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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Aug 7, 2011

Another totally crazy week!  We spent a few days in Artyom, while transfers were happening, and everything just went totally crazy.  Everything happened from members telling us that they're prophets to drunk women having a slap fight next to us at a bus stop, one of which was pregnant, to almost getting hit by a car and crazy flooding and power outages.   It was super exciting.  Everyone was ok in the end, so it all ended well I guess.  Just a crazy time.  I was there with Elders McCallon, and Shannon, neither of which served in Artyom ever, so it was just a good time for all of us for a few days while transfers were working themselves out. 

Now I'm in Nakhodka with Elder McCallon.  Tonight Elders Conley and Kim come to join us, but then Wednesday the two of us leave to Korea for another visa renewal trip.  I totally love serving with Elder McCallon.  It's just a really good time being around him.  We've had some way funny experiences together.  Like when we moved down to the new apartment.  Everything there seemed like it would be fine, but I guess there were some small things that just didn't work quite right. 

The first thing we noticed was that there was a box in the entry way with a new toilet in it.  They were supposed to hook it up while we were in Artyom, but the landlady says that they were missing a piece or something, so it was in a box by our front door.  The reason they have to replace the toilet is because the current one doesn't actually have a tank, so to flush you just turn the water on and a little bit of water squirts out of a hose, not super effective, so we have been having to use a bucket.  That was funny.  Then we realized that the feed to the washer runs from the same pipe as the toilet, which means that since we have the water to the toilet turned off, we also don't have water running into the washing machine.  When we turn the water on, it just all goes to the toilet, so for now we have to fill the washer up with a bucket from the bathtub every time we do laundry, like 4 times a load.  It's funny, but it will be good to have things working right. 

Then we went to hook up our filter to the sink. We got it all working with an adapter that we got from Elder Alico, but when we turned the water on to check, the pressure in the faucet blew a hole about the size of a quarter in the top of the that didn't work too well.  We decided to hook up the filter in the bathroom sink for now.  I think this is the first apartment that I've lived in on my mission with a sink in the bathroom, and not just the tub.  Nice huh? 

Well there's a little bit about what we've been up to.  Lots of funny adventures this week.  Last night we even met a guy who told us he's from some kind of Monk's Party in favor of the Tsar.  Something weird like that.  We started talking a little bit, but I think he didn't really know what he was talking about, so he called his buddy who had him put his phone on speakerphone, and the he yelled at me for a few minutes and then told me to go back to my America...weird kind of radical group, never ran into any of those before, but it was funny.  Just random. 

Well have a great week!  Love,

Elder Sam Fife

July 31, 2011

Well transfer calls came.  This is going to be a really weird and complicated transfer.  Ha ha.  So I'm supposed to be training a new Elder, but is stuck at the MTC for another three weeks waiting for his passport which had some complications.  Until then I am supposed to be working in a tripanionship (3 instead of 2) with Elders McAllen and Conley, which will be sweet.  But now I just got on and checked my email and President Pratt says there is a chance I'll be able to serve with a mini-missionary, so basically I am not really sure who my companion is this transfer, but it sounds like I'll have about 4 of them.  Should be exciting. 

We had a wonderful baptism this Saturday.  After all week of repairing the portable font that they sent us.  We found a hole when we went to get ready for the baptism which was supposed to be last week, so we started by patching that up.  We cut a part of the fabric where there was some extra, and glued it with some Korean superglue that we found on the bazaar.  The glue said "50% stronger" and even though the Chinese version which was sitting right next to it said "100% stronger" the Chinese girl selling it said the Korean is better.  Ha ha.  I love goofy marketing techniques.  I also love that that was the only thing written in English on the bottle, and that nowhere does it say what it is stronger than.  I love the bazaar. 
So each day we went to check and see how well our patch job had done, and each day a new hole or leak showed up.  Everything seems more or less OK now.  We left a mop next to the most recent leak the night before, deciding that if it didn't hold we would mop things up and refill the font in the was a funny process. 

The building is finally getting close to getting done.  They're supposed to put iron grates on the windows this week, and install our hot water heater.  President Zubkovskii and his wife have almost finished the paint job on the outside, and then there a just a few more things left to do, like install toilette paper and paper towels in the bathroom.  The Relief Society sisters have been up in arms about that one ever since we moved in.  :D  Everything will be grand.  It's a fun process. 

We finally found a new apartment this week as well.  It feels great to be done with that.  Now we just need to clean and take care of it all, and decide who will end up living there.  I guess I'll have to make that decision at some point.  Our new landlady is so great!  When we went to move a few things into the apartment the other day our key didn't work.  We tried several times and thought that that was kind of weird.  Then the door opened from the inside, and there was our landlady, trying to get everything clean and good before we got there.  She's a really sweet lady.  I'm excited that we found a good landlady. 

I've learned a whole lot lately, and feel like I've grown a lot as a person, especially over the last several weeks.  I've thought a lot about the things that I'm grateful for, and especially for the ways that the Lord has prepared me for all the things that He asks me to do.  I'm glad that I didn't pass up the opportunities that came my way before my mission, that I never knew would turn out to be so helpful.  So don't pass up opportunities when they come your way.  All of the experiences that you have will work together for your good to prepare you for the things that lie ahead. 

Today I was reading the story of the Jaredites in the Book of Mormon.  They were instructed to build barges in preparation to cross the ocean to inherit the promised land, shortly after the Tower of Babel.  As they got into the barges the wind began to blow, and the storms picked up.  For 344 days they sat in these barges crossing the ocean, with the wind ever blowing them towards the promised land.  I think that lots of times in our lives we notice the wind and the stormy weather, but do we stop to think where the wind is blowing?  It takes a lot of wind to blow a barge to the promised land, and it takes a lot of rough times to direct us to the promised blessings that Father wants to give us.  Don't stress about the storm, keep your eye on the horizon and realize that the Lord is directing you to the places and experiences where He needs you to be.  We just need to figure out how to have enough faith in Him to get into the barge, and not give up, even if we sit in a little boat for almost a year.  That's a long time to sit in an airtight boat!  Trust Heavenly Father, and remember that He loves you!

Well that's my little message this week.  I wish you all the best, especially those at Cedar Badge and Family Camp this week.  Have the time of your life! 

Elder Sam Fife

Elder Fife after the hose blew off for the 3rd time

The Almost Baptism

I don't even know where to start in writing about this week.  We almost had a baptism...but I guess it just wasn't meant to be.  After spending lots of time Saturday cleaning out the flower beds in front of the church building, (we had weeded them Friday) we went to Dome Technika and bought a pump and hose for emptying the font when we were done, and finally got back to the Church to begin filling the font at probably 6:00.  Lots later than we should have.  So there is no spicket to hook a hose to, to fill the font that way, because they haven't got it installed in the new building yet, along with the water heater...but that is ok because the hose didn't come with fittings on it anyway.  So we decided to that I would try holding the hose to the faucet in the bathroom, and try to fill the font that way.  Obviously it was a terrible idea, but the only alternative we had was buckets.  After about 20 minutes of that we started running water into a bucket, and then pumping it from the bucket into the font.  After a few minutes of that we noticed that there were a lot of things floating in the font, probably came from the inside of the new  hose or something, so we emptied what was there onto the street.  As we were doing that the hose decided to shoot off the pump, shooting water all the way up to the ceiling, drenching me, the wall, ceiling, light, floor, and anything else that was there.  It first time.  If the Branch President had come he would have killed me for sure. 

Well I'll spare all the details, and just share a few highlights from the rest of the night. 
The hose shot off the pump 2 more times, each of them while I was standing above it...I was totally drenched and went into a mild state of hypothermia.  The font sprung a leak and we had to empty it after an hour of filling it, water pressure wasn't too great.  We flooded the building like three times, from the hole, and each shooting of the pump.  My companion and I had a fight, and a good long talk a little later.  We got home more than an hour after we were supposed to, after having given up on the baptism and moving it to this Saturday.  We'll be fixing the hole sometime between now and then, and they might even have a water heater and spicket installed.  That would be really nice.  Yeah, Saturday was really stressful, but things like that happen, and they usually work out for the best.  We had invited Elder Hatch to come back to town for the baptism, because he found the lady being baptized and she wanted him to baptize her, but he had the feeling that he shouldn't come down.  Guess we understand now why he had that one. 

I really am thankful for the Spirit and the ways that the Lord blesses and inspires us.  We are currently looking for a new apartment in Nakhodka.  Sister Pratt says I'm her go to guy for finding new places.  We found an option, that was not a bad option, if we changed some of the furniture, and set an appointment to sign contracts  By the time Sunday rolled around though both Elder Lisevich and I were having a bad feeling about it, and weren't sure why.  Sister Pratt called and had some concerns as well.  I just never felt settled about it, so we called and canceled our appointment and are now looking for more options.  I'm still not totally sure why it wasn't right to move to that apartment, but I know that the warning we received was real.  I'm glad that the Spirit can warn and guide us when we are receptive to his promptings. 

This week will be interesting since the Alicos will be gone in Korea Tuesday-Friday, and we usually use them to help us on most every lesson that we teach.  Between that and apartment hunting we're in for a super interesting time.  Hopefully we'll be able to make it productive. 

Oh yeah, my talk.  I'm pretty sure it turned out to be like a stereotypical high councilman's talk; long and boring.  I thought it was interesting, but it didn't seem like many other people did.  Our investigator who was at Church told me that I basically put him to sleep.  Oh well.  I guess rescuing fellow pioneers from 300 screaming Indian warriors just isn't the kind of thing that Russians are excited to hear about.  I didn't even really get pity compliments, which you get even if your talk was pretty bad.  Yeah, so that was a funny experience.  I learned a lot about some of my pioneer ancestors that I didn't know before though.  I'm really grateful for the ancestors who forged traditions of faith and set examples for me to follow to be more happy, successful, and faithful as a Latter-Day Saint.  They were faithful to the Prophets, obedient in spite of difficulties, maintained good names and standing before men and God, and showed their love for the Restored Gospel in all that they did.  I hope that someday I can be a little more like them. 

Well have a great week.  Thanks for keeping me in your prayers.  Hope you all had a great Pioneer Day and remembered a little bit about the heritage of our Church, and the ancestors of many of us.  We have a rich heritage, both physically, and spiritually. 

Elder Fife

July 17, 2011

So this week there are some funny stories.  First....the banana. 

So Elder Lisevich made a bet with Sister Alico, that he would continue this no-sugar thing for an entire year if she would eat an entire banana, peels and all.  He says now that he was joking, but she took it all kinds of seriously.  So she prepared, mentally, for about two weeks, and last Monday she was all geared up, and brought out the banana.  No one knew what to still kind of seemed like she was joking, but at the same time I kind of didn't think she was.  She cut off the stem, because when Elder Alico researched online he learned that the stems aren't the best thing to eat, (who'd of thunk?)  and forbade her from eating the woody parts of the banana.  So she cut off a chunk of banana, with the peels, and popped it into her mouth.  Said it wasn't that bad.  Elder Lisevich started crying/laughing/turned all red, and tried to take the banana from her.  Long story short she ate the whole thing, and the entire time she ate it she kept saying "mmmmm mmmm!" 

A few days later the Alicos decided that this whole no sugar thing had probably gotten a little out of hand and even a wee bit distracting, so they called us over for a special devotional, and released the ban, under the condition that Elder Lisevich deleted the videos from when she ate the banana.  So there's no more evidence, and it was sad because the video was super funny, but balance has been restored to our Nakhodka force.  Speaking of force...every Friday and Saturday, at this one spot of town, we see Darth Vader, a Storm Trooper, and all kinds of other people dressed up to take pictures with newlyweds.  Super cool.  We wanted to go see them, but it hasn't worked out yet...

We also set out to hike Sister Mountain this week.  It's the highest mountain around, not actually that big, but it's pretty steep, and going between rain storms was probably not the best of ideas, but what is a priesthood activity without danger, sausages, sweets, and the quorum president's wife? (Just to make sure we didn't die)  Way fun hike.  There were six of us there, including our investigator.  The hike started at the beach and then went up pretty steep through lots of brush.  Everything was muddy and slippery because of the rain that had been coming for the previous three days.  When we got to the top some fog rolled in and we could see it blowing between us, standing maybe 5 feet apart.  Kolya, who's in the Branch Presidency, said he's heard there is a bat cave not far from there, but no one really wanted to go find it with him.  Funny videos that I'll have to put up when I get home, of how Slava and his wife Yulia descended down the's funnier when you know Russian though...good times. 

Those are probably the most exciting things that happened this week.  Things are going fine and the work is going well too.  We've had lots of people to work with lately.  I really am enjoying my time in Nakhodka.  Sometimes it takes me a little while to get used to a new city, but I've come to love every city in which I've served.

Have a good time getting ready for pioneer day!  I don't think people really realize what it means here, but I'm supposed to talk about it at Sacrament Meeting next week.  Our heritage is super cool.  Ok, well have a great week! 

Elder Fife