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

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