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, October 16, 2017

The Spirit was Palpable

A few highlights from the week!

▪Baptisms in Pescara and L'Aquila! For a second consecutive week we saw 2 people enter the waters of baptism in our district. Jennyfer, and Vittoria are examples to me of sincere repentance, and the joy the gospel brings into our lives!

▪Teaching! This week we met with Adamo, Mimo, Angelo, and more, as we are desperately trying to encourage these incredible people to make and keep commitments. Mimo came to sacrament meeting this week, and Adamo took us, and his family to the Baptism in L'Aquila, so those were definitely high points!

▪Without a doubt the highlight of the week happened last night. After listening to Anziani De Feo, Sabin, Clayton, their wives, and Anziano Ballard, in a Europe Area broadcast, (which by the way was so so so awesome), Anziano Waddell and I had the opportunity to teach the Restoration for 45 min to a close friend from Andover High! What a thrill it was, knowing my investigator so intimately, and knowing what they needed to hear. The spirit was palpable as we testified of the impact the Book of Mormon would have on their life, if they accepted our invitation to read it every day this week. They readily agreed, and will start today, with Alma's oft-quoted, and never to be underestimated discourse on faith! Pray that they receive the answers they are looking for this week!

Pongo fine lรฌ, sapendo che probabilmente siete giร  addormentati, specialmente con la mancanza delle foto, scusatemi ๐Ÿ˜

Vi Voglio un Universo di Bene!

Anziano Toronto II ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Eagle Has Landed



Carissimi,

We had the chance this week to support the sisters in L'Aquila, (traslated to, "the Eagle"), as they baptized for the first time in 10 years or so! Walter and Pedro were two absolute stud brothers I had the chance to interview, and clear for baptism, and I'm not sure there could be two people more ready for this covenant!

When Pedro first met the missionaries last December, they gave him a pass along card, and told them he should stop by the church, but they forgot to tell him where it was at. A few days later, the Anziani lost their phone, and their number was deactivated. Pedro now had no way to reach them. He waited, and prayed, hoping he would run into them again, and months later he did! This time he was sure to get both the address of the church, and the Anziani's number, and told them he would be in church on Sunday. He came, and came regularly for the next 7 months or so, despite difficulties with transportation, and learned from first the Anziani, then the Sorelle.

His brother was not as enthusiastic at first, and was even dropped a few months ago by Sorelle Taylor and Palacios, because he didn't seem to have any desire whatsoever. Despite the cessation of these weekly meetings, Walter continued to read, pray, and build his testimony, to the point where he asked the Sisters a week ago to be baptized. They quickly taught him the lessons, and had him ready by Friday, when I had the chance to interview him. At the conclusion of the interview I was certain this was a man who understood the lessons, but not only that, he was converted to the Lord! Two incredible converts were added to the L'Aquila Branch this week, and they will receive the priesthood shortly!

The L'Aquila sisters have been doing WORK out there, and as we got to the church before the baptism, I had another baptismal interview to take care of! Vittoria recently moved from Brazil to join a family in the L'Aquila Branch, and she decided a few weeks ago to be baptized. The sisters had been diligently teaching her for quite some time, and they were beyond overjoyed to see Vittoria reach this decision.The interview was scheduled, and then the Sisters told me that Vittoria doesn't speak Italian, only Portuguese! Let me tell you, the gift of Tounges is beyond real ladies and gentlemen. With what little Spanish background I have, together with 9 months of Italian, I was able to fairly clearly understand Vittoria, and could tell with a certainty that she was another convert to the Lord! #ThankGoodnessForLatinBasedLanguages @daddio

We also saw miracles in our own work, as Angelo decided to come back to church, and meet with us once again! His is an incredible story of multiple answered prayers, and a whole lot of real intent! Needless to say, we are beyond excited to see him take these steps in the right direction, heading towards eternal happiness!

If you made it this far in the email, you're a champ! As I close this week, I reiterate my love for General Conference! Each message seemed laced with a message, specifically tailored for me, personally, and each of our investigators! Take the time this week to study a talk a day, and devotedly apply the message taught! I'll be doing the same, and I start today with that of Anziano Cook!

"Humility isn’t some grand identifiable achievement or even overcoming some major challenge. It is a sign of spiritual strength. It is having the quiet confidence that day by day and hour by hour we can rely on the Lord, serve Him, and achieve His purposes. It is my prayer that in this contentious world we will continuously strive for true humility every day."

Vi voglio bene,

Anziano Toronto II ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Powerfully and Persuasively Taught

Rome East Anziani, and Rome East Zone

Just a few quick bullet points for the week, as I run short on time! 

▪Zone Conference: Combined zone conference was an absolute hit, as we were edified by our mission leaders all around! It was great having the chance to catch up with lots of old friends, and even more fun eating a cheeseburger for lunch! First one in 9 months! Anziano McConkie and I combined once again, this time for a rendition of Savior Redeemer of My Soul, which unfortunately, this time around wasn't recorded. 

Original MTC Group Members

Combined Napoli, Rome East, and Rome West Zone picture

▪Conference Encore: in 2 weeks, Elder M. Russell Ballard will be coming the the Great Italy Rome Mission, and we'll have the chance to hear from him and Anziani L. Whitney Clayton, and De Feo! Anziano McConkie and I will sing again, this time joined by a few others, as we "Bring the World his Truth!"

▪Conference, generally: while I had the chance to hear 4 out of the 5 sessions, and pieces of the 5th, I need a lot more time to digest the messages, motifs, and counsel offered by the general authorities and auxiliaries! Always a thrill to hear from our leaders, and I can't wait to continue to study their words in the coming days, weeks, and months! I particularly enjoyed Anziani Nelson, Callister, Holland, Eyring, Uchtdorf, Maynes, Oaks and Vescovo Waddell!

"The Book of Mormon provides the fullest and most authoritative understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to be found anywhere. It teaches what it really means to be born again. From the Book of Mormon we learn about the gathering of scattered Israel. We know why we are here on earth. These and other truths are more powerfully and persuasively taught in the Book of Mormon than in any other book. The full power of the gospel of Jesus Christ is contained in the Book of Mormon. Period." 

I add my testimony to that of President Nelson, The Book of Mormon contains a power unlike any other book ever given for man's edification! Read it, study it, ponder it, and pray about it! It will bring the light of the gospel into your life. Period!

Vi voglio bene,


Anziano Toronto II


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Fufu, (Don't Chew!), and Brand New!




Carissimi,

Fufu: Sunday night, we had the pleasure of tasting this African staple, cooked by none other than Felix! We were graciously hosted in an awesome member's home, and what an experience was!


The soup was made with okra, goat meat, mini-crayfish, and some African fish I couldn't even begin to pronounce, let alone write.


Lets just say I was sent to the land of spaghetti, arrosticini, lasagna, pesto, ragรน, cannoli, gelato, and so much more for a reason, haha neither my stomach, nor my taste buds were ready for that collection of exotic flavors. That's not to say I didn't enjoy an eating style best compared to coating Playdoh in vegetables and random fish bones, and throwing it back without chewing! All in all, the adventure of a culinary lifetime, and without a doubt worth a repeat experience!


Brand New: Sunday Morning fulfilled 4 months of waiting here in Pescara, as Sacrament Meeting was held in the largest chapel in Europe, the newly reconstructed and renovated Pescara Chapel! Investigators came, the spirit was felt, and each recognized the marvelous work God has prepared for Pescara! President Pickerd joined us in the celebration of the moment, along with the Rome East Stake Presidency. The eyes of the church in Italy, at least for a moment, were turned towards the work in Pescara, and this monumental step forward!



Etc: Enjoyed a scambio this week with Anziano Farinotti, native Italian from Bergamo. It was awesome being jolted out of my habitual language usage, and speaking 100%, in Italian, with an Italian! Other highlights were performing the baptismal interview for Pedro, who will be baptized on the 7th in L'Aquila, and anticipating a week full of conference, both Zone and General!

All's quiet on the eastern front, at least for the next few days!

Vi voglio benissimo!

Anziano Toronto II ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sweep the Earth Like a Flood



Famiglia,

Some of you may have noticed irregular activity on my Facebook profile this week.  I’m here to promise you it was both authorized and encouraged! Early on in the week we received an exciting email, declaring that our mission had now been approved for online Facebook proselyting! This comes as an unanticipated blessing, and we're excited to use this tool to reach those otherwise unavailable, and to connect with the youth and families throughout all of Italy! After Zone Conference in two weeks, where we will be trained on how to use this blessing in accordance with Preach My Gospel and the missionary handbook, along with the vision President Pickerd has set for the Great Italy Rome Mission, we will be officially empowered, and reliant on the Spirit to direct how we will use this heretofore nonexistent aspect of missionary work!

Besides this rather large piece of news, it was a bit of a tough week on the sine curve of missionary work. Much like the Titanic's "unsinkability," the "unstoppability" of Adamo's freight train was put to the test. To our dismay, as was seen with the Titanic, the impossible occurred. Adamo's train simply ran out of fuel right before the finish line, but don't think for a moment that's where he's going to finish this race! This week he is focusing on his testimony of the Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith, and in coming weeks, the Prophet Thomas S. Monson. We're excited for him to have the chance to hear from our prophets and apostles in just a few short weeks, and we will continue to try to start that engine up again and help him cross the finish line!

A highlight to end the week came as the first Ward Council was held in Pescara's brand new, truly massive chapel! What an incredible tool for missionary work, and a testament to 40 years of faithful gospel service by members of the Pescara Ward. I cannot help but be humbled by the respect Vescovo Salvatori shows to this building, and I will certainly never take for granted the chapels we are given to worship in. The Lord has a work to be done here in Pescara, and no matter how much time I have left in my service here, it will be spent searching for those who recognize this church for the truths it upholds, and the restored gospel it proclaims!

Last note of the week has to be devoted to some special people who had birthdays this week! If I remember right, we have Mom, J-fizzle, Nana, and Opa, each adding one more year to the earthly experience. If I remembered wrong, enjoy the best wishes anyways! Each of you has had an incredible impact on my life, but none more than my angel mother! From the womb to almost 20 years old, there's little I've done that she hasn't had a hand in! Always the support, ATII's #1 fan, literally Mamma Mia! Sending my best birthday wishes, and my love from Pescara!

Vi voglio bene,

Anziano Toronto II ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Antithesis of Terror--The Prince of Peace

Ascolian Hippocampus Fountain

Carissimi,

A rather uneventful transfer week leaves little in terms of writing material, but I'll do my best with what I've been given!

Anziano Mayer, who is currently serving in nearby Ascoli, joined the 4 Pescarites for the majority of this last week, as he waited for his new companion, Anziano Parker, to arrive from Sardegna! What a joy it was to have him and his 24/7 smile with us as we sought to find, teach, and prepare for baptisms in this beautiful city. On Wednesday, we were able to travel up to Ascoli to work in his area for a day, and what a blast that was! Some parts of Ascoli happen to be older than Rome, and it is one of the more scenic cities in the mission. With a beautiful centro, mountains as a backdrop, and a river cutting a canyon through the middle of the city, I am constantly made grateful by Heavenly Father's appreciation for beauty, and man's desire to add to that!


In other news, Thursday morning we had the chance to play tennis with Giorgio, formerly and incorrectly referred to as Sergio, who was as gracious and delightful as usual. Oh how I miss the tennis court, but I figure my prayers for Roger Federer's backhand are more effective when offered as a missionary. I'm willing to do my time, so that the maestro can play a little longer. :)




Adamo moves like a somewhat reserved, yet nonetheless unstoppable freight train towards baptism. All going well, he will be interviewed this week, and baptized next Sunday! We are incredibly excited for this prospective eternal family, and for this first step Adamo is preparing to make!

Teaching highlight of the week came from a lesson, early Saturday morning, with an investigator named Carlo. After being out of town for the month of August, he came back, having read all of 1st and 2nd Nephi, and the opening chapters of Jacob! We were ecstatic as he asked questions and made comments about what he had read, and we can't wait to see him act on the truth that he has gained so far!

Spiritual Thought: As we look back on the events of September 11, 2001, that occurred 16 years ago today, and then on recent calamities still affecting the lives of millions in Texas and Florida, many would like to point to Paul's prophetic declaration, "In the last days, perilous times shall come," (2 Timothy 3:1). President Thomas S. Monson, speaking of our day, wrote in 2012:

"Although we live in increasingly perilous times, the Lord loves us and is mindful of us. He is always on our side as we do what is right. He will help us in time of need. Difficulties come into our lives, problems we do not anticipate and which we would never choose. None of us is immune. The purpose of mortality is to learn and to grow to be more like our Father, and it is often during the difficult times that we learn the most, as painful as the lessons may be. Our lives can also be filled with joy as we follow the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord admonished, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” What great happiness this knowledge should bring to us. He lived for us and He died for us. He paid the price for our sins. May we emulate His example. May we show our great gratitude to Him by accepting His sacrifice and living lives that will qualify us to return and one day live with Him."

How wonderful it is to know that despite the perilous times in which we live, we need not worry, nor fear. Though I may sound like a broken record, I invite each of us again, to "Look unto Christ in every thought, doubt not, fear not!" (D&C 6:36).

Lean on he who is the antithesis of terror, the Prince of Peace, him of which I leave my testimony, even Jesus Christ, Amen

Anziano Toronto II ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

More tennis pics:



Thursday, September 7, 2017

Take it Easy Reggie--Take it Easy Doubts

Sweet Graffiti with the family name

Carissimi,

The closest we come to German engineering and efficiency in the Great Italy Rome Mission are the Audis, BMWs, and Volkswagens that roam the streets of Pescara, and the Kraepfen doughnuts from Lidl that bring happiness with every bite. That being said, this email does its best, so try to make it to the finish, or at least to the part about the dogs!

Families: This week’s report on those we teach here in Pescara centers on two families. The first one we have been working with for a couple of months now, but the father, Adamo is beginning to show so much progress! Despite following his wife to church for 10+ years, he has now just begun reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it. His humility is inspiring, and we can't wait to help him as he prepares for baptism on the 23rd of September! The second family was found during an unconventional "porta a porta" giro Saturday night. Stefania and Loris invited us into their home, and despite a bit of craziness emanating from their 3 year old daughter, we managed to introduce them to the message of the restored gospel and the potential they have as an eternal family! We are excited to get back over there this week to continue teaching them!

▪Dogs: As the subject line indicates, this week I did the impossible. I found a dog who's actual name is “Reggie". In the interest of providing background for those not aware of the magnitude of this occurrence, just about every dog I have encountered here in Italy I have named some derivation of Reggie, be that Reginaldo, Reginald, Regina, Reg, or most frequently, simply Reggie. As a relationship grows with the dog, a more suitable name is given, i.e. Biscotto, Straciatella, or the like, while dogs that tend to be vicious, unfriendly, or unintelligent remain "Reggie's". Anyway, we were walking next to a fenced off field when a pit bull sprinted up and started attacking the fence trying to get at us.  Luckily, the fence held and behind the dog came the owner, yelling, just as I was, "Fermati Reggie!" Or as Nacho Libre might say, "Take it easy, man..." Tender mercies, I tell ya, they just make my day. ๐Ÿ˜

▪Castle: Today we broke a series of rather uneventful P-Day's, and headed to Ortona, a city an hour bus ride South of Pescara. Located there are two extremely cool sites.  The first is a 15th century Aragonese Castle.

Castello Aragonese
Castello Aragonese
The second is the Basilica, which hosts the tomb of Thomas the Apostle, otherwise known as "Doubting Thomas."

Saint Thomas Basilica
In reflection on that last point, (in reference to "Doubting Thomas,") I leave my weekly spiritual application and invitation.

President Hinckley spoke in 1975 of the Symbol of Christ, and within the discourse he states, "The doubtful Thomas declared in soberness and reverence and realism, ‘My Lord and my God!’ (John 20:28.) ‘Be not faithless, but believing’ (John 20:27) were the unforgettable words of the Lord on that marvelous occasion." Certainly Thomas' knowledge of the resurrected Lord was made perfect in that moment, where he felt the wounds in his hands, feet, and side. He doubted no more, but traveled far and wide proclaiming the glorious news. That news was proclaimed again by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in the 76th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants. "And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father — That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.” (D&C 76:22–24.) I offer my own personal testimony along with theirs, notwithstanding doubts or questions I may have had, that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He lives. He offered a hand of mercy, while satisfying the demands of justice, all that we might "Press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men."  President Uchtdorf, were he writing this mass-email-turned-epistle, might even offer his favorite, "Doubt your doubts, before you doubt your faith!"

I would rhetorically ask, in the words of "ร‰l Guapo", "Would you say we have a plethora of scriptural and apostolic admonitions voicing a warning against the ever pervasive, faith suffocating reality that is doubt?" (Ok, maybe he didn't say it in that exact way...)

I end simply, with the words of Doctrine and Covenants 6:36, "Look unto Christ in every thought. Doubt not. Fear not!"

In the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

Vi voglio un universo di bene!

Anziano Toronto II ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Pics:


Trainer pic feat. Anziano Ridd

GQ Model Shoot



Boys: minus Anziano Olsen, who is on his way home!

District, minus the former, and Slla Dustin