Monday, June 30, 2008

Ground Zero

Hello everyone!

Well my first week in my new area has been a good one. I love my new companion! She is so cute and sweet and really has a desire to work hard and is willing to pull her own weight -will talk on phones etc. if I sit by her and help her understand etc. Her name is Cectpa Fourtina and is from Quebec Canada so she speaks French and English fluently -she's gonna teach me some cool french songs (she has a great voice so it's always fun to sing at the beginning of companion study).

So I'm still learning my way around but with a map it's not too bad. We're basically walking everywhere cause neither of us really knows where -what goes to where but today on the marshootka a nice gma helped us and told the driver where to stop for us. Also the price for marshootka is 15 rubles -ouch! It's only 10 in Taganrog but used to be 8 -and I thought 10 was expensive! So we have dropped some investigators that they had that were clearly not progressing and there were some men that they were teaching -never a good idea cause it's always hard to tell what their motives are (especially since one of them sent Cectpa F. a love note our last meeting yea....bye bye! He's gonna be at FHE tonight and the elders are picking him up or he's being dropped, creepy).

What yea we're sort of starting at ground zero but I dunno....lately while we've been knocking people have been more willing to talk with us. Nothing major, and normally they're not interested in talking about the gospel but they're talking with us. They're always interested when they learn where we are from and I feel cool that I can follow the conversation and basically say what I want. I am starting to show my personality/joking more which is always welcoming to the people. I guess I just need to continue to hone my skills and keep people interested in talking with us and then really open up and be bold with the gospel too and hopefully we'll see some successes. Contacting is better here which surprises me cause...I thought everyone would just keep walking by and brush us off like a big city but it doesn't happen as often as I'd thought.

Our branch seems really cool and we're having a fireside on the restoration. It will be mainly musical numbers, scriptures read by missionaries, a slide show about the savior, and the restoration video. The three branches that meet in our building are invited and hopefully they will invite 2 friends like we asked them so we'll see how it goes.

This Wednesday is Zone Conference so today (Monday) was our P-day and we played ultimate frisbee with the elders which was fun. We're hoping to see a soccer match some time since prolly the biggest/funnest games we could see would be here in Rostov. All the Russians are pretty sad about Russia dropping out of the Euro-cup last week.

I'm really loving my area, and our teeny, tiny apartment, haha! It's our room with two beds and a table that we share to study and then a bathroom (but a good shower with water pressure and instantly hot water -just have to turn it on! It's soooo easy I can't believe it!) and a small kitchen but it's ok, gets the job done -I don't mind it.

Well I love you all and am so grateful for the opportunity to be here and speak to this people about the Book of Mormon and how they can find truth: Mormon 8:32 (or somewhere near there). It made me laugh cause it totally reminded me of the orthodox church here -it's just really apparent that we have the truth to me. And Mom, for the package -mascara would be appreciated.

Luv ya'll!
Cectpa Richards

P.S. Thanks for the pictures -they were great! Everyone looked so nice and it looks like Chelsea's wedding really turned out well.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Once again ...I've been transferred

Hello one and all!

Well I am writing from Rostov-meaning I got a transfer to.....Rostov (central branch!) So yea I'm pretty excited/nervous-like every transfer when you have to recreate the feeling of "home" but it's all good. I will be with sister Fourtina (sp?). She is from Canada and speaks English/French and this is her second transfer on the mission total so yet another great experience to grow in responsibility and dependence on the Lord. It sounds like the branch here in center is pretty crazy and always changing-one week having a bunch of people and the next barely anyone. It'll be interesting to see the difference between quiet little Taganrog and the bustling main city of the mission.

My companion is really nice, funny, and willing and we'll learn the area together so it'll be fun! It'll be interesting to be with a non-Russian for the first time on the mish. In this area I've been lucky but now I realize I will have to really boost my own efforts with the language which I'm more than willing to do. It sounds like we have a baptismal date here and some investigators that need help progressing so we'll see what we can do.

Also FYI: Next Monday is our P-day since our Zone Conference will be on Wednesday-just so ya know! So get me all that great mail before Monday please 8) Also, being so near to everything here I will get your mail/packages etc. a lot faster. So for those of you who, not worth it-takes too long are out of excuses! Thanks for all the mail- I got the dear elder from Russ, and the great pictures from Mom, thanks they're great! And the guy that Amanda is dating that knows me- I think I know who it is- tell her good job- he IS cute 8)

Well it's funny but I'm way nervous-am always so nervous when you have a new place with all new people, comp, and you're the older one but I'm trying to not let that get in the way of my fun, happy self. I love you all and am so grateful to be here right now. It's really stretching me and I'm happy to grow even with the growing pains. I hear that the Sisters in Rostov (us along with Sisters King & Taylor-who were in the MTC with me) will put on some special fireside about Joseph Smith and the first vision soon. I don't know if it will be for people off the streets/members/or both but I'm excited for it!

Again I love you all, keep me updated on your latest news and know that I'm soooo grateful for all of your prayers and support. They are always needed in a missionary's life!

Cectpa Richards

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Hello everyone!

I have absolutely no time today so um....sorry but it will be short and sweet. The work is going better and better all the time. My new comp is 22 from Krasnodar region down south and is AMAZING! She had gotten her call to Russia to serve a full mission but her non member parents freaked out last minute and so she stayed behind to keep the peace- needless to say she has a real desire for the work and talks with people left and right and I feel practically no weight as senior comp- she'll just do it, it's great! I can't believe there is only one week left of this transfer-absolutely crazy!!! My sinuses are starting to be annoying today and I had no energy yesterday so hopefully it won't turn into something big. Thanks so much mom for the great info-I hope I get some mail next week whether I get a transfer or my new comp brings me my mail from Rostov. Also thank you so much for the pictures! Sara was so gorgeous!!! She looked almost identical to Amy Oldroyd it was weird! I love you all and am sorry again for the short letter but I have a feeling this week will go by really fast. Happy Father's day to Dad, Mike, Grandpa R & A I'm so grateful that I'm surrounded by wonderful priesthood holders who love and honor their wives, families, and callings etc. Now I definitely know what to look for in a husband down the road 8)

Cectpa Richards

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cectpa Toofanaba

Well howdy ya'll!

So my new companion (drum roll please) is Cectpa "Toofanaba". She is from a suburb of Rostov, almost 17 years old. It has been really great working with her. At first I was nervous wondering if she would have the maturity to handle this sort of responsibility etc. but as it turns out she has such a strong desire to share the gospel and energy/happiness/positive attitude that is so common in her age group that it's been great!

I loved my last comp but it was really hard to stay positive and happy around her because she's just so naturally serious which often I mistook to mean she wasn't happy/didn't have desire for the work. It's been amazing the difference my comp's attitude has had on me and further teaches me how important our attitudes play in the lives of those around us. One of my favorite principles I've learned on the mission: The only thing that is more contagious than enthusiasm is the lack of enthusiasm -I think President Monson said that, and it is SOOOO true! Well we have really been showing our overall happiness and positive attitudes more while we contact etc. and the number of people who react in anger has really gone down. Maybe they still say no but they can't help but smile themselves, if for no other reason, because they're thinking: what's with these goofy smiley girls??

We set a baptismal date with one of our investigators yesterday and the only thing I could see getting in the way is the Word of Wisdom but we're praying for her to be able to quit smoking etc. It seems that it's VERY rare to find someone who won't have to overcome smoking or drinking here, but just one of the perks of the area/culture.

So it seems that we won't be needing mini missionaries as much soon but I'm not sure why-maybe the sister who left came back? We'll see....So yesterday we came home for our lunch break and the door wasn't locked. I opened it hearing people inside and there was our landlord with a bunch of workers-they've been doing work on something throughout the whole building and now it was our apartment's turn. So we lost a little time having to be home until they left but it was exciting. I was sitting on the couch reading the general conference edition (love it!) and this dirty worker walks in mumbling/singing to himself walks over and starts doing something to our heater or pipes or something-REALLY LOUD like at a dentist's office-the drill sound or something, and thousands of sparks just burst out everywhere: on our beds, where I was sitting, etc. and he proceeds to work doesn't say a word and I'm trying to move out of the way and head for cover. My comp laughed pretty hard-apparently my face was quite humorous. It was just so funny how calm and nonchalant he was about it. Anywho...everything is fine now and I think they only need to come back one more time or something like that. Never a dull moment in the Rostov mission!

So it seems in the middle of July we will have our next visa trip to Prague and it seems that there's a temple only two hours away in Germany that we can go visit so we'll prolly not need to go to Madrid 8( but I'm not complaining, it will be amazing!!!

What else, what else....thanks for all of your emails, and mom- it worked great (except my pic with my comp, shrug) but it was sooo great to see every one's pictures and how they're all progressing in life. Sara looks so grown up now with her short hair and they look so happy. Carrie and Brett's jumping picture was sooo perfect! I love you all and I just realized that the past little while I must have sounded really down cause now everyone is especially supportive and motivational etc. for which I'm very grateful, but please know that I do love this work. I am learning to really love this people and respect this culture which is so rich in tradition and has such a strong history-they've been through so much and they have much to be proud of.

I'm grateful for every opportunity I have to speak with them and try to share the greatest knowledge that we can obtain in this life and that is of the love that our Heavenly Father has for us, a love so great that He sent us His only son to create a way in which we could return to Him. I know that Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ in that grove (I'm so jealous that Chelsea is there right now!) and that he was called of God to restore the ONE and ONLY TRUE church of Jesus Christ on the earth-the ONLY way to return to our Heavenly Father and really obtain the most happiness and joy in this life and the life to come.

I love my family so much and am SOOOO grateful for all they have taught me through the years and the foundation of faith that they have given me. I don't know what I'd do if we couldn't be together forever-prolly cry a lot 8)I know Prophet Thomas S. Monson is called of God to lead not only the church on the earth but help prepare us and the rest of the world for the second coming of the Savior and I have all the confidence in the world in him. I received my personal witness that he truly is a prophet of God when he first spoke in general conference and I'm so grateful for the personal revelation that each of us can receive if we open our hearts to it-the windows of heaven are open and God does talk to His children again.I love you all and am so grateful for your continual prayers and faith in me, I'm trying and am excited to try harder every day.

Cectpa Richards

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

One day at a time

Ok, I'm not frustrated at all.....but I just wrote a letter and it messed up when I tried to send it and I don't know if I sent it so if you got it then just disregard this short recap. Thanks for all the pictures-I want the one with me and my comp (latest one).

My comp goes home today and I get a new mini this evening sometime-she's 18 and only she could do it cause everyone else has exams. She can only do it for a week and half then I'll get another mini. Needless to say next transfer I should be with a regular comp prolly somewhere else. Yes it's been hard lately but I've been learning a lot if nothing else. Just having this experience is making me a more seasoned missionary who can deal with having no success etc. President told me about an elder who worked really hard and for a long time he had no success and it was because the Lord had something he wanted him to learn, had his own timetable for things etc. I trust He knows what's best for me so maybe not having success right now will be better for me than if I had a bunch. So I'm trying to stay positive and keeping my hope and faith levels higher than they've been. I'm grateful for all of your prayers, thoughts, and support.

Thanks for the info about the Cranes-there really will be no one left when I get back. Oh well, there's always Copper. The weather is continuing to be warm here but not unbearable-hopefully I will leave before it gets too bad 8) tho, prolly can't escape it fully here, it is the south after all. Well I love you all and am so grateful to be here, no matter how hard or slow-it's still the most important thing I could be doing in my life and I'm not alone in this work. I know the Savior is with me every step of the way and picking me up when I fall. I love you all and keep me posted.


Cectpa Richards