Friday, March 1, 2013

My Mission Experience

From the time I was a little boy, coloring pictures and singing obnoxiously in the primary, I have always had the dream of serving a full time mission for the Lord. It was my desire to be one of his full time representatives, spreading the Good News of the Gospel, of Faith and Repentance. Little did I know this dream would be fulfilled in the city where dreams come true. The Hollywood portrayal I always saw as New York City is nothing compared to the reality in which it is.The lights, the sound and the motion of the melting pot of the world, does not tell its full story. The real story of this city lies within the people that walk its streets each and every day. It is because of these people, my friends, that my life has been changed forever.

My mission started on March 7th 2011, when my Stake President placed his hands upon my head and set me apart as a representative of the Lord's Church. Just a mere 2 days later I was sitting in a room with 7 other missionaries who would later become some of my best friends. The MTC was the beginning of a great and wonderful journey. Elder Everett Scaife was my MTC companion, and I believe the first person he influenced on his mission was my very own soul. He brought me unto Christ in a very real way, and planted a seed of repentance in my heart that has grown, and will never stop growing. I love him for what he taught me and the spirit that he carried into my life. He made my MTC experience what it was, and it set the foundations to what I what I would be teaching people for the next 2 years: Repentance. My mission has given me the opportunity to change and reach a higher plain of thought as well as action. I have learned who I want to be, and more importantly who God wants me to be. I now know the true divine potential that Jesus Christ has given me. I feel this process really started as I came to know the people that God had placed in my path during the course of my mission. Then in turn, they have helped me realize the plan my Heavenly Father has in store for me.

The day was a hot and humid when I walked out of the 125th street train station on Lexington Avenue. It was early in the beginning of May, and somehow I had seemed to overpack. We carried my heavy luggage down the street, past the tall buildings, and up to the 19th story of our high rise in east Harlem. My trainers were Elder Martindale and Elder Huerta Luna - two of the many great friends I have made in my time spent here in the New York New York Mission. The companions and missionaries I have served around during my mission are one of my greatest blessings. All have changed me as a person. Each one will forever hold a special place in my life and in my heart. They have helped me appreciate the finer things in life, and helped me overcome many trials and hardships I have been forced to deal with.

Many have asked me who my favorite companion was, and I can sincerely say that I do not have an answer to that question. All, Elder Scaife, Elder Huerta Luna, Elder Martindale, Elder Hellberg, Elder Wilkey, Elder Eliason, Elder Vazquez, Elder Fox, Elder Kropf, Elder Kay, and Elder Heywood, are some of my BEST FRIENDS who I will forever hold close to my heart. I wish I could properly thank each one for the positive influence that they had in my life, and the things that each one has done for me as an individual. They all taught me valuable lessons and I love them. Then there are all the others I have served around that have become my best friends while doing the Lord's work. Many I have laughed with, talked with, fought with, and rejoiced with. They and my companions have made my mission what it is! They know who they are and I will forever love them for their presence in my life. It is because of many of their positive influences that am who I am today.

Harlem was the experience of a lifetime. It was a time when my faith was tested, and I was forced to change and overcome many difficult personal challenges. I had to rely on the Lord and completely trust him. I was scared to share the Gospel, and I was even more scared to do it in an unfamiliar language, but I trusted that he could transform me into who he wanted me to be. Harlem was everything that I imagined it would be. Elder Huerta Luna and Elder Martindale were the best trainers I could have asked for. They really taught me how to be a missionary, and taught me the essentials from the very beginning. I had the blessed opportunity to serve with Elder Huerta Luna for 4 cycles! It was amazing! He taught me to love the ward and the people that I served around. He had a great love for New York and its people, and he passed that onto me. He taught me to appreciate the culture of many different groups of people, and become as part of them. That is something I have done my whole mission, and it has been to my benefit. When I first saw him I thought he would just be a strange little Mexican, oh boy was I wrong. He became one of my best friends and one of my greatest role models!

It was during this early part of my mission where I started to see myself as a person change. I learned how to put others in front of me, and to stop caring about myself. There was a lady that I taught there named Cindy. She has changed my life forever. I saw this lady who lived smack dab in the middle of one of the roughest parts of the world, and I saw her for who she could become. She was found by Elder Martindale during the last 2 weeks of his mission, when he was on a split with one of the members in our ward. She was a former investigator and he decided to look her up. Because of that one little act of love that he performed, many people's lives have now been changed forever. I taught Cindy the entire time I was in Harlem. All seven and a half months and I loved every minute of it. She was not baptized until 3 months after I left, in February of 2012. Just a short 3 months later her daughter, Kiki was baptized. Then just a few short months after that, her boyfriend, Joseph, who I had never met, was baptized and confirmed. During that same month the 2 or them were married in the Harlem Chapel. Cindy is now pregnant and will be having a baby boy the week that I go home. I wish I could properly thank Elder Martindale, it is because of his work ethic his last couple of weeks, that I too will not stop working until I get on that plane and say good bye. Cindy and her family are fully converted to the Gospel of Christ, and how happy it makes me to say that I could play a small part in that.

I was follow up trained by Elder Hellberg, while still being trained by Elder Huerta Luna. This was my second trio. That mixed things up a bit, but it was for our benefit. The beginning was a bit of a struggle, but it all turned out alright. Elder Hellberg had just been released as Assistant before he came down to be with the two of us. He was crazy, and I loved it! I enjoyed every minute with him. He taught me the principles of obedience and leadership. He really wanted me to be the best missionary I could be, and his example led me there. The two of us were so much alike it was not even funny. I felt bad for those we lived with, poor Elder Stratton, but it was a great experience! He is one of my best friends and someone who will forever be one of my best friends.

It was right before Elder Hellberg went home, and my last couple days in Harlem that I experienced one of the most difficult things on my mission: Being transferred, but not only that- white washed. It was something I did not understand. We had just baptized Anthony the weekend before, and I was questioning if it was something we had done. Tuesday morning I received a call from President Smith telling me it was not because of anything I had done, but when the spirit says something, we are obligated to obey, and that is what he did, and something that I have always tried to learn from. I did not want to leave Harlem. Those were the best days of my life. I loved the people I had grown so close to there, even though because of the language barrier I could not understand most of them. The message of the gospel does that to you. It causes you to love more than you ever have loved before, and it did that to me. I did not know how I could possibly love anyone else as much as I loved everyone there, but Elder Hellberg assured me that I could, just moments before he left. I did not know if I could believe him at the time, but I later figured out that what he said was true.

It wasn’t until I had spent a couple weeks in the Bronx that I understood why the Lord had sent me there. Elder Wilkey is probably the funniest person I have ever met in my entire life. No one has made me laugh as much as he did. He helped me realize that missionary work could be the most fun thing in the world, if you tried to make it so. We did. Elder Wilkey and I grew to love one of the families we had been teaching. Gizela and her two kids: Jordi, and Crismary. The work in the Concourse ward was hard, but their family made everything better. Gisela had many questions and problems that led up to her baptism, but it was one of the highlights of my mission as I pulled her out of the water the day of her baptism. It was hard to understand her thick Dominican Spanish accent, but with the Lord's help I finally could understand and speak the language well enough to influence the lives of those three precious souls.

While in the Bronx I was called as a District Leader. It automatically overwhelmed me. It took a couple weeks before I could really feel worthy to hold such an assignment. Elder Wilkey played a huge part in that. He taught me that God had not called Elder Mattei the robot, for that is what I was becoming, but he called Elder Mattei. He helped me be myself and effectively perform the role to which I was called.

While in the Bronx I had my shares of ups and downs. One of my downs was a great learning experience and has given me one my best friends. Elder Jake Lewis and I had served most of our missions near each other at this point. He was in my district/ward in Harlem, and in the Bronx I was living with him on Briggs Avenue. I don’t even remember what the fight was about, but I can guarantee it was something stupid. I remember being treated in a way I did not like, and calling out and yelling at Elder Lewis for what had happened. I handled the situation very poorly. I could tell I had caused some damage,and for anyone who knows Elder Lewis they know that is a hard thing to do. I could not sleep that night because I felt so bad about treating him the way I did. I walked out of the bedroom door and there he was waiting to apologize to me. He gave me a hug without saying much, and walked back in. That experience has stayed with me my entire mission. Back home I could be a pretty angry person, but since that experience I have not yelled, I have not lost my temper, and I have avoided fighting with anyone at all costs. I felt terrible about it, and I never want to make anyone feel that way again. When Elder Lewis came out and hugged me, I saw my Savior and how he would act. I love Elder Lewis and he will always be my best friend.

Elder Lewis helped Elder Eliason and I get over some hard times during our companionship in the Bronx. When I left that area Elder Eliason was not the person he started out as, and neither was I. We both had some growing up to do, and we gave each other the power to do it. It is our recent convert, Norgeli who sealed the deal and helped make us the close buddies we are today. We both had an equally astounding love for that little girl, and did everything we could to get her baptized and make sure she was happy! I had never had so much fun teaching someone! Elder Eliason was a blast to be with, and even today we would both admit that we needed each other to get to where we are today.

Getting transferred to Stamford was the change I needed, as I was facing hard times back at home.It was at that time that I my ex girlfriend wrote me off, and I found myself in a whole new world and surrounded by a new group of people. With the arrival of President Morgan, the training opportunity, and my new upstate area, I found myself in, what seemed to me, a brand new mission. Although I had been released as District Leader prior to entering Stamford, I had never felt so much like a leader. Elder Fox hung onto every word I said, and watched everything I did. Then, more than ever I needed to be on top of my game. Elder Fox taught me how to be a true leader. He taught me how to lead the way Christ does.

For the longest I have wondered why I went to Stamford. I felt like I did not make much of a difference in the short amount of time I was there. Compared to the 10 cycles I spent serving in both Harlem and Concourse, 2 cycles did not seem like much. After a lot of pondering and prayer I discovered why the Lord sent me there. It was so I could train Elder Fox and learn from both him and Elder Vazquez. Once again I found myself in a trio. It was a blast! We had so much fun and got so much work done. I felt the spirit in a way I had never felt before as the 3 of us taught the message of the Gospel. Elder Vazquez was a good example of work. He worked hard and he worked smart. He reinforced what I had learned from Elder Huerta Luna, and brought it to a whole new level.

We worked hard with our members to help us find and teach those that they were close to. I grew such a love for the members there. In Stamford I saw a group of people who loved missionaries, and loved what they did and were willing to do anything to help, and that is exactly what they did. They helped me grow as a person. My companions and the other missionaries in our ward, Sister Alvarez and Sister Major, were taught the reality of miracles as we worked hard to help and sustain that ward. With the help of Ward members and the Lord, we obtained more that 200 referrals from Church Members. The fruits of that labor are still rolling forth today. Many were baptized because of our own efforts and the support of a loving ward.

My time in Connecticut was a time of great personal growth and change. It was then that I truly started grasping the principle of repentance and came to a realization as to who I could be. I understood my potential, and I started to look at myself and others and saw what our Father in Heaven sees in each and every single one of us. I could not have done it without Elder Fox and Elder Vazquez. They were there for me in some of the hardest times I have had in my life. I learned to look towards heaven, and realized that there truly is a connection between Heaven and Earth.

While there Elder Portillo was my district leader, and although younger than me in the mission I saw him as my leader and looked up, and still do look up to him for the example he set for me. He continued to teach me the principle that we as leaders should lead with love and with kindness, and it was not by anything that he said. He taught me by the way he lived his life, who he is as a person. The majority of the prayers God has answered, have been in the form of another person. God tends to talks to me through those that I love. It is through the examples of others that my life has been touched and changed, and my prayer is that I can play that same role in benefit of someone else. In some cases I have, and the realization of that humbles me to the core.

After 3 short, but amazing months I packed my bags once again and was headed just a few miles west to New Rochelle, New York. With a new understanding as to who I am and as to where I was going, a fire kindled in my soul with a yearning to share that with others. Leaving those I loved and taught in Stamford was acutely trying, but I had the confidence that Elder Fox would bring that area heavenward, and he did.

My arrival in New Rochelle was a little different than previous transfers. I was called as a Zone Leader and would be serving with someone I had previously lived with in my mission. Elder Kropf was a great example to me his last cycle. He taught me the area and he taught me how to work with the Ward members there.

In the beginning the work was difficult, but slowly but surely things shifted into our favor. I came into a Zone where I did not know many missionaries and I felt like I did not really know what I was doing, but we made the best of the situation and created something that has become amazing. It was that cycle that Hurricane Sandy struck the shore of New York. For 3 days we were without power and depression and boredom soon became our enemy. It was the last week of Elder Kropf’s mission, and he showed me how to make the best out of a bad situation. I was sad and frustrated as we searched frantically for ways to serve and help others. At the time normal missionary work was out of the question, and as we sat in complete darkness at night my mind wandered and was filled with thoughts of home. Elder Kropf quickly knocked that out of me, as I saw his desire to do the Lord's work in the last couple days of his service. If he was not trunky, how could I possibly be?

It was during that time that I had given a lot of reflection as to what I would do with my life after the mission. Although things had seemed clear before, that clarity turned into confusion. I remember kneeling down and pleading with the Lord for clarity and understanding. The answer did not come all at once, but nonetheless it did come.

The time came for Elder Kropf to leave, and for my good buddy Elder Kay to come and be my companion. I am so grateful I could serve with Elder Kay! He is one of my best friends. While together we worked joyfully in the service of others. It did not matter who it was - we were serving them. Members, missionaries, investigators, and people we did not even know. During that time we had the blessed opportunity to go and render service to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Being able to serve as part of that relief effort was a blessing, as well as a miracle. The temporal labor we performed lead to many spiritual blessings for both us and them. We saw lives change in a very large way. Those we served appreciated what we did to help them and their families. Whether it was ripping out flood damaged carpet, tearing out drywall, or throwing out damaged furniture they saw who we were and understood who we represented. How grateful I am to say that I could serve the way our Savior would,on behalf of our brothers and sisters. The people there were awesome! We had so much fun as we helped and loved those we served. The damage was devastating, but the love of our Heavenly Father was shown in abundance as we worked.

Not only did we serve there, but Elder Kay helped me understand the importance of serving other missionaries. We did so in every opportunity that we were permitted. If anyone needed anything we were there to help them. Being a Zone Leader has helped me do service for others in ways I never would have thought of. We worked as a zone, and created a unity that I had never seen in a zone in my entire missionary experience. We knew how to get work done, and had fun doing it. Elder Kay was sick our last couple weeks together, and that was a hard trial for the both of us. I had the desire to go out and do missionary work, but with him not feeling well some days that was nearly impossible. It made me realize how much I really loved doing what it is I do as a missionary. It made me realize how much I love the Lord. It also made me realize how much I loved my companion as I did all I could to serve him.

My last cycle Elder Kay was transferred, leaving me in New Rochelle with Elder Haywood. I was hoping to go back to the city, but was happy for Elder Kay as he packed his bags preparing to go finish his mission in New York City. These last couple weeks I have been extremely grateful that President Morgan and the Lord left me here. I have grown such a great love for the people here. I love them, and I want them to have everything they deserve in this life. I have found a lot of joy in working with less actives, and helping them return to activity not only in the Church, but the Gospel as well. We have helped both members and non members repent and make their way closer to Christ. I have slowly realized what the Gospel really is and how we access it. In working with the less active members of the Church, I have been given a desire to do home teaching when I get home and help those who have lost their way.

Elder Haywood was the companion I needed to help me endure to the end. He has helped me live my missionary purpose to the fullest. He has taught me the last, and possibly most important principle of the Gospel. He has helped bring out the diligence and obedience I needed to make it to the end of my mission. I am sad that I will only be with him for this one cycle, but so grateful for the push and drive he has given me. I will not only do this work while I am here, but this will be something that I will continue doing for the rest of my life. I want to work. I want to serve. I want to do whatever it is the Lord wants me to do. I want to help myself, as well as others do what they need to do in order to live with God and their families once again.

I love the people of my mission. I love the atmosphere and the joy that I find in missionary work. Whether it was eating dinner in Sister Munoz’s humble home in Harlem, or talking to a crazy person in the Bronx, I loved it. I loved every minute of it and I do not want it to end. I am so grateful, words cannot describe what my mission means to me, but I will go ahead and try anyway.

I believe my mission started long before I walked off the plane in New York, before I said goodbye to my parents and entered the MTC, and even before my stake president laid his hands upon my head and set me apart for this work. It started in the spring of 2010 when I said a humble prayer and asked the Lord what would be of the best worth unto me. I am here because I was not only called, but I was chosen for this work. I’m not here because my parents or Bishop told me to serve a mission, I am here because the Lord called me to declare repentance unto this people, and bring his children unto him, so I could rest with them in the Kingdom of our Father. That has been my purpose for the past two years, and I know it is true. I know that it is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we can reach our true potential as human beings. As a missionary I have learned where I am going, and how to get there, and I have had the blessing of sharing that with others. And it is through living the Doctrine of Christ which is Faith in Jesus Christ, Faith enough to repent of our sins and turn towards God and Live his will; that true repentance leads us to the waters of baptism where we can follow the Savior and truly access his Atoning sacrifice in our lives. Then comes the sanctification through the gift and Power of the Holy Ghost, who is a constant companion who can help us endure to the end and gain eternal life. If there is anything I have learned on my mission, it is that this is true. That Christ came to die for my sins and yours. That he came to help us, so we could be everything we were sent here to be, if we choose to follow him. It is our choice, and I will forever follow him because of the things I have learned on my mission. I know he lives, and I know he loves. He cares enough to help and guide us. I am thankful for the holy spirit, and the work it has allowed me to do. The mission has changed me forever. I know God gave me this opportunity to help me, and to help those I love in this wonderful city. I love New York! I love the people here, and those I have been blessed to serve with. This is his work, this is his Glory. To bring us unto him, and I am forever blessed to have served as a part of that. He lives, I know it, and I will carry that testimony for the rest of my life, and share it every chance I get. My mission is not ending, but it is just getting started. I know the Gospel is true, and I know it is the power unto our salvation. I love my mission, and I love what it has done for me. It has changed me, and I will never be the same. And I write these things, and do it in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Last Email Home

Hey I am not trunky!!

That is not fair to say! So hello everyone I sent my mission experience, but I will also send this short email. We are about to go to the temple. :) I am excited! This last week of my mission is going to be the best one. I am going to make sure of that! 

So just an update on the week. So on Monday we went to the Quiroa's house for dinner like we do every Monday. We have been asking Emily for the past like 3 months if she needs us to carry her tv down from her room for her. Finally we do it. We get it down the stairs and into the living room. Elder Heywood is outside opening the car door, and I go inside to pick up the TV.. As I do so, my pants rip from groin to my lower back... The only other person in the room was Cindy Quiroa and she is like 25... Haha it was super embarrassing! BUT SO FUNNY! The two of us laughed for like 5 minutes! And Elder Heywood came in, and I made him carry the TV by himself as I shimmied out the door, making sure not to turn my rear towards Cindy. One of the funnier moments on my mission! :P Haha I just wanted to tell y'all about that... It has been a good week though! :) Temple is going to be great today! 

So when I get home.... Saturday I would really like to go to the temple.  Just cuz it would be nice to go with all of you. Also.. I want to go and join a GYM with Todd. I do not know if that is something that is possible. But I would really like to do that, because it would be a good way for me to spend time with him. And i will be reading the scriptures with him at night when I get home, just like I did before! I AM SO EXCITED TO PLAY HOCKEY! :) I am excited for a lot of things! But really sad! So many mixed emotions! 

Also, I need one hard core massage when I get home.. so I was  thinking of getting one somewhere, or IDK. I have a really bad back.. Thanks  Dad! I think I inherited  that from you! :P

So I did not get accepted to BYU. boo hoo. So Mom I am thinking about applying for a job as an EFY counselor.. Only 1 problem. Says I need 1 year of work or school out of high school.. But I think I will apply anyway. What do you think? Between the 2 I almost have a year right?? 

Okay well I got to go! Maybe I wil get on tonight. Temple will take up most of the day. President is taking us out afterwards! I love you all! :) 

Love Mark! :) See you all soon!  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Just a Bit Trunky

Hello everyone! So my feelings right now are that I am excited! I went to the Lion King today... It was AMAZING! :) I Loved it so much!!! Broadway seriously is something amazing! I am so grateful for the opportunity! I wish I could just describe it all to you! It was pretty magical! The Singers were breathtaking! Ah! Freaking Sick! I loved it! Also I went to see/say bye to Cindy tonight. It was nice to see her... She is amazing! She is married now and her husband got baptized in the summer, and her daughter Kiki last May. And now she is having another baby! :) Joseph will be his name. He is due on the 7th of March :) I loved seeing her! Elder Stratton is serving in that area again, and he knocked the door and I was hiding on the other side of the wall.. I turned around and I had this 9 month pregnant lady running up to give me a hug! :) It was really nice to see her! She is one of my best friends! I am so glad we could teach and find her. That one person has made a huge influence in so many different people's lives. When we all come back here you guys will get to meet her :) It was sad saying good bye, but she told me to be happy and helped me out a lot! I strongly feel that she is one of the main reasons I served my mission. I am so grateful to God, that Elder Martindale found her his last week of his mission by looking up a former investigator. ... It made a huge difference in their lives and in mine. She tells me and Stratton we are her favorites lol! It makes me laugh! She is totally from Harlem. And it is sometimes hard to believe she is a Mormon. But she is, and that makes me so happy! :)  But the play was Amazing! I went with Elders Stratton, Peterson, and McCullam. It was the best pday of my mission. I hope you all can experience a Broadway show some time! It's to die for!Ah ! I love the LION KING! I will just tell you all about it when I get home! :P

At Cindy's after The Lion King

Work is good, companion is good! :) I love the mission! It's amazing! I will miss it more than anything. It has changed me forever. I really think I have enjoyed and loved my mission more than anyone else who has ever served one. It will shape my life in all ways. IT'S FREAKING NEW YORK! :) I LOVE THIS PLACE! AH! I miss Harlem!  But with all that nonsense said I am excited to come home! :) I actually just wish it would come. It's like when you rip a bandaid off slowly. It hurts, and I just want it to be off already! Seriously best place in the world= here. MY MISSION! I love everyone I have met. Missionaries, members, and investigators and random people in the street! Ah! I LOVE NEW YORK! I just want to make it clear, how awesomely amazing this place really is! :) My mission is the best. Yeah Linz will have fun in Brazil, but it's not here :P New York has Brazil and every other country in the world already here :) She will love Portuguese though! It's a cool language. I have picked a little bit of it up. It is very very similar to Spanish. Brazil seems pretty cool! I have a couple of good friends from there now :) She will love it!  Well I am starving and need to eat something! So you guys have a good night.. I will talk to you next week! I can't believe how fast this is all coming! Be ready for the time of your lives when I get home! :) I love you all! And Pray for each one of you! Love Mark! :) 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I'm Going to Miss Them All

Hey There Mamita! Como estas?? :) So I am doing just grand! Finally starting to feel just a tad bit nervous. Weird to think about it all... I did start writing my mission experience or death letter, yesterday... That was really hard.. .I love it here mom. I love what I am doing more than anything else I have ever done. I am going to miss it. These past 2 years have been amazing.. Sometimes it seems really long, but they have been way too short. I love the people here, and the hardest part is I don't know when I will see many of them again... A couple weeks ago Sister Munoz from Harlem sent me a letter, and a box of candy. That meant the world to me. People like her, and many others I have fallen in love with. When I left Harlem I thought it would be impossible to love other people the way I loved everyone there. Elder Hellberg told me I would have to divide my heart and leave a little bit with everyone, and I did not think that was possible... But it was.. I love everyone here so much.. From Members like Sister Munoz, to ward and stake leaders, to investigators, or to crazy people that yelled at me on the streets... I'm going to miss them all... I love my mission more than anything else... The City of New York is AMAZING! Its the Greatest, but the people are much greater than that. I'm going to miss everything about this place, I don't want to leave to be completely honest.. I love sharing the gospel and helping others feel the love that I feel each and every single day. There is nothing greater, and it really stinks that I'm not going to get to do this again... I thought leaving home was hard, leaving you all, friends, Melissa.. knowing that I would see you again.. it will be so much harder leaving here not knowing if I will see everyone again. Today we are going down to the city and I am going to go say bye to Nelson,.. I am crying just thinking about it.. Mom I would really like to come back here.. I know you told me back when I was in Harlem that you would not mind taking a vacation here.. I hope that is still the case. Y'all would love it!  You should not be surprised if I end up back here later on in life... But I don't know if that will ever happen... uh :(

 But on a good note.. I am very excited to see you all again! Home is like a mystery right now, kind of like the mission was before I left. I have no idea what I will do when I get there. One thing is for sure though, I will be helping Todd out a ton! And I am excited to do that! I love that little turd! I really just want to hear back from BYU so I can really start figuring things out. Hopefully by next Wednesday! So Jackson got accepted to Utah State and BYU-I? That is cool! Did he apply to BYU or has he just not heard back yet?  Well I am excited! I can't even imagine what it is going to be like coming home... But right now I am trying to block it out of my mind. But each day that becomes more and more impossible. I am really excited to see Greg again! It has been so long! We are going to have to completely start a new relationshiop.. 4 years is a long time. Too long of a time! So I am excited to do that again.

 We are staying busy! Things are great with Elder Heywood! We are working hard! We are working with Fernando and Lourdes and their family, they are having some troubles. But we are going to go find out more later this week! And also we are going to the college tonight.  Yesterday Elder McCullam and I went on a split! We had a good time, he got a little sick, but apart from that nothing to complain about!  Oh last Thursday we had an awesome training! Some people who work in the Missionary Department in Salt Lake came and gave us some awesome trainings! I felt just like a greeny again! It was seriously amazing! The 2 guys who came were awesome! Brother Watson (I think he is the head of the missionary department.) and Brother Donaldson (who was the mission president on the movie the District 2) Greg will probably know what I am talking about and Lindsay will know very soon as well! :) But it was amazing! They taught us how to be bold, and we talked a ton about the Doctrine of Christ, in other words the Gospel. And how we really need to call people to repentance.. ah.. I could talk about it forever! But let's just say it was amazing, and it changed me!  Apart from that nothing to report! We are working hard, and going to the city today and I am going to go play some Basketball down at the Temple.. Well the Church Building that is connected to the temple lol! I love you all... See you very very soon! :) Love you! Love Elder Mattei! :) 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

4 more weeks!

I will be flying home the 7th. I went into the office the other day and I had Sister Dennison show me what was happening (so the Dennisons are a Senior couple, they work in the office. They are awesome. They went to the Kingsbridge English Ward when I was in the Bronx. I love them. If I go out to BYU I will be visiting them often. I am going there next week to make them Gumbo.) I will be flying into D.C. first, Elder Scaiffe and I both have a connecting flight there (He is in Stamford right now, his Greeny area, lucky dog) so I will get to say bye to my MTC companion last. Then if I remember right I will arrive in STL around like 1 or 2. I do not remember very well, so don't quote me on that. 

Well hopefully both Greg and i both get into where we want to. That would be very nice! And i will think more about the Math class when I know whether or not I get into Provo. And when Lindsay gets her call you guys should call the mission office and tell them where she is going. Then they could call me. Ask to speak to Elder or Sister Dennison, they will call me and let me know.
So I am really excited to go to that game with Todd! That will be a lot of fun! :) Thank you for that! :) I am really excited to go to a Blues game again.
So don't you worry about me working hard. I am more focused than ever! We have a lot of big plans for this last short cycle, and we are going to get a lot done! I have been coming home each and every night exhausted. Elder Heywood and I are working our butts off. He is a great last compaion. The push that i needed. He is a great kid! We both have been speaking a lot of Spanish as well! So I am happy and I am having fun! :) And I am online so mom if you want to talk I am here! I love you all.. See you in a 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Last Transfer!

Hey There mom! :)
So to answer you question yes I am still ZL here in New Rochelle. Elder Kay was released and transferred. So I will finish my mission with Elder Heywood, he is from Mesa, Arizona as well. He and Elder Kay actually had some classes together in High School. He sounds like a nice guy. I met him once. Transfer meeting will be at 1 today so we have got to be leaving soon. Elder Kay was kind of bummed out. But he is excited because he will be in the same district as Elder Lewis. So I am kind of jealous because of that lol! I will be living with 3 missionaries who all hit their year mark in my last cycle.. There is 1 other missionary in our zone who goes home with me, Elder McCullam. He is really cool! I like him a lot! If I go to Utah for school we will hang out a lot. He started his mission in Albania, but got sick halfway through so he came here to finish. He has been in the Zone the whole time I have been. We have 4 new missionaries coming into our zone! The Portuguese missionaries who just came into our ward, are both training Elders who are waiting on Visas. Haha it's funny, because Elder Garibi is not even done being trained himself. But there are 4 of them coming and president needed a place to put them. 1 new area is opening up in Yonkers English, so we will have 2 new sisters in the Zone. So I am excited! I really want to work hard this last cycle and give it my all! There is still a lot to be done! I just want to make sure we get it all done! This ward has so much potential, and I really want to help with that.

Elder Kay has been awesome! I love him so much! He is one of my best friends. He taught me many good lessons, and we get along so well. He will be one of my best friends for life! I think one of the things he helped me fully realize is that in this life we walk by faith in the choices we make.. He has been there for me these past 12 weeks. I have been an emotional wreck lol! And very indecisive about things... Kind of like how I was before I left! I am just getting super nervous, and the two of us being together and going home together was not a good combo. And with him being sick and us laying around a lot of the time it was hard (he is completely better now :) We still have no idea what it was) So I'm going to work Elder Heywood's little tail off. Hopefully he is ready for it lol! I am sure he will be.He is just now getting called as a ZL and has been out for about a year. So he will give me the push that I need!
So I am good :) Glad to here everyone is doing well.. Well except for Greg.. Poor kid! That would not be fun! One thing for sure , is it does not look like Lindsay will be leaving in March, so I'm glad I will get to spend time with her before she goes! 

 You all are the best! Well I better get going! We have a busy day in front of us! I love you all! I may be back on later! Have a great week and talk to you/see you soon!!!! (I can actually say that now!) :)

Love you! Love, Mark!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I Will Go Where He Wants Me to Go

Hey there Everybody! Hope all is going well back home! :) So Mom and Dad I am going to try and reply to you both in this email.

So Mom I am glad you got to talk to President Morgan. Elder Fusco, one of our APs, told me last night that he talked to you and that you had called, wanting to talk to President Morgan. Not going to lie I was a little worried at first. I thought something had happened. haha but it was obviously nothing :) 

So thank you for sending the package! I could not tell if you had already eaten part of the cake or if it got smashed in travel lol! But Elder Kay and I plan on eating it tonight :) So thank you for sending that! We will really enjoy it!

And we are happy as well that Michelle was baptized! And so was she! And Elder Kay is doing alright. Sometimes he is good, sometimes he is a little worse. But overall he is doing a little better. He was good enough to play dodge ball with us today.  We are both just kind of confused as to what it is he has.  So just please continue to keep him in your prayers :) 

So I know we have already talked about this, but yeah I am just really super confused as to what I am supposed to do. So I  will just send in the app and go from there! So keep me in your prayers so I can make the best decision. 

So I am glad you guys had fun in Louisiana! I am jealous! I really look forward to going down and seeing family! I would really like to go as a family maybe during the summer. But even if not I would be more than happy to go down alone with some friends or something. Let everyone know that I miss them a lot, and I am thinking of them and praying for them constantly!  

And tell Todd I love him! and I will be home soon, and tell him to get ready to have some fun with his older brother! :) 

So haha just fun news, so I don't know if you all remember the LSU hat I bought when we all went down to Branson for a week with Mckeon and Tre. I bought it that night when we went shopping and Lindsay, Mckeon and Tre all told me not to buy it because it was white and I would ruin it within 2 months... Well I am wearing it right now and it is still not ruined :) I just felt like bragging about that lol! For some reason I am pretty happy because of that :P I was telling that to Elder Kay earlier and he did not seem to care, as I am sure you all don't lol! 

But I'm good! just staying busy! Transfers are next week! I kind of hope I don't go. I really love the people here, and I don't want to go to an area for just 5 weeks. But I will go wherever the Lord wishes to send me! I have no idea what is going to happen, but I will be sure to let you all know! Dad please take me to Orlando! haha that would be so much fun! I love Disney World! :) It is awesome! But enjoy your trips. Try to do something fun while you are there! And keep working hard! I really do appreciate all that you do for the family. Much much more than I did before! 

And I will think about if I want to go somewhere to eat.. A Shrimp boil would be pretty sick! I would like that a lot! and we could invite all my friends! I freaking miss those guys! 

Well love you all! Hope you have a great week! You are all the best! Let me know if there is anything I can do! :)


Love your son, Elder Mark Mattei! :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Another Baptism!

Hey There Mommy and Daddy!! :) So it sounds like you are all having a great time! :) Who all went?? I am jealous! I really would like to go! It sounds like y'all are having a ton of fun! Next family vacation??? :P But that is so cool that you are getting to spend some time in Mexico I would love that! I am happy for you that you are having such a great time though! You will have to tell me all about it! Sounds like an adventure!
Well so I was hoping you all could update me on where Lindsay is at with her mission papers! Is she done yet?? I'm really hoping she will get her call sometime soon! So keep me updated on that.
 So I've decided that I am at least going to send in the application to BYU... I've already done this much. Whether or not I will go if I get accepted is another story.. .I have got some tough decisions to make. I've realized that God does not control us, or tell us what to do at all times. But he lets us make decisions.. I think I understand my answers to prayers a little more clearly now.. He approves the things that we want to do. There can be more that one option. He lets us chose.. What is important to Him is that we are following the Gospel. So I now understand why I feel like I should go to BYU, why I feel like I should be at home, why I feel like I should go to LSU, and why I feel like I need to be with Melissa.. They are just options and he has approved all of them because he knows that all of them will take me to where I need to be... There is more than one way to skin a cat. There is more than one way to do things in this life. God has given us our Agency, our free will, and we have to learn how to act upon it.   Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should aact for himself. Wherefore, man could not bact for himself save it should be that he was centiced by the one or the other.. (2 Nephi 2:16).. So that is a principle I am gradually learning. And it is hard for me... Because sometimes I wish he would just tell us what to do.. But that is why we have the commandments and the Gospel. The rest is up to us.
So Elder Kay is going to the doctor today. Right now they have no idea what is wrong. The past couple days we have not left the house...  I love him. He is such a great guy! I really hope that you guys can meet him! Please pray for him. He, President Morgan, and I shared a tender moment in President's car the other day as we were driving to a meeting with the Stake Presidency.
So the baptism for Michelle this weekend was awesome!! A little hectic but really good! They were supposed to get there at 4 to have the baptism interview.. They got there at 5;30 (the time the baptism was supposed to start) and it did not start till like 6:15. Oh and her Grandfather, Hermano Bucay was supposed to baptize her, and last minute he could not come because of work issues so I ended baptizing her. I felt bad for her, because I know how bad she wanted her Grandfather to do it. But overall it was amazing! :) The spirit was super strong. 3 different times during the service Michelle cried. She felt so good! She is such a great girl! Extremely smart! and extremely spiritual! Now we are going to start working on reactivating her family.

Well that is about it for this week! oh one more question. Mom did you get the message President Morgan left you? We had a meeting with him this past Saturday and he said he called you. Ok well that is it! :) I love you all! Hope you are all doing great! You are in my prayers! I will see you soon! Mom hope you enjoyed your trip! and Dad I hope you are holding up the house well! :) LOVE YOU ALL! :)
Love Elder Mattei

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Fun Evening with the Morgans

Hey There Mommy!!! :)
So let me tell you what is going on! :) So Michelle will be getting baptized for sure this Saturday that is coming up! Her Grandpa is going to baptize her so we are excited about that! She has her interview tomorrow! She is more than ready! She is such a smart little girl! We are extremely excited for her! And we are continuing to teach the rest of our investigators.. They are all progressing really slowly. The girls we were teaching at Manhattanville College are on Winter break right now so we won't be going back to see them until the end of January. Apart from that we are working really hard with what we have! We have also been working really hard with Less Actives. That is more or less the focus right now. To leave the 99 and bring back the 1! And that is something I have always enjoyed doing! There are such good fruits from Less Active work! Just look at what happened to our family because Dad was a LA! (less active) :) So great things come to pass because of it! And it is a great way to find part member families. Our ward has been pushing on it for some time. Our stake here has quite a problem with it, so it is something we are trying to work on!
So this past week all of the ZL's (Zone Leaders) had Zone Council with President Morgan! We just talked about how one of our new focuses would be working with Less Active and Part Member families! It was a really good meeting! We have them the first Friday of every month. It is one of the things I enjoy most about being a Zone Leader. We get fed lunch and just are uplifted by the spirit. Especially this time I came back feeling rejuvenated. After that I had an interview with President Morgan in the mission home. It was to renew my temple recommend... It is hard to believe that it has been 2 years... Yesterday I went to the Doctor's office with Elder Kay, and I was watching the news for a minute and they were talking about how it was the 2 year anniversary of when that congresswoman and all those people were shot in Arizona... That is hard to believe.. That was right before I came out. I remember talking to the podiatrist about that when I was getting my ingrown toenails taken care of.. (PS by the way when I get home I want to get the last one cauterized.) So yeah time is flying... And then Idk if he did, but President Morgan said he was going to call you mom. I gave him your number. On Monday evening Elder Kay,the missionaries we live with, and I had dinner with the Morgans. I made gumbo for them! He loved it! :) It was a lot of fun! I left them the recipe.. He joked about letting us stay over and watch the National Championship.. I had my fingers crossed! But it was a good night! Sister Morgan helped me cook, and she also made some delicious Cornbread! Everything turned out really good! :) I love that family! Their son Ryan is hilarious! I will always joke around about playing video games or watching movies with him. He would be totally down for it. He is about Todd's age. Way funny kid. So he pretty much told us Elder Kay and I will not be staying together.. We joked around with him about it, and it did not sound as if he was even thinking about it! So we will see in a couple of weeks where I will be next cycle! I would have liked to stay with Elder Kay, but if I move I would like to go somewhere I have served before!
But anyway the Morgans are awesome! I hope that you all can meet them one day! So you mentioned that Hockey is starting back up?!?!?!?! When?? And I do want to go to a game!!! :) Like for real that would be so much fun!
And yes Sister Dennison called asking me to mention to you about sending the stuff in.. So if you could do that asap! She really wants to know what airport I will be flying into, so you could just tell me and I could tell her. But still send it all in!
Apart from that all is well.. We still don't know what is wrong with Elder Kay.
So as of right now I still plan on coming home. But we will see what happens! We will just wait until the end of the month to see if we will send the app.. But as of right now. I plan on coming home and being with the family for a while! Maybe BYU later on down the road.. we will see! Well I love you all and I hope you all have a great week! Mom I will be on again later so you can get on and chat! Love you! :) Love Marky Mark! :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 Brings Some Answers

Hello there! Happy New Year everyone! :)

So life is going good! This weekend we are getting to go back down to the Rockaways to do some final hurricane relief work for Hurricane Sandy. This time it will be the whole mission going though! I am not sure if Elder Kay and I will be going though because he has been having some health issues lately. I won't say too much but please keep him in your prayers! :) We have been staying home a lot because of it.. And it sounds like you all had a lot of fun over New Years. We just had district meeting on Wednesday. I made buffalo wings for the whole Zone, then we went and ate at the Quiroa's house, then came home. It was pretty fun! The only bad part was we had to be in at 6. But we played Monopoly and I won! Yay!! Then later that night I could not sleep, so I went and stood on our back patio and locked myself out of the house in the freezing cold.. I had to bang on the door for like 5 minutes at 10 in the morning lol! I felt pretty dumb. Elder Kay came and rescued me. 

 But as to why I could not sleep that will be the interesting part of this email... This past weekend Elder Kay and I did a 40 hour fast, so I could receive guidance as to what I am supposed to do with my future. I feel like I am supposed to do 1204890548947849058 different things and they all do not correlate. We prayed that I would receive an answer.. A little more in depth than that, but I will explain that later... For the past couple days I have been rethinking and thinking about staying at home after the mission... Why? you may ask. Various reasons.  And because I have already have been away from the family for so long... Your email today Mom came as an answer to that prayer.  Mom I would love your counsel on this as well as you Dad... But I am willing to stay at home and help out and go to SCC. I could transfer to BYU or LSU later, but I want to know what you all think. I have been thinking about it all weekend.. And even more so today. I will keep this short so we can chat mom. I love you all and everybody take care and have a great week! Love you! Love Mark! :)