Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It won't be long now

Hello everyone, hope you are all having a great week so far.

This week has been a good one; it gets harder and harder to believe that I only have three weeks left. No word on visas-they don't tell us anything until we leave or not....but I'll stop by the travel office to see if they have any idea on the situation.

Well, we weren't spoken to by Pres Hinckley, but we listened to Elder Ballard of the twelve-not bad huh? It was really good and stressing how important it is to make sure people understand what we really are in the church, our beliefs, etc because for some reason it can be hard to ignore all the rumors etc. He stressed teaching simply and clearly and making sure that they are coming along with you in their understanding. It was really good and we had a spiritual district meeting afterwards.

Well this Saturday we start SYL and it's Russian from here on out-scary to think, it's so draining to try and say everything in Russian but I know it helps us learn faster or realize what we need to learn 8)

I'm not sure why you haven't gotten my letter with pictures-my friends in Provo received it, so it's not a weight issue and I know your address...keep me posted on that.

I go back today in an hour to have them look at my ears etc and get my last shot. My hearing is pretty much back to normal and the doctor will give me some medicine to take with me so that's good.

The temple was amazing as usual. We were able to help one of our roommates get some names done that she has so that was special. I haven't seen Jason around but maybe one of these days, who knows. I'm excited for conference and it's hard to believe that this Sunday is our last fast Sunday here-wow!

Thanks for all of your support and love- oh yea, and mom my debit card works so don't worry 8)

I'm not that worried about glasses, too much work, it'll be fine. Thanks for Heather's address-tell her to call Sara cause I sent Sara a letter for heather since I didn't know her new address.

I love you all and hope that all is well! Eric gets email capabilities doesn't he? maybe not...if he does-write me!

Love, Cectpa Richards

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thank You!

September 18, 2007

Hello everyone!

Thank you so much for all of your wonderful letters! It is amazing how happy they made me. Thank you so much for all the pictures Mike and Jess-they were so adorable and seeing you all together and how big and cute the kids are getting, it almost made me cry (in a good way) especially the pick with Benson on top of Steve's shoulders-adorable!

This week has been amazing, and it's funny because I can't find a specific thing that made it that way-just everything combined. We got to hear from Pres. Hinckley's son which was amazing with some of the insights they gave us into his life, and the spirit was really strong. We're working on the second lesson in Russian now and will teach it Wednesday. It is so humbling to be learning this language but at the same time feel so much joy when you can share a simple testimony and know that they understand. An elder in our district gave a powerful testimony with a few tears about how he finally felt the spirit in Russian when someone bore a simple testimony in response to a question he had asked (when we teach each other) and said that it really is great that we have this language and that it forces us to stay simple and pure-def not relying on our own knowledge or wisdom to teach but the spirit.

Well, some possibly big news is that we think we may hear from Pres. Hinckley tonight-we hear he is speaking at BYU today so he is in the area and it would make sense if they scheduled it at the same time for convenience-I so hope that we can hear from the prophet while we are here-how fortunate and how wonderful, especially when many of the missionaries here have never heard from him in person being from all over the world.

Well, my cold is doing better, but I had a minor setback when I ran out of decongestants-wasn't diligent in getting more right away and it has affected my ears (as my sinuses always seem to do). I woke up in the middle of the night the other night with an aching ear so I took one of the pills I had and said a prayer that it would work. I went to the health center the next morning, the doctor looked at it and said that the eardrum was fine, but he could tell there was some pressure-it was pulsing (gross!) and thus my hearing is a little muffled, but he set me up with some new medicine which makes me feel like I'm sucking on a tin can all day, but I'm stocked in tic-tacs and breath mints. He also said that the medicine I had was expired, to throw it away and then he said he would get me a good supply to have that would last longer than my mission in case it happens there seeing as medical isn’t great over there-so some great blessings 8). I'll go for a check up next Tuesday.

A funny story I thought I'd share: We were teaching some elders in our district for practice and then they taught us. They told us of a scripture in the D&C and we continued to read it in Russian-of course not understanding any of it, so opening our scriptures we read it in English so we could understand how to answer their questions about it. They had told us to read D&C 130:11-12 (we barely started reading it when we bust out laughing-read it and you'll see why. Not exactly a great scripture for brand new investigators or even brand new members of the church for that matter). We all laughed really hard, we were crying we were laughing so hard, then they realized the scripture they wanted was 20-21 about keeping commandments. It was just so funny because we had no idea what it said and were all like- yea great, I get it in Russian. It shows the importance of knowing what you're asking them to read 8).

Another story that I heard last night from my roommate’s teacher: He was in Russia and saw a family waiting for a bus. The dad was yelling at his son to come here-the son was barely able to walk (really young) and he said that he could see such utter fear and confusion from the son. He talked about how there are wars and terrorists all over the world and that we send armies to fight them and protect us, but there was no army coming to protect that boy who was feeling true fear-and living with it everyday in his home. Then he realized that he was the "army" that could come and help this family-the gospel is so important, it is the only thing that really saves people-despite circumstances in this life, wars, etc. It is so important, it's eternal and would be able to save that little boy and that father so that they could be a family unit in the way that God intended, and how important families are.

Satan is so unhappy because he doesn't have a body and thus cannot have a real family-will never have a mother, father, brothers and sisters, but is the true meaning of loneliness and forced to be a single individual with no attachments or connections with others-how sad and horrible that is, and how important is it that we can have bodies. We can have families and through the gospel. We are able to be sealed to them and will be able to progress and learn together. We are intelligences that need that family relationship and contact with others to truly grow and progress to our full potential. It just hit me so hard the utter gravity of the responsibility that I have to share this gospel, the ONLY thing that can truly save people in this unsure world. How could we feel timid about sharing that, or be uncertain? They don't know the importance of it, but we do and because of that understanding we should be sharing it with every single person that we can-it means everything. I dunno, I just really received an eternal perspective and understanding of the importance of this great work and am so grateful for that boost in my testimony. We are heroes because we are able to save people; help the Savior save people and be able to live together forever and with God forever. That is why we go through everything that we do and I know that it is the only way to accomplish this.

I love you all and hope that you have received some of the pictures I sent home so you can see what life is like here.

Andrea, thank you for the letter! I would love to help, it may take me a little bit, but I will try my best at writing a letter in Russian and bearing my testimony of the gospel and the message that you missionaries have. (and I'll try to send some pictures)

Eric, congratulations on graduating! I'm so impressed and proud of your diligence in learning Arabic and serving your country. Every week when we pray for the servicemen in the temple I think of you and how much I appreciate what you are doing and love you.

Steve, hope band is going well - keep up the hard work and let me know how the season is going-games, funny stories, competitions

Sorry to hear about the BYU game, I couldn't believe it but I’m glad it wasn't a complete shut out. We'll get them when I'm back that's for sure!

I love you all, and thank you for your love and support. Please let the knowledge of the importance of the gospel strengthen your resolve to share it

Cectpa Richards

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Hello everyone! I would type hello but i have no idea how to spell it-lots of vowels etc...but anywho, thanks for all of your emails!

This week has been a good one. I seem to have caught a "nasty virus" (as the nurse called it) that seems to be running rampant here at the MTC. One thing I have to say is that it is a petri dish of filth here-every devotional is littered with people coughing left and right-a chorus of coughs if you will, but it's not too bad. My voice is a lil' hoarse, and my sinus are a lil' more active then I'd like, with a lil cough but I am loaded up on the de-congestants and gargling salt water and drinking lots of clear liquids so hopefully it will pass soon. They also told me to get plenty of rest to which I kind of chuckled....yea....I'll just pencil that in to my wide-open schedule. But my comp has been great letting me take naps during our MDT (missionary directed time) etc so i'm getting there. I would stay home and rest, but A). I don't feel as bad anymore, and B). that means my comp has to stay in the room twiddling her thumbs-the one thing I'm frustrated with as far as comp rules go, but what the hay.

In other news, our older missionaries in our branch are now gone 8( and on Sunday my companion Cectpa Kelemen, was called as music coordinator (I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn't called) and I was called as coordinating sister which basically means I go to branch council on Sunday with the Dl's and Zl's and report on how all the sisters are doing in our branch. Since we're not getting anymore sisters til we leave (only getting 8 elders this wednesday) I think I can keep track of our sisters (all four of us and all roommates 8). It should be interesting though, and I have been asked to go to the meeting that welcomes the new missionaries tomorrow night which may mean we have to miss TRC this week 8(.

Speaking of TRC, last week (our first lesson in Russian) was interesting to say the least. We had two investigators in our room, one RM who was quiet but nice, and an older squatty man who was a native. Apparently he is well-known among the teachers because instead of being the golden investigator that he is told to be, he is known for giving missionaries a hard time. He's not mean or anything, but asks a lot of questions and doesn't really allow the first lesson to take place. Luckily between the two of us we semi-communicated. My comp could understand what he said better than me (man he spoke fast!) and I was able to come up with answers better, or at least coherent things to say that he could understand. It was definitely humbling, and even though we didn't really teach the first lesson, but tried to answer his questions (not knowing how to take control of the situation in Russian) it def was a reality check and reminded me that I'll get to russia and prolly not really understand one thing people were saying. So it was good practice to put myself in that situation and get used to the feeling of "I have no idea what you're saying". It'll be less shocking for me I'm sure.

Now me and Cectpa Kelemen want to get him again just so we can take control of the situation and teach him-apparently he told the elders after us, that we did a lot better than they did (I don't know what convo he was listening to, but the spirit must have helped cause I have no idea what we were saying). It helped us though because we went after and decided to learn how to explain certain things like the Holy Ghost, and what makes us different as a church etc (in Russian that is).

Mom, just curious but I was wondering if the idea of me getting those glasses would pan out at all as far as the new insurance goes etc, if not it's ok-just let me know. I'd just feel better to have a hard copy of my current perscription/sturdy, up-to-date glasses, but if not it's fine. And as far as sweater vests; anything is fine-not white, just color, lots of colors 8).

The weather has been beautiful here and I've really enjoyed it. Today we went to an earlier session just to change things up and see the other version of the movie shown, it was refreshing and the spirit was def there.

Mike and Jess, thanks for the pics! I loved them and will keep them in my folder to look at 8)

Andrea, I'm not sure if I should be writing you emails, but I'm thinking it may be a lot easier than you having to mail something all the way to Russia (shrug) and you're basically my sister right?? Haha, just let me know if you have time, you can just forward me the letter you send to fam etc. that' fine. I'm so excited to hear about your success! I had a dream the other night that I was studying outside the 1M and you walked outside dressed in street clothes dragging your suitcases surrounded by your family and were coming home. I was so sad and tried to figure out why but you wouldn't say, and all I could think of was...now I won't have anyone to be with when I get back cause she'll already be moved on-sad day huh?! But I was happy when I woke up and realized it was a dream and you're doing awesome! Way to reinactive!!

Eric, so you're graduating! So what now? Have you already been assigned, or still waiting? Will it be out in the field so to speak or desk job, or desk job out in the field? Let me know what's going on 8).

I hope everyone will have fun at the football game! Yell the fight song extra loud for me! Benson better paint his face blue-how cute would that pic be?? When we walk and review vocab in the evenings we can sometimes here the band practicing and it makes me so happy to think of the football games awaiting me when I get home, and hopefully a great team will be waiting too 8)

Thanks for the lil package mom! I haven't used the new card yet but I will today and make sure it works.

It's weird to think what I was doing on this day six years ago. I'm so thankful for the country we live in and the opportunity we have to share our beliefs with all that are around us, and the armed services who help us maintain these rights. (Luv ya Eric!)

Well, I better go and get to it, I don't know if I told you but Elder Holland spoke to us on Tuesday and the General YW pres spoke to us sisters on sunday-I love it here! I'm def trying to soak up the spirit as much as I can so it will sustain me when I'm out in the bush 8).

I love you all, keep the letters/lil notes/pics coming-I'll be sending my pictures to you today 8).

Stay strong, and I encourage you all to study dilligence-I studied it this week and was amazed what I learned 8).

Cectpa Richards

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Well hello everyone!

I hope everything is going well with you-I say hope because I haven't received any emails from the fam which is weird since it is easy to do and doesn't take long. I'm hoping that everything is ok and everyone is in good health/spirits etc. I haven't gotten a letter/dearelder.com letter for a couple of days but I'm hoping that's because yesterday was Labor Day and there was no mail service. I am wondering if the package mom talked about has been sent yet or if I should not be expecting it.

Life here is going great. I'm going to put in an order to print some of the pics off my camera and mail it to my fam and friends just so you can see me in all of my glory here in the MTC as well as my comp, roommates, and district.

The older districts in our branch are leaving this week and then it will be just our three districts that came in originally on the first for a week-just us, it will be weird! and then soon after I'm assuming that some greenies will come in-hopefully we'll get more girls cause it will be just us four in the branch (the girls in my room).

The language is coming-this Wednesday is the first day that we get to teach the first lesson in Russian! It's hard to believe but me and my companion have been practicing-never having notes to help or prompt us so I think we will be well prepared for how it will stretch our minds and using only the things we know. I love proclaiming the gospel in Russian-they always tell you how you need to teach simply which in English can be hard cause you feel like you need to explain everything, but in Russian you're forced to keep it simple, bare your testimony alot and have faith that the spirit will bare witness to those you're talking to.

This week I've been focusing on diligence. I mean, I understood what it is...sort-of but it seems of such importance-every mention of missionary work seems to bring up this word. So I've been studying about it from PMG and the scriptures. I've come to find that diligence is simply obedience but over and through time. It seems the Lord needs marathon runners and not sprinters. Basically it seems that diligence is what we want to help members and investigators alike to develop-because if you have diligence you will always be striving to keep the Lord's commandments and improve despite circumstances or being tired-it's consistent, and energetic. Basically it's the part of our purpose-the most important part in my mind: endure to the end. If you make covenants once it really doesn’t do you much good or matter-it's when you continually keep them and honor them that we are able to receive exaltation and grow/develop-this is what stretches us in life and forces us to rely on the Savior and keep trying.

The temple was amazing today. I love going to the temple with a certain topic in mind that I'm striving to understand or learn better and focusing on that topic throughout the endowment session and listening to the promptings of the spirit-it really is the Lord's university where we can continue to learn and receive instructions.

Steve: I would just like to thank you for continually trying to be a gentleman and trying to open the door for me etc in the past while before my mission even though I would brush your efforts aside. This week we talked about why the elders stand for the sisters when we walk in a room because some of the sisters didn't feel comfortable about it or thought that it was degrading in some way to the men. We learned that we should let them do it not because we sisters need it but because they need it. It is teaching them to honor the women in their lives and if me letting them do this will help them be respectful of their wives and mothers some day then I will let them do it and hope that some sister will help teach my future husband as well.

It is allowing them to serve and strive to be Christ-like. I realize that you were doing those things not because you thought me unable but because you were showing me that you loved me. I highly encourage you to continue to show respect to the women around you in your life-it will be a great example to the other young men around you who aren't used to it, or wouldn't think to do it, and it will brighten many people's days.

Dad, well the past few days when we have gone outside for a change of scenery in our lessons I heard the marching band practicing a couple blocks south and oh how I ached for football season! Just remembering the excitement, the smell of the food, the band, cheerleaders, a perfect clear day and the fight song-sigh....brings a unique happiness let me tell ya (and I know I don't need to tell you 8). Our teacher came in to class with BYU stamped on his hand and we were asking what it was for and then I remembered: the first game! He told us it was against Arizona and that we won-and the way he said it and his sure smile made us think it was with no difficulty. Be sure to write me and let me know how the team is doing and comments from respective sports announcers etc- about our chances for this season.

Eric, are you still learning that special dialect or are you being sent somewhere? What's the news?? Let me know how it's going and your future plans if possible 8)

Mike, Jess, and fam: How are you all doing? Are you into a new home yet? How is the weather in Oklahoma, and did you hear or know anyone that was involved in that situation with the sisters in Russia that I wrote about last time? Tell everyone hi for me and feel free to send me emails with attached pictures if possible so I can see how big the kids are getting 8)

I love you all and better close because I need to get on with my P-day activities. O yea! We were able to hear from Elder Holland last Tuesday and it was amazing!! He is definitely at the top of my list with the 12 apostles 8) His love and appreciation of missions and missionaries is absolutely contagious and I hope we hear from someone just as amazing tonight 8)

I love you all, don't be shy now!

Cectpa Richards