Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sending a Care Package to Sister Lopez

        THE CHURCH OF                                                          
Russia Yekaterinburg Mission
JESUS CHRIST                                                           

ul. Rabochikh 9, Office 1
620131 Yekaterinburg, Russia

Dear Parents,

 We are grateful for the opportunity to work with your sons and daughters in this great mission. The Lord is truly hastening His work and this is an exciting time to serve.  We appreciate how obedient and hard working our missionaries are. Thank you for all you have done to prepare them to serve so well and faithfully.

 I am writing to give you some ideas that may help you as you prepare a Christmas package for your missionary.  Please be conservative in the amount you send.  We have some missionaries who receive very little.  A few receive an excessive number of packages.  All packages are mailed to the mission office.  Distributing them is never easy or very fast.   Except for Christmas, it is done by the Zone leaders who come to Yekaterinburg once a month and then hand carry packages to their zones.

Mission Mailing Address:          Missionary’s Name  (e.g. Elder John Hampton)

                                                Mission Office

            ul. Rabochikh 9, Office 1

                                                620131 Yekaterinburg Russia

Letters take 2- 4 weeks or longer to arrive from the USA.

Packages take 2-4 weeks or longer. Lately we have noticed that USA Priority Mail usually arrives here 2 weeks after it is mailed. USA regular package mail takes 4 weeks or longer. We do not know why.

DHL Express comes in less than one week, but costs regular postage plus an extra $35.

Large packages present a problem in our mission since we must personally carry them to outlying areas, and they may be delayed in delivery because of size or weight. Smaller packages are easier to handle.  A “small” package would be roughly 12”x12”x6” sq. or 14”x12”x3” or less, or standard post office boxes and weights.   Do not use the 24”x 12”x3” box available through the USPS.  Large padded envelopes seem to arrive well.

Mail Services:   We receive mail from virtually all international mailing services: 

United States Postal Service 1-800-222-1811               
Federal Express 1-800-463-3339
United Parcel Service (UPS) 1-800-742-5877                
DHL 1-800-225-5345

We need to receive packages by December 10th.  We will distribute packages the following week.  Anything that does not arrive by that time will not be distributed until the end of January.

Specialty Mail: Do not send anything registered or insured.  Special mail seems to call attention to itself.  It must be picked up within 3 weeks at the pochta (post office) in person by the addressee showing a passport. If the missionary is not serving right in Yekaterinburg, it is almost impossible for them to pick up specialty mail.

After talking with some of our missionaries, here are suggestions I have received:

Do not waste the space or money on:

-“Party Kits” with confetti, balloons, and noise makers… although it sounds fun… this is not needed or useful.

-“Hot hands”–most apartments have a supply left over from previous missionaries.

-Candy bars like Snickers…(they can buy many different candy bars here. In fact, they like the Super Snickers that you can buy here the best).

-Hand held games and cards…they don’t have time for these and they are just a distraction and a temptation.

-Ramen noodles…they are readily available here and are cheap.

-DVD’s…(the mission provides all the church DVD’s that they can watch).

-Books…please don’t send other church books. We ask our missionaries to only use Preach My Gospel, The Liahona, and the Scriptures.

-Toys…not needed.

Now, here are a few things that they would love to receive:

-Mormon Tabernacle Choir music and other LDS artists who sing sacred music. (Please avoid the pop-sounding modern gospel music-we want them to invite the spirit to their homes). Classical music is also acceptable. Please use good judgment where this is concerned.

-Family Pictures

-Drink Mixes (like crystal light, propel etc.) the packets that you just add to water. They love to get these.

-Taco and Fajita seasoning mixes and other dry food mixes

-Italian and ranch dressing dry mixes

-Mints like ice breakers, or other breath mints

-Maple syrup and root beer extract

-Sour candies that you can’t get in Russia

-Reeses peanut butter cups are available here but hard to find.

-Little candies to give out to Russians that you can only get in America (like tootsie rolls, warheads and jolly ranchers, etc. The Russians always love when they give them a taste of America).

-Hot chocolate packets and/or hot cider packets

-Good American multiple vitamins

-Christmas Stocking

-Cooking apron

-Poptarts and Toaster Stroodles

-American cereal (Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Captain Crunch, Reeses Puffs,  Lucky Charms, (all in small boxes).

-Beef Jerky

-Wheat Thins

-Cheese Its

-Flavored sunflower seeds

-Home recipes

-Peanut butter (you can find it here in some of the expensive stores, but it is not where the missionaries live or shop)

-Ties (The Elders always enjoy getting new ties, standard tie width not “skinny” ties.)

-Ped socks for the sisters. They like these socks that don’t show above the shoe when the weather is warm and they are not wearing nylon stockings. Low cut is best.

-Both the Elders and Sisters said any clothing is welcome (they just like to get something new now and then).

-Garments are always welcome-they eventually turn grey in the washing machines here

-Wool tights for the sisters (they can buy these here, but if you are looking for ideas…)

-Good quality wool socks (both Elders and Sisters) of course you can buy socks here, but some of the quality is not as good as the nice quality ones you can get in America (like Smartwool, Columbia and others from stores that specialize in outdoor gear)

-Cheap CTR rings or little things that they can give to the members for little gifts, stickers, pictures of Jesus, and things that can be light and inexpensive but would be nice to give as gifts to others. Any of your own ideas of small inexpensive items would be great for this.

-Gloves (they can buy them here…but if you have room and need ideas, they can always use warm ones).

-Oreo Cookies (you can find these once in a while in one expensive store in Yekat, but not all the time and store is very, very expensive, so the missionaries are not shopping there)

-The Sisters also mentioned that it would be nice to get something from home to make a holiday meal that is traditional for their specific family.

-Mini Scriptures (English, the inexpensive paperback standard works that are sold through the distribution center generally prepared for those in the armed forces).


I hope this information is helpful to you as you prepare your packages.  Of course, these are just suggestions to help you know what is not available here.  Please be conservative in what you send.   Thank you for all you do to support and encourage your missionary.  We love them all so much and feel that we have truly been given the best of the best. We are grateful for your prayers as we strive to carry the message of the restored gospel to the wonderful people here.


Sister Christensen

Russia Yekaterinburg Mission

Monday, November 17, 2014

Her First Preparation Day

I'm in Russia!!!!!!!!!!!!! :))))))))))  I cannot express how happy and excited I am that my dream of finally being here has come true.  It has also been a super crazy first week.  My trainer is this lovely sister from Wyoming and her name is Sister Williams.  I love her already, she is so nice and super fun!  We are white washing.  I'm not sure if that has always been a term, but if it is then you know how hard this first week has been.  But it gets better every day as we find our way around and get to know people.  Russia is beautiful and amazing and so much more different than I thought it would be.  And everyone lied about the people.  The people here are so kind and willing to talk to you and help you with anything.  I was absolutely pleasantly surprised.  And there's so much snow!  Everyone keeps laughing at me and saying that this is nothing, but I love it.  I've managed to keep warm and after this Sister Williams and I are going to buy me a Russian coat :D

But oh, SO much has happened this past week.  I'll start off with Spain.  My last day in the park was probably my happiest one.  I met so many good people who were ready to hear the Gospel.  I also met this one girl who I knew that Heavenly Father had sent me and my companion to find.  I knew in my heart that the Book of Mormon we gave her, was meant for her.  I really hope she joins our church.  I love her and pray for her every day.  And then we had our last Sunday and last Monday with our loved ones in Spain.  It broke my heart to leave my teachers and President and Sister Lovell and our fellow Russian missionaries who are serving in Novosibirsk.  I miss them so much, but it's ok because I know that I will get the chance to see them again and keep in touch with them.

Traveling to Russia took forever!  And I felt disgusting when we got off the plane.  But it was the coolest experience to listen to the conversations around me that were in Russian and to read all the signs and see how much I knew, or really how much I didn't know.  And then when we arrived in Yekaterinburg, President and Sister Christensen and other missionaries were waiting for us.  It was nicest welcome I could have ever gotten.  Oh momma, President and Sister Christensen are probably the nicest most loving people ever.  I feel so honored to be serving while they are.  I love them so much already.

I want to tell you about the members here.  Momma, I have never met such faithful people as these members.  I feel so humbled as I see what these people sacrifice and do just to go to church.  They remind me of our ward back home.  Everyone is so friendly and talkative and kind and patient and loving.  To be honest, I had been having a little bit of a hard time up until church yesterday.  Just because everything is so different and I don't understand a lot of what people say to me.  But meeting the members made me see how happy they are and made me remember my purpose.  I want to share the Gospel with everyone so that they can be just as happy as those members I met yesterday.  I know I will be taken good care of and I only hope I can return the favor. 

Oh!  And they want to host a luau.  The members have all asked me to teach them how to dance and they want to eat Hawaiian food.  I need recipes ASAP. Like for Shoyu chicken and some other easy Hawaiian foods.  And also can you please ask Kura for the music on a CD or something because I need some music to teach these sweet people how to dance :)

I want to tell you more but I have so little time

With all my love and every happiness,

Sister Lopez