About Me

The adventures of Christian Toronto, a full-time missionary serving in the Rome Italy Mission (Dec 2016-Dec 2018). Christian grew up in Minnesota, then moved to Colorado right before his senior year in high school. He is the third of seven children. He was attending Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah prior to his missionary call. Christian's older brother Simeon completed his mission in Rome, Italy a day before Christian left for his so they literally swapped places. We call them our Roman soldiers for Christ. In his free time, Christian loves basketball, tennis, american history and politics, and music.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Numbers Game

Aerial Shot of Temple Site

Carissimi,

Hope you enjoy this week's numerically themed highlights!

125 - I spent much of the p-day with the Pozzuoli Anziani and Sorelle, who are just a blast to be around! We bowled, and unfortunately 125 as a bowling score didn't cut it when you're rollin against Anziano "Lucky Strikes" Mayer, (although in my defense, there was a strike or two the Italian bowling system failed to count on my part). Che peccato, otherwise the trophy woulda been mine๐Ÿ†

4 (inches) ๐ŸŒŠ- of water that covered the floor of our apartment Thursday night! We got a call while out finding from our doorman, telling us there was oodles, (or the Italian equivalent thereof), of water coming off of our balcony. We hustled home as quick as we could, and it seemed the entire street was gathered watching the rescue effort taking place on the 4th floor. We got up to our door, opened it, walked a few steps and then heard splashing... not ever what you want friends... Turns out the washing machine I had left running earlier that day decided to stop functioning as a washing machine normally does, and instead covered our apartment floor with 4 inches of water! How awesome is that haha! We opened the balcony doors all the way, and using the only materials we had, a pair of brooms, we swept the majority of the water onto the street below. Luckily the apartment is slanted, towards those doors, otherwise things would've been a whole lot more difficult. Meanwhile 30 Napolitani are in the piazza below, cheering us on, laughing at our efforts to dry out Lake Superior, and yelling suggestions as to how we might better go about doing so. Long story short, our apartment is dry, luckily Italy doesn't have carpet, so nothing was damaged, and we learned the important lesson of not trusting Italian appliances๐Ÿ˜‚

3 - friends! Gods Time showed up to our lesson this week with three of his friends, Anthony, Joy, and Valentina! We got to teach them the restoration, and invite them to church. Two of them ended up coming, and show real solid potential to be taught and baptized! I'm so grateful for the missionary example the African brothers set here. A year or two ago, there were 1 or 2 active Africans, and today, there are 15+, 3 being Melchizedek Priesthood holders, most of the rest Aaronic Priesthood leaders, and the others well on their way!

8 - months left, in fact a little less, in my mission... wowsers... We'll leave time for serious reflection as we get even closer! A bonus number - 4, weeks until Mother's Day, and my last Skype call home!

♾, my love for Napoli, these wonderful people, their wonderful pizzas, and even their non-functional bowling alleys and washing machines!

Love you all!

Anziano Toronto II ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

MLC Group from Last Week


Last pic w/ Anziano Cutler
Ceasar Pre-Baptism

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A Dad, A Boy, and a Ball...



Carissimi,

Well, actually just a boy and a ball, (his dad being just a few thousand miles away), and a beautiful hardcourt gym floor, and breakaway rims, and a happy, happy, happy, Paul Pierce disguised as Anziano Toronto! Yes, in a weekend of General Conference, with the magnificent doctrine taught, and exciting changes announced, yes, in a week in which for the 3rd time in my mission, I was forced out of a house, and into another on short notice, yes, in a week that preludes significant changes to Napoli and the missionaries here in the city, and zone, and yes, in a week in which the finishing of the Rome Italy Temple was announced; Anziano Toronto chooses to focus the first paragraph of his letter on playing basketball on P-Day. Let that be an indication of just how much I missed the feeling of a wood floor, hearing the bounce of a ball, and the 'swoosh' of a silky 3 pointer, and as Uncle Drew would say, "Getting Buckets." Now, I will get to the aforementioned happenings of the week, and more, but listen up you Americanites, never take a basketball court for granted, cause you never know when the next time you set foot on one will be...

General Conference:
Being just a few hours behind, (8 to be exact), we were lucky over here to catch the 4 sessions we did. While many of the talks given were procedural, or explanatory, there have been few times in my life more spiritually impactful than the opportunity to sustain Russell M. Nelson as the prophet of God. I wholeheartedly sustain this beloved man, and look forward to dissecting his beautiful remarks offered Sunday Morning. Other favorites of mine included Anziano Bednar's doctrinally drenched (aren't they always?) sermon on meekness and humility, recognizing acutely a lack of those attributes in myself, along with that of President Eyring, encouraging us to increase our spiritual awareness, and recognizing the Holy Spirit's subtle whisperings. The constant battle of my mission has been seeking the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and acting on his promptings without hesitation. I fear I will wage this war for all my mortal existence, as the Natural Man's, or "Natural Anziano Toronto's," desires are not always aligned with the plan, or work God has for me to accomplish. Needless to say, I've got plenty of work to do there, and in the remaining 8 months or so I have left, I'll be focusing on becoming an instrument in the hands of the Lord, as opposed to a rouge lawnmower that occasionally mows the desired grass.

Rome Italy Temple:
As announced on Thursday, the Rome Italy Temple open house and dedication have been announced. Well, everyone told Simeon he would see it on his mission, and everyone told me I'd definitely see it, and well, I may see it, but it won't be as a missionary of the Great Italy Rome Mission. Bittersweet is the best way to describe my reception of the news, but my attention is turned to filling that temple with converts, hungry for the spiritual satisfaction, that ordinances, most importantly sealings, provide. I hope to see so many of my Italian brethren and sisters, "Twice in white," as President and Sister Pickerd often exhort us to do!

Moving:
For reasons that will be more clear next week, Anziano Cutler and I spent the large part of Saturday morning moving our belongings, and many of the house's belongings over to the Napoli B Anziani's house. We were assisted in doing so by Brother Stutzman of the Pozzuoli branch, who's minivan was absolutely crucial to the success of the moving endeavor!

Scambi:
This week I was joined here in Napoli by Anziani Allen, and Macdonald! While working with Anziano Allen, a South Jordan native, I was struck by his desire to change, and his reflection on the missionary he's in the process of becoming. Introspection is often the greatest tool in a missionary's toolbox when he desires to improve, and Anziano Allen exemplifies that self-awareness. Truly this Anziano understands what it means to internalize change, and he is, as Anz. Bednar taught us we must be, meek and humble! Anziano Macdonald embodies quiet dignity, and like Anziano Allen, a desire to lead by righteous example. We spent much of the scambio reminiscing on the 3 months we spent living together in Pescara, those three being some of the hardest months of my mission, made bearable by support from Anziano MacDonald and many, many others! Both of these Anziani are great leaders in our zone, and we wouldn't be the same without them! Boy how I love learning from the incredible missionaries sent to labor in this part of the Lord's vineyard!

America the Beautiful:
As previously touched on, P-Day took us onto American soil, as we hopped onto the Navy military base found just a short drive outside of Napoli. We ate American food, saw grass, and if I didn't emphasize it clearly enough in the first paragraph, played basketball! Sam, our Branch Mission Leader here was kind enough to chauffeur, provide lunch, and patiently watch as I was scored on over and over by Anziano Mayer, (man can that guy shoot!๐Ÿ”ฅ) Missing March Madness for the second time hurt a little bit less, as I got all my frustration out with a few nice dunks. He's still got it folks! A year and 3 months of Italian cooking, countless Napoli Pizze, and olive oil instead of blood running through his veins couldn't stop "The Truth" from getting up, and sending it home, albeit with a bit more soreness in the aftermath.

Vi voglio un mondo di bene!

Anziano Toronto II ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Lord's Great Chess Board

Carissimi,

Bear with me friends, this is a long one!

There's been just a few times on my mission where I've felt like the Lord has moved me around like a pawn on a chess board. Both fortunately and unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, my mission has been not a game, controlled by the Lord, but rather more similar to Harry Potter's 'Wizard's Chess." I've had to learn by making moves, by losing pieces I should've held onto, by missing easy opportunities to put pressure on my opponent, and by sacrificing pieces that were hard to give up. The pieces on the Lord's great chess board, especially mine, often seem to have a mind of their own, making moves haphazardly, some good, some bad, but inevitably they turn around, looking expectantly for help after placing themselves in a tricky situation. I've lived my mission too much in this way, relying often on my own strength, my own talents, and my own knowledge... (notice there's a whole lot of "me, myself, and I," in there). The only time I looked back is when I felt like I couldn't reason through the next step, or situations had gone beyond my control, and the only way to save them was divine help. Luckily, the Divine Grandmaster, as we might appropriately call our Heavenly Father, has always held a soft spot for this particularly hard-headed, (softer descriptive words might include strong-wired, or fiercely independent), missionary of his, and most of the time he's ready with a tip when I'm humble enough to receive it. Now, to bring things back full circle, there are times, rare indeed, where the Grandmaster takes over the game, and helps the young, yet aspiring novice make moves he never imagined. Last night was one of those times... So, let me tell you how!

Sapele, one of the awesome African brothers here in the Napoli Branch, came up to me after 2nd hour, telling me he had a friend who had asked him questions about the Book of Mormon, and that he wanted us to come teach him. We set up an appointment at 5, and moved on to teach another brother, Donatus, who joined us for the first time this week! We taught Donatus the Restoration, and look forward to meeting with him more, and having him hear from our modern day prophets this week at General Conference.

After church, Anziano Cutler and I ate over at a wonderful family's home, all but one of whom are investigating the Church, (the one being a new convert of two months or so). After an incredible meal, we likened the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a long distance race. Long analogy made short, start the race with the faith to finish, get up when you fall down, make the necessary water stops along the way, listen to your coach, and sprint through the finish line. You do all that, and you're bound to win the prize of eternal life. We taught, and bounced, as good missionaries do, heading towards Mergellina to teach Sapele's friend. We called him as we got close, and he told us his friend had just gone out, and he didn't know when he would be back. We turned around, and made some calls as we waited for him to get back. We checked in periodically, but it wasn't until 7:30 or so that we got the OK. We headed over, and arrived around 8:15.

When we arrived we were greeted by Peter (returned Nigerian missionary who lives in the same camp), and Sapele, and while we waited for 'Divine Time', we helped Peter practice his Italian by reading from the Book of Mormon. Around 8:45 Divine Time showed up, and Peter and I began to teach, while Anziano Cutler shared a little bit of the Restoration with the front desk attendant. I realized after about 2 min Divine Time was not ready for the Gospel, and that he was there, ready to argue that we were wrong until the Second Coming. We tried our best to reason, to bear testimony, to teach correct principles, and do everything we could to allow the spirit to testify to this brother, but he was having absolutely none of it. We finally got done, said a prayer around 9:15, and began walking back to the station with Peter and Sapele. We laughed and joked about how, "To be learned is good, IF we hearken unto the counsels of God." These two brothers wouldn't trade the world and all its wisdom for the faith in God we have in common, and nor would I. Divine Time was too concerned about the logical reasons why the Book of Mormon CAN'T be true, instead of asking God whether it IS true or not.

Now, most of you are probably saying, Anziano Toronto, can you quit the narrative, and get to the miracle? Cause the only miracle so far of the night is how good the pork was you had for lunch, #blessed... all right, we're getting there...

We hear the train start pulling into the station, and we begin to run, knowing we're already running a bit behind schedule. As we run down the hall, a Spanish looking man, at first confused because we're running, asks us in English, "Can you guys help me get to Napoli Centrale?" "Yeah," we shouted back, "Just follow us, that's where we're headed!" Still somewhat confused he followed us up onto the platform, where we then discovered the train was headed towards Pozzuoli, in the opposite direction, on the other side of the tracks. We sat and caught our breath, and began to talk with the man, who's name we would find out later was Jose.

The train arrived, and we sat down, us across from him, (he even asked if he could sit by us, and we laughed at the idea, cause almost nobody wants to sit with us in this wonderful country). We began asking him where he was from, (Miami), how he liked Napoli, (as expected, he loves it), and then, surprisingly it was he who brought up religion. Turns out that's our favorite subject! He asked about how one goes from being a Catholic to a Mormon, and we asked in return, why? He proceeded to tell us that he came to Italy, (and in a few days Jerusalem), searching for religious guidance, as he put it, a "sign from God," directing him to where God needed him to be. He told us that 10 minutes before we literally ran into his path, he had been praying to God, asking for that sign.

Wow...

We taught him the restoration, and answered as many questions as we could with the short time we had, and parted ways, grabbing his Facebook, and setting up an appointment tonight. We walked away, not really believing what had just happened to us. God took my chessboard, my idea of what we needed to be doing and where, threw it out the window, and said "This is where I need you to be, and this is who I need you to teach." We were there, and we brought his message to Jose, a lost sheep who wanted desperately to be found.

Several takeaways:

God answers prayers. He answered Jose's, and he will answer any sincere seeker of the truth. Through the power of the Holy Ghost, he communicated to both Jose, and Anziano Cutler and I, the love he has for his children.

There's 2 million people in Napoli, and yet he (Jose) runs into the 2 of us at an obscure train station 20 min outside of Napoli. How grateful I am that God put us in the right place at the right time. We shouldn't have been at Mergellina that late, and nor was it in our plan to do so. But it was in his! God has a divine design, a plan of happiness for each of us, and he's willing to move the pieces around in our favor, as we are humble enough to allow him to do so.

This weekend, is General Conference, a great chance to receive the answers to questions that you might have, and to look back to the Grandmaster for some tips on which direction to take your game. I invite each of you to prepare a question for this General Conference, and watch as God answers it using his divinely called and inspired servants!

Love each of you!

Anziano Toronto II ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Saturday, March 24, 2018

March Sadness: A Tribute to Nelani Walker


Carissimi,

I was somewhat stunned after last week’s letter from mom, detailing the swift decline in Nana’s health, but I discounted it, as every similar report had been followed by the joyful news of a Nana on the up-n-up. She had always bounced back before, and I saw no reason this time wouldn't be the same way. After all, I had spent the last year or so praying almost nightly that I would see her again when I got back, of course with “Thy will be done,” in parentheses. When I received the news, walking into church Sunday morning, I couldn't believe it for a moment. I believed my prayers regarding her had always been answered, and that this would be no different. Apparently, the “Thy will be done” clause is there for a reason, and I wasn't meant to give her a last hug, besides that which I gave her as she dropped me off at the MTC. I had been prepared, by continually worsening reports, yet there was no left tackle, no Michael Oher, to protect this quarterback from a blindside tackle worse than that sustained by Joe Theisman. I felt broken, but, put a brave face on, and began to translate the meeting for our African and American brothers. I didn't feel emotional, no, not one bit, but I struggled to keep my mind on what I was doing. The Stake President’s words on the Plan of Salvation suddenly took on a much greater meaning, and I felt my mind wandering down memory lane. Luckily, the second half of the 2 hour meeting was pre-translated, so I was left to think, so think I did. President Pickerd gave me a call shortly after lunch asking how I was, and we had a good conversation. I did my best to forget about it as we went out finding, and gratefully I was for the most part successful. Later that night, I abandoned Anziano Cutler to the typical calls we make on Sunday night, and began to record the following. While what I've written only touches the surface of the impact Nelani Walker left on me, but it contains as Mom’s letter put it today, the “raw, mental download.” Here goes… 


78 Edgecombe Drive was always home away from home for me. Countless hours were spent out on Nana’s sportcourt, (and countless injuries sustained and dealt). Countless laughs were had in the course of lively conversation, and countless games were played, won, and lost, (more lost than won however, If only I had inherited Nana’s cunning). Countless meals were enjoyed together, (only good memories there), and countless calories taken in. Most importantly, within the walls of that home, countless memories were made. If I had the time, I'd write them all, but I must content myself with the memories I include here, hoping that in some small way, they'll capture the matchless life, (at least the part she played in mine), lived by Nelani Walker, continued now on the other side.

Growing Up:
Little Christian Young came into the world, and Nana was right there in the days following, helping his mother through the aftermath of an 8 pound 9 oz. baby, come into the world a few days early. She loved that baby from the get-go, he being the 3rd of what would become many grandchildren. Nana taught me to love unconditionally, and to leave space in my heart for all those who will come along into my life.
Nana was there to be both Batman and Robin, leader, and follower, whatever the circumstance she was placed in required. Submissive and humble, Nana was quick to deflect attention and praise, yet quick to accomplish a task when it needed to be done. Nana was rarely idle, always thinking outside of herself, to those she could serve. Nana taught me growing up, the true “Character of Christ.”
As Dad put it in his Sunday letter, Nana, and without a doubt Papa, have always been “heavily on board the Christian Train, the CYT bandwagon if you will.” Both saw within me a potential I didn't imagine was there, and both were willing to take the time to help me develop it. Nana, as Elder Zwick put it last conference, looked beyond what she saw.
With painstaking attention to detail, Nana created quilt after quilt for her grandchildren’s baptisms. Each unique and special to the grandchild, and each more impressive than the last. Through hours spent at a sewing machine, Nana conveyed her unconditional love for each beloved child. Nana taught me to express my love in meaningful ways.
Nana always made sure young Christian was setting a good example. At around the age of 10-11, in what I thought was a funny joke, I raised the middle finger of my glove, while keeping my hand in a fist. Seeing my delinquency, Nana was quick to help me understand that if I did so again, she'd cut my finger off, (to this day I don't doubt she would've done it๐Ÿ˜). Then, she taught the principle... I was an example for all around me. People saw what I did, and often would copy my actions. This teaching was repeated again, years later, in the words of Patriarch Bashford to me, as he declared, “So many of the children of men will watch you; will watch what you do, and what you say … Always look like what you believe.” Nana taught me to look like what I believe.

Manners:
I remember vividly, once disrespecting my mother in front of Nana. Vivid because of the reprimand that followed. She wasn't mean, no, that would've been hypocritical, but instead she asked the question, “Now why would you treat your mother, who loves you so much, like that?” There is no true good answer to that question friends, let me tell you. Ashamedly, I apologized to both her and Mom, and luckily in doing so, learned a significant lesson in respecting women, specifically my mother, sisters, and future wife. Nana taught me to love my own mother.

Education:
Nana was brilliant, and her knowledge as extensive as her love for her grandchildren. She never missed the opportunity to correct a “Can I,” to a “May I,” or a “Me and Simeon,” into a “Simeon and I.” She did so lovingly, expressing a desire that her grandchildren might not only be literate, but intelligent, and able orators. That desire is reflected in the courage with which many of her grandchildren have chosen to defend the gospel, be it in California, Arizona, Italy, or any number of future missionary destinations!
Nana inspired my love for literature and reading. I could always, always, find something worth reading at Nana and Papa's, and that's because I had a Stanford educated Grandma, (and a historian/writer grandpa!) She instilled that love for reading, by bringing stories to life with her strong voice, so memorably vibrant, yet so sadly weakened at the end of her mortal adventure. Besides quality literature, Nana ensured I was reading from the books that truly mattered. Without a doubt concerned for my spiritual welfare, far more than my literacy, Nana encouraged me to prepare for a mission by reading from, and studying the Book of Mormon. Nana taught me the meaning of the scripture, “Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith,” (D&C 88:118).
Politically, Nana and I had much in common, and the hours afforded by her ferrying services from Provo to Salt Lake and back gave me ample opportunity to pick her brain on a number of such topics. Be it global warming, immigration reform, states rights vs. those of the government, Nana was opinionated on each concept, and could effectively reason why she held such an opinion. Nana taught me to be politically active, and to defend the beliefs I hold dear. (Nana was even cool enough to give Hamilton a try, and believe it or not she even liked it a bit! #TakeThatDad๐Ÿ˜‰)

College and Mission: 
Nana was as the Nigerian brothers sing here, the “Rock of Ages,” in my college experience. As previously mentioned, Nana provided passage back and forth from Provo, and did so willingly. She fed a malnourished college student, living off of knock-off, Wal-Mart brand cereal and BYU Creamery skim milk, almost every weekend for months. If we’re being honest, I absolutely lived for the Sunday night dinners, often accompanied by a CYT/AK favorite, Tillamook Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.
Nana provided a familial bond, when the rest of the family was hundreds of miles away. Nana took the two refugee Toronto children and gave them a home. She threw in late night Mary Tyler Moore, Splendor, aforementioned Tillamook goodness and more.
10 and a half months ago, having just learned of Nana’s initial diagnosis, I wrote, “I take it as no coincidence, it was Nana, I hopped on an airplane with, after being set apart. The same goes with who I ate my Last Supper (Breakfast) with, (certainly not forgetting Grace and Abigail, but focusing as is the theme of this week, on our Allstar Nana). The last hug I gave, and last picture I had taken of me, all done by and with Nana before I departed into the MTC. The 6-7 months I spent at BYU, afforded me true quality time to remind me of the absolutely incredible force for good that she is. I got to know Nana like I never had before, and in doing so, I learned from her…”

Culinary Expertise:
I once asked Nana what it was that inspired her to go to such great lengths in the kitchen, and she told me of the first year of her marriage, when she decided to make 365 different meals for Papa. After that first year, and circa 300 culinary experiments, she had developed two things: the first, a solid idea of the type of food Papa enjoyed, and the second, a taste for good food that never went away. I profited, from her knowledge, many, many times, and can only hope my future wife will have the same drive to experiment, learn, and grow from her mistakes, be they burnt casseroles, and spinach puffs that only get eaten if incentivized by ice cream and apple pie. The quantity and quality of the food presented at Nana’s table will always be legendary, and her culinary legacy lives on in recipes, and the memories of those she left behind! Nana taught me to love food!

Service:
Last, but undoubtedly the most important legacy Nana leaves behind, is that of service and faithfulness. Having little to eat herself, yet stacks of freezer meals for the sick and afflicted in the last days of her life is an effective paradigm of the woman Nelani Ingaborg Walker became. As previously mentioned, Nana was consistently turned outward, seeking to find, help, rescue, feed, and save the one. She embodied the christlike attributes of charity, humility, diligence, patience, obedience, hope, and last but not least faith. Nana gave her all to the Lord, and those who mourn her loss are a reflection of the lives she touched in his service.

Nana’s gone, and while I have a knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, like Mom, for me that doesn't change the fact that she won't be a part of my life when I get back. The import of this has not fully hit me yet, and I'm sure in the coming days, months, and years, reflection will bring both a greater sadness, and a greater peace. I close with the words of Paul, found in the first epistle to the Corinthians, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” Christ, “Hath gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up,” (Mormon 7:5). 

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Anziano Toronto II 




4 Minutes



Carissimi,

The subject line will connect a few dots throughout this email, but first and foremost, it should only take you about 4 minutes to catch up on my life!

Tuesday morning featured Zone Conference once again here in the one and only Nap-Town! This meant hearing from Presidente and Sorella Pickerd, who shared respective messages on the Restoration, and obedience and submission to our fathers will in terms of conduct and dress. As a result, I've spent several hours reviewing the Restoration in my studies this week, in an attempt to become a better teacher of this unique message. Similarly, I've reviewed the Missionary Handbook, looking for both my strengths as an obedient missionary, and the shortcomings I admittedly have. I enjoyed looking for these shortcomings, connected with the desire to have "No Ragrets," at the end of my mission (see attached photo for those of you who didn't understand the reference). Now, I don't believe there's a missionary who has ever served a mission, who looked back declaring they had no regrets about their service, but as I have begun to list the regrets I do have, I notice many of the troubles at which I've faltered in the past year and change, no longer trouble me. Reflection, while certainly evoking remorse, or godly sorrow at the mistakes we've made, and the sins we have committed, has the similar purpose of allowing us to see how far we've come. Thank goodness I can say I'm not the Anziano Toronto who set off to the MTC. December 28th, 2016, I'm him, with a year's worth of repentance, a years worth of dedicated gospel study, a years worth of the impact preaching a message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has, which is to say, immeasurable. While those changes in me have not come in an instant, they've come, they keep coming, and will continue to come so long as I allow God to shape and use me as an instrument in his hands!

Roger Bannister and Elder Gary Stevenson:
Most of you saw those two names and had one of two reactions... The first, "Who is Roger Bannister?" and the second, (if you already knew who he was), "What does he have to do with that particular apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ?" Well in fact, both men were key in the presentation of our training, offered shortly after those of President and Sister Pickerd. Roger Bannister, for those of you still confused, did what no man had ever done before him, and ran a mile in under 4 minutes, 3:59.4 to be exact. He did so contrary to common belief at the time, that man wasn't meant to run a sub 4 minute mile, and nor would he ever do so. On a windy day in 1954, Roger Bannister blew that misconception outta the water, and in doing so, changed the mile race forever. Today the record stands at 3:43.13, and over 20,000 individuals have broken the 4 minute barrier in recorded history. The difference was, they knew the mile had been run in less than 4 minutes, and so, they could do the same. Taking this story as a background we taught the Anziani and Sorelle of the Zone about the four minutes that they had in the mission. Now Elder Stevenson comes in, as we referenced his general conference address entitled, " Your Four Minutes." We talked of the precious resource that is, the Lord's time. We did the math, and found out I only had 1 min and 37 sec left remaining in my 4 min, and that others in the zone had more or less depending on time spent in the mission. We then gave the challenge, "To become the first Zone since 1987 or so, to achieve 1 baptism, per companionship, per transfer..." Unfortunately, you'll just have to stay tuned as we work our tails off trying to accomplish this Herculean feat!

What are the 4 minute barriers in your life, and what is it that's preventing you from overcoming them? I enjoyed knocking down barriers this week, and even getting knocked down myself just a little bit in the process! I hope you will too!

I wish you all the absolute best!

Anziano Toronto II ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Zone Conference pics and the "Gray Suit Squad"



Monday, March 5, 2018

Yup, It's Another Recording This Week

Go to the following url address to hear of Anziano Toronto's latest adventures.

https://soundcloud.com/user-565039128/anziano-toronto-mission-voice-recording-352018


Glamour Pics with the Ferrari 


 

Anziano Cutler and I


The helmet after which Il Castel Sant'Elmo is named

Monday, February 26, 2018

Soaked๐ŸŒง๐ŸŒŠ



Carissimi,

We made it through another transfer week friends, and there's only good news all around! Anziano Cutler and I are staying together for another transfer here in Napoli, and that means at least six more weeks of procrastinating my return to 'healthier' eating. I told Anne Katherine today I have been seeing little success from the "Pizza a day keeps the doctor away" diet*, so we might have to try something else...

The only aspect of Napoli itself, that could be conceivably portrayed as negative, (besides the thriving drug trade or any myriad of actual problems the city faces), would have to be the constant downpour! It rained just about every day this week, and unfortunately you notice that a lot more when there are holes in your otherwise durable-in-every-way shoes! I cease complaining however, knowing there are those in the city who would love a pair of shoes, holes and all. How grateful I am to once again, to be humbled by my surroundings, and the children of God around us who so desperately need the gospel message we bring!

As the rains came down, the baptismal font was filling up, for our brother Stanley! Here's an excerpt from his conversion story: "Stanley spent his second day in Italy, exactly where he needed to be, in church, with friends from his refugee camp. He proceeded to come, just about every week for the next 4 or 5 weeks, until eventually Anziano Cutler and I realized he wasn't a member already! We asked him if he had a Book of Mormon to read, during our second hour Gospel Principles class in English, and he said "No," but told us he wanted one, and that he wanted to be baptized like his other brothers. We were happy to oblige to both requests, and began teaching him. We hit a roadblock, when we found out his literacy wasn't super high, but luckily that was solved by the Book of Mormon audio recordings, which we would send him almost every night! He progressed quickly, and was fueled by a desire to follow Jesus Christ, and keep his commandments." After I baptized him on Saturday, Anziano Cutler sealed the deal, giving him the gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday morning during Sacrament Meeting!

My personal study finally crept it's way out of the tail end of the Isaiah chapters and 2 Nephi, but despite being a bit spiritually drained, I didn't mind taking the time I did to study Nephi's words. They were written for our day, and they contain a powerful, convincing witness of Jesus Christ, built on revelation, and experience. Nephi didn't just write about keeping the commandments, he prospered in the land because of his diligence in doing so! As I head on to the powerful sermons of his brother, I am more grateful than ever for the example of this spiritual giant!

Hope all is well on the Eastern front! Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Toronto II ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

*Just in case you were wondering Mom, no, it's not a pizza a day, that'd be over the top... it is however a good amount, and how many, will remain undisclosed๐Ÿ˜