Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving


It's sooooo crazy to think where I was a year ago- in Krasnodar feeling homesick not understanding anything that people said to me...and now look at me! In Rostov, not wanting to go home and understanding what people say to me 8) time is an amazing thing and seems to fix everything. So today is our turkey day even though tomorrow is the actual. I made the grandma Helen's pumpkin pie and, due to our over hot oven, burnt it a lil but it's ok- we're gonna put whipped cream on top so no one will see the picked-off burnt parts (hahaha, I'm such a screw up, but that's ok, luckily hungry elders aren't very hard to please). We're all getting together-the north and south zone in Rostov along with President and Sister Harrison at the branch building at one o'clock for the big meal. Everyone is bringing something so we should have a good feast on our hands. I'll be sure to take pictures.

The elders are playing football at 11:00 am and I want to go but we still have to make our desserts and the sisters from Taganrog are coming and using our kitchen to cook their veggies so it looks like we might just miss it. that's ok i guess....i don't' remember how to run 8) Note to self: work out once I get home.

This past week was great-we taught a lot of lessons and Nastia passed her baptismal interview!!! So we meet with her wed, sat, and Sunday is the baptism 8) 8) 8) I'm assuming I'll get transferred which will be on the 4th so it's a great way to leave the area.

Things are going good with my's just interesting cause we haven't managed to really find the rhythm that we've had with previous companions- not that there's a lot of contention etc. or anything just ....i dunno, our styles of doing things are way different but we're trying and we realize that we can't teach as much as we want if we can't find a way to teach together with unity. It's been an interesting experience since up until now, I've NEVER had a problem with comps/having good rhythm together/being united. I guess it was too good to be true-need to have something to work on.

What else what else....I know that in a few weeks we will have P-day on Dec 8th not on the 10th (shrug-email from president said so). I got the death's not fair....I'm supposed to get it at the beginning of next transfer but I guess we can get it 60 days before our departure date so it's official Jan 14 I fly out early (they said they would send you guys all the info when it's closer) and on the 13th I have exit interview, dinner, and testimony meeting at President's. It makes my stomach sick thinking about it so I won't 8)

I got your package/envelope with the Christmas folder with all the letters and pictures-thank you everyone!!!!!! It was so great to read all about what you're doing and feel your love and support. I am really blessed with great family and friends and know that all my successes in life can be contributed to the great support system I've had. I've learned from all of your great examples 8)and thanks for the shirt!!!! I love it! I wear it to bed every night and every time the theme song goes through my head it makes me happy 8) "When the evil shredder attacks, these ninja turtles don't cut em' no slack!"

That's exciting that Eric is back in the states-it means more letters right?! 8) Good work at See's, I have to say we were so excited when I saw the See's chocolate box in my package. We almost died and my comp was WAY happy. One time an Elder's parents came to Russia and they brought a box of See's and gave it to all in the office and there were missionaries who didn't even know what it was-how sad! But I'll never forget how dad would get a box for a special occasion and after dinner he'd pull it out and say: "Pick one, and you have to eat what you pick!" (I have since repented of not liking nuts you'll be happy to know dad!)

Since it is Thanksgiving I want to give thanks to my Heavenly Father for all of my many blessings- half of which I prolly don't' even realize He has given me. I'm grateful for my savior and his sacrifice, that he performed for me and every other spiritual brother and sister and for the plan that allows us to choose and learn through our experiences and perfect ourselves. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be in this great land and share the restored gospel and simple gospel truths that we take for granted but that the people have been spiritually starving for. I am so grateful for all the sacrifices that have been made the past 2-3,000 years that has brought forth the fullness of the gospel in the book of Mormon and how this book strengthens my relationship with the savior and helps me receive personal revelation from my Heavenly Father in how to deal with life's challenges and become more like Him. I am SO grateful for the knowledge that we have a prophet of God in our day that leads this church under the direction of Jesus Christ Himself and receives revelation and as long as we follow His council to a "t" everything will be alright and we will be protected and blessed and can be assured that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom with our families forever.

I love you all and I hope that you take time to remember all the blessings in your individual lives-even the minute details that we most often over look, and remember what a blessing the restored gospel is and share it with all those you love so that they can be grateful for it too. It's always worth opening your mouth and sharing the gospel-ALWAYS. Sharing the gospel and someone saying "no" is not failure, not opening your mouth is failure. I love you all. Have a great holiday season and stay safe 8)

Cectpa Richards

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Chloe, we've got a "spitter" at 12 o'clock

Hey everyone!

Wow, this week was great -pretty newsy emails, thanks! All the pics were great and the impossible happened: I got a letter.....ok well, email.....from Eric!!!! (haha, jk) But it was really great! It's funny how you can totally feel the different personalities in an email and it was totally him -I've missed ya!

Let's see where to start, where to start.....I guess with the news that you guys gave me: GO BYU! Way to go Gavin! (Not that he reads this anymore, too busy with the autographs and interviews on cougar cable. 8) Just remember your loyal fans who started your soon to be NBA nickname: Gavin Pants!!!!)

Um, Steve: way to go!!!!! You totally rocked it baby! Well, at least that's how good I did on the ACT ...or was I a little worse? I don't even remember....but don't worry if you get A's and B's in high school you can totally get in at Provo and how scary would that thought be! Yikes....seeing you in such a free and grown up environment would kill me limits.....scary. But yea, congrats! Russia congratulates you! Lenin gives you a thumbs up (it's true, I saw it).

Anyways, Eric, it's crazy to think you're already back in the states now-good times, good luck with your online classes and all your future plans. It'll be cool to see where you land (that is if we can know about where you land!). That's not a bad idea....If I got in the CIA that would definitely make our family the coolest. We're practically the makings of 24-even better! Haha, we'll see... There was a guy in the MTC in the next district who attended military schools all his life and wanted to go into the CIA etc. and in order to go to Russia on a mission they needed to totally wipe all his records clean so there was no record of him every being in those schools, etc. After the mish he will def. be an asset I guess.

Anywho, it was fun to see all of the pictures from Steve's marching band career. Wow....great memories that seems sooooo long ago! If you told me that in a few years I'd be in Russia-understanding and speaking Russian I would have laughed at you. Looking at my picture I was shocked at how much hair I had....I swear...I'm going to come back sporting the Gollum hair do.......sigh, water here is not kind. O well, I have a sweet spirit right?! (Hahaha)

What else, what else, Mom -I found one of the prettiest martroshka dolls ever and bought it (I'm even gonna go back and see if there's another one for me) and a few other odds and ends so if you could put 30ish in the account I'd be soooo grateful -or whatever. We can figure everything out when I get home I guess -no biggie.

Nastia is coming along great we have a meeting with her tonight and then Saturday and then Sunday is her interview for baptism. She's accepting everything and I'm just hoping that everything is sinking deep with her.

We had a cool experience this week. We had contacted a girl on the street -nothing special, the usual. Then on Monday all our investigators fell through and couldn't come to FHE which is always way fun. They have it at the senior couples apartment and we play games etc. I think I've been able to go maybe 6 times the whole mish. So anyway we were resigned to the fact we couldn't go (even though yes, we realize it's for the investigators and not for us, but knocking at night is the pits). So anyway, we head back to the building where we were knocking, get right in with the dome-a-phone, and the fifth door that opens is this girl that we had contacted. It was so crazy and we were like oh hey -we remember you, how's it goin' etc. She was just hanging out at home listening to music -no plans and we asked if we could come in but her landlady didn't like her having guests so I thought: FHE! So we totally invited her and made it sound amazing and she agreed. We waited while she got ready and went over there just in time as it started and she had a fun time. We might meet with her tonight if we can (she lives 5 seconds from the church, and 10 seconds from us) and she is way cool!

It was just another testimony to me that God is merciful and everything we do -every person we talk to is not a waste. God is able to use it all and make it all work together. He's definitely in control of this work and it's so cool to see all the coincidences that happen that aren't actually coincidences.

On a slightly different note....yesterday while we were knocking (half way done with a podyezd....forget what it's called in English -but where all the apartments are.) My comp jumps and moves away from the railing and said: "Someone just spit on me!" We looked up to the top floor where one guy had told us "No!" when we asked if we could talk to him. He didn't even open the door, and sure enough he had totally landed a loogie on my comp's head! Needless to say she was very angry and he continued to yell at us until we left etc but it was pretty crazy! It's not every day you get spit on. That one hasn't happened to me yet, though the attempt was made ...but the Lord and the wind were on my side that day 8) Anyways, it reminds me of that verse that talks about how I will suffer anything for the Lord, etc. (I think it's Paul...) but yea.

At first we were just so shocked at why someone would do that to two young girls. I mean he was a full grown adult! But then I'm grateful for these moments because I have that much more insight to Joseph Smith when he talked about how everyone was against him almost from his infancy and he too asked these questions: Why do they think I'm so important to persecute, I'm just a kid! etc. But we are official annoyers of the adversaries kingdom so I guess it makes sense.

On a lighter note, this Friday for our culture night we're going to see Rigoletto -the opera!!! Needless to say we are VERY excited about this because it's cultural and well if you know me you know why I'd be so excited! Anywho...what else what else....I can't believe that Andrea (er....sister Wiser) is coming home in a few weeks! O my gosh!!!! That is scary cause that means that I don't have much time left. Our transfers are in two weeks and there will be an odd amount of sisters so there might be a floating sister. She would just travel around and work with all the other sisters. There's one new sister coming in so it will be interesting to see where I end up.

I love the Lord and I love my mission and I suddenly feel the great urgency to just take tons of pictures of everything cause I don't know when I'll be back and I want you to be able to see what I've seen ....well, almost all of what I've seen 8) I love you all and echo the words of Grandpa when I say I am so thankful for my righteous and loving family who is always supporting me. It'll be sooo weird when we're all together again! When was the last time we were all together?!?

Anyway, I love you
Cectpa Richards

P.S. Eric, don't worry I'm soooo looking forward to it!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Treek or Treet"

Hey everyone!!!

Thanks for all the GREAT letters 8) I'm not sure exactly why but I am in a great mood (not that that is a rare occurrence or anything). Maybe it's because we had a great meeting with Nastia last night (more on that later) or maybe cause I straightened my hair today and it hasn't gotten frizzy yet (I can count the number of times I've been able to do this in the past year and a half on one hand), or maybe cause we're gonna watch the greatest game every played today which always puts me in a good mood, or maybe cause it's just so great to see everyone I love so happy and successful in life and to know the gospel is true! Yes! (I think I set the record for a run-on sentence with that last one.)

Well anyway life is good here in Rostov. We got two of mom's packages this last week- the Halloween and one Thanksgiving and that put us in SUCH a great mood! (My comp is feeling very lucky that she'll be with me for Thanksgiving 8) but seriously it was amazing thank you!!!!

It was great cause we got the package the day of the Halloween party (yea we had it on the 8th- the Russians didn't know any better 8) and the candy was perfect cause we did trick or treating where they had to knock on the different doors of the branch and we gave them candy after they said: "treek or treet" in their cute accents. There were balloon animals and we had bobbing for apples, the game where you fish for treats over the divider, the game where you feel in the boxes and there's "brains, eyeballs, etc" bean bag toss, I painted a few faces, and an excellent toilet paper mummy race and we finished off the night with limbo. I have tons of pictures and film from it so I'll show it to ya some day. It was way fun and we had a decent turn out so there were plenty of bodies running around and participating -so much fun!

Me and my companion dressed up as the statue of liberty and mother Russia (tallest statue in the world up in Volgograd) and we were friends (hint, hint world) - I was the statue of liberty, our elders dressed up as Jedi knights which was pretty funny. They really enjoyed making the light saber sound as they pulled their broom sticks out of their holsters. It was way fun and Nastia came with her little brother and her son Stas (which is the cutest boy in the world by the way!) so yea it was a hit! And thank you, thank you, thank you, for the pumpkin pie filling and all the spices already to go in baggies -the smell was unbelievable! We can't wait! (and if our elders knew about it they wouldn't be able to either)

Um...what else....We had a meeting with Nastia last night and it went really well. We talked about baptism and the gospel of Jesus Christ and it was really good cause we used her son to help teach her about repentance: if you caught him stealing what would you want him to do, what would you say to him etc, and she really got the point we were making. She also told her mom about the baptism which she was worried she would be against it because Nastia was already baptized in a Baptist church, but apparently the mom said that they might come and see it-that's huge!

I want this family to come so bad and feel the spirit so strong so that they will really start seriously investigating the church, and then all join, and then get sealed in the temple and be an eternal family (the dad would be Elders quorum pres and the mom would be enrichment leader cause she's so crafty), and then Stas will grow up and serve a mission and baptize thousands, and lil Anna will grow up and marry a returned missionary and have an eternal family of her own and it will be a huge chain reaction! Ok ok....coming back down to earth, but please pray for her family that their hearts will be softened and that they will support her in this and come.

It was funny cause we were really stressing-wondering if she was ready etc. and then one of the elders said: "Let me say what I think President would say: did you know and understand everything when you were baptized at 8 -I mean, really know? They have the desire and the basic knowledge and that's enough -have to start somewhere" etc. After last night we both really felt the spirit while we were talking with Nastia and our worries have seemed to evaporate and we really feel that God wants her to be baptized and not sometime but now, and she wants it and that equals: 8)

So anywho, that's great about the proposition number 8 thing. An elder from California just mentioned it while he was reading his mail and was excited. I didn't know what it was proposing but that is great.

I can NOT (and if I could change the font on this and give it a dash of color I would) believe that Sabrina is 2!!!!!!!!!!!!! What?! Wasn't she! She looked so cute and grown up in her new bday dress-sheesh, the kid's got more style than me for crying out loud (which actually isn't a difficult feat at this point). But yea congrats to Brinee. it's pretty cold here and we contact every morning from 8-10. What gets you here is the wind.'s just ridiculous when you get a good blast in the face. It's enough to give you brain freeze (only without the tasty ice cream.) Everyone looked great in their pics!

I heard from President that "mission hopping" won't be allowed (a few of us were wondering if there were uneven number of sisters in other Russian missions if we could go and fill in for a month or two), but it won't be allowed, sadly. It seems more and more that I'm mean't to go right home which is fine with me only I'm sort of leaving half of my heart here in Russia which might be slightly problematic. I love these people so much and will miss hearing this language everyday....I'm gonna find any Russian speaking people in Houston pretty quick -hello neighbors! 8) Though at the same time it's scary cause he'll prolly talk to me and be can only speak this well with this many mistakes after a year and a half?! I'll just tell him (in Russian so you guys don't catch it) to tell you that I'm amazing 8)

Well anywho, congrats on the new jobs Mom and Steve-that's fun. 8) Are you only working until Christmas or more than that? It would be fun to go see you at the mall in your lil hat and apron (in my mind you're all wearing hats with open chocolate boxes taped to them).

I love you all and am so grateful for all the times here in Russia-the hard and the good and the opportunity I have had to strengthen my faith in Jesus Christ and hopefully help those around me do the same as well. Keep me informed on any new developments and Steve: I was not impressed by your letter.....o wait, that's because there WASN'T one....interesting how that works hmmmm?

Thank you for your prayers and positive thoughts -they are really working and making a difference, keep praying for Nastia. We'll get her in the water and on the path if it's the last thing I do. 8)

Cectpa Richards

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Shopkas and Martroshkas

Well I was about to seriously scold mom cause I didn't get a letter from her when I first logged on but as I was reading all the other letters it popped up so everything is ok. (phew)

This past week was great. We were blessed with many opportunities to teach people and Nastia -long time friend/investigator prayed and found a new job that didn't require her to work on Sunday which means we have a baptismal date for the 16th! I'm so happy for her and just hope we can do everything in time. Maybe we'll need to push it back a bit -we'll see.

What else...this Monday was zone conference and a really good one! The North and South zone of Rostov came together for this one (not normal) and one of the General Authorities who was in the 3rd quorum of the seventy from Ukraine came and spoke. It was really good and fun to listen and think....I understand this! 8)

It's getting colder and colder by the day but still bearable -I guess, we'll see. I'll look at the jersey today for Eric and I'll let ya know on the boots. There's a cheap boots store across the street. So...if you wear the clothes once you don't have to claim it?? How do they know? Couldn't you just say -"I wore it?" Or something? But that's cool that you don't have to pay, etc. As far as the shopkas go I'm assuming one, if not all four of you will want one? (furry Russian hat) Let me know. They have really pretty shawls here. I got a red/black one it was....15 bucks I think, and I'll try find a good one for you mom and a martroshka doll.

Now back to the important stuff. I'm really loving working with sister Piko. It's funny but when we were first together I was way nervous cause she really takes control and I felt like I couldn't do the work how I liked if she always stepped in and steered everything. But like always, things have settled down and we're more and more used to each other. She's hilarious! I've never laughed more while knocking in my life. Though of course, sometimes we have to reign it in a bit. It's good to be with someone that is just happy.

I think I have a personal goal to testify and promise blessings more for the rest of my mission. We're even trying to testify more while we are contacting people on the streets. Doing better than just: ("Sorry I know you're hurrying but we're new here and trying to get to know people could we talk another time?") and getting a number. Which is bad for the obvious reasons: they don't know who we are or what we're doing. Even if we say we're missionaries most people don't understand this word or all that it entails.

But when we testify, when we say: ("Hi, we've come here for a year and a half as missionaries to talk to people about how they can strengthen their relationship with God through prayer. I know that God exists and that he hears and even wants to hear our prayers and loves us. We'd like to talk more with you another time about how you can strengthen your relationship with God. Could we write down your number and call, or ...we have time on this day, at this time can we meet?") Obviously this is better and no matter what they say we feel better cause we testified and maybe they felt something that opened up their heart just a lil bit more. So yea...testifying is easier and more gratifying in the end.

I love this work so much and I love the closeness I've been able to feel with Christ through this work. I'm grateful for the stronger conviction that I've gained while being out here and gaining the bravery to be bold with those around me. I'm also grateful for the ability I've gained to have meaningful study of the scriptures where I receive personal revelation and listen to what the spirit would have me learn and APPLY. I'm sooo grateful for a prophet in our day and that no matter what worldly leaders may do, we have a leader that we can trust in 100% and know that he will never lead us astray. I know that the only other time I feel the same amount of joy that doing missionary work gives me -is in the temple....and that's prolly cause it's the SAME WORK.

I love you all so much and hope that all is going well. Congrats Steve!!! Four successful years in the band -way to go! I know it's sad that it's over but don't worry you can show me the CD's of all your different shows and it will be fun for the both of us to reminisce.

It was funny, last night we were at a member's house and they were sooo great! All are members, sealed in the temple and it was just so visible, the happiness that the gospel gave them. They said "Oh just wait, in a few minutes we'll know who will be the next president" and we were like.....huh? They were so shocked that we didn't even know that it was happening yesterday but we were, that's interesting, but here look at this book! and held up preach my gospel and went right on with our spiritual thought. They thought it was pretty funny but yea, I think I have never cared less about what's going on back home.

A Russian sister in Taganrog called us this morning to tell us that "what's his name" won and said: "Hey, you guys have a black president." And my comp said: "um....great? We don't really care." Not to treat it lightly -of course it's important who is our leader and his opinions/plans etc. as much as I hate politics I recognize that it is somewhat important but it is just funny how little desire we have to hear about anything going on at home. No matter who is the leader it's not gonna change my resolve to live the gospel, follow the prophets' warnings/guidance and help others find the truth along the way so....yea. I guess that's that. Haha!

I love you all so much and thanks so much for the pictures! Those grand kids are so adorable it's ridiculous. They should do commercials or something: for baby Einstein videos! Perfect! Anywho, I haven't gotten the packages yet but I'm sure they're almost here. We just barely got over the month mark and sometimes it takes longer, so there ya go. Thanks for your prayers and constant good thoughts.

Cectpa Richards

P.S. As far as I'm concerned I will be home working/saving and maybe will make a few trips to see friends until the fall semester. 8)