Monday, February 7, 2011

September & October 2010

Matt continued to struggle with the illness of his companion. He was getting very scared and it was beginning to affect the work the 2 missionaries could get done. After seeing another specialist, he was finally diagnosed with…nothing!! After 6 months of pain and anguish, everything disappeared and it turns out he has nothing. They say it could be the change of eating habits from moving to Chile, or the stress of being on a mission. They put him on a pill to help, but there is nothing they can do about stress.

Matt spends a lot of time working with families. He worked with Sebastian and Nicole, and then reactivated their older brother who may be able to baptize them. Leading up to the baptism Matt was really sick, and so were the 2 getting baptized, but amazingly everyone got better so the baptism could continue.

Just as we in Utah entered winter, Matt started to thaw out and start the spring/summer season. Matt is enjoying the transitional rain. His companion is from El Salvador, so he hates the cold, but with the weather change, things are getting better.

Matt was there to celebrate the 200 year birthday of Chile on September 18th, their Independence Day. It made a 4 day weekend. They attended an activity with a huge asado (BBQ). For the activity they started with a big flag raising ceremony, then dancing the national dance. Matt burnt his hand during a tug-of-war. It was primary vs. missionaries, and the Elders LOST!! The primary even won against the bishopric. Matt learned he could jump during the potato sack races.

September 11 means something different in Chile. Back in the 1970s there was a government overthrow on the 11th, so the missionaries had to go home early to be safe. There were riots and gun shots and fires in the streets. It was crazy.

Be careful to go to places where there is a good environment, where you won’t be faced with temptation. A wise father said to his son, “If you ever find yourself in a place where you shouldn’t ought to be, get out!” Good advice for all of us.

In September Matt had changes and switched from Elder Melendez and was paired up with Elder Sontoya from Mexico. I guess he is technically from Texas, but his parents are Mexican and he speaks like a Mexican (I guess Matt can already tell a difference). He is only 2 changes away from going home.

During the first week of October Elder Sontoya was very sick, and they had to spend the majority of the week in the house. Because of that, they were not able to invite many people out to conference, so they only had 2 investigators there, but Matt loved conference. It was a very special session to him.

Success in Chile isn’t only measured by baptisms. It is also measured by the number of less-active members brought back to the church. In Matt’s mission they put a lot of focus into reactivating members. It is very helpful because of all the people he has helped into the waters of baptism, more than half of them are from less active member families where the family is reactivated, and all who still need to be are then baptized.

The days they were able to pull the miners from the collapsed mine in Chile, nobody wanted to talk to the missionaries. Everyone just sat and watched what was happening on the t.v. The missionaries were not allowed to watch, but they were well aware of what was going on.

Toward the end of October they attended a special conference with President Lyon, the temple president in Chile. He was about to leave back to Utah, and gave his final talk to the stake Matt is in. He talked a lot about the power of the temple and the importance to go to the temple. He also talked a little bit about what happens in the temple, so that the converts won’t be afraid or think it is a big secret.

Matt still takes time to practice his bowling skills. He only shot a 105, but he still had a lot of fun.

Monday, January 3, 2011

July & August 2010

In July Matt finally was transferred out of his first sector. After being there for so long, it was hard to leave because he had grown so close to some of the people and families in Los Olivos. He didn’t give us the name of his new sector though!! He is in the stake San Pablo, and the city is Padahuel, the part of the city is called Lo Prado, but I don’t know which is the name of the sector for the mission! It is only about 30 minutes west of Lost Olivos. The area was pretty dead when he got there, so it took a lot to get the area going again. They spent a lot of time just getting to know people in the area.

In the transfer he became companions with Elder Anderson from Alpine Utah. He makes things so much more interesting. Matt was also made a district leader. He was way excited for the challenge of a new area, new companion, and new district leader. The ward is strong with over 100 active members. The members do their home and visiting teaching. Matt really enjoyed being in such a strong ward. It isn’t easy to find new investigators. The area is a lot more wealthy, which means a lot more pride.

His house was shared with the Zone Leaders (the last elders got kicked out of theirs). The wiring was bad, and only 1 heater could be on at a time. The Zone Leaders win the heater battle because it is their house. Matt spent lots of time layering.

President May held a training in July for all district and zone leaders. Matt was excited to turn around at teach all that he had learned to his district. They spoke a lot about how to improve as a missionary. It sounds like it was a direction from the church to all missions to hold this training.

Getting out of the city isn’t something that Matt gets to do very often, and he forgets how bad the city smells until he is able to leave. The air outside Santiago is clean and fresh. Plus, it had just rained so everything smelled wonderful to him!

In mid-August they closed Matt’s sector (after only 6 weeks) and he got transferred. It was hard for Matt because although there had not been a lot of success, at the end they were starting to see some real improvement. He got moved to Cerro Navia. It is about 15 min from the last sector. He also got a new companion, Elder Melendez. He is from El Salvador. He speaks no English. He is pretty sick, and they spent a lot of time in the dr’s office. He was out for 5 months when he became Matt’s companion. He had to have a procedure done, which took a day out of their week. Elder Melendez is a great example though. He is very sick, and the procedures and tests all gave very negative results, yet he keeps working and has such a good spirit about things.

When they moved him, Matt was switched from a District Leader. For the first time in Matt’s mission he was placed in a house with just him and his companion. No other companionship to live with! During changes his luggage broke, the plastic handle no longer works. It is something he can fix with duct tape, he is sure!

They held a special conference where the speakers were Elder Amado of the area presidency, and Elder Costa from the presidency of the 70. It was amazing. They spoke a lot about the importance of the Holy Ghost in missionary work, and the importance of setting high goals.

May & June 2010

In May for a p-day Matt climbed Cerro San Crisotbal (hill of Saint Christopher). On top of the hill is a large statue of the virgin Mary. There was lots of smog up there, which made it look kinda hazy. On another p-day they got to go bowling. His average was down to 130, which for Matt isn’t that great. They did get to go to a Dunkin Donuts, and have real donuts for the first time in a long time.

Matt and Elder Miller get along very well.

Matt was able to experience some of the chaos that surrounds the World Cup in a Latin Country. By mid June Chile had won 3 games. Things were absolutely crazy. When Chile would score a goal, you could hear screaming people and horns and honking car horns for 10 minutes. He didn’t watch any games, but he knew exactly what was going on from people’s reactions around him. On June 28th Chile played a very important game. The missionaries were not allowed to do anything, because if Chile lost it would get really dangerous. When Chile qualified for the second round in early june, it sparked riots with gunshots and people getting stabbed!

As things got warm here in South Jordan, things got cold in Chile. It rains a lot and you are wet all the time. They play soccer indoors in the winter, and Matt got to play a little with the locals. President May let them have a “Sports Day” since they could not participate in the world cup. Matt played for 4 ½ hours. They played another zone.

In late June Matt had Zone Conference. President May’s son who just returned from a mission spoke to them about missionary work.

At a baptism in June they filled the font up with really hot water, but because it had to sit so long, and it was winter, the water was very cold by the time they conducted the baptism. Matt was able to convince Anthony to get into the water.

A Chilean BBQ

Super Tall Matt!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

March and April 2010

Baptisms: Grace Torrez (March 2010) Lucia Rodriguez (April 2010) (that he told us about)

After the earthquake there were 6 missionaires in Matt’s zone that no longer had a permanent residence because their house’s fell down. They all fell over after the initial earthquake due to aftershocks. There were 2 elders on the island Juan Fernandez. The Tsunami that hit there was 25 meters high and hit 3 miles inward. They were ok. No missionaries were killed in the earthquake. They had to be in doors by 8pm due to robbers, but as far as Matt told us, he was not robbed. There was another earthquake on April 4. It was really loud and Matt wondered if it would be as big as the earthquake in February. He was able to listen to it coming, but it ended up being really weak.

At the beginning Matt had a hard time finding people to teach who spoke Spanish. He found people that spoke French and Korean, but not many that spoke Spanish. His Spanish on the other hand was getting better. His main complaint is Chileans speak the worst Spanish in all of South America. They drop letters and talk really fast.

In the earthquake the heater for the font broke, so at Grace’s baptism the water was really cold. The water also overflowed and was all over the hallway.

Matt had the privilege of destroying a house. There is a member in his area whose house had a lot of damage following the earthquake. They took apart her roof, a lot of the floor and took out a couple of walls. A lot of the ward was there to help.

Matt experienced his first conference in Spanish with the April 2010 conference. They had investigators coming to watch every session so he saw each session in Spanish. He was able to understand all of it. It is weird because the mouths of the speakers don’t match their voices, but all that matters is he got the message that they were giving.

Matt’s first Chilean Easter consisted of eating 3 hard boiled eggs. In Chile they have a holiday called Quzimodo. There was a large parade and lots of loud music.

In early April Matt had transfers and was no longer companions with Elder Francia (his trainer). He became companions with Elder Miller. Elder Miller is the district leader, which gave Matt the opportunity to learn a lot.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Earthquake

The 2010 Chile earthquake occurred off the coast of the Maule Region of Chile on February 27, 2010, at 03:34 local time, rating a magnitude of 8.8, and lasting up to 90 seconds. The earthquake also generated a blackout that affected 93 percent of the country's population and which went on for several days in some locations.

Below is the letter received from Matt’s Mission President, President May:

Subject: A letter from Matt's Mission President

Dear Friends, Family, loved ones and parents of our dear missionaries of the Chile Santiago North Mission,

We know that many of you are often on the mission blog, so we decided to post our latest news as we have it currently:
Thank you for your love and concern on behalf of all the great people here in Chile. We especially appreciate your prayers for the welfare of your wonderful missionaries you have entrusted here to serve the Lord. We want you to know that all of our missionaries on the continent in our Chile Santiago North Mission are accounted for as of this moment. They are full of faith, happy and surprisingly so optimistic that it touches us to hear their wonderful outlook. We had one slight injury with an Elder, and he is happily here in the mission home doing fine, with his companion, where we can actually keep an eye on him! We are hearing of many miracles where we know they were protected by angels.
Now finally, after trying all day, just spoke to the Rundquists, our senior couple we have serving on Easter Island, and they too are fine. They are bringing our small flock of the branch for an evening of FHE/activity, to their apartment that is situated up on one of the highest hills. They are trying to gear up and be prepared for the possibility of the coming tsunami there. They too are cheerful and encouraged; glad they had recently been grocery shopping and happy that they can help the other members be safe too. What great examples to us!
However, our hearts are filled with prayers and concern for our last two, fine Elders we have presently serving on the Isla Juan Fernandez/Robinson Crusoe Island whom we haven’t heard from yet. There has only been spotty information rec’d here in Santiago regarding the status of all on the island, after the tsunami has already hit there. We don’t know the condition or status of our dear Elder Mitchell and Elder Marin at this time. Please, continue to pour out your hearts in prayer for their safety, well-being and protection at this time. We know that the Lord is mindful of them, and He loves His missionaries, so we are full of faith and hope and have asked our missionaries to continue to pray for them by name.
Our daughter Sarah, who is with us here in Santiago, is fine, as is our son, Elder Gregory May, who is serving in Chile Concepcion Mission (epicenter of the earthquake) , along with all of the missionaries accounted for in his mission too, thankfully. We have been in constant communication with Salt Lake City, and then trying to reach and receive calls from our dear missionaries, so forgive us for not calling back, answering email, and responding individually. We have had quite a bit of experience in our lives with earthquakes, living in So. California, including the devastating challenge of having our home in Valencia destroyed in the 1994 Northridge quake. Preparing to deliver our daughter, Sarah, now 16, that very morning, we learned so much through that experience that we are seeing come into play in this time in Chile. We know that the Lord is so aware and instead of trying to hustle our four small sons out of the way of the breaking glass, swinging chandeliers, crashing bookcases like we did in 1994, we now are thrilled to hear that our 170 ‘mighty Elders and Hermanas” are also safe and moving forward with faith wherever they are. They have been contacting each other, lovingly checking on the sisters, walking to each others apartments, helping with some of the clean up, etc. What incredible young people these are and we love them dearly. We see the Lord’s hand in these miracles.
Please pray for the people here in Chile, and especially our Elders Mitchell and Marin. May you parents know how we cherish and love your dear missionaries.
Con amor y cariƱo,
Presidente y Hermana Michael May

We did hear from Matt on February 28th. It was short and to the point but it let us know he was ok.

Yes i am still alive.
As all of you probably already know there was an earthquake here in chile. Don´t worry things are ok. at about 3:36 in the morning yesterday we woke up to shaking. there was no damage to our house an noone in m house was hurt. a board fell and hit my companion in the head but that was all. i dont have a lotof ime to write today but tomorrow i will write more concerning the earthquake. I´m just writing all of you to tell you that i am safe and out working like normal. a little earthquake can´t stop me. umm i don´t know much so if you could send me information about the earthquake here and in conception that would be nice. I have friends in conception so i want to hear how bad it was down there.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Matt's First Area (Sector)

Sector: Olivos
Mission President: President May

Matt loves Chile. It is an amazing place. His first companion was Elder Francia, from Peru. Matt had hoped for a companion that didn’t speak English, and that is exactly what he got. It was hard for him to communicate with him, but they made it work. Elder Francia has been a member for 2 years, and on his mission for 10 months. Elder Francia was also the District Leader.

The district was made up of 4 missionaries, and they all lived in the same house. The other companionship was Elder Elledge (AZ) and Elder Miser (KY). The house was small, so it was crowded. There was only room for him to have 2 hangers in the little closet things, so most things stayed packed in a suitcase.

People in Chile speak much faster than Matt was prepared for. Matt and Elder Francia continued to do language study where they spent 50% of the time teaching Matt Spanish and 50% of the time teaching his companion English. The service he completed in the MTC, helping others learn English as a Second Language, is coming in very handy on his mission. The mission schedule is a little different. They wake up at 730 a and work until 1130p with a break at lunch. They eat dinner when they return at 1130. Matt likes getting the extra work in.

There was one guy who said he could not speak Spanish so the elders could not talk to him, so Matt spoke up. Luckily the guy was receptive, and they even got a return meeting.

The summer Matt went to was not that bad. It only got 90 degrees at the hottest. They eat a lot of fruit. They eat large lunches so he has had to adjust to the change in the eating schedule. They eat lunch with members who feed them very well. When members can’t feed them, he cooks pasta, rice or makes a sandwich. They traveled 1 ½ hours to a place called Los Andes. They went to a store called Jumbo where he could get American products. He bought Dr Pepper & Peanut Butter. They ate a lot of PB & J Sandwiches after that, and absolutely loved it.

As the mission went on Matt has been to many trainings. He went to the mission home for a training, that was all in English. It was weird for him because he tries to do so much of the speaking in Spanish.

Olivos is really cool. It is just a little bit north of Central Chile. People don’t live in houses they live in something called a Pieza. It is a building with rooms on the outside and open area in the middle, and everyone lives in one of the rooms. Most of them are very small, and an entire family lives in the room. It takes 30-40 minutes to walk across his entire mission. The ward they attend is also part of a different area (sector) in the mission. The other sector used to be combined with his, but the missionaries didn´t work in the area that is now his sector, so the church split it up 3 months ago. The ward has like 500 members but only 60 attend every week.
The missionaries do a lot of walking and riding the bus. The public transportation is really good. The metro (subway) is pretty good too. It is just really really crowded. One time the door shut on him and that wasn’t too fun, but he survived!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The MTC November 18, 2009 - January 18, 2010

Branch: 20
Branch President: President Dickerson

Elder Tialavea was Matt’s first mission companion. He was from San Diego.
Several weeks into the MTC he was later split from Elder T. and partnered with Elder Howard. He had a very tough district, with several missionaries who were struggling. He is a strong missionary and really enjoyed his district.

Matt did pretty well learning Spanish. He was able to help many of the other elders and sisters try and grasp the language.

He was exercising a lot. He would run 3-4 miles a day, play basketball frequently, and still he was able to gain at least 3 pounds. That is pretty typical of all missionaries though. The food down there is just too good, and so I think all missionaries gain weight in the MTC.

Matt had to spend Christmas in the MTC. We didn’t get to talk to him, which was hard. They don’t let MTC missionaries call because that would be a lot of phones and a lot of minutes, and there just aren’t the resources available. We did get a letter from him on Christmas Eve and again on New Years Eve.
Here is his Christmas Eve Letter:
“Very few people get to experience Christmas in the MTC. I'm really excited about being here. i will be celebrating it the way that Jesus Christ would want me to spend it. I heard that Elder Scott is going to come and talk to us this year. that is pretty exciting.
President Dickerson (my mission president) said that he has come the last 4 years, and that he shakes a bunch of elders hands, so we are going to go really early.
On Tuesday Elder Anderson can and talked to us. We were late so we had to sit in the overflow. It wasn’t too bad to be in the overflow. He talked about the condescension of Christ. It was a really good talk. He had his grandchildren sing a song for us. it was really neat.
Earlier that day we watched a talk that elder Holland gave back in 2000. it was about not going home. It was neat because almost the entire talk was from an inspiration on the spot about someone in the audience wanting to go home. he is such a powerful speaker. He said that there is no calling that has been harder for him for the amount of exp. he had as the mission. I’m so excited to go out and serve. He said that every good thing that has happened to him was because of the mission and that was really powerful for me. Then for like 10 min he went to a part that he wanted to talk about.
He talked a little about the atonement and how important it was. One thing that really stuck out to was when he talked about our trials. He said that in order to be Disciples of Christ we have to go through hardships. This way we can better appreciate what he did for us. I had never in my life thought about it that way. Salvation isn’t cheap. It cost the life of the best person to ever live on the earth. I liked how he put it because it was really nice. It makes me think about trials differently.
Out on the mission i have looked at all my trials differently. I see them as ways that God shows his love for us and for that i am so grateful.
It may be hard but they are but a small moment. My testimony of the gospel has grown so much here. I wish that everyone could just experience this. The mission is amazing. I am growing so much spiritually, and I’ve learned so much about Christ and his life.
I think that one reason I’m loving this so much is because of my district. I have a way fun district. We have fun, but still get a ton done. Tonight (Christmas Eve) we are all going to sleep in one room around our mock Christmas tree then get up early tomorrow and open up our presents. I'm way stoked”

And his New Years Eve Letter:
“Christmas here was great. My district and I put our presents around a fake tree that we made and opened them up on Christmas morning. It was killer. That day L. Tom Perry of the 12 came and talked to us. He shared some really good insights about what happened on the day that Christ was born. It was a pretty good talk. Then later in the day we had the first and maybe last annual MTC talent show. They had a lot of weird talents like human bagpipes. Overall it was pretty good. Then that night Greg Olson came and talked to us about his paintings. I really enjoyed his talk because he talked about what inspired a ton of his paintings of the Savior.
Christmas was good because I was doing something I could see the Savior wanting me to do. He gave his life for us and i was just returning the favor. I really felt the Spirit here on Christmas day.”

Matt had the opportunity to be a host missionary several times. One time he worked helping the international missionaries. He met a Korean elder who spoke Korean, Japanese and a little English.

Matt spent time at the TRC teaching lessons and completing other odd tasks. The temple closed for a few weeks while Matt was in the MTC so he had to go a 3 week break without the Temple. That was hard for him.
Matt left the super cold Provo area to depart to what he called “Summer”. Of course he was right, because as we had winter here, Chile was in the middle of Summer.

There is probably so much more that happened at the MTC, but much of the stuff was written in handwritten letters to mom or dad, so I don’t have the info here. Guess he will have to tell us all about it when he gets home.