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Monday, March 22, 2010


McDonald's even delivers in Seoul!
Seoul Temple

Still very confused about that rock...

Don't know what this is...but it seemed happy you like the palto and cap? People here tell me I look English. I think I am going to tell people that I am from Scotland...just need to work on the accent. :D

Back to work

Well I made it to and from Seoul just peachy. As you go to the escalator to leave the airport there is a big sign that says "Welcome to Paradise" (the sign's for a casino but that isn't the point.) Paradise was a pretty good description. It was warm and everything was just great there. We slept at the dormitories at the Temple which is in downtown, only two blocks from the main road in Sincheon. We spent a lot of time at the Temple, and some time shopping and seeing things too. I never realized how much I missed simple things like McDonald's and Mexican food until I found them in Seoul. We don't really have those things in Vladivostok. Sometimes the simple things in life really are the best.
One thing that I absolutely thought would not help me in Korea was my minimal knowledge of Russian. I was wrong. We were looking for a good place to buy neckties. You can get them there for $2 or $3 if you find the right place. We were trying our best to look lost (not hard) and we asked an old lady if she knew where we could find them, and just hoped that she spoke enough english to understand "Neckties...where?" As she began to point and try to explain I realized that the words she was saying was sounded a little like Russian...and matched the motions she was doing with her hands. I asked her if she spoke Russian and she just answered "where are you from?" in Russian. Russian speaking Korean grandmas...who'd of thought?

Well I was transferred this week. I am still in Vladivostok but the area in which I am now serving is famous in the mission as being the very most ghetto of all areas in the mission. It is the Churkin area. It takes about an hour usually to get to the Church from our apartment, and our area covers about half of the city. There are something like 300 inactive members in our area so we have a lot of fun work to do still. Our apartment isn't quite as nice as the last one I lived in. The hot water is permanently shut off, so we have a little heater installed in the only kind of works. We don't have beds so we both sleep on mats on the floor. The lights sometimes turn off, just for fun. It really is a sweet adventure.
My new companion lives just a little farther from home than Elder Hall did. He is from Belarus and speaks very very little english. We have a goal to speak more english together...but we always forget because it's just more easy and natural for both of us now to just communicate in Russian. Elder Papok is a great example to me. He joined the Church only just over 2 years ago and I feel like he knows the scriptures so much better than me already. He works really hard too. I am really excited to be able to serve with him. I feel really lucky to get this opportunity. Maybe I'll even learn a little bit of Russian this transfer too...I hope so.
I am just happy and enjoying every day here in Russia. It was nice to have a little break, meet some great missionaries and members of the Church from Korea and Japan (Brother Akasaka is a new friend of mine from Tokyo...he is way cool) and spend some time in the Temple, but I am excited to be back to work and to have lots of it to do. Teaching missionaries are happy missionaries.
Have a great week!
Elder Fife

Monday, March 15, 2010

March 14th

Combining Branches here in Vladivostok was the best thing ever. We had 62 people in sacrament meeting and it just felt like a real Church. There were over 20 people in Priesthood meeting (only 8 of them were missionaries). With the new organization is coming a lot of new callings and responsibilities for members of the Church. It's great for me to see how the Lord calls those whom He has prepared, and how everyone is called to a responsibility in the Church for a wise purpose in the Lord.

Yesterday there actually were "ooooo's" as a 25 year old ward missionary and teacher in the Sunday School was sustained as Relief Society President. For those reading this who don't know that that isn't a fun or easy job by any stretch of the imagination. The Relief Society is responsible for taking care of the needs of all the women of the Branch, both to make sure that their physical well-being is met as well as spiritual. It is often considered the most demanding responsibility someone can be given. Nastia is completely overwhelmed with her calling. Before Sacrament Meeting she was in the hall telling me over and over "I'm scared." As I looked around the room and saw women who had previously served in that position, or those who are simply more experienced in home-making and counsel, I thought of the great opportunity this is for Nastia to grow. I know that the Lord called her to that position and will bless her with the charity and wisdom to bless the lives of the sisters in our Branch. I love how the Lord makes us grow. Like when he calls a 19 year old kid to preach the Gospel to strangers in Russia. No one in their right mind would take a chance like's a good thing the Lord knows our potential better than we do. How could we do anything but trust?

On Saturday I taught a lesson about the Plan of Salvation to a 50 year old man named Arture. He told me that only two days before he had buried his father. As I bore witness to him of the reality of God's plan for us and His mercy and promised him that he would see his father again, tears flowed freely. It is such a comfort to all those who recognize it! God has a plan for us. We can live with Him again, and with our families. We can be happy for eternity, if we only keep the commandments of the Lord and do what is necessary to invite His Spirit and blessings into our lives. There is nothing more real than that. I know that it is true.

The other day I was reading an article in the Liahona magazine from January written by Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He told about his interview before being called as a Stake President. One of the questions he was asked in that interview by a General Authority was "How did you gain your testimony?" I thought a lot about that question and spent all morning yesterday thinking back and writing out to myself the story of how I gained a testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Restored Gospel. It was a great experience for me to reflect inwardly to look at the great blessings and experiences that led me to be able to confidently say that I KNOW that it is true. Now I'm not a convert to the Church. I was blessed to be born to great parents who are active, faithful members, but I still have been converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as much as anyone. I'd like to challenge anyone who reads this, and who has gained a testimony of our Savior and His Church, to answer this same question. How did you gain your testimony? I'd love to read your stories. They will build me up and help me to know better how to help others here in Russian gain their own testimonies. I am really looking forward to reading your responses.

As it conitues to snow here in Vladivostok (we've got about another 5 inches of fresh snow in since last night) I am looking forward to my trip to Korea this week. I know it's selfish of me, but its warm in Seoul, and people there are incredibly nice...and neckties are cheaper than anywhere I've ever been. Good times ahead.

I pray that all is well with each of you, that you remember what the Lord has done for you and the opportunities He has given you to gain your own testimony of Jesus Christ and of the Restored Gospel. Take the opportunities. Read the Book of Mormon and other scriptures, and pray to your Father in Heaven each day. If you do those simple things, you'll find the joy that I find in each day that I live.

With Love, (С любовью,)
Elder Fife (Старейштна Файф)

March 7th

This week has been really interesting. After much work and prayer President Pratt determined that it was necessary to combine the two Branches in Vladivostok. (A Branch is a small congregation in the Church.) We have known for a while that this would be happening, but it came really fast all the same. As of now we have a new Branch Presidency and they are reorganizing everything. We were afraid that there would be those who were opposed to it or embarrassed that weekly attendance at Church meetings has been shrinking, but everyone took it really well. It's going to be a great transition, and way more smooth than I thought it would be. Our new Branch President has served in the Mission Presidency for years. Now our Mission Presidency consists of President Pratt, so I guess we don't really have a Presidency. I know that President Zvigolfski is going to be a great Branch President and I really have felt the Spirit confirm that he is the one who the Lord has prepared and called to serve Him at this time. There are great days ahead for the saints in Vladivostok.

Well today is another holiday. One of the big ones too. I feel like I say that almost every week, but it's true. Today is Woman's Day. Business Centers and markets all over the city are closed today. (I even had to go to an internet cafe with a bunch of teenage boys playing computer games just to write home today. Usually I write at the Post Office, but this will have to do for today.) It's great that the Russian people really do have respect for women. On the "Day of the Defender of the Fatherland" not much happened. Nobody really celebrated and it was just mainly a normal day, but Woman's day is much more celebrated. It's kind of like the difference in America between Father's Day and Mother's Day I guess. Father's Day is a day to get a cheap necktie with fish on it and try to talk Dad into actually wearing it to Church. It's about the same idea here I guess.

I really don't have a lot to report this week. The work has been really hard lately. It seems like nobody wants to meet with us, it's been really rough for both my companion and me. But what's a mission with out some rough weeks? It wouldn't be nearly as worth it if we didn't have difficult times, (more than just trying to figure out what is going on in a language that you've barely studied and in a place that you know basically nothing about.) Really though I have developed a great love for the members of the Church here in Vladivostok. The strong members are getting even stronger and helping others to see the joy they have in their life through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that as we share the joy that we have we will see more success in all the things that we do.
Have a great Woman's Day and remember to tell the women in your life how important they are to you, they need to hear it.
With Love,
Elder Fife