Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Letter #6 *~MTC~* February 22, 2011

Hi Family!!

I was really sad to learn last week that you had to put my beautiful puppy Cedar down. It was hard to hear, but I'm really glad you told me! She had a good life and will NEVER be forgotten! I want to include my tribute to her!!

Dearest Cedar!

You have been my best friend for basically my whole life! And a total part of the family! I will never forget that Christmas in first grade when I asked Santa for a dog and he responded that if it was alright with my parents ;) I could have you! Our lifelong friendship had only just begun that Christmas! I loved to frolic in the snow with you, play frisbee and ball, and run with you! You were the most patient and loving dog that a girl could ever want and I'm going to miss you terribly! Thank you for putting up with me as we learned, loved, ran, and laughed/barked together! Don't forget how I taught you to jump off the dock to go and fectch your frisbee from the lake, because we're going to play this game again in Heaven one day! I will always remember your smile, bark, sing, and playful growl! I can hear them now as I write this! I miss you Baby Sil! Those puppy dog eyes and your ability to jump around and make us all laugh will always be in my heart, and your face is forever remain in my eyes and in my heart! I love you puppy! Make sure and give little Avery a big lick and tail wag for us all!!
Love your forever friend!

I hope that you are all doing ok! She had a good life, and I wish that we could have a little more time with her, but the time that we had was heaven sent and I will always be SO grateful for that!! I love my puppy!

Anyway... Sorry... I need to get back on track before I really start crying in the computer lab with all these missionaries!! Side note: Siostra Mann leaves for Poland next monday!!! The other week as I was watching a fireside given by Elder Holland, he mentioned something that I didn't quite understand. He said that as we teach the gospel we need to make it personal and our own, so that we are literally teaching "our" gospel, of course not to take away from the fact that it is the Lord's gospel, but that we need to make it personal! I understood the concept, but as I read the talk that you gave me from Elder McConkie mom, it made even more sense. Elder McConkie talked about how the words that he would speak that day would be his own. But the words he would speak would be from other prophets and general authorities, but they would be his own becasue h e had gained a personal witness fromt the Holy Ghost that they were true, so it was like they were his own words. I think that that is what Elder Holland meant. As we gain a testimony of teh doctrines of the Gospel, through the Holy Ghost, they will become personal and we will teach the gospel in our own words and "Preach MY Gospel" becasue we have made it personally ours. I hope that that makes sense, but it was really neat to learn these things. We need to make these things personal and know them for ourselves because we cannot teach our investigators past our own conversion!

The other day we were reading the introduction in the Book of Mormon. When we read the paragraph that says that "We invite all men everywhere to read teh Book of Mormon, to ponder in their heaerts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. THose who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its trugh and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost." we talked about how this is inviting EVERYONE! Not only those who don't have a testimony or know that it's ture, but everyone! Those of us who already know it's true have such a great opportunity to continue to read, ponder, and pray about it's truthfulness and gain an even stronger witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is the proof that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. It is the "fruit" by which Matthew says that we can know if they are false or not! What a great blessing to be continually learning and growing and reading and pondering to gain more and more knowledge!

Just really quickly I was reading Helamon 5:6 today and thinking about the name that we covenant to take upon us when we are baptized! And in Mosiah 5:12 that we must retain this name in our hearts. I was thinking about how we need to literally look to that and remember that our actions need to reflect this name that we have taken upon us!! And as a missionary I feel SO blessed to have this name always over my heart, literally written and worn almost 24/7 on my nametag! I hope that my actions and the things that I do will reflect that I have taken the Lord's name upon me and that I do retain and remember it and have it written in my heart!! I love you all!! Keep in touch!

cectpa Cunningham!!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Letter #5 *~MTC~* February 15, 2011

Hi Family!!!

Wow!! Another week gone by again!! I will just try to highlight some of the things that happened this week! :) Every week we get the opportunity to meet with one of our teachers. They just kind of check up on us and see how we are doing, ask what they can improve on, and see if they can help us with anything. They are also really good about encouraging us and helping us know what we can improve on and what we're doing well at! I was able to meet with Brother Wilson this week. it was really cool to talk with him. He said that he was really impressed by all of our Russian. We had taught the older district all in Russian that week. he said that he had noticed that I wasn't using my notes (well... I did have to look at like 2 or so words) and that as he watched he saw that I was putting together my own sentences. He said that as h e watched he thought, wow, this is the gift of tongues in action! I really did feel the help of the spirit as I was teaching that lesson. It is really powerful to teach in Russian because I can't say very much, so the gospel can't help but be simple and basic because that's all I can say!! And that's how it should be! I still have SO much to improve on! I want to be a better teacher and be able to communicate in Russian! Our TRC went really well this week also. In the TRC volunteers come in and they let the missionaries teach them! Super cool! Sister LeBaron and I have seemed to often times get people who are hard to teach, well... it's probably just us. but that's what the TRC is all about, to learn how to be better teachers! This week though, we had a really great lesson! The lady we taught was super nice and the spirit was definitely there as we taught.

I also FINALLY finished memorizing the first vision in Russian this week!!! YPA YPA!!! (that's Russian for OORRAAAHH) :)

This past Sunday I was blessed to be able to give the lesson for our District Meeting! Every Sunday we will meet as a District before lunch and have about an hour to have a lesson and learn together. The topic that I did was how to be a successful Missionary. I focused my lesson on the example of Aaron in Alma 22 and how he was able to teach King Lamoni's father with such power! Then we talked about the purpose of the MTC and how we can gain that power! Alma 17:2-3,9 &11. My main goal was to give us all hope and a purpose as we are in teh MTC! 12 weeks is a long time, and if we forget what we're to be doing here.... it's even harder! Elder Holland stressed, as he talked about the MTC, that we will NEVER EVER have the time that we have to study here ever again! We have to make it count! As we studied about Aaron we went through most of the scriptures in Alma 22:1-18 talking about the points that I sent you from my study journal! I had really tried to gather all of the information that I needed for my lesson and was praying that everything would fit well and the spirit would be there! As we talked, certain points that the elders and sisters brought up led perfectly into certain things that I had been studying. Their comments allowed me to be able to talk about what was important for me to share in the things that I had studied. Elder Bullough pointed out from v.14 that Aaron made the gospel sound exciting! That was a perfect poing that Elder Holland had talked about. He said that from Mosiah 27:11 & 18 that he doesn't think that the earth literally shook, but that Alma's earth shook. He said that we need to go and astonish people!!! :) We h ave the gospel of Jesus Christ, and this is exciting!! Go and shake some people's earths and astonish them!!

We focused on how Alma 17:2-3 we need to focus on studying, fasting, and prayer! That is how Aaron and the sons of Mosiah gained their power to teach! All of us missionaries already have all the power we need! We have been set apart, but it is up to us to gain the power, and that comes through study, fasting, prayer, etc! They GAVE themselves to these things and we need to do the same to gain the spirit when we teach! from the talk I sent you I also quoted, "the Lord doesn't expect immediate perfection, but he does expect IMMEDIATE progress!!" It was really good to be able to all learn together as a district! Zone Leader Bullough told me later that day that he had never marked so many scriptures in his life! :) The scriptures apply to all of us, and we can learn SO much from them! I have really enjoyed reading different stories slowly in the Book of Mormon and drawing out the principles and lessons that are there. We can totally miss them when we read fast, but there is SO much that can bless us directly in our lives and is what we need to learn!

Thank you SO much for the care package!!!! i LOVED the pjs adn wore them to bed last night! I needed those hugs because it's hard not to be able to give you a hug! Especially on Valentines day!! Mom! you are WAY too good to me!! I sure love you! I am also SOOOOOO excited about Grandma being sealed to Grandpa and Dad to them!!!! Give her my love!! Dad!! Did you ever think that that day would come?!! How EXCITING!!

I hope that everyone is doing SO well!! We have devotional tonight... and we're all crossing our fingers that we'll get to hear from a member of the quorum of the twelve!! :)

Have a GREAT week!!
Cectpa Cunningham

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Letter #4 *~MTC~* February 8, 2011

Hello all!

Wow!! THIS HAS BEEN THE BEST WEEK EVER!!! Yesterday I receivied a package from home. I didn't open it, of course, until I got back into my dorm room. There were the usual AMAZING things that my mom gets, all of which are SO appreciated and thoughtful!! I'm telling you!! Moms ALWAYS know EXACTLY what you need!!! Thanks a bunch Mom!! There was also a tape that was sent (I have a tape recorder, so it's awesome to be able to listen to my families voices!!). I didn't listen to it for the first little bit after opening my package, and I was kind of disappointed that my mom hadn't written me a letter with anything about Britt in it!!! (Brittany is one of my VERY VERY VERY BEST friends in the WHOLE world!!!) Cectpa Bullough asked me if I had heard anything about Britt, my district and friends have been praying for her and thinking about her like crazy... well, no one has been thinking about her more than me probably! :) Britt came out to visit me before I left on my mission and now, since returning home has been meeting with the missionaries. Mom mentioned her name and I immediately screamed, stopped the tape and ran into Cectpa Bullough's room! I said... my mom did fill us in about Britt. I had only heard Britt's name mentioned on the tape, so I rewound it so that we could both listen to what was going on. We had known that Britt had said that she would go to church on Sunday, and we were all praying that she would be able to make it. mom informed me that her car hadn't been able to start, and so she wasn't able to make it.... Cectpa Bullough and I were super disappointed... there was a break in the tape and then mom said that someone should tell me who it was. Britt came on my tape... via telephone! She said hi and that she'd gotten a message from Martin the other day and he sounded great. She said that she wanted to tell me that she had been taking the missionary discussions and that she was going to be baptized!!!

I CANNOT EVEN DESCRIBE THE JOY THAT WELLED UP INSIDE OF ME!!! Brittany Servent, you made me the happiest that I have ever been in my life. I have never felt so happy before!!! Cectpa Bullough and I both started crying immediately!! I was SO happy that I couldn't contain myself! I was crying, laughing, hugging Cectpa Bullough,m and shouting for joy all at the same time!! I felt like Ammon in the Book of Mormon. My joy was SO full!!! I ran back into my room to share with the news with the sisters in my district!! There was more crying and laughing and shouting for joy!!!! I think that everyone on my floor... and probably in the entire building heard me!! Wow!! Some of the girls that were in teh bathroom heard me and they were wondering what it could be becasue it soudned like someone had just gotten engaged!!!! :) haha! Brittany Servent!! My dear friend! I can't tell you the joy that I feel that you want to take this step to follow the Savior!! You will ALWAYS be my friend no matter what, but there is nothing to compare that I will now have you as my sister in the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ!! I love you my friend!! :)

This past Sunday I also had another EXTREMELY awesome experience!! As I was walking out of Sacrament meeting, I heard someone ask for a sister Cunningham. the sisters in front of me turned around and pointed to me. I walked up to the man and he said, "hi sister Cunningham!" It didn't register who it was at first, but then he said, it's President Baker!! :) Dad!! your mission president has church right next door to my sacrament meeting EVERY sunday!! I walked up to Sister Baker and said, "Hi SIster Baker!!" She didn't recognize who I was at first, but then she saw my name tag and was like!! "Oh! It's you!!" I want you to know that they still say that you were one of the best missionaries that they ever had!! :) Sister Baker said that and then she turned to me and was like, no, but really! Your dad was one of the best!! :) Thank you for being SUCH an amazing example to me of obedience, love, and your desire to spread the gospel.

Also this week in class we were talking about how as missionaries we bring the spirit with us. There is a quote by john Bytheway that says a not so good missionary hangs around and a good missionary doesn't linger. We want people to regocnize the spirit that we bring with us, and not linger so that they realize that they feel that way becasue of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ that we bring!! :) So, I shared your story mom about when you and your companion accidently ended up goign into the Roger's home. Where Hyatt Roger's wasn't a member and the Bishop had told you not to visit thme. When tyou realized where you were you bore a quick but powerful testimony and left. Because of this, Hyatt Rogers felt your spirit and wanted to be baptized!! you lived this rule impecably!!! Wow!! Thank you for your example mom!!

Mom and Dad! I am SO grateful for both of your faithful missions that you have served. THey have blessed my life and continue to bless it as I am here in the MTC!! You are a testimony of faith to me and those around me! I sure love my family and friends! Thank you SO much for making all of this possible for me! Sorry that the e-mail this week is sporadic... Cectpa LeBaron and I taught the first lesson in Russian this week!! IT was about 10-15 minutes long and went REALLY welll!!! I could really feel teh spirit helping me! we were able to say what needed to be said and bear witness! the gift of tongues is real! i lov eyou all!!

Cectpa Cunningham

P.S. Mom!! Idk what you think.... but I would be careful e-mailing the part about Britt out.... maybe only to our family and really close friends? like Martin, Corrie... I don't want her to receive pressure from those in WI? Maybe it'd be good for them to hear about it? Idk... what do you think? Whatever you think is best is AWESOME!!! Just be careful... i know that Satan willb e working REALLY hard on Brittany as it is!

Also, do I need to know anything else for my appt. tomorrow? I just need to bring the envelope that came with my Violin right.... that has my medical records in it? Also....we actually don't have acccess to a fridge...s o i've eaten some of the yogurt and it's been great. Dear Elder me today mimmediately so I can get it tonight about if i need to know anything else for my appt. tomorrow. I'm like 3 pills or 3 days away from being out of my acne meds... !!! I was goign to ask the nurse that helps me tomorrow.... Also, apparatntly my mission president did send a letter to all of the missionaries goign to rostov of what to bring etc... i never got it though, so could you maybe call the MTC and find out how to get that from him? Also.... WOW MOM!!! ABOUT THE VIOLIN!!!! That's AMAZING AND SUCH A BLESSING!!! THe one thing is that I need to get that cleared iwth my mission president also... so if you can ask him that be FANTASTIC!!! Also... did Britt start meeting with the sisters before my letter? or after? let her know I'll be e-mailing her.... either forwarded through you or to her directrly and also to let me know the date and time of her baptism so that i can call her RIGHT AFTER IT HAPPENS!! Does she have a tape player so I can send her a tape? sorry for all the questions!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Letter #3 *~MTC~* February 1, 2011

As usual, it has been another crazy and fulfilling week! I just got back from a session in the Provo Temple and was SO blessed to be able to sit next to my very own Siostra Amy Mann during the session! The temple is SUCH an amazing blesssing in my life and I love the opportunity to go weekly and learn in the House of the Lord! It is amazing how many feelings you can have in one day.... excited, energized, happy, frustrated, worn out, brain dead, sad, etc... :) But that's what makes the MTC such an amazing roller coaster ride! The highs, from devotionals and meetings with our districts make up for the lows!!

First of all, thank you SO much for all the letters this week! Kyrsten (i loved your story about Sister Pico!! Wow!! How awesome! We haven't talked yet, but we see each other and now she knows that I am the cousin of my amazing cousin Kyrst!! :), Lea, Sister Davis, Brother Dave Crocker (Wow!! Thank you SO much for your insights! It was wonderful to hear from you! I hope that your daughter is doing better!) Jet, and YES YES YES!! I even got a letter from Erin!! :) Just write me what we would usually talk on the phone about Erin!! You're AWESOME!!Sorry that I won't be able to respond to all of them personally, but know that each one is read and appreciated very much!

Mom, you have been fabulous at keeping me updated! The days feel like weeks, so it's ALWAYS nice to hear from you at the end of the day. Even though the days are REALLY long the weeks literally just FLY by! I didn't ever get the dear elders that you said Uncle Kerry and Brother Liao had sent though....

Oh, and if it's not too late.... I would LOVE LOVE LOVE for you to name the puppy pumpkin!! The word is one that is written on the second letter I sent you. It has two stars next to it and is pronounced (Teak-va!) I love it!! And you can ask your friend to make sure that you are pronouncing it right!!

Holly Odekirk from my semester abroad left today for the field. Her companion was a girl that was in my jazz dance class at BYU-Idaho and she is going to WISCONSIN!! So, I took the opportunity to write a letter to our ward and Bishop Lindner, so I hope that it will make it there safely!! This week we got a HUGE box from Sister tunney's dad. Her dad is the CEO over dearfoam slippers, so yes... our district now all has matching slippers!! We wear them sometimes during class. Apparantely it is customary to take your shoes off in Russia and then wear slippers in the house, so we're just practicing!!.... right?!! :) They make my feet really happy either way!! :)

This past Wednesday for gym we played district B-ball. Three point knock-out was definitely my favorite. Wow, our district is already SO close! I have come to appreciate and love them all SO much! We have a great time together, cry together, and work hard together! Gym time is a great way to kind of let out our frustrations and have a great time. Elder McKinney in my zone has started a work out group with some Elders. Sister Bullough and I take the opportunity to sometimes join in with their workouts. We call them P90-McKinney! :) yes... and I have been VERY soar from them... but that makes sitting ALL day a lot easier. I also just found out that Elder Baker, in my zone, is from St. Cloud, MN!! So... he TOTALLY knows my favorite Frasier family!! How awesome!

Dad! It was SUCH a blessing this past sunday! We were sitting at devotional and the special musical number was announced. It was Ye Elder's of Israel and the pianest was none other than Sister Sarena Fifield (Patty's daughter) I ran up after to talk with her and introduce myself. It was great to reminisce about how her mom had been brought into the church because of the missionaries, and then, that you were introduced into the church by her mom!! I felt SO blessed that you accepted the gospel and took that step to be baptized! You have remained faithful and are SUCH blessing and example in the lives of all that you know! We were so happy to think that hopefully we can help to bring someone like Patty and you into the church through our service!

Also during the devotional I had a very strong impression of the power and faith of those who are praying for me... to learn the language, to adjust, to be strong. Thank you SO much! The power of prayer is VERY real and I have felt the power of your prayers!
Dad, I also ran into Brother Ponczoch, who served in Novasabirsk (sp?) Russia. His family lives in Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids. I thought that he looked familiar and that the name sounded familiar. Do you know them?

This week I have been reading a talk that Siostra Mann lent me. It is by Elder Tad R. Callister and is called "Becoming a Consecrated Missionary." It has taken me several days to go through it as I study a section, think about it, look for scriptures that go along with that topic, and think about how I'm doing and how I can improve. It has been SUCH blessing! One of the later sections of the talk is entitled, "What's the power of a consecrated Missionary?" I just briefly wanted to share some blessings and promises that apply not only to missionary work, but to everyone! A consecrated missionary is manifest when they can teach like Nephi (3 Nephi 7:18). His testimony and words were so powerful that it was imposssible for the people to disbelieve his words!!! This was because of his faith in the Lord!! We can have that same power as we bear down in pure testimony (Alma 4:19). Nephi understood that the power of men did not matter with compared with the power of God (when Nephi talks to Laman and Lemuel about laban's 50). Peter's testimony was able to prick teh hearts of the righteous (Acts 2:37). We were taught this week how everyone already has the seed in them (the light of Christ). Through the spirit we just need to prick their heart. It does take lots of work study, and preparation to be able to do this, but it's SO worth it (Alma 17:2-3). This is my favorite one! As we FULLY commit ourselves to the work and thrust in our sickles we are forgive of our sins! What an awesome promise! We can become purified through serving missions (D&C 31:3,5) This goes the same with what King Benjamin taught us in Mosiah 4:26. We are redeemed and forgiven of our sins!! Take the opportunity to think about how you can better be cleansed and become pure in your own lives through serving others and developing charity!! I sure love you all and hope to hear how you are all doing!!

Love forever!
Cectpa Cunningham