Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Snome rahshdehnyeh tebyeh!

Hello one and all,

Wow-it was a great email from mom this week full of news, pictures and updates of everyone. It's always so cool to see everyone and remember the good times we had (it really feels like a loooong time ago, like another life).

Now for the most important announcement: HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! (I'm singing happy birthday in Russian in my head just for you: "snome rahshdehnyeh tebyeh"). old are you now?? I don't even know....well, I never liked math so we'll round it off generously at 50ish k? (And yes, I know that's being very generous 8) So I hope you all have a great time with the festivities and you get some presents that you will most likely turn around and return to the store before the wrapping paper is cleaned up 8) O yea!

The other day it was "day of the city" (Rostov's birthday -259 years old) and somebody's parents came to pick them up at the end of their mission and they brought a box of See's chocolates and gave them to us in the office-I was sooo excited! I instantly thought of Dad and how he would get a box of See's chocolates for bday or fathers' day or something and after dinner he'd always pull out the box and let us pick one always warning us that we couldn't waste them. (We had a habit of biting into them and then realizing that we didn't like it) but it was always exciting trying to find the chocolate without nuts etc. -I know, I was crazy back then not liking nuts and all. So anywho, I hope you have a great day dad and that you know how much I love and appreciate you and think of you often and all your funny quirks that I miss.

And as far as that goes, happy birthday to mom on Sunday -of course she's nearing 45 now (I know again, very generous). I was talking with my companion yesterday about how we had our favorite movies -would snuggle together and how you could never make it through a movie without falling asleep, haha. She has the same relationship with her mom cause she didn't have sisters either and she said they always watch together too and her mom falls asleep too. So yea, I can't wait to come home and watch our favorites together again and try to keep you awake at least til the middle of the movie 8) I love you both so much and am so grateful for the great examples that you have given me in living the gospel and raising a family.

In less mushy news, the weather has really gotten colder here which I'm hoping won't continue to drop and give us a long cold winter but I guess we'll see. It seems we're hitting a bit of a dry spell when it comes to success and yet I'm still happy -prolly cause we're still trying to be obedient and working despite the results and that's really enough to stay happy while on the mission. We will have zone conference on the 6th and I'm really excited for it. We're already preparing for it in our studies and I feel like it will be the best one of my mission. Then prolly a week after that I will have my visa trip. Apparently right now, there are missionaries from our mission stuck in Stolkhom for 2 weeks because of troubles with visas etc. (How cool would it be to go to the land of my forefathers?! But I don't know ...we'll see where they send us. I would be happy just to go to the temple).

Anywho, next Monday we will have a culture night. It's an Irish Lord of the Dance type of concert (any of you who really know me realize how excited I am and how big this is for me). I can't believe that October is already starting-how?! I just barely said: Wow, it's already september and now next week it's October .....scary, really scary .....

I've really learned a lot about the work and how to work etc. in the summer, finding new techniques etc, but the winter is a WHOLE other ball game! Contacting becomes difficult because no one wants to stop and talk in the cold, it gets dark around 5/6 PM and we have to switch to big apartment buildings when knocking -which is way different than out in the country as far as responses we get- so basically what I'm saying is, I need to adapt and learn new techniques for the work in the winter and I need your prayers and support to try and make this winter just as successful and a learning experience as my summer was and go home with a bang/on a high note. I know all is possible with the Lord -it just depends on our worthiness and ability to receive and recognize revelation for ourselves, companionship, and area.

I love you all so much- have fun with Eric being there, be sure to take pictures 8) In my emails I've noticed emails about transactions etc. in my account but I haven't' done anything lately. Are you guys putting money in there etc? if so, please let me know (I need to get autumn boots prolly- $30). Thanks again for all your prayers and support.

Cepta Richards

(P.S. what did you decide with president Harrison as far as coming out here?)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Attack of the tramvi

Hello everyone! some news this week it seems like. Go figure that it's when I leave we finally have a hurricane. Mom's right -I would have loved it! I'm glad to hear that everything is ok and we had minimal damage. The Lord is definitely blessing you all and prolly so you could have the time and energy to focus on those who are worse off and help our fellow brothers and sisters. That's cool that the missionaries stayed over -too bad they couldn't help Vlad out before they were done.

So it sounds like I need to apologize for my little comment last week, haha sheesh ...I didn't think it would get THAT big of a reaction since it was only a few sentences. I'm really sorry and please know that you don't need to call my mission president or email him, etc. Of course everyone who needed to know knows about it and I'm fine -seriously 30 minutes afterwards, we had already forgotten about it and carried on. Just a cool story to share someday. Please don't worry or go crazy with your imaginations, everything is fine. Seriously, us sisters rarely if ever get any serious flack for what we're doing. The poor elders though ...haha, just last Sunday there was another companionship who got beaten up (one had a black eye and they broke his glasses). They're the ones who prolly need the extra prayers 8) Anywho, stop worrying everything is fine and it didn't affect me or anything. Actually it was kinda cool how everything worked out and further testimony to me that the Lord knows where we are and will always bless/help us. So there ya go, and thanks for the words to that hymn mom. I've always loved it especially since being on the mish.

Today is the start of a new transfer and we're sooo excited because we're still together! Hurrah! Of course next transfers should be a big change because we have a new sister coming in and prolly a new area for the sisters since we'll have an extra companionship. We're not having to use the mini-missionaries anymore which I'm sure the office elders are happy about. It was always a headache to find someone especially since school has started now, nearly impossible.

Our English club will start up next week so we're really excited to help people feel more comfortable with our church and find through it as well. Um ...what else, what else ....there will be three elders in the office while they're waiting for a new senior couple to come in and take over the Cameron's jobs so our district will liven up a bit. I'm excited that in a few weeks we will have a culture night. It's an Irish dancing concert type thing like Lord of the dance (as you can imagine I'm very excited about this).

The work is going alright but as it always seems to happen we're trying to not get stuck in a rut or pattern and get comfortable with our efforts etc. So we are having new goals at the start of this transfer to be 100% obedient -every little single rule no matter how dumb we think it is, so that we can be worthy of the blessings the Lord has in store for us. I really feel like we need to prove ourselves and then the Lord will give us more and more opportunities.

That's so cool that you guys can see Eric! I hope you all have a great time and he can get some well deserved R&R. Tell him hi from me or if he reads this ....HI!

It's gotten colder here and soon I may need to buy my autumn boots (the old ones died in the spring due to an over full tramvi -tell ya about it later) so I may need....somewhere from 30-40 in my account for that, or I'll just pay -whatever. So's funny cause I'm not ready for the winter but at the same time it's funny cause my comp is like o man I hate knocking when it's cold etc, so hard and I'm's not cold yet 8) But she is from Canada so I think she'll prolly deal with it better than I did my first winter -oh the joys of winter! Um ...I feel like I'm forgetting something ...hmmm.

Thanks for the email mike. It was great to hear how you all are doing. The kids are so grown-up! So crazy ...hey, when I get back if you want to take a weekend or something I'll be more than happy to stay with the kids and watch them etc 8) It'd be a great opportunity to remind them that they have an aunt on that side. Hope all is going well with you and your different undertakings. I hope all is well with Carrie and the pregnancy 8) I love you all sooo much and am just trying to hold on to the time that I've got left here in Russia. I'm not ready!! But am motivated to improve and do more. I guess the most important thing is that I leave on a high -leave better than when I came out then I'll feel like I accomplished something.

O yea! Sister Malinina sent me a pic of her and her now fiance from America who served in our mission with her. He came and visited her in Siberia and now she's just waiting for a visa to go to America then they can pick a date to get sealed in the San Diego temple -soooo cool!!!!!!! Anywho, I hope I'll meet a bunch of people from Russia. I hear there are a ton in Salt Lake from saints who have come over but at the same time ...we really need the strong members to stay here and straighten Zion out here etc. But I don't blame them for wanting to go where there are more young members their age etc. (Though they have tons of conferences for all the youth in the mission to get together at different locations. From what it sounds like -it's basically just an opportunity to find someone to date etc.)

Anywho, got off topic, I love you all and can't wait to see the pics from Eric's visit and maybe some damage around the house. Get a pic of all the missionaries if possible. I just think it's funny that a bunch of them slept over at my house 8)

Cectpa Richards

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sister Harrison's note to the sisters

I just wanted to tell you all how wonderful you are and what a great spirit I felt at our Sister's Session. As I listened to you sing in your beautiful voices and harmonies, it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for all you do. Since many of you took pictures when we were together as sisters only, I am attaching the picture of you with the assistants.

Sending love,
Sister Harrison

Cepta's Conference

Hello once again,
I'm just sitting down after playing some Frisbee and soccer with about half of our zone. It was fun but man am I out of shape -I think I'll take up jogging again after the mish to reminisce about the mish and get to know my music again 8) The work is going well.
We have two baptismal dates right now but they are both kind of on the weak side. One is a girl who can't come to church on Sundays because of work -have to move it already, and the other is young and her parents are against religion in general and she's scared to talk to them. But both either way, they have had a good experience with the church and hopefully at some point will make the steps if not now.
The sisters' conference was great -was just us with the APs and President and sister Harrison . They covered steps on teaching better, controlling situations better, and we contacted for a couple hours switching up companions talking directly about baptism with people. It was cool and we'll really try to perfect our methods with this, and find something that works.
It'll be an interesting transfer this next week because there will be a threesome somewhere with the sisters until a girl from Ukraine will come out next transfer at the end of October and we'll be even again. Then the transfer after that four will go home leaving us still even and if I went home when the original date happens -Jan- three of us would leave leaving it odd again so I'm thinking -me extending is 99% sure thing just to keep things even. Yea for coming home in March! Um....but yea, so we'll have a three-some for a transfer and I'm pretty sure I'm staying in center (only here two transfers) and the apartment is too small for a 3 some. Right now I'm thinking the 3 some will be in either Volgograd or Tagonrog and we're both thinking that sister Fourtina (my comp) will get a transfer cause she's finishing her 3rd transfer here right now and it's only her first area. They normally move you out of your first area before too long. It's sad because we really love working together and we have more unity in teaching etc/on the same page more than any other companionship I've been in. I almost don't want to start at ground 0 again with someone, but o well...a part of the mission life. I'm feeling like more and more I'm gonna die in Volgograd because that's the only place I haven't been in the mission -either that or go back where I started in Krasnodar. O well, it will be cool...I mean FREEZING!
Well, this week did have one thing of note but it's one of those things that I won't be mentioning til after I get home (now I know you're all thinking: What?! Oh come on. what happened?!) Haha, but that's ok, just one of those things that needs to be told in person. But no need to worry all is well and I know that we are constantly being protected by all of your prayers and the Lord for our service -so keep em' coming.
Oh mom! I forgot almost, for the package please send me a good journal doesn't need to be huge in length/width but thick. It's soo hard to find a good journal here (go for unique if you can, all my journals are so different from each other and I like it)
Steve, thanks so much for the email! I'm not sure if I understand the part about Molly....but anywho I'm sure she's a ...molly Mormon- right? Anywho, keep up the good work at school and say hey to Agard for me (if he's still there, I don't even remember anymore with all the changes in that place). Dad, thanks for the updates -glad to hear that we're so far undefeated.
Amanda, sorry to hear about your grandfather -I know you were really close to him. The longer I've been out here the more clearly I've realized the true reality of life after death and it's almost ridiculous how short of time we have here on earth. Which on one side comforts when dealing with the temporary seperation of loved ones, but on the other side it's too much like my mission right now: racing by and the second we start to feel like we're really doing something and progressing, it's over. I guess what I'm saying is that I hope I can always be conscious and aware of every moment and make it count -I'm only 22 and yet I've let sooo many moments/opportunities fly by or at least let them fly by without really giving them the recognition they deserved. I wish I could be there to just listen to you and your feelings etc. -not that I can give that good of advice but I understand how helpful it is to just talk to someone.
I love you all so much. This mission is so hard -it's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life and I'm glad it's that hard cause it means the most to me. I'm learning so much and I hope I can continue to push myself, continue to pick myself back up and keep going despite tears, frustrations, or set backs. I know that God will never ask us to deal with more than He himself had to deal with and that we can deal with anything through His help -all is possible. If I could make a request of you: please don't take the knowledge you have for granted. I know it's hard when you've known it all your life -it's like breathing or sleeping, we just don't' think about it and the amazing restorative power it gives us. Just please try and find time each day to really think about and appreciate the knowledge you have. About God -who He is is/His identity. It's soooo simple and elementary to us but it's ALL important. We have a prophet of God a REAL prophet of God in our day....that's HUGE! Do you really realize how amazing that is and that we know it and can benefit from his counsel?! And yea...we know what man has been wondering about all of his existence. Where we're from and whether there is life after this one -where we go and even more so, that we can control where we go based on what we do here. Please remember to remember how great this is and let that drive you to share this knowledge when that tempting voice speaks in the back of your mind: He will think you're weird don't talk about that with him, or ...they're prolly already members-this is Utah after all.... It's better to ask first rather than regret later and hold someone back from getting to partake of the knowledge we have.
I love you and am so grateful for your prayers and have literally seen them being fulfilled in front of my eyes -please keep praying for us out here in Russia your brothers and sisters out here especially need it right now.
Cectpa Richards

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Spitting in the wind

Hello there,

Well it's a beautiful day in the great city of Rostov-na-Donu. As dad mentioned in his email -our heat has definitely broken with a nice cool breeze pretty much 24/7 and it's been an amazing change. The first day I'll admit I was a little chilled (after all I'm still a Southerner) but now I really like it and hope we get this great weather for awhile and a late winter 8)

So this past week some of the highlights were that our mission President came back (was out of town for visa/mission president conference) and our senior couples who were serving in the office went home this week-sad! They were so great-especially sister Cameron. One day she seemed a lil sad and we asked her if everything was ok and she said no and started to cry. Of course we sisters swarmed and gave her plenty of hugs -just having a stressful day in the office I guess.

She just talked about how great we were and how she has loved serving with all the young missionaries. She told a funny story about how she read an article in the ensign and a girl wrote about her experience on the mission in Atlanta, Georgia. How her first six months were great and then she started to get depressed because it was so hard and they didn't have a lot of success. But then she read in Alma 27 where it talks about the sons of Mosiah getting spit on, thrown in jail, beaten etc. and she realized that it could be worse and she felt better. Sister Cameron said: "I want to write to that girl in the ensign and say, You're serving in ATLANTA, GEORGIA! I know 100 young missionaries who go out and work everyday and they DO get spit on, beaten, and thrown into prison, and they keep working and keep smiling, not to mention the language barrier that they have to overcome -honey, your mission doesn't count as hard!" (Her words not mine -I recognize that every mission is hard regardless of location.) But it was just really moving to hear her love for us and how she got emotional about it. And just for the stats, no I have not been spit on -someone tried but it was a windy day 8) Anywho, they were great missionaries and I'll miss them. We have a few more pairs scheduled to come out soon.

Me and my comp have really been focusing on planning every hour of every day with goals etc. and it's been amazing the difference it has made in the work. (I know, duh!) But yea, and we've also started contacting in a very small circle around the church building and inviting people off the streets to come and see and learn more and it's been working. We found 7 new investigators this past week and half of them were from contacting which is not common. We really love this new bold way of contacting and have been getting many great new experiences in teaching and helping people have a good first experience with the church. If nothing else hopefully they'll remember the spirit they felt in that church one day.

The soccer game was great! I took some pics and videos from it -it was a big stadium but the turn out was kinda sad. They had a full section that I guess you could call "the front row fanatics". They had all these complicated cheers, etc. and they all did them together so we could hear them from where we were. We won (of course 1-0). We played some other town from the north -forgot the name. It was way fun but not too crazy, lots of words that I didn't' understand were being yelled and so I figured they were "motts" (means cuss words).

Today from 1-4 we are having another game day at the mission home which means: homemade cookies, popcorn, etc. and fun card games with the funny elders in our zone = 8) Then the sisters will be staying for the night and half of tomorrow for my first ever sisters' conference. I'm sooo excited because there are only 9 of us and we have never all been together at the same time before. Plus it will be great to learn from each other and hear specific counsel from our president and leaders.

Also, we will stop using mini missionaries -too hard with school starting so there will be a three some for one transfer so we will need to get that all figured out. I think I will stay here but I feel like Cectpa Fourtina will move on prolly -already been here 3 transfers and it's her first area on the mission. But we both want to stay together because we really have found a rhythm and I dunno ...I have really felt like we have both worked hard to improve ourselves as missionaries, teachers, etc. and I love setting goals with her and learning how to be better. At least the Lord knows what we need and where we need to be so we'll see.

One of the lessons from a referral we received from the elders went really well yesterday. She's really interested in religion and feels like none of her friends care so she can never talk about it with them. When I told her about the first vision etc. she had all this excitement in her eyes and said: "Class" (like classic -slang that they're using here) and wanted to meet with us today but we had no time so we're meeting on Friday -such a great girl! And sooo smart, talks about how she doesn't agree that people can just decide to become priests/have priesthood etc. Or that it's just dependant on how long they are in the monastery etc. -becomes a matter of time more than a matter of God. So yea..real great.

Sounds like everyone is doing great and it was great to hear about the latest news and see the pics. Good luck with all those tropical storms (luckies...) and Go Cougs! I was way excited to hear that we won. I love you all sooo much and am so excited to be here and do this work. The more I'm focusing on improving myself and do my part to improve teaching/etc. the happier I am and I know it's because God is happy with us and our imperfect efforts.

As far as a package mom....uh...I dunno, haha....maybe some type of Halloween decorations. If we decide to do a Halloween activity at the branch etc. -would be cool. I feel like I'm forgetting something but I dunno what else to say. Did you need any more specific info as far as when to come out here or did you talk to the office couple? If not you'll have to a wait a lil cause we'll just have the office elders in there for awhile and I don't know how helpful they're gonna be 8) I love you all!!! Think of ways you can share the gospel with those around you and support the missionaries.

Cectpa Richards.
P.S. tell our neighbor "preevyet" from me and that he has a great homeland here 8)
Oh and Steve ...write!