Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Wow. What a week. They say the days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days. Definitely true. This week has been crazy. Study study study. Everything is going well though so far. I haven't gotten too homesick or anything. It's been hard at times as I was expecting it to be. Especially being so close to home. But I know why I'm here and I know that I'm in the right place right now. We have 30 minutes on the computers so I can't write everyone back individually. I'm gonna write more letters today though that should get home tomorrow or the next day.
First of all I just want to say thank you for all the support! I seriously am so blessed to have as many people writing me and expressing their love to me as I do. I have like triple the number of letters, DearElders, and packages of anyone here. Letters really do help me so keep the DearElders and letters coming. I'll try to write everyone back in actual letters since I don't have time to email. Also, thanks so much for putting notes in my suitcase. Wednesday night was an interesting night and it was so good to have the support and love of my family. Real quick there are just a few things that I need. A hand towel, multivitamins, protein bars from Costco, and those little flossing things. I would also love a hoodie. It has been freezing here and my thermometer says that it's 62 degrees in our room!
Anyway, I have learned so much here already. I've been reading lots of talks from the Ensign book Hillary's mom made for me. Especially since we have conference coming up this week. Anyone who writes me next week should tell me their favorite talk from conference. If any of you want to read my favorite talks from what I've been reading out of the Ensign they are all four of Elder Holland's talks in the last four conferences, Elder Rasband's "The Divine Call of a Missionary," Elder Uchtdorf's "Of Things that Matter Most," and Elder Uchtdorf's "Continue in Patience." They have all helped to me know why I am here and have helped me to get through this tough first week. I hope that you can read some of these and let the Spirit point things out that apply to you.
We had Mission Conference the other night where Sister Nally spoke and she told us how she loved Mount Timpanogos. Then she said that she and her husband bought a lot for a new house and as they were driving away she realized she had forgotten to see if they had a good view of Timp. When they went back they realized that there was a smaller, less pretty mountain standing in the way of her view of Timp. She likened this to us missionaries in that The Lord is Mount Timpanogos and some of us are letting things get in our view of Him, like homesickness and stuff like that. It really helped me to realize that I am here on the Lord's time. Not mine. So when I'm wasting time that I could be using studying Korean I am wasting the Lord's time. I want to be the best Korean speaker I can so I need to be using the Lord's time to the fullest.
We also had a meeting with President Shin on Sunday. He spoke to us about many things but at a certain point he had me stand and asked me what my full name was. I said, "Michael Lincoln Rife." Then he said, "For the next two years you aren't Michael Lincoln Rife. You are Elder Rife. You are a new person and you can decide now to be the best missionary you can be." I really like this advice. I'm not Michael right now. I'm Elder Rife and I have a purpose. To bring others unto Christ so that they can be saved. Also, at the end of district meeting President Shin asked me to pray. I did it in Korean and afterwords he told everyone in our district that they need to sound more like me. I have less of an American accent and already sound somewhat like a Korean. Kinda cool.
Korean is coming along well. It just makes sense to me. I spend more time in class helping others pronounce and remember stuff than I actually do learning. It's all kinda been a review so far but it has been good to review everything. The sentence structure is making sense to me though now I just need to memorize words and stuff. I'm supposed to meet with someone in the next day or two to see if I can go early. I'll let you know!
Well I'm about out of time now. I love you all and am so thankful for all the support that I have! I know I'm doing the Lord's work. Please continue to pray for missionaries because we definitely need it. Also, keep the letters coming! Thanks for everything.
The Church is true. I know it.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Aaron Paxman ran into Michael at the MTC today and texted this photo and message:
"Saw Elder Rife today. He is doing good and he has great taste in ties."
Aaron was a missionary in Daejeon with the Rifes in 2001-2003; his father-in-law is Lynn Gilbert, who is currently serving as a counselor in Michael's MTC branch presidency, and will become the Busan Mission President in July 2011.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
I’m okay! We were told to write you a quick letter just so you know that I’m okay and alive. Today was really surreal. We jumped right into everything the second we got here. I’ll write more about the spiritual stuff on Tuesday (which is our P-day).
They have a saying here: “The weeks feel like days, and the days feel like weeks.” Today felt like a week! I know I’m doing the right thing and I have tons of support. Eleven weeks kinda seems like an eternity though.
Today it was hard for me when everyone was learning the alphabet. It will be humbling. My comp is Elder Boyer. He went to PG High. He’s really nice. I met Elder Coward too. He’s in my district and we share a room. Don’t worry about me! I’ll write more and send pics on Tuesday.
I love you!
P.S. I unpacked all my stuff and my CTR ring was sitting at the bottom of my bag. I have no clue how it got there but it made me really happy.
Friday, March 25, 2011
I did interview Elder Rife last night. I can tell that he will do well. He has a companion, Elder Boyer, who is very enthusiastic Elder. I think they will get along well. I noticed that Elder Rife was helping Elder Boyer answering questions on Korean language. Elder Rife's Korean pronunciation is more like Korean way without much American accents. Their schedule is such that they will start their language training from today. I am sure you and your wife are very proud of Elder Rife, and so are your parents.
I will keep in touch as he is making progress.
FROM AN EMAIL FROM DAD:
I just got off the phone with Lynn Gilbert. Lynn is a counselor in the MTC branch presidency over the Korean missionaries. He is also the Korea Busan Mission President, effective July 1, 2011.
He said “I just needed to call you to let you know that I spent this evening with your son, Michael. You would have been so proud of him. He looked happy. He has such a presence and is dignified and self-assured. He bore a powerful testimony of the gospel. He’s going to be a great leader.”
Can you imagine how that made us feel? We have been thinking of nothing else since we turned him over to the MTC yesterday at 1 p.m. (which was harder than you’d imagine). What a joy and what a relief!
If you wish to write Michael, you may easily do so through two different ways. First, at any time, whether he’s in the MTC or in Korea, you may write to him at his new email address, which is:
If you use this route, he will receive your email message on his preparation day. He is only supposed to email back to his parents, though. If he sends you a response, he will need to do so through snail mail. As you know, we will edit (to the extent deemed reasonable) his weekly parental email message and post it on his blog, which Laura so wonderfully created, which is:
The second way you may communicate with Michael, and only while he is in the MTC, is through dearelder.com.
To use dearelder.com, you will need to sign up for an account. Then, you can email Michael, and dearelder.com will print your email and put a paper copy of it in Michael’s mailbox the day you send it (if you send it in the morning). That way, he won’t need to wait for P-Day to get your message.
Each time you use dearelder.com, they will remind you that they operate based on donations, and it would be nice of you to donate. I have donated, and I will continue to donate generously for all of us. So please use their service, guilt-free, knowing that I’ve paid for the privilege.
To direct your dearelder email to Michael, you will need this information: Elder Michael Rife, MTC Box 114, (mission) KOR-SEO, (departure date) 0607.
I can tell you from personal experience that, when you’re studying hard at the MTC (or working hard in Korea), it surely feels nice to get an encouraging word from home. So I hope we will use the means available to us to support our missionary.
In the evening on Tuesday, March 22, Michael Lincoln Rife was set apart as a missionary. He was set apart by President David B. McGinn, who gave him a very beautiful blessing. The family was all there, and there was not a dry eye in the room. Everyone is so proud of Michael and so excited for his call to serve.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
So as many of you know, my dad is the bishop and when I asked him what my topic was for today he told me that I was supposed to speak on “life lessons that I have learned from my father.” So I came up with three life lessons I’ve learned that I will share with you today.
1. Just because you are conducting sacrament meeting doesn’t mean you can’t quote Jerry Seinfeld.
2. Screaming at the TV when your team is doing badly always helps.
3. And 3, the outdoors is for wusses. Real men stay inside.
I chose two topics that I would like to speak on today. I wanted to speak about sacrifice and family, because I feel like they both tie in well to what I’ll be doing for the next two years.
When we think of sacrifice we usually think of offering sacrifices. Originally, the Old Testament people were asked to offer animal sacrifices. These were to symbolize the future sacrifice of the Messiah, who would offer his life (his body and blood) as a sacrifice. His atoning sacrifice includes suffering for our sins in the Garden and Gethsemene and being crucified on the cross.
But after his atoning sacrifice, we are no longer asked to offer up the blood of animals. Instead, here is what we are asked to do, from 3 Nephi 9: 19-20:
19And ye shall offer up unto me ano more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings.
20And ye shall offer for a asacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I bbaptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.
So now, each Sunday, when we partake of the sacrament, the sacrifice we are asked to give is a broken heart and a contrite spirit. A broken heart is a softened, submissive, and willing heart. A contrite spirit is a humble, repentant spirit. Therefore, in essence, the sacrifice we are asked to give in our time is humility, which can be very hard.
We’ve all made sacrifices in our lives, big or small. And no matter what it is we are sacrificing, it is always hard to give something up. The Lord asks us to be willing to give up whatever He requires of us, which can be extremely hard.
The word sacrifice is defined as: the surrender of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.
Sounds just like a mission. The surrender of something prized; family, 2 years of time, friends, education. For something considered as having higher or more pressing claim: teaching people the restored gospel, changing people’s lives, bringing families together forever. When you think about what you are giving up, and what you are giving other people, why wouldn’t you want to serve a mission?
In a talk by Elder D. Todd Christofferson he describes what it is to be true man. He says, “A true man makes sacrifices in order to honor his commitments. Even though he will give much, the blessings he receives outweigh the sacrifice.” Many of the kids that are my age are preparing to serve missions and many already have their mission calls. We have made commitments to go out and serve the Lord and teach people the restored gospel. As we honor these commitments, we are going to have to make many sacrifices.
At the end of the quote, where it says “the blessings he receives outweigh the sacrifice,” reminds me of a quote that I love from President Hinckley: “It is not a sacrifice to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is never a sacrifice when you get back more than you give. It is an investment, . . . a greater investment than any. Its dividends are eternal and everlasting.” It seems to me that any time we ever sacrifice anything, we always get back so much more than we gave up. So if what President Hinckley said is true, which I’m betting that it is, then we shouldn’t even consider things we sacrifice as sacrifices. We should consider them as investments. The Lord has so many blessings that he wants to give us but we need to make the first step and prove that we are willing to sacrifice things that we have to receive the countless blessings he has in store for us.
A quote from President Hinckley in the Ensign: “I wish to remind everyone within my hearing that the comforts we have, the peace we have, and, most important, the faith and knowledge of the things of God that we have, were bought with a terrible price by those who have gone before us. Sacrifice has always been a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The crowning element of our faith is our conviction of our living God, the Father of us all, and of His Beloved Son, the Redeemer of the world. It is because of our Redeemer's life and sacrifice that we are here. It is because of His sacrificial atonement that we and all of the sons and daughters of God will partake of the salvation of the Lord. ‘For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.’ (1 Cor. 15:22.) It is because of the sacrificial redemption wrought by the Savior of the world that the great plan of the eternal gospel is made available to us under which those who die in the Lord shall not taste of death but shall have the opportunity of going on to a celestial and eternal glory. In our own helplessness, He becomes our rescuer, saving us from damnation and bringing us to eternal life.” ("Our Mission of Saving," Ensign, November 1991, p. 54.)
I love the part of this quote that talks about the terrible price that was paid by those who have gone before us because it puts into perspective how much worse the trials were that those who went before us had to bear. When I think about how hard it must have been for the pioneers to walk across the plains, it makes what I’m going to do seem so easy. They packed all of their belongings across the plains, walked hundreds of miles, went hungry, and often saw members of their families die. I’m moving to another country for two years and am giving up my iPhone and car.
Another part of the quote says that sacrifice has always been a part of this gospel. And while the pioneers’ sacrifice was so much harder than mine, the least I can do is give up two years of full-time service to the Lord.
Another really good quote from president Hinckley says: “This work requires sacrifice, it requires effort, it means courage to speak out and faith to try. This cause does not need critics; it does not need doubters. It needs men and women of solemn purpose. As Paul wrote to Timothy: ‘. . . God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord. . . .’" (2 Tim. 1:7-8.) Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 145.)
I love this quote. The Lord needs missionaries who will go out and serve and not hold back, who will go out and speak to people without being afraid of being rejected; we cannot be ashamed of our testimonies of the Lord.
No matter what we sacrifice and no matter how hard it is for us, none of our sacrifices compare to Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. It was the supreme sacrifice. He gave is life so that we can return home to live with Him again and be resurrected. He suffered for all of our sins so that we can have the atonement and repent when we make mistakes. We’ve all made mistakes and without the atonement we wouldn’t be able to return home and live with Heavenly Father again. I am so thankful for Christ’s sacrifice. It makes my sacrifice of two years seem so insignificant.
I also wanted to speak about family today. I feel like family is the most important thing we have in life and the purpose for missionaries is to go out and bring families together in the gospel so that they can be sealed together forever. I know that the main source of happiness in my life has come from having such an amazing family and I hope that I can bring that same happiness to the people of the Seoul.
Many of you that have been to my house have probably noticed that there are few spaces on the walls where there isn’t a picture or quote or some form of decoration. I have noticed that throughout the house there a little quotes or things that talk about family, and the one that stands out to me the most simply says, “Families are Forever.” Most people in this world don’t know this simple truth, and most people in South Korea definitely don’t know this. When I think about my family and how close we are, it brings me so much comfort to know that I can be with them forever. And the fact that families in Korea don’t know that they can be together forever fills me with so much motivation to go out and work hard to teach as many people as I can.
An excellent quote on family from Elder Russell M. Nelson says… "Brethren and sisters, material possessions and honors of the world do not endure. But your union as wife, husband, and family can. The only duration of family life that satisfies the loftiest longings of the human soul is forever. No sacrifice is too great to have the blessings of an eternal marriage. To qualify, one needs only to deny oneself of ungodliness and honor the ordinances of the temple. By making and keeping sacred temple covenants, we evidence our love for God, for our companion, and our real regard for our posterity—even those yet unborn. Our family is the focus of our greatest work and joy in this life."
I feel like this quote puts everything into perspective. We often worry more about material things than we do about our families. Family is the most important thing and families are forever, unlike material things.
The last thing I wanted to share about family is a poem that I found. It’s called A Tribute to Family.
I don't know when it started,
Or how it all began.
But God created families,
As only our Lord can.
He was teaching what it means,
To love, honor, and obey.
He wanted a strong bond,
That we don't see too much today.
He wanted someone to hold us,
And show respect for others.
He wanted someone who'd be gentle,
And so he created mothers.
He wanted someone strong,
A support filled with love.
And so he created fathers,
Sent from heaven up above.
Brothers and sisters came next,
With that, an instant friend.
Someone to look up to,
Someone on whom to depend.
When he put them all together,
He was amazed at what he'd done.
He had created a family,
Mother, father, daughter, son.
But look at the family,
Created by only two.
How many we've become,
And all because of you.
We have a lot to be thankful for,
The memories through the years.
The many times together,
Full of laughter, full of tears.
I don't know where we'd be today,
If it weren't for the two of you.
To show us strength, support, and love,
Like only the two of you can do.
Brothers and sisters, families are an amazing thing. I don’t know where I would be right now if I didn’t have the amazing family that I have.
I really have the best family in the world. I'm thankful for my mom, and she's crying and it's making me cry. I'm thankful for my dad. They're two amazing people and examples and I'm thankful that they had six kids so I have a bunch of brothers and sisters. I love them so very much.
I also just wanted to mention how grateful I am for my parents’ willingness and worthiness to sacrifice three years to move to South Korea and be mission president. Most kids don’t decide that they want to go on a mission until their teen years, but I knew I wanted to go as a fat little nine-year-old boy hanging out with missionaries every day.
I’m so thankful for the call to serve a mission. It was four and a half months ago that I was sitting under a palm tree at the Hawaii temple and opened my call. I have been waiting for this for so long and feel like I’m prepared to go out and serve. It’s not often that a father and a son get called to serve in the same place and I am so grateful that I can share that special bond with my dad.
I'm thankful for my brothers and sisters. My life would not be the same without them. My sisters are probably the three most perfect people I know; one of them isn't here. But I'm thankful for them and their good examples to me. I'm thankful for my brothers; they've always had my back. I love them. I think what I'm going to miss the most though is those cute little kids; they'll be grown up in two years.
I’m thankful for my friends. Many of them are out on missions and many of my friends are home from missions. They have given me so much support and have always helped me to make good decisions and not do anything too stupid. I’ve been writing one of my best friends, Drew Harris, every week and I wanted to share something that he wrote to me in one of the letters. It has helped me and I hope it will help other people who are preparing to serve missions. He wrote…
A mission is a unique opportunity because it’s the one time in life where you know exactly what you’ll be doing and for how long you’ll be doing it. You understand the purpose of everything you do. You invite others to come unto Christ by helping them to receive the restored gospel, through faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. That’s what the gospel is and it’s our purpose to help others to know that. For 730 days you bring others closer to Christ, so there can never be room for regrets.
While two years may seem like a long time right now, I know it will fly by, and I am thankful for Drew’s advice. We can’t look back and have regrets.
Before I close I wanted to do something that most missionaries don’t do in their farewell talk and especially not in Korean. My dad helped me write my testimony down in Korean and I want to share it with you today. For those of you who understand it, it's not going to be that good.
SHARE TESTIMONY IN KOREAN
I'm so thankful that I got to speak to you guys today. I'm grateful for my call. I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lord. I can't wait to start. Even though I'll be just down the street for eleven weeks.
I do have a testimony. I know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet. I know it. None of this "I think" or "I kinda know." I know it. I've read the book of Mormon. I know the way it makes me feel when I'm having a bad day and I flip open to a page and read a couple of verses, all of a sudden my day is switched around. I'm thankful for the B of M. I know it wasn't easy for us to have it.
I'm thankful again for my family. I don't even know where to start. They've done so much for me. I'm the baby of the family; everyone's always looking after me and buying me stuff. I want you guys to know how much I love you and how much I'm going to miss you. It's going to be hard to be away from you but I'm thankful for the support that I'll have.
I'm thankful for Jesus. His sacrifice is the ultimate sacrifice. Two years is nothing compared to what Jesus did. It's the least I can do. I'm so thankful for the Atonement. I've used it many times. It seriously is amazing.
I'm thankful for everyone who came here to support me today. I love you guys all very much and I'm thankful for you. You've influenced me for good.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.