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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