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Sunday, February 6, 2011

You can make the pathway bright

This week was really...unordinary.  I think that my entire life has been unordinary, and so I am more or less used to it, but Elder Miller still has culture shock living the Fife life.

We finally got the Rahis to Ussurisk.  They weren't super thrilled with the apartment that we got for them, but they say they'll make it work.  Sister Rahi has been through at least one bottle of bleach making everything meet her standards...I thought it was a fine place.
They've hired Nina as a translator, and that will be really fun for everyone.  Nina is one of the best members ever, but she has this silly goal to not let Elders hear her speak in naturally I have a goal to catch her speaking English.  Almost met that goal yesterday...but I got caught.  Oh well.  I have time.

We had 48 people at Sacrament Meeting yesterday, and it was a great meeting.  The testimonies were great, and only a few of them were really weird and impossible to translate, that's a lot better than normal!

We also had a baptism this week.  Anna, who is ten years old was baptized and it was just wonderful.  The Spirit was so strong.  After the baptism was over the chapel just felt like the Celestial Room of the Temple.  Most everyone just stayed in their seats, and there was an overwhelming calm silence for about ten minutes.  People trickled out a few at a time until the room was empty.  I have never seen
anything quite like that happen before.  It was really a powerful moment.  There were seven of non members in attendance too.  Friends of members or investigators, even friends of investigators.  I think everyone was really touched by the sacredness of a ten year old girl making an important covenant with her Heavenly Father.  What a great day.

I learned a cool lesson this week.  We went to stop by a potential investigator named Nickolai.  He's really old.  When we knocked on the door a younger man answered and we asked for Nickolai.  We saw him sitting in the kitchen with a few older women and didn't want to intrude (they were drinking a little.)  Then I hear the woman in the corner yell "I know you!!"  And she got up and started running towards us.  I wasn't sure whether she was going to chase us out and forbid us
from meeting with her friend anymore, or what was going to happen.  As
she came towards us she kept saying "I know you, you're from a Church!"  She said she recognized us immediately.  I had no idea who she was.  Then she began to tell us a story.

When she was walking down the street we came and offered to help her with a heavy bag.  She was walking with a cane because her health is bad and it is really hard for her to walk.  We said kind words to her, even when she refused our help, and taught her a really small lesson, and then we walked farther.

She told us that she was so touched that she had spent the next two days telling everyone she knows about us.  "There are kind people!  I met these kind young men and they wanted to help me with my bag!"

I remembered that occasion.  Elder Miller had gone up to her and offered our help as we were walking, waiting for time to pass a little for a lesson that we had arrived to a little early.  I think she even cried a little bit as we began to teach her.  We taught her that she is a daughter of God.

We weren't able to help Vasilyeva with her bag, but we helped her in a lot more real way.  The simple acts of kindness that we do touch people a lot more than we sometimes realize, even when we think they were a failure.  We're planning on meeting with her along with Nickolai tomorrow afternoon.  Nothing happens by chance.  That's a fact.

King Benjamin taught that "When ye are in the service of your fellow men ye are only in the service of your God."  Let's serve our Lord a little more by saying an extra kind word, doing the small acts of kindness that are unforgettable to the grateful recipients.  Let's do just a little more, sometimes it makes a big difference.  I know that the Lord will bless our paths and meet our needs if we do.

Elder Fife


Seoul Tower

 my MTC besties at "lock your heart" wall

Elder Miller, Garfield, and I in Korea

Decided not to take a bath after's usually worse than that too

The first two are from a service project that we did Saturday.  We gave 25 blankets to a children's hospital in town. 

Poor phone...

Laundry water from washing the towels used to dry up what came out from under our sink during our plumbing crisis today...mmmm mmmm!

Jan 31, 2011

Well I went to send the email that I wrote...and I realized that the
internet had died and it didn't even get saved.  It's always exciting
using post office computers.

I got my new phone this is great to be able to see who is
calling me and even use numbers saved in a phone again.  There are
always a lot of blessings to count, no matter what.

I don't have much to say about this week, but I have had this thing
called freedom of choice on my mind a lot the last few days.  In the
Church we often call it agency.

The Lord has given us all the ability to choose for ourselves the
things that we do and the directions we'll go, but our decisions
affect a lot more than just us.  An investigator that I worked with a
while back has been using his agency in a not great way lately, and it
has really got me down and been difficult to see happen.  I won't go
into details.

If I can be that affected by the poor choices of someone that I met
less than six months ago, just think of how great an interest the Lord
has in the choices of His children.  He knew us before the world was,
and he loved us.  He is our Father.  He rejoices when we do that which
is right, and mourns with those who mourn.

I had everything written a lot better before, but I've again run out
of time to write, and the other Elders that I'm with are really tired
of waiting for me.  President Packer said it really well in General
Conference this Fall.

The Lord's voting for me, the devil's voting against me.  It's my vote
that counts.

Gotta run now, have a great week!

Elder Fife

Agent Fife -- Stressed Jan 23, 2011

No, not Secret Agent...Real Estate Agent.  I've also been a doctor, electrician, and plumber this week...everything went good except for the plumbing...the neighbors downstairs ended up calling professionals.  If I had had tools I'm sure I could have figured it out.  Weird that there wasn't a 10m snake in my apartment...Everything is basically fine now...except for the water damage downstairs and the inspectors that told me that I have a messy apartment.  She wasn't very nice to me.  Oh well.  Yep, things have been not-boring in the just trying to keep living side of things.

I was a doctor because Elder Miller got sick, and we had to get him better in time for Zone Conference...everything worked out OK.  I got to play electrician at the Sisters' apartment when they blew out a few outlets.  Pavel, a recent convert, helped me out with some tools.  It isnt' exactly the same as in the States, but not too far off.  It was weird to see aluminum wires in the wall'd have thought that copper would have caught on sooner, but that still needs some time I guess.  One of the outlets was actually melted in the wall, and so was the wire for a couple of centimeters.  That could have turned into an apartment fire way easy...good thing the wall is full of cement.  :)  Still no luck on the apartment front...hopefully the Rahis will move here soon, I want to enjoy her cooking as long as I can. 

Running here and there trying to work out all the problems that have happened has been fun, especially in light of my broken phone.  I'll try to send a picture of what I've been working with a little later.  Sometimes I can bend my phone in weird ways and get the screen to work just enough to make sure that I know who I'm calling.  I only have miss-called once, and I will never know who it was that I called, but it was NOT Elder Bodell like I thought it was going to be...that was a surprise.  Everything will work out...I might even get a new phone by the end of this week. 

The phone broke when I fell on the ice waiting to cross the street for a truck to drive past.  Don't really know how it happened...but I almost fell underneath a truck, but just a pick-up.  My companion was helpful and tried to drag me out of the road by my backpack...might have helped a little.  When we got home I couldn't find my phone.  We prayed and went back to the street to see if it had fallen out when I slipped.  Sure enough, there it was right in the middle of the road.  Still works fine (more or less) but the screen got a little bit rocked.  Probably just froze.  Good times.  I want a new phone.

After we are done writing home today we are going to go to the Church and make cookies for our neighbors.  (The oven at our apartment doesn't work.  Learned that when I tried to make biscuits last night)  I feel so bad that we flooded their newly remodeled kitchen!  Hopefully they'll be nicer to us this time...every time we've talked to them so far has been a not-super-great experience.  We're trying to be good neighbors. 

Well aside from all the things that keep me stressed and worn out, missionary work goes on.  There are always cool miracles to see when you put forth any real effort.  We had another cool fasting experience with our Branch this week.  We had a special fast, asking the Lord to bless us and help our little Branch in Ussurisk grow.  We had 39 people at Sacrament Meeting this week, one less than last week, but we were all still really happy with the results that we saw.  During companion study my phone rang, and since my screen doesn't work I couldn't check to see who was calling me, so I had to answer.  It was an old English clubber.  He asked when Church was because he wanted to come with his wife.  More than one in four of the people at Sacrament was an investigator, and that includes 6 missionaries in the count.  That's basically unheard of.  Ten investigators in a Branch our size is absolutely a miracle.  5 of those 10 were at Church for the first time.  You'd think there might be some kind of power in fasting huh?  Of course there is! 

The Lord has so many blessings in store for us.  Let's work to be a little better at being prepared to receive them. 

Oh, Zone Conference was also cool...we learned a lot about finding and watched a video with a moon walking bear...random huh?  I love President Pratt! 

Elder Fife


 I used to make cakes a lot, I also made some super tasty sugar cookies for when we went carolling before Christmas...but our oven doesn't really work where I live it's been a while.  I've been getting better at cool pastas and stuff with rice...I'll make you some tasty Uzbekistanian plov when I come's super good. 

We have a few investigators now.  A 10 year old girl (the one who's dog is named after me)  They moved into my area and then her mom gave missionaries to teach her daughter...funny how she wouldn't let the Sisters meet with her, huh?  Kinda a weird situation...but if things get too weird I can get an emergency transfer or huh? 

We also have Kostya.  He has cerebral palsy, but is great.  It's tough for him to learn and understand new things, but he likes us and enjoyes Sacrament meeting.  His mom has been reading the Book of Mormon and always has questions because something or other didn't make sense.  We're working with her too. 

We have another family that we've been working with off and on.  We haven't been able to teach the sons much, but there is one who is 16 and Pasha who is 12.  They're a great family that needs the Gospel so badly.  Their mom, Olga, really wants to see the blessings for her family that the Gospel brings, but needs to know that the Gospel will really bring them to her family.  She's cool when she's not drunk.