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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