Monday, June 27, 2011

June 27, 2011 Visa Trip


Sorry that this e-mail is a day late, but you guessed it, I was on my visa trip!!  and before I forget!!  HAPPY 29TH (that's the right number... right? :) ) ANNIVERSARY TO MY WONDERFUL PARENTS!!!!  AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY WONDERFUL BROTHER JOSEPH!!!  I sent a letter, so hopefully it will get there soon!!  Before I tell about it I'll quickly tell about our week!  This week it was fun to go to a members house for FHE!  We had a wonderful time.  They had invited some of their friends and were SO excited to share the gospel!  But... they, like all of us are still learning how to teach, and I think their friends were very confused!  At one point Sister Ivanova asked Sergie to share an experience how prayer had blessed his family.  He talked for about 5 minutes and Sister Ivanova leaned over to me and said, "you can talk about prayer, he didn't say anything about it!!"   haha!  It made me laugh, and I talked a little bit about prayer! :)  We went contacting with Elder Dana, Haws, and Sister Undezjorova this week.  It was right before transfers, so Sister Undezjorova stayed with us for a day or so, as her companion had finished her mission...and so she didn't have a companion until later in the week when transfers officially occurred.  It was rather funny as Elder Dana, and Sister Ivanova and Undejzorova were the ones who drew.  This meant that Elder Haws and I were the ones contacting... aka all of the missionaries who could speak Russian were drawing and those who really can't were contacting!! haha!  But guess what?!!! I taught my first 2 street lessons ALL BY MYSELF!!  It's amazing how much I can understand and say when I have to, and don't have my companion to rely on!! It as great!  So, I know that I need to start talking more when we contact, as I now kno that I can!

We had some rather interesting experiences this week.  First of all, it has been about 35 degrees Celsius this week... aka 95 degrees Fahrenheit!!!  Super hot!  We had some very interesting experiences this week... that were rather funny.  We were contacting and met this lady.  She wanted my number, just my number, but I explained we only had a number for me and sister Ivanova.  She called us the next day and wanted to talk to me.  We talked on the phone and she said that she wanted to meet just with me..... I explained that we are always with our companion and that therefore we would always be together!  I said I didn't know if we could meet that day, but maybe the next day and that we would call her that night.  She said that she would be waiting for my call.... ya... kind of creepy! haha  We finally got in touch with her the next day as her phone hadn't been working the previous night.  We invited her to a branch activity, but she said that there would be a lot of people there, and she just wanted to talk with me.... So... we think that she may not be straight... It was just really random and we will definitely make sure we're careful! )

We also met with this non active member this week.  We thought that he was pretty normal, but as we talked we realized that he was pretty crazy!!  He talked about some things that were really weird!!  I couldn't help but laugh the next day when he randomly called us and said, "I just wanted to call you and say good luck to you for the day, because I had a dream about you last night." haha it was really funny!

We had a really cool experience also this week.  Before we went out contacting we made a goal to find 3 people that we could teach on the street.  We made the goal to find one single person (and we would give them a book of Mormon and the commitment to be baptized if they knew the true church was on the earth), and then talk to 2 families.  We prayed and then headed out!  The first person we talked to we were able to give her a Book of Mormon and we asked her if she would be baptized if she knew the true church was on the earth.  I don't think she understood my question... but I asked it! haha  We then went and saw a mom and her daughter walking across a street.  We crossed the street and followed her to catch up.  We were able to have a good talk with her.  She didn't give us her number, but we did talk with her about family.  We then met another lady, she was by herself, but had a family and we talked with her about family.  It was neat to see how we made the goal, prayed, and then the Lord helped us find!  I hope I can get better at doing this more often!

Ok... so... we went on our VISA trip!  It was pretty crazy and LONG!  We left the office and went to the bus stop.  Our bus left at 7:55 a.m.  We drove to the boarder of Ukraine and they checked all our paper work.  Sister Tunney had somehow lost her immigration card.  The rest of us had to continue on, on the bus and we had to leave Sister Tunney with Elder Reingard (from Ukraine... thank goodness we had a fluent Russian speaker with us) at the border.... we didnt' know what was going to happen, but we had to continue on.  We realized part way through that Elder Reingard had our Ukrainian money... so Elder Hill was really worried we wouldn't be able to eat :)  not so much about them getting across!  We showed our passports and sat on the bus.  Then we got off and put our bags through an ex ray machine.  Then we got back on the bus and sat.  We drove about 20 more yards to the Russian border and they checked our passports again.  So, this whole time we are in about a 100 meter stretch between the boarder of Ukraine and Russia.  When we got through Sister Tunney and Elder Reingard were waiting for us on the other side.  The drunk patrol guard and wanted them to pay him money, but thank goodness for Elder Reingard and all they needed was to fill out another form.  We drove about 30 minutes into Ukraine, got out and met someone on the other side who had our new passports with our new visas inside, walked to a place to eat, went back and got back on the bus.  We drove back to the boarder, filled out our immigration cards and used our passport to get back across the Ukraine border.  Now... this is the cool part.  Then, as we sat in the bus, in no mans land, we made the switch and whipped out our SECOND passport with our new visa to get back across the Russian border!  We all felt like spies.  Whoever figured out this system was SUPER genius!  It's legal, just super awesome! :)  So, yes, we all have 2 passports and they use them so that we can constantly be getting a new visa on our old one.  So... that was pretty much it... a lot of sitting and waiting and riding in a bus.  but it was WAY fun to be able to see our MTC district again!  Well, I gotta run ,but I hope that you are all having a WONDERFUL week!!!  And I hope this all made sense... I never have time to re-read what I write...

Sister Cunningham

 This is us at Family Home Evening with Sergie and Natasha!! And yes!! I put my life in the hands of a Russian hair stylist and I chopped off my hair!

 Our ward picnic!! ya!! SO fun! volleyball, Frisbee!

 Attempted jumping picture that failed but I thought was fun! my comp. nastia and natasha.

 Chalk drawing on Sunday! me and Ulia! my comp!! She did a great job talking to people about the Joseph Smith story!

 They drew Joseph's Smith's first vision!

 Me and sister and elder jeppson the office couple.

 Sister Tunney and I and Elder Wrights hand!

 This is us and our 30 minutes in Ukraine.

 AFTER A SUPER LONG DAY, with my 2 passports.

Me and President.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Working with the Members June 20, 2011

My dear family!

Oh how I love you!  We had Family Home Evening this week with Sergie and his wife.  Their friends who were going to come didn't make it.  We didnt' know that Natasha was going to make us dinner, but she had made us some fish and a really yummy apple cake.  I have never eaten fish when the tail is still attached, but it was still good! :)  We also were able to meet with a lady named Olga this week and her mother.  At the end of the lesson we asked if she would pray.  She said she wasn't sure she could, but Sister Ivanova went over the steps fo prayer briefly with her again and encouraged her.  Olga then spread out her hands and looked up at the ceiling and started just talking with God.  Sister Ivanova looked from Olga to me and back again, not sure if Olga was praying or not.  I folded my arms and bowed my head, and then when Sister Ivanova saw me she followed suit.  I was enjoying listen to Olga and then she just stopped, i opened my eyes and sister ivanova prompted the ending of the prayer for her.  It was kind of funny, as last time we hadn't really known if she was praying or not either, but realized after she said the prayer!  But hey!  It's a start!  God hears and answers our prayers!

One of the highlights of this week was on Saturday!  We met early at the house of a member to do some service for her.  There are not very many men members of the church, so the service crew consisted of us, 4 sisters, and Bishop.  We cleared her whole lawn!!  It was a lot of work, but SO fun!  And I have to admit, that I became pretty pro at using a sickle!  And it was even funnier because as I worked with it, I realized that i knew the word for sickle in Russian, as I had just finished memorizing D&C 4 for our last Zone Conference.  it was WAY fun!  We had a great lunch after also!  And hey, with less men there, that just meant more food for us!! :)

Saturday evening we made our way to the Ballet.  We are allowed one culture night every 6 weeks.  We saw Romeo and Juliet with the senior couple serving here sister Demina and some elders!  It was SO amazing!  The costumes, set, dancing... and the pit orchestra!!  I was tampted to go and steal one of the violins!! just kidding!  And Juliet was amazing!  We would have watched her dance pretty much ALL day!

We had a way good experience on Sunday also!!  After church we went contacting with some of the members!  Nastia and Natasha were my new companions! They were both super scared and wouldn't start off the contacting, so it was way good for me to have to do more of the talking, and they helped me out if the people didn't understand!  It was SO fun!  Sister Ivanova with Kostie and Anya took one side of the street while we took the other.  as we went along of the roads we randomly ran into a less active boy of about 13 or 14.  He had come to church that day and in our lesson with his little brother (david) that week we had asked him if he'd like to come contacting with us.  He said yes.  So, when we saw him he was with his friends, but Sister Ivanova asked him if he'd like to contact with us.  We figured since he was with all of his friends he wouldn't want to, but he said yes and left his friends.  So, they found a piece of sidewalk and David and Aram helped us draw the plan of salvation!  The members loved the work and it was SO fun!  They were all SUPER excited and we got several telephone members ect.!!  And I almost gave a full street lesson by myself!  But then Anya saw me and came up and then I didn't get to say much more.... but hey!  It was a great experience!!  Kostia called us again today wondering if he could contact with us today!! haha!  He is way great!  and always so excited to contact and work!  He is maybe about 26 or so?  And served a mission in Ukraine.  The work is going well, and we're hoping things will keep rolling!

love you all,
Sister Cunningham

 This is our investigator Sara from Namibia! she is so great and has such great faith!  I hope and pray she will be open and willing to fully take the step of faith to learn if what we have is true.

 Sometimes we don't have anyone who wants to talk to us, so why not serve the stray animals?! haha Sister Ivanova is an angel.

 Our landlord said that he would fix our oven if we cleaned it.  Sister Ivanova found a charl-broiled chicken drumstick that may or may not have been cooked like 20 or more times! haha our oven still doesn't really work very well, but hey, it's an oven right?!!

 This is the beginning of our yard work....

  "and he who thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store." Sister Ivanova decided to give us wings in our pockets... aka big leaves and then Lydia (a wonderful lady in our ward) decided to give Anya real wings! :)

 The end of our work!  Yes! We cleared all of that! :)

 Our lunch! Bisop, Lubov, Lydia, Tatiana, and Natasha

 At the ballet with Sister Demina and the Jeppsons

 We had to try our own stunts also!  ya Elder Rigby! haha

 I love my companion!

 Road Construction

 Here we are with our chalk drawing!!!

 Some of the group couldn't be in the picture as they were contacting! haha

 My companions and I!  Yeah!

Me and my companions again!  They are SO great!  I'm so glad that I got to contact with them!!

I love this picture.  Its Nastia drawing... and its in English!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Working with the Spirit June 13, 2011

Dear Everyone!!!

Wow!!  We had a really good week this week!  Before I forget!  Thanks to the Beck boys for their Russian Dance picture!  It made me smile!  And CONGRATULATIONS to Shirlyn and Justin and the family!! I LOVED the pictures of Ella!!  I'm SO excited for you!!  And be prepared to take a little week long vacation when I get back Shirlyn!... I'm claiming watching your kids for a week!!! or more!! :)

Monday night we had a little bit of an adventure, but it showed that we are well taken care of.  We had forgotten to turn our phone back on after FHE.  We missed the phone call of the Zone Leaders.  After we said our companionship prayer, I was walking back into our bedroom and saw our phone, that it was ringing.  President Nechiporov had called several times, our Zone Leaders, and Vacilli, the mission driver, was on his way to our house!  Wow! I felt SO bad that we had caused such an uproar!  But, we are well taken care of!

We met with our street contact this week.  I can't remember, but I think I mentioned her.  Her name is Sara and she is from Namibia.  I just feel like the African people are SO open!  Their hearts are so open!  As we taught the first lesson, after watching the Joseph Smith Restoration Video, we asked if she believed that God could call prophets in our day?  She said yes, and then asked, "But how can we know for sure?" Wow!  great intro. for the Book of Mormon!  It was great!

On Wednesday we had Zone conference!  Wow! I love zone conferences SO much!  It is a wonderful opportunity to join together with other missionaries and remember our purpose, and learn what we can do to further our work and work more with the spirit!  Our Zone Leaders talked about the Book of Mormon, and how important it is for our work.  As they talked I was thinking and realized that it had been a while since I had just read the Book of Mormon from start to finish, I read out of it daily, but it had been a long time since I had just read it all the way through.  I was thinking that I should do that, and then our Zone Leaders gave us an activity that we are going to do as a mission.  If anyone wants to join with our mission, feel free!  The challenge is on page 114 of Preach My Gospel.  Get a cheap new copy of the Book of Mormon, and then mark the references of the Savior orange, words of the Lord blue, principles green, and Christlike attributes yellow.

Our Assistants to the President gave a wonderful talk about following the spirit!  We need to work with the Spirit in EVERYTHING that we do, and keep our Savior as the center of our work!  President also shared his conversion story with us!  I don't h ave time to tell it all!  But it is AMAZING!  Sister Nechiporov was the head of the communist party in their university.  they met and President said that he thinks the first spiritual experience he had, was that he knew he needed to marry sister nechiporova.  He just somehow knew that she was the one and that he needed to marry her.  President then had a Mormon business partner who moved his family to Russia.  They didn't have missionaries in Russia, so his partner did missionary work, and he had President translate the lessons for him when he taught!  So, president knew all the lessons by heart!  He said that he could have been a missionary! :)  He also told president he wanted him to read the Book of Mormon for him on tape so that he could hear Russian.  he never again asked president about the tape, but president read the  Book of Mormon! haha :)  They were also apparently he first Russians to go through the Portland Temple!!  Where they got married!  So corrie! When you get married, you can remember that my mission president was married there too.... so I have some part in your wedding right?! :)

 I loved what president said at the end of your conversation story.  That there are people out there to find, like someone found him.  He shared Alma 36:24 which says:  "Yea and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost."   After Zone Conference, as Sister Ivanova and I were getting ready to go out and contact, I was thinking about what Elder Dana and Kempton had said, making sure that we do EVERYTHING with the spirit and focus all our work on the Savior.  I knew that there was someone out there for us to find and talk to, but we would only know where they were if we could follow the Holy Ghost.  As we prayed, I saw a street in my mind.  We walked down the road and turned onto the street that I had seen.  After walking down the road and contacting several people, we met this really awesome man.  He wanted to practice his English, but actually spoke English really well.  As we talked he talked about his family, work, etc.  We were able to share many of our beliefs and have a really deep conversation about the gospel.  After we met him we also met a really cool young man who gave us his number after we talked about prayer and God's plan for us.  I'm so grateful for the spirit in our work.  If we follow the spirit, I think that we can find and talk to people EVERYDAY.  They are there for us to find, but I hope that I can become better at following the spirit so that we can be led to them.  When we follow the spirit, the work is so much fun and the happiness we felt was truly amazing.

 Zone Conference!!

 Wait... let me see... can you find the elders?!! haha! there are 3 sets!

 My package!!! Ya!

 Some service... ya... I really idn't do much to help.

I almost wanted to sleep next to this cat... it can be tiring!!!

Alexander and his family, wife olga, and daughter Ulia with your picture!

 President today with P-day at the mission home!  We love his apron!  He's a great help in the kitchen.

 This is president's daughter Liza!  She is one of my FAVORITE PEOPLE in the world!!

 yes, we decked the Elders out with flowers too when we played frisbee! Elder Haws from Boise and Elder Roodok from Ukraine.

  President played with us also! :) ya!

Rostov!  The city of beautiful roses!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ariel's Letter My beautiful Rostov!! June 6, 2011

Hello all!

We were able to talk with a lot of NORMAL people this week!!!   HALLELUJAH!!!! haha!  We still met some pretty crazy people, but one day we talked with like 8 normal people and 6 of them gave us their numbers!  We started off the week with a family home evening at Tatiana and Dima's house.  Our investigator Sveta came.  Tatiana had said that they didn't have any extra money right now, so we said that we would bring the treat.  I felt so bad after the lesson that Tatiana had made a wonderful meal for us.  They are SO giving and I felt almost sick, hoping that they hadn't sacrificed a lot to feed us.

One of the days we went out and contacted, it was really cool as we would just go down random streets if we had a thought to go and check it out.  It was the day that we were able to talk to so many normal people!  I had always thought that the feelings of where we needed to go would be powerful, but I hope as we followed these small impressions that led us to meet some wonderful people, that the Lord can trust us even more to lead us to those that have been truly prepared and are ready.  One of the ladies that we met seemed like she was pretty knowledgeable on a lot of things and she even talked about how it had been hard for her to be able to resolve the theory of evolution with the teachings of churches.  The best bit about this was that I UNDERSTOOD WHAT SHE WAS TALKING ABOUT!  I felt like I was able to understand a pretty good amount this week, which is wonderful.  But, now the trouble is knowing what to say in response! :)

This week we went and contacted with some of the Elders.  It's always so much fun to be able to contact all together.  And then we can share and laugh about the excuses that people give us for why they can't talk with us.  this week as we knocked houses... or maybe it was last week, this lady said that she couldn't open the door because her dog was watching... ya... I'm not exactly sure what that means either!  We have debated making a little chart with different categories of people that we meet everyday.  the ones who already know everything, are bratoslovani, their dog is watching, just simple crazy, and so on.  But the most important one, that we want to have is GOLDEN!!!  Those are the people that the Lord leads us too!  The speck of diamond in many shovels of dirt we dig!  These 2 girls walked by, and they were talking in English.  I was so stunned to hear English that I didn't know what to do.... luckily Elder Roodek (from Ukraine) jumped up and asked them if they wanted to talk with us.  So, I gave my first street lesson all by myself... well, it was in English.. but hey!  That counts right?!  It was SO weird to talk about the gospel in English!  I accidentally said Kniga Mormona instead of Book of Mormon! haha  One of the girls was from Namibia and the other one from Indonesia.  I couldn't help but laugh though as Elder Roodek rambled up with an english pamphlet in his hand.  He said, "here, it's the only English one that I have."  I looked at it and saw that it was a pamphlet on "Chastity."  That would be the only one that he had! haha! :)  I feel kind of like I'm in that in between stage with the language.  I think only my Vienna friends will fully be able to appreciate this comment, as they have the background of Professor Kroell's class! :)  But I can't really speak Russian yet, and I don't think I can really speak English very well right now either... so I'm kind of languageless! :)

I was really feeling tired this week, and so Cectpa Ivanova and I have taken advantage of an hour of "Tieky Chac" (quiet hour), and it has worked wonders!  If you're feeling a little down and tired, Tieky Chac is like magic! :)

Rostov is absolutely beautiful! There are SO many trees and the sun shines!! it is quite hot though.  It actually often makes me think of Wisconsin and miss it!!  There are so many pretty little side roads and so many new places to look at and discover!  And as we find these new little nooks and crannies, we also wait on the Lord to find the Elect who are ready for our message! "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."  (Thank you Corrie for those scriptures!  You're wonderful and I love you!!)

I hope you are all having a FANTASTIC week!!
Cectpa Cunningham

 Yes... a crazy picture from the other week that sister ivanova took.  you can't keep my Irish blood out of me!

 Yes, missionaries even get a chance to surf!! :)

 View over the Don river.

Yes, transfers are coming up... but President Nechiporov already let me meet my new companion.

 On the street! Romping around teh streets of Rostov!

 one of the churches

 Black and white!

 This is Russia!

 And again i don't remember what this building is... but it's famous

tacting together!

 it was like a jungle... so i HAD to take a picture!

 the sign says that there was a mean dog... and then Sister Ivanova wrote that he was watching us!! haha

 A view from one of the apartment buildings.
 Right before our weekly planning Sister Ivanova took out 2 red apples from her bag... I couldn't resist making a Snow White picture!  (Yes, this is for Avery and Autumn!  Good times in Budapest with our "friends!!!" :)

A beautiful street we found last night!