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.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer



The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear..."--Buddy the Elf

Cari,

Lots that happened this week, but even more excitingly for my mother, there were a lot of pictures taken along the way! Not sure what order the pictures are in, but enjoy the captions anyways!

▪Louis takes a swim - Louis was brought to church by his good friend, Kelly, (who as many of you may remember, was baptized just a month or two ago), immediately loved how he felt, and started to take the lessons. Only days after meeting Louis for the first time, we saw him on a bus and asked him about the Book of Mormon. He replied with a grin, saying, "It's my favorite book! I always keep it close to me. Man, the Book of Mormon is my breakfast!" Louis is a great example of how new converts are a prime resource for receiving referrals who are ready to accept the gospel!



▪Canto, perciò io sono (I sing, therefore I am) 🎤 - The vocal cords got some major exercise this week, as we Lit the World, one note at a time. Friday, we had the chance to visit a nursing home near Pescara, and do a mix of room to room, and large group Christmas caroling! It was incredible seeing how much joy we brought to a room full of the real "Anziani!" Sunday night, we took advantage of the 10 missionaries working in Pescara, and did a singing gesso, full of Italian, and American favorites. Can't tell yet whether I like the way Italian's sing along to "Jingle Bells," but as Simon Cowell, or even the peanut gallery in my own family might say, "They were just a bit pitchy..."😁



▪Giving the blind their sight, well... actually he settled for a Christmas tree🎄- Saturday we had the chance to #LighttheWorld by helping Carlos, (blind), surprise his wife, Valentina, (also blind), by going out a getting a Christmas Tree, setting it up in their apartment, decking it out, and lighting it up! I loved how excited he was, this being their first Christmas together as a married couple, and it was a blessing being a part of lighting someone else's visually, (but not spiritually!) dark world. 😊

▪P-day in Chieti - Had the chance to visit the church of San Giuliano.


We met a turtle friend, (unfortunately made out of bronze), who will be featured in my new Facebook profile picture.




We met some new friends, who told us they hadn't seen missionaries in Chieti in 15 years.


Last, but certainly not least, had a nice fashion photo shoot, featuring predominantly Anziano McDonald, followed by Anziani McConkie, Snyder, and Parker.







Keep lighting the World this week, and serve God by serving your fellow men!

Vi Voglio Benissimo

Anziano Toronto II 🇮🇹

Monday, December 4, 2017

Sii Felice, Oh and also una Luce!


Fam,

Long week, with highlights and lowlights, but unfortunately not enough time to record them all! Therefore, we'll stick with the highlights, abbreviated version!

Highlights:

▪Anziano Waddell came back to visit and to take care of some document issues! Had fun with him and Anziano Misa, his companion, and got to spend the night reminiscing, and laughing!

▪Dedication! This week we held an open house, and the culmination on Saturday was the dedication of Pescara's brand new chapel. (Opened a few months ago, but not dedicated until a few nights ago). Special guests included President Pickerd, the Rome East Stake Presidency, and the Mayor and Vice mayor of Pescara!

Here's a few pictures to tide you over until next week!

▪Cereal parties, ft. My 70s themed jacket
 


▪Our apartment isn't entirely devoid of Christmas Spirit, nor church proselyting materials!


▪Merry Christmas from your very own Pescara Cinque #MissionaryChristmasCard


Spiritual thought, taken from the Book of 4th Nephi: 

15 And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.

...and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.

There could not be a happier people among, how marvelous a thought. This Christmas season, as we lose ourselves in selfless service, we'll count ourselves among those who have the love of God, dwelling in our hearts, and among those happy, happy disciples of Jesus Christ! Participate in lighting the world, and make a difference, no matter how big or small! 

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Toronto II 🇮🇹

Monday, November 27, 2017

Thanksgiving Turkey Aftermath

Fam bam,

Sounds like you had an incredible week, and that all is well on the homefront! Not a whole lot to say da parte mia, but it was another awesome week out here in the GIRM.

News: Transfer call came early this week, and I'll be staying a 5th, count 'em, 5th, transfer in Pescara! 3 turns out to be a magic number, and Anziano McConkie and I will be joined by Anziano Parker, from Stockton, CA, who has been up in Ascoli for the past few transfers. #Trio We'll be here until the middle of January, so I'm getting nice and comfortable. As to be expected, 7 months is a loooong while to be in a city, and there's undeniably a little bit of "area burnout" right now, but I "will go where [he] wants me to go," that includes another 6 weeks in Pescara! There's clearly something more I need to accomplish here, and many more lessons to learn from the Members, people, and other missionaries!

Highlights of the week:

▪Adamo accepted a baptismal date. He is working towards the 23rd of December, and we have so much hope for this good, good man. He has so much to gain, most of all, an eternal family. He may have been taking the missionary lessons since Giuseppe Taranto was a missionary in Italy, but this is his time!

▪Louis will be preparing for baptism next Saturday, so prayers up for him in his conversion process! His faith is incredible, and he accepted the commandments as God's will without batting an eye!

▪Thanksgiving was awesome, even if we couldn't quite cook like an Allison/Amy/Sim/Dad and others dream team... #DadOnTheMashedPotatoesLikeIt'sHisJob

Praying for each of you, and love you so much!

Anziano Toronto II 🇮🇹

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Thinking to Thank



Carissimi,

This letter is dedicated to you, as an attempt, inadequate, yet attempt nonetheless, to thank each of you for the impact you have had on my life. While Thanksgiving shouldn't be the only time we "think to thank," it is certainly a great reminder to reflect on, and thank, those who have shaped and changed your life for the better. Each of you without exception fall under that category, so consider yourselves properly thanked! 

I am thankful this week that Luca was baptized. Ironically, the 300 or so lb. man chose the skinniest missionary to baptize him, so I was chosen as backup, to help lift him out of the water! What an honor it was to take part in this man's conversion, and to confirm him a member of the church the day after. The Holy Ghost will bless him, and all those who interact with him for the remainder of his life.

I am thankful for the chance to have played tennis 3 times this week, smashing the previous record of 1. Besides two P-day tennis excursions, Giorgio warmed up the Ascolian Open court, (which by this point should be named after me😉), and we had the chance to play for an hour or so, early, early in the morning. Other p-day highlights included a "Turkey Bowl" of sorts, cut short by the local calcio squad, who needed the field to practice, and a few hours of tennis in the morning, first doubles, then singles with Anziano McConkie. #RustIsReal

I am thankful for the Book of Mormon, for the truths it contains, and the witnesses, both living and dead, who have given their lives for the Gospel it sustains!

I am thankful for a living Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, who guides the church through revelation!

I am thankful for the chance to have spent nearly a year in the service of my Heavenly Father, and his son Jesus Christ!

I am thankful for "Goodly Parents," who love the lord. Daily I learned from them, (even if progress was slow😁) until I was called, to preach the gospel to all the world! 

I'm thankful for missionary examples! Heroes such as Alma, Amulek, Ammon, and Aaron, Giuseppe Taranto, Wallace Toronto, Ronald Walker, Chris and Judy Toronto, countless aunts and uncles, Jonathan, Anne Katherine, and Simeon Toronto, and so so many more! (Not to mention many of you reading this!)

I am thankful for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. 

I am thankful most of all for my Savior, Jesus Christ, for his infinite atonement, patience, and love! 

Vi voglio un universo di bene! Buon Thanksgiving!

Anziano Toronto II 🇮🇹


Luca's Baptism


Testing out baptismal clothes for Luca👻

Ascoli Scambio feat. Beautiful Trees and Views



Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Challenge to Each of You


Anziano Toronto meeting Elder M. Russell Ballard

Dear Family,

This week ended triumphantly with an incredible Stake Conference and a successful baptismal interview of Luca! We're so excited for him to be baptized this Saturday at 5! So when you're eating breakfast next week, say a quick prayer that Luca is actually getting baptized.

Anziano Toronto with Luca and Anziano McConkie

Luca never ceases to inspire and amaze me. Literally, bless his little Babbo Natale heart, he carries his copy of The Book of Mormon with him everywhere he goes. He is an amazing example of having a change in heart and starting a completely new life in the church! The only concern in preparing for his baptism, is that we have to find baptismal clothing that fits him. But no need to worry, I'm sure we'll make it work! We have a big white sheet at home so if all goes wrong (or perfectly) we'll do the baptism roman toga style...😉 We might need 2 people in the water, one baptizer, and one spotter! No, I kid, by far the biggest thing about him is his heart and his desire to follow our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I love him so much and it has been such a miracle to witness and play a part in his conversion!

One of the most fulfilling parts about the mission is the chance to witness firsthand the truthfulness of the gospel on a daily basis! For example:

We have been working with a man named Michele for a few months now. He works with Bishop, comes to church every week, and we meet with him every saturday morning. The sad part is that Michele struggles with crippling depression. He has severe anxiety and this makes it so he can't leave the house very often in the evening. Michele has been through some tough times in his life which has driven him away from God. The first time we met with him, he had absolutely no faith whatsoever. We continued meeting, but saw little progress...

We met with him this Saturday, for the 4th or 5th time, hoping that this would be the week to break through! We began by reminding him that we aren't psychologists, but messengers from the Lord and the only thing we can give him is, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which, as Paul declared, is "The power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;" (Romans 1:16). We asked him if he felt any feelings of depression, anxiety, and worry when he was in church and he said "assolutamente no". So that put us in an awesome position to talk a lot about the Gift of The Holy Ghost and how we can access this peace and comfort after we are baptized and receive the holy ghost! We extended a baptismal invitation to be baptized on the 30th of December, knowing that he still has some major steps to take, and he accepted it! It is amazing to see that a man, brought as low as he has been, feels and recognizes the love of God! #Man'sExtremityisGod'sOpportunity

My challenge to each of you, (like much of this email*), is plagiarized, but heartfelt nonetheless! Since the beginning of the year, the Rome East Stake has been working on a challenge, given by the Stake Presidency. Their task, is to write their testimony in a copy of the Book of Mormon, and then give it out to a friend, acquaintance, or to whomever the spirit directs. During Stake Conference, this challenge was once again issued, in accordance with Elder Ballard's invitation to Italy, to "Touch someone's heart, and to bring them to a knowledge of the restored gospel between now and Christmas." He asked that that would be our gift to the savior! In fine, I extend this same challenge to each of you. To write your testimony inside a copy of the Book of Mormon, and give it out, sharing that testimony of Jesus Christ, and the matchless power it contains. I will be following up, so just do it, so you can all be "progressing investigators😁"!

Vi voglio bene,

Anziano Toronto II 🇮🇹

*Themes and material borrowed with permission from Anziano Alexander Stoddard McConkie Weekly Emails Inc.


Tennis Photo Shoot




Monday, November 6, 2017



Carissimi,

What I lack in creativity and pictures, I'll make up for in substance this week, hope you enjoy😁

▪80% of the Great Italy Rome Mission gathered in Rome 1's chapel early Thursday morning, to hear from Elder and Sister Engbjerg of Denmark! All missionaries from Rome East/West, Napoli, Bari, Taranto, and Sardegna were present, along with senior couples galore. For what could be the last time together, Anziano McConkie and I had the chance to share our musical talents with the mission, singing a lovely TTBB quartet of "Joseph Smith's First Prayer." Unfortunately, this one wasn't recorded for posterity, (blame the "no recording during Zone/Miss Conference rule...) but rest assured there will be no dishonor on me, nor my cow, for the finished product! We were instructed on touching, or reaching out to "The One." Meaning both the Savior, Jesus Christ, and each individual who crosses our way! Once again we were challenged by President Pickerd, to become the greatest generation of missionaries in the history of the Great Italy Rome Mission, and that our bar needs to be raised! While perfection is certainly pending, we're working hard on it this week!

▪Conference also meant seeing many friendly faces! On Wednesday night, we were hosted by Rome 1's Zone Leaders, Anziani Alexander e Young, both of which I got to know and love down in Catania. Not much sleep was had:) The next day I had the chance to spend some time catching up with Anziani Rodriguez, Osmond, Waddell, Dickey, and countless others, along with the Sorelle from our MTC Group, and a few other awesome Sisters!

▪Luca will prepare to be interviewed for baptism this Saturday, and we have confidence, faith, and hope that all will go well. Our mock interview was stellar, and he continues to make changes in his life to place himself in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it's standards, notwithstanding the height thereof! This man has done a complete 180°, and was prepared for our message long before he met us! We are so excited to see him continue his progression, and path towards baptism, and the service he will render from then on the the church and the other Pescara fedeli!

▪Celebrated both Halloween and Anziano McConkie's birthday this week, and the latter was by far the more enjoyable holiday. I ended up making a cake with what ingredients we had, and a nice fried rice and chicken pranzo, and we ended the day with gelato at our favorite spot, so, even with fast Sunday, calorically I'm still recovering:) 

▪Last (but not least) night we enjoyed a dinner appointment with Vescovo Salvatori and his family. The carbonara was delicious, and they let us know they were working hard to find us referrals to meet and teach! We enjoyed talking a little about everything, and I will always be grateful for that wonderful family!

▪Challenge for the week: Go strengthen your testimony of Joseph Smith, and his divine call, by reading his own written Testimony. I know he was called of God, he accomplished the work he was sent here to fulfill, and he "has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it," (D&C 135:3).

Vi voglio bene!

Anziano Toronto II 🇮🇹


Pescara District with Luca and Roberto
Group Shot from Mission Conference




Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Audio Recording of Anziano Toronto's Adventures this Week




It was just a recording and pictures type of week, ya know!?

Vi voglio bene,

Anziano Toronto II 🇮🇹

P.S. Go to the link below and push play to hear about Anziano Toronto's adventures this week.

https://soundcloud.com/user-565039128/christian-mission-10292017






Monday, October 23, 2017

The Most Awesome Week of My Mission!

Cari,

Although this last week can be described as nothing short of the most awesome of my entire mission, bullet points will have to do it justice!

▪Transfers: Despite being sure I was done with Pescara, apparently Pescara's not quite done with me! I'll spend one more here working with Anziano McConkie, who I've had the chance to be with for the last 12 weeks, as he was trained by Anziano Ridd! Anziano Ridd, was sent up to Perugia, while Anziano Waddell was blown into the GANS (or YSA) Center in Rome!

▪Wednesday morning was another early wake-up, but nobody minded with what lay in store! We arrived plenty early to the conference.  It was wonderful to sing to, meet, and greet an Apostle of the Lord!



▪Baptism and Confirmation: Fast forward to Saturday, when Anziano McConkie and I had the chance to baptize Kelly, who has been preparing during the last couple weeks for this covenant! As he went down, and came back up, I was humbled to think of the life he is beginning, and the life I began 11 years ago, not even quite realizing it! It was one of the most important days of his, and my own life, and for him, the day after was as significant if not more. I had the chance to confirm him a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during Sacrament Meeting, and to give him the gift of the Holy Ghost. Kelly is already sharing the gospel with those around him, and his friend Mikey should be baptized within the next few weeks if he keeps progressing!



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 lì, sapendo che probabilmente siete già addormentati, specialmente con la mancanza delle foto, scusatemi 😁

Vi Voglio un Universo di Bene!

Anziano Toronto II 🇮🇹

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 🇮🇹



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, ragù, 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 🇮🇹