Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Circle of Love - Week 4

"¡Hola!" de Guatemala!

Oh! I love it here. It rains everyday so it's nice and cool all the time. I'm actually wearing my long sleeve shirts more often than my short sleeves. Well... maybe half and half. It does get a little hot here, mostly just humid. It's normally around 24 C during the day and 22 C at night. I don't know what that is in Fahrenheit (?). Anyway. It's always nice out and I love playing basketball in the rain. We get 1 hour of deportes (sports) every day except Sunday. It's nice cuz we have a gym with some machines and a couple weight sets, a volleyball net and a basketball court. I like to ride on the stationary bike for a little bit then go out and join in on a game of thunder/ultimate speed whatever you wanna call it. As of right now, it's only 3 districts out at the same time. There's not really a whole lot of missionaries here right now. I half like it half don't. There´s not enough people to play a good game of volleyball anymore AND we had to repair the volleyball net cuz someone pulled down on it too hard and snapped the line holding up the net. Then, they're redoing some of the walls and it's taking a long time for them to finish it, so the workers leave all their stuff and someone overshot the hoop in thunder and punctured one of the basketballs. :/ So now were down to 2 OK basketballs and 1 volleyball that is getting more and more flat. I guess I'll just be spending more time in the gym. Which I really need to anyway. 

This week, after all the devotionals, my district leader started something called ¨the circle of love¨. We all go around and say what we like about a specific elder/hermana. I didn't get to go last week cuz we only had so much time after the devotional but I got my turn this week. It was so nice to hear what the other missionaries in my district really thought about me. I had my preconceptions. Glad to know they were wrong. Since I know Spanish more than most of them I correct them a lot and I thought they'd be annoyed by that but each one of them thanked me for helping them. I try to be as helpful as I can and only help when asked. I really felt the love of my entire district. That really helped me get my spirits up. It's hard being in classes all day but you kinda have to get used to it. I just can´t wait until I get to go out into the field and teach real people.

We finished with one of our investigators this week. Angel is ¨moving¨ out of our area. But it was cool to see how lessons progress and be able to apply all the grammar and Spanish we've been learning to teach someone. Me and my companion have a really good groove going when we're teaching. We switch off often and we always feel good coming out of our lessons. Everyone in our district is improving so much. We really are growing together. Today we took pictures with the other norte district so that'll be coming when I get into the field.

Sorry it's so short this week. Be prepared for a flood of pictures when I get out!

Till next week,

Elder Mattiaccio

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Becoming a Missionary - Week 3

Hey everybody!
Here goes week 3 in the Guatemala City CCM. The CCM president's name is Pres. Cox. He´s from California. He said he´s from a city about 45 minutes north of Bakersfield. He's a farmer and he used to be a mission president in Mexico. They took pictures of us the first week and just emailed them to us so I have included them. I learned that I can only send pictures that they take in the CCM. So sorry, but my pics are going to have to wait until I get out in the field. But I’m trying to take a few where I can but there aren´t many places we can take them since they had problems with missionaries and cameras. Just know that they´ll be coming probably the first pday out in the field. The first group of missionaries left last week. I didn´t know them very well but they were pretty cool. We have a bit of free time after deportes so what we do is trade ties. There’s a whole value system where paisleys, gold, and skinny ties are all worth more and silk is worth less since it falls apart in the humidity. I haven´t traded much though. Mostly cuz I haven´t seen any ties I like. I don’t particularly care for gold or skinny so I’m mostly looking for paisleys or anything with a little more color. You can even have a tie ¨skinnied¨ for the price of one other tie or whatever you work out. It just sucks cuz we haven´t gotten any more Nortes and I don’t really like any of the ties people have. We might be getting more next week but we don´t know. This is the time when missionaries (at least nortes) really slow down.
 We got a whole bunch of Latinos but they live on the 3rd floor. We practiced with one of the new districts teaching ¨CCE¨ (como comenzar enseñar/How to begin teaching). They were so fresh. It brought me back (like it was a long time ago) to when I just got here and the 2 weeks helped me with cce. It was cool cuz I learned that my Spanish was pretty good and I am learning stuff cuz the elder I was with told me (in Spanish) that I really helped him and that he learned a lot. FROM ME!!! Wow! That was a huge confidence booster. Later in the week I was sitting in front of our window, and since it is tinted on the outside, when we slid it open, the two panes made a mirror. I was writing in my journal and I looked up and I almost didn´t recognize myself. I looked like an adult! And earlier that day I did the same thing outside. We were waiting to teach and I was looking at the window and a real life missionary was staring back at me! Since then I’ve stopped feeling inadequate and have had so much more confidence in my teaching and in my Spanish. I don´t feel green anymore. It seems like forever since I arrived here but in reality it’s only been 20 days. We are learning so much and are growing together as a district, helping each other learn a concept or if a companionship is struggling we help them sort it out. I LOVE IT HERE IN THE CCM!
BTW, sorry if I repeat anything. I have to write so fast and don’t always remember what I’ve already written. :P The Sundays here are the best. You wake up normal time. Elders have scripture study and hnas go to a general women’s meeting at 8. Then 9:00 sacrament meeting. They asked our district to put together a special musical number for the intermediate hymn. We sang ¨Más Cerca Dios de Tí¨ with the hnas starting out, then splitting into alto sop and then the elders joining in. It was awesome. We had only had time to practice twice for like 10 minutes since they asked us Saturday morning. Everyone has to have a 5 minute talk on one of the principles of the Doctrine of Christ (faith in Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end) prepared since they don’t announce which elders/hnas are giving talks until after the meeting has started. I lucked out this week (again) but I have a pretty good talk prepared. At least in my mind. But one of our elders, E. Thomas, gave a talk for the second week in a row! Luckily he had prepared another talk since last week. We were all amazed since he had given one last week. But he rocked it. Then priesthood, where we learn about 1 or 2 ordinances like baby blessings.  Then we go to a district class where we focus on teaching 10 minute lessons. Then, devotionals for days. We have 4 devotionals every day. Pres. Cox always gives two. Then Pres./Hna Provance give one, then we watch a devotional from the Provo MTC. Such great talks. I always feel ¨fired up¨ after pres. Cox´s. Such a spiritual day. I wish I could talk about all of them, but I’m afraid I don’t have time. The food the Zone leaders serve for breakfast is terrible. It’s like a crescent roll with ham in it that the chefs made the night before and left to be served in the morning. We try toasting it in an oven thing we have but it doesn´t help too much. From now on, I’m either fasting or just eating fruit.
We got a new District Leader, E. Thomas. He´s a pretty cool guy. He was born in Texas so he has a lot of Texan mannerisms. He started a thing where we choose (at random) new seats for the next week cuz some of us don’t like sitting in the same spot, or in front of the air conditioner (me), or looking at the same people. 

That's all the time I have. Until next time,

Elder Mattiaccio

[Click here to see Elder Mattiaccio's picture in the Church's Press Release in Guatemala about the upcoming mission changes]

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Teaching Begins - Week 2

Hello from Guatemala!!!

Unfortunately I don't have my journal today since they are cleaning our rooms and we aren't allowed to be in there while they are cleaning. So I will do my best to remember the past week. I did grab my camera before I left and I'm sending my pictures that I had from last week. We don't have time take pictures before writing so they´ll all be a week behind. UGH and I can't figure out how to bring it up since the computers here have restricted functions and there aren´t any teachers here to help me. So sorry. I'll try again next week. 

So this week has been pretty good. My companion and I have been growing together pretty well. We have had a couple disputes but we had our first weekly planning session where we brought a lot of things up with each other and made goals to alleviate some of the tension. You know, he´s a really good guy. He is pretty in tune with the spirit when we teach so our lessons go pretty well. 

This week we taught ¨Ángel López¨ (Hno. Baján) every day in the afternoon. This week we taught him the plan of salvation and the word of wisdom. He smokes though so we had to ask him to stop. We check up on his smoking every visit and he only smokes now when he gets really nervous. We´re still helping him with that. He was sick on saturday so we taught his sister ¨Lucia¨ who takes care of his daughter, Camilla. She was very receptive to our lessons but kicked us out promptly at our 15 minute limit. When he came back he was just getting better. But in the middle of our lesson, the neighbor brought him some coffee to make him feel better. He started drinking it and we were like ¨WAIT!¨ but it was too late. So instead of focusing on our lesson of the restoration, we decided to go over the word of wisdom again and re explain its´ importance and how we have to be obedient to all of God´s laws and commandments. Then, at the end we taught him about eternal families and how he can be reunited with his wife, who died during child birth. He seemed very excited to hear that and was a little bit more willing to keep his commitments. 

Now, we are starting to teach a second investigator as well. We had prepared an awesome lesson to teach on saturday but we ran out of time before we were able to get our turn since the companionships before us took too long. We were super bummed cuz we were so prepared and had the spirit with us and felt like we were ready to rock it but we didn´t get the chance to. But we were able to teach him yesterday and it went pretty well still. He wanted to hear about our church cuz he heard that we baptize in some radical way with sombreros and blue clothes jajaja. So we explained him that we don't do any of that but we baptize by immersion. We taught him a little about the Book of Mormon.

We also are supposed to teach a REAL LESS ACTIVE every saturday. This week, they left before my district had the chance to teach so we had to teach to the latino elderes as if they were less actives. It went pretty well. He wasn´t going to church because he just got a promotion and had to work on sundays. He had also stopped praying so we asked him to pray tonight on how he can work his schedule so he doesn't have to work on sundays or at least go to church. We reminded of the importance of keeping the sabbath day holy and that he needs to lead his family in that. Then they taught us after and I had been fighting with my family and didn't feel like I was worthy to take the sacrament. They taught me so well and I felt the spirit while they were teaching me (even though I was just acting). 

A group of missionaries left this morning. We all got together on our floor and closed all the doors and sung ¨Llamados a Servir¨(Called to Serve) at the top of our lungs. Then, took a quick water break and sung God be with you til we meet again (I don´t remember what that one is in spanish). Then we had one of them say a prayer. One from the Nortes said it in english and then one of the Latinos said another prayer in spanish. I can´t wait to have that when I leave. So for the next 2 weeks there are only 3 districts of nortes and we don't get any more for 2 weeks and until then there will only be 2 sisters and they already know spanish. They´ll be leaving with us though. 

Ok guys. That's all for this week. I love it here. I love my district. We all work so well together. I should have a picture of all of us by next week and I'll let you know where they´re all going and who they are. Until next week!!

Elder Mattiaccio

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Nortes, Hermanas and Latinos - Week 1

Hey everybody! 

We got back late from the temple and only have 50 minutes to write home (instead of 60). I apologize in advance for my poor grammar and spelling. Its actually kind of hard writing this in english since we are only aloud to speak spanish, but i will do my best. The only time we spoke english was on sunday because they separate the Nortes/gringos/americans from the latinos :P. So much has happened these last 6 days.  :)  We were assigned into districts (distritos) when we got here. They handed us a packet with our distrito, bed assignment and our rama (branch) I was assigned to distrito Santiago (james), cama 1, Rama A. My companion´s name is Elder Nielsen. He is from Noblesville, Indiana. We have been getting along pretty well. I sleep on the bottom bunk and he sleeps right above me. They also set apart the district leader, Elder Olsen. He´s a pretty cool guy. We picked him up at the airport in Los Angeles. He´s from orange county and his stake had him work in the Newport Beach Temple before he came out. He has such a countenance about him. He is learning spanish really quickly and asks tons of questions during class. We have class pretty much all day, every day, except for sunday and P-day. (today). 

Every morning we have about a half hour of personal study and then breakfast at 7:30. then, we return to the class room for more personal study until our teacher arrives. In the morning, our teacher is Hno. Abadillo. He´s pretty chill and he knows english well since he served his mission in Texas. We've mostly been learning spanish but it is focused on gospel vocabulary. We have lunch at 12 then back to class. Around 2:30 Hno Abadillo leaves and gets replaced by Hno Baján. He teaches us mostly about how to effectively teach the gospel in spanish and how to be a missionary. Our very first day of class we taught a lesson to an ¨investigator¨. After dinner at 5 our teacher helps us prepare our lesson for about 15 minutes then he leaves to go on ¨un cita¨(date). Then at 6 the first group of elders/hermanas goes up and teaches their lesson. and every 10 minutes another group goes up. We are supposed to teach the entire lesson in 10 MINUTES!!!! my companion and i are both just like... ¨uh.... how in the world are we supposed to teach an entire lesson in 10 minutes?¨ well... we chose to teach the gospel of christ first and invite him to be baptized. we had to actually knock on the door  We began with a prayer and began our lesson. we had no idea how much time was passing and didn't want to check our watches. Throughout the entire lesson, Ángel (our investigator) was bobbing his head and half falling asleep. We got him to commit to baptism and repentance to be baptized the 15th of November. We took around 25 minutes. 15  minutes over what we were supposed to. but we got through it. then we taught him again the next day. that time we only took 17 minutes. the next time 12 minutes, so we´re on the right track. 

Friday night there was a fire alarm at 2:30 in the morning. I was the first one up and everyone else, it seemed, was still in bed. i checked outside and all the other rooms were opening their doors and getting out into the hallway. so i turned on the lights and started poking people to wake up. My companion WOULD NOT get up. I told him GET UP! i can´t leave without you and i am leaving. So he slothfully got up and down out of his bunk and we all filled down the stairs to the main level. There we were all bunched up. Then, the President of the CCM (MTC in spanish), President Cox, came out and asked why we were standing in the hallway. Our zone leader explained there was a fire alarm and he didn't want to go out the door cuz he was worried it was alarmed too. To which pres. cox exclaimed ¨who cares if its armed, if there is a fire alarm you need to get your butts outside. Don´t do it now though, Were having computer issues and the alarms went off and all the phone lines are down. Go back to bed and if it goes off again, wait for me to let you know when to leave.¨ so we all go back up to our rooms. Come to find out, Our floor was the only ones to get out of bed. The hermanas and latinos all stayed in their beds and us stupid nortes all got up and went down stairs. UGH. THEN, it took me an hour to get back to sleep. I was so tired the next day.

Sunday was fast sunday. So dinner saturday night was the last food and right before deportes was the last water. We had a sacrament meeting where pretty much everybody had to bear their testimony in spanish. Then we separated for priesthood, which was in english. Then we had district class where we had to practice teaching lessons in 10 minutes again. The hermana who was conducting us interrupted every 5 seconds to correct something or add something. she told us we have to start pretty much everything with a question so the investigator ¨hungers¨ (yes, she used that word purposefully on fast sunday) for the word. Then we had a few devotionals and watched a devotional by elder scott.

Well... that's all i have time for today. Talk to you all next tuesday!

Elder Mattiaccio

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Farewell

Elder Mattiaccio was set apart as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on October 26, 2015. He was set apart by our Stake President, President Jones. It was such a special moment. Before he was set apart he received counsel from President Jones, President Walker and Bishop Pinedo. This was a very special day for Elder Mattiaccio and of course us. 

On October 27th his last day home, we chose to head to Salt Lake City and spend time with him as a family. We headed there early with the idea to avoid traffic and spend quality time with him. Our first stop was Olive Garden. The meal itself was good but what made it even better was what happened after. We stepped out of the restaurant and noticed that a homeless woman who had been sitting at the corner when we arrived was still there. Grant said to us, maybe we should give her our leftovers. We all immediately agreed and Elder Mattiaccio and Drew headed over to her and handed her the still warm leftovers. She immediately thank them and began to eat it. When Elder Mattiaccio turned around all I noticed were the tears running down his face and the joy in Drew's smile. They had just experienced that great feeling that charity and service bring. The feeling that you are doing what Heavenly Father wants you to do and He is pleased. Heavenly Father places people in our path and the opportunity to serve them and love them as He does. It is up to us to take advantage of those opportunities and make the best of them. 

Then we headed to the Salk Lake City Temple, Temple Square and we headed directly to the North Visitor Center, the missionary display. 

We sat as a family and watched the videos of missionaries and their stories. They have a counter of how many missionaries are on the field. It was changing as we were there. It also shows all the different countries where missionaries are serving. 
Again, we felt comforted. We were so comfortable being there, listening to these stories, we didn't realize the time. We suddenly had to go.

We headed to the airport and arrived early. Immediately, we ran into a young woman (Sister Store) and her parents and we started to talk. She too, was headed to the Guatemala MTC but serving in El Salvador. As time went by other missionaries (can't remember their names) and their parents started showing up. They all seemed excited and scared all at the same time. It was a comfort to all that our missionaries were not going alone and there were other families who were experiencing the exactly same thing.

The time came and we began saying our goodbyes. Many emotions were flowing. Some probably from fatigue.

As quickly as it began it ended. Elder Mattiaccio walked through security, turned around and gave one last wave and he was gone. 

To our surprise and delight we heard from him the very next morning. 

Here's what he wrote:

Hola Mamita Linda,

I arrived safely here in Guatemala. I already love it here. I came on the plane with 13 other missionaries and I´m working on learning their names. We received our badges (yay!) so that should make that a little bit easier ;P. We've unpacked and gotten room and bed assignments. I am in the first bed so it is my responsibility to turn on/off the lights in the morning and at night. We had an interview with the CCM president and after i finish writing this, i get to take a nap :).

I love you. I was able to meet with abuelo Otto (as you saw) he gave me his phone number and address so i´ll see if i can get down.

Love you. bye

We were so excited and relieved and that he shared details of what was going on. 

We are so very proud of Elder Mattiaccio. We admire his courage in choosing to serve a mission. We are sure many will follow in his footsteps.

If you would like to write to him his email address is