Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Photos from Korea~March 26, 2012

[War Memorial Building in Yongsan.]

 [The border.]

 [Me and brother Yoo.]

[On the North Korean side; South Korean soldier, though.]


 [Our group.]

 [One of our guides; he's Australian and lives in Il-san.]

 [Riot in Seoul.]


 [Us with Harley.]

 [Brother Kim.]

 [Getting smoothies.]

 [Me and 박정하.]

Monday, March 26, 2012

Letter from Elder Rife~March 26, 2012

Hit the year mark! So crazy. It's been such an amazing year! I don't have a lot of time right now because we have to head into Seoul today for an activity so this email might not be too long.

Last week was great! Last Monday we went all the way back to my greenie area on the other side of Seoul to get some weights that other missionaries weren't using. Then we carried them all the way home. It was quite the trip but I look forward to the short time I have each morning to exercise and I needed more weight so that I can a good workout.

On Tuesday we went to the DMZ with our investigator 유재무 and his wife and their friends (who are members of the church). We got permission from the Assistants to the President to go with them and we had so much fun! It was awesome to get to go back there (I went when I lived in Korea before) and to go all the way up to the border and everything. They even let you go over the border a little bit so that you can say that you've been to North Korea. Te best part was that Brother Yoo was a captain in the Korean military and has a lot of friends still in the military so we got a VIP tour, which means that we never had to wait for anything and we had escorts everywhere we went. It was awesome! After that we went all the way back to Seoul for my companion to get another procedure done on his mouth. Tuesday night we met with Harley Hall one last time before he left to California. He took us to a place called Dino Meat. It's an all you can eat meat buffet and it was sooo good! I'm pretty sure we almost put them out of business.

Wednesday we had house inspections at our house (we passed with flying colors) and then we had district meeting in Il-san. Since the house inspections went long we ended up only being able to have a 20 minute long district meeting. After that I went on exchanges in Bulgwang with Elder Nye. He goes home this week so it was fun to be with him in his last week and get to do missionary work with someone who is experienced.

Thursday we had a zone blitz activity but we had to leave early because we had to go to the dentist again (and we have to go again tomorrow). By the time we had finished all our travelling we were barely home in time to have dinner and plan for the next day.

Friday we got to go out to eat with 이강원 and we talked to him a lot about how the Book of Mormon can answer all of our questions. He has been meeting with Jehovah's witness missionaries too lately so his baptismal date dropped. He didn't come to church yesterday either. But we will continue to meet with him and help prepare him for baptism. After that we met up with Chris and Sister Chae. We haven't been able to meet with them for a long time so it was good so see them again! They told us that they are going to move to Virginia, so we are going to try to finish teaching Sister Chae and get her baptized before they go then the missionaries in Virginia can teach Chris. After that we went all the way to the church and met with Brother Yoo again. He showed us lots of pictures from our trip to the DMZ and we talked with him about 1 Nephi 4. He is definitely one of my favorite investigators. I'm not sure if you should have favorites but he's my favorite. He's soo cool.

On Saturday we met with 김승표 and went and ate McDonalds then got smoothies after. He's seriously like the funniest guy ever. We had so much fun with him. He's doing really well too and he's getting ready to be baptized on April 7th or 8th. I'm so excited! Saturday night we had English class then we met with 박성민. He's been super busy lately with school and he's the leader of some study group so he's way busy. He now has a class on Sunday mornings so he can't come to church.. But we are going to try to meet with him and his parents this week then try to get them all to church this weekend.

Yesterday church was great! 김승표 was the only one that came, though. He loved it and then he took us out to eat after. After that we met with 박정하 and ate Chinese food then went to his house and sang hymns. He doesn't have a lot of interest in the church but he loves to sing hymns.  We are praying that sometime he will have a little interest so that we can start teaching more.

It was a really good week! We had lots of little things that got in the way of meeting with lots of our investigators though. The dentist definitely got in the way but there's nothing we can do about that. It's so crazy that I have been out for a year now. I'm so thankful for the time that I have to serve the Lord and I am looking forward to the next year of my full time missionary service! Love you all!

-Elder Rife

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Photos from Korea~March 19, 2012

[Us with Harley Hall at VIPS.] 

 [Outside VIPS.]

[Family Night.]

Letter from Elder Rife~March 19, 2012

Alright! We had a great week last week as usual. I realize I start every email and end each email practically the same. It might be due to the fact that as my Korean skills increase (slowly) my English skills decrease (rapidly). I'm sorry if you read my emails and notice a lot of different grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes.

Last week was good. We had lots of things come up that interfered with the work. But they were unavoidable. On Tuesday I was with Elder Olson. We did exchanges in our district and he came to Il-san. It was such a fun exchange. He and I have known each other since I got to country so it was fun to get to serve with him for a day. He goes home next transfer so it was fun to get to learn from someone who is so far into his mission. All four of our appointments dropped on Tuesday so that was kind of a bummer. We ended up visiting members and calling former investigator records for a while and it was a lot of fun!

On Wednesday we had district meeting in Il-san! We did something that I have wanted to do for a while. I gave everyone in the district one of the Christlike attributes to speak on and we each spoke at district meeting for about ten minutes. It was great! I like when everyone has a chance to talk and to share their testimony. The spirit was so strong and we all learned from each other so it was a success. I gave out all the topics and the last one left was virtue so I figured it was meant for me. Virtue is so important as a missionary! There are so many things out in the world that try to make us take our minds off of God and missionary work but if we are virtuous then we can reject those thoughts and "let virtue garnish our thoughts." And if virtue garnishes our thoughts then we can be confident standing in front of the Lord. What a great promise!

After district meeting I went with Elder Hatch back to his area, 녹번. He and I were together in the MTC so it was fun to get to serve with each other. He's such a diligent missionary! I had such a fun exchange with him and it was fun for us to reflect on the last year of our missionary service.

Thursday morning we all got up early and met at a subway station to re-exchange. Then Elder Dorrough and I had to go to 신당 for a leadership training meeting. It was really good! Long, but good. They talked about not being trunky and about using the scriptures to answer the questions of the soul. We definitely learned a lot! And since 신당 is so far away it took most of the rest of the day to get back home so that was about all we did that day besides meet with one of our investigators for a little while.

Friday we had 3 appointments set up and we were really excited but then Elder Dorrough started having some swelling in his mouth from a root canal that he had in his last area. We went to 광화문 to a dentist and got it looked at. We have to go back next Tuesday so he can get another root canal and some other stuff done that I can't really remember, but please pray for Elder Dorrough!

Saturday we met with a guy named Harley Hall. He's Korean but was raised in New York and California. He's totally American. He was baptized in California last year and loves to be with missionaries. He came to Korea last week on business so he called us and took us to VIPS to get steak. He's sooo cool! His conversion story was really amazing. So we spent a lot of time with him on Saturday and then he came to the church after English class and taught 김수연 and 장혁수 with us. He speaks English like a New Yorker and speaks Korean practically fluently too. He just kept asking me gospel vocabulary though cause he didn't know them in Korean.

Sunday was great! Harley came to church with us. 이강원 came to church and 김승표 came to church too! Brother Lee talked a lot with 한인상 who was an old member of the quorom of the 70. It was really good for him and Brother Han did a great job fellowshipping. Elder Dorrough and I split up and I went with Brother Kim and he went with Brother Lee. I taught Brother Kim about the plan of salvation and a little bit about the gospel. We set his baptismal date for April 1st! And he's going to ask his brother to baptize him. His brother is less active now but maybe he will become active after he baptizes his brother.

Sunday night we had dinner with a member in our ward and Harley came. It was such a great night and we talked all about the gospel. It was so much fun!

Last week was great! This week we will be super busy because we have so many appointments and activities with our zone. It's crazy how fast time goes by when you are busy. It's scary that after this week my mission will be halfway over. I'm just trying not to think about that. I just want to focus and make the most of my time without worrying about it. Anyway, thanks for all the support and love and prayers! I love you all!

Elder Rife

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Photos from Korea~March 12, 2012

 {Us with brother KangwonLee and our members.}

[English class.]

 [Me and Elder Dorrough emailing.]

[I still like lifting.]

[Shake weight (that Elder Rife got for his birthday).]

Letter from Elder Rife~March 12, 2012

Last week was probably the biggest miracle week in a long time!! It was such an awesome week for us here.

On Tuesday we met with the two grandmas, 조명옥 and 소춘애. We took a mini DVD player with us and we watched the Restoration DVD with them. It was really good and they both enjoyed the movie. We talked a lot about the priesthood and then we talked about baptism. We invited both of them to be baptized and they both said no. 소춘애 knows that our church is true and she loves our church but she said that she can't be baptized because she has a lot of friends at her other church and that if she leaves that church all of her friends will be mad at her. So we talked about Nephi and how when God asked him to do something hard he did it and was blessed but she said she doesn't want to do it. We were really sad but we will continue to meet with them a few more times and really try to help her to have the faith to be baptized. They can't meet until next transfer though so we're sad about that.

On Wednesday we had combined district meeting where we talked a lot about extending commitments and we did role playing teaching and extending the baptismal commitment. It was way fun. Then we had a zone blitz! We were in an area in our zone that is having a hard time finding investigators to teach. We had the whole zone there doing different finding activities for 4 hours. It was really fun and I got to go with a lot of other missionaries. We found many cool people for the missionaries there to teach. We then had a testimony meeting and were on our way back to Il-san.
Wednesday night we had dinner with two members and our investigator 이강원. Our members were sooo great! They taught him so much and answered a lot of his questions and he committed to continue learning and to be baptized. It was such a spiritual experience for me to hear the members bear their powerful testimonies of the gospel. Then Elder Dorrough and I each took turns bearing our testimonies in not-as-good Korean. It was such a great night for 이강원.

On Thursday we met with 김수연. She is still doing great! We meet with her to help her with English but she is reading the Book of Mormon like crazy! She and her husband are doing really well and we got to talk to them on Saturday night (after English class) about baptism and why it's important. We also talked to them about the word of wisdom. They were so surprised that we don't drink coffee or alcohol.

On Friday we met with 이강원 again and he had one of his friends with him. Her name is 하선송. He is teaching her English and she really wanted to meet us so she stayed at his house till we got there to teach him. She had heard a lot of really really weird stuff about Mormon missionaries from her preacher and so she wanted to meet us to see if it was true. Then after she met us she loved us! We talked a lot about the Book of Mormon with her and then she was telling 이강원 about how much she liked our church and that they should go together! We were super pumped. But then for some reason they didn't end up coming to church so we were kinda bummed. But we'll talk to them both again tomorrow so hopefully we can get them to church this week!

On Saturday we met a new investigator named 양순호. He came and picked us up and took us to McDonalds. He then took us to his house because his father really wanted to meet with us. His father heard about our church because of Mitt Romney and so he called our church building but nobody answered. Our ward mission leader found the message on the answering machine and called him and got his information so that we could meet with him. The father is in a wheelchair and has some bad disease. He loved having us over and we picked him and his wife up as investigators. We are going to go back to their house next Saturday and eat with them and teach them more about the Book of Mormon. I'm so excited!
We also had English class on Saturday night. It went really well and we had a lot of people there. We split into two classes, one for the little kids and one for the adults. I love English class lately because almost everyone who comes is an investigator so it's a really good opportunity for us to teach them about the gospel and practice English with them.

Sunday was the best day ever!! I sent a picture last week of me and a kid named 박상민 that we met and picked up last week. Well he came to church and he brought his mom with him. Apparently his father attended our church a couple of times 35 years ago and likes our church. So when 상민 said that he met Mormon missionaries and asked if he could come to church his father said "Go!" We took him up to the young mens class and sent his mom with the Relief Society. 상민 loved the class and he's sooo close with all of the young men in the class. He was marking up his scriptures and asking questions and stuff. It was awesome! 

Then while we were in there our ward mission leader came and grabbed me and told me there was an old investigator downstairs that said he wanted to be baptized. So we went downstairs and met with him. His name is 김승표; he's 39. I visited his brother a couple of times because he has been less active lately and I actually ran into him one time when I tried to visit his brother. He decided that he wants to learn more about the gospel and wants to be baptized. So we taught him about the Book of Mormon and watched the Restoration movie with him. We bore our testimonies to him and then set a date for March 25th. We can only meet him on Sundays but we know that he can be prepared by that day! We're going to try to set that same date with 상민 and his mom. So everyone please pray for that day! We could have 3 people baptized that week. We could have 4 if 이강원 starts coming to church. 

After church we met with 박정하 again. He doesn't have a lot of interest in our church right now but he loves to sing hymns. So we have been going to his house and singing our church hymns with him. He's really talented at the guitar and piano. I recorded some of us singing and will send them in a few minutes. I don't have a good singing voice so i'm sorry.

Anyway things are going amazing here in Il-san! Thanks so much for your prayers and support!!

I love you all!

-Elder Rife

Monday, March 5, 2012

Photos from Korea~March 5, 2012

 [Me & Elder Boyer & Elder Lee; they are companions now.]

 [Part of our district; we found these costumes at the Church.]

 [Me & Elder Dorrough.]

[Me & Elder Dorrough.] 


Letter from Korea~March 5, 2012

Hi everyone! This last week was so much fun. Well most of it; I'll explain more later.

Tuesday we had temple day, which is always the best because I love to go to the temple. We did a session and then afterwards we went out to eat with my Korean Grandpa, Bishop Cho and his wife Sister Lee. They took us to a really good Chinese place near the temple that they go to every week. It's always fun for me to go out with my Korean grandparents and talk to them and hear them talk about my family. They worry a lot about my mom and ask me a lot of questions about how my family is doing and about what they can do for my family. They are such amazing people! After we ate with them we went to DongDaeMoon to do some shopping. Elder Dorrough and I got companionship sweaters and some other things. It was fun and we went with a bunch of other missionaries. I don't really like shopping all that much but shopping in Korea is fun for some reason. ha.

On Wednesday we had district meeting in Il-san. I hate to make everyone travel to our area but it's nice to just wake up and study then head over to our church. The other areas are pretty far from us so it was nice to not have to travel really far away for district meeting. I did a training on being humble, about how humility can lead us to the other Christlike attributes. It went really well and I think everyone got something out of it. After that we went down to another part of our area and ate Kimchi-jjim, which is like kimchi soup but spicier and there is more meat. It was all-you-can-eat so I ate sooooooo much! Here's where things went downhill a little bit. I haven't been eating lots of Korean food lately since we have a Costco and I've been trying to put back on a little weight so my body hasn't been accustomed to lots and lots of Kimchi. After we ate all of the kimchi-jjim I was feeling okay, super full though. We then had exchanges with our zone leaders and I went to Sinchon, which is where the temple is. That night I was feeling a little under the weather.. So we got home and I just got ready for bed and got in bed. Then I woke up at 1 in the morning and didn't get to go back to sleep again. I was in the bathroom the whole night; I was soooo sick! Being sick away from home really is the worst, but this time I was sick away from my real home and away from my missionary home! On Thursday we made it back to our house, miraculously. I laid down on my Yo (fold-out mattress) and didn't move for almost 20 hours. I started feeling better on Friday morning but I felt really weak and super small. haha. I hadn't had anything to eat or drink in two days, so I started drinking gatorade and ate a few pieces of bread.

On Friday we met with Brother Lee Kang Won and we talked more with him about the Law of Chastity. We committed him to keeping it and told him that we would help him and any way we can. We're going to meet with him again tonight for dinner and we plan to talk to him more about faith and diligence. In 1 Nephi 2:19 it talks about Nephi and about how he got his answers from God, through faith, diligence, and lowliness of heart. We want to talk to Brother Lee about those things tonight.

On Friday we also met with Sister Kim SooYeon. Our member didn't come then so we couldn't really meet with her since we didn't have another man with us. We shared a quick message with her and then we ended the lesson shorter than usual.

Saturday was by far the best day! We had all of the young men meet us in one of the busiest parts of our area and we streetboarded with them and their leaders. It was soooo fun! Elder Dorrough and I would switch off with the young men and we would start contacting someone then have the young men bear their testimonies of the Book of Mormon. It was so powerful. Each one of them gave away a Book of Mormon and we set up 9 new appointments and talked to 80 people! We also brought a less-active member with us and he was excited to proselyte too. I think he hasn't been coming to church because he doesn't feel close with anyone. We really want him to come back to church though. After streetboarding we went to the church and had the best English class we've had since I've been here. We actually had people there! All of them except one were investigators too! After the English time we started talking about the Book of Mormon and we asked Eddie what he thought about the Book of Mormon and he bore such a powerful testimony. He said he knows it's true and knows our church is true but can't become a member yet because his wife doesn't like our church. We're still trying to make a plan to help get his wife on board with the church.

When I was on exchanges with the zone leaders, Elder Dorrough and one of our zone leaders found a sweet kid. He came to English class and he's awesome! He then stayed with us and did the youth game night with all our youth. It was perfect! Now he is way close with our youth. His name is 박상민 he's 17.

Sunday was good! Sister Kim SooYeon and her husband came to church to hear Elder Dorrough and I bear our testimonies in Korean. She's doing really well and is reading the Book of Mormon really fast. We just need to have some fellowshippers help her and her husband out at church! After church we went and met with a new investigator named 박정하. He lives super close to us and is really good at English. We went over to his house and talked for a while and talked about the Book of Mormon and why we came on missions. it was really fun and we are excited to keep meeting with him. He has two kids and is a computer engineer. He actually works in Bundang near where I used to live. 

Sunday night we ate dinner with our bishop's family. They are super fun to be with! There was just one problem: we ate kimchi-jjim. So that was kinda hard for me to eat and now I'm slightly sick again ha. But it was really fun. We had an amazing week this week and I am so thankful to be a missionary right now! I wish everyone could have the experiences that I am having. We meet so many cool people each week and we talk to so many amazing people on the street. I've been thinking a lot lately about the whole "no effort wasted" thing. A lot of missionaries in Korea get discouraged when they get rejected a lot but I've been thinking about how none of our efforts are wasted because we don't know what will happen. Maybe the person that rejected us will be baptized years from now and will be thankful for our efforts. Plus we are experiencing a change in ourselves as missionaries as we go out and testify to people about the restored gospel. It's such an amazing work and I'm so glad to be a part of it.

Thanks for all your support! Love you all!

-Elder Rife