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, May 27, 2013

"The biggest change I have seen in myself is my testimony."

I'll get the news part out of the way. Not much has happened, really. Ray is still on board for baptism. I've been dying of allergies all week. My eyes are sore from all the itching. We're doing some more fishing today, and this is the last week of the transfer. Next week I'll see if I'm staying in or leaving Pocahontas.

I was asked by my mission president to step up my game, especially for these last few months. It made me really reflect on many, many things. It also forced me to humble myself for the sake of these next months.

I'm almost four months out until I get on the plane. My mission truly has been mine, testing my own personal beliefs, talents and personality. But I've also been able to use those beliefs, talents and personality traits to bring others into the gospel. I'll be expected to keep on using them until the final second has been fulfilled.

The biggest change I have seen in myself is my testimony. I never thought I would know Christ so well as I do now. Even though I have a mortal mind, it has nonetheless been opened to taste Christ's redeeming power and mercy over all His children, particularly me. My hope for eternal change is in Christ and nothing else. If it wasn't for the gift of repentance, I would not be able to change into who I am. I would live with files and files of sins tucked away in my head, harrowing me up until judgement day when I hand all the reports to Almighty God and say, "These are my mistakes. Every one. And they're here, just as fresh as when I first made them." At least, that is how any of us would live without the hope of forgiveness through Christ.

I am not burdened by those sins any more. I have mistakes I've recently made that I need to repent of, sure. But there are parts of my life that just don't matter to me any more because that is not who I am now. It might be hard to ask forgiveness from some, and I might never receive forgiveness from others. If they want to hold onto my past, fine. But I let go a while ago.

Listen to the prophets. Read the scriptures. Everyone is saying the same thing I'm saying right now. Look at Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah. Look at Paul. Some of the greatest missionaries of all time once destroyed hundreds of souls, yet Christ's love and hope changed them, and they never let their pasts weigh them down with shame.

Of course, after saying all this, I'm not saying I'm perfect at forgiving myself, and maybe there are some skeletons I need to get out of my closet. But I have moved on from so much, and it truly has been a blessing. Right now, my leaders are asking me to keep cleaning up my act for the sake of the souls God has prepared for me. I'll do my best.

Not sure what else to type, other than I love y'all! Thank you, friends, for the love and support you give me. Thank you, family, for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. Elder Kowalk goes home at the end of this next transfer, which makes me really sad, but I'll see him again soon.

-Elder Staib

Monday, May 20, 2013

Busy Week in Our Area


Wednesday, we went to see Gladys Knight and the Pi- I mean, Saints Unified Voices choir. It was really good! Several people "caught the Spirit", I'm sure, and it was a jolly good time. The first song they sang began kinda quiet and slow, with a bit of an African-American vibe, then suddenly an old white guy stood up in the back and started cooing out soul music like he was an African brotha. It was so unexpectedly entertaining. All of the music was energetic and we got to clap along. A couple speakers talked about the apostasy, and how this is Christ's church on the earth again. Gladys and her husband bore their testimonies towards the end. We'll be talking to the guests this week that came down from Pocahontas to see the show.

On Friday, the branch planned to have a camp out to celebrate Aaronic Priesthood Restoration Day, but the weather said there was a 10% chance of rain, so it got cancelled. Ray was really looking forward to it because he loves to fish, so we took time that evening to fish with Ray. Ray caught 4 small catfish. Elder Talbert caught 2 big catfish. I was reeling in my line and happened to notice a tiny perch on the end of it. LAME.

On Saturday, because of recent rainstorms, the river we planned to have the baptism in flooded. Ray's baptism has been pushed to June 1st (he has a family reunion this weekend), but the situation is still the same. I'll still have a river baptism. Ray will still become a member. And we'll all be happy in the end. Ray is very eager to be at church every week. He loves the spirit he feels there and learns a lot. He always comes up with a couple good questions about what he's learned, and we're happy to answer him. His mom is coming along, too. She'll just need a bit more of a conviction, is all. I can see Ray being able to baptize her, too.

So instead of having a river baptism Saturday, we went down to Memphis to listen to Elder Suarez of the Presidency of the Seventy. He spoke about how we need to do our effort as missionaries, AND THEN ask God to step in. He shared the story of the brother of Jared, and how God didn't just give him the answers as far as finding light for their ships. The brother of Jared had to think it out, take the effort to molten out the rocks, and then asked God to fill the rocks with light. So our investigators are like those rocks. It was a cool way to look at that story I never thought of before.

On Sunday, both Elder Talbert and I gave talks on D&C 88:118. He spoke more about teaching others, and I spoke about applying wisdom. I hope our talks were able to influence others to act more instead of doing the same thing. Of course, that applies to me as well. I need to break out of my shell. I need to do the things I really don't like doing as a missionary just because it's what God wants me to do.

On a spiritual note, I've recently been reading the missionary story of Ammon and his brothers in Alma 16 and so on, and I've been able to draw a ton of parallels to the way we do missionary service today. One cool thing I noticed was this: read Ammon's way of teaching King Lamoni, and then read Aaron's way of teaching Lamoni's father. IT'S EXACTLY THE SAME, with some slight deviations only on the part of each individual asking questions important to their needs. I thought that was really cool.

Transfers are...2 weeks from now? Man, it's gone by fast. We honestly don't know what transfers will be like, but we know this much: Elder Talbert will be training in July. That could mean, we stay together another transfer and then I leave, or he could leave the area this transfer and I'll be here for a while. We'll see.

Love y'all! I keep you in my prayers, and I hope everyone has a safe and good beginning to summer!

-Elder Staib

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Well, I got to speak with my family a bit yesterday, so I don't feel too story-telly today. I told my family that right now, it feels like I'm a major cog in the branch's clockwork. I got to this point in West Memphis as well towards the end of my stay there, but we're able to help even more in this branch. Yesterday was all sorts of hectic and I had to go from member to member, answering requests for service and getting some stressful situations sorted out.

Good news, we're planning on a baptism this weekend. Ray is getting baptized. I say we're planning because Ray hasn't been interviewed yet, so that'll happen tomorrow. He's getting baptized in a river by yours truly! One of my mission dreams was to baptize in a river, so I'm really stoked!

This week, we get to see Gladys Knight and her Grammy award-winning choir perform in Memphis. We're taking some investigators. It's gonna be a blast. It's been a hassle getting all the tickets passed out, but we got it settled. That was part of the reason for the branch drama recently.

This is going to be a very busy week. I'll have pictures and stories next week, so look forward to that. I love y'all, and I hope everyone enjoys the first days of summer! Bring on the humidity!

-Elder Staib

Monday, May 6, 2013

Drought in the Midst of Flooding

People, people, PLEASE.

Someone put some poison in the investigator pool, and we've only got a half-dozen fish left. We have to do some hardcore finding these next couple of weeks, because once we get the few people we DO have baptized, we're not going to be left with much of anything. But like...that's how it usually works, right? But I'm talking a serious teaching drought here. It just goes to show that sometimes people get more attached to missionaries than the gospel.

Ironically, the work is in a drought, but Pocahontas is pretty flooded. It's been raining nonstop since Thursday. I like rain myself, but no one else is very eager for the river rising and flooding nearby parks and other things. Today, Elder Talbert and I are going to explore Pocahontas' historic features and tourist attractions. It's gonna be fun!

Brianna has come with us to teach several lessons. She's so golden. Our baptismal dates are progressing along. Jay asked me to baptize him. I gladly accepted, and maybe I'll finally be able to fulfill my mission-long wish of baptizing someone in a river. That's about the coolest thing any missionary can do as far as a baptism goes. In my book, anyway. I'm so excited.

Elder Talbert and I work very well together. We both have horrible senses of humor (i.e. shallow jokes sprinkled throughout the day) so we keep each other entertained. We know how to see the light in the dark, or just brighten things up a bit when they get gray.

These next couple weeks are gonna be craaaaazy. Gladys Knight is coming to Memphis with her choir called Saints Unified Voices. They won a Grammy, they're so good. It's a huge missionary opportunity for our mission. Wherever SUV goes, the mission work in that area increases a bunch. Many members of our branch are bringing investigators and less-actives to the fireside event, so we hope and pray that we'll get some referrals after the fireside.

OH! We had stake conference yesterday. It was cool because it was broadcast from Salt Lake City. We got to hear from Elder Gay, Sister Wixom, Elder Robert D. Hales and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. It was wonderful. They all spoke about strengthening the family and ourselves. Jay and his mom came, and I felt like it all was speaking directly to them. It was very good. The broadcast stretched the entire Eastern United States district of the world, which encompasses 64 stakes. I'll have to ask Levi what he thought about it.

That's about it in the news.

Congrats, Kristen, on your marriage! Happy Birthday, Ashley! I hit 19 months in 2 days! D:

-Elder Staib

A Picture for My Sister's Wedding Reception May 9