Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I've been crossed

Greetings one and all!

Thanks for your continual support and letters,they are a huge highlight to my week! Speaking of sending correspondence: All packages need to be sent to the mission office if you didn't already know, thank you 8)

So another week has come and gone. Our lil' Thanksgiving was great last week. We all met up at the elders' apartment-it is a huge apartment, I'm so jealous
8( We all went out to a cement court out back and played some football which was fun. I'm not sure which was more fun playing or watching people's interest and expressions as they passed seeing real Americans playing real American football. Pretty funny. Then we went back to the apartment. We watched the "Emperor's New Groove" in Russian which was pretty comical because I remembered all that was being said and then learning what it was in Russian-not exactly an exact translation but still hilarious. The part when they go over the water fall and he says bring it on was pretty funny. There's a word: "Feegnah" which just means that something is worthless, not important, or our slang word: crap. And that's all he said before they went over the waterfall- we were laughing pretty hard.

Our meal was amazing even for American standards-everyone brought something and we had about ten of us together. We had chicken marinated in this barbecue/pineapple sauce stuff-really good, pumpkin bread (so good!). Fruit salad, jello, rolls, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing casserole, and more but I can't remember at the moment...then we had these lil personal pumpkin pies which were ok-just add water on the back of package type of thing, but then we had our apple pies and ice cream. I think I'm still working off all that I ate and haven't really been that hungry since.

Um...what else happened this week...we got this one lady from the elders who had knocked into her (not literally of course) and she's really amazing. She has already come to church and brought her 6 year old son, came to FHE at the branch, and came to English last night and we taught her the plan of salvation which I think went well...only she had a problem with pre-earth life-thought that our spirits were just created once God created our bodies with His breath or something. We'll find some good scriptures though and address it next time-she's really great and a sincere lady. Our knocking hasn't found as much success as normal this past while-a bit of doubt with lots of interesting, old, Russian-orthodox people (always a good combination with a couple young Mormon missionaries 8)

One man we knocked into was trying to convince my companion that she should be orthodox and how can she not be orthodox because she's Russian-she gets this a lot and hates it (understandably). Here it's really interesting because people are way strong Russian Orthodox because they are Russian and they think that that's enough of a reason to be orthodox-never mind the religious aspects of it, you're Russian so therefore you should be orthodox. Anywho, this man and Cectpa Malinina hashed it out for a good 20-30 minutes on the doorstep with me just standing there and wanting to say something but thought better of it when I started hearing him say "amerakanskee" a lot. Let the bashing begin! Hahaha, he went on and on about how Americans were fat and lazy and only want to invade lands, eat all the food and then move to the next land etc. My comp wanted to point out that I was American and not fat and he was the fat one but thought better of it 8) She tried to point out that all people are the same and Russia has bad leaders too- what about Stalin and Lenin etc and he actually was ok with them and thought they were good people (never mind that they killed millions of their own people) def. interesting....

I feel bad for people who have been so brainwashed by politics and what the media tells them-you just can't believe everything you hear, and because of it they have such a skewed and small view/understanding of the world. Everyone Everywhere wants the same things- to be happy, successful, have a good life, and I think too often politics and media cause more problems then they're fixing-turning people against each other. But anywho...enough of that, afterwards we were able to laugh about it.

We were walking down the street and one old man passed by and asked who we were/what we were doing and we told him and the second he realized we were a different church than orthodox he started yelling how A.) we should be orthodox and B.) we were possessed.

Yesterday we knocked and an old "babushka" came out and after explaining we wanted to talk about Jesus Christ's gospel etc. she crossed US! (you know when people cross themselves etc? She did it to us!) Hahaha we just stood there awkwardly looking at her something supposed to happen, what now?

It's really interesting because we say we want to talk about Christ and God and the gospel and people say-I don't want to talk about that I'm orthodox etc and we're thinking.....what, you don't believe in God, Jesus Christ and study his gospel in your church?? It's the same person isn't it and if not...what kind of church is the orthodox church? Haha

I hope you all don't think I'm sounding discouraged or depressed cause I'm fine-these experiences are mere musings at the end of the day, a dime a dozen if you will, haha. But at the end of the day I feel good cause I tried to open my mouth and speak and invite others to come unto Christ- nowhere does it say we have to pick them up and force them into the font, in the end it's up to them.

It has been a bit colder here but when I'm all done up in my winter coat, wool beenie, scarf, etc I'm pretty comfortable-but those warm socks will be a great addition. I think we'll have zone conference in two weeks or so, so if you could get them here in time for me to get them that would be great! (I have no idea how long it takes to send 8)

Well I made it through my first transfer. I'm still here with my companion and I'm glad-I'm starting to get settled and used to everything, it really is starting to feel like home now and I don't want to leave yet-I want to be with Cectpa Malinina through Christmas 8)

Though one elder in our zone is leaving and an elder who came out with me from the MTC is coming so it will be fun to see how his experiences have been/how he's doing etc. I can't wait to work with Cectpa King or Taylor who I roomed with in the MTC-it'll be like working with family 8)

Well I better go but first I'd just like to say thanks for all of your support and love. Eric,Grandpa Richards and Grandpa Adams, thank you so much for your help and support-it really means a lot. I remember when Dad told me that you (Eric) wanted to help pay for my mission and I was so touched cause I know it's not exactly convenient or easy for you but just shows how much you love me and the gospel and you know how important this great work is. I love you all and am excited to hear about your holiday plans and experiences. The nursery sounds like it's one happenin' place thanks to mom and dad 8) Hey Steve, you don't have to write an epistle or anything, just a quick note-come on man, it's email, not even hard! 8)

Luv you guys
Cectpa Richards

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving! (sort of...)

Well hello from Krasnadar!

Man I had a lot of emails to read today-don't worry, not too much from fam, just a lot from our mission president etc. It's ok though, I'm a fast typer and I still have thirty minutes.

Well today is our "Thanksgiving" even though it's tomorrow (and the next day for you guys) because today is P-day 8) So basically we're gonna get to meet up with the other ten elders in about an hour and have a turkey bowl (even though we can't touch each other...should be interesting, not sure how we'll "stop" each other) and then we'll have our Thanksgiving feast as it were... Well, they don't have turkeys here like at home, but we'll have some sort of meat product which is always good and some different salads, maybe potatoes, bread/rolls, and drum roll please: apple pie and pumpkin pie. An elder's mom sent him pumpkin pie mix cause they don't have that here that I could find so he made that and I made two apple pies. I'm not gonna lie I was a lil' worried how it would turn out but it seems to appear and smell good which I think are good signs. So I guess we'll see how they turned out-hopefully good for the elders' sakes, I'm sure it's hard for them to think about mom's cooking back home etc.

Um....what else....we went to a store yesterday to get our weeks groceries since we didn't have time today and it's called "Ok" (spelled in Russian, but it sounds the same). I felt like I was home-it was just like Wal-mart, huge, shopping carts, appeared clean, had music playing-sigh...heaven. It was def cool. anywho...we have three investigators that look promising right now, one is taking forever but we encouraged her to pray specifically about the Book of Mormon and she said she would, the other two are getting closer. answer to Mom's questions:
We live in an apartment building it's about 6 stories high, and there's three different stairwells, and on each landing there's three apartments. We're on the fourth? floor...haha I've never stopped to count how many floors we're climbing but it's not that tall of a building so it's not bad. I can't remember if I told you but one day we were coming home and all of these huge flower wreath things were outside the bottom stairwell and my comp said: oh...that means someone died. I was like: what?! We climbed the stairs and we could hear the orthodox priest sing/chanting like you hear in old Latin/medieval songs etc. We got to our landing and sure enough the apartment next door to us directly across from the landing where we came up-there was a priest in his robes with the tall hat etc waving that gold ball with the smoke and chanting. There was a coffin and a bunch of people standing around holding candles and they all turned and were watching us. I felt very aware of my name tag at this point 8) but felt it wasn't the best time to explain the plan of salvation. It was an old woman who had passed away but it was def interesting to see...

Anywho...I've bought a hat and scarf, but those long socks to your knees sound nice-doesn't really matter about color, maybe a blue of some kind. Anywho...the work is going good in that we're working, haha.

Yesterday we were out knocking-so far it seems the best way to find people, that and English. An old man passed by and asked us who we were and then he started yelling at us about how could we be in this sect and why we weren't in the orthodox church and how we were possessed etc. I didn't understand what he was saying of course but I understood "orthodox" and when he yelled "Satana" over and over at us....yea, pretty much got the jist of what he was saying at that point 8) Eh, it doesn't really bother me, they don't know any better...they've just had such strong tradition ingrained in them, they haven't known anything different and change is scary-especially to old people who have been through everything they have been through. For most people the orthodox church was the one constant thing through all the communism, wars, etc it's understandable that they'd feel loyal to it.

Um...yes we have a light that we use when it gets dark (which is at five/six here) Our rent has been payed for the next month or so from the last sisters so we haven't' had to deal with that yet. We get about 5600 rubles every month for groceries etc which is really all we ever use our money for.

Well it was great to hear about your new job mom-it sounds really cool/easy money/ and nice people, always a plus. I'll try not to think too much about our house done up in Christmas decorations or all the great cooking going on in the kitchen-it'll only be torture 8) But it's easy to get lost in the work. I can tell it will be a struggle to keep my mind here in the mission during the holiday season but we'll just have to keep ourselves busy.

Steve, congrats! Way to give it your all at Nationals-pretty cool competition huh? I was thinking back on our competition when we went-it was sooo fun and I loved the band that won, they were so cool and nice-our bands were friends/were staying at the same hotel etc. anywho....I think it's funny that there's controversy about the mocking flag thing- Oh well, I guess our band will always rattle the cages, haha.

I hope you all will have a great holiday, it was funny to try and explain Thanksgiving to my companion. I was like....well....really we whole lot....and there's a parade (also hard to explain floats) but it should be fun today. Anywho, I better go since I still need to write the Pres.

O yea, um... you can email Sister Harrison and ask but I think to send packages you would either do it to the mission home or the mission office-both in Rostov obviously but yea...and we'll get them soon cause the transfer is in a week or so and then we'll have another zone conference so it should work out nicely. I'll be sure to ask about the Christmas call home- not sure if we do it on the 25th (prolly, even tho it's on the 7th of Jan here)

Well, I love you all and thanks for the pics! They were soooo cute 8) Steve, you'll have to write me about your thoughts/experience at nationals etc. Eric, congrats at doing so great! You're just a lil' smarty pants. O yea! the other day we visited a potential investigator and he was a man from Afghanistan with a family and he's trying to get refugee status in America and he's been through a lot-got captured by an army (can't remember which) because he was here in Russia and his father had fought against this army so they saw him as an enemy and he was in prison and tortured for 20 years etc. Now he's married has kids and they're hoping to get to America cause the army is still looking for them-pretty wild, he's devout Islamic but really cool and open to Christianity and religion in general. I'll keep you updated but I think he speaks Farsi, anywho..

luv ya!
cectpa Richards

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Hey everyone,

Thanks for all of your great emails this week-it was great to hear how the kids liked Halloween and what everyone has been doing lately.

This week has flown by and I'm trying to remember things of note that happened that I could mention...We have two who are close to baptism but again, one wants to finish the Book of Mormon and the other's mother is against it so we'll see what will happen this next week. I don't know if I have already mentioned it or not but our District has about I dunno...50? in attendance every week-could be more or less not sure...but it feels small to me. Our building is really nice though-has white pillars out front, it's sandwiched between other dirtier/shabbier buildings of course so it kinda sticks out. It's pretty narrow inside but has three floors to it and has really nice accommodations, font etc. The members work hard to keep it clean and nice-really showing their love for the church and the place they are allowed to worship. The other night me and Sister Malinina stood outside the building and asked people that were passing by if they knew about the church/new what this building was, and one actually said that she had wondered what this building was cause it used to be a fabric store, and that maybe she would come on Sunday with her granddaughter-who knows, we'll see.

In answer to Mike, I haven't gotten any mail yet (snail mail that is) though I think we only get mail/packages every zone conference when the president and his wife come from the mission office-they bring it all, so that's every transfer (six weeks).

Our members are really great and many have served missions and are great resources to use with investigators. We have quite a few investigators right now but not many are progressing investigators. We're trying to meet with the three that we taught first lessons to last week but they seem to be really busy-hopefully we can meet with them because two of them have real promise.

Yesterday was an interesting day of weather. It started out sunny, warm, then became REALLY windy, then it got colder and was raining all late morning/early afternoon (really fun to knock in let me tell ya! haha people that we were crazy for being out in it) and then later in the day it snowed (none of it stuck) but yea....interesting, it was good-i like a lil' variety.

Um...what else...It gets dark around five here and light around seven. It makes it hard to contact/ knock because people don't like it when you're knocking in the dark (it does get really dark in the streets because there are very few streetlights/lamp posts). Every other door they say something about it being too late, then we look at our watches and it's only six....frustrating, but I guess we need to try and schedule all our meetings etc. at night so we can contact during the day...though many are at work...not exactly the perfect system-can't wait for summer when it's light til late.

I was telling my companion about Thanksgiving last night and the different foods we eat. I don't think we do anything special, but maybe we'll have some sort of zone party for Christmas/New years...not sure. Christmas here is Jan 7th after New Years, but church members celebrate the American date I think. My comp was like: "Hey we can make your mom's pie", but I'm not sure if they have the canned pumpkin filling here-prolly not, but I guess we can look. Maybe you can email me the recipe mom just in case. Well I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season in the next lil' bit.

Steve-knock 'em dead at nationals! play with all the passion and fire that you've got, but don't go so crazy that all your technique and practice goes out the window-there's definitely a balance to be found. I know you'll do great! I was trying to explain to my comp about marching band but I don't think she really grasps the full picture-prolly thinks it's like a parade, marching and playing in lil' lines in one direction. O well, it'll be real fun to hear how everything goes-I'll try to remember and keep you in my prayers on Friday-Sat.

Eric, have fun with the fam! let me know what your next bit of plans will be- I guess you're going to Kentucky and then Iraq? Let me know about dates/what you can say about what you are doing etc. It's exciting to think that you'll be sort of close to me 8) at least the closest to me out of our family.

Mike, that's so exciting about Brina walking! I know when I get back I won't even recognize them and even more so they won't know me, but it'll be fun to see how they've grown up and who knows, maybe another lil one. Keep up the good work at the job-way to be.

The work is hard but it makes you appreciate the little things a whole lot more. I continue to try to be patient with myself and my lack of Russian skills. I'm trying to really study the language every day-at first wasn't so good at it. It's hard to discipline yourself and study for yourself, hard to know where to begin-need to know everything. It's going good though and I know if we keep trying to do our best the Lord will help us find those that are willing to hear the message.

I love you all and o yea, I wrote mom/dad/Steve and Route 22 and F6 a letter-coming to you through pouch. There was an elder who was going to the mission office and we sent them on with him so hopefully you'll get a physical letter soon. And hey, R22 and F6, if there's any news you want to update me with you can comment on the blog and tell my mom to email me the comments etc. or use pouch, though it's one page, one side and I won't get it for awhile-but whatever you want 8)

love you all, keep the prayers and letters coming!
Cectpa Richards

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"Pal-menie" - Yummmm!

OK, so let's hope this email fares better than the last! 8) I'll try to not push any buttons.

So my first full week in Russia is done. I'm already really getting used to the cultural differences and feeling a little more comfortable in my very American skin in this different environment.

So my companion, yes she's from Siberia and soo funny. She's a lil' spit fire that's for sure which is good because it's hard to be bold at this point for me. Just yesterday we were knocking at "ch-a (as in apple)-sties" which is where you're on the street/sidewalk and there's fences either wood or metal-normally metal, with numbers of the houses on the fence. We knock on the door and the person comes out of their house and to the gate and normally says " ka-toe tom" (phonetically spelled of course) and we say missionaries through the fence and normally they open the door to see what we want etc. Anywho, yesterday we were knocking and one man came out and I couldn't tell all that was said obviously but I could tell enough to know that he didn't think much of us and my companion who normally just says, sorry to bother, goodbye actually started arguing right back with him about, well what did Christ do when he was on the earth-I guess he was calling us foolish for walking around and sharing a message about Christ. Anywho, she did it in good taste but it's amazing how fast the Russian language gets when they're mad, haha. Though right after we were walking down the sidewalk and a man came up to us and asked if we talked about God etc. and how his wife and him were interested and to come back later-so the Lord does bless us for defending him. 8)

Actually it has gotten pretty cold here-even my companion is just as cold as I am. She keeps saying, I don't know how I will return to live in Siberia if I'm cold now-she told me stories how sometimes it's so cold that every fifteen minutes you need to move your face around/rub it or your cheeks will turn white and then after the skin will peel off and bleed. I guess it could be worse right?

Well our apartment was pretty humble, but we're working hard to clean it and it really does feel like home now. It's an apartment-just us, it's basically a living room off to the right of the door, a room right in front of the door that's our bedroom and the kitchen to the left, as well as a shower and toilet to the left. The shower has it's lil quirks I suppose. It's a tub and there's a box on the wall. The following is how I take a hot shower: first turn on the water, then turn on the gas in the box and then light a match and then increase the flame depending on how hot you want the water. Also the shower head isn't really mounted so one hand holds the shower head and the other scrubs but it works. 8)

The food isn't bad here, in fact because of all the warm, filling, starchy foods that we eat every day I won't be surprised if I have to watch my weight before long. A lot of soups, potatoes, vegetables, their dairy is really good and fattening-yogurts etc, their juice selection is most excellent-every combination of fruits you can think of. They even have watermelon juice though I haven't tried it. There's this stuff called "pal-menie" which is noodle with meat stuffed in them that you fry or boil which is really good and yesterday we had these things that I can't remember how you say it but it was so good- kind of like a crescent type bread but with mashed potatoes inside or cabbage or whatever you want-really good, espec. on a cold day.

Um...a funny moment from yesterday: we got on the tramvi (streetcar type public transportation-like tracks in salt lake only a few cars and much dirtier/older etc). Anyways it was sooo full of people that we couldn't even hold on to the rail things up above and we didn't need to cause everyone formed this mass organism that moved together. The conductor worked his way through this crowd somehow-I don't know how- and it was just so funny. For some reason me and my comp couldn't stop giggling which was even more funny cause in public it's not a very giggly/smiley place esp. in a streetcar crammed full of grumpy Russians. It was great.

Yesterday we taught two different people the second lesson and I actually participated more though it was kind of rusty but it was good to open my mouth and show that I can speak. One of them is really golden-already read through first Nephi from our last visit on Sunday and is really accepting. Next time we will teach the third lesson and hopefully get a baptismal date. We heard yesterday from our ZLs that President Harrison said that we were the most successful sister companionship in the mission as far as working hard and finding people to teach. I can't take much credit since I can't really communicate effectively but my comp says that I really make her want to work hard and be better which I guess has helped us work hard. Basically we knock a lot-every day, which is hard and cold but you just have to get out there and do it, otherwise what else is there to do?

Thanks for all your emails-I'm really excited to hear about every one's news. As far as packages for Christmas etc-it seems that lots of people get packages. At this last zone conference they had packages and mail for lots of missionaries so it seems doable-obviously don't send super valuable things but I wouldn't mind some warm socks, big scarf, something along those lines. We get mail/packages every zone conference so we'll prolly have another one just before Christmas.

The work is hard but it's good. I've bought my first pair of Russian boots-quite fashionable, not really 8) and I will buy a winter coat today and some odds and ends. I love you all and hope that all is going well in your lives. I've really learned the importance of faith while out here-to have faith that you are here for a purpose and that God is able to do what he says even if you can't see how it will be done. All we can do is work hard and trust that it will happen somehow and it will-all he needs is a willing vessel and he will take care of the rest.

I love you all!
Cectpa Richards

Thursday, November 1, 2007

ARGH!!! and ...Ummmm!

Hey everyone!

I think I'm going to cry....I just spent forty minutes writing this huge long email that was interesting and full of lil' experiences and it was funny and somehow I accidentally deleted it-I don't even know how....


Sigh, there's no way I can recompose that masterpiece in twenty minutes and I have to still write my mission president. MAN!

Ok....I don't know where to begin. I'll try to share the important stuff and...sorry. Man that's annoying.

After I wrote last week it was crazy. We were late for our train (me and my comp and two other elders) with the help of other elders we ran through the streets with our luggage in the rain onto a stuffed bus and to the train station only to not make it so we ran to a bus station and waited there for a bus ride of 6 hours that got us to Krasnodar. The ZLs (zone leaders) picked us up and took us to our "home" I use that term lightly. 8)'s not bad, I'm used to it now and it's actually inviting at the end of the day. The shower is a lil quirky- the shower head isn't mounted so you hold it in one hand and scrub with the other, but other than that it works great and we get hot water by turning on the gas, lighting a match in this lil box mounted on the wall that somehow heats the water.

Um...the mission home was really nice, 3 to 4 levels and the food was great. We're excited for zone conference this Friday because it will be spiritually great and we'll get good food! 8)

Um....we have 3 investigators right now through knocking which all seem generally open and nice so we'll see (fingers crossed). One is an older gentlemen that is really sweet and likes me-says I'm a good girl. Then another woman is an English teacher (yes!) and another is a really amazing woman who went to jail because her daughter stole something and the mom (our investigator) told them it was her so her daughter wouldn't have to go and while she was gone all of her things were stolen out of the apartment. She prays and reads the bible and seems really warm. 8)

Um....we had English club last night which went really well-our class seems eager to learn and is happy to be there.

Today I will buy some boots for winter-it's not that cold here yet, a lil' chilly and cloudy/rainy mostly but not down-right cold (shrug) hopefully it stays that way.

I'm feeling more comfortable all the time with my surroundings and can't wait for the time when I understand what people around me are saying and I can communicate clearly and show them my personality and really be able to gain personal relationships with people etc. I love my companion-she's really sweet and she knows enough English to where we can adequately communicate so no worries there.

I love you all and am grateful for all your support, and sorry again for not getting the amazing letter that I was working on so hard....sigh, o well-you don't know what you're missing so I guess it'll be ok.

Oh yea....hahha, happy Halloween? I was looking at my journal today when I wrote the date and was like....the 31st....I know that sounds like a date of some kind that matters....what's today? Oh yea, Halloween! Crazy! There's actually some posters up for a Halloween party but let's just say it's an adult holiday here, not kid friendly. 8(

Oh well, I love you and have a great week one and all!

cectpa Richards