Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Week 64 - August 31, 2016 Konference with Kacher

Oh dear, how do I fill you in on everything that has happened this week? 
It has been crazy haha

I have been in Bezi (Samara) this week. We had a bunch of conferences here in Samara 
and since Kazan is an 8 hour bus ride away. It was great coming back to my old area. 
I was able to see people I haven't seen for 3 months! The most important people 
still remember and love me so that is all that counts haha. It has been great!

Samara Zone Conference

Sister Palmer is now my companion. She is just the cutest! The poor thing has been sick 
all week with bronchitis so we have been taking it easy. We are super excited to work 
together and to finally be in our area! We haven't been in Kazan in a whole week!

All the sisters in the Samara Zone!! The beauties! 

This is the Graham Line. 
Each sister is either wearing a top or skirt of mine or both. 
I borrowed a skirt from sister Johnson. I freaking love them!  
(Sister Palmer, Johnson, Howe and me)

We have a few conferences with Elder Kacher of the Seventy. He is such and inspired man. 
He really helped us feel and understand our purpose more. He is truly inspired of God. 
He came with great humility in teaching us. We have new materials and a new sense of purpose. 
We are gathering the lost sheep. God is very much aware of us. 

Hand shake with Elder Kacher of the Seventy!!!

I never truly understood the worth of one soul. I still don't. However, I feel like 
I understand this principle more and more each day. God loves all His children. 
Even those who have found the path and have left that path, intentionally or unintentionally. 
The worth of a less active member is just as important as that golden investigator getting baptized. God loves me. He knows me and m awkward self. He knows you. Whether you like it or not, 
He loves you. He knows you. He wants you to be in the warmth of His arms of love. 


What a powerful word and concept. I hope and pray to understand love better. 
There are different kinds and expressions, but the power behind it is incredible! 
Tell someone you love them today! Whether is it your mission companion 
or your eternal companion. A struggling friend or family member. I love you all. 
Wholly and individually! Have a great rest of the week. 
(I'll be emailing like usual on Monday!)

Much love, 
Cectpa Graham

Monday, August 22, 2016

Week 63 - August 22, 2016 Deja Vu?

    Hullo Dearest Readers!

How are y'all doing? I'm doing great. Due to recent news I am sure you are all worried 
and a little confused. Yes, I am in Russia. Yes, I will stay in Russia (at least I'm planning on it). 
Yes, I am still a volunteer. Yes, I still eat meat. We have had quite the exciting time here in Samara. 
I feel so bad for the mothers of us volunteers. We are safe. Nothing to worry about. 
The Lord is in control. 

Last group photo before transfer

More fun news: transfers! I am going to Kazan!!! Yeah boy! I'll be serving with Sister Palmer. 
Now, for those loyal followers, exactly a year ago I said the same thing. Believe or not, 
I am serving with a sister Palmer again haha. She is great! She is a cycle behind me 
and she was trained by Sister Palmer the older. I raved about Kazan last week and 
I'll probably rave about it again for the next 6 weeks. It is hands down the most beautiful city 
I had visited. All the Russians say we need to visit Kazan. It has a truly European feel to it. 
I'll make sure to send a lot of photos. Even better is that Elder Plettig (the German) 
will be serving there, too! Maybe by next transfer I'll have learned some German! 

Split with Sister Johnson & Hofmann

There we met a swiss guy who didn't know Russian 
so we helped him out.

In a couple days, I'll be in a leadership meeting with the other leaders and Elder Kacher! 
I am super nervous. I hope I don't make a fool of myself. 

I was studying in Ether 2 with the topic of prayer in mind. There is super sweet list on ways 
to improve our prayers and crying unto the Lord. We need to obey the commandments 
of the Lord and then be accountable unto Him through prayer. I encourage all of you 
to check that out! Something I really want to learn how to ask to be strengthened than 
to have my problems fixed. I know the Lord wants us to change and to act rather 
than to be acted upon.

I pulled a prank on the elders and hid in a 
huge trench coat and screamed. 

I love you all!

Much love, 
Cectpa Graham

Monday, August 15, 2016

Week 62 - August 15, 2016 Thither and Hither

   My dearest readers,

We did a LOT of traveling this week. A few days worth of traveling, from Kazan to 
Samara and then back to Toliatti. It has been super busy. The next few weeks look just as busy! 
Sister Miller has a visa trip this week so we will be going down to Samara again. 
Then next week we have a special MLC (missionary leadership council) 
with Elder Kacher of the Quorum of the Seventy. He is here for a big conference in our mission. 
He may even interview a couple of us personally. Then after that we have that conference 
with him and the Russian members. Then on Sept 8 we have another big conference 
hopefully in Saratov! Aren't we just busy bees?

We are just chilling by the Volga. 
Ain't my companion so beautiful??? 

It has been quite the week. Seriously, I doubt my mission could get any more adventurous 
than it already has. . . It is safe to say that I am meant to be here. At this very moment. 
The Lord is always in control and is ever aware of us. I have the strongest testimony that 
He really is leading us by the hand. 

The view is so beautiful!

We were in the beautiful city of Kazan. It really is just gorgeous. 
It is super European and clean. I now understand why everyone says how dirty Samara is. 
We did so much on splits.

We and the Zone leaders were going splits this week to two different cities, 
yet we somehow crossed paths in a different city altogether.

We learned  a lot from the sisters. We were able to do our cultural 
activity with them at the Kremlin. It is this beautiful Muslim Mechat and  has a 
Provyslavni Temple on the hill next to it. It is so beautiful. 

​In the Kremlin!

The Kremlin is So great! So is Sister Palmer!!!

We had to wear scarves over our head in order 
to enter into the Muslim Mechat. So beautiful!

We made it into a Prov temple. 
We asked permission to take pictures. 

We went into each of the temples. 
We learned a lot about the other churches and how it felt to be in each of them. It just 
made me miss our temples more, though. 

The sight from the boardwalk at sunset. . . Wow!

The Lord truly does glory in simple, plain things. He doesn't work for dramatics or 
to earn the praise of man. It's only by the small and simple things does He work through. 

I was reading a general conference talk today by Elder Renlund. It was about drawer 
closer unto Christ. He said something really profound but obvious: "If life was really fair, 
then you and I would not be resurrected, you and I would not be able to stand clean before God. 
In this respect I am really glad that life is not fair. But thanks to the atonement of Jesus Christ, 
in the eternal perspective, there will be no unfairness." I am so glad our Heavenly Father 
is merciful and sent Christ to save us all from death, and then if we accept Him and follow Him, 
then save us from our sins. I love the Lord and I am grateful to be here!

My Russian chess set. Yes I am in love and will use it forever! 
Much love, 
Cectpa Graham

Monday, August 8, 2016

Week 61 - August 8, 2016 Apples to Apples

      Hullo! My dearest readers,

I can't believe it. Just this past week I reached my year mark in Russia. 
I haven't been in America since last August! It is incredible how time flies!

Here is one of my first photos in Russia with my first trainer, 
Sister palmer! We were on the rooftop of our branch building in Balakova. 
If I got it right, this is almost exactly a year ago!  

This week has been really great! I've really learned a lot. We did a whole bunch 
of service and member meetings. We love it! We cleaned and cut apples for this. . 
chunky apples sauce thing? Our member was soooo happy when we were over there helping her. 
She loved it! She kept saying how 8 hands were better than 4. She also told us a 
Russian saying about how you work is how you eat. We are just the best of pals. 
We did that for two nights. 

We did service with the Elders! 
Well we watched as they moved the bookcase around.​

I can honestly say we are just having a really exciting time here in Russia. 
Each day brings a new adventure. We are learning so much and are experiencing 
so many new things. We are being very well taken care of and have the best team 
in the church sorting out all the legalities of this whole situation. I am so grateful 
that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are so dedicated to 
self-improvement and really using our gifts to benefit the lives of others. 
We truly are a peculiar people! 

This week we are going to Kazan!! Wooo! Actually we are leaving today hopefully. 
We still haven't bought tickets. There we will work with the sisters and learn from them. 
I am so excited. Kazan is one of the most beautiful cities in Russia! 
I'll makes sure to send a lot of pictures and videos next week! 

Whelp I'm out of time, but know that I love you. There was a really big focus 
this Sunday about keep our bodies healthy. We are own temples. We must respect and loves ourselves. Also, all the youth bore their testimony at church yesterday. What a wonderful thing. 
They are all so incredible!!! I hope you have a great week!!!

"Jamba Juice"

Much love, 
Cectpa Graham

Monday, August 1, 2016

Week 60 - August 1, 2016 Tanning in Toliatti

     Hey there my buds!

This was an interesting week! 

Not much happened this week.It was pretty slow actually, but not  bad. 
I love indexing and cleaning now haha. This Friday we celebrated 
Elder Dorius' birthday a few days early. I made chocolate chip cookies. 
They were from Aunt Shelley's cookbook. So yummy! 

Elder Lee gave our district Smores for our district meeting! 
Real graham crackers! had to explain to Ct Plettig what they were          
We went to a ward picnic this Saturday.It was awesome! And hilarious. 
We are definitely in Europe. . . Speedos are not reserved only for the swim team. 
Other than that I just about died of happiness. I threw an American football again, 
played frisbee, and ate Shashlik. It was great! It was like I was back at Leo Carillo Beach 
for a day! I love the members here. They are just so special!

Arboose! Super yummy! 

Yay for the beach!

The boy cutting tree & such!

I love the Liahonas we get each month. For those who do not know, 
they are church magazines that have articles from church leaders and members 
from all over the world. They are super inspiring. Elder Bednar in the most recent article 
talked about having the faith not to be healed. It is such and interesting topic because 
so often in scriptures it is written that the Lord healed many people. The only requirement 
was to have faith in Him. But Elder Bednar brings up the point that we really have to take 
into consideration the will of God in all things. We can have a hard time seeing the 
why of trials while in the midst of them. We are the to be tested. It is only through trials
 and hardships do we get the most growth. You can't expect to run a marathon 
if you can't first run a mile.That only comes from experience.

The Bezi sisters!

Sister Hansen and I reunited.

Gotta get that work!

The key, however, to allowing that growth process to occur in trials is that we have to 
submit our will over to the Lord. I have been an eye witness to the power and depth 
of the love of God. He wants us to be better. The Lord has now given me a unique 
trial of my own. I was really comfortable at what I was doing before this new law. 
I'll even go as far to say that I was really good at what I was doing. Yeah it was hard work, 
but I felt like I could do it. I didn't need anyone else's help. I could contact for days and talk 
to all the people on the bus. But now I have to really rely on the Lord. He is going to show us 
in His way how this is His work. I know God lives and loves us!                                        

One year in Russia is next week?!/!?! What? LOVE YOU!

Sister Hines! 
She kicked my butt in working out. She's a crossfit trainer. 
Much love, 
Cectpa Graham