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Sunday, February 27, 2011

My best weeks in Costa Rica: A letter to Syracuse

[The following post is originally hand-written in a journal entry I wrote in the journal that we send to our FrancisCorps partners in Syracuse.]


febrero 2011
Dear ´Cuse,

                It´s Mateo here.  Unlike my planned, thought-out journal entries in the past, I´m just going to write.  As Tim would say, (and what we say often in the house) I´m going to ´´let the formation come.´´
                I´m currently cozied up on the hammock outside, it´s sunny with a slight breeze.  I´m sorry to hear about the below zero temperature there.  However, I may be the unfortunate one at the moment---the sun glare that´s bouncing from the whiteness of shirtless Tom to my left is seriously blinding.  Where are my sunglasses?
                It´s actually kind of refreshing to write by hand.  The other week my computer passed away.  She kind of left with no warning, just one day stopped working.  I tried to get some people to look at her and possibly save her, but it was hopeless.  The day before she died, I happen to back up all my documents on my thumb drive as I occasionally do.  It´s like she knew.  She was good to me.
                On a happier note, let´s talk about work.  To remind you guys on what I do, I plan and participate in service trips for each grade in the school.  Additionally, I run two after-school visits---La Isla where we tutor children on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and Hogar San Francisco where we visit sick elderly on Thursdays.  I love all of it.  This year though, to discern my calling to be a teacher, I´ve asked one English teacher if I could help assist teaching.
                And I gotta say, teaching has been great.  My baby right now is my English conversation classes I have with my 10th graders.  My teacher has let me take full lead with these on Thursdays and Fridays and it´s been pretty invigorating.  For my first class, my teacher asked me to lead a discussion on ´´´Machismo.´´  Little did he know how much I care about the topic.  I got some really good responses from the guys on how they think the two sexes should be equal and good response from some girls too saying how they should not settle and expect the best from men.
                Teaching these past several weeks has ignited something in me.  Last year, the thought of being a teacher crossed my mind, and it was a matter of something that I´ll eventually do in my life.  Now the experience of teaching has made me want to pursue it now, and I am now currently looking for Catholic teaching jobs in the D.C. area.  I´ve got one promising lead so far, so keep me in your prayers as I will keep y├íll updated.
                On a related note, these past several  weeks, I feel, have been the best weeks I´ve had so far in my entire time in Costa Rica.  Last fall I was awkward-city working on relationships, my Spanish, all while trying to figure out my role at St. Francis.  Now, things are kind of falling into place, and I´m not sure if I can attribute this sense of peace to just one thing.  Maybe it´s because I know who I am more and who I´m called to be.  All of last fall I was discerning if I should be a priest or not (Mike and I were in timely solidarity as prayer partners) and after my time at home, I´m fully convinced now that I am called to be a father and raise a family.  With that being able to work towards, my New Year´s resolution came from a question, ´´How can I become the best version of myself?´´  I{ve considered this holistically, and since school started, I´ve made my goal to do three things each day: 1.) begin and end each day in prayer, 2.) work out every day (ha, the other day I told Brittany I was working on my chest, tri´s, back and bi´s and she had no idea what I was talking about.) and 3.) I´m going to bed (11 p.m.) and waking up (6 a.m.) at the same time.
                So maybe this sense of peace is coming from this consistency and feeling good, but it could be coming from other things as well.  Maybe it´s coming from my new sense of role and purpse at the school.  I look sharp now wearing shirt and tie everyday, and I love it when the students call me ´´profe.´´  Maybe it´s because I figured out what I´m suppose to be doing next year.  And maybe it could be one last thing.
                The other week was Valentine´s Day, a day for many years I´ve shared with a girlfriend.  That whole day I was trying to figure out who my ´´Valentine´´ was.  Obvious answers that came to mind were Jell, Tom, Britt, and Jordan or could it be my family at home or my students or my bros at the states or even the Mike Lamanna.  I wasn´t sure.  At the end of the night before bed, I picked up my guitar.  As a musican, sometimes songs just come, the formation comes, and you let your hands play something familiar.  The song that came was called ´´Your Love is Extravagant´´---one of my all-time favorites.  It´s a song about having an intimate love and friendship with God.  I played it over and over again, singing with full heart, eyes closed.  When I finished, I said something out loud for I think the first time ever in my recent memory.  I said, ´´I love you, God.´´


Sigh.  I´m lucky.  We´re lucky.  He´s got us.  Thanks for reading and talk to you soon!

Love, Paz y Bien,



  1. Matt, you are a gifted writer. Your posts are wonderful to read. I'm glad you have found such a passion in teaching! Your students are blessed to have you as their instructor. Be well!

  2. Beautiful...Isn't it wonderful to fall in love with Him and when He reveals His purpose for you?? Awesome post!

  3. Thank you, you two! I appreciate the affirmation.