Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Please tell me you got a long email from me!!! If not I'm gonna go cry-literally it was so long and full of funny details and an experience that I had yesterday. I have no time to write today and I put so much effort into that email! ARRGGHH! I HATE email here! Breathe, breathe....sigh, ok so everything is fine and I'll write on Monday I guess-geez! Dad- I don't know that guy-met him last week and heard he was going to Houston for work and gave ya'lls number.


Yacectpa Richards

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The land of Prague

Well hello there....Wow, what a great week of letters! and great pics too which are always so fun!

So yes I was in Prague last week. We left early Tuesday morning and flew straight there. We got in at like 9 am Prague time and met our contact (well ok, travel agent) at the airport who showed us our hotel which seemed glorious to us and was nice enough to show us different spots that we might want to hit up. So we checked in and then went to old town Prague and the Charles bridge which is very famous for some reason. (People say you haven't been to Prague until you've been there so I can officially say I've been). We saw tons of old buildings/cathedrals which I took tons of pictures of. I swear I felt like I was in the slides of my humanities class! We got to see a chamber orchestra perform in an old cathedral with amazing acoustics. They performed classics like the Four Seasons, Cannon in D and Ave Maria, it was great!

Also of course it was way fun to see the ol' gang from the MTC. Everyone seems to be doing well though two of the elders are currently serving in the Baltics mission up in Estonia because they had trouble getting an invitation letter this go around so we hope they will all return soon. We thought we'd have more time there but as it turns out we flew back the next morning and got home by three so there ya have it.

Um, I'm not sure why you think I'm with a mini-missionary but it's understandable with my track record, but yea...I'm with Cectpa Fourtina who is a full time missionary. This is her second transfer and she's from Canada and speaks French but knows English too and is great! We love serving together and both have a real desire for the work which is nice. Um....what else, what else.....oh yea, I bought a shirt in Prague which I love and we had to pay for food out of our own pockets for some reason. Normally they give us MSF but this time it was up to us....and Prague is VERY expensive so....any replenishing of the funds would be VERY appreciated 8) (This is to the parents obviously)

Um....So Dad I got your email and don't worry it won't distract me -it still is an eternity away. (At least that's what I tell myself to help me sleep at night!) So I'll try and talk to President when I go to the office today but so you know ...we got an email that says the usual about how it's hard for families to come out, and they know they want to know info to buy tickets at the best prices etc. but because of visa requirements/trips etc. we won't know the end of our mission (if we'll extend or not etc.) until 2 or 3 months before the end of the mission. But like I said I'll try and talk to President today cause he knows I want to extend and with the lack of foreign missionaries coming in I would think it shouldn't be a problem so ...we'll see.

What else, what yea, the family we found is great but they haven't really grasped on to the gospel like we'd have hoped and it's hard to meet with them -all different schedules. Their daughter who is 21 and is just going through a hard divorce has two kids -4 months and 1 1/2 is interested and even is open to baptism. But right now her schedule at work changed and she doesn't think she can make it out on Sundays in the near future. So we're praying really hard for her to be able to talk to someone or change with someone. So please pray for her! We found another mom and her daughter on Monday and a lady yesterday and we're going back to both later this week so we'll see how seriously interested they are.

I've been trying harder lately to have a focused mind throughout the entire day. One thing about the mission is that it is pretty easy to do the physical stuff -go knocking, talk to people around you etc. But the actual hard part is keeping your mind always focused and thinking of something productive whether reviewing memorized verses, vocab, investigators, or anything religious and not letting your mind wander to memories of fun times before the mission or movies coming out etc. But the more I've tried and we've prayed, the better our successes have been and I really see the Lord helping me grow in abilities necessary. But like Mike said -the key is to stay humble and teachable. Sometimes the Russian people definitely help me stay humble, haha! One person will comment on how well I can speak, the next will bluntly tell me that I speak terribly. Or more often than not they will ask why my companion has a clearer accent than me ? (Her native language is French so I guess it's easier to speak clearer to their ears.) So in a way it's a blessing cause it keeps me humble.

Apparently the 4th of August will be our P-day because of transfers (it's a Monday) just so you all know. Well I love you all! ...And I would write a fun story of me romping around the mother land like Russ requested but I'm afraid I'm running out of time so I'll save it for next time.

I love you all!

Cectpa Richards

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Speaking of visas ...

Whitney was busy traveling to Prague today to renew her visa so she hasn't been able to write yet this week. In the meantime I will post a recent email we received from the missionary couple serving in the mission home in Rostov Russia.

Dear Parents of Missionaries in the Russia Rostov Mission,

In case you missed the news about Russia and missionary work, I have included the link above. You might find it interesting. It says that the church has decided to not send any more N. American missionaries to Russia for the time being. Those we thought were coming here have been reassigned. [Couples are an exception. We will still get an occasional couple from America. We got a couple last month, and are expecting one in September or October to replace us--we go home the first week of September.] If your son or daughter is currently serving here, they will finish their mission here. The change applies only to future missionaries.

We are hopeful that things might change in the future, but for now maybe it is a good thing for the church in Russia--to help them be more independent. We have seen many more Russian youth step up to the plate and get themselves ready for a mission. Many of these were on the sidelines before the change in visa requirements, but since have had a change of heart and are now preparing to serve.
Since about October of last year, the new visa requirements say that foreigners need to exit Russia every 3 months to renew their visas. The article didn't say this, but my opinion as to why this is would be a deterrent is two fold: 1.--Too disruptive to missionary work, and 2.--Too expensive. It takes several days to renew a visa, and the cost to fly to a foreign country that will do this for us is becoming a major factor.

From your personal front line reporters:

Elder & Sister Cameron
Russia Rostov Mission

news article below:

LDS Church stops sending North American missionaries to Russia
July 14th, 2008 @ 7:29pm
(KSL News) Because of visa problems, missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from North America will no longer serve in Russia.
The Deseret News reports that North American missionaries already there will finish serving their missions. However, those currently in the Missionary Training Center who had been called to Russia will be assigned to other missions.
Last year, Russia began requiring foreigners on humanitarian visas, which includes missionaries, to leave the country every three months to renew their visas.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Rostov Central

Well hello all!

Things are going great here in Rostov central. Last week we found 6 new investigators which is more than I've found in one week ever...I think. Not all quality but there is a family in there that we are really excited about so please pray for us! Today was a good p-day for many reasons: we now have food 8) and a clean apartment 8) 8) and we saw Sisters King and Taylor at the office (they're in Rostov North so I get to see them every now and then) and I got some great mail from you guys! I got the very long letter from dearelder updating me on friends and family which was way fun to read.

Today we were in a park that sells all sorts of Russian dolls and magnets and things. I only got a few things but I figure it will be a must see for mom when you guys come. Hmm....what else....I love my comp! We really help motivate each other and she is such a great example to me! I actually prefer working with younger missionaries -think I learn more from them. Technically I am in the same branch as President but he's barely ever there- always touring the mission for zone conferences etc.

So Next Tuesday we leave on our next visa trip and get back the next day so I'm not sure how much we'll get to see of Prague but I will be VERY upset if we miss the temple (apparently two hours away in Germany). I miss it sooooo much and it would be a real spiritual boost. It's pretty warm here but the other week we had some rain for a couple of hours and because of how the streets are, they turned into rivers. have some cool pics I'll show ya some time, but yea...mostly hot here. I'm really loving the work here and am learning how to give more and more of myself which of course means I feel better and better about my efforts-funny how that works.

Steve: Thanks for the story I loved it so much (if you couldn't tell I'm using my sarcastic font)!
Mom: I didn't get your pictures of copper and the garden yet and if you could put 40-50 in my account I'd love you even more! I'm gonna try and find some more short-sleeve shirts and maybe a new skirt at secondhand.
Everyone else: Thank you so much for all of your love and support. I love hearing about how everyone is growing and the new things you are tackling. I was way excited to hear about the new mission call in the fam- congrats! You'll do great, and I hear Colorado is gorgeous. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one freezing in the winters 8). Well I better go but thanks again for everything.

I have a challenge to all who are reading this- yes....even you! with your Branch Pres/Bishop and ask if there is any less active family/person you could contact and work with for him. Since being on the mission it's definitely something that I have realized: no point in doing the work if we can't RETAIN them!!! Pres. Hinckley said new members need a calling, friends, and...something else (an assignment/responsibility) I think but the FRIENDS part is where the members can help!! Invite them over for family night or something more social if you think they won't come to church. Show them you care and let them see how you live the gospel in your everyday lives and it will make a difference!

I love you,
Cectpa Richards