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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.