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, July 29, 2013

A Miracle!

This is going to be a brief one this week.

To put it simply, we experienced a miracle this past week. Our investigator Rebecca was scheduled to be interviewed by our mission president on Friday. She had to be interviewed by him, as well as get approval from the First Presidency, to be baptized. The process, our mission president told us, could take upwards of 6 weeks. So President Petersen interviewed her, and after the interview, he said that Rebecca was completely ready to be baptized. There was still the matter of bringing it to the First Presidency. On Saturday, as we were teaching around the neighborhood, President called us and said that Rebecca was cleared to be baptized. Everything that had to be done was done.

And then he added, "She could even get baptized tomorrow if she wanted to."

When we told Rebecca she could get baptized, she shouted for joy in the hair salon she was standing in. She was so excited! We visited her that night, and she was jumping up and down in her seat, singing a little diddy like, "I'm going down so I can go up!" We then told her she could be baptized the very next day if she wanted, and she quickly consented. She wanted her family and friends from out of town to attend her baptism, whenever it was, but with this opportunity, she said, "I'll have to tell them all I'm sorry, but I just can't wait another minute."

Rebecca was baptized yesterday and she'll get confirmed next Sunday.

This was such a blessing to Elder Merrill and I. We worked hard this past week. We were on bikes, but since my bike is missing a nut on the front tire (which I can easily replace once I get funds for the next month), we walked everywhere. We had many prayers with people and set a couple baptismal dates, but none of the people we met came to church yesterday. It seemed like every ounce of our labors were sucked down the drain. We had been casting our pearls before swine all week, essentially.

But Rebecca proved us wrong., and I'm so grateful for that.

I'll wrap up here. Pray that we have success in finding the elect in Jacksonville! I know they're here somewhere.

-Elder Staib

Monday, July 22, 2013

New Area! And pictures again for the first time in a while.

I have made it to a new area! This will probably be my last place before I go home in October.

I am now in Jacksonville, Arkansas, which is about 15 miles northeast of Little Rock. Our church sits on a service road right next to the freeway, and directly across from the building is a large lingerie shop. It's pretty easy to tell people directions to our church, if you know what I mean.

The town has about 30,000 people in it. I'm still confused on how the demographics are set up. There is a LOT of diversity, some trailer parks, a lot of college-age kids (which I will explain in a sec), rich folks and country people. Basically, I feel like my entire mission has been put into a blender and spit back out in the form of Jacksonville. It doesn't even end there. Elder Carter finished his mission here a few months ago. Elder Fry was here a while ago as well. Elder Merill was companions with Mayberry at one point. Jacksonville feels like everything in these last 2 years has come together.

My companion, Elder Merill, is a couple inches shorter than me, but with a heart 5 times bigger than mine. He's such a great guy and a hard worker. I think I have the best companion to finish my mission with, if it is our destiny to finish the mission together. He goes home six weeks after I do. We love sharing mission stories together (since we're both veterans and have been through so many things) and talk about how our missions have been, and we also enjoy teaching and seeing changes in people.

With my new companion, Elder Merill
Now, I said there are many younger people here. There are lots of young families, which is a sharp contrast from how Pocahontas was. Well, that's because Jacksonville is hone to the Little Rock Air Force base. Neener neener, Michael. We go into the base about once a week for dinner appointments and other things (we get fed EVERY night here. I'ma get so fat...) and we're trying to find more people to teach inside the base so that we can get more members involved. The requirements for getting in and out of the base have changed drastically since 9/11, as I was told by a member, so it's really divided the ward as far as home teaching and missionary work. We cope with it the best we can.

I don't have many investigators to talk about just yet since I'm trying to get my footing in this area still. I'll definitely have people to talk about next week, but until now, pray that we can find good investigators. Our investigators are pretty...wishy-washy right now, so Elder Merill and I are trying to find the elect. There is one woman, Rebecca, who is 70 and trying hard to get baptized, though. She has to go through a couple interviews first, but I will definitely see her baptized here. That's all I'll say for now.

There are 6 missionaries that share this building (the Cabot ward meets here as well), so I gotta get off to let the sisters email. Love y'all! Hope your summer ends safe!

-Elder Staib

Elder Kowalk's Parents

Farewell, Elder Mayberry

Do not squish slow-moving mosquitoes

Monday, July 15, 2013

My Last Week in Pocahontas?

We've had several great lessons with Jon, Jennifer and Creanne this past week. We watched "Mountain of The Lord" with them, and they loved it. They want to visit the temples in Memphis and in Utah when they get the chance. On Thursday, we also helped Jon receive his own personal revelation about a job opportunity. He learned to recognize the Spirit and felt a lot more confident about his actions. Jon and Jennifer are also doing what they can to finalize Jon's divorce so that a marriage can happen. Things at just truckin' along.

Brianna spilled her soul out to her family and invited them to church so that they could build their family on the foundation of Christ. The entire Rasdom family (except Brianna. She was out of town) came to church this past Sunday. This came as a huge relief to the Musicks and to us. We're glad that the desire has been sparked in them and we're hoping this is their first return visit of many.

As for transfers... I'm pleading with my mission president that I get moved somewhere else for multiple reasons, but I do not want to end my mission like this. I only have 2 transfers left. Please keep me in your prayers.

I love y'all, and hope to hear from many of you next week. I haven't heard from many friends lately.

-Elder Staib

Oh! Elder Kowalk's homecoming is on July 28 at 1 p.m.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Faith in Christ is What It's All About

Hot. Hot. Hot.

Today is a boiling day. We played tennis this morning and I was dripping with sweat. I always hated the heat. I feel extremely lazy and beat down in it.

This week was a blur. The heat muddled up my mind, I guess. We delivered a Bible to a woman and her husband waaaaaaaay out in the boonies. We asked her if she'd like to hear a lesson about the restored gospel. She explained how her dad was her own pastor, and that their church building was a little white building in the field right next to her trailer. They took a Book of Mormon, though, and were very nice. As we left, we saw a large sign nailed to a tree that said, "Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy." Her father sounded like a good, Christian man.

Sometimes in the church, we can look at other churches as not worthy, or something of that nature. It's an extreme way to put it, but essentially, that's how I have admittedly esteemed people of other religions. This experience added to an idea that I've been trying to adopt since I've been in the  South. After seeing this sign, along with other examples around me in the mission, it's become clearer to me that even though the Priesthood is essential to being sealed into heaven, there are still people that will receive wonderful rewards on Earth and in heaven just for being the best they can be. Faith in Christ is what it's all about. We gotta focus on the pearl instead of the beautiful box that holds the pearl, figuratively.

Transfers are next week. I'm most likely leaving, but we'll see. I'll go or stay wherever I need to.

Oh! Tonight we're going over to John, Jennifer and Creanne's to watch "Mountain of The Lord". They're excited to learn about temples, and that movie does it better than anything I've seen.

For the Fourth, we went to the nursing home that Jennifer works at. They had free food and a live band. A clogging team came by a bit later. The fireworks show was fantastic. We were so close that everyone got covered in cardboard pieces and dust. After that fireworks show, the city had another show down by the Black River. We could see the fireworks from the nursing home since it was up on a hill. brain is fried from heat. We have some more things to do today, but it's going to be a good day nonetheless. I hope everyone is having a fun summer!

-Elder Staib

Monday, July 1, 2013

Branch Conference...Just a Good Sunday

Yesterday was branch conference. We had a fantastic turnout, including a lot of people that came from the stake. I got to see some old friends from the Jonesboro Ward, which was nice. We had many investigators come to church and all the lessons were good. There was a big potluck after church and everyone had a good time. Just a good Sunday.

Can I take a holiday? A serious, stay-in-bed-and-relax holiday? Because my body muscles are all sorts of "in pain" from the service we've given in past few days. And my mind has been all sorts of "grossed out" from said service.

The first project we aided in was helping a sister in the branch move. She's older with two grandchildren living with her. She was moving from a 2-room house to a second-story apartment. Most of what needed moving was a whole bunch of heavy furniture. You remember those stereo system that were basically a large table with a speaker built into each end, and then a record player hidden in the middle? Imagine someone my size carrying that up two flights of stairs. It happened. That, along with dressers and armoires and other things that caused blisters, sweat and aching.

We worked from 7am to 12pm, and Elder Mayberry and I were the only ones doing it.

Ah! MIGHT I ADD that everything in the home was covered in COCKROACHES!? Whenever we picked a table up or moved a couch, a flurry of cockroaches spread from that point. I found a Bible on the ground and even checked it to make sure nothing was in it, and when I got it open, 5 cockroaches plopped all over my lap. The skin-crawling experience, combined with the heavy lifting, WAS NOT FUN.

The following morning (Saturday), our branch had what we called an "Awful Waffle" get-together. All the waffles you want along with any topping imaginable. It was delicious. We had games afterward, along with more service to clean up the outside of the church. We had many investigators show up, and I became a croquet champion. It was a fun morning.

That EVENING, however, we had to put up metal fencing around a poison ivy patch so that goats could come in and eat the itchy infestation. I didn't get any rashes from the ivy, thankfully, but I'm pretty sure dozens of chiggers had a hay-day on my legs.

So in short... I'm tired. But when you're the only young people in an area where older people need to take care of their homes, you're in high demand.

Ray is warming back up to us. He's been coming to family night and talks to us again, despite his concerns over his son. He's living day to day on a prayer.

Please pray for Brianna. There's been a misunderstanding in the family, and she is looking for housing right now in Paragould, just east of Pocahontas. She just needs a lot of prayers right now...

It's hard to see so many hard things happening to the people here in Pocahontas. And as missionary, it all seems to funnel our way. People want us to solve their problems, but we simply can't. One family we're teaching is getting off their government support because of a recent court trial, and now they're asking us to take care of them, basically. We help how we can, but there are things (like paying gas bills) that simply cannot be done. It's overwhelming...

We'll see how this next week plays out. So many people's lives are teetering on the edge of a cliff, it seems. We're doing what we can to have them tied to Christ's sturdy foundation. Prayers at this time would be appreciated. I love y'all, and hope you can be examples to those around you wherever you are.

-Elder Staib