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Sunday, November 28, 2010

some changes

Well our day of Thanks was great.  We had a good trip to Vlad and it was so good to see all the missionaries who are serving there.  I think that the thing I was probably thankful for most of all was to hear some news from my old area that I served in for 6 months.  One of the men who I just came to love there so much always struggled to find time to meet, but would be such a great member of the Church.  He needs the Gospel in his life so much to overcome problems and to improve his marriage.  The Churkin Elders told me that him and his wife have both started seriously investigating and are progressing.  That makes me so happy.  His daughter is one of the cutest things ever too, and she will have a blast in Primary.  I think she is about 3 years old.  She's really afraid of was way fun to watch.  I'm so thankful that the work continues, and that it doesn't really matter where I serve or for how long, or who takes my place when I move, the work continues and the Spirit is the guide.  That's really comforting.
I moved areas again this week, out to the east side of Ussurisk in a place called Slaboda.  My new companion is Elder Miller, he's from Boise.  I am so excited to serve with him!  He's probably the most humble person I've ever met...maybe I'll be able to work on that a little bit even.  :D  Two Russian Sisters are taking my area.  Ones from Moscow and the other from Rostov.  I guess I'm ok with will be a fun transfer in our District.  I am really missing my investigators and members in Center already though, but I know this is for the best. 
We decided to start right away with finding in our new area, and did some tracting last night.  We met 3 families in an hour and got return appointments with each of them today.  That was awesome!  Hopefully things work out really well.  We have a lot of faith that our area is really ready to start doing some work.  We got 7 contacts yesterday that we met as we worked for only a few hours.  It's cool to see how many great things can happen in such a short amount of time sometimes.  Faith builders. 
We got some snow recently and I decided to start rocking my winter style.  I pulled out the fur for my collar and my big shopka.  I love it so much.  Way epic.  I'll send pictures sometime. 
 So here we go again, turning the page for the Ussurisk Tigers, haha.  Have a great week, and listen to some Chipmonks' Christmas music for me...I just want a hula hoop.
Elder Fife

Sunday, November 21, 2010

С Днём Благодарения!

 Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  So I have a chance of getting Turkey this year...but it still isn't for sure.  So there's this rumor (that I started) that Country Pizza is doing a Thanksgiving Dinner, with Turkey and stuffing and everything Thanksgiving-ish.  The owner told me that he was planning on having an American food week...and asked me for some input.  I then proceeded to teach him how to make a grilled cheese...that would be such a hit.  I'm going to have to start Sam's Sandwich Shack someday and just have grilled cheese or something, none of this healthy Subway stuff...     So yeah, maybe he'll have turkey.  If not, we are going to Vlad on Friday to eat some tasty Sister Pratt cooking.  That will be good no matter what, so it will be a great holiday.  We have so much to be thankful for. 

So we met with Alexander on Monday in his office...turns out he doesn't just work at this uniform store...he owns the entire chain.  They go all the way from here to central Siberia.  In his office he has a lounge...with the best massage chair I have ever seen in my life.  Of course I tried it out!  Did you really have to ask yourself that question?  It was great.  I woke up the next morning and my back actually didn't feel terrible, better than any other time on my mission.  I'm going to have to make a lot of visits to that Corporate Office!  We haven't been able to meet up with him again since then because work is super busy, but it's the beginning of a beautiful friendship.  How do I find these people?...just lucky I guess. 

I heard that at home there's lots of snow and road closure and stuff...that's pretty crazy.  Here it's warm.  Actually when I woke up during the night it was raining...weird huh?  And they're saying this is supposed to be one of the coldest winters ever...I guess we'll see when that kicks in.  Right now it's just muddy and there are puddles everywhere. 

 The talent show...was fun.  One of the eternal investigators here is a DJ, or at least he thinks he is.  I can't decide if it's for real or not actually...but he brought some stuff and sang some crazy Russian songs that all the Relief Society sisters were singing and dancing too...I have some cool videos.  We ended up, after much difficulty, deciding to lip sink to an EFY song called "Shine the Light."  It turned out really funny and all the Elders in my District participated, I was proud of them for not just pretending not to know or accept me...the thought crossed each of their minds.  Ha ha.  It was a way sweet talent show.  Elder Gmeiner refused to sing the song that I wrote to the tune of the "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" which tells the story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving...maybe I'll be able to pull that off at our holiday celebrations or something I guess. 

 So those are some of the adventures that I have been up to lately...Elder Gmeiner has been feeling sick lately, so I decided to deep clean the apartment this morning while he slept.  It feels so good to live in a clean place, but now I want to rearrange everything too...the Life of Fife continues... 

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone, and get an extra cool touchdown playing football on Thanksgiving for me, also enjoy the turkey.  Much love,

Elder Fife

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Prayers Answered

Saturday, before we went tracting, we knelt as we were about to leave our apartment and prayed.  As I offered the prayer I found myself saying something that I had neither planned nor thought of before.  I remember asking the Lord to give us the strength and to calm us in order to keep going after we facing rejection and difficulties so that we could find those who were prepared to recieve us.  We walked to the place we had planned to knock doors, and then felt like we should go a little farther, and see what was farther down this street at the very edge of town.  We walked and found a few apartment buildings that were kind of nice, all in a little neighborhood away from everything else, except for maybe a military zone, but we stayed out of it so no worries.  We went to the last building, and started to work our way back to where we had come from, that was our plan at least.  All of the doors had dome-o-phones on them.  Residential buildings in Russia are called basically a house-o-phone.  So we went to start calling people on the intercom system (I guess that is a better way to describe it) but someone was leaving and opened the door for us, so we went to the 5th floor to start knocking doors and inviting people to learn more.  A girl came up the stairs behind us, and went into an apartment on the top floor.  We knocked the other 3 doors on the floor and no one answered, so we knocked the one the girl went in to.  We knocked and no one answered...weird.  But I kind of thought we hadn't knocked very loud...maybe they hadn't I knocked again.  A few seconds later a large, older man (probably her dad) bolted out of the door and slammed it behind him.  He got right up into my face and started yelling at me...trying to scare me.  Basically he told me to leave, so we did. 
We continued calling on the dome-o-phones and then knocking doors when people let us in, and the first 60 or 70 apartments showed little success.  The we knocked on a door and a woman answered.  She was nice and had a very not-Russian hair cut (not at all important to the story.)  She right away seemed different from other people, and asked if we wanted to come in and talk.  I told her that we would need another person there (we have this rule about being alone with women) and then we saw her husband's head poke in from the living room.  We went in and began to talk and just get to know each other.  To make a long story a little shorter, we were there for a long time, and they are some of the nicest people I have met in my life.  He is a Major in the Russian Army, which makes his kindness even more impressive.  Victor and Olga are pretty dedicated to just doing good and helping other people.  They live great lives and just have the light of Christ beaming from their eyes.  Before we had left Victor had started reading the Book of Mormon, and promised to watch the film I had given him about how families can be together forever.  He made sure we knew that we were welcome any time and that he would do anything we needed at basically any time, and it was obvious that he meant it.  Good thing I didn't decide to leave after a mean man tried to scare me away. 
We kept knocking and calling...and met a few more people who were a little interested in meeting again, got some numbers and set up some return appointments.  Then we knocked on Alexander and Ludmilla's door.  They are a great Ukrainian family with 2 daughters and a son, all in their teens.  They invited us in and we kind of just got to know each other.  Before I knew it they had fed us dinner too!  That doesn't really happen while tracting very much.  Alexander isn't super interested in the Gospel yet, but he is one of the funniest people I have ever met, I was basically just rolling with laughter the entire time I was there.  He owns a uniform store with his family in Center that is really maybe I'll get a sweet discount if I ever decide that I need camoflauge on my mission.  :D  I think there is a lot of potential with this family, they are really great. 
For about six hours we had tracked that day....and only made it through one building, without even finishing it.  What a miracle.  The Lord answers prayers, and prayer is a way to find what the Lord wants for us.  I know that when we pray in faith, and then have the courage to do what it takes to make the things that we ask of the Lord reality, He answers and we will see miracles.  We now have 7 different acquaintances in that apartment complex, some of which are actually an entire family, and one of which came to Church yesterday.  It was the most successful door knocking I've seen in the last year of missionary work, and it all started with a sincere, kneeling prayer.  There is power there, don't leave it untapped.  You reach highest when you are on your knees.  I have a few more prayer stories from this week, but you'll have to wait and get them out of me another time I guess.  Miracles can happen each and every day. 
Elder Sam Fife

Monday, November 1, 2010

once upon a time :)

So there I was...walking down the Street with Elder Conley, talking to people as we went and inviting them to learn more about our message and about the Savior, when I saw him.  Walking our direction down the street was a man with a long black hair and beard, blowing in the wind, and a black beanie on too.  As I saw him all I could say was "Dibbs."  I loudly said "Hello!" as he was still a ways off, so there was no chance we could miss this wonderful experience.  He turned and started walking straight towards me now across the sidewalk.  As he got close to me (and then he got really close to me) I heard "do do dooo do do dododododo" Kind of like the song Istanbul (not Constantinople).  He was kind of right in my face just do do doing away.  I don't know how I was able to keep a straight face throughout the entire interaction...but I did. 
I asked him if he was a singer, he said he was, and for a long time already too.  Then he put him arm around me and said "Let's go" and we walked together in the direction that he had just came from, his arm still around me.  As we began to talk I learned that he had been in Detroit about 5 years ago, possibly working in a Circus.  (I thought he said that but I wasn't totally sure that I heard him right. He may have been talking about Church.) 
So of course, he wanted to talk to me in English, but when he tried, I understood basically nothing, and was really confused.  Actually it didn't really sound like English at all.  After I stood in confusion for a few seconds, he realized that he had not been speaking English...but Greek.  My new friend is in fact from Greece.  After a while I stopped and asked him his name.  I'm pretty sure it's Arphonius. (Probably not really anything close....but something-ius)  We shook hands, and then he kind of didn't let go...then he raised our clasped hands to his face, and kissed the back of my hand.  Yes.  A partially drunk, Grecian man, in Russia, kissed my hand on the street.  I'm impressed that Elder Conley didn't die with laughter.  He actually kept it in really well, I'm proud of him. 
We walked a little farther, I invited him to Church, of course he's Greek Orthodox...but I gave him an invitation anyway.  As we got to Elder Conley's apartment there was a drunk man outside...he ended up kissing my hand too.  I ran up the stairs...washed my hands really good, and fell on the couch laughing.  Check that off my bucket list. 
I want to initiate a really quick's called the "Ussurisk Branch Talent Show is on November 13th and Elder Fife needs ideas for what to do idea contest 2010"  Send ideas either to my fam or to my facebook, or just post them on the blog...i guess...they'll get to me somehow...hopefully.  So get creative and maybe I'll pick your talent.  Think of things I can do with a companion (he really doesn't want to rap with me...) or with my entire district.  This will be fun.  Basically the contest ends Sunday, because I won't check my email again after Monday get thinkin' quick! 
We've done a lot of goal setting lately in our District, and in our Mission.  There is a lot more that we need to be striving for.  Goals are awesome at helping motivate us and make more clear the things that we should do each part of the day.  I'm really grateful that we have those simple kinds of things that can make such a difference in our lives and in the work that we do.  You don't need to wait until New Years to make a resolution. 
Well maybe I'll get on a little later and write more when I go to write with Elder Gmeiner.  He is in Vladivostok today and is on a bus on his way back to town right now.  Have a great November and remember to bundle up, it's cold out there! 
With love,
Elder Fife

Sunday, October 17, 2010

stay warm

I always seem to get caught up in making things work when they don't want to.  This week was General Conference.  We are in a weird gray area in our city because the Branch President finished his mission and is now home in Tyumyen (however you spell it in english) about 5000 km from here, and we haven't been able to have a new one sustained.  That kind of leaves making sure things go well and happen to me...just how it goes I guess.  Well after buying a new DVD player (only to find out that Nina could get the old broken one to work after all...there was no way I could get anything out of it) I spent about all day Friday trying to make the discs that we got from Novosibirsk to work with our various players and tv's.  Long story short it worked ok...except that the copies of the discs were made from satellites and were bad copies at some parts.  Oh well.  We made it through transfers and conference, and we're still kicking, so no worries.  Nothing changed for me this transfer.  Elder Bush was moved to Sakhalin, and Elders Spjut and Conley (yes, that Conley) came to serve in the North area of the city.  It should be a cool transfer. 
We watched General Conference this weekend.  I was just blown away at how much there was to learn.  There were a lot of cool themes that came out.  It was interesting that at least 3 times Alma 41:10 was quoted.  "Wickedness never was happiness."  That is a good theme to remember throughout your life.  Follow the Prophet and be happy, reject him and be miserable.  Have faith.  Trust the Lord.  Show gratitude for the things that you have. 
I have an interesting gratitude moment from last night.  I got a call at about 10:30 from Elder Stewart saying "so what should I do if there is water leaking from our ceiling?"  That made for a fun little crisis.  I hope that being on the phone with the Mission President at 11 at night doesn't happen too many more times for me on my mission.  As I began to pray after that, I thought of the things that President Monson taught about gratitude, and wondered what I might be able to show gratitude for in a situation like that.  To my surprise my mind flooded with blessings.  I'm thankful that we have cell phones so that we can reach each other as soon as problems happen and be able to fix them, for the apartments that we have that don't usually leak water from above, and the list went on.  The Lord blesses the grateful to see His hand in all things.  "In all ways acknowledge Him and He shall make straight thy paths."  Those words are absolutely true.  Even in the most difficult of times we can find things for which to give thanks.  Thanksgiving is still a month away...but it's never too early to get in the spirit of the season.  You don't need Christmas or Easter to remember the Savior, and you don't need New Years to make life changing goals.  Start today, go the right way, in the end you'll say, hey! that made my day!  (So I got a little bored writing...what can I say?)  :D 
I'm working right now with our Branch Priesthood leaders to plan a talent goal is to get my companion to do a rap with me...he is very opposed right I'll let you all know how that goes in about a month.  Hopefully I'll have some good pictures to share.  Sometimes my goals might not be the most earth shattering...but I always have goals. 
 My Mom asked me to share a little about foods that I've been as boring as that probably is...I'll tell you.  Ha ha.  I've really started to love cooking lately.  I think my companion gets frustrated that I always take over the kitchen (it isn't big enough for both of us to be doing really anything at the same time there.)  Mostly I just experiment with things.  My white sauce is now famous mission wide, and I've started experimenting with chicken breading too.  Last week was cinnamon baked was actually really good.  Someday I'll learn how to make borscht and some other Russian foods, promise.  Also I made chocolate chip cookies this week...they were kind of weird because brown sugar here has really big grains, like bigger than white sugar in the was weird but I heard they were good.  Oh well.  Ok, I've bored you all enough, I'll let you go back to your fun exciting lives.  You should tell me about them sometime...I always love a letter. 
Wishing you're warmer than I am, (Today it's a wee bit nippy out)
Elder Fife

Sunday, October 10, 2010

And I think t Myself What a Wonderful World (I heard that song the other day and it made me really happy!)

Tatiana's baptism was great on Saturday.  She is going to be such an incredible member of the Church.  I really was blessed to see the miracles that we saw as she learned and accepted the Restored Gospel.  I'm really not sure what to write about...this week went really fast and was mostly filled with preparations for the baptism.  I sent a lot of pictures home this week, and those should say about a thousand words I figure that I wrote a pretty long letter this week already. 
There are lady bugs everywhere!!  I can't even explain this crazy phenomenon...but on Friday I started noticing lady bugs...and on Sunday there were hundreds of them flying around the Church.  I guess that lady bugs migrate or something, and that for about a week every fall they stay in Ussurisk.  The name lady bug is a really weird one to translate...but the translation from Russian is even better.  In Russia they are called "little godly cows."  Weird huh?  So there are hundreds of these little godly cows flying around, it's awesome.  But they aren't really out as much today, because it got cold again.  Yesterday was really warm. 
There has been a lot of really cool lessons that I've learned lately.  Most of all I've learned about charity.  I don't think I ever really understood before what it feels like to give unconditional love.  It's sometimes really hard, but the more you care about someone the easier it is to forgive them when they do those little things that everyone does.  As we work on developing Christlike attributes it has become really obvious to me how closely connected they all are.  Sometimes in order to learn how to forgive you really need to develop more charity.  If we developed the kind of love that the Savior has then it would be easy to forget the things that others had done wrong, and "remember them no more."  Christ is our example for literally every thing that we need in life.  If there is anything that is not going right for us, we might take a step back and ask "what am I doing differently than what the Savior would have done?" or "what qualities of the Lord have I grown weaker on lately?"
Well my time to write home is about done today, they're about to take their lunch break again.  I hope everything is going great for all of you who read my little thoughts and stories each week.  Have a great one!  (Maybe even 2!)  :)
Elder Sam Fife

Sunday, September 26, 2010

boy scout training to the rescue!!!

Sometimes I have those moments where I just have to let my Boy Scout show and I can't stop...this morning was one of those times.  Sister Pratt gave me permission to build a stand for our drying rack for our clothes...she didn't know what she was saying... :D  So while Elder Gmeiner was in the shower this morning I took apart a few broken chairs we had at the apartment...used the good pieces to make so that we had 2 good chairs...and then took the "escape rope" from our balcony and used it to lash the chair frames together...and then unwound the remainder of the rope, cut each strand, and used it to lash the drying rack to the feet of the chair that I had lashed to the top of the other chair...I took pictures but didn't bring my cable to hook my camera to the computer...I'll make sure to get those for next week.  It was so much fun.  Thank you pioneering projects at scout camp and Cedar Badge.  You are now drying my towels and rags.  :D
I also had a little potato digging experience this week...I've decided that it is absolutely pointless to try to teach people what they should really do with potatoes.  My 6 generations of Idaho blood didn't convince anyone...but I felt really good to be digging in the dirt again.  I felt like I was back on Mecham's Farm...only without any machinery, trucks, equipment, and I was digging in the ground for spuds with my hands...other than that it was basically the same.  Ha ha.  My poor companion is a city boy and was just in a state of confusion with 3 Idahoans in a potato field.  Of the 6 Elders in my city 3 are from Idaho, 2 from the South East US, and one from Siberia...weird huh?
This week has been a little more difficult, but we are still seeing wonderful miracles.  Pavel and Natalya were baptized on Saturday.  They are a great couple.  Pavel investigated the Church something like 8 years ago, but then the Church moved to a different location while he was on a long work trip and he wasn't able to find it again for 6 years.  They both have great testimonies and are wonderful members of the Church.  I conducted the baptismal interview with Pavel and it was such a great experience.  I felt really unqualified to be holding an interview with a baptismal candidate, but the Spirit was really strong and it was really neat. 
Before the baptism we found that the small swimming pool that we use as a font was missing some parts.  Actually someone threw away the 12 poles that make the frame of the font and keep it standing.  Boy Scout Fife to the rescue! (with the help of a Siberian)  We made new poles out of PVC and it...didn't flood.  President Pratt was really uneasy when he saw it...well everyone else was too...But oh well...good times. 
We're having a wonderful time teaching the Gospel here and are seeing great success in Ussurisk.  We set a baptismal date with Tatiana on just her second lesson with us.  She is so incredible and the members who help on our lessons are nothing short of inspired.  I'm so thankful that the Lord is giving me opportunities to see so many miracles and to be in the midst of them all. 
I'm sure the best is yet to come.  Have a wonderful week, and enjoy General Conference for me!  I won't get to watch it until the 16th of October.  It's crazy that it's already time for General Conference again.  I am already really excited.  Well, have a great one.
Elder Fife

Monday, September 20, 2010

Too Blessed to be Stressed

Well I don't feel as bad about writing really short last week, since this week didn't really work out at all.  The server was down when we I had a very relaxing P Day without writing home.  I took a nap for a little bit, even made chocolate chip cookies.  (I bought a mix at an American store in Korea last time I was there.)  It was great.  Well I decided to write a little bit, a day late, before I go to lunch and then District Meeting. 
So I don't know who started upping their prayers for me...but thank you!  We have seen so many incredible miracles this week.  I think I have seen more accomplished in the last 4 days than in any other stretch of time like that in my entire mission.  We had a meeting with a really less active investigator, who lives in this apartment that looks like Zombies should live there...I get creeped out every time I go there.  One time I swear we saw a zombie was awesome.  It can't be chance that next door is some kind of bacteria lab...creepy. we went to meet with this member, and he told us that there were people at his apartment and wanted to sit and talk next door.  It sounded to me like an adventure so of course I was all for it.  Especially in the Zombie Dome.  (That is what I call it always.)  Turns out next door was his nephew, which was OK.  So as we are starting to talk we invited the nephew in on the lesson and he began to listen and participate.  To make a kind of long story short, the next day we met with him again and set a baptismal date for him in November.  It was absolutely incredible.  I have never taught so much in unity and with the Spirit as Elder Gmeiner and I taught that day, we even took turns playing with his kitten.  The Spirit's presence was felt so strong by all of us.  Soon we are planning to meet his wife and we'll see how well we can help her see that the Gospel will bless her life too.  It was so great. 
Then, on Sunday before Sacrament meeting we had a lesson that was set up for us with a friend of the Relief Society President in our Branch.  I have never met someone so accepting of the Gospel.  (Unless they're crazy or too drunk to understand what they are agreeing to.)  She felt the Spirit so strong, and understood the message so well.  I can't even describe how incredible it was.  There are so many people, everywhere you go, who are ready to accept the Restored Gospel, and do what it takes to follow Jesus Christ.  When we asked her what she expected to get out of our lessons, I don't think I could have thought of a more miraculous answer myself.  She said "I want to learn how to pray, how to workship God, and I want to change my life."  That is what we do as missionaries.  We teach people who they are, who God is, and what our real relationship with Him is.  Once you really understand who you are, then you are already a hop, skip, and a leap closer to your Father in Heaven.  You are devine, and you should know that. 
There is absolutely no substitute in Missionary work for members.  The testimony of someone who doesn't go around with a white shirt and nametag every day, and who does the things that normal people do, is so powerful.  When our great Relief Society President testified of the restored truths of the Gospel there was a Spirit there so strong, and that was when understanding really began to take place on all levels.  The best part is that they only met each other a few months ago at work.  The people who you can help to find the joy of the Gospel don't have to be life-long friends.  It could be.  But it could also be someone you met just yesterday.  Ask the Lord to help you do member missionary work, and He will bless you. 
The message is true.  There is no question in my mind about that.  Prophets and Apostles walk the earth today.  God's power has been restored.  You can find happiness.  Seek, and ye shall find.  I'm so grateful for the opportunities to see the blessings of the Lord each day as I invite others to come unto Christ.  I couldn't ask for anything better to do with my life. 
Have a great week, and happy birthday Tara!  Also to Ammon last week...I didn't forget...they just kicked me off before I could write it.  Love you all!
Elder Sam Fife

Sunday, September 12, 2010

From Elder Fife

I don't know how it is possible to be outsmarted by mosquitoes...but I seem to have gotten very good at it.  Somehow they keep getting into my apartment, and since I am sleeping on the top bunk of our bunk beds, and because my blood is very tasty...they don't let me sleep.  Wednesday I bought an electric fly the electrical tennis racquet is awesome!  Well, it is ok.  So some people sleep with teddy bears or something like that...not Elder Fife...I sleep with an electric bug zapper.  the problem is that the mosquitoes are smarter than I am.  They buzz around my ears and do sneak attacks on the rest of me, then when I go for the racquet they are gone!  I haven't slept well in days.  I just wake up and feel like I should go to bed again...ha ha.  I am going to buy some RAID deal that you plug into the outlet to kill all bugs in the air.  It's really not that bad...but I get all kinds of frustrated that I'm dumber than a bug the size of a popcorn that lives off of others' blood.  Oh well, I'll beat them!  :D 
Well other than fighting little bugs, things are picking up slowly in our area.  We have a few investigators and are finding more here and there.  I really love my companion.  He is a really unique guy though.  Like this morning when he sat and ate cold, plain, boiled buckwheat from a pot.  Just unique.  Ha ha.  Never a dull moment in my life. 
Well actually the post office I am writing at is closing for lunch....funny how that works sorry for the really short letter, but oh well.  Have a great week!  :D
Elder Fife

Monday, September 6, 2010


I feel like change happens a lot in my mission.  Transfers happened again this week and my life was, once again, turned upside down.  Just before leaving Vlad we went to the baptism of this awesome girl, Katya.  She is the girlfriend of a member in my area who was inactive until a few months ago and then became active again to the point where he baptized and confirmed Katya this weekend.  It was such a great turnaround for him.  They are excited that they only have to wait another year before they can go to the Temple and be sealed.  You see the great things a Temple vision can give us in life?  If it's not your goal...think again. 
Well it is a great, sunny morning here in Paradise.  I am serving now in a smaller town called Ussurisk, about 2 hours north of Vladivostok by bus.  They have blocks here!  Roads don't just go helter skelter wherever you want like in Vlad, it is really weird for me still.  I really feel like this is Rexburg, only in a weird, Russian kind of way...but there are kids playing on the streets, there's no traffic, people are out pushing strollers all the time, I don't know what it is, but it's beautiful.  The Branch here is great too.  There are some really strong members here with incredible testimonies.  I'm really blessed to be serving with them. 
As I was moving I realized that it's time for me to find new luggage...I'll attach a picture of what my biggest suitcase looks like was really funny as I carried it from the town square to the Church yesterday...then to the Bus Station...then to my new apartment in Ussurisk.  I tried dragging as long as I could...but...well the picture will make it clear.  Haha.  I'm sure I looked like a goof, but oh well, I usually do.  I'm settled into the new place now and going out for some good pizza in a couple hours.  Pizza in Russia isn't real pizza.  They don't put tomato sauce on it...usually they replace pizza sauce with some kind of weird thing made out of cottage cheese (I think) but at Country Pizza they have real pizza, I am VERY excited! 
My new companion is Elder Gmeiner.  He's from Winston-Salem North Carolina and went to Wake Forest University before his mission.  He studied Russian for 3 years and knows the language like a book.  He actually is kind of like a book, because he knows SO MUCH.  I love serving with people who are much smarter than me, because they can pick up the slack when I do dumb things.  Having companions is a great thing.  Of course I miss my son, Elder Conley, but he is in good hands serving in a different area of Vladivostok with the new District Leader there, Elder Thellmann.  They are going to be a great companionship. 
One thing that is fun and unique about this city is the fact that throughout the city that are what we call "forbidden zones." 
They're parts of town that for some reason or another are forbidden to foreigners.  I guess that you can go just have to be invited by someone who lives there, know the exact address of where you are going, and usually have something in writing proving that you really have been invited to that place.  It's a little intense, right?  I'm sure I'm going to have a lot of great stories to tell about my adventures in Ussurisk.  We currently have no investigators in the area that I just moved into, so I guess I get to go back to finding like I was doing for so long in Churkin.  One of these days I'm going to have to get a little better at it I guess.  That will be awesome. 
Well have fun going back to school and make sure to study hard.  Parents can use this time to relax and catch up on their letters to missionaries.  It's always great to hear from a friend.  Especially now that mail comes much less often, since I am not in the mission office every day like I have been my whole mission up until now.  Now I get to wait for someone to make the trip here from Vlad to bring mail.  Makes things more exciting.  Well anyway, have a great week.  Thanks for your prayers.
Elder three four Fife
The first is me with my poor suitcase...second is a close-up of the damage...

Monday, August 30, 2010

From Elder Fife

Recently the Missionary Department of the Church released a simplified curriculum for training missionaries.  Last week we had a 4 day training, 6 hours a day, taught by President Pratt on the fundamentals of missionary work.  You'd think that we might have picked up on a few of the fundamentals in a couple of months in the country doing missionary work everyday, but there was so much that seemed so new to me, really just really simple.  We practiced doing simple things that we should be great at doing while teaching others the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and you could instantly see results as we took the evenings and put to practice the things we learned during the day.  It's so great to be part of an inspired program that can make things so simple a 19-year-old-boy-speaking-a-foreign-language can do it!  As we've made efforts to become better teachers and really meet the spiritual needs of those with whom we meet, we've seen so many great miracles happen.  I feel like I've grown as a missionary more in the last week than I have in the last 8 months put together.  It's like they teach in Cub Scouts...KISS Keep It Simple...Stupid? I can't remember what the second S was for...but that sounds right.  Haha.  I glory in plainness.  I love simplicity.  I've realized recently just how little I understand when things get complicated or confusing.  It's been a great time. 
The Lord answers prayers.  I've had so many of the simple prayers that I've offered in faith answered.  Yesterday we went to try to make contact with a woman whose door we knocked on a few months ago, but then lost contact with and haven't been able to get in touch.  I have tried at least 10 times to find her home to see if she is still interested in knowing about our message and blessing her family.  Yesterday we found our self with a little bit of time, but less than I would have liked to to go to the other side of my area to find this woman, but Elder Conley and I both felt like we needed to go and try one last time.  Walking up the six flights of stairs to her apartment I prayed silently for the Lord to bless us with success in contacting her, then we stood in the stairwell and prayed together just before knocking on her door.  It might not seem like a big miracle, but it was real to me, when she answered the door and wanted to start meeting with missionaries once her kids go back to school and she feels free again.  (Spoken like a true mother of 6 right?)  Our prayers were answered, and now the work can continue in her life.  The Lord really does work in small and simple means.
Yesterday was a grand event in the history of the Church in Eastern Europe as President Thomas S. Monson dedicated the Kiev, Ukraine Temple.  This is the first temple dedicated to the Lord in the former territory of the Soviet Union.  President Monson was full of energy and cracking jokes as they laid the corner stone, and the Spirit was undeniable as he offered the Dedicatory Prayer.  The Temple in Kiev will serve members of the Church from 13 different countries in Easter Europe and is the 134th operating temple of the Church in the world currently. 
I really am glad to be serving the Lord in Russia and to see the blessings of the Gospel bloom in the lives of those who will accept it and live by the teachings of Jesus Christ, striving to follow his example.  The doctrines of Christ are really simple.  The results are clear.  The truth will set you free.  There really has been no better time to be here on the Earth and to be serving the Lord.  I know that He is with me and that I really do represent the Savior Jesus Christ to the people who live in this land.  He has called me, and He directs my paths so that I can bless the lives of others and help them change for good. 
I feel like there are even more changes coming in the near future for me, so I guess we'll see what other pages of adventure I get to turn as I continue my full-time service to the Lord.
Elder Fife

Monday, August 23, 2010


So this week they pulled one of those "Can you give a talk next week? Just kidding" combos on me.  It was cool to get a special topic to study and think of how to support and build up the members of the Branch, even though I probably won't ever get to share it with them.  The Branch President and Mission President bumped me on the schedule...I guess that's ok.  Well I thought that I would share some of the thoughts that I had as I thought about member Missionary work this week, just in case it turns out to be helpful to anyone who reads this, even if it's just to help someone who is not a member of our Church understand a little better why there are 50,000 guys in white shirts and ties walking around the world with name tags on their chests.

After his Resurrection and ascension Jesus Christ instructed his Apostles and other disciples to teach the gospel to every creature, baptizing them unto repentance.  This is so that everyone can understand the things which Christ did, and the plan which was created by our Heavenly Father, before the world was even created.  It isn't really fair to go through life not knowing why we're here and how to reach the goals that we've set before we came to this Earth.  Everyone deserves a fair chance to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ and learn to live by its teachings.  Christ set the example, and he gave the command; both 2000 years ago, and in our day. 

On another side, we are only doing what is natural by sharing the things which bring us joy, hope, comfort, understanding, and perspective in life.  The restored Church of Jesus Christ does all those things, in an unparalleled way.  When we begin to live by the teachings of Jesus Christ, and keep the commandments of God, then we can clearly see how they make our life better, and they make us better.  Being baptized isn't enough for eternal salvation, you have to keep the promises you make, and when you are baptized you promise to follow Christ, you even take His name upon you.  To understand a little better what that means take a look at Mosiah chapter 5 in the Book of Mormon.  When we keep the commandments we find true joy, and as we learn how to have joy, it's only natural to have a desire to share that joy with those who you care about.  That's why President McKay said that "Every member is a missionary." 

I have three really simple suggestions for members of the Church to begin doing their part as member-missionaries.  Try them out and let me know how they work.  Really it's absolutely nothing new, its just focusing the principles of the Gospel that we already understand.  Prayer, faith, and action. 

1.  Pray for opportunities to share the Gospel, and for the Lord to prepare someone for you to help find the joy that you have.  Be diligent in asking the Lord to help you do His work, and have faith that He will strengthen your testimony, give you courage, and bless you with opportunities.

2.  Live the Gospel.  Keep all the commandments, even the small things.  Your live will become an example to those around you and will open more doors than you know.  It's often through seeing the patient, diligent example that others become interested and begin to develop faith in Christ and in His restored Gospel.  Pray and study the scriptures each day.  Serve others unselfishly.  Do what the Savior would have you do.  As you live the teachings of Christ, they will become more dear to you, and your testimony of them will continue to grow. 

3.  Seek opportunities to share the Gospel, and take the opportunities that you find to share the truths which are dear to you.  The Lord will put people into your path, into your life, and you will be the one with the opportunity to share the Gospel with them and help them find the joy of living a life in accordance with the commandments and blessings of our loving Heavenly Father.  He gives you more chances than you know.  Those with eyes to see, will see. 

Well those are a few of my thoughts about why and how we can share the gospel with those who are seeking truth.  President McKay said a lot of really great things about it too, they can be found in "Teachings of David O. McKay" from the series the Church released for Sunday School use.  It's really good.  I know that the work of the Lord will go forth as we develop faith in Him and become more willing and prepared to play our role in doing this great work.  I am so thankful that I am able to represent Him every day here in Russia and help people change their lives and learn to be happy.  If it's true joy that you want, then this is the Church for you!

Well this week we continued to slowly do the work that has been prepared for us.  We have met some really cool people, and are trying to help them start on the path of change that will lead them to the fountain of happiness.  This week I'll spend a lot of time in a Mission Leadership Training with President Pratt.  It's going to be just like the MTC, only 8 months later!  Ok...not JUST like the MTC...but I'm really excited.  All of those in our mission who are serving in leadership positions in the mission are coming in for the training, and I got invited because I am training right now.  Lucked that one out.  This is the first time we've ever done a training like this before in our Mission.  We recently received some new direction from Salt Lake to start doing these, and I lucked out to be able to come to the first one.  I'm still trying really hard to learn the things I need to know, do what I should do, and be who I need to be, in order to serve the Lord the way that He wants me to.  If we are ever going to reach our potential, we have to keep striving forward all the time. 

I'm sure I'll have some good stories to tell sometime...but I really can't think of any for this week.  Time has just been flying by.  Hope everyone is having fun getting back to school soon, or already...should be sweet!  Have a spectacular week,

Elder Sam Fife

Sunday, August 15, 2010

the good Lord giveth and the good Lord taketh away

I've had a lot of really deep things on my mind during the last week, really for several.  I understand just a little bit better now what it means that "the good Lord giveth and the good Lord taketh away."  Recently there have been a few things that the good Lord has taken away that have made me pause and think a little more about the eternal impact that small things can have.  A cousin of mine passed away this week, it seems like the family has been doing relatively well with the tragedy, but things that happen so sudden are always so hard.  I send my condolences to the McClatchy's and my love.  I'm praying for you, and I know that the Lord will continue to bless your lives for the service that you give to Him.  He will make straight your paths.  Almost a month ago now I learned that a man who I had worked with, who was recently baptized actually, also passed away suddenly.  It was a really hard thing for me when I heard the news, but at the same time the spirit world is a great place for someone with so much faith to be.  Leonid will is one step closer to receiving his perfect, resurrected body, and returning to our Father in Heaven.  Maybe I'll try to do his temple work before I go home from my mission at the end of next year.  That would be a really neat experience. 
With those things on my mind, I've thought a lot about the importance of living and using every day.  Leave nothing undone, no kind word unsaid, we never know what will be tomorrow, and it is a shame to not do the things that we'd have liked to, or the things that we really need to do.  I teach a lot of people, over and over, the principles of repentance.  It's never too late to repent, but it's also definitely never too early!  It takes courage to stand on a spot, turn your body and your life, and walk in a new direction, but there is no surer way to improve that which you've been given.  A great example that has affected me and taught me this principle, is my grandpa Bill.  When he decided to be baptized he quit smoking and drinking in one day, and simply never did it ever again.  It's often very hard to change the things that we have let become habits in our lives, but there is little more dangerous than a bad habit.
Well that said, I guess I'll tell a little bit about the work I've been doing.  Several weeks ago we decided that we wanted to move our focus to finding new investigators, so that we could spread the work, because the people who have been around for a long time have stopped progressing, or have no real desire to meet right now.  So we've spent a lot of time hunting, knocking doors, talking to people on streets and on busses, and trying to figure out how we can get to know people who we can help come closer to Christ.  Yesterday we were sitting in a Branch Missionary Meeting with our Branch President, Zvyagolskii.  As each companionship talked about those who they were working with and worrying about President went through the list and said "where are all the fresh people?  Why aren't you finding anyone?"  Then it was my turn, and it felt really good to be able to say "we really are only working with 2 investigators right now, but we found them both in the last 8 days and there is a lot of potential with both of them.  He was very proud of us and made a big speech to our district leader and zone leaders (who are the other Elders in Vlad right now) and told them that they need to follow our example.  Haha.  It's good to have the Branch President's trust as a missionary.  He is a pretty intense guy too.  The rock is starting to move. 
We also had a cool story about one of the members in our area who was inactive when I came to this area.  After we worked with him a little bit he came back to church and has been doing much better.  Then he started bringing his new girlfriend to church with him.  This week I asked him when we could start working with her to teach her the Gospel, and he gave us permission to try to start.  We had them over to the Bodell's for Family Home Evening on Monday, but then found out that she lives in another area, so we gave her to the other Elders.  After only a few lessons she has a baptismal date set for a few weeks from now, and they have the goal to save up for a year and then go to Korea to be sealed in the Temple for time and eternity.  Higher goals help us to do more, and it was so great to see member missionary work...working.  There's no better way.  The work is moving, the Lord's hand guides it. 
Thanks for all of the prayers in my behalf, for those with whom I work, and for the success of this difficult part of the Lord's vinyard.  I know that my strength is not my own.  The Lord blesses us with his tender mercies each day. 
Elder Fife

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pushing against the rock

If my letter ends up a little harsh, or lame, or short this week, its because the room where I'm sitting is filled with 11 and 12 year old boys who are playing computer games and screaming at each's really stressing me out.  Still working on that patience's a toughie.

Well the weeks keep rolling on, time seems to be just flying by, and my companion keeps the "old man" jokes coming as he reminds me that before too much more time has gone I'll be over the hill in mission standards.  That's a scary thought.  I am still a long way from the person that I want to become while a missionary.  There are so many things where I find myself lacking.  The time that you have on a mission is far too short, but at the same time the life you lived before you started wearing white shirts and name tags seems like a distant dream.  There's a great talk that President Monson gave, that a lady speaking in our Sacrament Meeting yesterday talked a little bit about, which helps me to keep my perspective.  President Monson taught that we should remember the past, look to the future, but live in the present.  Looking on the lessons I've learned throughout my life, which were all preparing me for this one moment, I am better able to realize the things that I need to keep doing here in the present.  I really am grateful for the counsel and guidance of a living Prophet of God, to help me keep my head on straight and my priorities in cheque.  I don't think that many people realize just how valuable a living Prophet is for the lives that we continue to live every day.  In just a few short months we'll hear from him again in General Conference, and I don't even feel like I've grasped the things he taught us last Conference, when he gave the Priesthood great counsel about honesty and righteous living, and gave the world comfort in our knowledge of the Plan of Salvation and the resurrection. 

I really don't know what to tell from this week, I am really sitting at a difficult part of my mission.  Sometimes I really feel like I've been called to push against a rock, growing stronger little by little, but aching each night because the rock refuses to move.  I'm still happy, depression has never really played a role in my mission, but I often reflect on the phrase I heard once in the MTC.  "Teaching missionaries are happy missionaries."  If we had more people to teach, I know my happiness would fill the world.  We have so many great prospects, even for this week, and we should really start working with great new investigators and helping them to make and keep commitments, leading to covenants with the Lord.  The Lord will bless us, and he will give us success.  In John chapter 4 the Savior said to his disciples "I sent you to reap" and those words apply in my mission too.  Success on my mission has been a little slow, but I know that the Lord will give me the opportunity to help others come unto Christ. 

I'll have more good stories to tell next week, sorry I didn't really tell much about what I've been doing in this letter, I feel like I didn't really share much.  If there is anything that I would really say this week it's this.  Take advantage of the things you're given.  Use the resources the Lord's prepared.  Listen to, and follow His prophet.  The Spirit speaks to us much more than we listen, learn to listen better.  Well my time to write is up so I'll leave with that thought I guess.  Thanks for your prayers and for support.  The work rolls on. 

Elder Sam Fife

Sunday, August 1, 2010

(No Subject) :)

It's a little rough trying to pretend like you know all the answers about missionary work for a new Elder fresh from the MTC, I'm not gunna lie.  It's a good thing that the Lord teaches us in lots more ways than through senior companions or trainers.  The most important element of this work is the Holy Ghost.  That is one of the things that separates me and other missionaries from the thousands of other people who walk down the street every day, the Holy Ghost will bare testimony of me, my calling from a prophet, and my message to the hearts of those who will hear His voice.  I also am really grateful for the way that the Lord directs us to where He wants us to be. 
Last night, for example, we determined to go tracting (knocking on doors inviting people to hear our message and strengthen their faith in the Lord) during the day, in hopes that families might be home and together on a Sunday afternoon.  First we determined the area to start looking in, using counsel Elder Conley received while he was in the MTC.  There's so much that I've already forgotten that I learned in the MTC, I'll need to start rereading the book of MTC wisdom that I kept while I was there.  I have promptings and teachings and counsel from almost every day while I was in that great place.  So we determined an area, made sure to say a good prayer before we left, and we got on our way.  Now we didn't have any miraculous manifestations or work any mighty miracles, but the Lord showed me who leads this work in His own way.  We finally got to the place where we felt like we wanted to go, and found an open door, instead of trying others with intercoms that never seem to work too great.  In the one stairwell that we knocked on 5 doors opened.  To people in 3 of those homes we gave material that they asked for in order to learn more about the Plan of Salvation or the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and 2 of those 3 gave us their phone number so that we can make later contact.  Now this doesn't sound huge to a lot of you probably, but for those who have knocked hundreds of doors, only to have them slammed on your face, or people sneak away quietly pretending that they aren't home (yes, it happens) this was a cool experience.  Maybe nothing will come of it, but we planted a few seeds of truth in the hearts of those who we met, and now they have the option to accept more truth and light in their life, or to reject it and keep living the exact same way as they did a week ago.  You have that option too.  You have the scriptures before you, therefore search them.  That's the counsel the Savior gave in both the Eastern and the Western hemisphere as he taught his gospel.  in 3rd Nephi 23:1 he calls it a commandment.  You can always search for greater light and knowledge, or you can reject the possibilities and keep living like you do right now...Kind of a scary thought, right?  I wonder what opportunities the Lord gives us that we reject or ignore every day.  I'll probably have to start looking a little harder for those. 
Oh, I remembered this week another way that I didn't know that scouting, particularly Cedar Badge, prepared me to serve where I am today: cold showers.  Our hot water was finally turned off this week.  When we told our Landlord he just smiled and said  "congratulations" and "probably for a long time too."  Thank you CB for the early morning showers using a hose out of a sink in the middle of the woods...because I never could find time to walk to the real shower house.  Finally paid off.  It wakes me up in the morning too. 
Another Vlad tragedy.  Everyone is leaving!  Nastya, our Relief Society President, who has now been a member of the Church for 2 years (today) is moving this week to Utah to go to UVU.  We're really sad to lose her, but I guess it's good that she'll get a good look at how strong a ward can be, and be surrounded by the Saints and by Temples of the Lord.  It will be a great blessing for her...but now there are basically no youth in our Branch.  That's a fun paradox that we seem to always have, oh well.  So if you are in Orem and happen to meet a girl with a funny Russian accent...tell her that Elder Fife says hi and to come back to Vlad.  :)
Have a great week.  Do something special or cool for someone around you.  Hey and you could write me a letter and update me on your life too!  That's a neat idea, huh?  Especially if the only address that I have for you (if I have one at all) is for where you were at school last year and I just haven't written you lately because I don't know where to send it.  Just a thought. 
Elder Fife

Monday, July 26, 2010

Turn, Turn, Turn

Peter, Paul, and Mary did a pretty good job at quoting Ecclesiastes, and it explains what has happened a little bit to me in the last week.  Here's a few of my "turn" moments:
Well I think President Pratt beat me this week, and he got me sick too.  What kind of a Mission President is that?  When he called me and told me that I'd be training the new Elder this transfer I woke up the morning sick...and still haven't fully recovered.  I hate being sick.  I really felt so useless all last week, and went for a period of about two days where I didn't even leave the apartment.  It wasn't even my apartment...I was with my District Leader at his apartment, the place where I lived my first two transfers in the country actually.  Writing about it is actually making me feel a little more sick I'm done with that.  I got sick. I'm basically over it.  The end.  Also I brought my junior companion into it and he got sick too.  That President Pratt really needs to calm down or something. 
 I guess I'll tell a little bit about my new companion.  He's from Sweden, the 6th largest city...with a name I couldn't remember, pronounce, or spell if my life depended on it.  In the picture that we had of him, that he sent in to the First Presidency, he looked like he was about 12 years old.  It was really funny, but looks absolutely nothing like he does now.  He isn't scrawny and doesn't even have a baby-face.  Oh well.  I told him that that was what we were expecting when he got here and we had a good laugh over it.  Elder Conely really is great, I am so excited to be able to serve with him, and overwhelmed more than a little bit to be training him when I still feel so young on the mission myself.  My grandpa's family is from Sweden maybe Elder Conely and I will have to go on a family history hunt sometime to reunite after the mission.  That will be cool. 
I'm still serving in Vladivostok, still on Churkin actually.  There's only one other elder in the mission right now who has served 5 transfers in one area, and he goes home in 3 months, so I'm already tied in the length record.  Actually he might have been in Nakhodka for 6...I'm not sure anymore.  It's ok though because I really do love my area and there are a lot of things that I plan on doing with it that would without a doubt be lost between the cracks if someone other than me served here.  The Lord runs his work and He knows what He is doing. 
This week we said goodbye to the Magills and hello to the Bodells.  I love the Magills so much and let them know several times that I plan on showing up at their home in Draper, Utah when I come home and having Sister Magill expound doctrinal principles like I had her do for me when I would come in the office while they served here.  I'll also expect cookies.  We now have a deal.  She also needs to save me a First Edition of the book that she wrote, for me.  They didn't think I was serious....little did they know....well they'll see in a year and a half or something like that. 
But now we have the Bodells.  They are so great.  Elder and Sister Bodell are from Sandy, Utah and are great friends with President Rasband of the 70.  I might have already written about that actually, but it's cool.  He actually was his Home teacher for the last 12 years or something like that.  Elder Rasband told Elder Bodell that our Mission is one of about 20 Missions of the 340 in the Church that the Brethren refer to as "Green Beret" Missions.  I'll get prideful explaining what that I'll just leave it at that.  Thanks for the pat on the back Elder Rasband...through Elder Bodell.  Sister Bodell is great too.  Shre reminds me of my Mom in a lot of ways.  Especially like how when I leave the Mission Office she reminds me to "Remember who you are and what you represent..."  She said it EXACTLY how Mom used to.  Made me smile real bit.  Love ya Mom. 
Well those are a few of the tides that have turned in my life lately.  Also I bought a great's made of badger.  I tried to take a really awkward picture like would have ended up on Myspace like 5 years ago...I'll make sure to email it home. Ha ha.  Elder Bush got one that matches.  I think that means that we have to serve together in the Winter.  I'll tell President Pratt about that worries. 
Have a great week.  I send a special shout out to Family Camp and my BOYS FROM CEDAR BADGE!  I love those Red Berets.  Make sure someone sings the "Ballad" for me, and I expect a full report of how things go.  I'm praying for you.
Elder Sam Fife

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I have started cooking a TON!  I'm getting a little better at it...that's a breakfast deal I did a few weeks ago.
Almost trampled...
Fred was happy...I was not.  (Because the first 4 times we tried that picture it didn't work out! I knew if I did a not happy face it would...and that was the best of them all...funny how that works.)  That was a trackting experience.

"You don't have an area, you have a neighborhood."

That's what my District Leader told me while we were on an exchange in my area this week.  He was really blown away by just how well received we are in the place that we live.  Everyone comes and says hi to us, and checks up to make sure that everything is ok.  It isn't even just the babushkii anymore.  Here's a funny story that might help illustrate. 
"Young people! (that's not weird to say here) Come over here!"  That's what I heard as I walked home Saturday night to change before going to Sports Night.  I looked around and found an old man sitting on a bench not far from us.  We began to talk and he told us that he had wanted to talk to us for a long time, but that we come home too late and he already is inside usually.  It wasn't that he was super interested in learning the doctrines of the Gospel, but he wanted to get to know us a little better, and have us keep him some company.  I guess we have a rep for being good to talk to.  Many of those reading this know that I have a little bit of a thing for cool hats.  I can't help but notice when someone has a cool or just interesting hat on.  That happens ALL the time here, it still kinda blows my mind.  Well our new friend Vladimir was wearing one of the more interesting hats that I've noticed on an old man lately.  It was kind of like a bucket hat, that you'd wear fishing or something, made out of denim.  But it was clearly too small for his head and had hearts all over it, and written in the bigger hearts was "I love you."  Of course I had to say something about it!  I complimented him on it and gave him the translation, and he, without missing a beat, said, "It's a little girl hat."  He was in no way embarrassed or uncomfortable, just said it matter of fact.  Haha!  I was rolling on the inside.  So funny.  Well we talked for a few minutes, he gave us a good list of furs that people make Russian hats out of, because we're getting some hot out-of-season deals today, and we were off.  It was just another beautiful day in the neighborhood.
 There were a few more ups then downs this week, but I'm still living on a roller coaster.  Some things you look back on and of course you're disappointed that this new babushka that you met through a 3rd story window didn't accept the Gospel right away...but then you realize that from this experience you gained the acquaintance of a fun old woman with a collection of her own personal communist medals.  Yes, my new babushka is a communist and explained to me how the government is going to fall back into the hands of the "Party" in 2012.  I'll be home from my mission by I'm not going to worry too much I guess.  It really is a funny story...but I can't do it justice now.  Good times. 
 Lately I've thought a lot about my pioneer heritage.  In Sacrament Meeting yesterday Sister Magill gave a great talk about Pioneers and how each member of the Church here in Russia is a pioneer in a really real way.  They are blazing new trails, and doing things which many have found it too difficult to complete.  We are establishing Zion is a place which needs it as much as anywhere.  I'm lucky to have such a great heritage of pioneers like I do.  I always look back to the few stories I know about Grandpa Jefferson Hunt, or Peter Wilson Conover, who played such key roles in establishing my mom's family in the Church, and helping to establish Zion wherever they were sent.  Sometimes I think it's funny that as prideful as I am about myself...I'm one of the lamest leaves hanging on my family tree.  Even uncle Barney Fife had some pretty good glory days.  Never quite made it out of ole Andy's shadow...but he was always good for a laugh. 
 I did get a great benefit for having the Fife name here in Russia.  Everyone still asks me if I am Elder 5, but a few months ago I learned that 5 to them is the best grade you can get in school, it's their equivalent to an "A."  So thanks Dad, and to your ancestors too, for making me grade A.  Ha ha.  I always get a kick out of that. 
Well have a good week and stay out of trouble would you?  Have a great Days of '47!
Elder Samuel Fife

Sunday, July 11, 2010

kind of a rough week!!!

Missionary work is a lot like a roller coaster.  There are lots of really high ups, and lots of really really low downs.  I've felt that especially strong in the last week.  It seems like the Lord is trying to see how patient I can be and how diligent I stay or hard I work when it seems like nothing at all is coming from it.  On top of that He gives me great experiences with lots of potential, only to see them not work out and dash all my hopes.  We were only able to have one lesson with an investigator this week, and even that was kind of by chance as we checked in the park where we used to meet with a man who had wound up in a hospital a little bit ago, and he was there!  It was good to see him waiting there, but that was yesterday...the rest of the week we just worked against a wall and met disappointments every step of the way.  One day we had 6 lessons scheduled...none of them ended up working out.  I guess this missionary thing is a little hard after all. 

Dispite the upsets that we've had in the last week, we've seen some great miracles.  One day we had some extra time and wanted to do some tracting.  We weren't really sure where we were going or what we were doing, but we found ourselves in deep Churkin, a place where I had never been in the last several months serving in this area, tracting a 9 story apartment building.  If you're looking at a map of Vlad, we were right about at the second knuckle of the index finger in the hand puppet.  (You'll know what I mean...remember that I'm south of the Gold Horn Bay.)  Well in 45 apartments about 40 doors were slammed on us or not even opened.  One yelled "I don't have time!  Come back tomorrow!" We came back and maybe we'll meet with him sometime this week.  The very last door, on the very last floor wouldn't open the door, but had me put an invitation in his mailbox...weird.  It was a really awkward conversation, but one of those funny moments that you probably would have just had to be there for.  The best success there though, was meeting a woman on the 7th floor who told us that she'd been to our church before and liked it.  She has 6 kids and works a lot to help support her family, but hopefully we'll find a way to meet with them sometime soon.  A family with 6 kids is SO rare in Russia.  I mean it's rare anywhere...but if you have more than 2 kids here you are already way out of the ordinary. 

The Lord teaches us lessons throughout our lives.  That is something that I have seen over and over again.  Not only on my mission, but never so stark and apparent as I do here.  Sometimes you need a rough week just to remember why you're really here.  To realize the ways that you are spending your time and the ways that you wish you were able to spend them.  Its the things that you do in your free time, when you could do anything that you want, that are the most important to you.  I was thinking about that thought this week a lot.  When we sit at home and have a few free minutes while I cook dinner, or after we've finished planning at night sometimes we have a few free minutes to relax or do what we like.  My companion seems to be ALWAYS studying the language.  I don't know how he does it.  If I studied or thought about language that long I'd get all kinds of frustrated.  I've noticed that my favorite thing to do in my free time now, is to sit down with a Church magazine and read talks from General Conference.  Maybe I should work to become more diligent in studying Russian...but I am so grateful for the moments that I have to just study the Gospel a little deeper.  I feel like my Gospel knowledge and understanding could use SO much work, and I wish I could just spend all day, or take a few months off of life, to just study the scriptures and the teachings of modern Prophets.  Some members that I work with here have a hard time when I try to get them commit to read the scriptures each day, even more so when I say study for 15 minutes or half an hour, but I wish I could just sit and study and feel the Spirit that comes with studying the words of the Lord's servants longer and longer. 

I love the word of God.  It gives us understanding of all the things which we do in life.  You couldn't find a much better parenting book than the words of Alma to his sons, or Helaman to his.  When you don't know how to tackle a difficult problem that just doesn't seem to go away, or peer pressure that could drag you down, there aren't many who are better to look to than Captain Moroni, who had a pretty big problem in front of him a time or two.  We're so blessed to have so much of God's word today.  Take a look in the Bible Dictionary under the word "Bible" or read Elder Christoffersen's talk from this General Conference.  They make me so much more appreciative for the thing that so many times we take for granted. 

That has just been on my mind a lot lately, so I thought I'd share it.  Have a great week, and happy birthday Daniel!  Haven't heard from you in a while, hope everything is going great!

Elder Samuel Fife