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, September 24, 2012

JT and Blake Are Doing Well

Well, well. Elder Staib here with another wonderful weekly update.

Even though this has been another droll week and I think people are avoiding us, that doesn't mean it was unsuccessful. We had a baptismal date fall through that we had with an older lady because one of her nephews or sons or something thought we were Jehovah's Witnesses and kicked us out. Things have been, however, been progressing smoothly for other individuals that I won't name for certain reasons.
Ah, specifics would be so handy right now... So what can I say instead? I will say, it is interesting how the Lord humbles people to appreciate what they have and the Spirit others carry by suddenly changing a small part of the person's usual environment. 
Of course, those same laws apply to me as well, and I've had similar experiences bring me closer to God's love and truth. I've felt a lot of love from the members of the branch and close friends lately, so much so that even though I would like to leave West Memphis as a change of pace, I will miss the friends I've made here. But work is work, and sometimes you have to work around friendships to get things done. I understand that if I leave, it will be for my benefit, and those friends will still be there for me.

Bro. Jones, the Young Men's President, is out of town for the next couple of weeks, so he's given Elder Mortenesen and I the responsibility of watching over the young men on Wednesdays and Sundays. I'm grateful for this chance since I haven't been interacting with J.T. a lot lately, and wanted the chance to do so. HE DID get to go to the temple for the first time this past week, though! That was awesome. He absolutely loved it. We went along to provide priesthood backup. 
On Sunday we taught the young men (all 3 of them, which is more than usual), and I got to hear J.T talk about how he wanted to convert to the gospel for himself, not just because his girlfriend was a member. Hearing him say that himself made me so happy. 
I also asked the Collierville sisters how Blake was doing a couple weeks ago. They kinda laughed and said that he was solid, without a doubt. I'll need to give him a call soon. With the baptisms I have under my belt, I'm so glad that both of these young men have remained faithful to the church and have good families beside them!

This week, we get to help the local library set up for a book sale (it's a community service thing), and maybe they'll let us set up our own stand to hand out BoMs. Elder Mortensen and I have also attempted and plan to attempt to extend our outreach more and do some more street contacting, since I'm uber shy and I'm not much of a fan of meeting strangers. 
As we were biking the other day, an older couple called us over and started asking about what other books of scripture we read from besides the Book of Mormon and the Bible. it turns out the man has several brothers that are leaders or have been leaders in the church, so they know a lot about the church already. We offered to come by their home, but they declined. However, we gave them our number and an offer to help them with whatever we can, which they seemed very eager about. It was a tender mercy to see their eager faces and answer to their curiosities.

I want to improve myself as a missionary. I feel that a change in area will bring that about, but I know that's the lazy answer. I've felt myself grow so much already, but I'm not where I'm supposed to be as a missionary. The mission has provided several opportunities for us to make the changes we need to have the Spirit more fully in our lives. I need to make the choice to act on my faith to follow through with these methods. That's all it takes...

I love you guys! Thanks for all the support I receive every week! Stay safe, and enjoy the autumn weather and sights!

-Elder Staib

Monday, September 17, 2012


Hey there everyone.
Today got off to a wet start. We've finally gotten a nice rain, which was desperately needed. 
We'll be on bike week this upcoming week. Another week of nothing truly dynamite. I'm honestly not sure what to expound on or talk about at the moment. Doors haven't been opening, and some people we normally contact often have been difficult to get a hold of. Sometimes I think to myself that this name tag is more of a repellent than a magnet. I know I represent Christ, and he was rejected a bunch, but gee whiz... Yup, missionary work is hard. I'll say it again.
The good pick-up is having a good district. I love the missionaries I have around me. They're great guys, and work really well. I'm in the same district as the missionaries serving smack-dab in the middle of Memphis, as well as the suburbs around it. We get to hear all sorts of fun stories. Memphis has the second-highest crime rate in the country behind Detroit, after all. 
We get to go across the bridge and play basketball with the Memphis missionaries about every Monday. On top of having a good district, I've got a good zone. I'm glad I can still see Elder Kowalk every now and then since he's still in my zone. He's going to be a trainer next transfer! This'll be his second time. As for me, I don't know if I'll be staying in West Memphis next transfer. Not that I'm doubtful, I just have no clue what this next transfer will be like.
I'm still growing spiritually! I'm turning into Jacob, with a faith unshaken. I know the church is true, but the problem is letting others know it's true, and having them know it themselves! 
Well, that's about all I've had on my mind for today. I'll catch ya'll next week!
-Elder Staib

Monday, September 10, 2012


Another week, more learning.

The recent convert's mother that Elder Kowalk and I were teaching a couple months ago, and eventually Elder Smith was teaching as well, is getting her family together as often as she
can for scripture study. Now THAT'S a miracle, and we're so happy for her. She knows it's true. We know she knows it. We're so happy she's brought this choice into her life to study these words for herself, and make her family the center of it. We read with her the other day, and she loved what we read (Mosiah 4, it's a good one for talking about how to have a good home). As we left, she asked us for more scriptures for her to read later. She's not just nibbling at this. She's feasting. We're excited. So yeah, there's my dynamite experience for the week.

It's really hard to find something else new to talk about nowadays because no one seems to be progressing. Not that we aren't spending time with them, but no one is closer to baptism or anything like that. I guess today I can focus on what I've learned in my studies.

There's a quote from a general authority towards the back of Preach my Gospel that encourages missionaries to read fom the Book of Mormon and New Testament in the morning. I finished the Book of Mormon, and go back to study particular chapters every so often, but my project that
I've been tackling lately is reading and completing the New Testament. This is my first time I've read through it from front to back. I can't believe how much easier it's made my mission to help teach the people that eat, drink and live New Testament scripture around here. I shoulda realized this before, but it's been a blessing to understand all the passages of the New Testament so plainly with the Holy Ghost as my guide.

I recently finished 2 Corinthians. The first 4 Gospels are a breeze to get through, and Acts totally backs up the structure and procedures of the church, but the Pauline letters are a struggle. Paul has the most difficult writing voice ever. No wonder there are so many different religions. I can't wait until I get to Peter and James and all them. That's not to say I don't get anything out of Paul's writings, though. I once backed up all sorts of doctrine strictly from 1 Corinthians, because that was fresh in my mind. Luckily, my companion backed THOSE up with Book of Mormon scriptures, so that was cool. It reminds me of Moroni's words,

9 For behold, this is written for the intent that ye may believe that;
and if ye believe that ye will believe this also; and if ye believe
this ye will know concerning your fathers, and also the marvelous
works which were wrought by the power of God among them.

I think we proved it all true in that lesson, and we'll continue to do it. I'll go back to talking about Acts. I don't know how more simple in the Gospel you can get to understanding certain ordinances and gifts of the Spirit after reading Acts. Laying on of hands is referenced at least 5 times; to give the gift of the Holy Ghost, to heal others, and to set people apart to serve in different areas. Apostles went around and had authority to set straight the doctrines that people were already messing up.

I also don't understand how people can accept closed-canon scripture (i.e. The Bible is the Bible, and that's all the scripture we'll get). Studying the New Testament has totally built my faith in continuous revelation. Satan is a real guy, making folks read silly things from the Bible. I don't get it.

I guess the events of this past week can be summarized with a scripture from Jacob (my favorite book in the Book of Mormon :D ).

5 And he had hope to shake me from the faith, notwithstanding the many
revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these
things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me.
And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very
word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken.

People have been trying to shake me of my faith. This has only made me study more about the particular doctrine they're unsure about. Satan tries to get me down, but I flip it around and take the opportunity to solidify that belief.

And I mean "flip around". I've drawn out a diagram of the Plan of Salvation and written scriptures next to every single step in the plan. My studies can get intense.

Of course, I'm still a missionary, and I need to help others come to Christ, make covenants and go to the temple. As I look for the soul that is ready to make commitments and changes, I'll strengthen my
knowledge, both in the simple and complex aspects of the Gospel, so that I can be prepared for whatever comes my way. West Memphis has been a very difficult area for me, both as a missionary and as Matthew Staib. But I can't let a town I'm a stranger to bring me down. I have to be the light set on a hill, a Christ-like example.

Well, my sister got married on Thursday, so that's all sorts of weird, but congrats to her! Alex Newey is leaving on his mission soon, so good luck to ya! I haven't heard from Stephen or Micah for a bit, so
get on that! Tyler Haws is back home, so GO COUGARS! I hear we're 2-0 so far for football. GOOD. :3

Well, I love you all. Thank you for your prayers and letters. We're spending our P-Day with 3 other companionships, I think, so we'll have a good day ahead of us, as well. I'm still pushing along! ONLY A MONTH AWAY FROM A YEAR. Freaky. I was thinking today, 'Man, Jordan Bingham hit a year a couple months ago...' Blows my mind! I haven't heard from him for a bit, either. I'll send him a letter.

Anyway, good luck with schooling, whoever is in school, and have a good week!


-Elder Staib

Monday, September 3, 2012

We Survived Hurricane Isaac

Hey there peoples.
This past week, Hurricane Isaac swept through Louisiana and crawled up into Arkansas. It was a tropical depression by the time it got to West Memphis. 

We didn't get hit too bad. There were some thunderstorms that blew in and lasted an hour or two, forcing us to return to our apartment a bit early. We were on bike week this week, so we didn't have much of a choice. The coolest sight came from the storms last night. A low row of sweeping clouds were rolling along, while mountains of cumulonimbus clouds loomed directly above us. Silent lightning jumped between the gaps in the mountainous clouds, making incredible glows and arches of light. The majesty of God's creations at its finest. We're safe from the storms. Apparently, an area of the mission in northern Mississippi got hit with a tornado, but it didn't get too close to the missionaries there.
Strangely, we didn't have church yesterday. At all. When the counselors got to the church building, they found that the electricity and air conditioning were out, probably from the lightning storm the previous night. They called as many branch members as they could and cancelled church. First time that's ever happened to me. We just went home and studied for a few hours.
We're teaching a good part-member family -- well, a couple good part-member families -- and we're so happy for them since their new job schedule lets them come to church every week. We also helped another part-member family move this past week. Their new home compared to their old apartment is such a change. My jaw dropped when I entered it the first time. They're quadrupling their living space, which is awesome. They need it. Service. That's how Ammon got in with King Lamoni, right?
I've got a good district, a good companion, a good branch and a good mission. All we need are many new, good investigators! I understand that West Memphis is a more difficult area. Collierville was, as well. I'm truckin' along, doing the best with what I've got. 

I suspect I'll be here for a while. Just a hunch. That wouldn't be too bad because I share a birthday with a kid here that'll be turning 8! Elder Kowalk and I taught him the missionary lessons on his parent's request, so that was a fun experience. Plus, it'd be a bummer to get to a new area right before my birthday. Hey, and after this transfer, I will only be a week from hitting a year! CRAZY.
Anywho, I gotta get going. We've been invited to a Labor Day party with our branch mission leader. I expect good barbeque and some redneck horsin' 'round. I'll most likely have pictures. Talk to ya'll next week!
-Elder Staib