Monday, October 29, 2012

Photos from Korea~October 29, 2012

[Sister Park, our investigator, and me.]

[Me and Elder Kim.]

[Halloween party.]

[Seoul sunset with Seoul South Tower in the background.]


[Watching The District.]

[Giving blood.]

Letter from Elder Rife~October 29, 2012

Hey everyone!

So I really don't have too much time this week because we have spent 2 hours to day trying to find a place to email and couldn't find one so we got permission to use our church's computer. But there's only one computer and we both have to email. It's been the worst in this area trying to find somewhere to email each week. 

Last Monday we had a big get together at the church right next to our house with a lot of missionaries who were going home. It was fun to see a lot of my friends in the mission one last time before they went home. It's kinda crazy how soon it will be that I have to go home. It's scary! I need to make the most of my time left. Monday night we had an appointment and then we did a family night activity with the Dongdaemun elders. We also got transfer calls that night as well. Everyone in my house left except for me. Elder Hatch left to a new area to train and Elder Rhodes left and is now companions with Elder Doman. Elder Hone went to Kangnam.

My new companion is Elder Kim Jae Kyum. He's super funny. He's one year older than me and has already done his military service. He's from the Southern part of Korea and has an accent so sometimes it's hard to understand what he says since I have a Seoul accent in Korean. But he's teaching me the dialect from Taegu, where he's from. It's way funny! The other Elders in our house are Elder Olsen (who is my younger group from the MTC) and his new missionary, Elder Moon. Elder Moon is also from the South part of the country and he and my companion are good friends. It's way fun in our house! They also made me district leader again. 

It's weird how little time I have left. Lately I'm really just trying to learn as much as I can and work as hard as I possibly can for the last part of my mission. If I decide to come home the 3 week early transfer then I will be back in 4 months. I still am not sure what I'm going to do but President Christensen told me to wait longer and continue to pray about it, so that's what I'll do!

Since I'm short on time I'll just mention one of our investigators, Sister Park, the one who was a pastor for a really long time. I feel like she is the reason that I stayed in this area. She has been making a lot of progress lately. She has many deep questions and last time we met with her she talked about what happens to us after we die but before we are resurrected. So we talked to her about Alma 40 and she was amazed that we had information on that and made the resolution to read more of the Book of Mormon. I have a really good relationship with her and she really trusts me and so I hope that we can continue to help her to read the Book of Mormon more and study more about the Restoration. I really think that she was the person that I was sent here to find. Please pray for her!

My companion is good and it's been really fun to be with him. It's been a change from being with another American 24/7 but it's been really fun. It's amazing how we can just speak Korean to each other. It's weird how natural it feels to be speaking another language.

On Sunday I was feeling really tired and we had been punked so much throughout the week that I was slightly discouraged. I prayed and asked God to help pick me up and help me to keep going and do the Lord's work happily. Then as we were sitting in church (I was on the stand because I was blessing the sacrament) I looked out at all the members and just felt so much love. Then as we partook of the sacrament I could feel the spirit so strong and was so thankful for the Lord helping lift me up. I think that's what sacrament meeting is all about, just lifting our spirits and feeling the Holy Ghost and recommitting to follow Jesus Christ. I love church so much! 

I've been thinking a lot about sanctification lately and what it takes to be sanctified. To overcome the world and be a true disciple. I love the word sanctification. Being pure and clean, a state of saintliness, a personal reward that follows personal righteousness. I thought of the prophet and apostles and the seventies. I remembered when I met with Elder Ringwood and had my interview with him. Our leaders in the church really have overcome the world. I want to be like that too. I feel like my mission has really changed my nature as a person and that I just have completely different desires than I used to.. That's what it's all about. 

I love this work and the gospel!

Thanks for all of your support and love and prayers!

-Elder Rife

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Photos from Korea~October 22, 2012

Letter from Elder Rife~October 22, 2012

Hi everyone! I don't have too much time to email right now so I'll try to write as much as I can about what happened last week. I have a bunch of pictures to send but at the place where we are emailing there is only one computer that has a usb port and there is a guy using it and it doesn't seem like he's gonna leave anytime soon. But if he does I'll send all the pictures. We have transfer calls tonight and I kinda feel like I might be leaving. But if not then I will probably stay here and train again. There are 16 new missionaries coming in and tons of trainers are needed. It's gonna be pretty crazy though. I've tried to not think about transfers too much though.

Last week we couldn't really meet with very many of our investigators because either they had something come up or we had some kind of meeting or activity. So Monday night we went out and proselyted and visited a member. Then on Tuesday we had Elder Hone's pass off all morning, which he finished! I'm glad he got pass off done and can now have an opportunity to be a senior companion. It will be really good for him to be a young missionary but also have to lead other missionaries. I'm way proud of him for working so hard and passing off! Tuesday afternoon we had a zone blitz finding activity but it was kinda rainy. It was fun though and we talked to a lot of people. Then we had English class at night.

Wednesday we had a blood donating activity. In order to do it you had to have been in country or at least a year. So Elder Hatch and I went in the morning. I pumped out a pint in 2 and a half minutes! They were really surprised at how fast I gave blood. After they finished everything I got up and told them I was dizzy in Korean and they freaked out and were trying to help me stand and everything. Then when I told them it was a joke they kinda laughed but kinda didn't. haha, it was funny. We spent some time with other missionaries that had served in I-mun because they had travelled a long way for the blood drive and wanted to see I-mun one last time before going home. It was way fun to be with them in I-mun and visit some investigators with them. After that Elder Hone and I went out and met with Kevin and then with Brother Kim (the one who has learned all about our church but doesn't believe Joseph Smith's story). It was a really good night and we good lessons with both of them. Kevin has sooo many questions and so we are having him read out of the Book of Mormon and pray and are teaching him to his questions. Then we tried to have a spiritual night with Brother Kim rather than arguing about religions. We talked for a while and then felt to share Ether 12:27 with him. He doesn't really like the Book of Mormon but he loved that scripture and said it felt like it was directed toward him.

Thursday we had a follow-up meeting for trainers and new missionaries. There are tons of missionaries going home this transfer and they all gave their last words/testimonies to us at that meeting. It was cool to hear from each of them about what they have learned on their missions. After that we went to KyungHee university and met with Brother Han and talked to him about the restoration and told him about so that he could see the new Korean website and try to find more answers to his questions. Then we visited a member on the way home. I love the members here soooo much!!

Friday we went to a college in the afternoon to streetboard and it was right during a huge festival and seriously there were thousands of people. It was sooo fun! We talked to tons of people and they were all so excited to see us. It was awesome. We picked up a new investigator on Friday night, Brother Kimbusuck. He was a college student I talked to like 2 months ago while streetboarding. He's way cool and we're gonna meet him again tonight.

Saturday we had English class and then we taught Sister Hong with one of our members. It was such a good lesson! She's really starting to progress. She's feeling more spiritual things in her life rather than just studying philosophy. She's progressing so much! After that we knocked doors and ate dinner with some members.

On Sunday Elder Hone and I got to speak in church about conference. I talked about being a true Christian. We had two investigators who were going to come to church but both didn't come. :( After church we had companion study and then we knocked some more doors and met with Brother Kim and taught him about the Word of Wisdom. Then we visited a member from North Korea. She's the most amazing member ever.

Anyway, I really gotta go now! I love you all!

-Elder Rife

Monday, October 15, 2012

Letter from Elder Rife~October 15, 2012

Last week was such a good week! And conference was amazing. Seriously it seems like each meeting went by way too fast. It was weird.

Last Monday night we met with Brother Kim. He was progressing really well before but he kind of slowed down a little bit. We taught him about how faith leads us to action and were trying to commit him to act on his faith but he stopped us and told us that since he is 50 and has studied about Bhudda his whole life it's going to take him more time to accept the gospel and he wants more time to read the Book of Mormon before he acts on anything. He also got a new job and is now really busy. Hopefully we can still meet with him regularly and read the Book of Mormon with him and help answer his questions and help him to understand the gospel better.

Last Tuesday we had a pretty funny experience. We were going to go streetboarding at one of the big universities in our area and so us and the Dongdaemun elders took the boards and set everything up. There were seriously hundreds and hundreds of people so we were just talking to everyone and having a good time and then we realized that right across from us on the other side of the road were the Jehovah's Witnesses streetboarding, too. Except their approach was a little bit different than ours. They had really expensive boards and were wearing really nice suits and had smart phones and brief cases. We just had old streetboards and four foreigners trying to speak Korean. It was really fun. We got to talk to them for a little bit and we were really nice to them and wished them the best.

Last Wednesday we had a training meeting where we learned about revelation, specifically 3 kinds of revelation.

1- Revelation compared to turning on a light. As soon as the light comes on you can see everything perfectly. Probably the least common form of revelation.

2- Revelation compared to a sunrise. It comes gradually, little by little until you can see everything clearly.

3- Revelation compared to walking in fog. You can barely see in front of you and as you continue to move forward you can see things little by little.

It was cool for me to think about times in my life where I have looked for an answer and received one and to see which kind of revelation I received. I feel like on my mission one of the hardest things has been my mother's sickness. I've tried to learn everything the Lord wants me to learn. I feel like it is coming the same way as the sunrise. Little by litte I can understand things more until one day (maybe not in this life) I will understand completely why the Lord's timing was the way it was.

Thursday we met with a man named Oliver Williams and had lunch with him. He's a business professor at one of the universities here and we met him at a Subway one day eating. He was also a professor at Notre Dame and knew a Mormon professor there. We ate lunch with him and talked for a while. He is a Catholic priest and so we wanted to learn more about the role his religion has played in his life but we didn't really get there. We also really want to hear his testimony of Christ but we will try to do that next time. He's really great and wants to meet with us weekly so hopefully we can get more into religious stuff next time.

After that we got a call from a random college student who said that he was in a religion class and was studying about religions in the community and saw ours and wanted to interview us. He said they could meet us in 30 minutes so we agreed and met them at the church. It was a guy and two girls. At first it seemed a little awkward for them since they were in our church and weren't expecting us to be Americans but once we got talking everything was good. They just fired off question after question at us about things they didn't understand about our church and about rumors they had heard. They recorded the whole 45 minute long discussion to listen to in their class. So we got to teach the whole first lesson and answer all of their questions and testify and teach about the commandments. The last question they asked was, "Isn't it hard being a missionary in Korea when almost everyone rejects you?" So then I explained that it's different here because many people have heard bad things about our church so they are immediately biased and reject us because of what they have heard. Which was hard on me at first because I had never been rejected like that in my life before. But now as my understanding grows deeper and my testimony stronger I don't care about rejection. I feel grateful that I can be rejected for the Lord's sake. After all, Christ was rejected among the Jews and was crucified because of His testimony. It hasn't been that bad for me but I have been able to suffer a little bit so that I can understand how amazing Jesus Christ really was. It was such a powerful experience for us to teach and testify and I could really feel the spirit so strong and knew that the students were feeling it too. They got a picture with us so that they could show their classmates. I know without a doubt that something will happen with one of those students in the future because of our meeting with them. Whether in a year or 30 years or in the spirit world I know that they will accept the gospel.

After that we met with a kid named Kevin. He's from Australia but is Chinese. He speaks English like an Australian. He is sooo cool! He has pretty much every question of the soul and is just curious about what God wants him to do in his life. He asked us tons of questions and is really seeking the truth. We taught him a little bit about the plan of salvation and are going to go more in depth when we meet with him next.

We also met with Sister Park. She is keeping commitments and came to conference with us on Sunday. But she still has lots of doubts. It seems like she is too focused on information but I'm not really sure.

I'll write two things I loved from conference real quick and then I gotta go! I loved what Elder Bednar talked about: the difference between testimonies and conversion. We can't just have a testimony of the gospel; it's not good enough. We must be completely converted to the gospel. I can honestly say I had a testimony before my mission but I wasn't converted yet. And conversion is not just a one time thing but is progressive and is always happening. I am still converting but I am so much further along in the process than I was at the start of my mission. I have learned so much! Testimonies can be shared but conversion can't.

I loved Elder Holland's talk. It reminded me of being a missionary.. Once we have learned these things and done them we can't just go back home and "go fishing" again since we don't know what to do anymore. We need to keep doing the things we've learned to do!!! I love that. Once we've put our hand to the plow we can't look back!

We picked up two new investigators last night, Brother Jung and Brother Kim. Brother Jung isn't too interested in the gospel but I have hope that we can help him so we are gonna keep meeting him a couple more times. And Brother Kim is a devout member of another church and has lots of opinions about our church but just wants to know more and study with us. Hopefully we can help clarify things for him and help him feel the spirit!

I gotta go! I love you all!!!

-Elder Rife

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Photos from Korea~October 8, 2012

[Burning old shirts.]

[Something I found in the bathroom.]

[View of BukHan Mountain.]

[At the top.]

[Stairs from a Buddhist temple.]

[Starting our hike.]

[Top of Dobong Mountain behind me.]

[North Seoul.]

[Cool rock.]

[View from the top.]

[Another peak.]

Letter from Elder Rife~October 8, 2012

Hey, everyone! It seems like this last week went by way faster than normal. This week I'm going to try something different; rather than going through each day and saying what we did I will just write a little bit about each investigator we met with and what we taught them. Hopefully this way you will be able to know more about the investigators we have and will be able to pray for them more specifically (if you want to pray for them, that is).

We met Brother Jang again this week but he was a little bit late for his appointment on Wednesday and we had another appointment with a member so we had to cut our lesson a little bit shorter than we had originally planned. It was the second time we had met with him and we went over what kind of expectations he has when he meets with us and some of the things he cares about most in life. We promised him the blessings that can come from accepting and living the gospel and gave him a plan of salvation pamphlet to read before we meet again since he had some interest in what happens to us after why die.

After that we went to a meat buffet with a member and seriously ate way too much food.. I thought I was gonna die. Then they bought us ice cream after, too.

We met with Sister Park (the former pastor from a huge church) on Thursday and talked to her a lot. She's still amazed at how when we meet with her we ask her "core questions" as she says. And then how we listen so well. She told me that I am the best listener she has ever met because I pay attention to everything she says, then think, and then answer her or ask her a question. She said that in this world there are too many people who love talking and not enough people who love listening. We got a little bit deeper with her this time about why she hasn't been baptized into our church. She's confused about the kingdoms of glory. She says we have lots more truth than other churches but that we don't have it all and wants us to explain more about the kingdoms of glory. So we talked about it for a little while and I'm planning on studying up more so that I can answer her questions. All of her questions really go back to whether Joseph Smith was a prophet, though, so I think we will talk about that.

Thursday night we had Ping Pong night! We had two members there and two investigators and we played ping pong and basketball at the church for a while then we watched the Restoration video together and had a testimony meeting together. It was really powerful and the spirit was soo strong as all four of us missionaries bore our testimonies and our two members bore theirs. We gave the two investigators (Brother Han and Brother Park) each a Book of Mormon and commited them to read Moroni 10:3-5 and try the promise.

We met with Brother Kim again last Friday. He was the guy who took us hiking with him over Chuseok. We wanted to talk to him more about faith and so we taught him about it and read from the scriptures with him. Then we watched the Finding Faith in Christ video and talked more about Christ and why he is so important. It went really well. We asked him if he would be baptized and he said he felt like he needed more time. Then he asked how we baptize and where we can baptize him. So we showed him the font and told him that it's something that God wants for him and that we will help him prepare. We are going to try to set a date for his baptismal service when we meet with him again tonight. The spirit has been so strong in our last few meetings and we know that he is feeling it.

We met with Sister Hong on Saturday after our English class. One of our members came and helped us teach. He was perfect for her and really helped her because he was really nice while he taught. She has a lot of philosophical questions and so our member really helped us because he knew a little bit about that stuff and could explain things simply for her. We wanted to teach her more about faith. She has been trying to learn everything but she said she still doesn't know that God exists. We read the scripture that says that faith isn't about having perfect knowledge and she was kinda shocked. She has lots of questions about heaven and hell and why bad things happen to good people so we read out of the Book of Mormon how bad things happen to good people but they are accepted to return to God and the punishments will be upon those who do evil. It went well. Then we taught her about the kingdoms of glory and how since God loves us so much he provided those places for us to go to. She didn't come to church yesterday even though she promised she would; she was sick. The members were really sad though because we all bore our testimonies and it was super spiritual and we wished she could have been there.

We also met with Sister Jee this week! We hadn't seen her in a really long time so it was great to meet with her again. We followed up with her and checked up on if she was still reading and things. We also wanted to talk to her about faith this week. It went really really well! We talked about how whenever we do anything there is faith. Because when we do something we expect a result and have faith that if we do it the desired result will come. So we compared it to how she loves studying English and how if she didn't think that studying would bring any results then she wouldn't do it. But since she knows the results will come she is willing to sacrifice the time to study. We applied that to the gospel and how if we have faith we must act. By reading the scriptures, praying, and coming to church.. And as we do these things there will be results. Or when we pray we must believe that we will get an answer and really intend to act on it.

We had lots of fun meetings with members this week too! We also found a great kid yesterday while knocking doors. He is from China and is a student here. He answered the door in his underwear (haha!) but he said he wanted to meet with us again this week!

I've been thinking so much about faith lately and how I can increase my faith by making changes in my life. I invite everyone else to try to find ways that you can show your faith to the Lord. You will be amazed at the blessings that follow!

I love you all!

-Elder Rife

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Letter from Elder Rife~October 2, 2012

The last week was pretty crazy up until Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving). 

Last Monday night we met up with Brother Kim and we were going to teach him the full Restoration lesson but he didn't keep his reading commitment so we read the scriptures with him and tried to help him to understand them better. It's hard because we teach him in Korean and he wants to answer our questions and everything in English and his English is really hard to understand. Something I've really learned lately is how teaching the gospel in Korea is so hard because a lot of the time the investigator and missionary aren't understanding each other about 60-75% of the time. Thank goodness we have the Spirit that can bring things to our minds that we need to share or teach. 

Tuesday we met with two new investigators. Brother Lee is one that we texted one day from a former investigator record and he answered us and said that he really wanted to meet with us. We met him for lunch and at first he was really quiet but we got him to open up and he said that he has gospel interest and wants us to talk to him in English so he can get better. He actually said that he wanted to meet with us every day for lunch but we told him that we couldn't do that so we are planning on meeting twice a week. We couldn't meet him again last week because of the holiday but he has a lot of potential and he really wants to meet with us regularly. 

We also met an investigator named Brother Jang. He's about 30 years old and seems like he may have autism or something. He's really nice. He didn't seem like he wanted to meet us too regularly but we are trying to meet with him again so that we can start teaching him more.  Then we went to meet with our investigator named Brother Han at KyungHee university. He still is just in the "asking questions" about our church phase. But we got to teach him a little about the Restoration and why it is necessary last time we met, so that was good. We also talked to him about General Conference coming up and he seemed a little interested so hopefully we can get him out to a session next week. After meeting with him we went home and ate a snack and then taught English class and that was it for the day.

Wednesday we had a meeting with our whole zone, so we got together and we had a district meeting together and then headed back. All of our appointments for Wednesday cancelled on us so we were left proselyting and calling former and potential investigators for the day. We talked to a lot of nice people and found one person who wants to meet again! 

Thursday was also a finding day! While making calls we accidentaly called the wrong number and a lady who lives on the other side of Korea answered and said it was the wrong number but we kept talking to her and found out that she has interest in hearing about the gospel and wants to learn English. She had a crazy accent so it was hard for me to understand her but I referred her to the missionaries in Busan and they are supposed to meet her soon! Who knew that calling wrong numbers could be an effective finding method? We also visited a member and took her a card and brownies we had made and she cried because she was so happy that we had made them for her. She's a member from North Korea and is possibly the nicest lady ever! She won't let me take a picture with her though because there's some rumor that if a picture of her goes up on the internet and North Korea finds it then they will kill her family. Super sad. So one day I'll get a picture with her and send it. She's one of the best members and I've learned a lot from her while I've been here.

Friday we had weekly planning meeting and then we met with a new investigator. She's the daughter of one of the investigators (the pastor) we are already teaching. She's also a pastor, at a different church than her mother. We are teaching her more about our church and are helping her with English. I think she has potential because she seems like someone who is seeking the truth. After that we met with Brother Kim again and taught him about the Restoration and watched the dvd with him. For some reason he really doesn't want to come to church. He's accepting everything so well and says he feels really good when he prays and when he's with us but he will not commit to coming to church. We tried really hard but we are going to have to figure out why he won't come before we meet him next time. After that we made some calls and I called a really cool lady. She's twins and she and her twin are famous musicians in Korea. They want to meet us so we are planning on meeting them this week!

Saturday was the first day of Chuseok and we were told not to proselyte and not to do anything unless we were invited by members or investigators. We had a zone activity where we played ping pong and soccer which was way fun. We visited some members who invited us over. They are really old and the lady cooked all day to make food for us. It was so sweet of her. So we ate with them and then we headed home and that was the day. We wrote her and her husband thank you cards and gave them to them at church the next day. 

Sunday we had one hour of church in the morning and then we had an appointment with Sister Hong. She has lots of questions relating to philosophy stuff and it's really hard for us to answer her in Korean but she is making progress. She came to church and has been praying every day. After that we headed home and ate lunch and spent the afternoon organizing our house a little bit more and updating all of our investigators records. And I went through all of the member records and wrote down everything that I have learned about them since I got to this area so that the next missionaries will know a little bit about them from reading the records. 

Monday we went to Dobong Mountain with Brother Kim. He took us and the Dongdaemun elders and led us up the mountain. It was sooooo fun! I miss hiking so much. It felt so good to be up in the mountains. I'm pretty sure everyone who lives in Seoul was hiking at the same time as us though. There were so many people! It was a good hike though. Really steep and they had bars and chains to hold on to just like Angels landing in Zions. It was awesome. Then we headed home and took a nap for the rest of P-day and then went to a member's house for family home evening. It was the sister from North Korea. We had a really fun night with a lot of the members just playing games and eating together. 

Today we had temple day and then ate lunch with my Korean Grandparents! 

Things have been going amazing lately. I love being a missionary. 

Lately I have been studying in Mosiah. I found one scripture that has really applied to my mission.

Mosiah 5:2 "The spirit of the Lord Omnipotent has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually."

I feel like I have experienced this change of heart throughout my mission and it is the best feeling ever. It's like how faith is described in Alma 32... After you have planted the seed and the seed begins to grow you can feel "swelling motions." That's the only way I can describe it. It's the best feeling in the world. 

Mosiah 5:12 "I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in  your hearts." 

We all covenanted to remember Christ always and to follow him. We should all try to do that better in our lives.

I know that the gospel is true!! It hass brought me and my investigators happiness.

I love you all!!

-Elder Rife