Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Letter from Elder Rife~May 31, 2011

One week from right now I will be in Korea! I'm so excited. So my next email will be coming from Korea. I can't wait. I'm excited to have to give someone a Book of Mormon right off the bat. It's gonna be so much fun to just go up to people and talk to them even though they probably won't understand what I'm saying. Ha. I have a lot of progress I need to make! I feel like my Korean speaking has gotten a lot better in the last few weeks. I'm definitely not fluent or anything but I can communicate. I can talk about the gospel in Korean pretty well but that's because most of the vocabulary I know is Church-oriented.

I got my travel plans last Thursday. We leave on Monday, June 6th at about 1:30. Which means that we will leave the MTC at about 10 in the morning. We are on Delta, which isn't as good as Korean Air, but oh, well. We fly straight to Tokyo and have a 3-4 hour layover there and then we fly to Incheon. We'll get to Incheon at about 7 o'clock at night on Tuesday the 7th. I'm excited! I've heard that we stay at the mission president's house for a couple of days. I'm excited to find out who my trainer is and what area I will be assigned to. Hopefully I get assigned to an area where my dad has served or something. I think that would be really cool.

Last Tuesday Elder Russell M. Nelson spoke to us. It was really good. Hopefully we get another apostle tonight since it's our last devotional! I'll write down some of the thoughts that I had/wrote down in my journal.

-We're here because we covenanted with Christ to serve Him in the premortal existence.
-Obedience brings blessings. Exact obedience brings miracles.
-Our investment in our missions will pay rich dividends in our success in life.
-The study habits we learn as missionaries will help us with our future career paths.
-Keep track of your converts, they are your children in the church.
-Having character is better than being one.
-Always be ready to tell people who we are and why we are serving a mission.
-Tell everyone that "We Follow Jesus Christ."
-Know who you are and what God expects you to be.

Last week's TRC was the best one yet. It was really good to see Sonhee Cho! It's always nice to see a familiar face. We taught the Restoration lesson to a middle aged Korean woman. I felt like my Korean was a lot better than it was the previous Saturday. I can get my message across, but I want to be able to say EVERYTHING that I want to say. I guess that will come with more practice though. Sometimes it gets frustrating when you can't say what you really want to say. Once we got to the point in the lesson where we were talking about Joseph Smith, I recited the first vision in Korean. I tried to keep eye contact the whole time so that she could really feel of my testimony as she listened to the words. Once I had finished she had tears in her eyes. It felt so good to actually be teaching with the spirit. Even if she was just being a pretend investigator for us. I can't wait for the opportunity to teach a real investigator in Seoul! It will be harder for sure but it will be so much more rewarding.

Well, my life is about to change bigtime. I haven't been back to Korea in 7 years. I'm seriously so excited. Whenever I get discouraged with Korean I just think that I have been blessed to have lived there and understand a little bit of the culture and stuff. I have such an advantage in that I can understand Korean pretty well. I'm so thankful for that. I still have so much to learn and I can't wait to learn more. I can't wait for the day that I can just speak Korean and say whatever I want to say. That will be amazing. I feel like I've built a good foundation, but now it's time to take it to the next level.

Anyway, I don't have much else to say this week. I can't wait to go to Korea! I'm pretty sure my P-day is on Monday. One of our teachers right now has been home from the Seoul mission for 4 months so he told us about the mission president and stuff. He said that President Lee's first rule is for his missionaries to be happy. He sounds like a pretty nice guy. I'm not exactly sure when I will get to write home. I would assume that I get to write back when I get there to say that I made it safe and sound. But since we will miss the Monday P-day I might not get to write home till June 12th. I'll take lots of pictures and I hope I can email them home!

I love you all! Thanks for the prayers and support!

- Elder Rife

Kind Words about Elder Rife via Facebook

Dad received this message from Jae Keun Song via Facebook:

President Rife,
My wife saw your son in the MTC today when she was there for TRC. She was very impressed with your son. He spoke Korean amazingly good. He even cited the scriptures in Korean without even looking. She felt that he has been well prepared. He will be an excellent missionary. Thank you for your love for Korea and Korean people.
Bro. Song

Here is Dad's response:

Thank you so, so, so, so much for this message. You don't know how happy this makes the father of a missionary feel. I'm so happy he's doing well. He is so excited about his mission call. Since he was a little boy, he has wanted to serve his mission in Korea. He is trying his very best to learn the language. He goes to Korea this coming Monday, June 6th, and he is very excited. Thank you, Brother Song, for your kind message, which really made me happy, as I, too, love Korea and Koreans and am proud to have a missionary son serve in Korea! Thank you!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

News from the MTC

{Sonhee Cho & Elder Rife}

Bishop Cho (who Dad has known since his mission in Korea) has two granddaughters in Provo at BYU. Sonhee Cho went to the MTC to volunteer as a native Korean-speaker to help the missionaries in their TRC. She said that she spoke only Korean to Michael and he understood everything she said.

She emailed Mom:

Sister Rife-

You have an amazing son! As expected, his Korean is great! Glad I got to see him :) Have a great week!


Go, Elder Rife!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dad saw Elder Rife!

Michael is still at the MTC. He leaves for Korea 13 days from now. He will get his travel plans Thursday of this week.

His branch president is Yong-in Shin. President Shin and I have been friends since I served as a missionary in Korea in the early 1970s. Later, the Shins lived in Orem, far away from their families in Korea, and my mom and dad became surrogate grandparents to the Shin children. My parents were very fond of the Shins—and the Shins were very fond of them.

For a month or so, President Shin has been writing me saying “I want to visit your parents’ graves. When can we go together?” Each time, I’ve said I’m available almost anytime, just let me know.

Last night, I got an email message from President Shin saying “let’s go to the cemetery Tuesday (today) at 5 p.m.” He said “let’s go in your car and you can drop me off at the MTC after for the devotional tonight.” I said “great.”

We had a good visit on the way to Springville and on the way back to Provo. I put flowers on my parents graves—and we stood there for about 20 minutes, reminiscing about my parents and what good people they were. President Shin said “they would be (they are) very proud of Michael.” I agreed and said “they would be so happy that Michael is serving his mission in Korea.”

At the MTC, I dropped off President Shin in front of the main building (well, just south of the main building). As I was preparing to leave, I looked and saw Michael waving at me. He and his companion were out on the lawn, waiting for time for the devotional. So, I pulled over and parked the car next to the curb. I got out, waved him over, gave him a big hug, and greeted his companion. I told him how much we enjoyed his emails and that we could tell he was loving it and doing a great job. He had the chance to look inside my new car and admire it. I told him how jealous his mother and sisters were going to be when they heard I had seen and hugged him. He said “I love you—and tell the family I love them.” And I departed, not wanting to overdo the chance meeting.

What a great thing for me to get to see my missionary son briefly and to give him a hug before he goes to Korea in 13 days!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Letter from Elder Rife~May 24, 2010

Hello Everyone!

Less than two weeks left and I will be in South Korea! I'm so excited. I'm supposed to get my travel plans on Thursday then I will know when my flight is. I think that I will be leaving on June 6th, which is a Monday, but I'm not positive yet. So I will let you know next week what time I fly out and what time I will be calling home. I'm guessing that I'll get to call when I get to the SLC airport, but that I will have more time at the LA airport or something since I will be waiting for our flight to Korea. I'm so excited!

It's gonna be amazing to actually start my mission. It's weird that English-speaking missionaries who came in on the same day as me have already been doing real missionary work for 9 weeks. I'm definitely ready to do the work. It's gonna be crazy walking up to Koreans on the streets of Seoul and trying to stop them for long enough to get them to feel the Spirit testify of the things that I say to them. I'm sooo excited. It's gonna be so much fun to just walk around and talk to people; even if we get rejected, which we probably will a lot of the time since the people in Seoul are so business oriented and busy.

This last week I was getting pretty frustrated with the language. I felt like I wasn't making as much progress as I could. Yesterday was a really good day for me though. I felt like I learned a lot and I started to feel like my Korean was really progressing. We taught a progressive investigator yesterday in Korean and I said everything that I wanted to say in Korean. At one point I stopped talking and realized that I was speaking Korean and saying what I wanted to. It was weird. I was using grammar forms I hadn't even practiced yet and was speaking fairly fluently. It felt really good. I still have soooo much progress that I need to make though for me to be effective when I get out to Korea. Listening to the native Koreans speak always scares me a little. They speak so fast and sometimes I understand everything they say and other times I understand nothing they say. It's definitely a crazy hard language. One of the Elders in our zone speaks Japanese and he says that Korean is definitely harder. One of our teachers speaks Mandarin too and she says that Korean is harder. I'm definitely grateful that the Lord has enough faith in me to call me to speak the Korean language. Whom the Lord calls He qualifies. He wouldn't call me to speak the Korean language if He didn't know that I could do it.

Last Tuesday we heard from Richard G. Hinckley, President Hinckley's son. He gave a really great talk and then gave us a warning to always have carbon monoxide detectors in our apartments because two missionaries died recently cause they disabled their detectors when they started to chirp. He said that President Monson was devastated and said, "Moms don't send their sons out on missions to die." Which is very true.

He then told us a story about something that his dad had once said. It went like this:
"When our first parents, Adam and Eve, were kicked out of the garden, a few years later Adam took a few of his sons back to the wall surrounding the garden of Eden and hoisted them up and said 'Take a good look boys-- that's where your mother ate us out of house and home.'" -President Hinckley
Pretty funny, huh?

Elder Hinckley talked about a lot of other good stuff too. He told Elders to try to stop acting like we're "cool." We walk around with nametags and suits on. We aren't cool anymore, haha. He also said to live your life so that at the end of the day in your journal you can write "I'm so glad I did..." instead of "I wish I did..."

This last week in class we watched a talk given by Elder Holland at the MTC from about ten years ago. It's one of the most powerful talks I've ever heard. Elder Holland was so passionate and even threatened missionaries that he would fight them to keep them on their missions. He constantly repeated the phrase "My mission meant EVERYTHING to me, and yours should mean EVERYTHING to you." I'll write down a few of the things I wrote down from his talk...

-Love everything. Good times and bad, and hard times. Embrace every minute of my mission.
-God's greatest gift to a 19 year old is the opportunity to serve a mission, to struggle and learn how to be a man.
-Plan now to look back and talk about the love and effect of my mission.
-Plan now for the stories my children will ask me about my mission.
-"We do missionaries a disservice if we ask anything from them but their best." -Heber C. Kimball
-Obedience is the first law of EVERYTHING.
-The most important thing we will ever do is participate in the salvation of another soul.
-It's showtime. Grow up and be a good missionary.
-Be bigger and better and older and bolder than you've ever been.
-We will do it God's way or it doesn't get done.
-After I've been the best I've ever been I will receive the greatest reward I've ever received.
-Why are missions so hard? Because salvation isn't a cheap experience! It was never meant to be easy and it never was. It will never be easy. Salvation was not painless for the Savior. How dare I ask to not do anything hard after the Savior performed the Atonement.
-We need to be able to come home and bear testimony at the pulpit at the close of our mission and say that we have suffered a small portion of what Christ suffered.

Lots of good stuff!

I've been thinking a lot about if my dad gets a chance to come to Korea for business in the next 22 months. I think that it would be such an amazing experience to get to teach an investigator about the gospel in Korean with my dad. I don't think too many people get an opportunity like that and I think it would be an amazing memory.

Anyway, that's about all I've got to say for this last week. Thanks for all of the letters and emails and prayers! 2 more weeks and I will be in South Korea!

Love you all!

-Elder Rife

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Letter from Elder Rife~May17, 2010

20 days from now I will be in Korea! Thank goodness. I'm soo excited to go. I've loved the MTC and it really is a great place but I'm definitely ready to go. Hopefully I can learn a lot more in the next 3 weeks though.

So last night we got 14 native Korean missionaries! Twelve of them are elders and 2 are sisters; 6 are going to Seoul, 4 to Daejeon, and 4 to Pusan. They are so cool. We spent about 45 minutes yesterday meeting all of them and just speaking Korean with them. I'm always surprised that I am able to understand them and communicate with them so well, but at the same time I feel like I have so much to learn. We get to spend these last three weeks with them and then when we go to Korea we go with all of them. I'm really excited to get to know them better and to practice my Korean with native Korean-speakers.

Last week's TRC went pretty well. Every Saturday right before the TRC I feel so unprepared even though we've been practicing all week for it. I always feel so inadequate. But I guess that's how a mission goes. You can never be as prepared as you need to be, but you trust in the Lord and do your best and He will compensate for what you aren't capable of. I've definitely felt of that as I've been here and I'm sure I will feel more of it when I get out into the field.

It was last Tuesday that we got to meet with Elder Neil L. Andersen. At 5:30 we went to the front lobby of the MTC and waited for him and his family to arrive. They came in and we got to meet all of them and talk to them for a while. We talked with Elder Andersen for about fifteen minutes and he asked us to tell him where we are from and where we are going to be serving. He's a really cool guy and it was awesome to get to speak with him personally without 2000 other missionaries around. He said he was just recently in Korea and that he loves it there. He asked if we had been there and I told him that I had lived there because my dad was a mission president there. His grandkids were 15 and 13 years old. We took them to dinner and talked to them about the MTC and about being missionaries. Then I got a brief update on the playoffs because both of his grandkids play basketball. We took them to the devotional and sat on the front row with them while Elder Andersen spoke. I don't have time to write what he spoke about but he talked about the merits, mercies, and grace of Christ. It was a really cool talk and I felt like I learned so much. It was awesome.

Anyway, besides that not much else happened this week. I've been studying hard and trying to learn the language better! I also found out that when I get pictures developed I can just get them put on a cd that I can send home. I can also put videos on it! So I'll send back some pictures and hopefully a video or two that can be put up here on the blog. Maybe of us speaking Korean or something.

Thanks so much for all the support! I love you all.

-Elder Rife

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Letter from Elder Rife~May 10, 2011

Less than a month from now I will be in Seoul, South Korea! I'm sooo excited.

Well, let's see. It was another great week. We got 12 new missionaries on Wednesday–8 Elders and 4 Sisters. We were so excited to get them because our branch was so small ever since our older group left for Korea. They are really cool and seem really dedicated to what they are doing. I recognized one of the Elders who came in from Hawaii. He lived in the same Hale (dormitory) as I did. So that was pretty cool. I've seen so many people from BYU Hawaii and from high school in the MTC. It's been really cool to talk to all the people I know and see where they are going to serve.

On Wednesday I got the opportunity to host some new missionaries. I didn't get to host any of our new missionaries but I hosted some native Japanese missionaries and a few sister missionaries. You can definitely tell that they are pretty nervous and it's weird think that I was in their position about seven weeks ago. It was fun though to get out of class for a little bit and get to help new missionaries and give them advice. Wednesday night we showed our new missionaries around and helped them out. Then on Thursday my companion and I went to their meeting and talked to them for about an hour about companionship inventory and things like that and bore our testimonies. Then we took them on a tour of the MTC so that they could know where everything is. Next week we get about 15 native Koreans! I'm really excited. We'll have a full branch and we'll have such a good opportunity to practice our Korean.

Last week's TRC visit was better than the week previous. But there is still so much room for improvement. I'm always surprised at how much I know how to say, but there is still so much that I want to say that I don't know how to. It's frustrating when you are in the heat of the moment and you feel like you need to say something but you can find the words to say it. It's comforting to think about how much progress I've made in the last four weeks and how much more I will learn in the next four weeks.

I've been thinking a lot about "repetition in learning." Throughout the scriptures the doctrine/gospel of Christ is mentioned by each prophet. Why? Because it is so important! Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. God is telling us how we can return to Him and one day be like Him. Anything we ever want to get good at takes lots and lots of repetition, for example, weight lifting, running, basketball, football, etc. You get better at something by doing it. You learn something well by hearing it several times.. That's why the Lord is repeating things.

So yesterday my companion and I were called to President Brown's (the Mission President of the MTC) office. When we got there we noticed that Sister Lund and Sister Allen (coordinating sisters for the Korean Zone and in my district) were in President Brown's office too. We thought we were in trouble for something so we were kinda nervous. President Brown then told us that he had something that he wanted us to do. He said that Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve would be speaking to us Tuesday night in our devotional and that he would be bringing his grandchildren. He asked us if we'd be willing to take Elder Andersen's grandchildren with us to dinner and then take them to the devotional where we would sit on the front row. We also get the opportunity to meet Elder Andersen tonight at 5:30 before we take his grandchildren to dinner. So I'm pretty excited! We get to meet him personally before we take his grandkids with us to dinner tonight, then to the devotional. President Brown told us not to tell anyone. So we're the only ones in the MTC right now who know that we will be hearing from an apostle of the Lord tonight. Kinda cool. President Brown also told me to go get a haircut today before we meet Elder Andersen and to make sure I look my best. I'm pretty excited! I'll let you all know how it went in next week's email.

Just wanted to say thank you so much for the packages and all the support from my family! I get so excited to hear from each one of you and to get to write you all back. Thank you so much for the prayers in my behalf and for all that you do for me. This week is gonna be a really great week and I'll make sure and write more about it in next week's email. I love you all!

-Elder Rife

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Letter from Elder Rife~May 3, 2011

Sorry last week's email came so late! We had our new schedule and I didn't get a chance to be on a computer for a long time. The rest of my emails while I'm at the MTC will be coming at this time.

This last week was really good. I felt like we made more progress last week than we have in any other week so far. It was definitely a lonely week, though, since the older donggi left last week. It has just been the 15 of us for the last 8 days or so. We are getting 12 new missionaries tomorrow; my companion and I will have to give them an orientation. Starting in the next week or two we will also be hosting new missionaries as they come in on Wednesdays which should be fun. Our classroom window looks out at the front of the MTC so it's fun to watch the new missionaries come in and think about how I felt when I was coming in to the MTC. It seems like it was sooooo long ago but at the same time it feels like it was like yesterday. It's a weird feeling.

Last Tuesday we had another apostle give our devotional; this time it was Elder Oaks. He was amazing! He talked a lot about the spirit and gave us a lot of good advice. I forgot to bring my notes to the computer lab with me so I can't share some of the things he said, but my favorite thing he said was, "The Lord helps those who help themselves." I think this is so true. The Lord isn't going to help someone who doesn't even put forth the effort to try. When we take things into our own hands and put forth all of our effort the Lord will make up for that which we cannot do (which is usually a lot). I hope that another apostle comes tonight!

Last Saturday we taught the first lesson in Korean in the TRC. I was a little bit worried to teach a whole lesson that is hard to teach in English, in Korean. We rely so much more on the scriptures and on the Spirit when we teach in another language. I am so thankful that I get to learn Korean and teach the people of Korea in their own language. Going stateside would be cool too, but I am seriously so glad that I'm going to Korea. It's amazing how if you put forth your faith and effort that the Lord will help you out and never leave you hangin'.

When we went into the TRC I was trying not to memorize phrases because I want to be able to make my own sentences and "teach people, not lessons." Once we actually got teaching it was amazing how we could say the things we wanted to say. Sometimes is wasn't pretty; the sentences were sloppy and we had to use our hands to describe things. But we got our message across.

We're at the halfway mark now. Which means pretty much everything we do from this point on is going to be in Korean. We're supposed to take the Korean words we learn and replace the English word so that we remember the Korean one. We're supposed to use Korean whenever we can. Our zone has decided to have a couple days a week where we try to have Korean SYL days (Speak Your Language). Before they were calling them English fasts but then everyone would just be quiet and not say anything so my companion and I decided that we will call them Korean days. But if you need to use English you can. We want to set a good example for the younger group when they get here tomorrow.

Not much else to say about this last week. One of the Elders in my district broke his ankle and has to get surgery. He might have to go home for a few weeks and come back and leave with the younger donggi. If so, then it's definitely a bummer. He broke it playing volleyball. I would hate to be in his situation right now. We're just getting used to being away from everything and now he has to go back to his family, then leave them again. We find out today or tomorrow exactly what's going to happen.

Yesterday, I saw David Hayden here on the MTC campus. My dad knows him and I've gotten to know him in the last few months so I stopped him and talked to him for a while. He pulled out his cell phone and asked what my home phone number was. After I told him he said he was going to call them as he left and tell them that I'm doing well. Right after he started walking away I saw him put his phone up to his ear and as he got back into his car I could see him talking to someone from my house (my mom, I think). Then he gave me a thumbs up and kept talking to them. It was weird that he was like fifteen feet away from me and was talking to my family! I'm thankful that I haven't really been homesick since I got here. I was a little bit in the first week but ever since then I haven't been homesick. Even when David was on the phone with my family I wasn't homesick. Not to say I don't miss you all, because I really do miss you all so much! But I am happy where I am and I'll be back with you soon enough. It will be so good to get to talk to you on the phone in six weeks when I'm at the airport. I can't wait to go back to Korea!

Anyway, thanks so much for everything. Thanks for the Easter packages and all the letters and DearElders. It's so amazing to hear from everyone and to hear what you are doing back home. I hope everything is going well. You are all in my prayers! I love you!

-Elder Rife