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, August 26, 2013

Humbling Week

These last few days have been kind of... humbling, I suppose.

The short of it is, I'm staying in Jacksonville. So here's the long of it.

Like I said, at zone conference, we were told that Elder Merrill was training. Last Monday, I emailed President saying something very similar to the email I posted on my blog: that I was sad to leave Jacksonville, but I was willing to go wherever I needed to, preferably to an area I had served in before. President Petersen "heard my cries" and has allowed me to stay in Jacksonville. I'll accept the unexpected blessing and finish my mission in Jacksonville!

But another reason why I'm humbled is the fact that I just poisoned one of the poor Cabot sisters. We were sharing a drink with them that I've grown to love in the ghetto, and as Sis. Cooke took her first sip, I mentioned it had rose hips in it.

Sis. Cooke's eyes got big and she said, "I'm allergic to roses!"

We didn't believe her at first, but sure enough, her tongue became so swollen she couldn't speak, and her throat stung a bit. I felt horrible. The effects were severe for an hour, but she's recovering now. She could still breathe and everything. She was just miserable and everyone else was making her speak with her lisp and laughing.

This past week has been mostly a blur since I was expecting to leave for most of the days. We found a few new investigators and Faith's coming along nicely. I went on exchange with Elder Cassler on Tuesday. He graduated from Karl G. Maeser (my high school) this past year, I believe. Or the year before. In any case, we had a few things to talk about.

It wasn't until Saturday night that, as we had dinner with the Warnicks (the office missionaries), Sis. Warnick said, "Oh, Elder Staib, President told me to tell you that you're staying!"

Elder Merrill and I had many rejoicings, but lots of question marks as well. In the end -- that is, once all the transfer calls had been made this morning -- this seems to be the outcome.

So, at long last, this is my final "resting place" in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission. Jacksonville will be my missionary "grave". I will be well-fed and among friends, both missionary and otherwise, to the very end.

Our district for the transfer, excluding Zone Leaders.

Elder John Whitney from our ward left for his mission in Mexico City this past week.

The Sisters were doing a role play with Elder Draper. As he stretched his arms with the elastic band, he explained that he was training for the world's Unicycle race. We all busted up laughing.
By the way, when I say well-fed, I mean the fact that I've gained 5 pounds in the last week. I have decided to do many sit-ups each morning to get rid of this hideous gut that has sprung out of my core. It truly is an unexpected guest.

I'll continue to pray for y'all each night, because y'all are precious family and friends that I want to see in one piece in six weeks. I hope everyone's having a good start for school! Catch y'all next week!

-Elder Staib

Monday, August 19, 2013

Big Surprise for My Last Transfer

For some reason, I always seem to talk about the weather when I open these things. So I'll get that outta the way. It cooled down a ton and it's felt like California weather. It feels WONDERFUL. We've been walking around more.

I'm honestly not in an emailing mood today. We're making pink chocolate-chip waffles today for lunch with the Cabot Elders and Sisters. We have a date set with Faith: September 7. But y'know, I WON'T BE HERE, so I'm a bit bummed about that!

We had zone conference this past Tuesday, and before the meeting started, one of the assistants came up and told Elder Merrill he would be training this next transfer. I've only stayed in Jacksonville for a single transfer. Both Elder Merrill and I were stunned with disbelief. I don't want to leave a nerdy area, and Elder Merrill doesn't want to be left behind in a nerdy area. I don't want to leave Elder Merrill. But if I return to one of my previous areas, that'd be the bomb dot com! :D

On a more sober note, there have been several shootings around lately. One of our investigators that hadn't really been progressing was among the victims. His funeral is this Saturday. It really made me think of how short this life is, and how soon our calls home may come, but I also find comfort to know that he's met missionaries in the next world that will continue to teach him. He also won't be doing drug deals while the missionaries are around, so... There's an obstacle that's been removed.

We had stake conference yesterday, and a family that'd we've been trying to get to church finally came! She and her 5 kids only stayed for the first hour, but she seemed attentive and glad she came. We haven't had a chance to talk to her since, so we'll see how it turns out.

I made these little "Super Sister" pins for the sisters when they were feeling down.

Oh yeah, back to Faith. She has a few things to work on, but only small things, so we're really happy for her. She loves the feeling of the Spirit, and wants to be baptized so that she can have it with her all the time. The Book of Mormon really brings the Spirit into her life. That's one thing I've noticed about my investigators. I noticed it before, so hold on if you think I'm just figuring this out. BUT. The investigators that I've seen the most converted have done it through their consistent reading of the Book of Mormon. And Faith is a perfect example of that. So we're really excited for her! But Like I said, I'll be gone by the time she's baptized. We're working on Marty as well, but Faith is ready right now.

That's all the news I have this time around. Hope y'all are enjoying your first few days of school, and safe, and all those other things little kids pray for during their family prayers. I pray for my friends and family whenever I pray, and that's a lot of people!

-Elder Staib

Monday, August 12, 2013

Great Progress with Two Families, and Spiderman

This week was really hot. Really. Really. Hot. I guess, it wasn't so much hot as it was humid. We're not talking record-breaking highs here, but 95 degrees with 90% humidity is enough to make someone's shirt drenched after 4 hours.

I will begin with some serious news, and then I will discuss the humor that has occurred this past week. I find I have been lacking in the silliness department.

Good news is, Marty's court date has been pushed to October so that the lawyers can gather more evidence concerning the event. I was on exchange on Tuesday (AND WEDNESDAY. Talk about exhausting!), so I was informed that night after Elder Merrill talked to them. We're now taking this opportunity to allow the Spirit to mold their softened hearts. Faith and Marty have truly become humble. They came to church yesterday, and it seems like they're committed.

We're also working with a part-member family, the Garretts. Emily Garrett has been in the church her whole life, and her husband is a non-member. I get along with the Garretts extremely well. They consider us their friends and gladly have us over whenever we ask. They're getting back into reading the Book of Mormon and have grown a trust with us that I feel is the key to any progress occurring. Last night, we took a member family, the Dinkles (who I also have become very good friends with for nerdy reasons), to meet with the Garretts. Fantastic match-up. We're excited about the whole thing. Friends all around!

Now for the silly antics. We were stopped by a young African-American man that Elder Merrill knew in a previous area. He approached us as we walked down the road and was really friendly. He began to ask us questions. About spiders. This guy was anxiously engaged in hunting for spiders. We told him to look in gardens and stuff. He finally got to his point. He wants to be Spiderman. He seriously wanted to find a spider to bite him so that he could turn into Spiderman. We suggested he find a wolf spider. I taught him how to make a small ecosystem and everything. He wanted to catch a brown recluse spider at first, but those things eat away at your tissue when you get bitten. We also advised him to avoid black widows. He wondered if he should be bitten on the hand or the neck. We suggested the back of the arm. We spent a good half-hour discussing how this gentleman could actually acquire Spidey powers. It made me think of Elder Carter and the kind of conversations we had.

Elder Merrill had an interesting experience on exchanges, and the sisters in our district asked him to write a story about it. Then they asked me to illustrate his story. I'll type up the story when I get home, so I'll leave that story open for a couple months until I get home. But it was a very fun experience to draw up pictures for the story. I've had a couple chances these past two weeks to revive my creative abilities, and it makes me excited to unhinge them when I come home! Until then, I gotta work, work, work.

Love y'all! Have fun getting back into school!

-Elder Staib

I got to feed a bunch of really pretty goldfish! It was so much fun!
Elder Merrill and Jesse, from the Cabot ward, pretending to fly!
Elder Wheatley, who's in my district and was follow-up trained by Elder Kowalk, went to the same Tough Mudder my sister and brother-in-law went to!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Rebecca was Confirmed on Sunday

Let's see... This week was very simple. There were only a few important events that occurred, so I'll just fill in the rest of the details by saying that we drove everywhere and talked with a bunch of people. Those people made commitments and then didn't keep them. So that defines about 86% of our work this past week as far as time spent goes. But good things still happened, regardless.

The first good thing that happened was that I went GOLFING!

We went golfing last Monday! These are the zone leaders and some members from the Cabot ward, with whom we share a building.
Every missionary needs to golf at least once on their missions, and I finally got to do it. It was really freaky, though. The course is owned by a bunch of old people that live out in the country, and the moment we walked into the clubhouse, they started going through the rules and saying that the slightest deviation would mean being banned from the course. We went out to get our carts, and an older gentlemen got all of us to hear him say that any reckless driving would not be tolerated. He assured us that he would be mean if necessary as he rubbed the pocket that held his pistol. He was not shy about that pistol. Apparently, they'd never had a group of 20-year-olds come through that were Mormon before. I was a nervous wreck before we even made it to the first tee box, making sure that I wasn't breaking any rules or doing anything to get us yelled at.

It was a very fun time, though. I played decently and found strengths and weaknesses. Let's just say I'm good at popping the ball onto the green and getting it in the hole. I struggle at getting off the tee box, where I miserably shoot into the woods. Yup, I need practice.

Rebecca got confirmed yesterday. She is now completely Mormon, and she loves it. She's already come out with us to teach a neighbor of hers. I'll just say Rebecca is very eager to know that her baptism counted in heaven this time around. I was talking to Elder Merrill about Rebecca some time this week. Usually with missionaries, after someone is baptized into the church, you get really nervous that the ward will take good care of their new member and that there is a smooth transition from missionary to member. Elder Merrill and I aren't worried in the slightest about Rebecca. She's never leaving the fold.

Raccoon getting into some pet's water

And lastly, I'll talk about a family that's been visited by missionaries for a few months now. The parents' names are Faith and Marty, and they have an 8-year-old daughter named Maya that has some mental problems. Elder Carter and Elder Rushton found them in the spring. They're fun to be with and we love them a lot. This week, though, they need extra prayers.

I won't get into details, but the thing that is worrying the family the most is a court case coming up this Thursday. Marty is facing charges that might put him in jail for up to 6 years, even though he was only defending his family. We visited Faith and Marty on Friday and taught them how to fast, since it was fast Sunday yesterday. Marty had been hard-hearted since the missionaries had seen his family, but he has softened up so much these last few days. They're riding on faith right now, and any prayers on their behalf that the charges pressed against him will have minor consequences would be greatly appreciated by us and Faith and Marty.

We have another week ahead of us. We don't have too many solid people on our list, like I said, so we're still fishing for the elect. They'll come around soon, though.

-Elder Staib