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, 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

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