Monday, March 26, 2012

They'll cut it off... March 26, 2012

Hi family!

Well, this was definitely another week full of adventures! On our 8 hour Marshrutka ride up to Rostov there was a guy on the Marshrutka that remembered meeting me and Sister Ivanova on the street like... a year ago! haha  We got his number and gave it to the contacts in Rostov!  Well, we got to Rostov late and then had our visa trip in the morning.  We have such a big group... 7 of us. At the boarder a man came up to us and was all, "i know who you are, don't hide it. I know you all have 2 passports.  I don't know what he did but he took them all.  Then they didn't want to let us go through to the Ukrainian boarder!  Elder Jacobson got held up on his way back into Russia because they had spelled his name wrong on his visa... luckily all went well though.  After we got back I took Sister Potter and Sister Whitaker down to see the Don River and then we walked up the really long staircase and saw the big rinok in the city.  We almost got a pair of galashes for Sister Potter, but they were asking like $40.... way too pricy.  We finished off the day with Enchiladas! That was a great way to end the day!

Well, that night was when it all began. I had gotten another infected finger. This time around my finger nail.  I couldn't sleep that night because it was SO swollen and hurt so bad.  I got up and soaked it again in hot salt water, but it was miserable. (if you have a week stomach, maybe stop reading this part!! haha) In the morning I showed Sister Potter and we went about doing surgery, trying to pop it.  The liquid wouldn't come out though!  You stabbed it like 3 or 4 or maybe 5 times but bairly anything was coming out.  We were sitting around the table talking and I was soaking my hand. I looked over at my hand and that's when I noticed a red line starting from my finger nail going down my hand and was almost to my wrist! I knew what that was! Mom had told me about getting it on her mission too!! I had blood poisoning!   I told sister Potter and she called Sister Nechiporova. We hear her on the other line say "The doctor's, no, we won't go there.  They'll just cut something off."  haha!  It was rather commical.  I wasn't really worried, but I knew that we needed to get it taken care of.  Well, Sister Nechiporova called Natasha in the office and told her what we'd need.  I knew things would be ok, but I still wanted a blessing.  Elder Potter gave me such a wonderful blessing.  I've never felt the healing power of the priesthood so strongly.  He commanded, in the name of the priesthood that my finger start to heal from that time forward.  And it has!  I'm SO grateful for the priesthood in my life! 

Well, I went into the office and they had me soak my finger in this ... stuff... then they put this medication on it that a man had invented during WWII.  When the Russians weren't around Sister Price made sure I knew... "i have one word for you, NEOSPORIN!!"  We love her! She called me later in the week to see how my hand was and said, "i think that they've come out with a lot better things since WWII!!" so.... neosporin it up! haha  My finger is doing MUCH better.  It's still not all the way healed, but I think it's out of the danger zone!

We made it back to our area in about 11 hours this time! :)  And had a GREAT time getting to know Elder Jacobson and Goodman better.  We had several appointments fall through that we'd set up before we left, but yesterday was a FANTASTIC day!  Church was SO good!  The Nielson's were visiting, which meant that I was the designated translator.  In the middle of the meeting he got up and announced that Sister Nielson would be the next speaker.  She of course had no idea, so that meant that I was her clueless translator!! It was SUCH  a blessing!  I could feel the Lord helping me know how to express and translate what she said, and I even used a word that I had just learned the day before!! :)

That evening we called Sergei, the man we met to get the tickets for our concert this week.  Well, he brought his friend, who was none other than the pianist we heard playing! It turns out the pianist had met with the missionaries a while back.  When we asked if he'd read the Book of Mormon he said, "of course!"  He is SO neat! his name is Peotr and we are so excited to meet with them. WE have a meeting scheduled for Wednesday... so hopefully it will be a good one so it's not awkward when we go to the concert on Saturday!

I am loving it here! the members are SO great!! during branch counsel we were singing "There is sunshine in my soul today." the Branch Pres. always sings SUPER loud! I turned to S. Whitaker and said we should try to overpower him.  The result was a VERY loud opening song and everyone kept smiling and laughing! even brat Dmitri couldn't keep a smile off his face!! I love this place and working with S. Whitaker is SO fun! We're looking to see many more miracles! i love you all and hope you have a great week!

Cectpa Cunningham

P.S.  hey! please maybe have the bishop tell the angels in your ward I haven't forgotten about them!! i love them and think about them and am so GRATEFUL!! and I'm going to write them a letter TODAY!!  give Britt a hug for me!! she should come out and visit again when i get back!! Tell Alecia by the way i love her too! Also, Tell Erica I love her!! I am excited for her! the biggest adventure of her life is ahead! l love you!! 

 the rinok. the odds and end section. we bought rings!! grandma would have loved it!! totally antique!!

 getting doctored by sister demina

 my blood poisoning

 a pig head in the back of a car that sells meat by our house

no flash.. sorry.. .us on the bridge!

Monday, March 19, 2012

12 Hours on What?? March 19, 2012

Oh my goodness!! 

What an eventful week!!  We started off with an 8 hour ride to Rostov for our Zone Conference.  Sister Lawrence and President Lawrence were there.  He is a counselor of the Eastern Europe area.  

So, our ride home was quite the adventure.... We got onto this bus which was overbooked as usual, and they didn't' have enough room for all of the new missionaries luggage that we had to bring to v-grad.  So, you know where the luggage went?  in between our seats!!  This wasn't the usual 8 hour bus ride,  it was the scenic route!! We backtracked, kept turning off the main road to go and visit nearby villages and drop passengers off,.... and pick up more passengers!!  Of course, this means that the driver can pocket some money as people stand on... but that also meant that the room for our luggage got less and less.  It was stacked hi in between us and whenever someone behind it needed to get off we would have to move it all, and then, quite often, another person would need to also get out... but they would watch us and then seemingly wait until we had put the luggage back down to say that they needed to get off too!! It was SOOOO fuunnyyyy!!!!  Our luggage just got higher and higher leaning on all of us in the seats as we had to stack it!!  The bus driver would smoke, and open the window.... trying to get the smoke out the window, but oh no... that just circulated the smoke around the bus!!  One time when some new people were getting on we heard the driver say,  "don't bother the Americans, they won't give you any money!!!"  It was SO funny!! 

Well, our ride back took about 12 hours...  It was fun laughing and talking to the other missionaries!!  Elder Nielson told us that we were building our mansions in heaven through this test... but he figured his was getting smaller because he wasn't in a very good mood about it!! haha! i thought they all did great and it was so fun!  And guess what?! We get to take the exact same bus again this week back after my visa trip!! There will be so many more adventures! 

After coming back from a Relief Society Broadcast where all of the presidents of the primary, YW, and RS spoke (I translated for Sister Nielson the whole time btw... wow, they talked SO fast!! Translating really fries your brain!) we decided to quick check the store to see if they had a blender. We had been planning on buying one.  While we were walking there this guy in a car stopped and asked us for directions.  He then looked at us and asked if he could meet us.  Taken aback... and usually from a man that is not a good sign, I said no and we walked away.  Then I started feeling bad because I was like, "What if that was a member of the House of Israel, and i just turned him down?" As we walked out of the store we ran into the same guy again... i think that he was following us though.  We gave him an invite and talked to him for a bit.  He was super nice and then as we walked home he came up again in his car.  he had some good questions about the church, but then invited us on a date to go to a cafe... haha  We decided we may as well continue our search for our blender as he shouldn't know where we live.  So, we walked and this couple ASKED US at a cross walk where we were from!!! That doesn't happen very often!!  It was AWESOME and we got their number!!  And we did find a blender! It was WONDERFUL!!

Then today... oh my! so many adventures! Elder Kuslev and Brinkerhoff wanted to see the German community in our region.  They came out on like a 2 hour marshrutka ride, and guess what... it was closed today!!  Well, we decided that their trip out here shouldnt' have been in vain, so we would show them K-mesk. Elder Brinkerhoff was thoroughly bored, so we decided that we needed to make our small uninteresting city interesting!  We started telling  him about all of these things: that this was the oldest government building in Russia, the plane cafe was actually a plane that had crashed there, the small church may or may not be the smallest in Russia... I think that he got the idea that we were pulling his leg when we started getting really specific... we hope! But he did take pictures of most of the things we were talking about! :)  We took them to see Lenin! It's SO HUGE!  While at the German village we saw that there was going to be Celtic piano conference.  We got it cleared to watch as a culture night.  When we went to go get the tickets we actually got to hear the man who would be performing!!  It was AMAZING!!!  The man who was giving us the tickets seriously almost fainted when he found out that we were Americans!! haha!  He seriously was shaking for like 10 minutes and was speechless! He was so flustered and happy to be speaking with us!! He literally almost fell over and had to lean on the wall when I said that I was an american!! haha  

We also met this man who didnt' believe that I was American!  He grabbed my hand and looked at it, like a palm reading, and declared, "you are not American."  i asked if I was Russian, he said no.  I asked where I was from and he said I don't know... haha but not American!

RUSSAIN!!  I'm SO excited for the saints here!! they finally fixed the title of the book of Mormon from "new testament of Jesus Christ" to "another testament of Jesus Christ."  Well, i gotta go! But we will have another Rostov adventure this week!  Thanks to Corrie, Sterling, Alicia Bytheway, Jessica hansen, and the fosters for their letters!! I loved them!! I love you all SO much and wish you an exciting week!!! 

I also want to get the new Russian triple when I get home... I don't think I'd need it before that.  They had the JS translations in it because the Bratislavian church has the copyright for all Russia that no one else can print Russian Bibles!! Interesting huh!!

Love you all!!

 Mamaev Korgan

 Our shopkas!!!

 A cool Russian building.

 Us on our 12 hour bus ride!! Elder Jacobson is really not sitting on me....

 Sister Whitaker and I on the bridge.

 Elder Kooslev, Brinkerhoff and I in front of the German church.  We were doing our serious Russian poses... Elder Kuslev's is the most authentic... as he is Russian!! :)

Anchor yourself in Christ!!

 This is me with Lenin!!

 The sign says wlaking on the ice is strictly forbidden!! Sis. Whitaker snapped this one!

Elder Jacobson is not on my shoulder in this one either... look at the luggage!!!! 

Monday, March 12, 2012

English Club Crush March 12, 2012


What a crazy week!  This week we met a guy on the street who tried to speak English with us... I hate it when people do that because it's really hard to understand what they are saying!  Well, this guy asked me a question and I wasn't sure what he had said, and I was just all, "yes."  Well, as we walked away Sister Whitaker said that he had asked if we liked beer!!  My answer would then explain why he had taken us both by the shoulders and tried to  take us with him to go and drink together!! haha!
We had such a fun week and had many adventures.  We are teaching this 13 year old boy.  They are the hardest kind of people to teach!  Need everything interactive and fun... but they just would rather be playing video games.  We committed them to read the BOM of a family and Vasya didn't want to!  I said only for 10 minutes.  He said for 35 then I siad for 7.  Well, we ended up rock paper scissoring, and it's a lucky thing that I won!! :) 

This Thursday was Women's Day.  Random people would just wish us a happy holiday.  We make cookies and took them over to several of the people that we had met or were in our branch.  We finally found the lady's teaching record who is in the wheel chair.  We took her over some cookies and she told us that she really doesn't believe in God because if He existed He would show himself to people.  We talked about how everything shows that there is a God and bad things still happen to good people because there needs to be "an opposition in all things."  I felt SO inadequate because I dont' know ANY scientific words in Russian... That night the Nielson's came to help us with English Club as we had had so many come last week...but only 3 came.  One of them is a a member.  He thinks that he speaks English much better than he really does, but he likes to show off to the others who don't really speak.  Well, we gave them each a sheet of paper and had them draw what they would give a woman that they knew if they had 1,000,000 rubles.  This man, Brat Sergei, wouldn't tell us who he would give the gifts too.  then he finally said, "to my beloved woman," and turning to Valentina, who he had had a crush on earlier, he said, "and that's not you!" lucky for her she doesn't understand English AT ALL!!  Well, at the end he gave ME his picture and wrote me a little message!  aaaahhhh!! We think he may be crushing on me!!

At church we were without a pianist.  so, guess who they picked to play?!! ME!!  Don't worry.  I am now a professional one handed hymn player!  After president Einer gave me the songs for next week so that I could practice! :)  As I practiced after church Brat Sergei was sitting in the chapel with us. Sister Whitaker was speaking to him in English and just trying to aggravate the fact that we think he likes me!!  he admitted that "she is a very talented woman." But that's not new news to anyone! jk!! :)  Well, he then comes over and draws a side portrait of me as I'm practicing!! It was just SO funny!!

After church as we were studying Brat Komo called us.  He always starts these phone calls in English by saying, "My sister!!"  He then told us that he was at the church with an investigator and wanted us to come ASAP!  We got up and left and headed over.  It was a former investigator that we had met earlier that week, but it was fun to have Brat Komo was friends with him. 

We got dropped by Nina this week... :(  She just liked talking to us as Americans... We are hoping to meet with some more people, and are hoping to see many more miracles in our area!  We leave for ROSTOV tomorrow because we're going to have a conference with a visiting General Authority!  So we won't be here for much of the week, but it will still be exciting!  8 hours on a bus with elders?  things can't get more exciting than that right?  Well, I love you all SO much and hope that you're having a WONDERFUL week!!

Sister Cunningham

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Knocking! March 5, 2012

Hello my wonderful favorite family!

What a week!

To start it off Sister LeBaron and I did find our amazing shopkas!!  It's the most expensive hat I have ever boughten, but it's real raccoon fur!!  Sister LeBarons smells of ... Russia... haha!  We did quite a bit of knocking this week and contacted a bit on the street.  After everything melting, it has gotten cold again so now everything is just ice!  We ended up getting an address for Katya, the girl we'd met a couple weeks earlier, but then when we called again her mom said that they didn't leave there and then when she asked who we were and I told her she hung up on us... But we did have some other really funny experiences this week!

So, many people think that missionaries form a nice huge bubble while their on their mission because they haven't seen anything bad or been touched by a girl (or in our case a boy) for so long that when we get home we have this HUGE "no touch" bubble around us.  In Russia that doesn't seem to be the case as much because riding on Marshrutka's I am closer to people than I have ever had to be in my life! haha Ok, so anyway, back to my story... We were knocking in this apartment building and this man (not small by any means, and big... not in the muscular way) answers the door wearing nothing but a speedo.  When he saw that we were missionaries he started to kind of laugh.  I gave him an invite and then we said goodbye.  It was just SO funny!  Why people hang out inside in speedos is beyond my knowledge.  Maybe next time we knock I'll bring him a bathrobe as a present.  ok... so that was just a really random tangent paragraph.
Contacting on the street this week we had a man, when he found out that we were missionaries, literally run away from us! I guess we are pretty scary!  And another man who stopped and talked with us told me that he wanted a sign that God lives.  I'm not very good at thinking on my feet so I just told him that he didn't need a sign.  I knew in my heart that he exists.  He asked me if I could show him my heart... haha

We were able to meet with 2 new investigators.  One is 25 and has been married for 7 months.  We met her on the street a couple weeks ago inviting her to English Club.  She came and stayed for the spiritual thought after.  We set up and appointment and met with her the next day.  We had a good lesson about the Plan of Salvation with her and are hoping to meet with her again this week.  We also met with a lady who lives in our apartment building.  We'd met her several weeks ago and she said that she didnt' have any time so we could come another time.  When we met her this time she said that she wasn't working right now so we could come over!  Super awesome!  At first she said that she would not read anything and really didn't want to hear our message, but as we talked we had a wonderful lesson with her and she said that she would read the chapter that we gave her in the Book of Mormon.  We talked about how the Christ's church has been reorganized on the earth again today.  She looked at us and asked, "So does that mean that there are apostles?"  I said, "Yes!!  We have 12 apostles on the earth today just as in Jesus' time!"  We also knocked into this lady who seemed to have been waiting for us.  We rang and she let us in.  When she opened the door her son was getting ready to leave,  but she was just there in the entry way sitting in her wheelchair.  She said hello like she knew who we were.  She said that she had been taught by the missionaries many times, had the Book of Mormon, had seen "Finding Faith in Jesus Christ," and had someone else she could invite when we meet with her!  Yahoo!  We hope to meet with her this week. 

Another miracle happened this week!  We have really been stressing English Club and inviting a lot of people that we have met on the streets.  About 10 new people came this week!  Our group went from like 4 to 14 in one day!
Sister LeBaron and I also had the opportunity to play a song for our District Conference.  They were reorganizing the Volgagrad District Presidency so President Nechiporov, Elder Marchinka of the 70, w and also all of the Senior couples were there--- including Sister Potter!!! :)  We left at like 6:30 am to get to center early to practice. No marshrutkas were coming so we took the tramvai to another stop.  None came there either so we got on this one that would get us half way.  The driver was kind of crazy. Smoking as we were driving along and yelling at passengers.  The lady across from us just kept looking at me and rolling her eyes in frustration! haha.  Then when we caught the second one the heater was broken so the windows were totally iced over and there was snow inside on the floor... our feet FROZE!  but we finally made it to church and were able to practice!  Our number went well, and we made people cry!  So hopefully we met our goal of inviting the spirit!
Sister Zaitzova and LeBaron are leaving me and sister Whitaker tomorrow... :(  The apartment will feel so empty without them.  I am going to especially miss Sister LeBaron
I love you all and wish you a WONDERFUL week!

Cectpa Cunningham

 Us at mamaev korgan

Our district here in Volgagrad.

Picture sent to Ariel's family by her mission president, President Nechiporov.