Monday, July 25, 2016

Week 59 - July 25, 2016 Short but Sweet!

   Hello  there!

I don't have much time. Sorry y'all. Luckily I did a question and answer with my mom 
so here you are!!!

     1. How are you doing? Good. It's hard and we don't have a lot of answers
         so we are just doing our best in the dark. We will just doing
         our best with what we have.

     2 What have you guys been doing with the new changes? We study, index, meet
        with members and do service projects.

     3 What is your new "calling" over there? Don't have one yet, we plan to meet
        with the branch president this week to get one.

     4 What can you guys do? see answer two

     5 What type of service do you guys do everyday? Well there aren't many
        and we can't look for them officially, but we clean the church building
        or help serve members. more will come through time. they will be assigning
        someone to find service projects for us.

     6 if a person comes into the church building and just wondering about our church,
        can you guys talk to the person about our beliefs? Yes and no.  We can talk to them,
        but nothing close to testifying or teaching without the presence of a Russian member
        of the church present. So only factual or nonreligious topics.

     7 What if a person wants to join our church, can you guys still baptize them? Once they
        sign a paper saying they are doing this of their own will we can teach them. Elders
        can no longer perform these ordinances. A member will do the actual baptizing.

     8 Can we still say anything of the church? our believe in the email? Yes you can.
        You are free to do so but don't address me as a missionary. I am a volunteer.
     9 What can and can't we (emailers) do? see above answer

     10 where do you guys write your email an internet cafe

     11 how long you guys spend on reading and replying? about 2-3 hours.

I'll send more pictures and video next week!! I love you!


Much love, 
Cectpa Graham

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Week 58 - July 20, 2016 Day 1 as a Volunteer...

         Hullo my beloved readers!!!

As you all may or may not know, I am now a volunteer! Everything I have been doing 
for the past 13 months is no longer possible. From now on I will be solely serving people 
and members in Russia. We will be given church callings in our  branches 
and serving accordingly. We will spend most of our time in the branch building, 
service projects, or in the homes of members. It is pretty strange, 
but our mission has a great positive attitude about it all. 
It is no longer for us to talk about God or the gospel 
with people outside of our church building. 

We are all sad to hear that, but we are rejoicing that we are still able 
to serve the wonderful people   of Russia! This week we will go to Samara again 
for another conference on what we are not allowed to do. Then there is a branch picnic.

Last week, we went to Samara for a missionary leadership meeting. 
We discussed a lot of the new restrictions, but also were filled with hope 
and assurance that this is the Lord's work. He will do what needs to be done. 
Then, our mission moved our P-day to Wednesday so that we could  fully 
use Monday to contact before the new law was in affect. In two days, 
Sister Miller and I gave out 14 copies of the KM. YAY!

I'm out of time, but I love you and the Lord. All will work out! 
Talk to you next Monday!                             
Much love, 
Cectpa Graham

Monday, July 11, 2016

Week 57 - July 11, 2016 The Truth of God Will Go Forth Boldly

The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” Joseph Smith 

   My dearest readers,

As most of you know, the Russian government has recently passed a law that would 
greatly affect how we do missionary work here. That is okay. It will all work out. 
I join in testimony with hundreds of other missionaries in Russia, that this is the Lord's work. 
There is nothing we can do or the world can do to stop it. 

I have been called to serve in Samara Russia. And I will stay here until further notified. 
We don't know all the details, but just know that I love it here. I have seen so many miracles 
and have felt so strongly the Lord's love for his people. They have become my closest friends 
and family. They are the most amazing, strong people I have ever met. The members here are incredible and are able to handle whatever may come in the future. We are so close to seeing 
the fullness of blessings from the Lord. 

Opposition is necessary in this life in order to progress and grow. Elder Dallin H Oaks 
gave a great talk about this very topic in last April's General Conference. 
We can only learn if there is something to challenge us in the first place.

In other news, it has been another pretty exciting and wonderful week! I am staying here 
in Tolliatti with Sister Miller for another 6 weeks. Only this time, they have asked me 
to become one of the three sister training leaders in the mission. That just means 
I''ll be going on splits with a few sisters and helping them in any way I can. 
There will also be a missionary leadership meeting this week in Samara so I'll be heading 
back that way this Friday. There we will probably be getting more information about what 
our mission is going to be like from now on.

Highlights: Met the new mission president. He is sooo cool. And so Californian! 
His wife did a slide show about their life and it was all about the beach and all things wonderful. 

We had a special testimony meeting with the missionaries of the Samara and Toliatti Zones. 
I truly felt the Spirit soo strongly while listening to the testimonies of my fellow servants 
in the Lord's vineyard.

Also went on splits with the loves, Sisters Hansen and Hofmann. 
It was so great being back with them. I have been truly blessed with companions. 

Remember how I had a district in the MTC. Well, I've seen all of them in the field except 
for my good ol' pal Elder Lee. After a year on the mission and 11 months in the field, 
I was finally able to see my desk neighbor of 9 weeks! He hasn't changed a bit. 

Balakova district reunion. Almost a year and all four of us haven't been in the same area at once! Love everyone! 

Also, we had the most fun, stressful visa trip ever! Somehow it ended up with 26 missionaries 
in a small white van without AC in the middle of July for about 14 hours together. 
We got to know each other wayyy better after that trip haha.

Sorry for the long email, just so much has happened. LOVE YOU ALL!!!!

Much love, 
Cectpa Graham

Monday, July 4, 2016

Week 56 - July 4, 2014 I love to be a missionary! Cause at least I know I'm called. . .

     My dearest readers,

Wow I cannot believe 13 months have gone by so far. It is so true. 
Months feels like days and days feel like months haha. Just so much happens in one week. 
I wish I could just spend all day sharing about all my fun adventures. I must admit, 
I am about a week late on my journal- I used to be about a month late. . .
I'm working on it haha. Where to begin? 

We were stopping by a less actives home and ran into this guy. 
Isn't Russia beautiful

Sister Miller is just the best. Seriously, we just have sooo much fun together. 
We don't even have to say anything. She knows exactly what I'm about to say. 
She loves my cheesy puns and super sarcastic remarks. We just have a blast together. 
She helps me get through the hard times and works like a champ! One time this week 
when we were at a less-actives house, she gave us a pill to take. 
It helps your mind work better, she said. I had to pretend to take it 
and so did Sister Miller. We were just dying of laughter in the meeting. 
Then the woman practically swallowed a spoonful of flour and ground seeds . . 
then after the meeting we actually took the pill 
because it turned out to be just some random oil thing. 

I told her "on three!" and never counted...

Friday was one of the most "fun" days on my mission. 
We met with one of our investigators, Sasha. I love her! (yes, like the investigator in Bezi, 
just a woman ahah) We had a great lesson about why we don't baptize little children. 
We read Moroni 8 with her and she completely agreed. She is going to pray whether 
or not she needs to be baptized in this church. Then we went on a Ferris Wheel -
after asking permission from our new mission president- and then ate ice cream, 
cotton candy, corn in a cup, and walking around a park. Then we had FHE. 
It was a blast! I love Russia!

We got a new mission president on Friday. 
I called him on the phone to ask if we could go on a ferris wheel 
with our investigator. He said "Yeah sure, 
just give her a hug and say you love her!" ​

Cotton Candy!

It matched my skirt!

We are sitting on a beard. . . .my life's dream. 

The witch and the king. . . think of "Hanzel and Gretel." 

Sunday, a family from Los Angeles came to visit. The wife is Russian 
and the husband is from LA. It was soooo weird! I missed the California accent 
and the way we locate places by freeways. I forgot what the 405 was and where the 101 hits. 
It was glorious and also strange, talking to people in English about Ventura. Just weird. 
I hope I will be able to adjust quickly when I get home. 
I may be speaking Russian more than I think. . . 

Today was awesome!! Happy 4th of July!!! 

Our friends drew the pictures, and we later tried to differentiate 
"Look Alive" and "look Alike"

We had a huge party!! I was able to celebrate this day of Independence 
with a German and Russians and Americans. 

Note the Independence Day Chalkboard behind
Elder Plettig's German football jersey.

I think that is soo cool! It doesn't matter where you are from you can still be together 
and enjoy one another's company. We watched Meet the Mormons in Russian 
and I actually understood 80% of it! Wooooo!

Our big group of people!!! Yay for holidays!!! 

Elder Plettig Quotes of the Week: 
(1) We are going around in a circle sharing our childhood fears. 
Sister Miller said hers was jack in the boxes. Then he asked "Who is jack?" 

(2) While he was making burger buns for our celebration today, I asked him.   
"Are those German Buns?" Then he got offended and said 
"I just wanted to have a little bit of German on The 4th of July. Is that so wrong?" 

(3) The Old testament in russian translates to "ramshackle testament." 
After laughing hysterically he says: "Ramshackle testament. That cracks me out!" 
I love serving with him haha. 

We aren't usually supposed to be in the same public place 
as other missionaries, but on Sundays our buses come so rarely 
that we got mozhno.We were the only ones on!! 

ATTENTION!!!! So to end off, I have a favor to ask everyone. 
There is this Russian law that is going to be reaching the higher ups soon in Russia 
which would completely get rid of missionary work in Russia. Talking about God 
in the streets or in public will be illegal. If this law gets passed, then I'm not sure 
what will happen to us. Please pray for us and for the leaders of this great nation 
for the Lord to soften their hearts. That being said, I know that this is God's true church 
and his gospel. Nothing can stop the stone from rolling forth amongst every nation, 
kindred, and tongue. Nothing can frustrate God's plans. I'm actually not too worried about it, 
but I know that God will give us miracles. We just have to ask for it first. 
I love you all and pray for you. Have a great week!!!

Much love, 
Cectpa Graham