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, June 25, 2012

"Tasted like salty chicken..."

Great, great, GREAT week. God blesses those that seek to have the Spirit in their lives, I'll say that. Also, an adventuring missionary is a cultured missionary. Put that on a plaque somewhere.

Where to begin... After sending my email last Monday, we got together with 3 other companionships and played some baseball and football. Elder Kowalk and I had also played tennis that morning, so by the end of the humid, 97-degree day, I was beat. It felt good to get that much exercise, though. Compare that to today, where Elder Kowalk and I both took some nice naps. We're excited to work off this mission pudge.

We had a great lesson with JT on Tuesday with the help of a deacon from the branch. JT's girlfriend recently visited Sandy (sad face) and got JT some awesome materials from Deseret Book, including his own quad. JT was also able to bless the Sacrament this Sunday, and he did a perfect job. He's moving forward and onward. We're working to get him to the temple for the branch's next temple day. The temple is closed this month, so we'll have to wait until the end of July.

When we got back from JT's on Tuesday, we headed towards the church building. As we drove through the neighborhood, a blinding light reflected off the backs of some homes, and as we kept driving, we found a bunch of fireworks going off in the back of an open field. It turned out they weren't fireworks. A powerline had gone down, and sparks shot everywhere. After it died down, a large fire started. Elder Kowalk and I jumped out of the car, and I dialed 911. The electricians and fire department came a few minutes later. Hey, sometimes missionaries can save souls in the physical sense.

On Wednesday we drove out to Wynne, which is about an hour away, to administer blessings to an investigator, her son, and her son's caretaker. We spent a bit of time there talking with them and taught the caretaker the first lesson. After staying there for a bit, Elder Kowalk and I explored Wynne for a bit, since it was so far away and we wouldn't be back for a while. The town of Wynne sits on and around a hill, probably one of 6 or 7 hills that grace the entire Arkansas farmland. Elder Kowalk and I were very excited to drive in, up, down, around and on such a wonderful hill. We even got out of the car and walked up a hill. We had to.

A recent convert told us of a restaurant in Wynne that served odd foods, so we checked it out. We asked for a sampler plate of ALLIGATOR and FROG LEGS. The frog legs were sick nasty. You could see the springy little tendons after each bite. The gator, though, was really good. Tasted like salty chicken, with the texture of cod or croppy. It's taken from the gator's tail, so it was like a little gator nugget. Everything was fried, of course. We had an appetizer of fried green tomatoes. This tops my list of strangest things I've eaten on a mission, and I am proud to say, I'VE EATEN ALLIGATOR. :B

Thursday was an awesome Zone meeting, and I got to see some good friends that have been in other areas. Friday was spent trying to solve some of Elder Kowalk's financial problems from going to the hospital in late April -- yeah, we're still feeling the effects of it -- and we both got some good mail from our families. Elder Kowalk got some good birthday goodies, and I found out some crazy new things about my own family that I won't disclose now. It sounds like they're enjoying their summer.

We're currently working with bringing a recent convert's family together in the gospel. They came to church yesterday, and the smiles on their faces were indescribeable. They felt the Spirit so strong, and they're very excited to learn more next Sunday. This is such a blessing to the recent convert, who has been receiving ridicule from her extended family. Several of the youth have been receiving patriarchal blessings, and they've eagerly told us what a blessing they are.

Some members and investigators have been falling away lately, and it's a sad feeling to know that once-good members of the church will put a block of hatred and rejection over their hearts for the Spirit they once felt. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave a great talk about forgiveness this past conference that I think everyone should go back and listen to. We had a lesson in Priesthood about it yesterday.

This past week has definitely strengthened my love in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Both scriptures support each other, build on each other, and clarify each other. One can find the fulness of truth within each verse. The Book of Mormon is proof that God still speaks to His children today, and He still speaks through His prophets and apostles, whom I love very much. Stay close to the Spirit and the Truth, and don't let Satan put any doubt in your minds on the sanctity of the feelings you receive from God Himself.

-Elder Staib


Elder Hardy goes home at the end of this transfer! Also, very few
missionaries know how to take a good picture. This isn't one of them.

Fried green tomatoes, frog legs and gator bites.


Amazing house owned by rich people on Mud Island. Mud Island is
just outside of dowtown Memphis and sits in the Mississippi River.

Another amazing house owned by rich people on Mud Island.

Elder Kowalk thought it was a good idea to melt gummy worms.

 It's dead, but this is the first real cicada I've seen!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Receiving the Priesthood

JT was ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood on Sunday, so that was great to see. Now he can soon go to the temple to do baptisms! We'll also talk to him about sharing the gospel with his family. He's still as incredible as ever.

This week has been pretty slow. Everyone is going places for the summer, so our appointments have been very hit-n-miss.

Earlier this week we tried to go over to the homeless shelter to see our investigator, but an older resident told us that he was no longer there. We hadn't seen him for a week and a half, so we were kinda sad that we didn't catch him before he had gone, if he had gone at all. The resident didn't know where he went to or how he left, so we took what we had heard with a grain of salt. Yesterday, one of our other investigators passed by the shelter and found him sitting outside. He's leaving for Maine on Tuesday, so we'll try and see if we can talk with him before he get's on the road. Needless to say, there goes one of the baptisms were planning.

We're still working with a couple of part-member families. It's mostly a scheduling issue we've got, and the father of one of the families wants to be alone when he takes the discussions. We're teaching him the best we can. We'll start teaching the other part-member family this week. The daughter of the family is a recent convert, and she's one of the most enthusiastic branch members we've got. It'll be wonderful if we can get their whole family together.

Well, no pictures today. The computer types I get stuck with are so inconsistent. I got some fun videos this week, though.

By the way, beeswax doesn't taste that great. I don't recommend eating it. We started off our P-Day on a fun note today. Went on a morning walk with an investigator, and then Elder Kowalk and I played some tennis. After I write this email I'll be playing baseball and ultimate frisbee with the rest of my district, so hopefully I'll be able to work off some calories and build some legs muskles (musk-ulls).

Anyway, I love you guys! Thanks for all tthe support you've given me, and I'll work on writing letters today as well!

-Elder Staib

Monday, June 11, 2012


Well, JT was baptized! He is now officially a member. He loves the Book of Mormon, and his family is behind him. His dad, step-mom, mom and little brother all attended the baptism service. We're hoping he can receive the priesthood in a week or two. Now that he's baptized, our young men's quorum has jumped from 2 to 3! We're working on it. 

Saturday was Elder Kowalk's birthday. It was nice to have the baptism held on that day, and we were fed lots of food. He's 20 years old now. He'll hit his year mission mark on July 20.

We had a branch council meeting yesterday after church, and it was great. We're applying the Toolbox! The members are stepping up to their duties, and we're helping them to do 'em.

This morning, one of our recent converts, a young woman, gave us a call. She was very excited to tell us that her mom had felt several impressions that she should investigate Mormonism. It was a very unexpected call, but we were very happy for this news. We've got a new responsibility on our shoulders! We can't wait to begin teaching her!

This past Tuesday was the Transit of Venus. Venus crosses between the sun and the Earth, and with protective eyewear, Elder Gerber and I (we were on exchanges) were able to see the tiny black speck move across the sun's surface. The entire event lasted six hours, but the sun set after about two hours. It was great to watch, though. Such an event won't happen again until 2117.

The bed bug bites turned out to be chigger bites. Chiggers are tiny red arachnids that secrete acid onto your body, bury into your skin, suck on your blood and die. I took a salt bath this morning to try and relieve the itching, because I've been dying of scratching. We're just glad it's not bed bugs, because that means we don't have to spray our apartment to kingdom come.


Chigger mites infest human skin via areas of contact with vegetation, such as pant cuffs or shirt sleeves and collars. They migrate on the skin in search of an optimal feeding area. A common myth about chiggers is that they burrow into and remain inside the skin. This is not true. Chiggers insert their feeding structures into the skin and inject enzymes that cause destruction of host tissue. Hardening of the surrounding skin results in the formation of a feeding tube called a stylostome. Chigger larvae then feed upon the destroyed tissue. If they are not disturbed (which is rarely, because they cause substantial itching) they may feed through the stylostome for a few days. The chigger's mouth and feeding structures are delicate and are best able to penetrate the skin at areas of wrinkles, folds, or other areas of skin that are thin...All mosquito repellents (such as DEET), applied to skin and clothing, are effective at repelling chiggers.- Dad

That's all the news from this side, really. We're thankfully getting the car back this week. I'm trying to be better every day, and doing my best to reject the adversary's discouragement and fear out of my life. It's a very real thing, and I've turned to the Lord many times to conquer it. Thanks for all your thoughts, prayers and letters.

-Elder Staib



Elder Kowalk blowing out his candles on his 20th birthday.

Complimentary birthday dog towel, courtesy of the Fusion Asian Buffet

Venus crossing in front of the sun.

Bug bites!

Odd advertisement.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Blessings, Blessings

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Lord truly blesses the long-suffering and patient. This past week has been one of miracles, and Elder Kowalk and I are very excited about this upcoming week. 

So let's get started with one particular kid, who is 17, and the boyfriend of a young woman in our small branch. He started coming with her to seminary, and then to Mutual, and then to church meetings. She's answered whatever questions he's had about the gospel, but any choices he's made to follow the commandments have been by himself. 

She told him about the Word of Wisdom, and he started to follow it without her asking. We asked to begin teaching him the lessons, and he eagerly accepted. This past week and a half, we've taught him all the lessons. We committed him to a date, June 23, but he didn't want to wait so long, so he rescheduled to a bit of an earlier time. We're baptizing him this Saturday, June 9! We can't wait! His parents support him all the way. He's been awesome, and loves reading the Book of Mormon. Blessings, blessings.
The part-member family is pushing US to teach them lessons, too. Once we're done with bike week this week, we can teach them more often, and hopefully we'll get a date for them as well.
We scheduled a date with the fellow from California for July 7. We're working hard with him, helping him to prepare for that date. He's got some stuff to work on, but nothing impossible. He's going through some very difficult trials, and we're doing our best to help him slow down and look at the big picture of his future while he stays in the homeless shelter here in West Memphis.
Life has been interesting. I won't have any pictures for you guys this week (I accidentally left my memory card somewhere, but I'll get it back tomorrow morning), so all the cool pictures and stories will have to wait for a bit. 

The weather is getting crazy and humid. A storm kept Elder Kowalk and me awake last night, along with the blaring weather radio with its sirens. On top of that, after we finally crawled out of bed, we found our entire lower bodies covered in itchy red pox. We've got bed bugs! YAY! It's been a good week, and we're hoping for another, even though we're on bikes. With the unstable weather and potential storms, we're seeing how to work around it.
Sorry about the lack of pictures. I'll do double duty next week. In the meantime, I love you guys! Make righteous choices, and the Spirit will be with you! You'll always be rewarded for doing the right thing.
-Elder Staib