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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