Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Letter from Elder Rife~April 26, 2011

Sorry this email is coming so late! Our schedules have been completely changed. The schedule that I have been used to for the last five weeks is now gone. They changed our meal times, our gym times, and they got rid of MDT (missionary directed time). They also changed some of the curriculum. So we'll see how it goes!

Tuesdays are still P-days but our temple time got changed from 3 PM to 6:50 AM. And since we like to do laundry early in the morning so it's not busy we got up today at 4:50 to get it done before the temple. Then after the temple we decided to eat breakfast in the temple cafeteria which was amazing! The food was seriously so much better than what we eat in the MTC cafeteria. I think it's because they don't have to feed 2000 starving people at the temple We're going to do that on every P-day from now on.

Another thing that is changing around here is the cafeteria.. They are renovating about 3/4 of the cafeteria and so they are cutting down on the different things that they will cook. So if it's at all possible, could you send me a package sometime this week with healthy snacks and things that will hold me off if I don't eat a meal in the cafeteria? Also some fire jolly ranchers would hit the spot. I hate to ask for more things since you guys take such good care of me but these next few weeks will be rough with the cafeteria down.

Also, I told the people in my district that Dad wrote a book on the Christlike attributes and now they all want a copy. If you could at some point send 8 copies of your book (signed, of course) then I will give them to the elders and sisters in my district and keep one for myself. Like I said, I feel bad asking for more stuff when you guys take such good care of me. Thanks so much for all you do for me.

As you know, we have a devotional every Sunday night and every Tuesday night. Last Tuesday we had the opportunity to hear from Elder Richard G. Scott. It was incredible. The second he walked in the room it just went absolutely silent and you could feel of his spirit. He shared many scriptures with us and urged us countless times to remember to write down our spiritual experiences. He said that if we write down our experiences then we can enjoy and remember them for the rest of our lives. He also urged us to not just say prayers in our heads for personal prayer but to try to actually say them out loud, which I had never really thought about before. Later on Elder Scott had all the missionaries who are learning a language stand up. He said, "Using the priesthood keys I have been given by the Lord I confer upon you the gift of tongues. This does not mean that you don't have to study hard. But if you study hard and pray for the gift of tongues I promise you will learn your language." He then bore a powerful testimony and closed. It was amazing.

This last Sunday we had a brother named Stephen B. Allen speak to us. He shared several simple quotes with us that he used when producing LDS commercials. I'll list a few of them here.
"When everything says you can't, believe in the part of you that says you can."
"It's not who you aren't, it's who you are. Being yourself is great."
"Sometimes the most important thing you can share is yourself."
He also said a few other things that stood out to me. He urged us to finish everything we ever commit to doing and to do it our best. Then he talked about how three years from now we will forget the hardships and trials and only remember the joys and good experiences. I think that's true with any hard thing. After it's over we only remember the good times and we forget all of the bad times (probably because we don't want to remember them). The last thing he said before he closed is "buckle down and forget yourself." I think that might be the best advice of all. This mission isn't about me it's about the people I'm serving and the Lord.

Yesterday we taught our progressive investigator and it had to be all in Korean. Mostly we just shared scriptures and asked questions. It's definitely a struggle to put together a sentence that makes sense when I'm in the heat of the moment but I'm sure I'll get better. We teach the whole first lesson about the Restoration this Saturday, all in Korean. Hopefully I can make some progress in the next few days. It's incredible how much more I can understand. It's still hard to speak though.

Anyway, I better go now and study some Korean. We have a fireside in about an hour that I'm looking forward to. They never tell us who the speakers are so it's kind of fun to go and see who will speak to us. It's funny how the things that you get excited for change so much when you become a missionary. I never thought I'd be excited to wake up at the crack of dawn and read my scriptures, but I am. I never thought I'd be excited to go to a fireside/devotional on a Tuesday night, but I am.

I love you all so much! Keep the letters and Dear Elders coming. I love to hear from everyone! Thanks for all the support and prayers. I'm so grateful for all the support I have.

-Elder Rife

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Word from the MTC



Elder Rife is doing very well. We called him to be a zone leader, and I think he will do very good job (the previous zone leaders recommended him to be the next zone leader).

I am sure that you and your wife are proud of him. I am proud of him too.
I will be gone to Korea for a couple of weeks, and let's find a time to get together when I return.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Letter from Elder Rife~April 19, 2011

Another week down! Only like 7 more till I get to go back to Korea. I've definitely got lots of studying to do though. My Korean is for sure getting better but it's not where it needs to be for me to be able to communicate and teach the gospel the way I want to. Next Saturday we teach the first lesson in Korean in the TRC. So I've got some serious work to do in this next week and a half.

Every Tuesday night we have a devotional. Last Tuesday Elder Rasband came. His talk last April was one of my favorite talks ever. It was about the call of missionaries and how the call comes straight from God. It was an amazing talk. The speakers always emphasize the importance of having the spirit with you and teaching with the spirit. Elder Rasband focused on that. He gave us a 3-part plan to keeping the spirit with us all of the time.
1. Bridle your passions–Especially on your mission. Keep the things you loved before your mission under control. We have to be willing to give up things we love to serve the Lord.
2. Garnish your thoughts–Keep your thoughts clean and don't let your minds wander to things back home more than they should.
3. Ask the Lord–Pray to have the Spirit with you as you learn and teach the gospel.

I thought the devotional was really good. He gave us so much good advice and helped me to realize even more that I need to strive to always have the spirit to be with me as much as I can.

They are changing a lot of things in the MTC and starting a pilot program. I'll talk more about it when I know more about it. But it will be weird because I'm finally getting used to my routine here and it's going to change. Part of the pilot program is having a progressive investigator, which my district already has. We meet with our teacher (who served in the Seoul West mission) and we teach him 4 times each week. He chose four of the investigators that he had on his mission and acts like one of them for each of the four companionships in our district. We have to teach as much as we can in Korean and it's taken pretty seriously. He gave me and my companion his hardest investigator that he had on his mission and no matter what we commit him to do he won't end up doing it. We've met with him four times and have barely made it through the first lesson. He's a 45-year-old Bhuddist who lives with his mom and doesn't have a job or anything. He just likes to exercise. It's cool to get to teach him and feel of the spirit as we teach even though it's just a roleplay type thing. We met with him yesterday morning and as my companion was talking about Joseph Smith he told my companion (in Korean) to stop talking because he would only listen to me when we taught. He wouldn't even shake my companion's hand (which happened in real life). I hope all of that made sense. It's a pretty cool program and it's nice to get to practice what you learn as you teach.

Sunday afternoon I was called to be a Zone Leader. Please pray for me to do well! We're over the Korean zone. The older group leaves next Monday and we get 14 new missionaries on May 4th. Then we get 13 native Koreans three weeks before we go to Korea. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to serve all the missionaries who are going to Korea. President Shin told me that I'm pretty much just called to be a good example and help people when they need help. Which is totally true. The way I see it I don't have any more authority than any other missionary. I just have more responsibility. Anyway, I'm really excited for the opportunity and I'm sure I'll learn so much. If anyone has any advice for me I'd really love it and would appreciate it.

Last week at the TRC it was pretty easy. The Korean part was easy then we taught the 2nd lesson for our first time. It's incredible how much more you learn when you teach something. And how much more you have to know about it to teach it. I've seriously learned so much in the last month of my life and I feel like I've made so much progress. I can't imagine how much I will have learned after 24 months!

Thanks for all the support I got this week! I feel so loved. There aren't any missionaries in the Korean Zone that get as many letters and packages as I do. Thanks so much for all of the mail and for all of the prayers. I love you all!

-Elder Rife

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Letter from Elder Rife~April 12, 2011

Another week gone by. Ever since that first week time has started to fly by! I had friends that came in the same day as I did and they are leaving already! So weird. Only 8 more weeks right? I had a really good week. I'm used to living here now and have my routine down.

My Korean is getting better. On Saturday we had to meet with Korean investigators and contact them in Korean and talk to them about families and how they are important to God's plan. Then we had to set up an appointment with them. All of it was in Korean. I seriously understood everything that was said in Korean and I said a lot of things back in Korean. Then we taught the first lesson to them in English. It was really cool and I felt really good about it. We had four Korean girls and we spoke as much Korean as we could throughout the lesson even though the bulk of the lesson was in English. It's crazy that in 3 weeks I'll have to teach the first lesson all in Korean. I can't wait. That will be soooo cool. Korean makes more and more sense everyday. I just have to study like crazy to be able to remember vocabulary and use it. We have some missionaries from Korea that are here for three weeks then head back to Korea. They are way cool and it's good to practice my Korean with them. I have a bunch of pictures that I will send next week. If you could scan them into the computer and put some of them up on the blog that would be sweet.

Brother Gilbert got released on Sunday and gave his last lesson to us in Priesthood. He talked a lot about the amazing habits we create in the MTC and in the mission field and that we need to keep those habits even after our mission. Just because we aren't in full time service doesn't mean we should change our habits of reading the scriptures often. We need to always feast on the words of Christ. I know that Mom has shown an amazing example of CONSISTENTLY feasting on the words of Christ. I don't think she's ever missed a day of reading in her entire life. I want to keep my good habits that I've created in here.

I have grown to love the Book of Mormon so much. I read about ten chapters every day. I'm already in Alma just since I've been here. In chapter 11 it talks a lot about the resurrection, when we'll be reunited with our bodies after death The same body that we have now. It just makes me think. There are so many people who don't take care of their bodies. If we are going to have our bodies for forever shouldn't we take good care of them? That's what my passion is. I want to help people to take care of their bodies. Especially if they are going to have their bodies for forever. Anyway, like I said, I have really grown to love the Book of Mormon. I wish I had feasted on the words of Christ more in high school and even right before my mission. You can never be too prepared for a mission.

I'm glad that I decided to stay with my group. The 8 of us in our district are so close and get along so well. We're always laughing so hard. My companion is always doing something ridiculous and funny. Yesterday he was sitting in a chair with his feet on the door so the sisters couldn't get in. Then they opened the door when he wasn't expecting it and it pushed him backwards and he did a back flip off the chair. It was seriously the funniest thing I've ever seen.

The other day one of the elders in our district had a little meltdown. He started crying and was saying it's too hard and he doesn't get any sleep and he feels like he's going crazy. It just made me so grateful for all the hard things that I've been able to do in my life up to this point. People who haven't really done hard things in their lives have a hard time when the first hard thing they do is go on a mission. Moving to Korea when I was little, playing sports, backpacking trips, weightlifting, and going to Hawaii for school. I feel like I've been blessed with so many opportunities to grow and that being on a mission would be so much harder for me if I hadn't had all the experiences I had before coming here. I realize that when I get to Korea it will be a lot harder than it is here and that I will be tested and have trials, but I know that I can handle anything that is put in my way. Something that dad said really stuck out to me. "If you can learn Korean well then you can do anything." I really think that's true and I am putting so much energy into learning Korean.

Anyway, I'm thankful for all of you guys. I'm so thankful for family. When we talk to Koreans about their families and I get a chance to talk about mine it brings me so much happiness. I can't imagine what it would be like to not have the support of my family while I'm out here. It would take so much faith and so much determination. Thanks to everyone who writes me! Keep the letters coming. I promise I will write back to everyone. I love you guys and think about you often! Thanks for including me in your prayers.

-Elder Rife

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Letter from Elder Rife~April 5, 2011

Hello Family! Another P-day is already here!

I had a really good week this last week! I'm getting used to it here now. 11 hours in class is normal to me now. Ha. The Korean is getting better. I met with a teacher the other day to do an evaluation. I understood almost everything he said; I just couldn't always respond with clear sentences. He told me that I am right between my group and the group that's six weeks ahead of us. He said that it was up to me what I wanted--to either be behind or to be ahead. I decided that I wanted to stay and that way be more prepared to go out. So, I will be here till June 07 I guess. Oh, well. I feel like I still have a lot to learn before I get to Korea. A lot more to learn about the gospel too.

I hope you guys read some of my favorite talks that I posted last week. They are amazing talks and they made me really excited for conference last weekend. I honestly never really appreciated conference until I came here. Back home I would never watch conference on Saturday and mom would wake me up on Sunday and I would just relocate to the couch and continue to sleep. Haha. I bought a sick leather bound notebook thing to write all of my conference insights and thoughts throughout my mission in. I call it my Sangkok kyong. Thought book. Conference was seriously amazing! It was really hard to sit down for that long, though. You don't get to do much around here but sit and learn.

I'm gonna write some of my favorite quotes up here. I don't have time to put all of them up so I will get through as many as I can.

"Meet adversity with hope, even happiness." When we have adversity we are given a chance to grow. So we should be happy that we get to grow!

"God gave us families to help us become what we need to become." I wouldn't be a missionary right now without my amazing family.

"God doesn't ask for commitment. He asks for our lives."

"The gospel is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."

I don't have time to put up all of the quotes that I wanted to, but I wanna say which talks were my favorite. I really loved the talk by Elder Neil L. Anderson. It talked a lot about missionary work and there were so many good quotes we can learn from. I also liked Elder Oaks' talk on desires. What we desire shows what our priorities are.

I also liked Elder Steven E. Snow's talk on hope. I liked Elder Paul V. Johnson's talk. We have to make the "climb" to see the "view." I liked Elder Lynn G. Robbins talk a lot too. And Elder Christofferson's. Elder Holland's talks are always amazing.

I loved Elder Scott's talk about marriage. While marriage is a few years a way there was so much good advice given that so many of the missionaries here just brushed off and ignored. We need to treat women with respect. I've gotten on the case of some of the elders here because they don't respect the sisters. The Korean zone has lots of rules that the other zones don't. We always stand when the sisters sit down in the cafeteria and we always take their trays when they are done. It bothers me soooo bad when missionaries don't respect the sisters.

Sorry. That's pretty much like all of conference right there but they were amazing talks. I can't wait to get the Ensign and read them.

I also wanna say thanks again for all of the support I have had this week. It seriously helps so much. I wish I would have been a better writer to friends and cousins that have gone on missions. It helps so much to hear from those you love. So, thanks!! Keep it up.

Every weekend we have a Task and a TRC. The task is something we have to do all in Korean, like meet someone and get to know them. Then the TRC you have to teach a lesson. Last weekend we had our first one. We just had to introduce ourselves and bear testimony in Korean. Then ask if we could meet again. Then we taught the first lesson in English. We were the companionship that had to teach the teacher instead of another companionship. I felt like I remembered all of my Korean really well. Then we taught our lesson and it went really well. The teacher said that he felt the spirit really strongly and I did too. It was like 45 minutes long. We're supposed to meet to the investigators needs as they present them to us throughout the lesson. It's so weird how when the spirit is there you just know what to say. I never got to a spot where I felt like I didn't know what to say. It's also amazing that you can feel the spirit so strong when you are teaching someone who is pretending to be an investigator. The Lord will help you know what to say no matter what the situation. That's what I've learned this week.

This weekend we have our Task with native Korean people. Then we teach our lesson again. This time we go in a room that has cameras so that our teachers can watch from another room and see how we do with our Korean and see how our lesson goes. Scary, huh? I'm really excited. I am gonna memorize lots of Korean phrases to use this week. After like week five in here we have to teach the whole lesson in Korean! Crazy. It will be so cool. I can't wait till I can just speak Korean. Whenever that day comes.

I have a few minutes left on here. The last thing I wanna say is thanks to my family. You guys truly are amazing. I don't think anyone in the world has a better family that's as supportive and loving as you guys are. I think about you every day and we always talk about our families. Hopefully I can bring families together in Korea and maybe they can be as happy of a family as we are (if that's possible). I miss you guys and love you so much! Thanks for the support. Thanks for your prayers. They really do help!

Love you all!

-Elder Rife

Friday, April 1, 2011

Elder Rife's First Week in the MTC

Sunday afternoon temple walk.

Me and my comp. (Elder Boyer)

Me and Elder Paxman.

Studying ALL day.

More studying.

Our classroom.

Journal writing.

I made my bed!

In our room.