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, April 29, 2013

A New Companion

Spring is in the air.

I've got a new companion. I am officially a "mother", because I'm follow-up training him! His name is Elder Talbert, and he was trained by Elder Jacobson, a good Elder and friend that served in Frayser when I was in his district as I served in West Memphis. Elder Talbert is from Orem and worked at the Cinemark there right before he left. Elder Talbert is a survivor of many heart problems, including a heart transplant that was performed on him 5 years ago. Despite these problems, he performs and acts like any other 19-year-old.

We're getting along just fine. He's quiet, but has a good wit and is just as nerdy as I am. In fact...and it scares me to admit... he is the middle child of a family of 5. The youngest in his family, his little brother, is almost 15 years old. He's a bit shorter than the other kids his age, he wears glasses and has very blonde hair. I saw his picture. I freaked out. I then showed him the pictures of me and MY little brother. We both started freaking out.

Our numbers (as far as "key indicators" go) weren't too great this week from all the traveling, as well as the fact that I wasn't even in Pocahontas half the week. I'm making it a point, however, to visit the progressing investigators more often throughout the week, so we can keep the Spirit around them instead of letting Satan have his way with 'em. I'm also trying to give Elder Talbert some more speaking time, because I can't keep my lid shut when I get in the groove. I feel like Jacob, when he says (and I may have shared this scripture before),

"Behold, my beloved brethren, I will unfold this mystery unto you; if I do not, by any means, get shaken from my firmness in the Spirit, and stumble because of my over anxiety for you."

Jacob was anxious to share his message and solve everyone's problems, and I'm the same. Sometimes I just have to pause and hand the discussion to my companion. I'll get ahead of the Spirit and trip up, which ain't the best thing.

Everyone is progressing...smoothly, I guess you can say. No one with a baptismal date is moving backwards, which is good. Just need to get good habits going, like READING, PRAYING and COMING TO CHURCH. People gotta do those things! Little, if any, revelation comes without those divine channels in our lives.

Our recent convert, Brianna, has found love for the Book of Mormon, though. Ever since she began consistently reading, her life has become so much better. Maybe her situation hasn't gotten better, but her outlook on life certainly has. It's a huge testimony to me that the Book of Mormon truly "healeth the wounded soul" (which are also Jacob's words).

As for me, my weight has balanced to be around 135, so that's probably what it's going to be for the rest of my mission. Every day I'm living on Ramen and frozen burritos, and I've got enough snacks to never be hungry when I'm in the apartment. I've got granola bars, fruit snacks, pasta, Gardetto's, a bunch of candy... I'm a happy camper. No complaints here! I haven't gotten a letter in forever, though, but that's about it.

Love y'all! Just riding the missionary wave, and it's fun. Now I have to go help the senior missionaries burn some CDs and DVDs. One thing I've realized on the mission is that you'll find out how to utilize your talents. I've been able to use my talents by distributing media EVERYWHERE. People are being blessed by the messages and videos provided by or, and it's been fun giving it to others.

-Elder Staib


My new companion, Elder Talbert!

Elder Whetten and my MTC sisters go home!

My "babysitters" as I stayed in Arlington

Monday, April 22, 2013

Elder Whetten Heads Home

Well, Elder Whetten's gone. Poofed. Away. I dropped him off at the temple an hour ago, and I also said farewell to the wonderful sisters that I went into the MTC with -- Sister Jensen, Sister Gladden and Sister Russell. I'll really miss all of them! Chances are high that I'll be put with a younger missionary. I'm not making any promises yet, though.

Elder and Sister Musick will be gone this week. They're going to their granddaughter's wedding in Provo. They said they'd try and pop by my house, time permitting. That'd be nice.

The Rasdons weren't at church yesterday, which made us very uneasy, but we found out it was because of a death in the family. This past week, we showed them the Gospel Library for smart phones, and since then, they've been awesome about reading their scriptures and viewing uplifting messages from our leaders. I also was able to download some conference videos from the Musick's computer so that I could share them with investigators.

Technology is such a blessing! We need to use it more for the right things. You can watch most of the videos from any Internet-browsing game console. We show people clips from Mormon Messages DVDs all the time. Family History has never been easier with the tools and resources the church provides. Honestly, we do NOT have any excuse why we shouldn't be touching a spiritual spark each day through the media we have at our fingertips. Read it, pray about it, apply it, share it.

On Monday we went fishing with Jay and Karen. We didn't catch anything, but anyone that knows me can imagine what I was doing as I waited for a bite on my line. I skipped rocks and picked up frogs and kept mostly to myself. It was a very peaceful P-Day, one that I hadn't had in a long while.

Later in the week we invited Jay to be baptized on May 18. He's going for it. Even though he has many "hold-ups" (they're all in his head, really), persuasion through God's word and helping Jay to see hope and goodness coming out of his righteous actions will steer him towards a course leading to eternal life. He likes to push hard on us with excuses; we push hard back, and it works. With Jay, I've learned to be more bold, because most of the time fluff don't make the cut.

I'm in Arlington for the next couple of days. Collierville is in the southeast corner of Memphis, and Arlington is in the northeast. It's also a very rich area, so it feels a bit like home.

It hit me today that I only have 4 transfers left. That is a HORRIBLE thought. Elder Whetten left me with many great habits, though, to push me as I get closer and closer to... that time when people go back to the mission home. Just gotta keep truckin'. The trees have finally gotten green, and there's life back in Arkansas. I've got another summer here. Thank goodness for mission cars...

-Elder Staib

Monday, April 15, 2013

Of Opposition, Confirmations & Change

Dear all y'all.

This week was very much a week of opposition, but not entirely in the bad way.

When we say "opposition", we tend to think of bad things that happen whenever we're blessed. This week taught me that the opposite effect of opposition is just as true. For all the hardships we endure, if we endure it well, we are blessed soon afterwards. We had a couple days of solid rejection, unavailability and people making bad decisions. The very next day, we found a few families that welcomed us into their homes, tearfully asking us to pray on behalf of others and wanting us to strengthen their relationship with God. There truly is opposition in all things.

Zac and Brianna were confirmed Sunday. Their whole family was there to witness it. The entire Rasdon family is now baptized. Zac is receiving the priesthood next week. The father is getting the priesthood soon. They're growing and improving. It has been a physical, emotional a spiritual change for them.

That leads to the point I realized recently. I came out on the mission expecting nothing to change much. Not myself, not the areas I affected, not the world or people I left at home; none of it. Or at least, not to change much. I didn't feel like I had the potential to change anything, and honestly, I'm not sure if I even wanted anything to change.

Asking for life not to change is both the Devil's way of doing things and going against the divine nature we are instilled with as God's children. As divine beings, we are changing ALL the TIME. Every experience changes our outlook on the future and on life, no matter how minuscule it is. And because we always change, we have to make a choice: do we want to change for the better, or for the worse?

If we're not moving forward, Satan is in control, and pulling us backward. As divine beings, we have the power each day, through the choices we make, to progress or digress. Nothing can force us to do that other than ourselves. Strip away all our material possessions, titles, standings and callings -- strip all that away and you  see a person. A human with personality, motives, dreams, desires, fears and morals. We ourselves need to change that human aspect of ourselves, the divine nature, into something that desires changing for good in order to eventually become like Christ.

Yeah, a lot of this is me rambling, I suppose. But that's how life is. We cannot escape it. And if you refuse to believe you can be any better, read scripture. All the hope in the world we have to change for the better can be found through Christ's comforting words, "Go, and sin no more."

Elder Whetten leaves next week. I'll get to use the computers once more on Saturday. I'll miss him. He's been such a good role model to me of a hard-working AND productive missionary. Now I have to continue to give Pocahontas that service.

I love y'all and all y'all have done to influence my life. Whether it's been a big or small influence, those things are, nonetheless, moments to look back on and learn from.

Someone once said something to the effect of, "People can't remember what you say, but they can always remember how you made them feel."

Many people have made me feel loved and blessed. Thank you.

-Elder Staib

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Great General Conference Weekend and Baptism

Dear everybody.

This week began very dumb. Very, very dumb. None of our appointments were home. Most of our back-ups failed. A good deal of our back-up back-ups failed. We ran around a lot, dropped a few investigators that only seemed to talk about wrestling, and rescheduled many appointments. On Tuesday I went on another exchange to Blytheville (which also covers Missouri), and the whole time I was sick. From Monday to Thursday, I got allergies. Bad. I'm mostly better now, but I've gone through buckets of tissues and have been coughing a bit. The weather has been splendid the past few days, though, so we're excited for the oncoming spring.

Friday we had the dinner with The Rings, Kristy, Will, Ashley and Daniel. It was so awesome. We had a delicious dinner of sloppy joes, chatted a bit, and then ended the night with a message of eternal families. The Rings led the Family Home Evening, and we only added our testimonies to it. We're so grateful to the Rings for doing that. The Kerns stayed about half an hour after we left. We hope we've given them a lot to think about.

Saturday and Sunday were Conference, of course. I've noticed that the Conference message were very bold. There wasn't much fluff. The Apostles are telling us to move on from feelings of inadequacy, get better, and spread the word. SPREAD IT WHEREVER YOU ARE. 

When Elder Bednar came to visit our mission, I remember he said, "Some of you are trying so hard to teach your wards and branches to do missionary work. You worry about your own work. We (the Apostles) will take care of the members." And that they did. I only heard the responsibilities of the full-time missionaries mentioned once, from what I recall. All other instances were referencing to the members. Of course, that's going to apply to me the moment this tag comes off. But I encourage everyone to do your part in being an example to others, as well as carrying passalong cards, copies of the Book of Mormon and other items. The end is nearing, and this is our final push.

The Kerns came to half a session of conference before going home and putting their son down for a nap, but we're glad they came. The messages they heard were awesome, so they had something to think about.

I watched the World Report between sessions, and you can imagine my delight when I saw that Lone Peak was the best high school basketball team in the NATION. It was fun to see TJ Haws in action. That family is remarkable. I wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for Tyler's leadership as my Deacon's, Teacher's AND Priest's quorum president.

The baptism was really good. Elder Whetten baptized both of them. They'll be confirmed next week. The entire family has been changed so much.

Zack Hopkins and Brianna Cope are baptized!

Also, because of all the new missionaries, the mission schedule has been altered slightly. I come home on October 8, so that means I come home exactly 6 months from today.

I'm really glad Michael is growing. As I watched the Priesthood session, all I could think of was him. And then it dawned on me, hey, I know a training video for him to learn from about how to be a teacher's quorum president, and how to plan for the quorum. It's a video that I was in myself!

The video is "Conducting Quorum Presidency Meeting". But Michael was on my thoughts a lot.

I'll end with this thought. 

Something that Elder Holland said stuck out to me. He shared a story how a young man came up to him and said, "Brother Holland, I don't know if I can say 'I know the church is true' yet. I believe it's true, but..." And then Elder Holland said he hugged the boy so hard the his eyes bulged out. Elder Holland then went on to say that believing is not to be diminished, and that it is still a precious treasure. It made me really think of what I believed, and what I knew. So now, I want to share what I KNOW.

I know God speaks to us. He has spoken to me, comforted me, and taught me. And He can speak to anyone if they have faith and ask with a sincere heart, as well as with the intent to act on the counsels given.

I know the Book of Mormon is true. It is a true record of people that received God's spirit just as I have. Whenever someone says they don't believe the Book of Mormon is true, I can feel the cries of those people -- the prophets, the apostles, the widows, the children, the men that fought to protect their families and religion -- I feel their sorrow as their gift to the world is rejected. The Book of Mormon was compiled at the price of many lives. We have a duty to hear the words of those that gave their lives for the cause of truth.

I can probably pull out a few more things, but those were the things that stuck out the most. I love this church. It's blessed me so much, and continues to bless me.

-Elder Staib

Monday, April 1, 2013

We Have a Baptism Scheduled for April 6

This week... Let me see if I can actually recall it all right now. It's always so difficult to recount enough memories for these things.

I'll recount the most recent day. Sunday.

But before I do, I'll introduce a couple people. I may have talked about them before.

Jay and Karen were in our area book as former investigators. We knocked on their door a couple months ago and found Jay, a 22-year-old. He said that his mom was away, helping an elderly woman for a couple months. We taught Jay for a month. It felt like butting heads with a brick wall. He had no intention of doing much of anything with life. He woke up at 7 pm and went to bed around 4 or 5 am. Complete night owl. We tried multiple times to help him make goals, read the Book of Mormon, maybe run a couple laps around the block, ANYTHING. But he lived in his recliner.

About a month ago, we finally met Karen, Jay's mom. She's friendly and lives a normal life in terms of sleep. We had a couple more visits with the two of them, and it finally came down to a lesson about being motivated. We read scripture. We asked Jay what his goals were. He has a boy about to be born from a girl he no longer sees, so he wants to raise him, but that was it. Elder Whetten and I went away that night not knowing at all how to go any further.

A couple Mondays ago, we went to the library to email, and Jay was there with his mom. In the morning. The sun was out and everything, and Jay wasn't asleep. It was like seeing a unicorn. Elder Whetten and I figured, "Hmmm, if he's out, now, maybe we can try seeing him in the day."

We went to see him the next afternoon, and he was up, playing with his nieces. We invited him to attend church. He said he wanted to come, and his mom said she might want to if she felt like it, and Jay stood up, pointed at her and said. "We are going. I need to get off my butt and do something with myself, and we can start here."

Elder Whetten and I looked at each other. We felt lost. We weren't in Jay and Karen's home anymore.

They came to church last week, and Jay came to church this week. They love it. They want to come every week, if they can. They love how our church members practice what they preach. Jay asks questions about tithing and commandments to make sure that IF he is baptized (Elder Whetten and I kinda giggled when he said that), he can know what is expected of him. So Jay came to church on Easter Sunday. He and his mother are working on quitting smoking. We're right behind 'em.

We visited them on Good Friday, and Jay said, "Guess what we found?" He pulled something from behind his back, and in his hands was a baby jackrabbit. O ^ O I about died. That thing was beyond adorable, and so soft to pet. It let us handle it like nothin'. They're keeping it. Its name is Bumper.

Other investigators... Kristy came to church. She is the daughter-in-law of some members, and her husband is a member, but he's not fond of church at all. She has been taught all the lessons in the past, but her family didn't support her, so she stopped. It was a miracle to see her there. In fact, Kristy works with Ashley Kern.

Kristy asked Ashley if they can study the Book of Mormon together. We're having dinner at the older Rings' house where the Kerns and the younger Rings will attend as well. We're having a family home evening after dinner and I'm pretty sure there will be spiritual tears. I can't imagine a better scenario set up for Kristy and the Kerns' progression. We're so excited.

We're having a baptism this Saturday! Brianna Cope and Zac Hopkins (two of the Rasdon's kids) are getting baptized between the evening and Priesthood session on Saturday. The Kerns really want to attend Conference, as well as John, Jennifer, Jay, Karen, John Hart, and a few other great people. Like I said, it's hard to recall everything cuz we have like... 8 progressing investigators right now. It's a lot going on. And we're excited.

(Elder Whetten goes home in 3 weeks. He's nervous, but I'm also nervous, cuz it means I'm taking over the area.)

Well, gotta go!

Love y'all!

-Elder Staib