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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Here are a few pictures from Russia.

The first is my coat that I bought on the Renock. It's way warm and I'm a big fan.

Second is from the Christmas Party. Lera(one of the coolest members ever, she helps us with a lot of lessons), Elder Busico my companion in the red, Ksyusha and Alexei(Joseph and Mary), both Branch Presidents, and a few other people.

And last is my Christmas Tree in my apartment...we bought it from gypsies. Haha. Love ya!

And a Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year! Isn't that crazy? 2009 is already gone. When this year started I never would have guessed where I'd be by the end of it. Life really is great here in Vlad. I am just living the dream I guess. I should have written yesterday, on P-day, but we didn't have any time at all. Things are ALWAYS crazy, but that's just how I live I guess.

Yesterday we played basketball against this team of like 16 year old boys...we a shoot-out. It was really embarrassing and I think all the missionaries who were there had their pride hurt pretty bad. I had a good time though. They also didn't call any of the times we were fouled...I blame it on the fact that the coach was Russian and we're American. I think this was the first real game of basketball that I've played in since the 5th grade intermurral championships. That was a cool day. Ok I really don't remember it that well, but I made a sweet 3-pointer and that's what really matters, especially in 5th grade. We played the team yesterday though, because their coach (I think she's their coach) is investigating the Church. She's a really neat lady, (even if she doesn't call fouls) and would be such a cool member of the Church. Hopefully things work out for her.

So last week feels like forever ago, because so much has happened. We've had english club twice, another sunday, my companion may have gotten a little frostbite...possibly, two new members were baptized! , and we taught and lost an investigator (she was SO cool! And SO nice, but she just isn't ready to accept the Gospel yet. I'm pretty sure she kept the Book of Mormon we gave her, and she stayed for Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School after she told us that she didn't want to meet anymore, so I think there's still hope. She's going to be in Nakhodka for the next month visiting her parents while school is out for the Holidays...yeah, for a whole month; maybe the Spirit will work on her a little harder during that time.)

Another investigator that we have though, Yulia (Julia..only they don't have J's here) is so great. I think we're going to committ her to baptism tomorrow. She is so ready for it and has so much faith. She was too sick to come to the Christmas party that the Branches in Vlad had on Saturday, but she wasn't about to let that keep her from coming to Church. We've talked about baptism a lot in our lessons and she always seems to be the one bringing it up, she wants to be baptized so bad. I love it.

We did have a baptism this weekend. It was so great. Alexei started investigating the Church a few months ago and then invited his girlfriend Ksyusha to come to the missionary lessons with him. They were both baptized today. It was so incredible. I have never seen so much joy on anyone's face as Ksyusha had when she came out of the water in the baptismal font. It was just incredible, I can't even describe it. Alexsei is way cool too. He has become one of my good member friends since I got here in Russia which feels like a lot more than a week and a half ago. He is going to make a great leader of the Church here in the Far East.

A few hours after the Baptism was the multi-branch Christmas Party It was such a good time. I did some things that not incredibly proud of there though. Mainly I just did a sweet dance to the song that's like "Last Christmas I gave you my heart but the very next day you gave it away...." Yeah, it was a good time, but I have a little less self-respect now. Haha. It's a part of building relationships of trust with the members right? They need to know that we're real people, that's what I tell myself at least. There also was a Christmas play which I thought I had a part in for a while, but I lucked out. It was fun, I just didn't really understand what was going on because I couldn't really hear, and it was in Russian. Sometimes I underderstand things a lot more than others, it's funny how that works. I'll just keep praying for the gift of tongues.

Actually, speaking of the gift of tongues, I had the coolest experience the other day! We always seem to talk about the gift of tongues, and I'd say I've experienced it already while I've been here in Russia (I mean I'm speaking it all the time and I haven't even really studied the language for even 3 months yet,) but the miracle that I saw the other day had to do with the gift of the interpretation of tongues, which is such a great gift of the Spirit.

I was in a meeting with Sister Anna Mikhailvna a member of the Church who just needs help and counsel. She is so faithful, but she always worries about her son. He is into all kinds of drugs and doesn't do anything with his life. He's 25 and just lives at home and bums off his family, but I guess its against the law here for his parents to kick him out. I don't really understand it all I guess. But she was telling us about her situation and just pouring her heart out to us begging for help and counsel, and I completely understood everything she was saying. Not the words she was using, I really caught very little of those, but the miracle was that I stopped listening to the words, and I started listening with my heart. The Spirit told me exactly what I needed to say to Sister Anna, and what I needed to ask her to do as well. Through the Lord all things are possible. I don't always understand the Russian language. Most of the time I don't. But when the Lord needs me to understand, there's no doubt in my mind that I will.

The thing that I felt like I needed to ask Sister Anna Mikhailvna to do seemed a little strange to me at first, but I am really excited for it. I am going to start kind of taking piano lessons from her. Haha. Crazy huh? She is so amazing at the piano, but she doesn't read notes. Its all just by sound for her. She actually was admitted into a music school when she was a child but dropped out because they made her spend more time than she wanted reading notes, and she just wanted to play music. Her lifetime dream was to be a musician, and she is so incredible. So yep, I have a Russian piano teacher who went to a prestigious music school in the Far East. That sounds cool, doesn't it?

Yesterday I also went to a Bible store. Who knew they had stores that just sold Bibles? It was cool. The Bible I bought was a little bit more expensive than I would usually think to spend on a Bible (since they're often free in the US) but it fits in my pocket and has a nice zipper cover. I love how much respect the Russian people have for books, especially scriptures. Really they have a lot of respect for things. They other day I went to stand on a chair while setting up for the Christmas Party, and two or three different people stopped me before I could and put paper down on the chair before they would let me put my shoes on it. I've never put paper down to step on a chair before. That was really a neat thing for me. Culture is so cool.

Last week I learned a lot about culture. We visited a member of the Church named Baba Anna. (Baba is short for Babushka which means grandma) Baba Anna fed me some great Russian food, gave me some tea (I now drink tea several times a day and it's so good. I think my favorite so far is Festive Grape. Fruit tea is way cool) As we were sitting there eating Baba asked my companion about my wife. I was really confused, and so was she. I guess wedding rings are worn on the right hand in one told me that. So she saw my CTR Ring and was positive that it was a wedding ring because of the finger it was on. Now I wear it on my left hand which is really strange for me, but I'll get used to it sooner or later I guess.

I just absolutely love being a missionary here, missionary work in genral is just so great, and the chance to study the Gospel every day is incredible. When I got here I started reading the Book of Mormon a different way than I've ever read before. Sister Pratt, the mission president's wife, gave me a new Book of Mormon, in english, and told me to mark every time the Lord Jesus Christ is mentioned. Have you ever thought about that? The scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, testify of Jesus Christ so much. I counted over 680 different referrences to the Savior by the end of 1st Nephi. I think that is incredible, and it helps me to learn a lot of different things I had never realized about the Lord before. Elder Cook of the 12 told President and Sister Pratt that he and Elder Holland had done that while they were missionaries (did you know they were companions?) and it was an incredible experience for them. I love it. Try it sometime, it will change the way you think about both the Book of Mormon, and the Lord of whom it testifies.

Well the New Year is a great time to start new things, to find new motivation and set the mark higher. As we make resolutions and set new goals keep missionary work in mind. Think of whom you can share the joys of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and make efforts to help them to recieve the blessings that we enjoy. You'll see miracles as you do.

So I completely forgot that Christmas was this week too. Haha, who forgets Christmas? We had a great lunch at the McGills (they're secretaries in the mission office.) It was a really good time. Other than lunch we just worked like regular on Christmas Day, but what better thing could we do than teach about Jesus Christ on the day we remember His birth? I absolutely loved it.

There are a few things here though that I guess I'm not quite as keen on...maybe just not used to yet. Like water turning off randomly. The other day we woke up with no cold water. We had tons of hot water...but no cold. That might seem odd to you, but its perfectly normal here I guess. Another day we came home and had no hot water, but it came on sometime the next morning, just before the electricity turned back on. Hot water is pretty important since its how we heat our apartment. The hot water pipes are the only heater that we have, so it was way cold the morning after the hot water turned off, and the electricity being out didn't help much either. I thought it was exciting. Come what may and love it right?

Really I'm just happy to be here. That's what I say when I don't understand or know how to respond to anyone around me at least. Haha, but its true. I am so happy to be here and to be serving the Lord. I have seen so many blessings already and am thrilled to have the opportunity to witness so many more.

Much love,
Elder Fife

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Some Pictures!!

Oh and that picture just kind of sums up my MTC experience...I took it about 2 hours before I left...

the other one was my Thanksgiving Dinner. Haha. Classic.

And a really blurry Christmas Card picture from my district at the MTC.

Merry Christmas from Russia

Well here I am in Russia. Sorry that I didn't get to write yesterday. Things have been CRAZY since I got in. I met my mission president and his wife in the Korea. That was a surprise. They had been renewing their visas and were on the same flight into Vlad with us.

I love Russia. It is so great here. It really is a different place. The first thing that the office couple gave me when I checked in was my fake passport. It has stamps and stuff on it so that it looks official and I am supposed to show it to any policeman or anyone who asks to see my identification. Its a little different, but I think its pretty cool. Also I feel like I'm way awesome for having a fake ID...issued to me by the Church.

People are so classy here, always dressed up to be outside. The traffic is nuts, especially in Vlad. There is one road into the city, and one road out; 2 lanes each way. What I love the most about the traffic though is how stearing wheels can be on either side of the car. They drive on the same side of the road as we do in America, but because Japan is so close those cars are a lot cheaper, and they only make them the other way. So its like half of the people on the roads are mailmen...that was always weird when I was little how they had their wheel on the wrong side.

My companion is Elder Busico. I really don't know how to spell his name in english so I am just guessing that's how it goes. He's from downtown Salt Lake. We are serving in the Vladivostok 1st Branch, and in the "1st River" district of the city.

Today was our multi-zone conference. It was really good to get to know the missionaries who are serving in Vlad, Nakhodka, and Ussirisk who were all here today. In about an hour we are going to go teach a lesson and then go to "english club." (We can't call it english lessons because its against the law to teach...)

One thing that Elder Busico was saying the other day that's been on my mind was from what he'd been reading in the Liahona magazine I think. We talked about how Elder Holland taught just to hold on a little bit longer, and if we kept doing that we would end up enduring to the end. It reminded me of a song that I really loved to listen to before my mission, written by one of my favorite people ever. "Hold on just a little while longer. Hold on to that love that makes you stronger...Know that it will just be a little while longer..." I know that we can endure to the end when we have an attitude like that. It's like the prophesy Isaiah made and Nephi quoted where he said that the Lord will forsake us for just a small moment. I know things seem difficult sometimes, and I really feel lost here in Russia, but it is just for a small moment; and the Lord will always bless me.

Last night we went Christmas carrolling out on the streets, next to a big bus stop and a really cool square down on the bay. There are ice sculptures there and stuff. It was such a cool experience. We found a new investigator from it and are going to meet with them sometime tonight or tomorrow. How neat is that? I think it's way cool.

I'm sorry this is all so random, so many things have happened in the last few days and I am really scatter-brained about all of it. It has just been one amazing experience after another. I am actually understanding a fair amount of what the people around me say, and have had some pretty cool conversations with strangers in Russian since I've been here.

Sunday I was asked to bear my testimony and speak for a little bit in Sacrament meeting. It was a really neat experience and the Spirit was definitely there. I felt like the lowest person because of my inability to speak. The scripture that has been on my mind a lot lately is from the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price. When the Lord called Enoch as a prophet and gave him his assignment he said something like this: "Why have you chosen me? I'm slow of speech and all the Russians are going to hate me. I can't even speak the language, how am I supposed to speak your words in it, and invite the spirit into the lives of others?" But the Lord, in the most loving of ways taught Enoch a great thing and said these words: "Walk with me." If I will but walk with the Lord, do things His way, be obedient to Him, and trust in His strength, He will always bless me.

I wish you all the merriest of Christmases this year! For Russians Christmas isn't until the 7th of January, so I'll celebrate twice this year, but remember the Lord. Think of the humble circumstances under which He was born and the great glory which now encircles His being. I am always taken aback by the tender scene of the Nativity. I wish you all the very best.

С Рождеством,
Старейшина Файф

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Peace out America!!!

So 3 days from now I'll be in Korea or something cool like that. Pretty sweet huh? I really don't know what to write about this week, I know a little more Russian than I did last week...I've read some more scriptures. It is really weird that I'm actually not going to be in the MTC anymore after Thursday. I think it's time for that though. I've made so many great friends here and learned so much about the doctrine of Christ and the ways that I should teach it.

This week while I was working on the chat I was SO upset. The missionaries who I've been serving with had never seen me angry before, so this was a fun new experience for them. I guess it wasn't
really anger....but I wasn't too thrilled I guess. After talking to this man on chat for like an hour he informed me that I needed to be reached, like he had after 40 years of membership in the Church, so that I could learn what is really true. I really didn't take well to the way that he had pretended to be "interested in learning more about the Church and what we believe" or the baited questions with the Bible-bashing scriptures trying to get me to see things his way. It really was a frustrating situation and I kind of let him have a loving way, if that was possible. Afterwords though I really got to thinking about him, and I really wish there were some way I could have helped him to renew his sensitivity to the Spirit so that he could learn, the way that I have learned, that this really is the true Church of Jesus Christ on the earth today. Maybe someday.

So after I typed that experience all out I remembered that it wasn't this week...but a week and a half ago...oh well, I don't have time to type anything else; which is unfortunate because I had kind of a cool turn-around experience this week. Oh well.

So I may have had a sort of...sports injury this week...but I'm not going to talk to the doctors here about it because I really want to be in Russia in a couple days. I'm not really going to go into details, but suffice it to say that we were playing volleyball...I got the point...and I finished the game. Good times. I'll tell you more
about it on the phone in a couple of days, Mom. It's way cool. :D

Well for all of those who want to write me, or expect to hear from me personally...good luck. After this week I really don't know how well I'll be able to write anyone. I'll find out what my emailing rules are when I get to Vladivostok.

So I hope that everyone is having a great Christmas season. This is such a great time to think about the Savior and remember the miracle of His birth. In Russian we sing the hymn a lot "What Child is This?" It is cool in English...but in Russian, so great! It isn't even in the hymnbook in English, or Ukrainian, but we love it in Russia.

I love you all, wish me luck on my flight.

Elder Fife

Here is how to write Samuel now:
Pouch mail

Elder Samuel Fife
Russia Vladivostok Mission
POB 30150
Salt Lake City UT

only postcards and letters that are on a single sheet, folded into three-panels, and taped at the top only (no envelopes) If this is abused it could be discontinued.

Mission home address - for packages and mail in envelopes
Elder Samuel Fife
Russia Vladivostok Mission
U1. Mordovtseva 3, 4th Floor
Primorskiy kray 690000

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'm Russian :)

There is a light....

So Friday night I saw a little bit of a light at the end of my MTC tunnel. We got our travel itinerary and it is pretty exciting. I'll be leaving Salt Lake City at about 9:30 on the night of Thursday the 17th, and landing in Vladivostok, Russia at about 1:30 in the afternoon on Saturday the 19th (local time) after a little bit of a layover in Seoul, Korea. I'm way excited. We'll be the first group of our generation of Russian to leave the MTC and get to work. I'm stoked.

I really don't have a lot to write about this week. It's just turning into wrap-up time for me here in Provo. We are speaking Russian each and every day, and working to learn and be able to communicate better everyday. There's now only 2 or 3 major grammar principles in the entire Russian language that we haven't been over now, that's weird to think of. Remember all those years of english classes? Yeah...I packed those into 9 weeks...only Russian is a lot more complicated than English is. There's about 23 different ways to say any given word, depending on how you're trying to use it...its way exciting.

This week everyone got all kinds of cool sick. Our teacher might have mono (his girlfriend doesn't though...we're not sure what to think)...and swine flu broke into a fun epidemic here again about a week ago. We have had about 3 of our Branch in and out of quarentine again... They gave me a vaccine though, so no worries.

Really I can't think of much to say this week. I feel bad about that. If you want to though...this might be a good time to shoot me a little note on dearelder or something, since I'll be in Russia for the next 22 months and will be a little bit harder to get a hold of....Just a thought.

This week's quiz!

What do the numbers 1185, 7860, and 981 have in common. Its a tricky one...good luck.

I hope everything is going well in the outside world...I really don't know what's been going on...but I hope its good.
Love you all,

Elder Fife

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy Holidays

The winner of my quiz was Sister Kildew (who didn't want me to know that she had guessed) and Abby was a close second...but it was her second guess.

The correct answer was C. Say "Be healthy as a greeting"

Dear world,

Last week's devotional was incredible. Elder Oaks from the Quorum of the 12 Apostles and his wife came to speak to us. It was so great to sit again at the feet of an Apostle of the Lord and learn the things that the Lord would have us know at this time, in the calling which we've been issued. They taught that it is important for us always to remember that we are children of a King, the Heavenly King. Elder Oaks taught a lot of other things, but I really don't have time to share them now.

What a cool time. Thanksgiving was...nifty. Yep, nifty. I got up and spent 2 hours in line for the devotional that Elder and Sister Holland spoke at and then had my "thanksgiving feast." It was a little rushed...but that was the best 15 minute feast I think I've ever been a part of. Dinner that night consisted of a sandwhich...a little bag of chips...and a hostess apple pie. (Gotta have my pie)

From Elder Holland's talk I'll share one quote which has really been on my mind the entire time since. He made this powerful statement:

"I am not devoting my life to a fairytale!"

Think of that. This man, and many others, have given everything. Every day, from sun-up to sun-down, to a something that some would think to call a fairytale. Do we really believe that Joseph Smith talked with God the Father and Jesus Christ? YES! Do I really, honestly believe that I am going to make the lives of those who listen to my message in Russia better? That because of my work some few of God's children will be able to live with him again, when otherwise they might be lost? Absolutely! I am NOT dedicating my life to a fairytale! The restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is more true than anything you will ever read in any other book. It is more real than anything you've ever done, more important than anything you could ever need, and God's love is more powerful than the love of anyone else on this Earth for anyone else on this Earth. There is absolutely no way that I am giving my life, not just these two years in Russia, but my life, to a fairytale!

This week while working on the chats I met a woman named Crystal from Oregon. She has had such a difficult life and really just needed someone to care about her. Both her brother and her sister have passed away this year. She is african-american and has faced discrimination and racism her whole life. She trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ, but doesn't feel like much of anyone on this earth cares about her. ...Now she has me. I love being able to show my love, and the love of Christ to those in need. Crystal occupies my thoughts more than most anyone else now. Please pray for her, that she might realize the blessings available to her through the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and that I might be able to show her my love for her and help to comfort her troubled heart.

Well I should get my flight plans sometime this week, telling me when exactly I'll be leaving the United States and moving to Russia. That will be exciting. Yesterday we got our nametags that are fully in Russian. It is making me all too excited to leave the MTC and go to Russia to begin teaching...and trying to actually speak and understand Russian. What an exciting time.

I hope that all the Lord's choicest blessings are upon each of you during this Holiday season. My prayers are with you, and I hope that you are each able to feel the love of God and remember our Savior this Christmas time. Best wishes and my love to you all,

-Elder Fife

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Thanksgiving is such a great time, especially for me as a missionary. Holidays in the MTC are so great. (That's the rumor at least.) There are a few special meetings that are on the schedule that are stirring a lot of speculation and rumors, its pretty exiting. Its a good thing I know how to get through the rumors and make friends with the people who really know what's going on. Its supposed to be a secret, but it only matters in the MTC I'll let it out. The questions we submitted a few weeks ago that we would "ask an Apostle" are going to be answered this Thursday by Elder Holland. He is one of the most loved Apostles by Missionaries everywhere. It is going to be one of the coolest experiences ever. I'm so excited.

As I begin the countdown to when I'll be no longer in Provo, but flying to Russia it is neat for me to look back on the great amount of growth we've all experienced while we've been here, in only month and a half. Its incredible to me to see the hand of the Lord so clearly in so many ways. The days that we only speak Russian are still a little rough, because there are so many things we wish we could say...but we just can't. But we are having more and more of those. After today we will only be speaking English 3 more days before we leave to Russia. How insane is that? I love it though. Good times.

Its really great to have the new districts of Russian speaking missionaries here. I feel like an older brother, its pretty sweet. When I find a free minute Elder Kildew and I will often go to one of their rooms and just kind of coach them through whatever it is that they're learning. Its great.

There are a lot of missionaries in the MTC now that I knew before my missionary-life. Its neat to see them in this different capacity. I had the priveledge of helping Elder Kirk this week as he came in to find his rooms and get his books and things. Elder Milne lives on the same floor as me and has class just down the hall. Elder Petersen is going to Brazil, he was the Section Chief after me in the Order of the Arrow. He was supposed to go straight to the MTC in Sau Paulo, but because of their visa situations he's here too. I love seeing friends!

So a really neat part in the Book of Mormon that I would recommend to anyone to study would be Alma chapters 4 and 5. I don't really know why I put that in here, but check them out...they'll change your life. Its true. I know that as we study and pray about the Book of Mormon the Lord will bless us with more joy and success in life according to His will.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and has a great time for me. And don't forget to thank the Pilgrims for giving us a reason to have a sweet holiday in November. I think I have an ancestor who was on the you can thank them for that too. You'll have to check with my Grandma to figure out which one though...good luck with that.

Best of Holiday wishes and all my love,
Elder Fife

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Could life get better? ...only in Russia

So this week has been great. We're getting all ready to welcome the new group of missionaries who will be learning Russian, (they come in tomorrow) and there are three native Russian sisters who will be here ometime tonight. I'm really excited for that. It will be good to have some new faces in all the places we go. Maybe I'll even be able to teach them a thing or two. (Pretty good joke huh?)

Tomorrow I'll be there ready and waiting at the curb when new missionaries arive so that I can show them around and help them find their dorm rooms and classrooms. It takes a big chunk out of our class and study time, but it will be good to help missionaries start adjusting to life as a Representative of Christ. It should be a good time.

So on there is a place where you can "ask a question" about the Church, and chat with Church Representatives. You can also call in with questions or to request free Books of Mormon, Bibles, or videos produced by the Church. For an hour and a half on Friday mornings...that's me on the other end of the line or chat. Its a really good time. We've had some amazing experiences answering questions about the Church. One of the men Elder Brightwell chatted with one of the first weeks we were here is being baptized next week, and Elder Brightwell was his first contact with the Church.

This week I had a fun time taking calls and chats. The first call I got was from a nice Baptist woman from California who thought she was paying a bill...she had no idea what was coming. Haha. You know how
I am? What could have been a quick "Wrong number. Sorry, bye" conversation ended with her having the missionaries on their way to her house to deliver a Book of Mormon and answer questions that she might have about the Lord and His plan for us. I really hope that she has a good experience learning about the Gospel and makes the decision to come to Christ and follow His teachings. What a great opportunity!
Good times!

So watch out when you try to pay your just might be calling the Mormons. I think we're only 1 digit off of the Direct TV helpline...That's a big blessing for their customers. :D And its a good thing too, because everyone needs the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their life. Nothing else brings joy like following the Lord and learning from living prophets who have continuing revelation. Try it, you'll get hooked.

Well my time to write is almost up. Thank you to all those who wrote me this week. Letters are wonderful. If you want to know just how good they are to me take a look at Proverbs 25:25. They're THAT good. :D Solomon knew what he was talking about.

I decided that I'd include in my letters (until I get bored of it at least) a short quiz about Russian culture...or whatever other fun things I decide to include. So the first person to get the answer to me...wins. What is the prize? Lots of...satisfaction. jis a prime way to write with your answers and'll make my day everytime.

So the question of the week....Which of these things is appropriate to do in Russia
A. Sit on rocks
B. Shake hands through a doorway
C. Say "Be healthy" as a greeting
D. Set books on the ground

Good luck in everything you're doing, send my love to everyone you see. Pray for me, do what's right, be good. :D

Elder Sam Fife

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Это Я!

Hi all,
Another week has come and gone. Time is really flying now. Its so odd to me that the older group of Russian speaking missionaries are all gone now. (The last group flies out tomorrow morning at 4 so guess they're not ALL gone yet.) Tomorrow marks my half-way point at the MTC, it is going by so fast.

The group of missionaries I guess I have to feel a little sorry for is those going to Brazil. They are supposed to go to the MTC in Sao Paulo, but none of them are getting visas for a very long time (I've heard both February and April as the next time any of them will be able to leave) So until then they are learning Portugese here and then serving here in the United States until they are able to get a visa to go to Brazil. That would be SO frustrating. I'm really glad that isn't me.

There's a lot of hype today about the possibility of an Apostle coming and doing a Q/A of some kind tonight. All of the missionaries in the MTC were asked to "submit a question they would ask an Apostle" to their Branch Presidency by this afternoon. It could be really neat. I'm excited to learn from whoever it is that give the devotional tonight.

This week I unlocked one of the best kept secrets at the Provo MTC. I guess its ok to spread...but make sure that it doesn't get too out of hand. The secret is this: Senior Couple Missionaries. They are so great! Elder Kildew and I have started making sure to be where the senior couples go so that we can meet them. We usually share a spiritual message with them in Russian and they teach us a lot of neat things that we wouldn't be able to get anything else. So there it is...the secret of secrets. I think it even tops the secret things hidden in the walls or ceilings (yes I've found many of those...may have left a few too) or the matrix or lightsaber pictures, even though they are pretty epic.

Tomorrow we are having our first english fast. That is where we go an entire day without speaking any English. Its amazing to me that in only 5 weeks we know enough Russian to be able to spend the day without speaking english. We haven't spoken english during lunch for a week now. Tomorrow night we will also be teaching a 30 minute lesson on the restoration of the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth (in Russian of course.) Hopefully we won't make too big of fools out of ourselves.

I'm so thankful for the letters I've gotten and all the great things that you're doing in your lives. Sorry I haven't been able to send any pictures yet. I'll see if I can figure out how to do that during the next week. Its amazing to me how fast time goes and how much I am learning every day. Please continue to pray for me and help me to make something of myself. I know through me the Lord will bless many lives in Russia, and hopefully I'm helping some of you who read my letters with something or another every now and again. I'd hate to be a useless friend.
I love you all and wish you the best,
До свидания!
Старейшина Файф

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Я люблю вас всё!

Hi all!

Life is so great. I really can't think of much to say this week, everyday seems to be about the same as the day before...only with more and more Russian.  Its weird to me to be one of the old-timers here at the MTC now. All of the missionaries who are english speaking who came in the same time as me are all ready gone, some of them have been gone for a week already. Only a month and a half to go for me! Haha.

The more I study the more I realize that I still have to learn; both in Russian and in the Gospel as well. But its great to see the blessings of the Lord coming into my life and helping me to do things that I would never be able to do without Him.

The other missionaries in my district are great guys. Elder Liljenquist is from Tennessee, Elder Brightwell from Salt Lake, Elder Hughes from Omaha, Elder Field from Aberdeen WA, Elder Sodja from Latyon, Elder Thelman from Joseph City AZ, and my companion Elder Kildew is from Yorktown VA. Its really a pretty diverse group, but the Lord definitely put us together for a reason. We're learning a lot of great things with, and from each other. Everyone other than Kildew, Thelman, and myself are going to Novosibiersk, in the heart of Siberia; while the three of us are going to Vladivostok, on the eastern coast.

Last week's devotional speaker was Elder L. Tom Perry. He has so much love, you can tell just by looking at him. He is the 3rd most senior Apostle in the Church right now, and is just a great speaker and man. It was great to sit and listen at the feet of an Apostle, and hear what the Lord wants us to know as Missionaries. He told us that we are the greatest group of missionaries the Lord has called in this dispensation; I'm still trying to fight off the pride from that statement. Just kidding...but seriously.

For Halloween we learned a valuable lesson...don't drink too much applejuice at once. Friday night we drank 63 glasses of apple juice between the 8 of us at dinner...and a few Elders weren't feeling very well so they didn't drink much. I did my part by drinking 10 glasses...bad idea. So if anyone ever challenges you to drink a large amount of apple juice in a small amount of time...tell them no. You learned from Elder Fife that its not worth it. Lesson learned.

A week from now I will be in the oldest district of Russian speaking missionaries at the MTC. That's a weird thought. I'm still a newbie! It feels like yesterday that I came in! Good times though.

Pray for me, write me, and may your faith in Jesus Christ continue to grow. As it does share it, bless the lives of others all around you. Your life will be better for it, I promise.

Love you all,
Старейшина Файф

Бог жив. Я знаю ето истина!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What Swine Flu?

Its crazy how long days feel, but how soon another week rolls around. Time is a really funny thing sometimes.  This week has been pretty fun.  With so many people in so little space you make some good friends.  The three weeks that I've been in the MTC feels like my whole life, but at the same time it feels like yesterday that I was
dropped off here.

I hear that swine flu is getting worse everywhere.  Has BYU-I had to close school yet?  Its been a little bit of a problem here too I suppose.  But I'm on immune system boosting pills now because a missionary in my district, Elder Field, was put in isolation a few days ago.  The pills are pretty expensive so not many people get them,
but because I spend about 12 hours a day with Elder Field I was put in the "high risk" category and given a 10 day supply.  Its a good time.

Elder Field actually came out of isolation today.  He only had to stay for 3 days, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been.  Everything's fine, no reason to worry.  Don't stop praying for me really helps.

Last night we had a little district Family Home Evening together at the end of the day.  Since Haloween is coming around we carved jack-o-lanterns out of boxes that we had laying around, and paper sacks from breakfast.  It was a good time, we'll have to come up with some fun ways to celebrate the holiday later this week too.  If you
have any creative ideas I'd love to hear them!

I appreciate those who write me and take the time to tell me how their life is.  Its always so great to hear from the outside world.  Special thanks to the Mcclatcheys this week for the package they sent.  It was superb.

I'm starting to speak more and more Russian.  The older group of Russian speaking missionaries are now only allowed to speak in Russian, so its kind of fun to try to communicate with them.  I usually understand about 80-90% of what they say to each other.  Its really neat to hear another language and actually understand what
they're saying.  There are a few native Russians and Ukrainians here. I have been able to have a few, brief, conversations with them in Russian its really cool.  Yeah, I speak Russian...with Russians.  It's pretty cool.

Sunday Elder Kildew and I taught a lesson to our district.  It was a little intimidating that that was the meeting that our Branch President decided to visit us for, he is a really remarkable man.  He is a grandson of LeGrand Richards, and you can tell it just by talking to him.  But during our lesson he would only consent to make one
comment, and even it was brief, because he was too interested in what we had to say instead.  That isn't how he usually is.  We've never seen him that way actually.  Usually you can count on President Callister to take up from 25-50% of the time that you have together, but he wouldn't even though we asked him.  Its great how the Lord
blesses us when we need it and helps us to teach by the Spirit.

I'm so thankful for the blessings that I've been given.  Each day I realize a little bit more just how well I've been taken care of and prepared throughout my life.  I'm more and more grateful for the roommates that I had back at BYU-I and the great friends from SSE and Scouts.  Cedar Badge really is incredible.  This week's devotional,
given by a General Authority of the Church, was about Vision, Goals, and Planning....sound familiar?

Life is so great!  I hope you are all doing well.  My heart goes out to you, and to the people of Russia who I will soon walk amongst and be able to teach.

I love you all,
Elder Sam Fife

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Another Week in Paradise

Hey all!

Guess who knows Russian! Not me, haha. But I'll get there someday. Things are really coming along pretty well. I'm getting into the routine of life as a missionary and I just love it. This week we got a group of Russian natives in the MTC who are going to serve their missions back in Russia. I really feel like a dork trying to speak to them in Russian, because all I can say is "Hi, how are you? Where are you from?" and even that is really slow and broken. It doesn't help that I can't understand what they say back to me either. They're really fun though. One of the sisters is from Vladivostok, and she is really excited that there are a few of us who are going to be serving there. She doesn't really speak english though so I can't talk to her until I learn some Russian, which probably won't happen until after she's gone, oh well.

If there's one thing that I've really learned this week its this: The Book of Mormon is true. I started reading it again from the beginning and I am just finding great things in almost every single verse. There is so much more in there than we usually realize. Don't take the scriptures for granted, each verse was prepared by the Lord for our benefit. If you read the scriptures everyday and pray about them, you'll feel the Spirit and you'll know that they're true too. The Bible is so great too. I especially love the New Testament. There are so many great things to learn from the teachings of the Savior during his earthly ministry.

I learned this week that the Библия (Russian Bible) does not have the books of the New Testament in the same order as they are in the King James Version that I'm used to. It took me a long time to figure out
that James comes after Acts instead of Hebrews...that was a fun adventure. Yeah I felt pretty dopey. I'm sure that I am going to have struggles with that for the rest of my life now. Just as soon as I get used to the Russian order I'll be home in the US and reading in English and still won't be able to find anything. I just can't win I guess.

I'm really grateful for all of you who have taken the time to write me and keep me updated on your life. News from the outside world is so wonderful, its kind of sad to think about how excited we get about the
little things like that.

Keep writing to me, keep praying for me. I love you all,

-Elder Fife

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Life's great! (It'd be better with letters)

Things are just wonderful here at the MTC. Difficult, I mean...I am learning Russian, but the spirit that's here is great. Its been a good time adjusting to missionary life, going to bed and waking up at the right time, focusing on inviting and teaching with the spirit all of the time, and studying Russian in line for food, laying in bed, kneeling in prayer, and anywhere else that I ever go.

The days really do feel like weeks here, morning seems like so long ago by the time we get to dinner. The most difficult thing to adjust to though would probably be the no-shaking-hands rule. I haven't even shaken my companion's hand, and we've been together just about every minute for a week now. But we can't have sickness spreading, so we'll follow the rules.

I'm really learning to appreciate the small things, like Sundays, devotionals, and the tender mercies the Lord gives. I also am really beginning to appreciate the scriptures in a way that I never have before. I find so much comfort in the words of ancient prophets. When Ammon talks in Alma 26:27-30ish about the depression and
struggles of missionary work that he faced it helps me to realize that the difficult times I have ahead in Russia, and even now as I try to learn to speak that language, that missionary work has been this way forever. Paul faced so many difficult times on his missions, Alma and Amulek ended up in jail more than a time or two, but the Lord protects His servants. It's so great to know that.

Our purpose as missionaries are to invite others to come unto Christ. What could be a better thing to do than that? That was Nephi's purpose too, to invite others to come unto God, and find joy in being obedient to his commandments. Obedience always brings joy. Never forget that...if you want to be happy that is.

The one thing that I suppose could be a little better is if I heard more from my friends, family, and those who I love back home. Letters are great! ...But I haven't heard from anyone since the first day I was here. Don't forget that is free, fast, and will make my day!

I hope that all is well at home, and that everyone is working hard to do the things that are pleasing to the Lord. My prayers are with you every day. Please pray for me too. I need all the help and strength from the Lord that I can get. It really is humbling to be doing something so difficult. My companions and those in my district are great, and I feel a lot of the time like I need to work harder than I do just to keep up with them. I love that! We all work and grow together.

My companion, Elder Kildew, is from Virginia. We're even facebook friends, haha. Don't worry though, I'm not facebooking on my found him online and I added him before. Funny huh? But is anyone really surprised? There are only 3 missionaries that are going to Vladivostok at the same time as me. Elder Kildew, Elder Thelmann (from Joseph City, Arizona) and myself. Its neat to be part of such a small group doing such a great work. My mission was opened in 1999, the newwest mission in Russia, and the work is really starting to spread.

I love you all,
Elder Fife

Saturday, October 10, 2009

1st Letter

Dear Family, (but especially Mom)
     Things are great in the MTC! My companion is Elder /Ti/ Dew, he's from Yorktown, Virginia.  We're just having a good time and we're really excited to start really learning Russian and getting ready to teach with the spiit in anoter language.  Our zone leaders Elder Miller and Elder Nielsen (who I think are going to the Moscow mission) have really expressed their goal to be a perfectly obedient zone, even though some of the other groups on our floor aren't the best.  My teachers are Brother Anderson and Brother Fisher.  They both go to BYU.
    My estimated departure date for the MTC to Vladivostok is the 17th of December. So I'll be there in plenty of time for the holidays.  The other Elders in my district are going to Novosibirsk and don't leave until the 28th.  I'll just have to work that much harder I guess!
   I love you all and pray for you.

Я Теба люблю
Старейшина Fife

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Know...and I dare you to know too

As I finish packing my bags and get ready to call Russia home for the next two years to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I thought it was fitting that I explain a little more what I am doing and my reasons for doing them.

As a missionary I’ll be helping other come unto Christ by having faith in him, repenting of their sins, being made clean by entering the waters of baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands from those with proper priesthood authority, and enduring to the end. My message is simple. Christ lives. He died to atone for your sins and suffered that you might have joy. If you have faith in Jesus Christ you will find joy in keeping the commandments he gave. Christ taught that the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, and mind; and to love thy neighbor as thyself. (Matthew 22:36-40)

I’m giving two years of my life because I love the Lord with all that I am. There is nothing that I wouldn’t sacrifice in order to please Him. I won’t be able to call my family more than twice a year, or write home to my friends or loved ones more than once a week for the next twenty-four months. I know that the Lord will bless me for making sacrifices for Him.

I am also serving because I love my fellow-men. I know that accepting and living by the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will bring joy into your lives, and I want to help as many others to have that joy which I have as I possibly can, especially the people in the area I’ll be serving in; Vladivostok Russia. I know that God has once again called prophets on the Earth to guide us and to help us to understand the desires and warnings that Heavenly Father would have us know at this time, in our day. Through his prophet Joseph Smith the Lord brought forth another testament of Jesus Christ, which serves as a companion and second witness to the Bible that God lives, and that He loves His children: the Book of Mormon is true. I know that because I have read it and prayed to ask God if it really is true and every time was told by the Spirit, that still, small voice, that it is in fact the word of God. I cannot doubt because of the miracles I have seen throughout my life that the Lord is mindful of us, and blesses us as we are in need. There’s no need for me to tell stories or go into details because those who seek the truth will find it, the same way that I have. Begin praying to God each day, read from the Book of Mormon as well as the Bible, and you will find an increased amount of clarity and joy enter your life. You too will know that these things are true. I dare you to try it!

Because you’re reading this I can assume that you know me well enough to know that I have my head on straight, that I don’t jump to silly conclusions and say that I know things that I really don’t. If you would only know one thing about me, know this: There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (or as I will say it in Russia:Церков Иисуса Христа Святых последних дней) is God’s one true church on the earth. Many of those reading this will not agree with that statement, and might venture to object to it on points of doctrine, belief, or practice; but there is only one way to know whether or not the words I speak are true: read the Book of Mormon with an open mind, honestly seeking to know if it’s true; pray earnestly to God asking him if it really is His word; and act on the promptings you receive from the Holy Ghost which will testify of its truth.

If you’d like to experience true joy in your life, or even just find yourself with a little bit of extra time take my dare, and sometime, in the next two years, write me a letter and tell me how it went. I’d love to hear how things go for you! And one day, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to stand with me and testify that you too know this is the true Church on the earth today.

I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that Thomas S. Monson is His prophet today. I know that Christ lives, and that obedience to His laws brings joy, both today and forever. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and that following the precepts taught within its pages will bring you joy beyond compare. Pray, be obedient to God’s commandments, follow the counsel of prophets both ancient and living, and you will come to understand true joy. I pray that god blesses you always.

With love,
Elder Sam Fife