Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Frozen Old Guy

Merry Christmas!!!

I hope today finds everything great with you and yours. I won't write much because we don't have a lot of time today plus half of you will be calling me in 8 hours anyway. Today is our p-day since, of course, it's Christmas. So I won't get your emails til next week if you haven't already written. I'm sad that I didn't get to "see" and "open" the present mom said she would email pictures of but hopefully they'll just tell me tonight when they call.

I haven't gotten any of the packages but that's because no one has come down this way from Rostov. Though President Harrison should prolly be coming soon to change up the branch presidency here so hopefully he'll bring anything that's there. In a couple of hours we'll meet up with the elders in our area and eat somewhere...maybe Subway...not sure, watch a movie, and exchange secret Santa gifts, and we might possibly play football-I mean soccer just so we can have a reason to wear jeans sigh...aww...jeans...it's been so long 8)

Our branch had a Christmas party and it was really great- many investigators and less-actives came out for it and I of course sang in the branch choir-which was the bulk of the festivities. The choir consisted of more missionaries than branch members, haha-I think the director was happy to have a full choir and people that could read music 8)

It was a really fun night, and after the choir sang, and the lil primary kids acted out the manger scene, they brought out "ded ma-rose" their Santa clause and each of the kids had to come up and recite some kind of verse/poetry/talent/something and then he gave them a brightly colored cardboard gift box with candy and lil' toys in it. it was really fun and interesting to see their traditions and the richness that is in their culture- such an emphasis on poetry! The room where we had it was well decorated with streamers and a tree. It was lots of fun 8)

Grandpa Adams, I think I forgot to mention in my last letter, thank you soooo much for your consistent financial support and help-I know it's a great blessing for our family. I'm so lucky to be surrounded by loving and supportive family and friends.

You will all have to email me pictures of you wherever this Christmas finds you! (that goes for R22 and F6 too) just email them to mom and she can forward them on to me 8)

I love you all and can't believe it's Christmas-really feels weird but I'm so grateful to be here and know that eventually being home for Christmas will be all the more sweet if I give my all here and now. I now I already said it but I love you all and more importantly I know the Lord loves you all- give him a present on his birthday, consecrate something more to Him whether it's omitting something you're doing now or recommitting to do something better. Again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Cectpa Richards

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How do you spell Borsh?


This will be my Christmas email since this time next week it will be long gone...that is of course until my second Christmas on the 7th-score!

Well this week has gone well and we're starting to get back into our normal routine which feels good. We had our second zone conference on Friday which was our Christmas zone conference. It was a lot of fun and always charges me up and gets me excited for the work.

We had a talent show of sorts put on by the different districts of missionaries. One district performed Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem on bottles-was very impressive, another companionship tried to do the Rubik's cube blindfolded racing against each other-one finally peeked to end it, our district which is us and the ZLs put on a skit titled appropriately: "Borscht". Where we act out a scene where I make borscht, one ZL comes in and eats it, dies, and the other comes and pronounces him dead, and my comp was the "director" and kept making us redo the scene in different ways for example: opera, ballet, and my favorite: mafia. Basically he came in talking with a new york accent, I gave him borscht, and as he stood eating it I shot him in the back, then when the other ZL came I payed him off-ta dah, mafia style! Everyone laughed pretty hard at it. Another companionship-one of which was Russian did an American rap about missionary work, it was pretty funny, and the last act (the funniest of all) a district put on a shadow puppet show explaining why there wasn't unicorns or dragons on the earth today-the unicorns left the ark, sacrificing themselves, to hold off the dragons long enough for Noah and the ark to get away. They recorded the story on a tape player and had a projector and cardboard cutouts of the ark, unicorns, dragons, etc and two elders put baking soda in their mouths and with lighters tried to breathe fire like dragons...it didn't work that great but it was sure funny to watch.

We had a white elephant gift exchange which pretty much consisted of ties for elders and us sisters got girly things of course. We got a CD of Christmas music from Sister Harrison and a jar of peanut butter and nutella-the first of these gave me much joy 8)

Sadly I didn't get any of your packages at the zone conference. If anyone comes down to Krasnodar and the packages have arrived at the office I'm sure they'll bring them with them, but it's not a sure thing so I may not get them til next transfer-that is if they make it through the postal system (yea for Russia!) haha, o well...it would have been nice to have whatever crazy decorations were in there but we found an old small Christmas tree in our apartment and put it out on the table and taped up paper snowflakes so it's all good anyway. We can just have a third Christmas whenever we get those packages. I mailed a package last week so hopefully you will get it sooner than later. Man was it a nightmare though! We had to refill out all these little forms saying exactly what was in the package-just a big envelope really, and they wouldn't let me send mom's gift 8( it was these cool looking candles, but they said that if it gets to America and when they open it to check it, if it's broken they'll send it back to Russia and not on to it's destination in America-crazy I know...oh well, and there's a letter that I had to send separately so hopefully that will get there around the same time.

Thank you for all your letters this week-it sounds like everyone is doing great and it was especially cool to read the comments from my mission blog! It's so crazy to think about what everyone is doing and the many changes that are going on in their lives-I still can't believe Heather is married, I don't think it will feel real til I go home and have a lil kid yelling "Aunt Whit" at me...haha, just kidding...or am I? 8)

I'm so excited that Eric can be there for the phone call and I'm sure it will be great to have a 9 day break and enjoy all the Christmas festivities at the house. I'm excited to read about these so-called presents that have apparently already been bought for me and are waiting at home. Though I must point out that I should be seeing them today because next Wednesday Christmas will be over-ahem.

The work is going better here, we have gotten a few investigators that the elders knocked into -met with one yesterday, who had MANY questions and was really interested in religion in general. Another seems really cool and interested but will work a lot until after the holidays but she works at the store that we buy our groceries at every week and said she'd come say hi so that was cool.

It looks like New Years eve we have to be home by dark and can stay up til 12:30 to see fire works, though they said fire works will be goin on all night-we get to sleep in til 8:00 8) So it should be fun and interesting.

Grandpa and Grandma Richards, thanks so much for the Christmas present! I bought warmer winter boots with fur inside and a turtleneck-both were really needed, so thanks for helping me stay warm out here.

The weather has really turned colder the past few days and yesterday or the day before-can't remember it snowed. It was really pretty-I want it to snow, otherwise it's just grey and boring, if I'm gonna be cold I at least want something pretty to look at 8)

I love you all and thanks for your continued support and love! be sure to give your gift to the savior for His birthday this upcoming week whether it's improving something about yourself, service to those around you, or something like that! Oh, and Eric, thanks so much for the advice-consider it noted 8)

Merry Christmas!

Cectpa Richards

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Crazy Week

Hello one and all!
Wow, a great bunch of emails this week-thanks everyone for writing 8)

Well the past week has been kind of crazy because my companion's back was really hurting her. For some reason there was a doctor who was staying with a member's family in the branch so we are now going over there once a day for her to get a massage and she says it's doing a lot better. Yesterday we had two girls from the branch come over one to stay with my comp and the other to go knocking with me. It was really weird to not be with my companion, it was really humbling because I realized how much I rely on her. I really need to start opening my eyes and learning the things around me better because next transfer she could leave and someone else will come expecting me to be able to teach them about the area etc. It's hard cause it all looks the same to me but I will try harder. With all of the crazy illness of my comp, our finding abilities have suffered so we're in a sort of rut right now with no new investigators and few progressing. It's hard because well...it's frustrating when you feel like you're not doing enough, your part, but now that she is on the mend hopefully we'll be able to up our work efforts and get back into the swing of things.

The language is really hard but this next week I'm gonna really prayerfully re- evaluate and set up how I use my hour of language study and just work hard, study hard, and pray hard...though it's frustrating when you're not able to really share with people your personality/who you are because of language barriers-it's easy to feel isolated from the world, but that's just part of the process and I know when I start working harder and studying harder, trying more and really show my faith that the Lord will help me, gotta do my part.

Um....what else....it's been raining and cold for the past couple of days-I kinda wish that it would just snow, I think it would be warmer and you can just brush it off anyway, but my coat continues to be great and I'm staying dry and warm.

Ok, now for the number you should call to talk to me on Christmas-and actually you can call me whenever you want within the time I sent you since my companion's family will call a different day all together so let me know what will be best for you; hopefully Eric will be able to be there for it, that would be really cool.

Friday is our Christmas zone conference so I'll see if any of your packages make it to me by Christmas (fingers crossed!) It was almost torture to hear about all the Christmas baking going on at home and decorations but good too, I'll just get re-lost in the work and not dwell.

Steve, it's cool to hear about all of your plans for the future. I realized too that that would be the one time that I would ever be in the same school with one of my siblings-crazy cool! You sound so old from your emails, where's my lil brother?? you're like...full-fledged teenager or something....weird...haha, stay strong in your studies (I won't say to have fun because I know you already will for sure 8)

Mike, Jess, and fam, how do you like your new home? Has everyone adjusted back into a normal routine again? I bet the kids are getting way excited for Christmas, you'll have to tell me how they like sitting on Santa's lap: fun or terrifying. It was so fun to hear you are back in Broken Arrow-tho I don't remember that house particularly well, but a little and mom mentioned that you are near the mall that had Mr.Bulkies-how could I forget that wondrous place! haha, it must be a fun trip down memory lane.

Well, I better go. Please continue to pray for our success and the strength needed to carry out this great work, I know that this gospel is the true church of Jesus Christ with only Him at its head leading and guiding us today through a prophet. I'm so thankful for the knowledge that this gospel gives me, and the importance of this life and our goals after this life. I know God loves each of us and is aware of us in every state that we are in (happy and sad) and knows what we need the most; what a comfort. I love you all and pray for you daily, be sure to use this great time of year as an opening to share the gospel with those around you (hey, you guys should invite our neighbors who are from Russia over for your Christmas party! And tell them I say "preevyet"

Cectpa Richards

P.S. And of course: hey F6 and R22!!! Be sure to leave comments chronicling any cool developments or just email to my mom if you don't want everyone to see it on the blog (hmmm...mysterious...) cause I wanna know what's up with everyone.

Your thought for this week: getting yelled at by an angry Russian when you don't understand the language, is a lot like getting yelled at by Taz the looney tunes character. It sounds like a lot of nonsense and occasionally there's some spit. Thankfully though, Alan has helped prepare me for the experience of getting yelled at while not laughing (of course I'm referring to our spy movie and the interrogation scene, by the way how did it turn out?)

Oh yea! Real, quick sorry this is so long, but last Wednesday I went into an orthodox church- the inside was covered with gorgeous gold leaf paintings and there was this heavenly choir singing old medieval type music because it was their sacrament and people just stood around in a large room with vaulted ceilings (no chairs) crossing themselves while the priest read in chant from something, and there were hundreds of candles lit everywhere-the only lighting, because that's how they repent sort of...the bigger the sin, the bigger the candle (they pay for the candles from the church). Interesting huh?? Man it was really pretty though....too bad they don't have the fullness though-def could feel a difference.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Hello everyone!

Thank you all for your GREAT letters-it's amazing what a boost they bring to read something and feel something so familiar again. This week has been...good. I dunno, it's been kind of a crazy week cause my companion has been needing to go to the dentist and finally got referred to one. (It's actually a pretty nice office and seems as good as American dental care). So Monday we went there and were waiting in the office FOREVER though afterwards it was pretty funny because he had given her the shot that numbs your mouth/face etc and she had never had that before. (Don't ask me what she has had-no idea) But anywho...so all night long she was poking at her face and saying, "He killed my face!", etc. Watching her eat dinner was pretty funny too cause she didn't hear him say: wait two hours, and so it was like watching a baby eat, haha. I kept telling her it was normal and it will wear off but we needed to go knocking cause our whole day had been wasted by this appointment and she couldn't really talk good. That's right, I stepped up to the plate. It was pretty comical cause it always registers on people's faces pretty quickly that you're not Russian and sometimes (especially with old people) they ask: "shto-shto?" which means: "what, what-didn't understand you" etc.

It was good though because I can't learn how to speak comfortably without speaking as much as possible. This one door though, Cectpa Malinina pointed out a big spider web in the corner and I was happy to see that it was unoccupied. Then I rang the bell and just as I did this, a huge spider came flying down onto the web from who knows where-I guess one of his strings was attached to the bell as a trigger. It took everything in me not to scream though I backed up three big steps really quickly and Cectpa M tried to mess with it/ play with it laughing at me. (shudder)

Not much came from knocking that night, though one man after saying something that sounded like "you speak real bad" I said I know, I'm from Texas which peaked his interest and we got a number to give to the elders to contact him so hopefully something will come from that. There was another woman who said we could come back but I think she might have thought we were Jehovah's witnesses-we get that a lot here. "Oh, we already talked to your people and got your literature" and we keep trying to say: "No! That's not us, we're different etc" sigh...it's like they're following us and getting to our areas first, oh well.

Yesterday Cectpa M's tooth still hurt and the dentist called us and had us come back so there went another day-though we taught the lesson at English club last night which went ok I guess. We taught about making verbs past tense and had them play a game and give candy and then they asked questions about America, what I like about my city etc. And afterwards one girl who we had taught the first lesson to and she has avoided us came up to us and asked if we could meet tomorrow.....um....YES! It's rare when they ask you to meet, haha. We'll show her Testaments and talk about the Book of Mormon some more-I'll have seen this movie 3 times this week (ugh) but it's a powerful tool and really invites the spirit.

For P-day today we're going to go visit an orthodox church-it's really big and beautiful, I'll be sure to take some pictures-from a distance of course. I'm excited to see the architecture etc. and something that is so old and rich in culture-it really caters to my love of humanities etc.

I sent to Dad the instructions we received about Christmas calls and will email my number and exactly what time (have to coordinate with my comp) to call etc. We'll have zone conference on the 14th so hopefully I'll get at least one of my packages 8) I have Steve for Christmas but I think I can send something from here for not that much-the only expensive thing will be the actual sending of it and if I think it's a lot maybe mom can put 20 odd bucks into my account or something, but it shouldn't be bad. He may have to wait til after Christmas but it's ok-Christmas is Jan 7 here anyway.

As to Mom's questions: We have lots of interactions with the branch members here-at least the younger ones and like I said there's quite a few RM sisters in our branch who are really cool. Every week there's prolly 30-40 in attendance. We don't eat meals with members-mission rule, tho every time we visit with this one LA lady she tries to feed us (was a chef) and let's just say her restaurant wouldn't be my fav, we'll prolly do a Christmas party with the missionaries in our area and I'm sure our branch will have some sort of Christmas/New Years party. I speak mostly English with my companion-she's pretty good at it but not perfect so we still have funny lost-in-translation moments. (Though I'm gonna ask her to only speak to me in Russian outside of our apartment from now on to help me learn faster). I gave a talk in sacrament a couple weeks ago-was short but everyone afterwards complimented me and was amazed at how much I could say (yea right 8) , um...I think they have a McDonald's in Rostov but I haven't seen one here in Krasnodar and we haven't been to any restaurants-just vendors on the streets for bakery type items- pear-O-shkee- my fav thing here right now: basically bread and inside is mashed potatoes, or meat or cabbage or cheese etc-kind of like a glorified hotpocket only that description doesn't do it justice...like a celestial hotpocket more like it! Don't' worry, you will taste them some day 8)

As far as in my next package- could use some Q-tips, mascara, um...fluoride rinse? haha that's about it...exciting huh?! Would it be possible to send skorper and some type of hot chocolate mix that only takes hot water like Stephens? That reminds me- it's not too bad weather wise here, though we've had a couple of crazy days that had warm weather, wind, cold rain and snow all in the same day-pretty wild.

Well I better go-still need to write the mission president, but know that I love all of you soooo much and love hearing from you and how every one's lives are going. I'm grateful for your prayers and support-I know it makes a difference and that God is preserving me out here every day.

Cectpa Richards