Friday, October 26, 2007

Hello from Russa!

Wow ...what a past couple of days! My head is till reeling but it will be ok. All of our flights went relatively smoothly, though to Germany we had some turbulence that made me lose my appetite.

We spent the first night in the mission home. I'm not too tired yet but I'm kinda goin on adrenaline right now. Though I did wake up at three a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep so me and Cectra King stayed up and chatted. Today we had some talks on the mission, expectations, and how we do missionary work here. A lot of it is done through contacting because there are so few members that they get hit up for contacts a lot and it can be tiring for them. I also found out where I am going to be serving: Krasnadar (sp?) which is S of Rostov.

My companion is Cectpa "meeleeleena" I think I that's how you pronounce it. She's from Siberia and turns 24 in the next couple of months. She seems real energetic and sure of herself which is good, she speaks English I think, but everyone is trying to speak Russian so it's hard to tell-though I think we'll be just fine. I'm sitting in an Internet cafe-it was def interesting getting here, the little twists and turns and sometimes going under the street where there's lots of lil shops and the smell of smoke everywhere-hopefully less in Krasnadar but we'll see I guess. Ten feet to the left is an opening into a bar with music playing. Definitely different after the MTC.

I'm sure it will take a little time for me to get used to everything and over the culture shock but I'm excited to be here and get to work. Luckily my ears held up good for all of the flights and seem to be ok and will hopefully stay that way-pray for me (which I know you are 8)

The traffic is absolutely insane here-not that it's that busy but lets just say the lines in the middle of the road are a waste of paint 8) interesting.....

I can tell I'm going to learn a lot from this experience, I don't know if anything will quite scare me again-not that this is scary but if I can adapt and live here in this different environment then anything else will seem easy to do, at least easy to do with confidence.

Well I'm trying to remember the lil info that you wanted to know but my head is kinda crammed full of stuff at the and my companion are the only ones going to Krasnadar this transfer. Cectpa King is going to Volgragad up north and Cectpa Taylor is staying in Rostov-south part of it I think. Everyone else is spread to the winds.

Well I love you all and hope this week is going well for you, and I hope it goes well for me too 8) I love you all and am grateful for your support.

Cectpa Richards

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Some where over the Atlantic

Whitney called us from Denver at about 4:30 pm yesterday. She said that she and 3 other missionaries were in line at Burger King after getting off the plane and a man in line ahead of them paid for all of their lunches! Awwhhh! The kindness of strangers.

She also told us about her random encounter with Amanda at the eye doctor the other day. That is so cool! What a great send off for her. It's amazing to think of all the little pieces that had to fall in place for that to have happened.

I asked her about the suitcase Heather mentioned in one of the letters she had sent home. Heather said something about Whit leaving it behind at their old apartment and ...did she mean for Heather to have it? Whit didn't know what she meant other than it was probably the suitcase that she borrowed from Sara when she came home for a few days before her mission. Heather said she would hang on to it so Sara ...heads up, better go retrieve your suitcase from Heather's apartment before it disappears!

I did find out why her phone card minutes got devoured so quickly ... every time you use a pay phone it automatically charges 10 minutes. Then for calls to or from certain states like Texas, Colorado, etc. instead of charging 1 minute for every minute you use, they charge 5 minutes! What a rip off!!! Anyway we were able to hook Whit up on a 3 way toll free conference call from her pay phone to us so that was sweet! It came in very handy because her dad was out of town and could hook up with us from Kansas. Nothing like some last minute updates from dad on all things "BYU sports" before sending her on her way!

She told us she'd heard a random conversation between an RM from Rostov and some missionaries at the MTC the other day and they were saying that the mission home in Rostov looks like a castle with big gates out front. Awesome!

Also there are a total of 20 missionaries arriving in Rostov today. That's a pretty big number considering there are only 80 missionaries in the whole mission. Some are from a previous group who didn't get their visas a month or so ago and have been waiting it out in Montana. Can't imagine many Russians are up there but the climate may be closer to the real thing.

She was still super excited and I can't wait for her first email though I'm not sure if it will still be on Tuesdays or if the day will change. I'll keep you posted.

Luv you all,

Mom Richards

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Snail Mail

For those of you who have been writing to Whitney I thought I would post some info on where to send your letters now that she is on her way to Russia. (Or will be as of Wed the 24th at 11:25 am!) Of course you can continue to send your letters through They charge a fee to type your letters and send them to Salt Lake to go in the pouch mail. Or you can mail your letters directly to Salt Lake to to be included in the pouch. I'm not sure which system is faster or less expensive.

Be sure that when sending letters through the pouch you send letters only, (no photos) may be sent to Russia, but color copies of photos are allowed. Missionaries may send a few photos back to the United States occasionally in letters.

Letters should be sent through the pouch in Salt Lake City. The address follows:

Sister Whitney Richards
Russia Rostov Mission
P.O. Box 30150
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0150

Packages to Russia must be sent through the regular postal service. Airmail deliveries generally arrive in 4-6 weeks. Surface mail is cheaper, but can take from 2-3 months to arrive. We ask that packages contain small, inexpensive and incidental items. WE DO NOT WANT CUSTOM PROBLEMS and expensive or very desirable items might never reach the missionary. If the value of the package is over $50, you will likely pay custom fees. Also, please consider your missionary’s companion when packages are sent. Some missionaries do not receive many packages from home and feel badly when his or her companion receives them regularly. The address for parcel delivery is:

Rostov Russia Mission
Bolshaya Sadovya 39/4
344082 Rostov-na-Donu, Russia

Here are some interesting bits of information about Whitney’s mission that we received from the current mission president. President Harrison is an attorney from Utah and a former Bishop of one of the BYU student wards. “The Russia Rostov Mission" covers the southern part of Russia and our weather is more temperate than the rest of the country. We have some hot weather in the summer and some snow and rain in winter. The countryside is varied and diverse, ranging from rocky beaches on the Black Sea to farmland to large cities. This is a “pioneering mission” where many of the units are still small. We have 18 branches at present. There are about 2000 members of the church in our mission. Currently we have about 80-85 missionaries including elders, sister missionaries and couples.

We will continue to post Whitney’s emails so you can receive weekly updates on her experiences in Russia. We are very excited for her and know that she will be an excellent missionary and will continue to serve the Lord faithfully. Please remember her in your prayers, especially as she begins her travels to Russia tomorrow. Thanks everyone!

Next stop ...Russia!

Hey everyone,

So this is a little frustrating-the email speed is terrible today and it already ate ten of my minutes just waiting for it to open. Also, the speed is so bad I don't know if I'll have time to wait and open your emails I've received which makes me really mad, but what can you do? I figured I'd better hurry and write this cause who knows how long it will take to send out to you.

Thank you all for your letters-I got letters from mom, dad, Eric, and Steve which really made my day-they were great letters. I'm really excited for you Eric-and jealous, you get to see grand nationals 8( haha, you'll love it I know. Um...why Jafar? a nickname I'm guessing? I guess that's not a bad one for the army. Um, I'm gonna try to type in Russian: эрик would be your name in Russian-sorry it was taking too long to find the right keys for our last name but it's pretty cool.

Well we're pretty sure that we are going tomorrow-we know they have our visas and invitation letters etc. I will prolly be able to call sometime today if we get our flight plans so I can tell you more detail about that.

I'm really excited for this trip and am really glad that I've had this extra week in the MTC- it was great. We heard from Gerald R. Lund, and Sheri Dew and hopefully someone just as great tonight since it's a genral authority night.

Today will be a busy day of washing, packing, and getting things in order as well as going to get my new lenses put into my glasses. The doctor said my eye looks fine and I will prolly wear my glasses for most of the time and save my contacts for special occasions. I love you all and am sorry this is so scattered and not as good as normal but I don't know how many minutes I have left and I want to try and read your emails.

I love you all and will prolly be calling you later today! Thanks for all the support and hopefully the next email will be from Russia!!

Cectpa Richards

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I'm still here

Hello everyone!

Andrea-I’ll write you first cause time is brief I know. I'm so excited that she got the letter! hopefully she could understand what I was saying-haha spelling/writing in Russian is a bit harder for me than just speaking it 8) Keep me updated-I can def keep sending letters the more fluent I get! It sounds like you're doing amazing-can't wait to join in the work.

Well, for all those who don't know-our visas weren't here in time. So they told us that they were pretty confident they could get our visas in time for us to leave by the 24th of October-so an extra week and a half at the MTC. It's just four of us in our room (3 elders and me) We find out tomorrow if they have the required things to get our visas or not so we'll see. I had a dream that we met with our branch president who told us that we were leaving in 24 hours and to be ready-let's hope it was a revelation 8) I called mom and dad to let them know and it was pretty funny-I said hello in Russian and mom said: what, who? I laughed and said it's me, she said: oh, it sounded weird, I said: yea, it's because it was in Russian, haha "oh, that's why". It was pretty comical and it was good to talk to them for the 5 minutes that we had.

So yesterday I said goodbye to my first companion as she and the rest of our district left. I won't lie it was hard and I received a "solo" sister sticker on my badge which means that while I’m in class I’m the only sister with three other elders and I have to be with at least two other elders in my district at all times or with my roommates at all times. It's definitely an adjustment and it's surprising the difference having one other sister in the room with you makes-and you realize that difference when she's gone. We're trying to keep our spirits high though and have faith that our visas will come through. On the bright side we get to hear a few more devotionals and we're due for an apostle I think, and we get to go to the temple more often throughout the week-not just on Tuesday (because our teachers aren't here for their normal full times since this should be the week they get to have a break,) so we have a lot of MDT and study on our own most of the day. I'm excited for the extra sessions in the temple to soak it up even more before we leave-which I'm determined we will do 8)

In some exciting news: in our "departure devotional" they announced that starting on Nov 1st there will be a new mission opening up: New Delhi, India. It was very exciting and further proof that we will be able to preach and go into every nation, the stone is rolling forth and it's only a matter of time before we're everywhere!

I hope all is well with you at home. I'm not sure if I'll get to call you or just write you when I find out about if we have visas and our new tentative flight plans. Keep us Rostov missionaries in your prayers and that the city that we're having troubles getting an invitation letter from will finally approve of our papers and give us the invitation letter that we need to get our visas.
Luckily, I won't be a solo sister forever. There's a girl in a different zone who was going to Moscow but they spelled something wrong on her visa so she is like us-waiting til the 24th to go to Moscow so I think her comp leaves tomorrow for Moscow and she'll move in our room with us and we'll be companions for the rest of the time which I’m thankful for-it's really different teaching/planning with an elder-bit of an awkwardness there as you can imagine.

I'm excited for what lies ahead and know that I will make it to Russia because that's where the Lord wants and needs me to be. I'm excited for Steve's upcoming band schedule and know that he'll do great and am way excited for dad and mom to get the grand nationals experience in Indy-I loved it, nothing else quite like it!
Thanks for all your support and love-keep using dearelder this last week, even if I leave before I get it, because they will mail it on through the pouch to where ever I am. mail will def. be needed this week, it helps when there's things to look forward to throughout the day of studying 8)

Mike, Jess, and kids-hope everything is going well with you, what's new?? are in your own house yet? I'm sure the kids are loving the extra time with family.
I love you all and hope I will soon be writing to you from Russia 8)

Have a great day and keep the letters coming!
Luv Cectpa Richards

p.s. o yea! And if you don't have the new movie: Joseph Smith: prophet of the restoration (the newest that the church has made), I strongly encourage you to get it-its sooo good! I've seen it at least 3 or 4 times after Sunday devotional and every time it just charges me up and I feel ready to go and share our unique message! (the soundtrack is gorgeous too 8) also the mountain of the lord is excellent-they're my two favorites 8) Anywho, just some good movies to have in the home etc.

love you!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My Last P-day

Hello one and all!

Hopefully this side of general conference is finding you well, rested, and spiritually charged. I was so excited for general conference and was not let down by any means though I wish I could have heard more from President Hinckley 8) I was deeply touched by Elder Worthlin's talk and will remember it for the rest of my life-I felt the spirit so strongly.

I guess the exciting news around here is that today is my last p-day, if all goes according to plan; the next time I write will be from an internet cafe in Russia! As far as my plans go (I mailed mom and dad this info in more detail) but my flight leaves Monday around one o'clock and arrives in Denver, then after a few hours we take off to Frankfurt, Germany and then on to Rostov-skipping the expensive Moscow. 8)

We don't know if we have our visas. An elder in our group (there's nine of us traveling to rostov-3 sisters) asked the travel office about our visas and they said that they hadn't heard from Salt Lake yet, they said either way we would find out Thursday or Friday but that if we heard before then-it will mean that we don't have our visas, so we don't want to hear from them till Thur or Fri. Hopefully everything will be on schedule and we won't have to play the guessing game while living out of a suitcase.

The temple was amazing today, sad to think it could quite possibly be the last time for awhile but really special. Cectpa Kelemen and I stayed after and did some sealings which was special since my companion hadn't done them before. The first sealing I did had a very special spirit about it and afterwards the "wife" leaned over and said: "that was a baby", it was really neat. The temple was great, though we were late for an appointment we had made where a sister comes in and talks about looking our best and (the reason we did it) gives us a free bag of nice makeup. We didn't realize that when you do sealings you stay for the hour, so we missed it, but luckily the sister had left the makeup for us and after apologizing we got it.
I received the vests mom-thanks they'll work great!

O yea, the elder also said to tell you that if our visas were delayed we would get to buy a phone card and call you on Saturday to let you know of our plans and what was going to happen-wait in the MTC etc, but if you don't hear from me then that probably means that we will be leaving on Monday. We haven't heard any instructions from our branch president as to calling you or when but I assume we can and will. In the letter I sent it has the exact time of my flight leaving and arriving-I know we leave for the airport around ten, so I think we'll either call you before our Salt Lake flight or Denver flight since we have a bit of a layover there. Anywho, lots of ifs but that's all they really tell us here.

Steve- Congratulations!!!!! That is soooo exciting! I was sad that I was in the MTC and surrounded by a bunch of people who really don't understand the depth that is that experience and the energy and excitement of it all, so I had a quiet victory to myself-but inside I was jumping up and down and screaming. It's about time you got a medal of your own-I guess the band was just so injured and incomplete once the class of 2004 left-it's to be expected....ahem.

Well congrats, and continue to have the same drive, work ethic, and fire-just cause you won one thing, doesn’t' mean the rest will be handed to you on a silver platter. In fact, now the bar is raised and you have to work even harder to impress them more each time cause people expect it of you-cool huh?

Good luck at BOA, have a great time (I love the area, and hopefully you'll be able to see Dean Westman who I think lives in the area-I know I loved it when we went to Chicago, lots of fun) just, in the words of Pres. Hinckley to an advice-seeking elder: "don't be stupid". Wise council I think, especially when surrounded by teenage boys who seem to lose all rational sense when put on a vehicle or into a hotel room with lots of other boys. Don't be afraid to be the voice of reason and say: "Hey guys that's stupid!"

Anywho, random band advice. Hope all is going well with the rest of the family!
Thanks so much for the letters Mike, Jess, and kids! I'm so excited to get back and play with Benson, Grace, and Breenie and who knows...maybe someone else. 8) Be sure to listen to your mom and dad ok guys? Always CTR! And feel free to send some more pictures through the pouch ok? 8)

Oh, and in answer mom-yes I guess you could say I've "passed off" the discussions even though we don't pass them off because they're not memorized, but I have studied and am able to teach (it's never the same twice) about the different principles in the first and second lesson along with most of the third lesson (which is most of the same vocab) and we've gone over the word of wisdom and tithing though I don't feel like I would know enough to teach it effectively-always much to study.

Thanks for the continued support and prayers! The next few days will drag as I'm waiting hopefully for my visa, not that I don't love it here but I wasn't called to serve in the MTC but Russia. 8)

Oh yea! Sorry, my thoughts are sporadic, but dad: in the temple a sealing was done for a Oimet (a French first name as well) who knows, maybe an ancestor of the famous golfer? It made me smile and think of you, and I felt proud that I knew a golfer's name other than Tiger Woods.

I can't think of anything else that I was going to tell you about, but hopefully tonight's speaker will be great to send us off to Russia and I can really live this last P-day up and get everything prepared. I love you all and love this gospel and that we have the power of God on the earth again so that we can be sealed together for all eternity and continue to grow and learn together. I love you all and hope that the holidays will be fun for you-be sure to send me pictures of the kids' costumes, I know they'll be adorable!

Hopefully next time in Russia,
Cectpa Richards

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Start the count down

Hey everyone!

Thanks for all of your letters and support this week. 8) This week has been really positive and uneventful as well. Though I suppose it did snow a little bit which surprised everyone. I think it's good though, so I won't be shocked if when I get to Russia it's cold. The TRC went well this week-we taught a native Russian that we had gotten before, but this time was a lot better because we knew how to say: We'll talk about that later, but first...

The temple has been great this morning, and I'm excited for our fireside tonight. We are all looking forward to general conference, to able to spiritually charge up and receive some strength before heading out, plus having a little break-since no class on Saturday. 8)

I think this upcoming Friday we get flight plans, which is in no relation to whether we have visas or not, so I think either this Friday or next Monday I can go to the travel office and ask them our situation with our visas because they don't know until a week before we leave-then Salt Lake tells them, so we'll see. Hopefully they redid our visas when they redid the older missionary’s visas so we won't have to wait. 8)

On a far more important note: HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY MOM and DAD! and I thought it was hard keeping track of dates out in the real world, it's next to impossible in here-I honestly don't know how we're into October already. With all of the Russian crammed into my head certain important little facts of information have been squeezed out, and then when I realized my forgetfulness, I wasn't able to do anything cause we can only write letters today, and only email for thirty minutes on today, so I’m sorry. BUT you can expect a little something from me will be in the mail and on its way by the end of the day. I only wish I were in Russia so I could send something cool-o well, plenty of time for that later.

O yea, and mom I was wondering if you could send me some of those threading/flossing things from the dentist, and if you have made the order with sister missionary mall yet...just because time is running down. I'm glad to hear the TV is fixed-you'll have to enjoy some of my favorites for me. 8)

Steve, good luck with BOA! As Westman always said: Do you want to win BOA or be remembered? (you're supposed to say be remembered) and leave it all out on the field. you'll do great and I can't wait to hear about some of your competition and how everyone else did.

Eric, how ya doin? As your commanding sister I order you to write me an email-a couple lines will suffice! 8)

We have started SYL (speak your language) a couple days ago and it's 100% Russian from here on out-at least every word that we say (and not type) it's hard and you don't realize some of the habits you have when things just pop out especially "like" and "ok" though apparently they say ok sometimes too so I guess that's not so bad. It's good though and it really pushes us to use what we know and we're always glued to a Russian dictionary looking up what we're trying to say. Hard but good. I'm excited for what lies ahead and will keep you informed of my future travel plans. 8)

It's dragged by so fast here. 8) I know this gospel is the true restored gospel of Jesus Christ through his prophet Joseph Smith and that through the Book of Mormon we can learn all that we need to know in order to return to our Heavenly Father. It is able to answer all questions that we may have in this life. I'm grateful for the priesthood-the blessing it's been in my life, and for temples and that through the sacred work there I'm able to be sealed to my family for time and all eternity. I love you all and hope you have a great week!

O yea, and Mike-don't worry, no drama is good drama, and thanks for sharing that thought on service. It's so true, and through study I’ve really begun to feel the importance of service-people may not want to listen to the gospel, but we can still teach and share with them through our actions. Give the kids a hug, tickle, and a kiss from me!

Love you all,
Cectpa Richards