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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New Investigators

Hey everybody.

This week lightened up a lot more. There are a few people that have stepped up and really started investigating the church. We have a potential 3 baptisms lined up; one person who's the boyfriend of a member, and two members of a part-member family.

So, I'm staying in West Memphis for another six weeks. I'm very happy to be serving with Elder Kowalk some more. He's been a great friend, and we teach well together. Today has been very stressful, waiting for a potential phone call for one of us to be transferred, but luckily, nothing happened. It'll be a good next 6 weeks!

The heat here is getting pretty bad. Now I understand what they mean by "it feels like a sauna". You're sweating pretty bad at those peak times. Luckily we have our car this week, but next week is bike week, and that doesn't make me so happy. We get to go on walks every morning with an investigator, though, and that's been a great thing to do.

I guess not too much has happened this week, other than teaching these 3 potential people who are pretty dang close to baptism. We're very excited for them. Please keep them in your prayers, that they'll see the importance of the choice they're making.

I love you guys!
-Elder Staib


This gentleman is Austin Canfield. He asked me if I knew Sister Staib, who had served with him in Colorado Springs. I told him she was my sister, and he told me he had only served in her zone for a transfer, but he still remembered her. So that was cool to run into him.
At Zone Conference
At Zone Conference
At Zone Conference
At Zone Conference
At Zone Conference
This typewriter has helped me write several letters to my friends. It's very nice to have around.

Moving from an older planner to the new.

Don't get dishwashing detergent and dishwashing soap mixed up.

One of the members gave us a puzzle cube at church yesterday. We finally figured it out.

Monday, May 21, 2012

His Grace is Sufficient

Hey everyone.

This week has not been the best, but Elder Kowalk and I had some fun adventures:
  • We caught a baby turtle and taught it the gospel; 
  • We caught a lot of fireflies and had a dance party; 
  • Matt told us his new plan to stay in town for a while, so he'll be baptized soon, hopefully; 
  • And Elder Kowalk and I got caught in a horrible, terrible storm underneath a 4-foot-wide building awning, and were close enough to lightning to SMELL the actual bolt. We laughed the whole time.
Still, it can't fully beat out the pain of being prejudiced against by a member of the branch. He was driving us home Saturday evening, and the discussion we were having with him turned into him saying, "The people in the South that have been through so much won't take any advice or counsel from a perfect Utah boy who hasn't been through the things we have."

That hurt. It really hurt, and I'm still in the process of getting over it. I'm far from perfect, and thinking that I don't having anything worthwhile to say because I haven't had it as hard as some people is probably the largest wall I've come up against. I just...I don't wanna get too much into it. I'm a missionary, and I need to be Christ-like. The work is going to be a lot harder now, though. This member isn't cooperating with us anymore, and we're not sure what to do.

I guess I'm not in the best of moods, so just help me get through this with prayers. We'll still focus on the people that truly matter, no matter who or what tries to bring us down.

We heard a wonderful talk this past Thursday, called "His Grace is Sufficient". It's changed my mission, and Elder Kowalk's as well. Here is the link to it:

Please watch it. It gives me so much hope and comfort. Until next week, stay safe, everyone!

-Elder Staib


Monday, May 14, 2012

Went to the Memphis Temple Today

Dear Everyone,

We went to the temple, and it was a good learning experience for me. I learned a lot about Christ's love, and how special this gift of agency we have is. Funny what we can learn in such a wonderful place.

Well, it was a quiet week, with an abrupt and crazy end. Elder Kowalk and I have been trying to get this Toolbox to work, and we're not getting much success. We're teaching a 7-year-old member before he's baptized on request of his parents, and that's been an adventure. He's got some pretty interesting ideas, and it's hard to stay on track.

We did a bit of thrift shopping on Saturday (everything's like...75% off on Saturdays), so we got some incredible new ties. I got one that felt like a quilt, and another one covered in cows and lobsters. I dunno why, but I had to get it. 

As we walked around one store, a fellow with a white beard and dark dreadlocks walked up to us and asked why Mormons are called Mormons. We told him about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, and he got on this big repetitive tangent of how our religion follows the same name as the church in the Bible, and something about religion evolving after Constantine. He started making hand gestures, and all of a sudden, his right hand came up, and Elder Kowalk and I saw it for the first time. His pinky and ring finger nails had grown at least two to three inches. He was also missing half his teeth on the top row, and I got sprinkled with his lovely saliva every now and then. We were very careful to shake his left hand instead of his right, and we gave him our information. He wouldn't let us have his address, though. So that was a dead end.

Sunday morning, Elder Kowalk and I walked through the front doors of the church. A man was sitting on the couch, leaning on his arm and sleeping. He had cuts, scratches and bruises all on the right side of his face, along with a huge black eye. Elder Kowalk recognized him as Matt, the guy I talked about a couple weeks ago that had moved from San Diego. Elder Kowalk and I stuck around until he finally woke up. Sacrament meeting had just began at that point. He smiled and said hello, and we sat down and asked him what the heck happened. 

This guy has been through a lot for being only 21 years old. His home is in Placerville, California, which sits right between my old homes of South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado Hills. He met a woman in San Diego, and she led him to come live in Arkansas. They were planning to get married. Back in California, Matt was getting visits from the missionaries three times a week. He desperately wants to be baptized, and he's eager to see us whenever he can. 

He's homeless, but he holds very dearly to the set of scriptures he's got. I won't go into detail, but Matt was jumped by some people four nights ago. At one point he wanted the fastest bus to either Placerville or Maine, but now he's working to reconstruct his relationship with the woman. Crazy stuff is happening. Until then, though, we're working with him to help him with some Word of Wisdom problems and bring him to baptism. It seems like he'll be in West Memphis for a bit, from what we last heard. We met up with him this morning and talked for a bit before Elder Kowalk and I had to rush to the Memphis temple. I also gave him a can of soup. He's smiling, though, and that's what counts. I can't help but think of the hymn, "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief".

Those are my big stories for the week. We're on bikes this upcoming week, and it's going to be hot and sunny. I'll be sure to get better stories to share as well. For now, it's been a long day. 

I love you guys!

-Elder Staib


Saying goodbye to Elder and Sister Holmes. They left today.
We're all alone in West Memphis!


Orange Crush is divine

Magnolias. They are big. -Elder Kowalk

Arkansas Fields Forever

Monday, May 7, 2012

"I like turtles."

Well, this past week was interesting. We're putting a lot of our efforts into training the leaders of our little branch in using the Toolbox in their classes and their lives. It's been slow. People are canceling appointments on us left and right, and we fill our time the best we can. We've already got our ward mission leader on board.  There is a lot of doubt in others' minds about how well this Toolbox will work. It's nothing new to them, apparently. There have been many attempts at these sorts of methods. We'll just keep pushing to make it all work.

On Friday, as we were driving out to the country towards a small town called Proctor, an isolated and very scared turtle lay curled up in the middle of the road. Elder Kowalk and I did the Christ-like thing and put the turtle in the car so we could deliver him to a pond. Luckily, the member we were about to visit had property that shared the shoreline with a lake, and she let us release it there. On our way back home, we found another turtle willing to risk its life to cross the pavement, and I didn't hesitate to hop out of the car and pack it in the car. The turtle didn't like the idea very much, though, and it urinated everywhere. We ended up letting it go in a less peaceful manner. We tossed it into a shallow swamp. Better than being roadkill, though.

I had a very special experience on Saturday. An older couple that was baptized a little over a year ago, the Fosters, were sealed in the temple, and they invited Elder Kowalk and me to go with them. They also invited Elder Allen, the missionary who baptized them, to attend, which he was able to do. Elder Allen's current companion is -- ta da! -- Elder Faleao. It was really great to see him again. I was very excited to go to the sealing because I had never seen a sealing before, proxy or live. I learned so much. It was a great blessing for me to be able to attend. It answered a lot of questions I had at the time.

We're working with a few part-member families, recent converts, and some investigators that have been taught for months now. It's great to answer their concerns and help us learn ourselves. We have our car this week, but next week we're back on bikes... Bluh... It's not gonna be very fun. The weather is heating up, and the humidity is getting higher. I hope I can endure it well.

-Elder Staib


A litter of kittens birthed by a completely black cat, Coco.
Elder Kowalk and I tried to catch lightning on our cameras.
This was a large burst too bright to be captured in detail,
but it lit up the sky magnificently.


Any missionary that comes into the apartment signs this shirt.
I'm on the shirt's right chest.


There are so many cool relics lying around this place.

 Got a long way to go, bud.

We have a toy that makes noise when you hit it,
and we like to play hot potato with it. It broke soon 

after we got it, though, so we surgically ripped it open, 
fixed the voice box, and I sewed it back up 
with fishing line, good as new!