Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Transfer to Where I began!!! May 29, 2012

My Dear Family!!

We had quite a week! There was an open house at the church this Saturday!!  There were several glitches with organization, but overall it went really well. One of the members is an artist and she painted a super awesome rendition of the Plan of Salvation that we put on the wall.  We made a pyramid of Book of  Mormons, and had a family history part.  After that there was dancing and games!  We were in charge of the Plan of Salvation and Book of Mormon part. And we also planned the dancing and games! :)  There was a man who had just walked by and saw the announcement on the side of church building and came!! He also came to church the next day!

We got the call on Friday night and I will be returning to the same area where I started my mission!  And I'm going to be serving with Sister LeBaron and Tunney!!  It will be SO great to see all of the people that I served with before!!  And now I'll actually be able to talk with them!! :) Well, as much as I can understand and say now!!

After church Sister Ivanova had planned a surprise for me!  all of the members gathered together, sang one of my favorite songs and then we had a little meeting where some of them got up and just shared their feelings about missionary work, missionaries, and their gratefulness that I had served there.  President Einer said that I had the biggest smile in the whole district!! It was SO sweet and they had put together this little book with letters to me!!  Sister Ulya said that I need to take the love of Russia back to America!

The best part of this week was Sunday night.  We went over to the Lesitzen's house.  They are the ones with 5 daughters! I love their girls SO much!  We had a lesson where we read about how when Nephi was commanded to go back and preach to the wicked city that he'd just been kicked out of, he found another way to get into the city.  We talked about how God sometimes asks us to do things that are hard also, but that he wants us to be creative and find ways that we can keep those commandments. We then made American pancakes and the only rule was that they couldn't be normal circles.  We had suns, snowmen, turtles, mickey mouses, hearts, etc.  You couldn't really tell what they all were, but it was SO fun and yummy!  We then thought of creative ways for the girls to study the scriptures so that we can enjoy studying them and be creative!  It was SO amazing to be with them and hard to say goodbye!  Lena (the mom) sewed me a pink heart pillow that said "love" on it!  I will miss them!  As we left Vika looked at me and said in a very stern voice, "Just remember Sister Cunningham, you promised that you'd come back!"  I love those girls!

So, a funny story to end.  We went to the rinok today and I was trying on sunglasses.  We'd met our favorite Brat Dmitrii (the one who had a stroke several years ago and he rarely makes any facial expressions and can stare anyone down with the creepiest stare for like 10 minutes at a time!  I have him trained though... ok... a side funny story.  I had a surprise talk on Sunday--aka i got told 5 minutes before church that i was talking--and so I was sitting on the stand.  I looked at brat dmitrii during the meeting and gave him a thumbs up. barely lifting his arm up he threw me a thumbs up back!  I've always trained him with a peace sign and the alien hand sign thing...).  He'd wanted us to go with him to go and meet someone, but we had other things to do.  Well, as I'm trying on sunglasses he just comes up behind me and stares at my reflection with the sunglasses and told me if they looked good on me or not!! he kept this up for about 5 minutes and probably scared away any other customers because they were scared he'd stare at them too, but he helped me know which sunglasses looked good on me!! haha!!  I love him SO much! And I'm going to miss him! Tonight at FHE we're going to do a little play together for our lesson, he just doesn't know it yet!!  Well, I love you all SO much!! have a FABULOUS week!!!

Cectpa Cunningham

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On the Farm May 22, 2012

WOW!! Hello Family!!
This week was definitely a service week! Last week we had met this lady on the street from Moscow. She had come to V-grad because her grandmother had fallen and needed help. It turns out that no one had visited this grandmother for about 3 years and she SHOULD NOT have been living alone. So when Natasha got here the house was a wreck and she had her son with her.

Well, we said we could help and went a couple times this week.  It was the NASTIEST thing that I have ever seen!! Oh my goodness!! There were cockroaches EVERYWHERE and in EVERYTHING!!  The junk, clothes, left over food, dirty dishes, papers, shoes, everything just strewn everywhere and filling up the apartment so that we couldn't even open the door all the way!!!  We have had lots of practice walking to the dumpster! Thank goodness for the babushka roller things to carry the garbage on!!  The kitchen... oh my goodness! I really just don't even know how to describe it!! but to say in short.. it was a dirty adventure! And how her grandmother has lived in that for so long is a mystery... cobwebs and bugs.... anyway

On Thursday we had the BIGGEST miracle of ALL!!  Akhmed and his family are AMAZING president!  They are the most spiritual people.  It is just so interesting  how the light of Christ can lead a person through their life to learn truth and lead them to the truth.  Natasha and Akhmed have definitely been lead and taught by the light of Christ. They basically believe all that we believe, but just aren't baptized.

We had a huge miracle this week.  We had set up an appointment to meet with a lady who came to English Club and wanted to know more about what we believe.  We met an hour before English club, and when we got to the church Akhmed was also there.  So, we invited him to come on the lesson with us.  The spirit was really strong as we talked about families, the plan of salvation, and some of the commandments.  She had wanted to know how we live differently than others of other faiths.  Akhmed said that he had been coming back from center with his son and something had told him to come to the church at 5.  He said that he realized that he had known about the missionaries for like 15 years and never actually heard all that they believe.  He loves everything that he knows already and wants to learn more.  Then, after English club we played a game where you ask a question and then throw a stuffed animal to someone in the circle and they need to answer the question that you asked. Then the person that answered the question asks a new question and throws the stuffed animal to someone else. Akhmed asked Brat Dmitri why he had decided to become a member of the church. We can never trust Brat Dmitri's answers very much!! I just crossed my fingers and prayed that he wouldn't say anything too obscure and weird!  Brat Dmitri said because he thought the pratislavian church was like a bazaar.  Then Brat Dmitri asked "Why aren't you a member?" and threw it back to Akhmed.  Akhmed thought for a little bit and then said that you could say he is now on the path to becoming a member!!  We have met with he and his wife and their small son and they are absolutely amazing people. I hope that they will continue on the path to be baptized.  Natasha came to church with their son Mark (Akhmed was sick and couldn't come) and I think that they both really enjoyed it.  I think Natasha really enjoyed being able to talk and discuss gospel principles.  I know  that they may not be in Volgagrad much longer, but we'll make sure that wherever they go will meet with the missionaries again.  They are SO amazing and all the meetings we have with them we only talk about 1 or 2 principles because they really understand and expound themselves!!
The light of Christ has truly led them and taught them and so they already know the truth pretty much, but just hadn't found the Church!! yet.... :)  They are SUCH a blessing to us!! Every time after we meet Akhmed says that he feels better!!

On Saturday we spent the morning out on the farm!! A family in our branch was planting tomatoes and we got to help!! my back is soar from all the bending over and i got SO sunburned, but you can say that i am now a professional tomato planter!! haha :)  IT was SO beautiful out where their fields are with a stream we had to cross and everything!

The Lesitzen's daughter Alona got baptized this week! And she had asked me to talk at her baptism!!  It was SO fun! and so cute!! She's a doll!  i couldn't help but laugh because at church one of their daughter's Tanya ran up to me and said, "Sister Cunningham, do you know how to tie a tie?" I said, "yes." Well, their mom doesn't know how to and their dad doesn't either. So she ran away grabbed the tie and had me tie it.  She'd run off to give it to her dad.  I walked over around the corner to see the people coming in and their was President Lesitzen putting on the tie I'd just tied.  He looked at me smiling and said, "Thanks sister!"  I couldn't help but laugh as I
looked at him sitting on the stand knowing that I had tied his tie!! haha!! Thanks for teaching me dad! :)
We hope to meet with Akhmed and Natasha a lot before they leave for St. Petersburg. We also have some potential new investigators!! hope it will be an exciting week!! i love you all!!

Cectpa Cunningham

Monday, May 14, 2012

Talent Night! May 14, 2012


It was SO amazing to see all yesterday!! Skype is an amazing thing! I can't tell you how refreshing and WONDERFUL it was to see all of your faces and hear your voices!!  Emmett and Emerson have gotten SO big I can't believe it!!  I love you all SO much!!  Thank you for lifting my spirits!

It was a bit of a tiring week considering that we didn't have a very restful p-day because we were PARTYING!!  It was SO worth it though!  On Thursday we went out to visit one of our members. I had talked with her the night before on the telephone and a close family friend had just passed away. She said that she didn't want to see anyone or talk to anyone.  We decided to just take a card over and some cookies just so that she knew we cared. She invited us in and we talked for about an hour. She said after that she hadn't wanted to see anyone but that she was SO glad that we had come and we'd helped her a lot!  That's always nice to hear!

The other big event this week was the TALENT SHOW!  On our way in to center I started talking to this lady on the marshrutka.  We just started talking about how hot it was and then about our families. I told her that we believed that families could be together forever and talked a bit about God's plan for us.  She said that that all sounded awesome but that no one could really know that that was true. So then we talked about prophets etc. It was SO awesome! I just love being able to talk to the people here! So many of them just are SO wonderful! I know that many people we talk to we will never see again, but I'm always SO grateful when there is a chance to have a good talk with someone and hope that someday sometime they will remember what we talked about and the next time they meet the missionaries decided to listen!

The Talent Show was BOMB!!  The Lesitzeni girls, Natasha, Sister Ivanova, and I all practiced long and hard for 2 line dances! The best bit was that we got to get dressed up all crazy!  Elder Goodmen even consented to break dance as part of one of them!  Our talent shows are really laid back so spur of the moment Elder Jacobson, Goodmen, and I performed our Book of Mormon stories missionary song we'd written for President and performed at Zone Conference for President! We also taught the whole audience the Electric Slide!  

Today for P-day we went out to some kind of little forest park.  Unfortunately we'd both ignored the thought to bring mosquito repellent, so we got eaten alive, but we had a fun time just walking in the forest by a stream and taking pictures. Reminded me SO much of Wisconsin!!!  Have a WONDERFUL WEEK!! I SURE LOVE YOU ALL!!


Cectpa Cunningham

 Talent Show

The Zone.

 me inside this house in the forest we found today.

 The River

 The Bridge

 Trying to be a statue

 Yes, it's me! in the foliage!

 us and the bear. Sister Ivanova's nickname for me is Medved (meaning bear! :)

 with a flower.. .haha

 kind of a scary picture of myself.... but i just love Russia SO much that I can't help it!!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Victory Day ~ May 9, 2012

Hello Family!!!

What an amazing week!!!  We had such a great shashliek grill on Monday!!!  And then got all sun tired and sick from being outside for too long, but it was ALL worth it!!  We had wanted to meet with Vasya and his family this week, but the little 13 year old didn't want to come in from playing out side.  We bet him that if I made a soccer goal on him that he'd have to come inside... well, I didn't make the goal... he scored on me. The moral of the story is... don't bet!!! :)

Raisa Einer, the branch president's wife, came to church for the first time in years!  We've been working with her for a while and it was SO great to finally see her come to church!  She said that she was going to come last week but then she never came.  We had wanted to pick her up, but she said no. She said she didn't want us to come as early as we had planned to come that Sunday morning, so we made her a smoothie and brought it over on our way to church, hoping that that would insure that she would could. She was already all dressed and ready to go. She did come and when she walked into the chapel everyone was so happy and surprised to see her!! It was SUCH a miracle!!  She wouldn't even let the sister meet with her very long ago and now she just came to church for the first time!!!  It was such a blessing!

This week we had a meeting with Natalya and her family. We played a game where we would ask a question and whoever we threw the ball to had to answer it (sound kind of like our favorite game Corrie and Sterling?).  Natalya told a story about dreaming to become a doctor. She went to the specialty school which was WAY far away, so she got home really late. Her mom said something really rude to her which implied she'd gotten home late because she was with a guy. She cried all night realizing she'd have no one to support her in her dream so she unenrolled from the school the next day.  She also talked about the times in her life when they have had nothing to eat and just trying to survive, just trying to have enough money to buy some food.  I had talked about my family and how important it was to spend time together and talk. After coming home I just cried.  I have been so blessed with such a wonderful family to be around me and support me.  The Russian people here have so little and sacrifice so much!!

On our way back from visiting Sister Zemsova on Sunday we were walking and ran into a man that Sister Whitaker and I had met a while ago.  He came to English club once and then we hadn't seen him again.  His name is Akhmed.  He was with his son and told us that he had been thinking about us earlier and wanted to invite us over.  He took us to his house that very moment and we met his wife and mother in law.  I am always just so amazed at the Lord's timing.  He set everything up so that we would run into him on that street.  We went over again to his house on splits with the elders.  He talked with us in English for a while and said that he likes everything about our church. His wife had company, so we didn't get long to talk with her, but they had made like 7 different types of salad and fed us!!  Everyone gathered to eat and we all just talked and ate (the best part :) and Akhmed showed us pictures of Croatia, where he used to live.  They are SUCH  neat family and want us to come back!!! They are moving to America soon, but I hope to meet with them before they go.  They already are so tight knit and just wonderful. they are super special!  At the end of our meeting as we walked out I gave him a plan of salvation pamphlet and said that we'd like to meet and talk more about God's plan for his family. He said we'll have to talk to his wife about that as she thinks about that a lot!  They always give us juice or something because he knows we don't drink tea!  they are SO cool!!!!

We had SUCH an amazing p-day today too!!!  We had our p-day today because it's VICTORY DAY!!  We got to wear p-day clothes ALL DAY and the best part was that EMI WAS HERE FROM K-DAR!!!  We went to the parade in the morning... we waited to get free hats, but there weren't any.. and there were so many people there that we couldn't see the parade, but Nikita just held my camera over the crowd and took pictures and then we could see what was going on!! I was on splits with EMI all day and it was THE BEST THING EVER!!!  Oh how I love her! It was SO good to be with her again and see how well she is doing! We then all headed up to Mamaev Korgan which was PACKED with people!  definitely got even more sunburned, but it is going as a perfect day! Being able to be with my favorite people ever! I'll try to send pictures next week!!

love you!

Sister Cunningham