Monday, November 28, 2016

Week 77 - November 28, 2016 Thank Goodness for Thanksgiving!

Whelp I've got no time. Thank goodness for copy and paste!

Monday night we go to the university for a "film club" run by an American, 
who also is an inactive member of the church. We talk in English to the students. 
This week, the did a debate and the topic was: What is more valuable, donating time or money? 
We sat as the mediators. After a wonderful, deep discussion about the benefits of money 
and time for those involved, the teacher concluded by saying how the most important part 
is that donating or being charitable is "not about you." After which, Sister Palmer 
and I were able to testify about our experience here and why we came to Russia 
to donate time and money. We did not say anything about God or the church, 
but we just testified of the good of service and giving of yourself to others. 
We felt the Spirit so strongly in that classroom. We know the students felt it, too. 
Then, sister Palmer told me that a student went up and talked with her and 
the teacher after class. He sang praises to us for what we are doing here. Then Steve, 
the teacher, goes on and says, "I know quite a bit about what they do here. 
They not only do all these good things, but they also get a lot of opposition 
and persecution for trying to do good." It was so wonderful to hear that from people 
who don't have to tell us we are doing a good job. Sweet experience.

The next day we met up with a friend of our from the university. We went to a museum 
for a concert of sorts. It turned out to be an Italian Opera concert. We were sitting there, 
enjoying the music when out of nowhere we see a member from our branch! 
It was the coolest thing. She saw us and was super surprised. We were a little 
worried that we were enjoying ourselves too much and not "working hard" 
enough where we were miserable, but seeing a member by total surprise was a testament 
to me that the Lord is carefully placing us where He needs us to be. And sometimes 
that is a wonderful concert to support one of His daughters. 

Thanksgiving was great! More details later. . . or not. here are some pictures!!

Us doing the Russian woman pose as a district.

Being sophisticated and what not around someone else's snack.

Sisters together for a show.

We be dazzling errbody out here.

Thanksgiving breakfast.

Soup for when I was sick this week. 
I feel a little better. Sister Palmer did a fabulous job 
making it for me while I rested!
Much love, 
Cectpa Graham

Monday, November 21, 2016

Week 76 - November 21, 2016 District Conference

     My dearest readers,

It's been a pretty chill week. We have been meeting with a lot of members. 

We have this one member who has a pretty strong personality. She's so funny. She loves me. 
She thinks I'm so "wise." At least someone does! She felt like she really needed to meet with us, 
and we felt like it was a while we hadn't seen her, so we met on Tuesday. It was a good meeting, 
she talked a lot about herself and how she was feeling. It was obvious she had humbled herself 
quite a bit since we last met with her. She was sharing all of her feelings and what was going 
on in her life. While in the meeting, we were praying in our hearts to know what to say to her. 
Two scriptures came to my mind as she spoke. Mosiah 3:19 and then Ether 12:27. 
She was tearing up while reading and pondering them. She said that these scriptures were 
exactly what she needed to hear. I have such a strong testimony of scriptures and just really 
listening to the people we work with and then turning to the Lord and asking Him to inspire 
us to know what to do and say. 

The sisters Kazan and Bezi at the Renaissance Hotel 
(owned by Marriott) for our district conference. 

Us after a long day at conference and then a 
5 hour bus ride back home! 
We still look good despite freezing out butts off outside.

This week will be super exciting. We are going to a special Tatarski play on Wednesday night. 
Then two Thanksgiving activities. One at the university where we have been volunteering 
with English and the other at our branch building. It will be a blast!

That awkward moment when you realize you haven't 
taken any photos this week so you snap one of 
your view from your window. ... 
I love the Lord. I am so grateful for His continual love and kindness to me and those 
whom I love. I know that our desires and wants are super important to God. He hears us 
and loves us. We have a Savior who does everything for us. We can show our love to 
Them through studying their word, especially the Book of Mormon. 
I know that it is true! 

I love you all!!

I love toliatti!!!

Gave a mattress pad to a member last week, 
super convenient since it kept you warm outside.

Creepy picture at the metro that I just HAD 
to share with the world.

Much love, 
Cectpa Graham

Monday, November 14, 2016

Week 75 - November 14, 2016 Hollah! [insert witty title here]

      My beloved readers!

It has been an eventfully uneventful week. We have been traveling all week and so 
we haven't been able to work in our own area for a while. We had zone training 
which was super duper good. 

Most of the zone. All these young'ins!

Random pictures of the volunteers.

Sister Palmer and I made shirts for the zone leaders, 
and the made shirts for us. Here is the finished project!

My favorite part, however, was not the actual training (however good it was) 
but the workshop afterwards for the church's 12 step addiction 
recovery program. Sister and Elder Reed from Moscow came to give us all training. 
Sister Reed is my hero. She has such a passion and enthusiasm for the work. 
She inspired me so much to really look at the worth of the individual who is struggling. 
The program is not only for people to have addictions to drugs or alcohol, 
but also for unwanted, reoccurring negative thoughts or sugar. 

The most wonderful couple in the world. 
Sister and Elder Reed changed my life!!!

We have been sent here to love people and help them return back home. I just reflect 
on the thought that we are all working towards the same goal, but how different 
all our paths are. President Ottesen randomly said "I wish all sins smelled like smoke." 
I agree completely. We are so quick to judge those who have problems with alcohol or 
smoking since they are so easy to detect. Boy, would I feel real bad if all my sins 
and shortcomings were as pungent. I am grateful for my life and the lessons 
I have learned from experience. God loves all His children, so why don't we?

I love you all! I hope you have a great week! 

District photo . . sister palmer is in there somewhere...

Elder Plettig's family came to Kazan. 
We had to take a picture with them.

All sisters picture! Love these Kazan girlies!

The bezi sisters trucked our backpacks back home 
since we had a meeting, so sweet!

Much love, 
Cectpa Graham

Monday, November 7, 2016

Week 74 - November 7 MIRACLES!!!

 I don't have much time, we are going on a bus today to Toliatti for our zone training 
so I'll need to be quick. 

Fighting for "chicken fried rice!?"...

Sister Hofmann were baking cookies that day 
and we have a super inconvenient cupboard near the sink. 
I slammed my head into it so I have a cute little bump on my forehead. 
Now it isn't as noticeable haha

Again, I don't think I have enough time to explain all the miracles 
that have happened this week. To sum things up, we have been able to meet a bunch 
of new "friends" this week and have been seeing miracles. All of the seemingly random things 
we've been doing these past two weeks have just been snowballing into bigger and better things. 
Cool miracle of the week: A couple weeks ago we did a drop by to a less active. 
By some miracle we were able to get into contact with him. Later that week we went to 
an English club that he attends regularly. Last week, we were so busy so we didn't contact him, 
but were thinking about him. Thursday night we get a call from him, and I say "Hi Marat!" 
The man says, "This is not Marat. My name is Daniel." Daniel was at English club 
with Marat and the Mormons were brought up in their discussion. So Daniel wanted to 
know who are the Mormons? Marat then gave him the phone when we called back. 
Daniel said that he is leaving for Moscow the next night. He said he wants to meet us 
and know more about the Mormons. We set up a meeting at 9:30am. It was such a wonderful, spiritual meeting. My first investigator lesson since the new law change. 
I was almost in tears when Elder Shukin testified about the Book of Mormon. 
We gave him a Book of Mormon and a promise that we will refer him to 
the volunteers in Moscow. It was such a huge miracle!!! 

Our District! Love serving with them.

We've met with soooo many new friends. It has been incredible. 
So many plans and so much pizza! Another cool event was that one of the members 
of the area presidency, Elder Martino. He came just specifically to Kazan for the weekend. 
We were honored to have him and learn from him on a personal level. He inspired 
the members and volunteers here of the potential of Kazan. This is the second visit 
from a Seventy to visit Kazan in one year. And only Kazan! That means that this truly 
is a special place. I'm honored to live here and serve the people here. 

Elder Martino, Sister Palmer and I.

I love you all. I love the Lord. I know in troubling times, we just need 
to rely on the Lord and to trust in Him. Have a great week!!!

Winter wonderland adventure!
Much love, 
Cectpa Graham