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, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving in Jonesboro, Arkansas

Happy Late Thanksgiving!

I hope your Thanksgiving was as fun as mine. We had a blast with the Rawlins family, and thankfully, that was the only Thanksgiving dinner we had. 30 people attended with more than enough food for everyone, so I was totally stuffed by the time pie was passed around. Before the feast, we played games in the basement. The game table kinda bowed upwards, so Bro. Rawlin's called it a "home-field advantage". Pfft. It was fun.

The food was really good. I went for the nontraditional ham, since ham is better than turkey ANY day. Elder Carter and I got locked into a fun conversation with a couple of cool cats that had as geeky of a sense of humor as the rest of us missionaries did. We bonded real fast. Later that evening we got to befriend the Rawlin's sons that were still home, Calvin and Spencer. It was a great evening, and we went away full. Afterwards, Elder Carter and I didn't have much success getting any teaching done, despite President's encouragement to do so. But we tried.

Sunday was incredible. There are a few less-active members we're working to get back to church, and it seemed like at every turn, we saw those members in the building, attending sacrament meeting. Elder Carter and I were so happy to see the fruits of our efforts. The Sisters had an especially wonderful Sunday. They baptized a young family that had only met the missionaries a couple days before I was transferred here to Jonesboro. They took hold of the Gospel as soon as it was offered to them. They'll make a great addition to the ward.

So let me talk about who came to church: First we had one of the members, an employee for Dillard's, that we've been working with to get back to church. HE FINALLY CAME AND WE WERE SO HAPPY. He's a younger guy that has a sarcastic sense of humor. You can imagine how well we get along. Next is a young man who was taught by the sister missionaries and baptized back in... oh, September, or maybe over the summer. He's working hard to be a better person, and it's incredible how far he's come. He reminds me a lot of Mike Lilly back at home, so it's nice to be on that familiar territory.

This last guy really made my jaw drop, kinda because I never thought I'd see him again. Time travel back to West Memphis. A family, the Runnels, lived out in Forrest City. We were asked to teach their daughter's boyfriend. I might have mentioned him before on the blog (I HOPE I have!), but his name was Jacob. I never found out his last name. We only taught him a couple times before he was moving up to college along with his girlfriend (and now fiancee), Janie.

It totally slipped my mind that the college they were moving to was Arkansas State University in JONESBORO. I saw him down the hall at church yesterday and flipped. I forgot he was up here. He was baptized back in October by the Jonesboro Elders... Ah well. As long as he was baptized. It was cool seeing him again, and now he's a recent convert we get to work with. Awesome.

One gentleman that came to church was an older African-American with a limp. He's very spiritual and loves learning about the Word. He goes to a park in town every weekday and prays for the people that walk through. Apparently, he's been to our church a few times, but this was my first time meeting him. The Spanish Elders say he's been taught by missionaries in Memphis already. Towards the end of the services, he told us that he wanted to be baptized into our church. he told us the Spirit told him the other night to join our church. We just need to ask him a few questions and make sure he's willing to obey the commandments, but we're happy nonetheless!

We've also got a referral from the Spanish Elders for a young family that's eager to meet us. We've had a lot of service opportunities as well, especially with the fallen leaves and the preparations for winter. For the moment, I think we need to work to improve our relationship with ward members. I don't see much interaction happening happening outside of the church building, so we've gotta form a bridge somewhere.

Elder Carter and I are awesome together. Now that I've established my teaching skills, he gives me some stage time to say what I want to say. The Spanish Elders live five minutes down the road. The ward is run by incredible men that get work done. Our ward mission leader is very Southern and knows how to break the ice, and he is also masterful at explaining the gospel in very plain and easy-to-understand terms.

There is a Baptist church, I believe, just across the street from the chapel. They've got a cool Nativity set up that I'll have to get a picture of. Jonesboro High School is on that road, and then the Arkansas State University campus is only a couple miles away. We live in some nice golf course apartments and might break out the clubs one of these P-days. It's free if we bring our own clubs.

Anyway, I love you guys, and hope you're all doing well. I'm so excited for the holiday season! Elder Carter is a Christmas FREAK, so we're going to make this the most jolly Christmas ever. Pray that we'll get some solid investigators to teach, though. We're making a push to find more this week.

-Elder Staib

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