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Monday, October 3, 2011

Russian Honesty October 3, 2011

Another P-day has come around in Krasnodar!
Hello to my wonderful family!

I forgot to mention last time that following our trip to Kiev, Sister Zamorina and I actually got to spend the night at the mission home! It was SO fun!  They always spoil us!  Sister Nechiporova made us dinner and then we had Family Home Evening with their family, Liza, president and sister Nechiporova.  It was SO fun and just felt like we were at home!  After the lesson we had home made cobbler and then sister Nechiporova gave us face masks and painted our nails! :) Sister Nikanova, a former missionary here was also there with us!  It was SO fun!  Getting back to Krasnodar was a lot harder than I had imagined!  I love my companion and the city, but after being with all Americans and being able to communicate everything I wanted to in words, it was hard to come back and be limited to my 100 word vocabulary!  (I hope I know a bit more than 100 words... :)  It was way hard and I think I made it miserable for Sister Zamorina, but she was wonderful and prayed about what she could do to help!  So, we started reading a talk from General Conference together and talking about it during our companionship study!  It helped SO much and things are SO good again!  The gospel can always bring us together, but we need to make an effort and very often times choose that we want to strengthen our relationship and then work at doing it.  After we show our commitment, the Lord gives us the feelings of love that we need, but we need to make the first steps!

We had a birthday party for Amy this week.  It was SO fun!  We had a spiritual thought, sang happy birthday, ate cookies and cake, and then played games.  We played the relay game where you hold the orange between your legs, and put a coin in your eye.  We didn't have any plates to put on our heads, so the elders and others went crazy and were hopping to make it around the chair at the other end of the room!  It was SO funny!  We had an apple eating contest, that kind of fell apart, and also played the relay game of wrapping mummies.  It always seems to take them a while to understand that these games should be loud and fun, but as we have played more and more of them they are starting to catch on!  It made me feel SO good because at the party, Mama Irina told me that they had been counting down the days until sister Zamorina and I got back!!  I love her!

We had some way funny things happen this week also.  As we contacted I started off talking to this one lady.  Just telling her that we were missionaries, etc.  After the introduction Sister Zamorina then started talking with her.  She then asked sister Zamorina where I was from because I spoke really bad Russian!! haha  I am not sure that she knew that I could understand or not, but I answered her that I was from America.  It made me laugh!  People here are just SO blunt!  They don't beat around the bush.  If you say something and they don't think it's true they will tell you so and even in Relief Society in the Branch the sisters shoosh (i don't know how to spell that...) each other--telling each other to be quiet! haha  that same day we saw an older lady walking.  She saw us and said, "My Sisters!!"  Thinking that she had met our missionaries before, we walked over to.  She took both of our hands in hers and said that she saw that we were preaching the gospel.  We told her that we were missionaries, but we were not missionaries of her church!  She was a Jehovah's witness and had thought that we were out doing our weekly preaching too.  It was really funny!  We wished her luck!

We had a couple of miracles this week.  We were coming home from an appointment at the Potter's house.  We had another lesson that we were on our way too, but we were next to our other investigators house.  We had not been able to get in touch with Zara (our investigator) all week.  We didn't really think that the lesson with this other lady would go through, so we just went up to visit Zara.  It was already about 7:30 when we got there, so we didn't have a lot of time to be there, but it was SUCH a blessing that we went.  She had had a really hard week and she said that us just being there had made her day.  It turned out that we never were able to get in touch with our other appointment anyway, so I'm glad we took the time to visit Zara and make her day.

On the way home on the tramvai that day I started talking to a lady that I was sitting next to.  I gave her an invitation for the Book of Mormon and she said that she had heard of it before.  I started talking with her about the Book of Mormon and Bible.  As we were talking she said that she didn't believe that we should use memorized prayers.  How could we really communicate with God if we just said memorized prayers?  It was so cool because as we talked I realized that her beliefs were almost the same as ours.  She had met the missionaries one other time on the street and before leaving the tramvai

The Elders had an amazing experience this week!  They were out contacting and talked to this man sitting on a bench.  He is a doctor and said that he had seen our church several times and had wanted to come and visit it.  He had basically been looking for the Elders (or someone) to tell him about our church.  He came to church on Sunday (which was fast Sunday as we will be watching Conference next Saturday and Sunday---which I am SO PUMPED to watch!!) and bore his testimony how he had been searching for something like this.  He had read many holy books, the Bible, Koran, etc. and prayed in his profession as a doctor to help his patients!  He is amazing!  We are SO excited to see where it will go!

We have trouble finding many good guy investigators here.  Well, especially for the sisters, you have to be careful because sometimes they'll just talk to you because you're a girl... The girls here always dress up and have such a high fashion, but the a lot of the guys are literally just bums.  They just wear short shorts (i know... gross) and flip flops.  They just kind of bum around and smoke and drink.  there are SO many people addicted to everything.  It's SO sad.  Sister Ivanova told me about the Russian situation, just how the government had wanted to have all of the power, and the leaders in government only thought about themselves.  As such, they sent all of the great thinking minds (scientists, poets, writers, mathematicians, basically anyone with new and innovative ideas) off to work camps in Siberia.  She told me how the government had killed off the Russia that she knows.  The Russia she loves is beautiful and full of the arts and classy, but the people that we see everyday on the street are the results of what the government did, killing the intelligent class.  And honestly we do see it a lot.  Before coming here I would not have been able to tell you how beer or alcohol or anything smelled, but now I can tell you if someone has been smoking or drinking from about a mile away.  You see it on the public transportation, you see it on the streets.  But besides all of the sad things, I seriously see so much love and possibility in the lives of these people!  A people who's governments discouraged them... well forced them not to even believe in God.  People help each other when they are getting on and off transit with a lot of things to carry.  People get up and give older people or pregnant ladies their seats on transit.  One time when we were on a Marshrooytka we asked where a certain stop was.  Pretty soon everyone was talking about where it was.  It got really loud!! haha!  They all just buzzed about where it was and made sure that the driver didn't miss the stop for us!  I love Russia and I love the Russian people!  Even through the sadness there is a light and brightness sin their eyes!  I read a really cool verse today in Jacob 3:9. Even though this people has such a dark past, we can't judge them for that!  It came from their history.  Our "filthiness" comes from our choices that we have made!  I hope that while I am here I can be of some help to these people and bring them to the joy, happiness, and peace that the gospel brings!  It's starting to get colder now, and so the time of year when people are really depressed is coming on, but the hope and light of the gospel is bright enough to shine through any storm!

I love you all!
Cectpa Cunningham

P.S. another tid bit on the people.  Sometimes when we teach we here these stories of when people didn't have food, or when their families were taken, etc.. I realize how little I can understand what they have been through.  There homes are also SO humble!  I think I have only been to maybe 1 or 2 multi-level homes while I've been here in Russia.  Most of the people have 1 bedroom... maybe and a kitchen and a family room.  often they just sleep on the futon couches in the family room.  Sorry I haven't ever really given a lot of details about these things.  I'll try to do better.  But seriously, I just want to be morphed into the culture, so I'm good with pretty much anything... the fact that they like to eat straight fat still grosses me out... but o-well! :)

 a beautiful picture collashe (i forgot how to spell that word) that Sister Zamorina made for Amy's birthday

 our team for the mummy wrapping game!

 sister Zamorina me and sister nikanova (thanks to Marissa for my sweater! Everyone complimented me on it!! :)

 some kind of rally/protest we saw.  Whenever we walk to or from the church we always go through the cemetery, but on our way home from church this was in front of the cemetery... so we decided not to go through.  We really aren't sure what it was about... there was a lot of red...so maybe something to do with communism?  i don't know.

This is a lady that sells honey at the Rinok where we did our shopping today.  She had us try like 8 different kinds of honey.  I'm holding a bunch of the spoons we used.

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Some Videos of the relay races.
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