Monday, February 29, 2016

Week 38 - February 29, 2016 Meet Me Halfway

     Hey there Beautiful Readers!

It's been a good week! It's actually just been flying by. 
I've really been trying to give it all over to the Lord. To give the temptations, 
trials, weaknesses, shortcomings, doubts, fears, everything to the Lord. 
Not only the bad things, but the good things, too. Anytime we give out a Book of Mormon, 
or have a great lesson, I give the glory to the Lord because we really didn't do anything. 
He is the one who puts them in our path or softens their hearts. We've been finding amazingly, prepared people. We've given out 15 KMs this week, which puts us at 60 KMs this cycle. 
We set the goal of giving out 70 KMs this cycle. Honestly, I've never given out this many copies before, in my entire mission! But I know it's thanks to the fact that we are opening our mouths 
and talking with everyone. We are no longer brochure hander-outers. 
We are "disciple(s) of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 
[We] have been called of him to declare his word among his people [here in Russia], 
that they may have everlasting life.(3 Nephi 5:13)" 
I am so grateful to have this opportunity!

Just a few of us Missionaries from the Samara Zone, the polaroids live on!

For those of you who aren't super familiar with this whole mission thing, 
I am officially halfway done with my mission! So crazy. 
I have looked forward to going on a 18-month mission and 
now I'm halfway through with only 9 months left in this beautiful country. 
I have learned and grown so much. I can honestly say when I first came one my mission, 
especially into the MTC, I thought I knew it all. 
I thought I had the strongest testimony I could ever have. Thankfully that is not the case. 
I have so much more to learn. I know I am gradually changing into the woman 
God has created  me to be. I have many weaknesses, but they are all gifts from God. 

Those who rely on themselves will get just that. However, the Lord sees the whole picture. 
He knows exactly who we can be. But like I said last week, they can't do anything with us 
unless we allow them to. They will not drag us against our will anywhere. I love my mission.
 I love being here. It's really hard. Everyday I'm being tested, physically, spiritually, emotionally, 
and socially. I am in my own refiner's fire. But this is just a small part in the scheme of things. 
There will be more challenges ahead, but I am learning the process how to rely on my Savior 
and that's all that matters the most. 

I love my Savior. Jesus is the Christ. 
He is the only way we can can have everlasting joy and happiness. 
Just believe. John 17:3.

​Note the temple behind us!

Book of Mormon (Книга Мормона) count: 60

Much love, 
Cectpa Graham

Monday, February 22, 2016

Week 37 - February 22, 2016 The Lord is in control!

   My Dearest Readers,

It's been such a great week!

 I definitely feel much better than last week. It is definitely not easy recognizing 
when you are afraid. I know that sounds strange, but it's true. 
It's important to realize when someone is pushing your buttons or making you afraid. 
And it's even more important to recognize who is pushing your buttons. 
We find all over the scriptures that fear is not from God. 
When we start recognizing that satan is trying to get to us, 
then we are able to know how to combat that. 
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are eager to help us, but that can't do it unless we ask them. 
It must be pretty devastating for them to see us suffer so much when they know 
that the antidote is so close. It reminds me of the scripture of how is any man were to try 
and reach out to God they would discover that He is not that far away in the first place.
We just have to ask Him!

Its been really apparent to me how much I am letting the little things get to me 
and how much I'm not trusting in the Lord. The other day all 3 of our appointments fell through, 
and we were scrambling trying to figure out what we should do next to use the Lord's time wisely
 ( thinking we were the ones in control of that). 
Then Sister Mckell said, "Why are we stressed right now? 
The Lord knows we did our best to plan effectively and all these schedule 
changes were not our fault. Obviously the Lord is in control." 
At the moment, I didn't realize how much I was relying on myself. 
I can testify that the Lord really did have a plan for us that day. 
We ended up talking to some really great people, 
including a religious taxi driver who isn't associated with any one church, 
because he is looking for the one and true church of God, to whom we gave a KM. 
We then stopped by the less-active Galina who really, really needed our company. 
I have a lot to work on, but I'm glad that I have this time and resources to do it!

Our Russian Fur Hats! Mine is made from fox fur. . .
What did the Fox say??? 
Book of Mormons we've given out: 46
Much love, 
Cectpa Graham

Week 36 - February 15, 2016 Faith is power

      My dearest readers, 

​I found new features on my fancy camera 
so now I'm the biggest hipster in Russia. Kazan!!!

Hullo, hullo! Kazan is a beautiful place. We had a good time there. 
We are always working hard and doing our best each and every day. 

We love our food in Kazan!!!

This week is Zone Conference, so that will be fun getting training from our leaders!

Here is a bad picture of a picture of our zone! 
I'm down at the very bottom of the stairs

Honestly, my brain is farting on what to share, so here is just one of the biggest highlights ever!
We taught this lovely family yesterday. They have been meeting with sisters for years. 
They hadn't met with sisters in the last 5 months, so we finally got a meeting with them. 
It's a mom, Nadia, and her two kids Josh and Sofia. Nadia's husband is from New Zealand 
so they all know perfect English, but we still talk in Russian. They are fabulous. 
They already know the church is true and that our message is true. 
The mom wants her kids to decide for themselves to be baptized (one is 20 and the other is 8). 
They are just the most wonderful family in the world!! 
They just have such a warm atmosphere about them! Felt like home. 
Keep them in your prayers!!!

Yeah this is real life. We went knocking and we were on the 14th floor. 

I love you all soo much. I know that this church is true and that God lives!!! 
He loves you! So does our Savior Jesus Christ. 
The Holy Ghost is one who reveals the truth unto us. Prayer works. Faith is power. 
You are all the best and I love you!!!

Did I tell you that I was in Russia? 
Sometimes I forgot what a wintery tundra I actually live in. 
Much love, 
Cectpa Graham

Monday, February 8, 2016

Week 35 - February 7, 2016 Outgoing from one of the oldest cities in Russia. . .

        Hello world!

So I hope I can fill you in sufficiently on what a wonderful week it's been:

Tuesday night, on splits with Sister Grishina, we hit super bad traffic. 
We were in the elder's area so I wasn't as familiar with where we were exactly. 
Then after about an hour on the bus, I look out the window and see Ikea. 
That my friends is not a good sign. (super funny, but not intentional). I called Elder Shea, 
my Zone leader and homie, and when I told him where we were, he thought I was joking. 
Apparently Ikea is in no one's area. Yeah, I was lost in the middle of nowhere in Russia. 
Haha what a great time. Luckily, we got off and found an address to give to a taxi. 
It wasn't as bad as I made it out to be. Although, we were out an hour past curfew haha. 
Thank goodness for taxis. 

Just these past few days I have felt so much love! I wasn't feeling well this past week, 
and then on Saturday, this family who I've only met twice, started taking my temperature 
and then giving me all this medical advice and remedies to try at home. 
It was so funny and sweet. Then yesterday I had to stay home because I had the flu. 
It was honestly sooooo weird staying in and sleeping all day. It just felt wrong haha. 
My companion Sister Mckell took such great care of me; 
she made me yummy soup and made sure I rested well.  
Even all the elders in our district texted or called to make sure I was okay. 
So sweet!! The Lord truly does work through other people.

We were on splits this week and made bomb tacos.

The biggest miracle is our newest investigator, Rita. 
She is a referral from a less-active, Zinaida. 
Rita is 14 years old and used to go to church with her great-grandma Zina up until she was 10. 
She's never been baptized, but she really liked meeting with us. 
She really wants her family to be more faithful, her mom is a less-active member as well. 
After teaching her the Restoration, we asked her how she felt about everything 
and she said that it was a lot to take in, but she feels better already about everything. 
The only bummer is that just a few hours after our meeting 
(we had invited her to English club that same night) we found out that she broke her foot! 
Hopefully we can still meet with her...

Ate banana bread for my 8th month on the mission. 
Shout out to my new shirt! Thanks mom lol

Another miracle happened Thursday, I sat next to this young woman, Nastia. 
We talked the whole hour long bus ride. She is super sweet, 
wasn't ready for a KM or brochure but wanted to meet again and was open to religion. 
We had to rush to get to our stop, in the midst of it all I left my beanie on the bus. 
Later on during the day, I called Nastia to hopefully set up an appointment. 
Turns out she has my beanie and she set up an appointment with us this Thursday! 
So cool!

We just arrived, like an hour ago to Kazan. 
One of the oldest cities in Russia, and most beautiful in the mission. 
Yay for splits!

I had a cool opportunity of sitting in on the Missionary Leadership Council 
since Sister Mckell is one of the Sister Training Leaders. 
It was just so great to see how the Lord works through President Schwab 
and how each of the missionaries work together for the good of the mission. 
I love it so much. A lot of good things were learned on that meeting.

Well, I don't have all that much more to share. 
One of the most used scriptures in our mission is Alma 41:6. Even though we are not perfect, 
as long as we are striving for righteousness according to our desires, and repenting daily, 
then we will receive eternal life!


Book Of Mormon Count: 25
Much love, 
Cectpa Graham

Monday, February 1, 2016

Week 34 - February 1, 2016 Hope

Hey there my most beloved readers! Man I only have 10 minutes, 
so a lot of copying and pasting from other letters. Sorry if you get a duplicate haha. 

We were running all over kingdom come for these less actives 
and found this awesome snowman. perfect snow for building a snow person.

Another good week under the belt, and yet to be in the journal. 
There is just so much work for us to do! At times it is overwhelming. 
We just have so many people we want to stop by. There are so many less-actives 
who are just waiting to meet with us. Most of these less-actives are older women 
who just don't have the health to go to church. 
But I realized something great about the new program, 
and one of the quotes from a missionary in your letter this week solidified that for me, 
we are ministers of Jesus Christ. We need to be taking care of His sheep, 
not just rangling them in to church. There have been many miracles 
and examples of this principle over the past week. 

Us with Patriarch Neuenschwander!!!

We have been seeing so many miracles! The biggest one is our newest investigator, Hope. 
We found her last Monday night on the street. At first she was not too interested, 
but as we continued to talk to her and share our purpose, her heart softened 
and then she took a KM and we set up a meeting for the next day. 
We met with her again and she said that she had brought the KM 
and have read through the chapters headings so that she could be prepared for our meeting. 
We had a great lesson with her, she said she's noticed something missing from the church she's attending, so she's glad she found us. After our meeting, we had English club. 
We had no idea if she knew English, but we invited her anyway. S
he said she'd only stay 5 minutes to see what it was about, 
but she ended up staying the whole meeting and she knows English perfectly! 
We are meeting with her again tonight! She really has sooo much potential!! 
We love her so much!

We had an FHE where we blindfolded someone 
and misshot them until they asked for help

Sister Mckell and I have this goal to pass out 70 copies of the Book of Mormon 
by the end of this 7-week cycle. Yup its a 7 week cycle, one week more than the usual. 
It's just for this one cycle. Anyways, we've passed out about 15 so far in just two weeks. 
Wish us luck!

This is sister Johnson, she loves the movie "How to Train your Dragon" 
and I found this little guy and gave it to her

Much love, 
Cectpa Graham