Monday, July 25, 2011

Make sure and buy your medicine! July 25, 2011


First off a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS TO MY WONDERFUL BROTHER AND HIS WIFE MARISSA!!!  I'm an Aunt!!!  Emerson Ruth Cunningham!! Welcome to our family!! :)  She's ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for my letters!!!  thank you to Simone, Shirlyn, and Marlene Brown!!!

Alright... I'm really sorry everyone, I just had a REALLY good long e-mail all typed out but it got deleted... and so... sorry I'll try to write a little really fast... but know there was a REALLY awesome e-mail.... :(

So this week we did service at Luba's house.  It was interesting to see how some people live here.  She doesn't have running water or an inside toilet.  We helped a lady carry two buckets of water to her house from the small pond they use to get water.  I don't know how she could ever do that by herself.

I got a call from Elder Beckwith on Tuesday night telling me that I was in charge of the musical number for Zone conference the next day.... Thank you for the short notice!! Luckily Elder Dana and I had already practiced a song for Olya's baptism so we played that.   It's a violin, voice, and guitar arrangement of "I need thee every hour."
It was WAY fun!  I tried to send it but didn't' know how to make it small enough to send...

Zone conference was AMAZING!  We talked about unity in our companionships, finding happiness, working hard, and learning to work creatively.  We want to make seeming "problems' become opportunities! Sister Nechiporova also told us that we needed to all make sure and have Smekta and Rigodron on hand for food poisoning. That night we ate at a members house and had a cold milk, egg, potatoes, and parsley soupish thing.  Well, needless to say without going into to much detail I woke up with the feeling like someone had kicked me in the intestines.  I woke sister Ivanova up after a trip to the Lou laughing and told her I needed some of that medicine!  Well, the next morning the elders called with a question and then Elder White asked how my health was.  I started laughing and told him that I had already had a chance to use the medicine!! haha Well... it turns out that every
companionship at zone conference had gotten sick!!  It was Sister Nechiporov's food and she had apparently just been testing us to see if we listened to her counsel!! haha the AP's called and had decided that I should be the one to call Sister Nechiporov so that she would know it was her food! haha!  Well.... needless to say I couldn't' stop laughing about it all day!

We met with two amazing new investigators this week who want to meet with us!! :)  And the highlight of the week was Olya's baptism!  I got to give a talk on Baptism and I got a thumbs up and smile from President Nechiporov when I sat down... so it must have been half way understandable!! :)  I was also blessed to  be there on the side to help Olya after she was baptized!  I got a wonderful wet hug!  I was SO happy to see her take the step of faith to be baptized!  She is SO wonderful and this is just the beginnign!  the Lord has so many blessings in store for her and now she is at the beginning and has SO much more to learn and do!! And we talked with her about the temple yesterday! That step of baptism was the first major step!  And everything she does, including her baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost are pointing her to the temple where she can receive the greatest blessings of our Heavenly Father, and make sacred promises to Him, and learn about her relationship with Him!!  And most importantly be sealed to her family for eternity!!! :)  IT was SO wonderful!!!

 Olya's baptism.

  Elder Dana cleaning the font.

 Olya again.

 Roller blading with Nastia in the morning.

  Nastia feeding a squirrel near the track.

And we went to teh zoo this morning!! :)

 I was one of the exhibits too... of hamsters!

 A better nose picture.

 A new meaning to feasting on the words of christ!

 Yes!! I am a missionary!!

 And here we are again!

Monday, July 18, 2011

No, we are not journalists! July 18, 2011

Hello my WONDERFUL Family!! Oh how I love you SO very much!!
This has been a fun and very eventful week!  I will try to just give you some of the highlights!  Sister Ivanova and I planned a music night for our ward and the Center Branch.  Well... I really have to give most of the credit to Sister Ivanova.  She was the one who made everything pull together and work out!!  We started the night with a spiritual thought.  Sister Ivanova and I sat behing a white sheet with a light shining on us from behind so that they could only see our shadows.  It was a conversation between two babies in utero.  One who believed in life after birth and one who didn't.  It was cute as they talked about if they would live after birth and see their moms or not.  The music night started with Alexander on his guitar.  We had guitar numbers, some of the Elders sang or played the piano.  Elder White and I sang "A Child's Prayer" in Russian.  And an investigator who plays the harmonica played a couple songs!!!  He is AMAZING and I have it on video!  I played "If you could High to Kolob" with Koste on the piano and then accompanied him for another little part of a song.... but I actually butchered that part... oops :)  All that week Sister Ivanova wanted me to play "Concertino in G minor" by Vilvadi.  I hadn't played it for a while, and when I had played it I had never really perfected it like I should have.  I practiced it as many times as I could and told her that she would have to pray for me and I would be praying like crazy also!  there are SO many fast notes and I wanted to play it well!!  Well, the time came to play and I just felt so at peace!  I just knew that everything would be ok and that I would be able to play it!!  I played it almost flawlessly, except for a quick moment when I got to the bottom of the first page and realized that I had put the pages on the stand in the wrong order... (1, 3, 2) and had to just quickly look to the next page!!  It was WAY fun!  Sister Nechiporova made a chocolate cake and sister Price made Blonde Brownies.  I think that everyone really enjoyed themselves.  We had about 45 people there!  None of the people we invited on the street, but it was still a great way to talk to people!  We ended with the missionaries singing "Army of Helaman."  It was way fun a we hope to do another one!
This week we continued our questions.  We felt a little bit like journalists taking a survey, and one time a lady even asked if we were journalists!  The best is when Cectpa Ivanova had her pen and paper out, then we really looked like we were taking a survey.  I loved this way though, just because people won't usually talk to us, but this is a way that more people will stop and talk.  If they're not really interested we'll just give them a little information to read about The Word of Wisdom or something else.  But or goal, and what we hope happens, is very often we start talking about God and about His plan for us and the gospel! :)
Our track has been closed the last little bit, but thank goodness for Nastia, she knew another track that we could run on.  So every morning we would go to this track.  It was fun to run through a graveyard to get there, and when we are on the track, the one side is bordered by all of these trees with the golden round pinnacles of a brataslovian church peeking up over the tops of the trees!  It's SO pretty in the morning!!  As we ran one day I told Nastia how in Cross Country when we pass someone we call it a kill, and during a race some people count how many "kills" we had.  I couldn't help but laugh when the next day we ran and were coming up on someone and she was all, "a kill!!"  with her cute Russian accent! :)
I think that the highlight of this week was getting to meet with Viktor and Svetlana.  Svetlana is in the hospital right now, and they are having a bit of marital issues right now.  She only wanted Viktor to come if we were there too.  We play acted out 3 different scenarios of a "mock" scenario that could happen in a relationship and different ways to cope with it.  We read the example from 1 Nephi 18:21 and talked about how Nephi could have been SO angry at his brothers, but instead he immediately prayed.  We asked them to try talking about there issues in their family (like companionship inventory--what was good that week, what was hard, what they could do to help each other).  It broke my heart as Viktor looked at Svetlana and asked if they had a family.  I felt the spirit really strong as I talked with them and said that I just watched them and seemed something really special!!  They have such a special relationship.  I told them about our family and how everything is not always perfect, but I know no matter what I do, I'm loved at home.  I shared how you and Dad still sometimes disagree and have struggles to overcome in your relationship, and you have been married for 29 years!!  It's normal and a process, but as we overcome those challenges our families grow closer together!!!  It just broke my heart that they wouldn't want to be a family!  It's Gods plan that we are in eternal families!  And he gives us strength to overcome and grow closer together and to him!! Oh how I love my family and look forward to having my own eternal family one day!!
Alright... this is too long already, but here is something I read today that I wanted to share!
 I loved studying today about how the Lord heals all who come to him!  In 1 Nephi 1:14 Lehi praises the Lord and tells us that the Lord will not suffer those who come unto Him to perish.  I was reading the talk "The Atonement Covers All Pain" by Elder Kent F. Richards and he said that he was pondering about how the Atonement works in our lives , at a time when he was a patient in a hospital.  He wondering how it can happen, that the Savior can so intimately know what each and everyone of us suffer  I loved what he said that the Savior "CHOSE to experience pains and afflictions in order to understand us."  He then said that he read Matt. 8:16 and realized that the Savior "healed ALL that came to Him.  NONE were turned away."  Elder Oaks taught: "All that will come may be 'clasped in the arms of Jesus.' (Mormon 5:11)  All souls can be haled by His power.  All pain can be soothed.  In Him, we can 'find rest unto [our] souls.' "(Matt. 11:29).  Sometimes when we contact people on the street, they ask, "But if there is a God, why do these bad things happen to good people?"  I think that this is a questions that many of us have asked at least once in our lives.  But.... it's the plan!  This is gods plan!  He sent us to earth knowing that we would all have trials, afflictions, pain, suffering, etc.  He knew that they was the only way that we could develop and grow, and also the only way that we could feel joy!  There has to be an opposition in all things (2 Nephi 2:11).  I pondered this as I thought about our work as missionaries, and our duty as members of the church to share the gospel.  We share the message that yes, life is hard, and there will be many things that we do not understand, but the central part of our message is that there is a "balm in Gilead" (Jeremiah 8:22).  God sent His son to earth, and through Him we have the opportunity to find peace and strength to overcome our challenges and struggles.  Elder Oaks quote continues, "Our mortal circumstances may not immediately change, but our pain, worry suffering, and fear can be swallowed up in His peace and healing balm."  And that is where we come in!  We help people find Jesus Christ so that He can lift them and give them strength and peace!!  We are little children, and we can't bare everything, but the Lord is with us and is our good Shepherd (D&C 50:40-42, 44).  And when we come to Him, He can heal us.  And then He will "consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain" (2 Nephi 2:2).
I love you ALL!!
Cectpa Cunningham

P.S. I wish i had time to tell all the crazy thing!  like i.e. there is this man in our ward who is inactive and he REALLY likes Sister Ivanova.  he said that he had a dream from god that he can marry a younger woman because he will live a long time.  He said that she would be his wife and he was told that she needed to pray about it for her to get her answer too!!!  HAHAHAHA!!  CREEEPPPPEEERR!!!!  

P.P.S. Another funny story. We met this guy named Davron and with my bad Russian i didn't quite understand him.  He called us twice but i didn't answer and then he called the third time on a new number because we hadn't answered when he had first called.   Sister Ivanova answered and apparently he just asked where I was!  He wanted to date me, not just talk about the gospel! lol!  ya.... awkward! anyway!

 Sister Zamorina playing the guitar on the Don River.

 This random guy gave us these cookies when we were contacting.  we're still alive, so they weren't poisoned.

  Guitar duet from musical night.


Sasha writing her love letter to Elder Nancallos.

 And this is our baptism!! David with President Konderashov!  Ya... David doesn't look very happy, but after his baptism he bore his testimony and said that when he went into the water he felt like something was closed and when he came up out of the water he felt like something had opened up!! Super cool!!!

I caught Elder and sister Price walking down the streets of Rostov! I love them!!

The story of the violin that Ariel is using in Russia.

From Ariel to her Family: I got a violin!!! The violin is the violin of the mission.  A girl in Volvograd was using it, but President Nechiporov got it for me!! So.... i think i'll have it my whole mission!!! :)  I don't know for sure.  It's a good violin, but we can't use it for street contacting, just ot play in church ect.  We will be using it this week for a music night that we planned! :) 

Russia Rostov Mission
Date: Wed, Jul 6, 2011 at 12:45 AM
Subject: FW: Attn Sister Price. Sisters play pix.

Dear family of Sister Cunningham,
The President took these pictures of your special daughter in the mission office a few minutes ago and he wanted you to have them.   I did not get them in the first email that we sent you.   We are looking forward to hearing Sister Cunningham play at our talent program on the 13th .
Best wishes,
Sister Price

Ariel Also wrote: What I shared about the violin is really it.... it was with that girl in Volvagrad.  The sisters went over to get it, on request from president, I think, and they said it looked like she hadn't used it FOREVER!!  Then I got to the office and he said, do you know what I have for you?  I said no and then I looked in the room and there was the violin!!  I knew the mission had one, and at the beginning of my mission he told me, "Sister Cunningham, I will watch you, and if you are a good missionary I may let you use the violin!!" haha!

 Sister Cunningham & Sister Tunney play.

Sister Cunningham plays.

Monday, July 11, 2011

RUSSIAN GALORE! July 11, 2011

Hi Everyone!!!
I loved the pictures of the 4th etc mom!!  And your yogurt definitely beat mine... but I tried right?!! :)  Thank you Simone and Kailegh for your wonderful letters!  And, Corrie... I can't wait to get your wedding announcement!
This week has been crazy RUSSIAN!!  I have been serving with 2 Russian companions as Sister Undejzorova is on her visa trip, so her companion Sister Zamorina has been staying with us.  So, Sister Ivanova and Sister Zamorina have been speaking A TON of Russian, and they both talk SUPER fast when they're together.  It has been a little bit challenging, as this week I sometimes have felt like a third wheel missionary because I don't always know exactly what's going on, but it has also been very mind-stretching!  One night, as I got into bed, I realized my brain was just absolutely SO tired and FRIED!!  I had pretty much only heard Russian ALL day!  That's probably the way it should be, but wow, my brain was tired!  It's different from other weeks because I usually hear mostly Russian, but Sister Ivanova is really good at speaking slow and clearly with me.  Also, if I don't understand she will explain in English.  Well, this week I have mostly just had to try to do my best to try to understand as much as I can without any explanation.  I knew that they didn't want to NOT include, but it was just natural to talk fast and a lot with someone who could understand everything.  With that in mind, I did my best to stay involved in the companionship and continue to help teach and make decisions all together!  It was GREAT!
This week Sister Tunney's companion had her visa trip also, but that was only for a day.  So, Sister Tunney and I actually got to go and teach a lesson ALL BY OURSELVES!! haha :)  It was SO fun!  Sister Tunney has been out as long as I have, so we have only been here for 3 months, but the lesson went really well!!  We taught the plan of salvation to a less active, and it was SO great!!  I could understand most of what he said and we carried a conversation for about 45 minutes!! WAHOO!!  I think when you have to be the one speaking you realize how much you can really say and understand, and the gift of tongues helps a TON also!
Something that I have noticed that I just find really interesting, is that children always want to talk with us.  We will contact their parents, and as their parents say no and walk away you see these little children looking longing back at us and they slowly drag behind following their parents.  One time we tried to give a pamphlet to a woman that we were talking to.  She didn't want it and said no, and then her little daughter of about a year reached out and grabbed the pamphlet.  After the woman gave us back the pamphlet and was walking away we waved to the little girl.  She got the biggest smile, I think I have ever seen, on her face and reached her little hand high up in the air and waved back at us!!  It was SO cute!!  Maybe one day she'll meet the missionaries and remember something.
These week we tried some new ways of contacting.  We had so many street lesson this week and really did all we could to talk to EVERYONE!!  We went out one day and tried an idea that she had used earlier in her mission!  When we asked to talk to people we just asked them if we could ask them a couple questions about what health means to them.  If it's important to them, what they think they can do to be more healthy, etc.  I was really surprised as some people didn't think you could do ANYTHING to be more healthy... weird...  Well, it was a great way to just start talking to people and then tell them about the law of health that the Lord has given us. He not only promises to give us physical strength but also knowledge, etc!!  One lady, we started out like this and then ended up talking about our Savior Jesus Christ and bearing testimony of Him that He lives and can help her in her everyday life!  It was a great way to introduce the church without being too crazy "missionarish" i guess you could say... hahababooshka (grandma) that I was able to talk to on the bus, and she said how it was neat to see that I was here in Russia because when she was younger the relations of Russia and America were not really good, but to see me here showed that things had improved! :)  Our third thing we did differently, is that wherever we went, unless we needed to get somewhere pretty fast, we would hand out invitations to church to everyone that we saw.  It was a GREAT, but tiring week!!
We did get in touch with Sara this week, but for right now she said that she has felt really confused and she thinks it's because she hasn't been reading the Bible as much.  She said that she didn't want to meet anymore.  We are going to invite her to our music night and I want to ask her if she has seriously read the Book of Mormon.  I'm praying she'll give it a chance.  The A.P.'s also found a girl who actually studies in Utah and went to church there.  She is SO golden and sometimes stays up till 3 in the morning reading the Book of Mormon!  They have been having us help teach her as they are sometimes out of town.  Her baptismal date is for the end of this month, and our 9 year-old David is getting baptized this SATURDAY!!  YAA!!  And his big brother Aram has come back to church and this past Sunday he brought two of his friends with him! We had a fast this week with the members for Dima Andreva and he was found this week, but has lost his memory... it's weird.
Scripture for the week: 1 Nephi 18:21-Nephi says that his brothers were angry with him because he had warned them that they should be righteous.  Therefore, they had tied him to the mast of the ship so that he could not move.  A great storm arose for four days and finally, because his brothers were afraid they would be swallowed up in the sea, they let him go.  So, now the scripture records in Nephi's words what happened.  "And it came to pass after they had loosed me, behold, I took the compass, and it did work whither I desired it.  And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm."
 Nephi could have chosen to lash out at his brothers, but instead he immediately prayed.  We can do the same, and like Nephi, the Lord will also calm the storms that may be raging inside of us!!  It really works!!  I have prayed here more than I have ever prayed before, and prayer really does calm the soul!
Love you all! Have a WONDERFUL week!  Sorry... this one was kind of long!!

Cectpa Cunningham

 A wonderful Armenian family who fed us!! Forgive the shiny faces... it's HOT!!

 The food!! the black nut things were TO DIE FOR!!!

 Us street contacting!! 4 sisters!! Watch out!!

 Sister Ivanova, me and Sister Zamorina... ya... we can still be crazy at night!

 my companionship for this week!  Sister Zamorina on the right.

A cute little lady in the other ward!  I just love her she always gives me a BIG hug and is just SO cute!! you know how short I am... she's mini!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th!

Don't you worry!  i didn't forget the 4th of July in Russia!  My pictures will show how we celebrated!! :)  I missed making our yogurt with Breanne and Corrie though... :(  But all was remembered!! :)
So much to write from this week, so I'll do my best!!  We had a lesson with this cute little old lady in our ward.  her name is Valentina and I told Sister Ivanova one time that I like to practice my Russian with her at church because I don't think she really remembers a lot, so I will ask her the same question almost every time I talk with her.  How did you meet the missionaries?  And then she will tell her story and I will listen, even though I've already heard it maybe like 5 times!! haha :)  So, we were laughing and joking about that on the way to the lesson, that we should ask how she met the missionaries.  During the lesson she started talking herself about how President Konderashov had helped her into the church.  I couldn't help myself and asked, "So, did President Kondereshov introduce you to the missionaries?"  She didn't here the question the first time, or understand it, so she asked me to say it again, but it was hopeless because Sister Ivanova and I at this point were totally speechless with the giggles.... oopss..... haha! :)  She laughed too... but she didn't know why!!  Then, another funny story, we were at a lesson and had Sergie, a member, there with us.  He said something to me and I just smiled and said, "da." (yes)  Then as we walked out of the lesson with him Sister Ivanova was laughing, she said that she had something to tell me.  Sergei opened teh doors of his car for us and when we got in Sister Ivanova turned to me and said, "you were the one that agreed to this."  it was really funny as we had just had a conversation the other day that we weren't sure if we were allowed to get a ride home from Sergei.  He is married and over 40 and a member of the church, but just with him we didn't think so... but I had agreed to it!  we found out that night that it was ok... but I think that I should be a little more careful not to say da when I don't understand!! haha :)
We met these 2 younger guys contacting this week.  It was cool because it all started out as a joke.  They really weren't interested and just thought that it would be fun to joke around with us and get a laugh.  They mentioned it was strange that people baptize babies, but then were taken aback when Sister Ivanova said that we don't baptize babies because baptism is for sin and babies are innocent.  We wait until they are 8, when they can be accountable for their actions and know what is right and what is wrong.  They started to listen a little bit more.  When we asked for their names, one of them said about the other, "This is the son of God Alexander..."  We laughed and joked back, and I said that we were their sisters! haha!  They wouldn't give us their number, but I hope that they will call and want to learn more after thinking about what we talked about.
We met this mom who was walking with her daughter and grand kids.  We talked to them about families, but the mom didn't want to give us her number.  after we walked away I told sister ivanova that I had wanted to ask for the daughters, as maybe she would give it to us and we had just asked the mom, but sometimes I still feel weird that it may be weird and out of place.  Sister Ivanova reminded me that I should follow those feelings and so we decided to go back... ya... let's just make things more awkward by not asking the first time! :)  well, I said that her mom had so no, but asked if maybe she was interested.  She didn't really seem that interested but did give us her number.  We'll see what happens!  if she doesn't meet with us, maybe some missionaries down the road will call her and she'll be interested!
We also did service this week at a members house.  She has us do the CRAZIEST things!  She had Sister Ivanova climb up on this ledge and she literally became a lumber jack cutting down these trees with this old hatchet thing.  She then passed the trees down to us and we broke them into smaller pieces with our bare hands!! ya!! haha.  As part of the job she wanted us to weed a couple things... one of which was marijuana... just growing in her back yard! haha! yep!  This is Russia! :)  She also had these tomato plants all over her yard, just growing in random places, and I couldn't help but kept accidentally stepping on them... oops.
Sorry this is so long, but another miracle.  We were waiting for someone to meet us for a lesson and contacting.  This young man walked by but then came back feeling bad that he hadn't stopped to talk.  He had met with the missionaries before, and so just came up to us and we actually thought that he was the person we were supposed to meet for our lesson... but it wasn't.  The man we were supposed to meet went to the wrong place and so was about an hour late.  We talked with this man for about that amount of time.  He had a lot of questions.  We gave him a Book of Mormon and told him to pray!  The cool part is is that he was going into the army the next day, but God provide the way that he could meet with us and talk with us!!   It was cool! 
A lot of people from our ward have traveled to the Ukraine Kiev temple for the week!!  It is a big trip and they have to get visas and everything.  The spirit in the church that day was SO strong!  I feel like EVERYONE had some kind of major trial come to keep them from going to the temple.  One lady who is going for her first time had to go to the hospital with her daughter the other day.  It is actually the Grandma and daughter of our investigator David.  While there they saw a lady and her daughter come in who had been in an accident.  After the husband/father had gotten there the doctor said that the daughter wouldn't live.  Ludmilla, the grandma, went over and started talking to the man.  She taught him about prayer and told him to pray to God.  The father didn't know what to do, but Ludmilla reassured him that God would here His prayers.  They watched as he went into a side part of the hospital and held his head in his hands.  They think that he was praying.  Ludmilla and Zara, her daughter, also prayed that his daughter would live.  The doctor came back out a little later and said that she would live!! A MIRACLE!!  Another family, one of the sons got REALLY sick.  He couldn't even walk!  His uncle came over and gave him a blessing and lo and behold he was at church on Sunday and they are going to the temple!!  Sergei and Natasha and their two little boys are going to get sealed this week!!!  YAYAYAYA!!  We went over yesterday and gave a quick spiritual thought about how the temple blesses families and gives them more strength to overcome their differences and strengthen them!! :)  I am SOOOOO excited for them! they are WONDERFUL!!
One of the husbands of a lady in our ward went missing... know one knows where he is, so please keep the Andrev family in your prayers.  His name is Dima.  And Sara... our investigator from Namibia... we have called all week and had no answer... so please pray we can find her this week also!  
I love you all SOOOOO much!! have SUCH  wonderful week!!
Cестра Канингхэм

 A dog barking at us when we knock!

 Super cool sunset with a Bratislovian church.

 Sister Ivanova, and yes... marijuana.

 5 americans came to church yesterday!  It was way fun to talk with them.  They're doing some kind of conference!  her name is Carrie Kent! Us next to our church sign.

 Our 4th of july breakfast!! Russian flag for Sister Ivanova and American for me!  I had to improvise... and yes... it is the skin of a plum that I used for the red and some kind of candy thing for the starts!! :)

 We had a little picnic on the Don River

 While there some russian television place interviewed Elder Beckwith... haha  I think he made us all look bad! haha

 Elder Dana played a song on his guitar he'd written!  SUPER COOL!!

 I attempted to see the mother land... but failed... but I tried!! :)

 Our service again.

 THe jeppsons with our "YOGURT" for the 4th

Valentina!  I thought you needed a pictu as I had told a story about her!! I love her!! She is SO cute!!  I haven't seen Lidia for a while... i should visit my other favorite babooshka!