Monday, December 26, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! с рождеством December 26, 2012

This week has been very interesting!!  After our fabulous party at the Potter's we went to church for FHE and Katya played a song for me on the piano and sang in English ("One Voice"). It's an amazing song and made me feel really good!  Emy and their family gave me a children's book in Russia, a movie, etc. and they bought me a cake!! I was already SO full that I didnt' want to eat ANYTHING more, but I knew that I had to as they had bought it.  So, going home I was ALREADY WAY stuffed, and then we got a knock on our door separating our apartment from Lidya's and their families.  We went into their living room that was dark and on a table was another cake for me with candles in it!!  They sang to me and gave me a gift!  They are SO sweet!! I felt so much like home!! It was a very special day!  Thankfully they just let me take some of the cake back to our apartment as we explained we had already had 2 cakes that day!

We only had 2 working days this week and were able to meet some members.  We realized, however, that some of them really don't understand the basic principles of the gospel at all or really have a testimony!!  It's really bad!  Hopefully we can help them.  We also tried to go out to the Erominka's this week.  The traffic was SO bad that it took us like an hour and a half on the bus and then we only had like 10 minutes with them!! But I'm so glad that we went anyway.  We also got to meet with Lida, a young married girl in our ward!  She is SO cute and just talked with us for like an hour about how she met the missionaries and met her husband!  After Sister Tunney turned to me and said, did you ever think that we would just have an our long conversation in Russian and understand what they were saying?!  It is truly amazing!!  We are far from fluent, and probably never will be... but it's such a miracle to be able to interact and communicate with these people.

We did however lose Roman this week.  He came to church on Sunday and he just seemed really angry and said that he had some questions.  We planned to meet with him on Tuesday.  HE came to FHE Monday and then started walking with us on our way home.  Sister Tunney and I got kind of scared as he was so angry he was shaking.  We called the Elders and Elder Tropnikov took him back to the church and talked with him.  Elder Tropnikov is an amazing missionary.  He saw the very crude and horrible episode of South Park about the Mormons.  He was interested and just wanted to meet with the missionaries because he thought it would be fun to mess with them... well, there you have it... he is now a missionary himself!  Roman called us that night though and just said that he's not ready.  He knows where he can come if he wants to come back and feel the peace that he has already felt.  We told him that we're always here.

Thursday evening we headed up to Rostov for our Visa trip.  We spent the night at President Nechiporov's and then headed our early in the morning.  This time, the mission driver Vascili, just drove all 7 of us in the mission van.  We drove to the Ukrainian border and then got out.  We got through the Russian, Ukrainian, and then Ukrainian border OK again, but then at the Russian border they asked if we had two passports and wanted to know why.  We gave them the sheet that said it was legal for us to have 2 passports, but the lady wasn't buying it.  She told us to go and stand off to the side.  By this time we were already all FREEZING!! And standing for another 20-30 was the last thing we wanted to do.  As we waited, a random man came up to us.  He asked if we spoke English or German.  He said that German was better.  So, at this point I got nominated to try to speak with him in German.  He asked me what we were doing here, etc.  And I tried REALLY hard to be able to remember some German and talk with him.  Then, randomly he starts speaking Russian!!  I'm like, why are you trying to talk with me in German?!! I speak way better in Russian!  He wanted some information about the church.  Elder Hill said that he had brought a brochure, but it was in the van across the border.  He said well, come on let's go get it.  We said that we were waiting for something. He then says, I'll get you through!  So we go up with him (and he's not dressed like the guards or anything), and he just marches into the office.  The same lady at the window was suddenly way nice and stamped us all through.  When we got back we realized that we didn't have the brochure after all, so we could only give him the missionaries number in Tagenrog and hope he called them.  It was a miracle!  He just appeared and then disappeared!! We decided that we met one of the 3 Nephites at the border and he just tried speaking German to me to test me to see if I remembered!
dar!  And we ate a TON of food again.  The same night was our ward Christmas party, so we played for that too.  After hearing our missionary choir (they had volunteered us and asked us to sing, but our practice was our first time singing together) they kicked us out and put some other people in singing... oops! :)  And then Sunday we got to call home!! It was great skyping and seeing all of you!!  I love you tons and hope that you all had a MERRY CHIRSTMAS!!

Cectpa Cunningham

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rockin' in Krasnodar! December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas my wonderful family!
This week has been SO amazing and fun!! My new companion sister Tunney got here on Wednesday night!! So, on Wednesday I just got to hang out at the Potter's and speak with Mom Potter!! IT was the BEST!!  Then Margo and Marina came to the Potters all dressed up in missionary attire to pick me up and take me back to their house!!  We had a good time making a sign for Sister Tunney and eating pizza!!  Sister Tunney got in and it has been a PARTAY every day with her!! We both speak English which has been  SO great and I have really needed the time to be able to just talk with her and catch up!!  It has been AMAZING!!

At our district meeting on Friday we basically just planned Christmas and we will be having Americans, and Englishman, and Ukrainians, and Russians all with us in our Zone for Christmas.  So we will be having Yorkshire pudding!! :)  We had a very funny English club this week and here are some of the funny comments people made.
Our new kind of weird Andre, "Sister Cunningham, I've been dying to see you."
They were then explaining where they would like to go and why... anywhere in the world.

Elvera, "Texas and see the museum of cowboys."
"I would like to visit Spain because I love the U.S.A."
"I want to visit Peurto Rico because it's the island of champions."

We have some GREAT news about the Erominka's and Vera though!  Vera really helped a lot and came to the church on Friday and Saturday to help set up and get everything ready for our Saturday night activity.  Their family also held Family Home Evening last week as we had asked them and yesterday at church they said that they would do it again.  Vera and her mom and dad were the only ones who came to church yesterday, but the parents have been coming more regularly which is GREAT!  I know that as they continue to hold Family Home Evening it will help to strengthen their family and I hope that all of the members of their family will join in.

Our YSA activity went SO well.  There were about 11 or so there.  Everyone had a great time and the best part was when two young girls showed up.  They are 21 and 23 or so and they had gotten called by one of the single adults and decided to come.  They told me that they are sisters and that they had been baptized in 2005!  We got both of their numbers and I hope that we will meet with them and help them to come back to church. It was SO amazing!! We had such an amazing time dancing!!  Sister Potter, Tunney and I just danced for the first bit, but finally other people joined in with our interpretive dance!! it was a blast and we want to do another one soon!! Well, I better get going... sorry that this is short, but we're hanging out at the Potter's for my B-DAY!!  Sister Tunney is the BEST!!  We have just been partying!! She made me french toast for breakfast and now we are wearing our PJ's watching elf!!  I'm sad Erin isn't  here with us to laugh so hard at your favorite part!! ;)  I love you all SO much!!

Cectpa Cunningham

 Some of our activites and games.

 McDonalds.... Yummy fries!!

 Me and Sister Tunney and my Birthday Breakfast!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Catching Up with some Pictures ~ December 14, 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words...

 This is Sister Zamorina at the dentists.

 Me Amy and mama Irina!!!

 We went caroling on Krasnaya and met these guys from South Korea... they of course wanted pictures with us!!!  And this is the group of us who sang and contacted!! notice my new coat!! :)

 Went to Emy's (that's actually how you properly say Amy's name!!) to dinner!! She made us yummy pizza!

 This is the day that we wandered ALL over looking for the street that a lady lived on to give her a Book of Mormon!! typical Russian street.

I think that this is the best picture of Emy and me!!! wahoo!! Future sister missionary!!!

 Grecian Christmas!!

 Our Christmas picture!!  Like Emy's hat I borrowed!! I hope that I can buy a real one too!!

 Attempted Jumping picture!!! :)

 A rainy day, just resting our umbrella on our heads!!

 Our celebration before Elder Melnichook went home!

 President taking pictures of the Erominka family!!

 Emy made us some SUPER yummy stuffed pancakes (they are kind of like crepes!!  IT WAS SO YUMMY!

 This is my favorite church in Krasnodar!!  I love the blue!

 This is our investigator Lubov!! She is SO cool!!  And she has a baptismal date for January 7.

 A Russian children's cartoon!  I'll be bringing it home for sure! Super Cute!

 At our Goodbye Fall party.

 Our picture taking booth!!

 Some of us dancing.

 Me and Meela!  We found some baby car seats in the store!

 Ice Skating!

 A game we played where they had to put balloons in between each other.

 Elder Belnap holding the poles for the pretzel eating contest.

 The children tied balloons to their feet and had to pop each others balloons.

 The Limbo.... kind of.

 The Elders conducting the activities.

 Some of the decorations.

 This is our picture taking place.... with our Krasnodar family!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Transfer Time!! ~ Dec. 12, 2011

Transfers are here!!
So we always get the calls on Friday evenings.  We had already had the slip that Sister Zamorina was leaving Krasnodar and I was staying but I got the huge and wonderful surprise that I will be serving with Sister Tunney who was in the MTC with me!! I'm SUPER jazzed, but way scared too!! This will be my first time not serving with a native Russian speaker... I don't know if I can be American... :)  We will have to rely on each other A LOT for understanding and speaking which will be good, and I'm just WAY excited to see her again!! :)  We had some WAY cool miracles this week so let me fill you in on them!!

We met this lady on the street who said that she wanted more joy in her life.  She was pretty excited to meet a REAL American!!  It was SO neat.  At one point of our conversation she stopped and looked at me and said that I had the most beautiful eyes and that she could see joy coming through them.  She said that she wanted that in her life too!  I called her again on the phone that week and she said that she would remember my smile and eyes for a long time!  She lives pretty far away but we are hoping we can meet with her.

We have been working to get this YSA party together.  We named our party "The Night Before Christmas."  With Sister Zamorina leaving, I have been in charge of heading everything... so I hope that my first party won't be a miserable flop... but I've tried to get all of the Active YSA in our branch to help out!

On our lesson this week with Lubov, I was reading the Ensign right when she came through the door.  Usually I would go and hug her right away, but as Sister Zamorina greeted her I stayed out of sight for a minute or two so that I could finish the article that I was reading in the Ensign.  This does not seem like it was probably the best idea, but it turned out to be such a miracle.  It wasn't really understandable why, but I just had this desire to finish reading the article!  While we were teaching our lesson, we started talking about keeping the Sabbath day Holy.  We talked with her about the need for her to come to church on Sunday and then I was prompted to share the story that I had just read.  It was about a lady who had stopped working on Sunday, even though it was her biggest selling day of fruit and vegetables, in order to keep the Sabbath Day Holy.  The following Monday she had sold ALL of her fruit by 1 o'clock in the afternoon.  She usually always brought extras home, but ever after as she kept her commitment to come to church, the Lord blessed her to sell more during the week to make up for not working on Sunday.  I was so grateful that the Lord gave me the opportunity to read exactly what she needed to here just prior to our lesson with her!  The Lord truly does look out for His children and I was SO grateful that I could be his instrument to relay the message that she needed to here... even though I had to try to translate the story in my mind from English to Russian!! haha :)

It was also really fun this week as we were riding on a Marshootka.  This little boy and his grandma sat next to me.  Immediately when his grandma sat down he pulled a dinosaur from her back and gave it to me.  So... I have this big green dinosaur in my hands and my little kid instincts can't do anything but just start playing with him!! haha  We had a good time and near the end of the ride I was able to just talk with his grandma about where she was from, schools in Russia, etc.  I invited her to learn more about the church, but she didn't give me her number.  I probably won't ever see her again, but I'm always grateful for the little opportunities to just interact on a small level with people!!

This Saturday night President Nechiporov came into town and called us up to see if we would like to come to him to the Erominka's house.   On the way we stopped at McDonald's to eat and while we were eating this girl came by and looked at our name tags.  President said, pointing to his tag, "do you want to know what this means?"  She said yes and so he pointed to us and said that these girls could explain it all to her.  He then asked if she had a phone... she said yes and then he said that we could write down her number!! it was SO fun!  I hope that we can meet with her... it would just be a REALLY great story! He said that it's not always very good in public places, but she was looking at us and was interested!! 

The Erominka's are a family that we have been working with.  They have two Young Adult sons and it was fun to see them put President through the grilling, but see how amazingly he answered the questions and handled everything!  They didn't want to come out at first from the room they were in, and president just knocks on the door, asks if he can come in and invites them in on our lesson!! It was SO great to get to know president better!!

Well!! have a FANTASTIC week!! we finally got our Christmas tree up!!

love you all!!
Cectpa Cunningham

Monday, December 5, 2011

We can still Jam! ~ Dec. 5, 2011

I can't believe another week went by already!

We had some funny experiences this week!! We were walking along contacting and I asked this man if he believed in God.  He said yes and then said that his god lived there, and he pointed to the Bratislavian church on that street.  It made us laugh!!  So, if there has been any confusion, God lives here in Krasnodar on Oktiabrskaya Street!! haha  That same day we invited these two young boys to come to English club.  One of them turned to us as they were walking away and said I don't need english club, I speak perfect English.  So I reply in English, "So, do you want to talk with me?"  and they just kept walking away!! haha

It's so cool to just have these little impressions throughout the day.  They're SO small and sometimes I will talk with that person but it means nothing, but I still feel that whether or not that person listened, they needed that moment of contact with us.  This week we were walking to go to a meeting with a member and there was a lady sitting on a bench with her baby.  I felt that we should talk with her and so I did.  She actually TALKED with us and we gave her a "together forever" video and she said that we could call her today. I don't know if anything else will come of it, but it was SO cool to just feel that maybe I had helped someone come a little closer to God that day.

This week we met with our member Larissa.  She is SO cool and she and her husband just got sealed in the temple about a month ago.  She is working on doing family history to do their work in the temple.  She said that she had asked everyone what the first names of her great grandparents were but no one could remember.  She said that she had a dream that previous night and she saw her great grandfather.  In the dream he told her his name, then her great grandmother appeared and said and my name is Katya.  It was SO cool!!  People are waiting for their work to be done and as we do our part miracles happen so that we can find our ancestors!!  I thought of Grandma and want to hear more of the cool stories she's had in finding our ancestors!

We had a great English club this week!!  A lot of people came and we talked about Thanksgiving.... which i know was a week ago... but it was REALLY good.  I told the story of "the first thanksgiving" (btw mom, the movie you usually watch on Thanksgiving is about a Russian family!!! :))  and then we talked about what we eat in America.  I then had them all draw what they would eat for Thanksgiving and then each person took turns showing us their picture and explaining why.  We had a lot of variety.  One man said he would drink orange juice, coffee, eat fruit and then drink vodka.  haha 

This week we also spent a lot of time getting ready for our "Goodbye Fall, HELLO WINTER" party.  I cut out SO many paper snowflakes to decorate the walls that I'm pretty much a professional now... so if anyone wants/needs to know how to do paper snowflakes, feel free to ask!! :)  It was a SUPER awesome turn out!!  We had probably like 50-60 people come.  We started out with a lot of group games and songs, then we had a snack and some booths (face painting, donut--but we didn't have real donuts here because it's not America--eating contest, cake walk, and the game where you try to throw the ping pong ball into the bottles).  We then had some more group games and Sister Potter taught us some line dances!! It was  BLAST!!  and felt SO good to dance!!  It was so funny that day and on Sunday so many people came up to me and were all surprised... wow sister Cunningham, you can dance!! Even though we are missionaries, we still can jam!!  They did play a rumba song where they danced in partners and Elder Belnap and I (he's a ballroom dancer too) just sat on the side together and cried (not really, but seriously :) because we miss ballroom dancing!

Well, headed off to go ice skating!!! YEHAAWWW!!  I love you all SO much and hope that this week will be FABULOUS!! 
Love from Krasnodar
Cectpa Cunningham