Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Week 99 - La Antorcha

Hey everyone!

This week Guatemala celebrated it's independence! September 15th 1821. To celebrate it, everyone in each neighborhood, school or any other group you can imagine, goes to a place in the middle of the city and lights a torch. Then they run with the torch until the get back to the school/church/neighborhood they represent. It is used to represent the passion each of them has in their communities for their country. It was really cool because they always do it at night so you can see the flame from the torches. It was kind of funny though because the people would stand cheering on the side of the road and through bags of water at the runners to cool them off. That was the original tradition anyway.... Now it's kinda changed to throwing bags of water at any helpless victim that walks by. They were throwing them at buses, people on the street, cars, motorcycles. Because the buses are pretty full, some people go up top, or in the back of pick up trucks. These were prime targets for the people throwing the water. I thought it was kind of funny because the people in the buses would taunt the people to throw it at them and try and catch it and throw it back. I did see a couple people get pegged pretty good with water though. Luckily I was kept safe. Can't say the same for my companion. While we were watching one of the runners run past, someone threw a bag and missed the runner and hit my companion and the young man who was accompanying us. hahaha 

We had double divisions this week. I stayed here in my area since my companion hasn't learned the area entirely yet. He's kinda funny. We get along so well that it makes it easier to joke. I tried "testing" him and he got lost. I knew where we were the entire time but he couldn't find the way. In stake conference, President Shumway told me I needed to teach him the area as quick as possible (because obviously I wouldn't be here after to help him.

Well, that's all I have time for this week. Talk to you all next week.

Elder Mattiaccio
Barrio Las Brisas, Zona Florida, Guatemala Sur

Monday, September 11, 2017

Week 98 - Stake Conference and (pre) Independence Day

Hey guys,

This week I got my new companion. When I went to take Elder Ramos to the stake center and drop him off. He actually arrived super early (before 6:00 AM) so we got to rest a bit before getting up and doing our regular routine. It was actually a pleasant surprise because we didn't lose any proselyting time like we normally would have. So we got to work right away.

This week we had a ward activity celebrating the independence of Guatemala. It was a bit early because most people leave during holidays (especially because it is going to be a weekend). I heard that people normally throw water and flower on the 14th. Not sure why... They didn't do it last year but they say it depends on the area you're in. The activity was supposed to start at 530 but it was raining so we had to postpone it a bit because it was an outside event and there was a marching band. The bishopric taught about the 12th article of faith and they posted the colors.

We had a Stake conference with President Shumway and Elder Zeballos. Our investigators got the opportunity to go and talk with president and the 70! They were super excited.

By the way, I survived yet another earthquake. I actually didn't even feel it although I heard it was pretty strong. Thanks for your prayers and concern.

Sorry for the short letter this week. A little distracted.

Love you all,

Elder Mattiaccio
Barrio Las Brisas, Zona Florida, Guatemala Sur


A note from President Shumway regarding the earthquake.

Dear Parents and Priesthood leaders of Missionaries of the Guatemala City South Mission,

We want to insure you of the safety of the missionaries here in the Guatemala City South Mission.  The earthquake that occurred last night in southern Mexico was also felt here in Guatemala City.  Our missionaries were all safely tucked into bed and most  were unaware that an earthquake and occurred. We have communicated with all our missionaries and all are safe and healthy.
We appreciate your prayers on behalf of our missionaries. 
-President and Sister Shumway

Monday, September 4, 2017

Week 97 - (the last) Changes

Well, it's that time again. Changes. I'm staying here in Las Brisas for my last change and receive my new companion, Elder Gordon. My new companion is from Utah. Not sure exactly where... I've learned a ton from Elder Ramos though. There are some things I'll miss, others I won't. But all in all, I think I've had a positive experience with him. I've definitely grown a lot with him and (now for sure) will never have another Brazilian companion.

This week we had yet another multi-zone conference with a member of the Seventy. This time with Elder Jorge Zeballos, part of the new area presidency. He's from Chile and shared a lot of neat experiences. It is always a privilege to have an
other conference with a general authority. 

This week an investigator we had found last week who had a fairly strange name, Estanislao Rac. He's begun to make drastic changes in his life. When we found him he was a bit drunk and didn't show much promise. The next time he was so drunk he literally was dying of cirrhosis. He looked like he was on his death bed. We went back because we had met his wife and she was starting to listen to us more. They ended up not being able to go to church that Sunday for the same reason. We decided to give him one more shot. When we got there he was up and well, he had shaved and combed his hair, He looked totally different. I would even say his spirit was different. There was literally a different spirit in his house. He had read the pamphlet we had left, I had accidentally left a Book of Mormon in his house and he kept it and tried to return it to us. He and his wife accepted a baptismal date and to top it off, they both came this week to church. 

That is another story in and of itself. Yesterday we left our apartment early to go and bring our investigators to church. When we got to the highway we waited for a bus to pass by to take us to the farther parts of our area to bring those that needed to come a bit more early. We waited and waited but no bus came. Not sure what was up with that but we resolved to pass by the investigators who were within walking distance of the church. We went to the farthest first, thinking that we could gather them all up on the way to the church (since it is basically one long road and the church is on the main highway) We passed by the first family, the Alvarez family. We had called a couple times and only gotten the machine so we thought maybe we might need to go wake them up. We got there and nothing. I called the phone again and still nothing. Even their cellphones. Nada. OK... The next family. Same story. Another investigator? Nuh uh. Less active family? Gone. Converts? Sick. We ended up going to church empty handed. I was a bit frustrated. I asked God "Why? Why would we get sent to look for people who weren't even home? The investigators that lived up on the mountain weren't answering the phone. There is a mini bus that goes up there to bring the members and investigators so they don't have to pay the bus fare there and back. We normally go with the bus to make sure it stops for our investigators but because we couldn't get up there, there was no way for the driver or any of the members to recognize who was waiting for to go to church and who was waiting for the normal buses. We got to the church, like I said, empty handed and a little discouraged. But then, the bus arrived and down came Estanislao and his wife, Martha Julia. Also, Jose and his son Chepito (nickname for 'jose') After starting a part member family came walking in and sat down in front of us. At the end, we had 8 investigators in church. A record for the are in the time i have here. When that part member family came in I literally started crying. I knew that God had answered my prayers. I saw that he was trying our faith and will never let us fail if we are obedient to his commands. 

This Sunday, being Fast Sunday, I had included Estanislao and his wife in my fast. I really have a testimony of fasting. I know that God allows us to be tempted. It seems that every time I fast, some member or investigator offers us food. This month I felt an especially greater strength as I fasted. I  wasn't really tempted by their offers (not that they were intentionally tempting me) I didn't feel hungry at all. This week we even had Ward Council meeting after church and it always takes a long time. Normally, we can just leave after we give our progress report but the family that invites us to lunch every Sunday are the Elders Quorum President and the High Priest leader. In other words, the only men in the house have to stay the entire meeting, meaning we wouldn't be able to eat until they finished and took us to their house. But through the entire meeting I felt fine. For lunch, they had prepared a special meal for my companion since they pretty much knew he would be leaving this change. It is called "Feijoada". It was basically baked beans with bacon, traditional sausage, dried meat, rice, and cabbage. It was soooooo good! It was a really heavy meal but it really hit the spot after fasting. :P jajaja!

This week I've really been noticing how quickly time passes and how little time I have left. President reminded me  of it in the conference. When I hugged him and shook his hand he asked me "you ready to give my another 6 week?" Really I don't feel distracted or worried about being home, not that I don't think about it, but I don't dwell on it. I've been looking back on my mission and I feel I have done what the Lord has asked of me. I feel I truly have grown and become truly converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I feel that I have learned infinitely more than I have taught any of my converts. I remember times of trial and times of happiness. I have seen God's hand as I work in his glory to save souls and bring His children to the fold. I am ready to give all that I can to the Lord in these last 6 weeks here in Guatemala. I may not be here to see the fruits of my labors but I have the assurance and comfort in the fact that the reaper and the sower are worthy of their recompense. I love the Lord and his children. I'm ready to give 'em heaven. 

Thank you for all of your love, and support, and letters. I'm sorry if I haven't responded personally but know that I enjoy reading them and send you my and the Savior's love.

Love you all.

Elder Mattiaccio
Barrio Las Brisas, Zona Florida, Guatemala Sur

Monday, August 28, 2017

Week 96 - Ward Family Home Evening

Hello everybody,

This week we had some pretty interesting experiences. First with not being able to write (but that's last week's news) Other than that, on Tuesday, we had divisions with our District Leader, Elder Ashcroft.  He came with me to work in Las Brisas. We were working in an area not too far from our house but far enough to have to take a bus to get back. We were working and it was starting to get late. I decided to visit one last family before heading back to work closer to our house. We shared our message with the dad and were in the process of closing when the mom got home. When we were getting up to leave she said "and what about the coke¡" I thought she was just joking because here we can't drink coke and she knew that, and she was halfway joking. She had sent her daughter to the tienda to buy us a snack and wanted us to wait. We were waiting and waiting, and while we were waiting I looked at my watch and it was 7:45. The buses that go back to our house stop running at 7:30! That made me all the more anxious because we still had to walk up the huge hill. "this sector is basically two long roads going down the side of the mountain. We got up and the road going back down to our house was empty. A few cars passed but we aren't allowed to hitchhike. So I just said a little prayer in my heart that God would send a taxi or a bus so that we could get down in time for our dinner appointment. We weren't waiting too long when a micro bus came by. It was probably the last one to be going down and we were already going to arrive late. It was pretty full already but we had no other choice. We got in and were basically standing up hunched over inside the bus. The highway going down is super windy and the drivers here drive pretty aggressively. I was praying the entire way down that nothing would happen. Nothing did. We got down and went with our assistant to the ward mission leader (jajaja that's not his official title. I just like it because it reminds me of 'The office'). He invited us because he and his wife were newly weds and he just got his call to be the assistant ward mission leader. The funny thing is that that dinner was supposed to be for my companion and I but, because we had short notice about divisions, Elder Ramos was in San Jose Las Rosas. So our district leader enjoyed the dinner that should have been for just us... Oh well.

On Friday, when we were in that same area again we went down an alley knocking doors and at the end I could hear the river that was at the bottom of the rivine. I looked up and saw houses on the other side and wanted to go. We started climbing up and the houses and rooftops turned into barns and sheds. We were walking a little bit when a guy called us. He was a farm worker and told asked us how we got there. He explained that we were on private property and that there were guards. At his advice we went back the way we came. But we had mistakenly trespassed on private property. Oops. Oh well. No harm done. My companion didn't want to and I thought it was just because he didn't want to get his shoes dirty, not until after he told me the Spirit told him not to. We weren't in any real danger but I told him that even though I am the Senior Companion he has a right to receive revelation too and should speak up.

On Saturday we had a ward Family Home Evening in preparation for the Ward Conference the next day. We we're going to call and remind all of our investigators and converts to go when I asked my companion for the phone to start calling. His response frightened me. "I thought you had it." We tried calling it from a pay phone until someone answered. Apparently, he left it in the house of one of our converts before lunch. We had to stop what we were doing and walk all the way back to the other sector to get the phone. Luckily we got it back and called everyone. The turn out was pretty good.

Elder Mattiaccio
Barrio Las Brisas, Zona Florida, Guatemala Sur

Monday, August 21, 2017

Week 95 - Switching it up

Hey guys, sorry for the late letter. I didn't have time to write on Monday due to some errands I had to run. Not sure that all of you know but my mom is from Guatemala. Recently we found out that because of her being from here, I can have a double citizenship. I wasn't too worried about doing it, but President Shummer suggested I do it. So, I went to the Immigration building to try and start the process. I also asked President if my family who lives here could take me since I didn't know exactly where the immigration building was. So my companion and I went early in the morning. Come to find out, I need a bunch of documents to be able to do it. Documents that I don't have on hand here. So, after all that, we're going to have to do it through the Guatemalan consulate back home and do the process remotely. But it would have been cool to leave as a legalized Guatemalan citizen. But at least I got to spend some time with my family here. It was actually pretty interesting. I went with my mom's cousin, Marvin. It was a great experience. Marvin and his family took us out to eat at a really cool place called Cayalá. It's a shopping center that's made to look like the Spanish Colonial era of Guatemala. We ate some really good burgers there and I got to know a part of my family that I didn't know very well. Unfortunately, all of the pictures I took are lost forever because my memory card got a virus- so all of the pictures from the last two weeks got corrupted and I couldn't recover them. :( The traffic here is horrible and we didn't get back to our area until 430, so that is the end reason why I didn't write on Monday like normal.

But in other news... This week was interesting. Our area is so large we work by sectors (well, really we do in every area, but especially this one) And this week we decided to change up the days we would visit each sector. It was interesting because we would find new people because we would be in an area a day that is different than normal. We also found that we couldn't visit certain people who we would normally try to visit. So it had its ups and downs but I think we're gonna stick with it and try and make the scheduling work with the people we couldn't visit. 

One of the new people we were able to visit this week was a family I had contacted a week ago, The Zaput Family. I had talked with the wife (Arelis) but, because the husband was not home, we couldn't enter the house to teach her. We went another time and they were on their way out the door. But on Sunday we had an appointment for the afternoon when the husband should be home. We arrived and they were again getting ready to leave. We asked if we could share our message and the husband (Oscar) said it'd be fine. So we went in and taught them about the restoration. They said they had distanced themselves a bit from church but their son was going to a Christian bible study group and they were kind of getting the feeling that they should start going to church again. They were super receptive and accepted a baptismal date. It'll be a bit tricky since Oscar will only be there on Sundays but we're gonna try to teach the rest of the family during the week and that he can catch up a bit on Sunday.

The other is a kid named Kibn (pronounced "keevin"). My companion and I were contacting near a hill looks like a more like a concrete wall when we found him. We were just knocking doors and my companion knocked his door. His mom answered and told us to come back maybe another time (classical "I'm not interested" response) I was knocking on another door talking with someone and my companion was talking with someone in the street when the grandma came out practically yelling "Come back! Come back!" My companion tried to figure out what was going on while I finished my contact. She took him back to the house we had just contacted and was inviting him in. when I finished I went to see what was up. Turns out that when we left, Kibn showed up. His mom wanted us to talk to him because she said he was a bit of a wayward child. We sat down and talked with them for a bit and we judged that he might not be as (wayward) as his mom thinks. Maybe he has some things he could change but they were normal things of adolescence. We explained that anybody can change if they put their faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement- that we all have the freedom to make our own decisions but we also would have to accept the consequences of our actions- that if we make good decisions we will get to return to live with our Heavenly Father again, and if we don't we may be separated from his presence forever. In the end we felt they both understood the principle of agency and the positive effect it can have in our lives as well as the negative. It all depends on whether we are willing to follow God's plan and put His will before our or if we are going to use our agency to do whatever we want, regardless of the consequences.

We visited family that we found a couple weeks ago, the Alvarez Family (I don't remember if I've mentioned them before...) Anyway, we had left them with a pamphlet to read but they hadn't read. We explained the reason why we leave "homework" and testified of the truthfulness of the restoration. I know the Spirit testified of our words because the mom was crying and the dad personally committed to reading the pamphlet before our next lesson. We arrived for our appointment on Sunday and we had just barely gone in when the son and his girlfriend came looking for her coin purse. Here, coin purses are where women put ALL of their money. In it she had left over 350 Quetzales (=approx. $50) So we decided to help them look. We looked and we looked. We lifted up couches we dumped the kid's toys all over the floor to see if it got mixed up in that. We lifted up the couches again. She retraced her steps. Nothing. It occurred to me to say a prayer but I forgot in all the ruckus. We ended up sharing something brief because of the time the search took up but we asked if they had made the effort to read and they said they had! I was so happy. It was a shame we couldn't talk about everything we wanted to but now they had a start. At the end the mom included in her prayer thanks that we had come, for help to keep reading, and that the son's girlfriend could find her money.

That's all for today. Until next week.

Elder Mattiaccio
Barrio Las Brisas, Zona Florida, Guatemala Sur

Monday, August 14, 2017

Week 94 - Special People

Hey everyone.

The highlight of this week was getting to know Emily. Emily is the daughter of an investigator who has been receiving the missionaries for a long time now.... She has a syndrome where her bones didn't form properly and they are super brittle. When she was a baby, when they would lift her up to change her diaper they would break her femur. She can't really speak because she never developed language but her spirit is huge! I don't know how to explain it. I just love people with disabilities or deformities. Maybe it is because I have a sister who has deformities as well. I feel like they are the noble and great ones that Abraham talked about when he was shown the preexistence. Really I feel like it is an honor every time I meet one. 

Elder Mattiaccio
Barrio Las Brisas, Zona Florida, Guatemala Sur

Week 93 - Temple Trip and Bus adventures

Hey everybody. This week was super  full of meetings and stuff. I felt like we hardly had time to proselyte, but we made the most of the time we had. 

On Friday we went to the temple as a zone. We left super early because of the ridiculous traffic in the morning here in the capital. We got really lucky because now, if the temple is more than an hour away we can't go. President Shumway pretty much generalized it that everyone in the cap can go because if not, nobody would be able to go because of the traffic. We got there actually super early for our appointment. So we went to Dunkin Doughnuts and ate before entering the temple. I can't help but tell you guys every time that the temple is awesome. The Spirit that is felt is unlike anywhere else. It is the only place I feel like when I'm praying that I am LITERALLY talking with God. It is like a conversation. I ask something and I feel an immediate response. While we were there on the grounds, we saw an old friend: "Elder" Oscal. He finished his mission about 2 months ago and he lives here in the capital. He was there as part of a sealing. No, it wasn't him getting sealed, it was one of his buddies. It felt so weird seeing him without a plaque. I've actually seen various returned
missionaries come back. Anyway, back to the story. On our way to the temple we took what the people call "red buses". They are kind of sketch. All of the old school buses we don't use anymore get sent here. They basically strip everything non-essential and put bars on the roof so people can go standing up in the aisles. It's fairly interesting. They are all competing for the passengers so they always go super fast and cram as many people as they can so they can collect more fares. We were going comfortably seated in on when we heard a *bang*. The tire blew out. So we all had to get off the bus and get on another bus. We went from comfortably seated to uncomfortably crammed and standing. :( On the way back, we went with an entire other zone. It was a bus full of missionaries. hahaha.

Then on Friday we had a Multi-Zone conference. This time I just went with our district leader. This time, someone else's bus blew their tire and they all boarded on our bus. The only bad thing is that we weren't exactly sure where to get off the bus and now we couldn't see out of the windows. We got to a point where I knew we had passed our destination so we got off and got on another bus going the opposite direction. This time I told the attendant to let us know when our stop was coming up so we wouldn't pass it again. We still got there early and we hadn't passed it by much. It was an awesome conference. President made a change to our study schedule. He gave us an extra 30 minutes for companionship study. Something I've always felt we needed. With only a half hour we could never really plan the way we should or needed to but now, we're gonna be able to plan like they taught us in the CCM.

I almost forgot! Last week after writing I went to San Pedro Sacatepequez. On the bus ride there I asked a lady if she knew where the RENAP (Registro Nacional de Personas) was in San Pedro. She said she lived there and gave me directions. I almost just left it at that, but I felt a strong impression to talk to her. I noticed she had a lanyard that said "Alorica" and I recognized it from a member who had studied English there. I asked her (now in English) if she spoke English. She said yes. So then i started a conversation with her. She told me about herself, I told her about my job as a missionary and asked (all in English) if she would like the sister missionaries to visit her. She said yes! She even offered to take me to the RENAP building. Unfortunately, when we got there it was closed. But I passed the reference to the sisters and they're going to visit her this week.

After we just took some pictures of the main plaza and the main cathedral. I bought some típica fabric because the market there is the best there is.

See ya next week.

Elder Mattiaccio
Barrio Las Brisas, Zona Florida, Guatemala Sur