Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Letter #2 *~*MTC*~* January 25, 2011

Hello Family!!

This week has been another fantastic and CRAZY week! Wow!! Thank you SO much mom, dad, Britt, and Joseph for the package! It was heaven sent! For the first full week in the MTC I didn't receive ANY mail and I was SOOOO bummed, so when I got the package it was like Christmas!! I realized that you hadn't forgotten me afterall!! :) Thank you SO much for the wheat thins and cream cheese, muffins, and the super cute sweater! Good eye Mom... and Britt I'm guessing!! It fits perfect and it AWESOME! I got the pics of Sophie, and I think we should name her sofia... lol! jk!! if you really want a Russian name I like the name Bepa. It means faith in Russian and is pronounced (Vaera) I can send it on the tape. you roll your r a bit! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!! Don't worry, I didn't forget and i will be mailing you a letter today!!!!

Classes are great. By the end of the day we have done so much that I can hardly remmember what we have been doing all day. Our class time is spent learning how to be better teachers of the gospel. We study out of Preach My Gospel and focus on inviting others to come unto Christ. The rest of the time is spent working on Russian! We learn how to say new things and then practice talking to people and learning the cases. We also have several hours of MDT. We use that time to have personal study for an hour, companionship study for an hour, and then one or more hours to study the language.

My companion Cectpa LeBaron is SO fantastic!! We have really grown this week in our relationship and our teaching. We're finally being able to teach more fluidly! It's AWESOME! She says that I remind her of her best friend, which is a good thing because that means that she likes me!!! We taught our first lesson at the TRC this Wednesday. It went pretty well and wehn I committed him to read the Book of Mormon he said that if it will really do for him what I promised it would, that of course he would read it!! :) Ya!! As with King Lamoni's father in Alma 22, I want to be like Aaron and teach them so that they will want to know how to come unto Christ themselves. As we are taught in 1 John 3:1-3 if we can get them to understand who they are, that they really are children of God, then they will want to purify themselves!! That's our goal as missionaries!! :)

One of my teachers this week did a Russian dance for us! It was WAY awesome! When he did it in Russia they said that he looked like a monkey! lol He also tells the best stories!

This week Cectpa LeBaron and I have been learning how much power comes when we use the scriptures to teach. At first, i know this will sound kind of dumb, I think that we were scared to use the scriptures, but this week as we have taught from the scriptures and then borne testimony of what we read, and of course share our personal witnesses, it has brought a lot of power to what we teach!! AWESOME!!

There are some new Russian missionaries that have just come into the MTC. THey will be here for about 4 weeks. One of the sisters will be serving in Rostov. I thought about how hard it must be for them to not only be away from home at the MTC, but also be thrown into a totally different culture!! I ding dong ditched one of the boxes of Wheat Thins with a note just telling them how great it was that they were here and if they needed anything to come to our room. They came by and talked to us and thanked us! It was SO cute! I have realized how much I want to be able to communicate and talk with these people! I passed Cectpa Ivanova on the track the other day and said hello, but then realized that that was pretty much all that i could say to her. I got this really strong desire to be able to speak to them! It has been great as I have tried to better use my MDT time so that I can study more affectively. I know that the Lord will bless me as I do this!

At lunch one day we were talking to some of the Russian Elders. Elder Jacobson asked about Borsch (sp?). The Elder responded in his Russian accent, "Without jokes, borsch is the best ever!" haha. He said, "ooooo, you will have it!!" haha. I've been practicing my Russian accent and am getting pretty decent! I'll have to send you a tape sometime!! but... Mom, you accidently got me a big tape player and sent me little tapes.... let me know what you want me to do!!

Every Sunday we get to walk up to the temple! This week I got to have a good talk with Siostra Mann! I gave her a hug for you adn she is doing great! I sure love her! Sundays are definitely the best day of the week. We are SO blessed to get to have a fireside each sunday!! This week the speaker talked about missionary work... well, obviously. But he had those who had had the thought of going home stand up, he had us stand up if we'd felt the Lord's help, and some other things. He then related the experience of Alma nad the other missionaries from Alma 26:27-28; 29-31; and I like to add verse 37. It is SO great to see that they also had a really rough time, but they kept moving forward and were able to bring SO many souls unto Christ!! THey realized that God loved all of His children and desired to be an instrument in His hands to help bring that about!! Wow! I want to do that!! I had a pretty rough day Sunday, but when I remember that, the real reason I'm out hear, it helps a lot. I am a representative of Jesus Christ and I want to help all of His children learn of Him and know how to come unto Him!!!

Blessings definitely come from being a missionary! The other day I was in the cafateria, and I was getting some things to put onto my hot cereal. The thought crossed my mind that I wished that they had honey that I could put on it, instead of just sugar, and right then a worker walked by adn set a honey bear on the counter right next to me!! awesome huh!!!

Keep using Dear Elder! It works FANTASTIC and I love and need those little boosts throughtout the week! Thank you all for your love and support!! Stay in touch!! The Church is true and missionary work rocks!!!

Cectpa (sae-e-stra) cunningham!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Letter #1 *~*MTC*~* January 19, 2011

First off, I just want you all to know how extremely exciting and overwhelming it is to be a missionary!! I have now been set apart as a Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and am now a literal representative of Jesus Christ! As Elder Holland said, we are like apostles with a small "a." Like them we are representatives of the Savior!! And a short message to Erin, Ammon, and Joseph! My family can TOTALLY e-mail me!! :) hooray! I also wanted to first of all thank you Mom for sticking that little note in my scriptures! I found it on the first or second day and it made me SO HAPPY! The MTC has definitely not been exactly what I was expecting, but it has still been wonderful!

The schedule is absolutley grueling, but with the help of the Lord, we all make it through! I wake up every morning at about 5:40 for the early morning sister's workout class. We switch off doing polaties ( i think that's spelled wrong...), step aerobics, yoga, kick boxing, strength training, ect. I seriously wouldn't be able to make it through the day without it!! We also get about 50 minutes of gym time everyday which is fantastic! So after our morning workout class we eat breakfast at about 7, then have class from 7:30-11:30 eat lunch, and sometime during the day we'll have about an hour and a half total for our gym and preparation time after working out. Then we have class again from 12:15-4:30. We eat dinner... I know.... SUPER EARLY TO HAVE DINNER!! And then we have class from 5:15-9:00. We have 25 minutes to plan for the next day, and then from 9:30-10:30 to get ready for bed, write in journals, pray, etc. And then it starts all over again.

Russian is SUPER hard, and I am struggling a bit. I 've really been trying to utilize every spare moment that I can though. I know that I have to do everything that I can to learn the language before He can bless me with the gift of tongues! And I have already felt it!! I think that my German is even better in the MTC!! There is a German missionary in our zone, so it's fun to speak with him every once in a while!! There is a promise in Preach My Gospel that says, "Whenever the Lrod gives a commandment, He provides a way to accomplish it (see 1 Nephi 3:7). Seek His help. Be dedicated in your study (talking about studying the language). In time you will acquire the language skills necessary to fulfill your prpose as a missionary." That give me SO much comfort. I may never be perfect at Russian and be able to understand everything, but if I do my part, the Lord will allow me to have the skills that I need to fulfill my purpose as a missionary!! :) SO COOL!!

It's been fun to run into peopl here at the MTC. I see Siostra Mann many times, and Sister Odekirk (from my semester abroad in Vienna) and her companion was in one of my dance classes at BYU-I and she is actually goign to serve in the Milwaukee, WI Mission!! So, i'm totally planning on writing a note to our home ward--hopefully she'll serve in Rhinelander!! The elder from our South Jordan Stake is in my district, and also Elder Colton Jacobson. (the Elder who's grandparents work at the Jordan River Temple). Cectpa Bullough, who is going to Russia Moscow, is also in my Zone! She ran Cross Country at BYU-I and was in my ward last Fall of '09! She actually lives next door to me, so we have a rockin' time running everyday together in gym! I never thought that I would be sore at the MTC... but I definitely have been!! It feels great! We also found out the other day that the mile record at the MTC is 8:19... we thought that it would be fun to train a bit during our gym time and then blow the record out of the water!! :)

My district is SO great! All of the Elders are SO awesome! And the sisters also! We have 4 sisters and 4 elders and we get along GREAT! We laugh A TON! Our teachers are also AMAZING! Brother Porter served in Rostov. He is about 5' 4" and has SO much energy! He always tells us the funniest stories about Russia also!! We watched Mountain of the Lord on Sunday Evening as a district, because I had been talking about how much I loved that movie!! :) We had a good time laughing, and they all thought it was really funny that i could quote basically the whole movie. Elder Bullough calls my laugh a jovial guffaw!! haha

It has been SO amazing to learn my purpose as a missionary while I've been here also!! I'm goin to quote it for you... so forgive me if it's not perfect, but our purpose is to "invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel, through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end!" Wow!! It has SO much power! And just as I wrote it I could feel the spirit! I was blessed to be able to attend an amazing workshop yesterday. Sister Pico who had also served in Rostov talked about our purpose as missionaries. 3 Ne. 11:31-35 tells us of Christ's doctrine. We are to bring people unto Christ! just as is mentioned in our purpose, so we need to be BOLD! Every commitment that we ask our investigators to make should lead them to baptism! We need to include baptism in everything we talk about, because that is how they enter the way!! (2 Ne. 31:18, 19-21) Then, through their obedience they are able to continue on this path by studying the word of God!! I studied the Atonement this morning for my personal study and was able to learn SO much! As a missionary I am able to lead investigators to baptism, which then opens the gate for them to fully utilize the gift of the Savoir's atonement! What a daunting and incredible task. I can't believe that the Lord would entrust me with His precious sons and daughters in carrying such a wonderful message to the world! The study of the Atonement makes us want to share this message with others!! Well, i'm about out of time, but tonight we get to have a devotional, I hope that we will get to hear from one of the Brethren!! The temple was also FANTASTIC this morning!

love you all!!
Cectpa Cunningham!! pronounced sea-ye-stra!!