Branch and while grabbing it he said "I guess I can do another round" way inappropriate, but just crazy stuff like that is what this guy is always saying. So it's kind of entertaining, but at same time a little out of control ha. He randomly just disappeared after Sunday school and that was the last of Geranamo (sweet name too :) ).
We’ve set 3 baptismal dates for next month with some great people. Two are Russian and the other one Lithuanian. Things are going pretty well right now. . The Zone is doing really good as we now have 15 total baptismal dates set as goals for people to work towards. The dates range from this month to June so it will be exciting to see how many we can help make those dates and perform that everlasting covenant of baptism! It is amazing the feeling that comes when we have the opportunity to share the gospel and see how the atonement of Jesus Christ touches all of our lives
I guess I'll talk with you all on Mother’s Day Sunday! Crazy how time just seemed to fly by since our last phone call! I love you all and I am thankful for the support and LOVE!!! You guys are awesome. Thanks for being such a wonderful family! I'm really excited for everything that is going on with all of your life's! Especially the family addition :)!
Elder Jeffrey John Manning
PS Nice picture of mom getting scanned in the airport hahahaha you would sneak yogurt on to the plane hahahahaha :)