Monday, June 27, 2016

Week 55 - June 27, 2016 Bears, Beets, Battle Star Galatica

   My Dearest Readers,

Well it has been quite the eventful week! Seriously, each day is full of a surprise. 
Monday after emailing, we went to the super mall. Well in the parking lot 
was this cute little carnival. We called up to the zone leaders and asked if we could 
get permission to go. He immediately shot it down saying there was nooo way 
we'd get permission to go on any rides. Well a few minutes later, 
he calls us back saying we got можно. Hollah! We went to this super scary ride thing, 
then we did the bumper cars. I really missed driving at that time. 
Oh well, I got my whole life to drive haha. 

Us with the bear at a carnival.

​I've never seen a bear cub in real life. 
Now I can say I've seen bears in Russia! 
It was pretty sad though.. ..

The man on the left is from Peru! 
They travel all over Russia performing and selling little trinkets. 
It was epic! He was a big hit hahaha

It was POURING rain this morning. We were drenched when we came to 
the internet cafe and are still wet haha. Also, my cavity filling came out on Friday, 
so we are going to get that fixed tomorrow, maybe in Samara. So wish me luck! 
I'm pretty nervous about a dentist appointment in general, but now in Russia. 
It will be an adventure!

Fun fact: One day when I first came here, we bought bread from 
these two guys in a little shack. They are not from Russia, 
but were super friendly. We even took a selfie with them. 
Fast forward to yesterday. We were sitting on the bus 
and I had to go sit near sister Miller towards the end because 
I didn't have enough change for the fare. There is a man 
who starts laughing and then shows us his phone. . . 
it's a picture of us on his Facebook hahahahaha SOOO FUNNY! 

Welcome to our kitchen! ​

Isn't it beautiful! 
We worked so hard on them yesterday. They were FABULOUS.
Homemade tortillas too!​

Man so many miracles, I can't even write them all. Короче, 
we have met 4 new investigators this week. They are just so great. 
We as missionaries get to learn the real meat of people's lives. 
We hear about the most devastating things, grandsons in comas, daughters dying too soon, 
people living through the darkest times of the world. 
Yet, despite all that sadness and despair, these people are still able to 
wake up in the morning and get to work. As they give us opportunities to share 
the good news of the gospel with them, then we can share how 
God is going to help them through their trials. The Book of Mormon 
truly has the words of God to heal our personal wounds, inside and out. 
The sting of death and the victory of the grave are swallowed up in Christ. 

Preparing the jelloed giraffe​.

The Zone leaders pranked our district leader. 
We think we are the next "Office" cast.​

​A german eating a jelloed giraffe . . .

I love my mission. I love my family. I love the Lord. I love the Book of Mormon. 
I would not have put my life on hold without pay for year and a half 
if I didn't know the eternal truth that God is our loving Heavenly Father. 

Throwback to the dacha which is now forbidden to us 
because it is not in our city limits!

Much love, 
Cectpa Graham

Monday, June 20, 2016

Week 54 - June 20, 2016 Summer is in the air. . ..

       My dearest readers,

As a request from my mother, I'm going to answer a few questions:

I am currently serving in Toliatti, which is about 2 hours away from my last area 
and the mission office. The branch here is incredible. They used to have 3 branches here 
a few years ago, and then things happened so now they just have one. 
So just imagine all of the most strong and active members of 3 branches condensed into one. 
That is our branch. The members here are incredible. So many strong families. 
Like legit families, with a mom and dad and little kiddos, all active and strong! 
It is by far the biggest and most mature branch I've seen on my mission. 
They are just so great!  I haven't been able to work with most of them just yet, 
but I'll get there. 

On our way to our conference. Only we sisters were left on the bus haha​

Getting ready for conference

In the past three weeks, we have been blessed to find 8 new investigators. 
That is the most I've gotten in my whole mission. The Lord has poured out His Spirit 
upon us and this city. Now we just need to teach them the word of God so that 
they can decide for themselves if they want to follow Christ example. 

The Volga

Sister Johnson and I went on splits. 
Our friend took us to the Volga. 

We met with our investigator, Olga, whom we helped on her dacha. 
Well later that night we went contacting. We had planned to go somewhere, 
but both of us felt we should go somewhere else. Each turn we made conscious decisions 
on where to go. Then for our last contact, we talked to a women a ways away from us and compliment her garden. She the immediately said, "Americans?" We asked how she know. Apparently her friend, Olga, talked ALL about us! Our investigator is already turning into 
a great missionary for us. Turns out this woman really, really wanted to talk to us. 
She said she was just wondering how she could find us and why we don't come up 
and talk to her! Then we talked to her! It's definitely a testament to me that 
God is really aware of us and our desires. 
He wants to bless us individually and greatly! 

This is a picture of a hand holding an umbrella. 
If you look really closely, 
you'll see our investigator with a bag on her head 
and another bag covering her close. 
She lent us the umbrella so we wouldn't get sick. 
Love her. 

 I know God loves us and watches over us!

President and Sister Schwab and they daughter Jenni. 
They leave June 30. 
Much love, 
Cectpa Graham

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Week 53 - June 13, 2016 Hairless Cats + Dachas = Dyed Hair

     My dearest readers,

What a great week. We are just seeing miracles right to left! It is awesome!! 
I finally went to a dacha!! It's only taken me 10 months in Russia, but better late than never! 
We helped a baboshka by digging up soil? Also we made a fire by our bare hands 
so we could drink tea. Next week she'll give us fish!!! WOO! 

On the dacha!!! I have legs...

Pants for the 2nd time on my mission!!! Wooo

We made a fire from nothing!!!!!! and matches . . .
 it was hard work!

I also held a hairless cat after hiking in the woods with the dopplegenger of Elaina 
in Vampire Diaries. She is just so beautiful!!! 

Fried chicken and mashed potatoes for the big Russia Day holiday that Putin established. 
Love them holidays. It was delicious because we had real BBQ sauce from america 
and Sriracha sauce. 

We decided to get sushi cause we can. Not bad actually. 
Sister Miller tried shrim for the first time. . . and hated it. 

Tomorrow is the last Zone Conference with President and Sister Schwab. 
Next month I will have a completely different mission president! So crazy, 
I'm really sorry to see them go. Such a wonderful pair. 

We are getting pictures ready for our gift to President and Sister Schwab 
since they are leaving in a few weeks!

Yeah this is our district. . . 
Left to right: Sisters Miller and Graham. Elders: Dorius, 
Plettig (German and HILARIOUS) 
Mills (there is a difference betweens Mills and Miller in our district) 
Harding and Alley. 

Also we hit Mckie Dees on the weekly herrr. Just can't help it.Their toilets are just so clean! 

We have had 4 new investigators this week! All of whom we found this week 
in different types finding activities. 

Knocking: We went knocking and met this Muslim man. 
He was really interested in talking about religion so we sat out on a park bench 
and had a lesson with him! 

Transport Contacting: we talked to this girl Sasha on the bus. 
She was super sweet and felt like it wasn't coincidence that we talked to her. 
We had a meeting with her on Friday and she said she will finish the Book of Mormon! 
She agrees that infant baptism isn't right. 

Street Contacting: We gave a woman 
who works at a Kvas stand a KM. We dropped by again and it was great! 
We even prayed with her on the street. Plan to drop by her tonight. 

Area Book: We called a potential and she said she was super busy 
and didn't know if we could meet her since she'll be working on her dacha. 
Then we asked if we could help her on her dacha, and she said, 
"You probably won't be up early enough. I'm going to leave at 7am." 
Lucky for us we do wake up early enough. We were able to serve her 
on her dacha and also have a lesson with her! She even came to church on Sunday! 
Miracles I tell you. 

​I had to quickly snap a picture in the internet cafe so I could show y'all. 
It's ombre with some highlights. I hope I don't look too weird. . . 
we gave the hairstylist a KM haha. 

Much love, 
Cectpa Graham

Monday, June 6, 2016

Week 52 - June 6, 2016 Lead Kindly Light...

  My dearest readers,

Thank you so much for the outpouring of love and birthday wishes!! I am one lucky girl!! 
Seriously, you all are the best! This has just been an incredible week!!! Miracles everywhere! 
All your prayers are helping so much!! I love the area and my companion. 
It doesn't get better than that! 

Me opening my birthday packages from Mom and Alene! 
I took a video so we can watch my reactions later hahaha. 

My district!!!!! We are going to have a great cycle together!!!! 
The elders made cinnamon rolls for my birthday!! 
And rice pudding!!!! 

We have been seeing so many miracles I can't even write them all. I love being here. 
I have definitely felt the love. I had a fabulous birthday in the service of the Lord. 
Sister Miller is just the best. She reminds me a lot of my first companion Sister Foote, 
so it's like serving with a long lost friend! We have a great time together. 

My new companion Sister Miller. 
She served with both Sister Mckell and Hansen! 
Literally love this girl so much! 
We've had an incredible first week together!!!! 

We go knocking every night because the Lord has just been blessing us with so much success!!! 
We found a family! They actually let us in! It was on our first night together. It was awesome. 
God loves each and every one of us. More than we could ever imagine. 

This is my oh-my-gosh-ive-missed-sister-hansen face. 
She's beautiful and she is now serving in Bezi with sister Hofmann. 
So crazy haha. We just switched places!

I would just like to take some time out and talk about one of my favorite hymns 
"Lead Kindly Light." Well, I don't have the words in front of me, 
and have been only singing it in Russian so I don't know any better. However, 
I can't but help feel the love of God each time I sing it. 

"Lead kindly light across the encircling gloom, Lead thou me on. 
The night is dark and I am far from home, Lead thou me on." 

The hymn continues in reverent pleading. The Lord is our Light. 
He wants to guide us through hard times. He will. I know it. I need it. 
I testify of Christ's love for us. He is just waiting to pour out His love. 
All we have to do is ask! I love you all! In the name of Jesus Christ amen. 

Much love, 
Cectpa Graham