First off, Elder Smith is being transferred for the last 6 weeks of his mission, which means I'll be staying in West Memphis for a bit longer. At this rate, I will have been here for at least 6 months altogether. I never would've thought!
We said our final goodbyes to a wonderful family in the branch, the Houstons, on Sunday. They were incredible friends and had great kids. Bradley, who turned 13 last month, was a great help in the work, and it was fun to let him help teach us. One fun story I remember from that family is this: A lot of the time in Priesthood quorum, Elder Kowalk would let the electric piano play a preset hymn, and I would conduct the music. So I've been the go-to guy for leading music.
Elder Kowalk and I went to Bradley's 13th birthday party. As we gathered around Bradley with the lit cake to start singing, he said, "Can you lead the music, Elder Staib?" That was a highlight of the mission. I didn't lead, but the invitation was hilarious. Afterwards, we played foosball in the garage. Kowalk and I made a dynamite team!
Anyway, I'll miss that family very much. They're going up to Maine. The whole branch is devastated from the loss.
This past weekend, I was privileged to hear from two members of the Seventy: Elder Marcus B. Nash of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Elder Fred A. Parker of the Sixth Quorum of the Seventy. We heard from Elder Nash at the stake center in Memphis with a bunch of other missionaries on Saturday morning. The room we all occupied, with that man standing in the front to speak to us, felt like the temple.
He came with some material, but opened up the meeting by letting us ask questions. One elder asked a great question which we spent most of our time on, but I learned so many great and uplifting things from the meeting. One cool thing he said was, "I know that you attended an MTC before you came to this earth", as talked about in D&C 138: 56. I got to shake his hand and give him a hug. I guess that's one advantage Elders have over Sisters. We get to give General Authorities hugs!
Elder Parker was an interesting man. He was full of love and power. Unfortunately, the first two talks given during sacrament meeting left Elder Parker with 10 minutes to speak before the meeting closed, but we got to hear from him some more in the third hour with the Priesthood and Relief Society.
Again, he came prepared with some material, but he was impressed to go somewhere else. Instead, he talked about how we can strengthen the Spirit's presence in our homes, and how our homes need to be a place of refuge from the world, no matter who enters it. Then he left everyone with a challenge to go home, call up a family member, tell them "Thank you", "I love you", "I forgive you", and then bear testimony.
I heard from some good men the past couple of days, ones that are completely open to any revelation they receive. It was great to see that.
Let's see, the work... Some people have been getting blessings, others have had trials pop up. Nothing new has happened, really. The school year started today, so that's awesome. People are finally getting into a groove! It seems like anything Elder Smith and I have tried building up this entire transfer has just toppled down again. I hope he doesn't see this transfer as a failure. I certainly don't. Even if the area hasn't changed much, I know we have. And that's progress.
No pictures this week, so I'll try hard to get a chance to put some up next week. Elder Smith and I got to go to the temple this morning with departing missionaries. One of those missionaries was Elder Jarvis, who I got stuck in a tri-panionship with when Elder Warren left. Yeah, he gets on the plane tomorrow. He hit 18 MONTHS when I was with Warren. I'm pretty sure time is a thing that likes to speed up every once in a while. Heck, after this transfer, I'll be a week away from hitting A YEAR. Yup. Halfway point comin' up. I'm not sure what to think. I gotta be ready to burn a shirt, I guess.
I love you guys. I'm praying for every one of you, and I'm grateful for the support I've received. I'll let you know who my new comp is next week. There aren't too many missionaries in circulation for this transfer, and the ones that are floating around are pretty awesome, so I'm excited! Talk to you guys next week!
Oh, we also got to watch Pres. Monson's 85th birthday celebration, which was INCREDIBLE. Most awesome thing ever.