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, March 25, 2013

We Got Snow in Pocahontas

Dear peoples. I really don't have much to report this week.

On Thursday we got snow. 6 inches of blessed snow. Oh, I loved it so much. It was so pretty and majestic and calm and peaceful and... It was the makeover Pocahontas needed. But then Pocahontas suffered a massive hangover, and the snow melted, and things got REALLY ugly sitting in the dripping slush. It's all gone now, though. The only thing left behind is the cold. It's still cold. Every day. And I don't like it. (I won't be thinking that when it hits 115 this summer.)

Zac and Brianna are moving towards baptism. We're helping them read, pray and come to church, helping Zac participate with the young men. They're just... moving forward, I guess. April 6 is their baptismal date.

John and Jennifer are progressing as well. We had a really good lesson yesterday with a member, Bro. Cates, inviting the family to come to church. Jennifer works, but John said he'd come with Kreanne. They like to listen to the Book of Mormon more than reading it, so I pulled up on their computer and showed them the "Listen" feature in the scripture section.

God has blessed us with technology for this reason. We have so many wonderful tools like this to spread the gospel and make it accessible to everyone. Don't shirk these tools. Show a Mormon Message to a friend. Give a link to a question someone might have. and are such cool websites!

The Kerns are currently moving 5 miles down the road, so they're a bit busy with that right now. It won't be too long before we feel we can really get them to progress quickly and faithfully. We showed them several talks given by Elders Holland and Bednar, so the Kerns are excited to come to General Conference.

As I said last week, it's all in God's time. We must practice patience, and God blesses us. We found several new people this week that look promising as investigators. One is that father of a disabled teenager and another is a younger family that's friends with Jennifer. Fates are intertwining, and we're tugging at the threads as the Spirit guides us. This church is so cool, because it's God's church.

I hope everyone is well! Elder Whetten's going a bit crazy from all the missionaries poking at his departure date. I'm doing what I can to keep things moving. Pray that we'll continue to find, and that our investigators will have faith enough to make big steps for themselves. Love y'all! (I admit. "y'all" has officially been integrated into my vocabulary.)

-Elder Staib

Monday, March 18, 2013

Patience is a Virtue

Well, it's all in God's time, I guess.

That's all we can hope for here. Patience truly is a virtue, and we're practicing it pretty hard here in Pocahontas.

For starters, let's begin with nature's wonders. Elder Whetten and I were tracting, and there was a tree standing about 20 yards from us. There was a small squirrel standing under it, tail flicking and doing its thing. Suddenly a HAWK swooped down and NAILED the squirrel, clasped it in its talons and FLEW AWAY with a bushy mass trailing its tail feathers. Elder Whetten and I froze in awe.

Hawk: 1 Squirrel: Dead.

We took over a member couple, the Rings, to visit the Kerns. The Rings' daughter-in-law works with Ashley Kern, so they hit it off perfectly. The lesson was great, and we talked about the Family: A Proclamation to the World. The Kerns read the Book of Mormon and asked fantastic questions. They went to a concert on Sunday, so they couldn't come to church, but they really want to come to Sunday school when they can. They're really progressing, and we're so excited to see their changes. Again, we have to be patient, but if we endure, they'll be an eternal family.

The woman from Corning doesn't want to see us anymore. She's too ingrained with her beliefs in the other church. After our last discussion with her on Saturday, we came away thinking that she doesn't want to join another church, but just wants to be accepted into her church again. She doesn't believe what we believe and won't change her mind because she's so strong in her beliefs, so we're going to let God work on her a bit. Until then, she's been put on hold.

We're teaching a family that just had a baby about 2 weeks ago. Amy, the wife, has cerebral palsy, and Allen, the husband, is striving to keep his family happy. He's a very good father. Amy and Allen have had 2 babies that passed away soon after childbirth, so their new baby is certainly a blessing.

Allen is very excited to learn and we can't help but smile the entire time we teach. He's trying so hard, and we can't help but love him. He wants to read the whole book of 1 Nephi before we see him on Tuesday. He's very good about reading what we give him, even if he can't understand bits of it. We can't wait to see where our discussions go with him. He finds the message of the Restoration and the Book of Mormon's message "very powerful".

Well, that's about it for now. Elder Whetten is finishing up, so I'm trying to keep him busy. The Rasdon kids are progressing as well, so no complaints there. The work is moving, albeit slowly, but as I said, it's all in God's time. We're here as guides, not dictators.

-Elder Staib

Monday, March 11, 2013

We're Seeing Miracles

Another week down.

As Elder Whetten and I were going through numbers for the past week, and after each number I wrote, I couldn't believe the success. At the end of the week, it felt like we hadn't done much and our investigators weren't moving as well as we'd wished, but from a numerical perspective, we worked. Hard.

Even though a few people weren't moving like we wanted, that's not to say we didn't still have miracles, along with a few setbacks. The Rasdon family is so precious to the missionaries in this area. Elder Whetten and I are working with the kids and the Musicks work with the parents. The family is really coming together. We have a baptismal date set for April 6th for the oldest daughter and the youngest son. Those are the last unbaptized family members remaining in the family. On April 6th, the entire family will have joined the church.

The daughter told us that she had seen a change in her family, and that it was a change she wanted for herself and her future family. The youngest son shared with us that he had made too many mistakes and doesn't want to make them any more, and that he wants this gospel to help him out. These kids have been prepared to let this gospel bless their lives forever, and we get to be a part of it. It's going to be a fantastic baptism.

We brought an investigator to church on Sunday. The woman from Corning. We taught her a lesson on Saturday alongside the Musicks, and in the process learned she had recently left another church. She'd been badly persecuted by that church because of her "different" beliefs. (Beliefs as wonderful as personal revelation and that the Holy Ghost is a being separate from Jesus Christ and God the Father.) She was looking for a spiritual home, so we anxiously invited her to church. And she came! She had many questions. She's very passionate about the Bible, and I suppose most of her intent of coming to church was to discuss the deeper doctrines.

She enjoyed church...until about 3rd hour. If you were at church yesterday, and you were discussing the same lesson we were, you would be in the chapter of Lorenzo Snow's teachings where he teaches about the eternal destiny of man. Let me take a moment to say I know this doctrine to be true and we can all become like our Heavenly Father. Our investigator, on the other hand, wasn't so keen. She couldn't imagine the thought of God having a body. I wasn't in Relief Society at the time, so I don't know what exactly happened. All I know is that when we offered to explain it to her at our next appointment, she said, "No, sorry. I don't want you coming over." She left with Elder Musick to be dropped off where she had parked her car.

Elder Whetten and I were so disheartened. We stood there, dumbfounded, thinking of all possibilities of getting her back. In the end, we agreed on one thing. Nothing could be done other than what God could do. God needed to work on her heart with this truth. And that's where we left it.

Elder Musick was inspired. Before he dropped our investigator off, he handed her a copy of Gospel Principles, the most basic book explaining our church doctrine I've ever seen. Elder Musick gave it to her to study. She took it.

Later that night, as Elder Whetten and I were in a dinner appointment, she called us with a question about prophets. We were so glad she knew we could still answer her questions, and she understood personal revelation more after reading about prophets. Elder Musick's gift of that book will open our investigator's mind and soften her heart; I know it. We're giving it time, but we have no doubt that time is all it will take. So please pray for this woman.

We're working with several great less-active members, helping them repent and come back. Some investigators are understanding more and more each day, while others don't do a thing until we walk through the door. Such is missionary work. We're doing our best, and thankfully, God is blessing us with miracles as we do what's right.

In fact, I got an email from Elder Stannard today saying that he had a referral for me! He's working with a recent convert that has grandparents that live right here in Pocahontas, and they're going up to visit their granddaughter this weekend up in Salisbury, Maryland. Elder Stannard's gonna prepare them for when they return to Arkansas to be taught by yours truly. He's excited. I'm excited. We're very excited. :3

Oh, on Tuesday, the mission department released new rules. Let this be known to everyone: Missionaries are now allowed to email families, friends, priesthood leaders and recent converts.

This is a blessing to me in ways I can't describe. Of course, things back home are still things back home, but I take this new responsibility as a call to share my growing testimony with those around me through whatever means possible. My blog is one way. And now email is another. This church is inspired, I'll tell ya.

Well, it's been a good long email this week. I hope everyone's doing well. It was 70 degrees yesterday! But then it went down to 38 this morning. We though we were finally getting warmed up here... Ah well.

-Elder Staib

Monday, March 4, 2013


We had a baptism. Two baptisms, actually.

Bro. and Sis. Rasdon were baptized on Saturday and confirmed Sunday. In all honesty, it wasn't a baptism earned by Elder Whetten and I. The senior missionaries, Elder and Sister Musick, were the miracle-workers there. What Elder Whetten and I are excited about now is that there are two Rasdon family members that have wonderful potential to be baptized.

The Rasdons have come a long way. Their 16-year-old son, Harley, was the first in the family to be baptized. We believe that if it wasn't for his gift of the Holy Ghost in that home, no progression would have been made. The Spirit is a powerful thing, whether you have it or someone else has it in a home. We love the Rasdons. They're very humble and self-sufficient.

We met with a woman up in Corning, which is about an hour north-east of town, on Saturday afternoon. She's a Christian country singer and she plays guitar and drums. She loves the Bible, mostly for its prophecies. We brought Bro. Smith, a branch missionary, along with us to teach her, and it went very well. She's had a hard life, but Bro. Smith was able to say that he had a hard life as well, and that the Book of Mormon was what got him through it. We're excited to go back and see her this Saturday.

We told her to call us if she had any questions, and to our surprise she called us this morning, asking us for help interpreting the Tree of Life. Once we explained it, she explained to us how she loved to read the Book of Mormon, how it made her feel peaceful when she read it, and how she couldn't get enough of it. She might even finish it before we see her next, if things continue! She's a pretty fab lady.

Now, the Kerns family. Each time we have a sit-down lesson with them, the outcome is nothing short of extraordinary. Elder Whetten and I walk away with the same thought, "Why aren't they baptized!?" So many questions and concerns of this world are put to rest with the answers the gospel gives! Ashley, the wife, has many such concerns, and we answer through the Book of Mormon and modern-day prophets and apostles. As I said, they didn't like missionaries initially, but they are always excited to have us over now.

We asked them a very inspired question: "To you, what is the next step you have to take?" Ashley responded that she thought it was baptism. I'm so glad we found that out, because otherwise they wouldn't have progressed! Elder Whetten confidently answered, "No, the next step you need to take is coming to church to see what it's like." That night, Elder Whetten and I prayed and fasted that they'd come to church.

We walked into the church building, and to our joy, the Kerns were sitting in the back row. Not only were they smiling, but EVERYONE in the branch was going up to greet them, and the Kerns exchanged salutations right back. (Note: I gave a talk in church about 'Fellowshipping Nonmembers' just the week before, so maybe something I said had to do with the members' enthusiasm.)

Particularly, it turned out that Ashley worked with a member's daughter-in-law, so they clicked immediately. Fabulous testimonies were given about the Book of Mormon, the Holy Ghost, and even the hymns. To me, it felt like the best Sunday to be an investigator, and it was spent with the best investigators we had to be at church on a Sunday. We're going to see them a couple times this week. They're excited to see us again. I love the Kerns. I really love the Kerns.

This week is going to be more sifting wheat from the tares. We have to do some finding. We've got our few golden investigators, but we're letting some others go. Just moving from one elect family to another.

I'm trying to humble myself a bit, but I guess the best way to do that is with a heart full of gratitude. I know that all this success, all the wonderful things that have happened, happened because of the Holy Ghost and the joy and comfort it brings into the lives of people. I don't convert people. I am SO glad I don't convert people. That'd make things way too hard. No, God converts people, and he just uses us missionaries as the vehicle to take Him around.

They're feeding us well here. On Friday and Saturday, we had lunch at Pig N' Out (a good ole Southern BBQ place), had a real Southern dinner (pork, potatoes, green beans, corn and rolls) and then woke up to a Southern breakfast before helping a member with some service (biscuits, jam, scrambled eggs, bacon, and hash browns). I haven't weighed myself lately. Luckily, we got a free 2-week membership to a good gym here, so we've been doing that. But I'm 135 pounds (last I checked) and doin' good.

Alright, tired fingers. I hope y'all have a good week. Maybe the weather will warm up soon. It's been cold here, and I'm getting pretty tired of it. They keep telling me this place is amazing in the spring. I wanna see it.

Thanks for all the prayers, and I'll talk to y'all next week!

-Elder Staib