Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Scary Marshootka

Hey everyone!

Sorry but this is going to be the shortest email ever! We have to rush off to a meeting and there were a lot of emails this week that I had to fly through so sorry if I don't answer any of your questions etc. but most of them can be addressed in our call which will be on the 11th (ahem dad) which is not my birthday-glad to know that the day I graced this world with my presence and the day before that are so similar to you! Hahaha, just kiddin.

So the work is picking up here and I'm trying to remember everything as far as where everything is located and the scary act of telling the marshootka (taxi van) where to stop etc. cause I just know that my comp is leaving next transfer. I can feel, just feel it hanging over my head and the responsibility of knowing where to go and what to do is just hovering on my shoulders- I can feel the weight coming....ouch. But anywho, it'll be good too right?

Um.... Yes I am pretty sure that 6:30 A.M. will work since I am doing nothing but waking up at that time...sheesh...

I already got my birthday package-though it was like Easter candy, but it had the cake etc for my birthday so yes I got it-if that is the one you were talking about. If not then it's prolly in Rostov....who knows maybe we can go there to check or something?

Um....what else what else, I'm trying to be fast....Well sorry for the REALLY short and lame email but I gotta go-promise next week's will be AMAZING!

Cectpa Richards

No news is good news

We didn't hear from Whitney this morning which makes me wonder if there is a possible transfer in the works. She has been hinting that it might be a possibility for several weeks. We are hoping ...for her sake that she will be sent to Volgograd. Brutally cold during the winter but beautiful and cool for the summer.
For those of you who remember Whitney's cousin Andrea who is serving a mission in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin mission, I will give you an update on how she is doing as an alternate post! She was recently sent to serve near the mission office in Milwaukee and loves being in a bigger city with a lot more people to contact. She is especially excited to see signs of Spring in the air. It has been a cold, snowy Winter in Wisconsin and she is ready for a thaw! She is also a trainer now and is feeling a bit overwhelmed by the new responsibilities but I know that she will do a great job.

"I love April here in Wisconsin!! It's 60 outside- perfect weather. And it's fun because so many people are just out wandering about. We just got back from playing disc golf with some of the Elders in our district. A game a lot like golf but with Frisbees instead. It was really fun and there's just something about being able to be outside after such a long winter. It's really therapeutic (I don't know how you spell that) but everyone is just a lot happier!

Nate Rader, an investigator who is dating someone who is a member of the church got stuck in the airport in Dallas and he told us the coolest story about meeting a woman who was from Idaho and lived by lots of members but wasn't one herself and how she didn't think that they were very friendly neighbors. So what does Nate do? He whips out his Book of Mormon and says I'm a Mormon. And goes on to talk about how all the Mormons he has met have been so nice, etc. Anyways, he got to share the gospel with her for four hours while they were stuck in the airport and afterwards he said, "I know that God wanted me to be there so I could talk to her" and just how he was glad his plane was delayed so he had that opportunity. Then he said, "every member a missionary" :) He's already doing lots of missionary work even though he isn't baptized yet! I wish our members were that dedicated!!

So Sister Hafen (my companion) and I are pretty good at making small talk with people. And it’s really good to strike up random conversations with people. But it’s even better to invite them at the end of those conversations and it’s best to be able to teach them and then invite them. So that’s something that we’ve been working on this week. Saturday we decided we were just going to do it-teach every person that we saw, not just make small talk, or give lame invites but actually teach. And we did it! We only spent 30 minutes doing it (because we had to finish spring cleaning and then had appointments the rest of the day) so we just spent those 30 minutes doing it but we got to teach about 6 lessons and we got 3 new investigators out of it and another man said we could call him sometime and meet with him. It was just such a testimony builder to me that the Lord will put people in our path if we just try!! That is one of my biggest weaknesses as a missionary is being able to just teach people on the spot but I know it’s possible if we just let the Lord be our support. He really blesses us for our efforts!

I really want to stay another transfer with Sister Hafen. We really work well together and I still don't know the area as well as I would like!! I think we really push each other to work harder. All the Elders think I'll be training but I'm crossing my fingers we'll just stay together. There's only one new sister coming out (we haven't had any new sisters in awhile-Sister Hafen was the last sister to come out) but there are still sisters older than me that haven't trained so I'm hoping it will be one of them!

We have been playing tennis all week. Ever since we played football last week we have been on an exercise and health kick! We borrowed tennis rackets from our district leader and he even bought us pink tennis balls and matching pink sweat bands haha! At least we look like we know what we're doing when we play but we're not that great especially not when it's 6:15 in the morning!!

Anyways, I'm just loving it here!! Things are going so well. Thanks for your letters and prayers and support!! You are all loved!!!! I know that the gospel is truly the way to happiness. I think I have taken it for granted my whole life but I feel so privileged to know what I know!!

Sister Wiser"

As soon as we hear anything from Whitney I will add her letter but in the mean time a big CONGRATULATIONS!!! goes out to all of you who just graduated from BYU. We are so proud of you! Let us know what your future plans are and where you end up so Whitney won't lose track of you. Good luck to all of you and everyone have a fun and safe summer! If you happen to pass through Houston during your travels be sure to stop by and say hello.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Another day another letter

Well, Hello everyone,

Hope all is well with you...things are going pretty well here. We're trying to get back up to speed from this last visa trip. Tallinn is still Tallinn-nothing special to write about, though we ate at TGIF Fridays which was a nice little taste of home and it was COLD. I dunno...I've been really tired ever since this trip though-I’m feeling a little more energetic every day but lately I have just wanted to sleep a whole lot more than usual, haha...I feel like a grandma (prolly because of my wardrobe, and level of energy, haha).

Well the weather has really become pretty here-all the trees are blooming-lots of pear and apricot trees so some streets are just full of white blossoms. I tried teaching my comp the”Popcorn Popping” song but I'm not sure it stuck 8) It makes for pleasant knocking in the chasnee domes though-I’ll polly need to start wearing sunscreen pretty soon since we're out in the sun every day-and our family's lovely history of skin cancer 8)

That's cool that you guys got a picture from zone conference-I have reason to believe that Cectpa G will move on to somewhere else and I will stay here so we will see what will happen. It really has been great working with her and it has definitely pushed and stretched me, I just hope she has gained a lasting love for the work that won't fluctuate depending on her companion's drive/motivation.

As far as my birthday...I mean mother's day, thought it (it being my birthday) was on a Monday this year, at least according to Russian calendars and mothers day is normally on Sunday yea? Maybe we have old calendars or....maybe because of the time difference? Or maybe I'm just confused-the latter being the most likely of the three, but yea it will be great to talk to you guys.

I didn't get an email from mom this time but I'm sure if there were some real exciting news (like where Chelsea will serve etc.) she would have written right? Well today we are going to play some soccer with the elders and the youth in our branch around one which should be really fun-it's been so long so I'm sure to be sore tomorrow 8)

Thanks so much for your constant prayers and support and even positive thoughts-it really does help and make a difference in a missionary's life. Wow Dad-sounds like you are definitely keeping busy and racking up the frequent flyer miles, and it was cool hearing from Eric. Where are my two other brothers hmmmmm? (I'm batting my eyes at you, you just can't see) Like Steve, how are finals looking, what plans are you gonna have in the summer and are you driving yet?! Mike, any funny anecdotes from the kids and/or pics, or how the job is going?Well I better go, still need to write President, love you all and keep me updated.

Love,Cectpa Richards

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bits of this and that

This is a picture of Whitney and her current companion Cepta Grechisnikova taken at their last zone conference on April 15, 2008.

I'm including a map so you can see where Whitney has to go each time she renews her visa. Keep in mind that she has to travel over 1,000 miles from the Southern tip of Russia to get to Estonia to the North.
We received this picture of three of the Russian sisters from Elder and Sister Cameron who are the Rostov Mission office couple from Las Vegas, Nevada. Whitney's current companion Cepta Grechishnikova is on the left and her first companion Cepta Malinina is on the right. The sister in the middle Cepta Kolodina recently completed her mission and is back home. All three sisters are from South Central Russia near the big lake Baikal.


Hello everyone!

Sorry I didn't write yesterday but we were busy leaving for Estonia again. Yep, you guessed it, I'm writing from Estonia again. But we are headed back again this afternoon so no biggie. Thanks for all of your emails, I'm not sure what happened but I'm gonna clear out a lot of my inbox so there is more room. Maybe that is what the problem was.

Um....what back is pretty stiff cause I was on the floor of the sisters apartment, in the center, on Tuesday night. Last night I was on the oh so comfortable train-needless to say I'm excited to be going back to my bed in T-rog.

The work is going well, tho I'm feeling like this may be our last transfer together according to some hinting from President and my companion will probably be leaving. Which means the responsibility of where to go and knowing the way around falls on me---aaahhh! Those of you who are familiar with my sense of direction (or lack there of) see the potential problem this creates but I guess we will see. There is a greenie who is coming in May. I am hoping that I don't get the role of trainer...I dunno....of course the Lord knows what He is doing and if He wants it done it means that it is possible. Of course everything is possible with His help just....HUGE feelings of inadequacy. But I guess I just have to get used to those feelings and try my best-that is all we can do in the end right?

Anywho.... Thanks for all of your letters! Its crazy to hear about Chelsea cause I just got her letter mentioning about a possible mission yesterday and today I hear she will know in a week or two. I guess that is the great part of being so far away you don't really have to wait to find out stuff, its just highlights all the time. For example I was shocked to hear my best friend Lauren has a baby now! But I hope all is great with her. Um as for Chels....either Austria or somewhere German speaking or.....a church history site? I don't know where that came from but we will see.

Well I still need to write President so I better go. Thanks for all your love and support and news! I love you all and am excited for our upcoming phone call!

Cectpa Richards

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Where in the world is Whiteroo?

No word from Whitney today so I suspect she has been sent up to Estonia once again to renew her visa. That or she had so many emails to read this week that she didn't have time to write back! Hope you are all doing well. Good luck with your finals and safe travels for those of you heading home for the summer. Keep us up to date on all of your interesting adventures. We will happily pass them along to Whitney.


Mom Richards

Saturday, April 12, 2008

From Russia With Love

I decided to post an email we received from a missionary couple from Whitney's mission. They sent pictures of Whitney's first and current companion. She has learned a lot from them and they have helped her grow and become a successful missionary.

"Hello Bro/Sis Richards,

We are the Camerons, the Rostov Mission office couple from Las Vegas, NV.
We have this picture of 3 of our Russian sister missionaries and realized that your daughter served with two of them, so you might enjoy it. (We had a daughter and 2 sons serve on missions and we got very few pictures of them or their companions, so we know what it is like.)

From left to right: Grechishnikova (Whitney's current companion), Kolodina (just went home), and Malinina (Whitney's first companion). They are all from the same general area in south central Russia near the big lake Baikal. We love these great sisters, and your daughter must feel lucky to be able to work with them.

Elder/Sister Cameron"

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Internet malfunction

Well hello there everyone,

Did we all forget something this week? Hmmmm? Maybe your favorite missionary out here in Russia, who only gets one chance every week to hear from those she loves??!!! Oh well, no sweat-there's always next week (my tone is reserved indignation here). It's kinda weird cause sometimes mom's computer gives her trouble or something happens in route but normally someone writes-whether Dad or even my Mission President-though he has an excuse. He's on the rode for zone conferences in a mission the size of Texas-lil' busy.

Well I guess I'll just comment on my life here (I hate one way conversations 8) Ok, ok, ok, enough of the guilt tripping-hope everyone is doing well. The work is going pretty good here-of course I'm continuing to learn and grow. I think we are getting better at teaching at the drop of a hat-thus we're getting more lessons because we just create opportunities to share the gospel in any conversation with someone. Maybe it's only five minutes-talking about God and prayer but hopefully that person will be even more receptive the next time for the next missionaries.

Well there was an interesting news segment here in Russia and I'm anxious to hear the real story-they said there were Mormons in Texas (though I think it was the fundamentalists or something) that either kidnapped or raped 50 young girls or something, basically the Russian news-which played for two days straight-told people that if they see "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" to run because we are the worst/scariest sect around and we want to kidnap/rape their children etc.

Yes, this story was run by the most popular/watched news station-very professional yeah? This is prolly one of the biggest things we try to correct when we talk to people-that we are not a sect but a church. Of course it's hard when the orthodox church views every church except theirs and the Catholics as a sect and instantly closes their ears/hearts to anything we say-basically we just bare our testimony and move on. It's frustrating but what can ya do? We even looked up the definition of a sect in the dictionary and it said: for example: Mormons. Sheesh... So anyway,
I was wondering if the story was big in America at all and the FACTS of what happened and if there were any statements made by the church over general conference-and how was General Conference?!

We get to see it this weekend once it's been translated....kinda sad about that just cause...I like to hear the power in their voices and understand 100% but I'll take what i can get. Um...haha, I don't really know what else to talk about-the new Ensign this month all about Christ is amAzing-truly inspired and full of good information and art. I especially enjoyed (I haven't finished it yet) Elder Holland's talk and the story about Orsen F. Whitney's dream about the atonement. I had never heard it before and it was really powerful. Thanks again Mike and Jess for the photos-I could open them this time and they were really cute! Especially the practically killing the horsey one.

Well prolly in a week or two I'll go to Estonia again but just for a day or two so no biggie. We have zone conference next week which I'm looking forward to and hopefully my birthday package will come otherwise I'll have to take a trip to Rostov sometime to check before then. I'll let ya know. Thanks for all of your love and support-I'm understanding more and more and am truly grateful for the Lord's help and constant support-I know I'm never alone and that He descended below us all so that we can never feel alone.

Hope all is well, maybe there was something wrong on my side with the emails-hopefully it will all work next week. I love you.

Cectpa Richards

P.S. I just remembered that President Harrison said that if our families want to come pick us up than we need to ask him for permission so he can send info about receiving Russian visas etc. to come here-just checking if you still are planning on it so I can let him know.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

500 rubles for tennis shoes

Hello everyone,

Wow, thanks for all the great letters and news! By the time I got finished with learning what's new with everyone I only have 15 minutes to type something up for you (how I like it 8) Well my companion and I are learning how to be better missionaries one step at a time more and more each day. The work is going ok now-the second half of last week was a little slow but we seem to be picking up again. My goal today is to try and talk with people on the way everywhere-it's too easy to get in the mind set of P-day equals: we're not missionaries. Which of course is not true, so we'll see if we can't keep more focused today.

Today I bought some new running shoes so tomorrow will be exciting-maybe not the day after tomorrow though (ouch!) but I'm excited to start taking better care of myself. We went to a baptism in Rostov on Sunday-it was the boy that we knocked into and taught a first before we handed him over to the Elders-he's a great kid and we're happy for him.

What else....hmmm...interesting news- Cectpa Malinina only has one more transfer (this one) left in her mission and President sent her to Volgograd to be with Cectpa King for two weeks and then we don't' know where she'll be or who she'll be with-interesting since She told President she wants to be with me and in a place she's never been in before-I guess we'll see....though I'm really enjoying working with my companion Cectpa "Gracheeshneekova" or as I like to call her for obvious reasons: Cectpa G.

Um....what else....Mom's ten questions: oh sheesh, I don't remember them hold on...sigh, I have to go and open up her letter again-so hard! (just kiddin...)

1. Are you the senior companion now? Is that what they call it with sisters?
(We don't really know or care who the senior comp is but technically I'd say she is- been out longer and understands the language.)
2. Have you had anymore culture days?
(No more culture days-not yet.)
3. What things can you go to or see in your new city?
(Mmmm...there's a castle type place somewhere near here, and there's some really old stairs somewhere...I know, riveting, and the sea.)
4. When does your visa expire again?
(We'll prolly be going back to Estonia for 1 day in a few weeks.)
5. How long are they good for ...before they have to be renewed and you're off to Estonia again?
(The visa expires every 3 months-but there was a problem and this last time it only lasted two months.)
6. Did you give Sister Melanina the Christmas presents I sent? Did she like them/think they were wierd?
(I did and she liked them-tho let's be honest, we didn't break out the sewing kits!)
7. Have you been healthy, happy, cheerful, brave?!?
(Yes, yes, yes, and trying to be 8)
8. Are you eating any different foods in your new area?
(Um...there's this sweet -really, it's sweet- roll thing with eggs and onions in the center that we've been frequenting for quick lunches.)
9. Who does most of the cooking? You or your companion?
(My comp-I know, I know, I need to learn, but I help (but ya know I want the borsch to be good!)
10. What does your companion look like and how old is she?
(She is the same age as me-she is one of the first converts in Novasabeersk. She has blond hair, brown eyes, slightly on the bigger side.)

Thanks for all your letters and pictures-tho for some reason this computer isn't cooperating as far as the pictures go, but hopefully I will be able to see them one of these times. Sorry for the short non-informative email, but I still gotta write to the President.

Love you all!
Cectpa Richards