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, February 27, 2012

"...a testimony on how much better God knows things than we do."

Friends, countrymen, fellow nerds. Lend me your ears.

This week... Felt more like 2. Or 3.

FOR STARTERS I'd like to thank LEVI STANNARD and ALEX NEWEY for their wonderful letters! You guys have no idea how happy they made me! I have already written responses. The mail lady will be picking them up from the mailbox today. Also, I'll thank my DAD for getting STEPHEN to put in a couple words that made me laugh out loud. Love ya, Stephen.

Another note: The blog for last week was not updated completely by a certain patriarch figure. Once he gets that up, please go back and read the blog entry for February 20. LOTS of amazing stuff happened there. Now that that's outta the way, I'll talk about THIS week's amazing stuff.

So here's a testimony on how much better God knows things than we do. For this transfer, the Walnut Grove area was to be closed -- that was Elder Warren's last area before coming to Collierville. A week after transfers, the Elders from the Lakeland area were moved over to the Walnut Grove area so that we didn't have to watch over all of those wards, if you guys recall.

A couple weeks ago, the Elders in Midtown -- one of the toughest places in the mission -- were robbed at gunpoint. To top it off, the police caught the thieves and BROUGHT THEM TO THE MISSIONARIES' DOORSTEP to ask if these were indeed the people that had robbed them! Not smart. Anyway, the Elders were forced to move from Midtown over to Lakeland. Crazy how that all worked out. Midtown will be opened again next transfer, but the missionaries there will be sharing an apartment with some of the Spanish missionaries. Everyone is safe, though.

We had our mission tour this week. ELDER SPENCER ALLEN came to our mission along with his wife and BRO. DONALDSON, formerly known as PRESIDENT DONALDSON. Elder Allen is the Managing Director of the Missionary Dept., and he is the father of Sis. Pressler, who lives in the Colliverville 2nd Ward. Elder Allen is also an Area Seventy. Bro. Donaldson recently served as the mission president of the San Diego mission, and currently lives in Cedar Hills. Here's the cool part: Bro. Donaldson was mission president as the District 2 DVD was planned and put into production. Elder Allen was the man to help develop the District DVDs, and almost all other forms of media being distributed by the church today. Yes. We did have a very incredible Zone Conference this past week.

I learned a lot that is very personal to me, but what I can say to you future missionaries is this: USE THE DVDs AND MORMON.ORG TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. Heck, we were told to watch the DVDs every morning out here. Each of our apartments have a DVD player for that purpose. We were also instructed that tracting is by far the worst way to get investigators, and that we should push to avoid doing it as much as possible. My whole strategy out here is changing! The best way to have a successful mission is through the members. Member referrals are the strongest ones you'll have, or just referrals in general. The church will grow through people that know other people. Now that I understand that, my eyes have been opened to many opportunities, and I feel a lot better about the work here.

After Zone Conference, each apartment was given their own regional weather radio. Spring in the South means storm season. In fact, this Tuesday should get pretty bad. The radios are our means of protecting ourselves while we're staying in our apartments. I feel a lot better with this instrument around, even though the voice and messages coming from it are very haunting. So, with spring coming up, I'll be in the middle of some pretty bad storms. This is Tornado Alley, after all. Yaaaaaaaay.

Speaking of weather, here's an interesting fact: If you wanna build up an immunity before allergy season comes around, eat some of your local HONEY. The pollen used to make it will build up anti-whatevers in your body to fight pollens when they come around. So I've been trying to eat a spoonful of honey every day.

On Saturday we attended the baptism of Elder Allen's grandson, Joseph. Elder Allen gave the talk on the Holy Ghost, and since he loves to pick on missionaries, we got to stand in the front as an object lesson for what he would be like someday. E. Allen had picked on us during the Zone Conference, too. That's alright; it was all in good fun.

This past Sunday was insane. On Saturday night, the Gospel Principles teacher said he couldn't teach, so he asked us to. No problem. Sunday morning, the Elder's quorum president texted us and said that his teachers were sick, so he asked us to teach priesthood. Wut. So Elder Warren took the Gospel Principles class on prophets and I taught the priesthood on the First Vision. It was a good lesson.

Singing was... well, the contrast in both wards was significant. In the first meeting, there was a family with a child that was acting up, so the quality wasn't that great, I think. The second ward went MUCH better. Nevertheless, people kept commenting on our singing all day, and now I'm on the spot to do some more singing in the ward at some point soon. This is what I wanted to avoid, but whatever. It seems to make people happy, so I'll do it.

THE DAVIDSONS CAME TO CHURCH. Yes, it was amazing. We were so excited. I kinda fumbled around and looked like a dork a lot of the time since I had no idea how to treat investigators that came to church for the first time. It all worked out, though. By the end of the day, Kenny was talking to people about a small restaurant near his house, and lots of people were shaking his hand. I don't know how Paula and Kindle were doing in Relief Society, but some of the sisters told us they got to meet them, so it sounded alright. They had somewhere to go right after church, so we'll talk to them later about it. It was a great meeting for them to go to, though. There were a few conversion stories told and a lot of emphasis on the Book of Mormon. We're very excited for this family.

My fingers are tired. Enjoy the pictures. One of those is a tiger made out of TIRES. The Memphis Tigers gave tigers to certain families and organizations that donated a certain amount to the school, and so they're speckled all over town. Each tiger has a different design on it, and this particular artist wanted to cover his in tire treads. It looked cool enough to slip some skin from, so I did.

This is a long update. Like I said, a lot happened. Now it's time to enjoy the rest of my P-Day. Have a good week, everybody.

-Elder Staib


Monday, February 20, 2012

Testimony of Prayer

What up, broskies.

I'd been a whiny girl for a few days. I'm all set now. Thankfully, the happiness of seeing those that we and the members care about have made me happy. One such group of people we're always happy to see is a new family we're teaching now.

Seriously. Every time we go to their house, everyone is just in a spiritual bliss. We really connected with them this past week. We didn't have a dinner appointment that night. We weren't too hungry. We knocked on their door, and they were making a big pot of chili. They invited us to eat with them. BLESSINGS. As we ate, we got to really enjoy each other's company. It kinda broke off, where Elder Warren talked with the father about food storage and the Cherokee nation as they cooked some more chili. I stayed at the table and talked with the mother and daughter about all sorts of things. We answered many sprinkled gospel questions about prophets and the Word of Wisdom as the mom drank her iced tea. She said, "Clearly the prophet wasn't a Southerner," in a joking manner. The daughter used to work at Disney World at a villian's candy shop. JEALOUSY. Their family used to be able to get into Disney World for free all the time. I told them how our family is very passionate about Disney things.

They have many pets. They own a plot of land that has many pens for horses and goats. They've got a border collie that they keep outside, but the inside of their house has a few cats; 4, to be exact. One cat has 3 legs. It's the best mouser out of the other cats, too. AWESOME. It's very cuddly and acts just like any other cat. It's perfectly happy and hobbles around like no one's business. It's a fun thing to play with, but it still has claws, so I've got some scratches.

We had our first official lesson with them that Tuesday night. We taught the First lesson, with the aid of Elder Warren's large tower of labeled cups. It made the lesson a lot easier to teach. Ah, right. I asked how their Book of Mormon reading was going. The mom had read 3 Ne 11 (which was the scripture we left them with) 3 times. The daughter read 3 Ne 11, 12, 13 and 14, and started 3 Ne from the beginning because she wanted to know what led up to the events of Christ's coming. CURIOUS. After our lesson, the dad pointed out one particular cup labeled, "Teaching the Dead", and began to ask questions on resurrection. I just looked at Elder Warren, beamed and responded with, "We really wanna tell you the answer, but that's EXACTLY what we'll talk about in our next lesson." The father then gladly gave the closing prayer in the most open conversational manner I've ever heard anyone pray. SPIRIT.

Now, tell me. ARE THESE PEOPLE NOT INCREDIBLE? They were gonna come to church yesterday, but a family member was in the hospital. Darn. Hopefully we'll find out more about that tonight or tomorrow night, whenever we see them next. We're making it a point to bring a member with us next time we see them.

Elder Warren's birthday was Saturday. We had IHOP with an investigator for breakfast (Nicole is her name. Most God-loving person I've ever met. She's incredible and will definitely be baptized some time soon). We had loads of pizza with the Walnut Grove area's mission leader for lunch, and a big plate of loaded nachos for dinner. Not only is my stomach raising open rebellion against the rest of my body, but I'm pretty sure I've doubled my weight. I'm making it a point to work out a lot harder this week in the mornings.

Holly (who I have probably mentioned before) came to church. She came because Elder Warren was giving his farewell talk in the Collierville 1st ward, but she ran into the bishop of the 2nd ward when she came into the church. He immediately walked up to her, embraced her and gave her a big kiss on the cheek. "I'm so glad you're here", he said. She told bishop she's making it a point to come to church every  week now, and with that kind of welcome back into the building, SHE'D BETTER KEEP THAT COMMITMENT... We love Holly, she's great. Another huge reason that she's coming to church next Sunday is that through powers beyond my own control, Elder Warren and I have been...asked to sing a musical number in both wards. We'll be singing Hymn #335.

Seriously... Once one person found out that "OMG frlz the Eld3rz can sang SOUNGS desu" everyone jumped on us. (Dad, that sentence is totally out of the realms of spelling and grammar corrections. It's amazing and it will stay.) So we're singing in both wards, and it probably won't be the last one I'll sing in this building. I've sung a few times in other members' homes, but... THAT'S ANOTHER THING. A thing for not now. Anyway, Holly came. Yaaaaay.

Elder Warren is slowly, but surely, dying [coming to the end of his time as a missionary]. His favorite scriptures, particularly at this time, are the last 2 verses of the book of Enos. Everyone's asking him about his plans for after he gets home, what his schooling plans are, why the heck does he have 23 siblings... So yeah, it's kinda tough in that environment and NOT think about those same questions for myself. Granted, I have more solid plans for after my mission than most guys out here anyway, so it's easy for my mind to wander over there for a bit.

I hear Utah got SNOW. Elder Warren found out about the splendorous weather Kaysville, and Alpine should be receiving for the next few days. A couple of members at church yesterday said that the resorts got blasted with like...2 feet. Good for you guys. So happy. I'll just keep my snowflake-patterned pocketwatch close. Have I posted pictures of that thing on my blog yet? I'll be sure to do that soon.

I've written a lot. That's a lot to read. I'll end here. Hope everyone had a rockin' Valentine's Day. I did, teaching the new family. O A O Amazing people. I think the best part of teaching all of them is that they keep asking question after question, and we're able to answer it. You know what that means? Church is true.

Everyone stay safe. I love you all. I won't say "ya'll" because hearing a non-Southern boy say it really bugs me, to be honest. So I love. YOU ALL. Very much. Thanks for all the friendships you've given me these past years, and I'm excited to further teach the new family, and any other family as faithful and curious about the church as they are.

Gosh, I swear I've been on something all week... Let's leave with this:

God is always willing to answer our prayers if we ask in faith. It's something we hear all the time in this church, but I wasn't able to really apply it until a couple weeks ago.

My testimony has grown to heights I never imagined it to be at, ever. Here I am, just now figuring this stuff out. I had all this knowledge in my mind, but until now, none of it had touched my heart as powerfully as it is now.

I asked God to help me know how to solve a problem, and clear as day, I received an answer. All we need is to ask in faith, with faith being the keystone of the phrase. There? We good? Spiritual thought nailed? This gospel has really made me happy, and I'm excited for it to apply in my real life.


-Elder Staib


Having a hard time staying warm... Elder Staib gets creative with the gloves! Just don't shake his hand at church.

Yay, bacon!

The 3-legged cat, best "mouser" of the bunch.

Monday, February 13, 2012

It's Cold, But We're Keeping Busy

Hey everybody.

February is being a beast. I'm cold all the time and I can't warm up at all, especially my hands and my feet. I'm a bit late updating today because we had to run down to Mississippi to give someone a blessing. So that's ok, right?

I got a cool letter in the mail the other day. Elder Jordan Bingham sent me a Chinese New Year card, which looked awesome (see photos).

We haven't had our car all week. It's really put a damper on the work, and in turn, my attitude. There are people out there that need to be taught, but they're never at home or are too far away to easily access. This is the first time we've had a bike week in 3 weeks. I was feeling so great about all the work that was happening, but now it's gotten a lot harder. I feel like everyone around me is drifting away, and I haven't been able to catch all the people I need to. I feel like this'll really hurt my relationships with some, and I don't want that to happen at all. Some are already hurt enough...

I've seen a lot of blessings this past week in individual peoples' lives, and I'm grateful for that. As a whole, however, I feel like the work is waning. There are so many people around me. I'm a tired sheepdog working on a ranch too big for me, I guess. I'm still working how I know best and letting things take their course. Pray for me, though.

The family of 3 that we were really aiming to teach last Monday is amazing. They recently moved from Arizona after living there for 5 years. They have two sons in the military and a daughter going to college that lives with them. Their daughter had some Mormon friends, and she even went to early morning seminary with them. A few weeks ago, they were seriously considering what church to go to as a family, and the Mormons came up. They're very curious about the church. They've known many good Mormons in Arizona that stood out to them through their example.

I'm grateful that we, as members, live what we preach, otherwise good families like these wouldn't be as interested in the church. Unfortunately, they have very busy schedules. We have yet to contact them. We'll have to visit them at their house to talk to them, it seems. They live 15 miles south. Emphasis on why we need the car so badly.

Over in Moscow, about 20 minutes east of here, lives an older lady that we delivered a Bible to. She's open to learning about the Book of Mormon, and her neighbor across the street would like to hear something about it, too. So we had a lot of success this week getting new investigators.

I hope everyone is safe. I'm really wondering how my friends in Provo and Alpine are doing. If someone could find that out, I'd greatly appreciate that. And Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! I love y'all!

-Elder Staib


Monday, February 6, 2012

More Changes in Assignments

Hello, everyone.

Some big area changes have been happening this past week. As it turns out, Lakeland, the area next to Walnut Grove, is being shut down, and the missionaries from Lakeland are being moved to Walnut Grove. This is great because the member exchange program Elder Warren worked so hard to establish in the Walnut Grove and Germantown wards will be put to use. The program wouldn't be able to go forward if the Sisters were there next transfer [because Sisters are not permitted to do exchanges with men in the ward].

Elder Jarvis and Owen, the new Walnut Grove missionaries, will do a great job over there. Elder Owen has only been out 6 weeks longer than me (one transfer), and he's from ENGLAND. British accents all around. Elder Jarvis is really friendly, and seems to be a hard worker. We'll still work with some investigators Elder Warren was really close with in that area, but as far as covering wards, we're back to staying with Collierville 1st and 2nd wards only. But for a good week and a half on my mission, I covered 5 wards and 2 stakes (through the single's branch). Pretty unique!

Elder Warren has musical talent through his voice, on the piano and on the guitar. He likes to keep it hidden from the wards he attends, but of course, word spreads here like wildfire. Not only that, but he's dragged ME in with him. We sang a duet as a spiritual thought for the Gardner family, and since then, we've been asked a couple times to help sing to other people. Bluh. My comfort zone just got obliterated.

Elder Warren is a hard worker and a righteous guy. He's constantly astonished at how little time he has left in the mission, but that doesn't stop him from being a missionary, which is good. Tonight, we have a chance to meet with a referral we got last week. Her name is Paula. From the referral text it said that she wanted to read the Book of Mormon, and she wanted to come to church but didn't know if it was ok to just walk in. From setting up the appointment, we found out that she and her husband are from this area. They had just recently moved back from Arizona. Her daughter made a few Mormon friends, and they're now interested in the church. So keep Paula in your prayers, and we'll go in, enthusiastic to share with her what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is all about.

We also have 3 other referrals we've been attempting to contact last week that we'll push to see this week. It'll be a challenge to fulfill all our goals when we lose our car on Tuesday (since there are now missionaries in Walnut Grove, we're back on a car share D:), but with the aid of members, we'll be able to do it. I wrote a long list of names of people on Sunday that need some missionary attention, members and less-actives.

I'm pushing to be a better missionary. Elder Warren is helping me and I'm grateful for it. We'll only be together for 6 weeks before he goes back to Kaysville, but he's influenced me so much already. And then I'll "kill him off." :3

We've been helping a less-active member with some home improvements. Elder Warren was working for a landscaping company before he came out here, so his skills are greatly appreciated. Many people in our ward are happy to have Elder Warren here. He's a good guy.

Pray for our success with the referrals this week! Thanks for all the love and support from you guys! People of Provo, I need to hear from you. Let me know what's going on in your life. I need to know. Bundle up your letters or something, I don't care. Just tell me how it's going!

Love ya guys! Stay safe and warm! The coldest days of the year are ahead for me.

-Elder Staib