This blog chronicles Matthew Staib's progress as he serves an LDS mission over the course of twenty-four months.

You can also read his personal blog at different, defined.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Kind of a shorter post. On the 22nd, our mission had a zone conference consisting of all the missionaries on this side of the river. We had a few lessons, ate lunch, watched "Dolphin Tale" and played a strange live-action version of the board game Battleship. The whole event took 8 hours. We were all beat when it was over. We spent a lot of Christmas Eve helping Caleb Byrd put up more barbed-wire fencing. That project is finally done. It was fun to do! Very different.

On Christmas day, we attended two 1-hour-long sacrament meetings. Many less-active members came, which was nice. Of course, they're the people that would go to church on any given Christmas, so we just need to teach them that coming back is important. The programs were very musical. The Michaelis family had us over for the rest of the day, and we had an awesome barbecue brisket dinner. I got to Skype with my family, and they were all looking happy and healthy. I'm excited for the new year coming! Lots of miracles will happen. Thank you, everyone, for all you've done for me this past year. I love you all.

-Elder Staib

Pictures from the week before Christmas

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas is Coming

I hope you guys get a white Christmas. I'll introduce you guys to the family having us over for Christmas dinner - The Michaelis family. I'll talk more on Sunday, I guess. See you guys!


Heeeeeeeeeey everyone.

While it's on my mind, the football stadium from the last batch of pictures with the banner that says "Home of the Saints" was the exact high school Michael Oher went to in real life. We pass it every time we go to our district meetings every week. Pretty crazy, huh?

Michael Oher's High School
(He was the subject of the movie "The Blind Side")

We've had lots of good times with members this past week, serving others and attending the ward Christmas party. Elder Fry and I got our first Christmas present a couple days ago: Playing cards. The plastic matte stuff. We both got our own set. To be honest, I was surprised to get any presents here at all. I didn't know missionaries got anything from members! I don't really want or need anything for Christmas this year.

We also finally lit up our tree. A family gave us these special glasses that make small snowmen appear around a light, so I took that picture through the lens of the glasses. Pretty cool, huh? In another one of those pictures, you can see a bunch of decorations on top of a P.T. Cruiser. The train on top of the car actually runs. It's the craziest thing I've ever seen.

School is out this week, so we (hopefully) have the chance to teach a lot more this week. It's been hard on our bike week, with the weather changing every day, it seems. My back tire popped on Thursday from another missionary riding it, but we patched it up. Taking a hybrid on a curb? Really?

Anyway... I gotta get going. I'll update you guys on my Christmas experience next week. Have a Merry Christmas, everyone! Love y'all!


Monday, December 12, 2011


Hey, everybody!

We had a baptism this weekend. Blake Sorrell was baptized on Saturday by his soon-to-be brother-in-law, Ian Weldele. It took 3 tries, but Blake finally went under. Elder Fry and I stood in as the witnesses of the baptism, and then on Sunday Blake asked us to stand in for the confirmation. It was a cool experience. Blake and Molly (his fiancee) have been awesome friends to us. They want to travel the world shortly after their marriage. I'm pretty jealous. The world sounds like a fantastic place!

We got snow earlier this week. It looked awesome, and brought thoughts o' me homeland. The branches of the dead trees caught white veins that floated in the air. It's melted since then. I'll be lucky if it happens 2-3 more times this winter. Apparently, an early December snow is rare. Must be my snowflake pocket watch (which is so much more legit than a wrist watch).

The members have been great, as always. We're set for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. I've made many friends here that will probably last a lifetime. Heads up, parents. We may get visitors coming to Utah some time. Of course, many families here have lived in Utah at some point anyway. Collierville is a business community. It's the world headquarters for FedEx, International Paper, and some big medical company. We're very well-taken care of here.

With one baptism on Saturday, it's time to go back out and get another one. We've got a couple of potential people in mind, so we're eager to start teaching them this week. Not too much to talk about this week, I guess. Work has been slow. We're always keeping our eyes and hearts open for those waiting to hear the Word.

To Levi and Stephen: I'm sorry I haven't written a letter yet. Levi, I hope your mission plans are going smoothly. Stephen, I hope your school plans are going well, too. You guys are awesome, and I'm happy to be your friend.

To all my UVU comrades: Hope schooling and club activities are going well for you guys, too.

To my family, I love you guys and all your support for me.

The missionaries have been good to me. The members have been good to me. God has been good to me.

--Elder Staib

Pictures of the Baptism and Unusual Winter Weather

Monday, December 5, 2011

Collierville - Planning for a Baptism

Hey everyone.

This past week has been incredibly slow. Our potential investigators haven't been home. Tracting hasn't been too successful, either. There are many proud people here, saying, "We have our faith, and we're fine with it." They say they respect what we do, but they're not willing to listen to a message about Christ any day other than Sunday. We're working to find those willing to hear about the gospel.

The members are helping us tremendously. They drive us, feed us, and make sure we're taken care of. We already have Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day all set up with members. I have many friends in this area. Collierville has become a place I know I can return to and visit some time. It's nice to have so many friends around you, always willing to cheer you up. Our ward is pushing towards missionary work, no matter who you are. We're making sure new converts are welcomed into the ward, like Blake.

Blake has been in the ward for a couple months, and everyone is excited for his baptism. He told us that he had some doubts he didn't know he had before the baptismal interview, but when we went over the questions with him, he really thought about those things, and he felt his testimony grow as he prepared to be interviewed. Blake is too awesome. We're all excited for him. He's being baptized at 3 this Saturday by his fiancee's younger brother, and then we're going to have dinner at their house.

This weekend, we went to a service project at a Scout Camp -- Camp Currier -- over in Mississippi. The project was to clear a path through a forest to connect with another path on the other side of the camp. It was true forest wilderness. We came prepared with chainsaws, rakes, clippers, weed wackers... The path was about 200-250 yards. We tore through all the trees and thorns in an hour and a half. Our team of 30 people fluidly moved through the forest, and the path was cleaned up, with the exception of the layer of fall leaves. It was awesome, and we all had fun doing it. Everyone came out of there with a feeling of accomplishment. It was a joint effort of Collierville 1st and Collierville 2nd ward.

Afterwards, a ward member, Bro. Michaelis, took us quickly over to Graceland (since it was on the way home). We didn't look around too much, but we parked outside of Elvis' mansion and looked at the wall surrounding the grounds. It's covered in names people have written there. Bro. Michaelis showed us where his family had signed. Elder Fry and I signed right above it. It'll be there for at least 10-15 years, I predict. I'd like to try and go back someday, and see the entirety of Graceland. I was surprised, though. It's located in the middle of a tough. It wasn't like that 20 years ago, apparently. But now it's about as tough as most other places around here, which is kinda sad. It's amazing what gangs do around here.

It rained all day yesterday. It's raining all day today. And it will rain all day tomorrow. Collierville is one large puddle. Biking around has been miserable. We're getting around however we can. We get our car tomorrow morning.

I hope you guys are doing alright! I miss all of you over in Utah. Enjoy the snow. I know I would.

-Elder Staib

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving in Mississippi, and Orange Mound

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! How was it for y'all? For mine, we went down to Mississippi and had it with the Byrd family. The Byrds are part of a giant family, the Allens, that populate a ton of our area in northern Mississippi. It seems like there are 50 people down there from the same family tree. We have a big genealogy list in our room that links them all. It's very hard to keep track of everyone and their relations.

We had dinner with Bonnie Byrd and her children, and parents, I believe. Caleb is her grandson, and he's an investigator. Bonnie is a member, and many extensions of the Allen family are inactive or less-active members. There's lots of work to do in Mississippi.

Our Thanksgiving - or as they say here in the south, THANKSgiving, with the enunciation on the "Thanks" - was pretty crowded. There were maybe 15-20 people there. The food was different from home. Really good overall, just different. We had ham, creamed corn, black-eyed peas, mashed potatoes with chopped deer gizzard and heart gravy, and cherry Koolaid. The desserts were freakin' boss. Someone made this big mixture of thick pudding with crushed Oreos mixed in. And then, the most amazing cake I've ever tasted. It was a strawberry cake. But the frosting had strawberries blended into it, and strawberry juice had been cooked into the cake. Pure magic.

Oh yes, I keep forgetting the week extends back until Tuesday. I was put on exchanges from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday morning. I was sent to ORANGE MOUND, a really tough place. Walking down the street in a small drizzle, more than half the houses on the streets were boarded up and abandoned. The windows had been shot up.

It was quiet, but I didn't really feel scared. We taught a couple of people, tracted into a few. It was a very productive day. I taught a room full of at least 7 women, ranging from teenagers to an elderly lady, and a couple of men.

It was extremely intimidating, but it ended well. I slept over that night, and went back to Collierville the next morning. I made it back safe from the town where many news reports of shootings take place. Many, many crimes take place there.

Blake is still going through with his baptism well. He's got his fiancee and her family behind him. He's a great guy.

Elder Fry and I are seeing who we can. I've found it's near impossible to tract in rich areas. People say they already have their own faith, and they're happy with it. The work this past week has been slow because everyone is moving around and working. At least that's what we hope. A lot of our potential investigators are hard to get to. We really want to teach them. I'm not sure if our bike week this week will make things better, either. We'll see what happens.

Anyway, hope you guys enjoy your holiday season! It's supposed to snow tomorrow morning here! If that happens, society will shut down. No one can mentally handle frozen rain here in Tennessee.

-Elder Staib

Pictures from Past Week

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Great Week In Collierville, Tennessee

I'm sorry for the lack of written letters...The snail mail system is incredibly slow. I think it'll be ok to send things directly to my apartment. I'll be here for a while. The first area greenies stay in lasts 12 weeks instead of 6.


Hello, everybody. Missionary life is picking up, and the last week is more or less a big blur. I've got a good story to kick off with though.

On Wednesday, we taught a guy named Blake. Blake met a Mormon girl that lives in Collierville named Molly 8 months ago. They're getting married in June. Blake's been taught the lessons and he lives with Molly's parents. He knows everything, he just hadn't received the witness he needed to be baptized yet. We were teaching him this week, answering his questions from reading the Book of Mormon. We talked a bit about why he didn't want to be baptized just yet. Elder Fry eventually asked, "How often do you pray every week?" The number wasn't much. So I went forward and asked, "Would it be ok to kneel right now and pray to know if the church is true?" He replied with, "It wouldn't hurt." We knelt, and he started praying out loud. There was no doubt the Holy Ghost was in that room. He asked his question, and he paused. He paused for at least 2 minutes. The Holy Ghost was at work on his heart. He finally spoke again, and ended the prayer after a few more words. We sat back down, and I asked, "How do you feel?" "I feel that It's true. I feel like I should be baptized." I didn't hesitate, and asked him to be baptized. My first baptism will be held on December 10. We'll figure out the technicalities of who will baptize him and stuff. But I'm very excited.

This past week was our first bike week. My legs are destroyed, but I feel myself getting a bit stronger. We haven't been able to go around and see as many people as we've liked to, though. Our area is very constricted on bikes. We do what we can, though.

The bikes have slowed our progress, so I guess there's not too much to report. Blake's baptism is definitely the highlight of this past week. He's been on the edge of baptism for forever, and it's finally happening. Molly and her parents are very happy that it's happening.

I hope ya'll are enjoying the snow over in Utah. It's raining hard over here. The weather can't decide if it's September or November yet. Sometimes, it's warmer in the mornings and gets colder in the evenings. It's very weird. The humidity is refreshing, though. Who needs chapstick? Not me.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Second Week in Collierville

Dear Everyone -

This week has been a long and pretty slow week. We keep trying to see people for first or second appointments, and they always seem to be gone. There's lots of drama going on... And I'm in the middle of all of it. The white handbook it says I can't counsel people. Drama drama...
I gotta maintain a love for the people, and just keep inviting them back.

Positives, positives... Oh! Ok, so I don't know if I have introduced them yet, but there are 2 people here that are extremely important in my experiences here in Collierville. There's Holly. She's in her mid-30s. She joined the church in early spring, and she was a middle school English teacher until last school year. Now she's sitting around. BUT she loves to see us missionaries. Her personality reminds me of everyone in my D&D group shoved into one (Yeah, shout out to you guys! Hope the campaign is still going well without your air pirate!), so I get along with her very well. It's never a dull moment with her.

The other person is Zach. He was baptized on October 12, and we've been keeping close with him for a long time. When I say we, I mean the missionaries. I've only been here 2 weeks, so what do I know? Zach is all sorts of amazing. He's 18. Even though double-step isn't my thing, the passion he has for listening to his music in his stereo-laden car is contagious. He has a strong testimony and has life experiences to back it up. Good kid, lots of fun to be around, and I'll have to get a picture with these people at some point within the next week.

So, back to my positive story.

Zach was out with me, Elder Fry and Brother Pennington (you'll hear about him a lot, too. He's the Second Ward's mission leader, and he takes us down to Mississippi every Thursday. He's also the most fun person to be around). We went out to give someone a blessing, and came back to Baskin Robins for shakes. After that, we were cruising down the street when Zach said. "I've never been to Goodwill, would it be ok to stop there?" Goodwill is the non-Mormon equivilant of Deseret Industries.

Anyway, we popped in there, and Zach found a pair of spankin' new Polo shoes. As we were walking through the aisles, an employee commented from the side, "So what does 'Elder' mean?" Meet Vernita. She is very Biblically knowledgable. We taught her a couple things in the few minutes we had about some specific doctrines within the church about families and such, and she believed every word. Her husband was in the hospital all of September and has been sitting in bed ever since. She's a little out of our area, but we're hoping we can have the opportunity to teach her. She's a golden person. We left Goodwill, and commended Zach on having the impression to go there in the first place.

The thing about Zach is, whenever he comes out with us, we always have an amazing experience. He had a friend that died recently after fighting cancer for 7 years. His testimony and story has touched every person he's talked about it with. The people we were teaching definitely needed the message at the time, too. He's been a great asset and blessing in our teaching.

Unfortunately, little teaching has been going on in the first place. We're usually visiting less-active or inactive people. And even then, they're really stubborn and don't think they can come back to church after what they've done. There are also some people from part-member families that know everything; they just refuse to be baptized until they feel they're "ready". If you're a returned missionary, you just rolled your eyes at that whole paragraph. It's very frustrating.

This is only Week 2. I just gotta keep working at it. My Southern is getting better (or worse...however you look at it), but it mostly shines around other Southerners. One of those adapting things I do or whatever. Thanks for all the emails, and thanks for thinking of me. Elder Staib is still out here, working how he can, when he can.

Pictures from My First Area - Collierville

Monday, November 7, 2011

First Week in the Mission Field

Dearest residents in Utah. I have safely landed in Little Rock, Arkansas. God's country.

Well, ok, first off. Salt Lake City Airport at 6 am on Tuesday morning was cold and wet. It was raining pretty bad. I understand that Utah has gotten a lot of snow this past week, and it makes my insides tear up. I'm very jealous. The plane ride wasn't too bad. My whole district sat next to each other... except for me. I was shoved a couple rows back next to some members. But hey, I got to sleep. Landed in Georgia. We were all nervous over approaching people.

We all packed into a tiny 13-row plane for Arkansas. It's the smallest plane I've ever flown in. Flying into Arkansas was a terror for each of us. Farmland. Everywhere. No cities or even small towns or suburbs. It was only until about 5 minutes from Little Rock that civilizations started popping up. We were all relieved.

The mission president and his wife were there to greet us, along with Elder Kelly and Elder Badger. They were the assistants to the president or whatever. I don't understand mission hierarchies yet. Anyway, first night in the mission home was great. The food was AMAZING and the mission president, President Petersen, is a great guy. We all woke up at 5 the next morning (it seemed like 4 because we were now in Central time) for a morning walk. That was the initiation part, I think. Then we packed up and went to the church building to get our comps. Oh yeah, side note. Church buildings here are huge. Not only that, but it was weird realizing these were church buildings for faiths like Baptists, Methodists and other Christians. They were enormous!

President Petersen started listing off names. It was a big list, but my name was nowhere in there. Then he explained, "Those were the names that are staying on this side of the river." There were a total of 3 groups: those staying on this side of the river, those going across the river, and those waiting for their compaions to come from the other side of the river. He called off my name for those that were going across the river. I was going to Memphis.

Six other Elders and I packed into a minivan and drove 2 1/2 hours to get to Memphis, Tennessee. Two other missionaries from my district came with me. Leaving the other 4 people behind was hard, but we knew we'd see each other again. After crossing the Mississippi River, we got to a church building and went through the same orientation. I got assigned to my first companion, Elder Fry. Everyone had been telling me up until this point that my first companion would be a stud, and that's exactly how he's been showing himself so far. Anyway, we were assigned to an area he had been in for the past 3 months, a town I couldn't pronounce at first called Collierville. Imagine a Collie. Now imagine a Collie that was more Collie-like, or "Collier", and slap "-ville" on there. There ya go. We packed my stuff up, said goodbyes to my remaining MTC district, and went into Collierville.

Elder Fry is from Eagle, Idaho. He's a funny guy that likes to have fun, and marvels at my Biblical abilities or something like that (because we all know I don't really have any at all). If I was to define his work so far in one phrase, it's that he loves the people. Elder Fry is friends with everyone here, and people are warming up to me better than I expected.

Anyway, first day. We dropped off my stuff and left immediately to teach a girl named Keisha in Collierville. Collierville is the Alpine of Tennessee. Lots of huge houses and incredibly nice people. Anyway, we taught Keisha the first discussion. It was really cool and fun to teach her. She has 2 little kids, and the oldest is a 3-year-old girl named Cameron. She has the most personality I've ever seen. My favorite line she said would have to be (imagine a tiny African American toddler saying this with as much sass as possible), "I'ma do what I wan' cuz my momma says so." It was the best thing ever.

I've been meeting new people left and right and had too many experiences to shove into one post, so I won't bore you with too many details. I will say, though, that the very next day, Elder Fry and I got together with one of the ward mission leaders, Bro. Pennington, and went to go talk to some folks 30 mintues down south. That's right. My area covers MISSISSIPPI. I've been to 3 states so far on my mission in a matter of 3 days. The families down there are really fun and are about as southern as southern can get. I've been acquiring the southern drawl by will. I've decided I want to learn how to speak it so that 1) I can understand others that speak it and 2) I can give my homecoming talk with a southern accent. Family, expect a southern boy when I get back.

So far the strangest thing I've had to eat is pickled okra. Everyone's warning me to stay away from chitlins. They take raw pig intestines, fling it around like a rodeo rope to get the feces out, and then fry it. Bam. Chitlins. One guy, Daryl, took us out to have a Reuben sandwich. I wasn't too big of a fan. Too much 'slaw. Ok, my mom asked me a couple questions, so I'll go ahead and answer them.

I mostly use a car. I've been biking once, and next week is an all-bike week. We cover the biggest area this side of the river, so having a car is essential. We have a Ford something-or-other really nice car.

We cover two wards: Collierville First and Collierville Second. We're the only missionaries in these wards. Before, our area didn't even go to the First Ward, but once I got here that changed. Now we go to both. Just Elder Fry and me.

Hmmm....I honestly don't know what else to describe. The members are amazing, and they feed us well. Oh yeah! I got to ride on top of a cotton picker the other day! Pretty fun. They kinda forced me to jump on it. Sis. Byrd (her husband is the cotton farmer) is excited for missionaries to try new things. She's a member. Her son Caleb is not. Caleb likes to shoot and hunt. He's a funny kid, only a couple years younger than me.

I'll be out here for at least 12 weeks. That's how the training program works. So I'm in Collierville at least 3 months. Hopefully, I get to stay here for a lot longer than that. I feel at home here. Like I said, it's like another Alpine. The people are good. The issue out here isn't so much baptisms as much as getting people to come to church. It's disappointing. But we'll see how it goes. Anyway, I might get my first baptism commitment this week. We'll see what happens. I wanna thank ya'll for your support! If you wanna send snail mail, I'd send it through the mission home adress if I were you, because that location will never change. I'll put up my current address, though, if you're confident enough to use it.

441 Sweet Apple Cove #8
Collierville, TN 38017

Well, gotta go enjoy my P-Day! Bye!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pictures: Arriving in Little Rock; Meeting My Companion in Tennessee

President Petersen, Elder Staib and Sister Petersen
New Missionaries with President and Sister Petersen
Elder Staib and Elder Fry


Pictures from the MTC: October 12-31


Leaving the MTC

Elder Staib left the MTC this morning at 4:00 a.m. to fly to Little Rock, Arkansas and enter the mission field. He called home from the airport in Salt Lake City at 6:15 to say hello and talk to the family for a few minutes before boarding his flight. He sounds great!

Thank you to friends and family members who have supported him with mail and packages during his time in the MTC.

You can still send him mail via Dear Elder, but please have it sent to his mission by selecting "Arkansas Little Rock" from the menu on the Dear Elder site. Additionally, you can send him regular mail at the following address:

Elder Matthew Staib
Arkansas Little Rock Mission
905 Kierre Drive
North Little Rock, Arkansas 72116-3709

Please remember that he has limited time on the computer each Preparation Day and may not be able to read all of the emails sent to him. Email correspondence from family only, per missionary guidelines.
--Brother Staib

Monday, October 31, 2011

Final Day in the MTC

Thank you for the birthday presents everyone! I'll write more detailed letters on the plane. Today, though, is packing day, so I gotta get this email out there. They said we could email today since we're traveling tomorrow. Anyway, love you guys.


It's been almost 3 weeks since I entered the MTC. It seems like a blur. I hope I'm ready to serve the people of Little Rock in a way that is best for them. Our branch president, President Connors, gave us some pass-along cards yesterday. I took 15. It's our job to give them all away in 24 hours (from when we enter the SLC airport, I'm guessing). I'm extremely nervous. I can approach people that I know I'll have to be buddy-buddy with for a bit, but complete strangers are a different story. We'll see what happens, I guess.

I would love to begin uploading pictures, but the computers here in the MTC don't allow file browsing. So pictures will have to wait until I get out of here and use another computer.

My last few lessons ended pretty well. Birgitta was an inactive member that saw everyone in the church as a hypocrite. After just 2 lessons, we got her to go back to church. She was probably the best investigator we had, even though we didn't see her much. She had built up a huge wall against any reason to go to church, but through unexplainable amounts of Spirit bombs, we broke through. That was the most emotional lesson I had ever taught, seeing her for the first time.

The Maeser Journal that Jordan Bingham left with me (an MTC journal for Maeser graduates) will soon be passed on to Hyrum Decker, and after that is Nate Andersen. The legacy is moving onward.

I'll report back my work from my first week in Arkansas next P-Day (don't know when that is yet), and I'll be sure to put some pictures on there as well. After tomorrow, Dear Elders will have to be directed to the Little Rock Mission Office, so please do that.

Well, my laundry is done, and it'll be wrinkled if I don't hurry. Talk to y'all later! (Gotta start using that slang.)

-Elder Staib

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Week Two in the MTC

Thanks for the thoughts. They only give us 30 minutes to use the computers here, and don't have printers, so I'll try to get through all my emails and make a good blog post. Thankfully, this is my last week in the MTC, so I'll get an hour's time after this, I hope? We'll see.

Hello, everyone! Expect this post to be short. I got a bunch of long emails to read, and I only have 30 minutes total to use the can I put an entire week in 30 minutes!?

I taught a real investigator yesterday. Her name is Pam. She came into the TRC, and she was the REAL DEAL. It was amazing. I can only describe the experience as: I felt God's love for her. Truly. I wanted to baptize her so bad.

My roommates moved out yesterday. They're off to South Dakota. I'll put a picture of them up here once I get SD Card reader privileges.

So far, people I have recognized here are Hyrum Decker, Nate Anderson and Blake Hogge. His twin, Dilan, will be in the MTC next week. Blake was called to Florida Haitian speaking, and Dilan is going to New Zealand, English speaking. Pretty funny. That one was for you, Alex ;3

One of my roommates, before they left, was mailed a pumpkin. A HUGE PUMPKIN. We carved it Sunday night. I'll send pictures of that too.

On Sunday we also heard from Elder Richard G. Scott. He was fun. I wrote notes of what he talked about in my journals, so I'll update on that later when I have time, or just show you guys later.

My birthday is this week. I'll be 20. No longer a teenager. What the heck. I don't feel like I'm that old at all. I still feel 16. Maybe because my looks haven't changed AT ALL since then.

I guess I was typing so fast that I got a nosebleed. Dang it.

Oh, shout out to Levi Stannard and Micah Schow! Thanks for the Dear Elders, guys! They made my day!

Well, this time next week, I'll be an Arkansas. I hope I can even type up something next week. I've got a lot to talk about, as you can tell. But I honestly don't have enough time here, and it stresses me out. Bad. I tried to plan this post out better, but several things are cutting my time. I'll also have more stories to tell once I get out into the field.

Thank you, everyone, for all the support you've given me. I'm keeping my mail and journals very well-organized. Love you all!

-Elder Staib

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

First Week in the MTC

Hello, everyone! Elder Staib here. The first week at the MTC has been extremely different from the lazy life I had before. I'm actually put on something called a SCHEDULE now. What is this? Anyway, I'm tired all day, I'm always preparing to teach, and my roommates sure keep things interesting. Alright, from the top.

I'm currently bunking with 5 other missionaries. A couple of residency halls are being renovated, so we kinda have to cram in. All of our branch is living on the same floor, though, which is cool. My roommates consist of the following: Elder Pinchak (my companion) and me, Elders Jensen and Cline, and Elders Ensign and Ostrom. We have great times in this place, mostly when we're all done with the day and unbearably tired. Jensen and Cline don't get along too well, and recently Pinchak has been harsh towards Jensen as well, but I've calmed a couple storms, and everyone's back to loving each other. We're making a big effort to spread some love around our room, and it's showing. We'll be ok, I think.

My district, from the beginning, was comprised of 10 missionaries: Me and Elder Pinchak, Elders McMurtrey and Keller, Elders Davis and [his companion], Sisters Edwards and Russell, and Sisters Jensen and Gladden. Sadly, [Elder Davis' companion] was picked up by his parents earlier today. He's from a small Utah town, and he hadn't been on his own until now. he couldn't take it. Davis saw him go through some horrible scenes. [Elder Davis' companion] plans to come back out to the field later.

The teaching has been rough, but good. We grow a bit lesson after lesson. It's hard knowing exactly what each investigator needs, but Pinchak and I do our best. I'm excited for when I get to change the life of someone that actually needs it instead of using all of my emotional efforts for the sake of role play. We can all agree here that by the end of the day, we are physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. One of the sister missionaries said it best when she described Sundays here as nothing very different from the rest of the week since it's all so spiritually blending. My favorite part about this past Sunday, though, was the fireside. Branch Pres. and Sister Hacking gave lessons on accepting others no matter your ethnicity and proper table etiquette, respectively. Sister Hacking's lesson was very entertaining, and Pres. Hacking's talk (which included a war story and two love stories) was a nice look into his personal past and made me excited to live my own life.

I apologize for the lack of pictures this week. I don't have an SD card-reader to use to upload pictures from my camera onto the computer, but I'll try and get one next week. The new camera that I got from my uncle (which I love. If you're reading this, Uncle Chris, thank you so much for this incredible technology!) is working superbly, and I really enjoy taking pictures. Of course, it's earned me a pretty bad reputation here, but the other Elders just don't realize how important taking a lot of photos is yet. And so I keep taking pictures.

Thanks for all the letters and packages so far! There's a system called "Dear Elder" online that my family has been taking advantage of. [Go to and click on the "Write a Letter" tab and follow the instructions. The mailing address can be found by clicking the tab "Contact Elder Staib" at the top of this blog]. Just set up a quick account, and you can send me emails free of charge that are printed out and sent to me the very next day. Once I get to Arkansas, though, it'll be $0.44 a pop, which is about the price for standard postage anyway. Not too bad of a system. But until I leave on November 1, sending me a quick Dear Elder is free of charge, and it'd really make my day!

The MTC has opened something for me that I hadn't really registered before. The Spirit. I know now what it certainly feels like, and it's definitely strong here. I'm excited to bring the same feeling to the people of Arkansas. At this point, I want to just fly over there right now and make someone happy by telling them about the Gospel. Reading the Book of Mormon has been better for me, too. Before, they were just words with some little message in them. But once I started reading from the beginning on my own, a real story unfolded. It's an amazing, inspiring true story. It's definitely another testament of the Bible and Jesus Christ, and it leads to the truth of all things, such as Joseph Smith being a prophet, and Christ's church on the Earth today. I know that the work I'm doing will make many people happy. I'm so excited to see their smiling faces when they know that God loves them and has a plan for them.

Well, time is about up. I love you all. Thank you for the support. Go to the top tab to find out how to contact me, and I'll talk to you guys next week!

-Elder Staib

October 12, 2011
Elder Staib (on the right) entered the MTC on Wednesday, October 12

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Called to Serve

Good morning, Brothers and Sisters. I have been asked to choose my own topic that I would speak on. With general conference last weekend, I found several potential topics through the lessons of the speakers. Between the exciting announcement of the Provo tabernacle temple and the parenting tips given out to newly weds that were forced to be married from Spring conference, I found a message that I felt strongly enough about to speak to you today.
As members of the church, we are invited on many occasions to help those in need. This could be towards a friend, to a stranger, in a group or by yourself. Christ, during his ministry on Earth, helped anyone in need that would come to him. As members of His church, we must strive to become Christ-like and follow his example. Service is a great act of love that helps the person in need as well as spiritually strengthens the one giving the service.
         Sister Allred, First Counselor in the Relief Society Presidency, shared this story with us. “Rosa suffers from debilitating diabetes and other ailments. She joined the Church a few years ago. She is a single mother with an adolescent son. She frequently has to be hospitalized for a few days at a time. Her kind visiting teachers not only take her to the hospital, but they visit and comfort her at the hospital while also watching over her son at home and school. Her visiting teachers serve as her friends and family.”
         For me, doing service for someone else in need always makes me happy, no matter how big or small the task. I can only imagine the visiting teachers’ joy as they aided Rosa with her everyday life.
A few months ago, my family moved from Cedar Hills to Highland. This would be our second move within a year’s time, and none of us were looking forward to it. We had been to the Highland ward a couple of times, and families were shaking our hands left and right. When it came time to move, my dad asked if we could have a few people help move us from Cedar Hills to Highland. On the morning of moving day, more than a dozen fathers and sons were parked in front of our house wearing gloves and jeans. Everything was swiftly carried onto trailers and taken to our new home, where it was all neatly placed into its proper place. The service and caring nature of the new ward had blessed our lives from the day we walked into theirs.
King Benjamin is coined with the famous phrase, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God.” King Benjamin not only taught this law; he lived it. He says, “And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should be nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne ­– and of all these things which I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day. Yet, my brethren, I have not done these things that I might boast, neither do I tell these things that thereby I might accuse you; but I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day. Behold, I say unto you that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God.”
President Thomas S. Monson is our latter-day King Benjamin. He is well known for his wonderful gospel stories, and is endlessly serving others. Elder Eyring shared his own experience with President Monson. “President Thomas S. Monson, at the end of almost every meeting, asks the secretary to the First Presidency, ‘Am I up to date on my work?’ And he always smiles when the answer comes back: ‘Oh, yes, President, you are.’ President Monson’s pleased smile sends me a message. It makes me think, ‘Is there something more I could do on my assignments?’ And then I go back to my office to work.”
President Monson taught, “We will discover that those whom we serve, who have felt through our labors the touch of the Master’s hand, somehow cannot explain the change which comes into their lives. There is a desire to serve faithfully, to walk humbly, and to live more like the Savior. Having received their spiritual eyesight and glimpsed the promises of eternity, they echo the words of the blind man to whom Jesus restored sight, who said, ‘One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.”
As a missionary, I understand that service will be one of the ways to open the hearts of those that would be interested in the church. I’ve heard many experiences from both of my older sisters who have served missions. Many of the people they baptized would not have taken that first step if it weren’t for their love of service. I am leaving to serve a mission. I am giving up my time, my talents and myself to God, and I know I will be in His safe and caring hands.