Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Temple Miracles! September 27, 2011


Well... let me just say that we had an AMAZINGLY awesome week and visa trip, but first let me tell a couple stories about the beginning of our week!  We met this guy earlier this week that was WAY funny!  He was older and was wearing a baseball hat.  In english, on the hat, it said "smart guy."  It was kind of ironic as he was not interested to talk to us at all until we introduced the Book of Mormon.  He said that he would be interested to get one.  As we were walking away he said to us, but I really don't think smart people need God!! haha... as he is sitting there wearing his "smart guy" hat.  So, we come back that day with a Book of Mormon and the Elders are with us.  We had another appointment, and we thought that if there was time then, that the Elders could explain more about the Book of Mormon.  Well, we get up to him and Sister Zamorina hands him the B.O.M.  He does not want to talk to the Elders, but then tries to give us 100 rubles for the B.O.M.... or just give us the money.  Sister Zamorina said, no, we can't take it.  He kept trying to give it to her but she was like no, no we can't take it.  he then turns to me and his hand starts coming to me. I was wearing this low-scooped neck shirt with a white tank top underneath it.  As his hand got closer and closer the only thought that I had in my mind was... I don't have pockets in this shirt.  He then attempted to stick it in the scoop neck of my shirt... haha... it was way funny/awkward.  The elders were just standing there stunned! :)  gotta love these experiences here!  Well, after we all went out and got ice cream!  Thanks to Smart Guy for the 100 rubles.

That same day was our day for Book of Mormons. We felt like almost everyone we met wanted a Book of Mormon!  So, we met people and then planned to meet them that afternoon to give them a book as we didn't have any with us at the time.  After contacting for a bit we went to the church to grab 10 Book of Mormons. As we were leaving the church Sister Zamorina said that she felt that we shouldn't walk home the way that we usually do.  She didn't know why, but just didnt' want to go that way.  I then said that well, maybe we need to contact.  We contacted the first people that we met and we started talking about the Book of Mormon.  It just so happened that we had about 10 Book of Mormons with us because we had just grabbed them all from the church and they each wanted to have one!  They said that they didn't want us to call them for a little bit because they wanted to be able to finish reading the book before we called.  We explained that we could read it with them and talk about it so that it was easier to understand!  They told us that they were going to just drink their coffee inside, but one of them had said that they should go outside, and so they did.  Sister Zamorina then felt that we should go that way home!  It was a miracle that we met them and they acknowledged that it was a miracle that they had all come outside to drink their coffee together!  I hope that now that we are back we will be able to meet with them again this week! 

We also met a husband and wife that day who wanted to have a Book of Mormon.  We met up with the wife later that day and talked about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  We taught her how to pray and she said that she had kind of always felt a distance to God and had wanted to feel closer to Him.  She told us that this was exactly what she had been looking for!  She did not promise to meet with us again, but she wanted to go home and try praying.  I hope that the spirit of the Book of Mormon and a heartfelt prayer will soften her heart and we will be able to meet with her again.  That same day as we were giving out yet another Book of Mormon (we gave out 6 that day) this man came up to tell the lady that we were talking to all of these bad things about us and our Church!  It was SO cool to see how she stood up for us and defended us, these two young ladies that she had never met! 

So, now on with the extra awesome stuff!!  So, Sister Zamorina, Elder Homer, and I left for Rostov at 6:30 in the morning.  While in Rostov we contacted a bit and visited a couple people from the wards there! I got to see Yulya and Olga's family again and also meet our new Russian missionary! She is SO awesome!  Our train left at about 9 that night.  It was my first time on a night train, and way fun!  It wasn't the most comfortable thing, but sleeping on a bed helped the 18 hours pass by fairly quick.  Sister Tunney, LeBaron, and I also had a LOT of catching up to do.  We had heard that the temple was going to be closed, but after checking into our hotel we decided to immediately check for sure, just in case.

As we walked up to the temple, Elder Jacobson and I led the pack and kept getting faster and faster!  When we got closer we saw that the gates were open and we were almost running when we came through the gates!  It is a SPECTACULARLY beautiful temple!  We got up there at about 4:25 and the last session of the day was at 5!  We had perfect timing!  We all got in and were there on time!  The spirit was SO strong!  The session was in Ukrainian, but we got to have translators!  It was SO amazing to just be there!  We all sat in the Celestial room for a long time!  I think that it is the prettiest that I've ever seen!  it's not very big, but the chandler is the most beautiful that I have ever seen!  IT was huge and squarish and mom, it had yours and dad's ball at the bottom!  It was the most AMAZING thing ever!!  It definitely made up for having to just eat sausage and bread and cheese for dinner!   IN THE TEMPLE THEY SAID A PRAYER and  THE PART OF THE PRAYER ABOUT MISSIONARIES WAS SO COOL TO HEAR IT IN RUSSIAN AND KNOW THEY WERE PRAYING ABOUT US AND THEIR PEOPLE!!

The next day we had church at the stake center next to the temple!  We walked in and were all in AWE!  It felt like we had walked into a ward in Utah!  It was SO big and wow!! amazing!  And the best bit was, right when we walked in the door I saw sister Tunney and LeBaron giving someone a big hug and kind of screaming... when I finally got to see her, our very own Sister Stiles from the MTC (the one that got WAY sick and scared us all to death) was there in the ward! It was SO good to see her!  The ward meetings were in Russian and Ukrainian. The singing and announcements were in Ukrainian (and I couldn't stop thinking that Kyrsten had maybe been in that ward!! I couldn't stop thinking about her) and what a relief when we heard the talks in Russian and could understand again!! The first talk was really cool as a girl translated for her mom who spoke in sign language.  In Sunday School there was also a man that kind of always said weird things.  The mission president wife said that one time he got up in sacrament meeting and said that he knew that Angel Moroni had been a Ukrainian!! haha   :)

We got invited over to the Mission President's house for dinner that night!  It was SUCH  a blessing as we had no where to go.  He is a German and she is Latvian.  As they asked for us to bless the food they asked if anyone spoke another language.  Everyone said that I spoke German... I said that I used to but had forgotten everything.  So... I got to make an embarrassing attempt to try to remember how to pray in German.  I made it through about half way and then had to switch to Russian.. and right after, he was all, that wasn't German, that was Austrian!! haha... I guess I did learn in Austria!  After dinner we headed out and walked back to the temple.  On the way we met a Senior couple taking their Sunday walk.  It so happens that they served with KC Morgan in Budapest for about 6 months.  Their names are Elder and Sister Low and they said they love him.  They said, he was SUCH a good missionary and always happy, upbeat, and positive, and that he liked chicken livers! ;)  They told me a funny story where they all had to eat chicken livers at a members house and say they liked them so she said that she would make them again!!  They love you "Elder Morgan!"

Well, we took more pics of the temple and our train left again for Rostov at 11 p.m.  It was a FANTASTIC trip and SO surreal and WONDERFUL!!  I'm SO happy that we all got to go and be there and actually GO to the temple!  What a miracle!! We all made it home with our visas...even though they asked us many questions and now I'm safe and back in Krasnodar!  I love you all SO much and hope that all is well!!

 Our view of the temple from the freeway!

 Night shot

 Us in our awesome hotel!! best shower almost EVER in Russia/Ukraine!

 Us and Sister Stiles!

they have these crab apple trees at the temple and this man told us we could eat them... so I thought that I better try them as they may be celestial temple apples or something!!

 Ya!! we love the temple!

 Our whole group

 and again, me with the temple

 the temple is just situated SO awesomely! next to the freeway and then a view from the other side

 my conference addition picture

sleeper car on the train

 me on the train

 me and my girls

 Chalk drawing with the elders today!  They're SO awesome!  Elder Coudre from France makes me laugh everytime he says "hamburger!"
The Temple is OPENED!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Krasnodar Miracles! September 19, 2011

My wonderful Family!

We had another baptismal date set this week!  Her name is Ekaterina! She is super active and bubbly.  Her husband is not really her husband... that is one of the things we need to get over... she has to get married to him before she can be baptized!  It has been amazing this week to see her!  I noticed more light in her face and eyes! she has been working SO hard to quit smoking and drinking coffee!  She had some bad headaches and got a blessing from Elder Potter! After the blessing she was just like WOW!!! Those really work!!  She is trying SO hard and doing SO well! We set the date for the end of October and fasted with her this Sunday to see if she can get her marriage situation figured out!

This week we started a new program!  Everyday we need to do an hour of power contacting.  We call it our "Power Hour."  This means that we talk to everyone we see, which we usually try to do anyway, but then also pray with them.  We were a little nervous about this as it can seem kind of weird to pray with someone on the street, but we knew that we would try it.  Our first contact on Tuesday was an older babooshka...  so, my thought in my mind was, well... we can practicesome tactics to pray with people on the street!  It worked!  WE just asked if we could demonstrate how we pray.  she could just listen and then at home she could try it!! HOORAY!!  It's been funny as almost everyday that we have contacted on the really pretty walkway in Krasnodar, we always meet and are able to talk to people in this one circular section of the pathway.  We call it our happy circle!! haha

We had a miracle this week as we were contacting, and it was in our lucky circle!! :) We came up to a girl sitting on a bench and started talking to her about the gospel.  She looked really down and like something horrible had just happened.  We asked her if she prayed and she said that she had been praying for the past half an hour and nothing had happened!  As we talked she finally told us that she had lost her wallet and so she didn't have any money to get home so that she could get to work.  We talked to her for a while and then had a prayer with her.  By the end of our conversation she was laughing and joking with us!  She said that her prayer had been answered, that we were the answer to her prayer.  She joked around that she should have prayed for God to send us to her sooner!  Her friend was on his way to lend her money, but I know that the Lord sent us to her as an answer to her prayer to help to lift her load and show her that he really
does care for His children!  When we are doing the Lord's work, He puts people into our path that we need to meet!  I'm so grateful that we were where we needed to be when we needed to be there!

We also had an awkward meeting this week as one of our investigators told sister Zamorina that the only reason he had been coming was because of her!  It was funny as I felt like I should be watching a love seen from a moving---I was just standing there watching as this boy told my companion he really liked her, but the glitch was that instead of be flattered like in the movies, sister Zamorina just said, well, are you truly interested in learning more about our church?! haha

Ekaterina's friend Rayisa also came to church with her this week.  She has been meeting with us and reading the Book of Mormon, but she said that she doesn't feel like it's true.  We talked about how revelation comes step by step.  I love the scripture in 2 Nephi 28:30.  We are given only little bits at a time, we need to act on the knowledge and revelation that we have received before we can get more!  We shared the story from 1 Nephi 18:1-3.  The Lord asks Nephi to build a ship. He has no idea how to do it, but step by step the Lord shows him how to build the ship.  I love how Nephi says that from "time to time" the Lord showed unto him "after what manner I should work the timbers of the ship."  Then in verse 2, Nephi tells us that he "did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men...but I did build it (the ship) after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me."  This principle is the same with our lives.  The Lord only gives us revelation for our lives a piece at a time, but as we follow it, our lives are not build "after the manner of men," but are built after the manner of God.  I really hope that we will be able to help her receive that answer that it's true.  I know that she has felt something and as she keeps working and praying and taking those steps of faith she will come to that knowledge!

The branch here is SO amazing! Don't worry mom!  I have several mom's in the ward!  Tatyana told me to be sure and write home to you that she was my mom here!  Also, Amy's and Vitya's mom I call mom!!  This
week also, Lydia (she is the owner of the house that we live in) fixed my skirt.  The zipper had broken.  I found it hung on our door and she'd put stickers on it and a picture of the Savior!  I thanked her SO much for it and she said that as she had fixed it she'd felt like my mom!!  So, I think that she felt your love for me as she worked on it just as you would have done!!  Thank you mom!!!  But don't worry, I have 3 mother's here!! :)

This week a man named Edward was baptized!  the spirit was WAY strong as we watched him be baptized!  He had been given a Book of Mormon several years ago.  He's about 65 and had read the whole thing.  He hadn't been meeting with the missionaries but just had been coming to the Potter's English class.  They usually have some kind of spiritual thought I think.  Well, he finally asked them what he needed to do to be baptized!  What a miracle!!  I have really felt that this week, that as we do the work the best that we can, the Lord provides the miracles!  People that have been prepared just fall into our laps!!

The work is AMAZING!!  Eward's daughter is visiting from Moscow and said that she would meet with us this week!!!  We're excited!

  We had a party for Sister Zamorina's one year mark and here we all are playing a game where we each had an animal! I love our Krasnodar Family!!

 The famous arch and fountain in Krasnodar.

 So... maybe this was kind of mean... but we had a fresh missionary from the MTC join our family this transfer.  His name is
Elder Belnap... so his first day in Krasnodar contacting... what do we do? ya... you guessed it, we played a joke on him.  Like we all were he can't really understand or say very much.  So Elder Ness contacts me (without my name-tag, and with headphones and a purse) and I say, "Oh, I'm sorry, I actually don't really speak Russian!"  So... we played the game for about 5 minutes, me pretending to be a golden contact and poor guy, he believed it the whole time!! when we were about ready to write down my telephone number I finally said, well, I'm actually sister Cunningham!  He gave Elder Ness a dirty look!! but we all got a good laugh!! :)

My very favorite Amy! Notice... we are wearing the same shirt!  We knew we had an identical shirt... but this was not planned!! :)

 We had an activity and I helped Amy make Borsch and some kind of cake, sweet bread!! SO YUMMY!!  don't worry! i will for sure make you all borsch when I get back! it's AMAZING!!

 We love sports night!!! :)  ooooorrrraaaa

  hehehehee.... some cute babooshkas... ya... we couldn't help it!! This is us in 50 years or so!! :)

 Just some statues and a fountain in Krasnodar.

 Mamma Irina

 Some more ladies from her choir.

 Me and my favorite Amy again.

 Us missionaries.

The children's choir.

President took some pictures last Zone conference!  Here they are!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Another Transfer in Krasnodar! September 12, 2011

My wonderful Family!!

Another wonderful transfer has almost finished!!  Sister Zamorina and I sat on pins and needles waiting for the phone call on Friday... but it didnt' come, which means that we have another transfer together!!!! wahooo  It will be good!  This past week there were SO many miracles and really interesting and crazy experiences also!

On Monday night we had a really fun lesson!  We did the parable of the sower and had 4 groups act out what happened to the four different kinds of seeds.  We then read from Alma 32 about how the seed of truth grows in our hearts as we experiment with it!  Sister Zamorina drew on the board as we talked about!  At the end Vitya dissected a watermelon for us and we talked about how we have all tasted the fruit of the gospel. Someone who has already grown their own tree of faith has let us taste the fruit and that means that we also have a seed!!  So, what are we going to do with that seed?  Nourish it and let it grow, or just let it sit by the way side...  After , however, I wasn't feeling very well though.  I couldn't sleep at all that night, my back was SO soar for some reason.  In the morning we tried to teach our first lesson.  We were on a bench that was in the sun and when I almost threw up... we decided taht we should probably go home... :) ya... new experience on the mission!  Sveta our member was with us and she said a prayer with me after she got me in the shade and almost immediately I felt well enough to go home.  Sister Zamorina and I were both not feeling very well, so we spent the much needed day at home!

We have some new investigators that we're meeting with.  I don't know if I h ad mentioned them before, but a while back, maybe a week ago,we met a lady at a bus stop.  We finally got to go to her house to meet with her and she then told her 18 year old daughter of our meeting.  Her daughter is a miracle!  To be perfectly honest, I didn't write about her last week because I felt like she was just wanting to meet with us because she wanted friends.  But when I saw her on Monday, I realized that I had totally misjudged her... On our lesson with her we found out that she had already read 13 chapters of the Book of Mormon! She remembers everything that we talk about and reads the Book of Mormon everyday!!  We never know who is ready!  I have never seen so much faith!  We taught her the third lesson about baptism and she said that she wanted to get baptized as soon as she could.  We explained that she would have to quit smoking and not smoke at all for 2 weeks.  She said that she would do it!  She reads the Book of Mormon everyday and when she prays, it is just so full of faith and trust.  And she absolutely LOVES Joseph Smith! She knows that anything is possible with the help of the Lord.  It has been such a blessing to see how the gospel has already blessed her life.  In her prayers she also prays for her mom that she can stop smoking.  She has the faith of a child. 

As I have thought about her, I relize that at times I am too quick to judge.  We don't ever know who will be interested in our message of the gospel.  The Lord puts specific people in our path all the time, but we need to open our mouths and testify and invite them to learn more about Christ!  I hope that I can do better at this!!  You can pray for her also! Another miracle happened with our new member Amy.  She has so much light after her baptism!  She said this week that she wouldn't be at church on Sunday because she had to work.  We explained a little about the Sabbath Day again and bore testimony that if she took the step of faith to talk to her boss, the Lord would do the rest so that she didn't have to work on Sunday.  She said that she would do it.  On Saturday at Sport's Night she came up to us and was SO excited about the news that she had to tell us.  She said that she had gone into her boss and told him that she wouldn't work on Sunday and he immediately said, "ok, then you can work on Saturday!"  It was SO neat to see how the Lord opened the way for her as she did her part. Often times we just need to be bold and ask.  It was neat to see how her faith grew through that experience and remember that when we do our part the Lord always keeps His end of His promises for us and provides a way for us to keep His commandments.

I love you All!!
have a GREAT week!
Sister Cunningham

 We did a play together... a typical family home evening!  I was 4 haha!

 Chalk drawing again!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Krasnodar Progress, September 5, 2011

My wonderful family!
As I tried to look for the miracles this week I was able to see them more!!  We had a meeting at the church Tuesday morning.  As we waited we contacted.  A lady came to the door of the church and tried to go inside but it was locked.  We of course started talking to her.  She had heard about the English class that we have there (every week the Potter's teach English) and had wanted to come.  She said that she would meet with us the next day so that we could tell her more about what we believe.  Our appointment actually wasn't able to come to the church, so we went to her home to meet her, but if she hadn't planned on coming to the church, we would have never met Ludmilla!!  We actually still haven't been able to meet with her... :( but I know that we were supposed to meet her that day!

That same week we had another meeting with the same investigator, and again she couldn't come at that time, this time she was just going to be a couple of hours late.  As we were walking home for lunch we were contacting and met this really neat lady named Alla!  She is an artist like Sister Zamorina and was just a really neat lady!  She was way serious and said that she wouldnt' want to meet with us until she knew if she was willing to give up and change her religion.  We said that she didnt' need to do that, as we were just here to explain and help her learn what we believe and then she could decide! 

We had the best lesson this week with Amy!  It was the last lesson before her baptism on Saturday.  We realized that we had not talked enough about Jesus Christ, so we watched the movie "finding Faith in Christ" with her and then just bore testimony of the Savior! This week I read Matthew 8:16. Here we learn here that Jesus Christ healed EVERYONE who came to Him.  Then in Matthew 9:35 we learn that He healed EVERY sickness and EVERY disease.  In Mosiah 3:5 King Benjamin testifies that the Messiah will come and perform all of these miracles that are recorded in Matthew.  I realized that the miracles that He performed on the earth were an example of the miracles that He can make out of our lives today.  He not only can heal our physical sicknesses and diseases, but He also heals our spirits.  Every one that comes to Him can be healed!  He will heal ALL who come to Him, no matter what their disease, pain, heartache, hurt, sorrow, fears, etc.  What a miracle!  And that is our message as missionaries, to invite all to COME unto Him because "there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved." (2 Nephi 25:20)  What a miracle!  We just bore testimony that He lives and that He can and does heal us and our spirits!  What a blessing it is to have a knowledge of the gospel! To know that Jesus is the Christ and that He lives and through Him we will live again!  As we left that night I was just full of joy and gratitude for the opportunity that we could help teach Amy!  Her family is SO amazing and so elect!!  They are wonderful and I know that God has a great work for them to do!!

This week we also had a lesson with Zara!  Her mom has been SO against her meeting with us, but this week she was able to tell her mom and ask her if she could meet with us to learn more about God and the Book of Mormon and Bible and her mom said that she was ok with that!!  I couldn't believe what she had said!!  It was SUCH a miracle and what we had been praying for!! Now we hope that her mom will be ok and support her if she gets baptized!  (You can pray along with us for that! :)

This week we went out to meet with a member. Their daughter is 7 and so they wanted our help to prepare her for her baptism.  It took us FOREVER to get there, about an hour and we were about a half hour late.  It was 1:30 and we were planning to be at the church at 3.  When we got there we asked how long it took to get to the church.  She said an hour and a half.  I couldn't stop laughing as we should already leave their place... haha  Things worked out though. She insisted on feeding us (which was a blessing because it was fast Sunday the next day and we didnt' know how we were going to get a good meal before we started our fast.  but as the Savior taught in Matt. 10:8-10 the Lord still takes care of His missionaries today!) and we were able to find out a bit about her daughter!

Amy's baptism was beautiful!  I love her SO much!  She is SO wonderful and just has such a light about her!!  She is always SO ready to do what is needed for her to follow the Savior!!

I wish you all a wonderful week!
love forever and always from Krasnodar
Cectpa Cunningham

 First day as a missionary ulya's feet were SO sore from her shoes she went barefoot!!

 First vision we chalk drew with elders! ya!  sister Zamorina is an artist can you tell?

 Amy's baptism her brother vitya and mom irina are there too!

 yesterday at church!  our newest member of the Ward!! oh how I love her!!