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, February 25, 2013

Just Servin' a Mission!

I don't even know what's up any more.

People are being so...spontaneous, it's ridiculous. One moment we have a fantastic lesson with an investigator or a less-active, and another moment we get yelled at, rejected, or those cool investigators don't keep commitments. The missionary world is out of whack. So I'll talk about some cool people for a sec.

Annie and her 12-year-old son, Luke. She was hurt by the last church she joined, and is kinda timid to think about attending ours, but she's a wonderful person and mother. Her husband works on the river, so he's never really around. Luke is a cool cat that likes basketball. We're trying to get him hooked up with the other young men in the branch because they'd totally hit it off.

When we teach her, the Spirit in that home is so strong, and it brings her the greatest comfort in her life. She loves our being there so much, and we love her as well. We keep on trying to get her to church. At that point, she'll know it's home for her.

The Kerns are a young family found a couple years ago by my follow-up trainer, Elder Warren. They didn't like missionaries before since they felt like they were being pulled to baptism, but Elder Whetten and I are taking it slowly and by the Spirit. The Kerns are now eager to ask questions and read what we ask them to. Again, they just gotta enter our little branch building, and we'd be set.

We have a few baptisms scheduled for this week, but at this point, they ain't lookin' like they're happenin'. We need to convert a teen to Jesus Christ and help a couple of parents put down the Marlboros.

We're bringing an awesome less-active family back into activity. We've got a lot in common, so it's a blast to be with them, but they drink up the gospel like reliving their childhoods. They love being reminded of what they once knew. We're very happy for them.

Good things are happening in Pocahontas. We just need prayers that people will act on their faith and DO things -- particularly, go to church.

Gospel's still true, even if a guy with a beer in his hand cursing at us says it isn't and that we're wasting our time as young men (which happened the day we got back from seeing Elder Bednar). Just servin' a mission! Preaching the word and loving everyone. Yeah... Love is truly the word I've learned here. How to love, how love invites the Spirit and what power love has to bring happiness and eagerness into learning about the gospel. Love is great. Everyone, love more.

And with that, I love y'all! Elder Whetten and I get along well. We might push buttons, but we've learned to really support each other. His parents are having him apply for a scholarship, so I've offered to proofread his essay.

-Elder Staib

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Wonderful Weekend; One I'll Never Forget

It's been a big week with big events and big drives to big places.

The week itself was decent. We taught some people, and there are a few progressing, but there's something about keeping commitments that people just don't like. We're trying to change our lesson habits so that commitments seem more like connecting with God rather than doing homework. Slow progression is being made, though, so no complaints.

Friday, we left Pocahontas with Elder and Sister Musick, picked up the Elders in Paragould (the area next door), and shipped off to Little Rock for the biggest event this mission has seen in a while, if ever. We were about to hear from Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve, Bishop Gary E. Stevenson of the Presiding Bishopric, Elder Richard J. Maybes Of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Bleuth, an area seventy. Every missionary in the mission was on their way to the North Little Rock stake center to hear these four inspired men.

Everyone was getting nervous. I was fasting myself.

We arrived in Little Rock on Friday night. This was my first time back in Little Rock since I left the transfer meeting for my first area in Collierville. That was 16 months ago. Elder Whetten and I brought bedding to sleep over at the other missionaries' apartment. As we got there and socialized with the other two Elders, more missionaries popped through the door. Then more. Then more. A total of ten Elders stayed the night in that apartment. We shared mission experiences and had a great time. I'd never realized how therapeutic it was to just share stories until I came on the mission. I slept on a few pillows that night.

Saturday morning came. The ten of us hopped in and out of the bathroom, and the apartment exploded into white shirts and ties as we anxiously prepared to meet an apostle. We had been asked to be seated by 8:30 in the stake building.

I walked in to find, to my delight, GENE JONES sitting on the back row. I was so happy to see him there. Anyway, we all sat there, reading and praying to have questions answered. Then they announced that we would be taking a huge mission picture before the meeting. We all shuffled into the gym area and got into rows. I was looking towards a couple other missionaries when the room suddenly got kinda quiet.

I looked up, and Elder Bednar was walking straight towards us. I just stared at him. He looked more gray and old than I had remembered. He said good morning. We all said good morning to him. We took the pictures. He stood up, and with a light-hearted voice, saying, "Well, let's go to church", we went back into the chapel.

Elder Bednar began his portion of the meeting by saying that he had lived in Fayetteville, Arkansas from 1980-1997, and he loved it. He loved the Bible Belt. He loved all the anti-Mormon sentiment and the Bible bashers. He loved Arkansas. And he knew our struggles. We immediately fell in love with Elder Bednar. He even shared with us a moment where he called his friend a Pharisee for being so tied to the written word and not believing in the revelations of God. The room was in awe.

I won't tell much more of what he said, but I received much revelation for the work that is to be done in Pocahontas. It will take a long time to apply all that I've learned, but I will apply one principle at a time.

After the meeting, everyone got to shake the general authorities' hands. I looked straight at Elder Bednar and he looked straight at me. I thanked him. He thanked me back. But in that instant where he thanked me, I didn't feel it was him thanking me. It was as though Jesus Christ was thanking me. Thanking me for my sacrifices. Thanking me for my work and my progression. Thanking me for trying to live His will. It was a gratitude of love.

After the meeting, I was so happy to see Elder Kowalk. We just gave each other a big hug and laughed. Then we went to speak with Gene, and it felt like we were right back in Gene's living room. I had true friends around me.

Later Saturday, Jerzie Crowther was baptized! Her great-grandfather baptized her.

On Sunday, we had stake conference in Memphis. Yes, we drove all the way down to Memphis the next day. Elder Maynes was presiding, and spoke to us.

To put the cherry on the cake of the whole weekend, though, it seemed that the entire West Memphis branch came to the conference. The Barnetts, the Allens, JT, the Oreys, the Sotos, the Jones, Kattie, Sis. Kitchens, the Masons, Bro. White, Bobby and Kristin Rains, Gene -- everyone. I was beaming. I saw my mission family.

This weekend was a wonderful weekend. One I'll never forget. I learned a lot from an Apostle of the Lord, taught in the way Christ would teach. This is what the mission is about. Learning and loving. I love my mission!

-Elder Staib

Elder David A. Bednar Visits us in Little Rock, Arkansas!

Elder David A. Bednar Visits the Arkansas Little Rock Mission
Jerzie Crowther was baptized Saturday, February 16 by her great-grandfather

My New Companion, Elder Whetton

          There is only one place in our mission where you can go to the Missouri border.              AND I WAS THERE!

Hilly Pokey

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pocahontas, Arkansas

Hey folks. I'm typing this from scenic Pocahontas, Arkansas. Population near 7,000. It's a very hilly area that reminds me of San Francisco. Right now all the trees are dead, but I bet when spring comes around it'll be a giant forest of green. Can't wait!

My companion is Elder Whetten. He's from Dallas, Texas. His parents are from Mexico. He's an MMA fighter. He's about the same height as me, though. He's very quiet, but bold in what he teaches. He likes to joke around as well. He goes home in April, so I've been given the task of seeing him off. He'll finish out strong, though. He's a magnificent worker.

We work with a senior missionary couple, the Musicks. They're awesome. Elder Musick told me on the way up to Pocahontas that the Pocahontas branch is 90% older folks, which makes everything pretty odd. It makes bringing younger people to church more difficult because they have no one to relate to, and all the younger families that WOULD come to church are less-active or inactive. I'm still trying to get a grasp of what exactly to do here, but for right now, the same goal to baptize is still the main objective.

We're baptizing a 9-year-old girl this weekend, and hopefully a husband, his wife and one of their sons two weeks after that. We're progressing. Oh, and we're on FULL CAR, so that's like... a missionary's dream.

Pray for the area that it'll be fruitful, and that the lukewarm people will choose to find answers and follow the gospel. Love y'all!

-Elder Staib    

Monday, February 4, 2013

Emuobor's Baptism and Other Pictures

I'm Sad to Leave Jonesboro

Everyone, I'm leaving Jonesboro. And I do not like it.

I really thought I was growing as a missionary here. I felt like Jonesboro would be my new stomping grounds, and I would help the member missionary work get better along with the amount of new investigators. The reason it didn't happen in the 3 months I was here could be from several factors. Maybe it was because of the holidays, and all the students just came back. Maybe we had to get a couple baptized people to get the members excited. I can think of a few other things that I won't write down, but all in all, maybe the work in Jonesboro didn't progress as much as I wanted it too because I waited too long.

Whatever the reason, I'm leaving Jonesboro. And I do not like it.

It makes my stomach turn to talk about investigators or anything like that because... I won't be seeing them or teaching them ever again ever. I was really excited for some, too! Michael has had family trouble every week for the past 3 weeks, so he hasn't been coming to church, but he still loves to see us and study with us and learn how simple the gospel can be. He wants to come to Institute and church as soon as he can, work and family permitting. Michael has grown to love and trust us missionaries.

We also had a cool potential investigator come onto our radar this week. We go to Wendy's often because we get a plethora of coupons. There's a girl who works there that sees us as regulars, and we chat with her about random things. She asks us questions about the mission. She's very curious about it.

Turns out missionaries have knocked on her door before. She has also worked close to a member in our ward, so she thinks, "If they're from the same church, they're good people". Her name is Liz. A red-head that works at Wendy's. Fantastic. She lives just across the street, and her fiancĂ© works at a barbeque place also across the street. All these two people do is work. We set up  a chance to see them Sunday, but her uncle was in the hospital and she was asked by her parents to make a dinner and the Superbowl was happening yaddayadda IN THE END. We were unable to meet with her. And we were sad, but excited to see her soon and set up another time.

But I'm leaving, so... can't be much excited anymore, can I? :/

I may be moving to Pocahontas, which is directly north of Jonesboro. We'll see if that comes true. I'm kinda bummed, though, because it seems that no matter where I'm placed, I'll be far from familiar people. Pocahontas is far from ANY people, so that's a bit troublesome, too.

Jonesboro was a very social city, for people and for missionaries. Working a city with 2 other sets of missionaries was fun and wonderful. With coordination, work was done, and there were many opportunities to serve, teach and encourage each other. It'll be hard to be in the opposite spectrum for the next bit. One tender mercy is that I know I'll be in my next area for at least 3 transfers. I've been given the duty to "kill off" another missionary. Sending people home is really a drag

POSITIVE NOTE. Let's see... I'll get to meet new people! Who knows who's out there for me to meet. Also, I've never doubted that wherever I go, there's someone there that needs me, or I need them. Collierville, West Memphis and now Jonesboro have all been proof of that. Another point: I can mentally prepare myself to stay in my next area for a while. And if it's in Pocahontas, there will be an incredible set of Senior missionaries that bake us cookies ALL THE TIME. These Senior missionaries are legends.

Pray for me that I'll have the peace and comfort of knowing my new area needs me. I'm excited to meet new people, but packing up will be hard. I don't even know who to say goodbye to, but... Jonesboro was good to me.

-Elder Staib