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, March 26, 2012

Excited for General Conference Next Weekend!

Hello, hello!

FIRST OFF BEFORE I FORGET. Shout out to Alex Newey from a couple weeks ago for mailing me, and thanks, Alex Staib, for the awesome package. I almost forgive you for leaving 4/10 octopi. Amazing necktie, though. For the record, neckties are basically the only things we missionaries have to express ourselves in any way. So awesome neckties are very coveted among us Elders.

On another note, I'm looking forward to Jared Butler's mission call to get to me, as well as Alex Newey's, which will hopefully come soon! Thanks so much for the letters you guys send. They always make me happy to read.

I'm very excited for General Conference! I don't know if it's a missionary thing to say that, but I really am! New temples, scripture, all that. Also, a bunch of the Elder's quorum is getting together to have dinner before the Priesthood session and then ice cream afterwards. We know how to do it right in Collierville. B-) (emoticon shades, if you're wondering.) This is like... a biannual, right? And we get to show investigators and recent converts just how awesome the church is! Good times.

This time of year also reminded me of the couple of church videos I've been filmed in. So I did a bit of searching on (missionaries have the freedom to do so) and I totally found them. : )

Teacher's Quorum Presidency Meeting with Tyler Haws, Chase McCain, Spencer Richards and me.

Ministering and Fellowshipping with Jordan Bingham (aka Brandon), Jon Atwood, and the 4 mentioned above (and they told me to take off my glasses for some reason. I think I had Transitions lenses at that time?).

So these were really fun to look back on and watch!

We have the car this week. We're so happy... Our area is big. I know I keep saying it, but it's so hard to stay busy on bikes. The warmer weather feels great, though. Summer will bring about a lot more people, but until then, people are staying in school and grocery stores and offices and then book it home. Geez...from a nature-lover's standpoint, I wanna be outside all the time in this lovely spring sunshine! All these fresh leaves are coming out, the ponds are a bit more lively (there are ponds EVERYWHERE) and the air smells of blooming flowers all over. We've got a porch on the back of our apartment we like to sit on in the mornings as we read. Blisssssss.

This past Sunday, I felt like... something clicked. I finally got it. I was running around, talking to people in church, making appointments and making things happen. I felt like I was finally performing my role as a missionary within the ward. It felt so great...not in a selfish sort of way, but more like a "Yeah, this is what I NEED to be doing on a mission" sort of way. Service. Service is selfless. It's fulfilling.

We helped a lady move a bed to her house this morning. It was great. We helped a member stack wood into a trailer at his non-member parents' house, and then enjoyed an hour of relaxing fishing. When it comes to peaceful outdoor activities, the South has it all.

Oh, continuing on the story of loading wood: One guy picked up a piece and kinda jumped back. He said, "There's a big copperhead in there." Copperheads are one of the most dangerous snakes in the South, he told me. We were 4 adventurous young men. How did we handle the snake problem? WE PINNED IT DOWN BY THE NECK AND STABBED ITS HEAD. The guy that found the snake is a taxidermist, so he's gonna make some cool decoration out of the snake skin. The snake was a good 4 and a half feet long.

I didn't catch anything during the fishing that happened soon after, but we got to talk to the non-member parents. The mother particularly appreciated what we had done for her son, helping him load the wood. I tried to get her interested in the church, and she politely refused, but she loved -- and I mean LOVED -- our willingness to serve. That's all we'll have to do for now, I guess.

Finally, it feels like Elder Arnold and Elder Fry's mantles have properly passed to me. What I mean is, the members here no longer linger on the dream that Arnold and Fry were still the only important missionaries around. Not that that's a bad thing... but it certainly feels nice to have the responsibility of the ward shifted to me. Well, Elder Faleao and me. Elder Faleao's a quiet guy, but he's never contentious. He's very light-hearted and likes to have a good time, like me. We're just a couple of happy missionaries walking around, and when I'm happy, I can do my best work. No matter how stressed I can be, if I'm happy, it all works out. Elder Faleao helps to support that. What's the use of contention in the mission field? There's no possible way it can exist in a companionship, otherwise the work will only weaken.

I was writing a letter to a friend this week, and I wrote something that is extremely important to who you are as a missionary. THIS IS FOR ALL FUTURE MISSIONARIES RIGHT HERE, so pay attention! I learned this from a member that I've created a wonderful friendship with. There are already several friends I've made out here... Life-changing and very positive role models. Anyway, onto the thing. Here's the THING, as quoted from my letter to my friend (with a bit of editing to protect the person's ordeals):

"Never ever forget this, [person]. This is one of the most important things I've learned out here: TO HECK WITH WHO YOU WERE BEFORE YOU CAME OUT. Cast him off, kick him out the door. You're not out here to be that person. You're out here to be an Elder. You're on a mission to change lives and to bless those around you with your wonderful personality, knowledge, talents and testimony. People on your mission don't care who (insert full name here) is. They care who Elder (insert surname here) is.

"This idea, before coming out, would have had me terrified, and probably even angry. I don't want to lose all that I had, or lose what I once was. But that's not it at all. A mission is a chance to come out here and show the world what you WANT to be, and to become that person through the loving gospel of Jesus Christ. His gospel will change you in ways you won't even imagine. That's how it's worked for me. Christ didn't bleed in Gethsemane just so we could mope around about things we've done, even after repentance. Christ believes in us to move on. Grow through His sacrifice and love. Grow through Him to change your heart."

The key word to overcome is shame. That's what I've been cursed with in my recent past. A shame for mistakes I've made. Christ didn't perform the Atonement for us to be shameful of ourselves. He did it so that we could leave those mistakes behind and never look back.

I heard a Zen Buddhist story in sacrament meeting yesterday. I'll paraphrase it for you guys:
A Buddhist monk and his followers were walking through a forest. They came upon a woman with unclean morals attempting to cross a river. The monk went to the woman, aided her across the river, and continued walking with his followers. His followers looked at him in amazement and said, "Why would you help that woman when she is so impure?" The monk replied to his students, "I helped the girl across the river and left her there. Why are you still carrying her?"

That story rocks! BUT OTHER THAN THAT it reminds us that we can't hold onto things. Not only does this apply to shame and guilt, but I would think it can apply to things we boast about, as well.

Heh, gee... I was just enlightened myself about how wonderful the statement I just made was.'s all about putting the world behind us, huh? Interesting. Eat on that for a bit. Gosh I wish I could still blog about this stuff.... I miss my blog...

Anyway! Enjoy the rest of your week, guys! And the pictures! 

-Elder Staib


Monday, March 19, 2012

Cherry trees!

its springtime in the south!

i'm feeling particularly lazy about my email today, as you can see in my lack of capitalization. but that's all fine. you guys get it.

spring has sprung, and everything is getting extremely green. like... the most green ever. and the most amazing things have come into bloom, too. like cherry trees! there are cherry trees all over! they smell and look great. it's been unusually warm this past week, in the lower 80s. it feels like we skipped winter and spring entirely, and jumped from fall to summer. good biking weather, at least. someone told me i needed to go to goodwill and get khaki pants for the heat. oh gosh i'm dreading the upcoming heat... 100 degrees with 100% humidity. my dad is probably laughing at this, since he's endured it already with his football practice back in those good ol' days, which i'm sure was a wednesday. so yeah. heat's coming. i'll be drinking 3 water bottles a day. also, this weather, as it bounces from high to low pressure systems sweeping through, is still the chemistry that makes bad storms happen, so that threat is there. collierville is in a good spot to avoid the worst of the storms, but we're still gonna get some rough stuff here.

miracles. it's just cool how this transition is working, i guess. members are getting excited about sharing the gospel with their friends, and then they get excited to tell them about how their friends are willing to hear about the gospel, and then the members invite us over to teach them. that third phase hasn't happened yet, but the other two have, so we're gonna be teaching some precious members' friends soon here. it sounds like a great time for this area. maybe these longer daylight hours are working with me to be in a better attitude. i've been asking our dinner appointments to start looking for friends to bring over for dinner with us. members are offering to go out with us on days they've got off from work. this is how i wanted members to feel about missionaries. comrades in their daily lives, not a hindrance in any way. we've got a couple service opportunities coming, and we're actively looking for more. for example, the young women are holding a neighborhood yard sale soon. bro. pennington, the ward mission leader, told us that we gotta go to that.

to be honest, i was extremely uncomfortable about tracting when i got out here. psh, what am i saying... everyone is. doesn't matter who you are. and i'm still nervous about just walking up to someone and talking gospel stuff to them. what a blessing it is to have this new method of sharing the gospel through members! i need to work on contacting, though. that stuff still needs to happen.

the great family from a few weeks ago is still avoiding us. we'll drop in on the tuesday night and see what's up. the family we visited last week is hard to get to, as well, because of work and such. we tried going up to see them after church, but the wife was sick. oh, we drove up to that appointment in a camaro ss, a car made for racing. the engine was loud and the seats were small. i got shoved in the back, as usual. i couldn't even sit up straight.

there's also a family down in mississippi that has several friends and family members that aren't baptized that have agreed to take the lessons.

we need to increase our teaching pool, and give investigators more chances to hear the gospel, but i'm proud of myself and my companion for the work we did this week, and the members for the excitement they're feeling about the work.

i hear you guys got snow! dang it. the only falling white stuff out here are mass loads of petals. that's its own beauty, i guess. and the area will only get greener. hope everyone's staying allergy-free! all of our cars here are painted in pollen, but i'm not reacting to it. which is great, cuz i don't know if i could handle that.

-elder staib

oh, pictures.

1) a family owns a snake, and they fed it a white mouse while we were there. the snake's been sick lately.
2) a bunch of worms got stuck in the same spot in a storm drain after a very wet day. it was a wriggly mess.
3) camaro!
4) one guy we saw yesterday owned a pet wolf. yes, that's totally a wolf.
5) a little girl drew this for me.
6) pretty cherry trees!


Monday, March 12, 2012

Fa. Lay. Ow.


Well. It's been an interesting week of packing, and then packing again, and then unpacking. We got Elder Warren packed, and sent him on his way with President and other missionaries going home at the Memphis temple. After that, I joined a tri-panionship with Elder Jarvis and Elder Owen. We spent the next couple days packing for THEM, since they were both gonna leave Walnut Grove. Transfer day was a very nervous day for all of us. About 70% of the mission was getting switched up, so anything could happen. We knew for SURE that Walnut Grove was getting Sisters. Elder Owen was a nervous wreck because he didn't know where he was going. I had about 5 missionaries I wanted to be comps with. Elder Jarvis wanted to go back to the Arkansas side. After a tense half hour of President talking, he announced the new companionships.

Elder Owen was sent to Oxford, a college town in Mississippi. Elder Jarvis got sent to Arkansas. WALNUT GROVE GOT ELDERS (we were looking at each other like President just said a bad word), and I was paired up with ELDER FALEAO.

His name is Samoan. Here's a guide on how to say his name. Fa. Lay. Ow. Faleao. Not FuhLAYoh. Not FAlieh. FA as in CAR, LAY as in MAY and OW as in PAIN IN YOUR FACE IF YOU CAN'T SAY IT RIGHT. I feel so bad for the guy. Most people can't speak Polynesian words to save themselves. I'll have pictures of him eventually. He's from Colorado Springs, Colorado. His dad's Samoan and his mom's German. He was serving with Elder Warren in Walnut Grove when I first got here, so I knew him for a bit before he came to Collierville. I've been blessed to know my companions before serving with them so far. Besides Walnut Grove and Collierville, Elder Faleao has only served on the Arkansas side of the mission.

NEW FAMILY ALERT. I might have talked about them before. If not, here it goes. Last summer, Legendary Elder Arnold (the missionary that served 10.5 months here shortly before I came) and the ward mission leader Bro. Pennington were driving around (and one other Elder in the mix, but I don't remember who), and they passed by this lady on the side of the road holding a donkey. They stopped and asked if she could help. They introduced themselves as missionaries and asked if they could teach her about our church. Well, this past Thursday Elder Faleao and I were able to teach this lady, along with her husband, their first discussion. They are a great family. This lady has told us (back when Elder Fry was here, I believe) that she felt like the message we had for her was extremely important for her and her family.

She and her husband are very friendly, mild people. They find great joy in their grandchildren. We taught them the first discussion on Thursday, and then yesterday after church, Bro. Pennington took us up to try and see them again. One big reason we haven't been able to teach them up until now is that their schedules are very busy. Miraculously, they were there yesterday as well. They eagerly welcomed us. The husband asks the funniest questions. His first concern was with marriage (which Bro. Pennington handled marvelously), and then we addressed a separate concern yesterday. Coffee.

Word had gotten to him somehow that Mormons don't drink coffee, and he was freaking out. His wife said that coffee was his blood. It was all pretty comical, really. They like to tease us and stuff. Just a very happy couple. Anyway, we taught them the Word of Wisdom, and by the end of the lesson, they committed to keep it! They have so much faith. She knows for a fact that what we have to say is important.

Speaking of families, though, we haven't been able to see the other new family since they came to church a couple weeks ago. Some of that was because we were very busy with other things, but that's understandable. They're hard to contact with their busy schedules. I really don't want to lose this family. We're working to get with them as soon as we can.

We're getting the car this week, so that's a blessing. Also, a couple weeks ago, there were 100+ tornadoes that swept through the South. Luckily, here in Collierville, we're on higher terrain so the storm kinda gets shoved around us. Still, let's hope we don't get hit too bad. Hope everything's alright in Utah. A member here told us that there was snow there this past week. So dumb... The only white stuff we have here are falling petals from the trees. That's its own beauty, though.


Love you guys! Stay safe!

-Elder Staib




Monday, March 5, 2012

Elder Warren Has Been a Great Blessing in My Life

President, thank you very much for letting Elder Warren be my companion. He's been a great blessing in my life...Obedience has been giving great blessings.



We are gathered here today to remember my old companion, Elder Warren. He went back to the mission home today, and he'll leave at 7:30 tomorrow morning for his (soon to be) home in Draper, Utah. He's moving soon after he gets back home. It was a good run with him, and I'm glad he was my companion in Collierville. The picture where he looks like a depressed drunk was taken last night. Don't worry, it's creme soda. He had a good run on his mission, with many wonderful new friends. Makes me kinda jealous, really!

The family we have been teaching did not show up for church this week. We hadn't seen them at all last week, so it's kinda our fault that they didn't show. We texted them if they were coming, and they were busy, so I guess they wouldnt've come anyway. Ah well... I'm making it a big point to get with them this week.

Right now, I'm in a tri-panionship with the Walnut Grove Elders, Arizonan Elder Jarvis and British Elder Owen. It's gonna be a great 3 days! I'm gonna be with them until I find out who my new companion is on Wednesday afternoon.

I'm still staying in Collierville, by the way. A whole bunch of areas are being swapped around here, though. Many new openings and white-washings. Ever since the Zone Conference, it feels like our mission is getting a complete overhaul. We're the first mission...probably in the WORLD to be given these new standards of missionary work. That is, not to knock on doors, and to find investigators through members. Street contacting is still needed, don't get me wrong. Door-knocking, especially here in Memphis, is just a waste of time. Pretty weird, huh?

Strangely, since this new push was issued, many members have been sharing with us their friends' names that are very interested in our church's beliefs. The work is going to be much more sturdy this way. New converts need friends. What better friends can we give them than the ones that are already there? FUTURE MISSIONARIES, this is the work of the future of the church. Take it to heart, and learn from it. The church needs to constantly strengthen both its members, new and old.

I'll let you guys know who my new companion is next week. I honestly have no idea who it could be. Like I said, most everyone's being shifted around. Be safe in all the snow I hear you guys got! Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.


-Elder Staib

OH RIGHT. We had a ceremonial suit-burning. That is, a 6-month-old missionary burns a tie. A 12-month-old burns a shirt. A 18-month-old burns pants. A 24-month-old burns a whole suit. Elder Owen hit his 6-month mark last week, as well as Elder Jarvis with his 18-month mark, and Elder Warren with his 24-month mark. Elder Warren swapped the suit pants for a shirt, so we had the WHOLE COLLECTION to burn. We burned it on a grill in someone's backyard. Fun times! :3